The Hambletonian Monte Series Final at the new Meadowlands and two Ontario pari-mutuel races at Grand River Raceway showcased North American monte activities this weekend. On Friday evening the $27,500 Hambletonian Monte Final took place (non-wagering) at the new Meadowlands. Sponsors were Jeff Gural, Valley High Stable, Back On Track, Ron Burke Stable, Arden Homestead Stable, Crawford Farm, Aldrich Properties, George Ducharme and Winners Circle Blueberries. The final followed two $10,000 legs the previous two weekends. This week, A Penny Earned (5g Conway Hall-Penny Dream-Dream Vacation) scored for Michelle Crawford and trainer George Ducharme in 1:57.2 (last quarter :28.2), just short of the north American speed race record set by Master Pine two years ago in 1:57.1. The winner was second in a July 18 leg behind Take My Picture that was second in the final for Therese Lindgren and trainer Nikolas Drennan. O U Gus (the July 25 winner) ended third for Stephanie Werder and trainer Whitney Richards. Master Pine finished fourth for Helene Gregory and trainer Julie Miller in the competitive (seven starters timed in 2:00.1 or better) ten horse field. In Ontario, Grand River Raceway hosted two pari-mutuel events on August 1st and 4th. The August 4th International Monte was part of the raceway's Industry Day and attracted riders from Canada, Belgium and Finland. The US rider-entrant Jennifer Connor was a scratch due to travel problems. Previous monte winner Radical Dreamer (Marit Valstad) made the fast pace, tracked and battled by eventual winner Tragically Shipp (Saara Jalasti aboard), that pulled away late for an comfortable win over Angies Lucky Star (Philippe Massachaele) in 2:02.4h over a rain soaked surface. Tragically Shipp (8g Shipps Speed-CH On Tour-Armbro Laser) is trained by Lee Watson for owners Lynne and David Magee. Jalasti and Massachaele regularly ride in monte races in Europe, where monte is very popular and part of most pari-mutuel racing cards at French and Scandinavian tracks. Race replay follows: The August 1 race at Grand River was billed as the Canada vs. Norway Challenge and it went to Callie Magoo (5g Magoo-Callie Alyssa-Wesgate Crown) with Norway's G. Berg up for trainer John Braid. This pair scored in 2:04.3h over King Tut (Sarah Town up for Canada) and Charlie Tuna. Both Grand River races were well received in the pari-mutuel wagering, as had been the case in previous Ontario pari-mutuel monte races. Standardbred Canada and Meadowlands files Thomas H. Hicks
Ronny B Good, one of just two mares and the second oldest of the ten competitors, captured the $6500 championship final of the Running Aces "Survivor Series" Sunday night (July 31). The eight-year-old Incredible Finale mare, owned by Banks Standardbreds of nearby Cannon Falls, swept from eighth at the half and seventh at the three-quarters to win by a neck in 1:55.1 for driver Lemoyne "Moonie" Svendsen.
Bringing back a champion can have its challenges. Expectations are high and age sometimes slows the stride of a great racehorse. However, ABC Mercedes proved that he has overcome the odds, winning the $24,000 Invitational Trot Wednesday, May 18 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.
The 2010 American National Stake season kicked off on Saturday, August 28th with a pair of three-year-old harness racing trotting events bringing some of North America's top talent to the Crete oval. Both races attracted full fields of 10 with the colts going for a purse of $150,000 while their female counterparts battled for $131,500.
The first round of American-National Stakes at Balmoral Park outside Chicago gets underway this weekend with races for 3-year-old male and female trotters. Hambletonian second runner-up Wishing Stone, who has $250,389 on his card this year and has yet to win a race in seven starts, heads a field of 10 going for the $150,000 harness racing purse in the race for 3-year-old male trotters.
A pair of state-bred trotting stakes for two-year-olds shared top billing on Wednesday's (August 4) Balmoral Park program and once again it was harness racing trainer Robert Taylor's My Miss Caroline who continued to dominate the filly ranks as she captured the $49,500 Fox Valley Flan Stake.
The states top pacers were highlighted on Saturday night as Balmoral Park presented six stake finals as part of a fun filled harness racing weekend known as the Southland Festival of Racing. With a big crowd lining the apron on a perfect evening there was a buzz in the air as the Illinois conceived and foaled stars battled for more than $378,000 in purse money.
Making it look even easier than she did while taking her career debut by five lengths La Bella Vita Stables, Robert Taylor & Kevin Dixon's My Miss Caroline completely overwhelmed nine rivals as she rolled to an 8-1/2 length victory in Wednesday's $7,000 Fox Valley Flan Stake elimination.
In what looked a rerun of last week's elimination tussle, Peggy Hood and Mystical Marker Farms Cotton Candy sped right to the front and made every call a winning in 1:55.1 over a sloppy track to take Friday's harness racing $100,000 Filly Maywood Pace.
Once again the this season's two-year-old colt pacing crop was on display Sunday night at Balmoral Park as a total of 13 youngsters battled in a pair of $5,000 Bingo Johnnie Stake harness racing splits.
Sophomore pacing fillies were the center of attention on Thursday night at Maywood Park as Peggy Hood & Mystical Marker Farms Cotton Candy knocked off seven other Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-olds by a half-length in 1:55.1 to take the $10,000 Filly Maywood Pace harness racing elimination.
The Grand Circuit is off this week. Harness racing action will resume in late June at the Meadowlands (Historic Series races) and in early July at Goshen Historic Track (Landmark Stakes).
Each year, some of the top three-year-old pacers in North America converge on Hoosier Park Racing & Casino for the $500,000 Hoosier Cup. When there is horsepower, there are always talented harness racing drivers that follow.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino played host to a returning harness racing champion Saturday, May 1. Southern Rocketop, driven by Hall of Famer Dave Magee, rallied home in his first start of the year to win the $23,000 Invitational Trot in a time of 1:55.0, proving he is back to tackle another year of competition.
Wednesday morning's (April 22) qualifiers at Balmoral Park drew plenty of attention as two of Illinois most dominant state-bred trotters over the past two seasons, Southern Rocketop and Miss Vickie, were both sent out for their first preps of the 2010 season.
In the only trotting event of the Windy City night the sensational Illinois harness racing bred Southern Rocketop had no trouble dispatching six rivals in the $90,000 Galt Stake for three-year-old trotting colts as he posted a front stepping score in 1:57.3.