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Pure Country has already proven herself a star, but she might have to start sharing space in the family scrapbook with younger harness racing sibling Grand Teton. Grand Teton, a half-brother to two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country, has won five of six races this year and is a neck from being undefeated. The 2-year-old male pacer is owned by Diamond Creek Racing, which also owns 4-year-old female pacer Pure Country. Both horses are out of the mare Western Montana and were bred by Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. Pure Country's sire is Somebeachsomewhere; Grand Teton's sire is Diamond Creek Farm-based A Rocknroll Dance. "You hope a mare ends up giving you something like Pure Country, but to have more than one look like they're a star is always really cool," Diamond Creek's Adam Bowden said. "Especially being a homebred from our stallion too. It's a full-circle thing for us. "These are the kinds of things you dream about." Pure Country and Grand Teton, both trained by Jimmy Takter, will be in action this weekend. Pure Country competes Saturday at Ontario's Mohawk Racetrack in the C$256,000 Milton Stakes for older female pacers. Grand Teton races Sunday at Lexington's Red Mile in the $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers. Grand Teton and Key Advisor both won two preliminary rounds of the Kentucky Sire Stakes series and finished second in the remaining leg. The draws for all eight Kentucky Sire Stakes finals are Thursday. "At this point he really hasn't beaten any of the top colts, but from what he's done so far, I think he's shown that kind of ability," Bowden said about Grand Teton. "I think he's the type that will take the next step. At least we hope so." Grand Teton has twice won in 1:52.1, which is his best victory time so far, and has flashed ample finishing speed with three consecutive final quarter-miles of :26.2 to go with a :26.1 in his second start. "From what I hear from Jimmy, he's not quite as good gaited as Pure Country, but I think he has that same ability and same desire to win," Bowden said. "He's scary fast. I think he's shown that turn of foot you like to see in good horses. "I think he's got as good a shot as any on Sunday night to win." Pure Country enters the Milton off a win in her elimination last weekend. It was Pure Country's third consecutive victory after going winless in her first six races of the season and pushed her career earnings to $2 million. On Saturday, Pure Country and driver Mark MacDonald, who has been in the sulky for the mare's past four starts, will start from post three. Blue Moon Stride, the remaining Milton elimination winner, will start from post two and returning champion Lady Shadow leaves from post one. "There was a little bit of circumstantial stuff early in the year; bad posts or bad trips or something like that," Bowden said. "She's the type of filly that clearly wants to be involved in the race. As Mark said in the winner's circle the other night, she can take a lot of air. I think she's shown how good she is and that she can compete at this level against these older mares." In the last nine years, the only 4-year-old mare to win the Milton was Rocklamation in 2012. The 4-year-olds in this year's 10-horse field are Pure Country, Blue Moon Stride, LA Delight, Darlinonthebeach, and Lyons River Pride. Rocklamation also was the last mare to win the Milton in consecutive years (2012-13), a feat 6-year-old Lady Shadow will try to accomplish. "Those are good mares," Bowden said. "Lady Shadow, Darlinonthebeach, LA Delight; there's a whole herd of them that are good. I think it shows these 4-year-old mares can compete at this level. I think it's been a great crop. They've proved it this year. Other than Lady Shadow and Nike Franco, the best mares are 4-year-olds." For Saturday's complete card at Mohawk, which also includes finals of the Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Trotting Classic and Elegantimage plus eliminations for the Metro Pace, click here. Ken Weingartner

It has been announced today that Diamond Creek Farm in the USA and Oakwood Stud in Ireland have become the sponsors of Sire Stakes Ireland for the 2018 season. Sire Stakes Ireland is a new racing series for Standardbred horses that was first started in 2014. The objective of Sire Stakes Ireland is to encourage breeding mares, increase prize money and to promote harness racing in Ireland and the UK. The series is open to horses bred and foaled in Ireland and the UK, and sired by stallions nominated into the program. Diamond Creek Farm has two locations in the USA in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. They currently stand world champion stallions A Rocknroll Dance, Always B Miki, Creatine, Father Patrick, Ponder, Southwind Frank and Sweet Lou. "Our involvement with the Vincent Delaney Memorial has created a great relationship between Diamond Creek and Oakwood Stud," Said Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm. "We are excited to partner with them to offer Sweet Lou to the UK and Ireland. As sponsors of the VDM, we are also big fans of Irish racing and are pleased to be able to support the stakes racing through our sponsorship." Oakwood Stud in Ireland has emerged over the past five years as one of the top breeders of yearlings in Ireland and the UK. Currently they stand Foreclosure N and Rachmoninov Seven and have frozen semen shipped from Sweet Lou in the USA. "We recently were at Diamond Creek Farm in Kentucky," said Sire Stakes Ireland founder, James Delaney of Oakwood Stud. "And sealed the sponsorship with Adam Bowden. "What a great boost this will be for Sire Stakes Ireland in 2018," Delaney said. "Now breeders and owners have something extra to look forward in racing opportunities in 2018. All yearlings that were foaled in either Ireland or the UK from the stallions eligible for Sire Stakes Ireland, need only to fill out the nomination form and make the payments to be eligible. And now with the Diamond Creek Farm and Oakwood Stud sponsorships, the purses will be greater than ever in 2018. "We are also introducing a Breeder's Premium for the Breeder of the winning horse in all divisions," Delaney added, "The person(s) who owned and bred the foal at conception will receive a trophy in all divisions plus a cash bonus too. We hope this will help stimulate more people to breed horses. We feel it's our duty to honor and reward the breeders who have been loyal to our stallions. "We are so thankful to Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farm and Oakwood Stud for coming on board with Sire Stakes Ireland with their generous sponsorships." Delaney said. For the nomination forms, payment schedule and list of stallions eligible for Sire Stakes Ireland, visit their website at www.sirestakesireland.com. Here is the list of Sire Stakes Ireland nominated stallions. 1) Ayr Glory 2) Armbro Duece 3) Arts Conquest 4) Arts Professor 5) Check On Jack 6) Connors Dragon 7) Crown Manhattan 8) Doonbeg 9) Eagle Luck 10) Forafewdollarsmore 11) Foreclosure N 12) Hasty Hall 13) Kiki Kolt 14) My Pan Mar 15) No Pan Intended 16) Stonebridge Galaxy 17) See And Ski 18) Total Truth 19) Yankee Lariat. From Sire Stakes Ireland  

Offaly, Ireland - Management at Oakwood Stud have announced that they have reached an agreement with Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farms in Pennsylvania in the USA, to have semen shipped over from Sweet Lou, for breeding to pacers in Ireland and the UK. Sweet Lou is sired by Yankee Cruiser out of the mare Sweet Future. As a two-year-old, Sweet Lou set, and still holds, the world record on all sized tracks at 1:49. Sweet Lou currently holds the world record for older horses and the all-age mark on a five-eighths mile track in 1:47 with lifetime earnings of $3,478,894. In the summer of 2014 he won 10 consecutive races, with six consecutive wins in sub 1:48. He is the only pacer in harness racing history to achieve this feat. “It’s an honor for us at Oakwood Stud to be able to work on such a milestone project with Diamond Creek Farms,” said Derek Delaney of Oakwood Stud. “and make World Champion Sweet Lou available to breeders in Ireland & the UK via frozen semen for the 2018 Breeding season. Sweet Lou will be the fastest and richest stallion ever to stand in Ireland and the UK. “The timing of this could not have been better with the juvenile stakes racing at an all-time high with record purses in the Vincent Delaney Memorial, the Sire Stakes Ireland Program and the Breeders Crown UK/IRE in 2017,” Delaney added. “This has encouraged breeders to import record numbers of broodmares from USA in 2016, bred to top US studs and now they will have the opportunity to breed their mares to World Champion bloodlines in their own back yard. This in turn will make for a very exciting and competitive racing opportunity in the future for both Ireland and the United Kingdom. “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Adam Bowden and all the team at Diamond Creek Farms,” Delaney said. “For their shared vision and forward thinking for the future of racing in both Ireland and the UK as we do at Oakwood Stud.”  There is no price yet set on how much breeding’s in Ireland and the UK will cost to Sweet Lou. For more information contact www.oakwoodstud.ie.   From Oakwood Stud

Diamond Creek Farm threw it’s 3rd annual open house on June 3rd, at their Wellsville, Pennsylvania location.  “The Open House is a way for us to welcome the community and all the fans to our farm,” say Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden, “Many people never get a chance to see what happens behind the scenes at a breeding farm, or they are curious about what goes on here when they see all the fences and barns from the road.” The day was a huge success with well over 400 attendees largely from the community, and with some visitors as far as North Carolina.    Visitors were able to get up close and personal to stallions such as Southwind Frank, as well as watch two different breeding demonstrations, in which Always B Miki and Sweet Lou were artificially collected.  They were then welcomed into the lab, as the farm’s resident vet, Dr. Courtney Pink, processed the semen and answered questions from the group. Down in the mare barn, visitors were welcome to walk around on their own or take a hayride tour around the farm.  They had a chance to submit names for a new foal, as well as pet a few, and feed some carrots to some very willing mares.  The “guess the weight” game proved to be popular, with guesses to win a t-shirt ranging from 100 pounds to 700.  In the end, the colt weighed 500 pounds on the dot. Guests also got to meet Sweet Karen, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation’s spoke horse, and learn more about the program from director Ellen Taylor and her group of volunteers, as well as spin their wheel to answer some harness related questions for some of the new 2017 HHYF Harness Hero cards. Pacing For The Cure, represented by the founders, Jeff and Janine Gesek, were present as well, speaking about their work for MS research and raffling off some really great baskets, as well as a trip to the 2017 Hambletonian. With great weather, the farm served close to 600 hamburgers and hotdogs, and Bootleg Creamery gave out over 400 bowls of ice cream. “We look forward to doing this event every year,” says Rachel Keeney, Diamond Creek’s Administrator Director, “We are already planning on how to make it bigger and better in 2018.” Caroline Vazquez    

Alabar and Nevele R are thrilled to announce that they have joined forces to secure the lifetime rights to the reigning US Horse of the Year, Always B Miki – the fastest horse in the history of harness racing. He will stand at Alabar’s Victorian farm with his fresh semen available throughout Australia and New Zealand. Always B Miki is undoubtedly a modern day cult hero in North America. He won the crowds over with his incredible will to win. The battles in the free-for-all ranks were epic – but Miki proved again and again that he had the heart of a champion. And he put an exclamation mark on his career when he won in 1:46 at The Red Mile on October the 9th 2016 - the fastest mile ever. With Miki being such an imposing equine athlete, the world record is something that many harness racing followers felt was an inevitable achievement for him. At the end of 2016, Miki was rewarded not only with the Pacer of the Year title but also the overall Horse of the Year title.  The voting for which he dominated 102-32 He retired at the end of his all-conquering 2016 season to stand at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania where he commands a fee of US$12,500. He is currently serving a full book of mares which includes the virtual who’s who of North American broodmares.   The Always B Miki phenomenon is best put into perspective by his Hall of Fame trainer, Jimmy Takter. After all, Takter has been six times the US Trainer of the Year - including the last three years straight. He’s trained as many great horses as anyone ever has. Many people would say he’s the greatest trainer in harness racing – and it’s not hard to make that case. When Jimmy Takter talks horses you tend to listen – and Always B Miki is a horse he knows better than anyone else. He knows Miki is not only a champion – but maybe, just maybe he’s the best there’s ever been. The Jimmy Takter quotes on Always B Miki are captivating. After winning the William Haughton Memorial in what was his third straight world record performance, Takter was moved to say “I think this could be the greatest horse that ever lived.” And then, through the tears after Miki’s world record performance at Lexington, Takter stated: “I get very attached to my horses. He’s just a wonderful horse. He’s the greatest horse I’ve ever been around in my life, and I’ve been around the best horses in the world, like Moni Maker and those horses. This horse is my number one horse that I’ve been around … He’s a big horse but you’re not going to see everything inside. He has probably the best lungs ever, the biggest heart ever and the smartest horse ever.” And later: “He’s my all-time favourite. He is the greatest. He has such charisma, it’s unbelievable.” Miki was a talented two-year-old and a tremendous three-year-old finishing an astonishing second in the Meadowlands Pace (where He’s Watching set his world record) after being three wide the entire trip. Tragically, later as a three-year-old and as the Breeders’ Crown favourite, he suffered a serious injury and raced the rest of his career with multiple screws in his hind pasterns - making what he achieved as a four and five-year-old even more incredible. Jimmy Takter said after his world record at Lexington, had it not been for these problems: “He would have smacked at least another second off the record” All told, Miki won 30 races and banked $2,826,176 in a career highlighted by back-to-back Breeders’ Crown victories. You cannot help but be moved by his final surge to win the 2016 Crown after his fierce battle with Wiggle It Jiggleit. He’s the only horse in history to win 4 races in 1:47 or faster. Remarkable, given no other horse has done it more than once. He shares the world record for a five-eighths track and holds the Canadian mile record to sit alongside his fastest-mile-ever title. Miki is by Always A Virgin - a son of the sire of sires Western Ideal and the sire of the winners of over $22 million with 150 in 1:55. He’s out of the Artsplace mare, Artstopper. The US Pacing Broodmare of the Year in 2016, Artstopper is also the dam of the tremendous racemare Yagonnakissmeornot (41 wins, $1,458,850). She ranks a half-sister to Cheyenne Rei ($729,933). Of great significance to the breeders of Australia and New Zealand, Always B Miki has no Cam Fella blood in his pedigree whatsoever so is an ideal option for daughters of Bettor’s Delight. In a wonderful show of respect for our breeding industry, Always B Miki’s stud fee will be A$7,000 (incl GST) in Australia and NZ$7,000 (plus GST) in New Zealand. This is a tremendous opportunity. Just listen to Jimmy Takter. Always B Miki Retirement Ceremony at The Meadowlands Always B Miki - World Record Allerage Farms Championship Series Open Pacers Always B Miki - Breeders Crown Open H&G Pace Always B Miki - World reacord Ben Franklin Elimination

YONKERS, N.Y. - Early in the spring season, Adam Bowden paid a visit to harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter’s farm to see his star mare Pure Country. After being away from her for several months, Bowden was impressed by how much his homebred matured over the winter break. “She came out of the barn and I could have sworn she was a colt,” he remembered. “She’s always been a bigger filly, but she’s added mass to her. Just broader, she looks stronger. I remember watching her train that day, I was like, ‘ooh, she looks scary good.’ ” Pure Country is the great mare that Adam and his father, Chris, had in mind when they created Diamond Creek Farm. After winning the Breeders Crown at 2, Pure Country earned $1,082,430 last year in 21 starts with victories in a host of Grand Circuit events, including the Fan Hanover, the Lynch Memorial, the Simcoe Stakes, the Glen Garnsey Memorial, and the Matron Stakes. Pure Country’s accomplishments earned her the Dan Patch Award for 3-Year-Old Pacing Fillies. “After her first season, it was one of those things where you kind of hoped she would have a season like last year, but you never expected it,” Bowden said. “It was more of a blessing than anything else and we were really proud of her.” Sired by Somebeachsomewhere, Pure Country is out of Western Montana, one of the first horses Bowden purchased. Along with his father, Bowden was confident the Western Hanover mare would produce a champion, but he grew weary and impatient after her first three foals failed to stand out. “The mare was pregnant with Pure Country at the time and I remember calling my father and saying, ‘I don’t know if I want to wait. I think we need to get rid of the mare. She hasn’t really given us what we thought she’d give us,’ ” he recalled. “I remember him telling me, ‘just be patient, be patient. She’ll come through for us,’ and she did and did it in a big way, so it was worth it.” Pure Country will make her 4-year-old debut as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the sixth race $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway Friday, May 19. In preparation for her first start of the year, Pure Country qualified twice at the Meadowlands, winning the latest in 1:50.1 April 29. She then scratched sick from the $100,000 Noble Memorial at Miami Valley May 8 before being entered back at Yonkers. “I was anxious to see her race at Miami Valley and she came up with a little  bit of a fever, so we had to wait, scratch her. She got better pretty quick,” Bowden said. In her first local start, Pure Country and driver Brett Miller will start from post five, surrounded by Yonkers veterans Mach It A Par and Regil Elektra, who are each 5-1 from posts four and six, respectively. Mackenzie A will make her first start since winning the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final from post eight at odds of 7/2. “Yonkers is tough and she drew in the middle of the field, but those are tough mares to have to race against. They’ve all been racing and they’re sharp and this is her first start of the year,” Bowden said. “I think we’re expecting a good performance, but you can’t guarantee victory in any race, especially over there against those mares.” Although this is her first start at the Hilltop Oval, Pure Country has half-mile track experience. She finished third in the first heat of the Jugette individually timed in 1:51.2 before placing fourth in the final. She also endured a tough trip to finish second to Betting Line in the Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park last summer. “I think she’s versatile enough,” Bowden said. “I think her preference is a bigger track, but she’s got to get a start in somewhere. She got invited to the Betsy Ross at Chester on the 28th, so she needs a race before that and we’re running out of options if we wait any longer.” Lispatty, Medusa, Delightful Dragon, and last week’s winner, Freeze Out, complete the field of eight pacers in Friday’s feature. First post time is 7:10 p.m. Click here for entries for the card. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

"Welcome to Australia," the flight attendant says, their voice made raspy by the speaker, as we descend. The butterflies flutter in my stomach. One simple word, "wow" breaks the silence of the plane as I look out the window next to me. It is the only word that can sum up how in awe I am.  I knew from that point on my trip could only get more magical. To be here, does not seem real. It feels as though I am in a dream and I wait for someone to pinch me or wake me up. I have to keep reminding myself that this is really happening. To be here is a dream come true and I feel truly blessed. This amazing adventure was possible by Alan Galloway of Alabar Farms, whom I met in Ireland in August of 2016; while attending the Vincent Delaney Memorial. Some friends and industry partners of Alan Galloway also helped to make this trip possible. Brett Coffey, who works for Alabar Farms planned the entire trip from beginning to end and he did an incredible job. To all of them, I am forever grateful.    After getting settled into our hotel, my parents and I decide to walk through the city. Sydney is a beautiful city.  We walked to see the Sydney Opera House. It is a truly magnificent work of architecture. Seeing it at sunset is breathtaking. Today has been a busy day, but definitely one to remember. I wake up full of excitement for a couple reasons. It is my first full day in Australia and tonight is a special night for harness racing in Australia. It is the night of the esteemed Miracle Mile. It is one night when some of the best gathers to compete. I feel so honored to have the opportunity to be in attendance for this celebrated night of racing. Through Twitter, I had been seeing all of the updates leading up to tonight, but to be in the grandstand is overwhelming for me. Driving into Tabcorp Park Menangle I am filled with joy. I could not believe I am actually here. I am lost for words. I am filled with captivation. Walking up the front stairs and through the front doors, I look around in amazement.  There is a buzz in the air and there is no need to ask why, it is Miracle Mile night. The grandstand is absolutely stunning. The weather is perfect for a prized night of racing and for sitting outside to enjoy it. I flip through my form (program). It is a little different than North American programs. In the Australian forms, there are pictures of the colors the drivers are wearing. This is useful as drivers do not have their own colors. They wear the colors of the owner or owners they are driving for. Some of the races span two or three pages because having more than ten horses in a race is not uncommon. But for me, this is incredible to see. I walk up the hill to where the paddock is. I am just in time to see the horses parade in the walking ring before horses and drivers head to the track. The walking ring is a surprise.  In North American harness racing horses parade on the track. I enjoy watching the horses warm up, before heading back to my spot along the rail. It is finally time for the much-anticipated Miracle Mile. As the horses and their drivers step onto the track, full of focus and wanting to win. The winning horse, owner(s) trainer, and driver of this prized race will forever have their names in Miracle Mile history. Everyone gathers as close to the fence as possible. My eyes are fixed on the track as the horses line up behind the mobile (start car). The crowds begin to scream, they are deafening as they reach the half. The horses stride for home in pursuit of victory. As they come into view, my heart is pounding. With one final cheer from the crowd and one final stride, Lennytheshark crosses the wire. He has won the 2017 Miracle Mile, with driver Chris Alford and trainer David Aiken. I have the pleasure of meeting three special individuals during the night as well; all of whom I met through social media and have been looking forward to meeting in person during my trip.  Up and coming commentator Luke Humphreys, his dad, Paul, who owns a Pet Rock colt (a half sibling to my yearling filly, Jo), and Marcus Kirkwood, who is a co-owner of Miracle Mile participant Smolda. I am very happy I finally get to meet them in person.  The next day I am off to APG Sydney Yearling Sale.  The sales complex is beautiful.  Today, I can potentially see a future Miracle Mile winner go through the ring. I pass potential buyers asking to see yearlings. There is excitement in the air. I make my way to sales ring. It is a beautiful day for a yearling sale. The sun was shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. The sale is set to begin shortly. I find a seat in the front row. I scan through the pages of the sale catalog, studying the bloodlines. My mom reminds me that I could not put my hand up as it would cost too much to ship a yearling back home, chuckling as she does. I take in the serenity of the arena before the sale gets underway, knowing that for next few hours, it would be the opposite. Both buyers and sellers begin to file in. The auctioneers are setting up for their big day. The first yearling of the day enters the ring.  The booming voice of the auctioneer thunders in the afternoon. Quiet nods are given and silent hands are raised; that silence being transformed into hollers from the bid spotters. I continue to study the pedigrees, then I noticed something, none of the yearlings have names, unlike when yearlings in North America are sold.   As each yearling passes through the ring the auctioneer, the bid spotters and auctioneer continue to work together to take bids. Before long the sale concludes. I had a great day watching the action, socializing and meeting new people. Another day in Australia is complete.  The next morning I am ready for another day packed full of memories. Today I have the opportunity to visit with two of the top trainers in the Sydney area and gain insight about training in New South Wales. My first visit is to Menangle Training Facility.  I arrive and walk into the barn of David Aiken and there he is, the one and only Lennytheshark. He is so handsome. I walk over to him and tell him how amazing he raced in the Miracle Mile. He lowers his head and I reach to stroke his head.  After spending some time with me and taking pictures with me, he is happy to go back enjoying his lunch. Stablemate to Lennytheshark,  Hectorjayjay already has his head over his gate and is waiting for me to come and see him. I tell Hectorjayjay how handsome he is and how impressive he too raced in the Miracle Mile. I give him a kiss and say goodbye. I look forward to keeping up to date on the success of these two champions. After spending a delightful morning at Aiken Racing, I am back in the car and on the road again, this time heading to see Luke McCarthy’s farm.  I am greeted by Ashley Hart, who works for Luke McCarthy. She shows me around the property, and what a beautiful farm it is. We walk into the barn, walking down the shed row until we come to Bling It On. He steps out and rests his head on my knee. I begin to give him kisses. In return, he begins to lick my knee. He is so sweet and gentle.  After we bond some more, we part ways, I leave him to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Sitting in the car going back to our hotel, I could only think how honored I feel that I got to meet three champions in one day.  I spend the next two days touring Sydney and being a tourist. On my travels, I get to see some iconic Australian animals. I get to pet a kangaroo and get to see a koala up close. That night my parents pack because as in the morning the next chapter of my journey is beginning. In the morning, we fly from Sydney to Melbourne. After boarding the plane, I sit in my seat while I wait for the rest of the passengers to board. It is a short flight, only a couple of hours.  I am filled with excitement and melancholy. I am excited for the memories that are to come, but melancholy because this flight marks the halfway point in this incredible journey. My adventures in Melbourne begin the moment I arrive and, it is a memorable one. I attend a dual code night.  In this case, it means both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds are both racing on one card. This very special night of racing is presented by Cranbourne Turf Club and Cranbourne Harness Racing Club; featuring the TAB Cranbourne Cup for the Thoroughbreds and Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup for the Standardbreds.   I am in awe.  The track and the grandstand are beautiful. The energy that fills the grandstand is incredible. I find the perfect spot along the rail, it is close to the finish line and the Winner’s Circle. With having two codes racing on the same night there is almost always a race to watch. The Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds alternate races.  When a Standardbred race enters the track, the Winner’s Circle presentations for the Thoroughbred race that had just finished are taking place.  It is mesmerizing and powerful to see two breeds come together for one spectacular night of racing.  It is time for the prestigious TAB Cranbourne Cup. There is a hum rippling through the grandstand. All eyes are fixed on the track. The horses and their jockeys come around each turn, the cheering in the grandstand gets louder and louder, almost drowning out the announcer. As the winning connections gather in Winner's Circle and celebrate their victory, the horses and their drivers enter the track. The energy that was exhibited during the Thoroughbred race spills into the Decon Pacing Gold Cup that follows. The pacers and their drivers line up behind the mobile, taking off they fight for positions. With each turn, the grandstand roars with excitement and drivers see the finish line coming closer with each stride, victory is one step closer. With screams and the slapping of programs, the winning pacer and driver cross the wire. After the races, I see my friend and President of Cranbourne Harness Club, Bill Hutchinson, it is lovely to see him again. I had another unforgettable night and made many memories and friends. After a busy night, I return to my hotel to get a good night of sleep in preparation for tomorrow. I drift off to sleep with the echoes of cheers and the sound of hooves hitting the track.      So far on my trip, I have been able to witness top quality racing, I have witnessed champions be crowned. Today, I am off to see the champions of tomorrow. I will be visiting two breeding farms, Aldebaran Park and Alabar Farms, as I am keen to learn about the breeding industry in Australia. Aldebaran Park is very pretty. I walk along path between the paddock with the mares and foals before stopping to see the yearlings. The foals were very playful in the morning sun as their mares watch carefully. I go and see the yearlings who are enjoying the morning sunshine, they are happy to receive the extra attention. Then I am off to Alabar Farms. When I arrive at Alabar, I am overwhelmed, to be here feels so surreal. My tour begins with having the opportunity to meet the legendary Presidential Ball and his best mate, the renowned Safely Kept. Both past champions are so sweet. I feel so blessed and honored I get to spend time with them in their paddock.  Alabar is looking after them extremely well. They are happy and living the life of leisure.  I spend some time in a paddock with some of the mares and soon to be weanlings, who are being separated the next day. As I approach the gate to go in, two foals and their mares look at me intrigued. When I am in the paddock, they come straight over to me without hesitation.  Smelling me, playing with my hat, snuggling me and giving me kisses. They were so adorable. both mares and foals refuse to leave my side. I am happy to give them kisses and snuggles.  Soon It is time to continue on my way; the foals want me to stay as much I want to. With one final kiss for each of them, I say my goodbyes before walking through the gate. It warms my heart to know that in a couple of years those weanlings will be champions; possibly winning the Miracle Mile, I can say I knew them when they were just babies before they were they winning trophies and setting records. Seeing as I am at the top breeding farm in Australia. I had to see Australia’s stallions. I have the pleasure of meeting Courage Under Fire. He is a regal looking stallion. I also meet the handsome Alta Christiano, he has the best view a stallion could ask for; his paddock overlooks all of the mares. After a lovely day spent to learn more about breeding in Australia. I go to the trots  (races) at Echuca Harness Racing Club for the evening. It is a charming track. A memorable night gets even more special when I have the opportunity to go for a ride in the mobile (start car), and sit in the front passenger seat, that was awesome. I see the whole track and the entire grandstand.  I meet the president of the club, Michael McMahon, who invites me for a tour of the paddock. I have the honor of meeting harness racing esteemed trainer and driver, Brian Gath. The following day I take a trip to Ballarat to meet Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, followed by a visit to Anton Golino. Talking with them, I add to the knowledge I have gained so far and get to hear what it is like to be a trainer in the state of Victoria. The next day I have the pleasure of learning more about the wonderful work that the Harness Education and Rehoming Opportunites (H.E.R.O.) program does from Tanya McDermott. The H.E.R.O. program provides Standardbreds with new careers, and new people to have new experiences with, such as riding and showing. I meet two new horses currently in the program, Jadahson, and He’s Kinky. They are lovely boys and I know they will go on to do great things. I look forward to seeing what new their new careers have in store for them. It warms my heart to know that the H.E.R.O exists for Standardbreds after they have finished racing.  After a lovely morning, I travel to meet Andy and Kate Gath and their staff. It is an afternoon spent laughing and sharing stories. For my final night in Australia, it is the Lyn McPherson Memorial at Tabcorp Park Melton and the final night for "Team Teal" in support of Ovarian Cancer. The color teal was chosen as that is the color which represents Ovarian Cancer.  The fundraiser began February 1st. I am honored I can be part of the special night support of a great cause. Because of social media, I was aware of this heart-warming initiative. So, when I packed to come I made sure to pack my teal colored dress. Walking in the grandstand and up into the reception area, there is a wave of vibrant teal in memoriam of Lyn MacPherson. The family of Lyn MacPherson and the harness racing community has come together to celebrate her legacy and started this annual event to help others. I spend my last night at the trots in Australia in great company of friends. I feel special I get to spend my last night supporting an important cause in an unforgettable way.  I make my way to the fence to take in my last few races in Australia. As the field steps onto the track, I wish I could stop time, just for a moment, so I can enjoy the time I have left at the trots a little longer. But I cannot stop time and in the blink of an eye, I am walking through the doors and towards my car.   Sitting in my hotel room, and thinking about my trip as a whole and the thought of having to leave is not without a few tears. Maybe my tears have to do with me feeling so at home here, and now I feel I have to leave. The next morning I was up before the sun. It had already begun to rain. The weather outside reflects how I feel in my heart, dreary and sad. With a heavy heart, I step out of my taxi with my luggage in tow. I take in one last breath of the crisp Melbourne air as I step through the doors of the Melbourne International Airport, with a heavy heart and longing to stay. Being in Australia for the time that I have, it has begun to feel like home.  I will never forget all the heartwarming memories that I have made. I will never forget all of the truly amazing people who I got to meet. A part of my heart will forever be in Australia. One day, I do not know when, or how long it will take me, but I will return to this amazing place. Having to say goodbye brings tears to my eyes and makes me extremely sad. So, it is not goodbye, it is simply, see you again Australia. Many photos were taken, laughs and stories shared. I also learned a lot about how different Australian harness racing is, and how it is the same. I also gained a lot of knowledge on horsemanship and I will carry and apply that knowledge in the future when I work with my own horses. I board my first flight, taking me from Melbourne to Los Angeles, similar to the flight path I had taken to come to this magical place, flying from Los Angeles. As the plane ascends into the sky, I look out my window taking in one final glimpse of Australia. After what feels like forever the plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport. I cannot help but think how it felt so much longer doing the return trip than, going to Australia. I replay the memories, the conversations, the laughs, the smiles, the thundering of hooves, the screams of excitement in the stretch, the joyous cheers as horses make the final strides across the finish line. These memories become a blend of colors, as I see the brightly colored sets of silks rush past. All of this happens as clear as it did when the events happened for the first time. The memories flood my mind for the duration of my second flight from Los Angeles to Toronto. I still continue to replay moments, this helps to distract me from the reality. Now that I am back to the routine of going to school and doing homework, at just the right time in my day, even if only for a brief moment, as if it is like magic, I flash back to Australia.  I also want to especially thank all the sponsors who helped make this trip possible for myself and my family.... Alan Galloway of Alabar Farms... sponsored in part also by Adam Bowden’s Diamond Creek Farm, A Rocknroll Dance Syndicate, Nevele R Stud, Blue Chip Farm, Pepper Tree Farm (Art Major’s owners), the owners of Auckland Reactor and Joe Bellino and the owners of Rock N Roll Heaven (Pepper Tree Farm and Alabar). THANK YOU ALL! Sydney Weaver is 16 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom's horses, jogs them on the track, owns both a Standardbred and a Thoroughbred racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

What comes to mind when you hear the name, Sam McKee?  Many would say an extremely talented individual who knows no stranger, all while being a master of his trade. We have watched countless races, enjoying the details through Sam’s captivating voice. He brings an energy and enthusiasm that keeps all harness racing fans on the edge of their seats. Diamond Creek Farm holds Sam with high regard and esteem. It was Sam’s announcing that brought us to our feet on a rainy  afternoon at the Red Mile. Creatine was 15-1 in the 2013 Kentucky Futurity, racing against a top field of fierce competitors.  As Creatine made his move down the home stretch, Sam immediately brought all eyes to him. “CREATINE” The name ringing in all the ears of the stadium as he trotted to victory. The pure joy and excitement could be felt and heard for miles. Sam has a way of making people want to listen. Sam and Creatine celebrated their anniversary of this win . Creatine was 31-1 against no other than Sebastian K the 1/5 betting favorite in the 2014 Allerage TVG Trot. Sebastian K had a 5 length lead at the top of the stretch. Once again, it was Sam who made everyone stand up and cheer. “Creatine got it,” he yelled as Creatine edged out Sebastian K to win.  Those words may sound simple, but Sam has a way of making them sound magical. The harness racing community received some heartbreaking news.  Sam had suffered from a major stroke and was in critical condition at a hospital in New Jersey.  He will be facing a lengthy and difficult recovery. As soon as we heard this devastating news, we wanted to give Sam and his family support. It only makes sense that we involve Creatine, as Sam has been there for him. The farm will be holding an online auction for a breeding to Creatine, the champion son of the great Andover Hall. The auction will run on the Diamond Creek website here, from Tuesday, Febuary 7th until  Febuary 10th at noon. The winner of the breeding will have a chance to breed to Creatine, but most importantly they will be helping a fellow horseman and his family in their time of need. All the proceeds from the stud fee auction will go directly to the McKee family.  Amount is to be paid up front. Breeding is transferable and can be used any season. Collection fees will be waived. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgVs_4nk7tI- Link to Allerage Trot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQyr2FY5lds- link to KY Futurity

For the 3rd consecutive year, the former US Pacer of the Year has booked full before the start of the harness racing breeding season.  His book includes impressive race mares such as Loyal Opposition and Naughtytilltheend, millionairess Carolina Sunshine and West Side Glory, dam of See You at Peelers. Sweet Lou recently returned from Down Under where he also served an impressive book, including 3 and 4 year old champion Adore Me, winner of A$1,677,032 and 1:47.7 mile-track record holder. Adore Me was bred to Sweet Lou last year as well and had an impressive filly this year. “A stallion’s third year at stud is often a tricky year,” says Diamond Creek owner Adam Bowden.  “Often breeders are waiting to see the results of the yearling sales or how the 2 year olds do on the track.  It goes to show the confidence the breeders have in him as a sire.” Sweet Lou’s first weanling at sale, a colt out of Whetstone Hanover, sold in Harrisburg for $80,000. Sweet Lou stands at Diamond Creek Farm for a fee of $7,500. Sweet Lou’s debut crop of "baby blazes" will be on display at the yearling sales this fall.

The Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to again announce that a record number of horses have been nominated for the sixth annual VDM weekend of racing. The richest stakes weekend in all of Ireland and the UK, the VDM has developed into a must attend week-long festival in Dublin, Ireland with the races being held August 12 and 13, 2017. "To say we were overwhelmed with the support from the horse owners," said race founder Derek Delaney. "would be an understatement for our festival of harness racing. While we are slightly down on numbers in the two-year-old divisions, we made up for it on three-year-old's with our new joint sponsorship with Alabar Stud and Oakwood Stud." The premier event of the weekend is the sixth annual Vincent Delaney Memorial for two-year-old's. Perhaps harness racing's most grueling race as it calls for two-year-old's to race in elimination divisions Saturday and then the final on Sunday. A record number of pacing fillies entered the Diamond Creek Farm VDM with 38 nominated over 35 in 2016. The newly sponsored Hanover Shoe Farm VDM for colts saw a decline over prior year with 38 nominated for 2017 vs 45 in 2016. Rhyds Mystique, the BHRC filly of the year in 2016 and IB Coyote, winner of the Diamond Creek Farm VDM Final last year, are both nominated. Another record was set in nominations for the three-year-old Alabar-Oakwood Stud Derby with a total of 45 colts and fillies entered. The colt division has 23 entered and the new filly division has 23 nominated. Heading the list of colts for the Derby is Tyrion Hanover, the BHRC colt of the year last season and the winner of the VDM colt final. In the four-year-old newly sponsored Yirribee Paul Murtagh, SR. Memorial, only seven entered the horse division, mainly because of the presences of the 2016 Harness Horse of the Year in Ireland and the UK, Miraculous, returning for another championship season. He is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest racehorses ever in Ireland and the UK. Unfortunately, due to a lack of entries (only four) in the Yirribee Murtagh Mare Division, the race has been canceled. "We will however," said Delaney, "try our very best to stage a four-year-old and older mare's race on the weekend. "Overall we are really excited that our three major stakes events are up again in total horses." Delaney add, "This year we have 127 entered for the three stakes and last year was at 120. Anytime we can continue to increase total nominations it shows we are growing and that is always good." Complete listings of all the horses nominated will be available soon at www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial      

Westfield, IN - Adam Bowden, the innovative leader of Diamond Creek Farm, has been elected to the Board of Trustees of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF). The Maine native cut his harness racing teeth at Scarborough and Lewiston Downs in Maine, but he is now active on a far larger stage. Bowden's involvement and support of HHYF are just part of that larger picture, as he explains, " Not too long ago I was a kid growing up going to the track with my father and now that I am a dad with two young girls, I can only hope they inherit the same love and passion I have for the sport. Due to the opportunities that the Harness Horse Youth Foundation has developed, more and more young people have access to the sport we all know and love. I am told over and over that my generation is the future of the sport but I think we are the sport's present and the kids today represent the future. It is our job to expose them to it. No other organization does a better job. I am truly honored to be part of the future." HHYF Board President Marlys Pinske remarked, "I am very pleased that the board of Harness Horse Youth Foundation has chosen to appoint Adam Bowden as a member. In his capacity at Diamond Creek Farm, he has been an ardent benefactor of Harness Horse Youth Foundation." The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.   For more information on this press release, contact HHYF Project Manager Keith Gisser at 216-374-1392 or keith@hhyf.org   From the Harness Horse Youth Foundation

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (November 16, 2016) - Always B Miki will make one final trip to the winner's circle before he goes off to his second career as a harness racing stallion. The world's fastest Standardbred of all-time will officially be retired in a ceremony at the Meadowlands on Friday, November 18. The five-year-old son of Always A Virgin capped off his brilliant career last Saturday at the Meadowlands by winning the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Final by four lengths in 1:48.2. He retires with 30 wins, 13 seconds, and three third-place finishes in 53 lifetime starts for earnings of $2,715,368. 'Miki set the all-time speed record of 1:46 when winning the Allerage Farms Open Pace in October at Lexington. He is the likely favorite to be voted the sport's Horse of the Year. "I think it's really poetic to end his career where it started," said co-owner Bob Boni. "My partner Mitchel Skolnick and I made the deal to buy half of the horse after his third baby race at the Meadowlands. It's all of our home track, from myself and Mitchel, to Jimmy Takter, and David Miller. It all comes full circle. I've been at the Meadowlands since day one so it's nice to have this happen here." The retirement ceremony will take place after the fourth race of the evening. 'Miki will jog from the back paddock to the winner's circle while a highlight video of his career plays throughout the building. He will be presented with a commemorative blanket and pose for photos while his connections are interviewed on the Meadowlands TV broadcast. "It is our honor to send this tremendous racehorse out with a ceremony that honors his legendary career," said Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. "All of us have watched with such excitement the battles that 'Miki waged with his rival Wiggle It Jiggleit this season and I don't think anyone that was here at the Meadowlands for the Breeders Crown will ever forget 'Miki prevailing after that epic stretch duel." Always B Miki will begin his stallion career at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. He will stand for a $12,500 stud fee. For more information, please visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

Hopewell, NJ --- The ownership group for world champion Always B Miki continues to grow as several major harness racing breeders have joined the stallion’s ownership group. Always B Miki's breeding career will begin next year at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. Always B Miki is the sport’s fastest Standardbred ever, pacing to a world record 1:46 victory in the Allerage at Red Mile this fall. He is also the only horse to ever pace four miles in 1:47 or faster, and he recently defeated Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Breeders Crown, giving him a 4-3 edge over his rival in eight match-ups this season. He made his final career start last Saturday night at the Meadowlands, winning the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Open Pace by a powerful 4-1/4 lengths. The victory brought his career earnings to $2,715,368. The latest breeders to buy an ownership interest in Always B Miki are Steve Jones of Cameo Hills Farm, Lindy Farms, Hunterton Farm, Fair Winds Farm, Dr. Steve Dey and Anthony Perretti. All American Harnessbreds jumped into the ownership group prior to the Breeders Crown. “The plan was to bring in the sport’s breeders and that has come to fruition,” said Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden. “These are very active breeders so we’re thrilled to have them aboard,” added Bob Boni, a partner in Always B Miki through Bluewood Stable. “I own a few nice mares and I plan to support him with my better ones and I wanted to be part of the ownership group. In my mind, he’s one of the most exciting stallion prospects to come along, and I wanted to be part of the syndicate,” said Jones. Lindy Farms has 12-13 pacing broodmares and will be retiring several fillies and mares, among them Imagine Dragon p,4,1:49.3, who hails from the same maternal family as this year’s sensational filly Darlinonthebeach. “We’ve got young mares with fast records and great pedigrees and we’re going to support him big league,” said Frank M. Antonacci, who has trained the Lindy fillies/mares who will be heading to the breeding shed. Hunterton Farm’s Steve Stewart said he saw buying an ownership interest in Always B Miki as a “logical” business decision. “The horse has a really good group of breeders behind him and that’s key for stallions,” noted Stewart. “With our partners, we’ve bought a lot of pacing mares the last few years and we’ve been breeding them to Captaintreacherous, Somebeachsomewhere and Sweet Lou and it’s time to move some of them around.” Fair Winds Farm has 25 top producing pacing broodmares. “I haven’t made my mating selections just yet, but I’m excited to join the Always B Miki team,” said Fair Winds’ Mark Mullen. Always B Miki will be officially retired from racing in trackside ceremonies at the Meadowlands Friday night (Nov. 18).

Southwind Frank, who won last year’s Breeders Crown and this year’s Colonial Trot has been retired from harness racing due to a chronic lameness issue, as advised by a team of veterinarians.  “I’ve trained a lot of horses, but none have had Frank’s package of speed, power and smarts.  I truly believe he is one of the all-time greats, and would love to continue racing him so he could prove it on the track, but due to an injury, I can’t take that risk” said trainer Ron Burke of Frank. Southwind Frank was bred by Southwind Farms and is owned by the Southwind Frank Partners.  Trained by Burke, Southwind Frank was immensely successful during his 2-year-old campaign. He won 11 out of 12 starts that year, including wins in the Haughton Memorial and the Wellwood.  He continued to end up in the winner’s circle his 3-year-old year with the Beal, Stanley Dancer and Colonial Trot, among others, finishing in the top 3 in 24 of 26 career starts.  “A great horse that was dominant as a 2-year-old but I’m even more impressed by the grit and determination he showed as a 3-year-old. “said Yannick Gringras. “He was never fully healthy and sound but he tried 150% each and every start.  This is the sign of a true champion.” Southwind Frank will stand stud at Diamond Creek Farm in 2017 for a stud fee of $10,000.  “We are very excited about Frank, the best son of Muscle Hill, joining our rising stars in the stud lineup” said Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden. “He will add even more star power to our ever expanding and powerful stallion roster.” The 2015 Dan Patch and O’Brien 2-year-old Trotting Colt of the year is a son of successful stud Muscle Hill out of the Cantab Hall mare Flawless Lindy.   The 2015 Breeders Crown  

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   

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