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Maiden had Group One All Under Control

Promising filly All Under Control lived up to her name in last Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite going into the Group One as a maiden, and one of the outsiders as $40.90, All Under Control was never in danger of being beaten. Impressed with the trotter’s performance, trainer Brent Lilley will aim All Under Control towards features such as the Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Super Series. “She’s still got to improve a fair bit, but she goes along well,” Lilley said. “I will wait until her next start or two to see if this was a one off or if she can keep producing those kinds of runs. “There is a bit to like about her on this run, especially the way she responded when Anthony (Butt, driver) showed her the whip. “He gave her one crack up the straight to keep her mind on the job and she found a bit like good horses so.” After travelling midfield from the outside of the front row, All Under Control completed a metre-and-a-half win from Casa Fundada, with Zaire Diva a half-head away third. “I went into the race thinking she was a rough chance, but she really put in,” Lilley said. “On that run, and with a bit of improvement as she gains experience, I’ll have a look at races like the Oaks and Sires’ Stake.” Covering the last half in 60.6 seconds, the daughter of Majestic Son rated 2:02 for the 1720 metres. PAUL COURTS

Adore Me seen here winning at The Jewels

Possible change of plans for Adore Me

Adore Me might be forcing harness racing trainer Mark Purdon into a corner ... a corner in Victoria. The great mare recorded another group one at Alexandra Park last Friday but was made to work for the $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts, after Purdon made the brave decision to take luck out of play. He could have easily punched through from one on the second line to trail Helena Jet and see what happened next, aware than after winning a New Zealand Cup, Adore Me doesn’t really have that much left to prove. But instead Purdon chose to take luck out of play and snagged Adore Me straight off the markers, a move that saw him settle second last but gave him the option to progress when he wanted. That was at the bell and while Adore Me got to the parked position without great effort, Helena Jet and trailer Lancewood Lizzie had had easy runs and were going to make her work to get past them. So it proved as Adore Me took most of the straight to grab the front, courtesy of a 26.5 second last 400m, during which she even looked vulnerable at the 200m mark. It wasn’t her best or biggest win but like a female pacing All Black, she found a way to win at the highest level with what wasn’t her absolute best performance. Purdon was pleased after her defence of the title she won last season and confirmed the Flying Mile at Cambridge on January 9 is almost certainly her next target. But then he suggested a surprise deviation in her plans, with the possibility she could contest either the Victoria or Hunter Cup. Nominations for those races closed last Friday and Adore Me was among them, Purdon initially putting her in “just in case.” A far more likely target, then and now, was a mares race at Addington at the end of the month but while they would be at her mercy, the two Melton races are A$400,000 each, enormous money. But with the change of date for the Breeder Stakes from late January to March 20, all of a sudden Australia looks a far juicier option. And complicating the matter is the $50,000 Inter Dominion heat slated for Addington on February 14 is looking under threat, especially as Christen Me, Terror To Love and Franco Nelson are heading to Victoria. So Purdon needs to weight up whether to stick to mares racing for a total of about $300,000 from mid January to March, or head to Victoria and then have the possibility of the Inter Dominion on March 1, which means racing for A$1.6million. That is a huge difference and after what she did in the New Zealand Cup, who would argue she couldn’t win a Hunter Cup, especially as Beautide and For A Reason will miss that race. “Victoria is definitely becoming more of an option” admitted Purdon. “But really I want to take it one race at a time. So we will head to Cambridge and then make a decision after that. “If she went there she might only start in one of them, the Victoria or the Hunter Cup. But we are entered for them now so it is a possibility.”
 That would be news to the ears of the trainers of the other top mares in the country as a good race at Addington could await one of them. But if Adore Me stays that doesn’t look achievable because she showed again last week she can sit parked and beat them. Its not always easy, but she can still do it. Another horse who could have a Victorian change of plans is Christen Me. Trainer Cran Dalgety says the Miracle Mile winner is now a chance to head to the Shepparton Cup on January as his lead-up to the Victoria and Hunter Cups the following Saturdays. “He will need a lead up race to the Victoria Cup and the mile at Cambridge is too soon,” said Dalgety. “So I am looking at Shepparton, even though he would be off a 30m handicap.” By Michael Guerin Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand

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Aiken aiming high with Group One winner

While he won’t try to reach quite as high with Aimforthemoon, harness racing trainer David Aiken will chase several major targets with the promising youngster. A well-bred trotter, Aimforthemoon has been set for features such as the various Derbys and Vicbred Super Series. “He is capable of competing in the main races this season, but he will have to improve as he goes along,” Aiken said. “He’s only had a handful of starts and is still a little green, but the ability is there. “If he progresses as expected as he keeps racing, then I’ll have a look at the Derbys.” Driven by leading reinsman Chris Alford at Tabcorp Park Melton last Saturday night, Aimforthemoon broke his maiden in the Group One Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic. Caught there-wide from barrier six, the gelding worked to the lead as Illawong Cognac was eased to take a trail. Forced to dig deep during the latter stages, Aimforthemoon staved off a determined Bad Boy Leroy to score by a head, with Well Deserved nine metres away third. “He got close at the end, but he showed plenty of fight,” Aiken said. “Like I said, he still has to improve with experience, but the ability is there.” Covering the last half in 60.2 seconds, the three-year-old rated 2:03 for the 1720 metres, taking his record to a win and a placing from five starts for earnings of $30,313. Bred and owned by Kevin Riseley’s Sheron Park, Aimforthemoon is by Angus Hall from former top filly, Right Interest. Successful in the 2006 Breeders’ Crown, Right Interest also captured the Hankook Tyres Plate and Darrell Alexander Memorial. From broodmare gem Late Withdrawal, Right Interest is a half-sister to Group One winners National Interest and Magic Interest. PAUL COURTS

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Nathan Ford's greatest moment in racing

Exciting pacer Star Chamber gave young Tasmanian trainer-driver Nathan Ford his greatest moment in harness racing with an empathic win in the $40,000 Tasmania Cup at Tattersall’s Park in Hobart yesterday. So impressed with the win, Ford suggested he will head to the Group One A G Hunter Cup in Melbourne in February. Star Chamber landed in Ford’s stables about this time last year and he declared six months later the gelding would win feature and Group races while in his care. Today his prediction was realised and stamped the flashy chestnut as one of the brightest prospects in the state. It was an emotional Ford who was brought to tears when asked to describe his biggest win. And when his father Scott Ford, who has won just about every feature race in Tasmania except the Cup, arrived to congratulate his son, he was unable to hold back the tears. Star Chamber began well from the pole, but was crossed by the in-form Blue Pointer, which led with ease from barrier two. The $1.20 favourite Im Corzin Terror was held back at the start to settle near the rear and when Chris Alford made his move just over a lap from home, he was forced to sit three-wide until they were well into the home turn the last time. Blue Pointer had a kick at the top of the straight, with Im Corzin Terror under extreme pressure to overhaul the leader, but when Ford eased Star Chamber off the pegs to challenge, the son of Our Sir Vancelot stormed home to win easily from Im Corzin Terror and Blue Pointer. Star Chamber rated 1:57.8 for the 2579-metre trip, with the last half covered in 58.63 seconds. PETER STAPLES

Europe’s best four year-olds squared off in today’s Gr. I Criterium Continental with a €240,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, 18 starters with one scratch at Paris-Vincennes in the UET Masters Series) vying for its winners invitation to the Prix d’Amerique. The slick gaited, well-mannered Tumble Dust (4m Crazed-Affinity-Victory Dream) with Bjorn Goop up for trainer Tomas Malmqvist and owner Stall Tumble Boys, rallied to score by a nose at 13.8/1 odds in 1.10.7kr. Tumble Dust scored from post nine, outside first tier, and battled to the front in fast tempo before allowing a game 16/1 Amiral Sacha (4m Ganymede-Nostalgia Sacha) to gain the front for Gabrielle Gelormini with Malmqvist’s stablemate 33/1 Backfire (4f Offshore Dream-Fashion Brodde) behind Tumble Dust. Positions remained unchanged until even-money choice Aladin d’Ecajeul rolled near the leaders on the outside. Off the final bend Tumble Dust found room to the outside and Backfire found space on the pegs as the favorite faltered and Amiral Sacha battled on with great courage. The top three were noses apart on the line. Tumble Dust secured his tenth career win now for earnings of €510,169. Aladin d’Ecajeul ended fourth, Akim du Cap Vert fifth and J-P Dubois’ Tast of Bourbon was seventh. Fractions were 1.05.2kr at 1500; 1.08.5kr at 1000; 1.10.9kr at 500, 1.10.7kr at the finish. On post-race interview reinsman Bjorn Goop was quoted as saying Tumble Dust was good today, got over the track well and still had gas left. Goop recorded his seventh win in France this year with the Criterium Continental triumph. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Bird Parker (3m Ready Cash-Belisha-Fakir du Vivier)) scored a decisive six length victory in today’s Gr. I Prix de Vincennes (€240,000, 2700 meters monte, 13 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. This winner was off at 6.3/1 odds while favored Booster Winner finished a fading eighth at 1.3/1. Yohan Lebourgeois rode Bird Parker as the pair drew clear from the field starting at head-stretch. Philippe Allaire trains the winner for owner Elisabeth Allaire. Brutus de Bailly (3m Niky-Ninon de Bailly) was second for Mathieu Mottier at 13/1 with Best of Jets (3m Magnificent Rodney-Plume Jets) and Bilibili (3m Niky-Quetty du Digeon) next across the line. The winner was timed in 1.13.7 in modest fractions (1.12.7kr at 1500; 1.12.8kr at 1000; 1.13.3kr at 500; 1.13.7kr at finish). Bird Parker recorded his fifth career win for €525,430 earned. Thomas H. Hicks

Wake Up Peter entered tonight's $30,000 A-2/A-1/Free For All Handicap with two wins in his last four starts. He left the racetrack tonight three for his last five. Leaving for forward position off the wings of the gate, the 5/2 second choice Wake Up Peter found a comfortable spot, fourth along the pylons, where Brett Miller showed patience through an opening quarter of 27-seconds flat. When Sante Fe Beachboy, who was pacing just ahead of Wake Up Peter pulled first over, Wake Up Peter quickly grabbed his cover and drafted off Yannick Gingras' helmet through a 54.2 half mile and a three quarter clocking of 1:21.2. Brett Miller pulled on the right line and Wake Up Peter responded and drew clear to a two length win, stopping the timer in 1:48.4. Dapper Dude was second and Handsome Henry K rallied to be third. In a post-race interview Brett Miller referred to Wake Up Peter's determination as the difference maker. "He is a very good horse, but more than that he always gives 100-percent, everytime, he gives 100-percent." The victory marked the 14th time the son of Rocknroll Hanover has made it to the winner's circle this season with earnings of $248,710 for the year. Wake Up Peter is trained by Larry Remmen for owner Bradley Grant. In the $20,000 B-1 Pace, Doctor Butch returned dividends as the even-money favorite to score in 1:50.1. Having found trouble in each of his last four starts in the top-class at The Meadowlands, Doctor Butch moved first over for Tim Tetrick and with nothing but racetrack in front of him, the son of Art Major responded to the clear sailing, pacing strong through the stretch while holding off both Rockin Wizard and Sweet Rock to win on the class drop. Despite the first over move into strong fractions of 26.2, 54.2 and 1:23, Doctor Butch was able to sustain his rally for Linda Toscano who earned her first training win of the meet and owner Kenneth Jacobs. Gold Rocks made it two in a row, scoring a powerful win in the $20,000 B-2/B-1 Handicap for three year olds. Electing to stay along the pylons while Winds Of Change established a quick tempo of 27.3, 55.1 and 1:22.4, Gold Rocks waited until the stretch to make his move. When Tim Tetrick found room, he guided Gold Rocks outside of his rivals where he stormed past them all to win in 1:50.4 for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr.and owners Stephen Herrick and Bruce Soulsby. K-Lees Shakenbake rallied from far back again to win the $16,000 B-2 Pace in race four. Despite getting away last from the widest post, the son of Raycer Thad tracked a stalled outer flow while the fractions were hot and heavy up front. Warrawee Needy was wheeling off a 26.1, 53.3 and 1:20.3 clip and he fought all the way to the wire. But, he could not hold off the oncoming K-Lees Shakenbake who was a last to first winner for the second consecutive week, tripping the timer in 1:49.3, establishing a new lifetime mark with driver Scott Zeron. The winner is trained by David M. Smith and owned by Randall Bendis and Thomas Pollack. There will be a pair of carryovers into the Friday card at The Meadowlands. The 13th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 features a carryover of $14,924, while the 5th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 Carryover stands at $2,258. Racing resumes on Friday, December 26th with first post time at 7:15 P.M. The Meadowlands would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

Anyone knows harness racing trainer driver Mick Prendergast wouldn't doubt the old timer when he says he's training himself up to see if can ride in a novelty saddle trot in the new year. It's not as if Prendergast, 81, has never done it before - he started riding trotters when they raced around pegs in a paddock in Naseby in 1950. He might be a bit hard of hearing these days but New Zealand's oldest successful harness horseman showed he was still up for a challenge when he trained and drove Holdon Toyaspurs to his first win in nearly nine years at Forbury Park in Dunedin on Wednesday night. Prendergast's colours of black with red braces and green sleeves have been seen all over the South Island for six decades since his mum made his first set of silks in 1956 when he was first licensed to compete in Central Otago and south of the Clutha river. But it's fair to say they haven't been seen in the winner's circle too often. Prendergast potters round with no more than a couple of horses at a time and is known for persevering longer than most with his trotters. He gave 89-start maiden Manchester Tom five years before sacking him and Maple Twist 58 winless starts in four years before the novelty of her smart black coat and stylish trot wore thin. "I've had more seconds than wins," says Prendergast who claims just 18 wins since 1977 alongside his 30 seconds and 56 thirds. But when Prendergast eclipsed the feat of his long time drinking buddie John "Budgie" Burgess, who drove a winner at the age of 80 in 2008, he lived up to his promise that he'd keep doing it until "he was put into a box he couldn't get out of"'. Prendergast has managed to avoid the box so far but admits he's got into a few scrapes in recent years, even after he made the decision "not to drive anyone else's mongrels any more" because it was too little reward for too much risk. In a 2011 race crash, when Manchester Tom was badly checked, his dentures were forced into the roof of his mouth and he broke his nose. A couple of years ago a Continentalman trotter he was training broke Prendergast's leg and put him out for five months. When he gave her a second chance she broke his ribs before "being exported to Greece in small pieces". Twelve months ago he was struck by a mystery muscular complaint which prevented him from getting into the cart and forced him to train his horses behind a truck for a while. "I got all seized up and couldn't walk, couldn't even comb my hair until I saw an old doc in Ranfurly and threw all my medication away. Within half an hour I was up and away." It was about that time that Prendergast, who has lived alone for the last 20 years, agreed to text his daughter Stacey in Otautau every morning after working the horses to confirm he was OK. "If she didn't hear from me by lunch time she was to ring the local transport company and they'd dispatch someone to come and check on me. But I'm not so worried now that I've got two quiet horses." It's not as if there are many people who could come to Prendergast's aid either. He's back in the 150-year-old homestead he was brought up in at Hyde, between Ranfurly and Middlemarch, literally a two-horse "blink-and-you'll- miss-it" town. With only a dozen residents at the pub and transport company - there's no diary or garage - you just take the first right into Prendergast Rd, yes it's named after the family, and head down towards the Clutha River, avoiding the Cemetery Rd turnoff, to find Ranger Stables. Prendergast named the place after his best horse, Road Ranger, who won three races between 1992 and 1997, including one at Addington when he paid a whopping $69.60. "No, I didn't back him. I've never been a bettor. When I trained my first winner, Blue Signal in a saddle trot at Cromwell, he paid seventy one pounds, nineteen and sixpence and I didn't back him either." Prendergast had his first bet for 20 years on one of his horses when Holdon Toyaspurs ran third at Forbury in his previous start, his first for the stable. "He'd been working so good I put $5 for a place on him and he ran third and paid $10.40. But I didn't back him when he won, I thought the 2700 metres might find him out. Phil Williamson said he didn't back him either because he reckoned I couldn't drive two good races in a row." But Prendergast has an enviable record in the cart and, probably for that reason, says he doesn't get any lip from the young bucks on the track. He'd been chuffed to be congratulated by champion reinsman Dexter Dunn on Wednesday night. "I've been suspended only twice in more than 50 years and both times I think I was hard done by. I'm a very careful driver. I can get them away better than most and, when I start to get into trouble with the stewards, I'll give it away straight away." Prendergast says the standard of driving is far better than in the 50s and 60s when "you'd get guys half pissed out there who didn't care what they did". In those dim dark days, with very little stewards' control, it wasn't uncommon for horses to be pulled up to avoid harsh rehandicapping. But there's none of that dodgy stuff now, Prendergast says, - especially at the Lake Hawea picnic meeting at which he has been competing and handicapping since 1956. He's targeted the popular December 28 holiday attraction for Holdon Toyaspurs this year - "but I'll have to put him 20 metres further back now than I'd banked on".' Then there's also that saddle trot at Omakau on January 2. "I'm not sure if it's going to get off the ground but the club president asked me if I'd have a horse for the race. "I'm not sure if my body would handle it but if I'm happy with myself and the horse, who's a bit rough to ride, I'll give it a go." Prendergast rode for the first time in five years earlier this week, before Holdon Toyaspurs won, taking him for the 12km trek he usually takes in the cart along the popular "rail trail" a 150km cycle track along the old railway route from Middlemarch to Clyde. "It's not boring for the horses, like going round and round on a track and it's not boring for me." Prendergast is actually something of a tourist attraction himself, often stopped by cyclists who want to pose for pictures with this horse. But, so far, he hasn't been game enough to venture any further than 6km in either direction, the prospect of going into a tunnel one way and over a bridge the other way, a little daunting on his own. "But I'm off to Cromwell for a fortnight on Monday and will see how he goes," said Prendergast, who still drives his own float to the races, second nature he says for someone who worked for 13 years as a truck driver. As Prendergast says, he has the same motto as his late mate Budgie, "have horse, will travel".' In 2002, his three-race winner Sockett's Rocket earned the title of the season's iron horse - with 41 starts. Perhaps, they should have given the iron award to Prendergast himself. He'll be driving down Prendergast Rd, not Cemetery Rd, for a while yet. Courtesy Of Barry Lichter - Sunday Star Times - Check site here  

Scarborough, Maine -. In what has become one of the most anticipated days in state of Maine harness racing, the 8th annual Standardbred Retirement Ceremony took place at Scarborough Downs on Saturday (12-20). Six tried and true veteran racehorses took their final bows in front of their adoring fans with custom embroidered coolers and ample bunches of carrots replacing the traditional gold watches of the human retiree set. By rule, all Standardbred racehorses must hang up their bridles at the conclusion of their 14-year-old seasons and Scarborough Downs in cooperation with the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association and the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association remain committed to sending them off to their new careers in style. Included in this year's ceremony were; Bolero Loupet (1:51), Freedom Of Speech (1:52.4), Pacific Sonata (1:54.3), Red Bullet (1:52.4), Redstone Ruckus (1:49.4) and Sammys Honor (1:57.3). In a unique twist on the celebration, the classy Red Bullet made the 440th and final start of his career in the race just prior to the retirement ceremony. Owned by Douglas Gray of Lewiston, Maine, the gritty son of Life Sign - Lady Largo dug out a game third place showing in his swan song appearance, the 13th time the veteran warhorse has finished in the show spot this season. The 2014 meeting at Scarborough Downs has now entered deep stretch with just one performance remaining on the calendar. The seasonal curtain comes down on Sunday (12-21) with a nine-race program scheduled to get under way at 12:05 PM (EST). For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. by Mike Sweeney, for Scarborough Downs

Despite his last start defeat, harness racing star Beautide is the early favourite for Victoria’s two Grand Circuit events with TAB Fixed Odds. Nominations for the Victoria and A G Hunter Cups were released, with the reigning Inter Dominion champion heading the market. Second behind Christen Me in last month’s Miracle Mile, Beautide is favoured to beat the Kiwi beginning with the Victoria Cup on January 31 and again the following week. The James Rattray-trained gelding is $4 for the state’s premier mobile event and $5 in Australia’s most prestigious handicap. Rattray has yet to commit to a Hunter Cup start. Christen Me is on the third line of betting at $7 in both Cups despite being the defending Hunter Cup champion. Last season’s Victoria Cup hero, For A Reason, is $14 in his title defence, with boom local, Guaranteed, the best of the locals at $6. Guaranteed is also the second elect for the Hunter Cup at $6, equal with New Zealand Cup winner, Adore Me. PAUL COURTS VICTORIA CUP $4 Beautide $6 Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $9 Adore Me $10 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Keayang Cullen $18 Im Corzin Terror $21 Restrepo $26 David Hercules $31 or better others   HUNTER CUP $5 Beautide $6 Adore Me, Guaranteed $7 Christen Me, Terror To Love $11 Philadelphia Man $14 For A Reason, Im Corzin Terror $21 Arden Rooney, Keayang Cullen, Restrepo, The Gold Ace $26 David Hercules $31 or better others

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at www.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Stallion Review – YANKEE CRUISER – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Yankee Cruiser 1:49.3s ($1,457,346). AU: You're only as good as your last win - We have all heard the adage "you are only as good as your last win." Well, it would appear at least one well-known trainer has come to realise this to be true. NZ: 1000 wins and hardly a murmur - One thing that we struggle with in the harness racing game in New Zealand is how we treat our superstars of the sport. In any other sport they shower there stars with awards and public recognition when they achieve something special. Drop your foot and pay the fine - Last week Harnesslink featured its most controversial article ever. Thousands of views and hundreds of comments, both pro and con, on the David Miller interview about dropping his foot in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs. Insider Access archive available - Following requests from our readers in relation to previous editions of Insider Access, we are providing a link for those looking to catch up on some news they missed. Simply click here and delve through the archives as Insider Access and Harnesslink continue to lead the way in providing the latest news from around the world. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

Roxane Griff (9f Tenor de Baune-Julia Mesloise-Sancho Panca) rallied stoutly from fourth around the final bend to decisively score in today’s Gr. II UET Masters Series Monte Prix Jules Lemonnier (€120,000 purse, 2175 meters, 8 starters) in a sharp 1.11.8kr. Eric Raffin rated the gallant mare perfectly for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner/breeder Ecurie Griff. Roxane Griff won for the 20th time in her career, now for earnings of €2,567,218, today at 3/5 odds. In her last seven outings she has a 1-3-2 slate with three mounted starts and four to sulky. Earlier this year she won the prestigious Prix de Cournulier (monte), the world’s richest monte race, a week before the the Prix d’Amerique . She then finished a solid fourth in that sulky classic. Germany’s Armando Kievitshof raced well today and held second for Philippe Masschaele and trainer Carine de Soete, in what was only his second monte start since April, at 25/1 odds. Torre Crepin (7g Capriccio-Ianaka) was third at 9/1. Well regarded veteran Singalo contested the event near the leading pack and eventually went offstride in late stretch. Today’s Gr. II Prix Une de Mai (€120,000, 2175 meters, 12 starters, two year-old females) went to front-striding Classica du Ruel (2f Scipion du Goutier-Romance du Ruel-Jam Pridem) with trainer Franck Anne up for breeder/owner Annick Bazin. The victory was the second of her brief career now for €127,480 earned. She was timed in a sharp 1.13.7kr, at 4.3/1 odds, in defeating Couleur Citron (2f Coktail Jet-L’aunou du Fier) and teamster Yohan Lebourgeois for Philippe Allaire who trains for Ecurie J-P Barjon. Conception (2f Ready Cash-Soeur Winner) was third for Joseph Verbeeck, trainer Allaire and owner Ecurie Val de Moulin. The Prix de Strasbourg (€88,000 purse, 2850 meters, 12 starters) also graced the card with that win to 4/5 favorite Trophee de Jaba (7g Kesaco Phedo-Otika Vita-Gal d’Hautmoniere) trained and reined by J-M Bazire. He was up in the final stride to score in 1.14.2kr to record career victory 17 for €447,900 earned. He posted his third straight win. The de Chene (7g Blue Eyes America-Heparine) was second for J.L.Cl. Dersoir, also trainer, with third to Tornado de l’Ocean (7g Look de Star-Talvina) with Pierre Levesque teaming for trained Mike Lenders and owner Ecurie J-P Barjon. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Friday Group action at Paris-Vincennes began what will be a super-charged racing weekend, illustrative of the winter-meet class of racing. The Gr. II Prix Emmanuel Margouty (€120,000, 2175 meters, 11 two year-old colt starters) went to the Thierry Duvaldestin trained and reined Cristal Money (2m Coktail Jet-Making Money-Himo Josselyn) in 1.14kr. The Richard Cohen owned colt rallied in mid-stretch and as 4.5/1 second choice held off Celebrissime (2m Password-Invre de Victorire) and Yohan Lebourgeois. That one was off as 1.6.1 favorite for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Frederic Sauque. Franck Leblanc’s Coquin Bene (2m Rancho Gede-Noble Nanette) closed well for third with J-M Bazire aboard at 11/1. Winning Cristal Money has four victories in seven starts for €108.650 in this his initial campaign, Vittel de Brevol (5m Jag de Bellouet-Lady de Brevol-Capriccio) captured the Gr. III Prix Sans Dire Qui (€105,000, monte, 2700 meters) with David Thomain in the irons for trainer Sebastien Ernault. This 9/10 favorite easily dispatched Veloce du Banney (5g Quaro-Jiva du Banney) with Yohan Lebourgeois up for trainer/owner Franck Leblanc at 10/1. Italian registered invader Palomar LB (5m Varenne-Gilly LB) was third for Elisabeth Allaire and trainer Harri Rantanen at 9/1. The winner scored in 1.13.1kr for his 14th lifetime win now for €371,100 earned. In ten 2014 starts the winner has six victories. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Broodmare gem Monaloo completed a rare harness racing feat last night. Boasting a perfect strike rate as a matron, Monaloo produced a pair of winners in the space of a couple of hours. Even more impressive is the fact the dam’s progeny were successful in two states. Promising pacer Freds A Safari kicked started proceedings when triumphant at Globe Derby for trainer-driver Darren Billinger. Rating 1:59.6 for the 1800 metres, the four-year-old continued his unbeaten run from three outings this season. By Safari, the feature race winner extended his record to 10 wins and eight placings from 25 starts. Lord Monaloo then matched his half-brother’s feat when victorious at Shepparton for astute horsewoman Kylie Sugars. Driven by Sugars’ brother, Greg, Lord Monaloo enjoyed a three-wide trail during the latter stages before scoring in 1:56.8 over 2190 metres. Racing in consistent fashion this term, the son of It Is I has notched three wins and three placings from six starts for an overall tally of 22 wins and 24 placings from 59 starts. Monaloo next foals is an unraced two-year-old daughter by It Is I. PAUL COURTS

Three hundred Catholics converged on Addington Metropolitan Raceway in Christchurch in November for an evening of harness racing celebrities, dining, and the inaugural John Paul II Centre for Life, “Parish Priest Punter of the Year”. Sponsored races such as the J. Butler & Co & Mairehau Catholic Parish Pace, and John Paul II Centre for Life Handicap Trot, created an evangelistic atmosphere for the meeting. The evening brought parishioners together, and raised awareness of and funds for the John Paul II Centre for Life. Fairy money of $100 a race was allocated for each priest’s betting. As competition intensified, Fr Paulo Filoali-i hurried down the stairs, past the birdcage, and onto the track. He was seen racing down the course in the mobile barrier starter truck, no doubt to gain a closer assessment of racing form, tinged with a taste for speed. This same ploy was used by Fr Anthony Prendergast, from St Theresa’s parish, Riccarton. Race six saw Fr Bill Middleton’s horse, Donaldson, cheered on with great fervour. Faces pushed up to the glass window of the Silks Lounge. All eyes were on Donaldson as the horses raced for the finish line. Well, almost all. It is said Fr Dan Doyle, parish priest of Ferrymead-Lyttelton, had his fairy money on Dr Hook, who won by a nose. Fr Doyle’s smile grew with every race and by race 10 the evidence was clear. He became the first John Paul II Centre for Life “Parish Priest Punter of the Year”, receiving the trophy, a beautiful bronze harness horse in a glass case. The initiator of the evening, diocese programme director Phil Gourdie, has had more than 40 winners in harness racing. MC Jack O’Donnell spent 30 years as race commentator in the Wairarapa, Nelson-Marlborough area and on the West Coast. He was president of the Greymouth Jockey Club and the New Zealand Racing Conference. He raced gallopers and harness horses. Bishop Barry Jones spoke of the centre’s work as being close to his heart, supporting the Gospel of Life so powerfully preached by St John Paul II, who knew the culture of death threatens society in many ways. The centre, which is available to the whole community, he said, puts time, effort and resources into honouring the dignity of persons when they are under threat. Bishop Jones, who is patron of the centre, established a trust in 2011. In one year the centre fielded 1217 phone calls, 75 pregnancy consultations and 59 after hours calls. It distributed 95 packets of nappies, 11 high chairs, 12 bassinets, 25 cots and 14 prams. One hundred and fifty five donations of baby clothes were given out, and 127 layettes. The centre facilitated the Catholic family camp, with a theme of raising kids Catholic, giving them roots and wings. by Jenny McPhee Reprinted with permission of the NZ Catholic

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Medway, MA --- The Harness Horsemen's Association of New England held their 2014 awards banquet at the V.F.W. Post in Medway, Mass., on Saturday (Dec. 20) in front of a huge crowd that looked forward to the affair and also to the excitement that Plainridge Racecourse will be up and running for the 2015 season. General Manager Stephen O'Toole was present to make a few announcements about the upcoming season. "Construction is proceeding right on schedule and racing is expected to begin on April 1, 2015 and the video slot parlor is scheduled to open on June 1, 2015 as planned." All the lucky recipients were in attendance to receive their awards. The winners are listed below: Pacer of the Year: Dontmesswiththebest--owner Richard Poilucci--trainer James Hardy Trotter of the Year: Coco Lindy--owners Lindy Farms and Robert Rudolph--trainer Frank Antonacci "Enlisted " Horse of the Year: Story Of My Life--owner Jeffrey Kaylor--trainer Joseph Therrien Lifetime Achievement: Hurricane Emily--owners James Hardy and Tia Bennett--trainer James Hardy Lifetime Achievement: Jopas Wish--owner Francis Witkowski--trainer Francis Witkowski Horse of the Year (female): Iheartquestionnmark--owner J & E Stable--trainer Steve Nason Horse of the Year (male): A Megabuck--owner Nancy Guidette--trainer Donald Guidette  Senior Citizen: Danger Sign--owner Brenda Provost--trainer Brenda Provost Senior Citizen: Ronnie Revrac--owner Shaun Scott--trainer Shaun Scott  Claimer of the Year: Happy Surprise--owner Mark Eaton--trainer Mark Eaton Appreciation Award: Peter Goldberg  Driver and Trainer of the Year: James Hardy by Robert Lieberman 
Columbus, OH --- John Chapman Jr. died Dec. 19, 2014, at his home in Orchard Park, N.Y. Jake, as he was known by friends and family, was a true horseman and a true gentleman. He is survived by his siblings, Cindy (Peter) Chapman-Koch, Cricket (Kevin) Brennan and Cheryl (Mark) Gacek; and nephews and nieces, Matthew (Josie) Brennan, Kevin Brennan, Patrick Brennan, Daniel Gacek and Jessica Gacek. He was preceded in death by his Hall of Fame father John and his mother Janice. Services will be held at the Lombardo Funeral Home, Orchard Park, N.Y., on Tuesday (Dec. 23) from 1-3 and 5-7 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., or Hospice of Buffalo, N.Y.  Kathleen Marshall, mother of USTA director Kenneth Marshall, died Dec. 16, 2014. A resident of Hazel Park, Mich., for 40 years, she is survived by Kenneth and his wife, Patricia Marino Marshall; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mrs. Marshall enjoyed gardening, cooking, traveling and spending time with family. From the USTA Media Department    
Scarborough, Maine -  Closing Day marked the conclusion of the 2014 meet at Scarborough Downs on Sunday (12-21) with competitive racing and recognition of seasonal achievements being the hallmark of the day while the New England Harness Writers Association joined the track to help dole out the hardware. Drew Campbell, the perennial powerhouse among a very competitive drivers colony secured yet another Drivers Championship in 2014, spinning together a grand slam performance on the closing day card to augment his meet's leading tally to 199 seasonal scores. Currently the third rated UDRS driver in North America, Campbell closed out the year in identical fashion to the way he began it, winning both the first and final dash of the nine month meet. Philip "Bo" Sowers secured the very first Scarborough Trainers Championship of his career, surviving a late charge from the Randy Bickmore Barn to claim top dog status after sending 49 winners to the post during the year. Sowers joins a handful of state of Maine horsemen who are ranked among the leading campaigners in North America in 2015, with his roster currently ranked fourth in the continental trainers standings sporting a hefty .380 UTRS. With 2014 now fully engraved in the archives, all eyes are set on the dawn of a new year and continued success, with the 2015 meeting, the 65th in the history of Scarborough Downs, set to begin on March 28. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or our Facebook page. By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs    
Wake Up Peter entered tonight's $30,000 A-2/A-1/Free For All Handicap with two wins in his last four starts. He left the racetrack tonight three for his last five. Leaving for forward position off the wings of the gate, the 5/2 second choice Wake Up Peter found a comfortable spot, fourth along the pylons, where Brett Miller showed patience through an opening quarter of 27-seconds flat. When Sante Fe Beachboy, who was pacing just ahead of Wake Up Peter pulled first over, Wake Up Peter quickly grabbed his cover and drafted off Yannick Gingras' helmet through a 54.2 half mile and a three quarter clocking of 1:21.2. Brett Miller pulled on the right line and Wake Up Peter responded and drew clear to a two length win, stopping the timer in 1:48.4. Dapper Dude was second and Handsome Henry K rallied to be third. In a post-race interview Brett Miller referred to Wake Up Peter's determination as the difference maker. "He is a very good horse, but more than that he always gives 100-percent, everytime, he gives 100-percent." The victory marked the 14th time the son of Rocknroll Hanover has made it to the winner's circle this season with earnings of $248,710 for the year. Wake Up Peter is trained by Larry Remmen for owner Bradley Grant. In the $20,000 B-1 Pace, Doctor Butch returned dividends as the even-money favorite to score in 1:50.1. Having found trouble in each of his last four starts in the top-class at The Meadowlands, Doctor Butch moved first over for Tim Tetrick and with nothing but racetrack in front of him, the son of Art Major responded to the clear sailing, pacing strong through the stretch while holding off both Rockin Wizard and Sweet Rock to win on the class drop. Despite the first over move into strong fractions of 26.2, 54.2 and 1:23, Doctor Butch was able to sustain his rally for Linda Toscano who earned her first training win of the meet and owner Kenneth Jacobs. Gold Rocks made it two in a row, scoring a powerful win in the $20,000 B-2/B-1 Handicap for three year olds. Electing to stay along the pylons while Winds Of Change established a quick tempo of 27.3, 55.1 and 1:22.4, Gold Rocks waited until the stretch to make his move. When Tim Tetrick found room, he guided Gold Rocks outside of his rivals where he stormed past them all to win in 1:50.4 for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr.and owners Stephen Herrick and Bruce Soulsby. K-Lees Shakenbake rallied from far back again to win the $16,000 B-2 Pace in race four. Despite getting away last from the widest post, the son of Raycer Thad tracked a stalled outer flow while the fractions were hot and heavy up front. Warrawee Needy was wheeling off a 26.1, 53.3 and 1:20.3 clip and he fought all the way to the wire. But, he could not hold off the oncoming K-Lees Shakenbake who was a last to first winner for the second consecutive week, tripping the timer in 1:49.3, establishing a new lifetime mark with driver Scott Zeron. The winner is trained by David M. Smith and owned by Randall Bendis and Thomas Pollack. There will be a pair of carryovers into the Friday card at The Meadowlands. The 13th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 features a carryover of $14,924, while the 5th race Jackpot Super Hi-5 Carryover stands at $2,258. Racing resumes on Friday, December 26th with first post time at 7:15 P.M. The Meadowlands would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  
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