Heavenly Hill benefited from a front-end duel to win the harness racing Blossom Series final Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of ten three-year-old pacing fillies contested the $40,400 Blossom Final. Heavenly Hill was sent off as the heavy favourite after a convincing victory in last week's second leg. The public's choice got away third for driver Jonathan Drury, as 90-1 shot Radar Trap and Randy Waples made the front from post-nine to post an opening-quarter of :27.2. Jody Jamieson quickly pulled the pocket in the second-quarter with Noone To Depend On, but Waples was not in a giving mood. Radar Trap and Noone To Depend On waged war by the half in :55.2. Around the final turn, Drury angled Heavenly Hill out from third and went three-wide around the lead pair, who began to fade. The favourite posted a three-quarter time of 1:24.2 and pulled away from her rivals in the lane. Heavenly Hill stopped the clock for a three-length victory in 1:53.4. Windsun Glory finished second, while Evangelin Seelster was third. Heavenly Hill's victory was the second series final victory in three-days for owner George Munniksma and trainer Carmen Auciello. The daughter of Art Colony now has three wins in six starts this season. The Blossom final was the fifth career victory for Heavenly Hill and pushes her career earnings over $138,000. The clocking of 1:53.4 knocked two-fifths of a second off her previous career-best. Heavenly Hill paid $2.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2015. The opening round of the Tie Silk Series for three-year-old trotters also took place Monday. In the first $16,000 division, Muscle Hustle made a second-quarter move to the lead for trainer/driver Per Henriksen and never looked back. The son of Muscle Mass scored a 2¼ lengths victory in 1:57.1. Chestnut Schofield finished second, while On The Ridge was third. Muscle Hustle was making his season debut Monday and now has two wins in four career starts for owner Ecruie Bergh. He paid $20.30 to win. Donicus lived up to his heavy-favourite status and scored a blow out victory in the second division. Owner/trainer Eddie Green steered the son of Deweycheathumnhowe to a 13 length triumph in 1:56. P C Foreign Affair finished second and two-lengths ahead of Blownoutofthewater. Donicus now has six wins in eight starts this season and seven career victories overall. The Green trainee has banked $45,520 of his $54,680 career earnings this season. Donicus paid $3.40 to win. In order to be eligible to the Tie Silk, the three-year-old trotters had to be non-winners of $30,000 in 2015. Also on Monday, Fearless Man scored his second Preferred win in his last three starts. Trainer/driver Rick Zeron put Fearless Man in his usual spot on the lead and never looked back. The Zeron trainee posted solid fractions of :27, :55 and 1:23.4. In the stretch, Fearless Man trotted home in :31.1 over the 'Good' track and secured his fourth win of the year by half a length in 1:55. Hldontghttoyurdrms rallied for second, while Exemplar finished third. Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Noblock Racing Stable, Murray Greenfield and Cool Cat Racing, Fearless Man now has four wins in 10 starts this season for earnings exceeding $93,000. The six-year-old gelded son of Elegant Man now has 26 career victories and earnings of over $465,000. Fearless Man paid $5.10 to win. Live racing resumes Thursday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
The 2015-16 Woodbine Fall/Winter meet concluded Monday night with the second leg of the Blossom Series and a Preferred Trot highlighting harness racing action. The two $17,000 Blossom Series divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies featured new winners to open the doors for an intriguing final next week. In the first division, Mattjestic Tempo took full advantage of a pocket-trip to win at 5/1 in a field of six. Driven by James MacDonald, Mattjestic Tempo flashed early speed to head towards the front. Newcomer Westsluckycam cleared to the front at the opening-quarter of :27.4 and proceeded to lead the field through middle-half fractions of :57.2 and 1:26.3. In the stretch, Mattjestic Tempo came to the outside and surged by to victory in 1:55.3. Noone To Depend rallied late and finished 1¾ lengths behind the winner in second. Westsluckycam dropped back to finish third. Blueberry Will, who won a leg one division last week, struggled in Monday's first division and finished sixth and last. A daughter of Royal Mattjesty, Mattjestic Tempo entered Monday's contest off a third-place effort in leg one. The sophomore pacing filly is trained by Blake MacIntosh, who shares ownership of the filly with Stuart McIntosh. Mattjestic Tempo's leg two victory is her first win in 11 starts this season and third overall. She pushes her career earnings over $50,000 with Monday's victory. The MacIntosh trainee paid $13.80 to win. Mattjestic Tempo The second division saw a familiar face on the Woodbine circuit return to score a career-best victory. Heavenly Hill and driver Jonathan Drury got away third in the early stages before brushing to the lead in the second-quarter. It was lights out from there, as Drury and the 3/2 second-choice cruised home in :28.4 to win by 2½ lengths in 1:54.1. Bas As Leader finished second, while the 7/5 favourite Evangelin Seelster finished third. Windsun Glory, who won a leg one division, crossed the wire in fourth. A daughter of Art Colony, Heavenly Hill competed last season locally for trainer Dave Menary and captured an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division. The sophomore pacing filly was purchased in January by owner George Munniksma and was recently competing at Yonkers. Heavenly Hill, who was debuting Monday for trainer Carmen Auciello, picked up her second win in five starts this season and knocked a fifth of a second off her previous career-mark. She now has four career victories and earnings exceeding $117,000. Heavenly Hill paid $5.10 to win. Heavenly Hill Also on Monday, Hldontghttoyurdrms scored an 8/1 mild upset in the $34,000 Preferred Trot. Fearless Man, who was aiming for a second consecutive Preferred win, trotted out to his usally spot on the front. After posting fractions of :27.3, :57 and 1:25.1, Fearless Man led the field into the stretch, but the 4/5 favourite had several challenger close in behind. In the stretch, Hldontghttoyurdrms and driver Jonathan Drury came off third-over cover to storm by their rivals to win by a length in 1:55. Zeus Lightning trotted home well and just missed the victory in second, while Fearless Man dropped back to finish third. A seven-year-old son of Muscles Yankee, Hldontghttoyurdrms is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Frank Spagnolo. The veteran trotter picked up his second win in a row Monday and second in 12 starts this season. Hldontghttoyurdrms pushed his career earnings over $400,000 with his 23rd career victory Monday. He paid $19.30 to win. Hldontghttoyurdrms Live racing now moves to Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening. A 10-race card will kick-off the Mohawk meet. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
The harness racing series finals of The Count B and Miss Vera Bars were in the spotlight Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of nine three-year-old pacers competed in the $42,200 The Count B final, while a field of eight three-year-old pacing fillies squared off in the $41,600 Ontario Girls final. All eyes were on Carmen Auciello trainee War N Munn, who aimed for a series sweep in The Count B Final, and the sophomore lived up to the hype. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn, the 2/5 favourite, sprinted off the wings of the gate from post-eight. Gotti and Trevor Henry also left hard and dueled by the opening-quarter with War N Munn in :26.1. War N Munn cleared to the front midway around the first turn and Drury was able to catch a second-quarter breather, as the favourite paced by the half in :56. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4, War N Munn said goodbye to his challengers and sprinted home comfortably in :28 to win by an impressive 7½ lengths in 1:52.4. Gotti help his position to finish second, while New Standard rallied from near the back to finish third at odds of 50/1. A son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn is owned by George Munniksma of Washington, New Jersey. The sophomore pacing colt shipped into the barn of conditioner Auciello from trainer Kerin Warner for the start of The Count B series. War N Munn is now three for three in 2016 and sports a career record of five wins in 12 starts. The Count B final victory established a new career-mark for the three-year-old and pushes his career earnings over $81,000. War N Munn paid $2.90 to win. War N Munn Preliminary leg winners Cracklin Rosie and Bad As Leader headlined the Miss VeraBars final. Cracklin Rosie, the 8/5 favourite, got away sixth for driver Phil Hudon, while Bad As Leader, the 2/1 second choice, was placed closer in third by driver Trevor Henry. Arizona Seelster cut out an opening-quarter of :27.2 and also led the field by the half in :57.1. Henry opted to pull from third nearing the half and quickly cleared to the front with Bad As Leader before the final turn. Meanwhile, Cracklin Rosie was moving up on the outside in mid-pack, but was pushed out three-wide and took the long way around the final turn. After a three-quarter clocking of 1:25.2, Bad As Leader would not surrender the lead and paced home strongly to win the Miss VeraBars final by a length and a half in 1:53.4. Im In Luv finished second, while Windsun Glory grabbed third. Cracklin Rosie was just nosed out for fourth by Party In Rome. A daughter of Badlands Hanover, Bad As Leader is trained by Victor Puddy for owners Bill Manes and William Cripps. The sophomore pacing filly now has four wins in six attempts this season and six victories in ten career starts. The MissVeraBars final victory pushes Bad As Leader's career earnings to over $69,000. She paid $6.70 to win. Bad As Leader Both series carried the same conditions, as Non-Winners of Three Races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015 were eligible to The Count B and Miss VeraBars. Winter series action continues Saturday night at Woodbine with the final of the Ontario Girls and second leg of the Ontario Boys. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
Second leg harness racing action of the Ontario Girls and The Count B Series took place under frigid conditions Friday at Woodbine Racetrack. Just a single division was necessary for each series with their finals scheduled for next Friday (February 19). Ainsleynoelle pulled off a mini upset against seven rivals in the $18,000 Ontario Girls second leg. Driven by Randy Waples, Ainsleynoelle got a pocket trip and was able to convert in the lane for a 1:55.2 score at 7/1. Mach Magic cut the mile, but gave way late to finish second by a length. Pinky Tuscadero finished third. Amazing Control, who won a first leg division, finished fourth, while the favourite Double Olives was sixth. A four-year-old daughter of Jereme's Jet, Ainsleynoelle is trained by Colin Johnson for owners Debbie Element, David Heffering and Ecurie JGV Enrg. Friday's victory was her first win in six starts this season and eighth victory overall. Ainsleynoelle, who finished fifth in a first leg division last week, now has over $89,000 in career earnings. She paid $17.40 to win. Ainsleynoelle In order to be eligible to the Ontario Girls, the Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares had to be non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Despite a first-quarter break, War N Munn scored another impressive victory in the $17,000 second leg of The Count B Series. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn got away fourth, but made a quick break heading towards the first turn and was brought to the outside. Once off the pylons and back pacing, Drury sent his charge to the lead in the second-quarter. War N Munn was mistake-free in the final three-quarters and cruised to a three-length victory in 1:55. Gotti finished second, while The Loan Ranger was third. Three Truths, who won a first leg division, finished fourth. A three-year-old son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn is now two for two in The Count B Series and 2016. He is trained by Carmen Auciello for owner George Munniksma. War N Munn now has four career victories and earnings exceeding $60,000. He paid $3.10 to win. In order to be eligible to The Count B, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three-races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. War N Munn Live racing has been cancelled for Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack due to the projected extreme cold temperatures. Live racing resumes Monday night (February 15). Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
Winter harness racing action ramped up Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack with round one of The Count B and Ontario Girls Series. Each series featured a pair of divisions for their opening leg. A group of 14 sophomore pacing colts and geldings were split into two $17,000 The Count B divisions, while 15 Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares competed in two $18,000 Ontario Girls splits. The Count B Series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings saw the first split go to a newcomer north of the border. War N Munn went gate to wire for a 1:54.1 victory. The son of Stonebridge Regal shipped in from the Kerin Warner barn into the care of trainer Carmen Auciello. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn fired out to the front and got to dictate the pace. After posting panels of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:25.2, War N Munn opened up several lengths of separation and cruised home in :28.4 for a 6¾ lengths victory. St Lads Charger, who sat fourth for the majority of the mile, finished second, while New Standard came from last to finish third. War N Munn is owned by George Munniksma. The sophomore pacer was making his 2016 debut after winning two of nine starts as a rookie for earnings of $43,011. War N Munn established a new career mark with his 1:54.1 victory. He paid $10.10 to win. War N Munn The combination of Drury and Auciello appeared to have a good shot to sweep The Count B first leg, as they teamed up with the 3/5 favourite Big Bang Boom in the second split. Drury stepped on the accelerator at the start and blasted Big Bang Boom to the lead. The Auciello trainee went untouched through solid fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24.1 to lead by almost five-lengths turning for home. Three Truths, the 7/2 second choice, came out from fifth around the final turn for driver Sylvain Filion and sat seven-lengths off the lead at the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Big Bang Boom ran out of steam at the eighth-pole and was swallowed up by a hard-charging Three Truths, who stopped the clock in 1:55.1. Gotti finished two-lengths back in second, while Big Bang Boom held on to hit the board in third. A son of Shadow Play, Three Truths is trained by Richard Moreau for owners Ratchford Stable and Brian Shebib. The Count B opening leg victory is the first win in four starts this season for the sophomore pacer. Three Truths won three of eighth starts last season and now has a career bankroll of $23,060. Friday's clocking of 1:55.1 established a new career mark for the son of Shadow Play. Three Truths paid $9.50 to win. Three Truths The Ontario Girls Series kicked off with a fantastic stretch duel in the first division. Much Adoo, the 9/5 favourite, got away second, but was quickly circled to the lead in the second-quarter by driver Doug McNair. Fresh off her Blizzard Series victory, Double Olives found a seat in fourth and sat there until angling out first-over just after the half. Much Adoo posted middle-fractions of :57 and 1:25, while Double Olives pulled to within less than a length of the lead turning for home. In the stretch, the public's top two choices went toe-to-toe with Much Adoo holding off a battling Double Olives to win by a length in 1:54. Pinky Tuscadero, who sat second-over turning for home, finished third. A daughter of Classic Card Shark, Much Adoo picked up her second win in three starts this season for trainer Cody Henry. She is owned by Aaron Waxman and Alan Alber. Much Adoo increased her career earnings to over $97,000 with her seventh career victory Friday. She paid $5.90 to win. Much Adoo In the second division, Amazing Control came through as the even-money favourite for a 1:55.1 victory. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Amazing Control was able to get a pocket trip in behind Twin B Sweetheart. The leader cut out fractions of :27.2, :57.4 and 1:26.3, while Amazing Control was primed to pop the pocket in the lane. In the stretch, Jamieson pulled on the right line and Amazing Control powered by Twin B Sweetheart to win two-lengths. Tilkum finish third. A daughter of Shadow Play, Amazing Control is trained by Meg Crone for owners Hutt Racing Stable. The four-year-old pacing mare now has two wins in four starts this season. Amazing Control increased her career earnings to over $83,000 with her fourth career victory Friday. She paid $4.20 to win. Amazing Control The Count B and Ontario Girls Series resume next Friday (February 12) with round two. In order to be eligible to The Count B, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015, were eligible to the Ontario Girls Series. Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine with the opening leg of the Ontario Boys Series. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
TORONTO, January 28 - Harness racing trainer Carmen Auciello celebrated a career milestone Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The 35-year-old conditioner sent out four-year-old Mach Three mare Twin B Sweetheart to victory in Thursday's fourth-race and surpassed $10 million in career earnings with the victory. A Stouffville, Ontario resident, Auciello entered Thursday's program just $6,823 shy of the milestone. Auciello's stable has earned over $200,000 in the first month of 2016. Last season, the conditioner put up career high numbers with 194 victories and over $2.7 million in earnings. Auciello, who recorded his first starts as a trainer in 2004, was the top trainer of the 2015 Mohawk Racetrack meet and overall on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit in 2014. This season, Auciello leads all conditioners on the WEG circuit with 10 victories. He will look to keep things rolling with eight starters entered to go this weekend at Woodbine. The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to extend its congratulations to Carmen on his milestone. Twin B Sweetheart Mark McKelvie
There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun
TORONTO, December 27 - The 2014 harness racing season concluded Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack and although there was little drama for the WEG driving title, the final card was needed to decide the season's top trainer. Chris Christoforou entered Saturday evening with a comfortable eight win lead over Jody Jamieson in the driver's standings, but Carmen Auciello came into the final card with only a two win lead over Richard Moreau for the training title. Both trainers sent out a plethora of horses Saturday evening, with Auciello's barn sending out eight starters and Moreau's sending out ten. The Moreau trained Ray Hall captured the first race of the evening to get his trainer to within a win of the top spot, but the Auciello trained Camaes Fellow would extend the lead back to two with a victory in the seventh race. Montreal Phil would come through in the tenth race with a victory to get Moreau back to within a win of Auciello with both trainers sending out their final starter in the next race. In the eleventh race, the Moreau trained Naked City left hard to grab the early lead, while the Auciello trained Glammit came first up down the backstretch to battle with the leader. In the stretch, Naked City would relinquish the lead late in the mile to finish third, but Glammit dug in to score the first over victory and secure the training title for Auciello. Auciello finished the 2014 WEG season with 95 victories, while Moreau's two victories Saturday night gave him a total of 93 wins. Auciello, 34, is wrapping up a career best season. The Stouffville resident's starters banked more than $2.6 million this year, with $1.6 million of those earnings coming on the WEG circuit. This is Auciello's first WEG training title. As for the driving title, Christoforou completed his 2014 resurgence with his first WEG driving title since 2003. Christoforou, 43, picked a single victory Saturday night to finish the 2014 season with 226 victories at Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks. Jamieson, who won two races Saturday evening, finished second with 219 wins and Sylvain Filion, the reigning driving title champion, finished third with 201 wins. Filion led all drivers in earnings for 2014 on the WEG circuit with over $5.3 million in earnings, while Christoforou drove winners of over $4.8 million. The 2014 WEG driving title is one of several accomplishments for Christoforou this season, including surpassing 6,000 wins and $100 million in earnings. Christoforou was also recently named a finalist for the O'Brien Award as Canada's Driver of the Year. Live racing resumes next Saturday, January 3rd at Woodbine Racetrack and continues on a four-nights-a-week schedule of Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in 2015. Post time each evening is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred
Camaes Fellow ($16.80) was a dominant wire-to-wire winner in Saturday night's $30,000 top conditioned pace at Woodbine Racetrack and was the first half of a double for driver Jonathan Drury and trainer Carmen Auciello. Camaes Fellow sprinted out the lead from post four in the eighth race, forcing eventual third-place finisher Calgary Seelster to take back into the two-hole through a hot :25.2 first quarter. He led by four lengths through middle splits of :54 and 1:21.4 and cruised home for the 1:50.1 triumph. Nickle Bag stormed home from last to place with :26.2 final quarter speed. The final margin was two and a half lengths. Auciello and Stephen Klunowski claimed the six-year-old Mach Three gelding for $50,000 in his first start this year on Oct. 11 at Mohawk and he has since won half of his six starts while earning $41,200 for his new connections. The win was Camaes Fellow's 25th lifetime and bumped his bankroll to $866,570. To view the rest of this story click here.
YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 28, 2014 - Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $21,000 harness racing featured fairer-sex pace was won by a cone-skimming Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald, $34). Sitting third along the pylons from post position No. 2, Palm Patrol saw Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance) seemingly in control through (:28, :58.1, 1:28.2). Getting no grief from a first-up Rock N Load (Jordan Stratton), "Jillian" owned a length-and-and-half lead into the lane, but was about to hit the wall. Cooking the Books (Eric Carlson) edged from the pocket, leaving the passing lane for Palm Patrol...and she did indeed pass. The latter whipped the former by a head in 1:54.3, with a closing Our Els Dream N (Jason Bartlett), Sir Jillian Z Tam and 3-2 favorite Road Bet (George Brennan) settling for the small change. For sixth choice Palm Patrol, a 5-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Robert Burgess and trained by Carmen Auciello, it was her sixth win (third consecutive) in 35 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $120, the triple returned $1,580 and the superfecta paid $10,524. Friday's Pick 5, which began with a carryover of $3,699.73, saw a new $10,781.52 invested. The winning combination of 4-4-7-5-2 returned $734.50 for every half-a-buck, not entirely bad for a sequence that included three winning favorites a one second choice. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule changes, with first post every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) this weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker
Scottish Cross trotted to a new track record for older trotting mares at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday, September 24 when Mike Merton guided the 9 year old daughter of Angus Hall to a 1:56.4 triumph. That clocking erased the former standard of 1:57 co-held by Aren't I Hanover and Mymomsablizzard, both set last year. It marked the second time in just a week that a track record was lowered. On September 17, Bruce Aldrich Jr. drove On The Podium to a 1:56.2 victory which was a new standard for older trotting geldings. In all, thus far during the 2014 season here nine new track marks were established. Scottish Cross came to the Mighty M three weeks ago from Canada with trainer Carmen Auciello where she had been racing splendidly in claiming races. Mike Merton picked up the catch-drive behind her and in her first start here on September 10 Scottish Cross was victorious in 1:58 while racing against $10, 000 claimers, she with a $12,000 claiming allowance tag. A move up to the $15,000 claiming ranks -she raced for $18,750 with her allowance-- the following week resulted in a third place finish behind On The Podium's 1:56.2 track record. But yesterday (Sept. 24), back down and with a $12,500 claiming tag, Merton let Scottish Cross air-out as they trotted to an oh-so-easy nine-length track record victory over Bertos Angel and Jimmy Taggart, Jr. "She was pretty handy," Merton said of Scottish Cross who raced on the front-end from the get-go. "I was just sitting on her as we passed the half (in :57.4) and we were just a length in front at that point but as we headed up the backside I asked her a bit and we began to open daylight and the farther we went the more of a lead we had." At the wire Scottish Cross was nine lengths in front of runner-up Bertos Angel. Third place in that six-horse field went to Sir Siro (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) However, as famous newscaster Paul Harvey often said, 'now for the rest of the story'. Trainer Bob Lounsbury's patron, Philip Schultz, plunked down the 12 large and they took her from her previous owners, Denarben Stables and Rocco Auciello. Sent off as the betting favorite in the race Scottish Cross won for the 12th time this year and returned a $3.20 win payoff. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway
Mohawk Racetrack had four $18,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series contests for rookie pacing fillies on their Thursday (September 11) harness racing program, and Sassafras Girl took the fastest time as she won the third flight in 1:53.3. With Phil Hudon handling the driving chores, Sassafras Girl shot to the lead from her post three starting position, and she would click off fractions of :27, :56, and 1:25. The fillies sprinted for home off that 59 second middle half, and Sassafras Girl kicked out a :28.3 final panel to seal the win by two and a quarter lengths over Twin B Honour (Trevor Henry). Little Miss Artist (Doug McNair) was third. Murray Brethour trains Sassafras Girl, a Badlands Hanover filly, for owner Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania. Sassafras Girl, who is now four-for-eight overall and has banked $31,280, was bred by Winbak Farm. She’s out of the Die Laughing mare Tug River Della ($219,395) and a half-sister to the likes of Rub N Tug ($433,999). This was Sassafras Girl’s third Grassroots success of the season, joining her wins on July 10 and August 11 at Mohawk. Back in the Grassroots opener public choice Southwind Luna (Billy Davis Jr.) carved out fractions of :27.2, :56.4, and 1:26.2, and at the eighth pole she was clear by over three lengths. However, she began to falter inside the final sixteenth, and pocket-sitter Marachere (Jonathan Drury) took advantage, getting up in the shadow of the wire to prevail by half a length in 1:54.4. Southwind Luna had to settle for second and OK Hallelujah (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Marachere, a filly by Lis Mara, broke her maiden in her third try and pushed her earnings to $15,660. Trainer Carmen Auciello of Stouffville, Ontario, also co-owns Marachere with partners Robert Watson of London, Armando Cappuccitti of Maple and Mike Bartram of Ingersoll, Ontario. Marachere, who was bred by Ervin Miller Stable Inc., is the second foal out of the Cole Muffler mare Cherry Tree Coco, a full sister to Home Bed Advantage ($574,535). Race favourite Ride Away Shark (Jody Jamieson) had her backers smiling after a 1:54.4 triumph in the second Grassroots flight. She was in the lead at the 27 second opening quarter, the :55.3 half, and the 1:24.4 three-quarters on her way to a three-quarter length decision over Dublin Rose (Paul MacDonell). Amazing Control (Mike Saftic) checked in third. Ride Away Shark, another Winbak Farm-bred filly, has a trio of victories from eight attempts and has put away $28,480 for trainer Scott McNiven and owners Kim McNiven of Putnam and Thomas Brodhurst of London, Ontario. Those connections took Ride Away Shark, a daughter of Classic Card Shark, out of last year’s Forest City Yearling Sale for $7,000. She’s the first foal out of the Dream Away mare Freedom Away. This was Ride Away Shark’s second Grassroots win of the year as she was also victorious on August 11 at Mohawk. The Grassroots nightcap was brought to you by the number three as Ms Mac N Cheese (Sylvain Filion) posted her third consecutive Grassroots win and breeder Winbak Farm won for the third time. Ms Mac N Cheese worked her way around Machin Marley (Billy Davis Jr.) for the lead at the :27.1 opening quarter, and she would go on to post a :56.2 half and a 1:25.4 three-quarters. Ms Mac N Cheese padded her advantage through the stretch and then coasted home late to win by two and a half lengths in 1:54 flat. She was followed across the finish line by Evas Girl (Peter Core) and OK Heavenly (Doug McNair). Richard Moreau trains the victorious Badlands Hanover filly for owner L. David Ratchford of North Sydney, Nova Scotia. She has five wins from seven attempts this season, and she has earned $33,467. The second foal out of the Artiscape mare Mr Delis Filly, Ms Mac N Cheese was sold for $10,000 at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale. Tonight’s races concluded the Grassroots regular season for two-year-old pacing fillies. They will return to Mohawk on September 19 for their Semifinal events. For full results and charts of Thursday night’s events at Mohawk from the Ontario Sire Stakes
Four $18,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots tests for three-year-old pacing fillies were held on Monday night (August 25) at Mohawk Racetrack, and Dana Dearest remained hot as she picked up her third consecutive Grassroots victory. Driven by Chris Christoforou, it looked like Dana Dearest was up against it inside the final sixteenth as Mea Lilley Mark (Mike Saftic) had cleared to the lead out of the pocket and opened up a clear advantage. However, Dana Dearest kicked it into another gear nearing the finish line, and she would get up to win by a head over Mea Lilley Mark in 1:52.1. Double Joy (Mario Baillargeon) finished third. Dana Dearest, a daughter of Jeremes Jet, is trained by Casie Coleman for owner/breeder Charalambos Christoforou of Campbellville, Ontario. Dana Dearest was winless in four starts last year, but she’s turned it around in her sophomore campaign, going seven-for-13. She has season’s earnings of $62,820 and a career bankroll of $67,048. Division points leader Her Own Land (James MacDonald) was also gunning for her third straight Grassroots triumph in the night’s third division, but she fell short. Her Own Land was in the lead through fractions of :27, :55, and 1:23.4, but in deep stretch Born To Dream (Doug McNair) forged her way by after a pocket trip, and it would be Born To Dream who won by a length a career-best 1:51.3. Her Own Land had to settle for second on this night and Shadows Wonder (Christoforou) bagged third. A winner in Grassroots competition on August 3 at Clinton Raceway, Born To Dream now has three total victories this season and four career triumphs. The daughter of Camluck, trained by Tony O’Sullivan for owner/breeder Lomangino Standardbreds of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, has banked $39,930 on the campaign and $49,726 lifetime. Monday night’s other two winners posted their first wins in Grassroots action this year. In the opener Artful Impulse (Randy Waples) took the lead past the :27.2 opening quarter and didn’t look back en route to a 1:52.3 score, and in the nightcap Regil Meg (Anthony MacDonald) worked out a three-hole trip and then paced by the leaders in the lane to prevail in 1:53. Artful Impulse is trained by Bob McIntosh, whose stable of Windsor, Ontario, bred and now co-owns the daughter of Artistic Fella with partners Dwight Stacey of Mitchell and James Walker of Port Perry, Ontario. This was win number three from 16 starts this year for Artful Impulse, and it was her fourth career victory. She has put away $73,480 in 2014 and $94,385 in her life. Carmen Auciello trains Regil Meg, another filly by Artistic Fella, for owners Denarben Stables of Thornhill and Rocco Auciello of Stouffville, Ontario. She now has a pair of triumphs from 15 attempts in 2014, and this was the third win of her career. She has pocketed $26,240 this season and $101,988 lifetime. From the Ontario Sire Stakes
Elora, ON --- A total of seven $16,740 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series divisions for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers were featured on Monday night (July 21) at Grand River Raceway and they saved the fastest split for last as Single White Sock toured the half-mile oval in 1:56. With Scott Coulter at the lines, Single White Sock was in front through fractions of :27.4, :58, and 1:27.3. Single White Sock turned away a big three-wide bid by Twin B Scandal (Joe Hudon) past three-quarters, and he then kicked clear in the lane to prevail by 2-1/4 lengths. Twin B Scandal wound up second with Pan Street USA (Bob McClure) back in third. It was the second win in three starts for Single White Sock, a Badlands Hanovercolt trained by Barry Treen for owner Len Gamble. Tanya Prescott bred Single White Sock, who was purchased for $24,000 at the 2013 Canadian Yearling Sale. Single White Sock, an earner of $17,281, is the fifth foal out of the Apaches Fame mare Love You Dear, making him a half-brother to millionaire and former Ontario Sires Stakes winner Ramegade Bruiser. Camluck, the long-time stalwart sire of the Ontario Sires Stakes program, had a pair of winners with Big Moment winning the second division in 1:56.1 with Alfie Carroll handling the driving assignment and Mike's Powerhouse picking up a 1:56.4 victory in the third section for driver Trevor Henry. Big Moment broke his maiden in his second attempt for trainer Bob McIntosh, who also bred the colt with CSX Stables. McIntosh and partner Max Newham own Big Moment, the fourth foal out of the No Pan Intended mare Breathtacular. Breathtacular is related to two six-figure earners in Breathdefying and Lucky Encounter. Mike's Powerhouse, who is out of the Artsplace mare Michelle's Jackpot, making him a full brother to the likes of 2012 Little Brown Jug champion and millionaire Michael's Power and millionaire Michelle's Power, is trained by Casie Coleman for owner-breeder Jeff Snyder. Mike's Powerhouse was victorious at first asking after finishing fourth and first in two qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack. Coleman was right back in the winner’s circle in the next race after Mike's Powerhouse’s victory as her Sportskeeper (Jody Jamieson) romped to a an 8-1/4 length decision in 1:56.3. Coleman also bred and co-owns Sportskeeper, a Sportswriter colt, with partner Merlin Howse. Sportskeeper, who was also making the initial start of his racing career, is the third foal out of the Nuclear Flash mare Keeper Flying, which means Sportskeeper is a half-brother to former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Keepers Destiny (Intrepid Seelster, $702,855). Sportswriter had another siring credit with Half A Billion, who was a 1:57.3 victor in the sixth Grassroots flight. Mike Saftic drove the colt for trainer Marcel Barrieau. Half A Billion is a homebred for the Hudson Standardbred Stable and he is a perfect two-for-two in his career and in Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series competition. Half A Billion, the fifth foal out of the Western Hanover mare Racey Miss, is a half-brother to multiple OSS winner Racey Miss ($214,571) and Petite Courageuse ($195,733). Also picking up victories were: Bridge Of Stone, a Stonebridge Regal-Dreamlands Sachi (Western Hanover) gelding, who halted the clock in 1:57.3 for driver Scott Coulter, trainer Carmen Auciello, and owners Denarben Stables and Rocco Auciello. He has won both of his Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series tries The Fire Within, a gelding by Whosurboy and out of the Big Towner mare Mollie Hanover. The half-brother to Illusionist ($893,246) picked up his second win from three attempts for driver Jody Jamieson and breeder/owner/trainer Fred Drouillard. The next time the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers of the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series will be in action is August 15 at Mohawk Racetrack. For full results of Monday’s night’s events, click here. From the Ontario Sire Stakes
After a stint in the breeding shed, 7-year-old trotter Wishing Stone is ready to make his 2014 harness racing debut in a conditioned handicap Friday at the Meadowlands. Wishing Stone received post 10 in the race and is 9-2 on the morning line. He enters the race off one qualifier, a 1:55.2 effort on June 20 with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke. Undercover Strike is the 3-1 favorite, followed by Mistery Woman at 7-2 and Spider Blue Chip at 4-1. Wishing Stone stood as a stallion at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. He fulfilled contracts for 331 doses of frozen semen overseas as well as being bred to some 30 mares in North America. Although it is common for trotters overseas to breed and race in the same season, that is not the case in North America. Some well-known successes abroad include Ready Cash, who is France's richest trotter in history in addition to being a popular sire, and Coktail Jet and Mack Lobell, who both won the prestigious Elitloppet after performing stud duties. "It's a fun experiment and I think it's going to work," said Mike Gulotta, the CEO of Deo Volente Farms and head of the Wishing Stone Syndicate ownership group. "Actually, the first part of it has worked. We're excited." Gulotta hopes to see Wishing Stone get a boost as a stallion thanks to a new bonus program at the Meadowlands for New Jersey-sired horses. "I think now that people see that things will be changing in New Jersey, there will be a lot more interest in him and other Jersey stallions next year," Gulotta said. "Sometimes people need to see that something is actually happening in order to commit." Wishing Stone is well known in Europe, having competed there at ages 4 and 5. In 2011, he won the French trotting race Grand Prix du Sud Ouest at 1-5/16 mile and also the King's Trophy in Sweden. He was second in the Gran Premio Continentale in Italy. A year later, he captured the Copenhagen Cup in Denmark at a distance of 1-1/4 mile. He finished his European campaign with a second-place finish in the Jubilee Trophy for 5-year-old trotters in Sweden. He returned to the U.S. in August 2012 to continue his career in North America. Lifetime, Wishing Stone has won 21 of 69 races and earned $2.23 million, making him the richest offspring of sire Conway Hall. He has won multiple stakes in the U.S., including the 2010 Kentucky Futurity in straight heats at Lexington's Red Mile. "We'll see now how he races," Gulotta said. "He looks good. I think he's gained weight and grown up a little, actually, which may be helpful to him. We're happy." To read a Hoof Beats magazine story about Wishing Stone's double duty, click here. * * * JK Endofanera, the No. 1-ranked horse on the Road to the Meadowlands Pace, is entered in Friday's qualifiers at the Meadowlands. The colt, which captured the North America Cup on June 21, has won eight of 12 career races and never finished worse than third. The Ron Burke-trainee has earned $913,517 for owner 3 Brothers Stable. He is not the only Meadowlands Pace eligible in the qualifier. He is joined by Jimmy Takter-trained Lyonssomewhere, who was fifth in the North America Cup, as well as Joe Holloway's Always B Miki, Tracy Brainard's Big Boy Dreams, and Ron Coyne Jr.'s National Debt. Lyonssomewhere is No. 4 and Always B Miki is No. 7 in the Meadowlands Pace rankings. Big Boy Dreams, who was second to He's Watching in last year's New York Sire Stakes championship, has not raced in 2014. Eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace will be held July 5 and the $650,000 final is July 12. Elsewhere, Boomboom Ballykeel, who won last year's Metro Pace, is in the first of three divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday. Boomboom Ballykeel has one win, which came in the sire stakes in May, in three starts this season. He is trained by Richard Moreau. The second division includes Meadowlands Pace eligibles Bugger Bruiser, trained by Carmen Auciello, and Erv Miller's Jet Airway while the third division has Ian Moore's Play It Again Sam. Three horses eligible to the Meadowlands Pace are competing in the same New York Sire Stakes division Friday at Buffalo Raceway - Patrick Lachance's Sir Sam's Z Tam, Mark Ford's Twin B Speedo, and P.J. Fraley's Ideal Cowboy. * * * In addition to the previously mentioned horses qualifying Friday at the Meadowlands, Bee A Magician, Royalty For Life, Shebestingin, and Cee Bee Yes will be among others in action. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is winless in three starts this season and coming off a ninth-place finish in the Armbro Flight Stakes on June 14 at Mohawk. Trainer Nifty Norman told Trot Insider the mare scoped sick following the Armbro Flight and would start next against her male counterparts in the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters on July 5 at the Meadowlands. Last year, Bee A Magician's wins included the Hambletonian Oaks. Also being pointed to the Hambletonian Maturity is 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life. * * Levy Memorial Series champion P H Supercam will look to snap a four-race losing streak in Saturday's open handicap at Yonkers Raceway. The race also includes Heston Blue Chip and last week's winner Digital Z Tam. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications U.S. Trotting Association
The 2013 season was a record-setting season for trainer Carmen Auciello on a personal level, and by the looks of it he’s well on his way to smashing his personal records again this season. The Stouffville, Ontario-based horseman has already racked up 97 wins this year, with three of those victories taken during Saturday’s 11-race card at Mohawk Racetrack. Mr Big Head, who is now 3-for-3 since being claimed, got the ball rolling for Auciello thanks to his 1:51.3 score in Race 3. Anthony MacDonald mapped out the winning trip for the suddenly-streaking son of Real Desire. That trainer/driver tandem then clicked with Hopiesdragninthedo in Race 10. The Dragon Again homebred was a front-stepping winner in 1:52. To read the rest of the story click here.