CAMPBELLVILLE, March 23 - The connections of 56 harness racing three-year-old pacers have made the first sustaining payment to remain eligible to the 34th Pepsi North America Cup. The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup is Canada's richest harness race and will take place on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack. A total of 60 three-year-olds were originally nominated and all but four have been kept eligible through the first sustaining payment. Ray Schnittker trainee Huntsville and Brian Brown trainee Downbytheseaside headline the group of eligible three-year-olds. Both colts are sired by 2008 Pepsi North America Cup champion Somebeachsomewhere and both set World Records during their rookie campaigns. 2016 Metro Pace winner Beyond Delight, who is trained by Tony O'Sullivan, is another notable pacer on the list eligible three-year-olds. The son of Bettors Delight won the O'Brien Award as Canada's top two-year-old pacing colt in 2016. The eliminations for this year's Pepsi North America Cup will take place on Saturday, June 10. The $1 million final will take place the following week. The next sustaining payment for the Pepsi North America Cup is due April 15. The fee is $1,000 CAD or $715 USD. Below is the list of current eligible three-year-old pacers to the 2017 Pepsi North America Cup. AIR STRIKE by Always A Virgin AMERICAN SPORTSMAN by Somebeachsomewhere ARSENAL SEELSTER by Artistic Fella ART SCENE by American Ideal BEACH HOUSE by Somebeachsomewhere BECKHAMS Z TAM by Always A Virgin BETTORS DREAM by Bettor's Delight BETTOR'S WESTERN by Bettor's Delight BEYOND DELIGHT by Bettor's Delight BLOOD LINE by Somebeachsomewhere CALVIN K by Classic Card Shark CLASSIC PRO by Shadow Play CLOUSEAU HANOVER by Western Ideal DARLING'S DRAGON by Dragon Again DIAL THE BOSSMAN by Artistic Fella DOWNBYTHESEASIDE by Somebeachsomewhere DRAGNET ALERT by Dragon Again EDDARD HANOVER by Dragon Again FEAR THE DRAGON by Dragon Again FILIBUSTER HANOVER by Somebeachsomewhere HENRY THE DRAGON by Custard The Dragon HUNTSVILLE by Somebeachsomewhere HURRICANEBEACH by Somebeachsomewhere IDEAL WHEEL by American Ideal LAWRENCETOWNBEACH by Somebeachsomewhere LINDYTHEFOURTEENTH by Somebeachsomewhere LYONS WELSH PRIDE by Roll With Joe LYONS WILLIAM by Big Jim MAC ATTACK by Somebeachsomewhere MAC'S JACKPOT by Somebeachsomewhere MAJOR MOE by Art Major MC MACH by Mach Three MISO FAST by Roll With Joe MR VARSITY by Roll With Joe NORMANDYBEACH by Somebeachsomewhere OCEAN COLONY by Somebeachsomewhere ODDS ON DELRAY by Somebeachsomewhere OZONE BLUE CHIP by Bettor's Delight PERFECTLY CLOSE by Ponder PHOTOBOMBR HANOVER by Somebeachsomewhere R J P by Somebeachsomewhere RICHARD HILL by Mach Three ROCK IT SCOTT by Roll With Joe ROCK THIS WAY by Rocknroll Hanover SANTAFE'S COACH by Bettor's Delight SOME ATTITUDE by Somebeachsomewhere SPORTS COLUMN by Sportswriter STEALTH BOMBER by Rocknroll Hanover STREAKAVANA by Big Jim TALBOT ROMEO by Roll With Joe THREE MORE SMILES by Mach Three TWIN B COWBOY by Roll With Joe WESTERN HILL by Western Ideal WHO SAID NOT TO by Well Said WINDSONG NAPOLEON by Art Major YOUNG DRUNK PUNK by Bettor's Delight Sustain 1 Payment - 56 horses Mark McKelvie
TORONTO, March 23 - It doesn't happen regularly, so fans and horseplayers are in for a treat when a double dose of harness racing 'Preferred' action highlights Saturday night's card at Woodbine Racetrack. The $34,000 Preferred pace (Race 6) and $30,000 Mares Preferred pace (Race 2) will give everyone a chance to see many of the top pacers on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit on the same night. American Virgin, a five-year-old gelded son of Always A Virgin, will attempt to extend his current win streak to three in the Preferred. The Richard Moreau trainee has won the top class at Woodbine five-times this season. American Virgin has banked $106,080 this season to lead all Canadian-based horses in earnings. Doug McNair, the leading driver at Woodbine, will steer the 9/5 morning line choice from post-three. One of the newer faces on the WEG Circuit is New Zealand bred pacer Brilliant Strike N. The Tony O'Sullivan trained six-year-old will take his first crack at the top class from post-six. A son of Shadow Play, Brilliant Strike N scored his first win in the Northern Hemisphere last week by winning the class below the Preferred in 1:51.4. The O'Sullivan trainee will be making his fifth start on Canadian soil Saturday and will have the driving services of Sylvain Filion. Brilliant Strike N last start in New Zealand took place in late-November. Of the eight horses in Saturday's Preferred, six of them (Alexas Jackpot, American Virgin, Andreios Kardia, Jins Shark, Company Man and Nickle Bag) have won an edition of the Preferred in the last four-months. The $30,000 Mares Preferred will feature a field of seven leading ladies. Ron Adams trainee Bernadette has been arguably one of the hottest pacers this season at Woodbine and the four-year-old will look for her second consecutive Mares Preferred score. The Adams trainee made a backstretch move to the lead in last week's feature event and never looked back en route to a 1:52 victory. Bernadette has won four of nine starts this season, with last week's triumph her first in the Mares Preferred. Top driver McNair will once again drive Bernadette on Saturday, but the red-hot mare will have to fight off some classy veterans. Nine-year-old Waasmula has been a mainstay in this class for years and will be looking for her 32nd career victory Saturday. The Brent Vincent homebred surpassed $1 million in career earnings earlier this season and won an edition of the Mares Preferred last month. Trained by Bruce Goit and driven by regular reinsman Trevor Henry, Waasmula will start in the middle of the seven-horse field from post-four. The seven mares in Saturday's $30,000 event have combined for 15 wins this season. Saturday's card will mark the end of the 11th week of racing this year at Woodbine. Below is the list of Preferred and Mares Preferred winners from this season. 2017 Preferred Pace (Italics indicates racing on Saturday) January 7: Alexas Jackpot January 14: Modern Legend January 21: American Virgin January 28: Fine Diamond February 4: Jins Shark February 11: American Virgin February 18: Nickle Bag February 25: American Virgin March 4: American Virgin March 11: Company Man March 18: American Virgin 2017 Mares Preferred Pace (Bold indicates racing on Saturday) January 13: Ms Mac N Cheese January 21: Sandbetweenurtoes January 27: Sandbetweenurtoes February 3: Sandbetweenurtoes February 24: Waasmula March 3: Wrangler Magic March 10: Wrangler Magic March 17: Bernadette Here are the fields for Saturday's feature races. Race 2: Mares Preferred - $30,000 1. Bernadette (Doug McNair - Ron Adams) 5/2 2. Victoria Semalu (Sylvain Filion - Richard Moreau) 6/1 3. P L Hurricane (Rick Zeron - Dave Brown) 7/2 4. Waasmula (Trevor Henry - Bruce Goit) 3/1 5. Exhilarated (Jonathan Drury - Carmen Auciello) 8/1 6. Rock N Roll Xample (Louis Philippe Roy - Rene Allard) 5/1 7. Request For Parole (Ed Hensley - Ashleigh Hensley) 10/1 Race 6: Preferred - $34,000 1. Alexas Jackpot (Louis Philippe Roy - Marty Fine) 7/2 2. J Js Delivery (James MacDonald - Robert McMillan) 10/1 3. American Virgin (Doug McNair - Richard Moreau) 9/5 4. Andreios Kardia (Jody Jamieson - Jeff Byron) 6/1 5. Jins Shark (Ed Hensley - Dave Menary) 15/1 6. Brilliant Strike N (Sylvain Filion - Tony O'Sullivan) 5/1 7. Company Man (Travis Cullen - Richard Moreau) 10/1 8. Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry - Bill Robinson) 9/2 Post time Saturday is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
London, May 23, 2017 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District has announced that long time harness racing horseman/owner/breeder Mac Lilley will be this year's inductee into its prestigious Wall of Fame. Lilley, who owns and operates his farm just west of London, dove into the business in the early 1970s with the purchase of his first stallion, Zip Tar, and has not looked back. Since then, his farm has stood some 47 stallion including Super Wave, Springfield, Bo Knows Jate, Whosurboy, Rambaran and Warrawee Needy, just to name a few. Lilley was one of the first to offer a version of fractional ownership in the 70s and also leased and operated the Hawkinsville Training Centre in Georgia for 12 years in the late 1980s. Mac and his wife Ann have five sons and a daughter, 17 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, most of whom are involved in the family farm in one way or another. He will be inducted into The Raceway's Wall of Fame during a ceremony at the track on Friday, May 12. That night will also feature the annual Wall of Fame Pace. Greg Blanchard
Trois-Rivieres, QC - A record number of 32 four-year-old pacers have been nominated to the $200,000 4th renewal of the Prix D'Ete at the Hippodrome 3R. The race will be held on Sunday, August 20. Headlining the list is Check Six, who last year won an impressive $1,070,789 for the Ron Burke Stable. Burke and company will be seeking their third straight Prix D'Ete victory in 2017. The Prix D'Ete was the most prestigious race in all of Canada from 1966 through 1992. World champions Brett Hanover, Albatross, Niatross, Hot Hitter, Cam Fella, On The Road Again, Ralph Hanover, Matt's Scooter and a host of other top pacers have won the Prix D'Ete. In the past three editions of the Prix D'Ete at 3R, the all-age track record was set and then tied as both Sunfire Blue Chip (2014) and All Bets Off (2015) both won in 1:50.3. Then last year, Harness Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, came to 3R for the Prix D'Ete and after a dramatic neck and neck battle the final half mile of the race, was second in an upset by Rockin Ron (1:52) over a sloppy track. "We are very pleased with the quality of the horses that have nominated to this year's Prix D'Ete." Said Claude Levesque, president of the Quebec Jockey Club. "The revival of this Grand Circuit event has developed into the great race it was before." The Ron Bruke Stable hopes to have a three-peat with Check Six in the Prix D'Ete, having won the race last year with Rockin Ron and the year before with All Bets Off. Check Six, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, scored 11 wins in 24 starts last year with a record of 1:50 and victories in the $561,000 Pennsylvania Classic, the $252,000 PASS Final, $200,000 Monument Circle, a division of the Bluegrass Stake and was second in the Adios Pace and third in the Meadowlands Pace and the Breeders Crown. Other contenders include Western Fame, a $449,774 winner by Western Ideal for trainer Jimmy Takter, who won the 2014 Prix D'Ete with Sunfire Bluechip. Western Fame was a divisional winner of the Bluegrass Stake last season and was second in the Little Brown Jug final. Easy Lover Hanover ($359,772), was a 15-time winner last year for trainer Ben Wallace with his biggest win in the $314,000 Progress Pace, Lyons Snyder ($330,396) was a 1:49 victor in 2016 and Roll Away Joe (321,681), won the $250,000 NYSS Final and four NYSS events last year, are all major contenders for the race. Quebec owned nominees include Quebec-bred champions HP Patriote and Sports Authority, Endeavor and Stonebridge Beach. "I want to invite everyone to come to Trois-Rivieres the week of August 16 and August 20," Levesque added, "as we are hosting a division of the World Driving Championship and then our Prix D'Ete. We want everyone to come out and enjoy our great racing and Quebecoise hospitality." Last year just 24 nominated to the Prix D'Ete. The prior record was 28 nominees in both 2014 and 2015. The Hippodrome 3R is also gearing up for their 2017 opening day on Sunday, April 23. For more information visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club .2017 Prix D'Ete Nominees (after March 15, 2017 payment) AMERICAN PASSPORT ANOTHER DAILY COPY ARSENIC ARTMAGIC AWESOMENESS BIG TOP HANOVER CHECK SIX DAY TRADE HANOVER DR J HANOVER EASY LOVER HANOVER ENDEAVOR GERRIES SPORT HP PATRIOTE LYONS SYNDER MAGNUM J MISSILE J MR WIGGLE PANTS NOCTURNAL BLUECHIP PRETTY BOY HILL ROLL AWAY JOE ROLLAROUNDTHEWORLD SECRECY SEELEY MAN SINTRA SPIDER MAN HANOVER SPORTS AUTHORITY STOLEN GLIMPSE STONEBRIDGE BEACH TALK SHOW TODDLER TANTRUM VORACITY WESTERN FAME
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2017 ballot. In this the 250th Anniversary Year of Horse Racing in Canada, a total of 30 horses and people, comprised of 15 Standardbred and 15 Thoroughbred candidates have been selected to appear on the voting ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the winners in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 4. The five categories selected by the nominating committee to appear on the 2017 Standardbred ballots are Female Horse, Male Horse, Veteran Horse, Builder, and Driver/Trainer The Standardbred Female Horse Category features Elegantimage, Oohs N Aahs and Tricky Tooshie Trotting filly Elegantimage, bred by Diane Ingham and Harry Rutherford of Mount Pleasant, ON was a standout from age two when she recorded three Ontario Sire Stakes (OSS) wins in five starts. The Balanced Image daughter followed up at age three, winning eight of ten OSS starts, setting a lifetime mark of 1:55.4, and winning the 1997 Canadian Breeders Championship Final. During her race career, she posted a race record of 20-7-3 and lifetime earnings of $955,368 in 41 races. As a broodmare, her progeny have earned $986,223 with average earnings per starter of $140,889. Her top performer was the Kadabra filly, Elegant Serenity, a winner of over $500,000 with a mark of 1:53.2. Pacing mare Oohs N Aahs won 44 races in her career, taking a mark of 1:51.1 at Woodbine Racetrack at the age of eight while banking over $1.1 million. Finishing first, second or third in 109 out of a total of 177 races, Oohs N Aahs won most of her races in Ontario and became a Canadian fan favourite during her exceptional racing career. As a broodmare she produced Omen Hanover who earned in excess of $1 million, and in the process made Oohs N Aahs only the third pacing mare to both earn over $1 million and produce a millionaire daughter. Tricky Tooshie was bred and owned during her racing career by Laurent Bergevin of Quebec. Trainers included her co-breeder Jean L. Deblois, followed by Rick Zeron and then Linda Bedard. In seven years of racing she made 142 starts for a 44-29-24 record, posted a mark of 1:52.1 at Woodbine Racetrack and earned $1,005,566, becoming the first Canadian- sired mare to reach $1 million in earnings. As a broodmare, nine of her thirteen foals made it to the races to earn $2.84 million for average earnings per starter of almost $300,000. Her richest foal was True North Hanover, a winner of $732,912. Nominated In the category of Standardbred Male Horse are Blissfull Hall, Mach Three and Shadow Play In 1999, Blissfull Hall captured harness racing’s elusive Pacing Triple Crown for owners Ecuries Daniel Plouffe, Inc. of Bromont, Quebec, trainer Ben Wallace, and driver Ron Pierce. A career that included 31 races over two seasons amassed a record of 19-4-6, a mark of 1:49.2 and earnings of $1.4 million before he embarked on a successful career as a stallion. To date his progeny have won over $72 million in earnings, including 83 horses with earnings over $250,000, 222 horses with earnings over $100,000, and average earnings per starter of $97,969. Bred by Karl Magid of Cambridge, ON and owned throughout much of his race career by the late Joe Muscara Sr. of Pennsylvania, Mach Three was trained by Bill, Brett, and Shawn Robinson, along with Monte Gelrod. At age two Mach Three posted a record of 7-2-0 in nine starts, winning the 2001 $1.1 million Metro Pace at Woodbine Racetrack in 1:51.4. In 2002, Mach Three won the $1 million Meadowlands Pace in a career-best 1:49 and had a record of 11-2-2 in 18 starts to give him a career record of 18-4-2 in 27 starts and earnings of $2,376,700. In a stallion career split between Tara Hills Stud Farm in Ontario and Alabar Farms in New Zealand, he produced 1,300 plus offspring to date, with total progeny earnings of $104.7 million for average earnings per starter of $113,621, including 305 horses with earnings of $100,000 or more. Mach Three's influence on the Standardbred breed will forever be cemented as the sire of the legendary Hall of Fame racehorse and supersire Somebeachsomewhere ($3.3 Million, 1:46.4 World Record). Shadow Play earned $1,559,822 with 20 wins, 9 seconds and 5 thirds in 49 lifetime starts and took a record of 1:47.4 as a four-year-old. The son of The Panderosa, trained by Dr. Ian Moore who shared ownership with R G MC Group Ltd., and Serge Savard for most of his racing career, won several stakes events including the 2008 Little Brown Jug. As a sire standing at Winbak Farm in Ontario, and now owned by the Shadow Play Syndicate, he has sired the winners of over $14 million including O’Brien Award winners Lady Shadow and Arthur Blue Chip. The 2017 Veteran Horses ballot is comprised of B Cor Tamara, Happy Lady and Lou Macs Review Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000. Bred and owned by Bill Core of Dresden, Ontario, the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and granddam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall. Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.8 million. Happy Lady, a daughter of Most Happy Fella, raced in 1977 and 1978 for owners Myra Masterson of St. Catharines, and Linda Lockey of Ridgeville, Ontario. Though her racing career was brief, she won $528,825 in purse earnings and attained a mark of 1:55.2. Trained and driven by the late Jim Rankin, she was almost flawless in her juvenile campaign, winning 15 of 16 races. As a sophomore she won 19 of 24 starts. Trotting mare Lou Macs Review achieved success on the racetrack and as a broodmare. A multiple Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) winner at ages two and three during the late 1980s, she was the OSS champion in her three-year-old campaign, competing against both colts and fillies. Her race career continued as an aged open class winner until age seven, amassing lifetime earnings of $560,958 and including a second place finish in the 1991 Breeders Crown for Aged Mares. Her stats as a broodmare include progeny with earnings over $1.2 million and average earnings per starter of $140,000. In the Standardbred Driver/Trainer category voters will select from Blair Burgess, Jim Doherty and Ben Wallace. Toronto-born Blair Burgess has accumulated earnings of over $27.6 million with 1040 wins as a trainer, including two victories in the Hambletonian (Amigo Hall in 2003 and Glidemaster in 2006), and two in the Meadowlands Pace (Frugal Gourmet in 1987, Real Desire in 2002), plus wins in the Little Brown Jug (Tell All in 2007), the North America Cup (Tell All in 2007), the Kentucky Futurity, the Trotting Triple Crown (Glidemaster in 2006), and a Breeders Crown Championship (Real Desire, 2001). Burgess, who received an O’Brien Award as Canada’s Trainer of the Year in 2007, has also trained winners of seven O’Brien Awards, and nine Dan Patch Award. Two of his trainees have been named the U.S. Pacer of the Year (Real Desire and Tell All), while Glidemaster was named U.S. Trotter of the Year in 2006. Saint John, New Brunswick’s Jim Doherty developed numerous champions during his career as a trainer-driver including $3 million earner and 2002 U.S. Trotter of the Year, Fools Goal, as well as 1997 Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year No Nonsense Woman, and Starchip Entrprise, winner of the Valley Victory and Canadian Trotting Classic in the late 1990s. He also drove Green With Envy, two-time Older Pacing Mare of the Year in 1984 and 1985. During his career, Doherty drove winners of 4,620 races and nearly $39 million in purses. In 2003 Doherty was inducted to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. He is also a member of the New England Harness Writers Hall of Fame, New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, and the Saint John Sports Hall of Fame. Ben Wallace of Puslinch, Ontario trained the 1999 Pacing Triple Crown Winner Blissfull Hall, Breeders Crown winners Totally Western (2002), Pans Cullotes (2003), Armbro Rosebud (1997) as well as a list of million dollar plus winners including Apprentice Hanover, Zooka, Cam Swifty, Camotion and Lookout Victory. Awarded an O’Brien as Trainer of the Year in 1999, Wallace has current career stats of 1,866 wins and over $36.5 million in purses, surpassing the million dollar mark in 18 consecutive seasons (1996-2013). Standardbred Builder Category candidates include Dr. Gordon Gilbertson, DVM, J. Hugh Proudfoot and Brian Webster. The late Dr. Gordon Gilbertson, DVM, originally from Hagersville, ON, revolutionized an aspect of the Standardbred racing industry when he invented the Quick Hitch, a new style of harness. He used his extensive experience treating horses as a Veterinarian, and his hands-on experience in training and driving harness horses to fuel his idea. In 1980 Dr.Gilbertson secured Canadian and U.S. patents on his new "Quick Hitch" eventually named the "Rondeau Quick Hitch", in homage to where he lived in Kent County. J. Hugh Proudfoot, born in Fort Coulonge, Quebec in 1912, was an active harness racing participant as a breeder, trainer, owner and executive. His Pontiac Farm was a successful racing operation for decades throughout Quebec and Ontario. Proudfoot was a leader when it came to sponsoring races at Fort Coulonge, Chapeau, Shawville, Pembroke and beyond. As an executive he served as a Director of the Canadian Trotting Association (CTA) for eleven (11) years, as Vice-president for seven (7) before becoming President of the C.T.A. in 1959. He had great vision as evidenced by his belief that the C.T.A. and Canadian Standardbred Horse Society (CSHS) should amalgamate. He also believed there should be driver's insurance with the C.T.A. and advocated licensing women drivers. Brian Webster of St. George, ON, made contributions to the Canadian horse racing industry centering around his 20+ years building, managing and promoting successful yearling sales, including the Mixed Canadian Standardbred Horse Sale, the Select Yearling Sale, the Forest City Yearling Sale and as Sales Consultant to Standardbred Canada’s Yearling Sale. His industry association involvement included the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) and the North American Harness Racing Marketing Association. He also held many volunteer roles in the racing industry. The five categories chosen for the 2017 Thoroughbred ballot are Builder, Communicator, Trainer, Male Horse and Veteran Horse A Thoroughbred Builder ballot comprised of Frank McMahon, Eugene Melnyk and John G. Sikura is offered for voter consideration. The late Frank McMahon was a major contributor to thoroughbred horse racing in Canada with what was the first major stable in Western Canada, and as a founding member of the Jockey Club of Canada. Early success came as a part-owner of Royal Serenade, winner of the 1953 Hollywood Gold Cup. Other McMahon victories included the 1966 British Columbia Derby in Vancouver and the 1970 Canadian Derby in Edmonton. He partnered with Max Bell (Golden West Farms) in 1968 to win the Queen’s Plate with Merger. In 1969, his Majestic Prince won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Eugene Melnyk, businessman, sports team owner and racehorse breeder/owner has won 12 Sovereign Awards including Outstanding Owner in 2007 and 2009. Top horses include Speightstown (winner of 2004 Breeders' Cup Sprint), Flower Alley, Graeme Hall, 1998 Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay, and 2007 Horse of the Year, Sealy Hill, who was inducted into the CHRHF in 2013. A former trustee of the New York Racing Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association honoree, Melnyk dispersed his broodmare band in February 2013 to refocus his business model on yearling purchases and racing. John G. Sikura, owner and president of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms (Kentucky), has been a mainstay in the breeding industry since 1987. Mr. Sikura remains an active owner/breeder and major sales consignor. To date, his farm has consigned 95 horses selling for $1,000,000 and over. Meanwhile, the farm operates as a full service facility serving horse people throughout North America. The current stallion roster at Hill’n’Dale includes two-time Horse of the Year Curlin who commands a $150,000 (US) stud fee. John’s father, John Sikura, Jr., was inducted into the CHRHF in 2013. Joe Hirsch, Dan Loiselle, and Curtis Stock and have been selected to appear on the Thoroughbred Communicator ballot. American horse racing columnist and author Joe Hirsch, the founding president of the U.S. based National Turf Writers' Association, began writing for the Daily Racing Form in 1954 and retired as its executive columnist in 2003. His support of Canadian racing and those involved in the sport on this side of the border was widespread as his work was read by industry leaders all over North America. The author of multiple books, his 'The Grand Senor' details the career of Horatio Luro, best known as trainer of Northern Dancer. Dan Loiselle’s horse-racing career spans almost five decades, initially as a Standardbred racing official and announcer, and then as Woodbine Thoroughbred announcer, replacing Daryl Wells in 1986. His signature accuracy and clarity was accompanied by a flair for entertaining his audience. He has served as Master of Ceremonies at many industry functions and interviewed celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment. In November of 2015, Loiselle was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame and was saluted by the Toronto Sports Media with a special award. Originally from Calgary, Curtis Stock got his start as a horse racing reporter while still in university, before working at Woodbine with CHRHF honoured member Bruce Walker. He returned to Alberta to take over the publicity, marketing and advertising at Northlands Park and then moved to the Edmonton Journal where he worked for 32 years. He also plied his craft at the Daily Racing Form for 20 years. His writing has resonated with Sovereign Awards judges, resulting in a record eleven awards. The three Trainers on the 2016 Thoroughbred Election ballot are Reade Baker, Harold J. Barroby and Daniel J. Vella Reade Baker's training career spans four decades and almost 1,100 wins. 122 of those wins in stakes events, 30 in graded races. The 2005 Sovereign Award recipient as Outstanding Trainer, Baker has developed numerous stake winners including Horse of the Year champions Fatal Bullet (2008) and Biofuel (2010). Baker also conditioned Bear Now, 2008 Sovereign Award for Older Female and Tu Endie Wei, 2011 Sovereign Award winner as Champion 2-Year-Old Filly. Baker continues to saddle winners including Woodbine Oaks winner Academic and Prince of Wales Stakes winner Breaking Lucky in 2015 Harold Barroby a native of Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan followed his older brother Frank to Alberta, became leading trainer in 1969 and 1970 before moving further west to British Columbia in 1974 where the great Love Your Host won 13 stakes under his tutelage and horses Pampas Host and Delta Colleen were both multiple stakes winners. B.C’s leading trainer a record 10 times Harold remains the all-time leader in terms of wins and stakes wins, inlcuding graded stake wins with Fortinbras in the 1986 British Columbia Derby (G3) and 1986 B.C. Premier's Championship Handicap (G3). Daniel Vella captured the Sovereign Awards Trainer title in 1994 and 1995. He has won the coveted Queen's Plate twice in his career thus far, the first in 1994 with Frank Stronach’s Basqueian and followed up with his second win in in 2012, with Strait of Dover for Wally and Terry Leong. Vella has scored one hundred and thirty-five (135) career stakes wins in a career that began in 1985. Career stats include 5,065 (793-755-617) and earnings to date: $36,267,212. The Thoroughbred Male Horse category will be contested by A Bit O’Gold, Mt. Sassafras and Quiet Resolve. Catharine Day Phillips trainee, A Bit O’Gold won four Sovereign awards in 2004 and 2005, including Horse of the Year, as a result of his multiple stakes wins including the Coronation Futurity in 2003, the Plate Trial Stakes, the Breeders Stakes, the Ontario Derby all in 2004. In 2005 stakes wins included the Dominion Day Stakes Handicap (G3), the Chinese Cultural Stakes Handicap (G2) and the Sky Classic Stakes Handicap (G2) with career earnings totalling $1,888,155. Mt. Sassafras earned $1,382,985 in 47 career starts (8-7-14) and was named 1996 Sovereign Award winner for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Horse. Multiple graded stakes wins included Dominion Day Handicap (G2) in 1999, as well as the Dominion Day Handicap (G3) and Eclipse Handicap (G3) in 1996 and (G1) Gulfstream Park Handicap in 1997. Quiet Resolve, the Sam Son Farm homebred and Mark Frostad trained son of Affirmed earned $2.3 million in a 31 start race career with a record of 10-6-4, which included multiple graded stakes wins. He was recipient of the 2000 Sovereign Award as Champion Turf Horse and Canada’s Horse of the Year, which was highlighted by victories in the Atto Mile (G1), and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes (G2). During his championship season, Quiet Resolve ventured south of the border and won the Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico, was second in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs and third in the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes (G2). In the Thoroughbred Veteran Horses category voters will select from All Along (FR), Passing Mood and South Ocean. French-bred filly All Along, was the first winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) to race in Canada winning the Rothmans International (G1) as part of a 41 day international tour that also included wins in the Turf Classic (G1) at Aqueduct and the Washington, D.C. International (G1) at Laurel. Named Horse of the Year on two continents for owner Daniel Wildenstein and family, All Along was named Champion Older Horse in France and 1983 Horse of the Year in the U.S, the first female and foreign-based horse to win an Eclipse award as Horse of the Year. The royally-bred Passing Mood, both owned and bred by D. G. Willmot's Kinghaven Farms, became one of Canada's greatest producers, in fact, she was named Outstanding Broodmare in 1989. Among her progeny was With Approval, inducted into the CHRHF in 1993 after a stellar racing career including the Canadian Triple Crown in 1989. Another top horse was Touch Gold, who won the 1997 Belmont Stakes (Gr 1) as well as the Haskell Invitational (Gr 1) and Lexington Stakes (Gr 2). South Ocean was bred by E.P. Taylor and sold through auction to his son Charles. Trained by G. "Pete" McCann, South Ocean was a major stakes winner, including the Canadian Oaks in 1970. However, it is as a broodmare that South Ocean made a huge impact. She produced the CHRHF filly Northernette and Storm Bird, sire of Storm Cat, both sired by Northern Dancer. Her contribution to Canadian Breeding is both immeasurable and invaluable. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame may be found at www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com by Linda Rainey for the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
CAMPBELLVILLE, ON - March 20 - Conditions and dates for the 2017 City of London Series, to be raced at The Raceway at Western Fair District, have been released by the Alliance. Ontario sired four-year-olds and younger, who were non-winners of $10,000 lifetime as of midnight February 28, 2017, are eligible for nomination to the City of London. The dates for each of the four City of London Series are as follows. 1. Pace - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 2. Pace - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 3. Trot - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) 4. Trot - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) Each elimination will be contested for a purse of $7,000, while each City of London final will have $20,000 in added money to the purse. The nomination fee for the City of London Series is $100 CAD or $75 USD and nominations are due Saturday, April 15. Administration duties for the City of London Series are handled by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). To view the nomination form, click here. Nomination fees can be paid online by visiting www.woodbineentertainment.com/sbpayments. If sending payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than April 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie for WEG Communications
Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewoman, Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman The commotion around the winner’s circle had not escaped the eagle eyes of the judges, perched high above the grandstand. Two floors below them, the new boy, Alastair McTavish, recently appointed as Director of Iroquois Downs Raceway, was gazing down at the scene with an increasing feeling of unease. Al was an imposing 6 feet 3 inches with the kind of presence that demands respect. At 58, he didn’t have a single grey hair, though he was thinning on top. Even though it was his first week on the job, he recognized trouble when he saw it. He reached for the red phone, his direct link to the presiding judge. John Jewells was a no-nonsense type who had trained at the famous judge school in Arizona, known locally as Jewells’ School. “What’s going on down there, John?” Al McTavish boomed. Jewells ducked the question. “What can I do for you, Director McTavish?” he asked. “I’m a little concerned about that last race,” Al persisted. “Already on it. Got the Mutuels Manager looking for any suspicious betting patterns. Probably nothing in it, but you never know.” Thirty seconds later, the presiding judge had an intriguing fact to ponder. Twenty $2 tickets had indeed been punched sequentially for the winning combination. It was a highly unusual sized bet for two long shots. “Instruct the teller to check each winning exacta ticket,” Jewells told the Mutuals Manager. “If anyone tries to cash in all or part of that sequence, hold them on any excuse.” “You betcha, John.” John Jewells, tight lipped, picked up his own red phone, his direct line to the Paddock Judge, a Mr. T. Roberts, who controlled the Race Barn like an army sergeant. On any given night, there were over a hundred horses, almost twice that many horsemen and a few dozen drivers to keep in order. Roberts thrived on it. Despite the torrential downpour, he was on the case, rallying the troops, determined that the fifth race would leave the Race Barn on time. “Automatic hundred-dollar fine for any trainer late for post parade! Let’s get moving!” Mr. Roberts shouted. “We go in thirty seconds with the fifth, men. Get ’em ready! Mr. Hall! Where the hell are you with your horse? Get ’im out there now, and I mean NOW!” The ring of his red phone interrupted the Paddock Judge’s diatribe in mid-stream. “Mr. Roberts. It’s John here.” No one was on first name terms with the Paddock Judge. “Yes sir!” Mr. Roberts replied eagerly. “I want to talk to McCoy, Price and Rankin in that order, right away.” “Mr. Rankin’s in the fifth sir.” “Get me the other two. I’ll talk to Rankin when he comes back in.” “Yes sir!” Mr. Roberts replied slamming down the phone. “Lead ’em out, men! Mr. McCoy, Mr. Price. Judges want to talk to you!” Scotty McCoy’s outraged tone echoed down the phone line when the judges suggested that he’d been stiffing Raiders Moon in her previous races. “I never stiffed a horse in my life,” he declared, puffing himself up in self-righteous indignation. “She was tying up! Ask my vet. He’s been treatin’ her for it.” Andy Price too had an airtight explanation, “I only got the filly ten days ago,” he declared. “She came down from Quebec. It’s her first start for me. You accusing me of doin’ too good with her or what?” Moose Rankin came in after the fifth race soaking wet, splattered with mud and in a foul mood, having finished last. “Lazer told me to give Gypsy Queen a covered-up trip,” Moose said scowling at the phone. “Ned Beazer did the job on me. I’m sick about it!” The judges reluctantly took him at his word. They all agreed a hot head like Moose Rankin was the last driver any sane person would pick to pull off a betting coup. None of them felt it necessary to question the leading driver, Theo Vettore. He was always trying to win. “Which leaves only Pete Summers,” John Jewells told Al. “But it’s the first time he’s driven Raiders Moon, so we can’t pin it on him.” The judges were still scrutinizing the tape of the fourth when the presiding judge’s phone rang. It was the Mutuels Manager. “Looks like we got your man, John. Listen to this! He’s a trainer just come back from suspension, a Dave Bodinski.” “Hold off payment. Tell him we need more I/D and to come back in the morning. Tell him he’ll have to see the judges first, but it’s just pro forma,” Jewells replied. “Pro what?” the Mutuals Manager asked uncertainly. “Routine,” Jewells replied irritably. “Gotcha,” the manager said, sounding relieved. Everything appeared to hinge on the judges’ interview with Dave Bodinski the following day. But a call back from the Mutuals Manager clouded the issue somewhat. “You’d better hear this for yourself,” he told John Jewells. “I remember the guy!” a flustered teller confessed. “He accused me of punching in the wrong numbers. Made a big stink about it! But it was too late to do anything. The starting bell had gone off.” Pretty soon the judges had a more urgent problem on their hands. The drivers had got together and were refusing to go out for the seventh race, claiming that conditions were too dangerous. It was true enough. The worst storm to hit Ontario in a decade was showing no signs of abating. Visibility was close to zero. Mr. Roberts, the Paddock Judge, was desperately searching through his rule books for guidance on extreme weather conditions. Taking advantage of the lull, Moose Rankin collared Theo Vettore in the drivers’ room. “What the fuck were you playing at in the fourth, cutting the mile like that?” Moose hissed, “I thought your filly didn’t like the front end.” “She doesn’t,” Theo replied sullenly. “I figured you’d cut it, you moron!” “Listen to me,” Moose exclaimed, lighting his cigarette and glancing over at Theo, his eyes half closed. “You’re in big trouble. I heard the guys in dark glasses bet the bank on the exacta tonight and it sure as hell included you. Your horse was fucking even money!” “She lost! It happens!” Theo retorted. Moose didn’t reply. He just drew his finger across his own throat, then pointed to Theo. The sound of rain drumming on the roof was deafening. Theo swallowed hard but said nothing. “Attention horsemen!” the Paddock Judge’s voice rang out. “Under rule 147, section 3, the stewards have decided to abandon the rest of tonight’s program due to dangerous racing conditions. I repeat, racing has been abandoned due to inclement weather.” “Roberts doesn’t get to yell at us any more tonight,” Moose said happily, turning to Theo. There was no one there. “Encore du vin, Monsieur?” a voice murmured at André’s Fontainbleu’s elbow. He motioned the waiter away. He had caught sight of the young Frenchman he had recently hired standing at attention, keeping a discreet distance from the dinner table conversation. When André raised a finger, Henri approached and spoke, sotto voce, in his ear. “Ze young lady, she is waiting for you, Monsieur,” Henri said. André Fontainbleu picked up his fork. The twinkle of silver on glass produced the desired effect. His guests fell silent. “I regret, but always, business calls,” he announced charmingly, rising to his feet and turning away from the Caribbean Sea, the backdrop for dinner. The Australian girl was waiting downstairs, gazing up at the soaring ceiling and glittering candelabra. He ran his eyes over her slim figure, her full breasts. She was young, barely twenty at a guess and suitably virginal. According to his sources, she had been marooned on the island when her boat was caught in a freak storm. June was generally a calm month. Unlike the rest of the crew, she apparently wanted to stay on. As she wasn’t independently wealthy, she needed a work permit, a lengthy bureaucratic process on Sainte Marie unless one knew who to bribe. That is where André Fontainbleu came in, provided, naturellement, that the woman in question was young and attractive. There was a determined set to this girl’s jaw, but he had no doubt that common sense would prevail, after he had laid out his terms. One weekend, that was what he required. Her body was the only thing she had to offer in return. The feeling of power was intoxicating. As he walked down the spiral staircase to greet her, he caught her eye and imagined undressing her. She blushed but she held his gaze without faltering. Her long dark hair revived bitter sweet memories. But that was long ago. This was going to be easy like everything else on this island. Almost too easy. Despite, or perhaps because of, his age, he was still attractive to women. The touch of silver in his crop of dark curls reassured them. It gave him a fatherly air. Also, the power and the money drew them in. It promised to be a pleasant weekend, a very pleasant weekend indeed! Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
The opening two legs of the 2017 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge are in the books with Matt Rose and Rusty Nash sprinting to the early lead, each winning a leg. However, with more winners for the weekend, Rose takes a 76.5-67point lead over Nash as the total prize pool reaches a record $8,000 thanks to the added Gold Sponsorship of WEG Entertainment and the Silver Sponsorship of Aquaflow, LLC. While the Levy tends to be the home of favorites, several of handicappers were undeterred in going against the anticipated chalk and they were successful. Hitting 2nd division winner Long Live Rock ($38.60) were Ray Cotolo, Ray Garnett, and Nash. Taking down 4th division winner Soto ($14.00) were Cotolo, Adam Friedland, Jay Hochstetler, Steve Horoky, Nash, Bryan Owen, and Rose. In the near-miss category, Rose just missed a big price in the 3rd division of the Matchmaker on Friday evening when Hidden Land was bested by Regil Elektra in a photo. While denied the winning mutual, Rose picked up the place and show mutuels of $15 and $13 respectively, helping his net profit in the early going. In the net-profit competition, Nash ($58.90) leads Cotolo ($42.40) and Rose ($35.40). Standings as of March 27, 2017 - Leg #4 Pos Handicapper Total Points Earned Legs Won Overall Net Profit 1st Matt Rose 76.5 1 35.40 2nd Rusty Nash 67.0 1 58.90 3rd Ray Cotolo 37.0 0 42.40 4th Steve Horoky 35.5 0 8.70 5th Dennis O’Hara 35.5 0 (1.20) 6th Adam Friedland 28.5 0 12.40 7th Bryan Owen 24.0 0 2.20 8th Ray Garnett 19.0 0 18.20 9th Jay Hochstetler- 19.0 0 9.80 10th Michael Carter 19.0 0 (4.80) 11th Russ Adams 17.0 0 (14.00) 12th Megan Maccario 15.0 0 (6.00) 13th Sally Hinckley 9.0 0 (8.00) 14th Anne Stepien 9.0 0 (19.40) 15th Gordon Waterstone 9.0 0 (29.10) 16th Terry Wilson 9.0 0 (34.40) Next Up: The Challenge returns to Yonkers Raceway on Friday, March 24 for the second leg of the Matchmaker series while Saturday (5/25) is the second leg of the Levy Memorial. The 2017 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge is sponsored by Adam Friedland, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, The Hambletonian Society, Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Red Shores Charlottetown/Summerside, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Wellbourne Farms, and WEG Entertainment. The contest is administered by HANA Harness, the harness racing division of HANA, the Horseplayers Association of North America. Fans may follow the challenge by visiting the contest site at http;//hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. by Allan Schott, for HANA
As part of ‘Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario’ project, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is pleased to announce an initial series of rule changes and policy reforms stemming from an extensive engagement effort to modernize the agency’s regulatory approach and better support Ontario’s horse racing industry. Copies of the AGCO’s initial rule changes and policy reforms documents have been posted here in English and in French. The first of the rules changes will come into effect on April 1, 2017. As part of Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario project, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is pleased to announce an initial series of rule changes and policy reforms stemming from an extensive engagement effort to modernize the agency’s regulatory approach and better support Ontario’s horse racing industry. Over the past nine months, the AGCO has engaged with over 150 individuals and organizations from across Ontario’s horse racing industry, including participants from all three breeds, racetracks, equine welfare specialists, veterinarians, and horse players as part of a comprehensive review of the AGCO’s approach to horse racing regulation. A key objective of the stakeholder engagement process was to ensure we had discussions and worked with a wide range of industry participants on key regulatory challenges and potential areas for reform within the AGCO mandate. A more detailed account of the engagement process and our comprehensive Findings Report, which was released on February 16, 2017, and can be found here on the 'Moving Ahead' project page on the AGCO Web site. These reforms include: Standardbred Race Coupling New Approach to Jockey Conflicts of Interest Increasing Quarter Horse Jockey Weights Elimination of Directives for Triactor and Superfecta Field Size Changes to the Human Alcohol and Drug Program AGCO Official Race Reports and Twitter – Pilot Project Establishment of a Rules Advisory Committee Enhanced Compliance News and Information for Licensees Fractional Ownership – Clarifying and Aligning Rules across all Breeds Extreme Weather Standard for Race Cancellations Racetrack Concussion Protocol Standard These reforms were developed with stakeholder input and – to the extent possible– were consensus-based to ensure policy changes are practical, implementable, and make sense for the industry. From the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario
ELORA, ON - A top purse of $250 is awaiting harness racing quiz wizards in Grand River Raceway's Grand Trivia Night to benefit The Stable That God Loves. The April 19th event features $200 in prize money for the top trivia team. Sixty trivia questions will be played in three rounds. The questions will be 70 percent harness racing trivia and 30 percent general knowledge. A $50 bonus goes to the winning team if their score tops the hypothetical tally of the Pro Team, which includes: two-time World Driving Champ Jody Jamieson, Anthony MacDonald of The Stable, and Brian Tropea of the Ontario Harness Horse Association. Assisting the Pro Team is race announcer Ken Middleton and Hall Of Famer Bill Galvin - two of the driving forces behind The Stable That God Loves. The cost is $32 per person and participants can register in teams of two or four. The ticket price includes a $10 slots voucher (19+), snacks, Mashed Potato Bar and tax. The Stable That God Loves benefits $5 from each ticket. The not-for-profit group is a fundraising initiative for the Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada. Participating racehorse owners pledge one percent of their horses' annual earnings to the Chaplaincy, which is dedicated to providing for the emotional, physical, spiritual and human needs of the horse racing work force in southwestern Ontario. Grand Trivia Night is held in the Lighthouse Restaurant at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, April 19. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., trivia begins at 7:00 p.m. and concludes at 9:15 p.m. A cash bar is available 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available by advance sale only, and can be purchased online. by Kelly Spencer, for Grand River Raceway
MOREWOOD, Ont. — The gunman must have been cold and tired by the time Randy Rankin flicked on a basement light and sat down at his computer. It was 5 a.m. in mid-February 2007. Snow was falling in the dark. Soundlessly, the gunman took aim through the basement window of the secluded bungalow Rankin shared with his wife, Dorothy, and their teenage daughter, Amanda. Rankin was a sizable target. He was 6’4’’ and 400 pounds with a neck that swallowed his jaw and enthroned his chin. His life was equally large and headstrong. Rankin, 46, was consumed with harness racing but tended to gamble more than he could afford to lose at Ottawa’s Rideau Carleton Raceway. He also held staunch, controversial opinions, which he shared online, about what was wrong with the state of racing in Ontario: He railed about horse doping, financial corruption and hinted darkly at even larger scandal. Rankin could be argumentative and abrasive, and he collected a full share of enemies. Yet there was another side to him, an alter ego, which manifested itself in the form of Koo Koo the Clown and Lunch Box Louie. His size was an asset when it came to entertaining children — and he took real joy in playing the clown. This was the man much loved by the women in his life: his wife, daughter, mother and grandmother, with whom he was exceptionally close. None of it mattered, though, to the killer who applied increasing pressure to the trigger under his fingertip. In a split second, a bullet exploded from the weapon’s barrel, pierced the basement window and crashed into the back of Rankin’s skull. Dorothy and Amanda Rankin scrambled out of bed to investigate. As the gunman melted back into the night, Rankin slumped dead in his chair, his traumatized daughter at his side. No one has ever been arrested for the killing of Randy Rankin, but that doesn’t mean the case is a cold one: Far from it. History is on the boil in North Dundas Township. The racetrack gives and it takes, and so Randy Rankin lived a fickle existence. The second oldest of four siblings, he grew up in Kitchener, Ont., and spent his formative years at the old Elmira Raceway. Wagering was in his blood. “He was into racing from the time he was born,” says his aunt, June Mercey, 81. “The whole family would go to the track. As little kids, you had to gamble. You drew a number out of a hat, and that was your horse.” Young Randy was known as a skilled handicapper: His elementary school principal once called him to the office to help him decipher a racing program. “I got a kick out of that,” his late father, Herb, a stationary engineer, told a local reporter after his son’s death. Randy attended Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute, but he was more interested in standardbreds than in history or science. He worked as a bartender to build the stake he needed to get into harness racing, and bought his first horse for $2,500. He enjoyed some modest success, and on a visit to Ottawa’s Rideau Carleton Raceway in the mid-1980s, Rankin met Dorothy Thompson, a small-scale owner and trainer who had grown up on a farm in Morewood. They hit it off. She didn’t mind that he was more than twice her size. “Randy was a big boy,” she says. “But there was just something there.” He moved to Morewood, about 40 kilometres outside of Ottawa, and became a fixture at the Rideau Carleton Raceway. There, Rankin befriended Robert McNamara, who owned a large standardbred horse farm in Clarence Creek. McNamara hired him as a groom based on the theory that any horse, after dragging Rankin around, would run like the wind with a regular driver in the sulky. He supplemented his income by working as a clown, a job recommended to him because of his size. As Koo Koo the Clown and Lunch Box Louie, he performed magic tricks, made balloon animals and shared with children one of his prized lop-eared rabbits. Randy Rankin, Lunch Box Louie, one of his clown personalities. “He liked that a lot: He was good at that,” Dorothy says. Randy Rankin loved entertaining kids as Lunch Box Louie, his family says. - In 2003, Rankin thought he had finally found himself a secure place in the harness-racing industry when he was hired as track announcer at Rideau Carleton Raceway. It was an ideal fit for a man who could talk a blue streak. But his good fortune didn’t last: He soon clashed with the general manager, who fired him as the track became embroiled in allegations of race fixing. Rankin’s friend, Robert McNamara, was at the heart of the controversy. McNamara had gone to the Ontario Racing Commission with allegations that he’d been ordered by a track official to throw a race. Rankin provided supporting evidence to the commission. Both men also spoke to Postmedia, which published a story in 2004 based on their claims. The racing commission investigated, but concluded their corruption allegations, including those made against the general manager, were unfounded. McNamara was soon in hot water himself: In September 2005, he was suspended from the racing industry for buying black market drugs for his horses. Slapped with a five-year ban, he sold his animals and abandoned harness racing. For Rankin, it represented another unexpected setback. In two short years, he had lost both his racetrack position and his job as a groom. He turned to clowning while also placing a long-shot bet on politics: Rankin entered the 2006 contest for reeve of North Dundas Township. But his heart wasn’t in the race, and he finished well out of the running. He dabbled in poker and cigarette smuggling, but poured most of his energy into an online campaign to tear down the industry that for so long had been focus of his hopes and dreams. On a popular harness racing discussion board, Rankin traded heavily in rumour, innuendo and gossip. “He was a very prolific poster who often made posts that riled people up,” says Addin Katz, owner and moderator of harnessdriver.com. The two often clashed when Rankin’s posts were censored. “He had a good sense of humour, but he was moody,” says Katz. “He could be very nice to you, charming, but if he was upset, he could turn on you.” Writing under the name “Big Daddy,” Rankin claimed to hold secrets about horse doping that would ruin the industry, making broad allegations against the racing community in general. He was slapped with a $6-million libel suit that named a number of others, including Katz. (It would be settled out of court after Rankin’s death.) The threat of legal consequences did not rein him in: Rankin told the racing forum that he had approached journalists with CTV’s W5 to spill his secrets. “If I go national with what I know, this industry would be in such a tailspin, it would never recover,” he wrote. “Now sit quiet and watch the ball unravel.” He was dead one week later. • The OPP investigation of the Rankin slaying suffered bad luck right from the start: An early morning snowfall obscured whatever footprints or tire tracks had been left by the killer. The OPP, including Const. Chris McGillis and his police dog, spent long hours looking for clues to the slaying of Randy Rankin following the shooting. David Gonczol / - Meanwhile, Rankin’s friends and family told police they thought his killing had to be connected to his whistleblowing activities. His brother, Jim, called it “a hit” by the “horse business” during interviews with several papers. McNamara told authorities his friend had been receiving death threats from irate horsemen. OPP investigators tried to follow Rankin’s crooked trail of conspiracies, but it didn’t lead them to a killer. A $50,000 reward for information in the case failed to unearth any telling clues. The case went cold. Then, in the spring of 2014, a badly decomposed body was found in a Morewood ditch. It was just down the road from the bungalow where Rankin had been killed, and its discovery would raise a number of searing questions. Among them: Was Randy Rankin the victim of a serial killer? The long, tragic history of Morewood’s Death Row: Unsolved in the Ottawa Valley Harold Davidson of Brinston, Ont.. Harold Davidson Farmer Harold Davidson was trying to sell his 75-acre property, near Brinston, when he was shot three times through the window of his farmhouse as he sat at the kitchen table. Davidson’s former neighbour, Ronald Smail, described him as a loner: “No one was ever in that house,” Smail told the Citizen in November 1983. “He kept to himself; he never hurt anybody.” A veteran of the Second World War, Davidson, 60, was preparing to retire after more than three decades in farming. His body was found by a real-estate agent who was about to show the farm to a potential buyer. Wallace Johnston Big, shy and kindly, Wallace Johnston was the only one of his 10 siblings who did not leave the family farm, near Avonmore. Johnston, 48, was shot in the head with a high-powered handgun as he watched TV in his favourite dining room chair. A bullet pierced the window, but did not shatter it. Johnston lived on the farm with his 93-year-old father, Willy. Johnston had few friends outside his family, didn’t socialize much, and raised banty roosters as a hobby. John King. John King John King, 59, of Moreweed, was shot once in the head before his house was burned to the ground on July 14, 1987. He was known as a quiet and private man. He had been living in a two-storey home on County Road #7 for more than two decades — ever since failing vision forced him to quit his job as a courier for the British High Commission in 1966. King would sometimes walk to the nearby Morewood Country Store to chat with the owners and drink buttermilk. Randy Rankin. Randy Rankin Randy Rankin, 47, was a children’s clown, poker player and harness racing enthusiast. He had grown up in Kitchener, Ont. and spent his formative years at the old Elmira Raceway. He moved to the Morewood area after meeting Dorothy Thompson, a local horse owner and trainer. They had one daughter, Amanda. He was killed by a single bullet — it was fired through a window — as he sat at his computer at 5 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2007. Raymond Arnold Collison. Raymond Collison Raymond Collison lived in Winchester Springs, and worked odd jobs while also collecting disability payments. He had schizophrenia, according to his sister, and “kept pretty much to himself.” He was reported missing in September 2009 after disappearing weeks earlier. Collison, then 58, was last seen getting onto his bicycle outside the McCloskey Hotel in Chesterville to pedal home. His decomposed body was found more than four years later, in April 2014. Police will say not how he died, only that the death involved foul play. Unsolved in the Ottawa Valley, Part 2: The locals call it death row In April 2014, two people out for an evening stroll in rural Morewood came across a human skull in a ditch running with spring meltwater. The body was badly decomposed: It had been exposed to the elements, and preyed upon by insects and animals. Ontario Provincial Police cordoned off the area, and launched a forensic investigation. An autopsy determined the individual, a man, had been the victim of foul play. For strategic reasons, however, the police did not release his cause of death. They deemed it “hold back material,” information that would be known only to the killer. Such material can sometimes identify a false confession, or seal a conviction if drawn from an interview subject. DNA testing was required to identify the body and, two months later, the OPP confirmed what others in the community had already theorized: The victim was Raymond Collison, a Winchester Springs man who had disappeared in September 2009. Collison’s family had reported him missing three weeks after he was last seen getting on his bicycle outside the McCloskey Hotel in Chesterville. Collison, 58, lived with mental illness — schizophrenia — and had disappeared before for weeks at a time. His family knew something was wrong only when his mail began to pile up and his government cheques went unclaimed. The discovery of Collison’s body solved one longstanding local mystery in North Dundas Township. But it also breathed new life into a startling assortment of old, dark ones. • Locals call it death row. The flat, four-kilometre stretch of Thompson Road, just outside of Morewood, is home to a smattering of family farms, some vast cornfields and a gravel pit. Patches of forest mark division lines between properties. It looks like any other rural road in North Dundas Township. Yet this stretch of quiet country road in “Canada’s dairy capital” has seen more tragedy than most inner city streets. The decomposed corpse of Raymond Collison was found at the corner of Thompson Road and Steen Road. Randy Rankin. A few kilometres away is the bungalow where Randy Rankin was shot and killed on a winter’s night in February 2007. His defiant widow, Dorothy, continues to live in the house: “No one is going to scare me out of my own home,” she says. Morewood’s death row has known other tragedies. In September 2002, the charred remains of 58-year-old Fern Patenaude were found inside his burned out Ford pick-up truck in a field on Lafleur Road, just off Thompson Road. Patenaude, a part-time farmer, had suffered four years of anguish: An unexplained series of fires on his property had destroyed an old house, a barn, a machine shop, and a number of vehicles, including a vintage 1936 Chevy. Fern Patenaude But it was the scene that he encountered on the afternoon of March 4, 2002 that would leave him, he later told reporters, “just about at the end of my rope.” That day, when he went to feed his two Belgian draft horses, he found Pirate, a four-year-old, dead on the ground from a gunshot wound. The horse’s genitals had been mutilated. The other horse, Prince, had also been hit with a shotgun blast, but would survive. “I just don’t know who in the devil would do that,” Patenaude said at the time. Two young offenders were later convicted of shooting the horses and mutilating Pirate. The OPP initially concluded that Patenaude’s death was accidental. Forensic tests showed he did not suffer any injuries — broken bones or gunshot wounds — before being overcome by smoke and flames. His body was found splayed out the back window of his cab, halfway into the bed of his truck. Investigators said careless smoking might have caused the fire that killed him. But police reviewed the case in the aftermath of the Collison killing, and now consider it a suspicious death because of one gnawing question: Why didn’t Patenaude escape out a door instead of pushing out the solid window of his cab? What’s more, the fires that had plagued the last few years of Patenaude’s life did not stop with the arrest of the two young offenders. By 2006, a serial arsonist was believed to be sowing fear across the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Dorothy Rankin’s father, Ray Thompson, was one of the arson victims. A late night barn fire on his Thompson Road farm killed two horses and a pig. One of the horses, a standardbred named Laddie Starr, had finished in the money only days earlier. More than two dozen barns, storage buildings and farmhouses burned to the ground in the county under mysterious circumstances in 2006 and 2007. Hundreds of cattle died in the blazes, a handful of which were found to be arson; the rest were deemed “suspicious.” No one has ever been charged with those crimes. Yet, as bizarre as it may seem, the barn fires are not the most notorious string of unsolved crimes in the area. Not by a long shot. Many young people in North Dundas Township don’t know the story of the Ottawa Valley serial killer. Click graphic to enlarge Even the township’s 29-year-old mayor, Eric Duncan, had not heard of the case when asked about it recently by a reporter. The case gripped the region in the 1980s, but has never been solved. No one has ever been charged in the four to six homicides linked to the killer, who tended to prey on people living alone in isolated houses. The killer sometimes burned the homes of his victims after slaying them. Three were shot in the head. The case is legend inside OPP detachments in Eastern Ontario. But when investigators started working the Raymond Collison homicide case in 2014, OPP Det. Insp. Jim Gorry warned his detectives not to look to the past. He instructed them to examine the case based on its own unique set of facts. “We looked at the Collison case and said, ‘We don’t want to get tunnel vision: We want to do it independently, and where it leads us, it leads us,’” Gorry says, referring to the start of the Collison investigation. “And that’s exactly what we did.” This article was written by Andrew Duffy from the Postmedia Network and is reprinted with permission of The Ottawa Sun.
The field of 11 harness racing drivers has now been confirmed for the 2017 World Driving Championship, to be hosted by Standardbred Canada this August. Brandon Campbell of Calgary, Alberta, is Canada’s representative in the WDC and earned his spot in the international competition by winning the 2016 National Driving Championship at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario last October. Dexter Dunn of New Zealand is the defending champion of the WDC following his victory in the 2015 WDC hosted in Australia. New Zealand, who also has the opportunity to send a second driver because they have the defending champion, has named Mark Purdon as their other competitor. Last summer the European Driving Championship was held to determine their six drivers for the 2017 WDC. The event was won by Finland’s Mika Forss with Bjorn Goop from Sweden finishing in second and The Netherlands’ Rick Ebbinge completing the top three. Eirik Hoitomt from Norway, Austria’s Gerhard Mayr and Germany’s Michael Nimczyk also qualified. Recently Ebbinge advised that he was unable to take part in the WDC so an offer was extended to Rik Depuydt of Belgium, who confirmed his participation late last week. Here is the complete list of drivers and the countries that they represent: COUNTRY DRIVER Canada Brandon Campbell Australia Shane Graham Austria Gerhard Mayr Belgium Rik Depuydt Finland Mika Forss Germany Michael Nimczyk New Zealand Dexter Dunn New Zealand Mark Purdon Norway Eirik Hoitomt Sweden Bjorn Goop United States Marcus Miller The 22 race competition takes place at five different racetracks in four different provinces. Drivers earn points based on their finishing position and the top point earner at the end of the 22 races will be declared the 2017 World Driving Champion and win $25,000 USD in prize money. The first leg kicks off at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Balzac, Alberta on Saturday, August 12. Following the first leg in Alberta, the drivers will then head to Ontario for the next two legs. Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville will host the second leg on Monday, August 14, and that will be followed by the third leg at Georgian Downs in Innisfil on August 15. The action then moves to Trois-Rivières, Quebec on Wednesday, August 16, where Hippodrome 3R will host the fourth leg of the WDC before the drivers head to Prince Edward Island and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park for the fifth and final leg of the Championship on Friday, August 18, one of the major highlights of Old Home Week. This event, along with the 25th anniversary edition of the World Trotting Conference, hosted in Charlottetown, PEI, are both held every two years and will coincide with the 250th Anniversary of horse racing in Canada, and Canada 150 celebrations. Canadians have won the WDC on four occasions. Hervé Filion won the inaugural edition in 1970, his nephew Sylvain Filion won in 1999 and Jody Jamieson won the 2001 and 2011 editions of the WDC. A Canadian driver has yet to win at home. Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager of Industry Marketing
Guelph, ON - Spring consists of more than just cleaning. There is much to do, planning ahead to maximize time spent with your horse and working towards your goals for the impending sunny months. Regardless of riding discipline; everyone wants their equine partner to be healthy and performing at its best. In the last offering of Equine Guelph's online Biosecurity short course, the discussions moved beyond giving everything a quick cleaning to help facilitate just that. Guest speaker, Dr. Alison Moore, Lead Veterinarian, Animal Health & Welfare at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, provided a wealth of information to the participants of the biosecurity short course. With each answer, Moore revealed biosecurity is more about diligence than difficulty. The simple changes that help protect horses from getting sick were discussed in great depth so horse owners can deploy an effective biosecurity plan. There's Cleaning, then there is Disinfecting - the right tools for the job Dr. Moore advises the best way to clean and disinfect is to have a surface that one can truly clean and disinfect. This means wood surfaces should be sealed. Stable surfaces should be non-porous. Flooring is not dirt but one that has been sealed on installation. For a thorough cleaning, before stall occupancy changes or other occasions when disinfection is warranted, all bedding, feed and water should be removed. One usually wants to clean with a detergent prior to using a disinfectant. Moore says, "the nice thing about Virkon or Accell (accelerated hydrogen peroxide) is they have detergent properties so one doesn't have to use a separate detergent first but the organic debris should be removed." Depending on the barn and barn materials, one can remove organic debris (urine/manure) from the inside of the stall using water and a brush or a hose then spray with Virkon or Accell - contact time will vary slightly depending on why one is disinfecting (as a precaution or because an infectious organism was diagnosed). Most contact times will vary between 10 and 30 minutes (with 10 minutes being more common). One can use a large garden sprayer with the appropriately diluted form of Virkon or Accell, or you can wipe it on using a sponge. Moore cautions against the use of pressure sprayers as they can aerosolize certain viruses. Squeegee any excess disinfectant off the floor. If there are rubber mats, remove them, clean with water and brush, and disinfect both sides before placing them back in the stall. Feed and water buckets should also be cleaned and disinfected, making sure to rinse well before their next use. Wash stalls are another area that should be cleaned and disinfected with regularity. Moore pointed out some of the downsides of using bleach as a disinfectant, including the fact the fumes can irritate your animal's airways. Bleach can inactivate certain organisms but it is deactivated by organic material and particularly in the presence of urine, so one has to clean the stall REALLY well with a detergent first. The detergent must be rinsed and the area dried before the bleach is applied. Are you ready for flu season and fly season? Unlike their human counterparts, horses tend to receive their first influenza shots of the year in the springtime in anticipation of outings and increased exposure to pathogens. Horses that travel for more than one season will often opt for multiple boosters to promote a healthy immunity. When planning your horse's vaccinations, your veterinarian should be consulted to find out what diseases are endemic to your area and discuss where you plan to travel with them in the upcoming months. Beyond vaccinations for diseases such as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile, there are more precautions to help deter the spread of diseases transmitted via insects. Removing breeding grounds can be accomplished by eliminating standing water (e.g. old water feeders, tires around the property) and getting rid of puddles by improving drainage. Keeping manure storage as far away from the barn as possible but accessible for staff is helpful. Fly zappers and tapes can be beneficial. There are also products that can be fed to horses to interrupt the development of fly larvae in the horse's manure (feed through fly control). Fly bait can also be useful but should be used with caution if dogs and cats are around. Other options to control flies and mosquitoes include insecticide impregnated blankets/sheets and the traditional fly sprays. What is in the trailer with my horse? If you are lucky enough to own a horse trailer, you can perform the same level of care as recommended above for cleaning and disinfecting stables. When you use a commercial shipper you are putting your horse's health in their hands so there are a few questions you should ask in order to be comfortable with the services they are providing. First of all, find out what biosecurity procedures they perform between loads of horses. You could also ask what other types of horses will be on the trailer with your horses. Moore suggests, "Ideally horses of similar cohorts should be together. For example, if the transporter is picking up yearlings from a sale and bringing them home you may not want to get on that load or if there are racehorses being shipped between tracks you can make the decision if that's the right load for your horse." You should also be comfortable with other management practices of the transporter. Some transporters have climate controlled stalls and food and water available at all times, whereas others have more traditional trailers and don't stop to feed or water (depending on the length of the journey). It is important, therefore, that you ensure your horse is healthy enough for the trip particularly if it's a long one - meaning that the horse is well hydrated and in good flesh. A horse that begins the journey in a healthy state is more apt to finish it in a healthy state. You should make sure your horses are appropriately vaccinated for the place to which the horse is travelling. Avoid vaccinating too close to shipping. Moore recommends, "Depending on the vaccine used, you want to be at least 2-4 weeks) out from the shipping date when you vaccinate." There are some products called immunomodulators that can support the immune system when shipping as well that can be beneficial. On arrival to the barn (or receiving a shipped horse), the horse should ideally be separated from the resident horses in a quarantine barn/stall or separated from the other horses in the barn by a stall. Temperatures should be monitored twice daily for at least 7 days (preferably 14 days) and fevers reported to your veterinarian. Put the Equine Guelph Biosecurity short course on your Spring Checklist Many interesting questions came up in the last Equine Guelph Biosecurity short course, while exploring Canada's new Biosecurity standard. Topics such as: how to disinfect items purchased at tack swaps, precautions to take when entering a drug testing stall, procedures vets and horse owners follow when confronted with a diagnosis of disease such as EHM or EHV-1. Dr. Alison Moore was a contributor to the new National Farm-Level Biosecurity standard for the Equine Sector. Moore stresses the importance of having a biosecurity plan and being able to communicate it clearly with every member of the barn community. Dr. Moore will be a guest speaker once again in the next online offering of Equine Biosecurity - Canada's standard April 10 - 28 Bring your questions and register at TheHorsePortal.ca Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Weblink: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=502 Equine Guelph, 50 McGilvray St, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 Canada
CAMPBELLVILLE, March 13 – The first round of sustaining payments for Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and Alliance harness racing stakes events are due this Wednesday (March 15). The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup attracted 60 nominees in February and the connections of those three-year-old pacers are required to make a March 15th sustaining payment in order to remain eligible toCanada’s richest harness race on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack. The full list of WEG stakes requiring a March 15th sustaining payment is available below. Pepsi North America Cup (Pace: 3-Year-Olds) Canadian Pacing Derby (Pace: 3-Year-Olds and Up) Canadian Trotting Classic (Trot: 3-Year-Olds) Maple Leaf Trot (Trot: 3-Year-Olds and Up) Fan Hanover (Pace: 3-Year-Old Fillies) Elegantimage (Trot: 3-Year-Old Fillies) Casual Breeze (Trot: 3-Year-Old Fillies) Goodtimes (Trot: 3-Year-Olds) Somebeachsomewhere (Pace: 3-Year-Olds) Metro Pace (Pace: 2-Year-Olds) Shes A Great Lady (Pace: 2-Year-Old Fillies) William Wellwood Memorial (Trot: 2-Year-Olds) Peaceful Way (Trot: 2-Year-Old Fillies) Nassagaweya (Pace: 2-Year-Olds) Eternal Camnation (Pace: 2-Year-Old Fillies) Roses Are Red (Pace: Mares) Milton (Pace: Mares) Armbro Flight (Trot: Mares) The following Alliance stakes require a March 15th sustaining payment. Battle of Waterloo (Pace: 2-Year-Olds) Battle of the Belles (Pace: 2-Year-Old Fillies) Confederation Cup (Pace: 4-Year-Olds) Sustaining payments are also due Wednesday for the 2017 WEG/SBOA Filly Stakes for Ontario sired three-year-olds and the 2017 Champlain Stakes for two-year-olds of both sexes (foals of 2015). To view full information regarding each stakes event and payments, click here. To make sustaining payments online, click here. If sending payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than March 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Any questions or concerns regarding stakes payments can be directed to the Mohawk Race Office, 905-854-7805. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred
Tina Sugarman, author of one of the top equine novels of 2016-2017, Horse Flesh, has agreed to share excerpts of her book with Harnesslink. Horse Flesh is a thriller mystery fiction novel based around a Standardbred racetrack in Ontario, Canada. It is the first novel ever penned by horsewomen Tina Sugarman. Each week, Harnesslink will feature an excerpt from Horse Flesh. If you wish to purchase the book either in paperback or ereader formats, click here. Here is this week’s excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman At Iroquois Downs, the fillies for the fourth race were slowly making their way out onto the track, their flanks gleaming with sweat. Theo made a beeline for the 2 horse, Heart of Darkness, who had a startling white star on her forehead and a long full mane. Along with the glamour came a ton of courage. She’d need that courage tonight. She was racing against the top three-year-old fillies in North America. “She’s the best!” her trainer, Jim Mercer, growled as he handed over the lines, increasing the pressure Theo was already feeling. Theo merely nodded. He swung himself effortlessly onto the race bike, the place he felt most at home in all the world. Out on the track, the spotlight played on him and Heart of Darkness for a brief moment. Then the filly took off on him, her neck arched, her feet dancing on the stone dust track. He glanced at the odds board. She was even money. Suddenly he felt high, a natural high that was almost as good as the drugs he did on occasion. The only cloud on his horizon was the $35,000 he owed the mysterious individual known as the Scorpion. Theo had never met him and never wanted to either. The name fit him all too well: deadly with a sting in the tail. He shuddered. $35,000! How had his cocaine habit gotten so totally out of control? He stifled the thought. For now, he needed to focus on the race ahead. He eyed the competition, careful not to speak to any of the other drivers. The judges, who watched their every move, would assume they were plotting to get a long shot home. Moose’s filly, Gypsy Queen, was the one to beat. Except for the two outsiders, Jolie Dame and Raiders Moon, it was a strong field. The sky darkened. Two minutes to post! Floodlights were beaming down onto the racetrack, creating the illusion of a bright sunny day. Seagulls from Lake Ontario swooped over the infield and perched on the grandstand roof, their raucous cries filling the air. Black thunderclouds looked ready to drop their load as crowds of people clutching their tickets rushed down to the rail, anxious not to miss the start of the feature race. Dave Bodinski slunk out with them, checked his tickets and gulped. The teller had messed up! Instead of doubling up Raiders Moon with the favourite to win, he’d doubled her up with the 10 horse, Jolie Dame, a rank outsider. Praying his eyes were deceiving him he checked again. But there it was 10–6, clear as day. Cursing loudly, he fought his way back through the throng. Less than one minute to post! Three people ahead of him in the line. He’d never make it, he thought despairingly. Out on the racetrack, the wings of the starting car opened. “Turn your horses, gentlemen, please,” the suit in the car said. At those words, Theo’s heart started pumping fast. Adrenalin flooded his body and brain. His senses became super clear, his reaction time instantaneous. Ten horses were lined up behind the car, noses on the gate. As the vehicle picked up speed, the sound of the revving engine was drowned out by the rattle of sulkies and the drumming of hoofbeats. A split second before the car sped away, Theo glanced swiftly to his left. The horse on the rail wasn’t keeping up. To his right, he could see Moose getting ready to leave with Gypsy Queen. Theo made a split-second decision. He urged his filly on. All around him he heard whips cracking and drivers screaming. He paid no heed. He made the top before the turn. To his surprise, instead of taking over the lead, Moose slipped into second place, behind him. The crowd roared with delight, drowning out the call. Dave Bodinski couldn’t hear a word. As short as he was, with a wall of people in front of him, he couldn’t see anything either. It looked like he was stuck with the tickets. Right after he’d told his story to the teller, the starting bell had rung, making exchange impossible. Though he could hardly bear to watch the race, he doggedly fought his way down to the rail. Raiders Moon had got away last and was sitting at the back of the bus. He was well and truly fucked, Dave thought despairingly. At the half mile point, the timer flashed 55.2. Time to back it off, Theo decided, giving Heart of Darkness the message. As the pace slowed, drivers behind him began edging their horses out. Glancing back, Theo was surprised to see the 10 horse, Jolie Dame, powering up on the outside. What on earth was Ned Beazer playing at? Jolie Dame was 50-1! “I’m the power here, Bud!” Theo roared, loosening up on the lines. Heart of Darkness lurched forward and Jolie Dame fell back, but not very far. She was sitting outside Gypsy Queen now, trapping Theo’s main rival, Moose Rankin, along the rail. Theo grinned to himself. Anyone who wanted to challenge him now would have to take the long way around and go three wide. As for Gypsy Queen, she was literally breathing down Theo’s neck, banging her head on his helmet. She needed out bad. Theo grinned again. He was enjoying this! They rounded the last turn into the stretch, Theo cracked the wheel disc with his whip. The sound set Heart of Darkness alight but to his astonishment, the long shot Jolie Dame reappeared beside him, matching him stride for stride down the lane. As they fought head to head for the top, Gypsy Queen pushed through on the inside, sandwiching Heart of Darkness between the other two fillies like a piece of pastrami between two slices of bread. They were only 100 feet from the wire now. It felt like 500. Theo’s filly still had her head in front. Just! Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw a horse on the far outside, moving like an express train with Pete Summers at the helm screaming like a banshee. It was the 6 horse, Raiders Moon. The caller’s voice was rising hysterically. “They’re coming down to the wire! Four of them across the track! Heart of Darkness, Gypsy Queen, Jolie Dame and on the far outside Raiders Moon! Too close to call! Photograph! Photograph! Hold all tickets. I repeat, hold all tickets!” From his vantage point down by the rail, Dave Bodinski had seen and heard everything but he had no idea who’d won. He ran around quizzing complete strangers. No one had a clue. All four fillies were still on the racetrack so even the drivers didn’t know for sure. Dave kept his eyes glued to the tote board. He wasn’t religious, but clutching his ticket, he prayed. Thanks to the idiot teller, the only way he’d make any real money was on the 10–6 combo, Raiders Moon to win with Jolie Dame second, the most unlikely of the lot. Ten agonizing minutes later, the results of the fourth race finally appeared on the board. The number 6 appeared first, then the number 10. Dave groaned. Exacta meant exactly that. The horses had to be in the correct order. His tickets were worthless pieces of paper now. There was a sudden murmur from the crowd. The numbers 6 and 10 were flashing on and off. “Attention! The judges have declared a dead heat. There will be a payout on both horses to win. Exacta payout on 6 and 10 in either order!” “I’m a winner!” Dave screamed, punching his fist in the air. “I’m a fuckin’ winner!” All around him, people were ripping up their tickets, cursing. Dave did a rapid calculation in his head. Every one of his $2 tickets were worth $1,200. Unbelievable! His mind reeled at the high numbers. Then it sunk in…He was rich. He was a fuckin’ millionaire! Well, he realized, not quite a millionaire but $24,000 was enough to put him back in the horse business. With a clash of thunder, the storm broke, drenching the spectators. The mood turned ugly. Losers were crowding around the winner’s circle in the rain, booing and shouting obscenities. Jolie Dame and Raiders Moon hadn’t just beaten the favourite, they’d beaten the best three-year-old filly in Canada and the darling of the betting public. They’d felt she simply could not lose and had bet the bank on her. Dave hung back watching a bemused local bigwig clutch the trophy to his chest, unwilling to hand it over to either trainer, as both had won. In the end, the two of them, an ecstatic Scotty McCoy and a smirking Andy Price, worked it out by holding it between them in a rare show of trainer co-operation. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh!
TORONTO, March 12 - Machal Jordan and harness racing driver Roger Mayotte pulled off a 20/1 upset to win a thrilling Jackpot Hi-5 mandatory payout race Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of 12 older pacers battled in a $25,000 overnight event with horseplayers from all over taking a crack at scoring a piece of the massive Jackpot Hi-5 pool. Horseplayers wagered $1,406,112 of new money into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool, which was then combined with the carryover amount of $578,231 to make up the total pool for the mandatory payout. Machal Jordan capitalized off a perfect second-over steer from Mayotte to win in 1:52.3 at 20-1. A wild finish saw the top-five finishers only separated by three-quarters of a length. Erle Dale N, the 8/5 favourite, finished eighth, which combined with longshots mixed throughout the top-five finishers led to a massive payoff of $38,179.28 for a $0.20 winning ticket. The $1 winning ticket returned $190,896.40. Here are the top five finishers from Saturday's Jackpot Hi-5 race. 1st: #1 Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte) - 20/1 2nd: #6 Dialamara (James MacDonald) - 4/1 3rd: #7 Half A Billion (Jody Jamieson) - 22/1 4th: #2 Casimir Overdrive (Jonathan Drury) - 18/1 5th: #4 Single White Sock (Sylvain Filion) - 18/1 The Jackpot Hi-5 wager requires horseplayers to correctly select the top-five finishers in order. The minimum wager is $0.20 and the takeout is 15 per cent. Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie