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Big Sir was awarded the victory in The Raceway at Western Fair's harness racing feature on Tuesday, Mar. 30 after Shadow Tail drifted into his path and stopped his late charge.   Driver Doug McNair slotted the heavily favoured Big Sir into the pocket through the first turn, quickly abandoning his bid for leadership. Shadow Tail (Austin Sorrie) led the way through opening splits of 27.1 and 57.3. Podium Seelster advanced first up going through the third panel timed in 1:26.2, and Big Sir swung around him coming into the final turn.   McNair lunged his gelding to the outside, and the horse took off with the newfound racetrack, bearing down on the leader. Shadow Tail drifted out in the stretch and hooked wheels with the oncoming challenger, causing the two to maintain position crossing the finish line.   Shadow Tail went over the wire first, but officials ruled he caused interference to Big Sir and placed him second. Big Sir received the victory. Heza Handy Man came up the rail for show. The winner paid $2.70.   BIG SIR REPLAY     Big Sir is now 11-for-30 lifetime with more than $65,000 in earnings. Tony Montini trains the four-year-old by Big Jim for Albina Montini of Acton, Kwong Sum Low of Etobicoke, William Rogers of Aurora, and Rick Rier of Hanover.   Also on the card, the three-year-old State Treasurer colt Hollys Treasure broke his maiden despite being parked for the entire mile and was a 25-1 longshot. Driver Bruce Richardson sent him out quickly and battled with Hes A Littleterror (George Ketros) throughout the contest, eventually pacing him into submission and surviving a late move from Sunseeker (Lorne House).   HOLLYS TREASURE REPLAY     Colonel Schneider of Arthur owns, and Cassidy Schneider trains.   Trainer Ashley Duford took her first win of the year with Jooner (2:02) in the fifth. Madalyn Henry accomplished the same feat with Windemere McSeek (1:59) in the sixth, as did Otis Hall in the 10th with Sauble Attack (1:57).   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

High Gear No Fear picked up where he left off last season, winning the Thursday, Mar. 25 conditioned harness racing feature trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in his seasonal debut to extend his streak to four.   With Doug McNair at the controls, the four-year-old gelding assumed the third position going into the turn. McNair activated him just past the quarter in 27.1, and he rolled to the front going to the half in 56.4. The pair then took a third-quarter breather, finishing the panel in 1:27.1.   Tymal Riggs (Louis Philippe-Roy), the earlier leader, made his move rounding the turn and matched speed with High Gear No Fear as they trotted for the line. The latter was better on the night though, edging a three-quarter-length victory in 1:56.   Tymal Riggs finished second, and Tymal Tarot (Sylvain Filion) made up ground in the final quarter take the show spot.   HIGH GEAR NO FEAR REPLAY     High Gear No Fear, the 1/5 favourite, grew his tally to seven from 18 attempts and surpassed $60,000 in earnings with the win. Stephen Bossence trains the Whom Shall I Fear gelding for Stephen Palermo of Etobicoke.   Also on the card, Leo Fleming trained his first winner since 2009. Marlbank Road went wire-to-wire for him in the third for a 1:53.1 score.   MARLBANK ROAD REPLAY     Marlbank Road, a three-year-old Sportswriter gelding, broke his maiden with that win, making his record one-for-four with $13,650 earned. Fleming co-owns with Steven Papillon and Gerald Lilley of Rockwood.   Fleming's last trip to the winner's circle as a conditioner was on Jul. 27, 2009 when Overdue took a conditioned event at Mohawk. Prior to 2021, he most recently raced in 2011.   Trainer Francis Guillemette procured his first 2021 win with Tiki Taka in the fourth. Guillemette claimed the son of Manofmanymissions on Mar. 4 and owns him outright. Fellow conditioners Paul Macdonell and Jonathan McKinnon also opened their yearly accounts with wins from Alwaysabeachday in the opener and Iglare Am in the eighth, respectively. Macdonell also drove his filly.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

A week off didn't stifle Wheels On Fire's fine form as the gelding went all the way for the third straight start in Woodbine Mohawk Park's $34,000 Preferred pace on Saturday, Mar. 13.   Driver Doug McNair launched the six-year-old out to secure the engine early and they attained it prior to the turn. McNair crafted panels of 27.3, 56.1, and 1:24 before former Canadian Pacing Derby champion Sintra (Jody Jamieson) made his voice heard from first-up turning for home.   Sintra made headway at the top of the lane, but Wheels On Fire was brimming with pace and put away the rest of the field with relative ease. McNair sheathed the whip well before they crossed the line two lengths the best for a 1:51.3 score. Sintra was second, and Rockme Rollme (Travis Cullen) converted his pocket trip into show money. The winner paid $8.60.       Wheels On Fire has now won three of his four 2021 starts and 25 of 71 lifetime. The son of Somebeachsomewhere is owned by Brad Grant of Milton and trained by Richard Moreau.   Also on the card, Louis-Philippe Roy tripled with wins aboard Pointomygrandson in the opener, Villefranche As in the second, and Im The Muscle in the sixth.   Woodbine Mohawk Park is back in action on Monday, Mar. 15.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Woodbine Mohawk Park continued its early-season harness racing stakes schedule with three competitive divisions of the Snowshoe Pacing Series on Friday, Mar. 12.   Noch Ten went all the way in the first split, fighting off three different challengers to capture half of the $17,000 purse.   Driver Jody Jamieson sent the four-year-old out quickest of all, forcing fellow leaver Yankee Litigator (Louis-Philippe Roy) to accept the pocket. Jamieson carved out fractions of 27.2, 57.2, and 1:27.1 and dispatched first-over attacker Captain Ray (Robert Shepherd) coming around the turn.   Dragon Roars Again (Chris Christoforou) had the last -- and most convincing -- bid, kicking off cover at the head of the lane. He closed on the leader all the way to the wire, but Noch Ten was a nose better and hung on to win in 1:56.2. Dragon Roars again was second, and Captain Ray was third best.       Noch Ten is now two-for-seven lifetime with earnings in excess of $30,000. Carmen Auciello trains the son of Warrawee Needy for the coalition of his own Auciello Stables, James Downer of Langley, and regular Mohawk reinsman Jonathan Drury of Guelph. Two-dollar win tickets on Noch Ten paid $4.90.   Make it Come True went from last to first with an eighth to go in the second division.   Ed Hensley dropped the Captaintreacherous gelding into sixth headed to the first turn, with Major Makover (Doug McNair) throwing down a 28.2 opening panel on the engine. That leader went uncontested to the half in 57.2 before McNair chased him to a 1:26.2 three-quarters.   Make It Come True started rolling third-over, but he lost a position in the stretch before truly igniting. The four-year-old gelding found another gear in the last eighth, going by five foes with a blistering charge to win by a neck in 1:55.2. Lyons Liberty (James MacDonald), whose cover the leader used, finished second. Major Makover fought admirably but had to settle for show.       Ashleigh Hensley trains the pacing gelding that has won three races from 19 tries and earned more than $40,000. Brad Maxwell of Guelph, Fred Kruszelnicki of Brooks, and Kenneth Frieder of Devon own the horse. Make It Come True paid $7.70.   Bettors Donttell grinded down his rivals in the final Snowshoe showing, pacing the leader into submission for a 1:55.2 score.   Victory Move (Jody Jamieson) commanded the lead going to the quarter in 28.1, but Hes Swift was not content with the pocket, and James Macdonald moved him to acquire the lead going by three-eighths. Hes Swift set fractions of 57.2 and 1:26.2, and Bettors Donttell (Doug McNair) came after him as they turned for home.   Bettors Donttell advanced uncovered and appeared on even footing with the leader for some time, but he eventually broke through and drew away to win by a length and three quarters in 1:54.4. Hes Swift held place, and Bettor in Cash (Sylvain Fillion) reached up for third.       That was the three-year-old Bettors Delight gelding's fourth win on 11 races lifetime, and it improved his earnings total to more than $45,000. Troy Mark of Simcoe owns and bred the horse that paid $4; Jean Guy Belliveau does the training.   Also on the card, both McNair and MacDonald returned to action following an accident in the previous night's opener. Both booked off their drives that evening, and MacDonald went to the hospital as a precaution.   Woodbine Mohawk Park will host 11 more races on Saturday, Mar. 13.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

A multiple-horse accident in the Thursday evening opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park resulted in driver James MacDonald being taken to local hospital. MacDonald and fellow reinsman Doug McNair were unseated from their racebikes after race leading Dont Dilly Dally made a sudden break on the way to the three-quarter pole. McNair’s charge Just Plain Needy collided into the back of the breaking horse and then fell while MacDonald’s charge Red Dirt Fulofhart caught the racebike wheel of the fallen horse before running loose and then being apprehended. Both horses walked off the track and both drivers got to their feet quickly, but driver James MacDonald wound up being taken to nearby hospital. No updates were available on his condition. Driver Doug McNair drove in the next race, but his horse was a late scratch from Race 3. He then booked off the remainder of his drives. "I feel ok," said McNair. "I drove a few more and just felt it would be better to take the night off and start fresh tomorrow." McNair is scheduled to drive in all 11 of Friday's races at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "All seems good with him," said trainer Mark McKinnon when asked about Red Dirt Fulofhart. "He came out of it just fine. He was caught [in the infield] with no issues and dove right into his hay and feed when I got him home with the ears up." "Thank God he seems ok," said co-owner Kenny Ellis when asked for an update on Just Plain Needy. "He somehow managed to tuck and roll and came away with just some minor scratches. Everything looked superficial. He’s at home now munching on some hay with his mini pony." Trot Insider will provide additional updates on those involved in the accident when details become available. Please join Standardbred Canada in wishing horses and drivers a speedy return to racing. From Standardbred Canada  

Harry G's third-quarter scramble to the front secured him a second straight N/W$50000L victory in The Raceway at Western Fair's Tuesday, Mar. 9 feature pace.   Reinsman Doug McNair dropped the four-year-old into the three-hole through the first turn. They chased pacesetter Spectrum Seelster (Travis Cullen) and pocket-sitter Ozzie Young (Scott Coulter) through the opening fractions of 28 and 58. Harry G then rolled out of third turning for the second trip to the backstretch and stepped past Spectrum Seelster, who provided mild resistance.   He set a 1:27.1 third quarter and opened up a three-length gap in the stretch. Livin Large (Tyler Borth), who was previously on Harry G's cover, offered a belated rally, but Harry G found the line in time to win by a length in 1:56.3. Livin Large was second, and Ozzie Young took show money.       Harry G's win sees him improve to 11-for-30 lifetime and his bankroll top $50,000. Christina Gillis owns the Mike Saftic-trained son of Rollwithitharry.   The Raceway continues its racing action on Wednesday, Mar. 10 with 10 more races beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST.   Also on the card, trainer Tracy Procop broke a five-year-long, 77-race dry streak. Fine Credit, a three-year-old pacing gelding by Up The Credit (Scott Coulter) won for Procop on his debut in the seventh race with a three-wide move. The horse is owned by Heather and Leticia Sawyer of Grand Bend, and Kenneth Albrecht of Milverton.       Procop's last trip to the winner's circle came on Jan. 27, 2016, when Fightyourobsession won for her at The Raceway at Western Fair.   Fellow conditioner John Yake also secured his first victory of the season, winning the ninth race with Super T (Louis-Philippe Roy). Yake was six-for-122 in 2020. Leslie Joyce also joined the maiden-breaking bandwagon, winning her first race of 2021 with Misstwinklinsjones (Scott Young) in the fourth. Joyce won eight races from 49 starts last season.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Harry G and harness racing driver Doug McNair took the tough route to victory in the Mar. 2 N/W$52,000 lifetime pace at The Raceway at Western Fair.   Harry G took back to fifth early, allowing Spectrum Seelster (Travis Cullen) to lead through an opening quarter in 29. McNair quickly pulled the trigger though, going first-up at three-eighths and reaching third by the half in 1:00.3. Harry G poked a nose in front of Spectrum Seelster on the backstretch, but the latter fought back and set the third quarter time of 1:29.1.   The two horses were dead even turning for home, but Harry G found enough for one more push down the lane and drew away to win by half a length in 1:58.3. Spectrum Seelster settled for second, and Sports Nation (Austin Sorrie) came from the pocket to take show.       The winner, a four-year-old gelding by Rollwithitharry took his first win for owner Christina Gillis of Campbellville and trainer Mike Saftic. The horse has now won 10 races from 29 starts and earned just shy of $50,000 lifetime.   Also on the card, Colin Kelly took a driving triple with wins aboard Doc Fanelli in the second, Blackcreek Rosebud in the third, and Together We Run in the ninth. He now has eight in the win column in 2021.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

A week after he switched to the pace with meters to go, harness racing horse Its Academic dominated the $34,000 Preferred trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday, Mar. 1.   The four-year-old trotting stallion got away third, following Oney Hall and Perfetto through a 29.1 first quarter. Its Academic then went first-up on the backstretch and cleared just before the half in 58.1. Driver Doug McNair rated him well to a 1:27.1 third split and the pair cruised home with little asking from McNair.    Its Academic trotted home for a one-length victory in 1:55.2. Perfetto went a taxing first-over trip and stayed on for second. Zig Zag came from last at the half to get third. The winner paid $6.50 to win.       That was Its Academic's first win on the season in two starts for owner Brad Grant. The other outing seemed like a sure victory coming down the lane, but the son of Uncle Peter went from trot to pace just meters from the line, finished first, and was disqualified. The Richard Moreau trainee is now 14 for 25 lifetime with just shy of $475,000 earned.   Earlier in the card, 13-year-old Cool Rock broke a 56-race losing streak spanning more than two years in the $8,000 claiming class. The gelding by Rocknroll Hanover is approaching 300 lifetime starts and has already surpassed $600,000 in earnings. Bob McClure drove the iron horse to victory for trainer Joshua McKibbin and owner Michael Cecile of Windsor.       Mohawk's next scheduled race date is Thursday, Mar. 4.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

MILTON, ON - August 29, 2020 -- Party Girl Hill remained unbeaten with another sterling harness racing effort, this time in the $400,000 Fan Hanover Final (presented by SBOA) on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. It was Lady Lou who took command early, with the daughter of Sweet Lou taking her rivals through an opening quarter in :26.3. Karma Seelster settled in second with Party Girl Hill and Lauras Love sitting third and fourth, respectively. Just ahead of the half-mile mark, Doug McNair called on Party Girl to seize advantage and the duo did so with ease, reaching the half in :54.4. Party Girl Hill and Lady Lou were still one-two after three-quarters, as a confident McNair kept the daughter of Captaintreacherous to task. Peaky Sneaky, second choice on the toteboard, continued her outside bid as the field straightened for home, but it was to no avail, as Party Girl Hill strode to the wire a sharp 2 ¾-length winner. Sweet Lou nosed out Peaky Sneaky for the runner-up spot, while Karma Seelster was fourth. Party Girl stopped the teletimer in 1:49.2 for breeder-owner Tom Hill and trainer Chantal Mitchell. She paid $3.70 for the win. "I just kind of rolled her along a little more this week," said McNair. "She can just carry her speed so far. Obviously, you can tell tonight... she paced right through to the wire. I was really happy with her." It was the eighth win in as many starts for the bay filly who was unraced as a two-year-old. She made her debut on June 12 at The Meadowlands and romped to an 11 ¾-length score in 1:50.2 as the 1-5 favourite. Last week, Party Girl Hill, in her first effort at Woodbine Mohawk Park, took her Fan Hanover elimination by a half-length in 1:50-flat. by Chris Lomon, for Woodbine Communications  

TORONTO/MILTON, ON - August 6, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment, in partnership with Kraft-Heinz Canada, today announced the launch of the Heinz Challenge, a six-week series to be contested during Racing Night Live on TSN. The Heinz Challenge pairs a top Woodbine Racetrack jockey with a top Woodbine Mohawk Park driver to create four teams competing for a $5,000 charitable donation from Woodbine. Every time one of the participating jockeys or drivers competes during a race aired on Racing Night Live, they have the opportunity to earn points towards their team's challenge score. All eight participating athletes are ranked among the best in their sport and are well-known personalities at Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park. The four competing jockeys are Rafael Hernandez, Kazushi Kimura, Justin Stein and Emma-Jayne Wilson, while the participating drivers are Jody Jamieson, Bob McClure, Doug McNair and Louis-Philippe Roy. The team with the best 'Points Per Race' average at the end of six-weeks will win the challenge. The point system is as follows: 10 points for a Win, 5 points for a second-place finish and 2 points for a third-place finish. (Example: Team A earns 50 points over 10 races: Team A's Points Per Race is 5) Each member of the winning team will select a charity and Woodbine Entertainment will make a $2,500 donation on their behalf to make up the $5,000 winning prize. Woodbine Mohawk Park driver James MacDonald was originally scheduled to participate in the Heinz Challenge. MacDonald unfortunately suffered an injury in a racing accident on August 1 and will be unable to participate. Louis-Philippe Roy has been selected to replace MacDonald and the two will split the donation should their team win. Here are the teams for the Heinz Challenge: Team E=MC ² Jockey: Emma-Jayne Wilson Driver: Bob McClure #TeamEMC2 Team Club DJ Jockey: Justin Stein Driver: Doug McNair #TeamClubDJ Team Island Boyz Jockey: Rafael Hernandez Driver: James MacDonald (unable to participate due to injury) Driver: Louis-Philippe Roy #TeamIslandBoyz Team Double Double Jockey: Kazushi Kimura Driver: Jody Jamieson #TeamDoubleDouble The Heinz Challenge is the latest feature on the weekly Racing Night Live program on TSN. Racing Night Live, which airs every Thursday at 6 p.m. ET on TSN, showcases the world-class racing from the Thoroughbreds at Woodbine Racetrack and Standardbreds at Woodbine Mohawk Park over an action-packed two-hours. The Heinz Challenge will run from August 6 to September 10. Fans can join the conversation, track the leaderboard and cheer on their favourite team through Social Media by using the hashtag #HeinzChallenge. All eight of the participating athletes can be found on various social media platforms and will be engaging with fans over the course of the six-week event. Who To Follow: Woodbine Racetrack: @WoodbineTB (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) Woodbine Mohawk Park: @WoodbineSB (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) Heinz Canada: @heinz_ca (Instagram) Rafael Hernandez: @hernandezrafii (Twitter) Jody Jamieson: @Jodyjamracing (Twitter) Kazushi Kimura: @kazushi0096 (Twitter), @k.kimura0906 (Instagram) James MacDonald: @jamesomac26 (Twitter) Bob McClure: @BobMcClure2 (Twitter) Louis-Philippe Roy: louisphilippe.roy.12 (Facebook) Justin Stein: @justin_steinjockey (Instagram) Emma-Jayne Wilson: @EJWilson81 (Twitter) by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Three of North America’s best harness racing catch drivers — Dexter Dunn, Andrew McCarthy and Doug McNair — were featured on Wednesday evening’s (April 15) episode of COSA TV. The trio of drivers, who have taken the driving scene by storm in recent years, revisited how they got their starts in the business, family ties, answered questions from fans and relived some memorable moments of their careers while racing continues to take a hiatus due to COVID-19. Early on in the conversation, Australian native Andrew McCarthy discussed how he mapped out his rise to the top and did so in quick fashion. “The last two or three years I have hit more of the Grand Circut scene, it’s always been my plan and I finally made the decision about four or five years ago to make the move over to the Meadowlands and that was the key,” McCarthy told Greg Blanchard. “I’ve had a lot of support along the way…Noel Daley really helped me get going and in the last two or three years things have just snowballed for me. I’ve gotten to do a lot of travelling and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.” Dexter Dunn made the decision to move from New Zealand to North America on a whim, but also discussed his rise to the top while fulfilling his childhood dreams. “I grew up in horse racing and it was always a dream of mine to come here and race so I finally made the decision to come over here. The year I had last year was a huge surprise, I’ve been very lucky to have had the support that I’ve had and I’ve been lucky to drive some great horses. I really enjoyed last year and got to experience a lot of big thrills. Moving to the USA was something that was always in the back of my head, when I was here in 2011 for the World Driving Championship and I really liked the racing here. I actually just woke up one day on my way to qualifiers and decided it was now or never. I knew that if I didn’t do it while I was still young enough to do it then I would grow old someday and wish I did it. So I did it and here we are.” For Doug McNair, his rise to the top included a more local move from Ontario’s ‘B’ tracks to the WEG Circut. The big break for McNair, who has been heavily involved in the harness racing industry for as long as he can remember, came very close to home in the 2008 Battle Of Waterloo with his father’s trainee, Trail Boss. “My dad trained the horse and it was quite the thrill to win the race that day. At the time, I really didn’t even know how big of a deal it was until it really sunk in for me a couple years later. It’s a race that most people never get to win in their career and I won it in my first year of driving. My Grandmother and Father bred the horse, my dad doesn’t usually say much but I remember him telling me when he was training him down that he really liked him so I figured he would turn out to be a nice horse. I didn’t get the best trip that day but I had the best horse in the race. My dad’s farm is less than 15 kilometres from Grand River and I went to school just down the road and spent a lot of years there as a kid. We had a big party at the farm that night, it was a really big night for my family and it just really doesn’t get much better than that.” While McCarthy is coming off an astonishing 2019 season, one horse he holds close to him would be Tony Alagna trainee, Tall Drink Hanover, winner of the 2018 She’s A Great Lady. “She is such a terrific mare. As a two-year-old she would do anything you asked her to do. You can put her on the front, race her from behind. Tony did a great job prepping her for that race, she had been over the surface four or five times before this race and I think that really helped her a lot. For me and the horse it’s nice to know that the horse has been over the track before a big race. I am a big believer in trying not to use a horse very much in the first eighth of the mile, especially if you think you have the best horse in the race. I’m also a big believer that using a horse too much in that first eighth will catch up to you in the end. Obviously you have to leave a little bit to figure out where everyone is going to land but I try to manage them and then figure it out from there.” McNair holds fond memories of another recent Alagna trainee, pacing colt Stay Hungry. “He’s a horse that’s right up there as the best I’ve ever driven for sure. I won my first and only Breeders Crown with him and I got to race in races and win some that I have ever been in before. It makes your job a lot easier having a nice horse like that to drive in big races.” For Dexter Dunn, the list of great horses he had the pleasure of driving in his career year of 2019 would be long and plentiful. However, one that sticks the most would be Chris Ryder-trained Bettors Wish. “Coming into 2019 I thought to myself that if I just had one stakes horse to follow around all year, it would be pretty cool. I started driving Bettors Wish late in his two-year-old season and had some luck with him. I knew he was good enough to chase around and drive in big races. He didn’t disappoint me last year at all and was very special to drive. I’m really looking forward to driving him again this year. His races last year speak for themselves, he didn’t have a lot of easy races but you can drive him however you want and know he is going to give you 100 percent. He’s not a big horse at all but he’s muscular and takes a big stride, he gave me a very special year and I had a lot of fun with him. I’ve trained him a couple times and he feels bigger, better and stronger.” The elite group of drivers entertained fans with answers to lots of questions while providing a different perspective on harness racing with backgrounds coming from different hemispheres. While the trio reminisced on memorable moments throughout their career, all are ambitious and eager for their 2020 stakes seasons. The feature can be viewed below. Central Ontario Standardbred Association

Harness racing driver Doug McNair remains eternally grateful to still be working, even if it's under somewhat bizarre circumstances. The Guelph, Ont., resident continues to race at Woodbine Mohawk Park despite all other major sports — and even some racetracks — shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But events at the Campbellville, Ont., track are being conducted without fans in the stands. McNair understands why the measure is in place. But he admits looking into the bare grandstands is surreal and emphatically drives home the point that these are indeed unique times. "It's not terrible, but it's definitely different," he said. "You look over (to grandstand) and everything is dark. People might say there's no crowds there, especially in the winter, but even if there's 50 to 100 people at Mohawk, it's a lot different having none ... and the casino is empty as well." And McNair, Canada's top driver in 2018, said it's something he's reminded of daily. "When you go (to Mohawk), it's funny, you don't see any traffic," he said. "It's absurd, definitely, it's different. "We're really lucky just to be racing, but things change day today, hour to hour. I just hope it continues." Some tracks suspend racing Racetracks across North America have reacted differently to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Kentucky Derby organizers announced Tuesday the first jewel of the U.S. Triple Crown was being shifted from May 2 to Sept. 5 due to COVID-19. But the $1-million Grade 2 Louisiana Derby will run Saturday without spectators in the stands. Among the American tracks to suspend racing are Yonkers, Dover Downs, Freehold Raceway, The Meadowlands, The Downs at Mohegan Sun, and Pocono. Facilities in Europe, Denmark and Italy have followed suit. In Canada, Horse Racing Alberta temporarily suspended racing. But Century Downs, in southern Alberta, is holding events without spectators, as are harness tracks in Ontario. Union representing workers at Casino Woodbine calls for its closure amid COVID-19 outbreak All Ontario casinos to close temporarily amid COVID-19 outbreak "We've spoken to government officials about Mohawk regarding what we're doing," said Jim Lawson, the chief executive officer of Woodbine Entertainment Group. "We're changing post times as of Friday night to spread out the races. "We don't want any more than 50 people in the paddock, probably 40 people. We're going to start to use more of the new portion of the paddock to make sure there's more social distancing. "We're (continuing to race) for horse people more than anything. But we won't hesitate to close down if what I'd call the very strict policies and protocols we have in place aren't working and this thing gets beyond us." Wagering continues Empty stands haven't seemed to dampened fan interest. Wagering at Mohawk on Friday and Saturday was up 10 per cent, while Sunday's handle remained steady despite the absence of spectators. "We have the benefit of a robust and sophisticated system, which is good and it does help bring in some revenue," Lawson said. "The wagering revenue, though, is less than the purse money you pay out to do this. "Our only mandate as a corporation is to support horse racing and that's what we're doing as best we can. We're effectively not-for-profit mandate ... anything we earn goes back into horse racing." McNair and fellow driver Jody Jamieson both gave back last week, each donating a night's earnings to the Red Cross. McNair bequeathed $1,350, while Jamieson chipped in with $1,050. "I figured we were fortunate enough to be racing and what could we do to help a little bit," McNair said. "I definitely think little things like that aren't going to hurt." Paddock, announcer booth disinfected Woodbine Entertainment has also implemented temperature screening for all people entering the paddock at both Mohawk Park and Woodbine Racetrack. Although the thoroughbred season doesn't open until April 18, horses are in barns there and, like at Mohawk, require daily attention and care. At Mohawk Park, both the paddock and announcer's booth are disinfected nightly after racing is completed. "It's fundamental for these people to exist, to continue to have commerce and a livelihood," Lawson said. "We're prepared to do it on the basis of respecting government direction and protocols. "But we're not in the business of risks. We moved first and quicker than anyone to shut down our grandstand, to send our employees home, to shut our bars and restaurants immediately off-site. We're closely monitoring this. We have a very strong board that's involved, we're speaking to government officials and trying to help by creating some commerce." Many living paycheque to paycheque A fact not lost upon driver Bob McClure, who drove 15/1 pick Forbidden Trade to an upset win in last year's US$1-Hambletonian. "The biggest fear I have for this whole thing is there's a large majority of this industry that's still living paycheque to paycheque," said the Rockwood, Ont., resident. "And I don't know how they're going to be able to weather this storm if we have to shut down racing. "I think owners, all of a sudden, are expected to pay the bills without any money coming in. That's more than I'd want asked of me. Trainers having to pay grooms when they're not racing either. The money stops at the top and at some point it's the people at the bottom who need it the most. I really worry about that because there are people who simply can't take weeks off work." McClure said he's barely noticed the empty Woodbine Mohawk Park grandstands because once a race begins, he's focused entirely on driving. Ditto for the tarmac traffic. "If this was summer and this was going on, you'd definitely notice," he said. Racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park is scheduled to resume Thursday night. Both McNair and McClure agree that until told differently, drivers are intent on continuing to work. "Obviously one day at a time," McNair said. "But I'm happy with what Woodbine is doing and hopefully no one gets sick." Added McClure: "I think there's going to be a lot of pressure from Health Canada and the government going forward. But obviously we want to race and track officials want to race so long as it's safe." By Dan Ralph  Reprinted with permission of The Canadian Press

MILTON, ON - March 14, 2020 - Harness racing driver  Doug McNair, the leading driver at Woodbine Mohawk Park, has informed track officials that he will be donating all his earnings from tonight's (March 14) card of racing to the Canadian Red Cross in support of COVID-19 response efforts. McNair would like to invite other horsepeople racing tonight to join him in helping. Any individuals racing tonight that would like to donate should visit the Mohawk Park Race Office to inform the Bookkeeper. McNair is listed to drive in eight of this evening's 10-races. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Standardbred Canada (SC) is pleased to announce that a National Driving Championship (NDC) will be hosted in 2020 and the winner will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the 2021 World Driving Championship. The location of the 2021 WDC has yet to be confirmed. James MacDonald, World Driving Champion in 2017, and Doug McNair, winner of the 2018 National Driving Championship, represented Canada in the 2019 World Driving Championship held in Sweden in May of this year. Rick Ebbinge of The Netherlands was the winner, marking the first WDC title for his country, while McNair just missed the podium with a solid fourth place finish and MacDonald finished in ninth. In 2020, a regional driving championship will be hosted in each of Standardbred Canada’s four regions, and the top two drivers from each of those events will have the opportunity to compete in the National event. All championships are one-day events, consisting of eight races with drivers earning points based on their official finishing position. SC has used this Driving Championship format since 2007 to determine Canada’s representatives to the World Driving Championship which takes place every other year in conjunction with the World Trotting Conference. Past winners of the NDC title include Brandon Campbell (2016), Jody Jamieson (2014 & 2011), Brad Forward (2009), and Gilles Barrieau (2007). Canada has won the WDC on five occasions. Herve Filion won the inaugural edition in 1970 and the next winner was his nephew, Sylvain Filion who won the 1999 event. Jody Jamieson is the only Canadian driver to have two titles on his resume, winning in 2001 and 2011. In 2017 Canada hosted the WDC and James MacDonald was crowned the Champion. A Request For Proposals for host tracks has been issued and the selected host tracks will be announced in mid January.

MILTON, ON - SEPT. 26, 2019 - On Saturday night the three-year-olds are headed to Woodbine Mohawk Park for their $160,000 Grassroots Semi-Finals and the harness racing pacing filly Sports Flix is the only freshman champion with a shot at defending her title. The task will be a tough one. Sports Flix drew the outside Post 10 in what trainer Gregg McNair calls the tougher of the two pacing filly Semi-Finals. Among the fillies Sports Flix will face is So Much More, who went undefeated in her two regular season Grassroots starts and will leave the gate from Post 6. "She hooked that one tough mare of Donnie Beatson's (So Much More)," said McNair, who trains the Sportswriter daughter for James Fraleigh of Dresden, ON. "Just hope she gets qualified for the final and then maybe draw a little bit better there." After a somewhat disappointing start to the season - McNair thought she would make the leap to the Gold Series off a strong winter of training, but she finished third and eighth in the first two events - Sports Flix rebounded with wins in the last two Grassroots legs. She recorded a personal best 1:52.2 effort in her Sept. 10 Grassroots division at Woodbine Mohawk Park and McNair said she was sharp in a training mile with stablemates Swift Ally and Kylie Seelster at the Campbellville oval last week. "When we were training them back she laid over them other two, but they've both got better," said the Guelph, ON resident of his pacing filly trio. "We had them into Mohawk there at the end of last week and trained the three of them together, trained them up pretty good and then worked them back again this week. They seem okay." Kylie Seelster will line up at Post 3 in the same division as Sports Flix, the ninth race on the 7:10 pm program, and Doug McNair will steer her, leaving Sports Flix in the hands of the Ontario Sires Stakes' leading driver Trevor Henry. "She's good and sharp right now, Kylie, and we're figuring on racing her a bit," said McNair. "I don't know for how long because she could possibly even be sold, a couple farms have been interested in her." The daughter of Big Jim and Kiddie Cocktail is a half-sister to $865,450 winner Kendall Seelster and McNair's top two-year-old pacing filly Karma Seelster. She could spend next season as a broodmare rather than a racehorse if the trainer and his co-owners Keith Waples of Durham and Chris Robson of London, ON choose to accept an offer from a breeding farm. The third member of McNair's pacing filly trio topped the division standings with a flawless record of four wins in four Grassroots starts. Unraced at two, Swift Ally launched her career in March with four straight victories and is currently on another four-race win streak. The homebred daughter of Big Jim and Claires Apache has not been bested since July 19. "She hasn't got the greatest position, but she should get, if things work out good, she should get qualified for the final," said McNair, who shares ownership of Swift Ally with Ian Fleming of Londesborough, ON. "I'd say that's the softer division, but there's a couple nice ones in there too." Swift Ally and Doug McNair will start from Post 8 in the first $20,000 pacing filly Semi-Final, which goes postward as Race 7. The top five finishers from each Semi-Final will advance to the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 5. In addition to his pacing filly entry, McNair will also send pacing colt Balder Son after a championship berth from Post 3 in the eleventh race, the last of the eight sophomore Semi-Finals. "Balder Son, he's raced pretty consistent all year. I know he didn't win many, but he hasn't thrown too many bad starts in," said McNair. "We had him in there (Mohawk Park) on Tuesday and trained him up, so he should race good. I imagine, if something doesn't happen there, he'll probably get qualified for the finals." Balder Son wrapped up the Grassroots season ranked 19th in the point standings, finishing second, third, fourth, seventh and ninth in his five appearances. The Betterthancheddar gelding heads into the Semi-Final off a 1:51.1 personal best victory in a Sept. 16 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Roderick Smith of Inverness, NS owns Balder Son and Jody Jamieson will steer the gelding in the Semi-Final. Doug McNair opted for Little Brown Jug elimination winner Fast N First who will start from Post 1. McNair will also start three horses in Friday's two-year-old Semi-Final event and the horseman hopes his seven Grassroots starters come up with strong efforts to keep him ahead of Shawn Steacy and Bob McIntosh in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) leading trainer race. As of Sept. 26, McNair has 186 points, Steacy 182 and McIntosh 179. Steacy will send out a total of 10 Grassroots Semi-Finalists and McIntosh has eight. "You're either chasing them or you can't get away from them," said McNair with a chuckle. In the last 11 years McIntosh has won the Johnston Cup title five times, Steacy's father Mark has three victories and McNair earned the honour the other three years. All three operations focus on developing young horses and each trainer has started 20-plus trotters and pacers in the Grassroots and Gold Series this season. The tight race for top spot will continue in Races 1, 3, 5 through 9, and 11 on Saturday night as the three-year-old trotters and pacers vie for berth in the Grassroots Championships. The sophomore trotting fillies will kick things off at 7:10 pm. Complete entries for Saturday's program are available at Woodbine Mohawk Park. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

MILTON, ON -  AUG. 17, 2019 - Harness racing drivers Doug McNair and Bob McClure split the three-year-old pacing colt Grassroots divisions down the middle on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park, McNair taking the first two and McClure the second pair. McNair kicked things off in the first $23,500 split with Fast N First and had the heavy favourite on top before the halfway marker. Fast N First never saw another challenger as he cruised home a one and one-quarter length winner in 1:51.2. Pocket-sitter Carlisimo finished second and HP Napoleon was third. "He was a little lazy in the lead," said McNair of Blake MacIntosh trainee Fast N First. "But it takes a lot to get him tired." It was the first Grassroots win for Fast N First, who started his sophomore campaign at the Gold Series level. In 15 starts this season the Bettors Delight son has tallied six wins, three seconds and two thirds, netting owners Blake MacIntosh of St. George, Ridgeway Racing of Ridgeway and Steve Heimbecker of Conestogo, ON $87,334. Fast N First Guelph resident McNair also guided Cliffhanger to his first Grassroots victory in the second division. Like Fast N First the pair were sent off as the favourites from Post 4, but this time McNair opted to follow pacesetter Priceless Beach through fractions of :27.2, :55.2 and 1:24.2. Cliffhanger then unleashed a :26.4 final quarter to catch the leader and pull away to a two length victory in 1:51.2. Machdavid also closed hard, and he and Priceless Beach finished in a dead heat for second. "Cliffhanger raced good," said McNair, who subbed for regular reinsman Louis-Philippe Roy on Saturday. "He is turning into a nice colt." McNair engineered the win for owner and trainer Tony Alagna of Manalapan, NJ. The win was the fourth of the sophomore campaign for Vintage Master son Cliffhanger and boosted his season earnings to $50,402. Cliffhanger McClure picked up where McNair left off in the third Grassroots division, employing a come-from-behind effort to put Carsons Shadow in the Ontario Sires Stakes winner's circle for the first time. The pair caught favourite Sugartown in the stretch with a determined effort that saw them stop the clock at 1:51.2. Sugartown was one-half length back in second, just ahead of third-place finisher Better Moonon Over. "He's a nice little colt. He's not big, but he's quick, and he's a tough little bugger," said McClure of the Shadow Play colt. Like both Fast N First and Cliffhanger, Carsons Shadow tested the Gold Series waters before finding success in the Grassroots. In 14 sophomore starts the gelding has amassed a record of six wins, two seconds and earnings of $62,200. Vicki Gregg trains Carsons Shadow for owner-breeder David Carson of Listowel, ON. Carsons Shadow One race later Rockwood resident McClure was back in the winner's circle with fan favourite Dreamfair Moxy, who stalked pacesetter Sportsline through fractions of :26.2, :55.4 and 1:23.3 before circling around the tiring leader in the stretch. Dreamfair Moxy sprinted home to a three and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:51.1. The Regulator and Silver Beast finished second and third. "He is a real nice little colt with a nice gait and he's sweet to drive," said McClure, who was in the race bike in place of regular reinsman Travis Cullen. "He always goes ahead when you ask him." The win was Dreamfair Moxy's second straight in Grassroots action. The Bettors Delight son was also a winner in the third leg at Grand River Raceway on Aug. 5. Jodie Cullen trains the winner of $77,322 for John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON. Dreamfair Moxy The three-year-old pacing colts will make their last regular season Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 2. The top 20 point earners will then compete in the Sept. 28 Grassroots Semi-Finals, hoping to land one of 10 spots in the Oct. 5 Grassroots Championship. Click here for complete results from Saturday's program. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday Aug. 19 with a trio of Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts. The colts will raise the curtain on the program at 7:10 pm in Race 1 and will also battle in Races 3 and 7. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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