Friday's Watch and Wager LLC card at Cal Expo features some great opportunities for the players, including an $8,275 carryover with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool in the 10-cent Hi Five. There is a reduced 16 percent takeout rate on that wager, the 50-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Hi-Five is conducted on the 14th race finale with that guaranteed pool; the Pick 5 starts with the third race and the Pick 4 is made up of the last four races on the evening. First post for the 14-race card is 5:45 p.m. Last Saturday's Hi-Five saw Only In Lodi going coast-to-coast at 39-1 with Chip Lackey in the sulky and that trotter was followed home closely by the 27-1 Winsome Kelly with Pierre Girard, who also trained the winner. Rounding out the pentefecta were the 3-5 Cherry Tree Nicole, Hi Tech Tony and Hillcrest Romeo, with that combination resulting in no winning tickets and the $8,275 carryover. To get a better idea just how much that reduced 16 percent takeout rate means in terms of dollars, the three payoffs on last Friday night's program provide an excellent illustration. The Pick 5 paid a whopping $5,973; the Pick 4 clocked in at $1,954 and the Hi-Five returned $1,422. Using normal takeout rates, the Pick 5 would have dropped to $5,332 for a difference of $641 to each winner; the Pick 4 would have paid $1,744, meaning each ticket would have been worth $210 less; and the Hi-Five last Friday would have come in at $1,269, a difference of $153 for each winning combination. Racing lost a great racemare and producer with the passing of Ms Avondale this week. A hard knocking invitational mare by Beach Towel out of the New Zealand mare Kiwi River N, Ms. Avondale took a mark of 1:52 1/5 at this track, shattering the course record for sophomore pacing fillies with a standard that still stands today. Retired to the breeding shed, Ms Avondale proved her value as a broodmare, producing such top performers as California Dream (1.51 4/5, $160,108); Jersey Dream (1:52, $110,427) and Dream of New York (1:52.2/5, $61,199). California Dream also broke the track record over this layout at 3, and he and Ms Avondale are the only mother-son combination to currently hold track records at Cal Expo. Joe Lighthill finale, Sire Stakes on tap The $10,800 finale of the Joe Lighthill Trotting series finds likely favorite Silverlode squaring off against last week's upset winner Hooray Katie and the solid Tim Maier-trained pair of High Dollar and Portfolio; while Show Runner and Strings head the cast for the $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies Friday night at Cal Expo. The 14-race program also features a $4,500 Open Distaff Pace and Haggin Oaks will be looking to get back on the winning track in that affair after having her winning streak snapped last week while doing her work from the demanding No. 10 post position. Looking at the Lighthill final, Silverlode is a 4-year-old homebred daughter of British Sterling and the Website mare Charlotte's Web who carries the banner of Desomer Stables Inc with Vickie Desomer the conditioner and Steve Desomer at the controls. She comes into this assignment having posed following three of her 10 appearances on the year with another three runner-up finishes. The bay miss was a romping seven-length winner of her division of the opening leg, with the 1:58 final clocking establishing a new mark. Silverlode had to work quite a bit harder to get the job done in last week's penultimate Lighthill leg, making every pole a winning one while holding safe by a half-length over High Dollar. The latter trotter will give the Tim Maier barn two big looks at the outcome. High Dollar has narrowly missed in the first two legs and will have the services of her trainer, while Portfolio was just nailed on the money last week by Hooray Katie in his division and Daniel Maier will be in the sulky. Hooray Katie is 4-year-old daughter of Chip Chip Hooray who races for William Neumeister, takes her lessons from Bob Johnson and will once again be guided by Mooney Svendsen. She came rolling late to be up time over Portfolio last week at 13-1 while earning her first victory of the year. Show Runner is looking to add another trophy to her mantle in the Sire Stakes. The daughter of Little Steven races for Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar with Tim Maier reining and training and she is fresh from a powerful victory in last week's Distaff Open. She has $80,000 in the bank and a 1:52 3/5 mark that was set at Running Aces in August. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness
The last yearling sale of the season drew a record crowd for the first day of the 66th Annual Fall Blooded Horse Sale. Monday featured 346 yearlings including nearly 25% of the Ohio crop and 120 Indiana breds. There were also large numbers of Ontario, Pennsylvania, and New York breds along with a handful of very scarce Kentucky breds. The strong catalogue of slots enhanced sires stakes eligibles drove prices to a record high. An Always A Virgin filly, Brown Color, topped the day at $43,000. Consigned by Emerald Highlands Farm the full sister to 2013 Indiana Champion Color’s A Virgin was purchased by Dan Shetler. Midland Acres brought a large consignment of Ohio breds by the leading sires Feelin Friskie and Chip Chip Hooray. Among those, Over Friskie, was purchased by Burke Racing Stable LLC for $42,000, Ed Telle signed the ticket on Feelin Shady for 34,000, and Lantern’s Chip went to Rich Lombardo for $32,000. The Spring Haven Farm consignment was led by a Total Truth brother to the top Indiana colt Totally Kissed at $37,000 and the Feelin Friskie filly Friskie Buckeye at $36,000, purchased by Kirk Nichols and Bruce Soulsby, respectively. Charisma Hall, a gorgeous Deweycheatumnhowe filly, was purchased by Michael Andrew of Maine from the Walnut Hall Ltd consignment for $32,000. The Walnut Hall Ltd reduction also features a large, attractive group of weanlings and in foal mares on Wednesday. The Blooded Horse Sale continues Tuesday through Thursday with over 1100 horses, including 198 two year olds, 297 three year olds, 87 weanlings and hundreds of raceway horses and broodmares. The catalogue and sale results are available online at www.bloodedhorse.com. by Jerry Haws for Blooded Horse Sale
Balmoral Park will not only play host to some of the best horses in North America on Saturday Nov. 9th for the American National Stakes , but some of the sport’s leading reinsman will also be in Crete to steer the cream of the crop over the one-mile oval. A pair of $200 million men—Hall of Famers John Campbell and Ron Pierce are slated to drive. This pair will reach half a billion combined in purse earnings—that’s right—HALF A BILLION DOLLARS, in 2014. While many of Campbell’s accomplishments in the sport came when he was in his 30s and 40s, every single one of Pierce’s Triple Crown or Breeders Crown triumphs—41 total—have all come after his 35th birthday! Pierce, who trailed Campbell for many years, surpassed $200 million in career earnings while competing at Lexington’s famed Red Mile this September. Pierce is also the oldest driver to record a driving triple in Breeders Crown Finals, when he did so a few weeks ago at Pocono Downs, at age 57. He was the first driver to win with a 2-year-old in 1:50, when he steered Badlands Hanover to a 1:50 clocking in the 1998 Breeders Crown at Colonial Downs. He was also the only driver to defeat world champ Somebeachsomewhere, when he piloted Art Official to victory in the 2008 Meadowlands Pace. Pierce is also the only driver to go five straight seasons winning either the Meadowlands Pace (2008, 2009, 2001) or the Hambletonian (2007, 2010)—two of the sport’s greatest events, and just missed becoming the only driver in history to win the Hambletonian from post ten in 2002 with Like A Prayer, who finished a neck back of the winning Chip Chip Hooray. Pierce also was the driver behind the sport’s last female Horse of the Year, Rainbow Blue (2004). Campbell, 58, was the youngest person ever inducted into harness racing’ s Hall of Fame in 1990, and his dominance and presence in racing in untouchable, as he at the top of nearly every statistical list kept by the USTA. He’s driven the winners of more than $3 million annually every year since 1982, except for 2011, when he drove the winners of $2.5 million. He currently has $284 million in career purse earnings and 10,613 lifetime wins to his credit. Campbell is the leading driver of Breeders Crown winners with 43 to his credit and has won six Hambletonians , three Hambletonian Oaks, six Kentucky Futurities, three Little Brown Jugs, and Sweden’s famed Elitloppe, among his endless list of accomplishments. Campbell and Pierce are also the two winningest drivers in Breeders Crown history with 29 victories each, while Mike Lachance (also here tonight) is in third with 27 Breeders Crown titles to his credit. Speaking of Breeders Crown triumphs, for the first time in history, the top five ranking North American drivers won every Breeders Crown Final contested this year, on Oct. 19 at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. Pierce, Tim Tetrick, and Yannick Gingras each won three Crowns, while David Miller notched two Crowns and Brian Sears a single Crown. With his lone 2013 Breeders Crown victory, Sears (also here tonight!) extended his streak of winning at least one Breeders Crown race now for 11 straight years. John Campbell, no surprise, holds the record at 15 years (1984-1988). Sears has nearly $150 million in purse earnings and was the first driver in history to earn more than $15 million in a single season (in 2005), the same year he drove Rocknroll Hanover and Muscle Hill to Horse of the Year titles, and the same year he set a world record for female pacers with My Little Dragon of 1:48.1. Ten of Sears’ 24 Breeders Crown wins (all since 2003) have come with 3-year-old trotters (5 fillies & 5 colts each). He has driven all of trainer Trond Smedshammer’s eight Breeders Crown winners, and is the only driver in history to have won the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks in the same year, twice—in 2009 and 2013. Yannick Gingras (he’s here too!) had just one Breeders Crown victory prior to his start in the classic events in 2012. That lone win, however, came with Southwind Serena in 2008 in the 3-year-old Filly Trot—when he steered her to win and return $102.80 on a two dollar ticket. Gingras, 34, is nearly $7 million ahead of Campbell in career earnings at the same age. Gingras also steered the 2012 American National 3-year-old Filly Trot winner Maven, to a 1:54.3 clocking here last year, and had multiple Am-Nat victories in 2011 when he piloted Princess Cruiser to win the 2-year-old Filly Pace in 1:56.1; Looking Hanover to win the Aged Trot in 1:56; and Foiled Again to win the Aged Pace in 1:51.4. Mike Lachance, 62, who’ll be piloting Creatine tonight in the American National for 3-year-old colt trotters, just finished second with the colt at the Breeders Crown, and won the Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile with the Bob Stewart-trained sophomore in September. Lachance was the first driver to win six races on a day card and six races that same night, when he did so at Yonkers on June 23, 1987. One year later, in 1988, he scored his 5,000th career victory at The Meadowlands, with Instrument Landing. Lachance also became the first driver in history to win a Breeders Crown race at age 55 or older when he won three in 2006 at Woodbine Raceway in Toronto. He won one Hambletonian (with Dream Victory in 1994) before going into the Hall of Fame in 1995, and three after going in (with Continentalvictory in 1996; Self Possessed in 1999 and Amigo Hall in 2003) and is the last driver to win the Hambletonian with a female, the aforementioned Continentalvictory. Lachance has won eight American Nationals: first in 1988 with Matt’s Scooter in 1:55.2 in the 3-year-old Colt Pace; then in 1992 with Baltic Striker in 1:57.3 in the 3-year-old Colt Trot & with Imperfection in 1:59.3 in the 3-year-old Filly Trot & with Crouch in 1:54.4 in the 3-year-old Colt Pace; in 1995 with Divine Victory in 1:57.2 in the 3-year-old Filly Trot; in 1999 with Self Possessed in 1:53 in the 3-year-old Colt Trot; in 2004 with Cantab Hall in 1:55 in the 3-year-old Colt Trot; and in 2009 with Lanson in 1:53.4 in the Aged Trot. Ohio native David Miller, 48, is the fourth leading money winning driver in the sport’s history and has nearly 11,000 career victories. He is the only driver in history with eleven, $10 million seasons and is the only driver to ever have a Triple Crown and Breeders Crown winner in the same season, in 2003 with No Pan Intended. He won the first ever Breeders Crown million dollar event, with the mighty trotter Magician in 2000. This year he’s steered his two fastest career drives: with Pet Rock and Shebestingin, who both paced in 1:47, and was elected into harness racing’s national Hall of Fame this year as well. He was named Driver of the Year in 2003 and is a three-time winner of the Little Brown Jug. He is also one of only two drivers to have won the Jug and its sister event, the Jugette, the same year. His ranks among the top five Breeders Crown winning reinsmen, with $8.5 million in Crown earnings. Tim Tetrick needs no introduction to Illinois racing fans. This Prairie State native has 13 Breeders Crown wins under his belt with only a few weeks away from his 32nd birthday (Nov. 22). This is the seventh straight year he’ll sit atop the national standings in earnings (only Billy Haughton has ever gone longer; eight years—from 1952 to 1959). Tetrick has the distinction of being the youngest member of harness racing’s $100 million-earning club, and is the only driver to win a million dollar race on a half-mile track—when he steered Southwind Lynx to win the 2007 Rooney at Yonkers. He’s the only driver in history to win the Meadowlands Pace twice in his first four attempts and if Captaintreacherous is named Horse of the Year, it will be the first time in 28 years that a driver has won that award back to back with a trotter and then with a pacer (last year he was the driver on the Linda Toscano-trained Chapter Seven). Hall of Famer Bill O’Donnell accomplished that feat in 1984 and 1985 with Fancy Crown and the great Nihilator. by Kimberly Rinker for Balmoral Park
Soul Train Cruises In $56,576 Ohio Breeders Championship for 2 Year-Old Colt Trotters With a patient drive from Chris Page, Soul Train cruised to a 7 1/2 length victory in the opening division of the 2 year-old colt trot during Tuesday action at the Delaware County Fair. As the Greg Coon starting gate released the field of six, Mark Headworth sent Happy Go Jamie out of post 2 and went after the early lead. The eventual winner was content to sit fourth through the opening half in 1:01 3/5. When Soul Train was given his orders he quickly took command down the backstretch and never looked back, stopping the timer in 2:00 3/5. Star Chip (Don McKirgan) was second and Fiftyshades Of Nay (David Miller) was third. Soul Train is owned by Parent Racing Stable, R. S. Crynick and J. E. Novak and trained by Scott Cox. In the second division Hooray For Willie went gate to wire to score in 1:58 3/5, a new lifetime mark. The freshman son of Master Lavec is owned by Winchester Baye Acres, Inc. of Ocala, FL and trained by the winning driver Kurt Sugg. Can'tcutthatchip (Dan Noble) and Mainstreet Willy (Chip Noble) rounded out the top three finishers. Millers Team Up To Win OBC 2FT Hall of Fame driver David Miller teamed up with his daughter trainer Devan Miller to score a victory with Rose Run Princess in the second division of Ohio Breeders Championship for 2 year-old filly trotters. The daughter of Trainforthefuture was sent after the early lead set the fractions of :29 4/5, 1:01 2/5 and 1:31 3/5 and cruised home to score a five length victory over Emilene's Future (Ray Paver) in 2:00 3/5. The winner is owned by James E. Keller of New Carlisle, OH and Jerry Allen Bell of Tipp City, OH. The heavily favored In The Grippers (Chris Page) broke at the start and was never a factor. In the first $25,388 division Hush Hush Chip (Chris Page) defeated Emery Jean (Chip Noble) in 2:02 4/5. The freshman daughter of Chip Chip Hooray won for the first time this season for trainer Danny Collins and the ownership team of Lewis, Taylor, Gold and Lombardo. Jay Wolf
Hard-luck Carol’s Comet won the last $20,000 Open Pace at Scioto Downs Racino in 2013 by a nose, in 1:50.2. The hard luck gelding finished second the last three starts at the track but this week driver Aaron Merriman had a different strategy to make the outcome different, and make his way to the winner’s circle. “I thought I was in the position last week to get the trip and they told me he really didn’t like the passing lane,” said Merriman. “I opted to go to the outside so I think I cost myself the race with the drive. Today, up in the passing lane the horse really appreciated it, the shorter trip around the track.” Sitting the pocket Merriman waited patiently during the first three quarters that went in 26.3, 55.2 and 1:22. “He’s very nice, a Cadillac to race,” Merriman continued. “He really wants to go so that really makes it nice. He’s very good gated and good behind the gate.” Audrey’s Dream (Tony Hall) got up for second while Special Forces (Chris Page) held on for third after cutting the mile. Previous to the evening’s races, Carol’s Comet had made 16 starts and had three wins with eight seconds and one third making $77,275 just this year racing exclusively at Scioto for Delaware, Ohio based trainer Ron Potter. The striking 4-year-old gelding son of Yankee Cruiser out of the Jenna’s Beach Boy mare Modern Medicine is owned by Martin Presser, Bill Moore, Matthew Moore and Whiskey Tango Stable (Dawn Hornsby, Dawn Potter and Kimberly Rowe). The evening’s race card also held two divisions of the “Best of the Rest” which was open to horses paid into the Sire Stakes but were not eligible for the $150,000 last week. Majesty Dream (Chip Chip Hooray-Donna L’s Hope) and Kayne Kauffman took the 2-year-old trotting filly division in 2:00.4. Trained by Jim Arledge, Jr. for owners Up Front Racing LLC (Ed Mullinax) and Thomas York Jr. She is now set to race in the Ohio Breeders Championship at Delaware on Sept. 17. The 3-year-old colt pace was the only other division to fill and was won by Dusto and Kauffman in 1:55.1. The time was a new lifetime mark for the Stand Forever-Doctor Cindy colt who now has $82,540 in career earnings for owner/trainer William Hartman and co-owner Saundra Andre’. Even though the live racing season is over at Scioto, the racetrack will still be open for simulcasting from noon-midnight. Racing will resume in May 2014, dependent on approval from the Ohio State Racing Commission. Scioto Downs Racino
Chuck Sylvester says it takes some luck to win the Hambletonian. It also takes a well-prepared horse. The 73-year-old trainer thinks Spider Blue Chip is ready. The remainder will be determined Saturday. Sylvester will try to join Bill Haughton, Stanley Dancer and Ben White as the only trainers to win the Hambletonian five times when he sends Spider Blue Chip into the $1.2 million event Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Spider Blue Chip competes in the third of three elimination races and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line behind 2-1 favorite Corky. The top three finishers from each elim plus the fourth-place finisher with the highest lifetime earnings will advance to the Hambletonian final, which will be contested later in the day. The third elim is scheduled for 3:18 p.m. Eastern and the final is slated for 4:41. CBS Sports Network will air live coverage of the Hambletonian from 3:30-5. Sylvester won his most recent Hambletonian in 2002 with Chip Chip Hooray. He finished second in 2010 with Lucky Chucky. "We've been saying for 10 years now that we'd like to win five," Sylvester said. "We have a chance. A lot of people have never won, so I've been lucky; I've been blessed. I've had a few seconds that I could have won, and I've won a couple that maybe I shouldn't have. It works both ways. "You have to have luck that day. But we're competitive and (Spider Blue Chip) will be ready." Spider Blue Chip has won four of seven races this year and earned $182,113. He has finished worse than third only once, in his second start of the season when he made an interference break in a conditioned race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Spider Blue Chip also suffered a bruised foot as a result of the incident, but has improved through a workout schedule that includes swimming on a regular basis. "Right now he's happy and sounder and in pretty good shape," Sylvester said. "He's been racing good out of the pool. He trained (Tuesday), swam (Wednesday) and he'll swim Thursday and Friday. Then we'll go race." Spider Blue Chip is owned by David McDuffee and Melvin Hartman, who also are among the owners of Hambletonian Oaks favorite Bee A Magician. Spider Blue Chip was bred by Olympic champion show jumper McLain Ward. Last year, Spider Blue Chip won two of eight starts, including a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, and earned $89,181. He ended the campaign, though, by going off stride in his final four races. Sylvester thought the horse's woes had to do with attitude and Spider Blue Chip was gelded. Soon thereafter, Sylvester discovered the trouble was caused by a foot abscess. "He was out a month and he popped a gravel in his left hind," Sylvester said. "If we had known that, we wouldn't have cut him. But it's too late now." Spider Blue Chip (Andover Hall-Southwind Catlin) has won three of his last four starts, with his setback being a second-place finish by a head to Royalty For Life in the $294,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at the Meadowlands. Five days later, Spider Blue Chip won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Possessed Fashion in 1:53. "He trained down well all winter, so this doesn't surprise me," Sylvester said. "Every week he seems to be getting better and his last three starts have been really good." Sylvester is in favor of racing the Hambletonian eliminations and final on the same day. Prior to 1991, the Hambletonian was contested in heats, which required a horse to win twice to be declared the champion. It then moved to a format from 1991-1996 in which a horse only had to win the final heat to be Hambletonian champ. Then, from 1997-2012, the eliminations were contested a week prior to the final. The current conditions represent a return to the format used from 1991-96. "It wouldn't surprise me if a different horse wins the final than the three eliminations," Sylvester said. "I'm sure in between heats there are going to be a lot of changes made with the horses, including mine probably. You're going to see shoes mainly, maybe a few bits. You're going to see some guys pull shoes all together and take a shot in the final with no shoes. "I think Royalty For Life will be the favorite. But it's going to be interesting. Anybody that has a good day can win." by Ken Weingartner
Trotters took center stage on the July 3rd harness racing program at Running Aces.
On Wednesday, July 3 Northfield Park offers guests the opportunity to start their holiday off right with stakes harness racing action.
Rompaway Beau stepped back into the top harness racing class and took home top honors in the featured event, a $24,000 conditioned trotting event, at Hoosier Park Racing and Casino on Saturday, June 15. With Tyler Smith at the lines, Rompaway Beau notched his first win of the season in record setting fashion with a lifetime best effort of 1:53.4.
The young ladies looking to score in Wednesday's $108,000 Filly Division of the Currier & Ives at The Meadows may find that the road to the winners' circle goes through the Beinhauer stable.
Rebounding from an uncharacteristic break last week, Promisemethis sailed to a front-end victory in Wednesday's Trotslikethewind Trot at The Meadows. Gliding To Glory took the other $12,500 third-leg split in the series for 3-year-old fillies.
Undeterred by post 9, Chiptomylou vaulted to the front, shrugged off her only serious harness racing challenge and scored easily in Wednesday's (April 17) Trotslikethewind Trot at The Meadows.
Kandian Klub shrugged off a serious backside challenge Wednesday at The Meadows and drew away to a comfortable victory - her second in the series - in the Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot.
Slowed by momentary but troubling breaks in recent starts, Mistress Valentine put it back together Wednesday (March 13) at The Meadows as she cruised to a comfortable harness racing victory in the Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot.
Posey Patch has done some solid work here at Cal Expo for harness racing owner Gregory Gardner and trainer Gretchen Smith since shipping in from Michigan, recording a pair of runner-up efforts before getting her picture taken last week with Luke Plano in a conditioned event.
Mike Jarvis is enjoying his first venture to California, having already made quite a few winner's circle appearances at Cal Expo in partnership with harness racing trainer George Anthrop.