Day At The Track
Saratoga Raceway

Saratoga Harness Racing terminates agreement

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. (SHRI) and American Gaming Group, LLC (AGG) announced May 20 that they have mutually agreed to terminate an acquisition agreement under which the parties had agreed that SHRI would acquire the operating assets of Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, CO from AGG. Both parties cite that the termination, although disappointing, was necessary based on the current economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. The pandemic has resulted in a need for each company to focus on its respective businesses, and has impacted the companies’ ability to realize the benefits of the transaction during these unprecedented times. SHRI owns and operates Saratoga Casino Hotel, in Saratoga Springs, featuring over 1,200 slots, electronic table games, a live entertainment venue, a variety of dining options and bars, live harness racing, and simulcast wagering. SHRI also owns and operates Saratoga Casino Black Hawk, located in the historic town of Black Hawk, CO featuring over 425 slot machines, 10 table games, a full-service restaurant, bar and a variety of guest services. SHRI is also a partner with Delaware North Companies in the operation of Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths in Saratoga Springs.  Additional information about Saratoga Casino Hotel can be found at saratogacasino.com. Reprinted with permission of Saratoga Today

Iowa Harness Horseman’s Association

Opening day at What Cheer

IaHHA is pleased to announce opening day of harness racing in Iowa will be Sunday (5/24) at What Cheer.  While this will not be a full opening for spectators in the grandstands, live races will be broadcast on Facebook.  Program pages are now available on the Iowa Harness Racing website:  www.iowaharnessracing.com. We are living in unprecedented times.   The COVID-19 situation has changed our lives but not our love of racing. We are thankful to be able to start our racing season this weekend and hopeful that we can fully open soon. Please observe the state guidance under which we are allowed to race at this point. This was from Governor Reynolds May 13 proclamation – L. Race tracks: A speedway or race track, including a track conducting horse or dog races, may reopen or continue its operations provided that it does not permit any spectators to attend its events in person. We realize it is a gray area regarding who are spectators and who are participants. We have been advised by our lobbyist that we can allow people to park their cars along the track to watch the races. Please exercise good judgement regarding social distancing and interaction with others at the races.  Racetracks in other states have much greater restrictions. We are concerned that pictures and videos from the races will be posted on Facebook and other social media of people interacting in ways that are not following the Governor’s proclamation.   This could cause subsequent races to be cancelled, and no one wants that. Regardless of your personal views on the virus, it is everyone’s responsibility to adhere to the current guidelines. There are some changes in the schedule that we are aware of at this point in time. • The overnight races at Eldon scheduled for June 17 & 18 are cancelled. The aged races are rescheduled for August 22 & 23 at What Cheer. • The race program at Allison on June 27 has been moved in its entirety to What Cheer. • The races at Bloomfield and Monticello are cancelled. Additions or changes to other locations or dates may occur. We will update our schedule on IowaHarnessRacing.com and publish updates to our Facebook page as we become aware of changes. Thank you for your cooperation.  Let me know if you have questions or comments. Royal Roland President, Iowa Harness Horseman’s Association

Duck Duck Dragon, harness racing

Explosive opening night at Scioto Downs

Columbus, OH — After a week of qualifiers, heavy rain, and anticipation Scioto Downs kicked off their 2020 live harness racing meet on Friday (May 22). “Six days after qualifiers, we were able to start racing thanks to our amazing team,” said Joe Morris, the Senior Vice President of Racing at Eldorado Resorts. Scioto started things off in a big way with just over $127,000 wagered in the first race. The guaranteed Pick-5 was a big hit with horseplayers, surpassing the guarantee with more than $22,000 wagered. Total handle on the 12-race program was $1,054,294.15, the second highest handle in history at Scioto Downs, a number that hasn’t been seen at the five-eighths-mile oval in more than 20 years. “I have to thank our team and the horsemen for helping put on the show,” said Morris. “The horsemen are rugged, it’s been a long week and I’m proud of everyone on a job well done.” Scioto wasted no time getting back to racing on Friday, following the Ohio State Racing Commission in conjunction with Governor Mike DeWine’s office coming up with protocols to race without fans safely. The Commission passed a resolution allowing racing to return at their May 14 meeting. “For three weeks in a row, I thought racing was going to get rolling,” said Morris. “We’re glad to have been given this opportunity by the Commission and Governor’s office to start racing.” The road to the start of racing kicked off on Saturday (May 16), as 16 qualifiers went to the track, followed by four more days in preparation for the opening night card. “Our Race Secretary, Jason Roth, had a great idea to write the condition sheet for qualifiers like he would a race card,” said Morris. “His great idea ensured that we would have the right horses to fill Friday’s card.” “It’s been a busy week with all of the qualifiers,” said Roth. “Everyone has been very receptive to the protocols that have been put into place.” The first program of the year featured a pair of Open races, one for Filly and Mare pacers (race six) and one for trotters (race eight). Rosemary Rose (inside) held off a hard charging Sally Fletcher A to win the $18,000 Filly and Mare Open. Conrad photo. A compact field of six went to the gate in the distaff Open and St Lads Gidget (Aaron Merriman) wasted no time leaving the gate, looking to control the fractions. After a strong first-quarter of :26.4, Merriman was able to ration out the speed with a :28.3 second panel, but he was forced to step on the gas dealing with pressure from Golden Paradise moving up the backstretch. Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) was patient through the mile, riding second over cover to three-quarters before firing down the stretch. After putting away St Lads Gidget she dealt with a late charge from Sally Fletcher A (Brett Miller), but was able to hold on by a nose in 1:51.2. For Rosemary Rose, it was her third victory of the year in 10 starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, and Weaver Bruscemi and trainer Ron Burke. The 6-year-old, who has shown no signs of slowing down, has bankrolled $567,207 in her career. Rosemary Rose was one of six victories on the card for driver Chris Page. The photo finish camera couldn’t separate the Open Trot competitors as Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers) and Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Elliott Deaton) hit the wire together in a strong stretch battle. The photo finish camera could not separate Peggy Sue (inside) and Eye Ofa Tiger AS (outside) in the co-featured $18,000 Open Trot. Conrad photo. There were fireworks early on as heavy favorite Workinitonbroadway (Page) made a costly miscue at the start allowing Wildfire Seelster (Tyler Smith) to get to the front through the first quarter in :28.1. Wildfire Seelster was able to get a breather in the second quarter (:58) before having to sprint up the backstretch. Eye Ofa Tiger AS pulled first up heading to the three-quarter pole, forcing the hand of Peggy Sue and Galliers to make a first-over grind. After hitting three-quarters in 1:26.3, Wildfire Seelster fought gamely through the stretch, but was collared late by Peggy Sue and a hard charging Eye Ofa Tiger AS in 1:55.1. Peggy Sue was able to lock up her third victory of the year, moving her earnings to $48,230 for owner Galliers Racing and trainer Brady Galliers. Eye Ofa Tiger AS scored his first victory of the season for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. His career earnings now stack up at $577,768. Live racing at Scioto Downs returns on Saturday night (May 23) with a 6:30 p.m. first post. The card features a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-5 in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program. Past performances provided by TrackMaster can be found by clicking here.    by Michael Carter, USTA Social Media and Publicity Coordinator

MGM Northfield Park

Opening night card set at Northfield Park

Northfield, OH — Free past performances, multiple guaranteed pools, full fields and million-dollar earners highlight a strong program of harness racing as MGM Northfield Park re-opens (without spectators) on Tuesday (May 26) with post time at 6 p.m. The wagering menu on the 15-race card is highlighted by a $40,000 guaranteed pool in the 13th race (20-cent Super High Five), which includes a carryover pool of $8,134, left over from when no one selected the top five finishers in correct order when Northfield last raced on March 18. The Super High Five also has a low 14 percent takeout rate, as do all of Northfield’s Pick-3, Pick-4, Pick-5 and the Jackpot Single 6 wagers. The early and late Pick-4 wagers will also carry their normal $10,000 guarantees as a part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program. Top class horses will be in action on the track as Open Handicaps for both pacers and trotters headline the card. Southwind Amazon, winner of 92 career races and more than $1 million in purses, will not only face stout competition in the Open Pace from regular rivals Bully Pulpit and Carolina Beach, but a pair of invaders from Yonkers Raceway, Luis Alberto N and $991,927 lifetime earner Atta Boy Dan. Real Peace, Barley Up, The Wayfaring Man and Just Toyin With Ya will also be heard from in the full field of nine (race 10 on the card). Wind Of The North, a career earner of more than $1.1 million, will battle eight rivals in the co-featured Open Handicap Trot (race 12). Perlucky, winner of two straight before racing was halted, is assigned the outside post in the evenly matched group. While no spectators will be in attendance, Northfield’s full card can be watched live on northfieldpark.com (as it can be every live race night) and wagered on through all major ADW’s world-wide. Northfield will also race on Wednesday (May 27); Friday (May 29); and Saturday (May 30) to round out the month of May. Free past performances for all four of Northfield’s cards next week will be available at northfieldpark.com. For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Tonight Saturday May 23, 2020 at 7:00PM (EST) - Winners Circle Racing (Charlie Longo & Matt Zuccarello) along with Freddie Hudson, of The Harness Racing Alumni Show will Remember Roosevelt Raceway on Trot Talk Saturday at 7pm.   Come join us for a trip down memory lane to hear former drivers and trainers tell the tales that made this iconic track memorable.   Guests include Jimmy Marohn, Sr., Billy Popfinger (Showbiz), John Kopas, Mike Forte, Billy Haughton , CeCe Levy, Joe Ricco, John Patterson Jr., Bobby Heil, Robbie Siegelmn, Dennis Laterza, Don Sider, Bobby Vitrano, Jon Paton, Jocelyn Tremblay, Alan Alkes and many others.   It's a Roosevelt Raceway Reunion on Zoom   Contact winnerscircleracingllc@gmail.com for the zoom meeting link   www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwthfEp-KPw&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1pRfBz_ObPaFvmFDSG7cUB_FCYt9zTbcEHUHjlM6XWTZbcR7oJpo9yVds    

Pompano Beach, FL --- Steven Wolf, president of the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA), has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2020 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Hall of Famer Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. "While our Florida Chapter was hesitant at first due to the pandemic that canceled our annual fundraising Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame banquet," said Steve Wolf, "we still felt we needed to continue our scholarship program, which is important for our young people to help them with the costs of tuition." Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or veterinarian related studies. This year there are two sponsors of the scholarships. They are Maggie LaClair and Jay Farrar and Kathleen and Thomas H. Hicks. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than July 1, 2020, for consideration of an August 2020 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33069. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, visit http://www.ushwa-florida.com/ or contact via e-mail to Thomas H. Hicks at renparlc@gate.net or Steven Wolf at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA  

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes is working closely with harness racing tracks throughout the state as they develop reopening plans. As soon as revised racing dates are finalized for all tracks, the NYSS will move forward with building an updated racing schedule and will share this information with participants. "Right now we are anticipating that NYSS events will start approximately two weeks after the tracks reopen," said Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "This will help ensure that horses have time to qualify before racing begins." Participants are reminded that horses must have a satisfactory charted performance line in the time standard within 30 days of declaration for Sire Stakes and Excelsior events. It should not be assumed that any of the current scheduled stakes dates will stand as the days of the week that tracks race this season may change. Participants should not plan to race the first 3-year-old legs before mid-June and should not plan to race the first 2-year-old legs before the beginning of July. Additionally, the NYSS will not be racing at Buffalo Raceway this year. Due to a significant change in revenue, it will not be possible to race a full complement of eight legs for Sire Stakes or Excelsior divisions. All ages and divisions will have an equal number of legs. More details on changes to this year's program will be forthcoming. "The announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo allowing racing tracks to reopen was very exciting and we are all working through the details now," said Young. "We are looking forward to providing a new schedule and getting back to the track while keeping the health and safety of our participants as a top priority." In regard to the County Fair racing series, several racing fairs have already been canceled for this summer. The NYSS is considering a number of options to allow the program to continue this season. "While we do not anticipate that horsemen will have options for all fairs originally scheduled, at this time, we are still planning for a racing program," said Young. "We understand that this has been a long road and we will continue to send updates and keep you informed as we navigate the future of the racing season." Participants with questions or concerns can contact Kelly Young in the New York Sire Stakes Office directly at info@nysirestakes.com or (518) 388-0224. About the Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund:  The Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965). The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races.  

Grove City, OH - After an almost two-month layoff, harness racing returns tonight in the United States with a 12-race card at Eldorado Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio. To celebrate the return, the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA) will host a special two-hour Facebook Live event, with heavy hitters from the harness racing history. "The Voice" Roger Huston, OHHA Brand Ambassador and OHHA Outreach and Public Relations Coordinator Frank Fraas will be joined by DRF Harness Editor Derick Giwner and Meadowlands television host Dave Brower for the show. OHHA Executive Director Renée Mancino says "we are excited to be able to offer this much racing experience and knowledge to help us kick-off standardbred racing off in North America, this event is the first round for more formal productions that were already in the planning stages for Ohio's outreach program." Huston began his career in 1960 calling harness races at Ohio county fairs. He has called over 188,000 races throughout his career in a least 20 states and eight countries and has announced the Little Brown Jug for 52 years. Giwner is the editor of DRF Harness for the Daily Racing Form. He has worked for Sports/Eye since 1996 and has served as the editor of the paper since 2005. Giwner has worn many hats in the industry including owner, amateur driver track announcer and chart caller and is also an expert handicapper. Brower has been a big fan of harness racing since he was a teen. Currently the television host at the Meadowlands, he is also an ace handicapper, co-host of the national broadcast of The Hambletonian on CBS Sports Network and anchors the simulcast coverage of the Little Brown Jug. This all-star lineup will discuss the return of racing to North America, handicap some of the races at Eldorado Scioto Downs and entertain fans with stories. Tonight's event is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM on the OHHA Facebook page. Special thanks to the sponsors that have made this possible, Kim Hill Realty, Equine Equipment, Cool Winds Farm, The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, Hagemeyer Farms and Centerra Co-op. The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA) is a non-profit organization serving Standardbred horse owners, breeders, trainers, drivers, and fans who participate in the sport of harness racing in the Buckeye State. OHHA was founded in 1953. The mission of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association is to preserve, protect, promote, and serve the entire Standardbred industry in Ohio and beyond. For more information: Frank Fraas, ffraas@ohha.com, 614-569-6404  

Harrington, DE — The harness racing 3-year-old races for the DSBF first and second legs at Harrington will be pushed back one week from the original schedule which means they will begin on Monday (June 22). The finals which are normally held on Governor’s Day at the Delaware State Fair will now be held the week of July 6th. Purses will remain as advertised. Legs are $20,000 and the Finals are $100,000. If consolations are held they will be $15,000. A printed schedule will be mailed to each eligible. Qualifying at Harrington will be available for DSBF eligibles only on Wednesday (June 10). They must meet the Fund standards (2:06 for Pacers and 2:09 for Trotters) and show a clean charted line within 60 days of entering to race the first leg. If they don’t make it, they will be able to enter for the regular qualifying day of Wednesday after Harrington opens on June (15). There will be health protocols in effect so please check with the track. Call Kevin Mack and or Mark Short at the Harrington Race Office (302) 398-7223 or 5970. Judy Davis-Wilson can be reached at (302) 359-3630 for specific DSBF issues. by Judy Davis-Wilson, Executive Director DSBF

Columbus, OH — Friday (May 22) marks the re-opening of harness racing. Both Eldorado Scioto Downs and the Ohio horsemen are ready to provide the action, while safely following state and health department protocols. First post will be at 6:30 p.m. for both the Friday and Saturday evening 12-race cards. The Scioto team has worked diligently getting the racetrack and barns ready for horsemen, while also working behind the scenes to get racing to the public and improving wagering opportunities. “We have worked out a deal to have our races be on TVG,” explained Eldorado senior vice president of racing Joe Morris. “We also encourage fans and gamblers to check out our wagering platform RacelineBet.com since we are racing with no spectators.” Here is a list of ways to get in on the Scioto Downs action this weekend: – Racing will be on TVG starting at 8:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday – Free program pages available on the Scioto Downs website  – New wagering menu details – Full card analysis for the Friday, Saturday, and Monday night cards by DRF Harness – $10,000 guarantee on the Pick-5, with a low 14% takeout, for both Friday and Saturday through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program – While handicapping, watch replays of this past week’s qualifiers on the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association Youtube channel In honor of a long-standing tradition, Scioto will race three days over this long Memorial Day weekend, Friday, Saturday and Monday, with one slight change – post time will be at 6:30 p.m. on Memorial Day, Monday (May 25). Historically an afternoon card, the post time change was made to better fit into the racing schedule. For more information on the Scioto Downs racing season, visit https://www.sciotodowns.com/racing. Eldorado Scioto Downs

The NYS Gaming Commission has apparently removed the sixty (60) day cap, that limited its ability, and that of its judges, to now allow discretion to extend the length of time a harness racing horse need not qualify, to account for unexpected events that interfere with the opportunities for otherwise horses to race. It is anticipated that the Gaming Commission will factor in the track closings that interfered with opportunities for otherwise eligible horses to race due to the forced shutdown of NYS tracks . The text of the proposed amendment adopted by the NYS gaming Commission on May 19th, 2020 is as follows: Section 4113.5(a) of Title 9 of the NYCRR would be amended as follows:§ 4113.5. Unqualified horses.(a) A horse shall be deemed unqualified and must qualify once before being allowed to start in any overnight pari-mutuel event for the following reasons:(1)The horse does not show a charted line of a current performance meeting the qualifying standards at the track for the class of race. Current performance shall be defined as a start within 30 days of the date of the race to which declared. Official workouts shall be acceptable as qualifying performances for this paragraph for horses with previous satisfactory races. The commission may extend the qualifying standards from 30 to as many [as 60] days as appropriate to account for [appropriate reasons, including]track closings, equine sickness, inclement weather or other unexpected events that interfere with the opportunities for otherwise eligible horses to race. NB. The basic thirty (30) day rule was previously amended by the NYS Gaming Commission to a forty five (45) day rule but that has not yet emerged from the Office of Regulatory Reform (ORR) which must approve. That has not happened yet and that is why the 30 day rule is still in effect. The amendment to 45 days is expected to get the OK from the ORR , the only frustrating question is when. The NYS Gaming Commission

On this weeks Harness Racing Alumni Show.   Marty Irby 2019 Washington D.C. Top Lobbyist and Executive Director of the Animal Wellness Action, discusses the recent horse-racing indictments, his lobbying efforts in support of the Horse Racing Integrity Act and how the new animal cruelty bill signed by President Trump, could lead to more charges against the indicted.   Don't miss this informative show.......   Top DC Lobbyist on Alumni Show   Harness Racing Alumni Show Marty Irby 5 21 20   Marty with Pricilla Presley

WASHINGTON, PA, May 22, 2020 -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down harness racing March 16 at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, veteran trainer Randy Bendis had 25 horses in his stable. That's down to 23, as Bendis was forced to sell two mares to raise cash to pay his bills and avoid laying off staff. Now, that number may decline even further as racing venues in states other than Pennsylvania are reopening, forcing Bendis and his owners to consider moving their horses outside the Commonwealth for a chance to earn money. Not only would that reduce income for Pennsylvania horsemen, horsewomen and their supply chains, but a diminished horse population also could make it harder for The Meadows and other Keystone State tracks to assemble full, quality fields when racing does resume. All harness racing in North America shut down in mid-to-late March and has been dark since. But because trainers, grooms, security personnel and track and facilities maintenance staff still report to work each day to feed and exercise horses, the vast majority of people needed to stage live racing already are on the backside and following stringent CDC safety measures. Live racing would require only a few more people, including state judges and a broadcast production crew, action that would have negligible impact on public health. States have begun to realize this and have announced reopening schedules for their racetracks. Ohio venues will resume racing today, while the states of New York, Delaware, Indiana and Minnesota, as well as the Province of Ontario, have announced June reopening dates. (All venues will race without spectators.) If Pennsylvania doesn't take a similar step soon, Bendis, says, he'll be forced to ship some of his horses to jurisdictions where they can earn purses to offset ongoing expenses. "If we don't get any news here, two of my horses will go to Hoosier Park (Indiana), four to Ohio and two more to Yonkers (New York)," says Bendis, who owns a piece of most of the horses in his stable. "My partners have suggested sending their horses to trainers at jurisdictions that are racing, and I really can't argue with them." Bendis indicates he knows of horsemen who have taken part-time work delivering groceries and driving for Uber to keep some cash coming in. Things haven't reached that point yet for trainer Sarah Andrews, but she can see a time when they might. At the start of this week, Andrews' stable at The Meadows had nine horses. That has changed. "I sent one to Indiana on Monday," she says. "My owner has horses in four different states, so there's no reason not to move them to states where they can race. I can't hold my owners hostage." What really hurts: the Indiana-bound horse is Statham N, a fast-class pacer almost certain to turn a healthy profit this year. If Pennsylvania racing doesn't reopen soon, Andrews and her staff may not see any of it. "I'm hoping my owners will send their horses right back here once we start racing," she says. "If they don't, my stable will slowly disappear." By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    A sensational filly on the track, Shez All Rock is a Mum, for the first time. Owned by high profile expatriate Kiwi Chris Ryder in New Jersey, Shez All Rock has had a colt to boom sire Bettor’s Delight. The colt was born on April 27 and the photos of him were taken at 10 days old. Ryder bought Shez All Rock after she won the New South Wales Oaks. In 11 starts she had 10 wins and a second, also taking out the Victoria and New Zealand Oaks and the three year old Diamond at the 2018 Harness Jewels. Her total winnings were just shy of $450,000. “I brought her over here to the U.S. to race but she had a continuing knee problem and I did not race her,” said Ryder. Intially the filly was trained by Mark Pitt in Tasmania before successfully linking up with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen at the All Stars Stable in Christchurch. Ryder is hopeful that he has “an excellent broodmare”. He already has plans to breed her to the 2019 three-year-old colt of the year Bettor’s Wish, who Ryder co-owns and trained.

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. (SHRI) and American Gaming Group, LLC (AGG) announced May 20 that they have mutually agreed to terminate an acquisition agreement under which the parties had agreed that SHRI would acquire the operating assets of Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, CO from AGG. Both parties cite that the termination, although disappointing, was necessary based on the current economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. The pandemic has resulted in a need for each company to focus on its respective businesses, and has impacted the companies’ ability to realize the benefits of the transaction during these unprecedented times. SHRI owns and operates Saratoga Casino Hotel, in Saratoga Springs, featuring over 1,200 slots, electronic table games, a live entertainment venue, a variety of dining options and bars, live harness racing, and simulcast wagering. SHRI also owns and operates Saratoga Casino Black Hawk, located in the historic town of Black Hawk, CO featuring over 425 slot machines, 10 table games, a full-service restaurant, bar and a variety of guest services. SHRI is also a partner with Delaware North Companies in the operation of Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths in Saratoga Springs.  Additional information about Saratoga Casino Hotel can be found at saratogacasino.com. Reprinted with permission of Saratoga Today
IaHHA is pleased to announce opening day of harness racing in Iowa will be Sunday (5/24) at What Cheer.  While this will not be a full opening for spectators in the grandstands, live races will be broadcast on Facebook.  Program pages are now available on the Iowa Harness Racing website:  www.iowaharnessracing.com. We are living in unprecedented times.   The COVID-19 situation has changed our lives but not our love of racing. We are thankful to be able to start our racing season this weekend and hopeful that we can fully open soon. Please observe the state guidance under which we are allowed to race at this point. This was from Governor Reynolds May 13 proclamation – L. Race tracks: A speedway or race track, including a track conducting horse or dog races, may reopen or continue its operations provided that it does not permit any spectators to attend its events in person. We realize it is a gray area regarding who are spectators and who are participants. We have been advised by our lobbyist that we can allow people to park their cars along the track to watch the races. Please exercise good judgement regarding social distancing and interaction with others at the races.  Racetracks in other states have much greater restrictions. We are concerned that pictures and videos from the races will be posted on Facebook and other social media of people interacting in ways that are not following the Governor’s proclamation.   This could cause subsequent races to be cancelled, and no one wants that. Regardless of your personal views on the virus, it is everyone’s responsibility to adhere to the current guidelines. There are some changes in the schedule that we are aware of at this point in time. • The overnight races at Eldon scheduled for June 17 & 18 are cancelled. The aged races are rescheduled for August 22 & 23 at What Cheer. • The race program at Allison on June 27 has been moved in its entirety to What Cheer. • The races at Bloomfield and Monticello are cancelled. Additions or changes to other locations or dates may occur. We will update our schedule on IowaHarnessRacing.com and publish updates to our Facebook page as we become aware of changes. Thank you for your cooperation.  Let me know if you have questions or comments. Royal Roland President, Iowa Harness Horseman’s Association
Columbus, OH — After a week of qualifiers, heavy rain, and anticipation Scioto Downs kicked off their 2020 live harness racing meet on Friday (May 22). “Six days after qualifiers, we were able to start racing thanks to our amazing team,” said Joe Morris, the Senior Vice President of Racing at Eldorado Resorts. Scioto started things off in a big way with just over $127,000 wagered in the first race. The guaranteed Pick-5 was a big hit with horseplayers, surpassing the guarantee with more than $22,000 wagered. Total handle on the 12-race program was $1,054,294.15, the second highest handle in history at Scioto Downs, a number that hasn’t been seen at the five-eighths-mile oval in more than 20 years. “I have to thank our team and the horsemen for helping put on the show,” said Morris. “The horsemen are rugged, it’s been a long week and I’m proud of everyone on a job well done.” Scioto wasted no time getting back to racing on Friday, following the Ohio State Racing Commission in conjunction with Governor Mike DeWine’s office coming up with protocols to race without fans safely. The Commission passed a resolution allowing racing to return at their May 14 meeting. “For three weeks in a row, I thought racing was going to get rolling,” said Morris. “We’re glad to have been given this opportunity by the Commission and Governor’s office to start racing.” The road to the start of racing kicked off on Saturday (May 16), as 16 qualifiers went to the track, followed by four more days in preparation for the opening night card. “Our Race Secretary, Jason Roth, had a great idea to write the condition sheet for qualifiers like he would a race card,” said Morris. “His great idea ensured that we would have the right horses to fill Friday’s card.” “It’s been a busy week with all of the qualifiers,” said Roth. “Everyone has been very receptive to the protocols that have been put into place.” The first program of the year featured a pair of Open races, one for Filly and Mare pacers (race six) and one for trotters (race eight). Rosemary Rose (inside) held off a hard charging Sally Fletcher A to win the $18,000 Filly and Mare Open. Conrad photo. A compact field of six went to the gate in the distaff Open and St Lads Gidget (Aaron Merriman) wasted no time leaving the gate, looking to control the fractions. After a strong first-quarter of :26.4, Merriman was able to ration out the speed with a :28.3 second panel, but he was forced to step on the gas dealing with pressure from Golden Paradise moving up the backstretch. Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) was patient through the mile, riding second over cover to three-quarters before firing down the stretch. After putting away St Lads Gidget she dealt with a late charge from Sally Fletcher A (Brett Miller), but was able to hold on by a nose in 1:51.2. For Rosemary Rose, it was her third victory of the year in 10 starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, and Weaver Bruscemi and trainer Ron Burke. The 6-year-old, who has shown no signs of slowing down, has bankrolled $567,207 in her career. Rosemary Rose was one of six victories on the card for driver Chris Page. The photo finish camera couldn’t separate the Open Trot competitors as Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers) and Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Elliott Deaton) hit the wire together in a strong stretch battle. The photo finish camera could not separate Peggy Sue (inside) and Eye Ofa Tiger AS (outside) in the co-featured $18,000 Open Trot. Conrad photo. There were fireworks early on as heavy favorite Workinitonbroadway (Page) made a costly miscue at the start allowing Wildfire Seelster (Tyler Smith) to get to the front through the first quarter in :28.1. Wildfire Seelster was able to get a breather in the second quarter (:58) before having to sprint up the backstretch. Eye Ofa Tiger AS pulled first up heading to the three-quarter pole, forcing the hand of Peggy Sue and Galliers to make a first-over grind. After hitting three-quarters in 1:26.3, Wildfire Seelster fought gamely through the stretch, but was collared late by Peggy Sue and a hard charging Eye Ofa Tiger AS in 1:55.1. Peggy Sue was able to lock up her third victory of the year, moving her earnings to $48,230 for owner Galliers Racing and trainer Brady Galliers. Eye Ofa Tiger AS scored his first victory of the season for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. His career earnings now stack up at $577,768. Live racing at Scioto Downs returns on Saturday night (May 23) with a 6:30 p.m. first post. The card features a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-5 in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program. Past performances provided by TrackMaster can be found by clicking here.    by Michael Carter, USTA Social Media and Publicity Coordinator
Northfield, OH — Free past performances, multiple guaranteed pools, full fields and million-dollar earners highlight a strong program of harness racing as MGM Northfield Park re-opens (without spectators) on Tuesday (May 26) with post time at 6 p.m. The wagering menu on the 15-race card is highlighted by a $40,000 guaranteed pool in the 13th race (20-cent Super High Five), which includes a carryover pool of $8,134, left over from when no one selected the top five finishers in correct order when Northfield last raced on March 18. The Super High Five also has a low 14 percent takeout rate, as do all of Northfield’s Pick-3, Pick-4, Pick-5 and the Jackpot Single 6 wagers. The early and late Pick-4 wagers will also carry their normal $10,000 guarantees as a part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program. Top class horses will be in action on the track as Open Handicaps for both pacers and trotters headline the card. Southwind Amazon, winner of 92 career races and more than $1 million in purses, will not only face stout competition in the Open Pace from regular rivals Bully Pulpit and Carolina Beach, but a pair of invaders from Yonkers Raceway, Luis Alberto N and $991,927 lifetime earner Atta Boy Dan. Real Peace, Barley Up, The Wayfaring Man and Just Toyin With Ya will also be heard from in the full field of nine (race 10 on the card). Wind Of The North, a career earner of more than $1.1 million, will battle eight rivals in the co-featured Open Handicap Trot (race 12). Perlucky, winner of two straight before racing was halted, is assigned the outside post in the evenly matched group. While no spectators will be in attendance, Northfield’s full card can be watched live on northfieldpark.com (as it can be every live race night) and wagered on through all major ADW’s world-wide. Northfield will also race on Wednesday (May 27); Friday (May 29); and Saturday (May 30) to round out the month of May. Free past performances for all four of Northfield’s cards next week will be available at northfieldpark.com. For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
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