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It couldn't have been a better day for the races this past Sunday at Clinton Raceway. The 2014 live season has gotten off to a great start with great weather, and great racing at the Huron County oval. The camera crew was busy with a slew of photo finishes, making for an exciting afternoon on the betting front. Big payoffs in the triactor pool were great for the handicapping contest that was run during the weekly Super Sunday Show. Race one had a triactor of local horses with a first place finish for owner/trainer Kevin Campbell of Goderich with Nics Regal Lass, a second place for Carlynda Hanover, owned by Jim Watt of Clinton, and trained by Jamie Wilson. Rounding out the tri was In La La Love, owned by Lois and Verdun Vanstone and trained by Verdun of Goderich. The first dead heat of the season was contested in race two of the day, Cat Four and Jackstan were inseparable at the wire. Ella Mint had a gate to wire finish of 1:59 in race 4 with a new lifetime best for owner/trainer Colonel Schneider Jr from Arthur On, driven to victory by Bruce Richardson. It was a challenge at the half, but Live For Today managed to sneak in at the wire for the win in race five. Owned by Catherine and Darcy McClure, trained by Darcy, and driven by Bruce Richardson. Standardbred Canada and I love Canadian Harness Racing members were treated to a great pork bbq lunch trackside and three lucky winner's walked away with great prizes! Alex Strathdee is off to the Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk with three friends, Scott Bell is headed to the Molson Pace at the Raceway in the Western Fair District and Jerry Porter will be returning to Clinton for the 34th Annual Charity Driver's Challenge on August 31. Live harness racing returns to Clinton Raceway Sunday June 8, with a 50 plus day at the races! Guests can register in advance for this great afternoon of racing by calling Jessica Carnochan 519.955.6820 or email post time is 1:30pm all summer long! by Jessica Carnochan, for Clinton Raceway

Race fans were treated to another fantastic opening day at Clinton Raceway! The weather was great, and the crowds were out in full force for the first of the 15 Sunday's in the 2014 live harness season. The winning was hot both on and off the track. Race fans had the chance to win a 55" Samsung TV, courtesy of Groves TV & Appliance in Clinton. The lucky winner, Ilene Scott, of Port Elgin, chose her horse (Fit For Will) because her husbands name is Will - it worked! Illene took home the grand prize. Central Huron Secondary School was on site, raising funds for their 2014 challenge day fundraiser in the fall of 2014. A great success, raising over $1000 for the event in November. "We've made some significant changes to the grandstand" states Ian Fleming, track General Manager. "It's become even fan friendlier". New paint, new TV's, opening up the food and bar area, new stairs to the grandstand and a new customer service area are just a few of the changes made this spring. There are more to come in the next month, new pavement in the parking lot and the addition of bucket seats in the grandstand are on the agenda. The Super Sunday Show was back on track-side, with the addition of some new games, and lots of fun between the races to keep fans entertained. Live harness racing returns to the Huron County Oval Sunday May 24 with the Standardbred Canada Appreciation day, the chance to win three great prizes to the Molson Pace in London, The Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk and the 34th Annual Charity Driver's Challenge at Clinton Raceway. The event includes a pork bbq, program and betting voucher for only $10 (Standardbred Canada/I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club Members). Register in advance for this great event by calling 519.955.6820. Live race post time is 1:30pm All Summer Long by Jessica Carnochan, for Clinton Raceway  

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

The harness racing community is vast and full of tremendous people. Just when you think you've met all of the greatest people possible, you are pleasantly surprised by another decent, down to earth and humble individual. Harness racing has to be one of the classiest sports out of all, including all the major sports. Garrett Rooney is a humble and respectful person who has been driving horses for the past ten years. Garrett mainly drives at Hanover Raceway, Clinton Raceway and Grand River Raceway through the summer racing season. During the winter months as the majority of tracks close, Garrett spends his time working with horses at the farm. Currently, Garrett is working 6 days a week with Trevor Henry and his stable of horses. In previous years, during the winter racing season, Garrett would drive more at tracks like Western Fair Raceway. However with all the turmoil caused by the provincial government resulting in fewer horses and less races due to cut backs, Garrett has not been able to drive as much as he would of like to. "You get the top 15 drivers at the track every day; you are going to get shuffled to the back of the bus. Some trainers I worked with had 5 or more horses, now they have one or two and take the winter off." From a young age, Garrett knew he wanted to drive horses and through high school, whenever he wasn't at class, he was at the farm learning and working hard. Garrett's dad (Merv) was a mechanic and his mom (Brenda) was a bank manager, but lucky for Garrett, his family friends were the Henry's and Richardson's so making the idea of working with horses possible and ideal. "My dad coached both Trevor Henry and Bruce Richardson in minor league hockey." Garrett says. "Our families have always been close. My grandfather (Bob Morrison) and uncle (Art Morrison) had horses too." Bruce Richardson's dad, Brian drove horses for Garrett's grandfather. Garrett trained his first horse when he was only 16 and the name of that horse, For Your Approval. "He won 3 or 4 races at Woodbine for me. He was doing alright for us and we didn't buy him for much either. We lost him in a $15,000 claimer, but we only bought him for $2500 so that wasn't too bad." Garrett's first drive was roughly ten years ago aboard a horse for Trevor Henry at Hanover Raceway, (Hanover, ON). "I qualified the horse and Trevor told me, this can be my first drive. My first win was in Hanover to, the horses name was Second Chances." To win a race with a horse of that name is quite cool. Some of the names Standardbred horses are given are so creative and fun. At times whimsical. "I started getting into horses when I was around 12 years old. It started out as a summer job and I got more and more into it. Then it became something I wanted to do" explains Garrett. The idea of entering into a different career never crossed Garrett's mind. "I never thought of doing anything else, when I was a kid I'd always go to the races with my parents, and I'd say I want to drive horses for a living... it's something I've always liked and wanted to do." Garrett's outlook is very positive, he's hoping to train more horses and one day have a stable to call his own. Garrett is currently training a 2-year-old trotter named Federal and hopes to have him race in the Ontario Sire Stakes series. As well, even though Garrett has been driving horses for ten years, he'd like to drive more often where and when he can. "It's kind of changed, now a driver text and messages trainers for drives, it's more PR work. You can be more aggressive that way to pick up drives. Before you'd just go to the track and pick up qualifiers and make your connections there." Garrett says. "Now you have to be your own agent, but you don't want to step on anyone's toes." Now that is respect for your colleagues. We all work to be number one in anything we set out to achieve, but knowing where to draw the line is something not everyone understands, but Garrett does. "My parents always supported me, for sure" says Garrett. "I have two older brothers (Darryl & Brad) and we all played hockey, sometimes we'd all be playing hockey on the same night and there's only two parents and three different places to go to and my mom didn't have a drivers license. They always got us to the rink or wherever we were going." "Now mom and dad, there isn't a Saturday night in Hanover they do not miss when I'm driving there." Garrett says, "It gives them something to do.... I'm not sure what they would do if I wasn't doing this, I'd think they would get pretty bored." In his ten years of driving horses, there was one drive that Garrett will never forget. "I'll always remember the one drive I had with this one horse. I kind of got locked in with him along the rail and he was a big strong horse and I couldn't hang on. I was all over the guy in front of me and my arms were pretty well rubber. I couldn't hold him and had to get him out so I jerked him out and interfered and crashed and banged into everyone." "I will always remember that" says Garrett. "It was a scary feeling and having nowhere to go. No one was hurt and I didn't really hit anybody, kind of more just pushed some guys out of the way so I could get out of the way... that was a real learning moment for me." Garrett is grateful to Trevor Henry and the entire Henry family for teaching him so much about the sport of harness racing. Bruce Richardson is another person Garrett is grateful for always being there for him. "You learn a lot from those guys and their experiences." Garrett acknowledges. Asking Garrett what he would do if he could do anything with a week away from horse racing and money was not an issue, Garrett said he would like to visit Las Vegas as he's never been there. Garrett would love to get into some card games while in Vegas. That's one thing Garrett enjoys, playing card games, whether it be poker, euchre, crib or gin, you name the game and he's in. Hanover Raceway will be opening up for the 2014 season on Saturday June 7th with a post time of 7:15pm. Be sure to see Garrett in action and grab an autograph. By: Roderick Balgobin Twitter: ScSupernova

It was no April Fools' Day prank as today the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced its decision in regard to the race-date applications for the nine Standardbred racetracks in the province. The ORC has announced the approved race dates for Woodbine Racetrack, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. On Monday, March 31, the ORC released the proposed race dates for the period: April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, for almost all of the province’s racetracks. To view a list of the proposed race dates, click here. The ORC's release regarding approved dates explains that the live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized. The ORC release appears below. ORC approves Ontario Race Dates for 2014 and beyond Notice of Director’s decision regarding 2014 Race Dates The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) today announced the decision regarding the schedule of live race dates for 2014 for certain racetracks. Following the successful conclusion of agreements, the following racetracks were in a position to commit to their race date schedule for the remainder of 2014: Woodbine Mohawk Western Fair Flamboro Downs Georgian Downs Grand River Rideau Carleton Clinton Hanover The live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized. Agreements were possible due to government’s commitment to provide funds to horse racing to support the industry`s efforts to grow its business. This five-year commitment has allowed for the negotiation of long term agreements which secure this schedule of race dates for each of the next five years. The Director confirms and approves the schedule of race dates for the 2014 as follows: APPLICANT – 1st quarter (prior approved) – Remaining dates – Total dates Woodbine Racetrack Standardbred (Premier) – 37 – 71 – 108 Thoroughbred (Premier) – 0 – 133 – 133 Mohawk Racetrack Standardbred (Premier) – 0 – 102 – 102 Western Fair Standardbred (Signature) – 38 – 87 – 125 Flamboro Downs Standardbred (Signature) – 52 – 94 – 146 Georgian Downs Standardbred (Signature) - 0 – 40 – 40 Grand River Raceway Standardbred (Signature) - 0 – 48 – 48 Rideau Carleton Raceway Standardbred (Signature) - 14 – 78 – 92 Clinton Raceway Standardbred (Grassroots) - 0 – 15 – 15 Hanover Raceway Standardbred (Grassroots) - 0 – 16 – 16 In accordance with Policy Directive 3-2007, all other race date calendars are approved, but are subject to change where a racetrack operator or other interested party makes an application to vary the approved dates, which will be considered based on the strengths of the business plans submitted and the industry funding available. The Director has been moving forward to implement the components of the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP), as approved by the Ontario government. Announcements have been made awarding Woodbine Entertainment Group as the single teletheatre operator under a procurement process that is now complete. Revenue earned from the teletheatre network will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks, which include Woodbine, Mohawk, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Western Fair, Grand River, Clinton, Hanover and Ajax Downs. Additionally announcements have been made designating WEG as the single telephone account betting operator, where revenue earned will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks. Operation of regional racetracks and the related purses will be funded through a mix of on-track wagering and Horse Racing Partnership Funding Program funds. Please be advised that you or any other aggrieved party have the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission. From Steve Lehman, Executive Director for the Ontario Racing Commission

The Ontario Horse Racing division of the Ontario Racing Commission has provided the Premier of Ontario and the province's Minister of Agriculture & Food, Kathleen Wynne with this update on the progress in implementing the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan. While the announcement does not include a racing calendar, it does officially announce the Ontario alliance tracks. The Honourable Kathleen Wynne Minister of Agriculture and Food Government of Ontario Dear Minister, I am pleased to provide a further update on progress in implementing the Ontario Horse Racing Partnership Plan. Under your direction, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) and its business development division – Ontario Horse Racing (OHR) – have been tasked with building a racing calendar for Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds and Quarter Horses. The Partnership Plan supports Ontario’s proud legacy of Standardbred racing and the thousands of jobs across the province with three distinct components; - Traditional summer grassroots racing in rural Ontario. - A long racing season at Rideau-Carleton Raceway. - A year round circuit of top quality racing at eight core tracks. While a robust Standardbred racing industry requires all three components, the cornerstone of the program is year-round, world-class racing that will attract a global audience and increase its fan base and wagering revenues. To ensure a circuit of high quality racing is coordinated for the benefit of horsepersons and horseplayers, I am pleased to inform you that eight racetracks - Clinton Raceway, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Hanover Raceway, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District and Woodbine Racetrack - have united in a world-leading alliance. This innovative and cooperative racing alliance has collectively determined there is greater benefit for the industry as a whole in working together to capitalize and succeed in presenting Ontario Standardbred racing to a global audience. We have recently completed an agreement with the alliance tracks and are now ready to engage in discussions with horsepersons groups as the final step in preparation for an exciting season of racing featuring guaranteed purses and some of Ontario’s finest racehorses. Partnerships are all about people and we continue to benefit from the passion, commitment and expertise of the Ontario racing community as we implement the Partnership Plan. John Snobelen From the Ontario Racing Commission

The popular Kin Pace is returning to the stakes schedule this summer at Clinton Raceway. The event, which is open to Ontario-Sired three-year-old pacing fillies who were non-winners of $50,000 in 2013, was last raced in 2012. The $76,400 tilt was won that year by Memumsnotnice in a track-record time of 1:55.2. "We are very happy to have this race back on the schedule for 2014," said Clinton Raceway General Manager Ian Fleming. "It had grown into one of our signature races and is a wonderful addition to our summer line-up. We are optimistic that the Summer Meet in Clinton will be one of the best ever." Clinton Raceway is set to kick off the 2014 racing season on Sunday, May 18. For more information on this year's Kin Pace, and everything else happening at the raceway, visit by Jessica Carnochan, for Clinton Raceway    

In the world of harness racing, there is plenty of excitement and daily thrills to be had at any track. One track tucked away in South West Ontario is Flamboro Downs, (located in Hamilton, Ontario). "From the starting gate to the finishing line, Flamboro Downs presents a unique and entertaining outing for individuals and groups alike. Parking and admission is always FREE."... Is the promotional phrase used on the Flamboro Downs website. It is quite unique indeed. At Flamboro Downs there is a decent and very respectable colony of drivers, many who are a breakout horse away from becoming a household name. One name fans of the racing world should get to know is J Harris. When I asked J Harris what the J stood for, maybe Jay or James? J replied "it stands for J, the letter J". J Harris, yes his first name is the letter J, how cool is that? I have never met anyone with an initial for a first name, perhaps I need to get out more often. J considers himself a regular guy and when discussing horse racing, you are quick to learn how much respect J has for horses. Many are drawn by the speed and thrill to horse racing or the fact it's a family business, but with J you hear the respect he holds for the animals he works with when he is describing his reasoning for being in the horse racing industry. "The horses...," answers J when asked about what draws him to the industry, "...they are completely majestic. I love being around them and they just got me. It's their eyes; you can look at them and make a connection. They are muscle machines with grace." J, a third generation horseman, worked with his father who always kept him busy in and around the family stables as a young person. "I started working with (horses) once I was old enough to get out of bed," J said/ ."He got me out to the barn early." J's father is a successful trainer who J says "had a lot of success with fillies and mares." With J's dad having Great Success when he was young, J was able to be around winning connections from an early age. Back then, J admits he loved being at the winner's circle and being a part of the winning picture. Almost a decade into his career, J who is 29, admits it has been a slow grind, but that will not hold him back. Last year J won the driver's title at Hanover Raceway, (located in Hanover, Ontario) and hopes to rank among the top 10 in the driver standings at Flamboro Downs. One of J's fondest memories is his first win, but more so because it was with a family owned horse. "It took me 22 races to get my first win," J explained, "It was a home bred my parents had.... My mom happened to be at the racetrack that night and she balled her eyes out. It was the right horse to win with." The name of the horse, Maxx Factor. J is a low key person who prefers to take it easy and unwind at home after the races. "Lately I've been focusing on racing and going to the gym. I don't go out much and if I do it's to the movies." says J. "I'm big into movies and I rent every new release that comes out. I like action and comedy (movies), but I will take action over comedy. Anything that is a true story I am guaranteed to love." As for what are J's favorite movies, J lists "Days of Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Butler, it's an awesome movie. I watched the movie Rush and it was motivational, seeing one guy throw it all away and one guy striving for it all." As for the night life, well that is not who J is and he flat out says, "I'm sick of it, I grew up." J has raced at Flamboro Downs, Hanover Raceway, Clinton Raceway, Western Fair Raceway, Grand River Raceway, Mohawk and Woodbine Racetrack. "Mainly I focus on Grand River and Flamboro. Flamboro is my home track, I live closest to it and I seem to get a lot of support (at Flamboro), it's been a great track to me. Grand River has a great atmosphere and they do great job with the public. I drive an hour and twenty minutes there (because) it's a great track." As for what the future holds for J and the horse racing industry in the next 10 years, J bluntly says, "I don't see it. In 5 years time we are going to have to make hard decisions whether to stay in (the industry) or not. I think it's going to dwindle down to less than what people think it will be and I think there is only going to be a select few people who can afford to continue with horse racing in Ontario." "It's going to be tough for new owners to go to 'B' tracks in Ontario because they are racing for less money. Anyone who wants to race horses at Woodbine will have a great shot. They go for decent money and I think new owners can make it work. I think Woodbine will keep their horse's value up." Other spots J believes the horse industry has room for growth outside of Ontario and Canada is Ohio State and New York State, in particular, Yonkers Raceway due to the influx of money for purses. Outside of driving, J does train horses and the idea of being a full time trainer is quite appealing to him. "If I can find the owners to do it, I would make a successful go at it." There are plenty of reasons to believe J will be successful regardless of what transpires with the horse racing in the next few years. J is a 'go-getter' who takes whatever may happen in stride and he's not afraid, calm and collected are the two words that come to mind. Good things happen to good people, and it is people, like J, with positive attitudes who persevere through the thick and thin. If J had a man cave it would be a movie theatre and knowing J's love for movies I am sure there will be plenty of fresh popcorn and comfortable seats. J explains there "will be a (huge) TV and a bar, probably a pool table as well. I think I would want the whole movie (experience). I would want the nice comfy lazy boys and a huge TV for the screen." His backup plan would be owning a Cineplex! Be sure to check out J Harris and the rest of the drivers at Flamboro Downs. It's a lot of fun with a great group of people. by Roderick Balgobin, for  

Deerfield Beach, FL – The American Harness Racing Secretaries (AHRS) concluded their three days of meetings on Saturday morning followed by an awards luncheon. The final session started off with last minute checking of hundreds of stakes events with some changes in dates, purses and names of events. Tracks and race organizations now have until early January to finalize and submit their race conditions for publication. None of the changes can be announced to the public until all final documents are submitted. There were roundtable discussions after the dates changes were finalized and the topic of high interest to most everyone was Friday’s presentation on electronic entries by USTA’s T C Lane. While everyone was on board that the presentation was excellent and that is will help speed up and create more accurate entry data into the USTA system there are concerns for those who do not have strong computer skills. It was also noted that the system is very easy to use and that trainers will adapt with time and that the system will be accepted and used by the majority of trainers in the industry. Talks also took place about electronic equipment cards and ID’s for horses to help make it easier on the paddock people doing their jobs. The biggest issues were that of computer hackers being able to enter the system and create havoc with the entries and if the USTA system will have proper safeguards to prevent hackers from gaining access. It was also noted that some people may try and look at entries for stakes races before the box closes to see if they really want to enter or not depending if they can see how many horses are entered and who they are. These issues will be brought up to the USTA for follow up discussions. Discussions also took place about possible universal consideration of the mandatory driver and trainer fees paid from purses. That in the “old” days owners were paid the entire purse and then they worked their own deals with trainers and drivers. Now most every track deducts 5% of the owners purse to both the trainer and driver and that consideration should be given to changing that percentage to 7% for trainers and 3% for drivers. It was also noted that some tracks paid a stipend to every driver competing in a race, up to $25 if they fail to finish in the top five. At the end of meeting luncheon a huge round of applause was given to both Carol Cramer and Sharon Hermann for their work in helping make the AHRS meeting run so smoothly. Carol Cramer is the one that imputes all the data for every stakes race in North America and works with all the race secretaries, stakes organizations and staking service companies and has done this service for many years with assistance from Sharon Hermann, who says she is retired but continues to assist AHRS. It was also noted during the meetings that Carol Cramer has been inducted into the Living Hall of Fame Communicators Corner for all of her hard work and devotion to the sport during her long career. The meetings concluded with Ken Marshall from Hazel Park presenting outgoing AHRS president, Connie Hochstetler from the Red Mile with a special plaque commemorating her outstanding service to the organization over the past two years as president. She will be replaced by Ian Fleming from Clinton Raceway as the new president. By Steve Wolf for

Deerfield Beach, FL – While most of North America is facing bitter winter weather, the American Harness Racing Secretaries (AHRA) kicked off their annual meetings Thursday morning at the Embassy Suites in Deerfield Beach and they were greeted with swaying palm trees, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80’s with a slight ocean breeze. Current president, Connie Hochstetler from the Red Mile, started off the proceedings with introductions of the 30-plus race secretaries and invited guests from racetracks throughout North America. One special guest included Grand Circuit President, John Campbell, and he spoke about the success this past season of the Grand Circuit races. Then it was right down to the business of discussing and reviewing stakes dates for 2014, purse and race name changes and some new stakes events that will be taking place in the coming season. None of the race dates and some of the new events could not be released to the public until they become official which could take two to three weeks after the meetings are concluded. Tom Charters, president of the Breeders Crown, did speak about the new Hambletonian Matturity Stake for four-year-olds in 2014. While the date for the race is not official, the new stake will take place at the Meadowlands with an estimated purse of $400,000 and horses may be supplemented for fees totaling $7,000 that must be made in February. Outgoing president Hochstetler stated that she will be selecting a committee of three members who will decide the next incoming vice-president for the association. Current vice-president, Ian Fleming from Clinton Raceway, will take over the lines of the association at the conclusion of the meetings on Saturday. Friday’s morning session will feature a presentation from TC Lane of the USTA on the new program system for horsemen to be able to enter horses for races online followed by the annual business meeting and rules seminar. Then on Saturday there will be a final revision and changes session for the 2014 stakes schedule followed by round table discussions and then the AHRS awards luncheon.  By Steve Wolf for

Grand River Raceway hosted its fifth annual backstretch Open House on Saturday, October 19. Despite dark skies and showers, 156 people of all ages attended for a rare glimpse of horse racing behind-the-scenes. More than $150 was raised at the door for the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. A full tour of the Open House stations included: a tour of the judges' stand and announcer's booth with track announcer Gary Guy; the basics of breeding, owning, training, driving and caring for racehorses; a tour of the paddock, testing areas, starting car and track maintenance vehicles; and the unique opportunity to drive a racehorse. Grand River Raceway extends its sincere appreciation to people who volunteered their time to help with this event, and provided horsepower, including: staff of the Hands On Horses Program (Stacey Reinsma, Natalie Elliott, Ken Ellis), Brian Tropea of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, Kristen Cobb, Kyle Bossence, Paula McGuire, Ken Middleton, Ben Holliday, John Newell, Bob McClure, Caroline Holliday, Gary Guy, Joe Currie, Tom Williams and Debi O'Brien Moran. The Grand River Raceway event is the final Open House of the season presented in cooperation with the Hands On Horse Program and the Ontario Harness Horse Association. Earlier events were staged at The Raceway at Western Fair District, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. For information about similar upcoming events, visit The Hands On Horses Program returns to Grand River Raceway for the track's 2013 season finale on Wednesday, October 30, when fans can win a spin around the track in a double-seated jog cart between the races. For more information about this event: To view photos from the Grand River Raceway Open House: by Kelly Spencer for Grand River Raceway  

The 33rd Annual Charity Challenge held at Clinton Raceway this afternoon was a huge success. The point based challenge was contested over the twelve race card and featured Clinton Raceways top eight drivers. The battle went right down to the last race, with Trevor Henry taking back the title for the first time since 2007. Clinton's top trainer and driver was also presented on following the last race of the day. George McClure was the leading trainer, with the top driver coming down to a tie. Trevor Henry and Billy Davis Jr took home the title this year. The real winner's of the day were the families that are assisted by Childcan. Many volunteers were out, despite the less that perfect weather to help raise funds for this organization that is committed to helping families through childhood cancer diagnosis. All of the driver's donated their fees, there was a silent auction, twoonie auction, 50/50 draw and bake sale. While there wasn't a total available at press time they had a very successful day and was a great wrap up to the 2013 season at Clinton Raceway. Jessica Carnochan  

Clinton, September 26, 2013 -- Clinton Raceway will host its final program of the Summer Meet this Sunday featuring the track’s annual Charity Driver’s Challenge. This year’s event will pit the top eight local drivers against each other in the 12-race competition. One of the new faces will be that of Bob McClure who ended up third overall in the seasonal driver standings. “It was my first time driving full time in Clinton and I was very pleased with how things went,” said McClure. “I was fortunate that a lot of guys had the confidence to use me regularly and I picked up some nice horses to drive. It’s a great track to race at because they want to race there and do a lot to promote the sport.” McClure, who just celebrated his 23rd birthday, followed his father Lormer into the sport at a young age and knew early on that he wanted to drive horses as soon as he was old enough. One of his earliest drives came on family horse Southwind Vavoom, a speedy trotter who raced at the top level both North and South of the border and earned just shy of $250,000 with a mark of 1:52.4 taken at Pompano Park. “He is by far the classiest horse I’ve ever driven,” admitted McClure. “He took me places I shouldn’t have been when I first started – like winning races at Woodbine and The Meadowlands. I didn’t fully appreciate him at the time but I sure do now.” McClure is on pace this season to equal or surpass his career-best yearly totals of 81 wins and $547,000 in earnings. Impressive, considering there are having been fewer racing opportunities and reduced purses in the province throughout the year. He spends much of his days throughout the week working a full-time construction job, but the rest of his time and energy is focused on racing and on improving his skills in the race bike at tracks like Clinton, Grand River and The Raceway in London. So, what does he expect this Sunday? “Well, you know it will be an aggressive day of racing with that format and I consider myself a guy that likes to play off the speed, so I hope I can capitalize a few times,” he said. “It is really going to be different driving a full line-up of horses that you don’t know much about. I think driving each horse to their ability is the challenge and will probably be the key to doing well.” Joining McClure in Sunday’s Challenge will be fellow competitors Trevor Henry, Bruce Richardson, Ryan Holliday, J. Harris, Billy Davis Jr., James MacDonald and Anthony MacDonald. This year will mark the 33rd year that Clinton has hosted the Driver Challenge and the third time that it has been held as a fundraising effort for Childcan, an organization which supports families who are dealing with Childhood Cancer diagnosis.  In the past, the Challenge has raised more than $250,000 for local charities, local clubs and organizations. As part of the day’s activities there will be a Twoonie Auction, Silent Auction, Barbecue and Bake Sale with all proceeds going towards Childcan. Happy Hands of Wax will be on hand creating wax impressions, and Beaver Meadow Stables will have horses and a carriage giving wagon rides during the day. First post on closing day is 1:30 p.m. and for more information, visit Jessica Carnochan

Clinton Raceway is getting set for its annual Charity Drivers Challenge on closing day, Sunday, September 29, and this year’s event will have a different twist. The Challenge usually pits the top four drivers from the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit against the top four reinsmen from Clinton. However, for the first time ever, the challenge date will conflict with the Grand Circuit races in Lexington, Kentucky, meaning most of WEG’s top drivers will be there competing. Clinton management has opted to switch back to purely local challenge this year with the top eight dash-winning drivers being invited to take part. “It is too bad we had to change the format, but on the other hand, change is sometimes a good thing,” said Racing Manager Ian Fleming. “It also showcases our local guys who have been here all season and this year’s driving colony is one of the strongest we’ve ever had here.” Today's race card determined the top eight drivers to take part in the Challenge in a battle right down to the wire. Top drivers, based on dash winning drives, include Billy Davis Jr., Trevor Henry, Anthony MacDonald, James MacDonald, Bob McClure, Bruce Richardson, Ryan Holliday, and J Harris, who secured the final spot over Lorne House with one win on the card. The top two drivers were involved in a spill in Sunday's second race, but Davis Jr. said he is hoping to return to the sulky on Monday after suffering minor injuries to his leg and "will be at Clinton next Sunday with bells on." Henry was back in the bike for Sunday evening's Grand River Raceway program. This year will mark the 33rd year that Clinton has hosted the Drivers Challenge and the third time that it has been held as a fundraising effort for Childcan, an organization which supports families who are dealing with childhood cancer diagnosis. In the past, the Challenge has raised more than $250,000 for local charities, local clubs and organizations. “It just makes events like this that much more special when you get benefit a great cause at the same time and I can’t think of a better one than Childcan,” explained Fleming. As part of the day’s activities there will be a Twoonie Auction, Silent Auction, Barbecue and Bake Sale with all proceeds going towards Childcan. First post on closing day is 1:30 p.m. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Clinton Raceway. reprinted with permission by

Clinton, September 21, 2013 -- Clinton Raceway is getting set for its annual Charity Drivers Challenge on closing Day, Sunday, September 29 and this year’s event will have a different twist. The Challenge usually pits the top four drivers from the WEG circuit against the top four reinsmen from Clinton. However, for the first time ever, the challenge date will conflict with the Grand Circuit races in Lexington, Kentucky, meaning most of WEG’s top drivers will be there competing. Clinton management has opted to switch back to purely local challenge this year with the top eight dash-winning drivers – following this Sunday’s program – being invited to take part. “It is too bad we had to change the format but, on the other hand, change is sometimes a good thing,” said Racing Manager Ian Fleming. “It also showcases our local guys who have been here all season and this year’s driving colony is one of the strongest we’ve ever had here.” Today's race card is needed to determine the top eight, it's a battle right down to the wire. Top driver's, based on dash winning drives include, Billy Davis Jr., Trevor Henry, Anthony MacDonald, James MacDonald, Bob McClure, Bruce Richardson and Ryan Holliday. Currently J. Bradley Harris and Lorne House are tied for the 8th and final spot. "This could make for a little excitement and entertainment on today's race card" states Jessica Carnochan, Marketing Manager at Clinton Raceway. "We'll keep fans updated as the day progresses, both on track and through our social media outlets."  This year will mark the 33rd year that Clinton has hosted the Driver Challenge and the third time that it has been held as a fundraising effort for Childcan, an organization which supports families who are dealing with Childhood Cancer diagnosis. In the past, the Challenge has raised more than $250,000 for local charities, local clubs and organizations. “It just makes events like this that much more special when you get benefit a great cause at the same time and I can’t think of a better one than Childcan,” explained Fleming. As part of the day’s activities there will be a Twoonie Auction, Silent Auction, Barbecue and Bake Sale with all proceeds going towards Childcan. First post on closing day is 1:30 p.m. and for more information, visit by Jessica Carnochan for Clinton Raceway  

CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — In the last decade no horse has captured a Grassroots Championship at two and come back to defend their title the following season. At Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening two horses have an opportunity to change that statistic, three-year-old pacing filly Cams Macharena and three-year-old pacing colt Panpero Firpo. Cams Macharena will attempt to defend her crown from Post 7 in the sixth race and trainer Tony O’Sullivan is hoping the filly is able to rise to the occasion. “Her last three or four Sires Stakes have been really good. I’m actually pleasantly surprised with how fast she’s gone,” says the Cambridge resident, who has struggled to get the Mach Three daughter back on track since an early season jaunt to Ohio’s Northfield Park for the Courageous Lady. “That trip set her back a month or six weeks, it was really hard on her,” explains O’Sullivan. “It threw a kink in her and it seemed to take her a while to recover.” In the June 3 Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Cams Macharena finished ninth, but she had bounced back by the end of the month and recorded her first win of the season in the June 30 test at Clinton Raceway. Since then the defending champion has added another Grassroots win, in a personal best 1:53.1 at Georgian Downs, one second, one third and one fourth, putting her fourth in the point standings. O’Sullivan conditions Cams Macharena for owner-breeders Chris Arold and Michael Drury of Strongsville, OH and Kenneth Kohut of Independence, OH. Regular reinsman Doug McNair of Guelph will be in the race bike Saturday. Panpero Firpo will take aim on a second division title from Post 9 in the tenth race. In three regular season appearances the No Pan Intended son netted two wins and one fifth to squeak into the post season in ninth-place with 105 points. The colt claimed his victories at Georgian Downs and Mohawk, recording his 1:51.1 personal best over the Campbellville oval on Aug. 9. The David Menary trainee also tried his hand against the Gold Series colts on two occasions this season, but failed to crack the top five. Brett Miller will pilot Panpero Firpo after his second Grassroots title on behalf of Menary and owner-breeder Peter Pan Stables Inc. of Pepper Pike, OH. Peter Pan Stables and Menary will also send out Panongahela in the three-year-old pacing colt Championship. Undefeated in four regular season starts the gelding will be looking to make it a perfect five from the outside Post 10. Billy Davis Jr. will be aboard Panongahela, who is also a son of No Pan Intended. Before either Cams Macharena or Panpero Firpo attempt to replicate their 2012 success, O’Sullivan will be preparing Concert Artist for his first run at a provincial title. The two-year-old pacing gelding comes into the season finale riding a two race win streak and will start from Post 2 in the fourth race. “He’s stepped his game up every week,” says O’Sullivan. “It was a pleasant surprise what he did the other night.” Concert Artist and Puslinch resident Paul Mackenzie wrapped up the regular season with a five and one-half length victory at Mohawk on Sept. 12, stopping the clock in an impressive 1:53. The win gave the son of Artistic Fella and Western Concert a record of three wins and one fifth in four Grassroots starts and he also picked up a win in an overnight event at Georgian Downs on Aug. 10. “Other than the Battle of Waterloo Elimination, where he over-paced himself, he really hasn’t raced bad all year,” adds O’Sullivan, who also trained the gelding’s mother for owner-breeder Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, OH. Concert Artist finished fifth in the freshman pacing colt point race, a hotly contested division which should result in an outstanding showdown on Saturday. Mohawk Racetrack’s first race goes postward at 7:25 pm and the eight Grassroots Championships will be featured in Races 2 through 6 and 8 through 10. For complete entries please go to Ontario Sires Stakes  

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