Day At The Track

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Oh what a difference a year can make. That's the tune that harness racing trainer Jean Tourigny is humming these days since his trotting mare, HP Run Like Mom, is unbeaten in three starts this year. She goes for her fourth straight win on Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R. The four-year-old mare by Kadabra from the Promising Catch mare, Canaco Runner, is co-owned by Claude Hamel of Ayer's Cliff and Michel Damphousse of Louiseville and was bred by Hamel with Lapharmaciedekedgwick Inc., NB. A five-time winner last year at age three, HP Run Like Mom was headed into the $65,000 final of the Breeders Cup Final as the morning line betting favorite, looking to cap off a pretty good season. That did not happen, in fact the mare broke stride from post eight and was unable to rebound. Then the following week she broke again in a qualifying race, then stayed trotting in the next qualifying race, but that was it, HP Run Like Mom was to be turned out for next season. "She was deconcentrated and lost confidence after going to Toronto to race," Said Tourigny. "She disappointed me at Mohawk. I thought she would be able to trot a mile in 1:54." Before HP Run Like Mom when to Mohawk Raceway, her last start was a 25 and one-half length romp in the Breeders Cup third leg at H3R and she scored a lifetime best 1:59.4 triumph. "Now she is four years old and has really matured," Tourigny explained. "We go week by week with her and we let her decide how fast she wants to go. She is now building up confidence from week to week." Last week was perhaps HP Run Like Mom's best win of the season. With Stephane Brosseau her regular driver, last week she came after the race leader at the half, took command of the lead and held the field at bay in scoring a 2:01.1 triumph. "My father Leo and I," Tourigny added. "trained and raced her mother (Canaco Runner 6, 1:54.4s $443,545) and it makes for me a challenge more to have the honor to take care of her foals that Claude Hamel, Celine Paquin and Michel Damphousse have given me this great opportunity. "I have three teams that help with the care and racing of the horses," Tourigny said. "We have 16 horses in the stable now. Barry Robert and Jules Girard are the main caretakers. Then there is myself, Trudel Rolland and my dad doing the training and my paddock team at the track are Yves Corbin and his daughter Clare. "I must give credit to my dad," Tourigny said. "He comes every morning to train. He is going to be 79 soon. I am so happy to have these great people working with me and, of course, all the owners who have put their trust in me. Without Michel Damphousse, Claude Hamel and Celine Paquin, Rolland Trudel, Brian Paquette, and Steve Garceau, I would be nothing." Tourigny is also excited that his top pacing mare, HP Sissy, is coming back to the stable this weekend to begin prepping for the Quebec-Bred Series at the Hippodrome 3R. She was a prior champion at H3R and went on to race in Toronto and then New York, winning $229,000 with a record of 1:52.1h. HP Run Like Mom is not the morning line favorite in the sixth race trot on Sunday at H3R. She will be tested Sunday, having to start from the far outside in post eight. A The honor of being the morning line favorite goes to another good mare named Lucky Promesses from post four for owner, breeder and driver, Jerome Lombart. This is just the second start this year for the five-year-old mare by Lucky Fool. Last year was her best season ever as she was the winningest horse to race at H3R. She closed out the season with ten wins for trainer Andreane Lapierre, taking a record of 1:58.2 at Rideau Carleton. Other contenders in the race include KFB Amigo Cool (post two), EAU Naturelle (post five) and Abundasass (post three). Track Notes: Defending H3R leading driver, Stephane Brosseau, is off to the best start of his career, winning 12 of the 29 races (41%) held so far at the Hippodrome 3R. His record is 25-12-4-3 and his "batting average" or UDR is an amazing .596. He will be driving in the first eight races at H3R Sunday before heading over to Rideau Carleton. For a free race program for Sunday, visit First race post time Sunday is 12:50 pm. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

MILTON, May 18, 2018 - The team of owner Carl Kuepfer and harness racing trainer Patrick Shepherd had a memorable Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The duo sent out four starters on the 12-race program and made four-trips to the winner's circle. Reinsman Doug McNair sat behind three of the winners, while Louis Philippe Roy had the other winning drive. Shepherd and Kuepfer started the evening off by sweeping the opening three-races on the card. Claiming pacer Fern Hill Breeze ($4.20) got things rolling by registering his third win in five starts. The second-half of the 'Daily Double' was won by six-year-old trotting mare Talbotcreek Suzie ($3.90), who won her second straight for the Shepherd stable and fourth-overall. The third win of the evening was the biggest price of the four-victories, as pacing mare E R Rhonda prevailed by a head in a $10,000 claiming event. The seven-year-old paid $10.50 to win. Trotting mare Stirling Boudica ($3.50) went coast-to-coast in the evening's eighth-race to cap off the memorable evening for Kuepfer and Shepherd. The eight-year-old was returning to the Shepherd barn after a week away and has now won three consecutive starts in his barn. Shepherd now has 10 wins in 27 starts this season at Woodbine Mohawk Park for an eye-catching winning percentage of 37 per cent. He currently sits third in the Trainer Standings. The $30,000 Mares Preferred was Friday's feature race with a wide-open field of nine battling from start to finish. P L Hurricane and driver Sylvain Filion came from third-over on the far turn to sweep by rivals and score a 27-1 upset in 1:52.3. Artistic Madison, who was 51-1, split between rivals to grab second. Circle The Page finished third despite making a first-turn break for the third-straight start, while Clear Idea, who won last week's edition and was the 3-2 favourite, finished fourth. P L Hurricane rarely misses a cheque and Friday's 27th career victory pushed her over $500,000 in career earnings. The seven-year-old is owned and trained by Dave Brown and now has back to back wins to bring her 2018 record to three wins and 12 top-three finishes in 18 starts. A $2 win ticket on P L Hurricane returned $57.40, while the $2 Exacta with Artistic Madison paid $847.90. Live racing continues Saturday evening with the annual Fireworks and Family Fun Night. A special post-time of 6:45 p.m. has been issued. Mark McKelvie

Vernon Downs ran eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for sophomore trotters on Friday night (May 18). Three divisions for harness racing 3-year-old fillies and two divisions for 3-year-old colts. The top three fillies in each elimination and the top four colts (and one fifth place finisher) will compete in the EBC Finals on Memorial day (May 28). Each class will race for an estimated $250,000 purse. All elimination races were for a purse of $12,500. Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt) won the first division for sophomore trotting colts. Ronnie Goldstein (Kim Crawford) took the lead into the first quarter (:26.1). Six Pack ($3.00) took over right after the quarter. However Helpisontheway (Tim Tetrick) brushed on by to take the half in :56.2 and led to the three-quarter mark in 1:26.1. Six Pack, by Muscle Mass, who is owned by Little E LLC., Stall Kalmar, Lars Berg, and trainer Svanstedt, sat patiently in the pocket then wore down Helpisontheway to tie the track record for 3-year-old trotting colts in 1:52.1. He tied the mark first set by Market Share in 2012. Helpisontheway held on for second. Classichap (Trond Smedshammer) finished third with Southwind Chrome (Scott Zeron) getting fourth place. All four qualified for the EBC Finals on Memorial Day. Seven Iron (Tim Tetrick) uses one last lunge to win the second division for 3-year-old trotting colts. Tito (Andrew McCarthy) took the early lead, hitting the first quarter in 27.2. Voss Volo (Corey Callahan) then took over and led to the half in :56.3. On The Ropes (Ake Svanstedt) then made his bid and had a slight lead after hitting three-quarters in 1:26.0. Seven Iron ($6.40), who is owned by Kenneth Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, found himself fifth after three-quarters. Tetrick would send him three-wide in deep stretch just getting by to win in a lifetime best mark of 1:54.2. On The Ropes narrowly took the runner-up spot. Voss Volo managed to finish third with Clive Bigsby (Scott Zeron) getting the fourth position. All four would qualify for the EBC Final. They will be joined by fifth place finisher Purpose Blue Chip (Dan Daley) to round out the nine qualifiers. Seven Iron is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. It was his first win of 2018 and his third career victory. Atlanta (Scott Zeron) coasts to easy win in the the EBC first division for 3-year-old fillies. White Cheetah (Marcus Miller) led the group to the first quarter mark in 27.0. The lead was short lived as Atlanta ($2.20), who is owned by Howard Taylor, Bradley Grant and trainer Rick Zeron, blew right by and never looked back. She would control all the rest of the fractions (:56.2, 1:26.1, 1:53.1). Golden Muscle (Drew Monti) charged late to finish in second with Tribute To Seven (Tim Tetrick) getting the third spot. All three fillies qualified for the EBC Final. Atlanta is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She is two for two in her sophomore season. She would nail down her sixth career victory. Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) goes gate-to-wire to capture the second division for sophomore fillies. Plunge Blue Chip ($3.00), who is owned by trainer, Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock inc., and Tomas Anderson, charged out for the lead and controlled all the fractions (:27.4, :57.2, 1:26.0, 1:54.0). Her stablemate Ciao Dolce (Andy Miller) followed the whole way to finish second. Repentance (Tim Tetrick) finished third. All three will be in the EBC Final. Plunge Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by Muscle Mass. It was her second win of the season and she now has won 11 of her 12 career starts. The third division for 3-year-old fillies went to Natalie Hanover (Ake Svanstedt). Seven Karats (Tim Tetrick) took the lead and put up all the early fractions (:27.1, :57.1, 1:26.2). Natalie Hanover ($9.30), who is owned by Van Camp Trotting Corporation, Anders Olsson, and Borje Nasstrom while trained by Svanstedt, followed in the pocket all the way to thr three-quarter mark. The two fillies would battle all the way down the stretch. Natalie Hanover was just too strong and got the victory. Seven Karats held for second. Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller) came up late to finish third. All three qualified to complete the field of nine for the EBC Final.   Natalie Hanover is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She picked up her first win of the season and her third career victory with a lifetime best time of 1:54.1.   A big day for Ake Svanstedt with three wins and one second in the elimination races. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday night (May 19) with a 13 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to John Horne for Vernon Downs      

Neil, who has been in indifferent health for some time, suffered severe back pain late in the week and was removed to hospital on Thursday. The family, including his wife, Rose  were summoned on Friday evening and he passed some hours later. His last harness racing runner, Mach Up, had been a winner for Mark at Addington a few hours before.  He was 80 Neil has been closely associated with Mark's training career from the start of it. "We had been family friends for years. Neil was in Kumeu earlier and transported the horses down south for Roy and Barry and was then in Christchurch so the association continued when I moved south" Mark said. Neil played a key role in that stage of Mark's career as a backer, advisor and "volunteer" stable hand. In more recent times he was the man finessing the track before fast work at Rolleston and master of the kitchen for staff breaks. But he did a lot more than that. Much more. He raced any number of successful horses, most notably the $2.5m winner Smolda and his contemporary Fly Like an Eagle as well as outstanding horses like Waikiki Beach (19 wins), Major Mark (12 NZ wins)  Follow the Stars (16 wins), Classic Cullen (16 wins) Border Control (18 wins)  Ohoka Dallas and  Russley Rascal ) to name a few.  But he remembered with affection lesser winners of earlier days in the north of which he told many stories. And his winning tally could have been much higher but for the fact that Neil just loved "the deal" and was always prepared to sell horses for export before they reached their potential. He preferred to race with one or more partners than solo ownership though he did both, "You always leave something in the horse for the next owner. I have always followed that and if you do it they will come back for more" he used to say and a lifetime of experience in doing deals meant he was a man to listen to. "He was just a really good bloke and of great support to me in so many ways" Mark said "Roy and Barry had a horse for him, I think Speedy Demo who  started his racing association with our stable. He was a good friend of Peter Wolfenden in those days and Peter Young trained for him as well. He was a regular at the Kumeu track which is where we got to know him well" "Like everyone else you always expected him to bounce back from a bout of bad health. He had done it so many times" "It is a sad day for those of us who knew him but you are reassured by the knowledge that Pilch had done so many things in his life that he would have gone having no regrets" Although Neil realised he was nearing the end of his life it never affected his spirit. He went to the Yearling Sales and spent $120,000 on one lot {"He was one of our owners we couldn't put a limit on !" Mark says) and more recently has invested in several new ventures including the trotter Musculus just two weeks ago in anticipation of another Harness Jewels runner. He had hoped to be at Addington Friday where he had three runners engaged and then head north for Cambridge. It is a great sadness for Neil Pilcher's family and many friends as well as a host of associates that this time he will not be there. Courtesy of The All Stars site

YONKERS, NY, Friday, May 18, 2018 - Stop us if you've read this one before... Odds-on Newborn Sassy (Jordan Stratton, $2.60) did not play fair Friday night (May 18th), winning Yonkers Raceway's $44,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Handicap Pace in obnoxiously facile fashion. This field, reduced to a half-dozen after a mid-pack defection (ill), found Newborn Sassy and Call Me Queen Be (Eric Goodell) hooking up early. The former, from what became outside post position No. 6, stepped around the latter well before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile, then waltzed through a :56.4 intermission. Between the half and the (1:24.4) three-quarters, Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett) tried it first-up from fourth. However, the leader's 57-second middle portion figured to make everyone else's life difficult. Newborn Sassy owned a length lead into the lane, then widened to 2¾ lengths at the 1:52.3 finish. Mach it a Par fought the good fight to wind up second, with Delightful Dragon (Mark MacDonald) third. Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) and Call Me Queen Be rounded out the payees, while Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland) settled for some lovely parting gifts. For Newborn Sassy, a 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by CC Racing & Jo Ann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her fourth (consecutive) win in 15 seasonal starts after starting'18 0-for-11. The exacta paid $9.40, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $29.80. Yonkers' Saturday (May 19th) program offers eliminations (two) for the Art Rooney Pace and (one) the Lismore. The finalists go at it next Saturday (May 26th) for $300,000 (Rooney) and $111,444 (Lismore). Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes shall be prominently simulcast throughout the Raceway. Mutuel windows open at 10 AM, in advance of Pimlico's first post at 10:30 AM. Pimlico offers 14 races (final post 7:35 PM), with the Preakness going as the 12th race (post time 6:48 PM). Frank Drucker

Harness racing duo Paul Hill and Ricky Duggan stretched their amazing winning record in The Elderslie Horse Care and Spelling Two-Year-Old Sweepstakes Final to four years in a row in Hobart on Friday night. Paul prepared Chica Bella (2015), Playing Arkabella (2016), Vouvray Beach (2017) to win the Two-Year-Old Fillies Feature and now the Big Jim-Laagirl offspring Enterprising Milly ($1.45) has added her name to the trophy with a courageous victory. Ricky Duggan has been in the sulky for Paul on each occasion and was full of praise for Enterprising Milly’s (pictured-inside N0.2) effort to score by a half neck over the second elect Spoilt Sport. “Enterprising Milly deserved her success tonight, she was strong enough to sit in the death and hold off a classy filly in the straight,” said Ricky. “Rod (Ashwood) had his filly on our back from the start and I could feel her breathing down my neck at the turn off the back so I knew we were going to have a battle on our hands. Enterprising Milly is a very relaxed filly and she responded well when I called upon her coming off the turn in the back straight she ran home her last half in 58-seconds and was still giving strongly on the line.” Just half an hour later Duggan was in the gig behind the unbeaten Roger Whitmore-trained colt Resurgent Storm. The Betterthancheddar-Resurgent Star youngster was successful in the Prelude a fortnight ago and found himself in the same position outside the leader in the Final. “There was a few that got fired up in the score-up and just before dispatch point so I eased and allowed him to settle back before sliding up to the leader’s wheel,” said the Hall Of Fame reinsman. Rohan Hillier found the top with the Steve Lukac prepared Jackson Neptune, just as he had done in the Prelude with the favourite stalking him every step of the way. “JacksonNeptune is a smart youngster, he stuck on well in the Prelude so I didn’t want him having to easy a run in front,” said Duggan. “My bloke was travelling well so we moved up to put some pressure on and he ran to the front strongly, I had to keep him going as he can get a little lazy when he is on his own but you also know there is more in the tank if required, he is a real little racehorse that’s for sure, he’s got all the attributes to be a top-notcher.” Duggan had his eye-in early in the night steering Jaks Teller ($2.30) to victory in the Rexel North Hobart Pace. The Juanita McKenzie-trained four-year-old took his career record to nine wins from a dozen starts scoring by an ever-widening 8.4-metres. “He drove well tonight, better than his last outing in Launceston, he’s had his problems and Juanita’s done a great job with him, he’ll never be 100% but he’s got a big motor and can really go so he’s always a threat in whatever race he’s in,” said Ricky. The star driver capped off the night with the Paul Ashwood prepared Krafty Boy ($1.75) leading all the way in the last, the Green Electrical Pace. “It was a drop in class for Krafty Boy from his heat run in the Globe Derby in Launceston on Monday afternoon, he only just held on to win by a head but he got home and that’s all he had to do,” said a contented Ricky Duggan as he bagged his fourth win for the night. Watch the Paul Hill-trained, Ricky Duggan driven, Enterprising Milly stave off the challenge of Spoilt Sport to snare their fourth Two-Year-Old Fillies Sweepstakes Feature on the trot in Race 5. Shane Yates

The harness racing champion driver of Running Aces will be back for his 10th season, starting Saturday.  Some 40 years ago, Lemoyne "Mooney" Svendsen took a job at a gas station. It was the first time the Albert Lea native pursued work that didn't involve horses, and it would be the last. "I was 19 years old, and I was there for six weeks," Svendsen said. "I really never wanted to do anything but race." After more than 3,400 career victories as a driver, that fervor hasn't faded. Svendsen, 59, is back in the bike for his 10th season at Running Aces Harness Park, which begins a 52-day meet Saturday. Though he has wintered in California for the past 18 years, the Columbus track has become his summer home, allowing him to spend time with family and reconnect with his racing roots. When he was still in diapers, Svendsen began going to the races with his father, Lorenz, who trained some of the fastest horses on the county-fair circuits in Minnesota and Iowa. Mooney began driving his dad's horses as a teen, and both Svendsens built careers that landed them in the Minnesota Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Horses and family have always been inseparable in Svendsen's mind, leaving him "crazy excited" when Running Aces opened in 2008. He has raced all over the country, but he's happiest at the home-state track where his siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces can join him in the winner's circle. "As soon as I heard they were getting a track in Minnesota, I couldn't wait to get there," said Svendsen, who has 3,421 victories and $11.38 million in career purse earnings as a driver. "My whole life, I knew what I wanted to do. But when I was young, I had to leave (Minnesota), because there was no racing. "I was so glad to get to come back home and race. Horses have kept my family so tight over the years, and they still do." Svendsen has been driving harness horses since he was 16, not counting the three races he sneaked into a year earlier while posing as his older brother. He spends six months a year at Cal Expo in Sacramento, where he won 61 races and $213,447 in purses this year before returning to Running Aces. His career has taken Svendsen all along the East Coast, West Coast and Canada, but none of those places are as dear to him as the tracks of his native state. He learned horsemanship from his father at little race meets in places such as Cannon Falls and What Cheer, Iowa. Even now, Svendsen gets teary-eyed when recalling those days alongside his dad, caring for the family's horses at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Lorenz Svendsen raced for 32 years and trained multiple champions in Minnesota and Iowa. Mooney has trained on and off for 30 years, but he found his true calling as a driver. His first victory came when he was 16, with a horse named Miss Lasko; 39 years later, in 2014, he drove Meritage Hanover to his 3,000th win at Running Aces. "I've been lucky to have good horses and good people to work with," Svendsen said. "And I've been lucky to stay healthy. But when I hit the 3,400 (victory) mark five or six weeks ago, I couldn't hardly believe it. I never dreamed I'd get to a number like that." Svendsen's plan is to keep charging toward 3,500 victories, a milestone he could reach next year. He expects to stay in the sulky another five years or so, then open a small training stable or work with another trainer. This summer, he will keep his hand in that part of the business, training two pacers at Running Aces. He's known since that short, long-ago stint at the gas station that he would never leave the racetrack again, a feeling that has only grown stronger over time. "I'll never quit," Svendsen said. "If I didn't have a horse around me, I'd go crazy.'' By Rachel Blount   Reprinted with permission of The Star Tribune

Despite a number of attempts, the  team hasn't been able to track down the identity of the infamous caller of Swedish racing but it's fair to say he's a bit of a character. From a brutal jockey spray to some outrageously bad early crows, here is some of his 'finest' work ... One time he called a jockey a "bloody idiot" Most punters have probably given a jockey a verbal clip in the heat of the moment but it's rare to hear a caller throw curry in a hoop's direction. Back in 2016, our favourite international racing broadcaster wasn't impressed when jockey Jan-Erik Neuroth went looking for an inside run in a race at Jagersoro and, boy, didn't he let everyone know about it. "What a bloody idiot he is!" He fumed. The horse, Angel Love, actually went on to win but the result didn't placate the caller, who delivered a feisty post-race rant. "What an incredible stupid ride by Neuroth. I get more and more irritated when I see what he did in the first race today." It's probably fair to assume that he may have had a krona or two on said favourite earlier in the day. "What a bloody idiot he is!" - Fired up caller.  Early crow 1 Somebody really needs to inform this bloke of the old saying, 'you should never go the early crow'. Last July he had a fair dinkum Barry Crocker when he declared 'Ragamuffin' home in a Monte race at Orebro as the horse led by a huge margin into the straight. Unfortunately for both the caller and punters who followed his directive to head to the payout queue, the power of the 'mozz' came to the fore and Ragamuffin went off stride and was disqualified.  "It's all over, you can go to the payout queue. Ragamuffin's not going to lose this one," he exclaimed. "Go and fetch your money early. Sorry, they have to weigh in first, but it's all over bar the shouting. "Number five, Ragamuffin, makes a break! So I was too early ... Ragamuffin will be disqualified."    "So I was too early." Whoops ... Early crow 2  The European summer of 2017 was certainly an eventful one for the colourful caller. His early crow at Orebro followed a similar sin at Visby in the previous month, where he also incorrectly dished out the "you can go to the payout queue" line. "It's all over, you can go to the payout queue! They're not going to catch her." "Sofia Adolfsson (aboard Senoria Edel, the outside horse in the video below) is just too darn good.  "As they come up to the line, it's going to be close but as they get to the line, it's not Sofia Adolfsson. It's number five, Enor Terdus, that causes a major upset."   "You can go to the payout queue!" Or not.  Why call when you can sing?  Not content with just calling the finish of a harness race at Solvalla in January, old mate decided to break into a song about wine as 'Chenin Blanc' went to a clear lead in the straight. However, his effort to spice things up nearly ended in disastrous fashion because while he was concentrating on his vocal performance, he seemed to miss the fact another horse was charging down the outside. Fortunately for his sake, Chenin Blanc just managed to hang on.  Despite his series of mishaps, the lively broadcaster refuses to do away with his flamboyant style and just last week he delivered a bizarre call even by his standards. We're not sure whether he was calling through his pocket or not but he spent much of a 1640m harness race at Aby berating driver Christoffer Eriksson. After potting Eriksson's tactics on a number of occasions - at one stage he implored him to use his "noggin" - he later backtracked and apologised when the horse he was piloting (Rajah Press) maintained a healthy lead early in the straight. However, it wasn't long before Eriksson was back in the caller's bad books when Rajah Press got nutted on the line.  "Thanks Christoffer Eriksson for messing it up for everybody!" He fired post-race.  By Isaac Ling Reprinted with permission of The Punters Site  

Hightstown, NJ --- Two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Marion Marauder will open his 5-year-old season Sunday (May 20) by traveling to a harness racing track he’s never visited previously, even if it is still in North America rather than Scandinavia. Marion Marauder will head to Harrah’s Philadelphia, where he meets six rivals in the Great Northeast Open Series for older trotters. There was hope during the winter that Marion Marauder would get the opportunity to head overseas for May races in Europe, including the famed Elitlopp at Sweden’s Solvalla Raceway. The past two years, a direct flight was offered from New York to Sweden in the hopes of attracting North American horses, but the flight was discontinued this year. “We didn’t have him a hundred percent ready, so it probably wouldn’t have worked fitness-wise for him,” said Mike Keeling, who trains Marion Marauder with his wife, Paula Wellwood. “But the real problem was logistics; without a direct flight it turns into a bit of a milk run. Early in the season, you can’t do that. You’re jeopardizing far too much. “Maybe we can make it work someday. We’d really like to participate in it, and be competitive in it. I think everybody would like that opportunity once.” Marion Marauder, who was the 2016 Trotter of the Year, won three of 10 races last year and earned $769,182 on his way to receiving the Dan Patch Award for the sport’s best older male trotter. His victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship and he was second in the Yonkers International Trot. In 2016, Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner -- and first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. For his career, the stallion has won 14 of 38 races, hit the board a total of 30 times, and earned $2.53 million. He is owned by Devin Keeling and Marion Jean Wellwood. Marion Marauder heads to Philly off two wins in qualifiers. He will start Sunday from post seven with regular driver Scott Zeron and is 10-1 on the morning line. Crazy Wow, who in his most recent start on May 5 was third in the Cutler Memorial, is the 5-2 favorite. The remainder of the field is Lagerfeld, Melady’s Monet, Fearless Man, Opulent Yankee, and Crazshana. “He qualified great and he’s coming into the season nice and sound,” Keeling said about Marion Marauder. “We kind of got handicapped for the first start, but it will be a good test for him and that is what matters most, that he gets stretched out. If he gets himself in position he’ll be accountable. Our first start or two we’ve just got to see what Scott plans for him and go from there. “We enjoy it (racing Marion Marauder). We know that he’s always going to give us a great effort, that’s what matters. If he shows up, he’s going to win his share.” Harrah’s Philadelphia also hosts two divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series for older female pacers on Sunday. Blue Moon Stride is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first division and three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country is the 5-2 choice in the second division. Racing begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- It is not uncommon to see a female trotter receive a Dan Patch Award at both ages 2 and 3. What is uncommon is to see one of those harness racing ladies win another award at age 4. Since the first Dan Patch Award for 2-year-old filly trotters was handed out in 1978, only Peace Corps and CR Kay Suzie have accomplished the feat. When Ariana G launches her 2018 campaign in Saturday’s first round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters, she will be the fourth female trotter in as many years to attempt to join that select group. Ariana G, one of two mares to enter the Graduate Series opener, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first of two $50,000 divisions. A total of 13 filly trotters have won Dan Patch Awards at both ages 2 and 3, including Broadway Donna, Mission Brief, and Shake It Cerry in the three years prior to Ariana G. Ariana G won 12 of 15 races last year and earned $1.12 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the horse. Trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by Yannick Gingras, her victories included the Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown, and Elegantimage Stakes. For her career, Ariana G has won 21 of 26 races and earned $1.86 million. Katz told Hoof Beats magazine the decision to bring Ariana G back rather than to start her on a broodmare career was based on conversations with Takter. Those talks began during the middle of last year’s racing season. “We have the greatest of respect for Jimmy Takter’s opinion,” Katz said. “He felt she deserved the right to come back and that she was certainly capable of coming back and racing with any and all, and could develop into a great aged mare as well.” Added Gingras, “There’s only so many horses like her. She’s very special and you hate to see a horse like her go to the breeding shed too early. There’s no doubt every time I stepped on the racetrack with her, I knew I had the best horse in the race. Maybe it didn’t work out the way we wanted every time, but she’s very special and she gives 100 percent each time.” Ariana G faced male rivals on three occasions last year. She won an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third in the final. She also finished second in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial. Her foes Saturday are New Jersey Viking, Bill’s Man, Lindy The Great, Yes Mickey, Fraser Ridge, Dunbar Hall, and Sortie. In the second division of the Graduate, Achille Duharas is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. The remainder of the field is Moonshiner Hanover, Lord Cromwell, Swell Chap, International Moni, Don Dream, and the mare Barn Bella. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). The Meadowlands card also includes second-round action in three other series -- the Rainbow Blue, Escort, and Hot Lead. For those arriving at the track early, harness racing’s all-time richest horse, 14-year-old pacer Foiled Again, will be in a qualifier at approximately 5:15 p.m. as he gets ready to resume his season before retiring at the end of the year. For Saturday’s complete Meadowlands entries, click here. For track announcer Ken Warkentin’s analysis, click here. Editor's Note: To read a feature story on Ariana G from the March 2018 edition of Hoof Beatsmagazine, click here. To subscribe to Hoof Beats, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

MILTON, May 18, 2018 - Canadian Pacing Derby champion Sintra returned to the track Friday morning at Woodbine Mohawk Park for his first harness racing qualifier of 2018. The sun was shining and the track was 'Fast' for the nine-race qualifying session. However, a strong wind played a big factor by helping the horses through the lane and making the backstretch journey a challenge. The first-qualifier of the morning saw Sintra make his five-year-old debut. The Dave Menary trainee got away third with driver Jody Jamieson and would sit in that position until angling out just before three-quarters. In the stretch, Sintra immediately surged by his rivals and paced home strong in :25.2 for a 1:53.4 victory. Five-year-old Magnum J, a winner of nearly $400,000, finished a little over a length back in second. Wind or no wind, Sintra was going to pace a big final-quarter and looked fantastic in his return. The Menary student won nine of 19 starts last season and banked over $600,000. Owned by Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Menary Racing Inc, Sintra comes into his 2018 season with 17 wins and $921,425 in career earnings. The duo of Jamieson and Menary teamed up for two-more victories during Friday's qualifiers with a pair of Pepsi North America Cup eligible three-year-olds. The third-qualifier saw the duo connect with Trump That, who went coast-to-coast in 1:55.1. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere was qualifying for the first-time this season and is owned by Menary Racing Inc, Guerriero, Kenneth Ewen and Bruce Norris. Trump That had one win in eight starts last season, but did finish in the runner-up spot five-times. His most notable runner-up finishes came in divisions of the Nassagaweya and Champlain Stakes. Topville Olympian gave Jamieson and Menary their third win of the morning in the sixth-qualifier. A gelded son of American Ideal, Topville Olympian leapfrogged from second to first in the second-quarter and never looked back en route to a 1:55.3 score, pacing home in :26.2. The Menary trainee had a strong rookie campaign with two wins and eight top-three finishes in 10 starts. He finished his season with a third-place finish in the New York Sires Stakes Championship. Topville Olympian now has two-qualifying wins this season. He is owned by Menary Racing Inc, Billy Joe Timmins, Anthony Timmins and Crawford Farms Racing. Sticking with sophomore pacers, the eighth-qualifier saw Kendall Seelster turn in a solid 1:54 victory for driver Randy Waples and trainer Paul Reid. A daughter of Shadow Play, Kendall Seelster was qualifying for the second-consecutive week. Her first outing was an easy mile along the pylons, but today she did it all on the front-end and finished up in :27.2 for the victory. Owned by 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, Kendall Seelster had an incredible rookie season, winning four of 11 starts, finishing top-three in 10 starts and earning $453,985. Kendall Seelster could make her season debut in next Saturday's (May 26) first Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg at Western Fair. Here is the complete list of Friday's qualifying winners. For the full charted results, click here. Q1 (Pace): Sintra - Jamieson/Menary - 1:53.4 Q2 (Trot): Levitation - McNair/Alagna - 1:58.3 Q3 (Pace): Trump That - Jamieson/Menary - 1:55.1 Q4 (Trot): Heineken Seelster - McClure/Lindsey - 1:58.4 Q5 (Pace): Kloof Street - Saftic/Adams - 1:56.3 Q6 (Pace): Topville Olympian - Jamieson/Menary - 1:55.3 Q7 (Trot): Wanna Hall - Roy/Coleman - 1:59.1 Q8 (Pace): Kendall Seelster - Waples/Reid - 1:54 Q9 (Trot): Sorceress Seelster - S. Wray/J. Wray - 1:57.4 Mark McKelvie

Speedy Australian 3yo harness racing filly Shez All Rock has crushed the opposition in the $150,000 (Gr1) NZ Oaks in what was her first New Zealand start at Addington raceway tonight. Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon settled Shez All Rock back beyond midfield early in the race before looping the field to lead with 800m to go and then easily holding the rest of the field off up the straight. In the end Shez All Rock won untouched by more than two lengths despite a skip and a gallop just after the line. Purdon was rapt with the win saying she would improve a lot after tonights run. "I wasn't sure what to expect tonight but she delivered and delivered stylishly. "When we were travelling so well in the race and when I let her down a bit turning for home, I knew nothing would come off her back and beat her," he said after the race.  The race favourite Elle Mac was game in defeat running second and Bettor Trix was just as good in third, making it an All Stars trifecta in the race. Shez All Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven - Irish Loch) paced the 2600m mobile in 3-11.0, with a closing 800m in 56.7 and 400m in 26.9 seconds.  Harnesslink Media  

All Stars racing stables grabbed another harness racing Group One tonight when Jesse Duke got over the top of his stablemate and favourite Another Masterpiece to land the spoils in the $170,000 Garrards 2yo Sires Stakes Final. Driven beautifully by co-trainer Mark Purdon, Jesse Duke had to work a bit early to get to the parked position but then had cover from the 700m to the turn as John Dunn attacked the leader Another Masterpiece with his drive Heisenberg.  In the straight Jesse Duke had too much speed for his rivals and got up to beat Another Masterpiece by a head with yet another All Stars runner A Bettor Act running home well for third. Mark Purdon was delighted with the win and said after the race, "He is a good 2yo this one and he got the run to suit. "I had to work a bit more than I wanted early but he has improved and it worked out well. I was probably lucky that John took the sting out of our other one and we managed to capatilise," he said. Jesse Duke paced the 1950m mobile in 2-20.0 and won by a head. The smart colt paced his last 800m in 54.6 with a final 400m in 27.6 seconds.   Harnesslink  Media

Chief harness racing steward Barbara Scott will give written notice of possible action against trainers and reinsmen who have made derogatory comments about her on social media. Stewards said yesterday they had fined stablehand Jason Huston $1000 after inquiring into improper social media comments he made in February. “There will be more in this situation,” Scott said. “I’ll be sending letters to licensed people who have breached rules through social media comments. Trainers and reinsmen will be among those who receive letters.” Racing and Wagering WA chief executive Richard Burt defended Scott from a social media campaign early this year. In a media statement on March 1, Burt said there had been inaccurate commentary on social media. “Ms Scott is not leaving her position as chief steward of harness racing,” he said. “Despite some recent inaccurate commentary on social media, she is not the subject of any investigation or inquiry. “RWWA is delighted with Ms Scott’s performance and dedication. She has our full support and confidence. Action will be taken by RWWA when licensed persons’ conduct detrimentally affects the welfare and integrity of racing.” Scott was appointed chief steward at Gloucester Park early last year. Huston, who pleaded guilty to having made improper comments about Scott on February 24, had $500 of his fine suspended on the provision he did not breach RWWA’s social media rules in the next 12 months. Reinsman Gary Hall has been fined $800 after pleading guilty to using an unacceptable whip action when driving Liberty Rose in the Group 1 WA Oaks (2536m) a fortnight ago. By Ernie Manning Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

Australian Group One winning trotter, Dance Craze, has accepted an invitation to the 2018 Harness Jewels. Following the withdrawal of Custodian from the 4YO Ruby yesterday, interest was high from the harness racing connections of the former Breeders Crown winner to take part in the race.   A four-year-old mare by Muscle Hill out of the great mare, La Coocaracha, Dance Craze has an impressive career record of 11 starts, 8 wins, and 2 seconds.  Included in that haul, along with her Group One Breeders Crown win, is a Group Two victory in the Trot NSW Three-Year-Old Final. She also placed second in the Group One Victoria Trotting Derby, and second in the Group One Need for Speed Princess Final last season.  Dance Craze resumed just yesterday (17 May) with a win as a four-year-old when successful at Ballarat. She is prepared by Anton Golino of Cardigan in Victoria, who trains exclusively for the owners (Yabby Dam Farms). Golino’s rise to success has been a remarkable one. After being involved in a motorbike accident when a farrier, he was forced into a wheelchair for a year. It was after that he decided to head to the United States to expand his skills.  His experience with Noel Daley there then led him to work in Sweden and France, and upon returning to Australia to train he was then approached by Pat Driscoll to work for Yabby Dam Farms.  The partnership has gone from strength to strength.  Dance Craze is regularly driven in Australia by Nathan Jack, who was set to bring Custodian to the Jewels prior to the horse being withdrawn.  Her dam La Coocaracha was an outstanding trotter. She was a three time Group One winner and amassed 23 victories during her career.  One of her Group One wins came on New Zealand soil when successful in the 2002 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park.  Dance Craze will now try and emulate her dam by taking success at the highest level in New Zealand.  Harness Racing New Zealand

Plainville, MA---Walpole, Massachusetts native George Ducharme left his Vernon Downs base of operations to return home with two of his state-bred trotters and came away with two wins, two lifetime marks and a tie for a harness racing track record for his students after their day of work at Plainridge Park on Thursday afternoon (May 17). Last year's Massachusetts Sire Stake (MASS) 2-year-old champion Hashtagmadeyalook bounced back from a disappointing start in a $40,600 New York Sire Stake at Vernon Downs last week to defeat nine rivals in the $12,500 Highland Light Series for 3 and 4-year-old trotters at Plainridge today. Leaving from post three, Hashtagmadeyalook (Shawn Gray) took a quarter to get the lead, but when he did it was for good. After cutting fractions of :28, :57.3 and 1:26.3, Gray kept his trotter on task and held off a rush from a late-closing Now's The Moment (Mike Stevenson) to win by a half-length in 1:55.4. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner. Hashtagmadeyalook ($3.20), who is a 2018 Hambletonian eligible, is owned by his breeder Ray Campbell Jr. Ducharme's other entry was 2016 2-year-old MASS champion Muscles Jared who made heads turn in the $12,000 conditioned overnight trotting feature. In a similar manner to his stablemate, Muscles Jared (Shawn Gray) left and cleared past the quarter and dictated every station after that. After settling the field in with a tepid :57 half, Gray tapped the gas pedal and went back to back :28.1 and :28.4 quarters to win by five, stopping the clock in 1:54 flat. The time equaled both his lifetime mark and the track record for 4-year-old trotting geldings. Muscles Jared ($3.20) is owned by Al Ross. In the second division of the $12,500 Highland Light Series, J-S Miss Carolyn (Steeven Genois) scored an impressive gate to wire victory in 1:57.4. Owned by Adam Friedland and trained by Jim Nickerson, J-S Miss Carolyn ($8.80) scored her first win of the year, and at Plainridge, in her first ever trip here. There was also two divisions of the $10,000 Ralph Waldo Emerson trotting series on Thursday. Saratoga invader The Lindy Treaty (Shawn Gray) took early cover before pulling first-up at the three-quarters to trot by the front-running Manssive (Ron Cushing) down the lane and win by three lengths in 1:54.3, which was a new lifetime mark for the 7-year-old. The Lindy Treaty ($13.80) is owned by Barry Wishard and is trained by Brett Derue. The second division saw Jericho (Joe Di Stefano) follow cover second-over past the half to eventually out-muscle Candy Lane (Matt Athearn) by a nose at the wire in 1:55.1, which was yet another lifetime mark. Jericho ($14.20) is owned by Linda Kenney, Robert Kenney and the Di Stefano and Son Stable and is trained by John Di Stefano. Shawn Gray led all drivers with three wins on the card. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (May 18) at 4 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts