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Many harness racing horseman are currently unhappy with the surface of the Alexandra Park track at the moment, with several going as far as to declare it unsafe in patches and not up to standard. Richard Brosnan the president of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Owners Association is adamant an accident is going to cause serious harm to horse or driver if the state of the Auckland track is not fixed in the near future. Richard says “the track is very inconsistent in some areas and it varies in depth especially on the bends. It needs a good overhaul to bring back to the condition it was in several years ago”, he said. >Harnesslink contacted the following Drivers and here are their comments; David Butcher For me I think they could do a far better job of preparing it for race day. The staff are just going through the motions the same way they have done for the last 30 years. They might need a trip to Australia and see what they do. Brent Mangos The surface is very inconsistent. Soft in places and hard in other places. It was very soft the other night. After race three I told them that they needed to put water on the track which they did and it was much better. Maurice McKendry The surface is not as good as it has been. Philip Butcher For a Metropolitan track the surface is a disgrace. Steven Reid The surface is deep in places and not that good although I only drive occasionally. Todd Mitchell The track is the worst it's ever been, just a disgrace for a leading track. The surface is deep in places and its a shame they didn't take notice of Dan Coon when he developed the track, they did not listen to him about the ongoing maintanence. Peter Ferguson The surface is like concrete underneath and marbles on top. The track is in bad shape for a top track. The Manawatu track is the same. They have a great club like Auckland and doing all the right things in the public arena but not looking after the track is probably the most important thing to have right to protect the horses from breakdown and to protect the drivers from accidents. Scott Phelan Went to a meeting and voiced my concerns once but nothing gets done. Jay Abernethy The track is very inconsistent, loose in places, hard in others. Not good. Todd MacFarlane - Drivers Association Representative The trainers and drivers association have been trying to sort it out. The Auckland Club has already had John Denton up from Christchurch and he is about to come back to help fix the track shortly. This all brings to mind the case in North America about the Anthony Coletta accident at Harrahs Chester Track.  Anthony Coletta was left paralyzed and permanently brain damaged after he was thrown from his sulky and trampled by a horse in a chain-reaction wreck his attorney blamed on poor track conditions. Horse trainers, harness drivers, and the president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association had complained for years — before Coletta’s Nov. 17, 2013, crash — that the track was unsafe, said attorney Bob Mongeluzzi, who represents Coletta’s parents in a 2014 negligence lawsuit they filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. “The complaints included that it was like going from a hard surface, hard pack, to actually like being on the beach, and being in deep sand, and that the horses would lose their footing,” Mongeluzzi said. “These complaints came from many, many drivers over a period of years. These complaints were documented in emails [and] letters. And the tragic fact is that Harrah’s — rather than making the track safer, rather than taking the complaints seriously — ignored them and didn’t do anything about it.” Coletta, now 35, who was engaged to be married at the time of the crash, instead has been declared incapacitated and lives with his parents, Alfred and Rosemary Coletta, in Hammonton, New Jersey. “He’s in a wheelchair. He needs round-the-clock care. He will never be able to care for himself again,” Mongeluzzi said. “He has virtually no memory, very little comprehension of anything you would say to him … Unfortunately, I think where Anthony is [now] is where he will be for the rest of his life — in a wheelchair, brain damage.   Here is the Presidents report to the members of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Owners Association; Firstly I’d like to thank everyone here today. You are here because you care about our industry. This has been a very interesting year for the NZ Owners Association. We in Auckland are only one of three branches still actively operating. The National Body seems in free fall and is not getting up and running. This branch needs to keep up with what’s going on with the National Body. It needs a person with the time and the name who can go around NZ and sell the idea of the importance of Owner Issues and Representation. At last year’s AGM our HRNZ owners rep Trevor Beaton came up and spoke to the members. Unfortunately the promised communication has not eventuated and we don’t get a lot of information. Jess Smith has just taken up a new post with HRNZ on Owners Issues and we must be hopeful that her appointment will make a difference. She has our support. The present good financial position this branch is in can be initially attributed to Rosena Pyers because as our secretary she started operating the cafe at the workouts which we ran here on Saturdays. This has continued on with members of our committee who have run raffles, trophy days and collected our share of workout monies. This association had nothing when I started so we must thank our committees for all the work that has resulted in our healthy position today. Now that the ATC no longer runs Saturday workouts at the Park in favour of Franklin Park we rely mainly on the money that is allocated to us through the North Island Harness Awards. The Ladies running the awards have done an amazing job and we are very grateful to them. I’d like to thank our Secretary and members of our committee for their efforts throughout the year. It is only their dedication that keeps us going and we need to grow stronger with more interest from other owners. Our Owners website is still up and running and any contributions to it are very welcome. We have had a few articles written for us by Barry Lichter which created a lot of interest so we are looking to continue that . Many thanks to Gayleen Mackinnon for her time in uploading the material onto our website. While the ATC is doing many good things for harness racing in Auckland  there needs to be more done for the people who support them. The Board need to improve their PR skills and make themselves known within the industry here. At the moment the Alexandra Park racing surface is not up to standard and needs regular attention to make it fair to all horses. It is too deep on the bends and varies in depth all around. If not fixed it will cause a serious problem sooner or later. Thank you to everyone for all your help and support. May this branch grow stronger and make sure that the National Body gets up and running. If you think HRNZ are going to look after you then look back on the last 12 months and think again. A strong Owners Body and lobby group is imperative. Again thank you for attending and come back next year to a stronger and healthier and more enthusiastic Auckland Trotting Owners branch. Richard Brosnan.

The trial starts this week in a negligence lawsuit filed by the family of a South Jersey harness racing driver who nearly died in a 2013 crash at Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester. Anthony Coletta was left paralyzed and permanently brain damaged after he was thrown from his sulky — the two-wheeled vehicle harnessed to a horse — and trampled by a horse in a chain-reaction wreck his attorney blamed on poor track conditions. Horse trainers, harness drivers, and the president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association had complained for years — before Coletta’s Nov. 17, 2013, crash — that the track was dangerously unsafe, said attorney Bob Mongeluzzi, who represents Coletta’s parents in a 2014 negligence lawsuit they filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. “The complaints included that it was like going from a hard surface, hard pack, to actually like being on the beach, and being in deep sand, and that the horses would lose their footing,” Mongeluzzi said. “These complaints came from many, many drivers over a period of years. These complaints were documented in emails [and] letters. And the tragic fact is that Harrah’s — rather than making the track safer, rather than taking the complaints seriously — ignored them and didn’t do anything about it.” The track hadn’t been resurfaced since it opened in 2006, Mongeluzzi alleged in the lawsuit. Ten months before Coletta’s crash, harness drivers warned Harrah’s management that the track had deteriorated so much that a tragedy could happen, according to a recent court filing. “I would really like you to please do something about the track conditions here at Harrah’s,” trainer and harness driver Anthony DeFrancesco III wrote to Harrah’s security director Charles O’Hala after a December 2012 race. “I would hate to see a driver or horse get really hurt [due] to poor track conditions.” Harness driver Yannick Gingras emailed O’Hala the next day: “The surface yesterday was in very poor condition. It was very hard to see and really dangerous. I am not an expert in track maintenance, but I’ve raced at a large amount of racetracks, and yesterday’s condition [was] one of the worst I have ever seen.” Harrah’s managers responded to such pleas by trading interoffice emails in which they belittled Mike Izzo, who as president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association loudly advocated for track repairs, as “a garbage can,” “a POS” (piece of shit), and “a weak man,” court documents show. “I’ll be diplomatic, but will F with him [Izzo] every chance I get (without putting us in jeopardy of course),” O’Hala wrote in December 2012 to Harrah’s racing director Barry Brown. Harrah’s and its parent company, Caesars Entertainment Corp. of Las Vegas, did not respond to requests for comment. Coletta, now 35, who was engaged to be married at the time of the crash, instead has been declared incapacitated and lives with his parents, Alfred and Rosemary Coletta, in Hammonton, New Jersey. “He’s in a wheelchair. He needs round-the-clock care. He will never be able to care for himself again,” Mongeluzzi said. “He has virtually no memory, very little comprehension of anything you would say to him … Unfortunately, I think where Anthony is [now] is where he will be for the rest of his life — in a wheelchair, brain damage. By â€‹Dana DiFilippo   Reprinted with permission of the WHYY site

Grand Circuit pacing harness racing superstar Hectorjayjay is likely to be ruled out of the Allied Express Victoria Cup and Perth Inter Dominion after a lesion was discovered. Part-owner Mick Harvey said the syndicate was shattered their David Aiken-trained superstar would likely be sidelined for an extended period, having suffered what they believed was a small tear in his front off-side leg. "Everyone involved with the horse is devastated," Mr Harvey said. "I am also sad for the public, because in my eyes he is the most exciting pacer in Australia and had it all in front of him. "This hurts big time, but we just hope the further scans come up pretty good early next week and he comes through." Winner of July's $200,540 2017 Ubet Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, the son of Dream Away, Hectorjayjay has amassed more than $1.1 million in stakes and owners hoped the six-year-old would go one better in December's Inter Dominion, having placed second last year. "He's never looked better or been better and was working toward the Victoria Cup," Mr Harvey said. "But in the third phase of his trackwork he didn't pull up well and scans revealed a lesion." Yesterday's grim discovery will be verified with further scans likely to take place early next week. "He will have a more detailed scan when the swelling goes down. The early prognosis is he will be out for six to 12 months. It's one of those things that takes time for it to rehab." Harness Racing Victoria

Seaford, DE --- A fire that started around 7 a.m. Monday (Aug. 7) in the main barn at Trotter Farm, known to many as Dillards, in Seaford, Del., (Seaford is a city located along the Nanticoke River in Sussex County, Delaware) killed five harness racing racehorses trained by Mike and Brittany Bounds. They were 8-year-old pacing gelding In Front Charlie p,1:53f ($158,523), 2-year-old pacing filly My Lil Tater Tot, 2-year-old pacing filly Gangster Granny, 3-year-old pacing filly Standtuecemewin and 2-year-old pacing colt Ezekiel Kandu. Seven horses were rescued from the barn, which had housed horses for a handful of local trainers. by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent       

Laurel, DE --- Maryland harness racing driver Ricky Still was injured while driving at Ocean Downs in July. With a broken kneecap and femur, Still is facing significant medical bills and won't be able to work for some time. His brother has launched a Go Fund Me page on his behalf, which can be reached at this link.

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has announced an extension of its employment assistance program to benefit all industry players. HRV People and Culture Manager Isabella Galati described the HRV Industry Assistance Program (IAP) as a confidential, professional, coaching and support service delivered by Davidson Trahaire Corpsych (DTC). “The service is available at no cost to all licenced industry participants, including trainers, drivers and HRV, Tabcorp Park and country club employees/volunteers,” Ms Galati said. “The IAP can assist with a wide range of personal and work-related issues, including but not limited to anxiety, stress and depression, bereavement, grief and loss, personal trauma, dealing with change and career planning.” View the IAP information document online for all services provided (link) “One of our core values is empathy, which reflects our genuine care for the health and wellbeing of our participants,” HRV CEO David Martin said. “Today’s announcement provides confidential access to support for industry participants experiencing hardship, and I thank Isabella for her work on this.” Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA) president Lance Justice welcomed today’s announcement. “We welcome this decision because the industry’s greatest assets are the people involved,” Justice said. “Trainers and drivers work long hours and it is hard work. That takes its toll and it is important our people have access to help when they need it and I’d encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed or in need of a helping hand to reach out. It’s important they know they’re not alone.” The Association of Country Clubs also welcomed the announcement. “We applaud HRV for making this service available across the Victorian industry,” association CEO Toby McKinnon said. “Being on the front foot regarding the welfare of our people is a very sensible strategy and we wholly support this announcement.” Find out more about the HRV IAP or contact DTC (link) Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

Young harness racing reinsman Ben Woodsford could be sidelined for the rest of the season after being involved in a spectacular race fall at Newcastle last Saturday evening. Woodsford was driving three-year-old pacer Dirty Blues when becoming dislodged along with three other drivers in an accident near the winning post with a lap to go of race eight. The New Zealand-born driver, who works as a stablehand for Shane and Lauren Tritton, had his broken wrist operated on today at John Hunter Hospital where he has been since Saturday night. Shane Tritton claimed Woodsford sustained a "broken wrist in three places" and will be "out for three months." And it was around this time two years ago Tritton's wife, Lauren Tritton (nee Panella), was badly injured in a race fall at Tabcorp Park Menangle and sustained multiple injuries to her hand and wrist, sidelining her for many months. Woodsford has been in career best form, experiencing his best season to date having pocketed 12 winners for the term. Meanwhile, all other drivers involved in the fall, as well as all the horses involved in the accident, have escaped major injury. Maitland reinsman Peter Hedges was discharged from John Hunter Hospital yesterday afternoon. Hedges was driving the locally trained pacer Witherspoon and became dislodged when trailing Yourblueyescrying (Mark Callaghan) which galloped and fell causing the chain reaction. "I'm a bit stiff and sore but nothing is broken and all my scans came back fine," Hedges said. "I hit the track pretty hard and had some pain in my kidney area which they were concerned about but all my scans and x-rays came back okay." Fellow drivers Katie McGill (Celebrity Look) and Mark Callaghan were also involved in the accident, with the latter bouncing back to win the following race with Royal Gamble. Meanwhile, McGill was back driving at Menangle on Tuesday and finished third-placed with the trotter Chesapeaka Boy, the horse she was dislodged from last month in a standing start event. "I had a fall a month ago so you don't expect to be involved in another one so soon," McGill stated. "Luckily I came out of it pretty lightly and just the shoulder I landed on is a bit sore but it could have been much worse for all involved." AMANDA RANDO

Sydney harness racing driver Ben Woodsford came away with a broken wrist and Maitland reinsman Peter Hedges a badly bruised back in a frightening fall at Newcastle International Paceway on Saturday night. Woodsford and Hedges were in John Hunter Hospital overnight after they were among four drivers dislodged in an accident at the winning post approaching the final lap of race eight. The race was abandoned after Morisset driver Mark Callaghan was tipped out when Yourblueyescrying galloped, causing a chain reaction. Woodsford (Dirty Blues), Hedges (Witherspoon) and young Sydney driver Katie McGill (Celebrity Look) were all flung out.  McGill and Callaghan were checked by paramedics at the track and only Woodsford and Hedges were taken by ambulance to hospital. Newcastle Harness Racing Club chief Tony Drew said McGill had a head knock but was cleared to go home. Drew believed all horses escaped serious injury. Hedges said on Sunday morning that he was awaiting precautionary scans but it was believed he had only severe bruising to his lower back from when he landed awkwardly on the track. He said Woodsford had a broken wrist but all drivers involved were lucky to escape more serious injury.  “I was the last one to fall, and I trying to ride it out but then my filly got hit by another horse that was loose, and it flicked my gig up,” Hedges said. “I got flung into the track sideways and all my weight landed on my back.” Remarkably, Callaghan recovered to win the next race with Royal Gamble and secure a winning treble as a driver and double as trainer. He earlier steered Lethal Star and Mitch Kosklin’s Elect To Go to victory on the 10-race program. Callaghan was also the Hunter’s best at Menangle on Saturday night, taking second with Lovin Miss Daisy in the C1-C2 Country Series Final behind Miss Rodriguez. By Craig Kerry Reprinted with permission of The Newcastle Herald  

ANDERSON, Ind.; - JUNE 9, 2017 - During the tenth race at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, June 9, an incident occurred approaching the final turn involving several horses and drivers. A major spill took place when Onedin Mach N, driven by Andy Shetler, appeared to take a bad step while racing down the backstretch in second place. Four additional horses and drivers were involved in the accident, though no serious injuries appear to have been sustained by any of the horses or drivers behind Onedin Mach N. However, Onedin Mach N was euthanized after suffering a catastrophic injury. All of the drivers involved were examined and treated by the attending medical staff at Hoosier Park. Two of the drivers involved in the accident, Andy Shetler and Ricky Macomber, Jr., were shaken up and took off of their remaining assignments after the tenth race incident. Live racing will resume at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, June 10 with a 12-race card beginning with a special first race post time of 7:15 pm. For more information on the live racing schedule and upcoming events at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, please visit Emily Gaskin

Harness Racing New South Wales Steward Todd Sharwood is on the mend following injuries he sustained while on duty at Goulburn's TAB.COM.AU Carnival of Cups meeting last Sunday. Prior to the opening event, the flooring of the steward/camera tower that Sharwood was occupying gave way. Sharwood fell through to the ground and was taken to Goulburn Hospital where it was discovered he broke his pelvis, sustained fractures to his vertebrae and other injuries. He was later transferred to Canberra Hospital for further tests which ruled out any need for surgery. This positive news was welcomed by HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny. "I have been speaking to Todd regularly and he received a positive report from specialists following his MRI (scan) yesterday that he will not need any surgery for his injuries, just rest and recovery for six weeks," Dumesny said. "Todd was very proud of himself having walked 14 steps today and has a hope to be discharged from Goulburn Hospital on the weekend. "Being Todd his primary ambition is to return to work as soon as possible and has offered once discharged to work from home." A Safe Work NSW investigation into the incident has naturally been instigated. Clubs across the state have been instructed to immediately engage qualified persons to issue compliance certificates for the structures at their respective tracks and approvals for use taking into consideration work place safety. HRNSW will assist clubs with contact to qualified persons if they are having difficulty in this respect. AMANDA RANDO

Harness racing drivers Kerryn Manning and Aaron Dunn are recovering well from Friday’s race fall, but still have a long and painful road ahead before they return to the track. Dunn suffered a dislocated and cracked shoulder and Manning broken ribs and a punctured lung when they fell during Friday’s VHRSC Snowball Series Heat at Charlton. “He’s OK, but it will be a few months before he gets back driving again,” said Dunn’s father, Barry. Trainer-driver Grant Campbell, husband of Kerryn Manning, said “she’s on the improve” after a difficult weekend. Dunn’s gelding, Sulem Joey, lost stride and fell, which dislodged his driver and tipped Manning’s cart, and led to her being run over by a trailing sulky. Both were transferred to Bendigo Hospital, where it was found Dunn had dislocated his right shoulder, requiring anaesthetic before it could be put back into place, with further inquiries revealing he had cracked the top his shoulder. “They had to knock him out and x-rays found more surgery was needed,” Barry, a trainer, said. “He’s travelling OK. He’s going to have his arm tied to his waist for about six weeks.” As time advances Manning is also on the mend and more is being learned. She suffered three broken ribs, high on the right side, and a minor puncture to her lung, which is healing itself.  She also suffered concussion, which Campbell said was “the biggest concern initially”, but “she’s responding really well as far as that goes”. “She’s on the improve,” he said. “She came out of the intensive care unit yesterday because they were really happy with the recovery of her lungs, her breathing and oxygen levels, and she has been in the surgical unit to monitor her before she is moved to the general ward. The pain is a bit more prevalent now.” The reminder that the risk of injury is ever-present in the sport has come in the wake of several falls this season. “We do it every day of the week and you kind of think nothing of it, but this last six to 12 months we seem to have had more falls in Victoria than the previous three years,” Campbell said. “We had one that looked worse at Melton a few months back where three of us – myself, Kerryn and Chris (Alford) – were all tipped out, but 30 minutes later we were back up and driving again. “This time there have been two serious injuries. If Kerryn was half a metre further along she would have been all right, but these things happen.” If there’s something the setback has reinforced it’s the ability of the trots community to rally around those beset by challenges. “We are very overwhelmed and grateful for the many well-wishes people have given to Kerryn and myself,” Campbell said. “There have many offers to help and we are very happy to have our families around us and the great support of staff at Bendigo Hospital.” The same can be said for Dunn. Among the well-wishes was a surprise call from Western Bulldogs great Doug Hawkins, with whom Dunn had crossed paths some time back. “That boosted his spirits,” Barry said. “He loves the racing. That’s his outlet. He’ll be out for a while, it could be three months, it just depends on how comes up.” Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

A world champion harness racing driver remains in a stable condition in Bendigo Health’s intensive care unit following an accident on the track at Charlton on Friday. Kerryn Manning was taken to hospital by ambulance with three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a severe concussion after the crash, which also injured fellow driver Aaron Dunn. Ms Manning’s husband Grant Campbell said she was in a lot of pain and would likely remain in the unit for another 24 hours. He said she would probably stay in hospital for another week, possibly over Christmas. Mr Campbell said he and his wife’s family wanted to thank everyone for the “amazing” outpouring of support received in the wake of the incident. “It’s been overwhelming,” he said. By Natalie Croxon Reprinted with permission of The Standard

Tamworth horseman Anthony ‘Tony’ Missen is in “good spirits” despite sustaining major injuries in a race fall at his local harness racing track on Sunday. Recently appointed Tamworth Harness Racing Club Chairperson Julie Maughan said the 54-year-old trainer-driver was transferred to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle today. “The report is that he has a shattered pelvis, broken shoulder and broken collarbone,” Maughan said.  “From all accounts Tony is his usual bright and bubbly self.” Missen was dislodged from the sulky when driving his pacer Tirunesh. Subsequently he was on the track unconscious and Harness Racing New South Wales Stewards stopped the race, later declaring it a “No Race”. Missen was then taken to Tamworth Hospital. He started the meeting on a better note when his pacer Fivestar Wally won the opening event causing an upset at odds of $40.80 with NSW TAB.  “The Club is thinking of him as he is a very popular trainer and reinsman in the north-west,” Maughan said. “Tony had a lot of success in recent seasons in taking out the North and North-West Trainers Premiership for the past two seasons. “Tony is one of those likeable and relaxed people who is always there to congratulate someone else on a win. “We hope that the doctors can give a better diagnosis than what we are hearing as we want to see Tony back at the track as soon as possible.” AMANDA RANDO 

The winners circle at Monticello Raceway was overflowing with family, friends and fellow harness racing horseman on Wednesday November 2, as after the card 8th race a Memorial service was held in the winners for Brett Smith, on hand were Brett's parents Gary and Tracey Smith. Brett recently passed away from injuries sustained in a horse training accident "The strong showing is a testament of how much Brett was loved and miss by all" said Eric Warner, Monticello Raceway Race Secretary. Empire Resorts, Inc., 204 State Route 17B, Monticello, NY 12701 845-807-0001 by Shawn Wiles  

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 30, 2016 -- Harness racing trainer/driver Tyler Stillings suffered transverse process fractures of the lumbar spine in a training mishap Friday at The Meadows. His fiance, Greta Slater, said the injury occurred when the bit Stillings was using for a training trip broke, causing his horse to dump him from the cart. Slater said Stillings was treated at a local emergency room and now is recuperating at home. She indicated he could be sidelined for approximately three weeks. The horse sustained only bruises. Stillings, 44, a resident of Washington, currently ranks fifth in driver standings and eighth in trainer standings (each by UDRS) at The Meadows. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Last season’s leading New South Wales harness racing driver Todd McCarthy has been forced to the sideline after breaking his collarbone in a race fall at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday. The 23-year-old Group one winning reinsman crashed to the track when driving Karmic Fire, a pacer trained by his father John McCarthy, and luckily sustained no other injuries.  “I’m feeling alright,” McCarthy said. “Judging by my other one (collarbone) I could be out for a few weeks.” McCarthy has broken his collarbone twice before, once in another horse related incident and the other on a bike. McCarthy is also hoping he bounces back in time to represent NSW in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship which is just five weeks away. The series will be held in conjunction with the 2016 Inter Dominion Series in Perth, Western Australia, from December 2 to December 9. McCarthy represented the state last weekend in the Australian Drivers Championship which took place at Globe Derby on Saturday night. After nabbing a win in the opening heat, McCarthy finished fourth overall. The young reinsman is fresh from experiencing his best season to date having dominated all the major driving premierships in NSW. Click here to watch a replay of race five at Menangle yesterday Amanda Rando

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