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The excitement in harness racing starts to build as the starting car drives into position and the gates fan out engaging the horses to approach. During that time, the Starter announces to the drivers to approach and the race is about to kick off! Brad Pittock of The Raceway at Western Fair, (located in London, ON) is the Starter who prides himself on fairness and always keeping in mind safety at all times. Whenever the starting car moves into position, Brad like all starters faces the field and is also the eyes for the driver of the starting car, notifying him of any horses nearby if and when the cars has to make any turns. Brad watches as each horse approaches ensuring everyone is aware of the timing. The starter must also control the tempo using a joystick as an accelerator, (which is connected to the driver's foot accelerator), to increase the starting car's velocity while on his left side there is a switch to open and close the gates. "I operate the speed of the car around the turn" explains Brad. "It is pretty much like a golf swing, you continue to pick up speed around the turn and ideally when you get to the start, you're flowing away from (the field). You don't want to bring them up to the start and just take off... this way the horses can come out on their best foot and follow through." Yes there is a driver in the front seat who steers, but it's the Starter who must ensure there is fairness by maintaining a gradual rise in speed so all horses leave the gate together. The Starter keeps an eye out for any broken equipment and is in constant communication with the judges pending any inquiries after the race and if a horse is required to go to the test barn after each race. The Starter must relay all information clearly to the horsemen, so everyone is aware and not caught off guard. Communication is of vital importance as any hiccup not only affects the horses and horsemen, but the betting public as well. Brad announces through his microphone to the drivers at one minute intervals starting when there is three minutes to post. "I say three minutes, two minutes, one minute and when we get to the middle of the track that is the official call (to post). There is a horn and a light, what I will do is hit the horn and turn on the light and that is called by the rule book the 'official call' and then I will see the horses coming my way." Brad says. "Generally if there is a scratch in the race, when they're coming up I will give a verbal (announcement) as to what the scratches are." Brad notes, "they're very aware, but if a driver is in every race, he may not know (there is a scratch). A 'scratch' means a horses has been pulled out of the race after the program has been released. A horse can be scratched for various reasons, primarily the reason is due to the horse being sick or the racetrack Veterinarian doesn't feel the horse is fit enough to race. "I've had my starter's license for 14 years" says Brad. "I originally started in Hanover and I've also filled in at Flamboro Downs. I've also worked at Woodstock and at Grand River when Grand River first started. I've been here (at Western Fair) for the last eight years and I work at Clinton Raceway as well." By doing so, Brad has a year round job as a starter as Western Fair races from September to May and Clinton Raceway conducts live racing from June through August. Brad also trains two horses on the side. Brad went to Seneca College for the Harness Horse Industry Operation program that was taught by well known trainer Benjamin Wallace. "I also worked down in the States for a few years for a buddy who (learned) his trade under Linda Tuscano." Brad explains. "I've also worked for a couple different barns training horses and then had a public stable. More recently, probably the last twelve years I've just had a couple horses myself and do the starting for a living." Brad's personality suits his career as he's always conscientious about others and their well being. "I want to be able to give everybody an opportunity to make a living with their horses" says Brad and this is his motivation for every race. Aside from looking out for everyone's interest, Brad took the Starter's role as a means to make a living as well as training horses. Brad taking care of his own needs helps facilitate the needs of others in an honest and moral way. "You want to make sure the public has a fair and equitable opportunity for their dollar and give them a good chance. Also with my horse background I know how tough it is to make a living owning horses and training horses... it is a strength for me to be conscientious for others to make a living." Every track Brad works at has a different driver. So being able to work cohesively with as many people possible is a major aspect for Brad to ensure everything from his standpoint runs in a fluid manner. "It's a partnership for sure" says Brad. Every race needs someone like Brad, someone who cares for everyone! Brad enjoys taking fans in the starting car for a great experience, a view unlike any other. To see the horses, nostrils flaring in eager anticipation, going into full step as the starting car pulls away is second to none. The only people with a better view are the harness drivers themselves. At Western Fair, the car pulls away going into the first turn and sitting to Brad's right give you a full view action of the horses battling for position going into the turn and you are able to get a full view on the back end as the horses come out of the first turn. Even better, with Western Fair being a half mile track, as the starting car sits in the far side away from the grandstand, you're able to witness the thrill of the drivers making moves to the outside as they gear up for the final 1/2 mile coming out of the third turn. This is where key decision making comes into play by the drivers and ultimately having a major factor in outcome. If you're interested in riding along in the starting car, be sure to check with the Racing Manager at Western Fair, Greg Blanchard. If and when it is possible, Greg would be sure to have you enjoy the experience of a lifetime along with Brad. The ride does get bumpy so be sure to hold on! By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com  Twitter: ScSupernova

Saturday night at The Meadowlands was pleasant weather-wise with temperatures in the 50's and little to no wind while the action on the harness racetrack was hot right from the start. The sixth race was the $63,000 What Baron final, remembering one of the great pacers of the early years at The Meadowlands and it turned out to be a slugfest. Captive Audience and Wake Up Peter were both in line for a sweep and Dave Miller made a bold early statement, flaunting the impressive early speed of Captive Audience through the 26.3 opening quarter while Scott Zeron and Wake Up Peter could not find position from his outside post and were forced to press on for the lead. The pair met at the half in a demanding 53.3 and went toe to toe from that point forward. At the wire, it was Captive Audience prevailing in a close photo while Wake Up Peter had to settle for the place after an absolutely paint peeling effort. The time of 1:48.3 was a new career best for the winner, trained by Corey Johnson for Debbie Element and Mac Nichol of Ontario. The $55,800 Artistic Vision final (race 11) pitted favored American In Paris, questing for a series sweep, against JK Letitgo who had her own reign of terror interrupted by a pair of losses to her rival in the series legs. Jim Morrill, Jr was intent on the lead with American In Paris and set honest fractions as JK Letitgo made a bid around the final bend, taking a bravening tuck passing the 1:21.4 three panels. In the stretch, JK Letitigo emerged from the pocket and wore down the favorite to win in 1:50-. Driver Jonathan Roberts had this in the post-race interview, "I wanted to be close up, the fractions were fast enough that I thought she had enough to win. She actually was good enough last week but had no room in the stretch". The winner is trained by Joshua Parker, he is a partner in the filly with Nanticoke Racing, Barry Spedden and Kevin Evans. On the pari-mutuel front, Saturday's first race offered a Pick 5 carryover of $30,782 which attracted $140,596 in new money and those first few winners were not easy to have. Pierce came into the opener, a $30,000 instant series for Non Winners of 2 races with a perfect record, he had never won in 18 previous races. Tonight would be a different story as driver Scott Zeron, who had spoken to this particular horse's penchant for keeping himself classified in a Friday paddock interview, pressed to the lead passing the three eighths and held on in a photo for the 1:51.2 maiden breaker at odds of 8-1. The second race was the fast class A-2/B-1 pacers going for $22,500 and it was bombs away here when Rockin Wizard scored from off the pace for Mike Wilder in a new personal best of 1:49- returning $75.40 for a $2 win bet. The suspense continued to build when Jamaican Cowboy and Vinny Ginsburg won the fourth race from the clouds at 19-1. The will pays leading into the fifth and final leg of the bet revealed one uncovered combination and every held combination returning either $120,000 or $60,000 on the wager. In the end it was 5-1 shot Moonliteonthebeach scoring in a new record of 1:51 for Jonathan Roberts resulting in a published payoff of $60,140 for each fifty cent wager with the correct combination. The fifth and final preliminary leg of the Legends vs. Phenoms Driver Challenge was contested Saturday night as well. For the Phenoms, it was the same story as Scott Zeron swept each of the five preliminary legs, doing so this time with 79 points. On the Legends side, it came down to the final race as Dave Miller and Corey Callahan were tied after 12 races. Miller won the finale with OK Fame and took the $2,000 prize with 94 points. The 10 drivers qualifying for the Championship Round on Saturday April 26th, which will offer a $15,000 first place grand prize are Dave Miller, Corey Callahan, John Campbell, Jim Morrill Jr., Scott Zeron, Joe Bongiorno, Vincent Ginsburg, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smith and Mike Wilder. The championship round will be contested over a limited number of races and all ten drivers will have the same number of drives, giving them all an equal opportunity to take home the grand prize. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands

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

TORONTO, April 14 - After failing to find the winner's circle in both preliminary legs, Reasonable Force found his best stride when it counted the most as he captured this year's edition of the $36,200 Youthful Series final Monday at Woodbine. In doing so, the Doug McNair-driven sophomore returned $33.00 to his backers. McNair and Reasonable Force were in no hurry off the gate as Account Rollover (Randy Waples) cleared to the lead past the opening station in :27.1. Account Rollover, who found the wire in the first leg of the series, continued to lead his nine rivals past the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:24.4. McNair began the first-over attack around the final turn and was within striking distance of the tempo-setter turning for home. Down the stretch, McNair asked his charge for more pace and the three-time winner responded with a two length win. Post time favourite Andreios Kardia (Steve Byron) finished second, with Dragon Seelster (Paul Macdonell) finishing third. Trained by Tony Montini for owners Doug Dunbar and Steve LeBlanc, Reasonable Force lifted his career earnings to $44,840. The son of Shadow Play now has a 2-2-1 record from eight starts this season. Also on Monday's program, the second round of the Lifetime Dream series continued with two $18,000 divisions. Rose Run Oriana (Randy Waples) kicked-off the 10-race programme with a 1:54.2 score in the first division. The daughter of Trainforthefuture enjoyed a new career best in the debut for trainer Corey Johnson. Waples led gate-to-wire with the 15-time winner through panels of :28, :57 and 1:25.3, before fending off 3/5 favourite Rockin With Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) in deep stretch to win by one and a half lengths. Samira Hanover (Paul Macdonell) finished third. Owned by Rolling Hills Racing Stables, Rose Run Oriana will look for the series sweep next week as her bankroll increased to $134,717. She paid $4.90 to win. One race later, Her Name Is Lola (Phil Hudon) enjoyed her fifth career score at odds of 3-1. The daughter of Majestic Son laid parked on the outside at the quarter in :28.2, before clearing to the lead before the half in :57.2. From there, the trotting miss led her five rivals past in 1:26.1 before fending off a late challenge from Frisky Magic (Randy Waples) to win by a nose. Standing My Ground (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Trained by Russell Bax for Baxmar Holsteins Ltd, Her Name Is Lola increased her bankroll to $85,560. She paid $8.70 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

TORONTO , April 7 - Sophomore pacing colts and geldings were showcased Monday evening at Woodbine in the second round of the Youthful Series. Andreios Kardia, driven by Steve Byron, captured the first of two divisions in 1:55.4 over a 'Good' track. Byron was in no hurry at the start as Regal Son (Randy Waples) made his way to the front to lead the field of six past the first quarter in :27.2. As the talented pacers headed towards the half, Paul Macdonell elected to send second-choice Dragon Seelster to the front before the half in :58. Kuchar (Jody Jamieson) began the first-over attack around the final turn, giving live cover to 4-5 favourite Andreios Kardia. Kuchar and Dragon Seelster matched strides past three-quarters in 1:27.3, but down the lane Byron showed Andreios Kardia open racetrack and the son of Badlands Hanover exploded in deep stretch to capture his third career victory. Trained by James Madill for owner Ina Madill, Andreios Kardia increased his bankroll to $28,480. With the track down-graded to 'Sloppy,' Highland Tartan and James MacDonald captured the second division as the favourite in 1:56.2. MacDonald elected to sit in the two-hole in the early going as Reasonable Force (Jody Jamieson) made their way to the front past the opening quarter in :27.1. Highland Tartan was then angled to the outside and crossed over to command to lead past the middle-half in :59.1 and 1:29.1. As the field turned for home, Reasonable Force angled out of the pocket, but could only reach the leaders saddle pad as Highland Tartan prevailed in deep stretch to score the narrow win. Little Ben (Luc Ouellette) enjoyed a ground saving trip to finish third. Trained and co-owned by Marty Fine along with Mary Clark, Highland Tartan enjoyed his second career victory as his lifetime earnings now sits at $15,200. The son of Major In Art paid $4.90 to win. The Youthful Series is for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers, who are non-winners of three races of $15,000 in 2013. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway's live harness racing season will consist of 48 dates in 2014. The recent announcement from the Ontario Racing Commission confirmed approved race dates for nine Standardbred tracks in the province. During its 11th season, the Elora, ON oval will race Monday and Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. from June 2 through September 29. The track's signature Fun & Frivolity Friday Race Nights are featured from June 6 through September 5 at 6:30 p.m. There are two exceptions to the aforementioned schedule: no racing on Friday, August 22; and post time is 1:30 on Monday, August 4. (Full schedule: http://grandriverraceway.com/live-racing-schedule ) Grand River Raceway is one of eight racetracks in the Standardbred Alliance - a newly formed structure within the Horse Racing Partnership Plan announced by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The Alliance members represent a three-tier racing hierarchy, 'Grass Roots' (Clinton, Hanover), 'Signature' (Flamboro, Georgian, Grand River and Western Fair) and 'Premier' (Mohawk and Woodbine). OPEN HOUSE The week prior to Opening Night of the live horse racing season, Grand River Raceway will host its sixth annual backstretch Open House. On Sunday, May 25, guests are invited to drop-in any time from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for a rare glimpse of horse racing behind-the-scenes and the unique opportunity to drive a racehorse. Admission is free. OPENING NIGHT Opening Night on June 2 marks the fifth annual Local Biz Night, presented in cooperation with the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce. The event hosts more than 150 local businesspeople paired with a horse in the Local Biz Night Race. Prior to the dash, guests are treated to a cocktail reception hosted by the OLG Slots At Grand River Raceway, followed by dinner and a trip to the paddock to meet their horse. TAKEOUT RATES In 2013, Grand River Raceway made major reductions (totaling 23 percent) to its takeout rates. Those rates remain intact for this season, giving the half-miler one of the most attractive take-out structures in North America. FUN & FRIVOLITY FRIDAY NIGHTS The crew from 107.5 DAVE FM returns to broadcast live from the tarmac every Friday night all summer long. Kids will enjoy the NEIGHbourhood, an interactive horse education program held under the Tarmac Tent from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. INDUSTRY DAY CELEBRATION Grand River Raceway features its 24th annual Industry Day Celebration on Monday, August 4 at 1:30 p.m. The popular afternoon card features the 17th annual Battle Of Waterloo and the sixth annual Battle Of The Belles. RACE NIGHT BUFFET A newly formatted $16.99 buffet will be featured every race night in the Captain's Quarters tiered dining room overlooking the racetrack. Several dates in June are already filling quickly with group bookings; reservations are always highly recommended by calling (519) 846-5455 ext. 247. Post time for the season-opener on June 2 is 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.GrandRiverRaceway.com. by Kelly Spencer, for Grand River Raceway

The more and more I have the opportunity to speak with people within the harness racing industry, the more and more my view on humanity changes for the good. For all the negatives in the world that grab the headlines, a shadow is cast on what should be the brightest of headlines, which is the horsemen and women that form harness racing. Despite the uncertain future of horse racing in Ontario, many within the industry remain positive and hope for the best. The best being the Ontario Government will come to terms with the racetracks to ensure further growth, such as we see south of the border in states like New York and Ohio. Having to deal with these issues over the years is one of Canada's top harness racing drivers, Sylvain Filion. "In 1999 I came here to Ontario and after three years I went back to Quebec. I was there for five years and then came back here." Sylvain explains. Making a big move from his native hometown in Quebec, Sylvain Filion made the move to Ontario as racing in Quebec declined and became virtually nonexistent. "They quit racing in Montreal" says Sylvain. "The racing was very good there, but when they quit racing I came to Ontario." "It sounds kind of like what is happening here" Sylvain notes. "They had money from the slots and then the Government took the money away and that is what killed harness racing. So hopefully that won't happen here." It must be deja vu for Sylvain. There is one positive rumor circulating that the government may have a plan to help the horse racing industry. There is word that negotiations are under way that will ensure the success of harness racing for the next five years, if not longer. Speaking with Sylvain, he's currently feeding his adopted daughter, Stella-Rose and little Stella-Rose will be turning one in a few days. Sylvain and his wife Dominic adopted Stella-Rose eight months ago and they could not be happier. The cheerfulness is Sylvain's voice radiates of pride and joy all due to the new edition to the Filion family. Will Sylvain and Dominic adopt another baby so Stella-Rose may have a brother or sister? Sylvain says possibly but it's too soon to say for sure. "It's about time I became something" Sylvain says with a laugh. "Right now it's my greatest achievement. My wife and I couldn't have a baby and we have wanted a baby for over twenty years so we adopted and it has worked out. We are very very happy!!" Sylvain comes from a family with deep roots in the horse racing world. "I was born with horses all around me. My father still has that farm in Quebec and my grandfather had 5 or 6 horse as well. That's how my father and uncles got started." Sylvain says. Sylvain's father, Yves won the North America Cup and the Prix d'Ete with Runnymede Lobell in 1988. One is of his uncles, Herve, is the world renowned Hall of Fame horsemen. "There's still a lot I want to do, there's big races I'd like to win, like the North America Cup, (which takes place at Mohawk racetrack). I came second once and my father won it. The Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug are ones I would like to win." "At the start of each year, we cross our fingers and hope a horse comes through that can have us do great things." Sylvain says about any potential break out horses. Sylvain does not train any horses, as he puts it, he is 100% focused on driving. If he had to pick one of his favorite horses out of all he's driven, he feels Breeders Crown winner Goliath Bayama is the favorite. As for Sylvain preference for track type and style, he says he enjoys the one mile tracks like the Meadowlands compared to the 7/8th mile tracks. Yes, that one eight makes a difference. "When you're on the 7/8th, you have the whole stretch to get into position and at the mile tracks, when you leave the gate you have an eighth of a mile until you hit the first turn" is how Sylvain describes the flow. "If you decide to leave hard, you might have a long drive going into the first turn." Meaning you're stuck on the outside leading to a longer trip for the horse and burning unnecessary horse power. During the warm months, Sylvain loves to play golf and is an avid fan of the sport. The one golfer he admires most is 'The Lefty', Phil Mickelson. "I like his aggressive style, every time he goes for broke when he plays." Sylvain says. When the weather turns cold, Sylvain and his wife Dominic usually head south for a vacation getaway. This year was a tad different as the happy parents were basking in the warmth of their new bundle of joy, Stella-Rose. Happy Birthday Stella-Rose! When Sylvain decides to hang it up and call it a great career, what he hopes to do with his family is travel. "I like Costa Rica, the wildlife there is pretty amazing. I'd like to go to Europe. I was there once to train a horse and that was at 9/11." Sylvain went to France to work with and train a horse he was set to drive in a big trotting race in Montreal, the Trot Montreal. "They invited horses from all over the world to race in Montreal." Sylvain explains. "I was a little anxious to come back because I was stuck there for an extra five days." Sylvain was telling me about how much fun the drivers have amongst themselves. Once they're in the bike and on the track, it's strictly business and game on, "Here at Woodbine we take our jobs very seriously. Once we are out there on the track we are all professionals and may the best horse win." However between drives and/or races, the horsemen really know how to keep the atmosphere light. "There are jokes amongst the drivers" Sylvain says. "We spend so much time together. Especially in the summer when we are driving five or six nights a week, we get to the Paddock for 6:30pm and we are there until 11:30pm. So we have to find a way to have a bit of fun and enjoy ourselves." Some examples of jokes played on one another; a driver, who has a couple of races off, may grab a pair of gloves from another driver and tie knots in the fingers of those gloves. So when the owner of those gloves grabs them to head out, that driver has to go out without any gloves on or has to rush and get a pair from a trainer. For fun, sometimes baby powder is put into the helmet of an unsuspecting driver. As you may guess, when the helmet goes on, that drivers' entire head and face is covered. Another prank is putting shoe polish around the goggles of another driver where that said driver is left with rings of polish around his eyes for the rest of the night. They must be tearing up with laughter at times! Sylvain admits, one prank that happened to him is when someone tied his shoe laces "into 2000 knots so I had to cut out all the laces before I left to go home after the races." Priceless! Sometimes they tease one another, "You have to be able to laugh at yourself" says Sylvain. "You have to remain humble. When a guy is parked out the whole mile and he comes in last, he's asked if 'he's caught a cold out there?'...we are a tough group, but a fun group." By Roderick Balgobin, for Supernova Sports Club www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova        

TORONTO, March 28 - Thirteen sophomore pacing fillies made their way to Woodbine Racetrack on Friday evening to contest in the opening round of the harness racing Blossom Series. Heavily-favoured Rock N Roll Xample and Violet Bayama captured there respective $15,000 splits in races one and two. Sent off at 1/5, Rock N Roll Xample and Randy Waples was much the best in 1:54.1. Waples elected to sit in the pocket past the first quarter as Noble Jilly (Jody Jamieson) led through the :27.4 opening split. Rock N Roll Xample was then quickly on the move and took over command to lead her six rivals past the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:26.2. Turning for home, Rock N Roll Xample and Noble Jilly separated themselves from their rivals and battled through the stretch, but Noble Jilly couldn't match strides of the Rock N Roll Xample, who won by three-quarters of a length. Deuces For Charity (Paul Macdonell) finished third. Trained by Shawn Robinson for owner/breeder Robert Hamather, Rock N Roll Xample enjoyed her fifth win from 10 starts in 2014. The daughter of Rocknroll <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /> Hanover now has 58,590 in career earnings. She paid $2.50 to win. One race later, Violet Bayama fended off a late challenge from 1/5 favourite Missevil to win in 1:55.3. The talented daughter of Somebeachsomewhere went gate-to-wire through panels of :28.2, :58.1 and 1:27.1, before putting away Missevil in deep stretch en route to victory. Wildcat Magic (Chris Christoforou) finished third. Trained by Stephane Laroque for owner/breeder Bayama Farms and Jacques Damours, Violet Bayama celebrated her third career victory as her bankroll now sits at $40.280. She paid $7.30 to win as the 5/2 second choice. The Blossom Series is for sophomore pacing fillies, who are non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. Greg Gangle Rock N Roll Xample Violet Bayama 

It's all about team work. That's the feeling I get when listening to Casie Coleman describe the dedication of her harness racing employees. Casie Coleman is one the most recognized names when it comes to trainers. There's no doubt that every time you see one of her horses listed to race, that horse is bringing its 'A' game, ready to contend. Casie admits her success, aside from her work and the owners providing quality horses, is all due to her employees. Casie values everyone on her team as equals, people with heart and soul who dedicate their lives along side hers' to get the best out of the horses in the Coleman stable. Take the best race horse currently running and if it went without proper care and attention, guaranteed in a short period of time that horse's value will diminish alongside its health. "Before I went on my own, I worked for a lot of people" Casie explains, "and I know what it's like when you work long hard days and you don't get paid so (well) or treated so (well)." It's due to the tough experiences Casie had to grind through for her to know how important it is to recognize the staff on her team. "We work long hard days here, and I try to keep everyone happy... if you're miserable, then your horse is going to be miserable." Casie notes, "I knew when I started training I wanted the best help I could find. You need to pay them and take care of (the employees)." "I have employees here who have been with me for the past 8 or 9 years. That being said, I've been through a whole lot of staff come through and work for me, and it's not saying they are not good; everybody is good in their own way. It's just the long hard hours we do and in my program some people aren't up for that." 110% is what Casie expects out of her staff but at the same time, Casie gives them 110% back in way of pay and recognition. "It's definitely not an easy job working for me, by no doubt but we have some good guys here." So what did Casie go through or see to realize how valuable a trainer's staff is? "Whether its people I worked for or whether it be people that I watched working for another stable. Some of the things you see in the paddock, I say to myself 'I'll never treat my staff that way'." Casie continues the mentality should always be "treat people right". With Casie having had a large or you could even say huge stable (over 100 horses), she's had to hire more help and become more of a trainer/barn manager. "If you're just a small stable, you're able to things yourself but when you get a big stable like I do, I am only as good as my staff. I can't manage all these horses by myself, no doubt." Casie provides a great explanation of how intense it can be, especially in the summer time when racing is at peak season. "There's going to be good and bad days. Some of my staff start at 4-4:30 in the morning and a normal day we will get done around 2:30-3pm or some days it might be 4:30-5pm depending how busy we are. Then in the summer time, we race at night so we'll get a couple of hours to go home and shower then go racing and you might not get home until 1am. Then the next day you do it all over again, and you are only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep." So what happens when Casie and her team are having a rough day, Casie will throw a barn barbeque for the entire staff full of steaks and burgers. As I type this, I am getting hungry! "Just last night" Casie says, "I had the whole staff over to my house for a steak barbeque and all the alcohol they wanted. We played poker, we were up late and had a busy day today and everything went good. Now I just ordered some pizza and pasta and they are all happy. Today was a long day, but they all know I am out here with them and know I'm feeding them. You got to keep them happy, keep the morale up." As the interview was going on, Casie had to take a moment to sign for the pizza she ordered for her staff. Growing up, it was a rough go for Casie and her family. She would work for her parents and go to school, money was tight. Back in British Columbia, Casie would find jobs wherever she could so she could get by. "Whenever somebody would buy you lunch or take you out for dinner, something like that to me was a huge thing because growing up we never had the money to go to these types of places. I realized how much I liked it when someone would take me to a steakhouse, I appreciated it." Something Casie said really hit home for me, and it's how people change their perspective of a person once money is involved. The line Casie quoted was, 'if you are not doing well you're an idiot and if you're doing well, you are doing something wrong'. "You'll hear a lot of people say that I'm 'stuck up'." Casey says, "When I started doing well there were a lot of horsemen that didn't like me too much. Anybody who asks me something I will answer them, if they need something answered about their horse or anything, I try and help out." "Now that I am fortunate to have luck in racing, I want to give back... any charity that asks me for help, I will help. It's just the way I was brought up, to help others when you can." Since Casie has been quite successful, she has opted out of racing in claimers. Now Casie focuses on 2 and 3 year olds and older stake horses. "I was up to 120 horses a couple of years ago. Right now I have 38 here in Florida and I am much happier." Casie explains the relief with fewer horses is fewer owners, less staff and a lot less stress. Now that Casie has fewer horses, she can purely focus on training horses as opposed to training and being a barn manager. Having a stable of 120 horses kept Casie busy with a ton of paperwork and constantly having her on the phone entering horses into various races. Casie's lightened office work allows her to enjoy jogging horses. "I took the winter off from racing so I don't have to worry about entering anywhere. I got back into the bike and I really enjoy being back in the bike. I'm sad I got away from (being in the bike) and now I'm happy to be back." Casie's plan for stake season definitely involves the Little Brown Jug! "I'd love to try a threepeat of the Little Brown Jug. I won two in a row and saying that I have a couple of really nice pacing 3 year old colts... whether they are going to be of that caliber I'm not sure about that. I think they are going to be nice Sired Stakes... and I have some really nice 3 year old pacing fillies that could be better than the colts." "I would love to win the Canadian Pacing Derby at my home track, (Mohawk Racetrack located in Campbellvile, ON)." Casie says, "I have Vegas Vacation, Lucan Hanover and Michael Power entered into that race." If Mark MacDonald decides to come back and race at Mohawk Racetrack, Casie definitely wants him to drive her horses. Casie first met Mark at Flamboro Downs, (Hamilton, ON) and it's been a great relationship ever since. The synergy between Mark and Casie is quite unique and if you remember when they were in action together, they seemed unstoppable. Casie acknowledges how important Mark's feedback is after every drive of her horses. Currently Mark is racing at Yonkers, (New York) and hasn't decided what his summer plans may be. If not Mark, Casie is still pondering which driver will lead her horses past the wire first. A really neat event Casie would love to be a part of is the World Poker Tour. She enjoys playing poker with friends and kicking back to watch a movie. Casie's top 3 favorite movies is Rounders, Seabiscuit/Secretariat and 8 Seconds. Casie loves going to Las Vegas. Her first Vegas experience was with her boyfriend, and one of her owners paid for her to stay at the Caesars because he thought she needed a break. Casie quickly realized what she was missing out on with her always being with her stable and now makes sure she takes time for herself and hitting Vegas at least once a year! It's only fitting that one of Casie's top horses is Vegas Vacation! by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova

TORONTO, March 26 - Kyle Reibeling's Missevil has certainly made her impact this season while racing at Woodbine Racetrack - and the talented filly could be in for a prosperous payday in the coming weeks. The swift pacer has banked $30,100 this season from five starts, including three wins and a second-place finish for owners Mike Timpano and Frank Cirillo. The daughter of Armbro Deuce-Impudent will begin from post six in the second of two $15,000 Blossom Series divisions, Friday at Woodbine. The rich $30,000 (added) final will take place on Monday, April 11. "We have the six-hole in a six horse race, so that doesn't bother me and we won't be sitting 21-lengths back like last week," Reibeling said. "It's a good series and a nice fit for her. The filly that beat her last week is in there, which makes for another great race." Missevil qualified just once last year as a rookie before calling it a season and Reibeling took over conditioning the bay this past winter. "I got her when she was training back this winter when I returned from Sudbury," he said. "I don't think it was a surprise to anyone that worked with her in the past that she has the speed and desire." So far this season, Missevil has developed an off-the-pace racing style, which is by the design of her veteran conditioner. "She can get real hot," Reibeling said. "When we first schooled her, she was a little erratic so we made some changes to calm her down, but whether she had the speed or not was something I wasn't worried about. "It just seems like the plan is to race her from behind and teach her," Reibeling continued. "We're obviously thinking long term with her and we are going to do right by her." Reibeling, who is approaching $2 million in purse earnings as a conditioner, admires one key attribute about his stable star. "Her will", he said. "She just has that tremendous will to win. She's not the biggest horse and probably not the fastest horse out there, but I don't think there's any other horse around that I've ever worked with - maybe L H Stryker- that has that killer instinct and will to win like she does. She's small but has that little engine that could." Driver James MacDonald has been aboard Missevil in each of her five starts this season and Reibeling sees that as a perfect fit. "James has done an excellent job with her and I couldn't ask for more," he said. "He's listened and done right by the filly and he's drove her with a lot of respect. James deserves a lot of credit." As for the future of the Missevil, Reibeling remains optimistic about a successful summer with his speedy pacer. "We're going to stick to the OSS and just race around here. We're confident that she can be a Gold filly this season and there is enough money in the province for us to tackle. We're going to take it week-by-week, but hopefully we have a lot of fun this summer." The Blossom Series is for three-year-old fillies, who are non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2013. The pair of divisions will kick off the 11-race programme on Friday in races one and two. They will line up as follows: Race 1 1. Rock N Roll Xample 2. Deuces For Charity 3. Outtathewheelhouse 4. Polk Dot Hanover 5. Noble Jilly 6. An Angel Shes Not 7. Mach Some Noise Race 2 1. Premio Loco 2. Wildcat Magic 3. Somebaysomwhere 4. Gushing Royalty 5. Violet Bayama 6. Missevil By Greg Gangle, for WEG

London, March 21, 2014 -- With his victory aboard Daylon Melody in Friday's second race at The Raceway in London, driver Alfie Carroll reached the 1,000 win milestone. Carroll, a resident of nearby Iona, got away second with the trotting daughter of Pegasus Spur and then converted from the pocket trip to stop the clock in 2:03. The victory was the third this season for Daylon Melody who is owned by Daylon Farms Ltd. and trained by Jennifer Pinkerton. Carroll leads the current driver standings at The Raceway for 2014 with 55 wins so far at the Meet as he looks for his first driving title at the London oval. Greg Blanchard

Storms, blizzards, floods, or tornadoes - it seems that over the past few years, we've seen them all. Disasters often strike without warning as demonstrated recently by the notable December ice storm that wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands residents in Ontario, the Maritimes, and the northeastern U.S. with downed tree limbs and power lines. Many were without power for days, while for others it was weeks, which meant no heat, hydro or water. No one is immune from the possible effects of a disaster, no matter what the season, but preparing ahead of time and having an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes will help to keep our horses safe and out of harm's way. Plan it Out Being aware of the possible risks in your region is the first step toward preparing for any possible disaster that has the potential to cause a short term or long term disruption to you, your family and your animals. Is your area prone to flooding? What about tornadoes or blizzards? If the roads are closed, how do you get food to your horses? The next step is to plan for any possible extended disruption of services. Authorities usually recommend having at least two weeks supply of feed/hay on hand, and kept stored in a dry area. Top off all water tanks and buckets before an impending storm, and store additional water in plastic trash cans secured with lids in a safe place. Consider having well-maintained generators on hand to provide emergency power, and have enough fuel to keep them running for several days. Always keep an up-to-date emergency care kit that includes vetwrap, bandages, medications, flashlights, batteries, etc. Having an envelope set aside with emergency cash, the amount depending on your budget and needs will also come in handy for times such as these. In addition to Mother Nature's list of natural disasters, you should also consider other potential dangers such as wildfires or the possibility of manmade emergencies including gas leaks or propane spills. Many times, these result in evacuation with very little notice. In the case of an evacuation, while you might be able to take the family pet along with you to a hotel, it's not the time to start calling around to find a safe location to move your horses. Prearrange an evacuation site for your horses and map out primary and secondary routes in advance. Develop a buddy system with friends and neighbouring barns. Don't hesitate to ask for help when the time comes. Also, make sure your horses are trained to easily load and unload from a trailer. If evacuation is not possible, decide where on the property to safely store your horses. Micro chipping, branding, or tattooing, along with registration with online identification agencies, provides a permanent form of animal identification. As an alternative, ensure that your horses are equipped with some form of identification such as a halter tag, neck collar, or leg tag that contains your contact information, should you have to leave them behind. Human Safety Comes First In the case of a natural or man-made disaster, it's important that the safety of humans come first, says District Chief Victor MacPherson of the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department. "Make sure that you and your family are safe before assisting your animals," he says. "In the case of a fire, this is where emergency preparedness comes into play. If the barn is on fire, what do you do? What do you do with your livestock? My advice is, if it's safe to do so, try to get them out. However, if you bring them out of the barn and just turn them loose, most likely the horses will try to run back into the barn. That's where their haven is; what they consider to be their safe place. People should have a location in mind ahead of time to safely keep them together, such as a field or another barn far away from the fire." MacPherson recalls an incident with a large grass fire that claimed nearly 200 acres in the Adjala-Tosorontio area in July 2012. "The grass fire was moving aggressively towards a certain farm area, and was a heavy fuel load [had a lot to burn], with a lot of smoke," he says. "Smoke can be just as dangerous as fire because it'll spook the horses. With the help of the property owner, we were successful in moving them out to a safer place." As is often the case in an emergency when people call 911, firefighters are usually the first responders to the scene. Because of this, many firefighters are now receiving training in how to handle animals in emergency situations. Last year, the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department held a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course for first responders and animals owners. Deborah Chute, owner and operator of Laurenwood Stables and a volunteer firefighter with the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department, helped co-ordinate this course after seeing the need for such a training program. "I first started thinking about the need for a course such as this one after the grass fire in June 2012," she says. "It was necessary to evacuate people, but there were over 50 horses that were also at risk, as well as other large animals and livestock. Thankfully, the fire was brought under control, but contemplating the logistics of moving that many animals made me realize we needed some additional training." Preparedness is Essential While it's impossible to prepare for all conditions, don't let an emergency situation catch you off guard. Having a basic plan in place ahead of time for either the evacuation or sheltering of your horses allows you to handle an emergency with less stress and a clearer head. "Pre-incident planning is crucial for any farm owner," says Chute. "Farms by their very nature contain many hazards to humans, animals and the environment, and careful planning before the event of an emergency can save lives and property. Local fire departments are usually quite happy to assist in developing pre-incident plans and can give further advice on fire detection and suppression systems that can be retrofitted or installed in new buildings. Regular inspection and repair of all human and animal housing and fencing will go a long way to keep you and your animals safe." Sign up for our free e-newsletter at EquineGuelph.ca which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/welfare.php In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness course for horse owners Sept 18 (tentative date) followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level course Sept 19, 20, 21 (tentative dates). Contact Susan Raymond slraymon@uoguelph.ca for more details. Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.EquineGuelph.ca. by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph    

TORONTO, March 15 - With a third place finish in a $14,000 condition event on Saturday evening at Woodbine, Kindly Poet etched his way into the history books as he became harness racing's newest millionaire. The talented 11-year-old son of Western Ideal was a mere $460 shy before tonight's contest, but driver Chris Christoforou gave Kindly Poet an off-the-pace trip to reach his milestone in the gelding's 221st lifetime start. The 45-time winner has been trained and co-owned throughout his career by Murray Brethour and co-owned by Scarff Legacy Stables, Donald Varcoe, Stayner and Daniel Sarafian. With a 1:49.4 speed badge taken last season, Kindly Poet now has $1,001,220 in career earnings. Greg Gangle  

March 13 - Carmen Auciello, who currently sits in second with 19 wins as a conditioner this season on the WEG Circuit, will be the guest on Woodbine Racing Live's pre-game show this Saturday, March 15, beginning at 6:45 p.m. Auciello celebrated a career year last season with 120 victories and over $2 million in earnings. The Stouffville resident will send out a combined eight starters on Saturdays programme. Auciello will join WEG's Jeff Bratt and offer his thoughts on his starters and much more. First race post time is slated for 7:25 p.m. Greg Gangle  

At its meeting of January 30, 2014, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission approved the 2014 Horse Improvement Program (HIP) as recommended by the industry stakeholders and Program staff. Developed by the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Advisory Groups, the 2014 programs will offer significant incentives to breed and own horses in Ontario. For the most part, the upcoming season will mirror the 2013 programs, providing consistency along with some improvements. To view the full release, please use the link below: News Release - 2014 Horse Improvement Program Approved Wendy Hoogeveen Director, Industry Development and Support    

The Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Program is on track to provide an exciting season of racing. Developed by the Standardbred Advisory Group and approved by the Ontario Racing Commission, the 2014 OSS program will offer over $16.6 million in purses and just over $2.1 million in Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired Rewards. To view the full release, please use the link below: News Release - 2014 Ontario Sires Stakes Program Announced Wendy Hoogeveen Director, Industry Development and Support      

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