Jim Morrill Jr

Six nights of racing - rain, wind, cold, and snow

March 28-April 3, 2015 - We're two weeks into the 2015 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven't seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we've already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition. Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete. Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder. Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night's condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week's fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It's difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they're arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races. The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch. When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he'll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week's fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS Three victories by Adams' horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

Nathan Purdon - Moving to Queensland to work for Ian Gurney

Nathan Purdon to hook up with Ian Gurney

Nathan Purdon is to widen his experience in the harness racing business-and hopes to get more drives while he is doing it with his transfer to Ian Gurney's Brisbane stable in the next month . "I met Ian while I was in Melbourne while he was there with Avonnova and he offered me a position." "It will mean a lot more opportunities to drive hopefully and that is one of the main factors." "In a big stable like ours unless you are the No 1 Junior Driver its a real struggle to get opportunities." "I don't know how long it will be for." "I will see what happens." "But it seems a good chance  for me all round", Nathan said. Ian Gurney has built up a remarkable record from his Chapman's Flat base where he was a virtual hobby trainer for a good while, the family being involved in the earthmoving business. He has had four starters in the Miracle Mile with Raglan and Mach Alert being the earlier ones and he turned the career of Avonnova around after buying him cheaply out of a claimer in Sydney in late 2013. Avonnova  had earlier won good races for Steve Turnbull. Avonnova broke Beautide's 1.52.6 record in the Newcastle Mile this season and was Queensland Horse of the Year last season. Ian's success has been such that his thoroughbred loving family have started investing in standardbreds, and one, Smooth Showgirl, won the $A100,000 Nursery Stakes for fillies last year. He has taken a share in the Bettor's Delight colt Rishi purchased at the Christchurch sale along with Mark and Natalie and Luke McCarthy as a result of his association with the stable recently. Nathan does not expect to drive another Adore Me during his trip. He was close to the champion mare from her early days and her career ending injury was a blow for him, "I didn't want it to end." "It was such a great ride and eeally emotional." "But she never let us down and you can't say that about many top horses." "They all have their moments when they are not so good." "She was so laid back it was unbelievable and she was such a great mover it was incredible." "I was sad it was over so soon but there are so many memories and she had done all she had to and more." "I don't think I will handle one like that again for a long time if ever" Nathan said.   Courtesy Of All Stars Racing Stables    

Follow The Stars - Off to Australia due to the lack of suitable races in New Zealand

Follow The Stars Australia bound

Harness racing enthusiasts in Australia have gotten use to the blue with grey stars colours of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen raiding their feature age group races over the last few years and a team of three left New Zealand today on the latest raid Last weekends New Zealand Welcome Stakes winner Waikiki Beach is headed for the heats of the APG  for the colts and geldings at Menangle on April 7th. The impressive looking two year old son of Somebeachsomewhere has the ability to go with the looks and looks set to give the APG series a big shake. Also on the plane to Sydney today with him is the smart filly MacKenzie who made a lovely debut against the best colts in New Zealand in the New Zealand Welcome Stakes, running home late for a close up fourth. The big strapping daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven is held in high regard by the All Stars barn and will kick off her APG campaign in the heats at Melton on April 10th. A late addition to the team heading to Australia was the star three year old Follow The Stars who due to being handicapped as an open class horse in New Zealand has little in the way of suitable races to line up in. Mark Purdon believes the handicapping system in Australia is much more accommodating to a horse like Follow The Stars. "He is an M1 over there and not hard to place." "With so many races being restricted to four year old and over in the grades here in New Zealand, he has few opportunities coming up" Mark said. Mark's son Michael Purdon will be there to greet the team when it arrives on Thursday. Mark flies to Sydney  on Easter Monday  to prepare the three horse team  which will be based at Luke McCarthy's property while in Sydney.. Harnesslink Media  

Goodtime Sammy

Somebeachsomewhere youngster looks special

A trio of top-notch harness racing two-year-olds took out yesterday's Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old colts’ and geldings’ heats at Tabcorp Park Melton. Christmas Jolt (Village Jolt / Christmas Cullen), Goodtime Sammy (Somebeachsomewhere / Graces Beach) and Kingofthestars (Sportswriter / Kirrilee Joy) all impressed and have ticked off the first important box ahead of the $322,000 final later this month at Menangle. Smythes Creek trainer Emma Stewart trains both Goodtime Sammy and Kingofthestars. The jury’s out regarding which of Stewart’s strong crop of two-year-old pacers is the best, but several have impressed, including today’s winners. Goodtime Sammy was particularly impressive. The colt – a half-brother to Goodtime Bobby – worked to the lead early doors in the 1720-metre race before putting a gap on his rivals down the back straight, racing about 30 metres clear. When he swung for home Goodtime Sammy was still well in front and, while runner-up Most Happy Cullen cut into the final winning margin late, reinsman Greg Sugars hardly moved a muscle aboard Goodtime Sammy who coasted home by 4.7 metres in a mile rate of 1:56.8. It was the winner’s third triumph from three starts following a debut victory over Brallos Pass at Charlton and a last-start 7.9-metre triumph over Rocknroll Gold. As good as Goodtime Sammy was the murmurs around the traps are that stablemate Kingofthestars might be even better. Driven by Nathan Jack, Kingofthestars was able to work to the lead and hold off all comers late for a 13.5-metre win over Brallos Pass in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Today’s meeting opened with Christmas Jolt taking out the first heat of the APG for Peter Manning and reinswoman daughter Kerryn Manning. Christmas Jolt, who won his first four races before running second to Don’t Holt Back in blistering time at Melton, bounced back today to make it five from six with a nine-metre win over Herehecomes in a 1:57 flat mile rate. Christmas Jolt dictated out in front before cruising home, punters who took the shorts – $1.60 – at no point nervous. It was a good day for favourite punters, with Goodtime Sammy ($1.04), Kingofthestars ($1.80), Glenferrie Burn ($1.80), Bettor Downunder ($1.50), Wingara ($1.10) and Kyvalley Vice ($2.10) all prevailing. >> Video Replays Goodtime Sammy runs his rivals off their legs! Christmas Jolt bounces back to winners' list Kingofthestars makes it two APG Heat winners for Stewart by Cody Winnell

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. – John Kenneth Galbraith The majority of race tracks are not populated by horses with the qualifications of Dortmund or California Chrome, or by trainers with the name recognition of Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert or Steve Asmussen. The base of the racing pyramid is built with horses named Grant or Get a Notion, animals that are kept in racing condition by trainers who toil in relative anonymity at tracks often ignored by the people who often forget racing occurs at places other than the cathedrals of the sport like Saratoga or Churchill Downs or Santa Anita. The base of the pyramid is built on the blue collar efforts of guys like Bill Brashears, conditioners keeping $3,500 claimers healthy enough to run and plying their trade in the minor leagues of racing at tracks like Turf Paradise, Arapahoe Park, Farmington, Rilito, and Albuquerque. Brashears comes across exactly like what he is. A  guy who shoots straight and understands that you treat people with unambiguous honesty and fairness, expecting the same in return. He is guileless and smart and hard-working, a trainer’s trainer. Success in his business is based on relationships, knowing who the good guys and not so good guys are. Who can be trusted and who needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. In Bill’s world you give the good guys the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to. The bad guys – better to just not deal with them. He treats his horses with the kind of care you only see from someone with a love for the thoroughbred and a passion for watching them run. He is not the guy described by a cynical racing executive as being willing to do anything that will allow him to win. It is simply not in his nature to do anything less than treat his horses as if they were family, the core of Brashears Racing. You can see him metamorphose around his horses, the hardscrabble exterior melting away into a doting grandfather, feeding them peppermints and affectionately scratching at their muzzle. He admits that when he climbed over a fence at 13 so he could see horses run, he was hooked. He trains not simply because it is a job, but because it is so much a part of who he is. He’ll never amass a fortune running at the smaller tracks, but that was never his goal. If Bill Brashears is remembered as a trainer who worked his butt off and played by the rules and was an example to any trainer hoping to make a mark in racing  the right way, he will be satisfied. What a lot of trainers, including Bill Brashears, are having trouble with is believing they could do everything what they thought was the right way, but have still been hit with medication positives. In Brashears case the offending drug was Banamine, a medication that has been used for years to help control inflammation. Horses are athletes and they suffer from the same affflictions common to all athletes. It is nothing less than humane to treat horses with therapeutic medications, drugs that will provide comfort to the animals while they recuperate. What a therapeutic like Banamine doesn’t do is mask pain in a way that will allow a horse to run as if nothing is wrong. Ask any veterinarian – if you are trying to mask an injury, you would have to use a fairly strong narcotic not the equine equivalent of ibuprofen. Again ask any veterinarian – inflammation is a natural process and it is critical for survival. It is defined as “a protective immunovascular response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” The problem is that often this process becomes excessive, creating a vicious cycle and causing more tissue damage and pain than the injury itself might. Inflammation can produce different products, including prostaglandins and other inflammatory “mediators” that help bring about these effects. According to Thal Equine Hospital in Santa Fe, NM, “This is where anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful. Their role is to dampen inflammation by reducing the formation of these mediators, and thus reducing the signs of disease (swelling, pain and fever, for example) while still allowing healing to take place.” In other words, anti-inflammatory drugs are precisely what are indicated for certain conditions. One might even argue it is cruel not to give a horse with inflammation a medication. Banamine belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDS”), which includes familiar human drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. They are drugs that have been used safely and effectively for decades. It is generally the veterinarian’s drug of choice for soft tissue inflammatory conditions (sore muscles) and is considered kinder to a horse’s stomach than phenylbutazone (bute) for treating joint swelling. Banamine is also a good choice for horses that have a tendency to tie-up. The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has stated, “Class 4 or 5 therapeutic medications (mostly NSAID-type medications such as Phyenylbutazone) are used to ease the aches and pains of training – akin to a person taking an Advil before or after a competition. It will not make that individual run any faster or jump any higher than his or her natural ability to do so.” For those concerned about the welfare of the horse, NSAIDs, when used as prescribed, do not put a horse at substantially elevated risk of catastrophic injury. So if you are a racing commissioner and you believe it is necessary to set a standard for Banamine, the question you should ask is straightforward: at what level is the analgesic benefit of Banamine essentially negligible? Whether or not Banamine might have some residual benefit to inflammation should be irrelevant, since good veterinary practice has already established that reductions in inflammation often speed healing. If a horse is not receiving an analgesic effect, it would be hard to argue the drug is performance enhancing. THAT is the level at which we should set the standard. Most vets and pharmacologists agree that any post-race level below 50ng/ml and a withdrawal time of 24-hours from administration will completely ensure elimination of the analgesic effect Racing is governed for the most part by politically appointed boards and commissions. The commissions are not normally filled with experts on pharmacology, and they are often at the mercy of long-time administrators, people like Rick Arthur in California, Joe Gorajec in Indiana, and Dan Hartman in Colorado. These are the people who populate the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), a group on the record as calling for “the racing industry and member regulators to embrace a strategy to phase out drugs and medication in horse racing.” (ARCI Press Release March 28, 2011) The chairman of the ARCI at the time of that press release? Dan Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Racing Commission. He becomes an integral part of Bill Brashears story. In that press release Hartman is quoted as saying that “a five-year phase out [of Lasix] is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe and Hong Kong.” Hartman’s successor, William Koester, Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, added, “Today over 99% of Thoroughbred racehorses and 70% of Standardbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them four hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I’m sure the decision makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted, however this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horseman become more desperate to win races and has given horse racing a black eye.” Koester’s statement is meant to inflame (no pun intended) by referencing needles stuck in horses, as if it was some willy-nilly attempt to torture helpless animals. When I was shadowing Doug O’Neill I watched his vet, Dr Ryan Patterson, administer a Lasix shot and if you had blinked you would have missed it. The horse had no negative reaction at all. Koester further pounds home the point that trainers are medicating their horses only to gain an advantage and win races, seemingly arguing they are not doing it to ensure the horse’s health is being managed so that it can race without distress. Not passing the smell test and black eye for racing are the justifications for trying to make all racing drug free. It reminds me of a quote from Arnold Glasow. “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” As long as administrators with the power to make the rules for racing insist the seamy underbelly of racing is legal therapeutic medication, it can become the facts. The press release states that ARCI intends to move toward “enacting a policy of zero-tolerance.” (Note: Once Koester took over as chair, he quickly backed off that statement, stating the ARCI does not subscribe to a policy of zero-tolerance, but bear in mind it was Hartman who approved the press release.) Hartman concludes, “We regulators are the only voice in racing for the animals and betting public. It’s time we raise the bar in service to both.” To reference the famous Pogo line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I have already written about why we cannot be Hong Kong (http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=910). Basically, North America  runs more races in a week in August than Hong Kong’s entire racing year. To populate those races we need ten times the number of horses in training than Hong Kong does. How does North America compare with Dubai and its 23 racing days a year? I’ll go out on a limb and say if we were racing at a couple of tracks the equivalent of three weeks a year we could have Dubai’s drug policies too. Look at the standards for Europe or Australia. Other than Lasix, there is often not a significant difference between those jurisdictions and North America for therapeutics, and some threshold levels for therapeutic medications are even higher than the ARCI standards. The upshot of the zero-tolerance Dan Hartman favors is almost certainly the demise of small tracks and reduced field size at the tracks that survive, incredibly ironic when one considers one of the small tracks that would suffer is Colorado’s own Arapahoe Park. ARCI has relied on studies commissioned by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) to establish post-race residual levels and recommended withdrawal times. In the case of Banamine (flunixin), a study done by Heather Kynch, Rick Sams, Rick Arthur, and Scott Stanley on how quickly flunixin was cleared in exercised horses provided the initial recommendation on which the flunixin standard was based.  They tested one model (called the sedentarymodel) in which four non-exercised horses were tested and it was determined a probable threshold level of 20 ng/mL with a withdrawal time of 24 hours. For those not familiar with the nanogram (ng) it is a billionth of a gram. However, subsequent testing using a racehorse model took 20 horses in training and determined exact plasma concentrations of Banamine, concluding that 99% of horses would have less than 50 ng/mL, and thus recommended a threshold value of 50 ng/mL 24 hours after administration of the recommended dose. If 20 sounds like a small number for testing animals to set a standard, according to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products study on the Evaluation of Medicines for Veterinary Use (2000), 19 is the minimum number of animals that need to be tested to conclude a 95% confdence level that 95% of the population will be below a respective standard. Think about this for a minute. Like a lot of ARCI standards, the testing is not to determine at what level a medication stops being performance enhancing (or retarding) but at a level at which almost all horses would have cleared all but a residual amount of the medication by some time in the future. Remember, the ARCI objective as plainly stated by Dan Hartman in 2011 was to eventually rid thoroughbred racing of the scourge of “drugs and medication.” It also points out something else that is critical when looking at new standards – the availability of new mass spectrometers that can measure ridiculously small amounts, even less than nanograms down to picograms – trillionths of a gram. As Dr. Steven Barker said to me once, “show me a lab measuring amounts in picograms and I’ll show you a lab with an expensive new machine they need to justify.” Despite the RMTC study recommendation, the ARCI in April 2013 adopted the 20 ng/mL (with a recommended 24-hour withdrawal time) standard. It is critical to note that even at the time ARCI adopted the standard it was cast as a  “95/95 standard.” As noted above, this means there is a 95% level of confidence that 95% of the horses tested would fall below the standard. In plain terms, one in 20 horses would still be expected to fail a post-race test. By that measure, if a track tested the first and second place finishers of a ten race program, and they all had been given 10 cc’s of Banamine, at least one of them had a probability to come back over the standard. Think about this. ARCI had a chance to adopt a standard (50 ng/mL) that would have all but guaranteed no undeserved positives and no performance enhancement, and instead picked a standard where non-pharmacologically merited violations would abound. Dr. Steven Barker at LSU didn’t equivocate on the adoption of the original ARCI standard. “The Banamine standard is too high, and it is because ARCI didn’t pay any attention to pharmacologists. With the recommended dose, there is no analgesic effect 24 hours after administering Banamine.” So with Dan Hartman at the helm, Colorado adopted the ARCI therapeutic medication schedule of 20 ng/mL for Banamine and in March 2014 the Colorado Racing Commission staff and the track stewards had a meeting with the veterinarians who worked on track at Arapahoe Park. Dr. James Dysart, Bill Brashears’ veterinarian in Colorado, and a vet who has been practicing about as long as Bill Brashears has been training horses, was in attendance at that meeting and asked specifically about what treatment changes would be indicated in 2014. According to Dr. Dysart, he was clearly told, if you practice as you did last year there should be no problems. With regard to Banamine, in March Dr. Dysart was told 10 cc’s with a 24 hour withdrawal time would prevent positives. So when it came to Banamine Dr. Dysart did exactly as he did the year before and by July Bill Brashears had three Banamine positives. There were six positives in all in Colorado and half belonged to Brashears. I asked Dr. Dysart why there were not more positives, and based on his practice, he indicated many trainers had thrown in the towel and switched to bute. Whether the reason was the change in flunixin standard, cost or efficacy, trainers made the switch. After Brashears was hit with the first Banamine positive, he and Dr. Dysart huddled and decided to drop the dosage by 20% to 8 cc’s and increase the withdrawal time closer to 25 hours. Amounts and times for all horses are documented on the medication sheets maintained by Dr. Dysart, and there is no disagreement that the  dose that was administered had sufficient withdrawal time based on the information Dr. Dysart was given in March. After Brashears had five horses test clean after the first positive, he figured they had found the right formula. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. Brashears was informed that two horses that raced about 10 days apart in July came back positive (both under 30 ng/mL), even after receiving the 8 cc dosage. Brashears had no way of adjusting dosage or withdrawal time for the third horse since the results of the testing for the second horse had not yet been given to him. In fact, Brashears was informed of the last two violations at the same time, well after he could have made a further adjustment. Based on that Brashears expected the second and third violations to be combined into one. Until he was given notice of the last two positives, Brashears sensibly was given a warning after the first violation, made a documented adjustment in an effort to comply, and as far as he could see had success with the new protocol, so he stuck with it, not realizing at 20 ng/mL he was still in danger of a violation. Meanwhile something interesting happened at the RMTC. The high number of Banamine positives in different jurisdictions in 2013 caused them to reexamine the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI had adopted. Remember, the initial RMTC testing suggested 50 ng/ml would ensure 99% of the horses treated appropriately would test negative, and at best with the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI adopted we would still expect 5% positives. It turned out the reality was alarmingly beyond 5% positives. RMTC then did another study that included 16 horses (less than the 19 required for statistical validity) that were exercised under laboratory conditions, and four (25%) of the 16 showed residual levels over 20 ng/mL after 24 hours. But, given the umbilical tie between ARCI and the RMTC, rather than suggest the standard was wrong, it was determined the withdrawal time was too short. In fact, the subsequent RMTC study concluded at least 32 hours was required to maintain 95/95 compliance with a 20 ng/mL. In April 2014 ARCI revised the recommended withdrawal time for flunixin a mere year after originally adopting it, but left the 20 ng/mL in place. This was a critical conclusion because changing the withdrawal time instead of the residual standard ultimately would have the effect of eliminating the therapeutic value of Banamine. At 24 hours the analgesic effect is essentially gone, and approaching 32 hours really limits the anti-inflammatory effect. In other words, this could be seen as an indirect way to ban Banamine consistent with the ARCI stated goal. This was also critical because the ARCI standard was not actually either 20 ng/mL or 32 hours, it was simply 20 ng/mL. Regardless of when Banamine is administered, 24 hours or 32 hours, if the level is over 20 ng/mL the horse is in violation. According to Dr. Dysart, veterinarians in Colorado were not told the recommended withdrawal time had changed to 32 hours until July. Since the 32 hours was nothing more than a recommendation, there was no need to provide notification of rulemaking. That would only be necessary if the standard was proposed for revision. The new recommendation came too late for Brashears though. He had to hope the Colorado Racing Commission saw that he and his vet had done everything the Commission assured them would maintain compliance and be lenient with their punishment. Brashears asked for split samples to be tested for the second and third violations, and both confirmed he was over the 20 ng/mL standard (but well below 50 ng/mL). Brashears appealed, resting his case on the fact that his veterinarian did exactly what he had done hundreds of times and was assured he could continue doing it before the season without risking a violation. In front of a hearing officer he lost and on he went to his final appeal to the Colorado Racing Commission. Brashears’ attorney made the relevant arguments, and once the testimony and final arguments were completed the Commission voted on a motion to saddle Brashears with both the second and third violations as separate events. One of the five commissioners was absent from the hearing, and the vote on the motion was 2-2, which normally would have been a win for Brashears. In a rare occurrence, the Commission moved to go into executive session where they got the missing commissioner on the phone, and re-voted on the motion. When they came back Brashears had lost his appeal 5-0. I asked Dan Hartman if this was a regular practice. He said no, but the Assistant Attorney General was consulted and opined it was a perfectly legal procedure. It was never clear exactly what happened to go from 2-2 to 5-0, but Brashears was ultimately assessed a $1,500 fine and 15 days. One of the people privy to the discussions in the executive session suggested that the Commissioners were advised that letting Brashears off the hook could leave them vulnerable to a subsequent action by Brashears. The concern was that it would essentially be an admission that Colorado had committed an error by leading the veterinarians to believe either historical protocols were sufficient for compliance or that a 24-hour withdrawal time indicated compliance. Brashears is not new to the game, and he understood a violation, even if it is for a bad standard, is a violation. Despite believing he had done nothing wrong, he was willing to bargain with the Commission, offering to pay a fine (less than the $1,500) if the days were waived. It appeared the Commission wanted nothing less than what Brashears was ultimately given. Bill Brashears has paid an even higher price than the fine, the loss of purse money and the cost of an attorney. He’s lost clients. After all, owners don’t want to be associated with someone with a medication positive, regardless of the circumstances. He’s lost the ability to even make a living during his suspension. Most of all he’s lost some of his belief that if you do right by racing, racing will do right by you. For Brashears part, he has sworn off racing again in Colorado. He is firm in his belief he didn’t cheat, and that he was the pawn in a bigger battle over medication in racing. In the end, Colorado not only will lose a long term trainer, but a guy who cares about his horses and about training them the right way. It’s hard to imagine this was a success for anyone. I asked Bill Brashears what bothered him the most. He said, “What makes me the most upset is [Arapahoe Park General Manager] Bruce Seymore telling me at the first Commission meeting that he knew I was innocent but that they were going to hang me anyway. I believe Hartman knows I’m innocent but their grand plan of Colorado being medication free would go down the tank if their first experiment went so wrong. Spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees for their screw-up and I’m still doing 15 days and being fined $1,500 and the division [the Colorado Division of Racing] calling it trainer responsibility. Where’s their responsibility?”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 1, 2015) - After reaching the sport's highest level in 2012 with champion three-year-old pacer Heston Blue Chip, harness racing owner Ken Jacobs is looking to strike again, this time with Gweneeee J, a full-sister to his earner of more than $1.7 million. The three-year-old daughter of the mare Shot Togo Bluechip makes her first career start Friday night (April 3) in Race 3 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. Jacobs purchased Gweneeee J for $145,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. She was the most expensive yearling at the sale by the top stallion American Ideal. "She was a very good looking yearling," said Jacobs, a Central New York native. "She looked so much like Heston and since I had so much success with him, I figured I'd take a shot." Jacobs says Gweneeee J did not race as a two-year-old because "she wasn't up to it" and he didn't want to push her too hard. Instead, she was turned out and prepared for her three-year-old season. "We already know she'll make a very good broodmare, but we'll find out a little more on Friday if she'll be a good racehorse," explained Jacobs. "You never know until you put them on the track to race, but we just want to take it cautiously and see what happens." Jacobs is a longtime owner and breeder who is best known as the owner of top horses Kenneth J, Heston Blue Chip, and He's Gorgeous. He also likes to name many of his horses after family members and friends. "I named this one after my grandson's girlfriend and added the "E's" at the end because I thought it would be fun for the track announcers to yell 'Gweneeee' down the stretch," said Jacobs. "I've run out of kids and grandkids to name horses after so I've moved on to the girlfriends of my grandkids." Gweneeee J won a qualifier at the Meadowlands last Friday in a sharp 1:54.3. She's trained by Linda Toscano and will be driven in Friday's race by Hall of Famer John Campbell. Friday's 12-race program includes a carryover of $64,065 in the Jackpot Super High 5 in the fifth race. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Justin Horowitz

Trenton, NJ --- It was almost too perfect. A harness racing driver named Shawn who has four-leaf clovers on his colors winning his first career race as a driver on St. Patrick’s Day. It sounds like a hokey movie plot, but it was as real as a pint of Guinness in Dublin. “That made it even more special,” said 21-year-old Shawn Simons, who drove Caviart Spencer to victory at Monticello Raceway on March 17. And it was predicted by an old friend, Eddie Sager, who called Shawn two weeks prior to the race. “Eddie has known me since I’ve been born and he said ‘I got you your first winner at Monticello,’” said Simons, the son of veteran driver Mike Simons. “I said ‘Whoa, slow down.’ We talked about the horse; he wanted me to take him so we bought the horse.” The price was $3,000 for the 9-year-old, although Simons had no idea he was that old. “I actually didn’t even ask for his age,” Shawn said. “I kept asking him is there anything wrong with him that I’d have to work on. He said ‘I wouldn’t sell you a bad horse,’ and I said ‘You got me there,’ so I was pretty confident in this horse. “I walked into the barn the next day and saw this horse and I said ‘Wow, he’s small!’ But he’s a great racehorse. He’s got a weird attitude, he’s kind of bashful, but he can race.” Shortly thereafter, as millions of Americans dined on corned beef and cabbage, Caviart Spencer raced in fourth place throughout much of his race, following the outside cover of favorite One Shark Road and driver Jimmy Taggart after the half-mile point before going three wide on the final turn. “It was the best of luck for (One Shark Road) to go first up so I could follow him,” Simons said. “I was following him and about halfway at the end of the turn I’m thinking ‘Wow I can actually be in this race up until the end.’ “Right before the head of the stretch, I got after him and I’m yelling at him and I’m feeling it. And then I realize I didn’t pop the (ear)plugs yet. So I popped the plugs and I go by Taggart, and I hear the announcer say ‘Can Shawn Simons finally get his first Monticello win?’ and when I heard that my adrenaline just went right through the roof and I’m like ‘Yeah I can,’ and I just kept driving him. I was just so energetic and gave a little fist pump at the end.” As he came across the finish line, Shawn experienced something he never felt before. “It was such a weird feeling; a good feeling,” he said. “It kind of felt like you shed your skin and you break through your skin and you’re reborn. My skin was like...it was crazy.” It turned out that Scotty Bicum, a groom for the Simons at their Big Z Farms in Montague, N.J., had a good feeling before the race considering what day it was. “Scotty kept saying ‘It’s St. Paddy’s Day, you might get ’em kid,’” Simons said, who won at odds of 38-1. “And then afterwards we said ‘Of course it’s St. Paddy’s Day and we’re gonna win.’ It was just perfect timing, just a great day.” Mike Simons was right there to take it all in. “I thought he was kind of getting emotional,” Shawn said. “He got out of the cart and they all had smiles on their faces and he was like ‘I knew you could do it kid.’ My dad gave me a big hug, it was a great picture.” Shawn had 21 drives before getting his first driving victory, to go along with 15 wins as a trainer. “It’s a much more intense feeling when you win as a driver,” Simons said. Shawn has spent a lifetime around the sport. He grew up at Pocono Downs, where the Simons were stabled for years. “I just hung around the horses all the time in the summer time, whenever I wasn’t in school,” he said. “On summer nights I would just run all around the grandstand all night long.” At age 14 he asked his dad if he could work the paddocks at Tioga Downs because he could get a groom’s license in New York at that age. At age 17 he began working with his dad on a few horses at Pocono Downs. “That’s where I learned most of my stuff,” he said. Two years later Shawn moved up to the Big Z where he has worked ever since. He began actual hands-on training at age 18 and still has the first horse he trained with and drove behind. “Me and my dad trained him on the main track at Pocono Downs,” Shawn said. “I got on the bike and it was actually pretty fun. The horse did all the work. It’s not like racing, you only have to deal with one other horse. In racing you have to deal with six or seven others. “He said ‘How’d you like it,’ and I said, ‘It was easy.’ He said ‘Did you like it?’ I said ‘Yeah,’ and I just kept going from there.” Firmly entrenched in the sport, Shawn wants to continue to train and drive. He and Mike have 16 horses at the Big Z, with Mike owning half of them and Shawn owning quarters to halves of four or five. “I hope I can become more of a popular driver so I can also catch drive for other people as well,” he said. “I’m looking to get a couple more wins under my belt. We like Tioga, we always race at Tioga. I’m hoping to become a little bit of a catch driver there, if not this summer than next summer.” And if at all possible, he’ll look to get back in the sulky on St. Patrick’s Day from this point on. After all, there may just be something to this luck of the Irish thing. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

TORONTO, April 1 - The hype and anticipation has been building for more than three months and it will all come down to the final race this Saturday night at Woodbine. The harness racing Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, will finally be paid out this Saturday night, as a mandatory payout is in effect. On a regular evening, the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool is only paid out if there is a single winning ticket. If multiple winning tickets hit the 'Hi-5', half of the wagering pool is carried over to the next card, while the other half is distributed in consolation payouts. The traditional rules are not in effect this Saturday, as instead the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool will be paid out and split among all the winning tickets. A mandatory payout is familiar ground for this wager on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit, but the carryover of $847,458.26 is the largest carryover into a mandatory payout in track history. Since the Jackpot Hi-5 was integrated into the WEG betting menu in October of 2013, two large 'mandatory payout' programs have taken place. The first to draw major interest was on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine. A carryover of $656,383 was brought into that evening and helped generate a total pool of $2,002,026. The Jackpot Hi-5 race that night featured a field of 11 pacers and was won by Drain Daddy and Jody Jamieson from post position three at odds of 4-1. The winning trip saw Drain Daddy get away fifth and make a first up move down the backstretch, clearing to the front in the third-quarter and never looking back. The favourite in that contest finished out of the top-five helping return a $0.20 payout of $8,759.15. The next mandatory payout on a large carryover took place at Mohawk on Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace night, August 30, 2014. The stakes filled card and the substantial interest in the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover of $647,331 would lead to a record-setting evening for Mohawk. An additional $2,026,548 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 to bring the total pool for the mandatory payout to $2,673,879. The Jackpot Hi-5 dash was scheduled to feature a field of 11 pacers; however a scratch reduced the race to a field of ten with one trailer. Resistance Futile, the 9/5 favourite, and driver Corey Callahan came away with the victory from post position two. The winning duo moved out from fourth in the second-quarter following cover and would clear to the front as they entered the final turn. The public's choice would pace away from his rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory. The second and third choices on the board finished third and fourth, playing a large factor into a $0.20 payout of $1,347.36. The Jackpot Hi-5 helped propel the handle for that August evening to a new Mohawk Racetrack record of $5,006,896. If the healthy pools from the past two sizable mandatory payout nights are any indication, this Saturday's Jackpot Hi-5 race has a chance to generate a large pool exceeding well over any previous mandatory payout pools. The nearing Jackpot Hi-5 race will also feature a different twist, as a field of 12 horses will contest the mandatory payout dash. Each starter in the field will receive money and the class level itself will receive a purse increase. The Jackpot Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum bet. A horseplayer could spend $19,008 by boxing all 12 horses in the field. Boxing five horses would cost a fan $24. The combinations appear to be endless, but ultimately if a horseplayer is able to map out a ticket with the top-five finishers, certainly a portion of a hefty Jackpot Hi-5 pool is there to be collected. Mark McKelvie  

When the day started, Bruce Aldrich Jr. had 146 driving wins thus far in 2015, which ranks him 4th in the nation, by the end of the day he added 6 more, upping his tally to 152. He currently leads the Monticello Raceway harness racing driver colony with 119 wins and is in 2nd place at Saratoga Raceway with 24 wins. Mother Nature continued her cruel streak as the card was marked with intermitted snow squalls, the track condition started off as good and then later in the card was downgraded to sloppy. Always a good indicator on what kind of day Bruce is going to have are the first 2 legs of the Daily Double. It was to be a very good day, as Bruce swept both ends of the Daily Double, scoring with Magic Manny in the first and then right back with One Tough Hombre, for trainer Thomas Merton, both with winning times of 1:57:2, The Aldrich double returned $6.80. Bruce came right back to win in the 3rd race with Fools Run Around. With no drive in the 4th, Bruce won the 5th with Giddyallyougot by a scant nose over Paulimony and driver Jim Taggart Jr. The 6th race looked like a mortal lock with morning line favorite Priority, but after cutting the mile he finished 3rd. In the 9th race, he teamed up with leading trainer Bob Lounsbury, with the 8 year old Badlands Hanover's gelding Amazing Quest in 1:58:1. In the card's finale he scored a wire to wire win with Catman Dude. When reached in the paddock after his last win, he was posed the question "What does it feel like to win 60% of the days races" Bruce cheerfully replied "I'm getting good drives, today I was getting to the front easy with soft fractions, so everything worked out for the best" . Shawn Wiles

Pompano Beach, Fl...April 1, 2015...Lester Raber's Nothinbutanallstar, deftly driven by harness racing trainer Mark O'Mara, justified the public's 3 to 5 confidence on the tote by scoring a repeat victory in Pompano Park's $12,000 Open Trot on Wednesday night (April 1) in 1:54. Holy Halibut, driven by Matt Romano finished second while Flyhawk El Durado, with Steve Condren in the bike, was third. Winemaster Hanover finished fourth after slicing through panels of :27; :56.2 and 1;24 and Its Payday Friday picked up the final award in the quintet. Nothinbutanallstar, a four year-old altered son of Allstar Hall, was unhurried early and almost nine lengths back after the hot opener and took up the chase on the backside following live cover, tilted out wide turning for home and, first, wore down the leader and, then, after taking command, held off the late surge of Hold Halibut to score by three parts of a length. Flyhawk El Durado also showed stout late trot in the mile for the aforementioned show spot, just a length away. After the event, the always humble O'Mara summed up the win by saying, "He gave his usual strong performance. All I did was drive him to give him an opportunity to win!" Nothinbutanallstar is now five for seven this year with $35,930 on his card. He's 16 for 40 lifetime, good for $219,214. He's missed but two checks during his career. He paid $3.20 to win. Trainer-driver O'Mara doubled up two events later by squeaking by in the final stride to score a photo finish victory with DC Flashback in 1:57.2. This five year-old son of Pinetucky, owned by George Mc Chrystal along with Mark Kremen, also rallied from off the pace, nailing the win over On The Tab (Bruce Ranger) and Go Jesse Go (Mickey McNichol) in a three horse photo--the winning margin a nose. Ex King finished fourth after cutting most of the fractions while Escrow Blue Chip, prominent throughout the mile, finished fifth. DC Flashback won for only the second time this semester--nine win lifetime--to push his career bankroll to $72,530. As third choice in the field of nine, DC Flashback paid $12.40 to his faithful. The $10,000 Open "2" Trot went to R G Rocket, trained by Mario Dessureault for the Jamie Marra Racing, LLC., in a lifetime best 1:54.3. Dave Ingraham was in the sulky for the win measuring 2 1/4 lengths over My Revenuer (Tom Sells) with the Florida bred Lugar (Bruce Ranger) third. Tug River Dylan finished fourth while Mc Tiny's Hope picked up the nickel after assuming command from Lugar at the opener in :27.3 and then getting over to the half in :57. On the backside, R G Rocket began his rally from fourth and forged to the front past 3/4s in 1:25.2 and coasted to the wire in :29.1 for the new lifetime mark. R G Rocket, a seven year-old son of Cincinnati Kid, earned his second success of the year--22nd lifetime--to push his 2015 bounty to $22,745. He's banked $208,854 lifdetime. As the even money choice, R G Rocket paid $4.00 to his many followers. Yet another $10,000 conditioned trot went to Highland Yankee, superbly handled and rated by Bruce Ranger, in 1:56.4, over Gold Savage (Dan Clements) with Ramzan (Joe Pavia, Jr.) third. Dream Lake rallied for fourth while I'll Tell You What finished fifth in the septet after a first over jaunt that pushed him into second around the final bend. Making his first start off of a David Linker claim last week, Highland Yankee, trained by Dale Gilmour this night, shot out of the gate with his usual alactrity and, unlike last week where he was "chewed up and spit out" while parked every step, made the top easily and clocked a :28.2 opener. Ranger then rated his charge through a :30.3 second quarter and, as Ranger said after the race, "That was the ballgame" as this six year-old son of Muscles Yankee sprinted home in :57.4 to seal the deal handily. Highland Yankee is now three for nine in the win column this year with $21,385 in earnings. He's banked $268,578 lifetime to go along with a mark of 1:55 Highland Yankee paid $5.80 to win.. Also of note on the mid-week program, Iain'tnomomaluke (Bruce Ranger), making his 99th career start and first for Karma Racing off of a claim last week, rallied late to pin a one length defeat on pacesetting Hold On Tightly to score in 1:56.1. Dojea Adventure (Joe Sanzeri) rallied for third over Bit O Victory with Imahinkyconchman, ninth turning for home, rallying for the final check in the 10 horse field. Thw win was the fourth of the year for the winner, a seven year-old son of Dream Vacation, now trained by Dale Gilmour, and 13th lifetime. He has now banked $23,031 for the year and $130,465 lifetime. In Pompano Park's Super Hi-5 on Wednesday night, Bruce Ranger won with Allamericanextra (for his fourth win of the night) keying a 2-8-3-5-1 20 cent consolation payoff of $140.22 to 51 skillful handicappers. The Super Hi-5 carryover going into Saturday's program has vaulted to $92,000. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park

ABERGELE, UK - Harness Racing fans all over the world love to see a grey pacer in full flow and none more so than the people of Great Britain and Ireland who intend on paying homage to these strikingly beautiful Standardbreds by featuring a novel “greys only” free for all event at Tir Prince Raceway in Wales on July 18th. Sponsored by Oakwood Stud in Ireland, who are currently showcasing their new stallion, Foreclosure N, this eagerly awaited event will be called the Platinum Free For All and some ever popular household names have already thrown their hats into the ring to take part in this contest, the first of its kind ever held in the UK or Ireland. Early ante-post favourite for the race is the locally trained Blue Incredible. Conditioned by Jason Podmore, Blue Incredible is renowned for his toughness and is the winner of 14 races and 23 placed efforts including a five-straight victory streak back in 2013, culminating in a grade final win at Aberystwyth in July of that campaign. Another Aberystwyth grand final winner, Wellfield Ghost, is also being aimed at Platinum Free For All and the 2014 victor is a big improver over the past 12 months with 11 wins and has only been out of the money 3 times in 26 lifetime starts.  Jack Frost is also likely to prove popular with punters, being virtually white in colour at this stage of career but with 8 wins under his belt, including 2 grand finals at Wolsingham and Appleby, he showed he can still be equally as potent on the hard tracks as well as on grass tracks with a 1:59.2 record. Another big improver right thru the 2014 seas was the Andrew Cairns trained Coalford Chief and although only six years old, he has made 12 visits to the winners enclosure so far in and came of age in no uncertain terms last September when he landed the Joe Murdock Memorial Open Final at the Scottish venue Corbie Wood.  The only lady in the line up so far is the aptly named Shades Of Grey and her connections fancy her big time to whip the boys into submission. A US import by Camluck,  Shades Of Grey continues to improve with age and ran out a game winner of the George Bell Memorial grand final in Scotland making it 9 wins in total and almost £9000 in prize money. The Irish raider Oakwood Outlaw could prove to be the fly in the ointment to them all however. A 9 year old by Armbro Operative out of a Laag mare Snow Whitey, was actually bred by the sponsors and is now in the care of top reinsman Alan Wallace. Pacing sub 1:59 miles right through the 2014 season, she topped off a stellar year with a win in the Barney Richardson Memorial at Portmarnock in October. The race remains open for additional entries right up until seven days before the unique contest and hopes are high that some other grey pacers will emerge up through the ranks and line up in this most unusual field of pacers. Tarawood Messi, Coalford Showtime and Krakatoa spring to mind and a full field of 10 greys is a distinct possibility as the starting car pulls away at Tir Prince on July 18th. Speaking to Derek Delaney, a representative of sponsors Oakwood Stud, stated that “It is an honour to sponsor a unique free for all with just grey horses only and I’m sure it will be a very special race. It’s an ideal opportunity to showcase our new stallion, Foreclosure N, as we believe that he is also something out of the ordinary, being the first ever Rocknroll Hanover to stand in the British Isles.” Foreclosure N has a record of 1:48.4 and almost $1 million dollars racked up in prize money. With an infusion of New Zealand blood, he is bound to prove popular with breeders in the UK and Ireland who highly value the ability to stay longer distances and remain sound right throughout a long career on both hard and turf tracks where his offspring are likely to ply their trade. By Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink.com

WILKES BARRE PA - Walk The Walk, a son of former harness racing "Horse of the Year" Muscle Hill, emerged as the only horse competing in Bobby Weiss Series action to take a second straight win in the $15,000 Tuesday preliminaries, two for trotting males and two for pacing females, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Last week's first round trotting male winners, Walk The Walk and Two Hip Dip, were matched in one division, and Walk The Walk maintained his perfect record in the series by winning Tuesday in 1:55.2 on a cold night and a sloppy racetrack. Last week Walk The Walk was well in front when he made a break nearing the wire, so in the interim trainer Chris Ryder qualified him with trotting hopples, and this week Walk The Walk was errorless, making an early move to command and then stepping home in 57 to defeat Raise The Curtain, with Two Hip Dip, the slight second choice as last week's winners were both sent off at 11-10, third after a first-over trip.   David Miller, who drove both winners last week, stayed with Walk The Walk, and the horse repaid that confidence of Miller in tallying for the ownership of Ruder, Sidney Korn, Robert Mondillo, and Max Wernick.   Bourbon Bay, third last week in snapping a six-race win skein, bounced back to winning ways, going a tick faster than the other trotting cut in winning by open lengths. The Sand Vic gelding is trained by Megan Wilson for driver/owner John Cummings Jr.   Thebeachnextdoor put paid to the hopes of a repeat Weiss win for Life Is A Beach and Crescent City, both nose victresses last week, by taking a personal mark of 1:53.4 in one leg of the female pacing competition. Jim Morrill Jr., behind hid fourth winner of the night, guided the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, like Muscle Hill a former Horse of the Year and who was nosed out in the first round, to a wire-to-wire triumph, with last week's winners finishing 2-3 respectively. The Brewer Adams-trained mare is owned by Adams Racing LLC and Brian Clark.   Allthatjazz De Vie couldn't be a repeat winner because Tuesday's other division for females was her first start of the year, but she won her Weiss debut by personally coming home in 56.3 to win in 1:54.4 over Hollyrocker (the other distaff to be nosed in the first round). Andrew McCarthy sulkysat behind the sophomore daughter of American Ideal, now 5 for 7 lifetime, for the familiar pairing of trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi.   PHHA / Pocono    

Beach Memories, P H Supercam, and Polak A will try to remain unbeaten in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway, but Beach Memories will do it from a new barn. The 5-year-old pacer has moved from the harness racing stable of trainer Ron Burke to trainer Scott DiDomenico. Saturday's third round of the Levy Series features four divisions, with P H Supercam competing in the first division, Polak A in the third and Beach Memories in the fourth. All three horses are 2-for-2 in the series and tied for the top spot in the series standings. A trainer can enter only one horse per preliminary-round division, and later only two in each of the series final and consolation, and Burke co-owns four Levy participants - Bettor's Edge, Clear Vision, Foiled Again, and Take It Back Terry - in addition to training Beach Memories for owners Strollin Stable, AWS Stables, King McNamara, and Country Club Acres Inc. Country Club Acres' Jim Koehler said Burke suggested the barn change for Beach Memories and recommended DiDomenico. Burke trained previous Strollin Stable and Country Club Acres standout Won The West. "I'm sure if the (series) conditions were different, he'd keep the horse," Koehler said. "But he was getting concerned about being able to race all the horses if there were fewer divisions. He owns all those other horses (in the series). I don't blame him for that. He's always treated us very fairly. He's an amazing guy." Beach Memories has won two of five races this year and earned $65,300. For his career, the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Memoir has won 16 of 61 starts and $600,404. The gelding, who captured the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, was trained by Brian Brown until last November. "I don't think he's a Won The West, you don't find two or three of them, but I know he's got potential," Koehler said. "If he gets the lead, he's tough to pass. "I think the (Levy) is one of the most interesting series in harness racing," he added. "It's a lot of fun. We just hope we race well." Beach Memories won both his Levy prelims by a neck; the first in 1:52.2 and last week in 1:53. He drew post five in Saturday's third round. "It's pretty neat to get a horse like this," DiDomenico said. "The owners called me the other day and I thought they were pulling my leg. People don't usually call you with one like this. Fortunately Ronnie has a lot of quality horses and fortunately I was the one to get the call." P H Supercam drew post two in his third-round division, which includes no other horse in the Levy's top 10. He is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. and driven by Jason Bartlett. Polak A, with Brian Sears listed to drive for trainer Tony O'Sullivan, got post three in his split, which also includes Michael's Power and Foiled Again. Michael's Power is fourth in the series standings and Foiled Again is tied for seventh with Dancin Yankee, Sapphire City, and Windsong Jack. Bettor's Edge, who is tied with Warrawee Needy for fifth in the series, headlines the remaining division, which also includes Sapphire City and Windsong Jack. Dancin Yankee and Warrawee Needy are among the horses who will attempt to beat Beach Memories in the fourth division. They drew posts one and seven, respectively. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Star Tasmanian-owned and bred pacer Beautide delivered an early message to his likely harness racing opponents in the upcoming Len Smith Mile when he powered his way to an impressive trial win over 1609 metres at Menangle yesterday. Beautide was having his first hit-out since winning his second Inter Dominion Championship at Menangle last month. With his trainer James Rattray in the sulky, Beautide began well from the outside gate (8) and settled second behind the leader. When Rattray eased his stable star off the fence to challenge he quickly drew alongside the leader and went on to easily win the trial by a metre. Beautide stopped the clock at 1.54.7 and ran home his last half mile (800m) in 55.3 seconds without being fully extended. He is likely to have another trial before trying to make it successive Len Smith Miles with that Group 1 race over 1609m to be run at Menangle on April 26. Watch trial: courtesy of TrotsTV Peter Staples

The connections of 63 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings have made the first sustaining payment to remain eligible to this year's Pepsi North America Cup. The $1 million showcase, to be contested on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk Racetrack, is Canada's richest harness race. Headlining the top-notch group of sophomore pacers is O'Brien and Dan Patch Award winner Artspeak. The Tony Alagna-trainee put together a fantastic rookie campaign last season, that saw the son of Western Ideal capture the Metro Pace and Governors Cup Artspeak is only the third horse (Artsplace and Jeremes Jet) to win the Metro Pace and Governors Cup in the same season, however he could become the first to go on and win the Pepsi North America Cup the following season. O'Brien Award finalist Go Daddy Go, multiple stakes-winner In The Arsenal and winter-series standout Wiggle It Jiggleit are just a few of the notables that remain eligible to this year's 'Cup.' As excitement builds towards the 31st edition of Canada's richest harness race, the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has unveiled the official event logo for the 2015 edition of the Pepsi North America Cup. All members of the WEG creative team had an opportunity to create a logo with a committee making the final selection of this year's event logo. The selected logo pays homage to both sides of the border by incorporating a pattern of the maple leaf and stars along with the colours of Canada, the United States and the title sponsor, Pepsi. "The symbols of the star and leaf helps support the rivalries theme of the Pepsi North America Cup," said Ken McConnachie, Creative Director for WEG "The chosen logo is bold with a sports-team type feel. The new logo can work in all sizes and applications, from print to broadcasting." The 31st edition logo will be used on merchandise, advertising and in other material leading up to the big race on June 20. A full list of the 63 horses that remain eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup can be viewed below. ALLBEEF N NOBULL AMERICANPRIMETIME AMORA BEACH ARQUE HANOVER ARTSPEAK ASAP HANOVER AZOREAN ART BERKLEY BETTING EXCHANGE BRING ON THE BEACH CAMTURO ROCK CORSICA HALL DEALT A WINNER DERBY DALE DRACHAN HANOVER DUDES THE MAN EDWARD TEACH FIRST CLASS HORSE FREEDOMFORMYSOUL GALLIC BEACH GO DADDY GO GOOD FRIDAY THREE HARFO HANOVER HURRIKANE ALI IF YOU WANT FIRE IN THE ARSENAL JO PAS WELL SAID JOE HILL LYONS AGAIN LYONS GEOFFJNR LYONS LEVI LEWIS MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP MIKES POWERHOUSE MITT JAGGER MOHEGAN BLUE CHIP MULLET BLUE CHIP ONEISALONELYNUMBER PAPARAZZI HANOVER PENJI HANOVER PHYSICALLYINCLINED PIERCE HANOVER RANDYS PLAN REVENGE SHARK REVEREND HANOVER RICH WISDOM ROCK N ROLL WORLD ROCK THE NITE ROCKIN IN HEAVEN ROCKNTOUCH SICILY SOMWHEREONTHEBEACH SPLIT THE HOUSE SPORTS BETTOR SPORTS IMAGE STOVER THE SPY THE WAYFARING MAN TRACEUR HANOVER TRADING UP WAKIZASHI HANOVER WELL WELL WELL WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT YANKEE BOUNTY   ​Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

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DOVER, Del.--- A trio of favorites - Totally Rusty, Spin Vision and Purrfect Bags - dominated $20,000 2nd leg Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) preliminaries while Wind Of The North held on to win the $20,000 Open/Handicap trot on April1 at Dover Downs. Red hot harness racing driver Vic Kirby had five wins. It was no contest in the first DSBF prelim as Totally Rusty won for fun in 1:52.1 with Corey Callahan holding the lines for trainer Doug Lewis for breeder-owner Carter Racing Stable. The win was the 10th in 11 lifetime races for the chestnut homebred daughter of Rusty's For Real-Rusty's Joy, now a winner of $149,250 lifetime. Seeboomook Princess (Ross Wolfenden) closed well to nip Brian's Thunder (Jim Morand) for place money. Allan Davis guided Leigh Louthan's homebred Spin Vision to victory in the second division, her sixth win this season in eight starts. Overall, the brown No Spin Zone-David's Art filly has won nine times with four seconds in 19 starts banking $87,480 for the breeder, owner, trainer. Cedar Hall Heiress (George Dennis) and 17-1 Nella's Bus (Vince Copeland) were second and third respectively. Purrfect Bags remained near-perfect as Vic Kirby piloted the Jim King-conditioned Roddy's Bags Again-Purrfectly Bad daughter to her ninth career win in 10 starts while earning $146,750 for owner JoAnn King. Gigi Deo (Wolfenden), a winner last week, had to settle for second. Love Forbidden (Callahan) was a strong third. The top eight point-getters after the two rounds of DSBF prelims return next Wednesday for a $100,000 final. Wind Of The North a late Fall purchase by Daryl Bier, made the winner's circle for the first time this year turning in an impressive 1:52.3 triumph in the $20,000 Open/Handicap trot. The five-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind, owned by trainer-driver Bier and Joann Dombeck, cut out the entire mile leading the quarter in :27.1 and trotting home in :27.2 to withstand a tremendous homestretch duel with runner-up Tough Mac (Callahan) who was a head back in second. Prayer Session (Jonathan Roberts) was the third horse home. Baximum was scratched. Vic Kirby, the track's third leading dash-win driver, who had three wins Tuesday, finished the day with five more. Corey Callahan won three while Allan Davis had a double. The battle for leading trainer has come down to a difference of two with defending champion Dylan Davis at 59 and with two winners Wednesday, Doug Lewis is at 57. THREE $20,000 DSBF COLT PRELIMS; $28,500 DEL. SPECIAL THURSDAY The Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) 2ND leg prelims come to an end with a trio of three-year-old divisions, plus a $28,500 Delaware Special/Handicap top the Thursday, April 2 program at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p.m. In the first $20,000 DSBF division, Mike White's Son Of A Sizzle, piloted by Vic Kirby, and Howard Taylor's Smoking Joey, reined by Corey Callahan, both winners last week, meet head-on. wins and the $100,000 DSBF Final last December, heads one of two divisions. ), Garnet O'Marrow's Seboomook Katahdin, and Allan Davis, drew the rail. Dashboard, with Ross Wolfenden driving for JoAnn King and Maria Ringler, and Da Chief and Tim Tetrick are the other contestants. David Hamm's homebred Byby Landon (Tetrick) leaves from the rail in the second DSBF prelim. Art Season (Allan Davis), owned by Sharon White, Nanticoke Racing and Legacy Racing; driver George and Tina Dennis and ASK W Stable's Roddy's Hot Again head the opposition. Kerry King's Just By A Length (Jason Thomson), Roger Hammer's Rustlercafe (Callahan) and first time starter Shawn Hanley's Bobby The Greek (Wolfenden) are the other challengers. Scott Woogen's KJ Ben (Tetrick), Kovach Stable, Tina and Joe Clark's Cams Director (Callahan) and Don Marine's Rigged To Go (Jonathan Roberts) lead six to post in the third $20,000 DSBF division. Winbak Farms' Shifting Seasons (Vince Copeland) drew the rail, Henry Faragalli III, T.P.Johnson and Nanticoke Racing's Quick Art (Jim Morand) leaves from the outside. Mammes, Kierman, Gugliucci and Cohen's Wheel Tapper (George Dennis) are outside threats. Bandolito and Jebswesternshark, both sub-150 winners last Thursday, lead a field of nine in the $28,500 Delaware Special/Handicap. Daryl Bier, who owns, trains and drives Bandolito, scored a scorching 1:48.1 win last week, one-fifth of a second from his own track record set last year. Frank Chick's Jebswesternshark and George Dennis was a wire-to-wire 1:49.1 victor, one race later. Eddie and Kathy Davis' Nova Artist (Allan Davis) got back in the winner's column while Just A Jolt (Vic Kirby) finished a strong second but gets post 8 once more. As usual, there is a strong supporting card. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. There is no live racing Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday post time is 5:30 p.m. Harness and Thoroughbred Simulcasting opens daily at 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs Race and Sports Book in the Colonnade. There is no charge for parking or admission at Dover Downs. Marv Bachrad  
HAMBURG,N.Y. --- It may have been April 1st but Justgottogetthere wasn't fooling around at all in the harness racing featured $8,500 conditioned trot at Buffalo Raceway Wednesday night.   The heavily favored 6-year-old gelded Justgottogetthere ($2.40) toyed with the field of six and went coast-to-coast in posting a 3/4-length victory over Leave Your Mark in 1:59.1 on the fast racing strip. It was his fifth win in eight starts in 2015 to go along with three second places finishes.   Driver Jim McNeight had to go three-wide to gain the lead going to the quarter pole with Justgottogetthere but once the pair settled in, there weren't any anxious moments.   Posting fractions of 28.4, 59.3, and 1:30.1, a final panel of :29 by Justgottogethere kept the remainder of the field at bay. Leave Your Mark (Shawn Gray) tried to make a move in the passing lane but to no avail while Diamonds For Life (Kevin Cummings) and September Hall (Shawn McDonough) battled to a dead heat for third.   Justgottogetthere (Valley Victor-Mara's Theme) is co-owned by Antonietta Landi and North Creek Racing LLC. Jerry Nugent Jr. handled the training duties and watched Justgottogetthere increase his seasonal earnings to $26,687 and $165,369 lifetime.   In the first of the two $7,900 co-featured paces for the fillies and mares, Fiftyonefifty ($9.30) was the 'pocket rocket' and flew past It's De Lovely (David McNeight II) and The Prophet Mary (Drew Monti) to score the victory in 1:56.0.   The Prophet Mary threw up fractions of 29.4, 58.3 and 1:27.4 but became leg-weary in the stretch. It allowed the pocket-sitting Fiftyonefifty to drop into the passing lane and race to the 1-3/4 length win.   It was the second win in 11 outings this season for Fiftyonefifty (Daggs-Tj's Little Cammie). The 6-year-old mare is owned by Sidney Easton and is trained by Anthony Cummings. She increased her 2015 bankroll to $16,078 and $145,901 lifetime.   In the second $7,900 pace for the ladies, Eyemajet (Shawn Gray) was a 'jet' in the lightning lane and took off for a 1-3/4 length decision over Ivy's Good News (Ron Beback Jr.) and the pace-setting Bad Girl Vegas (Monti).   Bad Girl Vegas put up some sizzling splits of 27.4, 57.0 and 1:27.0. Basic Survival was parked to the three-quarter pole and surrendered while Eyemajet drafted in second behind Bad Girl Vegas. It the stretch, Gray found the passing lane perfect as Eyemajet had little problem strolling off to the convincing victory.   Owned by William Emmons and trained by Gray, Eyemajet has two victories in 10 starts this year, earning $12,576 and jacking up her career total to $203,100.   Kevin Cummings, Buffalo Raceway's leading driver, finished the card with five winners. Buffalo Raceway's leading trainer, JD Perrin, is now a perfect 3-for-3 this year in the sulky after posting a driving double.   Racing will continue on Friday night at Buffalo Raceway with a 12-race card set to go to the post at 6:35 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, upcoming promotions and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
March 28-April 3, 2015 - We're two weeks into the 2015 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven't seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we've already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition. Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete. Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder. Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night's condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week's fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It's difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they're arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races. The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch. When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he'll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week's fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS Three victories by Adams' horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia
WASHINGTON, PA, April 1, 2015 -- Royal Heart moved powerfully first over to wear down the leader, Easy Again, and capture Wednesday's harness racing $15,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Pace at The Meadows. Easy Again enjoyed a comfortable 57.1 first half on the front, but he was no match for Royal Heart, who was sitting fourth when Eric Goodell unleashed him down the backside. The 4-year-old Royal Art - BJ's Sunrise gelding scored in 1:52.1, a nose better than Hillbilly Hanover, who used the Lightning Lane effectively. Easy Again saved show. Paul Kennedy trains Royal Heart, who has won half his 10 starts this year, for Denise Dennis and Dolne Farm Services. Jim Pantaleano piloted four winners -- including a pair for trainer Paul Corey -- on the 14-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
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