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Nothing Shady about Shark's prospects

To say well-known harness racing studmaster Ian Slater is looking forward to seeing Shadyshark Hanover’s stock compete in 2015/16 would be an understatement. Slater stands Shadyshark Hanover, along with Tiz A Masterpiece and Western Edition, at his Victorian establishment – Goodtime Lodge. A well-bred son of Cam’s Card Shark and Shady Past, Shadyshark Hanover served 140 mares – with 129 returning positive tests – during his first American season at stud and has been a hit with Australian breeders. Along with the numbers, Slater is excited about the quality of mares which have visited Shadyshark Hanover’s court. “He has had some top bred mares and some top producers as well come his way,” Slater declared. “Given his exceptional bloodlines and the quality of mares served, I’m looking forward to seeing his stock hit the track. “As it is, he is leaving some great looking foals, which isn’t a surprise as he is a magnificent looking stallion. “He’s big, strong and has a presence about him…not to forget he has a top record at the track as well.” Alimar Star - dam of last season’s Horsham Cup winner, Keayang Steamer – was among the first mares booked into Shadyshark Hanover, along with Decethree Lombo, which boasts 10 winners from 11 starters. Dam of Lombo Skyrider, Decethree Lombo has produced a colt by the young stallion. Next Strike, dam of Goodtime Marjie – winner of seven of her 12 starts – is another waiting to foal to Shadyshark Hanover as is Graces Beach, whose son, Goodtime Bobby has won four of his last five starts. “I’ve got no doubt he will prove his worth and leave some very nice types,” Slater said. “Along with being a top racehorse, which went 1:47.8 at three, he has the breeding to match. “Couple that with some nice mares and there is plenty to look forward to.” Shadyshark Hanover - 2011 Oliver Wendell Holmes PAUL COURTS

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Harnesslink recruit among HRA award recipients

Harnesslink’s new recruit and Australian Editor-In-Chief, Paul Courts, is among the recipients of Harness Racing Australia’s “Joseph Coulter Media Awards” announced yesterday. Courts captured Best News Story for his piece titled “Trigger’s final shot”, which appeared in Harness Racing Weekly last August. Courts’ article was a “topical story marking the retirement of Smoken Up”. Smoken Up proved to be a popular topic, with Nadia Horne’s tribute to the champion on RSN's digital channel "RSN Carnival" judged best Radio Feature To Air. Harness Racing Weekly grabbed a second award with Amanda Rando snaring Best Photograph with her “quirky photograph of Beautide, trainer-driver James Rattray and his partner, Fia Svensson” following their Inter Dominion win last March. Courts, along with Robbie O’Connell, was also ‘highly commended’ in HRA’s Award of Merit for Demonstrating Excellence in Promotion. The duo were recognised for the outstanding work they did in organising and promoting the TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day last September, which raised more than $40,000 for the Childrens' Tumour Foundation while attracting “widespread publicity for our industry.” The full list of Harness Racing Australia’s awards: BEST NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR Trigger's final shot - a well written, topical story by Paul Courts marking the retirement of Smoken Up, published in Harness Racing Weekly on 7th August 2014. Highly Commended For the love of the game - The trots are back at the Ekka - Bernie Pramberg's entertaining look in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on 26th July at harness racing's return to the show arena. BEST FEATURE STORY OF THE YEAR For the love of the Game - a heart warming feature on the family influences that underpin harness racing and the passion, commitment and work ethic of the Lee/Craven clans from Victoria's western districts, written by Lucy McCormick and published in the Harness Racer April/May 2014 edition. BEST HISTORICAL FEATURE Broodmares are not created equal - an enthralling feature by Max Agnew in the Spring 2014 edition of Track Bred about breeder Max Allen and the achievements of his mare Ranji Maid, which began a family in the 1940s which is still producing black type winners today. BEST REGIONAL STORY Cramp's shot at history in pacing cup - an interesting story on prolific winning trainer/driver Shayne Cramp on the eve of his home town (Mildura) feature race, written by Matt Taylor and published in the Sunraysia Daily on 12th April 2014. BEST PUBLISHED ACTION OR STILL PHOTOGRAPH Where to now? - a quirky photograph of Beautide, trainer-driver James Rattray and his partner, Fia Svensson, taken by Amanda Rando and published on the front page of Harness Racing Weekly on 6th March 2014 following the Tasmanian pacer's outstanding win in the Inter Dominion final. Highly Commended Hitting the turn - taken by Cindy Hurley on 3rd August 2014 as the field negotiated the home turn at the first stand alone grass meeting staged in Queensland. Published on the Racing Queensland website. BEST BOOK MANAROA - The People's Champion - Peter Collier's latest book, published in May 2014, details the history of the popular New Zealand owned pacer Manaroa which raced with great success in New Zealand, Australia and America in the early 1970's. RADIO - BEST FEATURE TO AIR Tribute to Smoken Up - Nadia Horne produced and hosted this program on RSN's digital channel "RSN Carnival", dedicated to the wonderful career of Smoken Up prior to his retirement. TELEVISION/VIDEO/FILM - BEST FEATURE TO AIR Kathleen Mullan on the road to the Garryowen - A moving feature by reporter Pip Courtney on the ABC's Landline program in November 2013 on the challenge to equestrian stereotypes by Kathleen Mullen, as she took her beloved standardbred James to compete in the prestigious Garryowen at the Royal Melbourne Show. AWARD OF MERIT - DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN PROMOTION 2014 Inter Dominion Championship & Event ambassador Stephanie Rice - exceptional promotion of the event across all media, utilising the personable Olympic swimming champion, by Harness Racing NSW and the NSW Harness Racing Club. Highly Commended TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day in Victoria - promoted by Robbie O'Connell and Paul Courts, this fun day in Bendigo in August 2014, supported by many harness racing participants and followers, raised over $40,000 for the Children's Tumour Foundation and attracted widespread publicity for our industry. AWARD OF MERIT - DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE & INNOVATION Harness Racing New South Wales - HRNSW surpassed 2,000 followers on Twitter and significantly increased Facebook followers to more than 11,000 following a successful Inter Dominion and Carnival of Cups promotion in 2014. Congratulations are extended to not only each award winner but to all those who play an important role in promoting the sport of harness racing. Harnesslink Media

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Miracle Mile history against Beautide

History is against harness racing superstar Beautide on several fronts heading into Saturday night’s SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Since the Grand Circuit event’s inception in 1967, only six defending champions have retained their title. Westbrun Grant was the ground breaker with his wins in 1989 and ’90, followed by Chokin (’93-’94), Holmes D G (1999, 2000), Sokyola (’03-’04), Be Good Johnny (’05-’06) and Smoken Up (’10-’11). On top of that, only 19 favourites have managed to reward punters for their faith – or to look at it from another angle, 28 favourites have been beaten. Beautide is listed at $1.80 on TAB Fixed Odds, with some of the odds-on shots to be beaten including Preux Chevalier - which was last in 1984 at 8/11; Village Kid - third in 1986 at 4/9; Il Vicolo - second in 1996 at 4/5; Iraklis - third in 1997 at 9/10; Blacks A Fake - fifth in 2008 at - 4/7 and Excel Stride – fourth in 2013 at 5/4. Then there is the barrier….Beautide has drawn gate three, which has only yielded six winners. Of those, Baby Bling carried the ‘three’ saddle cloth in April last year, but began from two after Glengowan was scratched. Before that, Christian Cullen is the most recent winner from barrier three, with the Kiwi scoring at Harold Park in 1998. Despite the facts weighing against him, trainer James Rattray remains confident Beautide can emerge triumphant. “He is in perfect shape for this weekend,” Rattray said. “He came through his last start well and has been working well since. “He is right on target for the Miracle Mile. “I was hoping to draw in the first four, so three has worked out well.” Citing Christen Me as the main danger, Rattray also rates For A Reason and Guaranteed as major threats. Christen Me finished second in last season’s Miracle Mile. “Christen Me is definitely the one to beat,” Rattray said. “For A Reason and Guaranteed are also right in this and are the main dangers.” PAUL COURTS

Mister Big

"Big" news for Ohio Breeders

Mister Big, the richest Canadian-sired Standardbred of all time and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, will stand stud at Abby Stables in Ohio starting with the upcoming 2015 breeding season. His introductory fee will be a very reasonable $2,500. Ohio is quickly becoming one of the most desirable jurisdictions in which to race, and Mister Big has a history in the state having been conditioned by Columbus Ohio’s Virgil Morgan Jr. for most of his racing career. He also dominated at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 2008 by easily winning the Winbak Farms Pace on Little Brown Jug Day in 1:51.  He is not only the richest stallion in the state but in all of harness racing world-wide. A winner of $4,143,492 in purses, Mister Big was a remarkably consistent and competitive racehorse throughout his impressive career which saw him winning stakes races from age two to six. His career record of 1:47.4 came in the US Pacing Championship as a four-year-old. Mister Big not only won major stakes races, he captured several of them more than once including the Allerage, William Haughton Memorial, US Pacing Championship, and Levy series over Yonkers’ half-mile oval. Other stakes victories came in the Canadian Pacing Derby, Breeders Crown, Winbak Pace, Ontario Sires Stakes, etc. He faced and defeated some of the greatest free for all pacers ever including Foiled Again ($6,773,525),  Won The West ($3,977,956), Boulder Creek ($3,815,924), Lis Mara ($2,270,674), Artistic Fella ($2,630,542) Always A Virgin and the list goes on. A half-brother to $526,000 winner World Away, Mister Big’s second dam is the $409,000 winning Cam Fella mare Before Hours. Mister Big is already the sire of the winners of $1.2 million led by stakes winners Crafty Master p, 2, 1:54s, Falcon Justice p, 3, 1:50.3s, Stellllllla p, 3, 1:54f, Missy Tap Tina p, 2, 1:56.2s, etc. Mister Big will stand at Abby Stables in Sugarcreek, Ohio.  For further information please call (330) 852-0789, email: info@abbystables.com or visit  abby stables Mister Big - Winbak Pace Mister Big - Haughton Final Mister Big - 2007 Allerage Pace Mister Big - 2009 Ben Franklin

As part of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup promotion, we will aid harness racing fans with their selections by providing profiles on each of the Cup’s 44 winners. The most popular provincial event on the calendar, the Ballarat Cup is scheduled to be run on December 13, with topliners such as Beautide and defending champion, Restrepo, being aimed at the feature. During its December 9 barrier draw breakfast, the Ballarat and District Trotting Club will conduct a ‘phantom call’ of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup based on the field selected by our panel of experts. Panellists will submit their top 12 members from the Cup’s honour roll, with a point system to decide the final line-up. The voice of the industry - Dan Mielicki – will then ‘call’ the race to determine which Cup winner can lay claim to being the greatest of them all! Enthusiasts are also invited to submit their fantasy field via the club’s Facebook page, with the person who correctly selects the most starters in the final fantasy field - including their finishing order - to receive a $1000 bet on this year’s Cup compliments of the Flying Horse Venue and hospitality on the night. 1973 My Gal Sal (Aachen – Mayfield Scott) Won Ballarat Cup off 12 yards in 2:06.8 One of only two mares to win Ballarat Cup Major wins include – 1968 SA Sapling Stake 1968 SA Breeders’ Plate 1968 SA Sires’ Produce Stake 1970 Nyah Cup   1974 – GALLAGHER (Grand Monarch-Angelique) Won Ballarat Cup off 10 metres in 1:19.2 Major wins include – 1972 Victoria Youthful Stake 1974 Bendigo Cup 1977 Cranbourne Cup PAUL COURTS

123gaming, Inc. and Sportech Racing and Digital, a division of Sportech PLC, (LSE: SPO), announced recently that the handicapping contest-style 123racing wager, previously available only through racetracks and off-track-betting operators in the U.S., is now available for online distribution. On-trend with the growth in fantasy sports and horse racing handicapping contests, the 123racing wager is based on a Pick 6 format, but introduces additional elements of excitement and interactivity over traditional Pick 6 wagering. Payoffs on the 123racing wager are won by scoring points across the 6 races, with the wager that scores the highest total points claiming the pool.  In 123racing, top scorers don't necessarily have to pick the winners or 'hit the board' in every race. Rob Earle, founder and CEO of the company that created 123racing, 123gaming, Inc., noted, "We have been operating a very successful version of 123racing as a free play handicapping contest for several racetracks for many years, and we eventually transitioned that to a live money wager available only on track.  After several successful trials, and with 82% of survey respondents saying that they were likely or very likely to play the wager again, we knew it was time to expand online. 123racing is the first interactive social wager of its kind to be integrated across an entire tote racetrack, OTB and online network, pitting handicappers across the U.S. against one another on national leaderboards." Twenty five North American racetracks are already signed up to provide content for the 123racing wagering pools, including Parx Racing, Emerald Downs and Keeneland.   123bet.com will be the first online home to showcase the wager, and numerous major racetrack and OTB operators are also in the process of making the wager available online, recognizing the potential for 123racing to appeal to younger fans, and fantasy sports fans. Andrew Gaughan, President of Sportech Racing and Digital, commented, "The 123racing wager offers a great complimentary product to the classic Pick 6 and we expect it to help attract some of the 40 million Americans who are playing fantasy sports, but not wagering on horse racing. Because the 123racing wager is available on our Quantum System, which is deployed throughout North America as well as in Latin America and Europe, ultimately we see an opportunity for global commingled 123racing pools." From 123gaming, Inc.  

Veteran Mack Grace SM (8m CC’s Chuckie T-Ambro Grace SM-Armbro Goal) took Sunday’s €105,650 purse Finale of the 26th running of the Palio dei Comuni at Montegiorgio, Italy. Roberto Andreghetti piloted the winner timed in 1.11.8kr over 1600 meters on the half-mile track, the 57th career victory for Mack Grace SM. He won the €8,800 Elimination A in 1.12.9kr over Pick Kronos (5m Cantab Hall-Crown Kronos-Supergill). Elimination B went to Louvre (9m Piccardo-Defile-Ganymede) in a sharp 1.11.1kr for Federico Esposito over Orsio and Alessandro Gocciodoro. Louvre sat the pocket in the Finale and ended second beaten by a half-length. Elimination C, also for €8,800 purse, went to Ogill Rum (6f Supergill-Camilla Rob-Arndon) with GP Minnucci aboard timed in 1.12.4kr over Oropuro Bar and teamster Marco Smorgon. Ogill Rum was third in the final with Pick Kronos home fourth. The top four from each elimination faced the starter in the Finale in which Mack Grace SM set the pace from post three. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Almost 80 years ago – three decades before the inaugural Miracle Mile – a free-legged pacer astonished the harness racing world. Foaled in New South Wales in 1930, Lawn Derby became the first standardbred outside of America to better the magical two-minute barrier when he stopped the clock in 1:59.4 at Addington on November 11, 1938. It took until 1967 for the two-minute mark to be bettered under race conditions in Australia, with New Zealand wonder mare Robin Dundee achieving the feat in the Miracle Mile – a race designed for the specific purpose of creating the record. At Menangle on Saturday night, another free-legged speedster – Avonnova – will be out to thrill onlookers when he takes his place in the 48th edition of the Miracle Mile. A noted quick beginning and short course star, Avonnova has drawn to go forward from barrier two, with trainer Ian Gurney issuing a strong warning to rivals. Making his intention to “have a look” for the lead clear, Gurney stated he is more than content to occupy the ‘death seat’, which he will not relinquish at any stage of the Group One. “I’m not travelling all the way from Queensland to not have a look from barrier two,” Gurney said. “I will be coming out looking for the lead, but if I can’t cross the Easy On The Eye from the pole, then I will stay in the ‘death’ and won’t be handing it over to anyone. “If someone wants to take me on while I’m in the ‘death’, I can tell you I won’t be coming off second best.” Arriving in New South Wales this afternoon, Gurney stated Avonnova has travelled “brilliantly”, with the son of Art Major “in perfect condition”. “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Gurney said. “He had a good trial at Albion Park last Friday and has travelled down brilliantly. “That said, I reckon For A Reason is the one to beat. He is drawn to get the best trail from five and he has a devastating sprint. “This is one of the most even Miracle Miles I have seen and I’ll be wrapt if we can run in the top four.” PAUL COURTS

Before yesterday’s barrier draw, trainer Shane Tritton stated Easy On The Eye could win harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – if drawn well. With the son of Christian Cullen set to begin from the pole in the Grand Circuit gem, Tritton is convinced an upset is on the cards. One of the outsiders of the field, Easy On The Eye is paying $16 TAB Fixed Odds, with defending champion Beautide a prohibitive $1.80 favourite for Saturday night’s Menangle showdown. “I’ve said all along he is capable of leading from the right draw and could go all the way under the right conditions,” Tritton declared. “Now he’s got a pearler draw and without doubt he can lead throughout. “He prefers to be rolling along and his best chance is to keep the speed on and take the puff out of the others.” A last-start third behind Beautide and Guaranteed in the Coca-Cola Sprint a fortnight ago, Easy On The Eye has improved since the outing according to the premier horseman. At his previous start the six-year-old won a restricted race at Newcastle in 1:54 over the 1609-metre dash. “He’s done well in his two starts for us and has improved in his track work since,” Tritton said. “He is still adjusting to our way of training, but has come along in leaps and bounds. “He is ready to rock ‘n roll.” PAUL COURTS

Winner: Jimmy Takter won three Breeders Crown races and is already an amazing $5.4 million ahead of last year’s $7.8 million earning’s figure. Shake It Cerry was already assured of a division win, while Father Patrick and Pinkman probably won their divisions last night. Loser: Always A Virgin came into the BC poised to have two winners and, if that happened, two division titles. This would have given the ten-year-old stallion, and the Indiana program he spearheads, a huge boost. Unfortunately, Always B Miki scratched out of the sophomore colt pace and his filly counterpart, Color’s A Virgin, was too far back in her race and finished fourth. Winner: McWicked stepped up and seized control of a floundering division with his BC victory. Neither the Adios nor the Hempt would rate grade one status in today’s environment, so McWicked needed a top shelf win to bolster his resume. That combined with his earning’s lead should give him a solid shot at division supremacy. Casie Coleman said he may have one more start in him. That would no doubt be the Progress Pace, which he can supplement to for $25,000. A win in the Progress should secure division honors. Loser: Joe Holloway had a clear path to a division title and a start in the lucrative TVG with Always B Miki, but that one was a late scratch when he injured a leg in his stall just prior to post time. Beyond that, Holloway came into the season positioned to dominate the aged pacing mares with four-year-old hotshots Shebestingin and Somwherovrarainbow. However, Rainbow finished tenth in the BC while the world record holder, Shebestingin, has only started three times since the end of July—all losing efforts. Winner: Yannick Gingras added $1.5 million to his earning’s pile over the past week. He has now handily eclipsed Tim Tetrick’s $16.1 million winning total from last year and Gingras is already $2.2 million up on what he earned in all of 2013. He won four BC races, and no doubt would have had five if he maintained his relationship with JK She’salady. Loser: Tony Alagna, the third leading trainer last year and currently ranked seventh, didn’t have any starters in the dozen BC finals. Captaintreacherous has been retired and Artspeak was shut down for the season. It’s unusual for a trainer like Alagna, who specialized in high-end stock, to be a bystander come BC weekend. Last year he won with Captain T and was second to Nitelife with Authorize. Erv Miller, who is the third ranked trainer on the earning’s list, also had no starters, but that’s not really his field of play. Winner: John Campbell’s off the pace wins with 4-1 Thinking Out Loud and 10-1 Shelliscape give him a record 47 Breeders Crown wins. Winner: Father Patrick has won 22 of his 28 lifetime starts and earned $1.6 million this year—$235,000 more than any other NA trotter or pacer. Yet, as was the case with Captaintreacherous during his sophomore season, Patrick seems to take a lot of heat. Going into last night’s race it was understood that a win by Nuncio would give him the division as well as serious Horse of the Year consideration. But now Patrick owns the division for good and will be given an opportunity to further his redemption for losses in the Hambletonion, Matron and Erskine when and if he takes on his elders in the TVG. Winner: JK She’salady probably secured Horse of the Year honors with her BC win in track and stakes record time. She completed a perfect 12 win season. The daughter of Art Major would be the first freshman filly ever to win that award. Loser: Jeff Gural had to be pleased that the weather cooperated and business was good over Breeders Crown weekend. However, BC wins by Traceur Hanover, trained by the indefinitely suspended Corey Johnson, and the PJ Fraley trainee Shelliscape, had to leave him with a sour stomach. Fraley, along with Rene Allard, whose Yagonnakissmeornot finished fifth as the favorite in the aged mare pace, were both deemed persona non grata by Gural last year. Legal precedent and BC staking rules left him with no choice but to allow the trio to compete. After Traceur won the freshman pace Johnson, who towered over everyone else in the winner’s circle, drew all eyes. The fact that good guy Andy Miller drove Traceur and handled the post-race interview offered some relief for Meadowlands and Breeders Crown execs. Winner: Hanover Shoe Farms had a very good weekend. Nineteen-year-old Western Ideal, who had grown out of favor with the buyers as his New Jersey eligibility lingered on, has turned that around of late. His son Always A Virgin has generated plenty of publicity this year and now Hanover has Traceur Hanover to join Artspeak at the vanguard of the freshman pacing ranks. The latter was a winner because In The Arsenal, who finished second behind Traceur Hanover, did not wrestle the division away from him. Also, Pinkman, winner of the two-year-old colt trot, gives the young stallion Explosive Matter the potential star performer he’s been searching for. Hanover also got wins from Father Patrick, a son of their premier trotting stallion Cantab Hall, and Donato’s daughter Shake It Cerry. Winner: With Thinking Out Loud, who is not a viable candidate for division honors, winning the BC open pace, Sweet Lou, who was second, set himself up nicely for division honors. Winner: Marginal pacing stallions stepped to the fore over the weekend. McArdle is trying to establish himself in slots rich Ohio and having McWicked, his number two son after One More Laugh, win the BC and in so doing pave the way for a division title, helps immeasurably in that regard. And ten-year-old Tell All has failed to light it up thus far in the stallion ranks, but that win by supplemental entry, Sayitall BB, certainly helps. Bob McIntosh would probably scoff at the notion that Ponder is a marginal stallion, but the volume has been so thin that it sometimes seems like they all belong to him. Diamond Creek is currently addressing that issue in Pennsylvania. Adding a BC trophy to Thinking Out Loud’s hardware collection will give the effort a boost. And while Artiscape’s great daughter Rainbow Blue has a BC trophy on the mantle; paternal sister Shelliscape now has two of them. by Joe FitzGerald for   http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com  

He is already one of the most successful reinsman in Victoria’s major harness racing events, so why not become a local? That’s the logic behind New Zealand driver Anthony Butt’s decision to relocate to the state. Despite his status as a Kiwi, Butt boasts a record seven A G Hunter Cups, having scored with Blossom Lady in 1994 and ’95, Mister D G 2004, Mr Feelgood ’09, Stunin Cullen ’11, Choise Achiever ’12 and Mah Sish in ’13. Mister D G is a son of Blossom Lady. Butt has also won the Ballarat Cup (Stunin Cullen 2011 and Mah Sish’13), Australian Grand Prix (Take A Moment 2002), Australasian Trotting Championship (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Bill Collins Mile (Lyell Creek ’01, Take A Moment 2002 and ’03) V L Dullard Cup (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Great Southern Star (Vulcan 2013) and the Moonee Valley Inter Dominion (Lyell Creek 2000) Making the move across the Tasman to be stable driver to another former Kiwi – trainer Brent Lilley – Butt will be based on Melton. “It’s been in the pipeline for a while now, but the time is right,” Butt explained. “The clincher was being able to drive for Brent. “Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some other drives as well. The important thing when making a move like this though is to have a good base. “Everywhere you go is a different racing style. In New Zealand they race very different in the North Island compared to the South Island and in Australia they race differently in all the states. But I’ve always been able to adapt pretty well. “It’ll take me three or four weeks to get my head around the form of the lesser races. It’s easier to know the form from the bigger races because you’ve watched those closely.” Butt hasn’t wasted time finding making way to the winners’ circle, registering a feature double at Gunbower yesterday. Driving for Lilley, Butt captured the Trotters’ Cup with Kvintet Avenger and the Pacing Cup with Lets Elope. The latter has Butt eyeing another A G Hunter Cup victory in February. “Lets Elope looks as though the Hunter Cup might suit him,” Butt said. “He’s an up-and-comer and he’s good from the stand, so it ticks a couple of boxes.” PAUL COURTS

This weekends $750,000 Miracle Mile is one of the most sought after races on the Australasian harness racing calendar and as you would expect with a race of that statue it has drawn an outstanding field. Most Australians would tell you that the race is all but over before it starts with Beautide nigh on unbeatable from barrier three. Australian and New Zealand bookmakers have responded to the draw of three for Beautide by making him a $1:80 favourite with Christen Me varying from $4:50 - $4:80. We don't think that is an accurate reflection of where the two horses are because we don't think that there is anything between the two superstars.  Last year from barrier five Christen Me worked to the death and was a sitting duck for Beautide who raced three back on the inner. His run was every bit as good as the winner and Christen Me went on to be crowned Grand Circuit champion via his Hunter Cup win after again sitting parked. Christen Me only met Beautide once outside the Miracle Mile and that was in the Victorian Cup where he beat him home after settling behind him in the running and still being behind him at the quarter pole. Last year Christen Me was coming into the Miracle Mile off a disappointing run in the New Zealand Cup where he ran third after a soft run and a wild gallop in the NZFFA. This year Christen Me put in an outstanding run in the New Zealand Cup after missing away from a stand and then dealt to the opposition in the NZFFA. In cold and windy conditions, Christen Me ran the 1950 metres in 2:18.4, a mile rate of 1:54.1 with closing sectionals of 54.9 and 27.4 which was just outside the New Zealand record set by Auckland Reactor in perfect conditions.  So Christen Me goes into the Miracle Mile right in the zone on a track where he has had three runs over a mile for two wins and a second. For Dalgety the draw could not have been too much better with Christen Me drawing directly outside Beautide. "We would just love to get to the two out line and let them do their stuff." "Sure we'd love to lead but even though it is only a mile it is going to be a stamina test so you end up  being a sitting duck when you are top ending in that calibre of field," Cran said. Christen Me flew into Sydney last Friday without any problems but Cran thought the current heatwave may be a slight concern. " Murray Howard took him across and we are stabled with Blake Fitzpatrick" "Christen Me is in super shape although the 42 degrees is a bit hot," Cran said Cran has been adament all season that Christen Me is a lot better horse with that initial season on the Grand Circuit under his belt and that he has come back bigger and better. Everything points to Christen Me giving Beautide one hell of a race on Saturday night. We think he is a real chance to upstage Beautide and those odds are just way to tempting. Harnesslink Media

As part of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup promotion, we will aid harness racing fans with their selections by providing profiles on each of the Cup’s 44 winners. The most popular provincial event on the calendar, the Ballarat Cup is scheduled to be run on December 13, with topliners such as Beautide and defending champion, Restrepo, being aimed at the feature. During its December 9 barrier draw breakfast, the Ballarat and District Trotting Club will conduct a ‘phantom call’ of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup based on the field selected by our panel of experts. Panellists will submit their top 12 members from the Cup’s honour roll, with a point system to decide the final line-up. The voice of the industry - Dan Mielicki – will then ‘call’ the race to determine which Cup winner can lay claim to being the greatest of them all! Enthusiasts are also invited to submit their fantasy field via the club’s Facebook page, with the person who correctly selects the most starters in the final fantasy field - including their finishing order - to receive a $1000 bet on this year’s Cup compliments of the Flying Horse Venue and hospitality on the night. 1971 SON OF NANCY (Dick Adios – Mona Nancy) Won Ballarat Cup off 12 yards in track record 2:07 Major wins include – 1969 and ’70 Mildura Cups 1971 A G Hunter Cup   1972 – MONARA (Dignus-Woorarra) Won Ballarat Cup off 12 yards in track record 2:06.6. Major wins include – 1972 and ’73 A G Hunter Cups 1972 South Australia Cup 1972 Bendigo Cup 1972 Two Inter Dominions heats (2nd in Final) PAUL COURTS

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 23, 2014-The third rendition of Yonkers Raceway's "Matinee Madness" went postward during a downright balmy (mid-50's) pre-Thanksgiving Sunday. The 12-race card again began with five French-centric, overstuffed, mile-and-a-quarter trotting fields. A dozen were behind the gate for the opener (post time 11:12 AM), with favored Itzaziam (Brian Sears, $5.70) winning that event in 2:27.3 for the added distance. Included in the extra-distance extravaganza was the $46,000 Open Handicap, the 10-trotter test won by a backside-busting Dancehall Mistress (Sears. $25.60) in 2:26.1. The Sunday overseas numbers continue strong, with more than 1.2 million Euros (more than 1.5 million US dollars) wagered during the five exported events. The first three matinees have seen a total of more than four million Euros (or more than five million US dollars) wagered for 15 races by the French-hubbed audience (including Switzerland, Belgium, Spanish Basque community, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia and Malta). Sunday's Pick 5, buoyed by a double carryover of more than $7,000, attracted $16,710 of fresh lettuce. The winning combination of 4/4/4/1/2 paid $3,924.75 for every four bits. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule continues through Dec. 14, with first post every Monday, Thursday (save for Thanksgiving Night), Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) next weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (including Thanksgiving Day). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J./ Older trotters were overwhelmed by international star Commander Crowe in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot at the Meadowlands on Nov. 22. The 11-year-old gelding showed his heels to his younger rivals and won in a stakes-equaling 1:51.   Driven by Orjan Kihlstrom, Commander Crowe, who left quickly with Arch Madness (George Brenna) and Creatine (Ron Pierce), took over after a first quarter of :27 and a half of :54.4.   It was the mare, Maven (Yannick Gingras), who began a major challenge to Commander Crowe, coming after him from the second tier with Creatine on the pylons looking for room to make a passing bid.   But Commander Crowe was tough on top and would not be denied the Breeders Crown win he has attempted twice before and was unsuccessful. Maven held for second and Creatine settled for third.   "I don’t know why he hasn’t been to the U.S before" Orjan Kihlstrom said., "you have to ask the trainers. He has a lot of races in Europe, he raced in Canada twice, he’s quite old now so it was about time (retirement). He shipped very good this time, he had some problems with that before but this time was good. I tried to keep them behind me, he’s a very tough horse, and still at this age can do a lot of work, he’s just a fantastic horse. I don’t know what’s next for him, you’ll have to ask Fabrice (trainer.) I don’t know for sure if he’ll keep going, this might be the end, but I don’t know what they have decided."   Fabrice Souloy trains Commander Crowe, who was bred in Sweden by Peri Puro. Snogarps Gard owns the winner, who with the victory surpassed the $5 million mark in lifetime earnings at $5,099,590. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Commander Crowe paid $12.00 to win.     by Frank Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown

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Mister Big, the richest Canadian-sired Standardbred of all time and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, will stand stud at Abby Stables in Ohio starting with the upcoming 2015 breeding season. His introductory fee will be a very reasonable $2,500. Ohio is quickly becoming one of the most desirable jurisdictions in which to race, and Mister Big has a history in the state having been conditioned by Columbus Ohio’s Virgil Morgan Jr. for most of his racing career. He also dominated at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 2008 by easily winning the Winbak Farms Pace on Little Brown Jug Day in 1:51.  He is not only the richest stallion in the state but in all of harness racing world-wide. A winner of $4,143,492 in purses, Mister Big was a remarkably consistent and competitive racehorse throughout his impressive career which saw him winning stakes races from age two to six. His career record of 1:47.4 came in the US Pacing Championship as a four-year-old. Mister Big not only won major stakes races, he captured several of them more than once including the Allerage, William Haughton Memorial, US Pacing Championship, and Levy series over Yonkers’ half-mile oval. Other stakes victories came in the Canadian Pacing Derby, Breeders Crown, Winbak Pace, Ontario Sires Stakes, etc. He faced and defeated some of the greatest free for all pacers ever including Foiled Again ($6,773,525),  Won The West ($3,977,956), Boulder Creek ($3,815,924), Lis Mara ($2,270,674), Artistic Fella ($2,630,542) Always A Virgin and the list goes on. A half-brother to $526,000 winner World Away, Mister Big’s second dam is the $409,000 winning Cam Fella mare Before Hours. Mister Big is already the sire of the winners of $1.2 million led by stakes winners Crafty Master p, 2, 1:54s, Falcon Justice p, 3, 1:50.3s, Stellllllla p, 3, 1:54f, Missy Tap Tina p, 2, 1:56.2s, etc. Mister Big will stand at Abby Stables in Sugarcreek, Ohio.  For further information please call (330) 852-0789, email: info@abbystables.com or visit  abby stables Mister Big - Winbak Pace Mister Big - Haughton Final Mister Big - 2007 Allerage Pace Mister Big - 2009 Ben Franklin
123gaming, Inc. and Sportech Racing and Digital, a division of Sportech PLC, (LSE: SPO), announced recently that the handicapping contest-style 123racing wager, previously available only through racetracks and off-track-betting operators in the U.S., is now available for online distribution. On-trend with the growth in fantasy sports and horse racing handicapping contests, the 123racing wager is based on a Pick 6 format, but introduces additional elements of excitement and interactivity over traditional Pick 6 wagering. Payoffs on the 123racing wager are won by scoring points across the 6 races, with the wager that scores the highest total points claiming the pool.  In 123racing, top scorers don't necessarily have to pick the winners or 'hit the board' in every race. Rob Earle, founder and CEO of the company that created 123racing, 123gaming, Inc., noted, "We have been operating a very successful version of 123racing as a free play handicapping contest for several racetracks for many years, and we eventually transitioned that to a live money wager available only on track.  After several successful trials, and with 82% of survey respondents saying that they were likely or very likely to play the wager again, we knew it was time to expand online. 123racing is the first interactive social wager of its kind to be integrated across an entire tote racetrack, OTB and online network, pitting handicappers across the U.S. against one another on national leaderboards." Twenty five North American racetracks are already signed up to provide content for the 123racing wagering pools, including Parx Racing, Emerald Downs and Keeneland.   123bet.com will be the first online home to showcase the wager, and numerous major racetrack and OTB operators are also in the process of making the wager available online, recognizing the potential for 123racing to appeal to younger fans, and fantasy sports fans. Andrew Gaughan, President of Sportech Racing and Digital, commented, "The 123racing wager offers a great complimentary product to the classic Pick 6 and we expect it to help attract some of the 40 million Americans who are playing fantasy sports, but not wagering on horse racing. Because the 123racing wager is available on our Quantum System, which is deployed throughout North America as well as in Latin America and Europe, ultimately we see an opportunity for global commingled 123racing pools." From 123gaming, Inc.  
Senior director of racing Eric Warner has announced that the draw schedule at Monticello Raceway during the week of Thanksgiving will be altered as follows. On Tuesday, Nov. 25 he'll draw post positions for Monday, December 1. On Wednesday, Nov. 26 he'll draw pp's for Tuesday, December 2 No draw on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day On Friday the draw will be for Wednesday, December 3 Then on Monday, December 8 the draw schedule returns to normal. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway
After seven months of competitions in the C.K.G Billings amateur driving series the $25,000 Gold Cup and $15,000 Silver Cup Championships were contested at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, November 23 with "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello victorious in the Gold with Rebel Strike while Kelly "Sky" Walker copped the Silver with Rush N Supreme. Both events were on the betting card and each was contested at a distance of 1-1/4 miles, which has been the regular feature in the Billings Series finales. But for Zuccarello his 2:31 driving victory was only half of his prize that day. His friend Charlie Longo said that "Mighty Matt" hit the daily double at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday and he was not only referring to Matt's victory but more importantly Longo reported that Zuccarello proposed marriage to his longtime girlfriend Kim Velardi. He even got down on one knee in the winners circle after his victory to make that proposal. The road to that proposal began when Zuccarello left softly from the five-hole and settled in fifth position with Rebel Strike. He was content to follow the leaders until the backside the final time around. When Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff moved Tagmaster in front of him, Zuccarello followed the cover and by the top of the stretch he had Rebel Strike within striking distance. In the lane Rebel Strike was the strong horse and Zuccarello got him up in the final strides to hold off a hard- charging Catching Kate and driver "Marvelous Marvin" Raber to score a neck victory in a time of 2:31. Keystone Sadie finished third for Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin. "It was the greatest day of my life", Zuccarello offered. "I really had a perfect trip. It couldn't have been scripted better. And Charlie's right, I hit the daily double. It was real nice to end the season a pair of wins; Kim's hand and the Gold Cup Championship." It's true Matt felt mighty at days end but then again, so did Mike Simons who owns Rebel Strike especially when his horse got the lion's share of the $25,000 purse. Rebel Strike paid $9.20 for win and for Zuccarello who is looking forward to next season, it was his fourth Billings triumph this year. Another gentleman, Kelly "Sky" Walker had sort of a daily double of his own on Sunday, too. He won the $15,000 Billings Silver Cup Championship with Rush N Supreme in a time of 2:30.4 and he is also is the owner of Rush N Supreme. But Walker's journey to the winners circle was different than Zuccarello's. He too, started from the five-hole but gunned Rush N Supreme to the front and got away with a soft 30.3. From there Walker rated his horse on the front end with each quarter trotted around 30 seconds. After rebuffing a challenge by Dave "Steady As" Yarock and Rompaway Alvin as the field passed the third stanza Rush N Supreme trotted home an easy 1-1/2 winner over Whatnblazes, driven by Dave "Yes Its True" Offenberg. Rompaway Alvin held on for third money. Sent off the even money favorite Rush N Supreme paid $4.00 for win. For Walker it was 9yh seasonal; driving victory and the 98th of his amateur career. "The Billings Season was marked again by 5 separate series and we once again saw an increase in new members. Also noted was an upswing in participation from our core members. The shorter Series format seems to be well received by most and we will continue to make adjustments to try and refine it for the future," said Billings Series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. " One such adjustment will be the increase of the money conditions and claiming price in the Mid-West. Starting next year. The conditions for the East and Mid-West will once again be the same. The new slot money in Ohio has rejuvenated racing there and hopefully it will do the same for our membership in that region." by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driver Series
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