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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 www.ushwa.net. 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 zoe8874@aol.com or 302 359 3630. Hotel reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA's website, www.ushwa.net; 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 trotrink@aol.com 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

MILTON, ON - September 13, 2019 - Harness racing fans will want to arrive early to Woodbine Mohawk Park this Saturday (September 14) to collect the next t-shirt in the 'Road to the Breeders Crown' giveaway series.    Bob McClure is the next driver to have his racing colours featured on a t-shirt. The Hambletonian winning-driver will be set up on the main grandstand floor beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday (September 14) to giveaway t-shirts and sign autographs.   The $605,000 Canadian Trotting Classic is the main event for this Saturday's stakes-filled card at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   McClure will team with Hambletonian winner Forbidden Trade in Saturday's marquee race.   Fans will be able to pick up a photo of Forbidden Trade and McClure to have an autographed.   by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

With the Hambletonian Stakes already on his list of accomplishments, Forbidden Trade will try for the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown when he faces seven foes in Saturday's (Aug. 31) $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway. Nine trotters have captured the harness racing Triple Crown since its inception in 1955, the most recent Marion Marauder three years ago. Forbidden Trade and driver Bob McClure will start the Yonkers Trot from post six. Gimpanzee, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter and third-place finisher in the Hambletonian, leaves from post four. Soul Strong, who was a parked-out fourth from post 10 in the Hambletonian, starts from post two. It will be Forbidden Trade's first trip to The Hilltop, but the Luc Blais-trained colt is no stranger to success on half-mile-sized tracks such as Yonkers. Forbidden Trade won at Ontario's Grand River Raceway last season in 1:56.4, the fastest mile by a 2-year-old trotter in Canadian history. It also will be McClure's first visit to Yonkers. The 28-year-old, though, did plenty of driving on Ontario's half-mile ovals before becoming a regular at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 2018. McClure led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016. He was third last year and in 2015. "At the end of the day they're all still going in a circle," McClure said about racing at Yonkers for the first time. "I know it's a tight half, but I've driven on a lot of (half-mile tracks) here too. "Good horses, they get around pretty well anything," he added. "(Forbidden Trade) is just a complete professional. That's why he was so successful at 2; he was like a 4-year-old to drive. He never made any mistakes; he was just perfect." Forbidden Trade, owned by Serge Godin's Determination stable, won seven of 11 races last year and received the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 2-year-old male trotter. This year, Forbidden Trade has won six of nine starts and finished no worse than third in any race. He has won five of his past six races, with his only setback being a third-place finish in his Hambletonian elimination. He won the same-day final by a neck over favorite Greenshoe. "He came back this year and he's faster, he's stronger, he's always been great gaited, and he's just as smart," McClure said. "You look at all the races he's won, you can leave with him and go out of there in :26 (seconds) or you can take him back and come home in :26. He just does whatever he has to do. "He's just a really good horse." Forbidden Trade has raced once since the Hambletonian, winning a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold on Aug. 12 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "He was really good that day," McClure said. "I'm sure he's in top form. He was feeling so good, Luc decided to go (to the Yonkers Trot)." Forbidden Trade, who has earned $907,728 in his career, will start the Yonkers Trot from one of the least advantageous post positions from a statistical standpoint. Posts one through five at Yonkers produce winners at a minimum of 14.3 percent, led by post one at 18 percent, while post six is at 8.5 percent. "It's just a starting spot," McClure said. "We'll probably just get off the gate and see how things turn out. You never know what's going to happen. Gimpanzee is probably the horse to beat, so we'll go from there." The three legs of the Trotting Triple Crown are the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. The Futurity, held at Lexington's Red Mile, is Oct. 6. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Yonkers. The Yonkers Trot is race six on the card and will be followed by the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. Bettor's Wish, the sport's top money-earner this season with $859,544, leads the field of eight in the Messenger, which is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Captain Crunch, who won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, did not enter the Messenger. The card also includes the Hudson Filly Trot and Lady Maud. For complete entries, click here. Below is the field for the 65th Yonkers Trot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Osterc-Dexter Dunn-Per Engblom 2-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt 3-Sheena's Boy-Andy Miller-Ake Svanstedt 4-Gimpanzee-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander 5-Livinonthedash-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller 6-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais 7-HL Revadon-Jim Marohn Jr.-Harry Landy 8-No Drama Please-Jason Bartlett-Tom Fanning by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

OTTAWA, ON - AUG. 25, 2019 - Rideau Carleton Raceway hosted a battle of the three-year-old pacing filly heavyweights on Sunday evening and harness racing fans were treated to a championship display in the $158,000 Gold Series division. Division leaders Boadicea, Powerful Chris and Sunny Dee were sent off as the top choices in the 10-filly field, with Powerful Chris getting the slight edge over her rivals. Starting from Post 5 with regular driver Bob McClure in the race bike, Powerful Chris left sharply and led the field to a :26.1 opening quarter. Boadicea and driver Jonathan Drury took over heading for the :54.1 half and continued to set the tempo through the 1:21.4 three-quarters with Powerful Chris in the pocket and Sunny Dee and driver Trevor Henry looming on the outside. Boadicea turned for home with a one and one-quarter length margin, but McClure hit the accelerator when Powerful Chris reached the passing lane and the fan's top choice sprinted by the pacesetter to a one length victory in a track record 1:50.2. Boadicea finished second and Sunny Dee was another length back in third. "What can I say? She's amazing. Such a pleasure to drive," said McClure, who steers Powerful Chris for trainer John Pentland of Dorchester and his partners Jack Darling Stables Ltd. of Cambridge and Syllabus Stable of Georgetown, ON. "John (Pentland) has done an excellent job and she keeps improving." The mile took almost one full second off the former three-year-old pacing filly track record of 1:51.1, set by Michelles Power in an August, 2007 Gold Series event. "She's just got so many tricks, this filly. That's the beauty of her," said trainer Pentland. "She can race from off the pace, absolutely, but we rarely, rarely leave with her. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that she's that capable of leaving, it's just not something we use very often." Sunday's victory was Powerful Chris's third in Gold action this season and boosted her lifetime earnings to $412,255. The Betterthancheddar daughter was also victorious over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval on June 22 and July 27. Heading into the last Gold Series event on Sept. 22 at Flamboro Downs, Powerful Chris and Boadicea are tied for top spot in the division standings with 175 points. The top 10 point earners from the regular season will compete in the $225,000 Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 12 and Pentland said Powerful Chris will make a couple more overnight starts in between the remaining Ontario Sires Stakes events. "She'll race once or twice. She won't be over raced for sure, but she hasn't raced a lot this year. I just want to make sure I keep her up," said the trainer. "She loves her work, she loves to race. She's funny, she loves being in her stall and played with and she's okay for half an hour out in the paddock, but she gets bored fast, she wants to come in and she knows she can jog, she loves jogging. She's kind of a hard-working homebody." In addition to the Gold Series fillies, Rideau Carleton also hosted four $22,800 Grassroots divisions for the sophomore pacing lasses and they were dominated by father and son team Gregg and Doug McNair. The McNair's kicked off the Ontario Sires Stakes action in the first Grassroots division as Doug McNair guided Sports Flix to a 1:54.1 gate-to-wire effort from Post 1. Saulsbrook Jessie finished two and one-quarter lengths back in second leaving fan favourite Springbridgevision to settle for third. The Grassroots champion at two, Sports Flix did not get off to the start the McNair's expected as a three-year-old and after her July 25 Grassroots start trainer Gregg McNair decided a complete break was in order for the Sportswriter daughter. "We were expecting pretty big things out of her this year. We started her off in the Fan Hanover and she raced real big in the elimination and boy she was no good in the consolation and the next Gold," recalled the elder McNair, who trains Sports Flix for James Fraleigh of Dresden, ON. "We ended up giving her three weeks off and put the antibiotics to her. She really didn't have a lot of work in her for this start, because she'd had such a long time off, but she was real good tonight." Two races later the McNair's were back in the winner's circle with fan favourite Kylie Seelster, who floated off the gate from Post 5 and watched Freya Seelster post a :27 opening quarter. Doug McNair sent Kylie Seelster to the front before the :56 half and the Big Jim daughter fended off a challenge from Premier Cabernet heading by the 1:24 three-quarters and then repelled a second challenge in the stretch to grab a head victory in 1:52.2. Premier Cabernet settled for second and Freya Seelster was third. Guelph resident Gregg McNair shares ownership of Kylie Seelster with Hall of Fame horseman Keith Waples of Durham and Dr. Chris Robson of London, ON and the two-time Grassroots winner has been a pleasant surprise for the partners this season. "She's been a bit of a surprise, she's come back better than we thought she was. I think she has anyways," admitted the trainer. "She's been a nice filly all year. Even in the overnight races she's raced good." The McNair's capped of the night of Ontario Sires Stakes action in the last Grassroots division with heavy favourite Swift Ally who took control early from Post 1 and never looked back, cruising to a three length victory in 1:53.4. Behavenmyself finished second and Red River Jane was third. Gregg McNair and Ian Fleming of Londesborough, ON bred and own Swift Ally, who was unraced at two due to an injury and the Big Jim daughter has been another pleasant surprise. "We had no idea what kind of a filly she was last year, so she's just been kind of like a pleasant surprise," said the horseman, a three-time winner of the Johnston Cup as the top trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes. "She's been good. She's a nice big mare and everything. "She trained in Florida last year, all three of them did. They trained back good all of them, but we had no idea they were going to work out to be decent fillies like this," he added. The other Grassroots division went to first-time OSS winner Deb, who stopped the clock at 1:52.3 for driver Trevor Henry, trainer James Dean and owners Wilma and James MacKenzie of Ennismore, ON. Crisp Mane was one and one-quarter lengths behind the Sportswriter daughter in second and favourite Twin B Tipster was another length back in third. The Grassroots fillies will wrap up their regular season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 10 and then the top 20 point earners will return to the Campbellville oval for the Sept. 28 Grassroots Semi-Finals. All four of Sunday's winners are currently in contention for a post season berth, with Swift Ally leading the division with 150 points. Complete results from Sunday's program are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0825ridcfn.dat. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

MILTON, ON -  AUG. 17, 2019 - Harness racing drivers Doug McNair and Bob McClure split the three-year-old pacing colt Grassroots divisions down the middle on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park, McNair taking the first two and McClure the second pair. McNair kicked things off in the first $23,500 split with Fast N First and had the heavy favourite on top before the halfway marker. Fast N First never saw another challenger as he cruised home a one and one-quarter length winner in 1:51.2. Pocket-sitter Carlisimo finished second and HP Napoleon was third. "He was a little lazy in the lead," said McNair of Blake MacIntosh trainee Fast N First. "But it takes a lot to get him tired." It was the first Grassroots win for Fast N First, who started his sophomore campaign at the Gold Series level. In 15 starts this season the Bettors Delight son has tallied six wins, three seconds and two thirds, netting owners Blake MacIntosh of St. George, Ridgeway Racing of Ridgeway and Steve Heimbecker of Conestogo, ON $87,334. Fast N First Guelph resident McNair also guided Cliffhanger to his first Grassroots victory in the second division. Like Fast N First the pair were sent off as the favourites from Post 4, but this time McNair opted to follow pacesetter Priceless Beach through fractions of :27.2, :55.2 and 1:24.2. Cliffhanger then unleashed a :26.4 final quarter to catch the leader and pull away to a two length victory in 1:51.2. Machdavid also closed hard, and he and Priceless Beach finished in a dead heat for second. "Cliffhanger raced good," said McNair, who subbed for regular reinsman Louis-Philippe Roy on Saturday. "He is turning into a nice colt." McNair engineered the win for owner and trainer Tony Alagna of Manalapan, NJ. The win was the fourth of the sophomore campaign for Vintage Master son Cliffhanger and boosted his season earnings to $50,402. Cliffhanger McClure picked up where McNair left off in the third Grassroots division, employing a come-from-behind effort to put Carsons Shadow in the Ontario Sires Stakes winner's circle for the first time. The pair caught favourite Sugartown in the stretch with a determined effort that saw them stop the clock at 1:51.2. Sugartown was one-half length back in second, just ahead of third-place finisher Better Moonon Over. "He's a nice little colt. He's not big, but he's quick, and he's a tough little bugger," said McClure of the Shadow Play colt. Like both Fast N First and Cliffhanger, Carsons Shadow tested the Gold Series waters before finding success in the Grassroots. In 14 sophomore starts the gelding has amassed a record of six wins, two seconds and earnings of $62,200. Vicki Gregg trains Carsons Shadow for owner-breeder David Carson of Listowel, ON. Carsons Shadow One race later Rockwood resident McClure was back in the winner's circle with fan favourite Dreamfair Moxy, who stalked pacesetter Sportsline through fractions of :26.2, :55.4 and 1:23.3 before circling around the tiring leader in the stretch. Dreamfair Moxy sprinted home to a three and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:51.1. The Regulator and Silver Beast finished second and third. "He is a real nice little colt with a nice gait and he's sweet to drive," said McClure, who was in the race bike in place of regular reinsman Travis Cullen. "He always goes ahead when you ask him." The win was Dreamfair Moxy's second straight in Grassroots action. The Bettors Delight son was also a winner in the third leg at Grand River Raceway on Aug. 5. Jodie Cullen trains the winner of $77,322 for John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON. Dreamfair Moxy The three-year-old pacing colts will make their last regular season Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 2. The top 20 point earners will then compete in the Sept. 28 Grassroots Semi-Finals, hoping to land one of 10 spots in the Oct. 5 Grassroots Championship. Click here for complete results from Saturday's program. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday Aug. 19 with a trio of Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts. The colts will raise the curtain on the program at 7:10 pm in Race 1 and will also battle in Races 3 and 7. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

MILTON, ON -  AUG. 8, 2019 - Port Perry took sole control of top spot in the two-year-old harness racing trotting colt standings with his second Gold Series victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday evening. The long-legged Port Perry moved sharply away from Post 6 and once he took control the outcome was never in doubt. Rolling through fractions of :29.1, :59.3 and 1:28.4 Port Perry and driver Bob McClure were never threatened and in the stretch the colt hit a whole different gear, pulling away to a seven and one-half length victory in 1:56.2. Blue Cupertino finished second, edging out fan favourite Horse Trader who settled for third. "He's improved amazingly in the last few weeks. He was bionic tonight," said McClure of the Kadabra colt. "In the last 100 feet he pulls away, reminds me of Warrawee Roo." McClure steers Port Perry for trainer Luc Blais of Campbellville, ON and owner Determination of Montreal, QC, who also train and own top aged trotter Warrawee Roo, a winner of $781,640 in his racing career. In spite of his success however, Warrawee Roo is not the most celebrated horse in the Blais-Determination stable at present. That honour belongs to Kadabra son Forbidden Trade who captured the $1 million Hambletonian Final at The Meadowlands on Aug. 3. "It was an exciting moment that's for sure. It's a big event, the Hambo," said Blais. "Everything - you know Bob (McClure) drove him good, the horse was feeling good - I think that day you need to be perfect everywhere if you want to win." Forbidden Trade, last year's Ontario Sires Stakes champion, was flawless in three starts leading up to the Hambletonian and will be looking to add to his win tally when he returns to Woodbine Mohawk Park for Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series action on Monday, Aug. 12. Port Perry's commanding victory in Thursday night's Gold Series test might have some dreaming of the 2020 Hambletonian, but Blais said he was not looking much further ahead than Friday morning with the strapping youngster. "I'm going to see tomorrow, see how he comes back from that," said the trainer. "He looked good again today, looked like he was strong today. He's a big strong horse, you know, he needs lots of room, and I think he feels comfortable on that track (Mohawk Park)." Thursday's win was Port Perry's second in Gold Series action. He also captured a division of the July 4 season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and then finished second by a head to Blue Cupertino in the July 23 leg at Georgian Downs. An $85,000 yearling purchase at last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Port Perry has banked $133,200 in his first three lifetime starts and sits atop the freshman trotting colt Gold Series standings with 125 points. The other $105,600 Gold division was captured by Moon Bridge in near identical fashion. Taking control from Post 6 the fan favourite and driver Sylvain Filion rang up fractions of :28.1, :57.1 and 1:27.3 before drawing away to a five length victory in 1:57. HP Royal Theo finished second and Scamp was another length back in third. "He was a little green, he never raced on the front probably," Filion told Woodbine Mohawk Park's Chad Rozema in the winner's circle. "He was looking at stuff, birds and stuff, but he kept racing to the wire, and he was trotting through it, and he was real strong." Thursday's appearance was Moon Bridge's first in Ontario Sires Stakes action, but the E L Titan colt logged a runner-up finish in a July 26 overnight event at The Meadowlands before making the trip north. Ake Svanstedt trains Moon Bridge for breeders Esa Lahtinen and Janne Korpi of Cambridge, ON and their partner Jussi Hietalahti of Turku, Finland. The two-year-old trotting colts will make their fourth Gold Series start over the Grand River Raceway half-mile on Sept. 23. On Friday evening (Aug. 9) Woodbine Mohawk Park welcomes the two-year-old trotting fillies for their third Gold Series event. The fillies will battle in Races 3, 6, and 8 on the Friday evening program, which gets under way at 7:50 pm. Complete results from Thursday's program are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0808wbsbsn.dat. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Prior to Saturday (Aug. 3) afternoon, Luc Blais' fondest memories of a Hambletonian were from a race 24 years earlier, when Tagliabue won America's Trotting Classic at The Meadowlands. By Saturday evening, the events of the prior 24 hours would change that. Blais, who was a groom visiting the Meadowlands when Tagliabue captured the 1995 Hambletonian, watched Saturday at the Big M as his colt Forbidden Trade won the $1 million Hambletonian final, upsetting 1-5 favorite Greenshoe by a neck. Forbidden Trade, trained by Blais and driven by 28-year-old Bob McClure, was the 2018 O'Brien Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter and became the first Canadian champ to win the Hambletonian in the award's 30-year history. "It's amazing," Blais said. "I used to watch the race before, when I was not in it, and it was always exciting. And now, just to be in the race, it is exciting. To win, it's, I don't even know how to say it. It's a good, good, good feeling." Blais had started a horse in the Hambletonian once previously, sending Jake to the race in 2017. Jake finished sixth in his elimination and did not advance to the final. This time, Forbidden Trade was a strong-finishing third in his elimination before returning 90 minutes later to win the final. "I had confidence; I had a good feeling," said Blais, who conditions the son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory for Serge Godin's Detirmination Stable. "But we needed to be in the final first." The 57-year-old Blais is a native of western Quebec, not far from Ottawa. He got hooked on racing at an early age, watching his father, a salesman, race his own horses on the Quebec fair circuit. He worked for several stables, including Canadian Hall of Famer Yves Filion's Bayama Farms, before going on his own. "I always liked horses," Blais said. "My father had horses. He bought a classy horse with big legs. We needed to tub him and put time on him. You need to put time on the horse. A classy horse, if you put time on the horse, they're going to give back to you. That's my thinking." Blais' pick of Tagliabue's win in the Hambletonian as a favorite was due in part to the horse being unraced at 2 and brought to peak for the race. "I like that kind of story," he said. Blais said he planned to celebrate the Hambletonian win with his brother and friends before returning to work on Sunday. "Maybe we'll drink a few beers and just relax," Blais said. "After (Saturday) you have to go back to work. I think that's the only way you can be there, it's the work. You need to be there and work. And you need to have the passion, both work and passion." Blais and McClure have forged a successful relationship in the two years since McClure left Canada's 'B' tracks for the main stage of Woodbine-Mohawk. McClure's Hambletonian victory marked the third time in four years that a driver younger than 30 captured the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. Scott Zeron won in 2016 with Marion Marauder at age 27 and two years later with Atlanta. "We were looking for a regular driver for the barn and he had just come from the 'B' tracks, where he was very good," Blais said. "He's a young guy, but he is a very mature guy. Very professional. He's got the talent to be a good driver. It's been a good partnership. To me, to have success, you need to work together." McClure, an Ontario native, finished second in purses in Canada in 2018 and third in wins. He led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016 and was third in 2015. He was making his Hambletonian debut with Forbidden Trade. "It hasn't sunk in yet, maybe in a few days it will," McClure said Saturday about the win. "It's certainly been career changing in the last four years. I have a lot of people to thank for that, I've had a lot of support behind me. The icing on the cake was the Determination Stable, I owe them a lot. I couldn't have done it without the people who supported me along the way." McClure admitted to some anxiety prior to the Hambletonian but was at ease when he hit the track with Forbidden Trade. "It probably didn't show on the outside in the paddock, but there were nerves," McClure said. "But whenever I hit the track, they all go away. And he's such a quiet horse, a push-button horse to drive, which makes it a lot easier on me being kind of green to this. "I would say he definitely led me. He did a very good job for me." McClure, who missed a month of action in the spring because of a broken pelvis, gave credit to Blais for having Forbidden Trade in top form for the Hambletonian. The colt entered the Hambletonian off three consecutive wins, including a prep against older foes on July 22 at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. "I do think he was underrated," McClure said about Forbidden Trade, who has won 12 of 19 career races and finished off the board only once in his past 14 races. "I think it's pretty great that the Meadowlands Pace winner (Best In Show) and the Hambo winner are Ontario-sired horses. It's really great for Ontario and Ontario racing. I think we do fly under the radar somewhat, but I think this shows we are competitive on the world stage. "Maybe we flew under the radar. I don't think we'll get away with that anymore." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

East Rutherford, NJ — Hambletonian Day was to be a day to unfurl Swedish flags at The Meadowlands.   Why not? Rising star Marcus Melander started the day with a powerhouse four-horse contingent locked and loaded, taking dead aim at the 3-year-old trotting classic.   But when the dust settled, it was our friendly neighbors to the north celebrating, as Forbidden Trade pulled a 15-1 upset.   Canada’s champion 2-year-old showed the heart of a warrior to hold off 3-10 favorite Greenshoe by neck in a dramatic fight to the finish.   And it was the first Hambletonian victory for the Canadian trio of owner Serge Godin’s Determination Stable, trainer Luc Blais and driver Bob McClure.   Coming in, McClure said “the sky was the limit” for his colt. Forbidden Trade backed up that confidence with the race of his life.   Forbidden Trade, third in his Hambletonian elimination, was always in contention throughout the mile. McClure and his colt tracked Green Manalishi S, an elimination winner and a member of the Melander brigade, into the stretch. Forbidden Trade took charge, but danger was looming with Greenshoe uncorking a menacing rally.   For an instant, it appeared Greenshoe would blow on by. McClure admitted he was headed, but Forbidden Trade was not done. After all, this was the day of the Maple Leaf.   “It was two incredible colts fighting it out,” McClure said. “I don’t think there was a loser in that, but we’re really happy to get out on top.”   It’s also been a remarkable comeback for McClure, 28, who suffered a broken pelvis in a qualifier accident in April. He was back in action by May 23, using a hyperbaric chamber to hasten the recovery.   “I was really lucky to have a good physical trainer,” McClure said. “I probably rushed it back a little faster than I should have. I’m sure most drivers in this business have done this a time or two.”   Melander didn’t get the victory, but his trio of qualifiers for the final raced well. Gimpanzee rallied from far back to get third and Green Manalishi S held on for the fifth and final purse check.   Greenshoe never looked comfortable behind the starting gate for the final as driver Brian Sears held him together to prevent a break. That put him further back than expected, a loss of ground that proved costly.   The time was 1:51 on a warm sunny afternoon as the threatened showers never materialized to spoil the day. Forbidden Trade paid $33.80 to win.   It was the 12th win in 18 starts for the son of Kadabra. He was a $110,000 purchase at the Harrisburg sale.   The Hambletonian kicks off the Trotting Triple Crown. Next up is the Yonkers Trot on Aug. 31, followed by the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 6.   Earlier in the day, a determined Green Manalishi S pulled a 9-1 upset in the first Hambo elimination. He left strongly from post eight, briefly dropped into fourth before ranging up first-over to wear down Osterc in a lifetime best 1:50.3.   Melander and Courant Inc. also won the second elimination. In a favorite’s delight, it was with Greenshoe, the 1-5 favorite, in 1:50.2.   by Mike Farrell, for the Associated Press

Trenton, NJ -- David Miller may not be driving one of the more well-known horses in Saturday's (Aug. 3) Hambletonian at The Meadowlands, but he will be driving for one of the more high-profile owners in the race. Miller will be in the sulky behind Reign Of Honor, who has two wins in 21 lifetime races along with four seconds and three thirds. He has won a total of $294,550. This year, Reign Of Honor has one win in the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. He is a son of Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma. While those figures may appear modest when compared to much of the field, the horse will have a pretty famous rooting section at The Meadowlands, as one of his owners is Jennifer Dalton. Fans of Bravo Network will remember Dalton appearing in Pregnant in Heels in 2012 and one year later she was a season-long guest star in The Real Housewives of New Jersey. A friend of Teresa Giudice, one of the show's top stars, Jennifer is also a Sotheby's realtor who appeared on the show while trying to sell a home for Melissa and Joe Gorga, and she counts Lil' Kim as one of her best friends. And when the gate goes up Saturday, Reign Of Honor will have the Housewives on hand to lend vocal support. "All the Housewives crew are going to be there," Dalton said. "The producer wants to do a show with the horses." It's a show that no one would have thought possible just five years ago. Dalton had no interest in horses for most of her life until one day she went to a race at Yonkers, where John Campbell drove her girlfriend's horse. As they were stuck in traffic while leaving, she saw the horse trailers and became obsessed. Rolling down the window she yelled out to a trainer, who happened to be Pat Lachance. He invited her to see the horses and the two became friends. Soon after, she entered the Meadowlands' "Own a Horse" promotion and "won" 10 percent of UF Fast Feelin. Her first race as an owner was Jan. 2, 2016 and she never looked back. In fact, once the contest ended, she claimed the horse. The horse was eventually claimed from Dalton, which broke her heart. "I never owned a claimer again," she said. "I cried." Once Jennifer got involved in Standardbreds, she discovered a different kind of tension than that which occurred amidst the Housewives controversies. "There's drama in both," she said. "But Housewives of New Jersey I got paid. This one, I pay so much money for horses and training, and you just hope you get paid back." Dalton now has a stable of 19 horses at trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman's New Jersey barn. Most of them have something in common -- they honor Jennifer's 5-year-old daughter. "All my horses are named after her," she said. "When you see a 'Reign' somewhere, it comes from us," Dalton's boyfriend Mike Herrera added. Several years ago, Dalton actually brought a horse to Reign's school for show-and-tell. "She had me driving around in a tractor and trailer in Edgewater, N.J., right under the George Washington Bridge," Herrera recalled. Jennifer has completely immersed herself into harness racing. A striking, stylish woman who always looks her best, she surprises folks when they see her cleaning out the stalls. After attending several Hambletonians it became a dream for her to enter a horse in the race. She and Norman staked Reign Of Honor and made the call to enter him. "I'm so happy," said Dalton, who owns the horse with Deo Volente Farms, Tom Pontone, and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. "This horse is so good, he really is. I love this horse." The Hambo is a great morale lifter for Dalton, who suffered a serious stroke at the beginning of last year. She is able to walk and live an everyday life, but is still undergoing speech therapy, and her memory has issues at times. "It was serious, but I'm OK now," she said. Jennifer thinks her horse, who is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Reynolds Memorial and drew the four hole in the second elimination, is pretty OK as well. She and Mike playfully joke about his chances in the Hambo. "You know what, he's a real nice horse, but he's been second to Greenshoe (in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final)," Herrera said. "I don't think we can beat that horse right now. To be honest, I think we're racing for second place." He then directed his conversation to Dalton, saying with a laugh, "You know that; you're a professional, you know that. "A couple of years ago she would have been like 'My horse is the best,' but she realizes the business now, she understands the numbers. I'm just keeping it real." And what is Dalton's version of real? "I want to go for it all!" she said. Either way, it's a big day for the couple. "Imagine," Herrera said, "going from a 10 claimer to a Hambo horse." Sounds like a made-for-TV saga. Mr. Vicktor deserves shot at Hambletonian Tyler Buter doesn't know if his horse can win the Hambletonian, but he knows darn well that he deserves the opportunity to try. Buter will be driving Mr Vicktor out of the five hole in the first elimination Saturday, and he is certain the horse belongs in the field of outstanding competitors. "I thought so early on in the year," Buter said. "They sold him to (trainer) Jennifer Lappe and (husband) John Kokinos and that was the main reason they bought him, to have a horse with the potential to race in the Hambletonian. The only time other than last week that he's been beat was against Gimpanzee, who is one of the top two to win the Hambo in my eyes. When you can keep up and race well against one of the top trotters in the country, there's no reason to believe that he doesn't belong in the Hambletonian." In nine starts this year, Mr Vicktor (RC Royalty-Hawaiian Vicky) has won six and finished second twice. His two seconds were both to Gimpanzee. He made his first Meadowlands start -- in fact, his first start outside of New York -- on July 27 and finished 12th after making a break in the Reynolds. He has rebounded from an abbreviated 2-year-old season, in which he was shut down after breathing issues surfaced. There have been no such issues this season, and Buter felt the Reynolds clunker was an aberration. "He's had a great year; his start last week, I would just throw it out," he said. "It was unfortunate. It was a 12-horse field, two trailers, horses going everywhere in the first turn. It didn't work out. I would not even take that start into consideration and look forward to this week. "He's really good gaited and he has a desire to race. As soon as you turn him to the gate, he wants to go. He's a very willing horse. He's always showed up every week to race." The horse is also owned by Robert Santagata, Diamond Pride LLC (baseball legend Joe Torre) and Joe Lee, and Lee praises the way Buter handles the horse. This will be the driver's Hambletonian debut, although he won the Townsend Ackerman Stakes with Two AM on Hambletonian Day in 2017. "This is something you always look forward to growing up," he said. "It's what you work for. For the trotters, it's the biggest race. It's what you strive for, what you work for all your life. The chance to drive in it at (age) 33 is pretty cool, I think." Forbidden Trade ready for the Hambletonian  Bob McClure won the Dr. John R. Steele Memorial with Dream Together on Hambletonian Day last year, so it was jokingly suggested to him it should be no problem to win his Hambo debut this year. "I wouldn't say that," McClure said with a laugh. "It takes a lot of horsepower and good luck. But it's fun when it does come together." McClure will try and have his fun driving Forbidden Trade out of the one hole in the second elimination. The horse has four wins and two seconds in six starts this year, good for $122,956 in earnings. Last year he won seven of 11 starts and earned $236,244 in winning the O'Brien Award as the top 2-year-old trotting colt of the Year in Canada. The son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory is trained by Luc Blais for owner Serge Godin's Determination Stable. "I don't think he's disappointed anybody yet," McClure said. "He's only been beaten twice. The first time he was on a half (-mile track) and the next time he got locked in. He almost got out to beat Pilot Discretion (in the $185,250 Goodtimes final at Woodbine Mohawk Park). I think every race he's had, he's improved and couldn't be going into the Hambo any better. "I think the sky is the limit for him. He's been a professional from day one. He's made my job easy. If he's in any position to win he usually gets the job done. He's been fun to drive all year. I think he has the potential to be a top Grand Circuit horse." McClure likes Forbidden Trade's versatility, nothing that as a 2-year-old "he just chased horses," and that this year, "out of nowhere in the Goodtimes elim, I left with him. He's very handy either way. He doesn't have a preferred style." On April 25, McClure suffered a broken pelvis in an accident during qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and returned to the sulky May 23 using a hyperbaric chamber three to four times a week to aid his recovery. After all that, needless to say Saturday is a big day for the 28-year-old. "It's exciting," he said. "I definitely never would have thought this two years ago. But I wouldn't be here without Determination Stable. That's a big contribution to it all. I owe it all to them." As for whether last year's Steele victory can help him, McClure said, "It doesn't hurt. Last year we went into it kind of green, but came out OK. I think as long as you've got some good horses and some confidence, you'll be OK." ​by Rich Fisher, for the USTA  

MILTON, JULY 4, 2019 - The Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old season got under way on Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with a pair of $108,000 Gold Series divisions for the freshman trotting colts, and harness racing driver Bob McClure was in the race bike of both winners. "Those are two nice colts right there," said McClure of young trotters Threefiftytwo and Port Perry. Making his first appearance at the helm of Threefiftytwo, McClure moved the colt smartly away from Post 8 in the first division and was on top just after the :29.3 opening quarter. Tuckers Out soon moved to the front, followed by Built Strong, which put Threefiftytwo in third as the field reached the 1:00 half. Fans who had selected Threefiftytwo had a moment of worry as a parade of rivals rolled up the outer lane heading into the final turn, but McClure was able to slide the colt out before the 1:29.1 three-quarters and once Threefiftytwo had an open look at the wire, the young trotter found a big gear and was able to reel in fan favourite Crossfit Mouse by a head. A pair of sharp last quarters - :27 and :27.1 - saw Threefiftytwo and Crossfit Mouse hit the wire in 1:56.3, four lengths ahead of third-place finisher Built Strong. "He left out good and cleared to the front and let one go and then let two go, and then all of a sudden he was sitting pretty well fourth over, and that's a horrible spot to be," said McClure. "He made up for it, so he was really impressive." Threefiftytwo McClure drove Threefiftytwo to the win for trainer George Ducharme of Norfolk, MA and his co-owner Michelle Larson of Rochester, MA. A homebred out of Royalty For Life and Four Damsals, Threefiftytwo was making his first start in Ontario after doing his qualifying at Vernon Downs in New York, where he was a 1:58.3 winner on June 28. Threefiftytwo "I talked to George before we went out just quick. He told me that the colt hadn't done anything wrong, he was pretty high on him, and looking at him in the paddock, I mean he's a very impressive looking horse," said McClure of his introduction to Threefiftytwo. "He's flashy, got an athletic build, he's tall, he's real nice to look at and his qualifiers looked pretty good. "George told me he was having slight hiccups with the gate, but he's done a good job because he was over it, he was perfect tonight," the Elora resident added. Unlike Threefiftytwo, McClure was very familiar with his mount in the second Gold division. The reinsman had piloted Port Perry in two qualifying starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park and several schooling miles for trainer Luc Blais and was hopeful the lanky youngster could hold his own in top class company. Starting from Post 2 McClure settled Port Perry into fifth as Hetalkstoangels led the field to a :29 quarter. Fan favourite Magics Wizard took over top spot and reached the half in :59.3, where McClure tipped Port Perry off the rail and started up the outer lane. Heading into the last turn Kenogami Coco and driver Trevor Henry moved off the rail and provided cover for McClure and Port Perry, putting them just three lengths back at the 1:29.1 three-quarters. Squaring up in the stretch McClure simply pointed Port Perry at the wire and the big colt accelerated away from the field with every stride, reaching the wire four and one-half lengths the best in 1:57.3. Blue Cupertino also closed hard to be second, with Hetalkstoangels completing the top three. Port Perry                                                                                             --New Image media "I always liked him. He was always really professional, but he's big, he's very, very big, a big, strong, thick horse. If you looked at him in the stall, you'd say, 'There's no way he's going to be a good two-year-old, he'll probably be a nice three-year-old,'" said McClure. "And he is built like he's going to be a better three-year-old, but if he stays sound this year he's got a wicked engine. The big thing about him is how strong he is. He's the type that could really overpower a field." Campbellville resident Blais conditions the son of Kadabra and former Gold Series winner Danica Hall for Determination of Montreal, QC. Danica Hall's third foal, Port Perry was an $85,000 acquisition from last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. McClure started driving the Blais-trained, Determination-owned totters last spring and the partnership has proven fruitful; Forbidden Trade was the top two-year-old trotting colt last season and with one freshman event complete they appear to have another strong contender for the role in 2019. "I really enjoy it," said McClure. "And Luc - I mean we've got really nice horses to work with, Serge Godin, he buys some really nice horses - but he does a good job maintaining them and I just try to do my part." Port Perry Threefiftytwo and Port Perry will make their second Gold Series start on July 23 over the Georgian Downs oval in Innisfil, ON, where McClure will hope they once again draw into different divisions. Two-year-old Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park this weekend as the Milton oval welcomes the pacing colts for Grassroots action on Friday night and Gold Series action Saturday. The Grassroots colts will compete in Races 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 on Friday's program, which gets under way at 7:50 pm. The Gold colts will battle in Races 5 and 8 on Saturday, with the first race going postward at 7:10 pm. Complete results for Thursday's program are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0704wbsbsn.dat.   OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com   OSS Program Administration Ontario Racing Woodbine Mohawk Park www.ontarioracing.com

MILTON, June 4, 2019 - The 36th Pepsi North America Cup has attracted 18 entrants to compete in this Saturday's harness racing eliminations at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The group of 18 three-year-old pacers have been split into a pair of $50,000 eliminations. The top-five finishers from each elimination will advance to the $1 million final on June 15. The elimination winners will earn the right to select their post position for the final. Captain Crunch is the top contender heading into the eliminations. The Dan Patch Award winner will start from post-four in a stacked first division. Trained by Nancy Johansson, Captain Crunch sent a statement to his competition with a pair of stunning victories to start his sophomore campaign. The son of Captaintreacherous posted a 1:49.1 victory in his season debut over a sloppy track at Pocono on May 19 and followed it up with a 1:49.2 open-lengths score on May 26 at Philadelphia. His dominate start is no surprise after finishing his rookie season (six wins in 10 starts) with victories in the Breeders Crown and Governor's Cup. Captain Crunch                                    --Curtis Salonick photo Captain Crunch is from the first-crop of 2013 North America Cup winner Captaintreacherous, who was from the first-crop of 2008 winner Somebeachsomewhere when he captured Canada's richest race. Trainer Johansson is the daughter of now-retired Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. The Pepsi North America Cup is one of few signature races that Takter never won during his career. Regular driver Scott Zeron will be at the controls of Captain Crunch. Based in the United States the last several years, Zeron is a former leading driver at Woodbine and is searching for his first Pepsi North America Cup. The depth of the first Pepsi North America Cup elimination will likely mean a top contender will be on the outside looking in to the final. Dr. Ian Moore trainee Century Farroh (PP9, Sylvain Filion) is undefeated in four starts this season and will face his toughest challenge to date. The son of Mach Three was last season's Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots champion and most recently won his Grand Circuit debut in a Somebeachsomewhere division Century Farroh                       --New Image Media The first elimination also features Art Rooney winner Bettors Wish (PP1, Dexter Dunn), who is three for three this season. Regally-bred Best In Show (PP2, Bob McClure) has won two of his last three starts. New Jersey and Kentucky Sires Stakes champion Hurrikane Emperor (PP3, Daniel Dube) has won 10 of 12 career starts. De Los Cielos Deo (PP5, David Miller) recently posted a 1:48.4 qualifying victory. The field is completed by Air Force Hanover (PP6, Miller), Shake That House (PP7, Tim Tetrick) and Fixed Idea (PP8, Randy Waples). The first elimination has been carded as Race 3 (7:50 p.m. EDT) The second elimination will see former Cup winning trainer Brian Brown send out the almost-perfect Workin Ona Mystery. The Ohio-based trainer won the 2016 event with Fear The Dragon. A son of Captaintreacherous, Workin Ona Mystery is two for two this season to bring his career record to seven wins in eight starts. The Brown trainee posted easy victories in two Pennsylvania Sires Stakes events before most recently tuning up for the Cup with a 1:52.3 qualifier on May 29 at Hoosier Park. Tim Tetrick, who is a two-time North America Cup winner, will drive Workin Ona Mystery. The pair will start from the outside post-nine. O'Brien Award winner Stag Party will line up from post-five with driver David Miller in the second split. The Casie Coleman trainee has been off to a slow start by his standards this season, posting a pair of third-place finishes in two starts. A son of 2001 North America Cup winner Bettors Delight, Stag Party won six of nine starts as a rookie, including the Metro Pace. Reinsman Miller has won two of last three editions of the North America Cup, while trainer Coleman is seeking her third victory in the $1 million event. Local trainees Bronx Seelster (PP6, Trevor Henry) and Tyga Hanover (PP8, Sylvain Filion) will look to make the final for their Canadian connections. Wayne McGean trainee Bronx Seelster was an Ontario Sires Stakes standout as a rookie, winning seven of 12 starts. The son of Big Jim has a runner-up and fourth-place finish in two starts this season. Tyga Hanover surprised some with a victory in last Saturday's Somebeachsomewhere for trainer Ben Baillargeon. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere has won three of four starts this season after going winless in six as a two-year-old. The field for the second split is completed by Captain Victorious (PP1, Yannick Gingras), Lyons Night Hawk (PP2, Tetrick), Semi Tough (PP3, Matt Kakaley), Caviart Rockland (PP4, Scott Zeron) and Aflame Hanover (PP7, Tetrick). The second elimination is carded as Race 8 (9:30 p.m. EDT). The final for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup will take place on Saturday, June 15. The post-position draw is scheduled for next Tuesday (June 11) during a special luncheon at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The 2019 Pepsi North America Cup event on June 15 will feature over $2 million in live racing, live music, food trucks and a beer garden. The first 1,500 fans to arrive on Pepsi North America Cup night will receive a free commemorative hat. Tickets are now on sale at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Full details for the Pepsi North America Cup can be found on the official event page. Post time for this Saturday's Pepsi North America Cup eliminations card is 7:10 p.m. To download the early program pages for Saturday's card, click here.   Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment, Mohawk Park Manager, Communications  

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