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Postmodernism and Westbeach blew up the Woodbine Mohawk Park tote board on Friday, Feb. 26 with two late-closing upsets.   Postmodernism went from last to first in the ninth race at 25-1 in an eye-catching move rarely seen in harness racing. With it, she secured the last of three $20,000 feature races and a first victory for new owners.   Driver Bob McClure dropped back with her to eighth at the start and continued to sit near the back through fractions of 27.2, 57, and 1:26.2. The pair pulled fourth-over coming around the far turn as Free Flyin Ticket overtook Sunday Afternoon at the head of the field. McClure fully unleashed Postmodernism at the eighth pole, and she unfurled her metaphorical wings. The five-year-old mare flew home, passing eight horses in the stretch and getting by Sunday Afternoon in the last possible stride to win.       Postmodernism took her fourth lifetime victory from 28 starts and surpassed $50,000 in earnings with the Feb. 26 1:54.2 win. It was also the daughter of American Ideal's first win for trainer Jody McClure and 2729346 Ontario Inc. The mare paid $53.90 to win.   Six races earlier, 22-1 shot Westbeach converted a perfect trip into her first win of the season in the first of three co-features, passing the two favourites in the lane for a big upset.   Driver Sylvain Filion guided her into the pocket early, sitting behind Major League N through fractions of 27.2, 57.2, and 1:25.3. Swift Ally marched up to challenge first-over turning for home. The top two battled into the lane with drivers Ed Hensley and Doug McNair asking their mounts for more. Filion slid Westbeach out mid-stretch, but the five-year-old mare needed every meter of racetrack to get it done. She hit another gear in the final 1/16th and nailed Swift Ally by a head.       Swift Ally was game in second, as was Major League N, who finished third by half a length. The winner paid $47.40.   Westbeach took her first win since November 2020 in 1:52.3. The Sombeachsomewhere mare has now tallied eight wins from 50 starts and earned more than $110,000 lifetime for Lachance Racing Stable and Dragon Racing Inc. Her most recent win comes under the conditioning of trainer Richard Moreau.   Sheswildnfree jogged as expected in the second of the three co-features, scoring by two lenghts with the whip lightly used and the earplugs unpulled.   She tucked in third into the first turn at 1/5, but driver Filion quickly pulled the trigger and sent his mare to the top. She cleared Northern Sultan, who led to the quarter in 28.1 and who moved to the safety lane on the backstretch for an unknown reason. Meadowbranch Noble followed Sheswildnfree into the outside flow but took the pocket after Northern Sultan vacated the rail. Sheswildnfree set a 58.4 half and a 1:28.3 three-quarters with Archies Star providing mild pressure first-over. The leader kicked away with minimal urging from Filion, cruising home for a two-length victory and a new life's mark of 1:56.2.       She's now two-for-two in 2021 for trainer Benoit Baillargeon. The four-year-old mare by Muscle Mass has four wins and more than $50,000 lifetime against her name from 20 lifetime starts. She's owned and was bred by Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin of St. Catherines.   Mohawk is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 27 with a 10-race card.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Standardbred Canada announced the winners of 2020 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season, during a Virtual Gala videostreamed on on Sunday, January 31. Held virtually due to the provincial lockdown in Ontario, this year marked the 32nd edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Richard Moreau added a record eighth O’Brien trophy to his mantle in the Trainer of the Year Category after a season which saw him top the earnings and win charts for Canadian trainers. Based in Puslinch, Ont., Moreau is one of the country’s busiest trainers, sending postward 1,604 starters that made 237 trips to the winner’s circle and earned more than $3.6 million in purses. Bob McClure of Rockwood, Ont., won his first O’Brien trophy as Canada’s Driver of the Year following a career-best season for earnings. McClure was the country’s leading money winning driver and he also reached several major milestones last year -- eclipsing the $7 million mark in earnings, winning his first Breeders Crown Championship and capturing the Lampman Cup as the Ontario Sires Stakes’ leading driver. Some of the horses he regularly drove who contributed to his earnings milestone and 233 trips to the winner’s circle included divisional champions Donna Soprano, Lauras Love, Lawless Shadow and Tattoo Artist while sharing the driving duties aboard On A Streak. Kelly Hoerdt of Beaumont, Alta., won his second O’Brien Award of Horsemanship following a year that saw the Alberta-based trainer-driver condition 157 winners and horses to more than $877,000 in earnings, while driving 163 winners and horses to purse earnings in excess of $895,000. Scarlett Hanover was crowned champion in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly division following a stellar season which saw her post 11 top-three finishes from 14 starts and bank more than $449,000 in earnings. She won two Ontario Sires Stakes events including the OSS Super Final and also competed against Grand Circuit company, scoring a season’s best 1:51.3 victory in the Champlain Stakes while also winning an elimination of the Shes A Great Lady. Lawless Shadow was voted Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year after an ultra-consistent season that saw him hit the board in eight of nine races, including four victories, while earning more than $307,000. He scored two victories in Ontario Sires Stakes events, a win in the Nassagaweya, runner-up finishes in his Metro elimination and OSS Super Final and a third-place finish in the Metro Final. In the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly division, Lauras Love took O’Brien honours. The Betterthancheddar filly was a model of consistency in 2020, scoring 16 top-three finishes, including eight victories from 20 races, and earning $331,000 for her connections. In addition to a victory in an Ontario Sires Stakes event, she scored multiple victories in overnight competition and also won a division of the Simcoe Stakes against Grand Circuit company. Tattoo Artist was voted Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. The son of Hes Watching was a winner of eight of 17 starts and more than $666,000 last season with victories in five Ontario Sires Stakes events and a division of the Simcoe Stakes. One of his biggest efforts was a runner-up finish in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. So Much More, a dominant competitor in the Fillies & Mares Preferred Ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park, took Older Pacing Mare honours. She won 12 of 30 starts and eclipsed $300,000 in earnings last year while winning in a career best 1:49.3 at Mohawk. Century Farroh took home two O’Brien Awards; one as Older Pacing Horse of the Year and the other as the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of The Year. Competing as a four-year-old, the son of Mach Three scored 12 top-three finishes in 16 starts and accrued more than $637,000 in earnings in 2020. His stakes victories included the Breeders Crown and the Dan Patch, both at Hoosier Park. Donna Soprano was voted Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the year. The Donato Hanover filly won five of seven races and more than $575,000 for her connections in a season that included sweeps of the Pure Ivory and Peaceful Way Stakes, a win in a Champlain division and an impressive runner-up finish in the inaugural edition of the Mohawk Million. In the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, On A Streak beat out stablemate Macho Martini. On A Streak had only two wins in 10 starts, but they were both very lucrative ones. His maiden-breaking effort came in the $525,000 William Wellwood Stakes, which was worth $267,500 and a coveted spot in the inaugural Mohawk Million where he finished a solid third. His second victory came in the Breeders Crown, and was worth $300,000. In total the Cantab Hall colt earned in excess of $850,000 for his season which also included a runner-up finish in the Valley Victory. Sorella took divisional honours as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year for a season which saw her win eight of 15 races and $737,000. The Muscle Hill filly posted victories in multiple stakes events including the Hambletonian Oaks, the Reynolds, the Casual Breeze, the Bluegrass and the Matron. Pemberton, a son of Wheeling N Dealin, was voted Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year. A winner of eight of 10 races, he earned more than $363,000 during his sophomore season. Four of his victories came in Ontario Sires Stakes events including the season-ending Super Final. In the Older Trotting Mare category, Hey Livvy won O’Brien honours for her season which included nine wins and more than $283,000 in 23 trips postward, highlighted by her richest payday, an impressive victory in the Armbro Flight. Perfetto was voted Older Trotting Horse of the Year after winning seven of 25 races and more than $151,000 while making all but one start at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The son of Majestic Son posted a career best effort of 1:52.3 on December 14 at Mohawk. Austin Sorrie of Freelton, Ont., was recognized with the Future Star Award. The Prince Edward Island native was in demand on the Ontario B Track circuit in 2020, driving in more than 1,200 races, scoring 151 wins and driving horses to more than $923,000 in purse earnings. In the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category, Seelster Farms added a fourth O’Brien bronze to their trophy case. In 2020, horses bred by Seelster won 260 races and earned more than $3.5 million. Top performers included O’Brien divisional winner Lawless Shadow, O’Brien finalist Karma Seelster along with Tokyo Seelster. The complete list of winners follows below. 2020 O'BRIEN AWARD WINNERS PACERS TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Scarlett Hanover Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA – Frank Baldachino, Clarksburg, NJ – JandT Silva Purnel & Libby, Delray Beach, FL – Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Lawless Shadow Owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Cambridge, ON – R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB - Serge Savard, St-Bruno, QC – Frank Cannon, Sanford, FL THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Lauras Love Owned by John Pentland, London, ON – Gracie Mae Barr, Thamesford, ON THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Tattoo Artist Owned by Frank Cannon, Sanford – Let It Ride Stables Inc., Boca Raton, FL OLDER PACING MARE So Much More Owned by Don Beatson, Granton – Ken Beatson, Palgrave – Cole England, Exeter, ON OLDER PACING HORSE Century Farroh Owned by Ratchford Stable NS, North Sydney, NS TROTTERS TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Donna Soprano Owned by Determination, Montreal, QC TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER On A Streak Owned by Determination, Montreal, QC THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Sorella Owned by Elmer Fannin, Lincoln, DE – Crawford Farms Racing, Syracuse, NY – Brent Fannin, Milford, DE THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER Pemberton Owned by Brenda Walker, Owen Sound – Christine Walker, Tara, ON OLDER TROTTING MARE Hey Livvy Owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Wallkill – Ellen Ott, Buffalo, NY- Trevor Henry, Arthur, ON OLDER TROTTING HORSE Perfetto Owned by Gerry Haggerty, Camden East, ON SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE HORSE OF THE YEAR Century Farroh Owned by Ratchford Stable NS, North Sydney, NS PEOPLE AWARDS O'BRIEN AWARD OF HORSEMANSHIP Kelly Hoerdt, Beaumont, AB ARMSTRONG BREEDER OF THE YEAR Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON DRIVER OF THE YEAR Bob McClure, Rockwood, ON TRAINER OF THE YEAR Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON FUTURE STAR AWARD Austin Sorrie, Freelton, ON Oustanding Groom Award Brady Jackson, Sunderland, ON Media Excellence Awards Outstanding Written Work – Garnet Barnsdale Outstanding Photography – Clive Cohen Outstanding Broadcast – Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - OCT. 14, 2020 - Harness racing driver Bob McClure will steer several favourites in Saturday's (Oct. 17) $2 million Super Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but even before the starting gate swings open for the first final the Rockwood resident has achieved a goal that has been in his sights since his Ontario Sires Stakes driving debut. After a back and forth battle with five-time champion Sylvain Filion, McClure has locked up his first Lampman Cup title as the leading driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program, helped along by a trio of Gold Series victories late last week with Super Final mounts Macho Martini, Threefiftytwo and Tattoo Artist. "I don't know what drew me about it, but I always wanted to win it," said McClure, who has kept an eye on the Lampman Cup point standings since he started appearing regularly in OSS winner's circles five years ago. "It's pretty tough to win. Sylvain (Filion) is very dedicated to the OSS program and he's a great driver, and you look at Trevor Henry with the accounts he drives for, they have a lot of stake horses, and then with Doug (McNair) and his dad having a big stable of OSS horses, it's kind of tough to compete with them. I think you kind of need a year where everything just falls into place for you and that's exactly what happened this year. When I found out the other night that I kind of sealed it up I was pretty proud of that, because I have so much respect for Sylvain Filion as a driver." Established in 1987 in memory of long time Ontario Jockey Club harness racing publicist Jim Lampman, the Lampman Cup has been won by some of the province's top reinsmen but the driver that sparked McClure's interest in the title is one whose name is not listed among the winners, his uncle Jim McClure. "He mentioned something to me when I was first starting out, and he never talked about awards much, but he did mention that (Lampman Cup) and he said that was something he always wanted to win," recalled McClure, who launched his driving career in 2009. "He drove for a lot of the OSS trainers so I'm sure he was always up there, but he did mention that he always wished that he'd had a chance to win, so it's nice that I got to win it for my family." McClure has been a contender for the award for the past three years, helped along by his association with trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination's powerful stable of trotters. The driver will steer a trio of Blais trainees on Saturday's rich Super Final program starting with two-year-old trotting filly Dicentra from Post 1 in the first final, followed by two-year-old trotting colt division point leader Macho Martini from Post 5 in the fifth $250,000 showdown and wrapping up with three-year-old trotting colt Threefiftytwo from Post 10 in the seventh of eight finals. "They come with such a powerhouse stable, and a lot of them are Ontario Sired, so that right there gives me a big boost in the OSS ranks. Other drivers are trying to find a top OSS trotter, where you know my situation, between Threefiftytwo, Dicentra, Macho Martini, mine are just there and they're highly competitive," said McClure. "If you don't have the horses in front of you, you might as well be pushing a rope." In addition to the trio of trotters, McClure will also wrap up the 2020 OSS season behind three-year-old pacing filly division point leader Lauras Love, who gets Post 3 in the second final, two-year-old pacing colt Lawless Shadow, who will start from Post 3 in the fourth battle, two-year-old pacing filly Alumni Seelster from Post 4 in the sixth final and three-year-old pacing colt division point leader Tattoo Artist from the outside Post 9 in the finale. "I feel very fortunate that I got to drive horses like Tattoo Artist and Macho Martini and Lawless Shadow and Lauras Love. It's not very often you can string together five, six horses with such a serious chance going into the Super Final," said McClure. "I can name six right now that have a very strong chance at winning the Super Final and it's not very often a driver is lucky enough to get that in one year, so I feel very fortunate." Once the Super Final wraps up McClure plans to spend the next four weeks plying his trade south of the border, which may prevent him from accomplishing another item on his career bucket list. "I don't think it's going to happen this year, but I would like to win a driving title at Woodbine (Mohawk Park) one day. I wouldn't say it's a big priority for me, it would just be nice. It would be like a feather in the cap," said the driver. "I think I have the lead right now and I still don't think it will be possible to win it this year, just because my big accounts are about to go dormant for the winter and I'm about to do some travelling for the Breeders Crown, Fall Four, etcetera, and so I'm going to be away for some time, but if there was one bucket list (item) I would say that's probably it." Heading into the Super Final McClure had piloted 199 starters in OSS action this summer, recording 44 wins, 26 seconds and 30 thirds for earnings of $1,860,669 and a Lampman Cup point total of 513, 34 points ahead of Sylvain Filion. Through the 2020 Woodbine Mohawk Park season he boasts 1,061 starts for 182 wins, 141 seconds, 136 thirds and earnings of $5,323,882, 11 wins ahead of Filion. Both men will steer seven horses in Super Final action on Saturday. The $250,000 Super Finals, which feature the top 10 point earners from the Gold Series regular season, will go postward in Races 1 through 4 and 6 through 9 on Woodbine Mohawk Park's Saturday, Oct. 17 program. All the excitement gets under way at 7 pm. Although on-track attendance is limited to registered guests, fans can download a program and watch the live stream on the Woodbine Mohawk Park website. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

DUNDAS, ON - OCT. 8, 2020 - Macho Martini returned to the Ontario Sires Stakes  winner's circle on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Flamboro Downs with an effortless 1:58.1 score in the lone $157,200 two-year-old harness racing trotting colt Gold Series division. "I was actually a little bit concerned. I've never gone with him over a half. Luc's (Blais) got a tight half-mile turn on his training track at the farm and he was confident, but I just didn't know," said driver Bob McClure. "Two-year-old trotters are a little tough to get around those tracks and then you throw in the rail, that's one of the last spots I would have wanted with him, but he never missed a beat, just one-two-three-four. We just got away safe, and sat in the hole, and moved when they moved and he did the rest." From Post 1 McClure settled the fan favourite in second, sitting behind Sweet Soul David as that trotter led the field of nine to a :29 quarter. Macho Martini continued to track Sweet Soul David through the :59.1 half and when McClure tipped him to the outside heading by the 1:29 three-quarters the pair were in no rush to get around the pacesetter. As the leaders squared up in the stretch McClure asked Macho Martini for a bigger gear and the colt easily opened up a one and one-quarter length margin on his peers. Master Grand slipped up the passing lane to be second and Sweet Soul David stayed game for third. "He's quite the professional," said Rockwood, ON resident McClure. "And I would say that he's as fresh as he was when he started the year, which is typical of Luc Blais horses. They're as good at the end as they are at the start. He's very good at managing them that way." Campbellville, ON resident Luc Blais trains Macho Martini for Determination of Montreal, QC. Thursday's win was the colt's fourth in Gold Series action and his eighth in 10 lifetime starts. The only blemish on the Muscle Mass son's Ontario Sires Sakes record came in the Sept. 19 Gold leg at Woodbine Mohawk Park when he made a break in the stretch after another colt made a break and veered into his path. "I was worried when he made the break. You always worry they will jump on their legs and hurt themselves you know, but we're lucky, he came back very well. He looks good tonight," said Blais. "That's a good feeling." With 200 points, Macho Martini leads the two-year-old trotting colts into the Oct. 17 Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The top 10 point earners will compete in the $250,000 season finale and Blais said the colt's performance in that event will determine whether his freshman campaign comes to a close or carries on for a few more starts. "We're going to see after that, how is he after that. He'll have almost 11, 12 races this year. It's lots of races for a two-year-old," said the trainer. "It just depends how he feels. We don't decide, he decides if he wants to race again." Complete results from Thursday's program are available at Flamboro Downs Results. Gold Series point standings can be found on the Ontario Sires Stakes Leaderboard. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

MILTON, August 27, 2020 - If Thursday's start to "Grand Circuit Month" at Woodbine Mohawk Park is any preview, the harness racing team of Determination, Luc Blais and Bob McClure is going to have a lot of fun. Determination, Blais and McClure struck for a Champlain hat-trick, winning three of Thursday's four divisions for two-year-old trotters. The trio's rookie star Macho Martini improved to six for six with a 1:55.3 victory in the $93,760 second Champlain division for colts and geldings. Macho Martini was one of several leavers in the early going and McClure opted to stay on the outside work his way to the lead, clearing Tokyo Seelster shortly after that rookie posted a :27.3 opening-quarter. The middle-half saw Macho Martini lead through panels of :57.1 and 1:27 to lead comfortably into the lane. Warrawee Whisper grinded away to get close to the leader on the outside, while Tokyo Seelster was locked in behind looking for room up the rail. Macho Martini cruised home :28.3 to give his rivals a bit of hope, but ultimately prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Warrawee Whisper and a length and a half over Tokyo Seelster. "I was playing it by ear, but I definitely wanted to make sure if I could get him to the front," said McClure post-race. "Because of the headwind, it's very tough to make up I figured I'd get there and be the one they had to track down. "He was coasting through the wire and still had the plugs in, he's doing it real easy." A son of Muscle Mass, Macho Martini six wins include triumphs in three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events and the Millard Farms Trotting Series final. The $37,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase has already earned $240,513 for his connections. Macho Martini: Macho Martini was the third of Thursday's three wins for the Determination, Blais and McClure team. "I'm very fortunate that Determination has a very exceptional group of two-year-old trotters," said McClure. "It's nice to see for the Determination Stable, Serge Godin, because he deserves it and it's get for Luc, he works hard." The first win of the evening for the trio saw Donna Soprano improve to three for three with another powerful-looking performance in the first $86,665 Champlain division for fillies. Driver Bob McClure was in no hurry with Donna Soprano, as the pair got away fifth in a field of eight. Rubys Are Nice did the heavy lifting, leading through fractions of :27.4, :57 and 1:26.1. You Will Be Queen made the first-up bid going around the far turn and McClure latched onto that rookie to sit second-over Donna Soprano. In the stretch, Donna Soprano kicked off cover and did some serious trotting into a strong headwind. The undefeated filly put in an awkward stride with an eighth of a mile remaining, but kept her momentum going and mowed down Rubys Are Nice to win by a length in 1:55.2. You Will Be Queen finished third. "Her gait wasn't a 100 per cent tonight," said McClure following the victory with Donna Soprano. "It has been every other week, so it's probably something very minor. These two-year-olds are growing and changing every week. "It was a very impressive performance tonight because with this headwind it's extremely tough to make up ground and she just keeps digging, I was never real worried about her getting there, she usually trots through the wire and around the turn and is hard to pull up." Donna Soprano: A daughter of Donato Hanover, Donna Soprano has earned $95,582 through three starts and three wins for owner Determination. She is the fourth foal out of $1.2 million winning mare Windsong Soprano and was a $190,000 Harrisburg purchase. Donna Soprano paid $2.30 to win. Donna Soprano Dicentra made it a clean sweep of the filly events, posting a coast-to-coast victory in 1:57.2. McClure put the daughter of Muscle Mass on the lead in the field of six and she got full respect, posting panels of :29, :59.2 and 1:29.1. The stretch drive saw her kick home in :28.1 through the headwind for a victory of a length and a half. "She felt amazing," said McClure of Dicentra. "After the fractions we got away with it was her race to win or lose and she won it pretty handily, she's a real nice filly." Midnight Miracle finished second, while Spruce Creek was third. Dicentra: A homebred for trainer Luc Blais, Dicentra now has three wins and $110,890 earned in six starts. She is a full sister to $700,000 winner On A Sunny Day. A $2 win ticket on Dicentra returned $2.60. Dicentra The only winner not from the Determination crew came early in the evening. Lucky Rascal got things his own way in the first $93,759 Champlain split for two-year-old trotters, fighting off pressure in the lane for a 1:56.3 maiden-breaking victory. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Lucky Rascal stepped out to the lead in the field of six and posted a :28.3 opener before backing things down for a 1:00 middle-half. Full Of Muscle came first-up from third going to three-quarters and applied pressure down the lane, but was never getting by a strong Lucky Rascal. The Ben Baillargeon trained Lucky Rascal stopped the clock in 1:56.3 to win by a length over the public's top choice Full Of Muscles. On A Streak was third. "I thought he was a nice colt training down," said Baillargeon. "Him and Sylvain (Filion) had a few issues right at that beginning, but now they're okay. "When he got to the front I was very happy, I was hoping Sylvain would get him to the front, I didn't think right off the bat, maybe a quarter-mile move, but he drives and he does what he wants and the horse was ready." Lucky Rascal: A gelded son of Father Patrick, Lucky Rascal was winless in three starts prior, but now exits the Champlain with a victory on his record and $56,359 in the bank this season for owners Santo and Nunzio Vena. He was a $35,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase. Lucky Rascal paid $10.10 to win. Stakes action continues all weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park with two Casual Breeze divisions and two eliminations for the Goodtimes taking place Friday. The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup headlines a $2.4 million card on Saturday. Post time for Friday's card is 7 p.m., while the first-race Saturday goes at 6:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

SARNIA, AUG. 22, 2020 - Hiawatha Horse Park welcomed the two-year-old pacing colts on Saturday, Aug. 22 for four $23,000 Grassroots divisions and driver Bob McClure kicked off the harness racing program with wins in the first two splits. Starting from Post 1 in the first division, McClure and Next Big Thing got away second behind Lil Red Sportsstar, who led the field of eight to a :28 quarter. The driver sent Next Big Thing to the front before the :56.4 half and the gelding fought off a sustained challenge from fan favourites No Plan Intended and driver Jody Jamieson through the 1:26 three-quarters before pulling away to a one and three-quarter length victory in 1:54.4. No Plan Intended settled for second and Beef N Cheddar was third. "I watched the Gold that he was in when Desperate Man won (July 3) and he was locked and loaded and he went a very big mile that night and I thought he was going to be very legit," said McClure, who had not driven the gelding before Saturday's contest. "After that, I guess he doesn't really like the front and he ended up on the front a couple times, and they said he had some sickness issues, so it looks like they've got everything ironed out now because he was lethal today." McClure engineered the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and his co-owner/breeders Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH. The Shadow Play gelding started his Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) career at the Gold Series level, finishing third in both the July 3 season opener and the July 18 leg, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "He was going against the Gold colts and just coming up a little short so, confidence is a big thing, and I decided to drop him down and see if we couldn't braven him up. I did make a big change, he had a blind bridle on and once he made the front he would get lost and just let a couple by him, but I put an open bridle on him and I trained him in the open bridle and he was much better," said McIntosh. "Today, I just watched it on the Hiawatha website there, but if he had the blind bridle on he probably would have let Jamieson go by, but with an open bridle he fought him off. "I think with the open bridle on he might go back to the Gold. He'll be proud of himself now." McClure was back in the winner's circle after the second Grassroots division with fan favourite Adrenaline Rush, who took command just after the midway point and opened up to a three and one-half length victory in 1:57. All Cheddar was second and Hez My Buddy finished third. "He's been off a month, I didn't know what to expect," said Rockwood, ON resident McClure. "When I moved him out first-up he was coming, and then he cleared the front, and you know what, he took care of the rest from there, but that was a surprise because I thought he'd be a bit short." The win was the second straight in Grassroots action for McClure and the Royal Mattjesty gelding. The pair was also victorious in the July 20 event at Woodbine Mohawk Park on behalf of trainer Kevin McMaster and fractional ownership group TheStable Adrenaline Rush of Guelph, ON. Saturday's win moved Adrenaline Rush to the top of the division standings with the win with a total of 102 points. Cantstoplying claimed the third Grassroots title, outsprinting Next Big Thing's stablemate Last Bet for a neck victory in 1:55.1. Finkle Is Einhorn was one length behind the battling leaders in third. Louis-Philippe Roy piloted Sunshine Beach gelding Cantstoplying to his first lifetime win for trainer Nick Gallucci and owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, ON. "I was really happy with how he beat the horse down the stretch. It looked like he might have been second there, but he fought back and won the race, so I was really impressed with that," said Gallucci. "He's still learning; every race he seems to get a little bit better. He's very fast, it's just a matter of getting his mind more into being a racehorse and I think that will come with time." Take Control claimed the final Grassroots division, overtaking pacesetting favourite Proline on the final turn and romping home to a 15 length victory in 1:54.3. Mustang Beach, who led the main pack as a distant Proline rang up fractions of :26.4, :53.1 and 1:23.4, finished second and Marlboro Seelster was third. Anthony Haughan engineered Take Control's first lifetime win for trainer Dan Lagace of Cambridge and his co-owner Ben Mudry of Toronto, ON. The partners were delighted with the result and with the progress the Control The Moment son has shown through his five lifetime starts. "He's a nice little colt. Ben was kind of looking for a Control The Moment colt because he owned Control The Moment and so he had approached me in the fall about looking at some babies," recalled Lagace. "So this colt was in London (Selected Yearling Sale) and I said I'd go to $15,000 on him and Ben's like, 'Well you know when you say $15,000 they always go for $20,000'. And I said, 'Well I'm only buying a quarter, you're buying three-quarters so if we go to $20,000 I don't care'. So I went in and made one bid and bid $8,000. "You know that commercial where the girl is leaving Walmart and she's leaving the building and she's like, 'Start the car!' I said that's the way I felt," said Lagace with a laugh. "He's not a great horse or anything, but you know he's maturing into a nice horse. And for $8,000 you can't go wrong; $8,000 is my wheelhouse." The two-year-old pacing colts will make their last two Grassroots starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 8 and 17. The top 20 point earners through the five regular season events will then move on to the Oct. 1 Semi-Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Complete results for Saturday's program are available at Hiawatha Horse Park Results. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

MILTON, AUG. 14, 2020 - Harness racing driver Bob McClure won a trio of Grassroots divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, Aug. 14, guiding two-year-old pacing fillies Nightlife Seelster, Joliette Hanover and Come On Sun to their first provincial victories. McClure and Nightlife Seelster kicked things off in the first $23,150 division, going gate-to-wire from Post 1 in a sharp 1:52.4, the quickest mile of the five Grassroots splits. Amini finished second, three and one-half lengths behind the fan favourite, and Spittin Chicklets was three more lengths back in third. "I'd say that she'll probably go out and try the Gold now. She's a pretty serious filly," said McClure. "I was pretty impressed by her. She's got all the weapons to be something really nice - a real nice gait, real nice attitude and drives like a sports car." Shawn Steacy trains Nightlife Seelster for Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, QC, Conrad Leber of Montreal, QC and Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, AB. The partners purchased the Sunshine Beach daughter at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale, offering up $72,000 for the half-sister to $1.2 million winner Nirvana Seelster. Friday was Nightlife Seelster's first appearance in the Grassroots program and her second lifetime start. She finished second to Joliette Hanover in her Aug. 7 debut over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval. In the third $23,150 division McClure allowed Joliette Hanover to ease away from Post 7 and settle in fifth as Annies Legacy battled to a :28 quarter. Chiefs Dream Girl led the field of nine to the :57.3 half, and McClure had already angled the fan favourite into the outer lane. Joliette Hanover had a head in front at the 1:26.3 three-quarters and opened up a three and one-quarter length margin on her peers by the finish, clocked in 1:54.1. Shes A Sassy Beach and Jackieofalltrades finished second and third. "She's just a really nice filly, you know. She's not very big, she hasn't got a lot of tools going for her, but she just always goes forward and loves her work, and she's really nice to drive, a nice mouth and everything," said Rockwood, ON resident McClure. "She's about as nice a little filly as you can drive and it's remarkable how mature she is for just her second lifetime start." McClure engineered Joliette Hanover's second straight win and her first Grassroots victory for trainer Casie Coleman Herlihy of Cambridge and her co-owners West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON, James Clarke Sr. of York, PA and Robert Darrow of Dublin, OH. The Sportswriter daughter was a $50,000 purchase out of the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Two races later, after leaving strongly from Post 8 and landing in fourth, McClure had Come On Sun on the lead by the :57.2 half and the filly battled down the stretch to a one-half length victory in 1:54.4. Better Kissthe Men finished second and favourite Sports Drink recovered from a mid-race miscue to be third. "She's a very, very fast filly, but they've clearly been trying to manage her a little bit, because she feels like she'd have a tendency to get hot," noted McClure. "I just kind of let the dust settle and then let her work her way to the front, and she kicked home really good. I was really happy with her too, maybe not quite as strong as her stablemate, but right up there." The win gave trainer Shawn Steacy of Brantford, ON his second of the program and was the second lifetime and first Grassroots victory for Come On Sun. The trainer's parents, Katherine and Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, share ownership of the Sunshine Beach filly with Stephen Klunowski of North York, ON. The partners offered up $13,000 for Come On Sun at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Friday was Come On Sun's second start in the Grassroots program. She finished sixth in the July 17 event at Grand River Raceway after suffering interference at the midway point. McClure almost added a fourth win to his collection in the final division, finishing second with favourite Sportsfire behind Control The Thong. Control The Moment daughter Control The Thong reeled in Sportsfire coming off the last turn and powered down the stretch to a two and one-half length win in 1:53.3 for driver Jody Jamieson, trainer Dominic Gladu and owners Roger Bourgeois of Rawdon, QC and Francois Dupuis of St-Alponese Roderiguez, QC. Sports Duchess rounded out the top three. "The other filly, that Jody was driving, I drove last week and she's a very nice filly with a really nice attitude, but I'd already won a couple races with Sportsfire, so I felt like I owed it to her to stick with her," said McClure, who piloted Control The Thong to a runner-up result in an Aug. 7 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "And given the fact Sportsfire had a month off and left hard and had to move to the front, I thought she put in a really great effort. I mean a mile in 1:53 off a half in :57.1, she certainly didn't do anything wrong, and maybe it will even her playing field if they're both race tight." With two wins and a second in the first three Grassroots events, Sportswriter daughter Sportsfire currently sits atop the division standings with 125 points. Shiatzu Seelster captured the other Grassroots division with a 1:54 effort for driver Louis-Philippe Roy of Guelph, who engineered the win for his co-owner 1876472 Ontario Inc. of Guelph and trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON. Patina Seelster finished a head behind the State Treasurer daughter and fan favourite Voelz Delight was three-quarters of a length back in third. The two-year-old pacing fillies will make their fourth Grassroots start at Clinton Raceway on Sept. 6. Complete results from Friday's program are available at Woodbine Mohawk Park Results. Video: Race 1 - Nightlife Seelster; Race 4 - Shiatzu Seelster; Race 6 - Joliette Hanover; Race 8 - Come On Sun; Race 9 - Control The Thong OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

MILTON, ON -  August 13, 2020 - It was the Determination and the Luc Blais show on Thursday night, as they swept the top-two spots in both the $79,000 Millard Farms and $84,500 Pure Ivory Series harness racing finals for two-year-old trotters at Woodine-Mohawk Park. Macho Martini kept his perfect record alive with a dominant 1:54.4 score in the Millard Farms, while Donna Soprano charged by rivals in the lane to win the Pure Ivory in 1:55.1. Bob McClure guided both horses to victory and both were series record miles. The Determination-Blais Exacta was completed in the Millard Farms by On A Streak and in the Pure Ivory by Dicentra. Scott Young guided both rookies for Blais. A son of Muscle Mass, Macho Martini made a second-quarter move to the lead from fourth. The rookie trotting colt led by the half in :57.3 and three-quarters in 1:27 before trotting away with a :27.4 final-quarter to win by 2 ¾ lengths. On A Streak was the early lead and held second, while 65-1 shot Lucky Rascal rallied for third. "You don't even have to say anything, he speaks for himself," said McClure of Macho Martini. "He's clearly special and we just have to hope he stays healthy and sound and with Luc (Blais) training I'm sure he will." Now four for four, Macho Martini has already amassed $140,433 in earnings for owner Serge Godin's Determination. He was a $37,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase. Macho Martini paid $2.70 to win. Donna Soprano's journey to victory was much different than her stablemate, as she was outside the whole way and rallied from sixth at three-quarters to win by 3¾ lengths. Blais trainee Dicentra made a second-quarter move to the top and posted panels of :58.1 and 1:27.1 to lead into the stretch. Donna Soprano, who started from post nine, got away sixth and would follow Amazone Duharas for the entire middle-half to sit second-over and four-lengths from the lead turning for home. In the stretch, Donna Soprano unleashed a powerful :27.1 final-quarter for the impressive victory. Dicentra was second, while Amazone Duharas was third. A daughter of Donato Hanover, Donna Soprano is now two for two to start her career. She is the fourth foal from $1.2 million winner Windsong Soprano and sold for $190,000 at last year's Harrisburg yearling sale. "Donna Soprano is very fast, but her mind hasn't quite caught up to her legs yet," said McClure post-race. "Leaps and bounds better this week on professionalism and if she stays professional she's crazy fast." Donna Soprano has earned $52,250 in two starts. She paid $5.10 to win. Macho Martini's clocking of 1:54.4 smashed Alarm Detector's previous series record of 1:56 set in 2017. Donna Soprano's mile of 1:55.1 broke Spirit To Win's record of 1:55.3, which was established in 2014. Live racing continues Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON - August 11, 2020 - Notorious Pink completed the harness racing sweep of the Whenuwishuponastar Series Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday evening to give trainer Tony Alagna his third consecutive title in the event. A field of nine two-year-old pacing fillies squared off in the $80,500 final of the Whenuwishuponastar and dominance is a perfect word to describe the last three weeks and years of the event. Notorious Pink was sent off as the 1/5 favourite after a pair of wire-to-wire wins in the preliminary leg. Driver Bob McClure, who celebrated a milestone Tuesday, changed tactics this week, getting away fifth while a group of rivals flashed early speed in search of a spot at the front. Adashious Hanover made the front at an opening-quarter of :26.4, allowed Extrilla Hanover to clear and then removed to lead up to the half in :55.1. Notorious Pink got her cue to go from McClure and confidently advanced first-up to within a head of the lead at three-quarters in 1:24. The Alagna trainee claimed the lead at the head of the lane and made no mistakes by kicking home in :27.2 for a career-best 1:51.2 victory. Postscript rallied from third-over to finish third by 3 1/2 lengths, while Spellcheck Hanover and Lady Midnight completed the Superfecta. "Tonight was definitely her best (race), but the first week I called on her to win and she showed me gears that nobody expected or I didn't anyways and the next week I won by as little as I could and put her to sleep," said McClure of Notorious Pink's series sweep. "This week when she had a target...she was digging in that last turn and I was coming as slow as I could and she wanted to get around them. "She just paced right through the wire like it was not even work, so she's pretty impressive." A daughter of Captaintreacherous, Notorious Pink is now undefeated in four starts and has earned $65,450. She is a $35,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale graduate and is owned by Alagna And Grant, Big Als Stables, Riverview Racing and Fodera And Head Stable. Notorious Pink's win gives trainer Alagna his third straight Whenuwishuponastar Series victory. All three series titles have come with daughters of the legendary Captaintreacherous, who Alagna campaigned. Next up for Notorious Pink is a trip to Lexington for the Kentucky Sires Stakes. She is eligible to the Shes A Great Lady, which takes place on September 26 at Mohawk Park. Tuesday evening's card also saw driver Bob McClure surpass $25 million in career earnings. The 2019 Dan Patch Rising Star Award winner took the evening's second-race with three-year-old pacing filly Preeminence to reach the milestone. "It's a real nice feather in your cap," said McClure of the milestone. "It's a testament to a lot of people that got me here too, so I'm grateful." McClure reaches $25 million during his 12th season of driving and has surpassed the $5 million mark in each of the last two seasons, including a career high $5.9 million in 2019. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment    

TORONTO/MILTON, ON - August 6, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment, in partnership with Kraft-Heinz Canada, today announced the launch of the Heinz Challenge, a six-week series to be contested during Racing Night Live on TSN. The Heinz Challenge pairs a top Woodbine Racetrack jockey with a top Woodbine Mohawk Park driver to create four teams competing for a $5,000 charitable donation from Woodbine. Every time one of the participating jockeys or drivers competes during a race aired on Racing Night Live, they have the opportunity to earn points towards their team's challenge score. All eight participating athletes are ranked among the best in their sport and are well-known personalities at Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park. The four competing jockeys are Rafael Hernandez, Kazushi Kimura, Justin Stein and Emma-Jayne Wilson, while the participating drivers are Jody Jamieson, Bob McClure, Doug McNair and Louis-Philippe Roy. The team with the best 'Points Per Race' average at the end of six-weeks will win the challenge. The point system is as follows: 10 points for a Win, 5 points for a second-place finish and 2 points for a third-place finish. (Example: Team A earns 50 points over 10 races: Team A's Points Per Race is 5) Each member of the winning team will select a charity and Woodbine Entertainment will make a $2,500 donation on their behalf to make up the $5,000 winning prize. Woodbine Mohawk Park driver James MacDonald was originally scheduled to participate in the Heinz Challenge. MacDonald unfortunately suffered an injury in a racing accident on August 1 and will be unable to participate. Louis-Philippe Roy has been selected to replace MacDonald and the two will split the donation should their team win. Here are the teams for the Heinz Challenge: Team E=MC ² Jockey: Emma-Jayne Wilson Driver: Bob McClure #TeamEMC2 Team Club DJ Jockey: Justin Stein Driver: Doug McNair #TeamClubDJ Team Island Boyz Jockey: Rafael Hernandez Driver: James MacDonald (unable to participate due to injury) Driver: Louis-Philippe Roy #TeamIslandBoyz Team Double Double Jockey: Kazushi Kimura Driver: Jody Jamieson #TeamDoubleDouble The Heinz Challenge is the latest feature on the weekly Racing Night Live program on TSN. Racing Night Live, which airs every Thursday at 6 p.m. ET on TSN, showcases the world-class racing from the Thoroughbreds at Woodbine Racetrack and Standardbreds at Woodbine Mohawk Park over an action-packed two-hours. The Heinz Challenge will run from August 6 to September 10. Fans can join the conversation, track the leaderboard and cheer on their favourite team through Social Media by using the hashtag #HeinzChallenge. All eight of the participating athletes can be found on various social media platforms and will be engaging with fans over the course of the six-week event. Who To Follow: Woodbine Racetrack: @WoodbineTB (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) Woodbine Mohawk Park: @WoodbineSB (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) Heinz Canada: @heinz_ca (Instagram) Rafael Hernandez: @hernandezrafii (Twitter) Jody Jamieson: @Jodyjamracing (Twitter) Kazushi Kimura: @kazushi0096 (Twitter), @k.kimura0906 (Instagram) James MacDonald: @jamesomac26 (Twitter) Bob McClure: @BobMcClure2 (Twitter) Louis-Philippe Roy: louisphilippe.roy.12 (Facebook) Justin Stein: @justin_steinjockey (Instagram) Emma-Jayne Wilson: @EJWilson81 (Twitter) by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, January 21, 2020 - Fresh off a career-best season, harness racing driver Bob McClure will appear at the 18th annual Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction on Tuesday, February 4 at RattleSnake Point Golf Club. A finalist for Driver of the Year at the upcoming O'Brien Awards, McClure will join sports celebrities Eric Lindros, Alvin Williams, Jack Armstrong, Tessa Bonhomme and Tyler McGregor as the stars for the 18th annual Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction. McClure posted the highest earnings of his career in 2019, driving the winners of $5.9 million. He reached the top of the sport in August when he steered Forbidden Trade to an upset victory in the $1 million Hambletonian. Bob McClure and Forbidden Trade in September at Woodbine Mohawk Park (Michael Burns Photo) The Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction is presented by the Milton Chamber of Commerce and proceeds go towards the Chamber Scholarship Program, which funds local students in their post-secondary education. The evening's program includes an autograph session with the celebrities, a cocktail reception, gourmet meal, silent and live auction. Auction items include golf packages, spa packages and exclusive sports memorabilia. The finale of the evening will be an opportunity to hear stories and learn more from the sports celebrities, as they join Master of Ceremonies Ken Reid of Rogers Sportsnet on stage. Woodbine Entertainment is a member of the Milton Chamber of Commerce and proud sponsor of the event. Tickets for the 18th annual Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction can be purchased by visiting the official event page.   Mark McKelvie        

Standardbred Canada reports that continuing on the comeback trail came Sintra with his third-consecutive victory from a six-month layoff in the $36,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park Saturday (Jan. 18). With Bob McClure sitting in the sulky, Sintra floated into fifth while Nirvana Seelster set the pace to the quarter in :26.4. Youaremycandygirl, sitting in the pocket, then circled to the front and took the field past the half in :55. McClure moved Sintra off the pegs heading into the final turn and caught cover from East End flushing first over towards three-quarters in 1:23. Into the stretch McClure fanned wide of cover and charged Sintra past his competition to hit the finish in 1:50.4, three lengths better than Points North closing for second. East End held third. A seven-year-old gelding by Mach Three, Sintra won his 27th race from 60 starts, earning $1,162,436. Dave Menary conditions the $3.60 winner for owners Michael Guerriero, Kelly Waxman, Nunzio Vena and Frank Cirillo. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Sometime down the road when harness racing driver Bob McClure wants to reminisce about 2019, he knows what it will involve. "A lot of replays," McClure said. Get your popcorn ready. McClure enjoyed numerous highlights in 2019, topped by his win with Forbidden Trade in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes final last August at The Meadowlands.   For the year, McClure won 229 races and a career-best $4.67 million in purses despite missing a month in the spring because of a broken pelvis. He ranked third on the money list among Canadian drivers and saw his earnings increase for the sixth consecutive year. He is a finalist, for the third time, for Canada's Driver of the Year. The winner will be announced Feb. 1 at the O'Brien Awards in Ontario. "Third time's a charm, hopefully," said McClure, who is up against defending champ Louis-Philippe Roy. Regardless of that result, McClure needs to clear space for a trophy. In December, the 29-year-old was named the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Rising Star. He will receive his award Feb. 23 at the Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. McClure is the first Canadian to receive the honor since Scott Zeron in 2012. "It was certainly a shock and I'm really grateful," McClure said of the honor. "It shows the significance of the Hambletonian, how much weight it carries with the voters. It's pretty neat to follow in the footsteps of other Canadians who have won that award." McClure drove three O'Brien Award finalists in 2019: Forbidden Trade, older female trotter Emoticon Hanover, and 2-year-old male trotter Port Perry. All three horses were trained by Luc Blais and owned by Determination stable. There was no question that Forbidden Trade's upset of Greenshoe in the Hambletonian, harness racing's premier race for 3-year-old trotters, led the list of memorable moments for McClure. "I'd say that's the highlight of anybody's career if you're lucky enough to win it," McClure said. In addition to winning the Hambletonian, Forbidden Trade and McClure captured the Ontario Sire Stakes championship and were second in the Yonkers Trot and Goodtimes Stakes. Emoticon Hanover, who retired at the conclusion of her 6-year-old season in 2019, went out a winner with McClure when she won a preferred trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in December. Port Perry was a two-time winner on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit and finished second in the series final. McClure also had multiple OSS victories with 3-year-old female pacer Powerful Chris, 2-year-old male trotter Threefiftytwo, and 2-year-old female pacer Off The Press. Other winners in the series with McClure were 3-year-old male pacer Best In Show, 2-year-old male pacer Examiner Hanover, and 2-year-old female pacer P L Notorious. "The OSS here is a really great program," McClure said. "I was the leading money-winner in it, so that shows you drove a lot of nice horses all the way across the whole Ontario circuit. I think that was the biggest part of the year for me. Between Forbidden Trade, Powerful Chris, a whole bunch of real nice (OSS) Gold horses I was lucky enough to drive, I think that's what made the summer so fun." Powerful Chris provided McClure with another memorable night, although not in a win. She finished third, beaten only a neck, in the Fan Hanover Stakes at odds of 54-1. The filly is owned in part by McClure's grandfather, John. "That was pretty special," McClure said. "He never had a horse in a race like that before, so to be that close with some of the top fillies in North America was a lot of fun. It was close to home." McClure, who led Canadian drivers in wins in 2016 and 2017, made the move from Canada's "B" tracks to the main stage of the Woodbine-Mohawk circuit in December 2017. "Things have happened a lot faster than I think anybody could have predicted," McClure said. "Obviously, it's beyond exceeded my expectations. I was lucky enough to pick up Determination, which was a huge boost. They have a lot of quality horses and every time they go to the track they're going with a shot. It really puts your name out there, puts you on the map. I would attribute a lot of it to that." So, what does McClure do in 2020 for an encore? "I just try to keep improving every year, year to year," he said. "That's my biggest goal. I think that will be tough to do this year, to top last year, but I'm excited." For information on the Dan Patch Awards banquet and accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek, visit by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

HARRISBURG, PA - The remaining winners of Dan Patch Awards in the human and broodmare categories, as voted on by the membership of the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport's leading association, have been announced. The Rising Star and the Breakthrough Awards are for up-and-coming stars in harness racing, in the trainer/driver and non-trainer/driver category respectively; the Good Guy Award is given to someone who thinks and speaks positively about the sport and has a good relationship with the media, while the Unsung Hero is someone performing important tasks for the sport out of the spotlight. In grouping these four awards and their winners for description, the combinations of the foursome falling on male and female lines, as expressed in the title, is interesting. Dawnelle Mock is the Director of Marketing for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. In her three years at the western Pennsylvania track, she has been the spearhead for the MSOA onto multiple digital platforms. She has shepherded several successful charity events; she has reached out to form a partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team, a project with a large crossover potential; and she has been the MSOA liaison with the operators of The Meadows' racetrack for a number of successful promotions, which contributed to a 6% year-over-year rise in handle at the track. Mock "works well with others," but much of her success has been born of her own initiative and vision. Wanda Polisseni has long campaigned harness horses under the name Purple Haze Stable with success, mostly in her home state of New York. She has founded a humanitarian organization to improve the standard of living - education, human services, civic improvement - in Upstate New York. Long an advocate for the after-track life of racehorses, on both the Standardbred and the Thoroughbred side of racing, Polisseni has now undertaken to buy a farm in New York that will serve as a home and a base for the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program, for state-bred horses, that will also be the headquarters of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. If Wanda Polisseni can help, you can count her in; like Mock, she makes things happen. Both Bob McClure, based in Ontario, and Jim King Jr., who races out of the state of Delaware but competes at all the major tracks, come from generations of horsepeople, and as such are not the type to seek the spotlight, though they cooperate with the media when attention comes their way. Attention came to McClure in a big way during 2019, when he won the most prestigious harness race in North America, the Hambletonian, with Forbidden Trade. The victory was the culmination of a decade of continuous growth for the graduate of smaller raceways to the Grand River-Georgian Downs-Western Fair circuit and then right to the "A" class of his province's racing at Woodbine at Mohawk Park, where he ranks among the colony's top drivers. He earned over $5 million (Can.) for the first time in 2019, despite suffering a broken pelvis on April 25 - he was back racing in less than a month, using the cutting-edge technology of a hyperbaric chamber to aid his recovery. Jim King Jr. has a reputation as a "ladies' man," but only in the best sense. In addition to having in his family two of the sport's best spokespeople - wife Jo Ann Looney-King, a former winner of the Good Guy Award, and the self-proclaimed "harness racing firecracker," awardwinning communicator Heather Vitale - King seems to have a particular touch with the pacing ladies, as evidenced by his two 2019 stars: the free-for-all Shartin N, who won over $2 million in 2018-19, and the precocious two-year-old Lyons Sentinel, North America's biggest earner as a freshman while banking over $800,000. In keeping with his winning the Good Guy award, King will give honest, thoughtful answers to the media's questions, never assuring success, but conscious of the power of the stable that his talents has built. Brittany Farms LLC, breeders of the 2019 "Millionaires' Row" of Bettor's Wish, Manchego, Six Pack, and American History among other top trotters and pacers, was voted as Breeder of the Year by USHWA. Also earning honors was the dam of Manchego, Secret Magic, who was picked as the Trotting Broodmare of the Year. Brittany Farms, owned by Hall of Famer George Segal, was purchased in the late '80s and has been among the leading nurseries in the sport throughout Segal's ownership. In 2019 Brittany ranked third among breeders with offspring winning over $12 million, despite a much lesser number of produce racing than many other establishments. Brittany bred three Breeders Crown winners in 2019 - American History, Manchego, and Reflect With Me - to raise their all-time total to 25 Crown champions, one behind Hanover Shoe Farms. As noted, the Cantab Hall-Chorine Hanover matron Secret Magic earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year, primarily because of the $2 million world champion Manchego, but also contributing was In Secret, a ten-time winner and $200,000 earner against Open company. Brittany bred Secret Magic, raced her, and then kept her as a broodmare until selling her early in 2019 to Hanover. The Art Major-Precious Beauty matron Precocious Beauty has only two foals of racing age - the powerful, Breeders Crown-winning freshman pacing colt star Tall Dark Stranger and the filly Beautyonthebeach, a winner of $540,428 who lowered her mark to 1:49.2 during 2019. These two sharp stakes performers were enough to secure Pacing Broodmare of the Year honors for Precocious Beauty, herself a racetrack winner of $838,004 and with ever-increasing prospects as a broodmare for James Avritt Sr., who bred her, raced her, and continues to own her as a broodmare. This release completes the announcement of the Dan Patch Awards in the human and broodmare categories. The twelve racehorse divisional champions will be announced this Friday, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. on The Meadowlands' "pre-races" show, with media releases following (availability to view that announcement will be released shortly). All of the honorees in this release and their connections will be honored at USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, celebrating the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured; "post times" on February 23 are cocktails at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow. Tickets, and other Banquet-related information, can be obtained through Dinner Planning Committee Chair Judy Davis-Wilson, at or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website,; a link to the hotel's computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at or 708 557 2790 (the 2019 journal is online at the writers' website). From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

MILTON, ON - December 21, 2019 - Nirvana Seelster displayed the determination that's helped him earn over $1 million in his harness racing career to give trainer Bill Budd a milestone victory Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Budd entered Saturday's card just a win shy of 2,000 for his career and his longtime stable star Nirvana Seelster fittingly came through with a game victory in the $34,000 Preferred Pace. Driven by Bob McClure, Nirvana Seelster shot to the lead and went unchallenged through solid fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.4. East End angled from the two-hole at the head of the lane and took a short lead with an eighth of a mile remaining. Nirvana Seelster refused to give up and battled back at the inside to regain the lead late, winning a wild finish in 1:51. East End finished second by a head, while Ellis Park was third by a neck. Owned by Bruce Davy, Nirvana Seelster scored his fourth win in 30 starts this season and 45th of his career. The eight-year-old gelding has earned over $1.2 million lifetime. This was his first Preferred level victory since September 15, 2018. Budd, 68, has been a fixture on the Woodbine and Ontario racing scene for decades. The Waterdown, Ontario resident started working for Bill Wellwood in 1969 and has made over 10,000 starts as a trainer with his horses earning more than $19 million. Sir Luck and Boulder Creek are two of Budd's most notable students during his training career. Budd's stable is enjoying a strong season, posting 52 wins and earning more than $1.1 million. This marks the third season his stable has surpassed $1 million. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment              

MILTON, ON - December 2, 2019 - World champion harness racing trotter Emoticon Hanover capped off her legendary career with a coast-to-coast 1:53.3 victory Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The six-year-old trotting mare was sent to the top by driver Bob McClure and got things her own way, trotting home in :27 for a three-quarter length victory in the $34,000 Preferred. Trainer Luc Blais confirmed Monday morning that Emoticon Hanover, a two-time Breeders Crown champion, would be retired following that evening's start. "I was very nervous before the race," said an emotional Blais following 'Emoticon's' final start. "She gave me an incredible thrill. She never (had) a bad race and always gave a 150 per cent of her." A daughter of Kadabra, Emoticon Hanover was purchased for $165,000 at the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale by Serge Godin's Determination and went on to become one of the greatest Ontario sired trotters of all-time. "We (made) the decision in the last minute," said Blais. "We had a meeting in Montreal and it was not an easy decision, but she deserves that, she deserves to breed with the best stallion." Blais noted that the connections first choice is to breed Emoticon Hanover to Muscle Hill. Emoticon Hanover spent the majority of her two and three-year-old campaigns battling with rival Caprice Hill for Ontario Sires Stakes glory. The talented ladies exchanged victories in the 2015 and 2016 OSS Super Finals. The Blais trainee gained recognition across North America as a four-year-old with a dominating stretch of victories that included a pair of World Record performances, 1:50.2 at Tioga Downs in the Joie De Vie and 1:52 at the Delaware County Fair in the Miss Versatility. 'Emoticon' followed those dazzling performances with a score in the Allerage at The Red Mile and her first Breeders Crown title. "Any kind of race we liked to watch her, she tries hard and I can't tell you what is the best (race)," said Blais. "I think the race at Tioga 1:50.2 was very impressive for me, it was a big race that afternoon." The World Champion returned to the races as a five-year-old and finished off the 2018 campaign in style by winning her second-consecutive Breeders Crown and her first TVG Mares Trot. Emoticon Hanover won the O'Brien Award as Canada's top older mare trotter in 2018. Determination's superstar continued to compete at the highest level this season, racing against the boys in her second consecutive Maple Leaf Trot. The highlight of her six-year-old season came a little over a week ago when she reached up in the final strides to defeat Atlanta in the TVG Mare Trot, surpassing $2 million in career earnings. The TVG victory was also the 1,000th career training victory for trainer Blais. "I'm going to remember my 1,000th win," said Blais. "It's going to be easy to remember this one." Emoticon Hanover finishes her career with 27 wins, 56 top-three finishes, $2,044,663 earned and a mark of 1:50.2 in 74 starts. Woodbine Entertainment made a special presentation to Emoticon Hanover and Blais following Monday's race to recognize their accomplishments. TRAINING CANCELLED TUESDAY MORNING Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to notify all horsepeople that training has been cancelled for Tuesday morning. The track will reopen for training on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

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