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Pinjarra win revives memories of former superstar

Memories of one of the greatest harness racing performers produced in the Southern Hemisphere came to the fore at Pinjarra yesterday. Successful in the Medic Aid Handicap, Donegal Chokin – as the name suggests – is closely-related to former superstar Chokin. By Art Major from Chokin Hanover, Donegal Chokin is in stylish form this campaign, with his five starts yielding two wins and a second for trainer Sonia Zucchiatti. Driven by Kim Prentice during his latest triumph, Donegal Chokin led throughout from four to account for Blacknsweet Adda and Lively Shard. Thrilled with the gelding’s progress, Zucchiatti is hoping Donegal Chokin can continue his winning form in an M0 at Gloucester Park. Donegal Chokin’s second was registered at Western Australia’s home of racing last month. “I’ve had a few issues with him since he got here last October, but he’s over those now,” Zucchiatti said. “It was never anything serious, just things like getting his blood right, which set you back. “He has come along really well this time up and hopefully can put a few more wins on the board. “He’s getting away from the stand really well, so I will stick with those for the time being and try to win a race in town.” As for his family tree, Donegal Chokin is also closely-related to Changeover, which is from Chokin’s sister, Chaangerr. The siblings are by Vance Hanover from Nell’s Pride, with Chokin leading the way. A brilliant freshman, Chokin won seven of his eight starts for trainer Barry Purdon to quickly be touted as the industry’s next superstar. Just as dominant the following season, Chokin created history by becoming the first - and still only - three-year-old to contest the Miracle Mile. After over racing during the middle stages of the sprint, Chokin collapsed with exhaustion at the top of Harold Park’s home straight as his stablemate, Christopher Vance, went on to victory. Sadly the gelding broke down midway through his campaign before returning in brilliant style as a four-year-old. Australasia’s premier pacer at five and six, Chokin was found dead in his paddock while spelling after finishing fourth behind Golden Reign in the 1995 Christchurch Inter Dominion. Chokin was later promoted to second when Young Mister Charles and Victor Supreme were disqualified for swab irregularities. Chokin’s victories included 13 Group Ones, consisting of two Miracle Miles, two Auckland Cups, New Zealand Cup, New Zealand Free-For-All, Victoria Cup, two New Zealand Sires’ Stake Finals, Messenger Championship, Easter Cup, South Australia Derby and New Zealand Two-Year-Old Championship. PAUL COURTS

Harness Racing

Mike Saftic records 5,000th career victory

TORONTO, October 20 - On Monday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, harness racing driver Mike Saftic recorded his 5,000 career driving victory behind trotter Magic Shelley. Saftic, 52, entered the evening only one win shy of the career milestone. In the evening's third race, Saftic worked out the perfect trip with Magic Shelley to not only record his 5,000 victory, but also captured a division of the first leg of the Autumn Series. Saftic began his driving career in 1981 at his hometown track, Sudbury Downs, before moving to the Woodbine Entertainment circuit a few years later. Since joining the circuit, Saftic has consistently put up solid numbers each season and has driven top horses such as, Hall of Fame pacing mare Ellamony, Armbro Cruiser, Luck Of Michelle and 2002 Metro Pace champion Sir Luck. A resident of Milton, Saftic has earned more than $1 million in each season since 1989 and has career earnings of more than $93 million. This season, the veteran reinsman has recorded 96 victories and earnings of just under $2 million. The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to congratulate Mike on his accomplishment and wish him continued success throughout his career. The Autumn Series for Ontario sired two-year-old fillies of both gaits got underway Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $14,000 divisions of the opening leg were contested for both pacers and trotters. In order to be eligible to the Autumn Series, two-year-olds must be Ontario sired and be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of September 30, 2014. In the opening division for the filly trotters, Mischief Smile moved from second to first in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:58.4. Trained by Paul Reid and driven by Trevor Henry, the daughter of Majestic Son broke her maiden with the victory and has now earned over $46,000 in nine career starts. Battle Mage finished second, while Mets Life and Cum Laude Hall finished third and fourth respectively. Mischief Smile returned $6.20 to win. In the second division, another Reid trainee was first to the wire to give the conditioner a sweep of round one action. Magic Shelley grinded her way first up and trotted away from her rivals in the stretch for a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:57.4. The victory was extra special for driver Mike Saftic, as it was his 5,000th career driving victory. The leg one triumph was a maiden breaking score for the daughter of Majestic Son. Magic Shelley has now earned over $13,000 in eight career starts. Meadow Seelster took the place spot, while Tymal Fireitup and Mass Rail rounded out the Superfecta. Magic Shelley paid $11.50 to win. The first division for the two-year-old pacing fillies saw another filly break her maiden. Little Miss Sporty, who was last at the three-quarter pole, was shown racetrack in the stretch by driver Steve Condren and blew by her rivals with ease for a 1 ¼ length victory in 1:55.1. Trained and co-owned by Stacey Reinsma, Little Miss Sporty had a pair of second place efforts in four starts heading into Monday evening, including a second place finish in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg. A daughter of Sportswriter, Little Miss Sporty now has career earnings of $36,250 for owners Reinsma and John Patterson. Caviart Cari Ann finished second, while Dublin Rose took the show spot. Amazing Control rounded out the Superfecta. Little Miss Sporty paid $35.90 to win. In the final division, Tessa Seelster went gate to wire for a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:55.4. A daughter of Shadow Play, Tessa Seelster was blasted to the lead by driver Mario Baillargeon and never looked back to pick her up second victory in five career starts. Trained by Ben Baillargeon, Tessa Seelster has now earned $15,760 in her young career for owner Richard Berthiaume. Southwind Luna finished second over Maralika, while Lady Jen finished fourth. Tessa Seelster returned $7.00 to win. The second round of the Autumn Series for two-year-old fillies will take place next Monday night (October 27). Autumn Series action continues Thursday evening with the opening round for two-year-old colts and geldings of both gaits.  Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG  


Wally is at it again

The legend that is harness racing’s very own Where’s Wally is growing by the day! Named after the fictional character as a result of an exclusive Harnesslink article a fortnight ago, astute horseman Graham ‘Wally’ McDermott has been given no choice but to embrace his new cult status. Having visited six tracks since the original article, McDermott is being increasingly referred to as “Wally”. So much so, it would appear the astute horseman has an official lifelong nickname. “I’ve been to several tracks since the original article was on Harnesslink and I keep getting people referring to me as Wally,” Wally said. “I’m surprised it has caught on, let alone this quickly. “I get this feeling I will be called Wally for some time to come.” A third generation horseman, Wally has enjoyed a solid rate of success throughout the years with his own team and as a highly sought-after educator. Citing former feature race winner Romeo Castle as the best he has trained, Wally has broken in the likes of top shelf winners Artificial, Saint Flash, Waikare Patricia and Waikare Aristocrat to name a few. For the original article on McDermott’s ‘Wally’ transformation click the links below If you happen to run into Wally, or discover him in one of your racetrack photos, please send them to - we'd love to see them! PAUL COURTS

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Comeback Kings

Throughout the years, so many great harness racing comebacks have been achieved. As highlighted on Harnesslink, yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of Popular Alm’s return from a broken leg. Poppy, as he was affectionately-known, scored first-up in the Italian Cup, with his comeback lasting only two starts – for two wins. Seven years after Popular Alm’s injury, which saw two screws inserted into his offside hind pastern, another superstar was on the comeback trail from a similar ailment. Australasia’s premier pacer, Westburn Grant’s career was in doubt after he fractured his nearside hind pastern. Just like Popular Alm, Westburn Grant’s injury was the result of a freak track work accident, with the stallion requiring four screws to hold the bone together. Despite missing the two final legs of the Australian Grand Circuit, Westburn Grant still managed to be crowned Grand Circuit champion for the second year in succession. He was also named Australian Horse of the Year for the second time. After nine months on the sidelines, Westburn Grant scored first-up at Newcastle before returning to his place at the top of the Grand Circuit. In his comeback campaign, the son of Land Grant raced 14 times for five wins, three seconds and two thirds for an Australian seasonal record of $631,355. Westburn Grant’s victories included the 1992 Inter Dominion, along with a record third Australian Horse of the Year title and the mantle as Grand Circuit champion for the third time. Just months before Westburn Grant’s injury, another outstanding campaigner, Sinbad Bay, returned from a 19-month layoff to engage in several memorable battles with Vic Frost-trained superstar. Touted as the best pacer since Popular Alm following his demolition job of the February 1989 Winfield Cup, Sinbad Bay suffered leg problems a few days later before returning with a Kilmore win in October 1990. Limited to 12 starts before his war torn legs had him sidelined for another three years, Sinbad Bay registered seven wins and three placings, with his victories including the Winfield Cup, which had been renamed the Victoria Cup by 1991. During the course of the next six years, Sinbad Bay made several comebacks and raced with distinction at the highest level. Arguably the greatest comeback of all belongs to Blacks A Fake. A feature race winning three-year-old, Blacks A Fake curbed a hock and damaged his suspensory late in the season, which saw him out of action for 17 months. “His hock was in pretty bad shape and he also had suspensory problems high up on his leg,” trainer Natalie Rasmussen said. “We were more hopeful than confident he would return at the time. “He had 12 months in a paddock, then a long, slow build up before he raced again.” Returning as a five-year-old, Blacks A Fake raced on to be the only competitor to capture four Inter Dominions en route to becoming the world’s rich pacer with a bankroll of $4,575,438. On top of his early leg problems, the son of Fake Left also overcame Equine Influenza in 2007. “He was one of the first to get it in Queensland,” Rasmussen said. “I think champions just find a way to get through the injuries and setbacks by fighting through any niggles they may be feeling.” Current star For A Reason is a modern day comeback hero, having returned from a two-and-a-half year layoff to secure the 2013 Victoria Cup. During his hiatus, the Belinda McCarthy-trained son of Art Major stood at stud. While it remains to be seen what heights he will scale, rising star Philadelphia Man was certainly impressive in his racing return at Melton last week. After 27 months on the sidelines, Philadelphia Man registered a scintillating win for co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin. Another son of Art Major, Philadelphia Man has been aimed at key targets such as the Smoken Up Sprint and Miracle Mile. PAUL COURTS

If her recent results are any indication, The Show Returns has arrived. But harness racing owner Richard Young says the reason the filly was slow to find the spotlight had more to do with unfortunate luck than lack of performance. The Show Returns heads into Saturday's $424,000 Three Diamonds Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers at Woodbine off a neck win over Band Of Angels in 1:53.1 in their elimination division, giving the Chris Ryder-trainee three victories in a row. She will start the Three Diamonds from post No. 2, with Scott Zeron listed to drive. A daughter of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of Stienam's Place, The Show Returns is a full sister to previous Young female pacing star Put On A Show, who earned $2.4 million in her career and was the 2010 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old female pacer. The Show Returns, who was purchased for $180,000 under the name Hey There Delilah, at last year's Lexington Selected Sale, has won four of nine races and earned $98,738 for Richard and Joanne Young.  "We thought she was quite good from the get-go, so to speak, but she just had unfortunate situations," Richard Young said. "People are saying she kind of tailed off in the middle (of the year) but she didn't really tail off. Some things happened. It wasn't that she got bad; if she had gotten bad, I'd have turned her out." The Show Returns finished second by a half-length to Stacia Hanover in her debut in a preliminary round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, then finished a troubled-trip fifth in the final. She bounced back to win a round of the Whenuwishuponastar Series at Mohawk Racetrack, then finished fifth-placed-fourth in the final.  After the race, The Show Returns was diagnosed with synchronous diaphragmatic flutter; spasms of the diaphragm in synchronization with the heartbeat more commonly called "the thumps."  The Show Returns was off-the-board in her next two races, but has been unbeaten since. Among her wins were the She's A Great Lady Consolation and a division of the Champlain Stakes, both in 1:52.  "She's a nice filly," said Young, who in addition to Put On A Show owned I Luv The Nitelife, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old filly pacer. "I don't know if she'll ever be as good as the other two; I think that's asking a lot. But she's competitive and she has good speed. "Anytime you have speed, you can get position. And when you get position, something (good) can happen. I like her." The Show Returns is Young's only racehorse at the current time. "If you look at her on the track, she's a peanut," Young said, laughing. "I don't generally buy peanuts, I like the bigger horse. But she was a June foal, so I thought she might grow. I don't think she's grown an inch. But she has speed, she has an ability to get position, and it looks like she will fight. I can always hope."  The Show Returns will face - for the first time - undefeated JK She'salady in the Three Diamonds. JK She'salady won her elimination on Saturday by one length over Solar Sister in 1:53.3 for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Nancy Johansson. The filly, who in August won the She's A Great Lady Stakes by four lengths in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1, is 9-for-9 this year.  "I've been touting 'Lady' for Pacer of the Year, and I think if she stays undefeated, she should be," Young said. "I don't know if very many people are going along with me, but the fact is she does have the best record out there. She's undefeated and she's won them all easily.  "Of course, I want to beat her and prove me wrong. I wouldn't bet my horse with your money, but that doesn't mean I can't hope that we beat her. I think she's untouchable right now, but I'm hoping that she's not. "I'm a little spoiled. In the last six years or so, I had the horse that was supposed to win. I have to get used to not being the best one. But she could in fact be the second-best one. That's OK, too." The Show Returns in her Three Diamonds Elimination The full field in post order for the Three Diamonds is 1  Happy Becky 2  The Show Returns 3  JK She'salady 4  Float On By 5  Solar Sister 6  Ideal Nuggets 7  Rock Her World 8  Band Of Angels 9  Zip Code Envy 10 Shakai Hanover. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

Could this be the best bred….if not cutest…..harness racing filly of the year? Foaled during the early hours of the morning, the youngster is from a Group One winner by an international star – so bloodlines certainly rate her highly. To be more precise, she is by European sire Yield Boko, which is available in Australia and New Zealand through well-known breeding establishment Aldebaran Park. Adding to the new arrival’s prospects as a trotter and broodmare is her dam – Miss Warbucks. A talented squaregaiter, Miss Warbucks registered 14 victories, including the Group One Trotters’ Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Miss Warbucks was also triumphant in Group Three features - Lightfoot Laurels and Freestone Cup. By premier sire Sundon, Miss Warbucks is the “ideal mother” according to breeder and Aldebaran studmaster, Haley Toulmin. “She is a very proud mum, which is also very protective,” Toulmin said. “She is the ideal mother. “She’s such a cute foal, which all the Yield Bokos are. “We’ve had half a dozen all from different bloodlines, such as Sundon, Muscles Yankee and Dream Vacation, but they all pretty much look the same.” PAUL COURTS

One of the greatest comebacks in harness racing history occurred on this day in 1984. After 11 months on the sidelines, the immortal Popular Alm returned to racing in stylish fashion for the late Bob and Vin Knight. Just a week after his Winfield Cup triumph at Moonee Valley the previous December, Popular Alm broke his pastern in a freak track work accident. “He was pacing along nicely then all of a sudden he dipped and galloped then he just stood there with his leg in the air. I could see he was in a lot of pain,” Vin said. Scans discovered the pastern had been split in two, meaning the injury was much worse than first thought. Two compression screws were inserted across the fractured off-hind pastern, and the leg encased in a plaster cast to the hock for six weeks. Despite a five-hour operation, there was no guarantee Poppy, as he was affectionately-known, would race again. After six months on the sidelines, the eight-year-old was put back into work, with the Knights growing increasingly confident Popular Alm would complete a comeback. To the delight of the adoring public, Popular Alm won a trial at Kilmore on October 11, with the Italian Cup at the Valley earmarked as his racing return. “He was never going flat out at any stage and he's still quite fat. We’re thrilled with the way he went,” Vin said after the trial. Back at the track he had made his own, Australia’'s greatest pacer gave the fans just what they wanted, a scintillating first-up victory. His popularity and drawing power was illustrated that night with a crowd of 13,199 in attendance - almost double the season’s average! A deafening roar erupted when Vin and Popular Alm began quickly to lead from barrier six as the excitement embraced everyone. With the crowd cheering his every stride, Popular Alm proved he still had a scintillating dash when he broke 25 metres clear of the field leaving the back straight. Although his lack of fitness began to show during the latter stages, the stallion was untouched to account for Barts Gamble and Black Armbro by seven metres, rating 2:00.4 for the 2400 metres. Knight described the moment as one of the highlights of his career. “I’d have to rate my first Kilmore Cup win on him and the night he went 1:55.9 at Harold Park as my biggest thrills, but this would equal them,” Vin declared. “He felt sensational and just wanted to bolt and I couldn’t believe it down the back straight. I started laughing. I thought ‘How easy is he going?’ I couldn’t hold him any slower.” To connections’ dismay, Popular Alm’s comeback was short lived. Successful at the Valley two weeks later, the son of Sovereign Adios pulled up sore from track work five days later. The problem was not in the hind leg he broke a year earlier, but in the off-side foreleg. The trouble appeared to be in the area of the suspensory ligament, which indicated Poppy could have been trying to ‘save’ the leg he injured originally, thereby putting additional stress on the one now giving trouble. A week later Bob announced Popular Alm’s problem with the injured foreleg was over and the champion would be back in work within a few days, with the hope of making the Miracle Mile. After suffering several setbacks during the next few weeks, Popular Alm was officially retired with a record of 49 wins and 10 placings from 62 starts and the title as the greatest pacer produced in the Southern Hemisphere. 1983 Miracle Mile Popular Alm -   PAUL COURTS

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, October 19, 2014--Yonkers Raceway has announced the octet of world-class trotters for this Saturday night's (Oct. 25th) International Trot Preview. The race, at one-and-one-quarter miles for a purse of $250,000, is a precursor to next season's return--after a two-decade hiatus--of the International Trot. The eight on the gate for the Preview are (alphabetically) Archangel, Arch Madness, reigning Harness Horse of the Year Bee a Magician, Commander Crowe, Market Share, Natural Herbie, Not Afraid and Sebastian K. the world's fastest trotter. Here's a quick cheat sheet... ARCHANGEL--A 5-year-old statebred son of Credit Winner with more than $1.1 million on account, he's the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner (track-record for 3YO colts [1:54.1]). After a year in the breeding shed, he returned for new trainer Ron Burke and took a life-best 1:50 effort earlier this season. Archangel is co-owned by Legendary Standardbred Farm (Alan Hainsworth) and Clare Semer. ARCH MADNESS--The 10-year-old Balanced Image gelding is a millionaire four times over for co-owners Marc Goldberg & Willow Pond LLC and trainer Trond Smedshammer. Arch Madness served notice that he's back in business this past Friday night, with an 11-length romp in a track-record 2:00.3 for the mile-and-one-sixteenth. BEE A MAGICIAN--2013's Harness Horse of the Year on the strength of a perfect 17-for-17 season, this 4-year-old daughter of Kadabra is defending the honor of the fairer sex here. Thrice a winner (with six seconds) in a dozen starts this season, Bee A Magician's lone local appearance was an effortless track-record (4YO mares) 1:55 in Open event in late August. The lass, a career $2.5 million earner, is trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. COMMANDER CROWE--One of Europe's preeminent trotters, the 11-year-old Juliano Star gelding joins Arch Madness in the $4 million earnings club. His 60 career victories include the Elitlopp in 2012 and, more recently, Sweden's Ã…by Stora Pris invitational. This is his U.S. debut and third North American start, the first two of a pair of thirds in Breeders Crowns (2011 & '12). "Commander" is trained by Fabrice Souloy for owner Snogarps Gard AB (Barbro Wihlborg, Ulf Wihlborg & Joakim Wihlborg). MARKET SHARE--This 5-year-old son of Revenue S is approaching $3.5 million in lifetime loot. His resume includes wins in a pair of seven-figure events, the 2012 Hambletonian and that season's Canadian Trotting Derby. A season ago, it was the Breeders Crown. Maple Leaf Trot and TVG Free-For-All and American-National. In 2014, the Maxie Lee (Harrah's Philly) has been his biggest win to date. Market Share's lone local appearance was a third-place effort (to Archangel) in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. Linda Toscano trains for co-owners Richard Gutnick, Bill Augustine and T L P Stable. NATURAL HERBIE--A 4-year-old Here Comes Herbie gelding has gone from being the scourge of Indiana to one of North America's best trotters. A .500 hitter (11-for-22) this season and a shade better (23-for-45, $624,851) for his career, "Herbie" whipped Invitational class horses in the Vincennes (Meadowlands, life-best 1:51.4) and Noble Memorial (Scioto) for owner/trainer/driver Verlin Yoder. NOT AFRAID--If there's not a law that says a high-end trotting event can't be held without a representative of Jimmy Takter present, perhaps there ought to be. This 5-year-old S J's Caviar gelding is co-owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg. He's a six-time winner each of the last two seasons with career earnings in excess of $400,000. Not Afraid defeated Arch Madness in a Pocono Preferred event earlier this month. However, this is certainly a step up the social circle from the crowd Not Afraid saw the last time he was here, going winless in five tries against overnighters in the first half of 2013. SEBASTIAN K--When your business card reads "World's Fastest Trotter," do you need any other references? The 8-year-old son of Korean, trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt for owner Knutsson Trotting (Michael Knutsson and Tristan Sjoberg), has taken the continent by storm in 2014. Eight wins and two seconds in 11 starts ($663,853), with his stunning 1:49 effort in a late June Pocono Invitational rewriting all the record books. A pair of stakes wins at the Meadowlands and one a Vernon are also included. His European prowess unquestioned (nearly $2.3 million in earnings), Sebastian K, as well as Commander Crowe, add to the tremendous list of overseas horses who have, ahem, "taken their talents to Westchester." This Saturday night's (Oct. 25) five stakes finals...$500,000 Yonkers Trot, $500,000 Messenger Stakes, $250,000 International Trot Preview, $150,854 Lady Maud and $124,590 Hudson Filly Trot shall be "open drawn" Tuesday afternoon. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

With several key harness racing targets on his schedule, Kvintet Avenger will be out to create a slice of history this summer. Carving an impressive Australian career, Kvintet Avenger has been aimed at features such as the V L Dullard Cup, Australasian Trotting Championship and Great Southern Star by trainer Brent Lilley. Success in any top shelf event will see Kvintet Avenger become the first European-bred performer to enjoy Group One success ‘Down Under’. “Races like the Dullard Cup and Great Southern Star are the aim, but he has to keep improving first,” Lilley declared. “That said, he has done everything asked of him so far and gives every indication there is more to come. “With the way he is progressing I can’t see any reason why he won’t make his way into that company and prove competitive.” Boasting four wins and a second from five local starts, Kvintet Avenger’s latest triumph came in Saturday night’s Swan Hill Trotters’ Cup. Driven confidently by Rodney Petroff, the son of Love You began well from his 10-metre mark to settle in the ‘death seat’ as Neville Vaughan worked to the lead. Striding to the front along the break straight as Neville Vaughan broke gait, Kvintet Avenger cruised to a strong two-and-a-half metre win from Wildenstein, with Monsieur Deville nine metres away third. “That was another good run from him,” Lilley said. “I wasn’t concerned about him sitting outside the leader as he is pretty strong. “Down the back when he rolled to the front I knew they wouldn’t catch him and Rodney just let him stride to the line as he pleased.” Originally purchased along with two other squaregaiters by clients of New Zealand trainer Tim Butt, Kvintet Avenger was then transferred to Lilley. “He’s a nice type…a really lovely horse,” Lilley said. “Tim bought three from Scandinavia, including him, but he didn’t work out as expected, so Tim sent him over here to see if I can get him straightened out. “He’s come along really well and should keep improving as he goes along.” PAUL COURTS

YONKERS, NY,  -It was "Elimination Saturday," with Yonkers Raceway hosting paring events for three harness racing stakes events. Fifteen 3-year-old colts and geldings turned into eight for Yonkers Trot No. 60, as standouts Nuncio (John Campbell, barred from wagering) and Gural Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., $2.30, part of entry) were comfy winners in the pair of $40,000 elims. Nuncio, in play early form post position No. 5, waited his turn before finally making the lead. He parked Skates N Plates (George Brennan), then strode home by 3 ½ lengths (:28.4, :58 1:26.4, 1:56.2). Don Dorado (Tim Tetrick), the wagering "winner ($6.20), was second, with Journey (Dan Dube) and Expressive Action (Jason Bartlett) third and fourth, respectively. The wagering exacta paid $81, with the wagering triple returning $221. For Kentucky Futurity champ Nuncio, a millionaire Andover Hall colt trained by Jimmy Takter for owner Stall Tz, it was his ninth win (third consecutive) in 14 seasonal starts. Note that he and sixth-place finisher Amped Up Hanover (Matt Kakaley) raced for purse only, as the latter, co-owned by Takter's wife, Christina, were not made a parimutuel entry. "He didn't have to show me anything," Campbell--eying a third Trot title--said of Nuncio. 'I just took my time with him getting the lead, then I let him do it all by himself." Nuncio New York Sire Stakes champion Gural Hanover, the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into this season's Trot, won the draw in the second elim. He retook from a breaking-soon-after Flyhawk El Durado (Mark MacDonald) before finishing his four turns (:28.4, 58.1; 1:27.2; 1:56.3) a length faster than Resolve (Tetrick) in 1:56.3. Third went to King City (Brennan), with Datsyuk (Charlie Norris) getting the final place at the table. For Gural Hanover, a Crazed gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E and Panhellenic Stables, he's now 10-for-14 this season. The exacta paid $7.10, with the triple returning $24.40. Gural Hanover The $40,000 musical chairs elim for the 59th Messenger--nine soph colts/geldings to end up with eight--was won by a pocket-sitting Luck Be Withyou (Tetrick, $23). From post No. 2, he whipped a cone-skimming Forty Five Red (Brennan) by a neck (:27.2; :57, 1:25 1:53) with McWicked (Dave Miller) a belated third. All Bets Off (Kakaley), the NYSS champ and strongest third of the 4-5 favored entry, tired noticeably on the lead despite cheap fractions, winding up fourth. Western Conquest (Brent Holland), Lyonssomewhere (Brett Miller), National Debt (Campbell) and Stevensville (Ray Schnittker) completing the qualifying octet, while Double Your Bet (Jason Bartlett) was outrun. For fourth choice "Luck," a Western Ideal colt owned by John Craig and trained by Chris Oakes, it was his fifth win in 13 '14 tries. The exacta paid $41.40, with the triple returning $84.50. "I just wanted to be able to be in a position to chase (All Bets Off)," Tetrick said. "He obviously was no goof tonight, and we were able to take advantage." "Flat, very flat," Kakaley said. "I was cruising at the five-eighths, then in the final turn, I knew I was in trouble. "I don't know if he's sick, but he was not nearly the same horse tonight." Luck Be Withyou Saturday night's pair of $20,000 eliminations for the Lady Maud (3-year-old pacing fillies) were won by Fancy Desire (Brennan, $2.70) in 1:54, and Act Now (Brennan again, $4.90) in 1:53.1. The other lasses returning for the final are Beautiful Lady, Tyra, Do Your Job, Scandalicious, A La Notte Hanover and Anagada. Also Saturday, the Raceway honored the recently-retired Cat Manzi with a video tribute, a winner's circle presentation and a meet-and-greet autograph photo session with fans. Next Saturday's (Oct. 25) five stakes finals...$500,000 Yonkers Trot, $500,000 Messenger Stakes, $250,000 International Trot Preview, $150,854 Lady Maud and $124,590 Hudson Filly Trot (no elims-only six entered) shall be "open drawn" Tuesday afternoon. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

When Tim Williams headed to the harness racing meeting at Wairio today with a confirmed book of seven drives even he wouldn't have thought he would drive six winners and run third with his other runner. But thats how it played out today as Tim gave a display of reinsmanship as good as it gets. We caught up with Tim after the last race and he gave us a quick rundown of the winners he drove today. Race 1 - Dark Dana A bit of a surprise actually. He has always had a bit of bottom to him but has had a few gait issues but he was good today and the big track was a help.   Race 2 - Oneover A lovely horse who lead easily and then trailed the horse I was worried about. He grabbed the lead up the passing lane very easily in the straight and won a lot more comfortably than it looked. He knocked off once he found the front and had plenty left in the tank.   Race 3 - Ode To Success He has got lovely manners and thats what won it for him. He got a lovely run and quite a few had a gallop so he did it fairly easily in the end.   Race 6 - Rockahula Arden She went super last week so I thought she would be tough. From barrier one I was always going to lead and she won like I thought she would. She did it very easily in the end.   Race 7 - Fly Like An Eagle He was here at Wairio for his confidence. On paper he looked a class above them and thats how it worked out. He did it very easily and he has come through the run great so hes on track for better things.   Race 8 - Margarita I spoke to Dexter during the week and he gave me a big wrap about her. He said she was good enough to make her own luck and thats how it worked out. Once I worked to the front I was very confident and she didn't disappoint.   As of this point of the season, Tim has had 18 drives for 10 wins and 6 placings.  In the future whenever Tim looks back on his driving career, todays effort in driving six winners from just seven drives will surely rate right up there as a career highlight. Harnesslink Media

TORONTO, October 18 - The Fall Four Stakes eliminations were completed Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $25,000 eliminations were contested for the Governors Cup for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings and the Valley Victory for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings. The top five finishers from both eliminations advanced to next Saturday's finals. Lyons Again and Yannick Gingras pulled off a 14-1 upset in the first elimination of the Governors Cup. Leaving from post nine, Lyons Again showed good early speed to grab the lead past the opening quarter in :26.3, but quickly took to the two-hole and allowed Lyons Levi Lewis to clear to the front. Lyons Levi Lewis carved out fractions of :56.1 and 1:23.3 to bring the field to the top of the stretch, while Lyons Again sat patiently In The Pocket and Rufo challenged first up with the favourite, Lost For Words, second over. In the stretch, Rufo could not sustain his pressure and faded back allowing Lyons Again to come off the rail and over take the lead from Lyons Levi Lewis. Lyons Again would hold off Traceur Hanover and Lost For Words to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4. Go Daddy Go finished fourth, while Migrate Blue Chip got up for fifth to advance to the $565,000 final. The Governors Cup elimination victory was a maiden breaking score for Lyons Again, who is trained by Ron Burke for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. The son of Dragon Again finished third in the $667,000 Metro Pace on August 30 at Mohawk and had only missed the board once in seven career starts heading into his elimination. Lyons Again has now earned of over $174,000 in eight career starts. He returned $30.50 to win. Lyons Again In the second elimination, Pierce Hanover scored a 13-1 upset victory in 1:52.1. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Pierce Hanover sat third entering the final turn and edged to the outside to come first up, allowing the heavy favourite, Artspeak, to pick up second over cover. However, Artspeak would make a quick break on the turn and lost enough ground to take him out of contention. Pierce Hanover would capitalize on the break by the favourite and paced by the three-quarter pole leader, Arque Hanover, in the stretch and would go on to win by a length in 1:52.1. Blood Brother, who got a two-hole trip, finished second, while Artspeak regrouped and rallied to finish third. Arque Hanover held on to finish fourth and advanced to the final, along with fifth place finisher Lancaster Park. A son of Cams Card Shark, Pierce Hanover is trained by Ken Sucee, who shares ownership with Ralph Sucee. Pierce Hanover has now won four times in ten career starts and carries a bankroll of over $62,000. He returned $28.10 to win. Pierce Hanover In the first elimination of the Valley Victory, Whataworkout and Scott Zeron got up in the final stride to defeat seven other rivals in 1:56.3. Trained by Frank Antonacci, Whataworkout angled out from fourth on the final turn and was first up to challenge the leader Uncle Lasse, as the field reached the three-quarter pole in 1:26.4. In the stretch, Whataworkout grinded away at the leader and got up in the final steps to pull off a 21-1 upset. Uncle Lasse finished second by a neck, while Big Rich took the show spot. A son of Muscle Hill, Whataworkout is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and has now won twice in four career starts for earnings of over $27,000. The clocking of 1:56.3 is a new lifetime best for the Antonacci trainee. Pinkman finished fourth, while The Bank finished fifth to lock up a spot in next week's final. Whataworkout paid $44.20 to win. Whataworkout There was no upset in the second elimination, as Habitat, the 1/5 favourite, did not disappoint. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Habitat was parked to the opening quarter in :27.3, before touching down on the lead. The son of Conway Hall would set fractions of :58 and 1:26.4 to lead the field into the stretch, where he cruised home under a Gingras hand drive to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:55.4. Jetpedia, who was second over on the last turn, got up for second, while Aldebaran Eagle prevailed in a show photograph over Walter White. Trained by Ron Burke, Habitat has now won six of nine career starts, including the $390,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk on September 13. Habitat has now earned over $349,000 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. He returned $2.90 to win. Iron finished fifth to punch the last ticket into next week's $521,000 final. Habitat Following the eliminations, the post positions for the finals were drawn. Elimination winners earned the right to select their post. Here is how they will lineup next Saturday night. PP/Horse/Driver $521,000 Valley Victory Final 1. Pinkman - Yannick Gingras 2. Uncle Lasse - Ron Pierce 3. Whataworkout - Scott Zeron 4. Habitat - Yannick Gingras 5. Aldebaran Eagle - Corey Callahan 6. Jetpedia - Mike Saftic 7. The Bank - Jimmy Takter 8. Walter White - Scott Zeron 9. Big Rich - Randy Waples 10. Iron - Brian Sears AE: Lookslikeachpndale - Sylvain Filion $565,000 Governors Cup Final 1. Lancaster Park - James MacDonald 2. Pierce Hanover - Jody Jamieson 3. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 4. Arque Hanover - Steve Condren 5. Lost For Words - Doug McNair 6. Artspeak - Scott Zeron 7. Go Daddy Go - Corey Callahan 8. Migrate Blue Chip - Rick Zeron 9. Blood Brother - Sylvain Filion 10. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples AE: Lyons Levi Lewis - Sylvain Filion The Fall Four Stakes finals will take place next Saturday, October 25 at Woodbine Racetrack. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG  

DAYTON, OH. - Ohio Sires Stakes championships for older horses were decided in decidedly different fashions Saturday night at Hollywood Dayton Raceway. The $50,000 trotting split was won by Final Breath in the most thrilling race to date at harness racing's newest venue. Dancin Yankee, on the other hand, enjoyed a virtual walk in the park in the $50,000 pacing division. The championship races for older state-bred horses were the first contested in many years as the VLT-infused racing renaissance in Ohio continues to gain momentum. Final Breath, Ohio's 2013 Ohio Horse of the Year, turned the tables on last week's elimination winner Count Me In by withstanding a lengthy photo finish which proved he had in fact held off his main adversary by about an inch. Driver-trainer Hugh (Sandy) Beatty made a bold second quarter brush to the front with favored Count Me In (Mike Wilder), who had set the track record of 1:55.1 last week, opting for the pocket ride. The result was a thrilling stretch duel between the two heavyweight trotters who reached the wire in tandem in 1:54.4, the new track standard. It was the 20th career win for Final Breath, sent off at odds of 5-2 as the only four-year-old in the talented field, and increased his earnings to $322,578 for owner Duane Lowe. Rompaway Beau (Tyler Buter) was best of the rest to finish third. Dancin Yankee had a much easier task as the prohibitive favorite made it look easy capturing the pacing race in 1:52.1 over the 'good' track that horsemen lauded despite the fact the Dayton area experienced prolonged showers all afternoon. Driver Tyler Buter placed the millionaire pacer on the front end throughout and drew off by over five lengths in the stretch. With the impressive win Dancin Yankee's earnings soared to $509,140 this season for owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo. Outdoor Fever (Kayne Kauffman) was a game second place finisher, just as he was in his elimination heat, with Grandkids Attack (Jason Brewer) getting the show dough. Hollywood Dayton Raceway will host its first-ever Grand Circuit races on Friday night, October 24 when the inaugural $150,000 (est.) Dayton Trotting Derby and $110,000 (est.) Dayton Pacing Derby are presented. Creatine, presently the hottest trotter in North America, is expected to headline the Trotting Derby; while Foiled Again, the richest harness horse of all-time, was the first to name in to the Pacing Derby. Trainers are reminded that the entry box for the gala Friday night card closes on Monday (October 20) at 2:00 p.m. The Dayton race office accepts phone entries from noon to 2:00 p.m. at 937-235-7859, or welcomes entries through the USTA's online platform From the Dayton Raceway press box

What a difference 12 months can make in harness racing. This time last year handy pacer Avonnova was plucked out of a Goulburn claimer by Queensland trainer Ian Gurney, who was hoping to win a few races at Albion Park. As of last night’s meeting at that exact venue, Avonnova is now the favourite for next week’s Grand Circuit opener – Queensland Pacing Championship. Under Gurney’s guidance, Avonnova has won 13 of his 21 starts, including the Gold Coast Cup. The son of Art Major also has five placings to his credit. In response to his Group Two success, Avonnova has been installed the nominal favourite for the $200,000 feature, with the barrier draw to be released on Tuesday. Driven by top reinsman Shane Graham, Avonnova began swiftly to lead from barrier two as Devil Dodger and then Majestic Major worked in the ‘death seat’. Fending off the initial challenge on the home turn, the gelding was untouched to score by five metres from New South Wales visitor Blazin N Cullen. Victorian raider, Abettorpunt, was two metres away third. Covering the last half in a brilliant 54.4 seconds, the eight-year-old rated 1:54 for the 2138 metres, slicing a tenth of a second off Fearless Leader’s track record established last July. Another highlight of the card was Our Overanova’s sensational victory in the Seelite Windows and Doors Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship. Trained and driven premier horseman Grant Dixon, Our Overanova overcame a 30-metre back mark to account for Mister Malakye and Goldstar Invasion. Boasting 17 wins and a second from 19 Australian starts, the son of Monarchy may also have earned a trip south later in the season. Thanks to his latest triumph, Our Overanova is guaranteed a berth in the Great Southern Star series at Melton in March. PAUL COURTS

MANALAPAN, NJ - October 18, 2014 - George "The Minister of Speed" Brennan pressed Cut A Deal in a move to the lead on the final turn and drew away for a nine and three-quarter length victory in the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes - Green Acres Final for three-year-old pacing fillies, the third race on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Freehold Raceway. Cut A Deal [$8.20] followed 1-5 favorite Fanticipation before pulling away for the victory, crossing the wire in 1:54.2, tossing in a last quarter of 28.4. Both are daughters of Rocknroll Hanover. Ideal Helen [Western Ideal] was third by 13 1/4 lengths. Cut A Deal, trained by Nick Surick, improved her record to four wins, two seconds and six thirds in 24 starts this year and has finished in-the-money in 20 of 36 career outings. The victory pushed her career bankroll to $106,295 for the JL Benson Stables Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Cut A Deal The Green Acres program has two more events in 2014 - both for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters - the third leg on October 23 and the $25,000 final on October 30. The last of the New Jersey Futurity divisions for two-year-old pacers is set for October 25, also at Freehold. by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ

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Fiftyshadesdarker took the $12,500 Open Pace on Monday (October 20) at Northfield Park. Brian Loney owns and trains the winning four year-old and enlisted the driving harness racing services of Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. Fiftyshadesdarker (Bettor's Delight - Crystal Slipper - Artiscape) started from the rail and virtually led the field from start to finish through fractions of :27.4, :57, 1:25.2 and 1:54.1. He was 1/2-length in front at the finish. Completing the race were DJ Lance, Mybrothergeorge, Our McLovin, Hall Of Memories, Playin For Keeps, Master Stroke, Just Crowned and Aligned Hanover. Fiftyshadesdarker now has six wins in 30 starts this year, 10 career successes and a bankroll of $79,460. He was the race favorite and paid $3.00 to win. Kirty Dream was impressive in winning the evening's $12,500 Open Trot. Jeff Hochstetler trains the seven year-old for owner Mario Caponi of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Jason Thompson was aboard for the winning drive. Kirty Dream (Cantab Hall - Klelia - Cezio Josselyn) started from post seven. He was parked with cover through fractions of :27.4, :57.3 and 1:27 before taking lead in the stretch and besting his competition by 1 ¾-lengths, in 1:57.1. Completing the race were Mythical Hall, Mary's Darvin, Wind Surfer, Mischievous Jesse, Zorgwijk Heavenly, Action SJ, Calling A Victory and Edit. Monday's triumph was the ninth win this year for Kirty Dream. It increased his lifetime win tally to 20 and his earnings to $271,709. He returned $7.00 to win. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
Walkill, NY --- Blue Chip Farms today announced several promotions within the company’s senior management team. Principle and Managing Partner Tom Grossman will take over as Syndicate Manager for Blue Chip’s syndicated stallions (the position was held by Mike Kimelman who recently resigned to pursue other interests). Grossman is not only the farm's principal but also a major shareholder in all of the syndicated stallions managed by the farm. Complementing Grossman is the promotion of Jean Brown to General Manager. Brown has been with Blue Chip since 1990 and is a mainstay for customers and stallion shareholders alike. Grossman will continue to focus on expanding some key customer relationships as will 10 year employee and harness racing constant, bloodstock coordinator Jenn Connor. Ed Amezcua has now assumed the title of Operations Manager, overseeing the entire farm staff, breeding shed, yearling management and sales after 16 years in almost every role on the farm, including farm manager since 2005. Hector Cedeno has been promoted to Farm Manager and will continue to be Amezcua's right hand man, responsible for broodmare and foal management. Working together as they have for the last 14 years, they will continue to maintain Blue Chip's goal of exceptional horse care and high fertility rates. Herb Burns, Blue Chip’s “on-farm” vet has expanded his presence by both becoming more involved in all facets of farm management and especially yearling and broodmare conformation analysis. Burns has added Dr. Jake Keifer to the team, who has become a full-time resident at the Wallkill facility. “The Blue Chip team is the foundation for our success,” said Grossman. “The ability to promote three key employees from within as well as upgrading our core group of employees via seven new hires over the last year gives us an ability to maintain an exceptional environment for every horse on the farm, which in turn acts as a platform to continue to invest in the business and generate returns for all of our stakeholders. We look forward to harvesting the returns of our recent aggressive stallion management as well as the significant investment in the addition of 21 new “A-Type” broodmares over the last two years.” Blue Chip Farms is the leading commercial Standardbred breeding and boarding farm in New York State, encompassing almost 700 acres in the rolling hills of Wallkill, N.Y. Founded in 1969, Blue Chip has produced five world champions, over 1,000 stakes winners and close to a quarter-billion dollars in purse money. Owned by Tom Grossman, Blue Chip stands and manages 11 stallions in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In 2014, the farm bred more than 2,000 mares globally and delivered more than 160 foals with a 95-plus percent conception rate. From Blue Chip Farms
DOVER, Del. ---- Dover Downs is now accepting applications for those seeking to race during the upcoming 46th season which begins Sunday, Nov. 2. The six-month long meet continues through April 9, 2015. The Dover Downs meet will feature 15-races a day, five days a week, with Friday aND Saturday dark days. The track’s major event, the16th Progress Pace, an estimated $350,000 contest for three-year-old colts, will highlight a stakes-heavy November and December. Progress Pace $35,000 eliminations divisions will be held on Sunday, Nov. 30. The top eight qualifiers return for the rich final and $25,000 consolation, Dec. 7. The Matron Series, the sport’s oldest continuous stakes for two-and-three-year-olds, will be raced on one program of lucrative finals on Thursday, Nov. 6. In late November, the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund two-year-old stakes will lead off with two preliminary legs in November with four $100,000 finals in late month and early December. There is no charge for admission or parking at Dover Downs. Reservations are suggested for the Winner’s Circle Restaurant by phoning 302-764-4600.  Horsemen desiring to stay overnight are urged to make reservations early at the 4-Star Dover Downs Hotel. There is daily simulcasting of North American harness and thoroughbred racing and three-game parlays of NFL games are also featured in the Simulcasting Club.  by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs
WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 20, 2014 -- Conversation Boy and Rock The Nite each captured his second straight split in Monday's late-closing series for freshman colt and gelding pacers at The Meadows and will advance to the final. Also earning a berth in the Nov. 1 championship was Cams Fernando, who took the other $12,500 second-leg division. Owner/breeder Bob Key enjoyed a series double with Conversation Boy and Rock The Nite. Conversation Boy quarter-poled to the lead for Wilbur Yoder and held off the late, inside bid of Jed Kidd Squaking to defeat him by 3/4 lengths in 1:55.2. The first-over Aberdeen Hanover was third. Rich Gillock trains the son of Tell All-Water Colors K. Rock The Nite, a son of Rocknroll Hanover-Queen Of The Ball, was ahead at every call -- just as he was in the series opener -- when he scored in 1:56.3 for Dave Palone and trainer Norm Parker. Mandalay Spur was second, 1-1/2 lengths back, with the first-over Nesh Cruiser third. It was one of four wins for Palone among the day's 16 races. In the $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, 11-1 Macharoundtheclock won her Third Straight with an eye-popping, four-wide move into the final turn that carried her to victory in 1:53, 1-1/4 lengths better than Do Me Honor. Rescue Team earned show. Eric Ledford piloted the 4-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Summers Soul, who now boasts $346,087 in career earnings, for trainer Tim Twaddle and owner Birnam Wood Farms. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $12,500-guaranteed pool for its Pick 4 as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. While The Meadows regularly guarantees a $5,000 pool for its Monday and Tuesday Pick 4 wagers, the track enriched the guarantee after no one successfully picked Monday’s Pick 4, resulting in a $3,066.21 carryover. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (Races 4-7) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post Tuesday is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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