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Ashburton harness racing trainer Laurence Hanrahan knows just how good Cullen Kefee is. That is why he has sent the Christian Cullen three-year-old to the spelling paddock rather than trying to make the most of his 3YO concessions over the winter. Cullen Keefe, who is owned in Canada, made it two wins from as many starts when easily putting away a C1 field at Oamaru on Sunday. He was also equally impressive when winning his debut at Ashburton a fortnight earlier. “We have got one penalty free win now and that will do us,” said Hanrahan. “I want to look after him so he can have a spell now before coming back to target some nice races in the spring,’ he added. “I think he is the nicest three-year-old I have had for 10 years,” enthused Hanrahan. That’s quite a statement considering in that time Hanrahan has raced talented types such as Marika and Empire Flame. Driver Ricky May shared Hanrahan’s thoughts when questioned about the first foal from the well performed racemare Luckisaladytonight. “I really rate the horse and think he will do a tremendious job,” said May, who drove Cullen Keefe’s dam on multiple occasions. “Laurence is really looking after him and I think that will pay off in the long run,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson  

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 4 - They may have set the bar high in 2008 when they teamed up in the Pepsi North America Cup, but harness racing's Paul Macdonell and Brent MacGrath are hoping to recreate magic in 2014.   The trainer / driver duo amazed thousands at Mohawk when they captured the 25th edition of the race with Somebeachsomewhere and this year they team up with Melmerby Beach, a son of the great pacer.   Melmerby Beach won once in five starts as a two-year-old and resurfaced for his three-year-old campaign in a qualifier on May 2.   Off the one trial, the colt was victorious in a conditioned event at Woodbine on May 8 in 1:51.4.   However, sickness would prevent Melmerby Beach from making another start in advance of the stakes race raced named for his sire this past Saturday.   Despite the slight change of plans, he finished third behind Hes Watching, the fastest winner of the three Somebeachsomewhere divisions.   "He really kind of needed the start between his first start and the other night, but I thought he raced pretty good," said MacDonell. "I don't know if he was just at peak condition for that race, but with that start and going into this race (the elimination) he should be getting pretty close to it."   Melmerby Beach will leave from post six, in Race 5, on Saturday, the second of three eliminations for the North America Cup.   That field includes Somebeachsomewhere division winner Always B Miki and a pair of second place finishers in Mcwicked and Lets Drink On It.   "It looks pretty snug, it is a competitive field with Holloway's horse (Always B Miki) in there," said MacDonell. "It will probably set up for a pretty competitive race and if he is back to where we think he can be he will be competitive as they are."   Last year was the first appearance for Somebeachsomewhere as a sire in the North America Cup.   His most notable son to date, Captaintreacherous, captured the Cup en route to earning over $2 million on the season.   MacDonell said he is happy to have another Cup hopeful and for it to be a son of "The Beach" is an added bonus.   "It is special and especially with a son of his, until we get there it is a bit stressed, but if we get there it will be a nice feeling," said MacDonell, also noting the parallels between "The Beach" and "Melmerby". "They have a lot of similar qualities, they are both top gaited horses, they both want to race and all those things add up."   The 2008 Cup victory for MacDonell was his first North America Cup in his eighth try, since then he has had two attempts to regain Cup glory, finishing third in 2010 behind Piece Of The Rock and seventh in 2011 with Eighteen.   Capturing his first North America Cup meant a lot to MacDonell and he would love to do again.   "(Winning) it certainly takes that burden off, I don't know how many tries I had at it before I actually won it, and once you get it it's kind of really nice and just makes you crave more."   by Mark McKelvie

A slate of eight qualifying races went forward Friday morning at Mohawk Racetrack, and O’Brien Award winner Precocious Beauty was front and centre early on. The multiple stakes-winning daughter of Art Major continued to prep for her three-year-old campaign in Race 3 for trainer Gregg McNair and his son, driver Doug McNair. Precocious Beauty lined up in Post 7 and was parked forth at the quarter-mile pole, which was clicked off by Palm Beach Hanover (driven by Jody Jamieson) in :29.2. Precocious Beauty cleared to the lead in the second panel and went on to stop the half-mile clock in :58.2. She had a one and three-quarter-length lead by the time she breezed past three quarters in 1:26.4. Precocious Beauty was four lengths the best by the time she hit the head of the lane. Completing her mile with a :27.3 final quarter, Precocious Beauty hit the wire first in 1:54.2, six lengths ahead of Palm Beach Hanover. To read the rest of this story click here.

  TORONTO, May 19 - As the 2014 Woodbine winter/spring meet came to a close on Monday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Carmen Auciello proved they are a force to be reckoned with.   Jamieson and Auciello took top honours on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit, finishing atop the 2014 driver and trainer standings.   Jamieson, a resident of Moffat, currently has 83 WEG victories this season, 20 more than his closest rival, Chris Christoforou. Jamieson also banked $1.2 million in purse earnings during the meet.   Auciello has also separated himself from his rivals in the training standings. The Stouffville resident has 47 victories this season, 16 more than nearest rival, Corey Johnson. Auciello's barn earned over $720,000 during the meet.   Racing will resume at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, beginning on Thursday, May 22.   First race post is scheduled for 7:25. p.m.   Greg Gangle

TORONTO, May 17 - On Saturday evening's 12-race programme, Woodbine Entertainment Group offered a mandatory payout on its newest wager, the Jackpot Hi 5. Over the past few months, the wager grew in popularity and resulted in an enormous pool size of which $656,386 was carried over into Saturday evening's programme. Always scheduled as the last dash of the evening, the Jackpot Hi 5 received an additional $1,345,640 wagered into the pool, giving the pool a total of $2,002,026. The result was a payout of $43,795.75 on a $1 wager ($8,759.15 on a $.20 cent wager) after Drain Daddy found the wire first in 1:51 at odds of 4-1. The top five finishers are as follows: 1. Drain Daddy 2. Rock Me Amastreos 3. Junior K 4. Speed Again 5. Real Rocker The Jackpot Hi-5 requires horseplayers to select the first five finishers in exact order on the last race of the program. The wager, which offers a 20-cent minimum, also has a takeout of 15 per cent, a continent-equalling low. Woodbine's final winter/spring card is Monday, May 19, before racing shifts to Mohawk Racetrack, beginning on Thursday, May 22. Greg Gangle

Horse Racing New Brunswick are pleased to announce to horsemen and harness racing fans that dates have been set to edge closer to live racing with qualifiers on the following dates.   After a harsh winter in New Brunswick, H.R.N.B will offer qualifiers this Saturday on May 10th at 12:00 P.M. They will then offer a date of May 13th in Saint John at 6:00 P.M.   In Fredericton, two dates also have been announced on Sunday, May 11th at 12:00 P.M and then on May 14th at 6:30 P.M.   Horse Racing New Brunswick have been busy getting ready for the 2014 racing season, and horsemen can contact the two race offices, Saint John and Fredericton to enter.   For the latest information, check our new and improved website.

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec – Come this Sunday, May 4, track management at the Hippodrome 3R will be more than ready for an exciting new season of harness racing action and the fans and horsemen are in for a great meet. Boasting the revival of the Prix D’Ete stakes race with $250,000 in purses, a 50% increase in total purses over 2013, simulcasting of the entire race meet throughout North America in both French and English, a newly designed and easy access website plus exciting new promotions and special events throughout the race meet all adds up to a great start in 2014. “We have been planning and looking forward to this day since our meet closed last year,” said 3R general manager Vincent Trudel. “It is very exciting and our goal is to make the Hippodrome 3R race season something that everyone will take part in and enjoy. “The renewal of the Prix D’Ete stake on Sunday, September 21 will be the highlight of the new meet.” Trudel explained. “The $200,000 final and $50,000 consolation races make this the richest stakes race in North America for four-year-olds pacers this year. Already we have nine of the top ten money winning horses from last year nominated to the race. We have added a special Saturday afternoon race card so that we will have a Prix D’Ete weekend of special events and top racing action.” For the first time since the Quebec Jockey Club took over Hippodrome 3R, the entire race meet will be simulcast to racetracks, betting parlors and ADW’s (advance deposit wagering online sites). In what is being billed as an industry first, the track will have parallel race calls: one in French and one in English. The French call, by track announcer Guy Lafontaine, will be carried at the track and on its simulcasting network in Québec. The English call will be by veteran announcer Jean Desautels, who pioneered the bilingual race call at Blue Bonnets until it closed in 2008. His call will be carried on the HorsePlayer Interactive website and at simulcast locations outside Québec that will be carrying the Hippodrome 3R races this year. Québec Jockey Club manager Vincent Trudel said he called on Desautels because reaching an English-speaking audience is important to the track`s overall growth plan. To date, 93 simulcast sites across Canada have signed on to take the Hippodrome 3R races this season. “The simulcasting of our race meet is an expensive but needed avenue for Hippodrome 3R,” Trudel said. “In order for us to expand our product, grow revenue and create interest in our superb racing product we must have full card simulcasting of our races. We will be offering players throughout North America a great show with full fields of competitive racing. “Last year our average win price was $10.83 per race,” Trudel explained. “Our average starters per race were 8.01, which is excellent for a half mile track. And our racing surface is one of the best half miles in the sport with well banked turns that the horses will fly around. I know this season the all-age track record of 1:52.4 will be surpassed!” The Quebec Jockey Club recently released its redesigned website, www.quebecjockeyclub.com, which now features everything a patron or horsemen needs to know about the track. “This was quite an undertaking,” Trudel explained, “As we must do everything in both French and English, but our staff outdid themselves with the new website. Everyone should take time to check it out and see the great photograph section too that really tells about what a good time people can have at Hippodrome 3R. We are still working out some of the details with the website as it is a work in progress.” During the season the Quebec-bred Sire Stakes program will be in full swing with rich events for two and three-year-old trotters and pacers throughout the season, culminating with the $500,000 finals on Sunday, September 7. “Since the Quebec Jockey Club took over Hippodrome 3R,” Trudel said, “The breeding program in Quebec has grown and improved. Our Quebecbreds are becoming much more competitive in the racing world and we look for great improvements with our young horses this year.” The Hippodrome 3R meet will take place every Sunday afternoon with a 1:00 pm post. Tuesday evening racing with post time at 7:00 pm gets underway May 27. The only changes in the race schedule is that there will be no racing on Sunday, August 10 or Tuesday, August 12 and there will be a special Saturday afternoon live race program September 20 as part of the Prix D’Ete weekend. “We hope that everyone will come out this season and enjoy our great racing program and Québécois hospitality,” Trudel said. “There are no finer vacation and tourism areas in the Quebec region than Trois-Rivieres, Montreal and Quebec City during the summer and fall months.” From the Quebec Jockey Club

TORONTO, April 30 - He's Watching, last year's Dan Patch Award winner, will make his harness racing debut in 2014 on Friday morning at Mohawk Racetrack in a qualifying session. The son of American Ideal, who remains a top candidate for the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on June 14 at the Campbellville oval, went undefeated last season in eight starts and set two world records and six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary. "We're super excited to start the season," Menary said. "He's had a great winter and come back very strong. We're just hoping for good weather on Friday. We'll qualify him twice and go from there." Just a mere $3,000 yearling purchase, Hes Watching earned $291,722 last year along with a 1:50 speed badge. He is also owned by Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero and Muscara Racing Trust. He's Watching will begin from post four in the sixth qualifier. Menary also confirmed that stable mate Major Trick will also line up behind the gate on Friday morning. A three-year-old son of Art Major amassed a 3-2-1 record from nine starts last season and $122,221 for owner/breeder Brad Gray. Major Trick will begin in the third qualifier from post seven. Jim Morrill, Jr. is listed to drive both pacers. Also scheduled to qualify on Friday morning are a pair of O'Brien Award winners from last year, Flanagan Memory (Race 2) and Riveting Rosie (Race 7), who will qualify for a second straight week. Trainer Casie Coleman has returned to Canada from wintering in Florida and will send out a pair of standouts from last year, Lucan Hanover (Race 5) and Social Scene (Race 1). Tony O'Sullivan will once again send out sophomore pacer Shes Da Bomb behind the starting gate in the eighth qualifier. Nine qualifiers will take place, beginning at 10 a.m. Greg Gangle, for WEG

TORONTO, April 30 - The harness racing connections of 62 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings have kept their charges eligible to the 31st edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup by making the April 15 sustaining payment. Eliminations for the NA Cup are scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Mohawk Racetrack, while the rich final is scheduled to be raced Saturday, June 14 at the Campbellville, Ont. oval. Headlining this year's group of nominees is the Dan Patch Award winner and undefeated Hes Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary. The son of American Ideal boasts a 1:50 speed badge along with $291,722 in earnings. According to Menary, the talented pacer is set to make his 2014 debut this Friday or Monday in a qualifying appearance at Mohawk Racetrack. Luck Be Withyou, the 2013 Breeders Crown champion, is also on the list and one of the early favourites for the race. National Debt, who remains undefeated in his career after capturing the lone division of The Diplomat this past weekend at Woodbine, is also on the list of nominees. The list of horses whose connections made the April 15 sustaining payment appears below. ALWAYS B MIKI ARI ALLSTAR AVALANCHE HANOVER BEAT THE DRUM BONDI HANOVER BOOMBOOM BALLYKEEL BRODYS SCRAPPER BUGGER BRUISER CABANA BOY HANOVER CAPITAL ACCOUNT CARRACCI HANOVER CRAFTY MASTER DANCIN HILL DOO WOP HANOVER EWALD HANOVER FOR A BETTOR TIME FORT KNOX GOLD ROCKS HERE COMES WILLIAM HES WATCHING IDEAL COWBOY IDEAL MAGIC IM DRINKIN DOUBLES JACK ATTACK JET AIRWAY JIGGLE IT JK ENDOFANERA JOURNEYMAN LETS DRINK ON IT LIMELIGHT BEACH LUCK BE WITHYOU LUCKY KING LYONSSOMEWHERE MAJOR DEAGAN MAJOR TRICK MCWICKED MELMERBY BEACH MOLIERE HANOVER NAKED CITY NATIONAL DEBT ODDS ON RHODONITE PARNU HANOVER PLAY IT AGAIN SAM SILVERHILL SHADOW SMACK TALK SOME MAJOR BEACH SOMESTARSOMEWHERE SOMETIMES SAID SOMEWHERE FANCY SURPRISE HANOVER SWEET BEACH SWEET TALKIN CLYDE TELLITLIKEITIS THATS MY OPINION THREE OF CLUBS UNLOCKED WACO BRUISER WEATHER HANOVER WELL WRITTEN WESTERN VINTAGE WHISKEY N PIE WINDS OF CHANGE Total Horses after the following payments. Feb. 15 - 77 March 15 - 70 Greg Gangle WEG Communications - Standardbred

Nominees for harness racing top horsemen awards have been announced by the Saint John Harness Horsemen for the upcoming awards gala.   Horse person of the Year will be a three way race between Mike Downey, Wayne Hubbard, and Bob MacNeil. Downey was inducted this year into the Fredericton Raceway Wall of Fame and will be looking to build on that momentum.   Owner of the year has also attracted three very deserving finalists. This award will be sponsored by Standardbred Canada and will be presented by Darren Crowe at the May 10th ceremonies.   Ultimate Stable, Dr. Mitchell Downey, and the Downey Stables will compete for the coveted award. This should be a tough category and the S.J.H.H.A would like to congratulate the nominees.   Scott Waddell    

TORONTO, April 30 - After winning in her first start of the season last week at 50-1, harness racing trainer and co-owner Frank O'Reilly can only hope Magic Feeling is ready to pull another disappearing trick on the field in Thursday night's Celias Counsel final, at Woodbine. The daughter of Kadabra scored an eye-catching 1:57 victory in last week's second round of the Celias Counsel and now advances to the rich $34,400 final, slated for race six. "We'll take the long bombs along with the short ones," O'Reilly chuckled about the major upset. "Her winning didn't really catch me by surprise because she trotted a :57 back half in her qualifier. The speed was there." O'Reilly first laid eyes on Magic Feeling two years ago at the 2012 Harrisburg Yearling sale where he purchased the bay filly for $30,000. "She was a big, strong, raw boned filly that came from a good family," O'Reilly said. "Her brother is doing quite well right now (Nowucit Nowudont - $215,518) and she was within the price range." After numerous qualifying attempts last season and one start, O'Reilly elected to pull the plug on Magic Feeling's rookie campaign. "She was immature and had some aches and pains, so we had to do what was best by her," he said. "We raced her once and could have continued, but the year was pretty much over. We brought her along far enough to find out that she was well worth keeping. She has a lot of talent to her." Looking ahead to this year's final of the Celias Counsel, O'Reilly remains optimistic about his chances. "I think she has as good of a shot as any of them in there," he said. "She's paid into the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage so I do think enough of her. If she's on her game, she will be just fine." John Fielding and Isidoro Russo also own the bay filly who has stashed away $7,500 in earnings. This year's final of the Celias Counsel will begin in race six on Thursday evening's 10-race programme. The field will line up as follows: 1. Serendipitous 2. Magic Feeling 3. Flexible Woman 4. K D Bella 5. Fashion Goddess 6. Tosca 7. Kadabra Lavictoire 8. Wings Of Ballykeel 9. Miss Everything 10. Just Call Me Lady Greg Gangle WEG Communications

Fraser Downs' biggest weekend of harness racing in 2014 kicked off with the $200,000 British Columbia Sires Stakes Finals on Friday night. A BCSS champion at two, sophomore pacing filly Run And Tell defended her divisional title with a 1:57.4 score in the $75,000 final for trainer Debra McCarthy and owner/breeder Mark Anderson of Willows, California. Driver Kevin Anderson sent the Power Of Art-Muddy Waters filly from third to first after a :28.4 opening panel and cruised through middle splits of :58.1 and 1:28.4 before holding off pocket-sitter T Squared (Rick White) in the passing lane by a neck for her first win this year. Run And Tell paid $3.30 to win as the favourite. Early leaver Go To The Windows (Dennis Johnston) finished over two lengths behind in third. To read the rest of the story click here.

With the North American breeding season well underway we will continue with our "A Stallion Review" series highlighting the stallions that are making an impact on the harness racing breeding scene. Today we have produced an in depth review for the outstanding racehorse Artistic Fella who had his first crop race as two-year-olds in 2013 in Canada and in Australia. His second crop of two-year-olds are now racing in Australia. Enjoy the read. BREEDING Artistic Fella is a son of the Cam Fella stallion Pacific Fella who earned $1,064,631 on the racetrack and took a best time of 1:48.4. He has been a successful sire in both North America and Australia with his stock having earned $20,727,656 in North America with three millionaires including No Pan Intended $1,613,180 and Romona Disomma $1,033,475. Pacific Fella is already a sire of sires with No Pan Intended already having passed the $28 million mark in earnings at stud. In Australia Pacific Fella made his mark with stake earnings of $8,100,881 (especially with his fillies) including such smart horses as Ima Spicey Lombo $483,686, Ruby Dazzler $350,767 and That's Mister Ali $312,662. Artistic Fella is from an unraced daughter of Artsplace in Everything's Easy, who has had 13 foals for six winners with four in 1:53 headed by Artistic Fella. Other notable winners include Melissa's Fancy 1:52f, ($473,313) and Easy Big Fella 1:50.4 ($246,764) The grand dam is the very smart No Nukes racemare called Everything Goes who took a record of 1:53 on her way to earning $342,033. She left 12 foals for seven winners with one in 1:53 and two in 1:55 including the talented Everything's Great 1:52.1f ($240,391) who is a full sister to Everything's Easy. The third dam is the Meadow Skipper mare in Easy To Love who left 12 foals for 10 winners with four in 1;53 including the smart Wear My Ring 1:52.4f ($284,258). Easy To Love is a three quarter sister to the great racemare Halcyon ($855,588) and a half sister to two sires who stood down under in Present Laughter ($509,912) and Paulsboro ($231,561). What makes Easy To Love so interesting is not only is she the third dam of Artistic Fella but she is also the second dam of his sire, Pacific Fella. So Artistic Fella is 3x3 to Easy To Love. A half sister to Easy To Love in Expressive Moves was imported into New Zealand and left the very smart race mare in That's Life Lavra ($191,346) who has two foals old enough to race for two very good winners in Neffeli Lavra 1:53.9 (Australia) and the 3yo Bio Marinus 1:58.3 mile rate with six wins from just the 16 starts to date. RACE RECORD Lightly raced at two, Artistic Fella faced the starter just four times at that age for three wins including two heats of the New Jersey Sires Stakes on his way to earning $51,250 and taking a mark of 1:53.3.  At three he faced the starter 18 times for 11 wins and $941,558 in stakes with a best winning time of 1:48.4. His biggest win was undoubtedly in the $1,000,000 Meadowlands Pace. That day he won in 1:48.4 beating a top line up including My Boy David ($1,339,281), Shark Gesture ($2,890,594), Total Truth ($2,105,122) and Western Ace ($1,924,290). Another top effort was his win in the $225,000 Berrys Creek final at The Meadowlands in 1:50.3 running his last quarter in 25.4. At four he raced a further 16 times for 7 wins 2 seconds and 3 thirds for $702,107 in stakes with a record of 1:48.4. His wins included the $540,000 Breeders Crown Final in 1:49.2 and the $200,000 Dan Patch final in 1:49.2. The Breeders Crown that year was an outstanding group of great horses. They included Mister Big, Lis Mara, Boulder Creek, Total Truth, Western Shore and Mypanmar. The nine starters had average earnings of $2,201,344 (can you believe that?) Total stakes earned by this group is a staggering $19,812,103. It was a great, great group!  Stepping out again at five, Artistic Fella raced 14 times for 5 wins, 7 seconds and 1 third for earnings of $945,617 and an improved record of 1:48 flat. He took his record in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final at Chester. With just a little bit of luck he could have doubled his earnings as he ran second in the $702,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (to Mister Big), the $600,000 Haughton final (to Mister Big), the $532,000 Breeders Crown final (to Mister Big) and the $332,000 US Pacing Championships (to Mister Big). Retired at the end of his five year old campaign, he went to stud with a race record of 52 starts for 26 wins and 14 placings for stakes totaling $2,604,532. He took a best time of 1:48 and broke the 1:50 barrier 21 times during his career. NORTH AMERICAN STUD RECORD Artistic Fella stood in Canada and has made a good start to his siring career with his first crop of two year olds racing in the 2013 season. He made it on to the top twenty list of two year old sires in North America and with the hugely reduced stake money on offer in Canada this has been a good start. He was third on the Canadian based sires list behind Shadow Play and Mach Three and you would expect that like his sire, his progeny would improve markedly at three. His best two performers to date are the fillies Porsche Seelster ($107,647) and Regil Meg ($75,748). Others showing up are Allstar Seelster ($43,433), Concert Artist ($42,852), Titus Seelster ($40,125) while Can Art and Western Fella have looked progressive types.   With just the one crop racing in Canada, Artistic Fella has 98 old enough to race (2yo olds in 2013) for 47 starters, 25 race winners, 1 in 1:53, total stakes to date of $599,900. AUSTRALIAN STUD RECORD Artistic Fella's first crop raced as two year olds in the 2012/2013 season and really made a statement. From a foal crop of 80 he produced the best two year old filly in Australia in Mindarie Priddy, now the best three-year-old in Australia p3.1:53.8 ($226,560) as well as Kimba Bay 1:57.5 ($100,273), Artistic Copper ($87,815) Majestic Amy 1:59.4 ($87,390) and Paua Fella 1:58.8 ($37,849). It was a great debut season and his second crop of just 56 foals has started in the same vein with the outstanding two-year-old colt Artistic Flite winning in sensational fashion the Bathurst Gold Final last week already confirming Artistic Flite as the best two-year-old in Australia this season. All up Artistic Fella has had 15 winners from 35 starters in Australia to date for $709,636 in total stakes. POSITIVES His stock are in the main like their sire, displaying both speed and grit. They are good gaited and his fillies seem as good as his colts. They should continue to improve as they mature as both their sire Artistic Fella and grand sire, Pacific Fella did. Has already shown that he has the ability to leave stock that can race and win at the elite level. NEGATIVES The only knock on him so far in North America is the low money his progeny will race for in Canada where he stands as the program there has almost disappeared. Although he has good size crops in Canada it will be difficult for his progeny to make any money of note and this will be a handicap as a stallion in the eyes of the breeding world.. Down under his problem will be the small crops over the next few seasons of just 67 and 42. He did breed big numbers this year at 220 mares. OVERVIEW A very good start to his siring career especially down under. He has a special three-year-old filly in Mindarie Priddy and a special two-year-old colt in Artistic Flite that could carry him through to when his big crop that has just been bred, starts to race. His fillies run as well as his colts which is a big plus but he does need to improve his overall percentages to cement his spot in the stallion market. It is early in his career and if age does help his stock as many predict, then those percentages may improve to the same level achieved by his competitors. OVER ALL RATING  5.5 out of 10 JC  

Mother Hen and local horseman Mike Sumner held off a late charge from That'll Be Franny for a gate-to-wire score in Tuesday's featured $7,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 3 Pace at Western Fair Raceway. Second choice Mother Hen ($7.70) grabbed the lead from post one in the evening's featured fourth race and rebuffed a quarter-pole challenge from the favourites, Insincerity and Scott Coulter, leaving them parked the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Mother Hen pressed on and prevailed by a quarter-length in 1:57.3 over That'll Be Franny, who closed wide from the back of the pack with Nick Steward aboard. Romantic Fever and Billy Davis Jr. followed two lengths behind in third. Longshots Little Brown Mug and Trevor Henry were fourth with Insincerity fading to fifth. The seven-year-old Banner Yankee mare earned her second win in 12 starts this year and ninth lifetime, pushing her bankroll to $119,636. To read the rest of the story click here.

With the North American harness racing season well underway we continue with 'A Stallion Review' series. Today we have produced an in depth review for the outstanding racehorse Shark Gesture and what impact he might have as a young sire. All statistics shown are as at the 7th of April 2014. Enjoy the read. BREEDING Shark Gesture is by Cams Card Shark, one of the all time greats to have stood at stud in the history of the standardbred breed. His figures are mind blowing and a testament to his siring ability and longevity in a very fashion conscious industry. Not only is he a great sire but he is now firmly established as a sire of sires with the great sire Bettors Delight leading the way. Others by Cams Card Shark  to have made an impact to date are Four Starzzz Shark, Riverboat King, Million Dollar Cam and Aces N Sevens while Roll With Joe and Shadyshark Hanover are young sons now at stud. Total stakes earned to date is $135,345,825. Numbers in 1:50 or better is 58. He has ten million dollar plus earners. Number in 1:53 is 346 and average earnings per starter is $103,555. Simple Gesture is the dam of Shark Gesture and she is an un-raced daughter of Western Hanover who has had six foals of racing age to date for three winners. Apart from Shark Gesture she has produced Shark Ingested 1:49.2f ($277,970) and The Village Rusty 1:51.1f ($145,541). Shark Gesture's second dam is Empty Feeling. She was a very talented mare on the racetrack taking a mark of 1:53.1 on her way to winning $354,657. She carried that into the breeding barn having left five winners from seven foals to date including the high class son of The Panderosa in Ponder 1:48.1m ($1,686,134) and Gotta Feeling 1:52.4f ($235,109). RACE RECORD As a 2yr old he had ten starts for three wins and four placings for $118,971 in stakes. His best win was in the $113,000 Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington in 1;51.3m. He also won a heat of the Breeders Crown and was second in the $156,000 International Stallion Pace. As a 3yr old he had sixteen starts for eight wins and two placings for $677,427 in stakes. His best win was undoubtedly in the final of the $695,000 Breeders Crown. Horses he beat that day included Mister Big,  Artistic Fella,  Jeremes Jet and Total Truth. Other notable wins during the season included the $288,000 Tattersalls Final in 1:49.1 (his record for his 3yr old season) and the $126,000 Bluegrass Final in 1:51 As a 4yr old he had eight starts for two wins and three places for $206,791 in stakes. His best win was in the $120,000 NH Sweepstake in 1:49.2m while he ran second in both the $200,000 Dan Patch final and the $285,000 Graduate Final. At this point he was retired to stud and didn't return to the track for over sixteen months. As a 5yr old he had three starts late in the year in which he ran a third in the last start. As a 6yr old he came back with a vengeance and had 29 starts for seven wins and eight placings for a super $963,890 in stakes, his biggest earnings for a season on the track. He was a constant in all the big races. His best win was arguably in the $685,000 Canadian Pacing Derby in 1:48.1 although his win in the $688,000 W R Haughton Memorial in 1:48.2 was just as impressive. Another stellar win that season was in the $210,000 Graduate Final in 1:49. 2009 $688,000 W R Haughton Memorial As a 7yr old he had another great year on the track with just twelve starts for seven wins and three placings for $918,875 in stakes. He had arguably his best year on the track at seven with his wins in several major races being quite dominant. His best win was in the $702,000 W R Haughton Memorial in 1:48.2 at The Meadowlands. This win was especially significant as this field was full of great horses that have won between them a massive total of $21,435,937 in stakes to date. It included the great Foiled Again ($6,139,210), Won The West ($3,977,956), Bettor Sweet ($2,816,687), Vintage Master ($2,162,979), Hypnotic Blue Chip ($1,794,793) and Mr Wiggles ($1,195,099). 2010 $702,000 W R Haughton Memorial As can be seen Shark Gesture started from the far outside post 9 and was parked out wide at the quarter in 25.4 before getting cover at the half in 52.3 then he was out to attack at the three quarters in 1:20.4 before winning in hand in 1:48.2. An outstanding mile against the very best. Shark Gesture also won the $200,000 Graduate Final in 1:48.4, The $228,000 Bettors Delight Final in 1:48.3, The $200,000 Dan Patch Final in 1:48.1 and was a close second in the $500,000 Franklin Final in 1:49.1. He was timed under 1:50 in ten of his twelve starts that season.  Shark Gesture was timed in 1:47.4 (2nd), 1:47.4 (2nd), 1:47.2 (2nd) and 1:47.3 (5th) during his career. Twice in his career he posted very fast last quarters of 25.4 and 25.3 NORTH AMERICAN STUD RECORD He stood at stud for one season in Canada as a five year old. He bred 73 mares but  there were only 43 foals from mares that were of raceway standard at best. Of that 43 foals he had 33 colts born and just 10 fillies. Twenty four of those won but stakes won have only amounted to $1,261,212 with his best performers being Piston Broke 1:49.2s ($295,330) and Best Ears 1:49.4f ($191,657). He was then moved to Pennsylvania where he bred 87 mares to produce 56 foals that are two year olds in North America in 2014. He has two more crops of 39 and 30 still to come in Pennsylvania. He now stands at Abby Stables in Ohio for the 2014 season. AUSTRALIAN STUD RECORD Again he has only one crop old enough to race which are now five year olds. They number just 18 and there have been twelve starters for four winners for stakes of $90,842. His two best winners have both been fillies with Gesturestar having won 8 and She’s A Killer 10. He has a crop of 24 yearlings in Australia. NEW ZEALAND STUD CAREER He only has one crop on the ground in NZ and that is the crop of 42 yearlings which are due to hit the track next year. POSITIVES The first string to his bow is that he is the biggest stake winning son of the great sire Cams Card Shark with $2,890,594 in stakes.. His soundness over several seasons at the top and the longevity of his performance at the elite level should appeal to Southern Hemisphere breeders where most of the bigger stakes are aimed at the older free for all horses. He only has one crop in NZ which are presently yearlings and they were well received at the NZ yearling sales this year with the likes of  the well respected horseman Jim Dalgety, Tony Herlihy and Nigel McGrath amongst the high profile horsemen to have purchased one. NEGATIVES Management issues coupled with poor promotion have meant he has yet to serve a meaningful book of mares at stud, either in his initial stint at stud or since his retirement in 2010. In todays market very small crops make it impossible to make an impact and can very quickly ruin a stallions career if changes are not made. OVERVIEW A smart racehorse at two and three who matured into a genuine star as an older horse. Retired to stud initially without the necessary runs on the board to attract either the quantity or the quality of mares to make it as a sire in today's marketplace. On his return to the track he matured into a super star and this time he has a much bettor shot at making it. His recent move to Ohio can only help his future prospects and give him the opportunity to achieve as a sire to the level his race record suggests he should be achieving.  OVERALL RATING 4 out of 10 JC    

TORONTO, April 17 - More harness racing stakes action took place Thursday evening at Woodbine Racetrack as sophomore trotting fillies were showcased in a pair of Celias Counsel Trotting Series divisions. Tosca and Just Call Me Lady kicked off the series opener with victories in their respective $15,000 divisions. With heavily-favoured Flexible Woman (Steve Byron) making a miscue in the first division, Tosca and driver/trainer Per Henriksen made the most of her first start of the season. K D Bella (Mike Saftic) was the tempo-setter for most of the mile through panels of :27, :57 and 1:27.4. Around the final turn, Serendipitous (Jody Jamieson) began the first-over attack giving cover to Tosca. Henriksen angled his charge three-wide at three-quarters and wore down K D Bella in deep stretch to win by three quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Wings Of Ballykeel (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Tosca, a daughter of Muscle Mass, is owned by Asa Farm and Steve Organ. The trotting lass increased her bankroll to $35,400 with the win. She paid $16.50 to win. One race later, Just Call Me Lady posted the minor upset in 1:57.2 at odds of 3-1. In doing so, driver Trevor Ritchie enjoyed his first win of the season since arriving back in Ontario after wintering in Florida. Do The Wheelhouse (Jody Jamieson) was the first leader past the opening station in :27.1. As the field of 10 marched towards the half, Chippentail (Paul Macdonell) pulled out from third and marched to the front past the mid-way point in :58.2. Fashion Goddess (Jonathan Drury) was next to pull on the right line heading towards three-quarters with Just Call Me Lady following the speed. As the field trotted past three-quarters in 1:28.1, Just Call Me Lady was well spotted sitting second-over and the talented filly marched past her rivals down the stretch en route to victory. Post time favourite Miss Everything (Sylvain Filion) came from behind to finish second, with Do The Wheelhouse claiming third prize. Trainer Blake Macintosh co-owns the youngster with Anne Campbell and Stephen Waldman. Just Call Me Lady increased her lifetime earnings to $35,549 with the victory The daughter of Angus Hall paid $8.10 to win. Greg Gangle

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