Saturday night at The Meadowlands was pleasant weather-wise with temperatures in the 50's and little to no wind while the action on the harness racetrack was hot right from the start. The sixth race was the $63,000 What Baron final, remembering one of the great pacers of the early years at The Meadowlands and it turned out to be a slugfest. Captive Audience and Wake Up Peter were both in line for a sweep and Dave Miller made a bold early statement, flaunting the impressive early speed of Captive Audience through the 26.3 opening quarter while Scott Zeron and Wake Up Peter could not find position from his outside post and were forced to press on for the lead. The pair met at the half in a demanding 53.3 and went toe to toe from that point forward. At the wire, it was Captive Audience prevailing in a close photo while Wake Up Peter had to settle for the place after an absolutely paint peeling effort. The time of 1:48.3 was a new career best for the winner, trained by Corey Johnson for Debbie Element and Mac Nichol of Ontario. The $55,800 Artistic Vision final (race 11) pitted favored American In Paris, questing for a series sweep, against JK Letitgo who had her own reign of terror interrupted by a pair of losses to her rival in the series legs. Jim Morrill, Jr was intent on the lead with American In Paris and set honest fractions as JK Letitgo made a bid around the final bend, taking a bravening tuck passing the 1:21.4 three panels. In the stretch, JK Letitigo emerged from the pocket and wore down the favorite to win in 1:50-. Driver Jonathan Roberts had this in the post-race interview, "I wanted to be close up, the fractions were fast enough that I thought she had enough to win. She actually was good enough last week but had no room in the stretch". The winner is trained by Joshua Parker, he is a partner in the filly with Nanticoke Racing, Barry Spedden and Kevin Evans. On the pari-mutuel front, Saturday's first race offered a Pick 5 carryover of $30,782 which attracted $140,596 in new money and those first few winners were not easy to have. Pierce came into the opener, a $30,000 instant series for Non Winners of 2 races with a perfect record, he had never won in 18 previous races. Tonight would be a different story as driver Scott Zeron, who had spoken to this particular horse's penchant for keeping himself classified in a Friday paddock interview, pressed to the lead passing the three eighths and held on in a photo for the 1:51.2 maiden breaker at odds of 8-1. The second race was the fast class A-2/B-1 pacers going for $22,500 and it was bombs away here when Rockin Wizard scored from off the pace for Mike Wilder in a new personal best of 1:49- returning $75.40 for a $2 win bet. The suspense continued to build when Jamaican Cowboy and Vinny Ginsburg won the fourth race from the clouds at 19-1. The will pays leading into the fifth and final leg of the bet revealed one uncovered combination and every held combination returning either $120,000 or $60,000 on the wager. In the end it was 5-1 shot Moonliteonthebeach scoring in a new record of 1:51 for Jonathan Roberts resulting in a published payoff of $60,140 for each fifty cent wager with the correct combination. The fifth and final preliminary leg of the Legends vs. Phenoms Driver Challenge was contested Saturday night as well. For the Phenoms, it was the same story as Scott Zeron swept each of the five preliminary legs, doing so this time with 79 points. On the Legends side, it came down to the final race as Dave Miller and Corey Callahan were tied after 12 races. Miller won the finale with OK Fame and took the $2,000 prize with 94 points. The 10 drivers qualifying for the Championship Round on Saturday April 26th, which will offer a $15,000 first place grand prize are Dave Miller, Corey Callahan, John Campbell, Jim Morrill Jr., Scott Zeron, Joe Bongiorno, Vincent Ginsburg, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smith and Mike Wilder. The championship round will be contested over a limited number of races and all ten drivers will have the same number of drives, giving them all an equal opportunity to take home the grand prize. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
American In Paris has taken the Meadowlands by storm. A 4-year-old female pacer, American In Paris is 6-for-6 this season, with all her victories coming at the Big M. Her two most recent triumphs were in the preliminary rounds of the Artistic Vision Series, which concludes Saturday with a $55,800 final. American In Paris will start the final from post two with driver Jim Morrill Jr. at the lines for trainer/co-owner Ron Burke. Art Ideal, another Burke mare, leaves from post seven in the seven-horse field. She finished second in both her preliminary legs. Saturday's card also features the $63,000 Whata Baron Series final for male pacers. Captive Audience, who is unbeaten in three races this year, drew post three for trainer Corey Johnson. Wake Up Peter, who also won both his preliminary rounds, starts from post seven for trainer Larry Remmen. American In Paris won five of six races as a 2-year-old, then won five of 16 last season at age 3. She was winless in her final six starts last season, but turned the corner this year with the addition of Lasix. She won the second round of the Artistic Vision Series in a career-best 1:50. "She had a few issues last year," said co-owner Mark Weaver. "This year, I think the key is we added Lasix; maybe we should have had her on it sooner. "Earlier this year, she almost raced like a thoroughbred, with two or three weeks between starts. It's hard to be in top condition when you do that, so I thought we still hadn't seen the best of her. She's pretty good. I'm not saying she could beat the top horses, but I'm not saying she couldn't." American In Paris is a daughter of stallion American Ideal out of the mare Sendingforth. She was purchased originally for $4,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale by Iowa's Nolan Van Otterloo. She finished second in her first start and then won twice before being purchased by Burke, Weaver and Mike Bruscemi. "We've bought horses from (the Van Otterloos) before and it's been a good connection for us," Weaver said. "They have a pretty good knack at buying some underpriced horses and usually at least one of them hits." Although Weaver thinks American In Paris might be able to compete against the division's best, she probably will have few chances this year. "She's not staked, but she's only (age) 4, so that might not be a bad thing," Weaver said. "We usually don't stake the 4-year-olds too heavily. We'll probably pick our spots; there's enough money to be made, hopefully, in some of the invitationals and opens. "Depending how she does, we could shut her down a little early and may stake her up for her 5-year-old year." As for the immediate challenge of fending off six rivals in the Artistic Vision final, Weaver likes American In Paris' chances. Other contenders include Josh Parker's JK Letitgo, who has won seven of nine races this year, and Chris Ryder's Road Bet, who won a preliminary leg in the series. "She's in a good spot," Weaver said about American In Paris. "There are some pretty nice horses in there, but the way she's been racing, I think she'll be pretty tough to beat." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
TORONTO, April 14 - After failing to find the winner's circle in both preliminary legs, Reasonable Force found his best stride when it counted the most as he captured this year's edition of the $36,200 Youthful Series final Monday at Woodbine. In doing so, the Doug McNair-driven sophomore returned $33.00 to his backers. McNair and Reasonable Force were in no hurry off the gate as Account Rollover (Randy Waples) cleared to the lead past the opening station in :27.1. Account Rollover, who found the wire in the first leg of the series, continued to lead his nine rivals past the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:24.4. McNair began the first-over attack around the final turn and was within striking distance of the tempo-setter turning for home. Down the stretch, McNair asked his charge for more pace and the three-time winner responded with a two length win. Post time favourite Andreios Kardia (Steve Byron) finished second, with Dragon Seelster (Paul Macdonell) finishing third. Trained by Tony Montini for owners Doug Dunbar and Steve LeBlanc, Reasonable Force lifted his career earnings to $44,840. The son of Shadow Play now has a 2-2-1 record from eight starts this season. Also on Monday's program, the second round of the Lifetime Dream series continued with two $18,000 divisions. Rose Run Oriana (Randy Waples) kicked-off the 10-race programme with a 1:54.2 score in the first division. The daughter of Trainforthefuture enjoyed a new career best in the debut for trainer Corey Johnson. Waples led gate-to-wire with the 15-time winner through panels of :28, :57 and 1:25.3, before fending off 3/5 favourite Rockin With Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) in deep stretch to win by one and a half lengths. Samira Hanover (Paul Macdonell) finished third. Owned by Rolling Hills Racing Stables, Rose Run Oriana will look for the series sweep next week as her bankroll increased to $134,717. She paid $4.90 to win. One race later, Her Name Is Lola (Phil Hudon) enjoyed her fifth career score at odds of 3-1. The daughter of Majestic Son laid parked on the outside at the quarter in :28.2, before clearing to the lead before the half in :57.2. From there, the trotting miss led her five rivals past in 1:26.1 before fending off a late challenge from Frisky Magic (Randy Waples) to win by a nose. Standing My Ground (Sylvain Filion) finished third. Trained by Russell Bax for Baxmar Holsteins Ltd, Her Name Is Lola increased her bankroll to $85,560. She paid $8.70 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
TORONTO, April 12 - Hldontghttoyurdrms, who recently captured the Horse And Groom final at The Meadowlands late last month, will headline the opening round of the Don Mills Series Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. The talented son of Muscles Yankee will begin from post six in the lone division in race nine for driver Jonathan Drury and trainer Corey Johnson. A 15-time winner in his career, Hldontghttoyurdrms has certainly made his mark on the WEG Circuit this season as the five-year-old has amassed a 5-2-0 record from nine starts, including four straight wins at the Preferred level. "He definitely looks like one of the better ones in the series," said Drury. "He's had a terrific season so far and is coming into the race in top form. I can't say enough good things about him. He makes my job look easy." After finishing fourth and second in the preliminary legs of the Horse And Groom Series, Hldontghttoyurdrms showed his true colours as he led gate-to-wire to capture the rich $60,600 final by five lengths in 1:53.4. "He wasn't himself in the first leg and wasn't trotting the best in the second round, but in the final he was on his game," Drury said. "Corey did a great job getting him right and I knew at the quarter he was back to his old self. He grabbed a hold of me like he usually does and was all business." Hldontghttoyurdrms then shipped home following the final and was entered to race at Woodbine the following Thursday in the $34,000 Preferred Trot event. Drury elected to use the same tactics with Hldontghttoyurdrms, but the result was different as the bay finished second, behind Amigo De Grande. "You can't take anything away from his effort the other night," said the young reinsman. "He was parked out past the three-eights, cleared, faced pressure right away and was still around at the wire. He also shipped home from The Meadowlands on Sunday and raced Thursday, so I'm sure that took a little out of him as well." Drury was quick to mention the attributes of the career winner of $233,015, who is owned by Frank and Saverio Spagnolo along with Frank Schimizzi. "He's such a handy horse to drive," said Drury, a resident of Rockwood. "He's got terrific gate-speed and then he'll come right back to you in the second quarter. I'm not sure where his bottom is, but he's going to go a big trip one day. I think he's better off a helmet and if solid fractions are put up, I'm not sure how fast he can go." Drury is also on pace for a career year with 61 victories to his credit along with over $600,000 in purse earnings. "It's certainly been a lot of fun this season," noted the 25-year-old pilot. "Anytime you get power it certainly helps your confidence and driving horses like Hldontghttoyurdrms and for Corey (Johnson), good things usually happen. Hopefully it continues." The Don Mills is for four and five-year-olds who are non-winners of $150,000 as of December 31, 2013. The lone $18,000 division of the Don Mills will line up as follows: 1. Its Payday Friday 2. West Side Story 3. Tough Mac 4. Mego Moss 5. Photo Mass 6. Hldontghttoyurdrms 7. Enough About You 8. Crosbys Clam Bake 9. Sixth Man 10. Our Mojo 11. Quit Smoking Now by Greg Gangle, for WEG
If anyone knows Jonathan Dury, aside from always being busy, they know he is truly a student of harness racing. From his time working with his father, Barry Drury, at Mohawk Racetrack, (Campbellville, ON), during the summer to picking up on slight nuisances' at all possible moments is what has driven Jonathan to the level of achievement he is currently earning as one of the top drivers at Woodbine Racetrack. Jonathan would help his dad anytime he was not in school. When Jonathan was very young, his ideal dream job would have been to drive big trucks. Moving several years down the line, when Jonathan was in high school, he contemplated having a career in architecture but due to his on-track success, that venture has been put on hold. If what we have seen of Jonathan the past few years is any indication of what lies ahead, there's a strong feeling he may put a permanent hold on entering the field of architectural design. Jonathan's dad still trains horses and Jonathan noted his dad used to work for harness racing legend Ron Waples back at the old Meadowlands as an assistant trainer. Jonathan started out at Woodstock Raceway and the first horse he drove was "a trotter for Chris Christoforou Sr. "It was my first time start and it was with a trotter" says Jonathan. "I like driving both pacers and trotters and I have had success driving trotters. A lot of trotters are trickier to drive than pacers but I still love driving trotters a lot." Away from the track earlier in his career, Jonathan enjoyed playing golf in the summer and hockey during the winter. "I was playing hockey for a few years for fun, then I broke my arm and called it quits for that..." says Jonathan with a laugh. Jonathan worked for several high caliber stables, such as Anthony Macdonald who had a lot of trotters. "I really learned a lot about how to handle a trotter" says Jonathan. Anthony Montini and Casie Coleman are two other elite trainers Jonathan worked for. "You see different ways of doing things." Jonathan explains. "Anthony Montini is a really nice guy; he even let me drive Primetime Bobcat in one of his last career starts. I can't say I learned one thing from anybody, its things you pick up and expand on when you work for someone else." It's about growing and learning while remaining humble and approachable that can you a long way in every aspect of life. As he progressed Jonathan moved on to drive at Kawartha Downs, (located in Fraserville, ON), "I really dug Kawartha Downs, I love driving on the 5/8th mile track. I spent time last summer driving at one at Pocono Downs. Kawartha was a great experience because I got to drive a lot of the better horses that went down there." Jonathan explains. "I was driving all of Corey Johnson's horses at one point and I was driving a lot of Tommy Riley's horses plus I was driving whatever Casie (Coleman) brought down there." Jonathan notes he learned a lot from driving horses for top notch trainers. How did Jonathan get to the point of driving all of Corey Johnson's horses? Well, Jonathan says he didn't know Corey at first but kept seeing his name listed to drive Corey's horses. "I was having a lot of luck down there and I was one of the top guys there driving for Tommy Riley... then the entries came out one day and I was listed to drive on three of Corey's horses and it was all trotters and I won with all three of them." Take off indeed, what was set in motion at Kawartha Downs truly snowballed for Jonathan, to the point that he was able to make a seamless transition to Canada's biggest racetracks, Woodbine and Mohawk. Winning with Vegas Vacation was special to Jonathan. "I actually spent a lot of time training him when I was working for Casie. I got to qualify him and I won with him on his first lifetime start." It holds a special spot in Jonathan's heart, especially given what Vegas Vacation has accomplished. "Vegas is a wicked horse with a ton of potential, I think he is going to get bigger, stronger and better" according to Jonathan and it is safe to say everyone would agree with his opinion. I certainly do! Jonathan admits it can difficult to get good drives and yes, if it was that easy everyone would be number one on the leader board. "I just try to work hard to get me to where I am" says Jonathan. "Carmen Auciello gave me the opportunity to go down to the Poconos to drive his horses down there and it was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It's a different style of racing down (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I am able to use that to my advantage now." "I love the Poconos and the track; it's a beautiful facility and a fast track that also gets a lot of good horses down there." I hear the architecture aficionado in Jonathan's voice when he's describing the facility at Pocono Downs. Jonathan was at the Meadowlands for the past three weekends driving Corey Johnson's trotter Hldontghttoyurdrms in the Horse and Groom series and expresses how much the new facility at the Meadowlands has improved. Jonathan's focus is to keep driving and learning more and more so he can better not only himself, but also better the results for the trainers and owners. His approach is to zone in on a team goal, not as an individual. "That's the best thing you can do is know as much as you can" Jonathan says when it comes to learning about other horses. "Knowing your horse, and knowing the rest of the horses, you can find ways to beat them with what you know about them." Jonathan enjoys watching elite drivers like Tim Tetrick and Brian Sears, "they can get so much out of their horse, put them in all the right places." Jonathan says. "I try to learn things from everybody to better myself." "I am very content racing horses; it's something I love doing so how can I complain about something I love?" Jonathan admits. "Horse racing has been a big part of my life, and now it is my life." "I like aggressive horses racing wise, I feel I can keep them calm" says Jonathan. When he's not driving, Jonathan will go out to his dad's barn to give him a hand or in the summers past he would help with Casie Coleman's stable. "If I have time off, I take it easy for the most part; maybe play some golf in the summer. Really I try to get some rest so I am ready to go." Jonathan explains. "I haven't raced since I was at the Meadowlands on Saturday. I had Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off and I was bored out of my mind having so many days off." In his time off, what keeps Jonathan mentally busy is music. "I'm a huge country music fan and also a huge Eminem fan. My favorite country group is Florida Georgia Line. I like all kinds of music depending on the mood I am in, but generally I listen to country." Jonathan says. As any avid music listener, Jonathan has his list of favorite concerts he has attended. The Jay Z and Eminem Home and Home tour concert, which took place in Detroit, is at the top of the list. A close second would be the concert he saw earlier this year that featured Jason Alden and Florida Georgia Line. This August, Jonathan will be rocking out to Linkin Park at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. A group he's been wanting to see live for quite some time. I posed the question to Jonathan, that if he could record a song with anyone or any group, he chose Florida Georgia Line. "Only because they look like they have a wicked time in their music videos." Jonathan says. A twist to his music curiosity is if Jonathan had the opportunity to sit down and talk with any music artist about their career, hands down it would be famed rapper, Eminem. "I've actually sat down and read through the meanings of all the lyrics to a bunch of his songs." Jonathan explains. "He's lived a very different life and gives you the courage not to give up.... He's come from a pretty rough family and battled against everything to get to where he is today. I read a documentary on him and he has boxes of papers with little groups of words scribbled on them that he just randomly has pop in his head." "And (Eminem) kept them in case he could ever use them in a song. It's really amazing what he can do with words and how each song has a meaning deep down inside the lyrics that you may not understand just listening to it." When it comes to interacting with fans, Jonathan truly enjoys the experience He's more than willing to sign autographs or give his whip away. One time at the Meadowlands, Jonathan was set to drive a couple of races and ended up giving away his whip to a fan without realizing he didn't have any more whips, as he only brought one with him to the track. Luckily Scott Zeron was there to help him out. So if you see Jonathan, don't be afraid to ask for an autograph as he is more than willing to oblige. "I wasn't expecting anyone to ask for my whip because at Woodbine the fans are so far away, you don't see them. It was shocking to see the fans up so close at different tracks. Once over a three night period at the Meadowlands, I won one race each night and gave away my whip after each race I won." How many sports can you account where the athletes and players involved give away game used items? Maybe baseball if you catch a foul ball, once in a blue moon an NFL football or a hockey puck, but in no other sport is this possible, only in harness racing where a fan can meet the people they cheer on and get an autograph on a nightly basis. by, Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova
On paper, the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Final appeared to be a wide open race. But on the racetrack, it was anything but. Avatartist, sent off as the 9-5 favorite, made the early lead in 26.1 prior to yielding to the pocket. Driver Dave Miller made an aggressive move down the backstretch, reclaiming the lead past a 53.3 half-mile. The Buckeye threw down the gauntlet and opened up a commanding lead heading to the top of the stretch and never had an anxious moment in the stretch winning in a stakes record 1:50.1. Alexa's Jackpot rallied very well off dull cover to be second, while Wake Up Peter came from an impossible spot to be third. The winner is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owners William Hill, Peter Harrisson, Michael Saftic and James Walker. Ironically, Avatartist is not eligible to the upcoming Whata Baron series which begins Saturday April 5th, while Alexa's Jackpot and Wake Up Peter are heading to that series next. In the $60,600 Final of The Horse & Groom, it was a perfect storm for Hldontghttoyurdrms in more ways than one. First, the 3-5 favorite Bambino Glide made a break prior to the start, never to be involved. At the start, round one winner Amigo Ranger went off-stride. Next, turning down the backstretch, with Hldontghttoyurdrms leading through a 27.3 opening quarter, pocket-sitting March Awareness broke stride, leaving the pace-setter with a six length lead heading to the half. Hldontghttoyurdrms got that half in 55.4 and three quarters in 1:24.3, while never facing a challenge and romping to an easy score in 1:53.4 for Canadian based driver Jonathan Drury. The winner had been a bit disappointing in the first two rounds of the series, but with the money down, the gelded son of Muscles Yankee got the job done. He is trained by Corey Johnson for owners Saverio Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Frank Spagnolo. Longshot Magglio was second with Crosbys Clam Bake finishing third. Scott Zeron and Jim Morrill, Jr. were the Winners in Round 2 of the Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Scott Zeron continues to make plenty of noise at The Meadowlands as he easily led the Phenoms from gate to wire to win the second leg of the Driver Challenge with 85 points. Zeron also won the "phenom" category last week as well. While Zeron is dominating the Phenoms, the Legends category has been a battle. Tonight, Andy Miller and Jim Morrill Jr. went into the last race each with 83 points, with first round winner Dave Miller right behind with 81 points. In the end, it was Jim Morrill Jr, with 90 points winning round 2 for the Legends. For the tournament, Dave Miller (172) leads the "Legends" followed by Andy Miller (160), Jim Morrill Jr. (158), Corey Callahan (74) and John Campbell (73). Scott Zeron (163) is cruising along in the "Phenoms" category. Joe Bongiorno (90) is a clear-cut second. Rounding out the top 10 are Tony Hall (60), Jonathan Drury (54), Steve Smith (52), Jim. Marohn Jr. (49), Vincent Ginsburg (46), Tyler Smith (45), Jim Meittinis (33) and Eric Abbatiello (22). On Saturday April 26th, the top five Legends and the top five Phenoms will qualify for the Driver Challenge Final, with the winner earning $15,000. Racing resumes on Friday with the first round of the Artistic Vision series for pacing mares, with post time at 7:15 P.M. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands
Nothingbutmach toted a two-race winning streak into Monday’s featured $11,000 Preferred 2 for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and the former claimer dug in late to extend the winning streak to three in a row for trainer Corey Johnson. With Paul MacKenzie at the controls, Nothingbutmach got away in the two-hole after starting from the second tier and he maintained the pocket spot through first-half fractions of :28.3 and :58.2. He engaged pacesetter Smokin Bear in battle at the three-quarter pole in 1:27.3 before using a :28.4 closing panel to win by a head over the hard-driving Stompin Tom Creek in 1:56.3. Lawmen Reign completed the Triactor ticket in the eight-horse affair. Debbie Element of Waterdown, Ontario, who claimed the horse for $8,000 on January 10, has watched the eight-year-old son of Mach Three-Nothing Special assemble a 4-1-0 record from his first six starts since the acquisition. The 12-time winner has stashed away close to $125,000. The card also included a trio of $7,000 Preferred 2 events, with two for pacers and one for trotters. To read the rest of the story click here.
Top Gear front-stepped his way to a top class victory at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday night, winning a $28,000 event for conditioned pacers by a neck over a pair trained by meet leader Corey Johnson Driver Mike Saftic pulled Top Gear from the pocket after the :27-second opening quarter and he took over command from early leaver McKinney. He then led the way past middle splits of :56.2 and 1:24.3 before holding off a deep stretch challenge from McKinney for the 1:52.2 triumph. The runner-up's stablemate and odds-on favourite Wazzup Wazzup advanced first over to finish one length behind in third. Top Gear paid $5.80 to win as the slight second choice. He earned his second win of the year in seven starts. His first came in the same class (non-winners of $28,000 last five starts) on Feb. 8 prior to his last two races at the Preferred level. To read rest of story click here.
TORONTO, February 26 - If you take a close look at the Woodbine drivers standings this season, there is a noticeable change near the top of the leader board. Twenty four-year-old Jonathan Drury is currently in second place, three wins behind three-time O'Brien Award winner Jody Jamieson. Drury, a resident of Rockwood, has certainly made the most of his drives this season accumulating 23 trips to the winners circle and $335,471 in purse earnings. Drury is also the regular pilot behind Hldontghttoyurdrms, who has captured the $34,000 Preferred Trot for a fourth week in a row for trainer Corey Johnson. "It's definitely horse power," Drury said explaining his stellar start in 2014. "When you get that kind of power to sit behind every night and get results, obviously your confidence goes up. So far this season, everything couldn't be better and I'm very fortunate." Drury was born into the harness racing business. His father, Barry, has operated a small stable for many years. Drury, who appears poised in his yellow and blue silks, a nod to his father's colours, is thankful for the valuable lessons he learned at a young age. "All the fundamentals of this sport came from my parents," Drury said. "My dad was stabled along the Mohawk backstretch for many years and my mother (Patricia) was in the barn too. When I wasn't in school I was in the barn or on the track." Drury also ventured out to other trainers before and after getting his trainer's license and he gained valuable experience while working with such trainers as O'Brien Award winner Casie Coleman, Tracey Brainard and Tony Montini. "That was a great learning curve for me," Drury said. "I got to see other methods of training and see the way they do it and run their operation. I've worked for Casie off-and-on for the past three years and got the opportunity to drive for her, which was amazing." After gaining his license in 2008, Drury began driving at Flamboro and Georgian Downs, but the move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers in Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello yielded great dividends for the young reinsman. "I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there," said Drury. "Now they both have powerful stables at Woodbine and I'm just thankful to get the work." Perhaps the most valuable experience Drury gained was a summer spent at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania where he drove regularly for Ontario-based trainer Carmen Auciello, who sent a team of roughly 12 head. "Driving with a different bunch of guys at Pocono was a lot of fun," he said. "It's a little different style of driving and I learned so much in a short period of time. That was the most valuable experience I got, especially when I came back to Ontario." Drury was also a key player in the development of O'Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation. Drury "baby-raced" the son of Bettors Delight, before guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. "I was working for Casie at the time and would sit behind her two-year-olds on a regular basis," Drury said. "She asked me to baby-race him and teach him in his early stages and that was a lot of fun to sit behind that type of animal." Needless to say, Drury certainly has gained a lot of experience north and south of the border at a young age, and with a little patience and a lot of talent, it appears to be paying off nicely for the man they call JD. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
Hldontghttoyurdrms was pushed to the limit in Monday’s $34,000 Preferred Trot at Woodbine Racetrack, but he managed to stave off a late challenge from his stablemate Nowucit Nowudont en route to winning the top class for square gaiters for the third straight start. With Jonathan Drury at the controls, Hldontghttoyurdrms was parked by Amigo De Grande past the quarter pole in :26.2 before being released to the lead. Once he crossed over to the pylons, the Corey Johnson pupil managed to whack out middle panels of :56.2 and 1:25.4 before coming under attack. Amigo De Grande sprinted out of the two-hole to come after him while Nowucit Nowudont swung wide off cover and started to go to work. Hldontghttoyurdrms used a :28.1 closing quarter to win by a nose over Nowucit Nowudont in 1:54. Amigo De Grande was a head back in third. Frank Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Saverio Spagnolo share ownership on the five-year-old son of Muscles Yankee-Sweet Gabriella who won for the third time in four starts this season. The 13-time winner pushed his lifetime earnings over $170,000 with the victory. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Racetrack. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
Ted Yates, from the Morning Show on Oldies 1150 CKOC, joined Flamboro Downs' Gary Guy in the announcer booth to call the third race as the track's Announcer Idol competition continued on Sunday evening. Stephen Morton's Pasta Vera ($5.30) made up a 10 length deficit in the final lap of the third race to win in 1:58.2 for brothers Robert and Patrick Shepherd. "And flying now is Pasta Vera and Pasta Vera has passed them all!" called Yates with assistance from Guy while Shepherd sent the five-year-old pacer wide from the backfield to take over command down the backstretch. "Look at that lead! Pasta Vera is going to win," said Yates as the leading horse opened up down the stretch. "Close for second, they're all there for second!" There was a five-across battle for the runner-up honours five lengths behind the winner. Pacesetter War Boots and Tyler Moore held on for second while Grissini and James MacDonald rounded out the top three finishers. The career-best win was Pasta Vera's third in a row over a span of nine days since shipping to Ontario. Andrew Gerrior from FreshFM 95.3 will take the mic for next Sunday's edition of Announcer Idol. The competition continues through March 23 with a different, local broadcast media personality calling the third race every Sunday night. Fans and patrons will get to vote for their favourite race call on the Flamboro Downs website and the winning announcer will receive a donation to the local charity of their choice, compliments of Flamboro Downs and Great Canadian Gaming. Sunday night's featured $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace was won by the repeating Nothingbutmach ($5.40), who fought off My Man Charley and Jody Jamieson for the 1:55.4 victory. Phil Hudon drove the winner for trainer Corey Johnson and owner Debbie Element. Web Cam and Scott Coulter finished third. Gaetan Hebert's homebred pacer Live And Learn ($7.30) won the $7,000 Preferred 3 in 1:57.2 with Bob McClure aboard. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Flamboro Downs. Repriinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
Ideal Shadow was bet off the board in Monday’s debut effort at Woodbine under the guidance of trainer/co-owner Ben Baillargeon, and the betting public was bang on in its assessment of the lightly-raced youngster. Purchased by Baillargeon and partners Nunzio & Santo Vena for $45,000 from the 2014 January Select Mixed Sale at The Meadowlands, Ideal Shadow appeared to barely break a sweat in what was just his second lifetime start. After making a break and failing to crack the top three in his first lifetime start on January 18 for former trainer Erv Miller, the three-year-old son of American Ideal-Shadow Baby cruised to an easy win by lengths in 1:54.3. Mario Baillargeon got away third with the new recruit, and the pacer maintained that position to the quarter pole before brushing his way to the lead in the backstretch. He cleared to the top without a tussle and successfully chopped out panels of :57.4 and 1:26.2 before using a :28.1 closing quarter to win by a pair of lengths in 1:54.3. Monday’s 11-race card also saw pacer All Chrome extend his personal winning streak to six thanks to a 1:54.4 score in come-from-behind fashion for the tandem of driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Corey Johnson. Filion got away fifth with the five-year-old son of Tell All-Ever Western before advancing the gelding on the rim in the middle stages of the mile. The 4-5 favourite then used a :28.4 final frame to prevail by a half-length margin over Canbec Kingkazimir, with third prize going to Rock N Go. Brian Paquet of Quebec owns the photogenic pacer who is now three-for-three this season after having gone 4-for-12 last year. The 10-time winner pushed his lifetime earnings over $50,000 with the victory. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Racetrack. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
There was a twist to this week's edition of Announcer Idol at Flamboro Downs as driver Anthony MacDonald filled in as a last minute replacement due to a late scratch sick. MacDonald subbed in for CHCH TV's Jason Portuondo, who was the next scheduled local broadcast media personality to participate in the contest for charity. With Scott Coulter in the bike, Theabilityofreason battled with pacesetter Rammy Girl, driven by MacDonald's brother James, for the final half-mile in the third race. "They're going to square off into the stretch...Down to the wire, two of them, heads apart," announced MacDonald, eventually making the close call at the wire. "On the outside it looks like it may have been Theabilityofreason!" Theabilityofreason prevailed by a neck over Rammy Girl in 2:00.2 over the 'good' track for Dutton, Ont. owner/trainer Gerald Lilley, who earned back-to-back wins on the card. MacDonald has previous practice calling a race as a participant in Grand River Raceway's From Bike To Mic contest for drivers and trainers. Announcer Idol continues through March 23 with a different, local broadcast media personality taking the mic for one race every Sunday night. At the end of March, fans and patrons will vote for their favourite race call on the Flamboro Downs website and the winning announcer will receive a donation to the local charity of their choice, compliments of Flamboro Downs and Great Canadian Gaming. Ted Yates, from the Morning Show on Oldies 1150 CKOC, is the next scheduled guest announcer and will take the mic for race three on Sunday, Feb. 16. One race prior to the Announcer Idol contest, Nothingbutmach went wire-to-wire in 1:57.3 to win the featured $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace. Driven by Ph il Hudon, the eight-year-old Mach Three gelding won by a length and a half over Web Cam, with Hidden Potential finsihing third. Nothingbutmach is trained by Corey Johnson and owned by Debbie Element of Waterdown, Ont. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Flamboro Downs. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
Libertys Best Star notched his fifth straight victory on Friday at Woodbine Racetrack with a tough front-end effort in the evening's seventh race. Sent postward as the 5-2 favourite in the full field of $8,000 claiming pacers, Libertys Best Star ($7.10) front-stepped his way to a 1:54.2 victory with Jonathan Drury in the sulky. The 35-time career winner prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Duke Did It (Chris Christoforou) in 1:54.2 with a from-last First Impression (Sylvain Filion) closing for third-place honours. The six-year-old son of Cammibest is now six-for-seven this year. He was claimed for $5,000 two starts ago on Jan. 26 at Flamboro Downs by Jonah Moase of Cornwall, P.E.I. and is trained by Thomas Riley. Drury, who won four times on Friday's 11-race card, also teamed up with Riley to win the third race aboard Mopey Corey. His other winners were Rock N Roll Xample for trainer Shawn Robinson and Laneside Lexus for conditioner Corey Johnson. To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Racetrack. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
Since joining forces with trainer Corey Johnson, Hldontghttoyurdrms has been ultra-productive and incredibly fast. His performance in Monday’s $34,000 Preferred Trot at Woodbine Racetrack was no exception considering he became Canada’s fastest trotter of the season thanks to a 1:53 score. Hldontghttoyurdrms, who was sent off as the 3-5 favourite in the nine-horse affair, got away third while Cool Guy sprinted to the lead and supplied an opening quarter clocked in :26.4. Jonathan Drury right-lined the favourite going into the backstretch, and they cleared to the lead shortly past the mid-way point in :56.1. Nowucit Nowudont came first-over and pressed Hldontghttoyurdrms to the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4, but the leader shrugged off that challenge and drew clear to win by 1-1/2 lengths over a late-closing Catch The Dream. Nowucit Nowudont settled for third. Hldontghttoyurdrms, a five-year-old son of Muscles Yankee-Sweet Gabriella, now boasts a 2-0-0 record from three trips to the track this season. The 12-time winner, who is owned by Frank Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Saverio Spagnolo, bumped his lifetime earnings to $153,615 with the victory. Steve Byron, who was sidelined from the racetrack since last May, captured his first victory since his layoff on Monday evening at Woodbine. The 51-year-old guided Andreios Kardia to an off-the-pace victory for trainer James Madill in the opening dash on the 12-race card The three-year-old son of Badlands Hanover paced in 1:55.1 and paid $4.10 to win. Byron, a resident of Thornton, Ontario, suffered a fractured left knee and ligament damage in a qualifying race at Kawartha Downs on May 20, 2013. Reprinted from StandardbredCanada and WEG
Things didn’t go so well for Thundering Ovation in last week’s Preferred 2 for trotters at The Raceway at Western Fair District, but the Gerry Sloan trainee was solid gold in Tuesday’s follow-up performance over the London half-miler. Thundering Ovation, in rein to J.R. Plante, played give-and-go with Cimeronken in the early stages of Monday's main event before chopping out fractions of :30, 1:01.3 and 1:30.4 over a track listed as “Good” with a two-second allowance. Thundering Ovation used a :30-second closing quarter to stave off Cimeronken by one-quarter of a length in 2:00.4. Savthelstdancforme rallied to finish third. Sent off as the 4-5 favourite in the eight-horse affair, the homebred won for the second time this season for owners Joanne and Courtney Sloan of Harley, Ontario. The five-year-old daughter of Thunder Road-Shesintuff, who is now a 13-time winner, bumped her career earnings to $176,415 with the victory. Lady Latte showed no mercy to the foes she sparred with in the $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 later on card. The eight-year-old daughter of No Pan Intended-Miss Jeki got away third for Trevor Henry while Insincerity rolled to the front and threw down first-half fractions of :28.3 and :58.4. Lady Latte was on the move first-over approaching the half, and she took over command on the outside at the three-quarter pole in 1:28. She roared home in :29.2 to win by a decisive, seven-length margin over race favourite Insincerity in 1:57.2. Rachel Olivia nabbed the show dough. Gord McDonnell trains the 32-time winner for owners Craig Turner and Mhairi Kersel of Ingersoll, Ontario. The classy campaigner pushed her lifetime earnings to $421,885 with the win. The 12-race program also saw pacer All Chrome extend his winning streak to five-in-a-row thanks to his 1:58.2 triumph for the tandem of driver Phil Hudon and trainer Corey Johnson. The five-year-old son of Tell All-Ever Western came first-over and drew clear to win by 3-1/2 lengths in a time of 1:58.2 in the $5,800 event. Brian Paquet of Quebec owns the nine-time winner who has earned just shy of $43,000 to date. To view results for Tuesday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Tuesday Results – The Raceway at Western Fair District. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca