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As the countdown to racing continues, there are many questions that still exist for horsepeople in Ontario as the harness racing community will have to adjust to a new normal. On tonight's (May 24) episode of COSA TV host Greg Blanchard interviewed horseman and COSA Director Mark Horner, General Manager and Race Secretary Ian Fleming and Jamie Martin, Grand River Raceway’s Director of Operations. Together the trio discussed new racetrack protocols, the importance of increasing racetrack handle and how the industry will have to adapt to a new normal of racing. Questions from viewers were also answered as well as trivia questions for fans and viewers to win a prize courtesy of COSA. First to take the stand was Jamie Martin, who discussed recent expansions at the Elora oval. “Last fall we started a $6 million expansion project of our backstretch, it was supposed to be finished on the 1st of June but construction has been halted due to the shutdowns. Normally we have our facility ready and open for training a month out to our opening race night. We added a 7,000 sq. ft. building in between the paddock and the grandstand, this will hold our offices and our simulcast. We also added a 5,000 sq. ft. addition to the back of the paddock that will include a maintenance shop and an open space for additional ship-in stalls. Because of all this construction is why we are not open and ready for training yet. Our track is in good shape and ready for opening.” Horseman Mark Horner discussed how he has managed his stable throughout the pandemic -- a similar approach that most horsemen have taken. “We did back them off a bit, but schedules remained pretty on track. I didn’t train my three-year-olds as much, I backed them up to about one trip a week and when things looked like we were going to get back up and going around the first of May then we started to up the training. We trained a few in the race bike yesterday and everyone is going good -- next week when we are ready to qualify, we will be ready to go.” A representative for horsemen, Horner also discussed the atmosphere throughout the industry during this unprecedented time and how participants are preparing to handle the new protocols put in place. “I’ve talked to a variety of horsemen that race either on the WEG Circuit or the ‘B’ tracks, for the most part the horsemen understand what COSA has gone through and are appreciative of what Ontario Racing has been able to do to provide relief for the horsemen. It’s very important that horsemen follow social distancing, racing is now going to be an in and out process, there will be no hanging around the paddock area, there will be no Lasix except for at Woodbine Mohawk Park. This will be a work in progress but a major part of getting through this pandemic successfully lies in a collaborative effort of racetracks and horsepeople. We need to show that we can wear masks, those who refuse too, will be removed from the paddock.” Following the same suit of adjusting to a new normal, Ian Fleming touched base on adjusting to a new normal of racing without spectators -- an adjustment that Clinton Raceway, a track with a strong community connection, is prepared to face. “It’s not ideal, we have people here from the community every day watching horses jog and train and to tell them in two weeks that they cannot come here and watch these horses race is very hard. I’ve talked to all of them and they understand why they are not able to come and watch the races but it’s going to be very strange. It’s also tough for the local groups that come to the track to fundraise. No matter where you go, it’s going to be strange. For now, we will just have to see how things play out.” Fleming also discussed that although the race office will be taking entries, trainers are still advised to make use of Standardbred Canada’s self-serve online entries. Fleming also credited the system and noted he believes it will be quite helpful in the future. Jamie Martin informed viewers that Grand River Raceway fans will have access to HD streaming since fans will not be able to watch racing live. High-definition video will be available through Grand River Raceway’s website and HPI TV. Martin also noted that in-house handicapping contests will be moved online and that the racetrack still plans to engage fans with their product as much as possible. Switching roles from a director to an owner/trainer/breeder, Horner provided an update on a few sensational mares that have called his stable home. “Pinky Tuscadero is in foal to All Bets Off, she had a big heart and was a very nice mare to race around the small tracks.” From a similar perspective, Horner also touched on how yearling sales will be impacted by COVID-19 -- more specifically the London Selected Yearling Sale. “We have been working very hard exploring different options as to how to conduct the sale, we have put every possible option on the table from a virtual sale and how it would look and have also looked at what other sales are going to do. Ann Straatman is working very hard on how we can successfully have our sale, but no decisions have been made yet. “I don’t think that after spending $1 million on turning the [Western Fair] Agriplex where the sale is conducted into a hospital, that they will be wanting to take it down anytime soon so I think we will have to take a serious look at taking care of the breeders and consignors and consider a virtual sale.” The very informative episode was produced by CUJO Entertainment and featured a mass amount of valuable information for owners, trainers, drivers and all those involved in the industry. The episode is available for viewing below.  Central Ontario Standardbred Association

May 23, 2020 -- The return of live harness racing in Ontario will be the topic of discussion during this Sunday night's Facebook Live edition of COSA TV. Grand River Raceway's Director of Operations Jamie Martin will be part of the lineup as well as Clinton Raceway's GM Ian Fleming who also serves as race secretary for several provincial racetracks from Clinton's centralized race office. Rounding out the guests will be Mark Horner who operates one of the largest stables in Southwestern Ontario and is a past chair of Standardbred Canada. The trio will join host Greg Blanchard beginning at 7:30 p.m. As always, questions can be submitted ahead of time or during the show by visiting the COSA TV Facebook Page. The show will also be aired on the Standardbred Canada website. Greg Blanchard Central Ontario Standardbred Association

May 19, 2020 - A double Hall of Fame driver, a trainer of multiple world class pacers and one of the top female drivers in harness racing will be the special guests of COSA TV’s Facebook Live show this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Prince Edward Island native Wally Hennessey is one of the latest additions to harness racing’s 10,000-win club and has a spot in both the U.S. and Canadian Horse Racing Halls Of Fame. Wally Hennessey – courtesy Dave Landry Native Islander, Dr. Ian Moore, has conditioned some of the best pacers in the sport in recent years including Little Brown Jug champion Shadow Play and multiple stakes winners State Treasurer and Percy Blue Chip, just to name a few. Ian Moore – courtesy Mario Glynn Natasha Day is a native of Australia who now calls Ontario home. She has worked for Canada’s perennial leading trainer Richard Moreau for several seasons and has become a driving regular at many of Ontario’s Signature race tracks. The trio will join host Greg Blanchard on the broadcast. Viewers can submit questions ahead of time or during the show on the COSA Facebook Page and can also tune in via Standardbred Canada’s website. Greg Blanchard

As the harness racing world anticipates the return of racing, Sunday evening's episode of COSA TV honoured Flamboro Downs' signature event -- the Confederation Cup, which due to COVID-19 is postponed to a later date in the season. Host Greg Blanchard was joined by guests Ken Middleton and Ken Warkentin, and together the trio discussed the history behind the race created by the founder of Flamboro Downs, Charles Juravinski, who built the half-mile oval in Dundas, Ont. in the 1970’s. The episode also included a virtual Confederation Cup race which featured eight of the greatest past champions. The Farm Games team, headed by Ryan Clements, developed the simulated race. Track announcer Ken Middleton was first to offer up some insight behind the experience of the coveted event. “The paddock and grandstand were flooding with people. In the early days of this race, people would be lined up 20 deep. It will always be a race that holds a lot of stature. The afternoon cards to me, were the best because the undercard of the day featured many Ontario Sires Stakes events and then you had three straight races of the Confederation Cup -- two eliminations and a final. There was always an Invitation type of race and for any race fan it was just a very enjoyable experience.” Warkentin also shared similar feelings on the event. “We had a lot of coverage, back then the Confederation Cup was covered by TSN, they would bring in a live crew and the quality of the card was just incomparable. You had the best three-year-olds and the best drivers were always there to drive in the race as well. John Campbell, Bill O’Donnell, those are drivers that would show up at Flamboro Downs to drive in the Cup.” The duo of announcers answered questions from viewers while giving a special honour to the founding father of the Confederation Cup, and revisited some of their most favourite memories of the race. “Charles was always very supportive of me, he always was the first one to give you a pat on the back and rarely ever got mad about anything, he could always come up with great zingers,” noted Warkentin. “Aside from my father, one of my biggest supporters was Charlie. I think he took a great sense of pride in knowing that he helped us all become successful. He’s a role model and an inspiration to anyone. He came from such humble beginnings and worked hard for every nickel he made and then when he had all those nickels, he gave them all away to a great cause. The biggest thing about Charlie was that he gave everyone opportunity. He is someone who means a great deal to me,” Middleton said with a smile. Middleton and Warkentin also entertained viewers with an insightful outlook as to what it takes to prepare for a major race card such as the Confederation Cup. “You vacuum up all the articles that are written and you get all the background information on all the horses in the race, For a race like the Hambletonian, I have a separate binder where I keep all my notes and press kits. A lot of it is in your head but you have to have it in front of you because there are a lot of distractions and there is a lot going on. You can get easily distracted because in your heart you are a racing fan, but you still have to work, pay attention and do your job. So, that's why I find it very handy to have all that information in front of you. I do a lot of preparation prior to big events,” said Warkentin. “Everybody does things different, sometimes there is a lot of preparation work that goes into the big races. For me, it's the records -- speed records. I try to be cognizant of race records, track records, Canadian records. After that, I just watch the race, if there's a 1-9 shot, everyone is going to expect that horse to win, but there are times where there is an upset horse that you need to be watching for. There have been many horses who have upset race favourites. I think the best way to do it as an announcer is not worry about having scripted lines but just go with the flow, stay relative with what you are saying in front of you -- be spontaneous and just call the race," Middleton added. The virtual running of the Confederation Cup, which consisted of the greatest past champions, was won by none other than one of the greatest horses to ever step foot on a racetrack, Somebeachsomewhere -- who nosed out another of the greatest equine athletes to step foot on a racetrack, Cam Fella. The virtual race consisted of: ► Abercrombie – Glen Garnsey ► American Ideal – Mark MacDonald ► Art Major – John Campbell ► Cam Fella – Pat Crowe ► Jate Lobell – Mark O'Mara ► Matts Scooter – Mike Lachance ► On The Road Again – Buddy Gilmour ► Somebeachsomewhere – Paul MacDonell The interactive feature is produced by Curtis MacDonald’s CUJO Entertainment and is available for viewing below.  

May 15, 2020 -- This was to the be the weekend of the Confederation Cup final at Flamboro Downs but due to COVID-19 the race has been pushed back to later in the harness racing season. To mark the event, COSA TV will present a Confederation Cup edition of its Facebook Live show this Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. Ken Warkentin and Ken Middleton - two of the best announcers in the business, who started their careers at Flamboro Downs - will join Greg Blanchard for the broadcast. The Confederation Cup was the brainchild of the legendary Charles Juravinski who built the half-mile oval in the mid 1970's and many of harness racing's greatest pacers have competed in that time. Governor Skipper, driven by John Chapman, was the winner of the inaugural edition in 1977. Sunday's show will also feature a virtual Camluck Classic race featuring eight of the greatest past champions. The Farm Games team, headed by Ryan Clements, has developed the simulated race which will be aired live during the broadcast. The star studded field will include: Cam Fella - Pat Crowe Matts Scooter - Mike Lachance Somebeachsomewhere - Paul MacDonell Art Major - John Campbell American Ideal - Mark MacDonald Abercrombie - Glen Garnsey On The Road Again - Buddy Gilmour Jate Lobell - Mark Omara Viewers can submit questions ahead of time or during the show on the COSA TV Facebook page where they will also have the chance to play along with virtual trivia and take part in poll questions. In addition to the COSA TV Facebook page, the show can be seen by visiting the Standardbred Canada website. Greg Blanchard

A trio of prominent Standardbred owners were the harness racing stars in Wednesday night’s (May 13) edition of COSA TV, swapping stories from the past and — in one case, at least — sharing a window to the future. Adriano Sorella, Jeff Davis and Rob Giles joined moderator Greg Blanchard for the panel discussion, with the dialogue largely focusing on the gentlemen’s highlights as Standardbred owners. Sorella, who is heavily involved in the advertising and marketing industries, found his way into horse ownership — and partnership with trainer Casie Coleman — by way of a provincial association mentorship program, and he was hooked from day one. “After the mentorship program, I asked Casie (Coleman) if I could partner in on some babies,” Sorella explained. “She kind of pushed me toward Blake MacIntosh, and I started experimented with the claiming game. The following year, Casie and I bought a few horses. “She was at the Lexington Sale, and she told me she bought a horse called Vegas Vacation,” Sorella continued, noting his affinity for holidays in Las Vegas and indicating that Coleman invited him to buy into the horse. “I didn’t even ask how much he was; I said ‘Sure, I’ll take half.’ They thought he would probably sell for $80,000, and then just before the sale, Steve Calhoun backed out. He got out, I got in, and I was lucky to benefit from that.” Ultimately, Vegas Vacation sold for just $32,000, and Sorella hit the jackpot of his life as a partner in Vegas Vacation when he won the Little Brown Jug. “It was exciting for all of us,” said Sorella about Vegas Vacation’s Jug win just one year after Coleman sent Michaels Power to victory in the September classic. “To go back and win the Little Brown Jug with Vegas Vacation, it’s one of those moments that you think isn’t going to happen again. It’s a tough race to be in, let alone win it.” After Vegas Vacation, it didn’t take long for Sorella to find another diamond in the rough — or, more aptly, the corn fields of Iowa. “I got a call from an agent that I use — Mark Reynolds — and we had a deal set up for another horse,” he recounted. “It fell through in the last minute, and Mark knew I was kind of upset. He called me back a couple days later and told me, ‘I’ve got another horse for you,’ but he wouldn’t tell me the name.” That horse was Jimmy Freight. Sorella looked up the horse’s past performance lines, but was largely underwhelmed with his findings … until he dug a little deeper. “I had a horse called Ballerat Boomerang, who raced in Iowa too, and compared the two,” Sorella said. “I did a little bit of research, and something caught my eye,” he continued, noting he found video of Jimmy Freight racing at What Cheer, Iowa, as a two-year-old. “It looked like they were racing in a sand pit, and he went 1:58. “We got a deal done. I bought him for $115,000, and he was on a trailer. He missed the first OSS Gold, but he managed to make the second. It was three days after he shipped. He got the seven-hole, he was 10-1, and he ended up winning his first race here in 1:52 and a piece. At the time, I was like, ‘Wow, we might have something here.'” Jimmy Freight lived well beyond the billing, overcoming stretch trouble to win the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final in his three-year-old season. Despite many difficult trips in his career, Jimmy Freight won 21 of 52 races, hit the board in 22 others, and banked over $1.4 million in purses. Now, he stands in Ontario, and his offspring exclusively will be eligible to the innovative Jimmy Freight Stakes, a payment-free event to launch in 2023. Sorella is far from alone in blazing new trails in harness racing. Davis, an Illinois native who was bit by the racing bug at Quad City Downs in the 1970s and who stands stallions World Of Rocknrolll and Stevensville in the Prairie State, is looking to revitalize horse sales and auctions by embracing mobile technology. “We were talking about trying to create something easy to use that would have the new technology,” Davis said of Hoofbid, a new app for mobile phones dedicated to facilitating Standardbred sales between owners. “Most people have their phone within five feet of them, so we thought it was an important step forward to bring it to the new technology… It’s built on a powerful, scalable system, so it can handle lots of different situations.” Davis led COSA TV viewers on a virtual tour of the app, demonstrating the interface and its user-friendly features. Integration with TrackIT and Roberts Communication Network will enable sellers to easily list their horses and incorporate race replays in listings, while advanced mobile technology allows sellers to easily upload photos and other resources. Completing the panel was Giles of the ubiquitous RAW Equine, and to no surprise, he had many reflections to share — but with an unexpected common thread. “It was a long way to travel for an eight-hole,” Giles said about ultimately not making the trip to Hippodrome 3R to watch Sunfire Blue Chip the 2014 Prix d’Été, “but he raced like a bearcat that day.” Sunfire Blue Chip drilled a 1:50.3 win over off going in Québec’s top race, and ever since, Giles hasn’t balked at an outside draw when it has come to seeing his top horses in action on the big stage. Another standout for Giles, a produce distributor by trade, was The Joy Luck Club, and for good reason. “She was a homebred, so she has a special place in our heart,” he shared. “We bought her mother in Lexington. She wasn’t a success story, so we bred her to Camluck. We lost the first two foals, but the third time was a charm. Mark and Mike Horner did a great job raising her and getting her to the racetrack.” Like Sunfire Blue Chip, The Joy Luck Club made easy work from an outside post in one of her toughest assignments. She overcame post 7 en route to a dominant score in the 2017 Kin Pace at Clinton Raceway. On the trotting side, distaffer Evident Beauty stands out to Giles, in large part to his success with her dam, Struck By Lindy. “We raced her mother with Nifty Norman, and then we bought her first two fillies. We bought Evident Beauty in Kentucky, and the rest was history. She had a good two-year-old year and a fantastic three-year-old year. “There was some heartbreak, but I’m only crying out of one eye,” Giles said wryly, noting that Evident Beauty broke in the Hambletonian Oaks and her elimination of the Breeders Crown. Her biggest triumph of 2019 came at her home track, as she vaulted off cover to overcome post 10 at 9-1 in the Elegantimage at Woodbine Mohawk Park. “We were only five minutes away; we weren’t going to miss that one.” All three gentlemen offered advice to individuals who may be interested in testing the ownership waters, and their sentiments were largely congruent. “Get involved with some of the good people in the business, and maybe get a piece of a horse,” said Sorella. “Maybe wet your feet with a claimer or an older racehorse so you can see some of the excitement. You can experience the fun with other partners, trainers, grooms, caretakers — and it helps along the way.” Davis noted that diving into ownership may be daunting for the uninformed, but he concurred on the benefits of “easing in”: “For the person who doesn’t have any connection, you’ve got to ask a lot of questions. For the people who don’t know anyone to ask those questions, I think what Anthony MacDonald is doing with is fantastic. For those who do have a connection, just find someone you can trust and listen to the experts, and only invest in what you can afford.” Giles, who had the last word in the 90-minute roundtable, seconded Davis’ stress on trusting the experts: “You have to associate yourself with good people and let them do their job. I don’t want my trainer telling me how to sell tomatoes; I’m not going to tell my trainer how to train horses.” Central Ontario Standardbred Association The full broadcast, which aired on the COSA Facebook page, appears below.  

London, May 12, 2020 -- A pair of prominent Ontario harness racing owners will be the special guests of COSA TV’s Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Adriano Sorella, owner of top class pacers Jimmy Freight and Double A Mint in recent years, will join RAW Equine’s Rob Giles whose operation over the years has boasted standout performers such as Metro Pace winner Rover Hanover, Sunfire Blue Chip and The Joy Luck Club to name a few. The pair will be joined by Illinois owner Jeff Davis who has recently teamed up with Sorella to unveil a new online horse auction and sales platform called Hoofbid. They will discuss the new initiative along with other projects during the broadcast. As always, viewers will have a chance to ask questions, take part in the weekly poll question and play along with racing related trivia. The show will be aired on the COSA Facebook page as well as the Standardbred Canada website. Greg Blanchard

While they may be a degree removed from the limelight most days, harness racing drivers Aaron Merriman, Montrell Teague and Jonathan Drury had their share of stories to tell in Sunday night’s (May 10) edition of COSA TV. After being forced to settle for a runner-up finish with Wiggle It Jiggleit in his first Pepsi North America Cup appearance, the Delaware-based Teague relished the chance to come back to the Toronto suburbs in 2018 with Lather Up — and he made the most of the opportunity. “It was definitely redemption, because I was pretty sour about finishing second (with Wiggle It Jiggleit),” Teague related to COSA TV presenter Greg Blanchard. “Getting the opportunity to do it with Lather Up was definitely redemption.” The redemption was paired with vindication, as Teague silenced scores of doubters in his ability in the sulky. “It felt great,” Teague continued. “I literally went through it with Wiggles and Lather Up — it was always the talk that if Brian Sears, Yannick, Tim Tetrick, Aaron Merriman were driving the horse, he would do much better. I proved them all wrong; that was the best feeling.” The next year, Lather Up and Teague teamed up for a pair of world record efforts at The Meadowlands — a 1:46 mile in the Graduate and the first nine-furlong race faster than 2:00 in the Sam McKee Memorial. Like Teague, Merriman makes the most of his handful of Grand Circuit appearances, but finds the bulk of his perennial success close to home. “I’ve had the opportunity to drive Grand Circuit races, but never the best horse,” said Merriman. “Everybody’s got a niche in this business, and I’m very happy with where mine is. I had to think of my children first, and (Ohio) was the best place to raise them.” Merriman, a home-grown Ohioan who learned the ropes of harness racing from his father, Lanny, has blossomed from humble beginnings racing for $1,200 purses at Raceway Park in Toledo into one of the sport’s top drivers — and the only one to ever record three consecutive 1,000-win seasons. “It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of luck, to be able to get from track to track and have the opportunity to drive nice horses,” said Merriman, who shuttles back and forth on Interstate 76 between Northfield Park and The Meadows. “The second time I did it (reached 1,000 wins in a season) actually meant so much. Last year, I didn’t think I had a shot, and to get it on the last night of racing made it special.” That fateful thousandth win came in his last drive of the season — aboard The Spinster N in a late-closing series final at The Meadows on Dec. 30. While primarily a half-mile track driver, Merriman credits the addition of The Meadows to his schedule as having improved his depth as a driver. “I’m so absent-minded a lot of times when I drive,” Merriman admits of driving at Northfield, where he has been a mainstay for the past two decades. “You know the drivers’ tendencies; you know a lot of the horses. Northfield’s a fast track; it’s got a lot of speed and it does overcompensate my driving some. “Going to The Meadows has made me a better driver — definitely a lot more thinking and a lot more tripping horses out.” Drury may fly under the radar more so than Teague and Merriman, but his experience as one of Betting Line’s two regular drivers in 2016 served to put him on the map in Canada’s premier driving colony. “He was a lot of fun to drive,” Drury said of dual classic winner Betting Line, with whom he teamed up for a 1:50.1 win in the Somebeachsomewhere and a trio of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold divisions. “He had just an unbelievable turn of foot to him. He never felt like he was out of place when you were sitting behind him; he just picked off horses so easily. “Horses like that make your job really easy. They can take care of you when you make a little mistake.” Before gaining the trust of Casie Coleman to drive Betting Line, Drury worked his way to the Woodbine Entertainment circuit by way of a couple Signature tracks in Ontario — and a brief detour south of the 49th parallel, too. “I started out driving a lot at Kawartha and Georgian, and I got hooked up driving for Carmen Auciello quite a bit,” Drury recounted. “He actually gave me a chance to go down and drive a little bit in the States when he had some horses first go there. Once I came back home, I drove a vast majority of his stable, and it took off from there.” Central Ontario Standardbred Association The entire broadcast, which aired on the Central Ontario Standardbred Association’s Facebook page, appears below.

May 5, 2020 - As optimism begins to grow for the return of live harness racing in the province of Ontario, the Woodbine Entertainment Group's CEO Jim Lawson along with COSA President Bill O'Donnell will discuss the situation on COSA TV's Facebook Live show Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. The pair will join host Greg Blanchard on the broadcast which will be aired on the COSA Facebook channel along with the Standardbred Canada website. In a recent article Lawson has stated that he is cautiously optimistic that racing could return as soon as early June. Of course that will be dependant on the direction of the Ontario government and local health authorities. Viewers will have a chance to submit questions prior to and during the broadcast and can do so through the COSA Facebook page. For more information, visit Greg Blanchard  

May 2, 2020 -- The harness racing legendary Roger Huston, the long time voice of the Little Brown Jug, will join the Meadowlands' Jason Settlemoir and Raceway at Western Fair District's Greg Gangle on COSA TV's Facebook Live show Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Huston, who retired from his full-time announcing duties at The Meadows in Pittsburgh this past October, has enjoyed many memorable moments from calling harness racing's premier pacing event over the past 52 years. He will talk Little Brown Jug memories and much more on the show. Settlemoir and Gangle are anxiously awaiting the return of racing to their respective venues and will join Huston along with host Greg Blanchard to discuss that and much more. Viewers will once again have the chance to ask questions and can do so ahead of time by submitting them through COSA's Facebook Page. They can also take part in the night's poll question and trivia where one winner will be drawn for a $25 COSA gift card. The Facebook Live show will be aired on both the COSA Facebook page and on the Standardbred Canada website. Cosa TV

April 25, 2020 - COSA TV will host another Facebook Live broadcast on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET) (11.30 am Monday NZ time) featuring three harness racing fixtures of the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown series of races. Gary Seibel and Dave Brower have teamed up for CBS's network coverage of The Hambletonian for the past number of years while Moira Fanning, long time Director of Publicity, has been getting settled into her new role as the C.O.O. of the Hambletonian Society which administers the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown and many other high profile stakes races. The trio will join Greg Blanchard to discuss the history of both races while also looking back at some of the most memorable moments over the years. Viewers will be able to comment and ask questions of the guests during the show and take part in a new poll question along with trivia. The show will be available on the COSA Facebook page as well as Standardbred Canada's website. Central Ontario Standardbred Association GREG BLANCHARD

April 21, 2020 -- Three of the most successful female trainers in harness racing will join Greg Blanchard this Wednesday night for another COSA TV Facebook Live broadcast beginning at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Linda Toscano, Casie Coleman and Nancy Takter have all enjoyed remarkable careers to this point and had high hopes entering the 2020 season. Their collective accomplishments are staggering including multiple Breeders Crown, Little Brown Jug and Pepsi North America Cup titles. In fact, Toscano was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2018 - a path that Coleman and Takter are likely to follow based on their achievements. The group will discuss past champions, keys to success and horses they're looking forward to seeing back in action this season. Viewers can take part in racing trivia during the show and will have a chance to win a COSA gift card by answering in the comments section where they can also ask questions. The show will be aired live on the COSA Facebook page as well as the Standardbred Canada website. From COSA  

A different trio of faces were featured on the Sunday evening (April 19) episode of COSA TV. Rather than a trio of horseman, the familiar faces of WEG’s broadcast team — Mark McKelvie, Jason Portuondo and Chad Rozema — joined host Greg Blanchard to entertain the harness racing community while live racing across North America remains dark due to COVID-19. The seasoned group of broadcasters discussed their introductions to the sport of harness racing, played some trivia and enjoyed some of their favorite races throughout history. Mark McKelvie, youngest of the foursome, started the conversation with his introduction to the harness racing industry. “I grew up around the racetrack, I took a liking to it right away and it just stuck with me. My dad [Scott McKelvie] is the race secretary at Mohawk and has been for many years, my mom works for Standardbred Canada so I come by being involved in the industry honestly. I started to do some broadcast work when I was almost finished college and moved full-time to the media department in 2014. A lot of my first jobs were around the track, timing races, charting races, working with the maintenance crew cutting grass, cleaning stalls…a big portion of my life has been spent working at the track.” Chad Rozema, another lifelong harness racing fanatic, is another who was fortunate enough to be introduced to the game at an early age. “I think I was around 10 years old when I started working at Elmira Raceway, I would just pick up garbage and do little things around the grounds and to this day I still live in Elmira. My first boss was Ken Middleton’s father and that’s how I got to know Kenny and he was a really big part in getting me my first interview with WEG in February of 2007. We loved to bet the races, even when we weren’t legal we still found a way,” laughs Rozema. Contrary to belief, Jason Portuondo — most known for his Thoroughbred expertise — got his start into the racing world with Standardbreds. “A lot of people think of me as a Thoroughbred guy but my introduction to racing really was through Standardbreds, working for Harold Stead. When I started in this business, guys like Mike Saftic were grooming for Garth Gordon. I went way back with Ken Hornick, when I first got started into broadcasting at CKWS, a news station in Kingston, Ken called me and told me to give the TV department a call and see if I could get in. Thanks to my uncle and my father who owned horses, I got to grow up around the backstretch at Greenwood. To this day, people will ask me which I prefer and I have to say neither because I just love horses and I’m lucky I get to experience the best of both worlds working with WEG.” The trio of on-air sensations revisited some of their favourite races throughout time in between answering questions from fans and trivia. Portuondo truly admires the great trotting mare Peaceful Way. “In both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds it rarely happens when a female takes on all the males, but when it does she always has a huge following. Peaceful Way was a horse that when you’re a good horse, you’re a really great one. In the 2006 Maple Leaf Trot everyone had their eyes on Sand Vic at 1-5 and I think one of the best things about Peaceful Way is that she was a $30,000 purchase at the Forest City Sale in London, Ont. which just goes to show you that you don’t have to go outside your own backyard to get a good one. When they turned for home I remember watching this race and saying to myself it’s over now for the rest of them. Anytime you can see a local horse get it done in the big show it’s a beauty of a thing. Peaceful Way was a small horse too and that just goes to show you that it’s not always about the size of the cat in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the cat.” McKelvie also revisited a fond memory in harness racing from the year 2008 — a year that is most commonly remembered for Somebeachsomewhere. However, McKelvie stayed on the trotting gait with a trotter that remained undefeated for the majority of his career similarly to the great ‘Beach’ – Deweycheatumnhowe. “A couple things really captivated me about this horse. I think it really fascinated me that we had horses on both gaits that were just totally cleaning house. 2008 was the first time I got to go to the Hambletonian and that was the year Deweycheatumnhowe was victorious, so I think because of that I’ll always feel a special connection to the horse. Anyone that knows me knows I love The Red Mile and knows I go to Lexington every fall, and when Dewey was going for the Futurity against Celebrity Secret it was one of the greatest race-offs I’ve ever witnessed. I remember hopping up and down cheering as they were coming down the lane. It was a fantastic finish.” Rozema switched gaits to a memorable moment in harness racing, the 2018 North America Cup where Lather Up was victorious. “I think Lather Up is such a standout to me because of everything that surrounded him in his career, he was just a sire stakes type of horse as a rookie and then all of a sudden the legend of Lather Up started growing as he became a three-year-old. Lather Up’s dam was accidentally bred to Im Gorgeous and he suffered foaling issues as well and I think that makes his story even more fascinating. The Teague family and Clyde Francis are just amazing people to deal with in every way also. His owners are two of the nicest people you will ever meet and it was just amazing to see all the joy that this horse brought to everyone around him. When this horse was sound and was on his game, he was just unbelievable…he was such a powerhouse.” The wildly entertaining segment was produced by Curtis MacDonald’s CUJO Entertainment and is available for viewing below. Central Ontario Standardbred Association

April 17, 2020 -- Three of the most recognized faces in Canadian harness racing will join Greg Blanchard this Sunday night for another COSA TV Facebook Live broadcast beginning at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Chad Rozema, Jason Portuondo and Mark McKelvie are all seasoned broadcasters with the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and are lifelong fans of the sport. They will recount some of their most memorable races and moments in the business. RocknRoll Hanover's Metro Pace win, McWicked's victory in the Canadian Pacing Derby and Wiggle It Jiggle It's memorable Little Brown Jug score are just some of the races that the group will revisit. An added component to this week's show will be harness racing trivia. Viewers will have a chance to win a COSA gift card by answering in the comments section where they can also ask questions. The show will be aired live on the COSA Facebook page as well as the Standardbred Canada website. GREG BLANCHARD

Three of North America’s best harness racing catch drivers — Dexter Dunn, Andrew McCarthy and Doug McNair — were featured on Wednesday evening’s (April 15) episode of COSA TV. The trio of drivers, who have taken the driving scene by storm in recent years, revisited how they got their starts in the business, family ties, answered questions from fans and relived some memorable moments of their careers while racing continues to take a hiatus due to COVID-19. Early on in the conversation, Australian native Andrew McCarthy discussed how he mapped out his rise to the top and did so in quick fashion. “The last two or three years I have hit more of the Grand Circut scene, it’s always been my plan and I finally made the decision about four or five years ago to make the move over to the Meadowlands and that was the key,” McCarthy told Greg Blanchard. “I’ve had a lot of support along the way…Noel Daley really helped me get going and in the last two or three years things have just snowballed for me. I’ve gotten to do a lot of travelling and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.” Dexter Dunn made the decision to move from New Zealand to North America on a whim, but also discussed his rise to the top while fulfilling his childhood dreams. “I grew up in horse racing and it was always a dream of mine to come here and race so I finally made the decision to come over here. The year I had last year was a huge surprise, I’ve been very lucky to have had the support that I’ve had and I’ve been lucky to drive some great horses. I really enjoyed last year and got to experience a lot of big thrills. Moving to the USA was something that was always in the back of my head, when I was here in 2011 for the World Driving Championship and I really liked the racing here. I actually just woke up one day on my way to qualifiers and decided it was now or never. I knew that if I didn’t do it while I was still young enough to do it then I would grow old someday and wish I did it. So I did it and here we are.” For Doug McNair, his rise to the top included a more local move from Ontario’s ‘B’ tracks to the WEG Circut. The big break for McNair, who has been heavily involved in the harness racing industry for as long as he can remember, came very close to home in the 2008 Battle Of Waterloo with his father’s trainee, Trail Boss. “My dad trained the horse and it was quite the thrill to win the race that day. At the time, I really didn’t even know how big of a deal it was until it really sunk in for me a couple years later. It’s a race that most people never get to win in their career and I won it in my first year of driving. My Grandmother and Father bred the horse, my dad doesn’t usually say much but I remember him telling me when he was training him down that he really liked him so I figured he would turn out to be a nice horse. I didn’t get the best trip that day but I had the best horse in the race. My dad’s farm is less than 15 kilometres from Grand River and I went to school just down the road and spent a lot of years there as a kid. We had a big party at the farm that night, it was a really big night for my family and it just really doesn’t get much better than that.” While McCarthy is coming off an astonishing 2019 season, one horse he holds close to him would be Tony Alagna trainee, Tall Drink Hanover, winner of the 2018 She’s A Great Lady. “She is such a terrific mare. As a two-year-old she would do anything you asked her to do. You can put her on the front, race her from behind. Tony did a great job prepping her for that race, she had been over the surface four or five times before this race and I think that really helped her a lot. For me and the horse it’s nice to know that the horse has been over the track before a big race. I am a big believer in trying not to use a horse very much in the first eighth of the mile, especially if you think you have the best horse in the race. I’m also a big believer that using a horse too much in that first eighth will catch up to you in the end. Obviously you have to leave a little bit to figure out where everyone is going to land but I try to manage them and then figure it out from there.” McNair holds fond memories of another recent Alagna trainee, pacing colt Stay Hungry. “He’s a horse that’s right up there as the best I’ve ever driven for sure. I won my first and only Breeders Crown with him and I got to race in races and win some that I have ever been in before. It makes your job a lot easier having a nice horse like that to drive in big races.” For Dexter Dunn, the list of great horses he had the pleasure of driving in his career year of 2019 would be long and plentiful. However, one that sticks the most would be Chris Ryder-trained Bettors Wish. “Coming into 2019 I thought to myself that if I just had one stakes horse to follow around all year, it would be pretty cool. I started driving Bettors Wish late in his two-year-old season and had some luck with him. I knew he was good enough to chase around and drive in big races. He didn’t disappoint me last year at all and was very special to drive. I’m really looking forward to driving him again this year. His races last year speak for themselves, he didn’t have a lot of easy races but you can drive him however you want and know he is going to give you 100 percent. He’s not a big horse at all but he’s muscular and takes a big stride, he gave me a very special year and I had a lot of fun with him. I’ve trained him a couple times and he feels bigger, better and stronger.” The elite group of drivers entertained fans with answers to lots of questions while providing a different perspective on harness racing with backgrounds coming from different hemispheres. While the trio reminisced on memorable moments throughout their career, all are ambitious and eager for their 2020 stakes seasons. The feature can be viewed below. Central Ontario Standardbred Association

Three of the most respected horsemen in Canadian harness racing — Jack Darling, Paul MacDonell and Ben Wallace — took part in an interview to discuss their careers on Wednesday (April 8). The interview with the three Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame nominees and pair of inductees was streamed on COSA TV’s Facebook Page and conducted by Greg Blacnhard. The trio of horsemen, who have known each other for decades, revisited memorable moments throughout their spectacular careers, answered questions from fans and filled the audience in on how they are keeping busy while harness racing across North America continues to take a hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Both MacDonell and Wallace were ecstatic about their inductions into the Hall Of Fame. “I was overwhelmed by the news. It was hard to believe and it still is now,” MacDonell said of the news. “You work all your life and you don’t even think about Hall Of Fame status as you’re going but here we are all these years later.” The induction for Wallace posed as a time to reflect on the years composing his career. “The horses you always remember, the races you won and the horses that you dealt with are etched in your mind. I was just awash with memories of 50 years of racing horses for a living. The people that you conjure up in your mind that you remember from years ago that either worked for you or worked alongside you and stories of the fun times and tough times…it was all that type of stuff that really took over me. I had a tough time sleeping because I kept revisiting various evenings and situations that popped up. “We always remember the good times of our horses and we struggle through some of the bad ones, the memories of the horses are prevalent whether I am a Hall Of Famer or not,” noted Wallace. “But, the Hall Of Fame brings out this other memory void for everybody.” Although Darling’s name was not on the winning ballot, the lifelong horseman was still very grateful for the honour. “It’s funny when something like this happens, you really go into the memory banks. It really is an honour to be considered for something like that. I’m really happy for both of these guys, they’re both good friends and both very well deserving of their inductions.” Between the trio of horsemen is a list of great racehorses they have all been associated with over the years. While that list is near endless, there are always a few that standout the most. For MacDonell, a memorable horse and perhaps one of the greatest horses he has driven in his career — arguably one of the greatest racehorses in history — would be none other than Somebeachsomewhere. Blanchard revisited Somebeachsomewhere’s first Ontario start at Grand River Raceway. “I was probably expecting more from him than most would have because I had the opportunity to train him at Mohawk in between his qualifier and his race at Grand River,” recalled MacDonell. “The first time I sat on him, you could tell there was something very special about him. He was just a powerful horse and it was hard to believe that he was just a two-year-old. I did have a little bit of insight on him and I remember driving to the track this night feeling some excitement to see what he was going to be all about. He still went way above my expectations. “[In his first career start] I felt so much power in him, I was just making sure that he was going to be okay on a half-mile track. I had a ton of horse and I was just waiting on him to do his thing. He did that :54 mile with so much ease it was scary.” A memorable performer for now Hall Of Famer Ben Wallace would be a Hall Of Famer he conditioned, Blissfull Hall. “He was a ridgling which was concerning to some, but I’ve had ridglings before and it didn’t bother me. He was such a powerfully-built colt, he looked like early speed would be in his repertoire but what happened was the testicle was bothering him. He made well over a hundred thousand as a two-year-old and was locked on a line the entire time. I remember saying to Daniel [Plouffe] who owned him that if he doesn’t come off the line, we’re going to have to go in and remove it. We opted not to take it out and I took him and Armbro Rosebud, who was an O’Brien Award winner, to The Meadowlands coming into their three-year-old seasons — I figured that surface would be perfect to bring them up on. I remember jogging Blissfull in the middle of February or so and as I was jogging him it appeared to be that the other testicle had come down and sure enough it did. “From that day on he was just an exceptionally fast horse and a gentleman horse at that. His speed got him out of any trouble that he may or may not have gotten himself into. He opened many doors all over for me again.” Darling, who is prominently known for developing young horses into champions, has a near infinite list of memorable horses who have walked through his stable including 1997 North America Cup winner Gothic Dream. Perhaps one who is more memorable would be Northern Luck — a horse who certainly overcame tough ‘luck’ throughout his career. “In his three-year-old year, I had two horses in the North America Cup. Gothic Dream won his elimination and Northern Luck won his elimination as well. Gothic Dream was a big name at the time and Northern Luck was just starting to come up. Trevor Ritchie drove Northern Luck and said to me ‘I hope you’re not going to be disappointed if Northern Luck beats Gothic Dream next week.’ On the way home from the races that night he [Northern Luck] took some kind of a claustrophobic fit in the trailer and he almost took his entire hind foot off. You would have never dreamed he would have ever been able to walk again let alone race. So he missed the final of the North America Cup and he was off for about three months, but he came back strong after that. He was a very aggressive horse that always wanted to go forward.” Northern Luck passed on his desire to go forward to many of his offspring, some of which were conditioned in their early years by Darling such as Silent Swing and Jr Mint. Great memories were shared among the horsemen who have become lifelong friends over the years and insightful information on developing younger horses and choosing future champions was shared with the audience. The feature can be viewed below. Central Ontario Standardbred Association  

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