The sweep of the top two finish positions for his stable in the top event on a beautiful South Florida Saturday night (December 17) evoked some poignant memories for harness racing trainer Tom Harmer.
"It was very close to 25 years ago that one of my first great horses,, won the Provincial Cup at Windsor Raceway" Harmer said in the live trackside post-race TV interview. "I recall that night really well. There was snow, rain, sleet, almost everything you could think of, it was really nasty out. What I remember most about it was that I went up to the dining room right after the race and signed the syndication deal for with Castleton Farm" he shared with the trackside and TV audience.
In the $12,000 purse winners over $10,000 lifetime feature event, the entrymates from the Harmer barn waged a first quarter battle in :27.1 over the wet track dulled by afternoon rain. Omaha Survivor finally cleared the front with Bruce Ranger in the bike over Anescape N, partnered by Anthony Napolitano. Omaha Survivor would go on to post fractions of :56.3 and 1:23.3 and he still had a :27.3 closer in reserve to win in 1:51.1.
The-R N Labelle five year old gelding races for Michael Polansky and Ciara Stable. This effort followed up his 1:50.4 life's mark effort of the previous week which also stands as the fastest mile of the meet. Dragon's Blood, in rein to Mike Micallef, made the final half first over move and persisted for the show position. "I don't think you've seen the best of Omaha Survivor yet" Harmer adds.
"I think he's just coming into the prime years of his career as an Open class pacer. He's made $186,000 and I'd say a few of his best years could be right in front of him.
In addition to marking a quarter century since's win in the Provincial Cup and syndication deal signing, it's also almost a year to the day since Harmer lead the charge of Pompano's horsepeople for the huge donations to the victims of the Lebanon Raceway fire. Harmer's donation of the use of his horse trailer carried horses and a vast array of items shipped to Ohio from the Pompano backstretch. Coincidentally, Harmer is also marking 20 years of wintering in Florida.
"Our first stint here was from 1978 through 1991 and then we stayed up in Illinois while our daughter was finishing school" Harmer recalls. "Since 2003 we've been here every year so all told that's 20 years we've wintered here. I used to operate satellite stables in Illinois and Florida, but now everything is pretty much consolidated here.
"I have 7 yearlings in training here this year which isn't as high a number as I'd like, but I'm quite pleased with all of them so far. As for tonight's top class race, I was only too happy to have Bruce Ranger and Anthony Napolitano drive that pair. I've scaled back on how much I drive which I guess is just a function of age since I turned 60" he said.
Holiday week schedule
The upcoming week brings the only schedule change for live harness racing at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing through next May. There is no live racing on Saturday, December 25, and that program is moved ahead to Thursday, December 23. The change will see four consecutive nights of live racing from Monday through Thursday in the coming week at 7:05 p.m.
by Frank SALIVE