Harnessracing.com is reporting that world champion Always B Miki p, 1:47f ($2,227,368), who holds the distinction of winning three races in 1:47 in a single season -- no other horse has more than one 1:47 or faster mile -- will be retired to stud duty at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania at the end of his 2016 racing campaign. He is scheduled to compete in the Allerage on Sunday at The Red Mile and then complete his career at the Meadowlands in the Breeders Crown and TVG Free-For-All. The horse’s ownership group, Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, issued the following statement in announcing the news: “Diamond Creek Farm has purchased a significant interest in Always B Miki. The entire partnership is elated. This is a natural progression for a great horse, to stand at a great facility where he will receive excellent support.” Diamond Creek Farm’s Adam Bowden said he had been working on a deal to stand the stallion at stud for quite some time. “I’m really excited. I’ve been working on this all summer and hoping and praying it would happen,” said Bowden. “It’s just great to add him to our stallion roster.” A stud fee will be announced at a later date. To read the full article click here.
Two of the sports biggest breeding operations in all of harness racing, Hanover Shoe Farms in North America and Alabar Stud in Australia/New Zealand, have both signed on as new sponsors for the 6th annual Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (VDM) in Ireland for 2017. In addition, Diamond Creek Farm and Joe Bellino Racing Stable in the USA, PJI Engineering and Oakwood Stud in Ireland, have all “re-upped” their race sponsorships for the big race weekend. The Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend is the creation of Derek and James Delaney of Offlay, Ireland, who is 2012, a year after the tragic death of their younger brother Vincent, decided to have a memorial race in his honor. Little did they know that their weekend honoring their lost brother would develop into the richest harness racing stakes event in all of Ireland and the UK. “My brother James and I look back at what we’ve done with our brothers race in just four years,” said Derek Delaney. “And it blows us away. We have a VDM Committee who is the backbone of our big weekend and now we hire some outside agency’s to help us. It’s amazing. We know that Vincent is very proud of what we have done in his memory.” Hanover Shoe Farms is the leading money earning breeding farm in racing and they are now the title sponsor of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Colt Pace for two-year-olds. The icing on the cake for Hanover Shoe Farms management may have been after Tyrion Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, won the VDM colt division on August 14. He was purchased at Hanover’s Harrisburg Sale at a yearling and flown back to the UK. “Murray (Brown) came back with great enthusiasm about the weekend in Ireland.” Jim Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms. “He told me how they are in it for the love of Horse Racing...not the money. The sponsorship was available so we took it. We sponsor races in Lexington, Meadowlands, The Hambletonian, The Little Brown Jug, Chester, The Meadows, Pocono Downs, UK and Germany. So why not Ireland?” Simpson said that he is already planning on coming to Ireland next year for the VDM Weekend. The Diamond Creek Farm VDM filly division is being sponsored for the second straight year by Diamond Creek Farm and the Adam Bowden Family. “It was an easy decision.” Bowden said. “After going to Ireland for the 2016 edition of the VDM Memorial we were blown away by the hospitality of the Irish people as well as the Delaney family. “Joining a grassroots movement is addicting, Bowden explained, “and being part of something great is what we are all about. Diamond Creek Farm wants to be involved in events that showcase the greatness of Standardbred racing both at home in the US as well as abroad. Derek Delaney, single-handedly has energized the sport in that region and we could not be more excited about the what the future will bring. “How could you not be entirely blown away over there?” Bowden said. “You can see the event in pictures or follow Heather Vitale's live Facebook posts, but being there in person is an out of this world experience. My wife and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity and the generosity shown by everyone we came in contact with. “I grew up going to the races in Maine (especially the Cumberland Fair in my hometown),” Bowden added, “and being at Portmarnock Raceway was like being transported back in time to 1985 when I was a little kid and reliving my first harness racing experiences where everything was novel and new. It was grassroots racing at its finest.” The VDM is the world’s most rugged race for two-year-olds, requiring the young horses to race Saturday in elimination divisions and then return Sunday for their respective finals in the one-mile race. “We even have sponsors now for the VDM elimination races,” Derek Delaney added. “Clive and Anne Dalton from Australia have signed on and are guaranteeing that each elimination division for both the colts and fillies will race for €2,000 each.” Alabar Stud, the largest breeding operation down under with 28 stallions in Australia and New Zealand, is now co-sponsoring the Alabar-Oakwood Derby for three-year-old pacers. This race calls for the same format as the VDM, eliminations Saturday (if necessary) and the finals on Sunday. The race is also at a one-mile distance. And, with the Alabar sponsorship, there will also be a filly division for the 3YO Derby in 2017. Alan Galloway, owner and director of Alabar Stud, was in Ireland for the VDM Weekend this past August and was infatuated with everything he saw. “It was my first time in Ireland for the VDM,” said Galloway, “And what a show they put on. Just a fantastic race weekend. So much excitement. So much passion for the sport that I knew Alabar had to get involved again. “We actually were sponsors when the first Breeders Crown UK & Ireland came about over ten years ago.” Galloway said. “We were invited to come over and help them and the Ireland improve racing. I met and worked with its president, David Wilson, when he first developed the Breeders Crown series. We bred over 100 mares back then,” Galloway said. “We sent over Village Jasper, Armbro Operative and Safely Kept. It was very difficult getting all the approvals from the government but we got it done. Many of the horses racing there now are from their offspring’s. “I was really taken back this year,” Galloway said. “The Irish are such lovely people. Everything that Derek Delaney and his brother have done to promote this weekend is fantastic. Their story is very moving, so emotional, it’s what we at Alabar want to be part of.” Another major sponsor, smitten by coming to the VDM this year, was Joe Bellino and his family, all eight of them. The Bellino Racing Stable in the USA had agreed to sponsor the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace this year and was so enthralled with the entire Ireland experience, Joe re-upped for 2017 even before he came home. “It was the way the people in racing there embraced my family,” Joe Bellino said. “And their deep love for the sport that convinced me to want to sponsor the race again. The way they celebrated a win with cheering and excitement. It’s just the same way I am whether racing for $100 purse or $500,000. It was also great to see and feel it firsthand. “In some way in North America we have lost our way with that sort of enthusiasm.” Bellino explained. “It’s almost like the people who win are used to winning and have come to expect it. That’s why I really appreciated the Hambo this year as it was great to see and feel the passion for our sport just as they do in Ireland.” PJI Engineering of England, one of the largest metal fabricators in all of the UK and Ireland, has come back on board as the sponsor of the Junior FFA Pace. “I first met Derek and James in 2015,” explained Paul Johnson, owner of PJI Engineering in England, “and he was telling me the story on Vincent and the passion the two of them have for the sport is unbelievable. “These two are trying there utmost to take this sport to the next level,” Johnson said, “and the VDM has done so. This is an event that everyone looks forward to every year now, and it gets better every year. Let's not forget the charity's they give to as well. We look forward to be a part of the VDM for many years to come!” With new and renewed sponsorship support coming from around the world, Derek and James Delaney are putting the money right back into their big race weekend. “Because of the great growth of sponsors for the VDM Weekend,” Derek Delaney said, “we will be able in 2017 to also expand the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds to both a horse and mare divisions with Yirribee Stud in Australia taking on as sponsor of the mare division and there will be an increase in purse for the Elvin-Delaney Invitation Le Trot race. This is all so grand! “We now have many of the world’s leading harness racing breeders, owners, trainer, drivers, announcers and journalists coming to Ireland for the VDM.” Delaney added, “It’s hard to imagine that just five years ago we raced for €20,000 ($25,000US) in total purses that first year and now in 2017 the weekend will feature more than €100,000 ($127,000US) in purses. “The VDM has become a major success story to have the biggest breeding farms in the world sponsoring our brothers memorial weekend” Delaney added, “and it's also a major step in the right direction for our breeders, owners, trainers and drivers that they can now breed and sell, train or own horses that has real earning potential in juvenile racing and more! “When you have Alan Galloway and Alabar Farms, Joe Bellino and his Bellino Racing Stables, Jim Simpson & Murray Brown of Hanover shoe Farms, Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farms, Rod Woodhouse of Yirribee Stud Australia, all willing to advise and sponsor us and help improve the breeding in Ireland and the UK.” Said Delaney. “We all know this can only mean a very strong future for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend and a very bright future for our Oakwood Stud.” Delaney added, “We have been a major factor in the racing and breeding in Ireland and the UK and I believe our Standardbreds will become world class in the future. Ireland has a history for producing the best gallopers in the world, so why can't we in Ireland and UK not be the best producers of Standardbreds in the world or at least one of the best! “We are also working with Sire Stakes Ireland and the Breeders Crown UK and Ireland, bricking and building stronger with devoted people like my brother James Delaney, Bernie Kelly, Dave Wilson, Jackie Mann, Thomas Bennett and others. It's all going to complement our events and others stakes. It’s going to be something special how our racing will be growing in the next two to three years’ time, getting stronger year on year. “Maybe most important about all of this,” Delaney said, “is the great new friends we have made over the years that will last a lifetime.” For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. The dates for the 2017 Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend are Saturday and Sunday, August 12 and 13. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend
DUBLIN, Ireland – A record number of 180 horses have entered the weekend race card for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway just outside of Dublin. “My brother James and I cannot believe how everyone wants to race this weekend,” said Derek Delaney, head of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee. “For the fourth straight year we keep growing and growing.” A total of 188 horses have been entered for the Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14 two-day meet. That is up 11.12% over prior year. The big race of the weekend is the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) for two-year-old pacers. This is first year that there are both a colt and filly division with 14 youngsters entered in both events. The VDM is a rugged event that requires horses to compete in elimination divisions on Saturday and then come back again Sunday to race in the finals. The inaugural filly division is being sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm of Kentucky, USA. Each of the finals race for a purse of $16,000 euros. Vincent Delaney was Derek and James younger brother who tragically died in 2011 at the age of 27. The brothers then developed the memorial race series in his honor and it has since grown to become the richest stakes event and weekend in the history of harness racing in Ireland the UK. Additional major stakes events over the weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, the Lee Edwards/PJI Engineering Junior FFA Pace and the Elvin-Delaney French FFA Trot. There is a gala kickoff dinner Friday evening at the Airport Hilton Hotel that is already sold out and Sunday’s VIP Marquee Tent is also sold out with over 300 to attend. Every year the VDM Committee selects a local charity to benefit from the VDM Weekend, especially at the Friday night gala dinner auctions. This year’s charity is the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) of Dublin. The organization, which is comprised 100% of all volunteers, operates a seven-day outreach service across the city, coinciding with their mobile outreach unit. ICHH’s outreach support service operates nightly providing access to beds, sleeping bags, food or case management referrals. ICHH works a 16-hour mobile outreach service, responding to rough sleeper reports within 15 minutes of getting a call. The service also operates seven days a week. The website is at http://www.innercityhelpinghomeless.ie/. It is just grand how all of this has come together,” Derek Delaney said. “And this year we have so many great horsemen and women coming over for Vincent’s weekend. Dexter Dunn from New Zealand, Aaron Merriman from the USA are the special guest drivers, Diamond Creek Farms Adam Bowden, Joe Bellino and his entire crew, Roger Huston, Heather Vitale, Heather Wilder, Murray Brown, John McDermott, Alan Galloway, Sydney Weaver, Joann Looney-King, Susan Looney and a huge group from Australia on tour. "What a great time we will show them all!” Delaney said. "Most everyone is arriving today and tomorrow and we are looking forward to meeting everyone." The guests begin their VIP weekend with carriage ride tours of downtown Dublin plus lunch at the world famous Temple Bar, a bus trip to Oakwood Stud training and breeding facility, the gala kick-off dinner Friday and then the two big VDM race days Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend
When his homebred harness racing champion Pure Country crossed the finish line to notch her 11th lifetime triumph on May 7 in the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Adam Bowden was obviously grinning from ear to ear. Obviously his facial expression was the result of pure joy due to the victory, but Bowden acknowledged it was also directly associated with a tremendous weight being lifted off his shoulders. “When she won that race I breathed a huge sigh of relief,” he said. “Jimmy (Takter, her trainer) had told me after she suffered her first loss in the eliminations the week before that she might have been a little short for that start. There is always some concern when you have an undefeated horse and they lose their first race coming back. You wonder if maybe they did not improve from last year or other horses may have improved, but she erased all those doubts that night. “I thought it was a terrific race for her. It was a very tough first-over trip on a night when the weather was less than ideal. Not only did she establish a new lifetime mark (1:50.3), but she beat some very nice fillies in Darlinonthebeach, I Said Diamonds, Newborn Sassy and Call Me Queen Be. She illustrated her quality and demonstrated she is prepared to pick up right where she left off last year.” Pure Country will be facing one of the toughest tests of her career this Saturday (Aug. 6) at Meadowlands Racetrack when she tackles the boys, including Meadowlands Pace winner Control The Moment, in the $320,000 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown. The race attracted 11 entries, so it will be contested at the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles. Pure Country was last year’s Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer and has won 16 of 19 career races. She will start from post position 11 in the second tier and is 4-1 on the morning line. Only one filly has ever captured the Cane Pace and that happened way back in 1960 when Countess Adios won the race at Yonkers Raceway. By Somebeachsomewhere and out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, Pure Country was bred and is owned by Bowden and his father Chris’ Diamond Creek Farm. Western Montana was one of the very first horses the duo purchased when they began their operation. Father and son paid $50,000 for her as a yearling in 2005 because they were enamored with her pedigree. Western Montana is a half-sister to LCB (Jate Lobell, $906,348) and a full sibling to Allamerican Ingot ($1,141,193) and Allamerican Inca ($889,090). Western Montana competed for the Bowdens for two years. During her racing career she earned $175,010 and won on five occasions from 16 trips to the gate. She even finished fourth in the Breeders Crown final as a 2-year-old, but her ability was limited by her attitude. “She was crazy,” Bowden said. “She was very high strung and had a goat in her stall as her constant companion to settle her down. We ended up retiring her when I received a call from Kelly (trainer O'Donnell) saying she was getting to the point where she was dangerous. She would just run off and bolt away even when she was jogging. That is when we decided it was time to breed her, which was always the plan for her anyway.” Western Montana’s first foal, Live Wire, was by Rocknroll Hanover and amassed just under $64,000 in her days on the track. Her second foal, Homestake, was sired by Ponder and the gelding only managed to accumulate $13,041. The mare’s third offspring was Hunger Games, who is a full sister to Pure Country. The Bowdens kept this filly and raced her for almost two years before selling her in 2014. She banked nearly $70,000. “All of Western Montana’s foals have had ability but they all had her temperament,” Bowden explained. “That is what limited them as racehorses. Hunger Games also had talent but she took after her mother. Linda Toscano, who trained her, always told us how much she believed in her and that she could be a very nice horse. The Crawfords have her now and they have done fairly well with her. “My dad and I debated back and forth on selling Hunger Games, so I told him we should sell her and keep Pure Country. In this business you never know what can happen and you are often taking a chance. I’m just glad in this situation I made the right choice.” From the very beginning Pure Country seemed to stand apart from her older siblings. “She was a little bit bigger, a little more correct and was never sick or had any physical issues,” Bowden said. “The thing that was different about her was she always had a great mind. Thankfully she did not inherit her mother’s personality. She is a very intelligent horse and with that as well as her speed, it makes her an excellent racehorse.” Pure Country debuted on June 30, 2015 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in a $30,000 Pennsylvania All Stars event with Brett Miller in the bike. She broke her maiden at first asking and served notice she would be a force to be reckoned with thanks to a blistering :26.3 final quarter panel. Her next four engagements, all victories, were in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the filly captured the $350,000 final on Sept. 11 at The Meadows to run her record to a perfect six-for-six. After dominating her competition in the Keystone State, Pure Country took her show on the road where she took an $81,000 division of the Bluegrass Stake and a $74,700 division of the International Stallion Stake at The Red Mile in Lexington. The filly completed her freshman season with wins in her $20,000 Breeders Crown elimination and in the $600,000 final at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 24. Pure Country was 10-for-10, earned just shy of $700,000 and was nearly the unanimous selection as the Dan Patch 2-year-old pacing filly champion. “Jimmy said she could be a great racehorse or it could all blow up in our faces shortly after she began training,” Bowden said. “She has been just perfect all along and has done everything we have ever expected of her. I also think she is in the right hands because Jimmy has been around so many top pacing mares. He knows how to get along with them and he keeps her happy. “She is very special to us,” he continued. “We have won Breeders Crown races before but this was our first one with a homebred. Words cannot really explain how rewarding and satisfying that feels. It was something we always looked toward accomplishing and she did that for us.” Bowden admitted Pure Country’s third place finish on April 30 in her $20,000 Miss Pennsylvania elimination was a bit disconcerting, but the powerful fashion in which she rebounded in the following week leads him to believe the filly is primed to defend her crown this season. “I’m not taking anything away from the other fillies in this division,” he said. “Honestly, I think it’s one of the deepest divisions we have seen in years and it’s unfortunate these fillies do not receive the same kind of attention as the 3-year-old pacing colts and the older horses. It’s just the way it is, but we feel she is prepared for another outstanding year and we are really looking forward to watching her perform.” The filly enters the Cane Pace on a five race winning streak, including triumphs in the Fan Hanover and James Lynch Memorial in a new lifetime best of 1:49.2. When her time on the track draws to a close, Pure Country will take up residence with her dam and become a broodmare for the Bowdens. “We are definitely keeping her and raising all her foals,” he said. “We always thought Western Montana would produce at least one championship caliber baby. Pure Country is it and she proves all our faith in the mare was justified. She has a home for life and we think she will carry on the family tradition without her mother’s quirks.” $320,000 Cane Pace Race 7 – Post time 2:32 p.m. PP-Horse-Sire--Driver-Trainer-Line 1. Check Six – Somebeachsomewhere - Yannick Gingras–Ron Burke-3/1 2. Manny – American Ideal - Andy Miller–Jessica Okusko-30/1 3. JK Will Power – Somebeachsomewhere - David Miller–Ron Burke-10/1 4. Control The Moment – Well Said - Brian Sears–Brad Maxwell-2/1 5. Adrian Hanover – Somebeachsomewhere - Eric Goodell–Chris Oakes-15/1 6. Manhattan Beach – Somebeachsomewhere - Matt Kakaley–Ron Burke-8/1 7. Highlandbeachycove – Somebeachsomewhere - Tim Tetrick–Tony Alagna-25/1 8. Ideal Rocky – Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan–John Butenschoen-15/1 9. American Passport – American Ideal - Scott Zeron–Tony Alagna-12/1 10. Big Top Hanover – Western Ideal - Joe Bongiorno–Ron Burke-20/1 11. Pure Country – Somebeachsomewhere - Brett Miller–Jimmy Takter-4/1 by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor
After Hambletonian Week is over, a large number of owners, breeders, trainers, drivers, caretakers, journalists and race fans from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe will all be boarding planes and heading to of all places, IRELAND! They will all be coming to Dublin as part of a new age Mecca of harness racing called the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14. But two very prominent owners and breeders in the industry, Joe Bellino, of Rocknroll Heaven, Pet Rock and Bellino Racing stardom and Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, Pure Country, Creatine and Divine Caroline fame are coming to Dublin for more than just a great vacation. They are also sponsoring races that weekend at Portmarnock Raceway and are big time excited to feel the passion for harness racing that the Irish and UK horsemen and women have for the sport. The reason that both of these men are not just coming over on holiday, but sponsoring races, came about because of their Facebook friendship with Derek Delaney, the chairman of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (VDM). Derek, along with his brother James, run Oakwood Stud, a prominent breeding and training facility in Ireland and where they stand the former top racehorse, Foreclosure N. Back in 2011, Derek and James lost their younger brother, Vincent, age 27, after a massive heart attack. Young Vincent was helping run the farm, working with the yearlings and showing great promise in the sport. To honor their late brother, they developed a race in his memory that has grown to become the richest and biggest stakes weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. To Joe Bellino, his Facebook friendship with Derek Delaney has grown to the point where barely a day goes by that they are not in contact with each other via FB messenger. "I have become great friends with Derek through Facebook." Joe Bellino explained. "We have a lot in common, we both lost our brothers, and I think that has some special meaning to me. "I am always looking to help (sponsor) groups that help promote harness racing," Joe explained when asked what prompted him to sponsor the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace at Portmarnock Raceway that weekend. "Derek has a lot of the same love that I do for harness racing," Joe said, "We speak almost every day about racing. I have never met the guy face-to-face, but we are like best friends. It will be so great to finally meet him." "I have never been to Ireland," Joe said. "My mother is from the Dublin area. Maybe I will meet someone who knew her family. "We are so excited about this trip." Joe explained, "That my wife and I are bringing her mom and most of our team over with us. Maybe eight to ten of us are coming to Ireland. What does Joe Bellino look forward to most on this trip? "Meeting Derek and his family and then the two race days," Joe said. "I'm ecstatic about all of this. I don't go much to the races here in America. Even for the big races as we feel it is taboo, but I can't wait to come to Portmarnock Raceway for Derek's big weekend." "I've never been to Ireland and am really excited about going." Adam Bowden said. "My wife Lindsay and I are looking forward to this trip and we are even leaving the kids are home. "It was Heather Vitale who first came to me to consider sponsoring a race in Ireland at the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend." Adam said. "I wanted to make sure if I was sponsoring a race that I would be to come over and attend. I could not do it last year but made it a priority for this year and it's all come together nicely." Adam and Diamond Creek Farm are the name sponsors of the inaugural filly final of the VDM. "The story that Heather told us about the VDM weekend was really intriguing," Adam explained, "Then I started reading about it online and then got a hold of Derek. He and others from Ireland and the UK have purchased horses from us over the years and this is a great way to give back and what Derek and his brother James are doing is inspiring in memory of his brother. "Derek has developed this race and made it really big." Adam said. "They are promoting our sport and Derek has pretty much accomplished all the goals he has put to his committee. Their ability to get this race weekend so popular it is attracting people from all over the world is pretty neat and I wanted to be part of it." Is there any Irish blood in the Bowden family? "Probably." Adam laughed. "I would have to say yes figuring if you go back far enough we would find some Irish blood. "Everyone I have ever talked to about this race weekend has said what a wonderful place it is." Adam said, "We're really excited to experience whatever comes our way. Hopefully I will love it so much I will want to come back again next year. It's really shaping up that way." Joining Joe and Adam on this special adventure to Ireland will be Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston and social media extraordinaire Heather Vitale, each of whom, along with this reporter, are making our third straight trip for the VDM. Newcomers this year include North America's leading driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, USA's Heather Wilder from the Meadows, Hanover's Murray Brown, Heather Vitale's mom (Joanne Looney-King) and sister Susan and Canada's darling owner, breeder and journalist, Sydney Weaver and her family. Returning for his second year at the VDM is Dexter Dunn, the reigning world trotting council driving champion along with an entire tour group from down under. Other prominent breeders, owners and horsemen from down under include Alan Galloway, John McDermot, Bill Hutchison, Clive Dalton, Peter Ferguson, Peter Larkin and Steve Phillips. "It is just so grand that Joe and Adam and everyone is coming to Ireland for the VDM," Derek Delaney said. "My brother James and I and the VDM committee are so thankful to Joe and Adam for their sponsorships and for their friendship. And for sure we will be showing everyone a great time, great racing and hopefully everyone will go home and tell their friends how they must come over to Ireland next year. That's the impression we love to leave with our guests." Just by this VIP guest list alone, Portmarnock Raceway, on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland, is THE place to be the second week of August. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend
WASHINGTON, PA, July 23, 2016 -- Pure Country continued her relentless march to a second straight harness racing divisional title, capturing her fifth consecutive victory in Saturday's Pennsylvania Sires Stake action at The Meadows, part of the Adios eliminations card. Shesasmokinlady took the other division in the $159,350 event for 3-year-old filly pacers known as the Romola Hanover. Pure Country won all 10 starts at 2 en route to her Dan Patch Award. While she's lost three of nine outings this year, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana appears to have elevated her game to a new level, with victories in the finals of the Fan Hanover and the Lynch and two straight PASS splits. "I've never driven a filly like her," winning driver Brett Miller said. "I don't know if I've ever driven a colt like her. She might be the best horse I've ever driven. To race at the top level like this every week and be that good -- it's amazing. She's one of the smartest fillies I've ever sat behind, and she has the heart of a champion. The couple times I got beat with her, it was probably my fault." In the Romola Hanover, Pure Country grabbed the lead with a quarter-pole move, easily thwarted the first-over challenge of I Said Diamonds and defeated the pocket-sitting Darlinonthebeach by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:50. Shezarealdeal earned show. Jimmy Takter trains Pure Country, who now boasts $1,276,610 in career earnings, for Diamond Creek Racing. Shesasmokinlady also made the front past the quarter for trainer/driver Ray Paver and owner/breeder Iris Horowitz and had just enough in the tank to hold off Newborn Sassy by a nose in 1:50.4. Call Me Queen Be completed the ticket. "I figured if I got away third today, I wasn't sitting," said Paver of Shesasmokinlady, who now has $144,795 in her bankroll. "She usually doesn't get tired, but she looks for a horse to race. A horse never really got to her until late." Although she may reach the PASS final or consolation leg, Paver said a stakes payments snafu has left Shesasmokinlady with only one definite stake engagement -- the Keystone Classic at The Meadows. $100,000 PA Stallion Series -- 3-Year-Old Filly Pacers Saturday's program also featured five divisions of this event; as with the other stakes on the card, this one became "Miller Time." Miller won two splits, giving him four stakes victories on the day, while trainer Michael Hall enjoyed a stake double. The highlight for Miller and Hall was the 1:51.1 win by Dismissal, which lowered the stake record of 1:51.3 previously held by Icommandmyspirt and matched earlier in the day by A List Hanover. Hall owns Dismissal, a daughter of Western Terror-Her Mattjesty. The other three splits went to Terror at Night, Kryptos and Square Dancer. A List Hanover saw her stake record fall, but she turned in a huge performance, challenging first over for longer that winning driver Dan Rawlings intended. "The more I grabbed her, the more her gait became less than perfect," Rawlings said. "So I let her go as fast and as far as she could." Gingertreescarlett finished second, 3 lengths back, with Nip's Beach Girl third. Hall trains and leases A List Hanover, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Nadia. Terror At Night also converted a first-over trip to victory, edging by early leader Hug A Dragoness by 1/2 length in 1:51.4, a lifetime mark. Donna's Beach completed the ticket. "She's one of the laziest fillies I've ever driven," Miller said. "You have to make her do her work. When she made the front, she thought the race was over. If you're on the front, it's not as bad, but if you're passing somebody, she pulls up as soon as she gets by." The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
DUBLIN, Ireland - The ante-post betting for both the Ladbrokes sponsored colts and Diamond Creek sponsored fillies events for the 5th annual Labrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial carnival of harness racing. took another twist last weekend following two more juvenile prep races held at Tir Prince in Wales on Saturday night. First up were the fillies and eight regally bred females lined up behind the starter with the Vicky Gill driven Rhyds Mystique going to post the Evens favourite on the bookies boards. Taking maximum advantage from a three draw near the rails Mistique (by Hasty Hall) hit the front and never seen another rival as she cruised to a 2:03.5 victory. The win seen her overtake She Be Rockin and Coalford Honey in the betting for the eliminations and grand final to be held at Portmarnock on August 13th and 14th. Runner up Rhyds Voodoo was shortened further in the betting to 5/1 with Greenhilldebatable drifting in the betting out to 8/1. Mystique, stable named Ruby, is now 3 from 3 and improving with every run. Her overjoyed owners Marc and Viccy Elvin have been stalwart supporters of harness racing in the UK for many years who were forced to retire stable star Ayr Mission through injury earlier on in the week so this win was especially bittersweet for the family. The Elvins now face the unenviable dilemma of giving Mistique one more race or heading to the Vincent Delaney Memorial a fresh horse. The fact that this race is the Breeders Crown fillies final at Tir Prince the owners local track will make this decision all the more difficult to call! Rhyds Decoy (by Hasty Hall) was the subject of a late gamble in the colts division and the early break in stride by odds on favourite Tyrion Hanover made his job a whole lot easier as he delivered in spades for trainer-driver Andrew Cairns in 2:05.8, a full 2.3 seconds slower than the fillies. But as the old saying goes "time only matters when your doing it" and Rhyds Decoy only had to do enough to land the spoils and still looks a top class prospect for owners Brett Lloyd, Kevin Myles and Brent Thompson. Share A Smile rallied late to claim second ahead of Ladyford Express and while oddsmaker Dan Carlin shortened up the winner to 9/4 second favourite, Tyrion Hanover, the Somebeachsomewhere colt, still heads the market at 4/5 favourite to hit paydirt in the final August 14th. Tyrion will need to get it right on the day however as he cannot afford to fluff his lines at Portmarnock and trainer Samboy Howard will be working overtime to eliminate the greenness that plagued his Tir Prince performance. For breeding afficianados it was interesting that the dam of Rhyds Decoy is out of CPR whilst the dam of Rhyds Mistique is out of CPs Village Jigsaw, a daughter of CPR. What a triumph it is for breeders Greta and John Wright of the Rhyds Stud in Wales to have that dynasty still producing after more than a decade and of course both horses are sired by their prolific stallion Hasty Hall, whom has also been at the top of his profession for over a decade. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink
There were two divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races on Thursday afternoon (July 14) at Harrah's Philadelphia for 3-year-old filly pacers, each going for a purse of approximately $80,000. The first division saw 2015 Breeder's Crown champion filly Pure Country (Brett Miller) go off as the heavy favorite (1/9) on the tote board. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was undefeated as a 2-year-old, going 10 for 10, winning close to $700,000. After a bit of a slow beginning due to sickness in 2016, she has found her form, with wins in the Fan Hanover and the Lynch in two of her last three starts. She had little difficulty on Thursday, winning under-wraps in a time of 1:51.1. It was her fifth win of the season in eight starts, with career earnings now above $1.2 million. She is owned by Diamond Creek Farms and trained by Jimmy Takter. In the second division, it was Cc Racing and Jo Ann Looney-King's Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) getting the job done. The daughter of Western Ideal was used twice from post 7, brushing to the top after being parked the first quarter. She then yielded the lead to favorite Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron). Newborn Sassy hit the passing line in the stretch, to win by 1/2 length, stopping the clock in 1:51.4. It was her tenth career win, and her second win of the season. She paid $11.40. by Michael Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia
Nevele R Stud is thrilled to announce another exciting addition to their already elite trotting sires ranks, in the form of arguably North America's best young square-gaiter in recent years Father Patrick t2, 1:52.2f; t3, 1:50.4f ($2,600,571) - the richest and fastest son of champion harness racing sire Cantab Hall. The US and Canadian 2YO Trotting Colt of the Year in 2013 and US 3YO Trotting Colt of the Year in 2014, Father Patrick was an exceptional racehorse, winning 23 races and $2.6 million in stakes. As a 2-year-old Father Patrick won 10 of his 11 starts with 7 of these in sub 1:55 times, including a world record performance of 1:52.2 when taking out a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs. His major victories at 2 included the $500,000 Breeders Crown Final, the $365,000 Wellwood Memorial by five and a half lengths, the $280,000 Peter Haughton Memorial, the Champlain Stakes (again by a margin of five lengths) and the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile, Lexington. As a 3-year-old, Father Patrick was the richest standardbred of the year, winning a massive $1.7 million in stakes in a very fruitful season that saw the outstanding youngster record back-to-back victories in the Breeders Crown, as well as wins in the Beal Memorial, Canadian Trotting Classic, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Zweig Memorial, American-National Stakes, Bluegrass Stakes and the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Final. Father Patrick took his lifetime mark of 1:50.4 when defeating recent Elitloppet winner Nuncio in the $500,000 Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs. His time remains the fastest ever recorded by a 3-year-old colt or gelding on a 5/8ths of a mile track and the equal fastest by any 3-year-old trotter. Trained by Jimmy Takter throughout his career, Father Patrick was rated by the legendary conditioner as the "best horse" that he had ever trained - high praise when you consider Takter has had the likes of Moni Maker, Malabar Man, See You At Peelers, Pampered Princess, Kadabra, Passionate Glide and Pinkman, to name just a few, through his barn over the years. Father Patrick is certainly the complete package when it comes to choosing a stallion for your trotting broodmare this season, as he not only boasts unrivalled racetrack performance but also some of the best bloodlines available in the world. His sire Cantab Hall is currently the leading US All Age Trotting Sire and was himself a million dollar plus earning US 2YO Trotting Colt and Trotter of the Year. Cantab Hall has established himself as one of the most influential trotting sires in North America, having sired the winners of over $59 million, 168 $100,000 earners, 29 in 1:53 and 7 millionaires including Wild Honey, Explosive Matter, Uncle Peter and Pastor Stephen. Father Patrick's maternal line is no less illustrious with his dam Gala Dream (by Enjoy Lavec) also leaving, in addition to Father Patrick, another US 2YO Trotting Colt of the Year and millionaire square-gaiter, Pastor Stephen t3, 1:52.8 ($1,058,188) and the $100,000+ earners Whom Shall I Fear t3, 1:52.8 ($163,935) and Stan The Man 1:53.6 ($182,144) from 6 foals of racing age. His second dam Maple Frosting (by Valley Victory), also an outstanding producer, has left the world champion 2005 US and Canadian 2YO Trotting Colt of the Year Chocolatier t3, 1:53 ($1,328,250) (making it an incredible three US 2YO Trotting Colts of the Year in the first two generations), along with the multiple stakes race winner Sugar Trader t3, 1:53.8 ($734,610). Chocolatier has since gone on to be a successful sire in Sweden with his best offspring to date the champion mare Your Highness (SEK9,000,537) - the winner of the Copenhagen Cup, Olympic Trot and Oslo Grand Prix so far in 2016. Standing at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania and commanding the same service fee as his sire, US$20,000, Father Patrick served a restricted book of mares whilst still racing in 2015 and has had a terrific book of close to 130 mares this year. His first crop of foals look outstanding types and can be viewed on the Diamond Creek Farm website (www.diamondcreekfarm.com) and Facebook page. Available in Australasia via frozen semen, Father Patrick's fee for the 2016-17 season is NZ$9,000 +GST (AU$9,900 incl GST). The service fee is pay on live foal and he is included in the Nevele R multiple mare discounts. There is limited semen available and bookings will be taken on a first in first served basis. For more information or bookings please visit nevelerstud.co.nz or phone the Nevele R office 03 349 8627, Nikki Reed 0274 346 401 or from Australia free-phone 1800 150 855.
Northern Ireland - With just 45 days till the 2016 Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Festival gets underway, the countdown officially started at Annaghmore Raceway last night with 2 prep races - one for colts sponsored by the bookmaking firm Ladbrokes and the other for fillies, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm. The fairer sex were the first to perform with five going to post for a purse of €1200 and incredibly 4 were sired by Kikicolt, with the remaining filly sired by first season sire My Panmar. At the off Blueberry Hill sprinted into an early lead tracked by favourite She's Royal and What Mam with Oakwood Eternity and Chinatown Katies bringing up the rear. Little changed in the placings until the ¾ pole when the race got underway in earnest and She's Royal came to pounce on the longtime leader. It was Oakwood Eternity under Gavin Murdock however that produced the best turn of foot entering the stretch and the filly, by Kikicolt out of Oakwood Eternity, positively bolted past her four rivals to win going away in 2:10.7, a respectable time for unraced juveniles in less than ideal conditions. Co-owned by Ned Stafford and Mark McAleer, the winner was 50/1 with bookmaker Dan Carlin to win the Diamond Creek Oaks on August 15th, but that price soon disappeared once she crossed the line in such impressive fashion. She now rates a 4/1 chance with Ireland's leading bookmaker. Blueberry Bill, the first foal out of top racemare Tailgate Princess hung on for second ahead of What Mam with the winning margins 2 lengths and a further length. She's Royal took fourth spot ahead of Chinatown Katie who never really made her presence felt in the event. The dam of the winner is a resident Oakwood broodmare named Eternal Prophecy who decends back to Jefs Eternity line in the US. Next up were the colts and four also went to post in the Ladbrokes sponsored contest for ‚€1200, and representing all different sires, Hasty Hall, Ayr Glory Pro Bono Best, Crown Manhattan and Kikicolt. As the starting car pulled away, Talavary Motivator showed a blistering turn of foot to hit the front and driver John Richardson set about dictating matters from the sharp end. All the while Harrison Camden tracked the leaders every move and as the race progressed it gradually turned into a 2 horse battle for the honours, a battle that Harrison Camden won and he hit the wire in 2:06.6 to win going away from the Welsh owned Talavary Motivator and winners stablemate Rhyds Rival. Harrison Camden is by Pro Bono Best out of House Flight, bred by Mick Wellings Camden Stud in the UK and the dam House Flight is resident in Ireland having been acquired by Declan Connolly at the back end of last season. A crowded winners enclosure ensured plenty of high jinks at the presentation as trainer Billy Roche landed the spoils for the owner John Roche making it a real family occasion for all associated with the stable. Over the next few weeks the 2016 Vincent Delaney Memorial Festival will really start to hot up as more prep races will be held in Scotland and Wales, giving UK contenders a chance to demonstrate their capabilities and stake their claims on the richest prizes for pacers in Europe. To view the race videos from Annaghmore click here. For more information on the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial click here. by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink
CAMPBELLVILLE, June 18... Pure Country, driven by Brett Miller, showed she has off-the-pace power when she captured the $438,000 Fan Hanover final for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday evening at Mohawk Racetrack, part of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard. The Jimmy Takter pupil followed mid-pack as elimination winner Good Will Hanover laid down fractions of :26.1, :54.3 for the half and 1:22.2 for three-quarters. Into the final turn, a first-up Lindwood Beachgirl put pressure on the tempo-setter as Newborn Sassy followed second-over. Pure Country, the 2-1 favourite, found live third-over flow after being shuffled back to seventh. Pure Country angled off cover at the head of the lane, and once the pacing miss was fed open racetrack, she marched past her foes to capture the rich final in a new lifetime mark of 1:49.3. Darlinonthebeach finished second, one length behind the victress. L A Delight got up for third. "There is nothing better than owning and breeding, and then ending up winning one of these races like this," said Diamond Creek Racing's Adam Bowden. "He [Brett Miller] was third-over coming off the final turn. She looked like she was full of pace and I was confident." Pure Country notched her second victory of the season and 12th lifetime. With the win, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere and Western Montana earns millionaire status, lifting her career earnings to $1,178,953 for owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing. Pure Country paid $6.10 to win. Mark McKelvie
Manalapan, NJ --- When male pacer Blood Line kicked off Monday's qualifiers for 2-year-olds at Gaitway Farm with a sharp 1:54.2 win on a 60-degree morning with a gusty breeze, it certainly got the attention of his harness racing trainer, Jimmy Takter. "That's a serious mile today," Takter said after watching Yannick Gingras guide Blood Line to victory in his career debut. "I would say that's like a (1):52-and-a-piece mile. You're not going to see too many go faster than him today." As it turned out, no mile went faster among the 2-year-olds in their nine qualifiers and only three older horses posted a quicker clocking in the day's remaining seven qualifiers. Blood Line, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Blood Diamond, was bred by Diamond Creek Farm and J&T Silva Stables and is now owned by Diamond Creek Racing. He is a full brother to stakes-winner Blood Brother and his family includes millionaires Western Terror, If I Can Dream, Artiscape, and Delinquent Account. "He's a little goofy," Takter said. "He's a fast horse and he's got a lot of strength. We have him staked up good so we know he's got the ability. He's a little bit like his brother, though; not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But he can go." Blood Line won by 1-3/4 lengths over Ron Burke-trained Major Key (Art Major-Capri Hanover). Gingras drove two more 2-year-old winners, both from Burke's stable. The first was female trotter Waffle Cone and the second was male trotter Deacon Tony. Waffle Cone (Muscle Hill-Sugar Cone) won by four lengths over Takter's Bridal Suite (Cantab Hall-Starlet Rules) in 2:00.3. Waffle Cone was purchased for $50,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Earl Smith, and Phil Collura. Her family includes Dan Patch Award-winner Pizza Dolce. Deacon Tony (Muscle Hill-Blue Yonder) was second-placed-first when Trond Smedshammer's Mushana went off stride just prior to the finish line. Deacon Tony, timed in 2:02.1, was purchased for $85,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by JT45, Deo Volente Farms, T L P Stable, and Malvern Burroughs. His family includes 2000 Hambletonian winner and O'Brien Horse of the Year Yankee Paco. The stables of trainers Julie Miller and Aaron Lambert also produced two winners apiece. Miller won with male pacer Dances Cruiser and female pacer Annacloy while Lambert scored with male pacer Outrajus Blue Chip and female pacer Agent Q. Dances Cruiser (Yankee Cruiser-Dances On The Wind) won by three-quarters of a length over Thefoolalwaysrocks (Always A Virgin-This Fool Rocks) in 1:57. He was driven by Fredi Herrera, who notched his first qualifier win after making his debut on the track a week ago. Dances Cruiser was bred by Pinske Stables, who also owns the colt. His family includes stakes-winner Btwnyurheartnmine. "I feel good; very excited," Herrera said. "He's a nice horse. He's just young, but he qualified very good today." Annacloy (Art Major-Lislea Phia) won by 5-1/4 lengths over Takter's St Helena (American Ideal-Art's Vintage) in 1:56.2. Driven by Andy Miller, it was Annacloy's second qualifier win in as many tries. She was purchased for $30,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Andy Miller Stable, Ervin Miller Stable, and Paymaq Racing. Her dam was a multiple stakes-winner. Lambert-driven Outrajus Blue Chip (Roll With Joe-Some Girls Do) won by three-quarters of a length over Miller's Flight Insurance (Art Official-Cruzin Angel) in 1:58.4. He sold for $10,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Ron Coyne Stables, Blair Corbeil, and Lambert. His dam was a stakes-winner and the family also includes Dan Patch Award-winner Central Park West. David Miller-driven Agent Q finished with a :27.2 final quarter-mile, equaling Outrajus Blue Chip's mark for the fastest of the day among the 2-year-olds, to rally from the back of the pack and defeat Tony Alagna's Sweet Rockin Gia (Rockin Image-EJ's Copperstone) by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:58.2. Agent Q (Western Terror-Teenage Paige) sold for $25,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Martin Scharf, William Rochetti Jr., Tanya Rochetti, and Robert Muscara. Agent Q's family includes stakes-winner Paige Nicole Q. Smedshammer won with female trotter Diva Dejarmbro (Dejarmbro-Nordic Nymph), who beat Robert Bresnahan Jr.'s Logans Lady (Explosive Matter-Bancroft Hall) by a neck in 2:01.3. Diva Dejarmbro, driven by Smedshammer, was purchased for $27,000 under the name Impressions First at the Ohio Selected Jug Sale and is owned by Purple Haze Stables. Chris Ryder-trained and driven male pacer Tribal War (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mystical Gypsy) won the remaining qualifier for the 2-year-olds, defeating John Dally (Somebeachsomewhere-Michelle My Gal) by a half-length in 1:55.3. Tribal War, purchased for $10,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, is owned by Diamond Creek Racing and Ryder. His family includes stakes-winners Load The Dice and The Catamount Kid. "I was happy with him," Ryder said. "He's been training pretty decent on the farm. He was a little aggressive today, but that's no big deal. We're going to go to the sire stakes in New York with him. We have him staked. He's also eligible to the Metro Pace, but we'll see. "We like him. He's very nice. He's out of the same family as a horse I had years ago, Load The Dice. He was OK, he just had the distinction of being the same year as (2005 Horse of the Year) Rocknroll Hanover." In action among the older horses, male trotter Crazy Wow won his qualifier in 1:53.2 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Burke while male pacer Dealt A Winner won in 1:53.2 for driver David Miller and trainer Mark Silva. by Ken Weingartner
Dublin, Ireland - Through the generous support and sponsorship of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee in Ireland and SSG Gloves in Canada, Sydney Weaver and her parents, Lisa and Don, will be going to Ireland in early August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. "We have invited Sydney to be our special guest speaker at our gala kickoff dinner Friday, August 12," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee. "I have been friends with her on Facebook and she is just wonderful. Her writing on harness racing and what she has achieved and done for our industry for a young woman is fantastic and she and her parents will be our honored guests at the races that weekend." The VDM weekend is the biggest harness racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The VDM is named after Derek and James Delaney's younger brother Vincent, who worked with the horses at their Oakwood Stud training and breeding center. Vincent tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011 at the age of 27 and the brothers came up with the VDM weekend as a tribute to their lost brother. The race weekend now features elimination races Saturday, August 13 for the VDM, which is for two-year-old pacers. A record number have entered and with the sponsorship support of Diamond Creek Farm and Adam Bowden, for the first time there will be a separate filly division too. The finals take place Sunday, August 14. Other top stakes that weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA that is sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Racing Stable, LeTrot races plus other stakes events. Other sponsors from down under include Yirribee Stud and Pro-Dosa Boost feed suppliments. "The VDM committee agreed to sponsor Sydney and her family for their hotel stay, dinner tickets and racetrack VIP access," Delaney added, "And they will be part of our tours to Oakwood Stud and carriage ride through downtown Dublin and have lunch in Temple Bar. They are going to have a super time in Ireland." Then steps in Ed James, owner of SSG Gloves. Ed is a big Sydney Weaver fan and when he heard about her being invited to come to Ireland, he set up SSG Gloves to sponsor the airfare for Sydney and her parents to go to Ireland. "I called up and talked to Sydney and told her the news." Ed James said. "And she was so excited. I also have sent her a few pairs of gloves to use when she goes jogging and to bring with her to Ireland. I know she will have a fantastic time." And what did Sydney have to say about all of this? "Unbelievable news, so fantastic and I can't believe this is all happening." Sydney said. "This is a dream trip come true. What great stories I am going to write about the people I meet, the places I see, the big dinner and the bigger race weekend. I have a lot of Facebook friends from Ireland and the UK and I hope to get to meet them in person now. "When I phoned and thanked Mr. James for the sponsorship," Sydney added, "I said I would proudly display an SSG Gloves patch on my racing colors that I will bring over, and Derek Delaney is getting me a Vincent Delaney Memorial patch too that will go on my colors once I get there. "I also got a very nice check from Hall of Famer and dear friend Bill Galvin, Sydney said. I still have to pinch myself that this is all for real." Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad are not the only ones who will be traveling to Ireland for the VDM weekend. Joining the Weavers will be Heather Vitale and her mom (JoAnn Looney-King) and sister (Susan Looney), the 2015 Dan Patch Driver of the Year, Aaron Merriman, New Zealand's top driver Dexter Dunn is returning along with Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston, who will be calling the races at Portmarnock Raceway for his third straight year. Michael Gallenti and Bill Hutchison of Harness Racing Travel is bringing a group of 40 from New Zealand and Australia, making the total nearly 70 that are coming to Ireland from down under. Their website is www.harnessracingtravel.com.au. Dublin, Ireland will be the place to be August 12 to 14 for the VDM and more announcements of top Standardbred visitors from the USA will be made soon. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee
Ron Burke trainees finished 1-2-3 in the inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic Final for state-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Check Six going a big mile on the front end to reduce his mark a tick to 1:50.3, while in the harness racing companion filly event, the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Final, Pure Country bounced back from her first loss in the previous week's elimination race, going the first-over route and still matching the 1:50.3 clocking of Check Six. Check Six was three-wide a good part of the first turn, then when The Catamount Kid backed off from between horses, Check Six was sent to the front by driver Yannick Gingras to go around stablemate Big Top Hanover, with the first quarter of 27.2 not too taxing despite the extra real estate. Check Six got a further breather when the half was tripped in 56.1. The price of pacing went up exponentially down the backstretch when another Burkeite, Check Six's fellow Classic elim winner JK Will Power, advanced to give a stern first-over challenge. The ¾ was tripped in 1:23.1, and then despite going into a stretch headwind the battling duo still stormed in 27.2, with Check Six holding off JK Will Power, let go at a surprising 12-1, by a neck, with Big Top Hanover another 1¼ lengths back. The Catamount Kid held for fourth, with Lyons Snyder, a slight favorite over the winner with both sent off at 2.10-1, unable to capitalize on second-over position and settling for the last check. Trainer Ron Burke took home $488,850 of the rich purse in the Classic, while Check Six became the second-largest moneywinner of the year by boosting his 2016 bankroll to $301,250, with his career bankroll for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin at $416,139. Yannick Gingras, who drove both elim winners for Burke, picked Check Six for his Classic mount, "but the choice was closer than I would have thought earlier - JK Will Power really showed me a lot last week, and he was big again tonight." But Check Six came up biggest of all at the finish and took in the glory of winning the first Pennsylvania Classic. ********** She's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k! Pure Country, last year's champion two-year-old filly who suffered her first loss in a Miss Pennsylvania elim in her seasonal debut, looked like a filly who could rank with the greats when she overcame a hard first-over trip to win the Miss PA Final in the same time as Check Six, a new lifetime mark. Pure Country settled midpack early as Call Me Queen Be went a stinging 25.2 first quarter, then yielded to 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach (Pure Country was the 2-1 second choice, the first time she had gone off higher than 3-5 in her career). Darlinonthebeach went on to the half in 53.3, with driver Brett Miller having Pure Country in gear first-over at that point and advancing the length of the backstretch to be right in contention at the 1:21.3 ¾. Pure Country just kept on advancing the turn, gaining the lead past the curve's midpoint, and continued on strongly through the lane, holding off the late rush of second-over I Said Diamonds by 1¼ lengths, with Call Me Queen Be, Newborn Sassy, and I Said Please getting the minor awards in that order; the favored pacesetter Darlinonthebeach tired and finished seventh. Speaking of her Miss Pennsylvania elim loss, trainer Jimmy Takter noted that "she had been a little sick and I had lost two weeks" of preparation for her 2016 bow. The "real" Pure Country showed up at Pocono Saturday, and the smiles on the faces of Takter and owner Adam Bowden of the Diamond Creek operation were big indeed. (And yes, both winners were second choices, both won in 1:50.3, and both took new marks. The styles of the two races, though, couldn't have been more different.) ************ In the race before the two Pennsylvania stakes finals, the American Ideal gelding Bigtown Hero, no stranger to extreme speed when at his prime, went the fastest mile in North American harness racing this year, 1:48.1, in an $18,000 pace. Simon drove the Hero like he was the best, and the horse validated his judgement, moving to the lead after a 26.2 opener and then hanging out middle splits of 53.4 and 1:20.3 before holding of the late charge of Aslan to win for Simon's brother, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin. PHHA / POCONO
Dublin, Ireland - The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to announce today that North America's leading dash winning driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, is committed to coming to Ireland for the Delaney Memorial Weekend, August 13 and 14, 2016. "I was shocked when I got the invite," Merriman said. "I have read about the race, knew that George Brennan went last year and had a great time and now I am getting to come over this year, what a great honor this is." The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "Our committee board was ecstatic that Aaron agreed without even flinching to come over for the VDM this year." Said Derek Delaney, who along with his brother James, developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial in honor of their younger brother who tragically passed away in 2011. "Aaron is a world-class driver," Delaney added, "And we are sure to show him a great time here both on and off the track. He will be sure to have some good drives at Portmarnock Raceway both on Saturday and Sunday." The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers with elimination divisions on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. For the first time this season there will be a separate filly division, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm in the USA. Also on the program that weekend is the Oakwood Stud Derby, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial, The RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Stable plus other big stakes events. When it comes to his heritage, Aaron says he will fit in just fine. "My father's family is British and my mother is Swedish and Irish," Aaron said. "I think I will fit in perfectly. "I'm VERY eager to experience another continent with harness racing," Aaron said. "I've never left North America before. I've checked out some of the history of this race and have read about the great enthusiasm and real love for our sport that they have and it is so heartwarming. "Harness racing is definitely a sport where people are joined together all around the world," Aaron said. "To be offered this opportunity to represent America and show my patronage to Ireland and the UK horsemen and fans is once in a lifetime and I was not going to pass it by. I'll thoroughly embrace my days there." Merriman is already on a roll in 2016. He has a commanding lead in the driving standings in North America with 214 wins, 54 ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Bartlett. And Merriman has $1.5 million in purses won already with a Universal Driving Rating at an impressive .356, second only to Bartlett. "Missing a week of racing back home is nothing compared to the adventure that awaits me in Ireland," Aaron said. "I can't wait for the second week of August to come. And I will not be homesick because Roger Huston will be there calling the races!" For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial
Addington are excited to announce renowned stallion proprietors, Diamond Creek Farm, USA are the proud new sponsor of the Group One $200,000 New Zealand Derby. Adam Bowden, CEO of Diamond Creek Farm is delighted to be partnering with Addington. “We are a firm supporter of the breeding industry in the Southern Hemisphere and sponsoring the prestigious New Zealand Derby is an excellent fit for us as our stallion ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ is the first pacer in the harness racing history to be the winner of 3 consecutive sub 1:48 races, with two of these being Canadian Derby’s.” Adam continued to state “after A Rocknroll Dance served a full book in 2014 in the Northern Hemisphere, he was then able to stand in the Southern Hemisphere at Nevele R/Alabar Studs. There he was bred to over 300 mares between New Zealand and Australia, making him an in demand stallion. Upon returning to the states for the 2015 year, ‘Dance’ has once again been fully booked. With such an outstanding first crop in both hemispheres, ‘A Rocknroll Dance’s’ continued success and popularity looks bright.” This year Sweet Lou followed his stable mate and travelled down under, joining the roster at Woodlands Stud. “By partnering with studs in the Southern Hemisphere, the potential reach of these great champions will be limitless.” stated Adam. ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ New Zealand Derby will be held at Addington on Friday, 8 April. For more details on nominations and conditions of ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ New Zealand Derby please visit addington.co.nz/racing/promotions-incentives/. Alternatively, please call Brian, Richard or Colin of Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094. Keryn McElroy