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Almost lost in the "fog" of the Isle International Amateur Series at Pompano Park on Sunday night (March 13) were outstanding harness racing performances by Panocchio and Southwind Amazon in their respective pacing features over the South Florida oval. Panocchio took top honors in the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace by scoring a gate-to-wire win for Wally Hennessey in 1:51-his margin one length over the late charging Whogoesfirst (Dave Ingraham) and 1½ lengths over Dede's Dragon (George Napolitano, Jr.), closing fastest of all--:27.3--in the event. Heart Felt finished fourth while Bluehourpower picked up the nickel, despite a miscue at the beginning. Panocchio, the exceptional six year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended, left like a rocket from his outside post six and was safely into the lead just a few long strides after the Hummer Starting Gate left. The gelding then zipped an opening panel in :26.1 before Hennessey gave his charge a breather through a :29.2 second panel, reaching the half in :55.3 with Johnny Grippa in the pocket and Bluehourpower on the move outside. Through a picked up official third panel in :27.1, Bluehourpower reached the saddle pad of the leader as they reached that third station in 1:22.4. In the lane, Panocchio stretched the lead to almost two lengths at mid-stretch before Whogoesfirst and Dede's Dragon put in their late surges to edge closer but Panocchio's :28.1 closer was more than enough to preserve the victory-his second of the year in five starts. After the event, driver Wally Hennessey, quickly approaching win number 9,000 career-wise, had high praise for both horse and trainer. "This is just an honest, trying hard pacer that does everything asked of him-within reason, of course. I felt comfortable when we got to the half kinda cheap (:55.3) because I knew it would take a final half better than that to get to him. He got a great trip tonight and a lot of credit has to go to the trainer, Jimmy Mattison, who keeps him ready to go every time he sees the gate. Owned by trainer Mattison along with Emile Johnson, Jr., Panocchio won for the 38th time career-wise to send his bankroll to $315,927--$25,160 in just five starts this year. As the 1 to 5 tote-board favorite, Panocchio paid $2.60 to win. The $11,000 Open 2 Pace went to Southwind Amazon, driven by George Napolitano, Jr., scorched the Pompano oval in 1:49.2, a lifetime best effort. The six year-old son of Camluck was away in good order from his post 3 as Thebestofjoel, driven by Aaron Byron, rushed up to take command through an opening quarter in a hot :26.2 with "Amazon" on the move around that opening turn and into the lead a few strides later. Carding subsequent panels of :54.3 and 1:21.4, Southwind Amazon used a :27.3 finale to scorch the field by 5½ lengths. Buddha Blue Chip (Mike Micallef) finished second while Thebestofjoel was safely third. Barbarian and Winyard Hanover also earned checks in the sharp septet. After the event, the always subdued Napolitano merely smiled and said, "He was very good tonight!" Trained by Paul Holzman for Ameer Najor, Southwind Amazon now sports a 4-0-1 scorecard in nine starts, good for $23,764. He's now won 21 times in 75 lifetime starts with a career bankroll of $239,632 to go along with his new lifetime mark-his previous best being 1:50 over the lengthy Mohawk oval. Southwind Amazon paid $3.00 to his multitude of backers. Monday's program features a carryover in the Super Hi-5 finale of $73,926.26 with post time set at 7:30 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park      

TORONTO, January 15 - A pair of four-year-old pacers will have an opportunity at a Snowshoe Series sweep after returning to the harness racing winner's circle in Friday's second leg at Woodbine Racetrack. A total of 18 horses were split into two $17,000 divisions for Friday's second leg of the Snowshoe Series. Fresh off a 3¼ length victory in round one, Shades Of Bay continued his hot streak Friday with an impressive 1:51.3 victory over a 'Good' track. Driven by Phil Hudon, Shades Of Bay, the 1/9 favourite, got away fourth in the early stages, but moved into third and eventually the lead in the second-quarter. Three Truths, who was leading heading to the half, made a break and Hudon immediately moved Shades Of Bay to the front. After fractions of :55.1 and 1:24, Shades Of Bay kicked into high gear in the stretch and cruised home in :27.3 for a 1¾ length victory. Sabine Pass finished second at 23/1, while Shippen Out was third at 30/1. A four-year-old son of Art Major, Shades Of Bay now has five wins in six starts for trainer Sean Mehlenbacher. Friday was the pacers sixth career triumph and increased his career earnings to over $69,000. Owned by Timothy Kim, Shades Of Bay paid $2.10 to win. Shades Of Bay Rafa delivered another ace with a 1:52.2 victory in the second division. Sent off as the 2/5 favourite, Rafa and driver Sylvain Filion sprinted off the wings of the gate and locked up with Pistopackinpiper for a first-quarter battle. Pistopackinpiper cleared to the lead, but was forced to pace a :25.3 opening-quarter to grab command. Rafa quickly got his cue to go in the second-quarter and circled to the lead. The public's choice posted middle-fractions of :55.1 and 1:24.3 to turn for home with the lead. In the stretch, Tylers Beach Boy came off cover and Tower Of Power continued to pace hard after being first up, but Rafa held them at bay and impressively cruised through the wire first to win by a length. Trained by Richard Moreau, Rafa is now four for four to begin his career. The four-year-old son of Camluck now has a pair of victories this season to go with two wins last season. Owned by Robin Morley, Rafa knocked a fifth of a second off his career mark with Friday's victory and increased his career earnings to $27,500. Rafa paid $2.80 to win. Rafa In order to be eligible to the Snowshoe, the three and four-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Shades Of Bay and Rafa will both be seeking a series sweep in next Friday's (January 22) $47,200 final. The Snowshoe Final will also be joined by the $45,200 Blizzard Series final on next Friday's card. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 8 - Great finishes and impressive harness racing efforts was the story of Friday night's first round of the Snowshoe Series at Woodbine Racetrack. A total of 24 three and four-year-old pacers were split into three $17,000 divisions for the first leg of the three-week series. In the first division, just a head separated the top-five finishers, as St Lads Charger scored a 14/1 upset. After a first-quarter battle, Every Intention led the field down the backstretch and by the half in :55.1. St Lads Charger and driver Trevor Henry came first-up around the final turn from third and sat less than a length from the lead turning for home. In the stretch, St Lads Charger was able to edge by Every Intention in the final-eighth, but a trio of challengers made it a five-across finish. At the wire, St Lads Charger prevailed in 1:54.3 by a nose over Brown Dirt Cowboy and Hickory Terrific. Hp Black Shadow and Every Intention finished fourth and fifth, respectively, by a head. The top-seven finishers were separated by less than two-lengths. A three-year-old son of Sportswriter, St Lads Charger is trained by Victor Puddy for owners Randy Christopher, Limco Inc., and Bill Manes. The sophomore pacing colt won just one of 10 starts as a rookie in 2015. St Lads Charger increased his career earnings to over $20,000 with the victory. The Puddy trainee paid $30.40 to win. St Lads Charger Fresh off a victory in the Valedictory Final, Shades Of Bay scored a three-length victory in the second division at odds of 1/5. Driven by Phil Hudon, Shades Of Bay got away fourth, but made a powerful backside move to the lead and posted a half-mile time of :56.2. After pacing a third-quarter of :29.1, Shades Of Bay cruised home in :27.2 to win in 1:52. Tower Of Power finished second, while Swapportunity was third. A four-year-old son of Art Major, Shades Of Bay is trained by Sean Mehlenbacher for owner Timothy Kim. Last season, Shades Of Bay won four of 11 starts for earnings exceeding $50,000. The four-year-old has now won four of five starts since joining the Mehlenbacher stable in November. Shades Of Bay now has five wins and over $60,000 in career earnings. He paid $2.50 to win. Shades Of Bay In the final division, Richard Moreau trainee Rafa scored a four-length victory at 9/5 in 1:52.3. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Rafa was third around the first turn, while Thoughtyoudlikeit battled with outside challenger Pistopackinpiper. The lead pair continued to battle through a half of :55.4. Around the final turn, Thoughtyoudlikeit put away Pistopackinpiper, but faced a new challenge from Tylers Beach Boy, as Rafa continued to pace along in the pocket. In the stretch, Rafa was able to convert off the inside trip and charged by the leaders to win by open-lengths in 1:52.3. Tylers Beach Boy finished second, while Shippen Out got up for third ahead of Thoughtyoudlikeit. A son of Camluck, Rafa is trained by Moreau for owner Robin Morley. The four-year-old was making just his third career start Friday and is now a perfect three for three after winning both of his starts in 2015. Rafa now sports a career bankroll of $19,000. The Moreau trainee paid $5.90 to win. Rafa In order to be eligible to the Snowshoe, the three and four-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. The second leg of the Snowshoe will take place next Friday (January 15). Live racing continues Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Pompano Beach, FL...November 24, 2015...Godiva Seelster, once again handled by Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey for trainer Dan Hennessey, eked out a narrow decision over the late charging Classic Carpet (Kevin Wallis) to win the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for mares on Tuesday night at Pompano Park. The winning was was a scant nose when the timer stopped at 1:53.4 with Mach It a Par (Dan Clements) third, 2 1/4 lengths away while Cam Funny was fourth. Stucklikeglue, making her Pompano Park debut, picked up the nickel in the field of nine. At the outset, Cam Funny, Classic Carpet and Godiva Seelster were all on the engine early with the latter taking command after an opening quarter mile tussle in :27.3. Positions remained virtually unchanged through a :57 half with an outer flow developing with Mach Me Not, Mach It A Par and Stucklikeglue all in the outer tier but, as yet, not putting any pressure on the leader and she reached the third station in 1:26 with Classic Carpet still in the pocket, Mach Me Not third on the outside and Cam Funny still skimming the pylons. In the lane, Godiva was valiantly trying to protect her diminishing lead with Classic Carpet now gaining with every stride. At the wire, it took a photo to decide the issue with Godiva earning the narrow nod. After the race, Hennessey said, "She was very game tonight...maybe not quite 100%, but still very game, very determined. I kept her out last week when she didn't quite seem herself, so she might have been a little bit short tonight. Tonight she showed her gameness and determination. She is just amazing." Not only did Godiva Seelster win for the 14th time this season, the daughter of Camluck won for the 25th time during her splendid ongoing career now showing $219,717 in bounty for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil. She also extended her streak of earning purse checks to 72 encompassing her entire seasons as a three year-old, four year-old and, now, five year-old. Off at 3 to 5 on the tote, Godiva Seelster paid $3.40 to win. The victory, incidentally, was one of four on the evening for Hennessey, who also scored with Jets Are On ($3.80), Landonfitz ($4.20) and Goldstar Classic ($4.00). Hennessey now has 59 victories in the first 20 days of Pompano Park's meet. Racing add Saturday's to its racing schedule beginning this coming Saturday with Super Night following on Sunday night. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by John Bery, for the Isle Pompano Park  

The Forest City Sale at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario has mimicked the ups and downs of the harness racing game in that province for the last several years. In 2011, when the Ontario Sire Stakes program was humming along, 263 yearlings averaged more than $18,000. The following year, when the wheels started to fall off the cart, the average dropped more than 40% to $10,500. The fillies averaged only $8,000. As the doomsday scenario engineered by the politicians was reversed, things improved. In 2013 the average increased to $13,524, and last year it rose once more to $15,294. And this year it jumped again, to $23,207. The number of yearlings offered has fallen off by close to half since 2011; that is what’s troubling. The fact that the top sale was a colt by Camluck, who passed in August at age 28, goes to the heart of the matter. His eight colts, a gelding and six fillies averaged $33,400. Eleven by new kid on the block, Big Jim, averaged just a thousand dollars more. There’s a dearth of new blood. The landscape will change dramatically in 2017, which is when first Ontario crops by Royalty For Life, Archangel, E L Titan, Betterthancheddar, Sunfire Blue Chip and Sunshine Beach hit the sales ring. There will also be another Bettor’s Delight crop available. With Muscle Mass, Dewey, Holiday Road and Manofmanymissions having left the province, there’s a gap to fill. It’s going to take time to regenerate production. The Canadian dollar is weak and many breeders, horsemen and owners folded their tents during the equine recession. The paucity of high end product is also an issue at this sale. Thirteen Kadabras sold at Lexington and twenty will be available in Harrisburg. Seven averaged $40,000 at the Canadian Yearling Sale, with fillies going for $70,000 and $72,000.   There weren’t any at Forest City. Eleven by Sportswriter sold at Lexington and ten will be for sale in Harrisburg. Four averaged $30,000 at the CYS. A pair sold for $8,000 each at Western Fair. Sixteen-tear-old Mach Three has been very consistent over the years. Sixteen averaged $32,000 in 2011; seven averaged $28,000 the following year when the bottom caved and the gross was off by $2.1 million; 13 averaged $18,577 in 2013; another 13 averaged more than $31,000 last year; and ten averaged $34,600 this year. A dozen averaged more than $38,000 at the CYS. With the exception of 2013 he’s kept his average up in the $30,000 range. Mach Three has never come close to duplicating SBSW, a member of his second crop, and he keeps a low profile on the Grand Circuit, but the likes of Solar Sister, Wrangler Magic, Physicallyinclined and Mr Carrots keep sweeping up that OSS dough. Shadow Play, who had a successful first crop featuring Arthur Blue Chip, Lady Shadow, Skippin By and Play It Again Sam, regressed somewhat his sophomore season, thanks in no small part to Sportswriter. But two-year-old Nvestment Bluechip and three-year-olds Tessa Seelster and Cast No Shadow had good years in the OSS. He averaged $27,406 for 7 colts and 9 fillies sold at Forest City. A filly sold for 60 and another for 58. Eight averaged $30,000 at the CYS. His first crop averaged less than $12,000 in 2012; he made a big jump to $23,393 the following year; last year, as a result of his domination by Sportswriter in the OSS, he fell back 33% to $15,556.  Bettor’s Delight, Sportswriter and Mach Three are a problem for him. Badlands Hanover keeps plugging away. The nineteen-year-old son of Western Hanover finished the year third overall in the OSS, with successful years from Ms Mac N Cheese, Semi Automatic and Free Show. His average dropped from $22,000 in 2011 to $12,000 in 2012 and $8,400 the following year. In 2014 he inched up to $9,200 for 14 sold, with a high of $25,000. This year he jumped 40% to $15,429 for 14 sold, again with a high of $25,000. His fee was reduced $1,500 to $3,500 in 2015. Daylon Magician, who failed his fertility test in 2011 and has been back and forth, sold a colt for $65,000 and another for $50,000. Another colt brought $9,000 at the CYS. He bred 31 mares two years ago with limited success. None sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale or Lexington Selected. And none will sell in Harrisburg. He’s the best son of Kadabra, who has produced no siring sons. Tara Hills Stud, which stands Daylon, when his off and on breeding career is on, as well as Kadabra, Sportswriter and Mach Three, said their breeding numbers were off by half in 2013. That is showing up at this year’s sales. Big Jim’s first crop was ok; his fillies finished fourth in the OSS and his colts eighth. Four of the eleven he sold at Forest City topped $50,000. His $34,355 average was almost double what it was last year for that first crop. At that time 78% of his Forest City offering failed to top $15,000, and only one topped $25,000. This time nine of the eleven beat $15,000 and a half dozen topped $25,000. Only two sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale, a filly for $29,000 and a gelding for $3,500. The trotting sires represented at the sale didn’t stand out. The lone exception was Manofmanymissions, the sire of Bluegrass and ISS winner, Celebrity Eventsy. He stood in Ontario for two years, before relocating to Ohio. This is his last Ontario crop. A half dozen averaged $30,750, with a high of $63,000 and all but one topping $20,000. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

Pompano Beach, FLorida...October 21, 2015...Amazing, "you bet!" Astounding, "absolutely!" Astonishing, "without question!" Remarkable, "positively!" Incredible, "undoubtedly!" Harness racing driver Wally Hennessey says Godiva Seelster is all of those...and more! The five year-old daughter of Camluck extended her streak of getting purse checks to 69 covering her every start since the age of three and did so with a lifetime best performance--1:50.4--over a million dollar field, including arch rival Just A Bee (third this night) and Winbak Heavenly (chasing the winner home). Mach It A Par and Jets Are On picked up the final two awards in the talented octet of mares. Annexing her 12th win of the year, Godiva Seelster left with alacrity from her post seven along with Winbak Heavenly, handled by Aaron Byron from post five, and Just A Bee, driven by Mike Micallef from the outside post. Just a few long strides into the mile, Godiva Seelster had already made the top spot with Winbak Heavenly content to sit in the garden spot and Just A Bee finding a spot close up in third. With an opening quarter in :27, MIcallef sensed that Hennessey would be giving a second quarter breather to Godiva and pulled just before turn two to get a closer look to the front. For Just A Bee, that "breather" was "not to bee." With Godiva Seelster reaching the half in a blistering :54.2, Micallef left Winbak Heavenly in the two hold, yielding and taking back to third as the rest of the field was somewhat gapped at that point. With a brisk pace continuing through three-quarters in 1:22.2, the field was strung out and Godiva Seelster used a :28.2 finale to hit the wire in that aforementioned 1:50.4, two-and-a-half better than Winbak Heavenly and 4 1/2 to the good of Just A Bee. In that post race interview, Hennessey echoed all of the above sentiments adding, "she's just an exceptional mare that does all of this on her own. I don't drive her...she drives me! "Actually, I really had no choice once I got to the lead. When Mike (Micallef) came out, I really couldn't afford to restrain my mare because she was so intent on staying on the bit. When they feel that strong, I don't think it's a good idea to restrain them...and she really felt strong tonight." When asked if he was worried off of a :54.2 half, Hennessey said, "Well, yes and no. You always worry when the half is that fast but, once I got over to that final turn and she was still grabbing a hold, those worries disappeared. She was terrific tonight." For Godiva Seelster, now sporting a 23-12-8-1 scorecard this season, the win sent her lifetime bounty to $207,957-- $98,125 in 2015 for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil. Also of note is the fact that trainer Dan Hennessey improved on his lofty UTRS, now close to .490, with his 45th win in only 114 starts. Also, the F.S.B.O.A's Sunshine State Stakes action continued with classes competing--three off the card. The first, the two year-old colt/gelding pace, went to the Mysticism colt Gleneagles, driven by Wally Hennessey, holding on for dear life at the wire to pin the nose defeat on R Chism (Mike Micallef) with Danza (Corey Braden) next. ICU Diamond T finished four in the quartet. It was the second straight win for Gleneagles, trained by Jim Mc Donald for the Pinhook Stable, in Sunshine State Stakes action. The mile was clocked in 1:58.3. The second division pitted arch rivals Caesar's Forum and Owosso Flash against each other and, for the third straight week, Amante Standardbred's Caesar's Forum, the sharp son of Six Of Diamonds, got the nod as driver Wally Hennessey lolly-gagged on the front end through three-quarters in 1:31.3 before a :27 sprint home held off Owosso Flash (Mike Deters) by a neck. Gold Star Roger (Wally Ross, Jr.) finished third while Drake and Stutz completed the quintet of three year-old pacing colts and geldings. Caesar's Forum is trained by 81 year-old Marc Aubin, who now has a UTRS rating over .440 for the year. The Sunshine State Stake for the sophomore pacing fillies went to Gold Star Dynasty, driven by Aaron Byron for trainer Mike Deters. Also by Six Of Diamonds, Gold Star Dynasty cut all the fractions--:29.2, :59.4 and 1:29 before surging home in :28.3 to hit the line almost five lengths ahead of Davita (Corey Braden) with Gold Star Charming (Mickey Mc Nichol) third. Creamsicle and Arties Diamond Gal completed the field of five. The final Sunshine State Stakes was contested on the card and the two year-old pacing filly Prairie Sweetheart, trained and driven by Mike Deters, brushed from fifth around the second turn, securing command into the final turn and then on to a hand win measuring 3 1/4 lengths over Caitlin's Romance (Mel Turcotte) in 1:58.3. Diamond Lily (Micallef) finished third while Gold Star Lovebug and Trottime Sparks picked up the minors in the field of seven. Prairie Sweetheart, a daughter of Royal Millennium, is a perfect three-for-three lifetime for owners Laurie Poulin and John Spindler, who co-own with trainer Deters. Deters, by the way, now sports a lofty .642 UDRS for the year of the strength of a 27-13-6-3 scorecard. Racing continues on Sunday night featuring Open pacers and a Super Hi-5 carryover in excess of $3,400. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park

Pompano Beach, FL...October 12, 2015...Godiva Seelster, the outstanding five year-old daughter of Camluck, looks for a repeat win in Tuesday's Open 1 Handicap Pace for mares at Pompano Park. Trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, this ultra-consistent mare got picture perfect handling by Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey to secure her 11th win of the year last week--wire to wire--over the late surging Just A Bee in 1:53 to send her lifetime bounty over the $200,000 mark--$201,592 to be exact. She has been assigned the outside seven post in the "million dollar" field. Godiva also will be looking to extend her streak of getting purse checks, currently at 67 races encompassing her entire career as a three, four and, thus far, five year-old season. She has been made the slight 8 to 5 favorite in Pompano Park's morning line. Listed at 9 to 5 is Just a Bee, trained and driven by Mike Micallef for Anita Micallef, John Mc Goff and Greg Heath. This seven year-old daughter of Mr Feelgood, with the fastest mark in the field at 1:50.3, has won a dozen races this semester and over $106,000. Her :27 final panel fell a half length short last week. Just A Bee will leave from post six on Tuesday night. The richest performer in the field, Mach Me Not, trained by Jim Mc Donald for the S S G Stables, looks to add to her career total of $345,046 after her three race winning streak was interrupted last week with an "off-the-board" finish in her first start back since late June. Andy Santeramo will handing the nine year-old's lines from post two. Winbak Heavenly, trained by the Mike Deters for owner Barbara Jensen, looks to climb up yet another rung on the ladder after a brilliant 1:52.4 win in Open 2 company a week ago. This five year-old daughter of American Ideal will have the driving services of Aaron Byron from post three. Cam Funny, Mach It A Par and Togetherforever complete the talented field. F.S.B.O.A Stakes action continues, as well, as four Sunshine State Stakes events will also be contested. Two developing rivalries highlight those events with Caesar's Forum and Owosso Flash locking hooves in the three year-old colt/gelding pace and Conman's Dream facing Gleneagles in the juvenile pace for the colts and geldings. Last week, Caesar's Forum, trained by Marc Aubin for Amante Standardbreds, took advantage of the rail post position to wire the competition in 1:55-:28 for Wally Hennessey, this after Owosso Flash suffered interference early but recovering to pace his final 3/4s under 1:25 to miss by a half length. Conman's Dream, trained by Mike Deters for owner Jason Mac Dougall, made his racing debut for Deters a winning one with a 2:00.4 triumph, highlighted by a final panel in :27.4 Gleneagles, meanwhile, has five lifetime starts under his girth and while he is winless in pari-mutuel action, he does come into the event with a "Q" mark of 1:55.1 at Pocono. A growing Super Hi-5 jackpot is also on tap in the finale, that carry over now over $4,300. Post time is 7:30. by John Berry for Pompano Park  

In the spring of 2012 three pacing fillies were born at Oak Knoll Stables in Campbellcroft, ON and named OK Heartbeat, OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah by their breeders Ken Morden and Caroline Thornton. After spending the first 18 months of their lives frolicking at Oak Knoll, the fillies entered the care of trainer Mark Steacy, where they learned how to wear a harness, pull a jog cart, take guidance from a driver, and pace around a racetrack. All three fillies proved adept at their new roles and last season they all raced in the Grassroots program, with OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah competing in the Grassroots Championship. This season the fillies have continued where they left off and at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday night, in the last regular season event, all three secured a berth in the three-year-old pacing filly Grassroots Semi-finals; OK Hallelujah with a win and OK Heartbeat and OK Heavenly with third-place finishes. "They have been a lot of fun since there were born, raised, bought, broke, trained, paddocked and trucked to race together," said Steacy. "I don't know what they will do when someday they will have to be separated." The fillies delayed their eventual separation with Monday's strong efforts, starting with OK Heartbeat in the first Grassroots division. The Mach Three daughter and driver Jody Jamieson closed hard to finish just a neck behind winner Lovely Erin and runner-up Twin B Honour. Twin B Honour and driver Jonathan Drury carved out fractions of :26.2, :54.2 and 1:22.3, but could not hold off favourite Lovely Erin and Doug McNair at the wire. It was the second straight Grassroots win for Lovely Erin, a Sportswriter daughter trained by Ron Adams for numbered company 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor. The 1:52.2 clocking was a personal best for Lovely Erin, who finished the season in eighth with 112 points. Her third-place result saw OK Heartbeat wrap up the regular season in twelfth spot with 80 points. The filly is owned by Oak Knoll Stables, Higgs Boys Stable of Gananoque, ON, Conrad Leber of Montreal, QC and Wheelhouse Racing Stable of Mississauga, ON. The next OK filly on the Mohawk starting gate was OK Heavenly who, with Jamieson in the race bike, hit the wire four lengths behind duelling leaders Stonebridge Quest and Aniston Seelster. Heavy favourite Stonebridge Quest reeled off fractions of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:25 and then battled down the stretch for a neck victory in 1:53 over a charging Aniston Seelster. Stonebridge Quest completed her regular season with a flawless record of four wins in four Grassroots starts and 200 points, putting her atop the three-year-old pacing filly leaderboard. Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON drives the Camluck daughter for trainer Andrew McCabe of Rockwood, ON and owners Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, ON and Angie Stiller of Arva, ON. Her third-place result left Sportswriter daughter OK Heavenly in tenth spot in the division standings with 106 points on behalf of Oak Knoll Stables, Conrad Leber, Wheelhouse Racing Stable and Richard Karper of Saint-Laurent, QC. Of the three nursery-mates, OK Hallelujah delivered the most impressive result of the evening, rocketing down the stretch to a two and three-quarter length victory over Machmeter and Southwind Geisha in a personal best 1:52.2. Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, ON shares ownership of OK Hallelujah with Oak Knoll Stables, Conrad Leber and Wheelhouse Racing Stable. The win was the Sportswriter filly's second in Grassroots action and boosted her from eighteenth in the standings to eleventh, sandwiched between her stablemates. Guelph, ON resident Phil Hudon piloted OK Hallelujah to the win. "I always though Heavenly was the best, but tonight the other two raced better," noted Steacy. "Hallelujah is probably the hardest trier of the three. "All three have been fairly consistent when drawing decent post positions," the Lansdowne resident continued. "They went through a period of sickness, but hopefully will be healthy from here on." OK Heartbeat, OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah - along with the other 17 fillies in the top 20 - will now begin preparations for the Sept. 18 Semi-finals at Mohawk, with the goal of finishing in the top five and earning a berth in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship, back at the Campbellville oval on Sept. 26. The two-year-old trotting fillies will also wrap up their Grassroots regular season over the Mohawk Racetrack oval on Tuesday, Sept. 8, competing in Races 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8. The first race goes postward at 7:25 pm. Ontario Horse Racing

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 3 - With a golden pedigree to back up her nearly perfect record this year, it comes as no surprise that L A Delight has become a contender to be reckoned with in the harness racing two-year-old pacing division. Trainer and owner Bob McIntosh has a better understanding of her impressive maternal line than most. Purchased for $115,000 as a yearling, L A Delight's grand-dam Los Angeles became a fixture on racing's Grand Circuit under McIntosh's tutelage. The Camluck mare was retired after her three-year-old season, hanging up the hopples with a mark of 1:53.4 to her name and taking up residence in the breeding shed. In eleven years since her transition, Los Angeles has produced eight horses with total earnings of over $2.5 million dollars. Among her offspring was the great son of Ponder, Thinking Out Loud. Capturing the US Pacing Derby in a sharp 1:47.2 as a four-year-old, he built up an extensive highlight reel over a career that put nearly $2 million in the bank. Her first foal, however, was a Western Hanover filly named West of L A. "We bought Los Angeles as a yearling and she turned out to be a really solid race mare, and then she turned out to be a great producer," said McIntosh. "She has produced a couple of really great horses, and West of L A was a very good filly. The family worked out really well for me." West of L A bankrolled $257,150 for connections Robert McIntosh, CSX Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., taking a mark at the Red Mile of 1:53.2, but was retired off her fastest mile, 1:50.1 at Dover Downs, at the end of her three-year-old season. She wasted no time in setting a very high standard for her offspring, producing Somewhere in L A, who has posted a record of 12-9-7 in 46 starts with nearly $700,000 in earnings. This season, her Bettor's Delight filly L A Delight has become a dominating presence in Ontario racing. Having spent many years with her family, McIntosh believes they all have the most important thing in common. "All three of them have had really quick speed. They're all good gaited and have quick speed to match." Training down for this season, McIntosh had no way of knowing the hidden potential in his homebred. Quiet and unassuming around the barn, she had yet to stand out in the group. "She was perfect, she was just one of those really easy to get along with fillies. She had no real quirks. In the winter, I thought she was a nice filly, but I never dreamt this. It was a nice surprise. I actually thought I had a couple that were better back then," said McIntosh. "She never did anything wrong but she never stood out. She was always there with the group, just never a show off. But when she started racing that obviously changed. " L A Delight started her freshman campaign with a third place performance, closing hard in 27 seconds to hit the board. Likely not a fan of being denied victory, the filly has since set a seven race win streak and will be looking to make it eight on Saturday night in the $455,000 Shes A Great Lady final. L A Delight set a flashy mark of 1:51.4 in the Eternal Camnation stakes on August 22, the final prep heading into the Shes a Great Lady eliminations. Leaving from the two hole in last Saturday's elimination, she sat third to the quarter, but was not content to wait for long. Gaining the lead by the three quarters, she cruised home easily for driver Randy Waples to win in 1:54.2. "She came out of it perfect, there was no real stress for her last week," said McIntosh. "Randy never had to ask her and it's been a good week since. At this point, she's very tight, so she doesn't need a lot of work. I'll go a couple slow miles with her on Thursday." After earning the right to select post four for Saturday's final, L A Delight will square off against the other elimination winner Thatsoveryverynice, who starts directly to her inside in the three hole. Conditioned by Tony Alagna, she is four for five with an Ontario Sires Stakes record mark of 1:51.2. "I've got a lot of faith in her, she hasn't been to the bottom of the well yet," said McIntosh. "I expect a lot from Alagna's filly, she's been spectacular. Hopefully we have some good racing luck." Staked lightly for her freshman season, L A Delight has remained close to home. Only one start has seen her away from the Campbellville oval, shipping to Georgian Downs for an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event. "She wasn't staked to a lot of events because I didn't think she was that spectacular early on," said McIntosh with a laugh. "If everything goes as planned, she's going to have thirteen starts which I think is funny for a two-year-old. I think she has another Sires Stakes Gold and then the Super Final. She's got plenty of races right here at home, but hindsight is always 20/20." Next year, her full sister will take to the track to contest her own freshman campaign. Way Bettor, bred and owned by the same connections, will be looking to follow in L A Delight's footsteps. Those who may be eyeing the youngster will be sadly disappointed, her name absent from the fall yearling sales. "We're going to retain her; I don't send yearlings to the sale that I raise. I sell off pieces, but there's nothing for sale in that full sister, she's already divided up. I haven't seen her lately but the last time I saw her, she was a really nice, good looking filly." With another convincing victory in the books in last Saturday's eliminations, L A Delight will be the one to watch as she looks to do what her dam and grand-dam could not: capture the Shes a Great Lady stakes final. McIntosh is confident in her ability, three generations in the making. "Hopefully the racing gods are on our side, we'll look to leave the bad luck at home and get a good, clean trip out there. I wouldn't trade fillies with anyone." Hannah Beckett for WEG Communications

Godiva Seelster (Camluck) continued her sensational season on Friday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The harness racing five year old pacing mare recorded her second consecutive victory in the $18,000 Fillies and Mares Open behind a front-running effort covering the mile in 1:52.3. Wally Hennessey powered Godiva Seelster out early and as several leavers settled in, Hennessey drove on making the lead in 27 seconds flat. Just like last week, the Hall of Fame reinsman got the mare a solid second quarter breather before stepping on the gas in the third quarter to the tune of 27.3. Godiva Seelster had to hold off the late challenge from rival So Nice (Austin Siegelman) who she bested in last week's Open. So Nice once again was the bridesmaid in the feature for distaff pacers, settling for second. Longshot Bell On Wheels (Stephane Bouchard) saved ground behind the top two throughout and finished third. For the Dan Hennessey-trained Godiva Seeslter, it was win number ten on the season in nineteen starts. She paid $13.40 to win in the mild upset leading an exacta that returned $43.80 and a triple that came back $454. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella  

Godiva Seelster (Camluck) paced the fastest time of any mare this season at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Friday night. The Dan Hennessey-trainee was the 6-5 public choice in the $18,000 Fillies and Mares Open and worked hard to secure the early lead. Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey got the five year old mare to the front in a quick 27 second opening quarter but after a bit of a breather in the second quarter reached the half in 56.4. Pocket sitter So Nice (Bruce Aldrich Jr) took her shot at the favorite in the stretch but to no avail. Godiva Seelster stopped the timer in 1:52.2, the fastest time for a distaffer this year at the Spa and just a fifth of a second off the track record for aged pacing mares. So Nice was a strong second while Her Own Land (Billy Dobson) closed for third. It was the ninth victory on the season for Godiva Seelster who paid $4.60 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $15 and $40, respectively. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Saturday night with a first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella  

Grand River Raceway's Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Celebration Night is slated  for the harness racing meeting there this Friday, August 14, with two special promotions on tap. HORSE NAME COSTUME GAME The popular Horse Name Costume Game returns for one night only, offering $500 in cash prizes. Fans dress in the likeness of the name of a horse racing on the August 14 race card. With 97 horses to choose from, there's plenty of opportunity for great names, including: Suckitupbuttercup, Tony Soprano, Polk Dot Hanover, Typhoon Seelster, Bee In Charge, Life On The Links, and Northern Emerald, to name a few. The complete list of horse names for August 14. To finesse their creative inspiration, fans are encouraged to research unique entries from past Horse Name Costume Contests by consulting the following photo galleries: Gallery 1, Gallery 2, Gallery 3, Gallery 4, Gallery 5, Gallery 6. Contestants must register at the OSS Table in the main lobby between 6:00pm - 7:00pm. The costume parade will take place live on the Tarmac Show after race six (approximately 8:30) where three judges will determine the best Horse Name Costumes for both adults and kids (15 and under). HORSE AUTOGRAPHED T-SHIRTS The track will also award 100 OSS t-shirts on August 14. Half of the shirts will be autographed by Camluck and the other half by Big Jim. The shirts are imprinted with the superstars' hoof prints, using fabric paint and their horseshoes. Seelster Farms in Lucan, ON is home to both horses. Sadly, Camluck recently passed away at the age of 28. He left an indelible mark on the Standardbred breed. A millionaire on the racetrack, it was in the breeding shed where Camluck made his greatest impact and stamped himself as one of the greatest pacing stallions in harness racing history. His offspring have earned more than $221 million -more than any other stallion in North America. Camluck was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2008 he was the first Canadian horse inducted into the United States Living Hall of Fame. Big Jim is the sire of Magnum J, winner of Grand River Raceway's 2015 Battle Of Waterloo. This is the stallion's first crop of two-year-olds. As a freshman in his own racing career, Big Jim dominated his competition, setting a world record of 1:49.1 and winning such prestigious events as the Breeders Crown and Governor's Cup. He retired from racing with earnings of $1.5 million and compiled a record of 10-3-4 from 20 starts. The OSS t-shirts autographed by Camluck and Big Jim are available to the first 100 people to redeem their program voucher (found in the August 10 program) to the OSS Table in the main lobby between 6:00pm - 7:00pm (while quantities last). There is a limit of one shirt per person. The 11-race card on August 10 features three divisions of OSS two-year-old trotting colts in the Gold Series. Post time for race one is 6:30 p.m. Kelly Spencer

AUGUST 9, 2015 - Nine divisions of two-year-old pacing fillies invaded Clinton Raceway on Sunday afternoon and in the eighth Grassroots split Bourbon Seelster rewrote the half-mile oval's harness racing history books. Starting from Post 5, driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville, ON sent Bourbon Seelster straight to the front and rang up evenly-rated early fractions of :30.1 and 1:00.2. Heading for the three-quarters Saftic picked up the tempo, reaching the marker in 1:29.4, but when fan favourite Divas Image mounted a challenge in the stretch Bourbon Seelster really poured it on, sprinting home in :27.2 to reach the wire in a track record 1:57.1. Divas Image settled for second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner, and Where Are We rounded out the top three. The win was the second in Grassroots action for Bourbon Seelster, who posted her first in the July 19 contest at Georgian Downs. Watford, ON resident Robert Manders conditions the daughter of Camluck for Scott and Keith Manders, also of Watford, who purchased her for $14,000 from the Forest City Yearling Sale. Trainer Dave Menary won three of the nine Grassroots divisions, teaming up with driver James MacDonald for two and Kevin Sizer for the third, and also picked up one second and one third with his six starters. "It was pretty lucky," said the Cambridge, ON resident. "It would be nice to have six Gold fillies, but we were the masters of Clinton today." Menary and MacDonald's first victory came in the second division with Twin B Virtue, who battled to a neck victory over Jimmys Little Girl in 1:58.4. Life Book finished two and one-quarter lengths behind the duelling leaders in third. "Her last two starts she's been right on the front and end and I really think this filly's a lot better off a helmet or off a little trip, but when you're racing on a half-mile track you can't always work that out," noted Menary. "She got run at and headed the whole way, and dug in, and I was super happy with the filly." Menary shares ownership of Twin B Virtue with Brad Gray of Dundas, ON and Michael Guerriero of Puslinch, ON. The partners acquired the daughter of Badlands Hanover for $32,000 from the Canadian Yearling Sale last fall and through four starts the filly has returned $20,600. The trainer and driver were back in the winner's circle after the fifth division with Rosy Outlook. Starting from Post 2 Guelph, ON resident MacDonald put the Badlands Hanover daughter on the front end and she led through all stations on the way to her first lifetime victory in 1:59.4. Fan favourite Selling The Dream closed hard, but fell one-quarter length short, while Kyrstal C was well back in third. "Today she raced very greenly," said Menary, who added that MacDonald felt her attention wavered significantly through the final quarter. "I definitely have faith in the filly that she's going to get better." Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. of Wallkill, NY own Rosy Outlook, who was a $10,000 purchase out of the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. After debuting in the Gold Series on July 6, where she finished eighth, Rosy Outlook finished third in the July 19 Grassroots event at Georgian Downs. Menary's third victory came in the last Grassroots division when driver Kevin Sizer of Morriston, ON took Norcross Blue Chip gate-to-wire for her first win. The Bettors Delight daughter finished two lengths ahead of Endless Legacy and favourite State Of Joy in 1:58.1. "This is a filly that I thought was one of my best all winter. She had little problems with the efficiency of her gait, so I spent a lot of time going with this filly, and Kevin Sizer's done a great job with this filly -he works for me - he's done a great job with this filly and he did a great job today," said Menary. "She's been behind all the way, but catching up rapidly." The trainer shares ownership of Norcross Blue Chip with Michael Guerriero, Denis Breton of Welland, ON and Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON. A $30,000 purchase at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, the filly has two starts under her belt, Sunday's win and a fourth in a July 31 conditioned event at Grand River Raceway. The other Grassroots divisions were captured by Trilife, St Lads Smokin Hot, P L Jasmine, My Rhythm Of Rhyme and Miss Babe Delight. Trilife kicked things off in the first division with a 1:58.1 score for driver Anthony MacDonald of Guelph, trainer Larry Ainsworth of Petrolia, ON and owner-breeder William Boden of Vancouver. The Mach Three lass hit the wire two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Menary trainee No Shadows and Northern Prima to record her first Grassroots victory. St Lads Smokin Hot recorded her first lifetime victory in the third division, sailing along on the front end to a 2:00.2 win over Sports Expert and This Day Forward. Arthur, ON resident Trevor Henry engineered the No Pan Intended daughter's successful effort for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch and Holland Racing Stable of Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON. A gritty first-over trip netted P L Jasmine her second straight victory, and first Grassroots trophy, in the fourth division. The Badlands Hanover daughter and driver Scott Coulter of Brantford, ON cruised home five and one-half lengths ahead of Watt Machs Me Win and Menary trainee Green Light in 1:58.3. Robert McMillan of Beaverton, ON conditions P L Jasmine for owner-breeder Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, ON. Paul MacDonell and My Rhythm Of Rhyme never faced a challenge on their way to a two and one-quarter length win in the sixth division. The Shadow Play daughter stopped the Clinton teletimer at 1:59.1, besting Dancin In the Nude and favourite Boozer Bruiser. Guelph resident MacDonell shares ownership of first-time winner My Rhythm Of Rhyme with his wife Lynn MacDonell. Miss Babe Delight also made winning look easy, pacing home three lengths ahead of Action Big and Bad Lightning in Race 7. Milton, ON resident Sylvain Filion piloted the Bettors Delight filly to her first win in 1:58.2 for trainer Dany Fontaine of Lachenaie, QC and owner Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. of Montreal, QC. The two-year-old pacing fillies start the second half of their Grassroots season at Mohawk Racetrack on August 24. Ontario Horse Racing

Fair harness racing at it's very best takes place this Friday night at 7:00 P.M at picturesque Connell Park in Woodstock, N.B.   Seven dashes will be on center stage during the Old Home Week festivities at the half-mile oval.   Woodstock Driving Club will play host to a live card of racing on Friday with partnership of Horse Racing New Brunswick presenting a solid field in the prestigious Kelti Burnett Memorial Pace   Connell Park is one of the most exciting race tracks to visit with the support of local horsemen, fans and businesses.   It is grassroots harness racing at its finest.   This year the Kelti Burnett Memorial Pace has attracted a sold field of seven pacers that will compete in the final seventh race on the live card.   This years premier event at the N.B track will carry a purse of $ 3000. Sponsored this season by Corey Ford and McCain Foods.   American Terror and trainer/ driver Ed Harvey will put his win streak on the line on Friday as he has drawn post five in the premier event.   Winner of four in a row, the pacer will have his hands full with his competition.   He comes off an impressive 1:57.2 this past Monday's New Brunswick day program.   Walter Dale Memorial winner Skippy will be looking to get back on track for his owner Harold DeFazio of Saint John.   Mark Haig, eight wins shy of five-hundred in his career, will drive the handsome son of Camluck.   It's an impressive group for the invitational pace. D J Power has drawn the coveted rail position from Quebec and comes in with some solid credentials.   He has been victorious over the half mile track in Quebec in 1:57.   Iron Phil is another solid campaigner from Quebec who sports a 1:57 win on his lines and will look for Louis Roy to make some waves on the Maritime racing circuit.   P.E.I invader Lyndale Royal has won three straight and includes a 1:56.3 clocking at Red Shores.    Meter Leader and Rocknroll Band look to be longshots in the race but both have been on fire as of late with a role of being the spoiler.   Scott Waddell

Following a dominant spring while racing at Pompano Park, Godiva Seelster scored her first local victory of the harness racing season on Friday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The five year old mare competed well at the Spa in 2014 and had been the runner up in three out of her four local tries this season heading into Friday night's $15,000 feature for distaff pacers. Godiva Seelster (Camluck) flashed early speed to help overcome post position seven and got the pocket trip behind Keene Olivia (Billy Dobson). Around the final turn, driver Wally Hennessey popped the pocket and the Dan Hennessey-trained Godiva Seelster rolled by to record the win in 1:54.1. The 6-5 favorite in the betting on Friday, Godiva Seelster recorded victory number eight on the year and has now finished first or second in fourteen of her fifteen seasonal tries. Weekend Getaway (Bruce Aldrich Jr) closed sharply to be the runner up to Godiva Seelster in Friday's feature while Delicisouslynaughty (Stephane Bouchard) earned the show spot. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella  

ANDERSON, Ind.-July 10, 2015 - Montenegro and Jason Dillander turned in a dominant harness racing performance to capture the co-featured event of the evening, a $21,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, July 10. Using a sharp, gate to wire effort, Montenegro was able to hold off the rest of the field late in the lane to score in 1:51.4. Leaving from post five, Dillander sent Montenegro away from the gate firing and she reached the front through the opening panel in :27.2. Wild Wanda and Andy Shetler also left aggressively to grab a pocket seat with Native Dream and Peter Wrenn next in line, third. Montenegro rattled off middle fractions of :56.1 and 1:25 before feeling a threat from Wild Wanda who tipped from the pocket approaching the final turn. As the field turned for home, Tyler Smith had the heavy betting favorite, Color's A Virgin, three-wide but she would have her work cut out for her as Montenegro looked game on the front. Using a :26.4 final quarter, Montenegro dug in gamely to hold off Wild Wanda and Color's A Virgin who finished second and third, respectively. As the bettors' second choice, Montenegro returned $4.80 at the windows. Trained by Jeff Cullipher, the seven-year-old Camluck mare scored her fifth victory of the season and has now won 32 of 149 lifetime outings. Owned by Randall Bendis and Thomas Pollack, Montenegro has earned $87,135 this season. On the trotting side of things, Allie Labrook returned to her home state and turned in an impressive performance to score in 1:52.4 in the featured trot, a $21,000 Invitational Trot. After racing at Mohawk Racetrack for three starts, Allie Labrook returned to Hoosier Park to score her third win of the season with Dan Shetler in the sulky. The 1:52.4 victory was just a few ticks off the overall trotting track record at Hoosier Park, a 1:52 mark she established earlier in the season. Using her customary late-surging tactics, Allie Labrook was rated off the pace through fractions of :27, :56.3 and 1:25.1 before beginning her attack in the final turn. As the field turned for home, Allie Labrook was poised to strike. Shetler asked his mount for more and Allie Labrook found another gear to win under wraps by three lengths. Natural Herbie and Verlin Yoder staged a big rally late in the lane but had too much ground to make up at the end of the mile and had to settle for second place honors. Lady Blitz and James Yoder rounded out the trifecta. Allie Labrook returned $6.60 to her backers. The five-year-old daughter of Here Comes Herbie-Allie Jane is trained by Dan Shetler and has now won three of eight seasonal outings. Owned by Sawgrass Farms, Allie Labrook has amassed $185,932 lifetime. Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, July 11 with a 14-race card featuring the $21,000 Invitational Pace. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., the live racing schedule at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 14. Emily Gaskin

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