Delightful Memphis will have the luxury of seven-10 days off to freshen after winning the opening $22,000 Alabar Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Heat in a harness racing jog at Addington on Friday, October 21. The smart daughter of champion sire Bettor’s Delight and Memphis Melody will be back for the third heat at Addington on November 25, then head to Auckland to fine tune for the final on December 31. There is also another heat of the series at Alexandra Park on December 9. Last season’s experience of racing well right-handed at Auckland will stand to her for the Sires Stakes Final. She was the runnerup in three stakes races in four Auckland starts behind Spanish Armada last autumn, and wound up her two-year-old season with a second to Partyon in the $150,000 Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond at Cambridge on June 4. Trainer Mark Jones had Delightful Memphis on song for the opening Alabar Sires Heat despite a week ago blowing out near the end of her Rangiora workout. She was untroubled to lead throughout from the ace draw for regular driver Blair Orange, who didn’t have to release the deafeners in the run to the line. Delightful Memphis came clear of Major Rocket (parked) by 2 1/2 lengths in a solid 2:22.8 for the 1950m (1:57.8 mile rate), with Blair letting her quicken over the last 800m in 56s and final 400m in a slick 26.6s. Major Rocket held out the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained stablemates, Smiley Sophie and Tachyon, for the minors. Delightful Memphis was recording her second win, after earlier winning her 2YO debut in the Group Three $25,000 Sweet Lou Leonard Memorial at the Cheviot meeting on February 28. She edged past the $100,000 mark with Friday’s win in her eighth career start for owners, Wayne Higgs, Simon Doull, Sir Loins Limted, Debra and Pete Smith, Kaysan Farming Ltd and BM & JH Holdings Ltd. By Jeff Scott Reprinted with permission of the Mark Jones site
Vernon, N.Y. - Ellen McNeil's Looney Dune ($4.10) proved simply dominant at even money in Thursday (October 20) evening's featured $6,100 distaff pace at Vernon Downs, controlling the pace en route to an eight-length harness racing win. The 8-year-old Bettor's Delight mare sprinted clear from her outside post 5 with ease, leading pocket rival Love You Bye (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through early sectionals of :26.2 and :55. With five-sixteenths of the mile to go, Ben McNeil encouraged Looney Dune to accelerate away, and she responded by mounting an eight-length lead while driven out to a 1:51.2 triumph. Tiger Boudoir (Truman Gale) wedged through up the pegs to claim the runner-up spot, while Jinxy's Delight (John MacDonald) rallied off stalled cover to take third, another length back. John McNeil, III trains Looney Dune, whose sixth seasonal win increased her career tally to 39. For Ben McNeil, the win capped a driving double on the nine-race card. Chris Lems, John MacDonald, and Fern Paquet, Jr. also accounted for two wins apiece. Live racing returns to the Miracle Mile with a 10-race card on Friday (October 21) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs
Smart harness racing five-year-old Quite A Delight will reappear after an absence of five months when she contests the $20,000 Slater-Gartrell Sports Pace for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. She boasts a splendid record of nine wins and seven placings from 20 starts and has the potential to develop into a leading candidate for the $125,000 Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on December 9. Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice has the happy knack of producing his pacers in excellent condition for strong first-up performances and Quite A Delight is sure to prove hard to beat on Friday night, despite the disadvantage of starting out wide from barrier eight on the front line in the 2130m event. The Bettor's Delight mare has been wonderfully consistent and has been unlucky in feature events, finishing second to Nuala in the group 2 Dainty’s Daughter Classic in February 2015, a nose second to stablemate Major Reality in the group 1 WA Oaks in May 2015 and third to Major Reality and Tricky Styx in the group 2 Empress Stakes last February. Baileys Gold and Lovers Prayer, favourably drawn on the front line, are sure to be prominent and Baldivis trainer Nathan Turvey holds a strong hand with three runners, Anna Faye, Royal Myth and Hidden Bad. Turvey will handle Royal Myth, a winner at nine of her 20 starts, and he has engaged Clint Hall to drive Anna Faye and Chris Lewis for Hidden Bad. Royal Myth was an easy all-the-way winner two starts ago, but she faces a stiff test from out wide at No. 7 on the front line on Friday night. Anna Faye, who will start from barrier four on the front line, was an all-the-way winner over 2185m at Pinjarra two starts ago and then enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, before finishing strongly to be a head second to Baileys Gold over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday of last week. Hidden Bad won for the 14th time from 48 starts when she was untroubled to lead and beat Mary Catherine at Gloucester Park last Friday night, rating a smart 1.56.4 over 2130m. Hidden Bad has the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line on Friday night, but cannot be disregarded as an each-way prospect. Ken Casellas
Talented young reinsman Stuart McDonald, cooling his heels in recent weeks, has completed a 19-day term of suspension and is looking forward to returning to action with six drives on the ten-event harness racing program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has labelled the Ross Olivieri-trained Ona Happy Note as his best drive. McDonald drove the experienced New Zealand-bred Bettor's Delight seven-year-old to a smart victory at his first appearance in Western Australia when the gelding rated 1.56.5 to defeat Plati and Zacharia over 1730m last Friday fortnight. “Ona Happy Note is not well drawn at barrier six on Friday night, but with the right run he can certainly be right in the race,” McDonald said. “From barrier six he’ll probably take a sit back in the field. Soho Wonder looks the leader from the inside barrier and there are a few horses likely to make a mid-race move which should enable us to get a good cart into the race. “When he draws closer to the pegs he can certainly lead them up. Since his win he’s done very well and has got better.” At his first WA appearance Ona Happy Note started from the back line and settled at the rear before McDonald sent him forward with a three-wide burst approaching the bell. Ona Happy Note took the lead 400m from home and won by just under a length from Plati, who followed him throughout the race. Ona Happy Note is one of several runners with sound prospects in Friday night’s race. The Bob Mellsop-trained Soho Wonder (Lauren Jones) was a smart all-the-way winner last Friday night when Plati impressed in surging home from 11th at the bell to win over 2536m 30 minutes later. Olivieri has two other handy performers engaged in Jambiani and Bonny Under Fire and Gary Hall sen. has undeniable claims with the in-form Tact Major (eight wins from 17 starts) and Delightful Jade, an M4-class performer with a distinct edge in class over her rivals. But she has to overcome the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier nine on the front line. Apart from Ona Happy Note, McDonald will drive Fire of Rock, Say It Now, My Mate Stride, Our Blackbird and Bashful Compton. He is not particularly confident about the prospects of 12-year-old Fire of Rock, who will be at long odds from the wide draw at No. 8 in the first event on the program. Fire of Rock has won once from his past 99 starts and currently has a losing sequence of 66. However, McDonald fancies the chances of nine-year-old Bashful Compton, who will start from the inside barrier on the front line in the Book Your Conference and Seminars at Gloucester Park Handicap, a 2503m stand. Bashful Compton, trained in Collie by David Hunter, is a proven frontrunner and a standing-start expert, whose 14 wins have all been in stands. His most recent 34 starts have been in stands. “Bashful Compton goes pretty good from barrier one and while there’s a few good ones outside of him, I reckon he will give them something to chase. The plan will be to lead.” The favourite is sure to be Char Do Neigh, a comparatively lightly-raced seven-year-old in the stables of Greg and Skye Bond whose seven starts in this campaign have produced five wins, a second and a seventh placing. Char Do Neigh, to start from barrier four on the front line with Ryan Warwick in the sulky, worked hard without cover for much of the way before winning from the fast-finishing bettors Ace in a 2130m mobile event last Friday night. His past five outings have been in mobiles, but he has a good record in stands, having won over 2400m in New Zealand last February and from 20m at Pinjarra in May and at Narrogin in July, when he beat Kiwi Legend. McDonald is also looking forward keenly to representing Western Australia in the Australasian Young Drivers series during the TABtouch interdominion championship series in November and December. He won the Garrard’s Young Drivers series in WA last season and represented WA in the New South Wales series. He also won an international drivers’ series, which featured American ace Tim Tetrick last summer. Ken Casellas
Ace harness racing reinsman Gary Hall jun. has driven brilliant injury-plagued pacer John of Arc 19 times for 15 wins. But this week he is planning ways and means to defeat the New Zealand-bred star, a winner of 16 of his 27 starts, in the Chef Batson’s Famous Ribs Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Hall will be in the sulky behind rising superstar and winner of the 2016 WA Derby, Chicago Bull, who is prepared by his father Gary Hall sen. Chicago Bull by Bettor's Delight, is a M0-class performer with earnings of $274,254 from 14 wins and four placings from 22 starts, has an awkward draw at barrier six on the one-line field of eight over 2130m, while John of Arc, now prepared by Clive Dalton, will be driven by Chris Lewis from barrier eight. John of Arc has an M6 classification and he made an impressive return to racing after an absence of eight and a half months when he finished a close fourth behind Ima Connoisseur over 2130m last Friday week after racing three wide for the first 500m and then working hard without cover. Chicago Bull has won at 11 of his past 12 starts. He gave a bold frontrunning display when he romped home by almost four lengths from Rycroft at a 1.56.9 rate over 2130m last Friday night. “This is one of his first real tests, particularly the way John of Arc went first-up,” Hall jun. declared as he assessed Chicago Bull’s prospects on Friday night. “But I think Chicago Bull is capable of beating John of Arc. Barrier six is not ideal and it won’t be easy. If John of Arc has taken no harm from his first-up run, then obviously he’ll be the one to beat.” Hall said that Chicago Bull was well on target to contest the rich four-year-old classic late this year and that stablemates Mach Time and King Lebron also were being aimed at the Golden Nugget Championship and McInerney Ford Classic. Mach Time looks a star bet in the second heat of the Book Now For the TABtouch interdominion Preux Chevalier Pace in which he will start from the favourable No. 3 barrier on the front line. Mach Time has resumed after a four-month absence in fine style with two convincing wins over 2100m at Bunbury. “He’s gone really good in those two runs in which he was a bit underdone,” he said. “Now he should be on the way up and the Golden Nugget is the main aim. At the moment he’s probably the stable’s No. 2 hope behind Chicago Bull. But there’s not much between him and King Lebron.” King Lebron, driven by Hall, notched his seventh win from 19 starts when he raced wide for the first 500m before getting to the front and going on to win from Borntobeanartist at a 1.57.2 rate over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. Mach Time, a winner of five races in New Zealand, has had eight starts in WA for six wins. Ken Casellas
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 8, 2016 -- Favorites Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $4) and Luminosity (George Brennan, $4.20) were the harness racing names above the moist Saturday night marquee, winning Yonkers Raceway's $45,000 co-featured Open Handicaps. Both did so in down-the-road fashion. Bit of a Legend N, from post position No. 6 in the weekly pacing feature, held off Mach it So (Jason Bartlett) in a two-speed number (:27.2, :56.3, 1:25, 1:52.2). The margin was a neck, with Feel the Need A (Eric Goodell) was a best-of-the-rest third. Melmerby Beach (Dan Dube) and a North American-debuting Ricimer A (Steve Smith) rounded out the payees. For Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was his 11th win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $11, with the triple returning $32.60. The adult-table trot saw pole-sitting Luminosity go the distance (:27.4, :56.4, 1:25.4, 1:55.1), defeating a pocketed Cash Me Out (Tyler Buter) by a head. Crazy About Pat (Stratton) was a rallying third, with Dragin' The Wagon (Eric Abbatiello) and eight-ball-assigned Allerage Star (Dube) settling for the minors. For Luminosity, a 6-year-old Cash Hall gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, he's now 6-for-25 this season. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $7.30, with the triple returning $51. YONKERS’ MONDAY PICK 5 FEATURES $5,000 CARRYOVER A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening’s (Oct. 10) Pick 5 wager begins with a carryover $5,023.18. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing program. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Saturday evening), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next program. Frank Drucker
Sunday’s Tattersalls Pace at The Red Mile will have two $208,000 splits of nine, with Check Six in the first and Racing Hill in the second. Word was that Betting Line’s connections planned to supplement him to the race, but that hasn’t happened. The $45,000 supplemental fee for the two division format apparently didn’t make sense to them. The Tattersalls began 13 years after the Triple Crown was established around the three half-mile track races—the Jug, Cane and Messenger—and, despite its noble heritage, doesn’t have the cachet of the Meadowlands Pace or North America Cup, the two races proponents of a newly constituted Triple Crown always bring up. An obvious tell on the lack of stature accorded the Tattersalls Pace was when in June of last year Marvin Bell, a prominent player on several fronts, proposed a revamped Triple Crown that would consist of five races: Meadowlands Pace, NA Cup, Jug, Breeders Crown and “a new race to be held at Lexington.” The inaugural Tattersalls Pace was won by Laverne Hanover in 1969. Bill Haughton’s diminutive Tar Heel colt had won 22 of 23 starts at two and was the first two-minute two-year-old on a half. Laverne won the Tattersalls in straight heats of 1:57 and 1:57.2 against a field of thirteen. Super Wave finished second in both heats. A single win gets it done today, but that’s the norm. The following year Columbia George won both heats in a world record 1:56 for Roland Beaulieu. The 1971 edition was when the Tattersalls generated headlines as Albatross, who needed to be nursed through both heats by Stanley Dancer, thanks to a sudden fear of autumn leaves, became the fastest pacer in the history of the sport thanks to a pair of 1:54.4 miles, the first from the second tier 12 post. Even when he earned the rail in the second heat, Albatross fell behind the field at the start when he broke stride. In the 47 editions of the race, ten starters, or 21%, have also won the Jug. In the 39 since the Pace came into being, nine, or 23%, have also won that stake. And in the 32 years since the NA Cup started, six, or 19%, have won both. Rocknroll Hanover, who won a split in 2005, won the Cup and Pace, in addition to the Tattersalls. Rocknroll drew off in 1:50.3 in his division for Brian Sears and Brett Pelling. Sears and Pelling also won a split the previous year with Bulletproof’s Western Terror in a lifetime best 1:48.3. Bettor’s Delight, who beat rival Real Desire in 1:49.4 in 2001, giving him a 7 to 1 advantage over Life Sign’s pride and joy, also won the Cup and the Jug. Gallo Blue Chip, the 2000 winner, added the Cup and the Pace. Nick’s Fantasy, who won a split in 1995, also won the Jug. And Carlsbad Cam, the third of four winners by Cam Fella, also took the Pace in 1992. In 1990 Beach Towel won in 1:51.3 and 1:51.1, with the latter setting a world record for a second heat. The winner of the Pace and Jug also set a single season earnings record in the Tattersalls; he topped $2 million that year. Nihilator, who had won the Pace and Jug, had been stymied by Mother Nature in his attempt to break daddy’s all-time 1:49.1 TT mark in Springfield, and was slated to skip the second heat of the Tattersalls and take a shot at the record. That didn’t work out, but he won the race in a tepid—for him—1:51.2. Ralph Hanover won the Pace and Jug, in addition to the Tattersalls. And 1978 winner Falcon Almahurst, who had taken the Pace, beat Flight Director in three heats for Bill Haughton. He bested the son of Flying Bret by two in 1:55.2 in the first; lost a head to that one in 1:57.2 in the second; and waited until the end to come out and nip Flight Director in 2:00.2 in the race-off. The 1976 winner Keystone Ore also won the Jug for Stanley Dancer, as did 1972 winner Strike Out for Keith Waples. And Nero won the previous year in straight heats of 2:00.3 and 2:00 over an off track. In 2014 He’s Watching was supplemented to the race for $45,000, despite losing three in a row prior to that. He had the misfortune to draw in against 1/5 Always B Miki, who beat Capital Account in 1:49.3. He’s Watching, who finished 66 lengths back, was diagnosed with a heart condition. JK Endofanera won the other division in 1:49.1 for Yannick Gingras and Ron Burke. 76/1 Winds Of Change finished second. In 2013 Captaintreacherous, who won the Pace and the Cup, made it 10 wins in 11 starts as the 1/5 favorite beat Vegas Vacation in 1:47.2. In 2012 Sweet Lou, who had disappointed after a terrific freshman campaign, winning eliminations of the Cup, Pace and Jug, but faltering in the finals, beat stablemate Hillbilly Hanover in 48.1 in the $510,300 Tattersalls Pace for Dave Palone and Ron Burke. He’d apparently been dogged by allergy issues all year and responded positively to the clean fall air in Lexington. The Panderosa gelding Alsace Hanover, who had won the Adios, caught a break when Roll With Joe got sick and couldn’t go in 2011. Alsace took a split in 1:50 over Westwardho Hanover for Ron Pierce and Tony O’Sullivan. Hugadragon won the other one for Gingras in the same time. Rock N Roll Heaven won the $604,000 edition in 2010 in 1:48.1 at 2/5 over One More Laugh for Dan Dube and Bruce Saunders. Well Said was upset by If I Can Dream with Tim Tetrick in one division the previous year, while 2/5 Vintage Master scored an easy wire to wire win in 1:51.2 in the other for Dan Dube. In 2008 Somebeachsomewhere and Art Official won the two divisions of the Tattersalls. The former in 1:47.4 and the latter in 1:48.3 for Ron Pierce and Joe Seekman. This was a week after SBSW set his 1:46.4 world record in the Bluegrass for Paul MacDonnell and Brent MacGrath. Erv Miller won a split in 2007 with Yankee Skyscraper, when Tell All and Won The West also won, and another the previous year with Shark Gesture. Aside from Rocknroll Hanover winning a division in 2005, American Ideal. who was supplemented to the race for $35,000 by Casie Coleman, did what SBSW would repeat three years later; he set a 1:47.4 world record for a three-year-old pacing colt in the Bluegrass, then came back and won the Tattersalls the following week in 1:49.2, both for Mark MacDonald. So, two of the premier pacing sires of the modern era, both by Western Ideal, won the race that year. One of the greatest editions of the Tattersalls involved the 1987 battle between Laag and Jaguar Spur. The latter won the first heat in a photo and the pair finished the second in a world record 1:51.2 dead heat. There are 56 colts eligible to next week’s 49th edition of the Tattersalls. Some like Control The Moment are retired or unable to race for one reason or another, and many more are just not good enough. Last year 12 started in a single dash for $450,000, with 11 and 12 starting from the second tier. Division leaders Wiggle It Jiggleit, Wakizashi Hanover and Freaky Feet Pete did not enter. Artspeak won from the two post in 1:47.4 for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
Harness racing nine-year-old Tuapeka Kahu is the oldest runner in the $21,000 Del Basso Smallgoods Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he has a losing sequence of 36. But he looms as a realistic winning chance after several encouraging efforts over the past few months. The New Zealand-bred gelding ran an excellent trial for this week’s race when he galloped at the standing start, settled in ninth position and finished boldly to be third behind smart pacers Im Full of Excuses and Bettor Scoot in the 2518m Kalgoorlie Cup last Friday week. Two starts before that, he also galloped at the standing start and did well to run on from last to be fifth behind Im Full of Excuses over 2631m at Pinjarra. That followed impressive efforts at his two previous outings ---third to The Bucket List and Our Ideal Act over 2692m at Pinjarra and a nose second to Risk over 2560m at Northam. The Bettor's Delight gelding, trained and driven by Kristian Hawkins, is past his prime, but will pay to follow. In an even field, Tuapeka Kahu chief rivals appear to be Bettor Offer, Nicnak Paddy Wak, Jaxon Fella, Im Riddick and Sonic Classic. Nicnak Paddy Wak, to be driven by Morgan Woodley for Bunbury trainer Stephen Reed, has the best form of the 12 runners, with two wins from his past four starts. None of the other 11 runners has won at his past nine starts. Nicnak Paddy Wak deserves to be favourite after his recent wins (defeating Changeable and The Revolution over 1730m at Gloucester Park and Royal Mach and Smokey The Bandit over 2100m at Bunbury. After those two wins he finished solidly to be second behind Unsinkable Boxer over 2130m at Gloucester Park. He has the ability to overcome the disadvantage of starting out wide at barrier seven. Bettor Offer, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, has been unplaced at his past nine starts and is at quite a disadvantage from out wide at barrier No. 8. However, he has shown glimpses of form and should fight out the finish. Ken Casellas
Star pacer Bettors Fire is on the verge of creating harness racing history by becoming the first pacer to win the time-honoured Navy Cup for the second time, according to the eight-year-old’s trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper. Harper has the New Zealand-bred gelding in tip-top condition for $35,000 Navy Cup over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The group 3 feature event has been run 45 times and no pacer has been successful twice. Harper trained and drove Bettors Fire to an all-the-way victory over Ima Rocket Star in the 2536m Navy Cup in October 2013. That was Bettors Fire’s first win in a metropolitan-class race. Bettors Fire has set the pace and won at each of his past three starts, over 2536m and 2130m (twice) at Gloucester Park. However, the son of Bettor's Delight is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line on Friday night. And several of his rivals have sparkling gate speed. “This is a very nice field, containing several very nice horses,” Harper said. “I’m hoping Bettors Fire can get across and find the top again. However, I’ll be keeping my options open. There is no plan to cut the ribbons and come out guns ablazing. “But he’s got that natural gate speed that enables him to roll forward and make some ground pretty quickly. Whether horses on his inside will hand up is open to question. “The great thing about my horse is that he’s so versatile and has so many strings to his bow. We can leave our options open; we can roll forward and we can go back and sit him up. He’s not a one-trick pony and can win from any position. It would be nice to win another Navy Cup, a race my Dad (Lindsay) won behind Digger of Fortune in 2003.” Harper said that Bettors Fire had thrived since winning the Spring Pace from Copagrin and Libertybelle Midfrew last Friday week. “He did it easily and got a nice cheap run before hitting the line strongly after a final quarter in 27.2sec.” he said. “Touch wood, everything is going really well with him. Thankfully, things have gone really smoothly and he’s had some pretty easy runs with some very cheap early sectionals. “I’d say that his best run in four starts in this campaign was his first-up effort when he finished powerfully from well back to be a nose second to Cyamach in fast time over 1730m.” Harper is realistic enough to concede that Friday night’s race will be no walk in the park for Bettors Fire, a winner of 30 races and $527,152 in prizemoney. The gelding will need to be close to his peak to defeat the brilliant Elegant Christian and the highly-regarded Beaudiene Boaz. Clive Dalton, trainer of Elegant Christian, declared the lightly-raced six-year-old would go forward from his outside barrier (No. 9 on the front line) and was ready to run a super race. “He’s a genuine winning chance,” Dalton said. “There is a bit of speed on his inside, but we’ll definitely go forward. It’s no good going back over 2130m which is his pet distance.” Elegant Christian, a winner at 19 of his 35 starts, was a heavily backed 3/1 on favourite from barrier one when he reappeared after an eleven-week absence last Friday week. But Elegant Christian galloped badly at the start before making up a great deal of lost ground to finish seventh, just over four lengths behind the winner Bettors Fire. Clint Hall did not knock Elegant Christian about and the pacer went to the line without Hall releasing the ear plugs. “It was a disaster, but it was a great run,” said Dalton. “He pulled up super and his work has been good.” Beaudiene Boaz, trained by Gary Hall sen., will start out wide at barrier eight on Friday night and the five-year-old’s many admirers will be looking forward to the stallion returning to top form after disappointing unplaced efforts at his past three outings. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri said that the Cup was far from a foregone conclusion and he said that ideal barriers would suit his runners Red Salute and Our Blackbird. Red Salute (Chris Voak) will start from the No. 1 barrier, with Our Blackbird at No. 2. Red Salute has a losing sequence of 20 and Our Blackbird’s losing run stands at 18. “I consider Our Blackbird has more of a winning chance than Red Salute,” Olivieri said. “They both get out quickly and are capable of leading. Red Salute led and beat Our Blackbird on the track this morning (Tuesday), but I still think Our Blackbird is the better of my two runners. “Our Blackbird couldn’t get clear when an unlucky fifth behind Bettors Fire last Friday week and he had no luck when fifth behind Phoenix Warrior at his previous start.” Ken Casellas
Vernon, N.Y. -- Calvin B ($3.40) did not disappoint at odds-on in Saturday (September 24) evening's featured $9,100 top-level Miracle Mile pacing handicap at Vernon Downs, sustaining a first-over press to circle the harness racing field for a 1:51.4 triumph. Chris Lems settled the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding at the back of the quintet early before angling off the pegs with just less than five-eighths of the mile remaining. Calvin B advanced the instant he was switched first-over, working into a pressing role with three-eighths to go and dueling down pacesetter Major War (Fern Paquet, Jr.) in mid-stretch. Calvin B would accelerate clear while driven and evade a late charge from Modern Gesture (Claude Huckabone, III), who worked around the tiring pacesetter to save second off his pocket trip. No Monkeys Allowed (Truman Gale) mounted belated gains from the back to take third. Calvin B prevailed by three-quarters of a length in the end for owner Dolores Smiel and trainer Heidi Rohr. His seventh seasonal win increased his career tally to 21. In the $5,000 C.K.G. Billings event for amateur drivers, owner-trainer-driver Tony Ciuffetelli sprung a double-digit upset with Aventure ($23.60), rallying belatedly off live cover to narrowly collar 6-5 favorite Rocket Master (Hannah Miller) in 1:57. The 5-year-old Muscle Mass gelding earned the 15th win of his career. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (September 29) evening; first post is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs
The two major Standardbred Yearling Sales in the UK and Ireland will take place in October and buyers will be pleased to know that their purchases will be racing for the richest stakes purses ever in 2017. Depending on what stakes races each yearling has been nominated to or will be eligible for nomination, racing opportunities for two-year-old’s next season will be on the rise. The first sale takes place at York Harness Raceway on Saturday, October 8 and the Camden Stud Sale will feature mainly yearlings and some older horses going under the hammer starting at 11:00 am. There will also be a race meet at York that afternoon. The sale includes yearlings by notable sires which include Bettors Delight, Mypanmar, Hasty Hall, and the first crop from the exciting prospect Art Professor. A number of Trotteur Francais are also available, eligible for both the British and Irish Le Trot Series’. Sale catalogues can be purchased from Sarah Thomas in person at Tir Prince Raceway (Saturday 24th September), Corbiewood Stadium (Sunday 25th September), York Harness Raceway (Saturday 1st October), or from Sue Young at Almeley (Sunday 25th September). Alternatively, catalogues can be posted to residents within the UK and also Ireland. The second sale is the Brightwells Standardbred Sale taking place on Monday, October 24. This sale will feature not just yearlings, but also broodmares and horses in and out of training. There is still time for late entries (October 19) to be made. The Brightwells Sale has featured the highest priced yearlings in the history of Ireland and the UK the last two years. This year’s sale is headed by yearlings sired by world champion stallions Art Major, Bettors Delight, McArdle, Share The Delight, Rock N Roll Heaven, Hasty Hall, Sportswriter, Western Ideal, Roll With Joe and many more. For more information click here. All yearlings would be eligible to the Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM), which is the richest stakes event in all of Ireland and the UK. This past year was the first time that the VDM featured both a colt and filly division. With new sponsor Hanover Shoe Farms for the colts and Diamond Creek Farm sponsoring the filly division for the second straight year, those two finals will each go for €20,000 in 2017 and each elimination division will race for €2,000. Also the Alabar-Oakwood 3YO Derby has also increased and for the first time, with sponsorship from Alabar Stud down under, will now feature separate finals for both colts and filly’s. Foals will also be eligible for the Irish Sire Stakes, which is being sponsored again by Brian Doyle Air Cargo for the third straight year, the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland, which president David Wilson said will also see increased purses in 2017 in all divisions, the British Harness Racing Club Sire Stakes and other special stakes events throughout the UK. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink
Batavia, NY---Susie's Delight proved patience is a virtue as she laid in wait before pouncing on her harness racing foes in the $9,500 mares Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 21). Kaitlyn Akeeper (Jim Morrill Jr.) set the pace as the heavy post time favorite All Charged Up (John Macdonald) couldn't get the front and didn't find a hole. That was the start of a long journey for her as she was parked the rest of the way. So with Memumsnotnice (Kevin Cummings) sitting second and All Charged Up hung out like laundry, Kaitlyn Akeeper cut fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.2. At three-quarters, All Charged Up was making her way to the rear and that freed Susie's Delight (Ray Fisher Jr.) from her encumbered position in fourth and she began a run up to the leader. Coming out of the turn, Susie's Delight drew even with Kaitlyn Akeeper and the mares battled into the stretch. Fisher began bouncing in the bike like he was sitting on a trampoline, urging his mare ahead. And ahead she forged to a half-length victory in 1:54.2. It was the fourth win of the year for the 6-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight ($13.00) and the time of 1:54.2 was a new seasonal mark for the winner. Susie's Delight is owned by the Swift Racing Stable and trained by Ryan Swift. Drew Monti, Dave McNeight III and Ray Fisher Jr. all scored driving triples on the night while John Mungillo, Bradley Jackson and Dave McNeight Jr. conditioned two winners apiece. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 23) with post time for the first race set at 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
Harness racing's latest edition of Harnesslink's email feature 'Insider Access' is out. In this edition, we look at: Bettor’s Delight, top stallion in North America and Down Under Bettor's Delight has bred 29 millionaires to date world-wide. Four of those have earnings of over $2 million. He has bred nearly 7,000 mares and the results of his progeny are outstanding. Three Cheers to Gordon Banks on his letter This letter to the editor was submitted by prominent owner and breeder, Gordon Banks, and the staff at Harnesslink agrees 100% with what he says. We applaud Mr. Banks for taking the time to “tell it like it is” and we encourage everyone to please read his letter and act on it before it is too late. Harnesslink’s Steve Wolf elected to Hall of Fame The staff and management at Harnesslink are pleased to no end that our Director of Operations for North America and Europe, Steve Wolf, has been elected to harness racing’s Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. To read the latest edition of INSIDER ACCESS click here to sign up! Sign up to "Insider Access" Full Name Email Subscribe
Let’s take a look at how some of the better known stallions made out at Sunday’s Canadian Yearling Sale. Bettor’s Delight is the top pacing sire in Ontario, but he took a two-year sabbatical in Pennsylvania when the OSS program came under duress. He sells his second crop from the Keystone State this year, so he didn’t play a role in this sale. That can only hurt. Muscle Mass also took flight, to New York, when the OLG put the sport through the wringer. The son of Muscles Yankee regularly goes toe to toe with Kadabra at the top of the provincial trotting ranks, so his absence from the sale also hurts. Muscle Mass has returned to Canada, but he won’t be an Ontario eligible factor at this sale again until 2018. Manofmanymissions, the sire of Celebrity Eventsy, has also moved on to Ohio. Like Muscle Mass, he sold his final Ontario crop last year. Only one yearling by him was offered at this year’s sale. In no particular order, this is the fifth crop Sportswriter has sent to the Canadian Yearling sale. It’s taken time for the buyers to zero in on exactly who he is, and they’re still struggling to find the answer. Is he a journeyman regional stallion, or something more? His freshman star Sports Column impressed in the OSS this year, but he wasn’t staked to the Metro or Nassagaweya, forget about the Breeders Crown. He’s been MIA for the Grand Circuit meet at Mohawk. Reluctance to stake to the GC on the part of buyers and breeders has been an issue for the penultimate crop son of Artsplace. In 2013, thirteen by Sportswriter averaged $11,269 at the CYS, while the following year five averaged $41,000. Last year he only sold two colts and three fillies here and they averaged $31,200. This was from a crop of 57. His stud fee jumped from $4,000 to $6,500, which is where it is today. This year, from a huge crop of 141, he sold ten colts and nine fillies for a $22,500 average, with the colts outdoing their paternal sisters by about $4,000 each. The gross for this group was $427,500, and the average is fine for this sale, but it falls well short of Mach Three and Shadow Play. Six colts and three fillies by Sportswriter will be offered in Lexington. Monday at Grand River his freshman daughter Windy Sport and son Yogi Bayama won $105,000 Gold splits. He’s second to Mach Three in the OSS right now. Sportswriter’s oldest are four, so his opportunity has been somewhat limited, but Reverend Hanover is his richest offspring, and he still hasn’t cracked $500,000, or won a stakes race outside the restricted program. Let’s hope Sports Column doesn’t go the way of the Rev next year. Shadow Play is a couple of years older than Sportswriter. His timing with regard to entering the Ontario Sire Stakes program was not impeccable. In 2012, when the end of SARP had been announced the previous March, he entered the marketplace with 11 yearlings averaging less than $12,000 at this sale. His fee dropped from a modest $5,000 to $4,000. The following year a handful averaged $26,000. It was very helpful that first cropper Arthur Blue Chip won the Nassagaweya and was successful in the OSS that year. Five-year-old Lady Shadow has displayed wicked, world record speed this year in winning the Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty and Golden Girls. This year nine fillies and six colts averaged $27,746, down from $30,125 for eight in 2015. Brad Grant and Jack Darling each bought a couple, and Dr Ian Moore, who campaigned the black colt, bought one. So, Shadow Play’s average was about $5,000 more than Sportswriter for four fewer yearlings. Seventeen-year-old Mach Three, who is the leading OSS pacing sire right now, has been standing in Ontario for 14 years. During that stretch he gave us SBSW, Mach It So, Solar Sister, Monkey On My Wheel and a host of other good ones. His $7,500 cdn fee is second only to Bettor’s Delight in the pacing ranks. This year he averaged $30,681 for seven colts and nine fillies from a crop of 103 foals. Having sale topper Brunos From Mars in the fold helped pump up that average. Jack Darling paid $105,000 for him. Last year five colts and six fillies averaged a shade under $39,000. This was Big Jim’s third trip to this sale. He received a lukewarm greeting in 2014 as six fillies and two colts averaged a shade over $13,000. Last year from a small crop of 41, he sold a filly for $29,000 and a gelding for $13,000. That was it. Things were looking up on Sunday as five colts and two fillies averaged $25,885, with one colt going to Brad Grant for $45,000 and another to Tony O’Sullivan for $44,000. His owner, the late Jim Carr, was deluged by cancellations for his Western Ideal stallion’s services when the Ontario program was fighting for survival: Big Jim bred 55 fewer mares his second year at stud. It’s been a difficult slog out of that hole, but successful offspring like Good Will Hanover, Magnum J, Streakavana and Soiree Seelster have helped define him for buyers. Jim ranks fourth in the OSS. Kadabra, who turns 18 in a few months, has always been a gynocentric stallion: Bee A Magician, Poof She’s Gone, Caprice Hill and Emoticon Hanover trump the likes of Daylon Magician, Flanagan Memory, Knows Nothing and Prestidigitator. The boys always seem to come up short in open company. That situation has always been reflected in Kadabra’s sale results: in 2014 at Harrisburg the colts averaged $22,000 while the fillies averaged $58,000. That trend started to shift last year when Kadabra averaged an eye opening $80,000 for 20 yearlings sold at Harrisburg and the colts averaged $68,000 and the fillies $62,000. Last year three colts and four fillies by Kadabra averaged $40,000 at the Canadian Yearling Sale. This year four colts and five fillies averaged about the same, with the colts averaging $46,000 and the fillies $34,000. Six colts and five fillies will be available in Lexington in a couple of weeks. Caprice Hill and Emoticon Hanover, a pair of fillies, led the way for Kadabra in the OSS this year, both earning the same $157,500 in sire stakes dollars, as well as lots of Grand Circuit money. Tony Soprano, on the other hand, is still searching for that first win. Flat seems to be the theme for sales held thus far in 2016. The loss of Bettor’s Delight, Muscle Mass and MOMM is certainly a mitigating factor in this case, but knowing that two of them will be back should inspire confidence. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink..
Columbus, OH --- While Dan Patch Award winner Pure Country and her extremely accomplished rival Darlinonthebeach are dominating the headlines for the 46th edition of the Jugette, Canadian L A Delight is not only a force to be reckoned with, but if she secures the victory, she will not only redeem her dam’s loss in this very event, but will secure her pilot and her harness racing breeder/owner/trainer a place in Jugette history. “I think she is not receiving much attention because she has only raced twice outside of Canada,” said John Campbell, who will be guiding the filly over the Delaware County Fair oval on Wednesday (Sept. 21) in the $239,400 Jugette. “The first time she raced in the U.S. she made that break on me at the Meadowlands (on July 16 in the Mistletoe Shalee) for some reason we have never determined, but in the Nadia Lobell, her second start here (Aug. 27) she beat some quality fillies at The Meadows with Dave Palone driving her in a personal best 1:49.1 and just missed setting a track record. She certainly has a very good chance to win this race.” A daughter of Bettor's Delight-West Of L A, L A Delight was the 2015 O’Brien Award winner as the sport’s best 2-year-old pacing filly in Canada. In last year’s campaign, she finished third in her first start and continued her season with 11 consecutive trips to the winner’s circle. Trained by Bob McIntosh, who captured this very contest in 1994 with Electric Slide and in 1992 with So Fresh, she competes as a homebred for her trainer in conjunction with C S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings. L A Delight will leave from post position three in rein to the most prolific driver in the race’s history, as Campbell has captured the Jugette on four occasions. Rated as the fourth selection on the morning line, behind Pure Country (5-2, post nine), Darlinonthebeach (7-2, post seven) and Call Me Queen Be (9-2, post five), the filly merits serious consideration after a sophomore season that has netted $310,548 with a resume of 11-6-1-1. If she hits the finish line ahead of her eight rivals, the victory will indeed be sweet for her connections, as it will place McIntosh in a tie with Bill Haughton for the most wins by a trainer in this race and will reverse the sting of her mother’s seventh place finish to Showherthemoney in 2009. McIntosh also trained, owned and bred West Of L A with the same parties and always takes great pride when a product of his breeding program gets their picture taken. “Winning any race is always special,” he said last fall. “But there is something extra special when it’s a horse you bred and raised from a baby and were responsible for generations of the family. There is a sense of great pride that comes when one of your very own horses wins a big race.” It certainly increases the filly’s chances to become a Jugette winner when a pilot with Campbell’s expertise is satisfied with how the draw unfolded for the duo’s journey at Delaware. “It is very important to have an inside post draw over this specific track,” he said. “I am pleased with our post position as we can get our nose right on the gate, which is key in races at Delaware. When you are six or seven lengths off the pace, it is extremely difficult to make that up in any races there, even with a very nice horse. When you have a post position like this it definitely helps and allows you to put your horse right in the race off the starting gate.” When asked if an unrivaled fifth Jugette win would hold especially high esteem within the context of his storied career, Campbell, as usual, was exceptionally humble and blatantly honest. “I have been fortunate with the opportunities I have been offered to drive horses of this caliber in races like this,” he said. “Of course winning this race is always enjoyable, but being in the winner’s circle for any race at Delaware is special. It does not matter what race it is. You have such a big audience that is so close to the track and they are so involved and supportive. There is also the history there and it holds a unique place within the industry. Any win there is one you will always remember.” Wednesday's Jugette will be raced in two heats. All the first heat finishers will advance to the second heat. The winner of the second heat will be declared the Jugette champion. The first heat will be raced for $95,760 and the second heat will carry a purse of $143,640. The complete Jugette field: PP-Horse-Sire-(Driver/Trainer)-Morning Line Odds 1. Yankee Moonshine - Yankee Cruiser - (Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke)-8/1 2. Marty Party Two - Yankee Cruiser - (Ronnie Wrenn Jr./Ron Steck)-15/1 3. L A Delight - Bettor's Delight - (John Campbell/Robert McIntosh)-6/1 4. Hug A Dragoness - Dragon Again - (Matt Kakaley/Ron Burke)-10/1 5. Call Me Queen B - Somebeachsomewhere - (Scott Zeron/Ross Croghan)-9/2 6. I Said Diamonds - Well Said - (Tim Tetrick/Matias Ruiz)-12/1 7. Darlinonthebeach - Somebeachsomewhere - (David Miller/Nancy Johansson)-7/2 8. Blue Moon Stride - Rocknroll Hanover - (Andrew McCarthy-Mark Harder)-12/1 9. Pure Country - Somebeachsomewhere - (Brett Miller/Jimmy Takter)-5/2 by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor
Delaware, OH --- Betting Line will put his harness racing 11-race win streak on the line in Thursday's (Sept. 22) 71st edition of the Little Brown Jug presented by the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, where he will start from post five in the first of two opening-round heats at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. A horse must win two one-mile races on the same day to capture the Little Brown Jug trophy. Eleven horses entered the $577,000 event for 3-year-old pacers and were divided into two $92,320 first-heat eliminations. Betting Line is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the first elimination while Racing Hill is the 3-5 choice in the second elimination. The top four finishers in each elimination advance to the $276,960 second heat. If one of the two elimination winners is victorious in the second heat, he is the Jug champion. Otherwise, the three heat-winners return for a $115,400 race-off. The last race-off was in 2000, when Astreos won the event. Betting Line, who was the 3-5 favorite in the first Little Brown Jug Future Pool, will have three-time Jug winner David Miller in the sulky for trainer Casie Coleman. The colt has won 11 consecutive races since beginning his season with a second-place finish against older horses. His victories include the North America Cup, Battle of the Brandywine, and Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational. He heads to the Jug off a win in the Simcoe Stakes on Sept. 10 at Mohawk Racetrack, where he rallied from an 8-1/4 length deficit on the final turn to beat Lyons Snyder by a half-length in 1:49.1. "I thought he was finally getting beat with the way the trip was working out -- he was in no-man's land, I thought anyway, coming off the last turn -- and Lyons Snyder is a pretty nice horse," Coleman said. "But somehow Betting Line got him at the wire. I was pretty nervous watching the race, but when we were in the winner's circle David said I had nothing to worry about. "Every time he's raced he's been pretty awesome. It's hard not to be happy with him. Hopefully everything goes good (in the Little Brown Jug). I don't see two heats bothering the horse at all. He always comes out of his races good and never seems tired. He looks pretty good coming into it." Betting Line, a son of 2001 Little Brown Jug winner Bettor's Delight out of the mare Heather's Western, has won 17 of 24 career races and earned $1.50 million for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, and Mac Nichol. Coleman has won the Jug twice in her career, with Michael's Power in 2012 and Vegas Vacation in 2013, and would join four other trainers with three triumphs if Betting Line is victorious next week. Billy Haughton holds the record for training wins with six. Stanley Dancer, with four Jugs, is the only other trainer with more than three. Racing Hill has won five of 11 races in 2016 and never finished worse than third in any start. He is the richest horse in the division this year with earnings of $1.21 million. His wins include the Messenger Stakes, Max C. Hempt Memorial and Delvin Miller Adios, and he finished second to Betting Line in the North America Cup and Battle of the Brandywine. He also finished second in the Meadowlands Pace. Brett Miller will drive the colt from post two for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Tom Hill. Racing Hill is a son of Roll With Joe, who finished second to Big Bad John in the 2011 Little Brown Jug, out of the mare Chasing Ideals. Trainer Ron Burke, who won the 2014 Little Brown Jug with Limelight Beach, will start five horses in this year's race including Check Six who will start from post four in the first elimination. Check Six has won seven of 15 races this year, including the Pennsylvania Classic and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and earned $751,033. He finished second to Racing Hill in the Adios. Yannick Gingras will drive Check Six, who is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Southwind Vanna. The colt is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, William Switala, and James Martin. He is 2-1 on the morning line behind Betting Line. Another of Burke's pupils will be Manhattan Beach, who is a full brother to Limelight Beach. Manhattan Beach has won four of 16 races this year and earned $260,853 for owners Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Geoffrey Lyons Mound, and Wingfield Brothers. Matt Kakaley will drive the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Benear from post four in the second elimination and will open on the board at 6-1 odds. Geoffrey Lyons Mound also is co-owner of Lyons Snyder, who is trained by 2006 Jug-winning trainer Jimmy Takter. Lyons Mound's partner on the horse is Jeff Snyder, who shares the record for most Jug victories by an owner (three) with Stanley Dancer and George Segal. Lyons Snyder will score from post three in the first elimination and is 8-1 on the morning line. The second Little Brown Jug future pool will be from noon Sunday (Sept. 18) through 11:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 21). For all of the latest news, photos and videos for the 71st edition of the Little Brown Jug, visit the Harness Racing FanZone's mini-site by clicking here. Below are the fields for the Little Brown Jug first heat eliminations, with listed drivers, trainers and morning line odds. Actual race numbers and estimated post times will be assigned when the full card is drawn on Monday. First elimination-Purse $92,320 HN-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1. Dr J Hanover - Somebeachsomewhere - Scott Zeron-Tony Alagna-6/1 2. Stolen Glimpse - Art Major - Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1 3. Lyons Snyder - Well Said - Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-8/1 4. Check Six - Somebeachsomewhere - Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-2/1 5. Betting Line - Bettor's Delight - David Miller-Casie Coleman-3/5 6. Fernando Hanover - Dragon Again - Tim Tetrick-Ron Burke-12-1 Second elimination-Purse $92,320 HN-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1. Western Fame - Western Ideal - Mark MacDonald-Jimmy Takter-4/1 2. Racing Hill - Roll With Joe - Brett Miller-Tony Alagna-3/5 3. Big Top Hanover - Western Ideal - David Miller-Ron Burke-15/1 4. Manhattan Beach - Somebeachsomewhere - Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-6/1 5. Spider Man Hanover - Western Ideal - Andy Miller-Nick Surick-20/1 Paul Ramlow