The $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie has drawn an impressive field of eight horses [field summary below] and goes postward this Saturday evening, July 19 as Northfield Park's twelfth race. Approximate post time for this event is 11:00 p.m. The Battle is a contest for North America's top open pacers. Superfecta wagering has been added to Saturday's twelfth race, the Battle feature. Saturday's first race post time is 6:00 p.m. Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the best veteran pacers the sport has to offer. Past Battle Champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip and Maltese Artist. Foiled Again has drawn post 7 in Saturday's feature and has been named the 3-1 slight morning-line favorite by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi. Foiled Again will appear in the Battle an unprecedented six times, and Saturday will reveal if he is successful in becoming the first horse in Northfield Park history to win this event three times. The 10 year-old son of Dragon Again (2000 Battle Champion) won in 2009 and 2011, joining Jaguar Spur (winner in 1988-89), Peruvian Hanover (winner in 2002-03) and Maltese Artist (winner in 2005 and 2007) as the only four horses to win the Battle of Lake Erie twice. Age does not seem to be slowing Foiled Again. He has paced his last four races in under 1:50. Foiled Again is trained by Ronald Burke and has garnered 80 career victories and sports earnings of $6,313,068. Those career earnings rank him as the richest pacer in the history of harness racing. The 2014 $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie Field: #1 - Night Pro enters this race with a six-race win streak, the last four all being paced sub-1:50, and earnings of $308,929. He is the son of Pro Bono Bests (Sire of Bono Bests, 2008 Battle of Lake Erie champion). His dam, Midnight Jewel was a standout race mare at Northfield Park and throughout the Midwest. This four year-old has won 21 of 28 career starts and is 9 of 11 this year. He makes his second local appearance. He won his career debut here in a $2,000 NW1 in 1:57.4 in March of last year. Dale Decker of Temperance, Michigan owns and trains this horse, who has been terrorizing his competition in Michigan and Indiana. He has a career best of 1:49 (HoP 7/8) and Peter Wrenn, who won the Battle with Dare You To in 1991, has been given the driving assignment with a morning line of 4-1. #2 - Beach Memories is one of two sons of Somebeachsomewhere in this year's edition of the Battle of Lake Erie. He has won 11 of 39 career races, taking a 1:48.3 (ScD 5/8) mark and bankrolling $450,214. This four year-old is owned by the partnership of Strollin Stables of Marion, Ohio, AWS Stables of Lima, Ohio, King McNamara of Naples, Florida and Country Club Acres of Findlay, Ohio. Beach Memories is the winner of last year's $260,000 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Final. He is conditioned in Delaware, Ohio by Brian Brown and was victorious in his most recent effort in the Buckeye State in a $20,000 Open at Scioto Downs in June. Brown has enlisted Northfield Park's leading driver, Josh Sutton, to drive this 15-1 morning line contender. #3 - Bolt The Duer sports career earnings of $1,770,095 and is one of three millionaires in this year's Battle of Lake Erie field. He has 54 lifetime starts and 20 career victories. He is a five year-old son of Ponder with a lifetime mark of 1:47.4 (Mea 5/8). Bolt The Duer is owned by All Star Racing, Inc. of Towaco, New Jersey and is trained by Peter Foley. This is the second local appearance for Bolt The Duer, who won the $130,000 Cleveland Classic here is 2012. His richest win came in the $500,000 Adios Final at The Meadows in 2012. He has been assigned a morning line of 7-2 and is scheduled to have the driving services of Canadian Mark Mac Donald. #4 - Clear Vision is one of two starters from the powerful barn of Ron Burke. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and The Panhellenic Stable Corp. of Oyster Bay, New York. He has won 25 and has been on the board in 80 of 151 career races, taking a 1:48.2 (TgDn 5/8) mark and bankrolling $1,912,868. 2014 marks Clear Vision's second Battle of Lake Erie appearance, finishing third in last year's edition. His richest victory was in the $223,500 Bobby Quillen Memorial Harrington Raceway in 2013. Burke has named Ohio-native Brett Miller to drive this 9-2 morning line competitor. #5 - Fool Me Once will start for Canadian owners Mark Austin Stables of Fergus, Ontario and Daniel Smith of London, Ontario. He has 16 career victories in 32 lifetime starts. This four year-old son of Art Major has career earnings of $654,371 and enters this race off of two straight wins at Mohawk, where he took his 1:48.1 lifetime mark. Fool Me Once is last year's New York Sires Stake Champion, winning the $225,000 final at Yonkers Raceway. This 6-1 morning line selection is trained by Mark Austin and is scheduled to be driven by North American leading driver, Aaron Merriman. #6 - Twilight Bonfire is owned by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. This four year-old has 49 career starts, winning 10 races. He has earned a 1:50.1 (Mea 5/8) lifetime mark and has career earnings of $965,140. Twilight Bonfire makes his second local appearance. He started as the favorite, but ended as the runner-up in last year's $126,000 Cleveland Classic. This Richard Gillock trainee's biggest win was at Dover Downs in the $165,975 Matron Stakes in 2012. Buckeye-native Tony Hall has been called upon to drive this 12-1 morning line starter #7 - Foiled Again is attempting to become the first horse to win this even three times and makes his sixth Battle of Lake Erie appearance. He won this event in 2009 and 2011, finished third in the 2010 and was second in this event in 2012. Ron Burke trains foiled Again for owners Burke Racing Stable of Fredricktown, PA, Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, PA and JJK Stables of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Foiled Again has garnered 80 career victories and has been in the money 161 times in 210 career starts, earning a mark of 1:48 (PcD 5/8) and earnings of $6,313,068. Those career earnings rank him as the richest pacer in history. Yannick Gingras is scheduled to pilot this 3-1 slight morning line favorite. #8 - Apprentice Hanover is the 2013 Cleveland Classic Champion and makes his second local appearance. The $126,000 Classic also represents his richest triumph. He has 43 lifetime starts and 17 career victories. He is a four year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere with a lifetime mark of 149.4 (Mea 5/8) and career earnings of $824,675. Apprentice Hanover is owned by Bradley Grant of Milton, Ontario, Canada and is trained by Benjamin Wallace. He has been assigned a morning line of 10-1 and is scheduled to have the driving services of Dan Noble. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
Ron Burke became the first harness racing trainer to surpass $20 million in purses in a single year when For All We Know finished third in a $14,000 mares claiming handicap pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Wednesday night. In addition to the record for purse earnings, Burke's trainees have 981 wins so far in 2013 -- another record. Burke is on his way to leading all North American harness racing trainers in both wins and earnings for the fifth consecutive year. He won 906 races in 2012, breaking harness racing's training record of 842 established by his stable in 2010. He saw his horses win $19.69 million in purses in 2012, breaking the record of $18.54 million set by his stable in 2011. HOLLOWAY HOPES TO 'STING' MATRON FOES Joe Holloway uses the word "decent" to describe Shebestingin's year so far, but the 3-year-old filly pacer has two more chances to improve that assessment. Shebestingin is the 3-5 morning line favorite in Sunday's $130,650 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers at Dover Downs. She will start from post four with David Miller in the sulky. Last week, Shebestingin won her Matron elimination by three lengths over Ms Caila J Fra in 1:51.2. Ms Caila J Fra is the 9-2 second choice in the final. Dover Downs hosts Matron finals for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers on Sunday. Following the Matron, Shebestingin is expected to make her last start of the year in the $200,000 Nadia Lobell Stakes on Nov. 30 at the Meadowlands. "(Her year has) been decent," said Holloway, who trains Shebestingin for owners Val d'Or Farms, Ted Gewertz and L&L DeVisser. "When I trained her down, I thought she had a chance to be dominant. She wasn't. You have to show up, you have to race." Shebestingin has won 10 of 17 starts this year and finished in the top three a total of 14 times while earning $489,551. The three times she failed to hit the board were the $500,000 Breeders Crown, $350,000 Valley Forge and $184,250 Mistletoe Shalee. All three of those races, as well as the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial where Shebestingin finished second, were won by I Luv The Nitelife. I Luv The Nitelife did not enter the Matron, but is expected to race in the Nadia Lobell. "I Luv The Nitelife has been the dominant filly; the best 3-year-old filly," Holloway said. "In my heart, I think if we were ever on our good day and have a shot, we could beat her. But we haven't done it, so you have to tip your hat to them. I knew it would be a battle with her, but I thought come year end, we would best her more than she bested us. "We'll have to maybe wait to find out next year. But it should be fun." A daughter of stallion Bettor's Delight out of the mare Armbro Tussle, Shebestingin was purchased as a yearling for $55,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is a half-sister to stakes-winners Hop Sing and Bono Bests. Shebestingin (pronounced She-be-stingin) went 3-for-3 last year, winning divisions of the Simpson, Reynolds and Tompkins-Geers stakes before being sidelined in August by a stress fracture. She won five of her first six races this year, with the loss coming by a neck from post nine to Jerseylicious in the Bobby Weiss Series final at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Other highlights this year included winning her division of the Glen Garnsey in a world-record 1:47 at The Red Mile on Oct. 5 and capturing the $250,750 Empire Breeders Classic in a stakes- and track-record 1:49 at Tioga Downs on Aug. 11. Her 1:47 mile in the Garnsey is the fastest ever by a female pacer of any age in harness racing history. "(Was I surprised) that she raced well? No," Holloway said about her effort at The Red Mile. "That she went in (1):47 flat, time becomes a little bit irrelevant anymore because horses can go so fast, but I've known she's been an extremely fast horse for quite some time." Holloway said Shebestingin had issues tying up at The Red Mile and was not at her best heading into the Breeders Crown. But those issues seem to be in the past as she prepares for the Matron final. "We'd had a tough week before the Breeders Crown," Holloway said. "She had tied up, but no excuses, you have to be good when you have to be good. I wish she had been a little bit better for the night of the Breeders Crown, but she wasn't. But she was very good last week and seems to be excellent so far this week." As for her chances in the Matron, Holloway said he expected her to race well. "I just hope she is as good as she was last week," he added. "She'll handle the rest from there." To see the full Matron card at Dover Downs, click here. by Ken Weingartner for HRC
Keith Kash Jr. scored the 2,000th win of his driving career while driving Wildatthebeach in Northfield Park’s 11 race on Friday (August 9) by boldly looming from the back to pass the competition. Wildatthebeach paced her successful mile in 1:57.2, winning by two lengths and returning $94.40 to win. His milestone win was his fourth on Northfield’s Friday program and his eighth win of the day. Kash left his Medina home on Friday headed for the Ashtabula Fair in Jefferson, Ohio with 1992 wins to his credit. He garnered four wins at the fair before arriving at Northfield to drive for the evening. “I think I can do it tonight,” said Kash, “It looks like I have a pretty good lineup.” Kash’s richest wins are for a purse of $100,000. He drove Bono Bests to victory in the 2008 Battle Of Lake Erie and Osborne’s Bullet in an Ohio Sires Stakes final. Keith rates the most exciting horse he has ever driven as Bono Bests, “Winning the Battle was great. I grew up watching the race and it was an honor to win it.” Kash’s favorite horse he drove with regularity is Waltz Across Texas. “She was the first good horse I ever drove and she was fun to drive. It was just push a button and she would go,” recalled Kash, “She also taught me a lot about driving.” 34 year-old Kash began driving in 1997 and won his first race that year aboard Improvise Hanover in a $525 conditioned race at the Ashland County Fair. Since then he has amassed over $7.8 million in purse earning. Kash recalls his fastest win as being 1:51.1 with Forever Happy at Colonial Downs. Keith Kash Jr grew up in the horse business, watching his father drive. Keith Kash Sr. won nearly 1,500 races in his driving career. Kash Jr. notes his father and David Hawk as having the largest influence on his career. With 2,000 wins under his belt, Kash will start tomorrow the same way as he did today. He will train his 25-horse stable with Melinda, his wife of 11 years as well as being an active and doting father of their five year-old daughter, Kylee. Ayers Ratliff, Northfield Park Publicity Department
Most of the biggest names in Australasian harness racing are among the nominations for the BIG6 Hunter Cup and SEW-Eurodrive Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, which closed at noon today.
Now is the time for Bono Bests. The former North American speedster is only weeks away from making his much prolonged yet highly anticipated downunder harness racing debut.
2008 Battle of Lake Erie winner Bono Bests has been sold to Australian interests, according to trainer Ross Croghan.
Herbert J. Burns III and Stephen W. Demeter's Bono Bests sandwiched a victory in the $100,000 Battle of Lake Erie between wins in legs of the George Morton Levy Series on the way to April Horse of the Month honours, as conferred by the U.S. Trotting Association.
A trio of abbreviated fields went postward in Saturday night's fifth and final preliminary leg of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway...one last shot to earn valuable points redeemable for a berth in next week's $390,000 final.
Keith Kash, Jr., steered 3-1 Bono Bests three-wide at the three-quarters, and the five-year-old son of Pro Bono Best drew off in the stretch to win the 2008 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park by three lengths in 1:52.2 over a sloppy track caused by a downpour just prior to the race.