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Champion harness driver Dexter Dunn is set to try to establish himself in North America again. And he hasn't ruled out a permanent move there should his winter campaign prove an enormous success. Dunn has won the last 10 national drivers' premierships but will relinquish his title to good friend Blair Orange this season, with the latter 28 clear on the standings after bringing up win 200 for the season at Manawatu on Tuesday. Orange's numbers this season have been so staggering he now has Dunn's national record 229 wins for a season in his sights and barring injury or suspension should probably set a new mark. But Dunn says the end of his premiership domination isn't why he is heading to New York in a few weeks. "I spent a few months up there driving a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience and always wanted to come back," says Dunn. "But the right opportunity never really presented itself until now." That finally did come when Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder, who is now based in North America, approached Dunn about driving in the US with his support. "Chris has been a long-time family friend and suggested the time was right and he would support me and try and help me get outside drives. "There has been a bit of visa paperwork to get through and I still have to go for a final interview at the US consulate in Auckland in a few weeks. But if and when the paperwork is finalised, hopefully I can get up there sooner rather than later. "Their [US] really good horses, the ones that will be racing in the better races later in the summer, are all starting to come out in the qualifiers at the moment so I'd love to be able to get some serious drives and the sooner I am there the more likely that is to happen." Dunn expects to be away from New Zealand from around mid-June until maybe just before the New Zealand Cup carnival in November, which would mean could drive at the rich Breeders Crown on October 27. But if the trip turned out to be an enormous success he could be tempted to stay. "I intend being back for the Cup carnival and driving like normal here over the summer. "But you never know what can happen. Anything is possible, including basing myself up there fulltime. "But I don't expect that to happen on this trip." After 10 remarkable years during which Dunn has emerged from obscurity to win 10 premierships and win 2180 races in New Zealand alone, the superstar of the sulky admits the time for a new challenge has come. "I still love the big carnivals, our summer racing and some of the special days we have, like Kaikoura for example. "But you do have the odd time when driving so much gets stale, especially when you have been travelling as much as I have for the last five years. "It usually only lasts a weekend and you are back fine the next week, but it does happen. "So this will be a good freshen up for me, a new challenge and a chance to learn some new things." Although Dunn has already seen his premiership run ended by Orange this season, any longer-term North American ambitions from him would put Orange in the perfect position to start his own premiership domination. The pair are so far in front of their rivals in numbers of drives and races won in the last couple of years it would be hard to envisage a new serious premiership contender emerging. So if Dunn tastes success during his upcoming US trip and decides to spend more winters there in the years to come, the national premiership would appear to be Orange's to own. Michael Guerin

Brilliant Australian three-year-old pacing filly Shez All Rock and Chariots Of Fire winner Jilliby Kung Fu have been announced as the latest recipients of an invitation to the 2018 Harness Jewels. Shez All Rock In winning the Victoria Oaks last Friday night for trainer-driver Mark Pitt Shez All Rock became the first filly since 1989 to collect the rare Victoria Oaks/New South Wales Oaks double. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has now been defeated just once in eight career starts, with her only other race resulting in a second place at Cobram in February. Trained by Mark Pitt in those eight starts, Shez All Rock was purchased by expat Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder in late February. She will now transfer to the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to tackle the New Zealand Oaks on Friday 18 May and now for certain target the Harness Jewels on Saturday 2 June. The intention for Ryder is to return the filly to Australia after the Jewels to head to the Vicbred Series and the Breeders Crown but was unsure as to when she will head to the Northern Hemisphere. “It’s still to be determined. I had a little bit of an idea to leave her down there as a four-year-old but I haven’t looked into it much. Either way I’ll give her a good break and just decide at the time,” said Ryder. Originally from Greymouth, Ryder is based in Allentown, New Jersey and has been living in the States for 29 years. He made the move after his wife Nichola received a transfer with her job to work in New York city as an accountant, and after a two years he decided to start a training career there. Ryder been associated with some exceptional pacers during his training career there, including Put On A Show ($2.4 million and former 3YO US Filly of the Year), I Luv The Nitelife ($1.94 million and former 3YO Filly of the Year in the US and Canada), Art Major for the early part of his career, and he also trained McArdle who earned $2.6 million before heading to stud. Ryder had previously been very keen to purchase a filly down under. “I’d been trying to buy a couple of horses around New Zealand without much luck and Mark Purdon had been at the Miracle Mile and saw Shez All Rock win the New South Wales Oaks. He thought she might be available to buy,” explained Ryder. “After looking at her replays there was everything to like about her. So Mark (Purdon) called them up and we got her bought.  It was quite a simple deal and I was very happy to be able to buy her at the time.” “So far it’s working out very well.” Ryder was keen to make the trip down to New Zealand to witness his filly race, but due to it being spring currently at home his training schedule didn’t allow for him to be here. However Ryder will be keenly waiting for news from his family down under admitting he has a sister ‘who is pretty handy on the telephone.’ Despite being half a world away Ryder was grateful for the opportunity to start a horse in a feature race in his home land. “We are very pleased to be invited. We appreciate it.”   Jilliby Kung Fu Australia’s next emerging star, Jilliby Kung Fu, has been announced the recipient of an invitation into the Four-Year-Old Emerald at this year’s Harness Jewels. The 2018 Chariots Of Fire winner will represent Australia in the Four-Year-Old Emerald on Saturday 2 June at Cambridge Raceway. In his Chariots win he recorded a sizzling 1.48.8 over a mile, and followed that win with a brave second placing to My Field Marshall in the Miracle Mile. On that occasion he was beaten by a mere head when just caught on the line, with the winner recording a new Australasian record of 1.46.9. Since then the horse has had a month spelling and all things going to plan will start in a fresh state on Harness Jewels day. A son of Four Starzzz Shark, Jilliby Kung Fu is trained by Marg Lee of Terang, Victoria and is driven regularly by her son Jason Lee. At just 22-years-old Jason has focused on his harness racing career diligently and this year it has really paid off. Being associated with a horse like Jilliby Kung Fu has presented Lee with some remarkable opportunities to compete at the highest level. The horse has continued to go from strength to strength. “To do what he did in the Miracle Mile was really quite special when you go back and think about it. At the time you were probably disappointed just to get beat but it was quite an extraordinary effort from a four-year-old,” said Lee. Jilliby Kung Fu has raced 29 times for 14 wins and 10 placings, and has earned just over $492,000 in stakes. His impressive resume already includes the Group One Chariots Of Fire, Group One 4YO Bonanza, Group One Vicbred 3YO Final and a Group Two  APG 2YO Consolation Final. And whilst the horse faces a big ask coming into the Jewels potentially in a fresh state, Lee was positive about the trip. “It’s one of those things if you don’t go and try you may never get a horse or the opportunity to go and try and do it again.”   To listen to the full interviews with Chris Ryder and Jason Lee click here   Jess Smith

Freehold, NJ --- With a horse named This Is The Plan, it stands to reason that harness racing trainer/co-owner Chris Ryder would have a plan for the 2-year-old male pacer. He does. Stay healthy, race well, and head to the Breeders Crown. Of course, the plan is the same for Ryder’s 2-year-old male pacer I’m A Big Deal. “That’s what we’re hoping as we speak,” Ryder said. “We’ll see what transpires. They’re in a good spot, they’re doing well.” Both horses won Bluegrass Stakes divisions last week and return Saturday to Lexington’s Red Mile for divisions of the International Stallion Stakes. There are four International Stallion divisions for colts and geldings and three for fillies. Saturday’s Red Mile card also includes the $136,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot and $119,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace. Maple Leaf Trot winner Hannelore Hanover, who is making her Lexington debut, leads a group of nine in the trot. The 5-year-old mare is one of three former Dan Patch Award honorees in the race, with JL Cruze and Pinkman. Rounding out the field are Crazy Wow, Mambo Lindy, Centurion ATM, Crescent Fashion, Homicide Hunter, and I Know My Chip. All Bets Off, coming off his win in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, is among the 10 horses in the pace. He drew post No. 10 in a field that includes former Dan Patch Award winners McWicked and Boston Red Rocks. Completing the field are Manhattan Beach, Split The House, Easy Lover Hanover, Dealt A Winner, Mel Mara, Check Six, and Wakizashi Hanover. This Is The Plan is in the first International Stallion division. The gelding has won two of nine races and earned $149,149 for Ryder and co-owner Robert Mondillo. He has hit the board a total of seven times, including four second-place finishes. Purchased for $90,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, This Is The Plan is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare That’s The Plan. His dam is a half-sister to stakes-winner Loving Caroline, who is the mother of Dan Patch Award winner Divine Caroline, and his family also includes Hall of Famer Western Hanover. “We didn’t really want to geld him, but we had to,” Ryder said. “He was jumping all over the place.” I’m A Big Deal has won three of eight races and earned $55,010 for Ryder, Mondillo and Craig Henderson. The colt’s three wins have come in his most recent five starts. “He just took a while to come around, even though he’s doing fine now,” Ryder said. “He just took a while to become a racehorse. He just needed a little time. I believe he will keep improving. He’s still getting a few things together. He’s a bigger, heavier horse. It just took him a while to get his ducks in a row.” I’m A Big Deal is a son of Somebeachsomewhere and the first foal out of the stakes-winning mare Big McDeal. He was purchased for $300,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. “He was a lot of money, but that’s OK,” Ryder said. “Those were good races last week. We drew well again (for Saturday) and they’re staying healthy here. We’ll see how it goes.” In addition to the Breeders Crown later this month at Hoosier Park, both horses are eligible to November’s Matron Stakes and Governor’s Cup. Click here for Saturday’s complete Red Mile card. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Agent Q moved alongside leader Brazuca on the final turn and pulled away from the field to win Saturday's $165,700 Mistletoe Shalee for harness racing 3-year-old filly pacers by two lengths in a stakes- and track-record equaling 1:48.4 at the Meadowlands. Idyllic Beach finished second and Awash was third. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, Agent Q and driver David Miller were fourth in the race's early stages as Brazuca led the fillies to the opening quarter in :26.4 and half in :54.3. By that time, Agent Q was on the move first over and was a quarter-length from the lead when the field reached three-quarters in 1:21.4. Agent Q's time equaled the track and stakes record set by Dancinwiththestarz in 2010. "She's just been unbelievable the last few weeks," co-owner Bill Rochetti Jr. said. "It's so fun to watch." Agent Q has won five of eight races this year and earned $379,124 and her victories this season also include the Lynch Memorial. For her career, she has won eight of 18 races and finished worse than third only once on her way to banking $817,828. The daughter of Western Terror-Teenage Paige, trained by Chris Ryder, is owned by Martin Scharf, Rochetti Cassar Racing and Robert Muscara. Agent Q paid $2.60 to win. Agent Q By Ken Weingartner  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 15, 2017) - Since adding Lasix on April 1, Rodeo Romeo has taken his already considerable talent to a harness racing career-best level. The 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover stallion won for the second time in three starts since adding Lasix, this time holding off the late charge of Special T Rocks to win the $18,000 pacing feature in a career-best 1:50. Andrew McCarthy moved Rodeo Romeo to the front past an opening quarter in :27. From there, the Chris Ryder-trainee controlled the action and had just enough late to hold off Special T Rocks, who got clear too late and missed by a head. Rodeo Romeo won for the ninth time in 29 career starts and has career earnings of $169,999. He is shared in ownership by Oompa's Farm and Robert Mondillo. In Round 2 action in the Dash For The G-Notes series, Iwillmakeyousaynow won the fastest split in a lifetime-best 1:50.3 over fellow Round 1 winners Downthehighwy and So Take That. Iwillmakeyousaywow is trained by Todd Buter and driven by Tyler Buter. Alex Bullville and P L Idaho won the other divisions. The top point earners are scheduled to return next Saturday in the $17,500 final. Corey Callahan was the driving star of the night with five wins, including a natural hat trick in Races 7-9. Dave Miller won a pair of races while Chris Ryder and Mike Russo each had two training wins. Total handle was $2,040,489 for the 11-race card. Racing resumes next Friday. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit Justin Horowitz

DOVER, Del.-- Bushwacker rolled out of post 7 to take the lead and fought off a slew of harness racing challengers nearing the finish line to score a 1:51.2 victory , the third in his last four starts to win the $30,000 Preferred pace while Art Stafford Jr. notched his third win of the day in the $27,500 Delaware Special highlighting a big Thursday, Feb. 2 Dover Downs program. Defending driver champion Corey Callahan, who scored his second of a three win night, driving Henderson Farms' Bushwacker for trainer Chris Ryder, Cajon Lightning (Art Stafford Jr.), who finished second for the third straight time, with Dancin Yankee (Ross Wolfenden), a winner of $1.5-million, third. In the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap, Art Stafford Jr., who drove the winners of both halves of the daily double, completed a three-win night coming from off-the-pace with Blazing Bobby Sox to catch front-pacing Remember VK (Yannick Gingrass) in deep stretch with Captive Audience (Callahan) second and Mustang Art (Vic Kirby), the third-place horse. Engel and JL Benson stables' Toatsmygoats was at his best in a $15,500 Male pace turning back eight rivals with Golden Gun being scratched with a 1:51.3 triumph equaling his lifetime best clocking. Pat Berry was in the bike for trainer Nick Surick for Relentless Yankee-This Much Is True gelding's 17th career win. Don't Ya Know (Callahan) was runner-up in front of Ballinrobe (Allan Davis). Tony Morgan steered Niss Allen's Ima Rebel to his first win of the new year scoring a lifetime record 1:52.1 victory in a $15,000 4&5-Year-Old pace. Willard Reynolds conditions the Skydancer Hanover-Ali Cat gelding. Suchasenseofhumor (Jim Morand) was the second-place finisher. Sonny At The Beach (Kirby) an early leader, held on for third. The husband and wife team of driver Sean and Crissy Bier combined for back-to-back wins. Sean Bier's Brody won a 1:51.2 decision racing in a $20,000 Male pace. R.J.Thomas' Jet Blue Miracle came right back, also from post 1, to win a $15,000 Male Claimer. After a long climb from far back, Corey Callahan, the defending champion, jumped into first place in the meet's dash win column with three wins to now lead second-place Vic Kirby by three victories. Art Stafford Jr. and Corey Callahan had three winners. Sean Bier and Yannick Gingras had two winners each. Trainers Crissy Bier and Dylan Davis, who also had two owner wins, had doubles. The biggest win-payoff on the card was $98.80 when Arty Foster's 48-1 shot Rock Me Henry with Russell Foster driving, closed along the passing lane to beat Officer Blue Chip (Jason Lynch) ending that horses five-race win streak. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are dark days. Parking and admission at Dover Downs is free. Reservations are suggested for the popular Winner's Circle Restaurant and its acclaimed Buffet. . For reservation ns, call 302-674-4600. Simulcasting of top harness and thoroughbred racing is available in the Dover Downs Racing and Sports Book, from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight daily. Marv Bachrad

TORONTO, November 19 - Thats The Ticket charged home to win the $427,000 Three Diamonds for harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies at odds of 5-1 Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Chris Ryder trained pacing filly was able to convert off a perfect third-over trip from driver David Miller for her second win in 14 starts. Idyllic Beach, the 6-5 favourite, left out hard to grab command ahead of a pesky Someomensomewhere. The public's choice posted an opening-quarter of :27.2 and was unchallenged in the second-quarter to lead the field by the half in :56.4. Caviart Ally came first up just after the half and supplied cover to Candlelight Dinner from fifth and Thats The Ticket in sixth. The first-over challenger pulled up along side Idyllic Beach at three-quarters in 1:25.2. In the stretch, Thats The Ticket shot off cover and delivered a stunning stretch rally to fly by her rivals with powerful strides. The Ryder trainee crossed the wire first in 1:53.4, 3¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Idyllic Beach. Candlelight Dinner edged out Caviart Ally for third. Known as a front-end favouring racetrack, Thats The Ticket completely ignored the Woodbine track bias to win the Three Diamonds. "We had planned on just racing her off the end of it there and hopefully get some cover that takes us where we needed to go," said Miller post-race. "Passed the half when they all started moving I was hoping they would get up with the leader, which they did and everything worked out good, but I moved her over at the head of the stretch and she really dug." Thats The Ticket, a daughter of Roll With Joe from the Artsplace mare Art Account, has shown big closing speed throughout her rookie season, including last week's :26.4 kicker to finish second in her elimination. Miller was confident victory was within reach with an eighth of a mile to go. "About half way through (the stretch) she was almost up to the leader and starting to get wound up," noted Miller, who did not drive the Ryder trained filly in the elimination. "I was feeling pretty comfortable and she won pretty handy." Owned by Craig Henderson, Robert Mondillo and Lawrence Minowitz, Thats The Ticket now has two wins in 14 starts and earnings of $331,824 this season. She paid $13.70 to win. by Mark McKelvie    

WILKES-BARRE PA - Kiss Me Onthebeach, who had never been better than third in a harness racing stakes race during her first 17 career starts, changed her luck in a huge way Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, coming home strongly after wild front-end numbers to win her division of the fourth and final preliminary of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in 1:48.3, a world record for three-year-old pacing fillies on a 5/8-mile track. Another daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Darlinonthebeach, took her second Sires prelim win with a 1:48.4 victory.   The new world champion Kiss Me Onthebeach, to be fair, had been "there or thereabouts" against top fillies throughout her career before Saturday at Pocono, getting checks in 12 of 14 starts in stakes competition and winning her only three starts in overnights for trainer Chris Ryder and Bella Racing LTD. And she used every bit of Hall of Famer John Campbell's sulky magic to make her breakthrough in a big way while defeating Newborn Sassy by a neck.   2-5 favorite I Said Diamonds left strongly from midpack in the field of five, but she met resistance from East Side Hanover, with the polesitter using racetrack geometry to force her flying rival to tuck well before an astonishing 25.2 quarter. East Side Hanover had her earplugs out coming into the stretch the front time, and soon so did I Said Diamonds, who rushed out for command 5/16 and was stretched by "East Side" before making to the top into the second turn, just before the "52.3" clocking flashed and had the crowd buzzing.   Shezarealdeal was the first to move around the tiring East Side Hanover and tucked in the pocket, with Campbell and Kiss Me Onthebeach going on from behind her to challenge the leader to the 1:20.3 3/4s. When "Kiss Me" took the advantage late on the turn, Newport Sassy, who hadn't been far back, tipped outside, and that filly ate into the two-length advantage the leader still had at midstretch, but came up short in the photo, with I Said Diamonds settling for third, a total of four lengths behind.   The 1:48.3 mile lowered by a tick the world divisional standard set by I Luv The Nitelife at Pocono just under three years ago (August 17, 2013). The winner lowered her record by three full seconds, and with her first stakes victory raised her bankroll to $131,075 while returning $53.40 to win to her scattered backers.   Had Darlinonthebeach raced 17 minutes earlier, her 1:48.4 clocking would have put her name alongside that of I Luv The Nightlife, however temporarily; in any case, "Darlin" returned to the track where he had had a problem and had to be pulled up in the Lynch Final on July 2, putting to rest any "bad vibes" or whatnot with her authoritative triumph. Driver Matt Kakaley settled the winner of $488,272 in fourth early as Call Me Queen Be worked to get around Lispatty in a 25.4 quarter, then got to the front past the finish line the first time and hung up middle splits of 54 and 1:21.4.   Call Me Queen Be had stayed tight in the pocket, and after a first-over move from Lispatty was shaken off, the "Queen" mounted a strong charge in the famed Pocono Pike, but Kalaley's filly still had a 27 last quarter in her and kept her adversary at bay by 1¼ lengths, with longshot Skinny Dipper third after an inside journey. Darlinonthebeach, who was sent off at 7-5 from the outside post six against Call Me Queen Be's 4-5 favoritism, is trained by Nancy Johansson for owner/breeder White Birch Farm, and lowered her mark by 2/5 of a second.   With Pure Country off at Northfield again taking on the boys in the Milstein Pace (she was second to Betting Line after finishing fourth in the Cane Pace on Hambletonian Day), Newborn Sassy saw her 25 points earned in finishing second Saturday bring her unofficially to 100 points in the Sires preliminaries (35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1) to lead her group with a 4-1-2-1 record.   With stakes conditions limiting the $350,000 Championship, which will be held at The Meadows on Saturday, September 10, to eight, the following horses also get automatic qualification for the Championship, listed in points order: Darlinonthebeach (95), Call Me Queen Be (90), I Said Diamonds and Pure Country (tied at 85), Kiss Me Onthebeach (65), Shesasmokinlady (58), and Lispatty (35). Skinny Dipper (31) and Shezarealdeal (30) will be programmed as AEs and can draw into the race until 6 p.m. the day before. The next nine highest pointearners not in the Championship will have a $50,000 Consolation on the condition sheet for them.   Tomorrow night at Pocono, these fillies' Stallion Series counterparts will race four divisions of their final preliminary leg, going in slots 3, 4, 7, and 8. The two double winners in the three prelims so far will headline the first two divisions: Dismissal has post three in race three, while Terror At Night has post five in race four. The top nine pointwinners after tomorrow's Stallion Series racing will become eligible for their $40,000 Championship, to be held right here at Pocono on Sunday, September 11.   And while the top eight pointearners didn't change because of the results of tonight's Sire Stakes racing, we can assure you of no such certainty tomorrow: after the top five horses, who look pretty safe, there are fewer than 20 points between the horse currently sitting sixth and the two horses tied for twentieth, with sixteen of the top 21 entered for Sunday.   PHHA / Pocono

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Bushwacker prevailed after a length-of-the-stretch duel with even-money favorite Melmerby Beach to take the harness racing featured $17,000 conditioned pace at the Meadowlands Saturday night by three-quarters-of-a-length in 1:48.4, a lifetime best. After Melmerby Beach grabbed the lead at the quarter in :26.2, Odds On Equuleus made the top at three-eighths before Bushwacker quickly brushed to command at the half in :53.2. The eventual winner still had the lead at three-quarters (1:21.4) as Melmerby Beach crept closer from first-over after vacating the three hole at the five-eighths. Melmerby Beach poked a head in front at one point as the duo battled through the stretch, but Bushwacker, who won a week ago in 1:49.3, repelled his challenger to go on to a dead-game victory. Alexie Mattosie, a 68-1 longshot, finished third. As the 8-5 second choice, Bushwacker returned $5.20. The 5-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover was driven by Daniel Dube and is trained by Chris Ryder for the Henderson Farms of Chicago. HIGHER AND HIGHER: Neither of the Big M's 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five wagers had a single-ticket winner, setting up one big and one enormous carryover for the next live program. The fifth-race wager now has a carryover of $15,884.81, while the 12th race JSH5 now sports a $253,827.71 jackpot. ... Greg Merton drove three winners on the night, including the 4,000th of his career with Major Buddy A in the 11th race. Andy Miller also scored three times. ... Racing resumes at the Meadowlands Friday at 7:15 p.m. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

When horse owner Peter Mazzella was growing up, he looked up to his grandfather, John Nittolo. It was Nittolo, known as "Oompa," who introduced a young Mazzella to harness racing --- and ever since then it has been Mazzella's passion. And although his grandfather is no longer alive, he is still with Mazzella whenever he sends out a horse to compete. Mazzella races under the stable name Oompa's Farm Inc. in honor of his grandfather. On Sunday, two Chris Ryder-trained horses co-owned by Mazzella --- Rodeo Romeo and National Seelster --- will participate in the C$244,000 Confederation Cup for 4-year-old pacers at Flamboro Downs in Ontario. Rodeo Romeo will start from post one while National Seelster will leave from post six. The nine-horse field also includes Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year. "I used to hang out with my grandfather, go to the farm with him, and that's how I got into the horses," said the 57-year-old Mazzella, who as a young child gave his grandfather the name "Oompa" when he couldn't pronounce "Grandpa," and the name stuck forever thereafter. "He was like an idol. He lived for the horses. When he was dying, I made him a promise that any horse I ever owned would race under the stable name Oompa. And that's what I did. "That's something I'm kind of proud of. I haven't had any Wiggle It Jiggleits, but I've had some nice horses. It's something that means a lot to me. He got me started in the horse business. It was a love of his and it's a love of mine." Mazzella, who has a 20-acre farm in Cream Ridge, N.J., owns Rodeo Romeo with Ohio's Bob Mondillo and New Jersey's Michael Day. He shares ownership of National Seelster with Mondillo. The partners bought both horses at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. National Seelster, a son of Bettor's Delight-No Strikes Against whose family includes millionaires Strike An Attitude, Delinquent Account and Artiscape, was first for $50,000. Rodeo Romeo, a son of Rocknroll Hanover-Southwind Vanna and a half-brother to recent Pennsylvania Classic winner Check Six, was purchased for $30,000. Neither horse raced at age 2 as the connections gave both time to mature physically. Last year at 3, National Seelster won eight of 21 races and earned $203,402. His wins included four preliminary divisions of the New York Sire Stakes, an elimination for the Adios and a preliminary round of the Buddy Gilmour Series. He was often a victim of bad post luck in the big money races; he drew the outermost starting spot or second tier in all four of his starts for $400,000 or more. National Seelster is winless in two starts this year, heading to the Confederation Cup off a second-place finish to Mel Mara in a conditioned race at the Meadowlands on April 30. Rodeo Romeo won three of 10 races last year and earned $45,333. All three of his victories came after October and he closed the season with consecutive triumphs in conditioned races at the Meadowlands. This year, he has won four of six races, including the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series championship at Yonkers, and earned $67,660 while hitting the board in every start. He heads to the Confederation Cup off a win in a conditioned race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on May 1. "When people don't see horses racing at 2 they think something happened to them, but it's better to not race if you're not quite ready," Mazzella said. "We just gave them the time they needed. Chris liked both colts. They both came back really strong. We're happy with both of them. "They can go to the front, they can come from off the pace; they're very versatile. They've raced against some really top horses in the last year or so. I think they've shown what they're made of. Obviously you need a lot of luck in this game. You have to draw well, stay sound. But I think they should have a good year." National Seelster and Rodeo Romeo are eligible to the upcoming Graduate Series, but Mazzella is taking it one race at a time. And that means focusing on the Confederation Cup. "When you're racing against horses like Wiggle It Jiggleit and these kinds of horses, you've got to take one at a time," Mazzella said. "Wiggle It Jiggleit isn't the only good horse in that race, though. There are nine horses in that race and all good horses. Of course Wiggle It Jiggleit is a champion, and he certainly deserves it. He's a great horse. When I'm not in a race with him, I root for him. "But I think our horses will race well," Mazzella added. "Chris is great at prepping horses. You just need to get a good trip and hope for the best." Post time Sunday is 6 p.m. Below is the full field for the C$244,000 Confederation Cup. C$244,000 Confederation Cup PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer 1. Rodeo Romeo (Brett Miller-Chris Ryder) 2. My Hero Ron (Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke) 3. Americanprimetime (TBA-Rick Dane) 4. Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke) 5. Drachan Hanover (Randy Waples-Marcel Barrieau) 6. National Seelster (Sylvain Filion-Chris Ryder) 7. Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry-Dr. Ian Moore) 8. Rock N Roll World (Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke) 9. Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis) Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

Westfield, IN- With the May 15 deadline approaching for students t apply for positions at the Harness Horse Youth Foundation’s summer camps, the organization’s stable of Trottingbred horses is being prepped for their cross-country tour. Nineteen-year-old goodwill ambassador Sweet Karen ( is being  conditioned by the Chuck Connor Stable at Goshen (NY) Historic Track when they can keep the staff of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame from doing the work for them. She will be featured at the foundation’s 40th Anniversary Brunch on Sunday, June 5. This year four Trottingbreds have been shipped to Delaware. CD’s Miss M is with Bobby Clark Stable; Ima’s Hit is with the George Teague Stable; Royal Attire returns to  the Eddie Dennis Stable; and LR Trixie is again being put through her paces by the Andrew Stafford Stable. In New Jersey, the Chris Ryder Stable is prepping I Want Another as he starts his second year with HHYF, while newcomer Sonny is being readied in Springfield, Illinois by the Nick Giberson (and family) stable. The Gibersons won the HHYF Service To Youth Award in 2014 for their work with Sweet Karen. “Just like racehorse, our horses can’t just show up at camps and be expected to work,” says HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor. “They need to be legged up, to be in condition. We could not possibly do the outreach we do without the voluntary work of our trainers each year. We are especially appreciative of Brittany Farms for annually providing an off-season home for our Trottingbreds.” The trainers will work with the horses for about two months before the HHYF camp season begins at the home of the Little Brown Jug, the Delaware County Fair from June 18-22. From there the move on to North Carolina, Maryland, New York and New Jersey before returning to Ohio for programs at Scioto Downs and the Van Wert Fairgrounds in August. For a complete camp schedule, go to   From HHYF    

WILKES-BARRE PA - Bushwacker, under full-out assault by Cooperstown down the backstretch in the $25,000 winners-over pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night, turned back that rival on the far turn, then held off second-over Badiou Hanover by a neck in 1:49.3.   Driver Larry Stalbaum had no problem w(h)acking out the pace with the altered son of Rocknroll Hanover, passing the first two striped poles in 26 and 54.3. Shortly after the half Cooperstown, gunning for his fourth straight victory, came roaring up to the leader and got a half-length by before the ¾ but could not clear as the timer read 1:21.1, a 26.3 third quarter into an atypical backstretch headwind at Pocono.   Bushwhacker fought off Cooperstown and regained the lead, then had enough left when Badiou (pronounced ("BAD-I-O-U") Hanover circled wide and menaced nearing the finish. Cooperstown settled for third; favored Bettor's Edge raced in the pocket but may have been bottomed out chasing the whirlwind front end duel, as he faded in the last quarter and finished fifth.   Bushwacker posted his first victory since February 20, but he has been facing some pretty mean hombres in the interim: foe one example, he finished third behind Wiggle It Jiggleit and Rockeyed Optimist, arguably the two best pacers at the races at this moment, on March 28 at Dover. Chris Ryder trains the winner, who raised his bankroll to nearly $460,000 lifetime for Henderson Farms.   The Angus Hall mare Allerage Star went the fastest trotting mile year at Pocono in a $15,500 conditioned event, going right to the top for driver Marcus Miller and steaming home in 56 to complete a 1:52.3 victory, also a lifetime mark. Julie Miller conditions the winner of two straight for Little E LLC (also the breeder), Arthur Geiger, David Stoltz, and Jason Settlemoir.   With a temperature reading of 72 degrees at first post time, speed was the order of the day, as three other miles in 1:50 were paced, with Achilles Blue Chip (Marcus Miller), Simply Business (Anthony Napolitano), and Allbeef N Nobull (Mike Simons) all freezing the timer at exactly the new standard for the "magic mile." The Downs seasonal pacing standard of 1:49.1, set by Eighteen on March 26, did stand up to the speed-producing card (ironically, that win came in "nw9000L5," about four classes below the winners-over level).   The third round of the Bobby Weiss Series for pacers highlights the Sunday card at Pocono, which has a post time of 7:30 p.m. Both the males and females will contest three $15,000 divisions; hoping to making their Weiss records 3-for-3 will be, for the males, Options Are Adream (race 10, looking for his ninth win of an undefeated career) and Midnight Leader (race 11, the fastest Weiss winner in 1:51), and for the females, Candy Corn Hanover (race seven, her two Weiss wins the first two starts of her career.)   From the PHHA

Bushwacker, the richest harness racing horse of 2016 won the $30,000 Preferred Handicap for the second straight week at Dover Downs on Monday, Feb. 8. After Mustang Art, with Sean Bier, took the feature pacers to the quarter in :25.4, Tim Tetrick pulled Bushwacker to the outside in front of the grandstand to take lead at the half in :54.3. Bushwacker was in command through a 1:22.1 three quarters and had enough to reach the finish line in 1:50.4 with Mustang Art, second. Doctor Butch came on in the lane for Tony Morgan to finish third. The five-year-old altered son of Rocknroll Hanover-Dolphins Can Talk, conditioned by Chris Ryder, won for the fifth time in 2016 and sixth in his last eight, for Henderson Farms. It was his 17th career win with a $426,212 lifetime bankroll. Bushwacker has now won $71,100 already in 2016. Frank Chick's Warp Factor Three, trained by Kevin Lare, made good use of starting from post 1 with Yannick Gingras scoring a 1:52 victory in a $15,500 4&*5-Year-Old Male pace. Skyway Gladiator (Mike Rossi) was second in front of Apollo Seelster (Roberts). Russ Foster, the youngest driver in the race at 26, drove Sentencing Memo, the youngest horse in the event, a three-year-old, to a fast closing triumph in a $14,000 pace for young male horses. Suchasenceofhumor (Jim Morand) was runner-up with Roll Big (Corey Callahan), the favorite, third. Veteran Arty Foster, the driver's grandfather, owns and trains the Western Terror-Lady Annie gelding, who won for the fourth time in five outings and sixth time in seven starts. In a $14,000 Male Winners-Over pace, Owner Foulk Stable won for the first time since claiming Sparky Mark for $50,000 in December, as Jonathan Roberts, who had a driving triple, piloted the nine-year-old son of Astreos-Luckbealadytonite to a 1:51.2 triumph. It was one of two training wins for meet leader Dylan Davis. Just A Jolt (Tetrick), the race favorite, finished strongly for second with Don't Ya Know (Vic Kirby) the show horse. Rocknroll Jewell gave Gingras a double winning for the sixth consecutive time notching a 1:51.2 conquest in a $12,000 Male pace. Tom Lazzaro owns the Rocknroll Hanover-Michelle's Jewell gelding trained by Dylan Davis. Gallic Beach (Callahan) went a big trip and finished second. Believe This Bob (Ross Wolfenden) was a close third. In a day of big prices, 21-1 Millennium Wheel was the biggest, scoring a 1:52 decision in a $20,000 Male Claiming Allowance. Trainer Jason Lynch shares ownership win Jim Jacobs in the Bettor's Delight-London Eye gelding. Beavercreek Artist (Allan Davis) and Brioni (Tony Morgan), whose seven-race win streak came to an end, were second and third respectively. Jonathan Roberts with three wins, Montrell Teague, Allan Davis, Yannick Gingras and trainer Dylan Davis had two wins each. SPRINGFORTH, SHINE N SHIMMER HEAD $20,000 MARES OPEN TUESDAY   Springforth, a just miss second in his last two starts meets regulars Shin N Shimmer and Fashion Showdown in the $20,000 Mares Open Handicap on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Dover Downs.  Post time is 4:30 p.m. Owner-trainer Jeff Clark’s Springforth, piloted by George Dennis, has been a close-up second in three 0f his last three outings, with a win in between, takes on Howard Taylor’s hard-hitting Shine N Shimmer teamed with Corey Callahan and Chris White’s Fashion Showdown, driven by Ross Wolfenden, a two-time Open winner, who has a major change of post positions this week moving from post-8 to number-3 this week.   Jerseylicious leaves from the rail with Allan Davis driving for Pam Curran, Niel Gargiulo and Legacy Racing while Tony Morgan will drive JFE Enterprise’s Scandalicious from the outside in the seven-distaff field. John McGill’s No Respect with Tim Tetrick in the bike, and Lou Catana and trainer Vince Bradley’s sharp Matinee Dragon with Jonathan Roberts complete the highly competitive lineup. A $15,000 Mares Winners-Over pace heads the undercard.  Mildred’s Button (Montrell Teague) closed strongly to win last week’s edition. Lorie and Paul Davis’ Lady Beth (Tetrick) was a head back in second for the second straight start. Playncardswitroddy (Dennis), owned by George&Tina Dennis and Ask W stables, was used on the backstretch and was only two-lengths off at the wire. Naty (Jonathan Roberts) step up a notch for trainer Brian Malone and Carrie Stackowitz after an impressive win last week. Marv Bachrad

DOVER, Del. --- Bushwacker recorded his third win at the meet this season scoring a 1:50.2 harness racing victory in the week’s top pace the $30,000 Preferred on Monday, Feb. 1. It was de ja’ vu all over again for 13-1 Mustang Art winning the $27,500 Delaware Special at Dover Downs. Tim Tetrick tripled.   For the second straight week, Tim Tetrick who piloted Henderson Farms’ Bushwacker into the early lead but this time did not stop in the stretch on the way to a 1:50.2 success in the $30,000 Preferred Handicap pace. The five-year-old altered son of Rocknroll Hanover-Dolphins Can Talk posted his sixth victory in his last eight starts with a second and a third for trainer Chris Ryder. The win pushed his career bankroll to $411,212. Doctor Butch (Tony Morgan was a fast finishing second with Dapper Dude (Vic Kirby), last week’s winner third. For Mustang Art, the only change was a driver, Sean Bier. Just as last Monday, he went off at 13-1, and the Artiscape-Paula Seelster gelding left fast to get the lead, then sat second behind runner-up Bad Boy Matt (Allan Davis) until late in the stretch before coming on for a !:50.2 triumph for his second consecutive $27,500 Delaware Special win. Captive Audience (Corey Callahan) was the show horse. Max Walton and Greg Papaleo own Mustang Art who won for the 42nd time. Casey At Bat made it two straight victories in $15,000 4&5-Year-Old Male company to lead off the program as Allan Davis drove the four-year-old Sportsmaster-Odds On Casey gelding to victory number-5 this meet for trainer Wayne Givens and Sharon White, Denise Davis and legacy Racing. Totally Dreamy (George Dennis) finished second with Twin B Stingray (Kirby) third. Blazing Bobby Sox came from off-the-pace to take the lead three-wide turning for home and rolled to a 1:54.1 decision in a $15,000 4&5-Year-Old pace. Driver Art Stafford Jr. who owns The Panderosa-Liamatters gelding with his dad, Art Stafford, won for the fifth time this meet. Skyway Gladiator (Mike Rossi) led until the closing steps and finished second in front of Denslow Hanover (Tetrick) third. Vic Kirby put Soto into the lead and there was no catching the four-year-old Rock N Roll Hanover-Incredible Beauty horse in a 1:51.1 $14,000 Male Winners-Over pace. Contraband Hanover (Callahan) was next best wile race-favorite Just A Jolt (Tetrick) came storming down the lane from way back to finish third. The win was the second in-a-row and Third in the last four for owners ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta.         Brioni, a five-year-old Four Starzzz Shark Ambro Bahama horse, claimed last week, won for new owner-trainer Ron Davis for his sixth consecutive victory, romping to a 1:52 conquest in a $15,000-$20,000 Male Claiming Handicap to give Tony Morgan, the second leading winning driver in North America, his third win on the program. Beavercreek Artist (A.Davis) and Sir Jonathan Z Tam (Tyler Davis) were second and third respectively. Impressive winners from last week meet Hearts And Flowers and No Respect, a pair of impressive winners last week, head the 'Ground Hog' day, $20,000 Mares Open Handicap on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p.m. After taking the lead in front of the grandstand, Bay Pond Stable's Hearts And Flowers had clear sailing for Allan Davis on the way to a 1:52.1 victory having enough to hold off the consistent and fast finishing Springforth, owned and trained by Jeff Clark with George Dennis driving. Race favorite JFE Enterprise's Scandalicious and Tim Tetrick, finished third. John McGill's No Respect turned in a convincing 1:52 triumph in her last start and will be driven by Vic Kirby from the rail. Cheyenne Robin, the only four-year-old in the contest, was absent last week after a near wire-to-wire victory, finishing second by a nose, in her last start. Corey Callahan will be at the controls this week. Chris White's Fashion Showdown won this event two weeks in-a-row with Ross Wolfenden, but was parked-out last Tuesday and again is burdened with post 8. Other starters are Bob Winkelman's Paradise Lost piloted by Montrell Teague, and Elliesjet N, owned by Barry Spedden, Kevin Evans, Nanticoke Racing and trainer Josh Parker, who should enjoy leaving from post 2 this week. Among as talent rich assortment of top female paces is a $15,000 Mares Winners-Over pace led by last week's 1-2 finishers, Playncardswitroddy (Dennis), owned by George &Tina Dennis and Ask W stables, and Lorie and Paul Davis' Lady Beth (Wolfenden) and a $12,500 distaff pace featuring Howard Taylor's steady Shine N Shimmer (Callahan) and Foulk Stables' Valerya (Jonathan Roberts). . Monday through Thursday racing starts at 4:30 p.m. No live racing on Friday and Saturday. Sunday post time is 5:30 p.m. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight. There is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant's acclaimed Buffet and for those planning to stay at Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad

East Rutherford, NJ --- After making two separate moves in the first three-eighths of Saturday (Jan. 16) evening's $25,000 Open Handicap Pace at the Meadowlands, Henderson Farms' Bushwacker ($2.80) held sway for his third consecutive harness racing top-level win in New Jersey. Tim Tetrick sent the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding forward at race's outset, easing off a trio of other leavers before commencing a brush to the fore after a :26.4 first quarter. Bushwacker forged clear with five-eighths of the mile yet in front of him, taking charge from Dover invader Atta Boy Dan (Yannick Gingras) and subsequently rating a :55.3 middle half. After facing mild first-over pressure from Kingofthejungle (Andy Miller) on the far turn, Bushwacker accelerated clear in mid-stretch. He ultimately prevailed in 1:50 by 1-1/4 lengths, holding clear enough of Atta Boy Dan's late rally between rivals. Sweet Beach (Brett Miller) swung four-wide in mid-stretch off his third-over bid to pass tired pressers and stalkers in claiming third honors. Chris Ryder trains the 15-time winner. In addition to his win aboard Bushwacker in the feature, Tetrick paired up with five other winners on the night, including True Blue Hall ($8.20, 1:51.4), Moonlight Ransom ($5.60, 1:52.3), Dinner At The Met ($5.00, 1:52.1), Our Dragon King ($4.80, 1:51.3), and Arockin Hanover ($2.20, 1:53.1). In the evening's sub-featured $16,000 upper-level conditioned pace, Real Nice ($17.80) capitalized on a pocket trip, enjoying clear sailing throughout behind favored pacesetter Bettor Than You (Gingras) before kicking clear by 1-1/2 lengths for a 1:50.4 triumph. The 11-year-old veteran earned his 53rd career win in rein to Scott Zeron for owners Anthony Scussel and the Lightning 5 Racing Stable and trainer Scott Blackler. Saturday evening's total handle for the 14-race program was $2,826,048, including $156,822 in the evening's trio of guaranteed-pool horizontal wagers. Since neither 20-cent Jackpot High 5 was hit, Friday (Jan. 22) evening's seventh race High 5 will boast a $5,915 carryover, while the finale's High 5 will carry $62,725 of added money should one punter take down the entire pool. Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday (Jan. 22) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:35 p.m. (EST). Race 1 - Grand Theft Race 2 - Bushwacker Race 3 - Piece Of The Rock Race 4 - True Blue Hall Race 5 - Moonlight Ransom Race 6 - Dinner At The Met Race 7 - Gratias Deo Race 8 - Onedin Mach Race 9 - Our Dragon King Race 10 - Sometimes Said Race 11 - Fraternity Race 12 - Intheblinofaneye Race 13 - Real Nice Race 14 - Arockin Hanover by James Witherite

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (January 9, 2016) - One week ago Bushwacker emerged on the scene at The Meadowlands in the featured Open Handicap with a compelling harness racing victory. Saturday night was no different as Bushwacker steamrolled to another sharp score, posting the first sub-1:50 mile of the season, winning in 1:49.3. Despite winning last week, Bushwacker (8/5) was relegated to the second choice in the wagering behind Doctor Butch (4/5) who was making his second start off the brief layoff. Doctor Butch left hard off the gate, as did Bushwacker, but it would be the former to dictate the terms. Doctor Butch set an ambitious pace, reaching the points of call in 26.1, 55 and 1.23. While Bettor Than You rode the pocket, Bushwacker launched a bold blitz toward the lead and overtook Doctor Butch just as the field was set to turn for home. Bushwacker quickly opened up by a pair of lengths and he maintained that margin through the stretch thanks to a 26.3 final quarter to score his second victory of the year in as many starts. Doctor Butch held on to the place spot, with Kingofthejungle rallying from last to be third. Bushwacker won for the 14th time for trainer Chris Ryder and owner Henderson Farms. His career earnings surpassed $380,000 with the win. Corey Callahan scored a grand slam of driving victories on the card, including the aforementioned featured Open pace. Total handle for the 14-race program was $2,935,127, a 12-percent increase over the totals for the 13-race card one year ago. Racing returns on Friday, with first post time at 6:35 P.M. Darin Zoccali

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