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 8th excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman THE BET On a calm evening in late August, Theo Vettore’s cousin, Lara Vachon, was standing down by the rail beside Iroquois Downs’ oval track, waiting and watching as Theo put Southview Sabre through his paces. It was 7 p.m. The plan was to take Southview Sabre a slow warm-up mile, but speed him up for the last eighth. Any hint of trouble and Lara was going to scratch her boy from the race and take him home. On the night, Theo had stumbled into Ferme Victoire afraid for his life, Lara had been on a vigil at Rivers Training centre, soaking Southview Sabre’s red hot right front foot in a tub of ice water. Lara treated all the horses she trained like her children, not that she had any of her own yet. She was only twenty-eight, after all. Unlike most trainers, Lara did not have the luxury of picking out yearlings at the Annual Sale. Instead, she took on whatever her father Bernie Vachon decided to give her: well-bred fillies with broodmare potential or colts who hadn’t found a buyer. Once in Lara’s barn, they were under her protection. She gave them as much time as they needed to get to the races and treated them all with equal affection, regardless of their talent (or the lack of it) on the racetrack. As Southview Sabre flew past the tote board, looking like a ghost in the dusk, Lara anxiously scrutinized him for any sign on lameness, any break in the horse’s rhythm. She found none. A pus pocket trapped deep inside his hoof had plagued Southview Sabre for weeks, unknown to anyone. After Dr. Winterflood had lanced it, the lameness disappeared overnight. The track lights kicked in, flooding the scene with colour: the green number pad flapping at the horse’s ribcage, the red and black of Theo’s racing jacket and the pale blue sulky with its white wheel discs spinning. Though his warm up run was over, Southview Sabre showed no sign of wanting to slow down. He sailed by a horse flashing four white stockings. Hurriedly, Lara consulted her overnight sheet. It was Mountain Boy, the 3 horse in the second. As both drivers swung their charges through a 180° turn and headed back to the Race Barn, a figure huddled in the shadows at the edge of the track sprang into life. A greater contrast between equine athleticism and human imperfection would have been hard to find. Lara recognized him immediately. As the man shuffled forward and reached out for Mountain Boy’s bridle, she shuddered involuntarily. She had made the mistake of hiring Crawfish Brown as a groom a couple of years back, in an act of charity. But she had discovered to her cost that despite his pitiful appearance, Crawfish was no saint. His left leg was crooked. His left eye was offset and half closed. He was missing several teeth and he always had a plug of tobacco in his mouth. The only time he went anywhere near water was when he was bathing the horses. But that wasn’t the real problem. Crawfish had generally showed up for work on time, unless he’d been out on a binge the night before. He was fairly good tempered, especially on pay day. He was conscientious too, unless he wanted to get away early. He was polite to Lara, unless he had a particular grudge to air. He was loyal, until Lara rumbled him, or as Crawfish put it, asked him to do a lot of things which weren’t a groom’s responsibility. . . She came out of her reverie just in time to avoid being knocked flat by Southview Sabre, who was throwing his head around like he’d had the time of his life out there. Hastily, she grabbed the bridle before she was decapitated. “Was he okay?” she asked anxiously. “He went his last eighth in thirteen seconds! That good enough for you?” Theo replied with a smile, handing her the lines. “I gotta go,” he added, a frown furrowing his brow. “Eh bien! Go!” Lara said, glancing at the tote board clock and wondering why Theo was in such a hurry. Post time for the first race was twenty-five minutes away. Inside the Race Barn, even though they were right next to one another, Crawfish ignored Lara. He busied himself, attaching his horse tightly to the cross-tie chains, as if the meek Mountain Boy was going to try and make a break for it. Lara couldn’t help noticing that, unusually, Crawfish appeared to have spruced himself up for the races. He was wearing a T-shirt without a rip in it, baggy black sweat pants which did their best to cover a pair of filthy, torn trainers and a lurid yellow baseball cap at war with his straggly brown hair, which she happened to know he cut with a razor, rather than getting a proper haircut. As for a visit to the dentist to fix his missing teeth, that was about as likely as a trip to the moon. Crawfish prided himself on being self-sufficient. Lara steeled herself not to feel guilty about firing him. She had to put the welfare of the horses first, she reminded herself firmly. Theo reappeared just as Lara was putting Southview Sabre’s bridle on, prior to race two. It was a struggle as the horse kept throwing his head around. His eyes were on fire. “Easy now, boy,” Theo said, holding onto the horse’s nose and steadying him. “Can’t wait to get at it, eh? Listen,” he added as Lara slipped the bit into the horse’s mouth. “I put three grand on him to win.” “You did what?” Lara hissed. “You do not bet!” “Hey! Lighten up!” Theo replied. “I got 12-1 online. After this race, God willing, I’ll be a free man.” “But they will think I ’ave been cheating with him!” Lara said, feeling outraged. “How could you do this to me, Theo?” “You want me to end up dead?” Theo muttered. Lara gulped. “How’s his foot?” Theo added nervously. “I am not telling you,” Lara replied angrily, glancing at Crawfish Brown in the next stall. She was certain he’d overheard their conversation. If so, everyone in the Race Barn would soon know all about it. “Hey! What d’you think you’re doing? You’ve hooked the lines up to the head halter, instead of the bit, you dumb idiot!” trainer Tom Larson growled at Crawfish, as Mountain Boy’s driver appeared. “Can’t get it right all the time,” Crawfish grumbled, hurriedly fixing the mistake. “What are you standing there grinning for? Lead ’im out!” Larson shouted. Crawfish jumped to it. But Lara noticed him hanging back after Mountain Boy had left the Race Barn, his left eyelid blinking rapidly. Her heart sank. Wherever Crawfish was, trouble was sure to follow. Outside the Race Barn, a crowd of horsemen had gathered to watch the running of the second race. Lara joined them, her heart beating faster. What if she’d got it wrong? What if Southview Sabre was no good tonight? There was so much at stake, not just for the horse, but for her cousin as well. She understood Theo needed to get the money from somewhere to clear his debts. But why did her horse have to be involved? As the starting car sped away, Theo grabbed the lead and opened up four lengths. The move did not go unnoticed. “I got the first eighth in thirteen seconds,” trainer Keith Lazer exclaimed, staring at his stopwatch. “Arrogant bastard,” Tony Hall exclaimed. “He’s as good as won!” Crawfish said excitedly. He was clutching a betting ticket, evidently dreaming of cashing it in. “My horse is getting a great trip!” Tom Cowboy Larsen said happily, watching Mountain Boy narrow the gap with the leader. “Jesus!” he added, ripping his Stetson off his head. “What’s that fool Harper think he’s doing?” Mountain Boy’s driver, Harry Harper, had brought his horse up to challenge Theo for the lead. The horse’s white stockings were pumping like pistons. Lara uttered a sigh of relief when Mountain Boy got to the top. A grudge match was the last thing her horse needed. To her consternation, Theo immediately swung Southview Sabre out to retake the lead and the two horses pulled away, fighting it out head to head. Suddenly Mountain Boy fell back. The crowd screamed. Mountain Boy had dropped like a stone, catapulting Harry Harper up and over the horse’s head. The driver landed hard and lay still. Unaware of the mayhem behind him, Theo carried on. Not for long! “Accident! Accident!” the track announcer called out urgently. “Stop your horses!” With a heavy heart, Lara watched as one of the outriders set off at a gallop, urging her pony on to intercept Theo, who was now fifteen or twenty lengths ahead of the pack. The other drivers were finally slowing down. The racetrack was suddenly crowded with horsemen, running to help the injured. Harry Harper and Mountain Boy lay strewn across the track, both of them ominously still. The vet ran over to Mountain Boy, who lay on the stone dust track, looking like he was made out of stone himself. Soon afterwards, Harry Harper got to his feet, looking a little dazed, too much cheering and clapping. Mountain Boy was stirring too. Tom Larson plonked himself down on the horse’s head and immediately began bawling Crawfish out. “Get this sulky off ’im before he comes to, you retard!” he cursed. “This is all your fault! Take a good look at that hopple hanger! No wonder he fell. It’s popped right out of the keeper. What d’you think I gave you that tape for eh?” Crawfish stood motionless, his face working, as if he had a great deal to say but was afraid to voice it. “You’re damn lucky he’s only winded,” Larson continued angrily. “You could’ve fuckin’ killed him!” “That’s it! I quit,” Crawfish declared, throwing down the bath bucket he’d been carrying and shuffling off. “Hey! Come back ’ere,” Larson said. “I ain’t done with you yet!” Crawfish kept right on going. Leaving Larson in the lurch did little to make up for a thoroughly disappointing evening. But it did cheer him up, just a bit. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh! 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.
TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec - Harness racing fans attending live or wagering via Off-Track-Betting and on the internet for the opening day 2017 program Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R were met with a surprise as the only racetrack in Quebec has done away with show wagering. H3R became only the second racetrack in North America and the first in Canada to do away with show wagering. Pompano Park did it for a short period back in 2004. Track management cited that over the past years there was little wagering done in the show pools and elected to end the wager in 2017. Doing away with show wagering also prevents possible 'bridge jumpers", people who risk large show wagers to make the mandatory $0.05 payout for a $1.00 wager. Sunny skies greeted fans and horsemen and the very first race of the year put the photo finish camera to work as Norvena Hanover and driver Stephane Brosseau barely held off two moves by Lucies Pet and driver Richard Simard, winning by a scant nose and paying $7.30 to win. The fastest mile on the day went to Solid Performance ($5.00) and veteran driver Gaetan Lamy, who captured the 8th race Open Pace in 1:56.2. Bazinga Brad (Stephane Gendron) was first on the lead from post seven to a quick opening quarter in :27.3 and then backed it down to the half mile marker in :58.3. But Lamy had Solid Performance on the move first-over and they were able to grind it out and take the lead from Bazinga Brad at the three-quarters in 1:27.2 before scoring an easy triumph. It was the first win in ten starts for Solid Performance, an eight-year-old gelding by Armbro Deuce, who is owned and trained by Marc Andre Cormier of Princeville. In the fifth race Open Trot, Torches Angel and driver Pierre Luc Roy were able to grind it out first-over against race leader Rocky Boy (Marc Bellanger) and then hold off Caroluzzo (Stephane Gendron) to win in 2:02.2. It was the third win this year for Torches Angel, a seven-year-old gelding by Angus Hall, trained by Yves Tessier and owned by Francois Morin of Beauceville, paying $3.70 to win. TRACK NOTES: Driver Stephane Gendron wasted little time posting his first win of the new race meet, winning the second race pace Sunday with Reposession and is now just 12 wins away from scoring his 4,000th career win. Stephane Brosseau had the hot hands of all the drivers on the day, winning three races. Last year's leading trainer at H3R, Yves Tessier, picked up right where he left off last season, on top of the training standings with two wins from his stable. Live racing resumes next Sunday, post time 12:50 pm. Visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com for more information. From the Quebec Jockey Club
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - Mr Irresistible wasted no time making his mark on the East Coast as the harness racing season opened up at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The Jennifer Trainer conditioned horse was a two-length winner in 1:55.3 in the Saturday evening $2,400 preferred pace with Jason Hughes at the lines for owner Daniel Birt of Stratford. Mr Irresistible had been racing the Ontario circuit before relocating East and used a first over move to mow down his Charlottetown rivals. Adkins Hanover (Corey MacPherson) was second with Junebugs Baby (Greg Bailey) third. Simon Said captured the back-up pace in 1:59.4 as his trainer and co-owner Joey Squires celebrated a birthday. The pacer prevailed in line to Adam Merner over newcomers Give Em Heck (Colin Sheppard) and Mybestolxfriendray (Marc Campbell) to win the $2,100 event. Simon Said is owned by Squires, Jack Macgillivray of Charlottetown and Albert Macgillivray of Nova Scotia. It was Merner's second victory of the night after winning with Jinglewriter in 1:59.4 for owner Alex MacPhee of Clyde River. Campbell had two driving wins on the card as he scored with Hickory Chumley from his own stable in 2:00.1 and Instant Shadow in 1:58.2 for the Ultimate Stable of New Brunswick. Live racing continues next Saturday evening at Red Shores Charlottetown. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca By Nicholas Oakes For Red Shores
Harness racing driver Brandon Campbell was presented with the official Canadian driving colours and helmet for the upcoming 2017 World Driving Championship (WDC) in the winner's circle at Fraser Downs on Friday, April 21. The 33-year-old Calgary resident will represent Canada in this year’s WDC, presented by Standardbred Canada from August 12–18. Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada, along with Donna Scrannage, President of Harness Racing BC, Carla Robin, Executive Director of Harness Racing B.C., and Darren MacDonald, Director of Racing for Great Canadian Gaming, made the presentation prior to the evening's first race. Campbell is the first Western-based harness driver to represent Canada in the WDC and was named the Canadian rep after winning the National Driving Championship last October at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London, Ont. The road to the Nationals started in May last year when he was invited to represent Fraser Downs in the Western Regional Driving Championship, which was hosted in June at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Calgary, Alta. He won that event for the second consecutive time, leading to a coveted spot in the Nationals. "We saw you out in London, Ontario win the Nationals and you did an incredible job," said Gall during the presentation. "On behalf of Harness Racing B.C., Great Canadian Gaming and Standardbred Canada, we'll be out there with you. We're expecting that cup and we know we'll get it from you...no pressure! But have fun and thank you very much. You're an awesome representation for Canada." John Aldag, Member of Parliament for Cloverdale-Langley City, also offered Campbell congratulations and best wishes for the upcoming competition. "Brandon, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I'm pleased and proud to extend congratulations on your success to win the Western Regional Driving Championship and going on to win the National Driving Championship, which earned you the right to represent Canada at the World Driving Championship this summer, where you'll represent Canada in harness racing against the best in the world," said Aldag. "We know that you'll be an outstanding ambassador for our country and will wear our colours proudly. We wish you further success and to be first past the post throughout the 22-race series to bring the World Championship to Canada. Again, congratulations and all the best!" The WDC will showcase drivers from 11 countries and consist of 22 races spanning five different racetracks in four provinces. Drivers will earn points based on their finishing position and the top point-earner will be declared the 2017 World Driving Champion and win $25,000 in prize money. "I've had a lot of thoughts about it, but I try not to think about it too much because I get pretty excited and worked up, and it's a long ways away yet," said Campbell, who has driven over 1,300 winners and horses to earnings in excess of $8 million during his career, which started in 2003. "There's been a lot of thoughts and a lot of dreams as I go to bed at night. It's just a dream come true to do this and I'm just very excited." The first leg will kick off at Century Downs on Saturday, August 12. The drivers will then head to Ontario for the next two legs at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville on August 14 and Georgian Downs in Innisfil on August 15. The action then moves to Trois-Rivières, Que. on August 16, where Hippodrome 3R will host the fourth leg before the drivers head to Prince Edward Island's Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park for the fifth and final leg of the Championship on August 18, one of the major highlights of Old Home Week. "I think I've got a huge advantage," said Campbell of the 2017 WDC being contested on his home turf. "I've driven on all the tracks other than Quebec, and Quebec is built the same as CDP. Our racing style is different, our rules are different, everything's a little different. It's going to be a little bit to adjust to the way these guys drive, but like I said, I think I really do have a big advantage, and I'm going to take the red and the white all the way." The WDC, along with the 25th anniversary edition of the World Trotting Conference, to be hosted in Charlottetown, are both held every two years and will coincide with the 250th Anniversary of horse racing in Canada, and Canada 150 celebrations. Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager of Industry Marketing
Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - His nickname is 'The Black Cat' and many horse racing fans know him that way or as driver/trainer Richard Simard and he is ready for plenty of action this season as the Hippodrome 3R opens for live harness racing on Sunday. Simard is a household name in Canadian harness racing. The native of Montreal has had a superb career in the industry. Currently he has 5,695 career wins and earnings as a driver with the horses he has driven at just over $29 million. And this season he is planning on being at the Hippodrome 3R every live race day. Simard has been driving mainly at Rideau Carlton and a few winters at Pompano Park, but announced earlier he will be at H3R this year. "It is a beautiful half mile track." Simard says. "It was on the old track in the 80's when I first started my career. I won by first race in 1982." Already there is a demand at H3R for Simard's services as he has drives in eight of the nine races on the opening day program. One of Simard's drives, is with Joel's Legacy from post four in the fourth race. Simard also trains and owns the pacer. Usually a "catch-driver", Simard has been training and owning horses off and on throughout his career. While his driving statistics are very impressive, he has only 77 career wins as a trainer. "I remember once coming to H3R" in my younger days," Simard recalled. "It was with a really bad horse that kicked all the time. I can't remember its name but I knew he was no good. I remember the trainer was Denis Labelle and I trucked him, paddocked him and drove him. I started in first place and finished last, but make it home alive!" Simard laughed. "Later on down the road I did have a lot of success at H3R driving for the Tourigny Stable." Simard said. "I think it will be very good to be back at Trois-Rivieres full time this season. I showed up some days last year, but I think with the support of some owners and trainers I will do well this summer." Simard once said in an interview that his nickname 'The Black Cat' (Le Chat Noir in his birth province in Quebec) dates to when he would volunteer to drive ill-gaited or aggressive horses, and later, for his driving suit colors dominated by black. Over the years, Simard has overcome some serious accidents on the racetrack and even a ruptured appendicitis and always makes a triumphant return to racing again. Perhaps he is very well-suited to the nickname 'The Black Cat.' Trainer Maxime Velaye set for big season Trainer Maxime Velaye was second in the trainer standings last year to Yves Tessier and had won the title the prior year. He has had a good winter and is ready for H3R action all season long with a barn full of possible stakes winners. "I did have a nice winter," Velaye explained, "but now it's better that spring is here and with the racing season starting I'm really excited about it. We will qualify some horses this Wednesday and plan to start racing them the following week. "Our top four-year-old I got big expectations for," Velaye said, is Sports Authority. I think what we saw last year is just the beginning of something "special" and he has been nominated for the Prix D'Ete right here at H3R too." "We will have some very good young horses at H3R this season." Velaye stated. "Our three-year-old's have been in 2:25 and I have three including the star of the barn, Capteur de RÃªves, and he is doing really well. "We have six two-year-old's in training," Velaye added, "and they all have gone in 2:45, but if you ask me to pick who's better for now I say the trotting filly Papillon Bleu by Muscle Mass. She's got all the tools to make it and a pacing filly, Lune Bleu, by Big Jim, and she's gutsy and loves her job. We all know this is still very early in the season to know who is gonna be good or not, but time will tell!" "We are staying very calm until they start racing," Velaye said, "and we will we know what stock we got. It should be a great season at H3R!" Racing gets underway Sunday at 12:50 pm first race post time. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. TRACK NOTES: Management at H3R developed a great :30 ad promoting the start of the new race meet that can be viewed by clicking here: https://youtu.be/V_Di63lJcTQ. Last year's leading driver, Louis-Philippe Roy, will not at be at 3R on Sunday, electing to drive at Rideau Carlton. Three of the nine races Sunday have ten starters and four races have nine starters. New this year is Superfecta wagering in every race on the program and the late Daily Double is now taking place in the 6th and 7th races. From the Quebec Jockey Club
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - The heat is turning up for the 2017 harness racing season at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park and a pair of pacers fresh from Ontario racing are sure to keep the temperature rising on Saturday evening. First race post time is 6 P.M. for the 10-dash Saturday evening card with Adkins Hanover returning from competition at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ontario in the $2,400 featured Red Shores pace. Adkins Hanover delivered a devastating 1:52.4 victory over Rideau Carleton in the dead of winter and draws post 4 on the opening card for driver Corey MacPherson, trainer Trevor Hicken and owner Perry Burke of Quebec. The pacer was flawless in his lone Island start before the meet shut down for the winter. That form is enough to secure the support of race analyst Les MacIsaac. "We only saw this guy for one start in the winter but in that one he secured the lead, hit another gear and never looked back," MacIsaac said of Adkins Hanover. "Corey will likely want to employ a similar strategy in here and if they don't torture him, he could be the one they'll have to knock off." The race also has Mr Irresistible making his East Coast debut from post 3 for trainer Jennifer Trainor and owner Daniel Birt of Stratford. Jason Hughes will drive the 11 time winner, who is fresh off a 1:54.1 victory over the half-mile oval at Flamboro Downs in Ontario. Other entries include Pictonian Storm (Wade Sorrie), Junebugs Baby (Greg Bailey) and Eagle Jolt (Marc Campbell). The P.E.I. Poker Challenge pacer has a tight knit field of six in race 6 on the program. The $2,100 event has Mybestolxfriendray favoured from post 2 for driver Campbell and conditioner Trainor, who co-owns with Helen Dunning of Stratford and Donna Van Meer of Ontario. Other top contenders include Simon Said (Adam Merner) and D Bs Rosco (Kenny Arsenault). The race 10 Greenhawk pace has Smiley Bayama the favourite from post 7 for trainer-driver Ron Gass in the $1,700 race. The winter meet ended with Campbell controlling the leaderboard with 10 wins to lead all drivers. MacPherson is second with eight wins while Merner and Arsenault are in a tie for third with seven victories each. Gass leads the training standings with six wins, ahead of Arsenault and Campbell tied with five wins each. For race programs, top picks and live broadcasts go to www.redshores.ca By Nicholas Oakes for Red Shores
Trois-Riveres, Quebec - With constant rains ending and a hopeful prediction of sunny skies and warming temperatures, track management at the Hippodrome 3R (H3R) are ready for opening day on Sunday, April 23. With a new post time of 12:50 pm, H3R kicks off the 2017 race season with a nine-race live program featuring both an Open Pace and Trot. "It is very good that we have nine strong races for Sunday," said Claude Levesque, president of the Quebec Jockey Club that run the Hippodrome 3R. "We have full fields," Levesque said. "The tracks seem to be OK and ready for racing and I am excited that the wagering will be strong too. We have over 100 reservations already for the dining room and we are crossing our fingers for a great start on opening day." And the drivers and trainers at H3R are ready for action. Driver Stephane Gendron, who was second to Roy last season, is looking forward to this season as he is just 13 wins away from scoring his 4,000th career victory. "Yes, I am ready for the new season," said Gendron for this Sunday. "It will be very exciting and I look forward to winning my 4,000th. That will be very special to me." "The racetrack its really ok." Said Pascal Berube, the third leading driver at 3R last season, who has been competing in the recent qualifying races. "I am very surprise because one week before it was just ok and the weather was very bad. For this season, I am take each race program one by one and need some luck and to drive the best horses possible. It is so great to have live racing back again at H3R." Last year's leading trainer, Yves Tessier, is ready for action opening day with three horses entered and all three are the race favorites in their respective events. Tessier's Torches Angel heads the fifth race Open Trot from post six for driver Pierre Luc Roy. The seven-year-old mare by Angus Hall is taking on all male rivals but recently at Rideau Carlton Raceway, Torches Angel sports two wins, the fastest in 1:57.2. Also in the field is Owner/breeder Michael Gagnon's $100,000 career winner, Caroluzzo, from post four for driver Stephane Gendron. Caroluzzo, the 2016 Trotter of the Year at H3R, has not raced since December and has two semi-decent qualifying races at H3R. Other contenders include Coco Dino (post 2), Rocky Boy (post 5) and Ghiradelli Lindy (post 3). In the eighth race Open Pace, Tessier's Bazinga Brad, is the 5/2 morning line favorite despite starting from post eight. He recently won at Rideau Carlton in 1:54.4 and will have the driving services of Stephane Gendron. He will face seven-time winner last year, Matts Phil (post four) for driver Francis Picard. Last week Matts Phil looked very sharp, winning a qualifying race at H3R in 1:58 over the half mile oval. Also in contention will be the Marc Andre Cormier entry of Glass Shadow (post one) and Solid Performance (post six), who is coming in from Rideau Carlton off two strong second place finishes. He may be winless in nine starts this year, but has seven second place finishes. Race fans attending H3R will find improvements to the dining room with new special menus, a day care center for children, and on the wagering side, there will be Superfecta wagering in every race plus the late Daily Double has been moved to the middle of the race program in the 6th and 7th races. Later this season will start the $1.2 million Quebec-bred series for two, three, four and five-year-old trotters and pacers, the second annual All-Star Drivers Tournament (June 4 and drivers to be named soon), a special Wednesday night program on August 16 featuring the World Driving Championship and then on Sunday, August 20 the $200,000 Prix D'Ete. Tuesday night racing will remain with post time at 7:00 pm and gets underway on June 6. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club
ELORA, ON - The Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) has launched a new Community Mini-Grant program. The organization is accepting applications until May 1, 2017. All projects must be related to agriculture and/or the environment. To be considered for funding, applicants must clearly illustrate how their project will benefit the local community (Elora, Fergus and surrounding areas). Donations may be granted to a local community group or an individual. • Complete information and application form. For inquiries about the program, please contact Dorothy Key at (519) 846-8879 or email@example.com Kelly Spencer
The Union Européenne du Trot (UET) has advised Standardbred Canada that Germany’s representative to the harness racing 2017 World Driving Championship, Michael Nimczyk, is now unable to take part in this year’s event. Unfortunately some of Germany’s major races take place at the same time as the WDC. Noel Baldacchino from Malta was next in the UET standings and has accepted an invitation from the organizers to compete. Baldacchino has been driving for over 26 years and has competed in 5,865 races with 925 wins to his credit. He has been Malta’s Champion Driver ten times during his career and has won this title for eight of the past ten years. Here is a look at the complete field: Australia - Shane Graham Austria - Gerhard Mayr Belgium - Rik Depuydt Canada - Brandon Campbell Finland - Mika Forss Malta – Noel Baldacchino New Zealand - Dexter Dunn (defending champion) New Zealand - Mark Purdon Norway - Eirik Høitomt Sweden - Björn 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 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. Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager of Industry Marketing
Starting Thursday, April 27, the track at Grand River Raceway will be open for training each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon for the duration of the harness racing season. (All horses must be vacated by 1:00 p.m. on training days.) Qualifiers will be conducted on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. from May 24 through September 20. Complete information is available at http://grandriverraceway.com/notice-board/. The 2017 live harness racing season kicks off the first of 47 race nights on Friday, June 2 at 6:35 p.m. Kelly Spencer
2017 marks the eleventh consecutive year that Standardbred Canada and the Atlantic provinces have partnered to offer the Atlantic Provinces Bursary Program. This project could award up to five students in the Atlantic Provinces bursaries towards their post secondary education this year. If you are a student residing in the Atlantic Provinces and attending a post secondary institution (trade school, community college or university this fall), this is an opportunity that could help you pay for your tuition. The bursaries will be awarded based on participation in the industry, academics and financial need. Applicants will be required to submit a typewritten essay on one of the following topics: What unique ways can Standardbred Canada and the host tracks promote the WDC events to the general public in 2017? How can racetracks/associations celebrate the 250th anniversary of horse racing at their track or in their community in 2017? Applicants must be Canadian citizens and be a child or spouse of an active Standardbred Canada member or an SC member themselves. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a post secondary institution as of September 1, 2017. Past recipients of the Atlantic Bursary are not eligible and students pursuing graduate degrees are not eligible. A maximum of five bursaries worth up to $1,000 each will be awarded. Applications are available now and must be received at Standardbred Canada by June 26, 2017. The successful applicants will be announced in early July. This program is supported and funded by various organizations from the Atlantic provinces and Standardbred Canada. Partners from the Atlantic Provinces include the Nova Scotia Harness Racing Industry Association, Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Industry Association, and the 'Stretch Drive Fund,' a fund created by the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission's Race Officials. Presentations to the successful applicants will be made during Atlantic Grand Circuit Week at Truro Raceway and Old Home Week at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park. For a bursary application, email firstname.lastname@example.org Lee Drake
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 7th excerpt from Horse Flesh! Horse Flesh by Tina Sugarman The instant rumours began to circulate about the introduction of a TCO2 test for soda, trainers began to take evasive action. Keith Lazer got on the internet and ordered a supply of Human Growth Hormone. It claimed to cure almost every common ailment suffered by the Standardbred racehorse, including tying up. Lazer decided to give it a try. There was currently no test for HGH. Tom “Cowboy” Larson had never needed baking soda. His secret weapon was stashed away in the cattle barn. Baking soda had never been Jim Mercer’s crutch either. He was contemptuous of trainers who depended on it. Training a horse a double-header a day was a simple, effective way of dealing with the problem. If the animal couldn’t stand up to that, Jim reasoned, it wouldn’t have been much of a success anyhow. He didn’t believe in mollycoddling racehorses. Trainer Andy Price immediately had a council of war with Doc Meecham. To his relief, the doc came up with a long list of legal remedies for tying up. They didn’t come cheap, but they were effective. Andy told jealous trainers that his success was all down to his No. 1 groom, Crawfish Brown. No one believed him but what did Andy care? Keith Lazer was still top trainer, but Andy Price was hard on his heels. In the end, the horsemen approved TCO2 testing by a small margin. The politicians came up into the money, as Phil had promised. To Al’s great joy, a month after the meeting, TCO2 testing began at Iroquois Downs Raceway. CAUGHT Alastair McTavish was in the winner’s circle. Flanked by his wife and daughter, he was struggling to hold aloft a heavy gold cup. The roar of the crowd was deafening. He awoke to the roar of the vacuum cleaner and realized that sadly, it had been a dream. His wife Sofia was cleaning again. Sunlight was streaming in through the bedroom window of 210, Laurel Drive. It was 8 o’clock on a still August morning in Erinsville, Ontario. Al’s first thought was the phone call he’d received from an exuberant Judge Jewells earlier in the week. “Looks like we’ve caught our first fish,” the judge had reported. “Trainer named Scotty McCoy.” The hearing was at 11 a.m. today. Half an hour later, after grabbing a quick cup of coffee, Al was on his way out of the house. Walter, a three-month-old Maine Coon kitten, was waiting in the hall. When Al opened the door, Walter dashed through it and scampered over to the tall maple tree in the front yard. He ran up the trunk then turned around and stared down at Al with his large green eyes. July’s humidity had given way to the clear skies of August. It was Al’s favourite time of year. The Mercedes was waiting for him in the garage, like an athlete begging for exercise. Al drove with the top down, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the scent of newly mown grass wafting over him. The car had been a present to himself when he’d handed over control of his construction company to his daughter. He was not used to such luxuries. He sometimes wondered if he’d lost his mind spending so much money on a car. But he guessed he’d probably never have another excuse to blow fifty thousand dollars on mere transportation. Neither of his two sons had shown any interest in the business. In the breach, Billie had proved to be far more capable than he could ever have imagined. His one fear was that she would get bored and want to take McTavish Construction nationwide. Al had always been content to be a big fish in a small pond. Swimming with the sharks did not appeal to him. But he knew that Billie’s restless mind could not be contained in Erinsville forever. The radio was blasting out ear splitting beat music. Al hit the CD button. As the soaring notes of Italian opera rang out, he settled back and prepared to enjoy the ride to Iroquois Downs Raceway. He took the scenic route down Appleby Lane, which cut through horse farms and meadows. The road was lined with wildflowers. The big open sky was a brilliant blue. Soon, too soon, he was entering the vast treeless expanse of grey asphalt that fronted Iroquois Downs Raceway. He went up to his office and waited for news. Scotty McCoy was shaking as he took to his seat on the so-called prisoner’s chair in the judge’s office. The hearing was about to begin. It had been a truly terrible week for Scotty. On Monday, he’d lost his three best horses to a rival trainer. On Wednesday, his wife had packed her bags and taken off with the groom to God knew where. And today, he was up in front of the serial killer: Judge Jewells. The hearing was short and to the point. “Raider’s Moon and Annabel’s Fancy,” the judge stated. “Can you confirm that you were the trainer of these two horses as of August seventh, Mr. McCoy?” Scotty nodded. “Speak up, man!” Judge Jewells exclaimed. “Yes sir,” Scotty answered gruffly. “Each horse was over the limit on TCO2, by a significant margin,” Jewells said sternly, frowning so deeply that his eyebrows were virtually meeting. “Can you explain that, McCoy?” “No sir!” Scotty exclaimed, “I just added the odd spoonful of baking soda to their feed. I can’t understand it myself.” “So, you admit administering baking soda to the horses in question?” Jewells said exultantly, evidently feeling he’d scored a point. “Not enough to show up in any test!” Scotty protested, feeling flustered. He thought he’d been so careful. The timing of the black box testing had come as a complete surprise to him and everyone else he knew. The Race Barn had erupted in panic after Mr. Roberts had made the announcement. When the vets moved in to draw blood from the horses that were in the first race, trainers began leaving the Race Barn in droves, taking their horses with them. There were six scratches in the second race alone. Scotty had been slow to react. By the time he realized what was happening, it was too late. He had no choice but to sit tight and hope for the best, taking comfort from the fact that Dave had put far less soda in the drenches than normal. “Step outside while we confer,” the judge said. Ten minutes later, Scotty was invited back into the room. “Here’s our ruling,” the judge declared, looking at Scotty like a turkey vulture spotting a piece of road kill. “Automatic suspension of your trainer’s license for twelve months. A fine of two thousand five hundred dollars, for each horse.” Scotty’s heart sank down to his boots. It didn’t have far to go. Scotty wasn’t very tall. Five grand, he thought, panic rising in his chest. Where am I going to find that kind of money? “Can I appeal?” he asked. “You have the right to appeal, yes,” Jewells informed him. “But you’d have to challenge the accuracy of the test used.” Scotty had no spare cash and no lawyer. Who was he fooling? He’d never be able to appeal. It wasn’t fair. He knew of people who used all kinds of illegal stuff on their horses and got away with it, trainers like Keith Lazer. The guy was a fuckin’ chemist! “Do I get time off for good behavior?” he asked. “This isn’t a jail sentence, Mr. McCoy,” the judge said drily. “But your license won’t be renewed until you’ve paid off your fines in full, after the twelve months have passed of course. Until then, you are banned from all racetracks in Ontario. There’s a reciprocal agreement with the rest of Canada and the US by the way, in case you were thinking of going somewhere else.” Was he imagining it or did the judge look disappointed? Probably sorry it wasn’t a hanging matter, Scotty decided. Better not say anything. It’d only make things worse. He trudged down the stairs to the ground floor. A year’s ban! There’d be no sense in going to the yearling sale now. Not that he’d ever bought a yearling, but he’d miss the buzz and the chance to swap stories and sample the food that breeders served up to lure customers. As he walked across the parking lot to his old Ford truck, he couldn’t quite take in the whopping fine they’d stuck him with. He’d have to try to cobble the cash together somehow. Maybe get his old job back at Erinsville General. They were always short of cleaners at the hospital and the nurses liked him. Or he and his wife could move in with his sister to save on rent. Then he remembered he didn’t have a wife anymore. There’d be no winter racing for him this year. No hot suppers in the track kitchen. No horse’s breath hanging like smoke in the freezing air. He’d miss the spring stakes season, too. And the two year olds. He’d miss their first races, when he and his friend Dave Bodinski exchanged bets on which one of them was going to win the Diamond Stakes Championship. “I’ll be back!” Scotty swore to himself as he drove off. “Those sons of bitches ain’t gonna keep me down forever!” Two weeks went by. Al McTavish waited in vain for the next positive TCO2 test. Meanwhile, the trainers known as ‘the big four,’ Lazer, Price, Mercer and Larson, continued to win most of the races, their performances apparently unaffected by the baking soda ban. It was puzzling, but Al was hoping for the best. Stay tuned in to Harnesslink every week for another excerpt from Horse Flesh! 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.
Guests of honor included Kent Oakes of Standardbred Canada, Egmont MP Robert Morrissey, and Land and Environment minister Robert Mitchell, PCHC president Kingsley Walsh, and 2006 Hall of Fame Inductee, Doug Brown. Brown traveled from Ontario to share his successes and harness racing stories to the enthusiastic crowd at the year-end awards. His career saw him win more than 8,400 races while seated as a sought after catch driver in central Canada, including winner of $89 million for driving horses. “It’s a great honor to be here,” said Brown, the top O’Brien Award winning driver of all time and perennial leading reinsman on the Ontario Jockey Club Circuit. “The Island has just been such a great supporter of harness racing for many years, and it’s a pleasure to be a guest speaker tonight.” The thrill of harness racing has been an Island tradition that dates to the 1880’s. “We have a wonderful horse racing following, especially here in Prince County,” said Vance Cameron, MC for the event. “Our numbers for attendance would be greater than what you can find in downtown Toronto with the Jockey Club… I mean, the people support us here incredibly.” Attendees were from all parts of the Island and every aspect of the standardbred industry. Dr. Colleen Dickie, president of the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association, came from Charlottetown to offer her support and present the Fan Favorite award. “Harness Racing is a very important industry to the Island,” she said. “If we want to see the industry survive, then we should be willing to put our time and effort into doing that by volunteering. This is why you see so many people tonight because they want the industry to do well, and they are willing to volunteer their time and effort.” Event sponsors included Noonan Petroleum, ALC Red Shores, and Meridian Farms. 2016 Award Winners Top Driver (50+ Starts): Marc Campbell Top Trainer (50+ Starts): Terry Gallant Top Percentage Driver (25-49 Starts): Keith Campbell Top Dash Winning Driver (25-49 Starts): Adam Merner Top Percentage Trainer (25-49 Starts) Ralph Sweet Top Dash Winning Trainer (25-49): Ralph Sweet and Sirfroi Melanson Groom of the Year: Madonna Morrison 2 Year Old Pacing Filly: Good Morning Ky 2 Year Old Pacing Colt: Mick Dundee 2 Year Old Trotting Filly: Revenue of Windemere 2 Year Old Trotting Colt: Howmacs Survivor 3 Year Old Pacing Filly: Every Time and Southfield Sassy 3 Year Old Pacing Colt: Heart and Soul 3 Year Old Trotting Filly: Rustico Duchess 3 Year Old Pacing Colt: Mr Bower Fan Favorite: Minor Wisdom Claimer of the Year: Casimir Luciano Aged Trotter of the Year: I Aint No Lady Aged Pacing Mare of the Year: Minor Wisdom Aged Pacing Horse of the Year: Motorino Horse of the Year: Casimir Luciano Breeder of the Year: Wendell Williams Frank Daniels Memorial: Sandra Cole Standardbred Canada Owner of the Year: Shelly Gass Philip and Henry Doucette Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award: Lloyd Hannah Garth Schurman Memorial: Jason Hughes Horsewoman of the Year: Deanna Clow Horseman of the Year: Ralph Sweet By Desiree Anstey Reprinted with permission of The Journal Pioneer
CAMPBELLVILLE, April 15 - Driver Doug McNair and trainer Richard Moreau were recognized Saturday evening at Mohawk Racetrack for their outstanding performances during the 2016-17 Woodbine harness racing winter meet. The Woodbine winter meet, which concluded on Monday, was contested from November 10 to April 10. Doug McNair, 27, led all drivers in victories and earnings. The Guelph, Ontario resident won 126 races during the five-month meet and drove the winners of over $1.7 million. The Woodbine driving title is McNair's first driving title on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit. While McNair took home his first title, Richard Moreau, 52, added another Woodbine training title to his long list of accomplishments. Moreau, who is the four-time reigning Trainer of the Year in Canada, led all conditioners with 62 wins and earnings of over $1.2 million. Moreau's barn has been led this year by older pacer American Virgin, who's won the Preferred at WEG seven-times and banked $140,080 this season. McNair has been the driver behind the Preferred star all-season. McNair and Moreau also teamed up on Friday night to win the $30,000 Mares Preferred with Sandbetweenurtoes. The 2017 Mohawk meet is now in full swing and McNair and Moreau are both off to solid starts. Live racing is held at the Campbellville oval every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
CAMPBELLVILLE, April 14 - The Alliance would like to remind harness racing horsepeple that nominations to the 2017 City of London Series, to be contested at The Raceway at Western Fair District, are due Saturday (April 15). 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. Administration duties for the City of London Series are handled by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). The nomination form for the City of London Series can be viewed by clicking here. Nomination fees can be paid online by clicking here. 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. Mark McKelvie - Ontario Alliance
CAMPBELLVILLE, April 13 - The next round of harness racing sustaining payments for Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and Alliance stakes events are due this Saturday (April 15). The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup attracted 60 nominees in February and 56 of the nominated three-year-old pacers were kept eligible by their connections following the March sustaining payment. The Pepsi North America Cup is scheduled for Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack. The full list of WEG stakes requiring a April 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 an April 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) A sustaining payments is also due Saturday for the 2017 WEG/SBOA Filly Stakes for Ontario sired three-year-olds. 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 April 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