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Plans are underway for the 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge being run by HANA Harness. As such, HANA Harness is seeking financial sponsorship from various facets of the harness racing industry to build up the prize fund which goes to standardbred rescues. Whether a racetrack, horseman association, breeder, racing stable, or a supplier to the industry, HANA Harness welcomes your participation. The Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge's goal is to promote the Grand Circuit as well as support standardbred rescues. All funds pledged to the competition are donated to the standardbred rescues chosen by the handicappers. Canadian sponsors will be given the right to donate 2016 funds to the standardbred rescues of their choice in honor of the winning handicapper. Since the contest began, over $12,000 has been donated to standardbred rescues. Sponsorship levels are available from $500 to as low as $100 with various benefits. If interested in additional information, contact Allan Schott

As an annual tradition, The View From The Grandstand makes a "wish list" for the coming season. Let's hope that at least a few of these items come true in 2016. An easy transition to the timing of races in hundredths.  This change begins on January 1.  Say good bye to 1:49.3 (where '.3' is 3/5ths instead of your math class 3/10ths) and say hello to 1:49.25 which will be mathematically correct.  What will make things more interesting is while American races will be timed in hundredths, Canadian races will continue to be timed in fifths. A great FFA season.  The seeds have been planted for a great campaign with some of the best horses we have seen in quite awhile.  Hopefully, the upcoming year will live up to the hype. Another great Yonkers International.  It may be a throwback to our glory days but let's not kid ourselves, it shows what racing should be; an international affair. No disrespect intended to John Campbell, but the formal coronation of Tim Tetrick as our 'driver laureate', our new globe trotting ambassador for harness racing and all around class guy. The continued truce between Jeff Gural and Joe Faraldo.  If you haven't noticed it, things have been quiet of late between the two men.  We like it this way.  Both have their own views on how racing should be saved, and at times they are diametrically opposite of each other, but public bickering doesn't help anyone. A 'relatively' quiet Meadowlands meet, one without controversy, no talk about exclusions and counting to one hundred before announcing any new policies. While on the subject of the Meadowlands, full fields, dare I say overflow fields once Yonkers and other tracks reopen?  It has been nice these past two weeks having full fields.  I realize the odds are the overflow entries will be disappearing, but hey, you can hope. With the deadline to get a casino gambling amendment to the legislative floor this year having passed, we wish for super majorities in 2016 so a North Jersey gaming referendum can reach the ballot box.  Face it, every year a referendum doesn't get voted on, the Meadowlands programs gets shaved a little bit more. In Florida, the failure of the de-coupling movement for if the state manages to de-couple racing from their card rooms and casino floors, it will only be a matter of time until de-coupling spreads like a virus. A successful Suburban Downs meet at Hawthorne.  Success at Suburban Downs may make Hawthorne value their harness meet besides the fact they control the revenue from OTW. 2017 racing dates for Balmoral and Maywood Park.  Hey, we can dream can't we? If Thunder Ridge Raceway races in 2016, customers.  Betting customers.  Heck, when I would be considered a whale, a track is in big trouble. If not the return of Harness Racing Update, a new publication to discuss the serious issues involving racing.  One can't expect publications operated by racing organizations to deal with the serious issues. If the long discussed USTA racing channel on the Internet comes to fruition, the creation of an app which can be watched on devices such as Roku, Fire TV, and other devices.  Some of us dinosaurs still like watching racing on their televisions, even if the signals come from the Internet. Donald Trump.  Face it, as long as we have Donald in the Presidential election, even the stupidest thing done in the standardbred industry will look like sheer genius. Back to New Jersey, a successful debut of exchange wagering which will be profitable not only for racetracks but convince those doubters in states such as California they should adopt exchange wagering. The return of Walter Case.  We can dream can't we? Billy Parker in the Hall of Fame (this will be on my list until it happens) More racing opportunities in Michigan. Co-mingling of foreign pools into American pools and vice-versa. Introducing a mile rate for races shorter or longer than a standard mile.  A mile rate will make it easier to handicap races; especially when horses race at different distances. Another successful year for RUS Ontario.  Perhaps hosting a race or two in the Martimes, maybe during Old Home Week? Pari-mutuel wagering for American racing under saddle events.  I know there are doubters out there but until it is given a fair chance, we don't know do we? Cal Expo exercise their option early and begin negotiating an extension of the lease to Watch and Wager early as the lease to operate a harness meet at Cal Expo ends in 2017. With the cancellation of PA Harnessweek, a new gig for Heather Vitale and Steve Ross. A return to the day when post time meant post time (we can pray for miracles can't we?) A winning year at the windows.  Now that would be a Christmas miracle. Allan Shott has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He runs the website/blog  Allan’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

Well, if nothing else, the opening of the Meadowlands meet has brought attention to horses getting ready for finals.  Few think Bee A Magician or for that fact JK Endofanera will be raced the same way this week when the TVG finals take place.  Like it or not, saving a horse for a final or an upcoming race has been around likely since the days of Greyhound. Just to be clear, 'saving a horse' doesn't necessarily mean not trying to win; it may be trying for an easier race, hoping to catch a trip instead of gunning to the front and racing bravely. Let's first clarify something many are incorrect about.  The TVG races this past weekend were not elimination races; they were legs of a series similar to the Levy Memorial at Yonkers.  Horses who get into the final are the highest point earners in the overall series, not just horses coming out of the last race (yes, three year old Breeders Crown winners can be invited).  Horses who may have raced Saturday may have already qualified for the final so winning may be secondary to keeping tight. As for true elimination races, some horses are racing to qualify, winning is secondary (a perfect example is a horse starting from post eight).  The industry often dangles a preferred post position in the final to coax a better effort which is unfair to the rest of the horses in the race.  For example, a horse in an elimination may be starting from post position 10 and going all out to land second or third; why shouldn't they get rewarded for their effort when someone who draws an inside post needs to expend only half the effort to win the race? Let's face it, trainer report or no trainer report, the wagering public is always going to need to guess if a horse is going full or half throttle or merely a drive around the oval.  As much as I hate it, this is something one needs to consider in your handicapping.  The focus should be on giving handicappers the most information available to factor into their handicapping. So where do we go from here? In series events, it should be required to post current series standings in the racing program with horses listed in order of points earned.  In addition, if any horse has already clinched a position in the final, it should be designated.. As for eliminations, such as stakes races or early and late closing events, there should be no reward for winning an elimination.  However, eliminations should have meatier purses to make it worthwhile to win. I've mentioned it before, rather than selecting the top position finishers in late closers to make up the race final, serious consideration should rely on the fastest finishers in eliminations.  This way, instead of just going around the track and making a last minute move to finish second or third, races would be contested all out. Perhaps the best way in determining fields in stake races is to eliminate eliminations all together.  Some tracks have begun  determining race fields by money earned.  Some will have consolation races for those who don't qualify for the main event, some don't.  Lastly, if you insist on having elimination races the way they are currently being conducted, do the handicappers a favor, card them as non-wagering events.  For those without slots, it may be harder to do, but for racinos where handle means so little, there is no excuse not to take the races off the regular card. One final word.  The Internet has been full of speculation as to why Brian Sears was a recipient of a 15 day suspension whereas other drivers with seemingly questionable drives appear to not have gotten similar penalties.  It is not my place to criticize or defend anyone on why or why not something happened.  The only ones who know the true stories are those directly involved.  We all know Jeff Gural is a controversial figure; controversial enough that some people have their own agenda when it comes to the Meadowlands operator and are more than happy to share their opinions as 'fact'.  Just remember this as you read these opinions.    by Allan Schott Allan Schott has been an avid harness racing fan and runs the HANA Handicaping Tournament in North America. He writes a weekly blog for Allan’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

November 3, 2015 - The 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs had a relatively quiet week after all the excitement on Breeders Crown night. There were eight races on Friday evening at Hoosier Park and two on Saturday at Vernon Downs. Just as one of our contest sponsors, Vernon Downs, turned back the clock on Saturday evening, we will take a look at Saturday's results before moving back to Friday. With only two races you would think there might not be a lot of points to be made but it could have been a huge night. Could have when the favored Takter entry failed to hit the board in one of the Kindergarten divisions it was won by Wildflower and Ake Svenstedt at $185! Unfortunately none of our handicappers were able to land the biggest win price of the HANA contest this season. Two of our handicappers did not pick a winner but topped the night chart. Both had Sweet Ashley T and received 52 points for the show price! Those two very smart souls were Garnet Barnsdale and Jay Hochstetler. Garnet won the evening's tie breaker with Mavens Way to show. In the other Kindergarten event six handicappers finished tied for third winning with Dog Gone Lucky for 10 HANA contest points. They were Ray Cotolo, Mark Dezii, Sally Hinckley, Rusty Nash, Earl Paulson and Anne Stepien. Friday evening saw quite a bit more action and one clear winner. Accepting the accolades of all involved was Derick Giwner who selected six of eight winners. That was two more winners than his closest competitor. For his excellence Derick earned 374 HANA contest points. Three other players were able to select a different set of four winners each. Jonijosi Verlingieri (203) out pointed both Bryan Owen (166) and Jay Hochstetler (161). Ms. Verlingieri's key was Foiled Again who had the best return win price among the quad winners. There were no major moves in the standings given the difficult and short prices on Friday evening at Hoosier Park. The top five remain the same as last week, Sally Hinckley, Mark McKelvie, Anne Stepien, Dennis O'Hara and Gordon Waterstone. Sally was able to pad her lead over Mark to 308 points. However the field continued to tighten up behind Mark. There are now ten handicappers separated by less than 1,000 points. Standings as of October 31, 2015 - Leg 56 Pos Handicapper Total Points Prior Week Points Earned This Week Overall Total Points Position Last Week Points Back 1st Sally Hinckley 4,374.60 42.60 4,417.20 1st             -   2nd Mark McKelvie 4,108.50 0.00 4,108.50 2nd       308.70 3rd Anne Stepien 4,008.60 62.70 4,071.30 3rd       345.90 4th Dennis O'Hara  3,967.80 61.80 4,029.60 7th       387.60 5th Gordon Waterstone 3,873.40 30.00 3,903.40 4th       513.80 6th Rusty Nash 3,518.70 46.60 3,565.30 5th       851.90 7th Bob Zanakis 3,466.60 38.90 3,505.50 6th       911.70 8th Josi Verlingieri 3,271.40 203.20 3,474.60 9th       942.60 9th Derick Giwner 3,079.80 374.30 3,454.10 11th       963.10 10th Bryan Owen 3,279.30 166.30 3,445.60 8th       971.60 11th Earl Paulson 3,245.10 54.70 3,299.80 10th    1,117.40 12th Ray Garnett 2,909.20 107.30 3,016.50 12th    1,400.70 13th Jay Hochstetler  2,763.50 213.60 2,977.10 13th    1,440.10 14th Garnet Barnsdale 2,557.90 129.40 2,687.30 15th    1,729.90 15th Michael Carter  2,676.90 0.00 2,676.90 14th    1,740.30 16th Mark Dezii 2,462.50 75.60 2,538.10 16th    1,879.10 17th Ray Cotolo 1,977.80 55.90 2,033.70 17th    2,383.50 18th Brandon Valvo 1,783.80 50.60 1,834.40 18th    2,582.80 19th Mark Deutsch 1,174.40 22.70 1,197.10 19th    3,220.10 We have a very busy two days on tap this week.  We kick things off with six races Thursday evening at Dover with the Matron for 2 year olds.  Saturday we shift north and west to Balmoral Park for the American National where we will have at least eight more puzzles to try and solve.   by Rusty Nash for HANA Harness

September 22, 2015 - Mark McKelvie picked up some ground on Sally Hinckley this week in the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. The week opened at The Meadows where the Nadia Lobell was won by Safe From Terror. Mark Deutsch was able to select the winner and he took the daily honors with 22.8 points. We needed the decimal point because Bryan Owen just missed with longshot The Show Returns. The place and show prices returned 22.6 points. One fifth of a point separated the early weekly leaders. Divine Caroline finished third and that caused a four way dead heat for the show spot between Sally Hinckley, Anne Stepien, Derick Giwner and Ray Cotolo. Saturday evening the HANA Grand Circuit Handicapping team visited Mohawk for another big night of racing. On this evening we witnessed perfection! There is a good reason that Mark McKelvie has been positioned near the top of the standing for so long. He correctly selected all five winners! Mark scored with Southwind Frank, Caprice Hill, Bee A Magician, Mission Brief and Pinkman. The 5X multiplier earned Mark all 196 points that were available. Three other handicappers had four winners each. They each had a different combination of winners and earned different scores. The place honors went to Buffalo's own Michael "Horsy Boy" Carter with 122 points. Bee A Magician was the key to his second place finish. Josi Verlingieri took the show spot with 114 points and Earl Paulson was fourth with 109 points. The final accent on this racing week was the Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway where Foiled Again was the featured headliner. Mach It So edged by him at the top of the lane and while the old boy fought back with everything he had Mach It So held on for the short neck win. Mach It So, off at 8-1, returned 25 HANA contest points for a quartet of very sharp handicappers. Successfully beating the chalk were Ray Garnett, Jay Hochstetler, Earl Paulson and Anne Stepien. The rest of the HANA handicappers were grateful that there was no bonus multiplier available with the $18 winner! Mark McKelvie easily took the weekly honors with a total of 198 points. Earl Paulson was second best with 135 and Michael Carter was third with 124. Rounding out the super and the penta were Josi Verlingieri and Bryan Owen. There was one change to the overall contest pentafecta.  With Mach It So winning the Quillen, Earl Paulson just edged out Gordon Waterstone for the fifth spot by a mere 8.5 points.  Sally Hinckley continues to lead with Mark McKelvie slowly closing the gap.  Ann Stepien remains in third and Bob Zanakis maintained his fourth place position.  Things are sure to change next week with more than a dozen races lined up. Standings as of September 21, 2015 - Leg 41     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position   Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week Points Back 1st Sally Hinckley 2,982.80 36.30 3,019.10 1st   2nd Mark McKelvie 2,598.10 198.10 2,796.20 2nd 222.9 3rd Anne Stepien 2,440.90 88.20 2,529.10 3rd 490.0 4th Bob Zanakis 2,354.30 63.80 2,418.10 4th 601.0 5th Earl Paulson 2,158.70 135.00 2,293.70 6th 725.4 6th Gordon Waterstone 2,218.40 66.80 2,285.20 5th 733.9 7th Dennis O'Hara 2,068.30 61.70 2,130.00 7th 889.1 8th Bryan Owen 1,929.40 89.10 2,018.50 9th 1,000.6 9th Rusty Nash 1,938.60 58.80 1,997.40 8th 1,021.7 10th Josi Verlingieri 1,860.90 114.60 1,975.50 10th 1,043.6 11th Michael Carter 1,693.20 124.90 1,818.10 11th 1,201.0 12th Ray Garnett 1,644.90 33.40 1,678.30 13th 1,340.8 13th Derick Giwner 1,604.00 67.00 1,671.00 14th 1,348.1 14th Mark Dezii 1,597.60 67.80 1,665.40 15th 1,353.7 15th Garnet Barnsdale 1,651.60 5.70 1,657.30 12th 1,361.8 16th Jay Hochstetler 1,517.00 25.40 1,542.40 16th 1,476.7 17th Brandon Valvo 1,234.80 26.40 1,261.20 17th 1,757.9 18th Ray Cotolo 1,124.00 83.50 1,207.50 18th 1,811.6 19th Mark Deutsch 751.80 67.40 819.20 19th 2,199.9 Jug week is upon us and we will have plenty of HANA Grand Circuit Handicapping action starting on Wednesday from Delaware Ohio.  The week kicks off with the Jugette, Buckette, Little Brown Jug, Old Oaken Bucket and the Miss Versatility.  Saturday features the Milton from Mohawk and a nice set of stakes from Hoosier Park. For contest selections and further information, visit the contest website at Allan Schott HANA Harness Racing Coordinator Follow the HANA Harness Handicapping Contest      

September 7, 2015 – It was a very long weekend for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs as the field of handicappers had to work their way through five consecutive contest days at four different venues. The long weekend opened Thursday evening at Mohawk where two of the HANA All-Star handicappers were a perfect three for three.  Derick Giwner and Earl Paulson both maxed out with a total of 82 points.  The current contest leader and the evenings third place finisher was Sally Hinckley at 41 points. Friday evening saw another trio of races again from Mohawk.  This time we saw seven handicappers tie for the nightly win.  Sally Hinckley, Anne Stepien, Josi Verlingieri, Bob Zanakis, Dennis O’Hara, Gordon Waterstone and Mark Dezii all tabbed both Southwind Frank and Elegant Serenity for a total of 29 points.  Saturday was the biggest day of the tour with nine events on tap.  There were seven heats from Mohawk and then two from Yonkers.  The night started out quite interesting as four handicappers came up with the 9-1 winner of the first race.  They then saw their nice juicy payout halved when the judges posted the deadheat sign with another longshot.  When the long evening was over, part time amateur scribe Rusty Nash topped out at 409 points after hitting the first six Mohawk races in a row.  When added to his Thursday and Friday total Rusty had the same 409 points!  Bob Zanakis nosed out Josi Verlingieri for the place spot by the score of 239 to 234.  Longshot maven Ray Cotolo and the Canadian Harness Racing Idol Garnet Barnsdale both had the highest priced winner of the evening when they selected Revenge Shark to win the Messenger at Yonkers Raceway. Sunday saw the action shift to the mid-west and Balmoral Racetrack where two stakes were contested.  Big scoring on nights with only two or three races requires each favorite to be beaten.  The handicappers finally had an evening where both favorites went down to defeat.  Unfortunately for everyone, no one had both of them.  Two of our power hitters still connected with one longshot.  Contest leader Sally Hinckley nailed Barrycourt for a $20 price and a total of 29 points.  Derick Giwner outscored Sally by a dollar when he got Catch All home at $21.  That gave him 36 points on the night and another win in the daily scoring. The long weekend of racing came to a close on Monday, Labor Day, at Tioga Downs.  With only a single race on the contest program.  It was a short field and it did not figure to make a big impact on the scoring.  With no show wagering the favorite entry won and the total points for the day was 7.  A few players took the day off and most of the rest picked up the 7 loose points that were available. For the weekly honors, Rusty Nash finished on top with 426 points.  Derick Giwner completed the exacta with 326 points.  Josi Verlingieri completed the weekly trifecta with 312 points. The top five in the overall Grand Circuit Tour remain the same with only some slight shuffling of positions.  Sally Hinckley remains on top with 2,858 points.  She was able to maintain her impressive 400 point lead.  Mark McKelvie swapped places with Anne Stepien taking the place position.  Bob Zanakis just got by Gordon Waterstone to take over fourth with Gordon completing the black type. Standings as of September 7, 2015 - Leg 36     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Sally Hinckley 2,605.30 253.00 2,858.30 1st 2nd Mark McKelvie 2,202.50 251.90 2,454.40 3rd 3rd Anne Stepien 2,268.50 140.90 2,409.40 2nd 4th Bob Zanakis 1,931.10 279.50 2,210.60 5th 5th Gordon Waterstone 1,951.90 196.30 2,148.20 4th 6th Dennis O'Hara 1,825.00 211.80 2,036.80 6th 7th Earl Paulson 1,811.30 181.20 1,992.50 7th 8th Bryan Owen 1,642.20 162.70 1,804.90 8th 9th Josi Verlingieri 1,486.30 312.30 1,798.60 10th 10th Rusty Nash 1,363.10 426.40 1,789.50 13th 11th Michael Carter 1,588.40 78.70 1,667.10 9th 12th Garnet Barnsdale 1,341.90 283.60 1,625.50 14th 13th Ray Garnett 1,419.30 192.40 1,611.70 11th 14th Mark Dezii 1,419.00 164.70 1,583.70 12th 15th Derick Giwner 1,230.30 326.70 1,557.00 16th 16th Jay Hochstetler 1,321.60 158.30 1,479.90 15th 17th Brandon Valvo 1,191.30 8.80 1,200.10 17th 18th Ray Cotolo 857.40 206.90 1,064.30 18th 19th Mark Deutsch 535.90 166.60 702.50 19th Next week we have the Jim Ewart from Scioto Downs in addition to divisions of the Champlain and Simcoe stakes from Mohawk. It should be an easier week for the handicappers and the scorekeepers! by Rusty Nash for HANA Harness

After the Hambletonian leg of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, Sally Hinckley has firmly placed her handicapping sulky back in front of Mark McKelvie. She did it by selecting five winners in the twelve race marathon and posted an impressive 1,966 total contest points. Mark McKelvie remains very close and is a mere 52 points behind. Gapped back in third is our early pace setter Bob Zanakis. The real action occurred back in the pack where thirteen positions changed. The biggest mover of the day was Earl Paulson and his super computer. The computer and its ace programmer led all handicappers on the day with seven wins and 554 points earned. Earl moved up seven positions from eleventh to fourth. Dennis O'Hara was a close second on the day amassing 537 points on six winners. He was the only other handicapper to correctly pick 50% winners on the day. His key was Flanagan Memory at $21 which earned him 231 of his points. He moved up the most positions from thirteenth to fifth. The best individual pick of the day went to Brandon Valvo who selected D'One at $31.40. The European invader won with a thrilling come from behind effort to upset Bee A Magician. It was that race, plus the Cane, where Wiggle It Jiggleit faded after a speed duel that tripped up most of the contestants. Next week the handicapping tour visits Northfield Park for the Carl Milstein Memorial. The handicappers will appreciate the short work week to rest up for the following weekend that sees us visiting seven tracks and puzzling through 18 scheduled events. Allan Schott Harness Racing Coordinator

August 3, 2015 - With the multiplier feature of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, the potential of the contest standings changing dramatically existed. At the conclusion of the weekend, those predictions came true. After missing Friday night's contest leg, Mark McKelvie responded with a roar, winning nine of the sixteen legs on Saturday, earning 1,075.9 points, which with his previous 717.6 points thus far has now propelled into first place with a total of 1,793.5, a lead of 126.6 points over Sally Hinckley's 1,666.9. Previous leader Bob Zanakis now sits third, with 1,372.3. Other big movers this week were Gordon Waterstone who moved from seventh to fourth place, Josi Verlingieri (ninth to fifth), Rusty Nash (thirteenth to eighth), Mark Dezii (sixteenth to tenth), and Dennis O'Hara (seventeenth to twelfth). While McKelvie already had eight winners at the end of the Meadow's card, his coupe de grace was the fourth race at the Meadowlands where his last and final winner of the day pick in the TVG Trot of Flanagan Memory ($26.40, $9.00, $7.20) earned him a total of 383.4 points. Standings as of August 1, 2015 - Leg 24     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Mark McKelvie 717.60 1,075.90 1,793.50 4th 2nd Sally Hinckley 1,014.30 652.60 1,666.90 2nd 3rd Bob Zanakis 1,059.50 312.80 1,372.30 1st 4th Gordon Waterstone 641.70 442.20 1,083.90 7th 5th Josi Verlingieri 631.90 450.10 1,082.00 9th 6th Michael Carter 749.50 275.40 1,024.90 3rd 7th Ann Stepien 703.00 303.50 1,006.50 5th 8th Rusty Nash 569.90 436.30 1,006.20 13th 9th Derick Giwner 618.60 374.30 992.90 10th 10th Mark Dezii 546.40 416.70 963.10 16th 11th Brandon Valvo 561.40 395.10 956.50 15th 12th Earl Paulson 614.20 334.20 948.40 11th 12th Dennis O'Hara 483.20 446.50 929.70 17th 14th Garnet Barnsdale 639.00 267.20 906.20 8th 15th Jay Hochstetler 566.90 322.50 889.40 14th 16th Bryan Owen 570.00 306.70 876.70 12th 17th Ray Garnett 693.90 154.70 848.60 6th 18th Ray Cotolo 362.70 351.70 714.40 18th 19th Mark Deutsch 203.70 230.30 434.00 19th This week the contest kicks off on Thursday, with the Whenuwishuponastar early closer final at Mohawk Racetrack and then finishes up on Saturday with the Hambletonian with its minimum of ten contest races.  Handicapper selections, results and standings are available at  Allan Schott  

July 19, 2015 – It was a matter of time until someone in the back of the pack made a move in the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, so perhaps it was apropos such a move by two handicappers would occur on Meadowlands Pace night when eight contest races in addition to the Sheppard at Yonkers Raceway were contested.  Thanks to four winners, Sally Hinckley leapfrogged from fourteenth to second place with 533.8 points for the week while Mark McKelvie moved from sixteen to fourth place thanks to his 316 points.  Overall leader Bob Zanakis scored 190.6 points this week for a grand total of 1,018.9 but the race has tightened as his lead is down to 31.1 points. Hinckley and Zanakis both had four winners on the card but Hinckley greatly benefited from longshot Anndrovette whose victory in the Golden Girls FFA for mares earned Hinckley 432 of her 533.80 points.  Hinckley’s other winners were favorites Pinkman, Wiggle It Jiggleit, and JL Cruze.  Zanakis’ big winner of his quartet was Moonlight Dance who earned him 108.8 of his total 190.6 points in the Mistletoe Shalee for three year old filly pacers with his remaining winners being the same trio as Hinckley’s.  Six handicappers had three winners on the card but while Mark McKelvie had only two winners, he made the best of it thanks to Spirit To Win being victorious in the Delvin Miller Memorial for three year old trotters which earned him 281.2 of his 316 points for the week (his other winner was the result of a scratch which gave him the post time favorite). Standings as of July 18, 2015 - Leg 20     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Bob Zanakis 828.30 190.60 1,018.90 1st 2nd Sally Hinckley 454.00 533.80 987.80 14th 3rd Michael Carter 701.80 40.60 742.40 2nd 4th Mark McKelvie 371.90 316.00 687.90 16h 5th Ray Garnett 657.90 18.20 676.10 3rd 6th Ann Stepien 555.20 74.10 629.30 6th 7th Garnet Barnsdale 566.00 47.50 613.50 5th 8th Gordon Waterstone 567.30 37.20 604.50 4th 9th Derick Giwner 517.70 77.70 595.40 9th 10th Josi Verlingieri 523.60 71.10 594.70 8th 11th Earl Paulson 499.10 60.80 559.90 11th 12th Brandon Valvo 529.00 23.20 552.20 7th 13th Mark Dezii 457.90 73.70 531.60 13th 14th Bryan Owen 508.80 19.10 527.90 10th 15th Jay Hochstetler 476.90 43.80 520.70 12th 16th Rusty Nash 428.10 87.50 515.60 15th 17th Dennis O'Hara 364.60 87.70 452.30 17th 18th Ray Cotolo 294.10 28.00 322.10 18th 19th Mark Deutsch 183.10 10.50 193.60 19th This week, Saratoga Raceway is Saturday’s contest track with the $260,000 guaranteed Joe Gerrity Memorial while Sunday features the Zweig Memorial Trot and Zweig Filly Trot as well as their corresponding consolation races at Vernon Downs.  Handicapper selections, results and standing are available at  Allan Schott

July 5, 2015 - Legs 16-18 are in the book for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, and it finds Bob Zanakis remaining on top for the second week with a total of 797.1 points, 105.4 points ahead of his nearest competitor. However, the handicapper of note this week was Garnet Barnsdale who leaped from tenth to fifth over three of contest dates, earning 168.1 points for the two week period. Last week's (June 26) leg of the TVG Trotting Series at the Meadowlands was a challenge to the roster of handicappers as only one handicapper was able to correctly select the winner, Obrigado. Perhaps it was fitting Maine resident Sally Hinckley was the sole handicapper to pick the Maine trotting sensation who has gone on to the big leagues. Hinckley's loyalty was rewarded, earning 18 points in the single event evening. Friday (July 3) featured a trio of events, the inaugural Cleveland Trotting Classic, the Graduate Pacing Final, and the Ms. Versatility. A dead heat between Mark McKelvie and Bryan Owen was the result of each handicapper correctly selecting Daylon Magician to win the Northfield event and Doo Wop Hanover in the Graduate Final with their handicapping efforts arning them a score of 75.1 for the evening, contributing to McKevlie's 133.8 and Owen's 102.9 weekly total. Saturday (July 4) featured a combination of eight stakes and consolation races on Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs' Sun Stakes card and it turns out the magic number was three, the most winners any of the handicappers had selected which seven contestants can lay claim to. One of the septet, Bob Zanakis, scored 167.4 of his 186.2 points for the week, while Barnsdale earned 152.3 of his 165.3 weekly total with only two winners. Zanakis correctly selected Badiou Hanover (Max Hempt Memorial consolation), Habitat (Earl Beal Jr. Memorial consolation) , and Wiggle It Jiggleit (Max Hempt Memorial final) while Barnsdale correctly selected longshot Bettor Be Steppin (James M Lynch Memorial) in addition to Pinkman (Earl Beal Jr. Memorial). Other handicappers who broke the century mark for the weekend were Michael Carter (107.2), Gordon Waterstone (101.9), Josi Verlingieri (110.6), Bryan Owen (102.9), Rusty Nash (101), and Mark McKelvie (133.8). Standings as of July 4, 2015 - Leg 18     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Bob Zanakis 610.90 186.20 797.10 1st 2nd Michael Carter 584.50 107.20 691.70 3rd 3rd Ray Garnett 597.20 26.20 623.40 2nd 4th Gordon Waterstone 463.00 101.90 564.90 5th 5th Garnet Barnsdale 386.40 165.30 551.70 10th 6th Ann Stepien 449.20 74.80 524.00 6th 7th Josi Verlingieri 410.80 110.60 521.40 8th 8th Brandon Valvo 487.90 33.40 521.30 4th 9th Derick Giwner 437.60 70.00 507.60 7th 10th Jay Hochstetler 396.70 72.50 469.20 9th 11th Earl Paulson 366.00 99.70 465.70 11th 12th Bryan Owen 362.40 102.90 465.30 12th 13th Mark Dezii 363.70 81.90 445.60 13th 14th Sally Hinckley 355.90 88.00 443.90 14th 15th Rusty Nash 319.20 101.00 420.20 15th 16th Mark McKelvie 230.20 133.80 364.00 17th 17th Dennis O'Hara 315.20 41.50 356.70 16th 18th Ray Cotolo 160.60 83.70 244.30 19th 19th Mark Deutsch 167.20 15.90 183.10 18th This week, Saturday night features three events at the Meadowlands; the $250,000 Graduate Final for trotters, the $65,000 (est.) Reynolds for three year old colt and gelding trotters and the $60,000 (est.) Reynolds for three year old filly trotters.   For further information on the contest, you are invited to visit the contest website at  Allan Schott Harness Racing Coordinator Follow the HANA Harness Handicapping Contest

June 21, 2015 – After the three latest legs of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, another harness racing handicapper stakes his claim to the top slot as Bob Zanakis trades places with Ray Garnett, taking the lead with 610.9 points to Garnett’s 588.2. Leg 14 was pretty uneventful as the only race in the contest was the Battle of Lake Erie with two handicappers maximizing the opportunity provided by the veteran Foiled Again winning resulting in Earl Paulson and Gordon Waterstone earning 24.2 points for the leg. In leg 15, Mark McKelvie earned top honors, earning 51 points, the result of selecting JL Cruz and Doo Wop Hanover to win their respective legs of the Graduate series for four year olds.  Several others correctly selected the winner of one leg of the Graduate. Leg 16 contained the stakes races of North America Cup Night and with a number of favorites going down to defeat, those who relied on the favorites to come through were disappointed.  On the other hand, Sally Hinckley (75.8 points for the night) took advantage of the implosion of the top two favorites in the Goodtimes Trot, earning 54.5 points with her selection of The Bank who finished second in the race.  Due to the failure of many of the favorites, the best some handicappers could accomplish was selecting two winners out of the six races, with Bob Zanakis, Garnet Barnsdale, and Dennis O’Hara earning between 66 - 64.8 points Standings as of June 20, 2015 - Leg 15     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Bob Zanakis 528.40 82.50 610.90 2nd 2nd Ray Garnett 539.70 48.50 588.20 1st 3rd Michael Carter 509.70 74.80 584.50 3rd 4th Brandon Valvo 453.80 34.10 487.90 4th 5th Gordon Waterstone 434.80 28.20 463.00 5th 6th Ann Stepien 409.10 37.30 446.40 6th 7th Derick Giwner 383.00 51.80 434.80 7th 8th Josi Verlingieri 365.80 36.00 401.80 9th 9th Jay Hochstetler 374.50 22.20 396.70 8th 10th Garnet Barnsdale 302.30 81.30 383.60 13th 11th Earl Paulson 321.00 45.00 366.00 12th 12th Bryan Owen 333.30 29.10 362.40 10th 13th Mark Dezii 329.80 24.90 354.70 11th 14th Sally Hinckley 242.70 95.20 337.90 15th 15th Dennis O'Hara 237.30 75.10 312.40 16th 16th Rusty Nash 257.20 53.00 310.20 14th 17th Mark McKelvie 170.20 51.00 221.20 17th 18th Ray Cotolo 152.80 7.80 160.60 18th 19th Mark Deutsch 152.10 6.10 158.20 19th   This week, only one event is on the contest calendar with the Meadowlands hosting trotters for a leg of the TVG series on Friday evening.  The Fourth of July weekend features seven races giving handicappers a chance of improving their position in the standings.   For further information on the contest, you are invited to visit the contest website at  Allan Schott Harness Racing Coordinator Follow the HANA Harness Handicapping Contest  

June 11, 2015 - With stakes season now in high gear, Ray Garnett. Previously in 6th place, assumes the lead in the 2015 HANA Harness Racing Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, as the standings have been shaken up with plenty of movement.  Garnett, with 539.7 points (268.2 for the week) finds himself in front by a slim 11.3 point lead over Bob Zanakis whose  528.4 (292.8 for the week) points leapfrogged him from 8th to 2nd place.  Previous leader Michael Carter finds himself in 3rd place with 509.7 points, just 30 points from the top spot.  Other handicappers who distinguished themselves during this past reporting period are Jay Hochstelter (214.2 pts for week) and Brandon Valvo (212.4 pts for week). In the 11th leg of the competition, Mark Dezii and Brandon Valvo were both 2 for 2, including the winner of the Lismore at Yonkers Raceway, Purrfect Bags $24.20, which resulted in each of them earning 70.2 points for the evening.  Mark Dezii along with Josi Verlingieri and Gordon Waterstone went 3 for 3 in the 12th leg at The Meadows in the 3 divisions of the Currier & Ives stake for 3yo filly trotters which earned each handicapper 71.4 points. In leg 13, a total of 8 races were contested at the Meadowlands, The Meadows, Mohawk Raceway, and Scioto Downs and Ray Garnett and Bob Zanakis took advantage of the situation by exploding with 5 winners on the card earning 257.6 points taking down 3 of the 4 Graduate legs at the Meadowlands, the Currier & Ives for 3yo open trotters, and the Charles Hill Memorial Trot at Scioto Downs.  Jay Hochstetler earned 205.4 points with 4 winners for the evening.  The other 4 race winner for the evening was Brandon Valvo who scored 181.8 points. Standings as of Saturday, June 6, 2015 - Leg 13     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Ray Garnett 271.50 268.20 539.70 5th 2nd Bob Zanakis 235.60 292.80 528.40 9th 3rd Michael Carter 379.80 129.90 509.70 1st 4th Brandon Valvo 241.40 212.40 453.80 8th 5th Gordon Waterstone 268.50 142.10 410.60 6th 6th Ann Stepien 291.00 118.10 409.10 2nd 7th Jay Hochstetler 160.30 214.20 374.50 13th 8th Derick Giwner 256.20 114.60 370.80 7th 9th Josi Verlingieri 272.00 93.80 365.80 4th 10th Mark Dezii 235.50 94.30 329.80 10th 11th Bryan Owen 275.10 46.60 321.70 3rd 12th Garnet Barnsdale 160.50 141.80 302.30 12th 13th Earl Paulson 148.30 148.50 296.80 15th 14th Rusty Nash 138.80 106.20 245.00 16th 15th Sally Hinckley 188.30 54.40 242.70 11th 16th Dennis O'Hara 157.20 80.10 237.30 14th 17th Mark McKelvie 98.00 72.20 170.20 17th 18th Mark Deutsch 92.20 59.90 152.10 18th 19th Ray Cotolo 88.40 52.80 141.20 19th This week, the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park is the only race on the contest calendar.  The following week is another big week for the handicapping challenge as the third leg of the Graduate series for 4yo trotters and pacers is on tap at the Meadowlands (6/19) while Saturday night (6/20) has the North America Cup, Roses Are Red, Fan Hanover, Goodtimes, and Armbro Flight being contested at Mohawk while a leg of the TVG series for trotters takes place at the Meadowlands. For details on the specific races and other information regarding the contest, visit  Allan Schott Harness Racing Coordinator

May 26, 2015 - Nine legs into the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, finds Michael Carter holding on to his early lead with 319.7 points but as could be expected finds himself with company at the top. Two other harness racing handicappers find themselves within a hundred points of Carter; Anne Stepien, thirteenth place as of the last report now finds herself vaulted into second place with 283.6 points; Bryan Owen, third in the last report remains in the show spot with 268 points. In addition to these two handicappers, five others are laying in contention in the 200s. Prior to this week, with single race dates, movement has been slight but as stakes action has kicked into high gear, dates have multiple races and this is where the points start adding up fast and it showed this past weekend. On Sunday, three handicappers (Ray Garnett, Josi Verlingieri, and Bob Zanakis) went a perfect three-for-three earning 145.8 points thanks to victories by Great Vintage, Radar Contact, and Father Patrick in the trio of invitational races at Harrah's Philadelphia. Stepien and Brandon Valvo, going two for three earned 64.2 and 51.8 points respectively. On Monday DRF Harness' Derick Giwner and Stepien went four for four in the Graduate series races at Tioga Downs crediting each with 128.4 points as a result of selecting Shake It Cerry, Opulent Yankee, Doo Wop Hanover, and Rockeyed Optimist to win their respective divisions. After the first nine divisions, the standings show: Standings as of Monday, May 25, 2015 - Leg 9     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Michael Carter 331.70 45.60 377.30 1st 2nd Ann Stepien 91.00 192.60 283.60 8th 3rd Bryan Owen 173.30 94.70 268.00 2nd 4th Josi Verlingieri 87.60 179.80 267.40 9th 5th Gordon Waterstone 162.30 94.20 256.50 3rd 6th Ray Garnett 69.70 182.70 252.40 15th 7th Derick Giwner 111.20 137.90 249.10 5th 8th Bob Zanakis 50.80 175.30 226.10 17th 9th Sally Hinckley 129.80 53.60 183.40 4th 10th Brandon Valvo 100.10 66.20 166.30 6th 11th Mark Dezii 76.00 84.40 160.40 13th 12th Jay Hochstetler 85.20 68.00 153.20 11th 13th Dennis O'Hara 80.30 69.80 150.10 12th 14th Garnet Barnsdale 98.00 38.80 136.80 7th 15th Earl Paulson 86.30 50.00 136.30 10th 16th Rusty Nash 71.10 41.20 112.30 14th 17th Mark McKelvie 52.80 33.20 86.00 16th 18th Mark Deutsch 50.50 34.30 84.80 18th 19th Ray Cotolo 48.20 33.10 81.30 19th This week (May 29 and 30), the Grand Circuit challenge heads north to The Raceway at Western Fair District for the season closing Molson Pace on Friday then heads to Yonkers Raceway for the Art Rooney Pace and Lismore Pace on Saturday for three year olds of both sexes.  The following week finds the contest at June 5 at the Meadows for the Currier & Ives for three year old filly trotters and June 6 at a quartet of tracks; The Meadows for the Currier & Ives (three year old open trotters); The Meadowlands for the Graduate Series (four year old open pacers and trotters); Scioto Downs for the Charlie Hill (four year old open trotter); Mohawk Raceway for the Somebeachsomewhere (three year old open pace). For details on the specific races and other information regarding the contest, visit  Allan Schott Harness Racing Coordinator

(May 4, 2015) - With four legs of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, Buffalo Raceway announcer Michael Carter has taken an early lead with 319.70 points.   Carter managed to surge to the lead due in a large part to his performance on Saturday afternoon where he had three winners, including Lady Suffolk second division winner, Northern Obsession which paid $46.20 to win.   Carter would have gone four for four on Saturday if not for his selection in the Dexter Cup, Divisionist finishing second.  Other performers of note were Bryan Owen and Gordon Waterstone who went three for four, alas without selecting Northern Obsession.   The current standings after four legs are: Standings as of Sunday, May 3 - Leg 4     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Michael Carter  11.60 308.10 319.70 13th (tie) 2nd Gordon Waterstone 43.50 105.20 148.70 2nd 3rd Bryan Owen 39.70 107.30 147.00 5th 4th Sally Hinckley 48.20 47.70 95.90 1st 5th Derick Giwner 33.90 58.20 92.10 8th 6th Brandon Valvo 40.90 51.00 91.90 4th 7th Earl Paulson 43.20 34.90 78.10 3rd 8th Ann Stepien 11.60 65.70 77.30 13th (tie) 9th Mark Dezii 37.00 34.60 71.60 6th 10th Josi Verlingieri 33.40 31.70 65.10 9th 11th Dennis O'Hara  18.10 45.20 63.30 11th 12th Jay Hochstetler  4.20 58.60 62.80 18th 13th Rusty Nash 35.70 21.20 56.90 7th 14th Garnet Barnsdale 8.00 46.90 54.90 15th (tie) 15th Mark McKelvie 5.90 46.90 52.80 17th 16th Mark Deutsch 11.90 38.60 50.50 12th   17th Ray Garnett 31.80 18.10 49.90 10th 18th Ray Cotolo 8.00 40.20 48.20 15th (tie) 19th Bob Zanakis 0.00 37.20 37.20 19th Three new handicappers join the fray, two replacing handicappers forced to scratch due to circumstances beyond their control, while one handicapper is a new addition. Coming off the also eligible list is Bob Zanakis who is a handicapper familiar to followers of this series and Jay Hochstetler, an intern at the Horsemen and Fair World and an assistant trainer. Added to the roster is Mark Deutsch, a former owner and trainer who now enjoys handicapping harness racing primarily on the WEG circuit. As substitutes, Hochstetler takes over representing Rainhill Sanctuary, while Zanakis assumes representing Helping Hearts Equine Rescue. Mark Deutsch chose New Vocations as his rescue of choice.  Two new sponsors have joined the contest.  HANA welcomes Red Shores Charlottetown as a Silver sponsor while an Anonymous donor has signed on as a double Bronze sponsor.  Thanks to these additions, the contest handicappers are playing for a HANA Harness-record $5,700 in prize money to be distributed to the top three handicapper's selected standardbred rescues and Canadian rescues selected by the Canadian sponsors.  This coming week, there are no events but the Handicapping Challenge returns the following week for events Saturday-Monday (5/16-5/18).  For details on the specific races and other information regarding the contest, visit  Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator Check out our contest site for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge. Check out HANA Harness' Blog.  

(April 20, 2015) - The sponsors have stepped up and the handicappers selected for the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. With the handicappers chomping on the bit, the contest finally gets underway with The Meadows Maturity on Friday afternoon, April 24, 2015, followed the next evening with racing action at Yonkers Raceway where the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial series finals will be contested. This year the sponsors have allowed the handicapping challenge to secure a record $5,250 in prize funds to be divided between the standardbred rescues of the top three handicappers at the conclusion of the contest. In addition to the presenting sponsors, additional sponsors are Green Acquisition Corporation, Harness Racing Update, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, The Raceway at Western Fair District, and Scioto Downs Racino. HANA thanks all the sponsors for stepping up to support the contest and standardbred rescue. Handicapper selections will be available on the contest website the morning of each day's events. Race fans and horseplayers may find those selections and additional contest information at the contest website . In addition, fans may follow the contest on social media by searching for the hash tag #hanagc2015. Allan Schott

(April 12, 2015) - HANA Harness welcomes the Bellino Stable as a Gold Sponsor and The Raceway at Western Fair District as a Silver sponsor in the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Bellino Stable, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Harness Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. With less than two weeks prior to the commencement of the contest on April 24, it is Last Call for becoming a sponsor. While naming rights for the handicapping contest have been sold out, affordable sponsorship opportunities remain, starting with our Bronze Level ($100), Silver Level ($250) and topping out at $500 for the Gold Level. If you are a racetrack, horsemen association, racing stable, or a vendor who does business in the harness racing industry, sponsorship is a perfect way to get your name out within the industry as supporters of standardbred rescue. The deadline for becoming a sponsor is Friday, April 17. To become a sponsor or for further information, you may contact For further information on the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge, visit the contest website here.       Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator Check out our contest site for the 2015 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge. Check out HANA Harness' Blog.      

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