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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (May 20, 2015) - Most harness racing trainers would be happy if their prized pupil started their three-year-old season with an impressive win, but Nik Drennan continues to describe Guess Who's Back as a work in progress. "He was good and I was happy, just not 100-percent happy," said Drennan in describing his colt's win in last week's opening leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands. "He put in a few steps around the first turn so we're just trying to work some things out. He has to get over his issues. We need to get him on a regular routine of racing so that we can build his confidence and get him stronger both mentally and physically." Guess Who's Back has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, co-feature on the Meadowlands 12-race Friday program. Brian Sears will drive the Muscles Yankee colt. The other opening leg winner, French Laundry, was given the week off by trainer Jimmy Takter. Guess Who's Back sold for $90,000 as a yearling at the Harrisburg Sale. His dam is a half-sister to the millionaire Breeders Crown champion Poof She's Gone. He is owned by Joseph Davino in partnership with Brad Shackman, TLP Stable and J&T Silva Stables. Drennan said he has never had a horse as good as Guess Who's Back, yet he is far from a finished product. He flashed major talent last year, winning the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, but also frustrated Drennan by going off-stride in four starts. "He was pretty big," explained Drennan. "Last year he looked like a four-year-old and was racing against horses that were half his size. Now he probably looks like a five-year-old. He had to get over some aches and pains last year. It's more mental than anything with him now. The next couple of starts will tell with him." Friday's card also includes the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies and an Open Handicap for pacing mares that serves as the seasonal debut of stakes-winning four-year-olds Sandbetweenurtoes and Act Now. There is a carryover of $124,509 in the race five Jackpot Super High 5 and $96,746 in the last race Jackpot Super High 5. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Belmont Stakes Trip Giveaway With the eyes of the racing world fixed upon American Pharoah and his quest for thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, the Meadowlands is going to give one of its fans a trip of a lifetime. Fans visiting the Meadowlands during live racing can enter to win a VIP trip to the Belmont Stakes. The prize package includes clubhouse seating for four, dining in the Marquee Tent, and a parking pass. The winner will be drawn May 29. Fans must be present to win the grand prize. Justin Horowitz

Nichols, NY -- After his two-year-old season culminated in a second-place finish in the Breeders Crown, In the Arsenal ($2.60) made good on his odds-on promise in one of four New York Sire Stakes events ($110,000 added total purse) for harness racing three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday (May 17) afternoon at Tioga Downs.   The son of American Ideal and Ladyotra (On the Road Again) settled well off the early pace, retreating to fourth after he was caught wide on the first turn behind eventual pacesetter Gold Coast Muscle (Mike Simons). In the Arsenal would stalk comfortably from midfield as Soto (Brett Miller) made a push to the fore after a :26.1 first quarter mile, advancing in the breeze to press the pace on the backstretch. While able to make gradual gains on his own, he found another gear just before the far turn upon immediate asking from Brian Sears, making up two lengths on Soto through a :27.1 third quarter. In the Arsenal continued his pursuit in earnest, dueling with and just collaring Soto in the final yards, prevailing by a scant neck in 1:50. Oneisalonelynumber (David Miller) stayed on to finish third after following the winner's cover.   Kelvin Harrison trains seven-time winner In the Arsenal for owner-breeder White Birch Farm and the In the Arsenal Racing partnership.   For Sears, the victory was one of three on the card, also teaming up with Time Out I'm Tired ($25.00, 1:52.4) and JK Allnitelong ($8.80, 1:51.4) in a pair of Excelsior events on the undercard.   Art Major sired two of the other three New York Sire Stakes winners on the afternoon's program, with Yannick Gingras driving Sicily ($9.70, 1:51.1) and Cartoon Daddy ($4.30, 1:51.4) to victory in their respective divisions. National Seelster ($5.80, 1:51.4)--who gave futile chase to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $58,000 Gilmour at the Meadowlands in March--captured the fourth division, with Andy Miller piloting the Bettor's Delight colt.   A special Monday evening card is up next at Tioga Downs, with the first of 11 races on May 18 due off at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs  

While there is a long history of brilliant mares defeating the older horses at the Free For All trotting level in harness racing, it had never happened in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial. That all changed on a rainy Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Bee A Magician, the overwhelming 4/5 favorite did what had yet to be done as she emerged victorious winning the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial Final in 1:51.2. She became the first mare in the 17 year history of the race to win the historic event. Shortly after the start heading into the first turn, Market Share and Master Of Law appeared to have contact and Market Share went off-stride, just as he did in the Cutler last year. Bee A Magician avoided the trouble and Brian Sears allowed his former Horse of the Year to relax off the early speed, which was established by Wind Of The north who reached the first quarter in a very strong 26.4. As the field straightened up on the backstretch, Sears felt the time was right to move his mare to the top and she responded with a strong brush, reaching the lead before the half-mile in 55.2. Wind Of The North yielded to the pocket position. Moving into the far turn, DW's NY Yank moved first over while Melady's Monet, who had been such a force this year at The Meadowlands fought to catch his cover on the turn. Bee A Magician reached the three quarter pole in 1:23.4 and turned for home with a comfortable lead. DW's NY Yank never got close to the mare and began to tire. Wind Of The North came out of the pocket and tried to rally but never appeared a threat as Melady's Monet moved into third. Brian Sears never asked his mare through the stretch and she coasted to an easy win in 1:51.2. Wind Of The North finished second with Melady's Monet third. It was the same result as the week prior in the prep for the Cutler Final. Brian Sears was very proud of Bee A Magician after the race. "She's just such a pleasure," said Sears. "Last year was tough for her, there was a lot of traveling and it was a long season. But right now, she is just really fresh and really sharp. It is hard to keep them this sharp all year long, but hopefully she keeps going forward." Bee A Magician won for the 34th time in 50 lifetime starts and her lifetime earnings surpassed $2.9 Million. With the win, she became the third richest trotting mare in harness racing history, trailing only the magnificent Peace Corps and the legendary Moni Maker. She is trained by Nifty Norman for Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David Mc Duffee. Bee A Magician While Bee A Magician was the best story of the night, the race of the night went to the Free For All pacers in the first leg of the TVG Free For All Pacing series for $50,000. A select field of six went to the post with all the speed coming from the outside early as JK Endofanera blasted to the front and reached the opening quarter in 27.3. Warrawee Needy moved to the pocket early on with Dovuto Hanover securing the three hole early on. But Brian Sears wasn't content with his position and he moved Dovuto Hanover to challenge for the lead down the backstretch. James MacDonald had similar thoughts with Modern Legend and he launched his gelding three-wide past the half mile in 54.4. Modern Legend cleared the top and opened up nearly three lengths on the Dovuto Hanover, while JK Endofanera was shuffled back as Modern Legend reached three quarters in 1:21.2 and turned for home in command. At this point, Doo Wop Hanover was making a three-wide move from the back of the pack as Modern Legend began to come back to the field. JK Endofanera found room between horses and began to re-rally through the stretch. As the wire neared, these three lined up together and they finished three across the track in a thrilling photo finish in 1:48.4. The win photograph revealed the nose of JK Endofanera reached the finish line first, with Modern Legend second and Doo Wop Hanover third. The son of Art Major earned over $1.1 Million last year which included a win in the North America Cup. His lifetime earnings surpassed $1.5 Million with the victory tonight for trainer Ron Burke and owners, the 3 Brothers Stables. Yannick Gingras was in the sulky for his fourth winner of the night, he would also win the nightcap to make it five wins on the program. JK Endofanera Artspeak's road to the Meadowlands Pace began in impressive fashion with a sharp 1:49 score in the first round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at The Meadowlands Saturday night. Competing in the first of two $20,000 divisions, Artspeak had been the subject of some attention given his performances in the mornings at The Meadowlands as he geared up for his three year old campaign. It had been documented that Artspeak made a break in a training mile at the end of April at the East Rutherford oval and he also went off-stride in his subsequent qualifier. Last week, Artspeak went around the track while remaining flat, but was beaten nearly nine lengths by Lyons Levi Lewis. All that did was produce a better than expected 3/2 final price and Artspeak simply dominated. Allowed to settle off the speed early in the mile, Artspeak sat fourth through a 27.3 opening quarter established by Gokudo Hanover. Scott Zeron did not waste any time, sending his champion to the lead down the backstretch and Artspeak would reach the half-mile in 1:55 and three quarters in a sharp 1:22.1 before turning for home and turning it on. Gokudo Hanover sat the pocket behind Artspeak throughout the mile, but was never a threat to the favorite and all he could do was chase him through the stretch as Artspeak hit the wire in 1:49, a lifetime best effort. Dealt A Winner was well-back in third. The son of Western Ideal was voted the two year old pacing champion last year, winning eight times from ten starts with earnings of nearly $750,000. He is trained by Tony Alagna for Brittany Farms, Katz, Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners. Artspeak The other $20,000 Sire Stakes division featured a field of seven who all were exiting first or second place finishes. The bettors settled on Hurrikane Ali as their favorite and they were right as he scored a decisive 1:50 score for Yannick Gingras. Sent off at 3/5, Hurrikane Ali cleared the lead just before the half-mile pole and streaked through fractions of 55.3 and 1:23.2 before facing a challenge from Rock N' Roll Word who appeared to be full of pace in the pocket, but Hurrikane Ali was never letting that foe by and he rolled to a very impressive victory. Hurrikane Ali is now two for two on the season with earnings over $55,000 in his career. The 1:50 clocking was a lifetime best effort for trainer John McDermott Jr. The Rocknroll Hanover colt is owned by Kuhen Racing, Jonathan Klee Racing, Rucker and Pucila. Hurrikane Ali The fillies also went to the track in sire stakes action and Lindys Old Lady is a filly whose star is on the rise at The Meadowlands. The homebred daughter of Rocknroll Hanover has begun her career a perfect two for two after Saturday night's win in New Jersey Sire Stakes action. The Lindy homebred showed good speed to reach the pocket behind the early pacesetter, Crescent City. Tim Tetrick quickly guided his filly out of the pocket after an opening quarter in 27.2 and cleared the lead down the backstretch. From there, Lindys Old Lady soared through a 56.1 half-mile before reaching three quarters in 1:23.3 with no pressure whatsoever. Turning for home, Tetrick called on his filly for speed and she responded, accelerating away from the field to win going away in an impressive 1:51, lowering her lifetime mark from her first lifetime start. Cheyenne Robin rallied to be second with Wicked Little Minx showing good late speed to finish third. The winner is owned by the breeder, Lindy Farms of Connecticut and is trained by Frank Antonacci. Lindys Old Lady The second $20,000 sire stakes division for three year old filly pacers saw a prohibitive 1/5 favorite in the form of Happiness and the chalk did not disappoint. Leaving from post position four, Happiness was sent right to the lead by Yannick Gingras and she would never relinquish that lead. The three year old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover rolled through fractions of 27.4, 56.1 and 1:23.4 before turning for home with an expanding lead. Hollyrocker, who sat the pocket throughut the mile could not kick home with the winner and faded to third in the stretch. Meanwhile, Stacia Hanover, who was last until the top of the stretch uncorked a tremendous late rally to finish a very good second, validating her form. But, she was left with too much to do to get to the winner. Happiness has now won five times from nine starts for Ron Burke who trains and co-owns the filly with Weaver Bruscemi L.L.C. Happiness' earnings grew to over $67,000 with the victory. On the wagering front, total handle for the Saturday program was $3,099,409. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5 carryovers continued to grow after the conclusion of the Saturday program. The fifth race carryover now stands at $124,509, while the last race jackpot grew to $96,746. Racing resumes on Friday night with first post time at 7:15 P.M.   Darin Zoccali

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 2, 2015--Season-debuting Bee A Magician (Brian Sears, $9.20) and Michael's Power (Dan Dube, $4.20) both went down the road Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured harness racing $42,000 Open Handicaps. Bee A Magician, 2013's Harness Horse of the Year, showed no signs of a five-month hiatus and a pair of mundane qualifiers in the weekly trotting feature. In play from penultimate post position No. 56, she worked around Luminosity (George Brennan), then held sway through weight stations of :27.4, :57.1, 1:26.3 and 1:54.4. That effort established a new track record for aged trotting mares. Luminosity chased around the oval, but was beaten a head. It was more than lengths back to Tweet Me (Tyler Buter) in third, with Lorenzo Dream (Jason Bartlett) and Modest Prince (Steve Smith) completing the cashers. Not Afraid (Dube), first-up as the 7-5 favorite, was poor and backpedaled to last. For third choice Bee A Magician, a 5-year-old daughter of Kadabra trained by Nifty Norman for co-owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee, it was her 32nd win in 48 career starts ($2,756,270). The exacta paid $36.50, with the triple returning $206.50. The week's featured pace saw 11-10 choice Michael's Power, from post No. 5, move past One Through Ten (Bartlett), then finish it off (:27.3, :56.3, 1:24.4, 1:52.1), Second, beaten 2½ lengths, was a buried-alive The Real One (Pat Lachance), who skimmed the cones. One Though Ten, Duel in the Sun (Mark MacDonald) and Big N Bad (Sears) settled for the remainder. For Michael's Power, a 6-year-old homebred Camluck gelding bred/owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his fifth win in 12 '15 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $9.50, with the triple returning $66.50. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM, first round of the Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 20, 2015 - Icommandmyspirit and harness racing driver Brian Sears,  rallied from second-over Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Pace. Sitting chilly from post position No. 6, Icommandmyspirit saw UF Dragon's Queen (Mark MacDonald) worked around polester Palm Patrol (Dan Dube). After a :28.2 opening quarter-mile and 58-second intermission, Camille (George Brennan), as the 7-5 choice, moved from fourth. That was all the incentive Icommandmyspirit needed, as she tagged that's one rear going to the 1:27 three-quarters. UF Dragon's Queen owned a tenuous lead into the lane, but was about to give up the ghost. Palm Patrol ducked inside, but "Icommand" was both wider and faster. The latter whipped the former (a bridesmaid in five of her six races this season) by a neck in a brisk 1:56.1. Camille held the bottom of the ticket, with Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) and Rockaround Sue (Jason Bartlett) rounded out the payees. For third choice Icommandmyspirit, a 5-year-old homebred daughter of Western Ideal trained by Chris Ryder for owner/breeder Cheryl Costello, it was her third win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $47.40, with the triple returning $160. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM) and Sunday (post time 12:10PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 6, 2015—Favored For the Ladies N with harness racing driver Brian Sears in the bike was both patient and potent, handily winning Yonkers Raceway’s $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Making her stateside small-track debut, For the Ladies N won the draw but had no designs about flaunting it. She was more than happy to get away third, behind Handsoffmycookie (Dan Dube) and Mach a Wish (Mark MacDonald). After a :27.4 opening quarter mile and :56.4 intermission, the people’s preference made her move. She edged to the lead passing the 1:24.4 three-quarters, widening to 2½ lengths into the lane. For the Ladies N never had an issue for the balance, winning by 2¾ lengths 1:52.4. Handsoffmycookie chased and held second, with Momma Rock (Jason Bartlett), Mach a Wish and Sir Jillian Z Tam completing the cashers. For “Ladies,” a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Jereme’s Jet trained by Peter Tritton for owner Harry von Knoblauch, it was her second win in as four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.20, with the triple returning $66. The Raceway’s live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it’s Monday (7:10 PM), a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note the next Sunday matinee is Feb. 22 (post time TBA). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 6, 2015-Favored For the Ladies N (Brian Sears, $2.80) was both patient and potent, handily winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Making her stateside small-track debut, For the Ladies N won the draw but had no designs about flaunting it. She was more than happy to get away third, behind Handsoffmycookie (Dan Dube) and Mach a Wish (Mark MacDonald). After a :27.4 opening quarter mile and :56.4 intermission, the people's preference made her move. She edged to the lead passing the 1:24.4 three-quarters, widening to 2½ lengths into the lane. For the Ladies N never had an issue for the balance, winning by 2¾ lengths 1:52.4. Handsoffmycookie chased and held second, with Momma Rock (Jason Bartlett), Mach a Wish and Sir Jillian Z Tam completing the cashers. For "Ladies," a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Jereme's Jet trained by Peter Tritton for owner Harry von Knoblauch, it was her second win in as four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.20, with the triple returning $66. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note the next Sunday matinee is Feb. 22 (post time TBA). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 31, 2015 - Sapphire City  and harness racing driver Eric Carlson, and Count Me In (George Brennan, $4.80) divided Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night glory, winning the co-featured $35,000 Open Handicaps. Sapphire City annexed the Open Handicap Pace in rallying fashion. Working out a second-over trip from post position No. 6, he was chasing 4-5 choice Doctor Butch (Brian Sears). That one had to wait his turn before making front (:28.2, :58.1), getting around second choice Mickey Hanover (Dan Dube) Sapphire City, towed in behind Classic Gent (Stephane Bouchard), was able to slip to the cones when "Mickey" dropped anchor before a 1:27 three-quarters. Doctor Butch owned a short lead into the lead, but was in trouble from both sides. Sapphire City ducked inside, getting the jump on a from-last Take it Back Terry (Brennan). The former whipped the latter by a half-length in 1:55.1. Doctor Butch faded to third, with Flem N Em N (Jason Bartlett) and Classic Gent rounding out the payees. For fourth choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, it was his first win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $108, with the triple returning $334.50. Second choice Count Me In left nothing to chance in the week's marquee trot, going the distance from post No. 3 in equal halves (:27.3, :58, 1:26.4, 1:56). With pole-assigned In Nomine Patri (Jim Marshall III) doing just enough to keep the pocket, two-time defending champ Not Afraid (Dube) was wrangled back in third. The 4-5 fave saw Count Me In widen down the backside, taking a four-length lead in and out of the final turn. Count Me In was a safe winner, holding off Not Afraid by a never-threatened half-length. In Nomine Patri, Murmur Hanover (Pat Lachance) and Dancehall Mistress (Sears) settled for the remainder. For Count Me In, a 6-year-old Full Count gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 Stable and Michelle Yanek, he's now 3-for-4 this season. The exacta paid $10.80, the triple returned $36.60 and the superfecta paid $109.50. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). YONKERS RESCHEDULES FRIDAY DRAW Due to more impending bad weather supposedly descending upon the greater New York area, Yonkers Raceway has rescheduled its draw for the Friday (Feb. 6) program. That draw, originally going Monday (Feb. 2), is now taking place Sunday (Feb. 1). Box closes at 10 AM. Please be advised that as of this writing, there are no other changes to the live racing and draw schedules (updates if/ when necessary). For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. Frank Drucker

Sharon Ann Courtois Sears, 73, of Pinehurst, NC passed away peacefully Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, at her home, with her son and daughter by her side. A celebration of life will be held on Friday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m., at Cox Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, with Pastor Allen Mashburn officiating. The family will receive friends immediately following the service. Sharon was born in Glendale, Calif., on Jan. 12, 1941, to Eli Emanual and Mary Jane Courtois. She was a kind, caring individual who loved animals and was involved in harness racing her entire life. Her family rejoices that she was in their lives. A devoted mother, she will be greatly missed by Jennifer and Brian. She is survived by her children, Jennifer Sears-Vanderwerken, of New York, and Brian Sears, of New Jersey. She was preceded in death by her parents, Eli and Mary Jane Courtois.  

The year 2014, just like every season in the history of harness racing, was jammed packed with special events, major stakes races and other points of interest that made the year super exciting and quite a bit controversial. We have highlighted the “Year In Review” as best possible with the top events and races that took place each month. We apology for any news items that were missed. 2014 got off to a terrible start when on January 10 the starting gate at Freehold Raceway went into a spin after the start of a race and came down upon the field and took out most everyone in the race. While all horses miraculously escaped without major injuries, five drivers, Catello Manzi, Debra Rucker, Vincent Ginsburg, Chris Scicluna and Jim Pantaleano were taken to the hospital to be checked out. The worst injured were Manzi and Rucker. The new Miami Valley Racetrack in Lebanon, Ohio tried opening up for live racing on Friday, February 9 but the lights failed to work and thus had to wait until the next night to officially get underway. Sydney Weaver was the at the epicenter of the most potent demonstration of social media as a positive force in harness racing in early February  when her beloved mare Sydney Seelster was taken from her in a claiming race at Flamboro Downs. Trainer Guy Gagnon was pilloried on Facebook and Twitter for making the claim and soon cried uncle, agreeing to allow Sydney to claim her mare back. On March 28, two harness racing horses died on impact at Flamboro Downs after they collided head on in a tragic accident. The incident resulted in all tracks in Ontario having to install a siren alarm system by Jan. 1, 2015. April saw horseman Jack Darling take command when he heard that there was no funding to promote some of the sport’s biggest races on television and within a short time and through his own blog, helped raise over $100,000 and thus the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug were able to be televised. In June a major tiff between harness driver Brian Sears and Meadowlands, Tioga, Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural ended up with Sears being barred from competing in qualifying and overnight race events. After less than a week, Gural rescinded the ban. On June 28, harness racing fans saw the fastest trotting mile ever in history as the amazing European star, Sebastian K, win at Pocono Downs in 1:49, shattering the former record that was set on a larger track. With trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt, Sebastian K took harness racing in North America by storm with his amazing speed and racing barefoot with no horse shoes. On July 13, He’s Watching tied the world record on a mile track in winning the Meadowlands Pace in an amazing clocking of 1:46.4. With Father Patrick making a costly break at the start of the race, stable mate Trixton and trainer/driver Jimmy Takter grabbed all the glory in winning the early August Hambletonian Trot. At the Little Brown Jug it was Limelight Beach in straight heats and the same for Color’s A Virgin in the Jugette. Wild Honey became the fastest two-year-old trotter ever on a half mile track with a 1:55.2 triumph. The Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, revived the great Prix D’Ete stakes race with a purse of $200,000 and saw Sunfire Blue Chip and driver Yannick Gingras lower the all-age track record by two seconds with a 1:50.3. October started off with a bang as Mission Brief became the fastest two-year-old trotter in history with her 1:50.3 clocking at the Red Mile for driver Yannick Gingras. On October 4, Dayton Raceway in Dayton, Ohio opened its doors for harness racing with a full house as thousands came out to check the new racetrack. Nuncio and driver John Campbell captured a one-heat $435,000 Kentucky Futurity in 1:51.3, beating stable mate Father Patrick and then went to Yonkers Raceway to take the Yonkers Trot, winning two of the three Triple Crown of Trotting races. Natural Herbie, at odds of 9-1, posted his fourth straight win with a world record performance at Yonkers Raceway Saturday, Oct. 25 in beating many of the best trotters in the world in the $250,000 International Preview. On Halloween, October 31, harness racing’s great second trainer, Quebec’s Ami Choquette, who worked for Delvin Miller for over 50 years, turned 100 years old. Maven brought $750,000 at the Harrisburg sale and became the highest priced racehorse trotting mare sold at public auction in November. She was purchased by Herb Liverman. Yonkers Raceway and the SOANY broke the simulcasting barrier overseas and began simulcasting five races to France/Europe early Sunday mornings with great success and millions wagered on the USA product. The simulcasts will continue in 2015. Harness driver Dave Palone did the unthinkable years ago and caught Germany’s Heinz Wewering to become the sports winningest driver ever as he recorded his 16,754th career victory. This took place at his home track, The Meadows, on Friday, November 14. Palone has now increased his lead, has no plans of an early retirement and his lead may never be bettered. The Breeders Crown helped seal up a number of Dan Patch divisional awards in late November but perhaps the most impressive was that of world champion Commander Crowe coming over to the USA and stealing the limelight with his stakes record 1:51 triumph. He surpassed the $5 million mark in career earnings at age 11 and gave North American fans a thrill to see this world class performer in action. In late November, early December, just one week after Harnesslink exposed to the harness racing social media fans about the abuse that trainer Monica Thors was inflicting on horses in her stable, all seven horses and one goat was taken away by the NJ SPCA. More than 14,000 people “liked” the Stop Monica Thors” page on Facebook and were relentless in going after state officials to do something. They are also raised money and services to care for the horses once they were taken away. In December Hall of Fame driver David Miller paid a $750 fine for dropping his foot and allowed McWicked to hit it numerous times around the final turn of the $301,000 Progress Pace final at Dover Downs. When asked about the penalty, Miller said he would do it again in trying to win the race. His comments set up major controversy in the harness racing social media venues and prompted Jeff Gural to issue a “no tolerance” rule at the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs against any driver who drops their foot other than to pop ear plugs. When Appomattox crossed the wire first in the Free For All Handicap Trot on December 12 at the Meadowlands, harness horse trainer Ron Burke's season earnings moved to $28,118,465, surpassing the mark set by Thoroughbred trainer Todd Pletcher seven years ago. By the end of the year, JK She’salady was sensational with her undefeated season and capped it becoming the first two-year-old pacing filly to ever be name Harness Horse of the Year. But her triumph was unique as top older pacer Sweet Lou was voted the Pacer of the Year by one vote over JK She’salady, but the tables were turned in the final voting for Harness Horse of the Year as the filly beat out Sweet Lou by five votes! Both occurrences have never happened in the history of voting. The year sorta ended on a sour note as Balmoral Racing Club, Inc. and Maywood Park Trotting Association, Inc., two of the oldest horse racing venues in the country and the only harness racing tracks in Illinois, announced Christmas Eve that each has voluntarily commenced Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization cases in Chicago. Let’s hope for a bigger and better racing season in 2015. Happy New Year to everyone! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Fabrice Theil published an interview with Brian Sears after his driving experience yesterday at Paris-Vincennes. An English translation is shown below: "You have to see it to believe it!" - Winner of over 9,000 races and some 160 million dollars in earnings, one of North America featured drivers made the discovery of Vincennes: So Brian, this trip was: "(Laughs) I had heard about the magical setting of Vincennes, but I was far from imagining that really existed. You have to see it to believe it. It's a whole other world. Two tracks, one of which looks like a roller coaster. North American tracks from Florida to Toronto via New York, they are identical. "   Most Impressive Observations "The density of the fields, departures without autostart..It is sure that this requires a long apprenticeship for a US driver. On the other hand, the stables.. it's a hotel luxury for horses. "   Saturday’s Racing Experience "On one hand, I'm glad I did enjoy his entourage who did not expect such a result (third), but on the other, I received two-day suspension… it's embarrassing, but I had a desire to take a vacation ... "   Prix d’Amerique "I think Muscle Hill (Hambletonian 2009) would have had no problems on this particular course. He knew everything. This is undoubtedly the best trotter I had to drive. Bee A Magician (five years in 2015 ), with which I have experienced great joy, could participate, as suggested by trainer Nifty Norman, but not before 2016. There is a strong chance that I would be in the stands in favor of a French driver. " by Fabrice Theil in France, translated from French

Brian Sears (USA) teamed 42/1 outsider Quebir de l’aube (10g And Arifant-Fee de’laube) to a quick finishing third in today’s €22,000 purse Prix des Recontres Internationale at Paris-Vincennes. Sears’ horse had posted only five career wins in 139 starts before today, albeit he was 81 times in the money for €340.260 earned. The race for drivers representing countries with pari-mutuel wagering and breeding agreements with France drew 15 starters with two entries, thus 17 betting interests. Sears patiently positioned his charge in the second tier well back in the pack before finding room late near the inside. Austria’s Gerhard Mayr scored the win easily in 1.14.3kr driving Radieux Begonia (9g Look de Star-Harmonie Begonia) at 11/1 odds. Tony Le Beller (FR) was second with 9/1 Quick Moubaz. The pace was even with 1.13.9kr recorded at the 1000meter and 500 meters to go posts. 1. Radieux Bégonia (1) Gerhard Mayr (Austria) 2. Quick Moubaz (12) Tony le Beller (France) 3. Québir De L'aube (6) B. J. Sears (USA) 4. Rio De Lou (13) R. L. Pools  5. Rocco Darche (8) Alan Wallace (Ireland) by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

This Saturday’s Vincennes card includes the annual Prix des Recontres Internationales that includes drivers representing countries that have executed pari-mutuel and breeding agreements with France. Brian Sears represents the USA in country colors and will battle 14 other contestants including well known international drivers Gerhard Mayr, Christophe Martens and Tony Le Beller. The lineup is shown below (horse, driver, trainer, career earnings in closest thousand euro and best time). Prix des Recontres Internationales, purse €22,000, 2100 meters autostart, 15 starters, claiming €22,000 price, grande and petite tracks) 1. Redieux Begonia, Gerhard Mayr, Mlle. M.A. Goetz, 330, 1.13kr 2. Quassia du Bon Air, Zydrunas Vasilionka, B. Marie, 460, 1.11.7kr 3. Rubelinos, Jean-Bernard Matthey, St. Provost, 329, 1.12.7kr 4. Quiqui Guillard, Edelbert Ohmer, P. Godey, 246, 1.12.9kr 5. Quel Instant, Rail Gabdrashitov, A. Laigron, 374,1.12.6kr 6. Quebir de l’Aube, Brian Sears, A. Laigron, 340, 1.12.1kr 7. Quick Viervil, Vito Sadl, Ch. Gallier, 464, 1.11.4kr 8. Rocco Darche, A. Wallace, V. Goetz, 307, 1.12.5kr 9. Quartino, Guillermo Andrea Adrover, V. Goetz, 329, 1.11.9kr 10. Requiem de Chenu, Christophe Martens, F. Pellerot, 219, 1.13.3kr 11. Qui Tar Biekte, Mme. Olga Bondar, St. Provost, 216, 1.13.1kr 12. Quick Moubaz, Tony Le Beller, L.De Groote, 212, 1.12.3kr 13. Roi de Lou, Rudolf L. Pools, E. Varin, 241, 1.14.6kr 14. Urai de Nganda, Tony Demanuele, Mlle. Alice Dubert, 232, 1.11.6kr 15. Quarto Trehenniere, Jiri Svoboda, Y. Hallais, 202, 1.13.3kr Quartino has won three of his last five starts and could be favored. A well-produced video summary of the Vincennes Winter-Meet that is worth watching is attached. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

On October 28th at Yonkers Raceway, Brian Sears did what only 14 previous drivers in the storied history of our sport have accomplished: He achieved his 9,000th driving win. Prior to making Yonkers his home, Sears was the leading driver several times at a quartet of tracks, including the Meadowlands. At Yonkers, Sears has impressed his peers, as well as the public, with his tenacity and professionalism. It's little wonder that he topped all Yonkers drivers in 2013, and boasts the highest UDRS of all drivers with more than 1,000 starts at the Hilltop Oval in 2014. SOA President Joe Faraldo stated: "At 46, there is no limit to Brian's career potential. He simply, and quietly, wins year in and year out. Call him the White Knight; call him the King; call him whatever, but don't forget to call him a winner. The SOA is proud to have Brian as a mainstay of our driving colony, and are even prouder that Brian will represent the United States this week at ''Trotteur Francais International Meeting 2014' to be contested at Vincennes in France. A special set of American colors are being readied for Brian as he competes with drivers from those other countries that have signed on to simulcasting and breeding agreeemnets with the French." From the SOA of New York  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 23, 2014-The third rendition of Yonkers Raceway's "Matinee Madness" went postward during a downright balmy (mid-50's) pre-Thanksgiving Sunday. The 12-race card again began with five French-centric, overstuffed, mile-and-a-quarter trotting fields. A dozen were behind the gate for the opener (post time 11:12 AM), with favored Itzaziam (Brian Sears, $5.70) winning that event in 2:27.3 for the added distance. Included in the extra-distance extravaganza was the $46,000 Open Handicap, the 10-trotter test won by a backside-busting Dancehall Mistress (Sears. $25.60) in 2:26.1. The Sunday overseas numbers continue strong, with more than 1.2 million Euros (more than 1.5 million US dollars) wagered during the five exported events. The first three matinees have seen a total of more than four million Euros (or more than five million US dollars) wagered for 15 races by the French-hubbed audience (including Switzerland, Belgium, Spanish Basque community, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia and Malta). Sunday's Pick 5, buoyed by a double carryover of more than $7,000, attracted $16,710 of fresh lettuce. The winning combination of 4/4/4/1/2 paid $3,924.75 for every four bits. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule continues through Dec. 14, with first post every Monday, Thursday (save for Thanksgiving Night), Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) next weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (including Thanksgiving Day). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Breeders Crown $250,000 Open Mares Trot at the Meadowlands on Nov. 21 saw 2013 harness racing "Horse of the Year" Bee A Magician cut all the fractions to win in 1:51.4. Driven by Brian Sears for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman, Bee A Magician survived an inquiry as she flew home with favorite Classic Martine coming at her from the pylons. Classic Martine finished second and Handover Belle came through for third. As Mistery Woman shot for the lead from the outside, Bee A Magician got to the top and cut the first quarter in :26.1. Classic Martine kept Mistery Woman from getting into the pocket and followed Bee A Magician in second with a half in :55.3. Handover Belle made her move on the outside and the second tier came after Bee A Magician as she maintained the lead in a 1:24.2 three-quarters. Down the stretch, Handover Belle passed Charmed Life and was chasing after Bee A Magician on the outside, while Classic Martine tried to get up late on the inside. Bee A Magician strayed a bit but Classic Martine could not get to her on the inside and neither could Handover Belle make up enough ground on the outside. Bee A Magician won by a head. "It was a slow start this year but Niffty (Norman) did a great job with her," said Brian Sears. "Definitely it could have taken its toll (going opening quarter mile in :26.1), then we got a good middle half and she was really strong so I can't complain. She was trotting real strong to the wire." Bred by White Birch Farm, David McDufee, Melvin Hartman and Herb A. Liverman own Bee A Magician, who won a Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old division in 2014. She paid $7.40 to win. Bee A Magician by Ray Cotolo, for the Breeders Crown

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