Inspired by a gap in the harness racing television schedule down under the debut season of "StandardBred" is now showing on Australian screens having completed it's New Zealand run during the spring on Trackside television. Producer Sheldon Murtha offered an idea at a NZ Standardbred Breeders Association meeting that while thoroughbred breeding shows were flourishing on racing television channels there wasn't a standardbred equal. "Such a programme had to be viable given the following harness racing has, especially in New Zealand" he recalls. So with the support of The Breeders Associations across NZ, Trackside Television NZ and a stable of enthusiastic partners, the show got the go ahead for two seasons back in July this year. Heads are around the table mapping the next series following a more than encouraging response to the programmes. "Viewer numbers across the various platforms available these days have been well beyond expectations" reveals Murtha whose dabbled successfully and otherwise with such broadcast projects. "Making horse racing content that isn't generating some sort of quick betting turnover hike is shaky ground these days.It has been for a while now." While television networks are interested in the marquee events, week to week coverage is the domain of racing channels like New Zealand's Trackside and Australia's Sky Racing which have become the drivers of the dollars relied on by racing through betting turnover. 'Colour' shows are queried and need to be self sustaining and popular to live long. "There'll be an attempt to make StandardBred appeal to a wide audience that has a soft spot for rural, farming or country set stories" says Murtha."It almost hit the mark with a couple of these initial episodes but we were feeling our way a little too so it's an exciting project to be involved with. There's a global scope to it and the medium long term view is that we try and make a programme that can appeal to horse lovers in both hemispheres." So how trotting is done in Europe or harness racing is faring in North America these days might make the schedule down the track if StandardBred can make good on it's great start. Standard Bred | Episode 6 We caught up with Andrew Grierson of Woodlands Stud at his and Charles Roberts beautiful Clevedon based harness racing's standardbred breeding operation. We cover Bettor's Delight and his rise from the unknown to prominence. We also take a look a closer look at the 'Great White Blaze' who is hoped to be the perfect out-cross solution to New Zealand breeders before finding time to adore a foal as sweet (and valuable) as they come. StandardBred | Episode 5 This time on StandardBred, we catch up with Ken Breckon at his breeding establishment of Breckon Farms in Ohaupo for a yarn or two. Ken talks about his incredulous introduction to harness racing at the 1995 yearling sales in Karaka, where he and his late brother Peter purchased the 1996 2YO filly of the year. We also find time to look at a farm bred Australasian trotting champion and his incredible journey just to get to the races under more than just a watchful eye. We also take a deeper look into the farm operation and pedigrees of a few of the Breckon broodmare band that like anything 'Breckon' just keep on delivering. StandardBred | Episode 4 Sheldon catches up with Greg & Nina Hope to find out about what it takes to breed a NZ Horse of the year in Monbet. After yesterday's fresh up win in the Flying Mile, Monbet looks set for another HUGE season! StandardBred | Episode 3 On this episode of Standardbred, Sheldon catches up with Trent Yesberg of Dancingonmoonlight Farm to discuss what lays ahead for champion racehorse and now stallion Christian Cullen. We also take a look at the impact Direct Scooter line stallions have had in New Zealand and whether we have any heir apparent's to the colonial stallion throne. Standard Bred | Episode 2 Sheldon catches up with Graham Pearson to find out about life post breeding a harness racing superstar in the ilk of Under Cover Lover. We also take a look back at the impact of her sire, In The Pocket, and the influence of the Direct Scooter line in New Zealand harness racing!! Standard Bred | Episode 1 In this first episode of Standard Bred, Sheldon catches up with young breeder Sam Langrope and his wife Claire to hear about their pursuit of breeding their very own harness racing champion! Harness Racing New Zealand
Bet You (Bettor's Delight) went back to back in the Saturday feature as the young harness racing pacer came from well off the pace to prevail in the $16,000 Open Pace at Saratoga on Saturday night. After winning his first local Open last week, the Heidi Rohr-trained Bet You got away fifth in the six horse feature and as the fractions were hot on the lead, the rejuvenated pacer sat patiently before making his move in the final quarter. Bet You emerged from a scramble in the stretch with a victory in 1:52.3. Border Control A (Jim Devaux) came from last to finish second while Lettucerockthem A (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. The four year old Bet You hadn't factored in his first three tries in the local Open but has now rattled off consecutive victories to bring his seasonal win total to ten. Bet You, who was driven to the score in the feature by Stephane Bouchard, paid $13.00 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $84 and $528, respectively. Bet You is owned by Tom Dillon of Anson, ME. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 12:15pm. Mike Sardella
Up-and-coming harness racing four-year-old Vanquished is unbeaten at three starts since resuming from a spell and he has brought prospects of extending his winning sequence when he starts from the No. 2 barrier in the field of nine in the $23,000 TABtouch Interdominion Gala Dinner on December 9 Golden Nugget Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Ryan Warwick, the gelding’s regular reinsman, was full of praise for Vanquished after he had defeated The Storm Chief and Braeview Bomber at a 1.55.9 rate over 2130m last Friday night. Vanquished, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, started from the outside of the back line and settled in ninth position. He dashed forward to be fifth and sustained his three-wide burst to hit the front 470m from home. He fought of determinedly to hold off challengers in the home straight. “He was entitled to get run over on the corner,” Warwick said. “But he stuck thick and got the job done. He probably didn’t measure up to three-year-old company last season because he was a bit rushed. “He’s now had time to eat some grass and settle and work it all out. He’s come back a nice horse.” The Bettor's Delight gelding has won at ten of his past 15 starts, with his West Australian record standing at 14 starts for nine wins and two seconds. However, Vanquished, a capable leader as well as proving to be a solid come-from-behind performer, faces a stern test, with several of his rivals racing in excellent form. The Justin Prentice-trained Natural Disaster is a smart frontrunner who should be prominent from the prized No. 1 barrier. He began speedily from barrier five when an all-the-way winner by nine lengths from Chelsea Royale at a 1.57.2 rate over 2185m at Pinjarra on October 31. Natural Disaster then started from the outside barrier (No. 5) at Pinjarra on Monday of last week when he was always at the rear and paced roughly in the final stages before finishing a well-beaten tenth behind Soho Tribeca. Pinjarra trainer Gary Elson holds a good hand in the race with Sprinter (barrier three) and Ideal Tyson (No. 9). Sprinter has won at 13 of his 25 starts and should fight out the finish from his favourable draw, but Ideal Tyson (a winner at 13 of his 27 starts) faces a much tougher assignment from the outside barrier. Ace trainer Gary Hall sen. also has two runners in Mach Time (No. 7) and King Lebron (No. 8). Neither can be underestimated, but they will new a shade of luck from their wide barriers. Ken Casellas
Winning races might be in Caviart Ally's blood and there could be no more appropriate time for the 2-year-old female pacer to get her first open stakes harness racing victory than Saturday's C$427,000 Three Diamonds Stakes at Woodbine. After all, Three Diamonds is in her blood too. Caviart Ally hails from a family of stakes winners, starting with half-brother All Speed Hanover and half-sister Allamerican Coed. Dam Allamerican Cool is a half-sister to Hall of Fame mare Eternal Camnation and Caviart Ally's fourth dam is Hall of Fame mare Three Diamonds. The family also includes stakes-winners Life Sign and Threefold, who were both out of Three Diamonds. "I think it's sort of cool that she's in this race," said owner Buck Chaffee, referring to Caviart Ally's connection to Three Diamonds. "We buy yearling fillies to become broodmares. She had just a great family, really deep. We picked her out because of the breeding and we're just really happy that she's developed into a nice racehorse." Chaffee and his wife Judy own Caviart Farms, a 230-acre breeding and boarding facility in Paris, Ky., and have enjoyed their share of success over the years, most notably with multiple-stakes-winner Caviart Sydney. Caviart Farms purchased Caviart Ally, whose sire is Bettor's Delight, under the name Airlie Hanover for $35,000 at last fall's Standardbred Horse Sale. "It's just really nice to have one at this level," Chaffee said. Caviart Ally heads to the Three Diamonds off a win in her elimination last Friday at Woodbine. Caviart Ally won by a half-length over That's The Ticket in 1:54.3 with Andy McCarthy driving for trainer Noel Daley. In her previous start, Caviart Ally finished second by a neck to Breeders Crown winner Someomensomewhere in the Kindergarten Classic Series championship at the Meadowlands. It was Caviart Ally's fourth second-place finish in a span of five starts, with none of the setbacks coming by more than a half-length. For the year, Caviart Ally has won two of 13 races, hit the board a total of nine times, and earned $110,479. "We've liked her from the beginning," Chaffee said. "She trained down super. Her first (qualifier) she raced really great. She came the last quarter in :25.4, just really strong. We didn't know if she was going to be able to race at the top level or not, but we thought she was going to be a good horse. "But we knew it was going to take her a little while. She was a late foal, she's a June foal, so we tried to give her as much time as we could to let her develop. She's really come on recently. She got a little sick in the middle of the year and had a couple of bad races, but other than that she's been right there. We're just happy that now she's gotten to compete against some really nice fillies." Caviart Ally was eligible to the Breeders Crown, but her connections decided to skip the event. "We didn't think she was quite ready," Chaffee said. "In retrospect, that might have been a mistake on our part. But maybe it turned out for the better, too, because she's still pretty fresh and racing well. Next year she's staked to all the big races and we're looking forward to that as well." Idyllic Beach won the other Three Diamonds elimination by a neck over Someomensomewhere in 1:55.3. In September, Idyllic Beach won the She's A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk. Saturday's Woodbine card also includes the C$520,000 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, C$447,000 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old female trotters and C$404,000 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters. The Governor's Cup features the top three finishes from the Breeders Crown --- Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, and Miso Fast. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Governor's Cup and Goldsmith Maid. Snowstorm Hanover and Jake won eliminations for the Valley Victory. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications
Pompano Beach, FL…November 13, 2016…Sing For Me George, driven by Kevin Wallis, took advantage of the absence of track record Panocchio and scored a solid harness racing victory in Pompano Park’s Open Pace, stopping the timer in 1:50.4, a seasonal best. The seven year-old gelded son of Bettor’s Delight pinned a 1¼ length defeat on the late charging Here Comes William (Donald Dupont) with No Bad Dreams (Dave Ingraham) just a neck further back in third. Buddha Blue Chip and Winyard Hanover completed the order of finish in this classy quintet. At the outset, Buddha Blue Chip and No Bad Dreams both left the gate with alacrity with Sing For Me George seeming to be a bit lackadaisical leaving with driver Kevin Wallis giving him a few “reminders” to finally join the fray around the opening turn and assume control. After an opener in a snappy :26.3, Sing For Me George yielded to No Bad Dream and took the field halfway through the mile in a sizzling :53.4 with Sing For Me George sitting chilly, Winyard Hanover brushing up into contention and Here Come George second over. With three quarters clocked in 1:22.2, No Bad Dreams turned for home with the lead with Winyard Hanover to his outside, Here Comes William fanning widest of all and Sing For Me George begging for racing room—which he found and responded to a few more Wallis “reminders” mid-stretch to win. After the event, driver Kevin Wallis remarked, “he was a little lazy leaving tonight so I had to give him a couple of ‘reminders,’ shall we say. “He was probably a couple of lengths off the gate at the start so he had to do some catching up early to get in the game. “The pace was quick and Dave’s (driver Ingraham) horse was on the bit so I had to yield and hope for the best. “When we straightened away, all I could do was hope the inside path would open up and, when it did, Sing For Me George did his thing. “The ground saving trip was the key here.” Trained by Paul Bernardo for Joseph Martinelli, Sr., Sing For Me George won for the fourth time this semester to send his seasonal bankroll to $35,191. He’s banked $406,916 career-wise. As the 4 to 5 tote-board favorite, Sing For Me George paid $3.60 to win. The Open 2 Pace went to Rockntouch, driven by Mickey McNichol, in 1:52.3, this four year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven eking out a photo finish win measuring a scant nose over the late-charging Abreathofreshart (Wally Hennessey). Heart Felt (Bryce Fenn) was a very fast closing third followed by the pacesetter, Major Deagan, who cut panels of :26.1, :55.2 and 1:23.4 along the way. Dee’s Rocketman picked up the nickel in the septet. Changing tactics, McNichol sent Rockntouch out alertly and sat in the garden spot all the way, tilting out at the head of the lane and just holding off Abreathofreshart on the wire. McNichol also trains Rockntouch for Salvatore Promuto and the Fred Monteleone Stable. The gelding now sports a 9-4-4 scorecard in 31 starts with his 2016 earnings vaulting over the $50,000 mark--$52,204 to be precise—to go along with his Pompano mark of 1:51.3. Rockntouch was the public choice at 8 to 5 and paid $5.20 to win. Also worthy of note was the driving double by amateur driver Dein Spriggs, who swept both Florida Amateur Driving Club events on Pompano Park’s Sunday night program. Spriggs kicked off his double by scoring with A Crown For Lindy, trained by Mark Winacott for owner Don Campbell. The 10 year-old Cantab Hall veteran gelding overcame the nine post position when Spriggs sent his charge surging at the start to find a cozy spot in third before finding room to roam on the inside as they turned for home, eventually scoring by three-parts-of-a-length in 1:58.3. It was the gelding’s 47th lifetime win—11th this year—in 192 career starts, good for $396,163. He’s banked $45,397 this year. As 2 to 1 second choice, A Crown For Lindy paid $6.20 to win. Spriggs came back to win the other amateur with the 17 to 1 chance, Skyway Pippen, that five year-old altered son of Swan For All collaring the leader in the final yards to score in a season’s best 1:57.4. Trained by Howard Klohr for Dorothy Zarza and Delray Duo LLC, Skyway Pippen won for only the second time this season in 38 starts to send his 2016 earnings to $24,230 and $59,170 lifetime. Skyway Pippen paid $37.20 to win. Spriggs now has 420 lifetime wins. Racing continues on Monday night with Boli looking for his third straight win in the Open Handicap Trot. The four year-old son of Kadabra, trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O’Neil, will have the driving services of the track’s leading driver, Wally Hennessey and has been made 9 to 5 in the morning line. Prairie Fortune, 8 to 5 in the morning line, returns to the racing wars after a week off and will be driven by the track’s second leading driver, John Mac Donald, who will be in bike for co-owner Laurie Poulin and trainer, co-owner Mike Deters. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park.
Bet You (Bettor's Delight) worked hard early and it paid off late in the Saturday harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Heidi Rohr-trained pacer has been a winning machine this season out of town but recorded his first local victory of the year in the $18,000 Open Pace. Stephane Bouchard urged Bet You at the start and powered the four year old out to the early lead, working hard to get to the top in 27.1. The veteran reinsman gave Bet You a very effective second quarter breather and after reaching the half in 57 seconds fended off several challengers before hanging on to win by the slimmest of margins in 1:54. Sassy Hanover (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket to Bet You and closed quickly in the passing lane to be within a nose at the wire. Longshot Ideal Magic (Jim Devaux) earned the show spot. Bet You was one of three co-favorites at odds of 2-1 in the seven horse Open and started an exacta and triple that paid $29.60 and $126.50, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee that begins at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 12, 2016 - Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $13.80) couldn't possibly have had an eight-hole trip than he did Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $45,000 Open Handicap Pace. In play from behind the eight-ball, the Levy Series winner found a gaping three-hole for a brief respite, then marching toward the lead. He made it around pole-sitting, 9-5 choice Rock N' Roll World (George Brennan) before a pokey 28-second opening quarter-mile. Then came a plodding, 29-second next station (57-second half), effectively ending the suspense. First Class Horse (Jason Bartlett), gapping his rivals earlier, moved first-up from fourth, but never threatened. Bit of a Legend N found a 1:25 three-quarters, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. He whipped Rock N' Roll World by that same margin in 1:52.3, with First Class Horse, a way-after-the-fact The Real One (Pat Lachance) and Santa Fe Beachboy (Brent Holland) rounding out the payees. For fourth choice 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 13th win in 27 seasonal starts ($718,450). The exacta paid $42, the triple returned $197.50 and the superfecta paid $829. Stratton's four-win night moved him within nine of 3,000 career victories Frank Drucker
There has been upsets-a-plenty at Saratoga Casino Hotel in the past few weeks and Thursday's harness racing card was no different. The eleven race program saw 64-1 longshot Ted The Ballboy (Bettor's Delight) finish in a dead-heat for win in the opener and that set the tone for the day. The Thursday feature was the $9,950 trot for New York Sired participants. The odds-on favorite Neymar (Dan Cappello Jr) looked to be home free in the stretch but got reeled in by She's Uncorked (Mark Beckwith). The Melissa Beckwith trainee hadn't been a factor in her first three starts at Saratoga despite getting heavy board support in two of them. On Thursday, She's Uncorked followed the cover of Neymar before tracking him down in the final strides to register the win in 1:58.3. While recording the second of what would be three wins on the evening for the Beckwith stable, She's Uncorked returned $11.20 to win which was really one of the shorter prices on the night. Longshot I'm Blue Too (Billy Dobson) returned the biggest price of the day paying $51.50 in his upset just eclipsing Ted The Ballboy's $48.60 win price, which was knocked down significantly by the dead heat. In addition to the 64-1 and 24-1 shot winners, there were several other upsets on the Thursday card with five horses prevailing at odds of 9-1 or higher and only one favorite winning on the eleven race program. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. Mike Sardella
Consistency and class will carry harness racing horses a long way in the 2016-17 Trots Country Cups Championship and Ohoka Punter has both in spades. His Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Gold Cup trophy will sit proudly alongside the Shepparton Gold Cup won last season in his owner’s trophy cabinet and glisten beside his Group 1 Blacks A Fake crown captured at Albion Park in July. Truth told Ohoka Punter has hardly faltered since crossing the ditch in January, and champion reinsman Anthony Butt’s rapport with the seven-year-old has been a key. Butt has driven Ohoka Punter seven times for four wins (Shepparton Cup, Pure Steel, Jennifer’s 50th Pace at Menangle and yesterday’s Maryborough Cup), two seconds (beaten a head by star Smolda in the A.G. Hunter Cup and 0.7m by Yankee Rockstar in the Kilmore Cup) and one third (in the Group 1 Len Smith Mile behind Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark). “He’s definitely in the top three or four in the country,” Butt said of Ohoka Punter. “He went good yesterday. He’s been racing without much luck lately and I knew if he was able to find the front he was going to be awful hard to beat.” Yesterday’s 6.3-metre win means Nathan Purdon-trained Ohoka Punter has won 24 races from 52 career starts for $964,016 in stake earnings. The Bettor's Delight entire clocked 3mins, 17.5secs for the 2690-metre journey and rated 1:58.1. Once Butt steered Ohoka Punter to the lead he controlled the race. VIDEO: RE-LIVE YESTERDAY'S MARYBOROUGH GOLD CUP It is likely Victorian cups contenders will be spared his wrath for a while because Ohoka Punter is about to embark on an Inter Dominion campaign. Given his record on the horse Butt would love to be partnered with Punter for the $1.8million Inter Dominion series. “He’s one of the few horses that would give Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay a run for their money at that level,” Butt said. Ohoka Punter is on four points alongside Swan Hill Cup winner Hectorjayjay on the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship leader board after two races. Yankee Rockstar, heavily backed leading into yesterday’s race, punched the breeze throughout and boxed on for sixth beaten 7.7m, Ohoka Punter’s winning move coming at the 800m when Butt upped the ante and took the wind out of his rivals via a 27.5secs third split. When Ohoka Punter kicked hard off the final bend it was lights out for the chasing brigade, Young Modern running an enormous race for second and Flaming Flutter a typically consistent third. Chilli Palmer ran fourth for Zac Phillips and Major Secret fifth for Jason Lee. The Cups Championship heads to Yarra Valley on Oaks Day, Thursday November 3, before St Arnaud (November 13) and Gunbower (November 20) in coming weeks. Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)
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.