Day At The Track
Nancy Takter, harness racing

The Art of the Trotter with Nancy Takter

Nancy Takter's (@NancyTakter) latest training artistry comes in the form of sculpting a stable of promising harness racing trotting talent. One of Standardbred racing's most accomplished and decorated trainers isn't one to leave all the challenges to her horses. Having already built a reputation as a producer of primetime pacers, a list that includes Tall Dark Stranger, Kissin In The Sand, Always A Miki, and Captain Crunch, just to name a handful, Takter, who also campaigns trotting titans Manchego, and Sorella, is bolstering her band by introducing more trotters into the fold. With a notable number of trotters now under her care - the most she's ever had in her career to date - the winner of 410 career races is busier than ever. Not that she's complaining. "In the past, I didn't have a big group of higher-end trotters that I do now," said Takter, the Dan Patch Trainer of the Year award winner in 2020. "Bad trotters are really tough to train, but good trotters, they are amazing to train. I'm appreciative to have the opportunity to train these horses and to get them prepared for their racing careers." Orchestrating the development and consistent performances of a trotter demands a broad skillset and a patient hand. From the constant tinkering of equipment, to transferring lessons learned from training over to race night, to finding ways to lower times while keeping the horse flat, endeavoring to find the winning trot formula is hardly an easy undertaking. "With trotters, their gait is obviously more difficult than a pacer's - you put hobbles on them and they pace, generally. As far as trotters go, it's a lot more of a fine line getting them gaited and getting extra seconds out of them. A shoe change can completely change your trotter, where if you're going from aluminum to steel, or vice-versa, on a pacer, you might change the horse a little bit, but you're not going to have that much of a drastic difference. The gait of a trotter, timing is just so much important. You have to find the exact key that fits each particular horse. If they aren't relaxed with themselves they can get into interfering and causing more problems for themselves. There are a lot of small pieces that have to come together more so training a trotter than it does a pacer." An accomplished bay daughter of Muscle Hill, trained by Takter, is a prime example of the precision required for trotting success. "If you look at a horse like Sorella, she wore four or five different shoes last year and she won the Hambletonian Oaks with no shoes. The horses change throughout the season and you need to adapt your methods constantly. They develop and get stronger over the year and you're going to want to find more speed. It's a constant tinkering game with the trotters. You could win an elimination or do well, but the next week, you need to find another gear and that extra fifth of a second. That fifth of a second could mean a major difference between whether you win or not." So, does all of that multi-layered, labor-intensive effort, make Takter part scientist, engineer and mathematician? Not quite. "Training horses isn't a science. I think people want it to be a science, but I think it's more of an art form." Fortunately for Takter, access to one of the sport's masters is just a phone call away. "If we're going to go with the art theme of training, the greatest artist ever is probably my dad [legendary trainer Jimmy Takter]. I think what made him so great at what he did is that he was able to find out the timing and the key for each individual horse. He always tell me, 'Don't just settle and be happy with how it is.' That's great advice." Advice she will be sure draw upon when working with her expanded group of trotters. "There are so many variables. Very rarely do you see a pacing race at a high level where horses make breaks. Occasionally, it will happen in a trot race. Whether it's because they're anxious or something happens leaving the gate... you do see those things occur. So, any success you have with a trotter is a little bit more fulfilling." A first win in the prestigious $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot, slated for September 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, would certainly be fulfilling for Takter. "That would be great. I think we have a couple shots this year. Maybe we can get it done." By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon

Running Aces, harness racing

New schedule, new wagers at Running Aces

Columbus, MN - Running Aces is set to kick off its fourteenth season of live harness racing this weekend when the action gets underway at 6:05 pm (CDT) on Sunday (May 16). There are some exciting new changes for fans both on and off track- including the new 20 cent Place Pick-All Wager which will start in race one each night- the bet offers players lots of action for a low minimum base, and the entire pool will be paid out each night, with no carryover provision. The best ticket or tickets of the night will take or split the pool. Players select horses in each race to finish first or second, up to a maximum of ten races. If there are more than 10 races on the card, the Place Pick-All will cover just the first 10 races of the night. This is a very rare wager in the marketplace, particularly in harness racing, and we are excited to see how fans will like this unique wager. Steve Carpenito- the new Racing Director at Running Aces, said "To my Knowledge, we are the only Harness Track in North America to offer this wager." Steve went on to say "The wager will begin in the first race every evening and due to tote limitations will be maxed out at 10 Races." In addition to the Place Pick-All, there are two other changes in the wagering lineup at Aces this season: 50 cent Trifecta wagering will be offered for the first time and the lower base amount will be available on all Trifecta races. Carpenito spoke about the lower minimums also, saying "Most of the players I know love lower minimums, and the added value of getting more combinations for your money." This season will also welcome back 10 cent wagering in the Running Aces Superfecta wagers. These lower minimum base amounts will allow players to spread more and increase their chances of winning/cashing more tickets and churning more dollars into the exotic pools throughout the night. The new racing schedule offers Live action on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights with a new first post of 6:05 pm (CDT). There are exciting changes for on track fans as well, with the addition of an expanded outdoor "Racing Patio" experience that includes the recently added "Finish Line Plaza" - which will offer on track guests a covered viewing area near the finish line, as well as wagering and food and beverage options. The Finish Line Plaza area will debut on opening weekend, and will continue to expand and evolve in the future to offer guests more convenience and more options while attending the races. The current COVID-19 protocols in place for the start of the racing season include a capacity limit of 500 guests, a number that is expected to be expanded at the end of this month when state and local officials are expected to ease restrictions further. Live Racing guests must go to the Running Aces website (www.RunAces.com) to get their FREE TICKETS. Racing fans and horsemen are reminded that you can find a multitude of Racing information on the Running Aces website, including links for entries and results, Live Racing replays, Trackmaster statistics, and handicapping information including expert selections. In addition, you can find full coverage of Running Aces on NahuPicks.com and on Harness Racing Symposium 101 on Facebook. The popular Facebook show "Giddy-Up...Aces Edition" will be produced weekly throughout the season- with special guests interviews of Aces drivers and trainers, as well as handicapping, trivia, and other ways to win prizes. The show goes out live on the Harness Racing Symposium 101 Facebook page. The first installment of the show will air Live this Saturday (May 15) at 6:00 pm (CDT). By Darin Gagne', for Running Aces

Crankin' It Up, harness racing

Wilfong rules opening weekend at Hawthorne

STICKNEY, IL - Following the conclusion of the spring thoroughbred season at Hawthorne Race Course, the track crew embarked once again on the surface conversion. As the only pari-mutuel track left in the United States to convert from a dirt thoroughbred surface to a limestone harness track, crews worked tirelessly stripping off dirt, removing rails, clearing barns and prepping the new surface, all in 96 hours, to prepare for the start of the summer harness racing season. Everything was prepped in time for horsemen to arrive on Saturday, May 1 as the summer harness season kicked off on Friday, May 7. When racing commenced on opening night, driver Kyle Wilfong was ready to pounce. Wilfong kicked off the racing season winning the meet opener behind Surreal Art (1:53.0) for trainer Perry Smith. That victory started a string of four straight trips to the winner's circle for Wilfong as he drove home Nora Tova (1:55.3), Wildcat Delight (1:55.1) and Castle Flight (1:52.0) to wins in races two through four. SURREAL ART REPLAY   Wilfong made it five victories on the opening night card as RSVP trotted home in 1:58.2 for trainer Nicole Agosti to take race eight. The weekend saw the return of some of the top Illinois-breds to the track as they did not disappoint. A pair of Illinois-bred champs faced off in Saturday's open pace as Fox Valley Gemini (1:50.4) just caught a very game He'zzz A Wise Sky, who battled every step of the way. Owned by Jim Ballinger, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 41st time from 62 career starts, surpassing half a million in career earnings. Casey and Terry Leonard teamed up later on the card as Cracklin Rosie (1:57.0) won race nine. FOX VALLEY GEMINI REPLAY   Todd Warren won a pair of races on Saturday, grabbing the filly and mare open pace with Maggie Rhee (1:54.1), a mare he also trains, as well as driving trotter Lucky Valerie (2:00.0) to her first career win for trainer Gerald Hansen. Kyle Wilfong grabbed his sixth victory of the racing weekend as rambunctious Crankin' It Up (pictured) made it two weekend wins for trainer Nicole Agosti, pacing home in the Saturday evening slop in 1:56.2. On Sunday some of the top Illinois-bred trotters made their season debut. Kicking off the evening trainer Steve Searle had a pair face off as Lousraptor (1:57.1) got the best of Louscardamon for driver Juan Franco, winning by a length and a half. Later in the evening driver Kyle Husted reunited with Louzotic as they took race seven in 1:58.3, the second training victory on the card for Searle. Driving doubles on the Sunday card came from Todd Warren, Ridge Warren, Atlee Bender and Kyle Wilfong. Wilfong's pair of winners boosted him to eight for opening weekend. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, races three meets in 2021. The spring thoroughbred meet concluded on April 25. The summer Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meet began on Friday, May 7 and races every Friday-Sunday through September 26. The fall thoroughbred meet opens October 1 and races through December 26. First post nightly for harness is 7:10 PM. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit the website www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com. For full race results, click here. by Jim MIller, for Hawthorne Race Course

Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association.JPG

OHHA Fantasy League returns

Grove City, Ohio - Experience the thrill of owning a racehorse for free. The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's Racing Fantasy League is back in 2021. Fantasy stable owners will compete for over $5,000 in prizes and a share of a real harness racing Standardbred withl a share in a fractional ownership stable. Stable owners create a fantasy roster of six horses, four of which can be any age but must be picked from a pre-determined list supplied by the OHHA. The remaining two horses must be Ohio sired two-year-olds. The winning stable will be determined by total earnings between June 1st and Breeders Crown Day October 30th, 2021. The winning stable will receive the grand prize of $2,500 cash and one share in a fractional ownership stable. Second place through fifth place will receive cash prizes. Second place will receive $1,000, third will win $750 cash, fourth receives $500 and fifth place wins $250. Additional monthly and wildcard prizes will be awarded using the same scoring system. Standings will be updated on the OHHA website and via social media outlets. The league is open to those who have not owned a racing Standardbred within the last two years. Fractional ownerships less than 5% do not count for this contest. Current Standardbred owners are encouraged to participate by inviting their friends and family to participate in the Fantasy Racing League. For each referral noted at the time of registration, the horseman will get one entry into a drawing to win two tickets to this year's Little Brown Jug Hospitality Tent. This winner will be announced after all entries have been received in May. Entries are due May 17th, 2021 by 11:59pm. Visit ohha.com/fantasystable to see complete contest rules, horse lists, and entry forms. by Ashley Dailey, for the OHHA  

Rollwithpapajoe was solid on the engine as he went wire-to-wire in the Monday night $37,000 harness racing Open Trot at Yonkers Raceway after trailing throughout in the start prior.   Joe Bongiorno moved decisively as the gate left this week and sent the son of Roll With Joe to the lead out of the three-hole. There was no opposition from his seven rivals as Rollwithpapajoe put up :28.1, :57.1, and 1:24.2 splits. Pocket-sitter Escapetothebeach (Jason Bartlett) gained nothing on the leader in the stretch, and Rollwithpapajoe withstood a charge from Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) to score in 1:52.   Ostro Hanover was a length back in second, and Escapetothebeach mustered the show spot. The winner paid $4.30.   ROLLWITHPAPAJOE REPLAY     Rollwithpapajoe is now a 17-time winner with earnings greater than $350,000 in 49 starts. Jennifer Bongiorno trains for owners Barbara Bongiorno Stable LLC of Monroe, Bill Kambos of Astoria, and Dionisios Liberatos of Manhasset Hills.   Yonkers Raceway races again on Tuesday, May 11. There are 10 contests scheduled and a first post of 7:15 p.m. EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Monday marked the kickoff of the 8th annual John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The harness racing series, which went on hiatus in 2020, is back this year and during Monday's matinee, there were three divisions of the first leg, each of which went for a purse of $10,000. Coming into the day, the series' clear one to beat was Dewey Arnold. The Dave Dewhurst-trained three-year-old was back in town following an overwhelmingly successful stint at Pocono Downs that saw the sophomore rattle off three straight victories including his most recent one which came in a career-best 1:53.2. Dewey Arnold (Deweycheatumnhowe) had one thing going against him coming into the series though. He made breaks in each of his two starts at the Spa this spring which potentially made him vulnerable in the series. The betting public wasn't concerned about the breaks though and bet the talented trotter down to odds of 1-9 in the first division of the series contested on Monday. The bettors were proven correct as Jimmy Devaux guided Dewey Arnold to a decisive, wire-to-wire score in 1:57.2, a time that by far was the fastest among the leg one winners as he stamped himself as the big favorite in the series. DEWEY ARNOLD REPLAY   Notoutofthewoods (Prayer I Am) picked a good time to put in a lifetime-best effort on Monday as the Cheryl Whitcroft-trained trotter stopped the timer in 2:00.2 to record her biggest career victory in leg one of the Mongeon Memorial Trot. Driver Mark Whitcroft got a pocket trip with the four year old who moved off the rail around the final turn before coming on to prevail while at odds of 3-1. NOTOUTOFTHEWOODS REPLAY   The final leg of the first division went the way of young filly Cindy Michelle (E L Titan). The John Stark Jr. trained and driven three year old won her fourth consecutive race on Monday and did it despite getting a tough first-over journey. Cindy Michelle stopped the timer in a career-best 1:59.3 in what was her fourth win in five lifetime starts. She was her race's even-money favorite. CINDY MICHELLE REPLAY   There is one division of the series remaining which will take place next Monday afternoon (May 17th) leading up to the Final which will go for a purse of more than $30,000. Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with a Noon first post. For full race results, click here. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Keith Waples, one of the greatest horsemen in the history of harness racing, has passed away at the age of 97. Waples was born December 8, 1923 in Victoria Harbour, Ontario. In 1959, Waples became the first driver to record a sub two-minute mile in Canada and the first to win a $100,000 race in Canada. In 1962, Keith Waples drove Tie Silk to victory in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway, and in 1972 with the colt Strike Out, he won the Little Brown Jug, the Adios Pace and Prix d'Été. Keith Waples was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1973, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1978, and the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2008, Waples was an inductee (Athlete category) of the Midland (Ontario) Sports Hall of Fame.  He will be sadly missed by Eileen, his loving wife of almost 75 years, and his four children, Barbara Lennox, Donna Galbraith (Mac), Karen Hauver (Maurice) and Gord (Denise), as well as his 9 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Keith was the son of the late Jack and Bertha Waples and was predeceased by sisters, Jean Swan and Annabelle Caffry, and by his grandson Jason (Jay) Waples. He is survived by sisters Dorothy Rumney of Wasaga Beach, Peggi Diebel of Squamish, B.C. and Mary Jane Burnett of Orangeville, and brother Murray of Barrie. As per his wishes, his body has been cremated and a small private funeral will be held at the Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home in Guelph, Ont., Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The service will be live streamed and a link is available on the funeral home website. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. As an expression of sympathy, donations to the Guelph General Hospital would be appreciated by the family in recognition of the excellent care that he and Eileen have received there over the years. Donations/online condolences can be made through the Funeral Home at gilbertmacintyreandson.com. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

HARRINGTON, DE - Chris Scicluna's Keep On Rocking A ($11.60, Victor Kirby) was a front end winner in the $20,000 Open Pace Monday at Harrington Raceway in 1:51.3. The 9-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding controlled the tempo throughout and was an easy 2 length winner over Mack and JJ Flynn. Trained by his owner, it was the 6th win of the year for Keep Rocking A. Race favorite Shoobee Doo A finished 5th. KEEP ON ROCKING A REPLAY   Mst Racing's Goldberg ($3.40, Montrell Teague) scored a 1:52 win in a $14,800 sub-featured conditioned pace on the undercard over Sweet Sun Daze and Match In Heaven A. The Clyde Francis-trainee notched his 17th career win. Allan Davis won four races on the card. Tony Morgan had a driving triple while Montrell Teague and Art Stafford Jr. each had a driving double. For full race results, click here. by Matt Sparacinio, for Harrington Raceway

Plainville, MA --- Duplicated N has suddenly become peerless at Plainridge Park after handily tackling the best resident harness racing pacers in the $20,000 Winners-Over Handicap pace on Monday afternoon (May 10) to extend his current winning streak to three. It was pretty much a done-deal from the start as Duplicated N (Bruce Ranger) took control off the gate and never looked back. With Starznheaven (Drew Monti) tripping out on his back, Duplicated N toured the facility in fractions of :27.2, :55.4 and 1:23.1 with little resistance from anyone as the group headed around the last turn. At the top of the stretch, Starznheaven pulled out for his shot at the leader along with Bettor's Fire N (Ron Cushing) who was pacing alongside him. But neither could get to Duplicated N, who was cruising along unfazed and hit the line on top by two lengths in 1:51. DUPLICATED N REPLAY   It was the 19th lifetime win in only 44 lifetime starts for Duplicated N ($3.80) who is owned by Paul London, Michael Sepinuck, Kathleen Brewer and Andrew Kelson. Artie Brewer does the training. In the co-featured $13,000 claiming handicap pace for horses tagged from $15-$20,000, Brackley Beach (Kevin Switzer Jr.), who was severely disregarded at the windows, sat quietly in the garden spot at 40-1 behind the frontrunning J Js Delivery (Drew Monti) who was arguing vehemently with Nagle (Bruce Ranger) through a stiff :27.2 third quarter. Coming off the last turn Brackley Beach tipped off cover in between horses and caught the leader in the stretch and then held off two late challengers to win by 1/2 length in 1:52.2, which was a new lifetime mark. BRACKLEY BEACH REPLAY   Brackley Beach made his first visit to Plainridge a memorable one for all parties involved as he returned $80.00 for the win and triggered a 3-8-4-6 superfecta that paid a whopping $8,493 for a $2 wager. Andrew Adamczyk, who owns and trains Brackley Beach, privately purchased the winner on April 8 of this year and has not missed a check since in five starts. Bruce Ranger registered another driving triple on Monday and continues to be the leading dash win driver of the Plainridge meet this year. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Thursday (May 13) at 4 p.m. For full race results, click here. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - In the middle of a "five race win streak" at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, harness racing driver George Napolitano Jr. won with the Explosive Matter gelding Lindy's Big Bang in 1:55.2 in taking the faster of two $12,800 claiming handicap trot features. Napolitano, the track's perennial leading driver who won the last two races here on Sunday, sent Lindy's Big Bang to the lead under the wire for the first time and the pair drew away comfortably late in the Monday opener for the meet's leading trainer, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who is also the owner. Napolitano then went on to take the second and third races on Monday in winning five consecutive races over two cards at the mountain track. LINDY'S BIG BANG REPLAY In the other division of the trotting co-feature, Napolitano was bidding to put a fourth straight win on favored Thisisshe, but an early move towards the top never got her the lead, and after the contention it was Stop Resistin (Muscle Massive) circling wide to take his second straight in 1:56.1. Marcus Miller guided the new member of the $100,000 Club for trainer Steven Brabrook and owner Jaypaul Hoover. (As is often the case at Pocono, both winners were claimed out of their races.) STOP RESISTIN REPLAY Matching George Napolitano Jr. with three driving victories Monday was Doug McNair, who has been doing very well on his unexpected spring "vacation" from Ontario racing. So far in the U.S. he is a very respectable 15 for 133 against cream-of-the-crop drivers while not always getting to drive top-level horses in any given race, as could be expected for any "newbie." The racing week concludes Tuesday at Pocono with a trio of strong features, three $15,300 events for the high-flying "nw 8 races" brigade: one for male pacers, one for female pacers, and one for trotters. The distaff pace will find Meadows invader Filly Speaks going for her sixth straight victory after dominating a pair of late-closing series there. There will also be a carryover of $50,127.28 into the track's Rainbow Pick 5 wagering pool. Tuesday's action begins at 12:30 p.m.; program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/The Downs

After The Lovin proved best in the Monticello Raceway harness racing conditioned pace headliner as she dispatched the leader and rolled on to victory on Monday.   Michael Merton declined to contest the early lead from post six with the mare and opted for the sixth spot on the pylons going into the turn. He pulled After The Lovin to the outside shortly after and they made headway uncovered through the second quarter, which was completed in :58.1.   She accelerated in the third panel and quickly surpassed the leading Sweet Ginger (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) and assumed command just before three-quarters in 1:27. Special Graduate (Jim Taggart Jr.) attempted a rally from the pocket but found the leader was too good. After The Lovin paced home victorious in 1:56. Special Graduate was two and a quarter lengths short, and Sweet Ginger finished well back in third.   AFTER THE LOVIN REPLAY     After The Lovin, a five-year-old Carnivore mare, now holds a record of 16-for-51 and just less than $75,000 in career earnings. Christopher Petrelli trains her for owner David Del Pozzo of Methuen.   Monticello Raceway returns on Tuesday, Apr. 11 with a first post of 12:10 p.m. EDT and a total of eight dashes.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink  

Columbus, OH - On Sunday (May 9), Kentucky Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert (Medina Spirit) announced that his record seventh Derby winner tested positive with a level of 21 picograms (pg)/milliliter (ml) of betamethasone (Editor's Note: A picogram is one trillionth of a gram), which is above the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's (KHRC) limit of 10 pg/ml that is based upon the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's (RMTC) misguided guideline for that medication. "The Harness Racing Medication Collaborative (HRMC) and the U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) have been out in front of the issue of the threshold level for betamethasone of at least 100 pg/ml since it is a valuable, legal therapeutic medication for racehorses, especially for our Standardbreds who are often treated in more than one joint and race with a much greater frequency than Thoroughbreds," said USTA President Russell Williams. "Normal exercise stress can trigger an inflammatory response, causing native immune cells to release substances that cause tissue damage, such as to bone and cartilage in joints," said Dr. Andy Roberts, a USTA director and member of both the RMTC and the KHRC's Equine Drug Research Council. "Betamethasone does not mask pain and it does not improve performance when administered by a veterinarian at HRMC-recommended levels. It acts to prevent cellular destruction. "It is critical to clarify that betamethasone is not 'a banned steroid' as has been erroneously reported in multiple media reports," emphasized Roberts. "This is an absolute falsehood, in no way, shape or form is this drug banned and it would more accurately be referred to as a glucocorticoid. "And just for everybody's edification, this medication is commonly used in both human and veterinary medicine, from pediatrics to small animal dermatology. I would venture a guess that in any NBA or NFL game there are numerous participants that have tens of thousands of picograms of betamethasone in their systems when they play," added Roberts. "HRMC made recommendations to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), once rebuffed and then came back with a scientific study validating them, and our recommendations for betamethsone's use in harness racing have gone nowhere for more than two years," explained Williams. "Now all of horse racing is under fire from uninformed media, horseracing critics and animal rights activists for the possibly inaccurate perception that most recognizable trainer in the biggest race in the U.S. cheated. "If the RMTC had listened to the science and done the right thing, we wouldn't be in this situation now," said Williams. "It has been this way for years, as they have catered to their notion of public perception of Thoroughbred racing instead of to the health and welfare of the horse. "What is most concerning is that RMTC Executive Director Dr. Mary Scollay and RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee Member Dr. Scott Stanley recently were named to the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee established by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which has been challenged in federal courts on its constitutionality. If HISA is not struck down, faulty RMTC thinking will become institutionalized at the federal level." The threats of that federal legislation reflect the same problems that the RMTC has caused by their inaction and lack of transparency. "The RMTC has a non-disclosure policy regarding their scientific studies and subsequent decisions on determining thresholds for therapeutic medications," said U.S. Trotting Association Chairman of the Board Joe Faraldo. "That's exactly what happened when they arbitrarily lowered the acceptable threshold for betamethasone from 100 pg/ml to 10 pg/ml with no disclosure of the scientific evidence for their decision. "When our panel of eminent veterinarians on the HRMC recommended to the ARCI, along with 16 state racing commissions including the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in December 2018 that the appropriate threshold should be set at 100pg/ml in plasma for betamethasone and a recommended withdrawal guideline of 6-1/2 days; no action was taken and it was referred to the RMTC's Scientific Advisory Committee, weighted heavily with RMTC personnel for further consideration. The result was inevitable," added Faraldo. Two years later, on Thursday Dec. 3, 2020, in a presentation at the ARCI Model Rules Committee Meeting in New Orleans, LA., HRMC member Dr. Clara Fenger described some unexpectedly high serum concentration levels found in experimental horses that were demonstrated to be caused by environmental contamination in the study* she submitted as part of her proposal. That study found that "among the biggest environmental substance offenders are dexamethasone and betamethasone." As a result, Dr. Fenger, on behalf of the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV), who was the sponsor of the proposal, called for "alternative penalties for drug positives that are likely to result from environmental contamination and unlikely to have a relevant effect on the animal." Betamethasone, because it is a stereoisomer of dexamethasone, which was the focus of the study, is expected to behave in the same fashion. The study made clear that the evidence demonstrated concentrations below 100 pg/ml occur relatively commonly (1 in 50 horses at risk), produces no risk to the integrity of horse racing, and solves the problem of inadvertent environmental transfer. She recommended to the RMTC's Scientific Advisory Committee reduced penalties for results between 5 pg/ml and 100 pg/ml, which if adopted would have had a direct application to the current Kentucky Derby situation. Based upon the recommendation of the HRMC and the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, the USTA supported that proposal. "The RMTC should have supported it too because that's what the science demonstrated, but they didn't. An important part of the mission of medication and testing consortiums and regulators is to inform public opinion about veterinary sports medicine, not to hide from it. Science, not fear, will lead us to what is best for the horse," concluded Williams. To read the complete McClure S, Fenger C, et al. study, click here. *McClure S, Fenger C, Kersh K, Brown B, Maylin G, Duer W, Dirikolu L, Brewer K, Machin J, Tobin T. 2020. Dexamethasone serum concentrations after intravenous administration in horses during race training. Comparative Exercise Physiology, In Press. From the USTA

Harness racing breeder and owner, Scott Farber of Runthetable Stables, admires horses with a competitive spirit. It comes as no surprise given that Farber was a fierce competitor as a pitcher at William Paterson College, where he was an All-American and still owns the best career win percentage (.952, 20-1) and earned-run average (2.13) in school history. Farber's top moment came in 1992 when he helped WPC to the NCAA Division III national championship. Farber tossed a six-hit complete game in a 3-1 victory over California-Lutheran, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth inning to clinch the title. "The only thing I really like to see from my horses is heart," Farber said. "I like to have horses in my stable that want to race, that want to compete, because that's what I was. I was a competitor. I like that quality in my horses." Farber's introduction to racing came through his father, Sandy. Father and son would spend their weekends together going to the New York City-area tracks and his dad eventually got involved in harness racing as a horse owner when Farber was in his mid-teens. "I loved it so much, being a part of it, that I asked to get a job on the backstretch at The Meadowlands," Farber said. "I got a job with (trainer) Alan Kirschenbaum and my interest in horses only got greater from there." The first horse to impact Farber's life was a female pacer named Steady Margaret. "I spent a lot of time in the stall with her, a lot of extra time, just loving on her and her loving on me," Farber said. "I had a real connection with that horse. I really enjoyed her. She was a lot of fun to be around. She hooked me immediately on horses. "I rooted for her when she would race, but the connection we had one-on-one was more important to me than how she performed on the track." If Steady Margaret ignited Farber's love for the sport and horses, pacer Run The Table cemented it. Run The Table was Sandy Farber's best horse, winning 14 of 24 races and $904,022 as a 3-year-old in 1987. He was the first horse to defeat future Hall of Famer Jate Lobell, snapping the colt's win streak at 18, in a race at The Meadowlands. "Seeing my father's success with Run The Table only made me want to do more," Farber said. "I was only 17 years old when that was going on. Just to be a part of that, 50 people in the winner's circle and the excitement before the horse races, the adrenaline rush, I fell in love with it. "Jate Lobell was an outstanding horse. For us to knock him off for the first time, it's a feeling I'll never forget. But Run The Table gave us a lot of those type feelings. He was a tough one. He was in with a tough group of horses, but every week he came to play. Run The Table certainly was a competitor." Sandy Farber died in 2004, but Scott continued in the sport. He got his first taste of his own Grand Circuit success as an owner with the trotter Opening Night, who was third in the 2011 Hambletonian Stakes and a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. In the mid-2010s, Farber started a small breeding operation. It pushed his stable to new heights last year when homebreds Next Level Stuff won the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old female trotters, Hobbs captured the New York Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male trotters, and Take All Comers won on the Grand Circuit for 2-year-old male trotters. Farber's Runthetable Stables, which topped $1 million in earnings for the first time in 2020, was nominated for Breeder of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Brittany Farms captured the award. "It has an unbelievable experience," Farber said of the nomination. "But I don't do this alone. I've had a lot of help. I work with Joell Arnold from Turbot Acres in Pennsylvania. She handles all my broodmares and does a fantastic job. She's a big part in the breeding success that my stable has been fortunate enough to have. "There are two other people that I really lean on, and whose opinions I really respect, and that's Steve Stewart and Dr. J (Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky). They have been extremely receptive to my questions, phone calls, emails, my smoke signals, you name it. They've really been great. I would not have had the success I've had without a lot of luck and without their input." Farber also has a longstanding relationship with trainer Jim Campbell, who began training horses for his father with Run The Table in 1987. "I feel that when you work with the best people, you're going to get results," Farber said. When Farber won the national championship at William Paterson, after the game he jumped into the stands and gave his father the game ball. "That was the most satisfying feeling that I got out of it," Farber said. "I wasn't the greatest kid growing up. I wasn't in any major trouble, but I was a little difficult to deal with. I kind of feel like that wiped the slate clean between us for all I put him through." After Farber watched Next Level Stuff win her Breeders Crown last October, his father again was foremost on his mind. "My father was my idol, I think I made that pretty clear," Farber said referring to his comments in the winner's circle following the filly's victory, when he stated: "My stable is named after my father, who I loved with all my heart. He was my best friend in the entire world. I just miss him so much and I hope that I made him proud." Next Level Stuff is back racing at age 4 and Farber knows it can be a difficult transition for horses when they have to race against older foes. Farber has no expectations, but also knows his mare possesses his favorite quality. "She is a real competitor," Farber said. "She wants to race. She wants to go a hundred miles an hour at all times and I admire that. She gave me a thrill of my lifetime and nobody can take that Breeders Crown away from her. I've watched the video of that race hundreds of times. If it shows a thousand views, 976 of them are mine. It was a wonderful feeling. "To me, everything now with her is icing on the cake." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - Influential Standardbred breeder Steve Jones has been appointed a Trustee of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. Jones was nominated by the majority leader of the New York State Senate and appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to serve. The Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes program at pari-mutuel tracks and county fairs across the state and supports the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Jones owns Cameo Hills Farm and he and his family have built it into a premier Standardbred breeding and boarding facility located on 425 acres in Montgomery, Orange County, New York. He started the farm in 1982 with his father, the late Hall of Famer Hal Jones. Cameo Hills has produced some of the industry's top stakes winners, including Deweycheatumnhowe ($3,155,178), Well Said ($2,569,342), Goalie Jeff ($2,003,439) and Check Me Out ($$1,903,795). It is home to approximately 100 broodmares, raises nearly 60 yearlings every year, and stands stallions Huntsville and So Surreal. Jones runs the farm with his wife Kathy and sons Tyler and Jake. Dating back to their great grandfather Walter, the younger Jones brothers make up the fourth generation to help direct the business. "Steve's extensive knowledge of breeding and his practical, non-nonsense approach to the industry will make him a great asset to the Board as we close in on 50 years of the New York Sire Stakes program," said Kelly Young, Executive Director of the Fund. "He is known for being on the leading edge of the Standardbred breeding industry and we look forward to tapping into his valuable insight and life-long experience in the sport." As a respected leader in the industry, Jones serves on the board of both The Hambletonian Society and The Grand Circuit, two entities that directly encourage top-level racing in North America. A longtime member of the Board of Directors at Goshen Historic Track, he has served as President since 2014. He has also been a member of the Board of Trustees at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame since 2013. The Fund Board of Trustees also includes Barry Sample, Chairman of the New York State Gaming Commission, and Richard Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Peter Arrigenna recently resigned from the Board after serving for more than seven years. The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund's core mission is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research in New York. For more information, visit www.nysirestakes.com. From the NY Sire Stakes

MANALAPAN, NJ -- May 10, 2021 -- The annual golf outing to benefit New Jersey harness racing horsemen (SBOANJ) will take place this year on Tuesday (July 6). The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey's fundraiser will once again take place at Knob Hill in Manalapan, N.J., featuring Putting Contest, Longest Drive Contest, Prizes, Drinks, Lunch & Dinner Buffet. The shotgun start is at 1 p.m., preceded by registration, starting at 11:30 a.m., and buffet lunch. Dinner is at 7 p.m. and is available to non-golfers. The money raised through the golf tournament supports the SBOANJ Horsemen's Benevolent Fund and TrotPAC. Sponsorship opportunities are available, for more information, contact Marie Lauer at the SBOANJ office at 732.462.2357. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ

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Nancy Takter's (@NancyTakter) latest training artistry comes in the form of sculpting a stable of promising harness racing trotting talent. One of Standardbred racing's most accomplished and decorated trainers isn't one to leave all the challenges to her horses. Having already built a reputation as a producer of primetime pacers, a list that includes Tall Dark Stranger, Kissin In The Sand, Always A Miki, and Captain Crunch, just to name a handful, Takter, who also campaigns trotting titans Manchego, and Sorella, is bolstering her band by introducing more trotters into the fold. With a notable number of trotters now under her care - the most she's ever had in her career to date - the winner of 410 career races is busier than ever. Not that she's complaining. "In the past, I didn't have a big group of higher-end trotters that I do now," said Takter, the Dan Patch Trainer of the Year award winner in 2020. "Bad trotters are really tough to train, but good trotters, they are amazing to train. I'm appreciative to have the opportunity to train these horses and to get them prepared for their racing careers." Orchestrating the development and consistent performances of a trotter demands a broad skillset and a patient hand. From the constant tinkering of equipment, to transferring lessons learned from training over to race night, to finding ways to lower times while keeping the horse flat, endeavoring to find the winning trot formula is hardly an easy undertaking. "With trotters, their gait is obviously more difficult than a pacer's - you put hobbles on them and they pace, generally. As far as trotters go, it's a lot more of a fine line getting them gaited and getting extra seconds out of them. A shoe change can completely change your trotter, where if you're going from aluminum to steel, or vice-versa, on a pacer, you might change the horse a little bit, but you're not going to have that much of a drastic difference. The gait of a trotter, timing is just so much important. You have to find the exact key that fits each particular horse. If they aren't relaxed with themselves they can get into interfering and causing more problems for themselves. There are a lot of small pieces that have to come together more so training a trotter than it does a pacer." An accomplished bay daughter of Muscle Hill, trained by Takter, is a prime example of the precision required for trotting success. "If you look at a horse like Sorella, she wore four or five different shoes last year and she won the Hambletonian Oaks with no shoes. The horses change throughout the season and you need to adapt your methods constantly. They develop and get stronger over the year and you're going to want to find more speed. It's a constant tinkering game with the trotters. You could win an elimination or do well, but the next week, you need to find another gear and that extra fifth of a second. That fifth of a second could mean a major difference between whether you win or not." So, does all of that multi-layered, labor-intensive effort, make Takter part scientist, engineer and mathematician? Not quite. "Training horses isn't a science. I think people want it to be a science, but I think it's more of an art form." Fortunately for Takter, access to one of the sport's masters is just a phone call away. "If we're going to go with the art theme of training, the greatest artist ever is probably my dad [legendary trainer Jimmy Takter]. I think what made him so great at what he did is that he was able to find out the timing and the key for each individual horse. He always tell me, 'Don't just settle and be happy with how it is.' That's great advice." Advice she will be sure draw upon when working with her expanded group of trotters. "There are so many variables. Very rarely do you see a pacing race at a high level where horses make breaks. Occasionally, it will happen in a trot race. Whether it's because they're anxious or something happens leaving the gate... you do see those things occur. So, any success you have with a trotter is a little bit more fulfilling." A first win in the prestigious $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot, slated for September 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, would certainly be fulfilling for Takter. "That would be great. I think we have a couple shots this year. Maybe we can get it done." By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
Columbus, MN - Running Aces is set to kick off its fourteenth season of live harness racing this weekend when the action gets underway at 6:05 pm (CDT) on Sunday (May 16). There are some exciting new changes for fans both on and off track- including the new 20 cent Place Pick-All Wager which will start in race one each night- the bet offers players lots of action for a low minimum base, and the entire pool will be paid out each night, with no carryover provision. The best ticket or tickets of the night will take or split the pool. Players select horses in each race to finish first or second, up to a maximum of ten races. If there are more than 10 races on the card, the Place Pick-All will cover just the first 10 races of the night. This is a very rare wager in the marketplace, particularly in harness racing, and we are excited to see how fans will like this unique wager. Steve Carpenito- the new Racing Director at Running Aces, said "To my Knowledge, we are the only Harness Track in North America to offer this wager." Steve went on to say "The wager will begin in the first race every evening and due to tote limitations will be maxed out at 10 Races." In addition to the Place Pick-All, there are two other changes in the wagering lineup at Aces this season: 50 cent Trifecta wagering will be offered for the first time and the lower base amount will be available on all Trifecta races. Carpenito spoke about the lower minimums also, saying "Most of the players I know love lower minimums, and the added value of getting more combinations for your money." This season will also welcome back 10 cent wagering in the Running Aces Superfecta wagers. These lower minimum base amounts will allow players to spread more and increase their chances of winning/cashing more tickets and churning more dollars into the exotic pools throughout the night. The new racing schedule offers Live action on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights with a new first post of 6:05 pm (CDT). There are exciting changes for on track fans as well, with the addition of an expanded outdoor "Racing Patio" experience that includes the recently added "Finish Line Plaza" - which will offer on track guests a covered viewing area near the finish line, as well as wagering and food and beverage options. The Finish Line Plaza area will debut on opening weekend, and will continue to expand and evolve in the future to offer guests more convenience and more options while attending the races. The current COVID-19 protocols in place for the start of the racing season include a capacity limit of 500 guests, a number that is expected to be expanded at the end of this month when state and local officials are expected to ease restrictions further. Live Racing guests must go to the Running Aces website (www.RunAces.com) to get their FREE TICKETS. Racing fans and horsemen are reminded that you can find a multitude of Racing information on the Running Aces website, including links for entries and results, Live Racing replays, Trackmaster statistics, and handicapping information including expert selections. In addition, you can find full coverage of Running Aces on NahuPicks.com and on Harness Racing Symposium 101 on Facebook. The popular Facebook show "Giddy-Up...Aces Edition" will be produced weekly throughout the season- with special guests interviews of Aces drivers and trainers, as well as handicapping, trivia, and other ways to win prizes. The show goes out live on the Harness Racing Symposium 101 Facebook page. The first installment of the show will air Live this Saturday (May 15) at 6:00 pm (CDT). By Darin Gagne', for Running Aces
STICKNEY, IL - Following the conclusion of the spring thoroughbred season at Hawthorne Race Course, the track crew embarked once again on the surface conversion. As the only pari-mutuel track left in the United States to convert from a dirt thoroughbred surface to a limestone harness track, crews worked tirelessly stripping off dirt, removing rails, clearing barns and prepping the new surface, all in 96 hours, to prepare for the start of the summer harness racing season. Everything was prepped in time for horsemen to arrive on Saturday, May 1 as the summer harness season kicked off on Friday, May 7. When racing commenced on opening night, driver Kyle Wilfong was ready to pounce. Wilfong kicked off the racing season winning the meet opener behind Surreal Art (1:53.0) for trainer Perry Smith. That victory started a string of four straight trips to the winner's circle for Wilfong as he drove home Nora Tova (1:55.3), Wildcat Delight (1:55.1) and Castle Flight (1:52.0) to wins in races two through four. SURREAL ART REPLAY   Wilfong made it five victories on the opening night card as RSVP trotted home in 1:58.2 for trainer Nicole Agosti to take race eight. The weekend saw the return of some of the top Illinois-breds to the track as they did not disappoint. A pair of Illinois-bred champs faced off in Saturday's open pace as Fox Valley Gemini (1:50.4) just caught a very game He'zzz A Wise Sky, who battled every step of the way. Owned by Jim Ballinger, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 41st time from 62 career starts, surpassing half a million in career earnings. Casey and Terry Leonard teamed up later on the card as Cracklin Rosie (1:57.0) won race nine. FOX VALLEY GEMINI REPLAY   Todd Warren won a pair of races on Saturday, grabbing the filly and mare open pace with Maggie Rhee (1:54.1), a mare he also trains, as well as driving trotter Lucky Valerie (2:00.0) to her first career win for trainer Gerald Hansen. Kyle Wilfong grabbed his sixth victory of the racing weekend as rambunctious Crankin' It Up (pictured) made it two weekend wins for trainer Nicole Agosti, pacing home in the Saturday evening slop in 1:56.2. On Sunday some of the top Illinois-bred trotters made their season debut. Kicking off the evening trainer Steve Searle had a pair face off as Lousraptor (1:57.1) got the best of Louscardamon for driver Juan Franco, winning by a length and a half. Later in the evening driver Kyle Husted reunited with Louzotic as they took race seven in 1:58.3, the second training victory on the card for Searle. Driving doubles on the Sunday card came from Todd Warren, Ridge Warren, Atlee Bender and Kyle Wilfong. Wilfong's pair of winners boosted him to eight for opening weekend. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, races three meets in 2021. The spring thoroughbred meet concluded on April 25. The summer Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meet began on Friday, May 7 and races every Friday-Sunday through September 26. The fall thoroughbred meet opens October 1 and races through December 26. First post nightly for harness is 7:10 PM. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit the website www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com. For full race results, click here. by Jim MIller, for Hawthorne Race Course
Grove City, Ohio - Experience the thrill of owning a racehorse for free. The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's Racing Fantasy League is back in 2021. Fantasy stable owners will compete for over $5,000 in prizes and a share of a real harness racing Standardbred withl a share in a fractional ownership stable. Stable owners create a fantasy roster of six horses, four of which can be any age but must be picked from a pre-determined list supplied by the OHHA. The remaining two horses must be Ohio sired two-year-olds. The winning stable will be determined by total earnings between June 1st and Breeders Crown Day October 30th, 2021. The winning stable will receive the grand prize of $2,500 cash and one share in a fractional ownership stable. Second place through fifth place will receive cash prizes. Second place will receive $1,000, third will win $750 cash, fourth receives $500 and fifth place wins $250. Additional monthly and wildcard prizes will be awarded using the same scoring system. Standings will be updated on the OHHA website and via social media outlets. The league is open to those who have not owned a racing Standardbred within the last two years. Fractional ownerships less than 5% do not count for this contest. Current Standardbred owners are encouraged to participate by inviting their friends and family to participate in the Fantasy Racing League. For each referral noted at the time of registration, the horseman will get one entry into a drawing to win two tickets to this year's Little Brown Jug Hospitality Tent. This winner will be announced after all entries have been received in May. Entries are due May 17th, 2021 by 11:59pm. Visit ohha.com/fantasystable to see complete contest rules, horse lists, and entry forms. by Ashley Dailey, for the OHHA  
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