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JULY 19, 2015 - Reigning Lampman Cup champion Doug McNair earned his first Ontario Sires Stake hat trick of the harness racing season at Georgian Downs on Sunday evening. The 25-year-old made his first trip to the Georgian Downs winner's circle in the third of nine Grassroots divisions, guiding two-year-old pacing filly Mattjestic Tempo to an impressive 1:54.3 score over Bad Lightning and Vermilion Bird. After sitting fourth for much of the mile, McNair tipped Mattjestic Tempo into the outer lane heading by the half and the Royal Mattjesty daughter sprinted home to a two length victory. "She raced in the Gold last week and got a piece of it so I figured she had a big shot at winning," said McNair of the Blake MacIntosh trainee. "That was a big mile tonight. It was really, really windy up here tonight; a big head wind. "It was really windy down the backside, pretty much wore the ones on the front, and the ones first up, out," added the reinsman. "The weather wasn't as good as it looked on TV, that's for sure." Waterdown, ON resident MacIntosh shares ownership of Mattjestic Tempo with Stuart McIntosh of Essex, ON and Brett Authier of Wheatley, ON. The partners anted up $9,000 to acquire the daughter of $448,335 winner Daylon Tempo from last fall's Forest City Yearling Sale. With a runner-up finish in her career debut, her fifth-place result in the July 6 Gold event, and her Grassroots victory the filly has already earned $16,000. One race later McNair was back in the winner's circle, this time with a filly hammered down for $92,000 at the Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale to owner-trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON. Starting from Post 7, McNair and Life Book paced by the quarter pole in the outer lane, found a spot on the rail heading by the half and then were three-wide at the three-quarters before accelerating down the stretch to the half-length victory. Life Book stopped the Georgian Downs teletimer at 1:56.4, reeling in pacesetter Active Lady and favourite Miss Print. "She went a pretty good trip too, she was three wide early," said McNair. "I thought she may be third at the head of the stretch, but she mowed them down." The daughter of Shadow Play is out of $133,217 winner Give Me Life, who has already produced three $200,000-plus winners. Life Book made her debut in the July 9 Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack, finishing fifth. McNair completed the driving hat trick with MacIntosh trainee Sports Expert, who captured her first lifetime start in 1:56.1, besting My Rhythm Of Rhyme and No Shadows. Starting from Post 1 Sports Expert landed in third through the early going, and McNair sent her after the leader heading for the halfway marker, reaching the front before the 1:26.4 three-quarters. "I didn't want to drive her like that tonight, but I just got away in a bad spot - being first up and battling the one all the way down the backside - and she won pretty handy," noted the Guelph, ON resident. "She's going to be a pretty nice filly I think." MacIntosh, Touch Stone Farms of Guelph, and 30-Plus Stable of Trenton, ON purchased the Sportswriter filly, a full-sister to last season's multiple Gold Series winner Sporting The Look, from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $20,000. "I'm happy with the ones I'm driving," said McNair. "I've got some nice ones." The other six divisions also featured some well-bred, talented fillies. Bourbon Seelster kicked things off, capturing the first division in 1:58.1 for driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville, ON, trainer Robert Manders and owners Scott and Keith Manders of Watford, ON. The Camluck miss - a $14,000 yearling purchase from the Forest City Yearling Sale - bested Machioda and Icthelight Hanover. Twin B Virtue and driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON captured the second split, with a 1:56.2 effort, over Selling the Dream and Cracklin Rosie. It was the first lifetime start for the Badlands Hanover daughter, a $30,000 purchase out of the Canadian Yearling Sale by trainer Dave Menary of Cambridge, Brad Gray of Dundas and Michael Guerriero of Puslinch, ON. The filly is out of $116,833 winner What An Attitude, who has already produced six $100,000-plus winners. Dr. Ian Moore of Guelph, Sally MacDonald of Souris, PEI, Paul MacDonald of Toronto, ON and Shirley Yeung of Toronto offered $52,000 for Bold Amoretto at the Harrisburg Sale, and the daughter of Big Jim and $1.6 million winner Armbro Amoretto captured her first Grassroots trophy on Sunday. The filly and driver Chris Christoforou of Campbellville hit the wire in 1:56.1, one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Boozer Bruiser and Jimmys Little Girl. Milton resident Sylvain Filion steered Mayhem Seelster to a 1:57.2 win over Noone To Depend On and Rosy Outlook in the sixth tilt. Tony O'Sullivan of Cambridge trains the Mach Three daughter for Domenic Chiaravalle of Hamilton, ON, who selected her from the Forest City Yearling Sale for $55,000. Division eight went to Dewar N Soda and Mike Saftic, who went gate-to-wire in 1:56.1 for trainer Marcel Barrieau and owners Joseph Wilkie and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS. The daughter of Badlands Hanover and $233,166 winner Hasty Dewar was a $16,000 purchase at Harrisburg. Glorious Delight and Divas Image finished second and third. Tempus Seelster and trainer-driver Travis Henry captured the final Grassroots trophy of the evening with a 1:55.3 effort, one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Heavenly Hill and Buttermilk Hanover. Benbar Stables of Oakville, ON Glen Wark of St. Catharines, ON and Craig Wood of Waterdown share ownership of the daughter of Big Jim and The Patriot ($623,324), acquiring her for $10,000 from the Harrisburg Sale. The two-year-old pacing fillies make their third Grassroots start at Clinton Raceway on Aug. 9. Ontario Sires Stakes action keeps rolling at Georgian Downs, with three Gold Series divisions of two-year-old trotting colts slated for Tuesday, July 21. The trotters are featured in Races 1, 4, and 8 on Tuesday's program, which gets under way at 7:15 pm. Ontario Horse Racing

Current Ontario Sires Stakes trotting queen Muscle Baby Doll captured her third straight Gold Series trophy with a 1:53.1 victory at the harness racing meeting at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening. Starting from Post 2 the Muscle Mass daughter took control of the race heading for the halfway marker and driver Doug McNair simply sat back and enjoyed the ride, which resulted in a personal best 1:53.1 clocking. "She's been really good all year. She hasn't been beat in the Sires Stakes yet," said Guelph, ON resident McNair. "Tonight I just chirped her a little bit and she did the rest on her own. She sure felt like she had a second left, I don't know if she did or not, but she felt like it." Muscle Baby Doll cruised under the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of former Gold division winners Elegant Serenity and Amoureuse Hanover. The three fillies are currently sitting atop the division standings in the same order of their finish with 150, 80 and 67 points, respectively. Tony O'Sullivan conditions Muscle Baby Doll for F. Bellino and Sons LLC of Bronxville, NY and the Cambridge, ON resident is thoroughly enjoying training and racing the talented filly. "I'm pretty happy, pretty proud of her. It's pretty exciting to have such a nice filly," said O'Sullivan. "She's pretty fun to train and pretty fun to watch." With a record of five wins and one second in six starts since her May 9 debut, O'Sullivan said Muscle Baby Doll will get a vacation from the racetrack over the next few weeks, returning to action for the fourth Gold Series event at Grand River Raceway on August 19. "I'd like to just use the time to let her freshen up a little bit and give her a break," said the trainer. "After Grand River she doesn't have a week off, so it works out pretty well now there's a month and she can freshen up." O'Sullivan also started Youre Majestic in the second Gold division, but the Majestic Son daughter settled for fourth spot behind first-time winner All That Sparkles. With James MacDonald of Guelph, ON in the race bike, All That Sparkles accelerated away from Post 3 and was able to lay claim to the coveted pocket spot behind heavy favourite Stubborn Belle. Stalking the pacesetter through fractions of :26.2, :56 and 1:25.3, MacDonald bided his time until the final turn and then gave All That Sparkles a clear view of the finish line. The filly shifted into another gear and accelerated away from the field to a four length victory in 1:54.2. After being forced out three-wide to find racing room, Second Sister and LMC Marshmellow settled for second and third. Jonas Czernyson of Allentown, NJ trains All That Sparkles, and shares ownership and breeding credit on the daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe and Chocolate Tiara with his wife Christine. All That Sparkles is the first horse the Czernyson's have raced in the Ontario Sires Stakes program and they were pleasantly surprised with her victory. "She'd been getting sharper and sharper, I didn't know that she was going to do it like that, that I have to say," admitted Jonas Czernyson. "She don't really have that quick burst of speed." "She has the speed, but she can't pop out of a hole halfway down the stretch and do it, she has to have a little longer time to get up to speed." Raced just four times last season, All That Sparkles had eight starts to her credit prior to Thursday's test, and had posted one second and three thirds. Czernyson said she was an awkward, growth filly at two and has only just begun to grow into her lanky frame. "She's grown into herself some, but she still has some more growing to do, she's pretty long-legged," said the trainer. If All That Sparkles is happy and healthy following Thursday's victory and the return trip to her New Jersey home, Czernyson said her next start will likely come in the August 7 Duenna Stake at The Meadowlands, followed by the fourth Gold at Grand River Raceway on August 19. Next up on Mohawk Racetrack's Ontario Sires Stakes schedule are six Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old pacing colts on Friday night. The colts will be featured in Races 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 on the 7:25 pm program. Ontario Horse Racing

Ontario's 2015 two-year-old pacing colt crop kicked off their provincial careers at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday night in the presence of a Canadian harness racing legend. Hall of Fame horseman Keith Waples was on hand to watch the debut of his colt Senior K in the fourth Grassroots division, and when the Bettors Delight son delivered an impressive victory Waples joined the colt in the winner's circle, a spot he visited regularly during a driving career that spanned seven decades. "It's pretty neat driving for the best driver to ever sit behind a horse," said Doug McNair, who steered Senior K to the win. The 25-year-old reinsman sent Senior K to the front from Post 8 and the colt rolled through fractions of :28.1, :58.2 and 1:27.4, fending off a challenge from Sure Fired Bet. Pacing strongly through the stretch, Senior K hit the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of fan favourite Gerries Sport and Mr Mach Jimmy in a mile time of 1:55.2. The 91-year-old Waples, who crafted the first sub-2:00 mile ever recorded in Canada with Mighty Dudley at Richelieu Park in 1959, joined the young reinsman and his father Gregg McNair in the winner's circle, an event the elder McNair hopes to see repeated on the Grassroots circuit this summer. "He raced real good, he finished good and left hard, so he kind of raced like a decent colt," said the trainer. "We were really pleased with him." McNair and Waples picked Senior K out of the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, with Durham, ON resident Waples offering up $75,000 for the half-brother to $509,845 winner Handsoffmycupcake and $275,666 winner Lola Palooza. "We bid on two, we bid on another one that we didn't get and so we went after him," recalled Guelph, ON resident Gregg McNair. "We were looking for an Ontario-bred pacing colt and we kind of had it narrowed down to a Bettors Delight or a Mach Three; he was available and we liked the way he looked." McNair added that Senior K was a challenging yearling to work with, and continues to be difficult around the barn, but the trainer hopes Friday's victory has started the young pacer down a path that leads to continued Grassroots success. "He tries to get out of things a little bit, but anyhow he raced good tonight, I hope that breaks him loose a little bit," said the trainer. The other five division winners will also be hoping to replicate Friday's success when they return to Mohawk next Friday, July 17 for their second Grassroots event. Currently sharing top billing with Senior K are Writers Kramp, Kokanee Seelster, Macharoni N Cheese, Think On It and Print Media. Writers Kramp opened the evening with an impressive 1:55.1 win from off the pace. Starting from Post 9, driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON allowed the Sportswriter son to float away from the gate and had found room on the rail in fifth by the :27.3 opening quarter. Watching from mid-pack as First Car rolled through fractions of :58 and 1:27.2, Filion found an open lane in the stretch and Writers Cramp responded with a :26.3 finishing kick that propelled him past First Car and Vegas Dream and into the winner's circle. Shaun McDonald of Rockwood, ON trains Writers Cramp for owner-breeder Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, ON. The colt is a half-brother $611,769 winner Dreamlands Art. Fan favourite Kokanee Seelster made winning look easy in the second Grassroots division, sailing along on the front to a 1:53 victory over Derecho and Notetoself Hanover. Campbellville, ON resident Mike Saftic crafted the Camluck colt's two and three-quarter length victory for trainer William Corbett of London, ON and owners Edmund Lui of Parkhill, ON, Yves Blouin of London and Ming Siu of Richmond, BC. Macharoni N Cheese posted a 1:55.4 victory in the fourth division, besting The Big Beast and Shadows Pro. The Mach Three son was driven to the victory by trainer Joe Hudon of Acton, ON who also shares ownership of the colt with his wife Karen Hudon. Think On It got a confident steer from Milton, ON resident Randy Waples in the fifth split, rolling to the front past the half and then carrying on to a one and one-quarter length 1:54 victory over Wild Chance and favourite Blue Zombie. The Ponder son is trained by Hall of Fame horseman Bob McIntosh of Windsor, ON for his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON and James Walker of Port Perry, ON. The final Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with Vintage Master son Print Media, who roared down the stretch to a neck decision over Only Half Bad and St Lads Moonwalk. It was the second Grassroots win of the evening for Sylvain Filion, who engineered the 1:54.2 mile for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON and owner Saverino Spagnolo of Ottawa, ON. While Mohawk Racetrack await the second Grassroots event for the two-year-old pacing colts next Friday, they can catch the division's Gold Series contenders in action on Saturday. The freshman pacers are featured in Races 2, 3 and 7 on the July 11 program, which gets under way at 7:25 pm. Ontario Horse Racing

 JULY 2, 2015 - Solar Sister took command of the three-year-old pacing filly division with a 1:50.3 victory in her harness racing Ontario Sire Stakes Gold division at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening. Starting from Post 2 in the second $105,000 Gold split, fan favourite Solar Sister landed on the rail behind number two choice Ms Mac N Cheese and watched contentedly from the pocket as the pacesetter zipped to fractions of :26.1 and :54.4. Rolling toward the 1:23.2 three-quarters, driver Doug McNair tipped Solar Sister into the outer lane and the filly reeled in her Ontario Sires Stakes rival, earning a half-length victory in a personal best 1:50.3. Ms Mac N Cheese and driver Sylvain Filion settled for a hard fought second, with Capela and driver James MacDonald well behind the duelling leaders in third. "I figured Sylvain (Filion) would be pointing her (Ms Mac N Cheese) out of there and trying to either cut it out or sit on my back," said McNair after the race. "We went out of there pretty fast; his filly was rolling right along to the half. I could have come back around, but I was pretty content to where I was at. It looked to me like a two horse race when the draw came out, so I was happy to be following her. I knew she'd get me to where we had to go." Guelph resident McNair engineered Solar Sister's second Gold Series victory for his father, trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, and owner-breeders David Willmot of King City and Clay Harland Horner of Toronto. The win bumped the daughter of Mach Three and $1.4 million winner Cabrini Hanover to lifetime earnings of $485,690 and gives her a sophomore record of five wins, one third and one fourth in seven starts. "She's just getting to be a really nice mare. You can race her any way, on the front or from the back or in the middle," added the reinsman. "Them type of mares are horses that make it a lot easier for me, you can kind of judge the speed and make up your mind as you go, and she's happy to race any way. "She's a big filly, good gaited, a nice bred filly, I'm glad we got her." Solar Sister With wins in the first two Gold Legs, Solar Sister sits alone atop the three-year-old pacing filly division standings with 100 points. Ms Mac N Cheese, also a winner in the June 6 season opener at Mohawk Racetrack, falls to second spot which she shares with the winner of the first division, Wrangler Magic. Fan Hanover champions Wrangler Magic and Sylvain Filion went off as the heavy favourites from Post 4 in the first Gold Series contest and, as he would later do with Ms Mac N Cheese, the Milton reinsman opted to take command of the race. Wrangler Magic rolled easily to a :27 quarter, fended off a challenge from Delightful Hill heading by the :55.1 half, and was comfortably in charge at the 1:23.1 three-quarters. Turning for home, however, things got decidedly less comfortable for the pacesetter. Facing pressure from all sides, Wrangler Magic had to battle all the way to the wire, securing a 1:51 victory by a scant nose over Cast No Shadow. Delightful Hill sprinted into third, three-quarters of a length behind the leaders. Owners Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON, Dr. Maurice Stewart of Leduc, AB, Brian Paquet of Quebec, QC and Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, QC now have a Gold Series trophy to display alongside the Fan Hanover trophy Wrangler Magic earned at Mohawk on June 20. Through six sophomore starts the Mach Three daughter has tallied two wins, two seconds and two thirds and Thursday's win boosted her lifetime earnings to $513,894. Stephane Larocque conditions the talented young pacer, who was also a Gold Series winner at two. Wrangler Magic Solar Sister, Wrangler Magic and their peers will now enjoy a brief break in their provincial stakes schedule before it resumes at Grand River Raceway on August 3. Mohawk Racetrack fans have a much shorter interlude before the next Ontario Sires Stakes event at the Campbellville oval. On Monday, July 6 the two-year-old stakes season gets under way with three Gold Series divisions for the freshman pacing fillies. The fillies will be featured in Races 3, 6 and 9 on the 7:25 pm program. Ontario Horse Racing

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 20...In an ultra-competitive $350,000 Roses Are Red final for harness racing filly and mare pacers on Pepsi North America Cup night at Mohawk Racetrack, it was Lady Shadow, the 2-1 second choice, who prevailed by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:48.3. Driven by Doug McNair for trainer Ron Adams, Lady Shadow had arrived at the final off a blistering front end 1:48.3 elim win last week and was posting her third victory in only five starts so far this year. The four-year-old Ontario-sired daughter of Shadow Play-Lady Camella came from third and took over before the half in :54.1, buzzed to the three-quarters in a red-hot 1:21.1, then held off the stretch closers, slight favourite Yagonnakissmeornot and Sandbetweenurtoes, for the win. The field also included the consecutive three-time Roses Are Red defending champion and $3 million earner Anndrovette, but a fourth crown was not in the cards. The eight-year-old mare came home seventh, after taking the field through a quick opening quarter in :25.3, then following Lady Shadow in second until mid-stretch. "They were probably figuring on her (Lady Shadow) leaving out of there tonight," explained McNair. "I wasn't sure who was going to take a stab (at the front). I figured (driver) Timmy (Tetrick, driving Anndrovette) would be coming out of there. I kind of let her settle then put her in front. She kind of did the rest on her own. "I had a good mare (Colors A Virgin) first up (around the far turn). Never want to let her get too close. I figured I'd just let her rock from the three-quarter pole and she paced away from them. She's come along from two to three, now three to four. She's just getting better every year. It was great to get this win. I think I've been second or third in this race before. It's a big thrill for me to win it." Said trainer Adams, who only took over the training of Lady Shadow from McNair's father Gregg in mid-May, when the mare was sold, "She's a beautiful filly. She's built awesome. It's a great win to do it on the front at her home track. I was confident after we won last week. We got to pick our post (3). Picking the inside gave Dougie the opportunity to make something happen." It was career win number 14 for Lady Shadow in 26 starts, with her bankroll now nearing $700,000, including the $175,000 for the Roses Are Red. Lady Shadow paid $6.80, $3.60 and $2.90, teaming with Yagonnakissmeornot ($3.50, $2.60) for an $18.60 (3-5) exactor. A 3-5-6 (Sandbetweenurtoes, $5.40) triactor returned $135.50 while a $1 Superfecta [3-5-6-4 (Waasmula)] was worth $466.55. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 13 - Lady Shadow and Colors A Virgin were harness racing victors in their respective $35,000 Roses Are Red eliminations, for pacing fillies and mares, on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. With Doug McNair in the bike, Lady Shadow captured the first elimination in front-stepping fashion. As soon as the starting gate's wings closed, Lady Shadow brushed to the lead and that is where she remained, putting up fractions of :25.4, :54 and 121.3 before stopping the clock in a new lifetime mark of 1:48.3. Yagonnakissmeornot rallied for second and the even-money favorite, Weeper, was third. Anndrovette, a three-time Rose Are Red Final winner, was fourth and Waasmula was fifth. "She has made almost $500,000 as a two and three year old," said McNair. "She has always been a nice mare and she'll go a big trip once in a while on the front end. Tonight I was just planning on racing her from off the pace and I had seen a couple that I thought were going to leave, decided they were taking off so I just let her roll and the rest is history." With the victory, the Ron Adams trainee notched her second triumph of the season from four starts. The 13-time career winner lifts her earnings to $517,679 for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold and Richard Lombardo. The four-year-old daughter of Shadow Play-Lady Camella returned $19.40 to win. Lady Shadow In the second elimination, Colors A Virgin and driver Trace Tetrick finished second but inherited the win after race winner Venus Delight caused interference to Katie Said in the stretch and was placed eighth, according to Ontario Racing Commission judges. Krispy Apple put up fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.2, before Venus Delight converted off second-over cover, which was provided by a first-up Colors A Virgin, to get to the wire first in 1:49. Colors A Virgin finished second and was placed first. Sandbetweenurtoes finished third and was placed second and Table Talk was fourth and placed third. The Jeff Bamond Jr. trainee notched her fourth win of the season from seven outings. The 22-time career winner lifts her earnings to $798,572 for owner Emerald Highlands Farm. The four-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin-Full Color returned $17.50 to win. Krispy Apple The $350,000 Roses Are Red Final, which is set for Saturday, June 20 as part of the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup undercard, will be drawn Tuesday. Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

JUNE 6, 2015 - Solar Sister and Ms Mac N Cheese established themselves as the early stars of the harness racing three-year-old pacing filly division with impressive outings in their respective $105,000 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Legs at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening. Ms Mac N Cheese opened the Ontario Sires Stakes action with a commanding front end performance that saw her roll through fractions of :26.3, :56.2, and 1:24 without facing a significant challenge. In rein to Milton, ON resident Sylvain Filion, fan favourite Ms Mac N Cheese sailed under the wire one length ahead of Evas Girl and Dublin Rose in a personal best 1:52.1. The win was the third this season for Ms Mac N Cheese, who was also victorious in an overnight event on May 15 and in her elimination for the WEG-SBOA Stake on May 23, both over the Mohawk oval. In her only other sophomore start the Badlands Hanover daughter finished second by a neck to Solar Sister in the WEG-SBOA Final on May 30. Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON conditions Ms Mac N Cheese for David Ratchford of North Sydney, NS, who acquired the filly for $10,000 from the 2013 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. At two Ms Mac N Cheese was a star on the Grassroots circuit, winning three regular season events and her Grassroots Semifinal before being edged out in the Grassroots Final by Stonebridge Quest. The filly's successful Gold Series debut boosted her lifetime earnings to $181,882. Solar Sister also controlled the tempo in the second Gold Series division, but the Mach Three daughter faced heavier pressure on the way to her one length, 1:51.2 victory. Driver Doug McNair of Guelph, ON sent Solar Sister to the front heading for the half way marker, and the fan favourite first turned away a challenge from Tessa Seelster, then held off Wrangler Magic and Delightful Hill to extend her sophomore win streak to four. Gregg McNair conditions the talented youngster, who started her win streak in an overnight event at Mohawk on May 15, then swept her elimination and the final of the WEG-SBOA Stakes before landing her first Ontario Sires Stakes win. The Guelph, ON resident trains Solar Sister for owner-breeders David Willmot of King City, ON and Clay Harland Horner of Toronto, ON. The filly is the most successful offspring to date from their $1.4 million winning mare Cabrini Hanover. Although she did not earn an Ontario Sires Stakes trophy last season, Solar Sister did capture an elimination of the Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway and a division of the Eternal Camnation Stake at Mohawk, earning $214,828. Saturday's win bumped the filly's lifetime earnings to $378,658. Solar Sister and Ms Mac N Cheese will attempt to maintain their position atop the three-year-old pacing filly leaderboard when the Gold Series returns to Mohawk Racetrack on July 2. Ontario Sires Stakes

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 30 - Ontario sired sophomore fillies were in the harness racing spotlight Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack for the finals of the WEG-SBOA Stakes. A group of ten fillies lined up on both the trot and the pace to contest the rich finals. The three-year-old filly trot final carried a purse of $179,661, while the pacing fillies battled for a purse of $177,661. The sophomore trotting fillies squared off in the first final of the night and O'Brien Award winner Stubborn Belle added to her trophy collection with a 1:55 victory. Driven by Paul MacDonell, Stubborn Belle, the 4/5 favourite, showed early speed to win the battle to the front ahead of a trio of fillies and posted an opening-quarter of :27.1. Battle Mage, who was parked around the first turn, was able to clear to the front as they began the journey down the backstretch, but MacDonell wasted no time circling back around to put Stubborn Belle once again on the lead at the half in :56.2. Stubborn Belle was then able to turn aside the challenge of Meadow Seelster around the final turn and opened up several lengths on the field. The public's choice trotted home in :29.2 to score a three-length victory. Meadow Seelster finished second, while Tymal Illbethere got up for third. Following the race, MacDonell said his filly showed improvements from her elimination victory a week prior. "She just seems to be getting better every week as we go," said MacDonell. "She's actually come a long way. She had a little incident early in the year (and) got behind a bit, but anyways she's back on schedule now." A daughter of Taurus Dream, Stubborn Belle is trained by John Bax and owned by Bax's Parkhill Stud Farm and Al Libfeld. She is now two for two to start the season and has visited the winner's circle seven-times in her career. Stubborn Belle is staked to several of the major Grand Circuit events this season and MacDonell thinks her conditioning will improve as the season progress to allow her to battle with the best fillies in the sport. "She's got the power and strength, it's just a matter of her conditioning kicking in and mid-season John's (Bax) horses usually get better and better, so I can see her doing that." The WEG-SBOA victory pushes Stubborn Belle's career earnings over $614,000. A $2 win ticket on the Bax trainee returned $3.70. Following the filly trot final, the sky opened up and downpour of rain soaked the Campbellville oval. In the final for three-year-old pacing fillies, Solar Sister prevailed in a stretch duel over Ms Mac N Cheese. Driven by Doug McNair, Solar Sister, who won her elimination last week, was able to get away in fourth, while Code One Hanover grabbed the early lead. In the second-quarter, Ms Mac N Cheese, the other elimination winner, moved from third to first and took the field by the half in :54.2. Solar Sister had to come first up around the final turn and engaged in a battle with the leader by the three-quarter pole in 1:23.1. In the stretch, the two elimination winners went toe-to-toe with Solar Sister edging ahead part way down the lane, but Ms Mac N Cheese battled back on the inside. The fillies slugged it out right to the wire and it was Solar Sister prevailing by a neck in 1:51.2. "I thought I had her (Ms Mac N Cheese) put away half way down the lane and she still came back right down to the wire, so it was a good race," said McNair post-race. "My filly raced tough first over. To win on a night like this she raced good." Wrangler Magic finished third and Delightful Hill finished fourth to round out the Superfecta. A daughter of Mach Three, Solar Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owners David Willmot and Clay Horner. Saturday's victory improves Solar Sister's record to three for three this season and now gives her five career-victories. Last season, Solar Sister banked over $214,000 and wrapped up her season with a second-place finish in the Three Diamonds Stakes. "She got good at the end of last year and she's got good pedigree on her," said McNair. "She seems obviously a hundred percent, she's three for three and hopefully she keeps getting stronger." Solar Sister now has career earnings of over $326,000 and established a new career best with her 1:51.2 score. A $2 win ticket on the McNair trainee returned $4.20 to win. Mark McKelvie

Clinton -- Two years ago, James MacDonald was winning Clinton Raceways' annual harness racing drivers challenge heading into the final race when Trevor Henry pulled off a last second victory. MacDonald got his revenge a year ago, winning his first title with a decisive victory over Jody Jamieson. Henry was third. On Sunday, May 31, the trio, along with five other top reinsmen, will suit up against each other again as the 35th annual Drivers Challenge hits the track in support of the Clinton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. "Legions are having a tough time financially across the province. Every cause is a good one, but we think this will be a nice tie-in for us," said Clinton Raceway general manager Ian Fleming. Though it's a fun, relaxed atmosphere in which all proceeds of the day, including the drivers' fees, will go to the Legion, MacDonald said the drivers don't take the competition lightly. "Everyone's really competitive," he said. "You put a bunch of egos in together and one's a winner and you're going to get people trying pretty hard. There's no favours there, that's for sure." Henry, a finalist for the O'Brien Award for Canada's driver of the year in 2014, said pride is on the line. "It's always nice to have the bragging rights," Henry said, "But it's just a lot of fun. It's a good day out." The Drivers Challenge will pit Clinton's top three drivers of 2014 -- Henry, Ryan Holliday and Bruce Richardson-- against MacDonald, Jamieson, Doug McNair and Mike Saftic from the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit and Canada's leading dash winner, Alfie Carroll, who turned 30 in early May, and is leading the nation with nearly 200 wins already in 2015. For the first time in its long history, the Drivers Challenge is being held at the beginning, rather than at the end of the season, to make room for the eighth edition of Clinton Raceway's biannual Legends Day classic that will close out the track's 16-race season on Sept. 6 in support of the Clinton Public Hospital. Henry, long the king of Ontario's smaller tracks and now a regular fixture on the WEG circuit, said he's a big fan of Clinton Raceway. "It's just good to go there and give back to the town of Clinton," Henry said. "They do a lot of good there. It's a good town and a nice track and a good spot." MacDonald said he likes making the trip to Clinton because the Drivers Challenge usually draws a huge crowd and, "the people there seem to appreciate it and they put on a good show." MacDonald currently ranks a close second on Canada's driver earnings list with over $1.35 million made in 2015. McNair is a close third ($1.23 million), following by Henry in fifth ($1.09 million), Jamieson in sixth ($980,000) and Carroll in eighth ($890,000). In the wins department, after Carroll, McNair currently ranks sixth in the nation with 90 wins, followed by MacDonald in seventh (88) and Henry tied for ninth (80). The eight reinsmen participating in the Drivers Challenge have more than 26,300 career wins between them and combined career earnings of around $300 million.     Jessica Carnochan

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 23 - Ontario sired three-year-old fillies were out in full force for the harness racing eliminations of the WEG-SBOA Stakes Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A pair of $25,000 eliminations were contested for both pacing and trotting divisions to determine the fields for next Saturday's finals. A group of 22 sophomore trotting fillies were split into two 11-horse divisions. In the first elimination, Stubborn Belle, last year's O'Brien Award winner, made her 2015 debut a winning effort in 1:55.2. Driven by Paul MacDonell, Stubborn Belle made a move from third to first in the second-quarter to take control at the half in :57.1. After posting a third-quarter of :28.2, Stubborn Belle trotted home under minimal urging to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Meadow Seelster, who made a break after the start, made a huge comeback to finish second. Summers Jewel, Battle Mage and Tymal Illbthere rounded out the top-five to secure spots in the final. A daughter of Taurus Dream, Stubborn Belle is trained by John Bax and owned by Al Libfeld and Bax's Parkhill Stud Farm. The sophomore trotting filly won five of 14 starts last season and compiled earnings of over $524,000. Stubborn Belle returned $2.90 to win. Stubborn Belle The second elimination saw Danielle Hall, last year's Ontario Sires Stakes champion, sent-off as the heavy favourite in her season debut, but an early break from the star filly tossed the division up in the air. Second Sister and driver Doug McNair showed early speed to grab the lead. Once on the front, McNair got to call all the shots and set fractions of :29, :58.1 and 1:26.4. In the stretch, Second Sister cruised home in :28.1 to win by three-lengths over first-up challenger Kaddy in 1:55. Yanks Ball Girl, Magic Shelley and Sumthintotalkabout picked up the remaining cheques to earn a spot in the final. Following her break, Danielle Hall caught the field and was able to finish sixth. A daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, Second Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owner Jarold Hawks. The trotting filly finished third last week in her season debut. Last season, Second Sister won three of eight starts and earned $55,760. Her clocking of 1:55 Saturday night established a new career mark. Second Sister paid $26.70 to win. Second Sister On the pacing side, a total of 20 three-year-old fillies were split evenly into two ten-horse eliminations. In the first elimination, Ms Mac N Cheese was able to overcome post-ten to win in 1:52.4. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Ms Mac N Cheese, the 2/1 favourite, sprinted off the gate and was able to make the front from the far outside. The public's choice set fractions of :26.4 and :55.4 before being challenged around the final turn. Ms Mac N Cheese reached the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1 with a first-over challenger at her wheel. In the stretch, the favourite turned aside all rivals to create some separation and paced home in :28.3 to win in 1:52.4. Code One Hanover, who got a two-hole trip, was able to close in on the leader in late stretch to finish second and narrow the margin of victory down to a length. Wrangler Magic, Capela and Southwind Ginger finished in the money to earn the final three spots in next week's final. A daughter of Badlands Hanover, Ms Mac N Cheese is trained by Richard Moreau for owner David Ratchford. The sophomore pacing filly is now two for two this season and nine for 12 in her career with over $84,000 in earnings. Ms Mac N Cheese lowered her career-mark by a fifth of a second with Saturday night's victory. She returned $6.10 to win. Ms Mac N Cheese In the second elimination, Solar Sister, the even-money choice, made it a sweep of the pacing eliminations by post-ten starters with a 1:53 victory. Driven by Doug McNair, Solar Sister sprinted to the front from post-ten and was able to reach the pylons at the opening-quarter in :26.2. The public's was then able to call the shots and posted fractions of :56 and 1:24.4. In the stretch, Solar Sister kept her momentum going and held off her rivals with a :28.1 final-quarter to win by a length. Delightful Hill came charging from the back to finish second. Win The Gold, Much Adoo and Twin B Honour rounded out the top-five. A daughter of Mach Three, Solar Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owners David Willmot and Clay Horner. Her elimination victory improves her 2015 record to a perfect two for two and was the fourth win of her career. Last season, Solar Sister won two of 12 starts and banked over $214,000. Saturday's clocking of 1:53 established a new career mark for the McNair trainee. A $2 win ticket on Solar Sister paid $4.30. Solar Sister The post position draw for both finals was conducted following the eliminations. The elimination winners earned the right to select their posts. The $129,661 WEG-SBOA Stakes final for trotting fillies and the $127,661 WEG-SBOA Stakes final for pacing fillies will take place next Saturday (May 30.) Here is how they will lineup in next week's finals. WEG-SBOA - Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly Final 1. Kaddy - Steve Condren 2. Stubborn Belle - Paul MacDonell 3. Second Sister - Doug McNair 4. Summers Jewel - Mario Baillargeon 5. Battle Mage - Jack Moiseyev 6. Meadow Seelster - Jody Jamieson 7. Sumthintotalkabout - Rick Zeron 8. Yanks Ball Girl - Randy Waples 9. Tymal Illbthere - Trevor Henry 10. Magic Shelley - Chris Christoforou AE: Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson WEG-SBOA - Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly Final 1. Much Adoo - Paul MacDonell 2. Ms Mac N Cheese - Sylvain Filion 3. Solar Sister - Doug McNair 4. Wrangler Magic - Yves Filion 5. Twin B Honour - Trevor Henry 6. Win The Gold - James MacDonald 7. Code One Hanover - Paul MacDonell 8. Southwind Ginger - Jody Jamieson 9. Delightful Hill - Jody Jamieson 10. Capela - James MacDonald AE: I Wonder Why - Steve Condren Mark McKelvie

ELORA, ON - A local father-son harness racing duo is sponsoring up to 20 children to run in the upcoming Giddy Up and Gallop Kids Fun Run held at Grand River Raceway on June 12, 2015. Trainer Gregg McNair and son driver Doug McNair are generously covering race registration fees for children from the Community Resource Centre of North & South Wellington (CRCNSW). The CRCNSW is a community benefit agency located in nearby Fergus. The efforts of CRCNSW are designed to fill gaps in community service, including transportation, outreach and support programs, childcare and Ontario Early Years. The McNairs are top performers in the sport, each with their own accomplishments. The pair flourished in the prestigious Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) last year, both receiving the stakes' most prestigious awards. Gregg has been the leading trainer in the OSS, receiving the sought-after Johnston cup in 2012, 2013 and 2014 while his son Doug received his first top OSS driving award, the Lampman Cup, in 2014. "Sports have always been important to me and I was glad to offer assistance to these kids when Grand River Raceway approached me with the idea," said driver Doug McNair. "Everyone should have the opportunity to take part in some sort of organized sport," added Doug's father Gregg. In past years, the Giddy Up and Gallop Fun Run has raised funds for the Friends Of We Care, Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy, The Children's Wish Foundation, the Chase MacEachern Foundation and The Equestrian Association for the Disabled. Event Details: If you're between the ages of 5 and 14, this is your chance to see if you are the fastest half mile runner in Ontario. Bring your family and friends to cheer you on from the Grandstand and tarmac. The race will be televised on in-house monitors and shown as part of the track's live broadcast, streamed at Runners will receive a great t-shirt, post-race refreshments and the winners will be awarded unique horseshoe trophies. The running race will be staged as part of Grand River Raceway's popular Fun & Frivolity Friday Race Night. A portion of the funds raised at the run will benefit the CRCNSW. Afterwards, runners and their entourage can enjoy a full night of live horse racing entertainment, which includes plenty of dining options, contests on The Tarmac Show, and free kids' horse education and activities in The NEIGHbourhood under the Tarmac Tent Kit pick-up starts at 5:30 p.m. under the Tarmac Tent. Post time for the first of 12 horse races is 6:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies and the running race kick-off at 6:45 p.m. There will be a warm up and a special Mascot Race at a distance of 50 metres before the race. Following the run, there will be a complimentary snack and awards ceremony for all participants. Click here to register. The cost to participate is $20 if you sign up before May 30. After May 30, the cost increases to $25. Registered runners will receive a free souvenir t-shirt. For race information, contact Kathy Wade Vlaar at For sponsorship information, or to donate a prize to the event, contact Kelly Spencer at For information about the CRCNSW, contact Karen Goodman at Kelly Spencer

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 2 - The Wayfaring Man and Star Cover scored round two harness racing victories in The Diplomat series Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A total of 12 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $20,000 divisions for the second leg of the three-week Diplomat series. J Js Delivery, the winner of leg one, did not enter round two leaving the door open for some fresh blood to get on the scoreboard. In the first division, Pepsi North America Cup eligible The Wayfaring Man used a solid :26.4 final-quarter to get his first victory of the season. Driven by Jack Moiseyev, The Wayfaring Man made a second-quarter brush to the lead from fourth and reached the half in :56.2. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25, The Wayfaring Man hit his best stride in the lane to cruise home and win by 2 ½ lengths in a career-best 1:51.4. Nobettorplacetobe, who got a two-hole trip, finished second, while Good Friday Three, another Pepsi North America Cup eligible, finished third. A son of Dragon Again, The Wayfaring Man is trained by Nicky Comegna and owned by Bruno Comegna. The sophomore pacing colt finished fourth in his season debut last week and now sports a career record of three wins from nine starts. The Wayfaring Man's career bankroll now exceeds $61,000. The Comegna trainee returned $3.80 to win. In the second division, Star Cover came out on top of a stretch duel with Dialamara in 1:52.1. Dialamara flashed early speed to take the lead, while Star Cover and driver Doug McNair took a seat in the two-hole. Those two pacers would sit one-two through fractions of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:25. Star Cover popped the pocket coming off the final turn to engage in a battle with the leader. Dialamara was game along this inside, but Star Cover had just a bit more and edge by in deep stretch to prevail by a neck. Windsong Lightning finished just a length back in third. A son of Royal Mattjesty, Star Cover is co-owned and trained by Blake MacIntosh. The sophomore pacing colt finished third in his season debut in last week's first leg. Star Cover now has four wins from 12 career starts and earnings of over $60,000 for owners MacIntosh, Stuart McIntosh and Brett Authier. The clocking of 1:52.1 established a new career-mark for the three-year-old pacer. Star Cover paid $6.90 to win. In order to be eligible to The Diplomat, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $100,000 in 2014. The final of The Diplomat will take place next Saturday (May 9) and will be contested for a purse of $60,000. Mark McKelvie

My best friend and I are more than just best friends; we are more like sisters. Like any two best friends we are two peas in a pod. We laugh together, we are inseparable, she protects and looks after me, and I do the same for her. We spend late nights with each other, laughing and taking silly pictures.  She is my biggest source of inspiration, when I look at her I see my better half. She dries my tears when I cry, and she always finds a way to make me smile. She makes my bad day’s better and good days great! I do not know what I would without her. Her name is Sydney Seelster, but I call her “Pinky”. When I got Pinky for Christmas in 2012, I never expected my life to change in all the ways that it did. Not only did I get a horse that Christmas, I got my best friend. Since that day the two of us have been on some crazy adventures. It has been the journey of a lifetime and I could not imagine what my life would be like today if I did not have her. I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people and do some amazing things because of her. In the barn Pinky takes care of me as much as I take care of her. When she is in the crossties and I am brushing her she never spooks, never steps to one side or the other, she just stands there. She is patient and she understands that I take longer to do it than my dad does. One day I asked my dad if I could help give Pinky a bath. In theory it was a good idea, but there was more water on me than I originally anticipated. The reason for me being so wet was Pinky spitting water back at me and shaking after she was done. I may have been a little wet but my heart was warm and I had a huge smile on my face. I could not stop laughing! She was just being goofy. It was as though Pinky was giving me a bath. Sitting in front of Pinky’s stall is a time where I too can relax. It feels as though time slows down. I could sit there for hours without a care. Although Pinky cannot answer in words when I talk to her, her positive energy and actions speak louder than words ever could and like any two best friends the facial expression says it all.  When my mom or dad puts Pinky’s stall guard up, Pinky will sometimes share her hay and water with me. She will push some hay towards my feet and Pinky will offer me some water. She will take a mouth full of water from her bucket and holding over my lap. I tell her to swallow, but I know what is coming... Splash! Pinky spits her mouth full of water on my lap.  I guess she just wants to make sure I am hydrated and not hungry. Jogging Pinky is something I will never be able to do enough. When I jog Pinky, she is always perfect, she never miss behaves and Pinky knows when I am jogging her or when someone else is.   Together we have had the opportunity to jog on the track alongside some of harness racing’s best trainers and drivers.  She makes me look good but still gives me many opportunities to learn from the pros! The people that Pinky and I have been able to meet have all been very kind to us both horse people and fans! Our friends on Facebook named us ‘Team Pink’, which I think is special and fantastic! Along the way people have been so kind and generous to give Pinky and I everything we need to go race! We were given a pretty pink jogger and pink accessories. Pinky and have I matching apparel made by a friend of ours and Pinky has a Team Pinky blanket and I have a matching sweater! The people in the paddock have been nothing but helpful and kind hearted. I remember there was a night when we had to scratch Pinky after she warmed up. I was a little scared. She was acting strange and I was not sure what was happening or what to do. When it was announced Pinky was scratched many people came running to see what was the matter and trying to help us figure out what the problem was.  Their kindness helped me to feel more at ease too. Racing Pinky is always fun! To us, it is like two best friends going for a night out. I bring a camera so we can take silly selfies, snacks for when we get hungry and we position ourselves to see as much action as possible. Our friends stop by and chat with us throughout the night too! When Pinky heads behind the gate and the gate lets her go I cheer her on with all my strength and with all the air in my lungs. I have stood in snow banks, in biting winds to watch Pinky race but it is always worth it.  Every time she races she tries with her whole heart and every ounce of strength she has.  Standing in snow banks for Pinky has never bothered me because she is my best friend and I would anything for her. No matter how Pinky finishes I could never be more proud of her than I already am. When we win, us girls celebrate by eating apples and carrots. When we do not win, we still celebrate how well we did and how my girl came home safe and sound with apples and carrots. Sydney Seelster and I share clothes like any two best friends, but not exactly, because Pinky and I are two very different sizes but that does not stop us! Pinky lets me try on her accessories and I let her borrow my clothes to make the perfect Halloween costume! I have this baseball cap that I used to wear, and when I got Pinky I always wore it to the barn. Pinky decided to make it her own. Pinky would pull on the bill or sometimes she would it knock it off. Once it’s off I put would put it on again and Pinky would the same do the same thing again and again. To her it’s a game and I would laugh! Pinky would also grab the very of it top and pull it off. I never got tired of putting my hat back on. We both have fun and joking around. Before Pinky made it her own hat it was just a pink baseball cap and now it is a misshapen baseball cap covered in carrot juice, that smells like apples and stained of dirt and horse slobber. To me that baseball cap is covered in a million memories. That hat will forever hold a special place in my heart and I never want it to be clean again. Pinky is extremely protective over me whether we are in the barn or at the races. She is the best bodyguard I could ask for! When we are in the paddock Pinky will literally stand guard over me. Pinky will stand so is close to me and if someone walks towards us, she will take a step so that I am under her neck, and she will put her neck over me. She just wants to make sure that I am safe.  Hugging can also be quite the challenge, and if Pinky had it her way I would never get any hugs from anyone. When someone comes up to me to give me a hug, Pinky will put her head in between me and the other person, so that they have a harder time reaching me to give a hug. To me, it is almost like Pinky is saying ‘if you want to hug her, you’ll have to go through me first!’ Not only do Pinky and I share food and clothes and accessories but we also the same name and almost the same birthday! Sydney Seelster was born on May 22, 2008 and I was born May 21, 2000. It’s like we were meant to be!  With our birthdays being only a day apart, knowing what I wanted for my birthday became very easy!  All I wanted and still want is stuff for Pinky or things that Pinky and I both could use. Celebrating our birthdays became easy too! I always wanted and want to go to the track for my birthday, and the last couple years Pinky has either raced her birthday or mine. Being away from Pinky is hard, although I may not see every day; she is always in my heart. The hardest part is when I go to overnight camp for 10 days. Ten days without my best friend is hard, but visiting her is always the last thing I do. Before the drive to camp with my parents, I stop at the barn to say goodbye to Pinky. But before I get out, I sit in the front sit of our car, staring at the front of the barn with a box Kleenex on my lap and I cry. I know Pinky will be here when I get back but that never makes it easier. I think of all the sunny days in the barn with her gentle breathing in my ear that will not happen, all the silly pictures that won’t be taken, the time that I won’t be sitting trackside to watch my dad jog her, and those are 10 days that I might have gone out to the barn to see her and I might have been able to jog her one of those 10 days. It breaks my heart to think of all these special little moments I am going to miss while I am at camp.  I think of all the fun and exciting things I will be doing at camp and she will not be there to experience it with me. I finally conjure up enough strength to go into the barn and say goodbye and give her a few carrots. I fight back tears while I explain to Pinky where I am going, and some of the exciting things I will be doing, and I promise to tell her all about it when I return. For the rest of the time I sit quietly in front of her getting those precious moments of her breathing in my ear, and before I know it I am on the road heading to camp!  For those 10 days, whenever I do something I have Pinky on my mind! And every night before I lay my head down to sleep, I think of her, and I tell myself, with another day done, it is one more day of adventure that I have to tell Pinky when I get home. After spending 10 days at camp, the first thing I want to do more than anything else is to see my girl Pinky, and that is exactly what I do! On the way home my parents and I stop at the barn so I can see Pinky!  I am overjoyed. I tell her how much I have missed her and about my adventures. I guess she missed me just as much as I missed her.  She is all sweet with me for the first 10 minutes. After that I reach up to stroke her neck and she makes sure I cannot touch her neck by stretching her neck out high above me. I think she is mad because I went away without her. The next time I see Pinky she is back to giving me her hay and cuddling with me, and I know we are back to being best friends. When Pinky and I are in the barn and a song I know comes on the radio, and I break out into dance, Pinky just looks at me like ‘what the heck are you doing? Stop! There are people here, and you are embarrassing me and yourself! Stop! I break up into laughter and I cannot stop. Together Pinky and I have filmed two video features, one for Woodbine Entertainment Group and it was shown during the 2013 North America Cup broadcast on the Score. The video went on to win an O’Brien and a Dan Patch Award. The other video was for Accessibility in Action, a television program that showcases people with disabilities overcoming them and loving life. In both Pinky and I were co-stars and I could not have asked for a better a better friend to share the spotlight with. The love and support Pinky and I have received is nothing short of a blessing and for all of it I am truly grateful.  From the beginning our friends have helped and supported us and it has made of journey and our story even more special. When I am having a bad day, I think of her and all of our adventures and then I feel better. She can always make me smile! She is a part of me and is a big part of who I am. She is my best friend and I will always love her. She is everything to me and there is not a day goes by that I do not think about her. She is the best friend I could ever ask for and I know she will never tell any of my secrets.    Sydney Weaver is 14 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun

An action-packed second leg of the harness racing Youthful series was the Doug McNair show Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A pair of seven-horse $15,000 divisions took place in the second and final preliminary leg of the Youthful series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The first division of the evening featured a matchup between round one winners Dialamara and Legion Of Boom. The public put their support behind Dialamara, as the Patrick Fletcher trainee was sent off as the 1/2 favourite, while Legion Of Boom was the second-choice at 5/2. Driver Sylvain Filion wasted no time putting Dialamara on the front-end and the pair were able to control the tempo down to the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1. Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair were situated second-over around the final turn, but still several lengths off the leader as they turned for home. In the stretch, Legion Of Boom blasted down the centre of the racetrack and would pace by an all-out Dialamara to win by half a length in 1:53.4. Giovanni finished third, while Pantheon Hanover rounded out the Superfecta. A son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is co-owned by driver Doug McNair and is trained by his father, Gregg. Equus Standardbreds Inc. rounds out the ownership of the gelding pacer. Legion Of Boom now has a record of four wins from seven starts in his first season on the track. The leg two victory pushes his bankroll over $49,000 and his clocking of 1:53.4 knocks a full-second off his previous career-mark. A $2 win ticket on Legion Of Boom returned $7.10 to win. Legion Of Boom The second leg of the Youthful took place five-races later on the card and by that time snowy conditions had taken over the Toronto oval. American Rock and McNair would take the second division at 2/1 to give the reinsman a round two sweep. A son of Rocknroll Hanover, American Rock came first up in the second-quarter and overtook the lead just past the mid-way point from Nobettorplacetobe. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1, American Rock and McNair would hold off their rivals in the lane to score the victory by a length over Nobettorplacetobe in 1:54.1. Team Captain came off second-over cover to finish third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. American Rock is trained by Ben Wallace for owner Brad Grant and now has four wins from seven starts in 2015. The sophomore pacer was purchased by his connections during the Meadowlands Mixed Sale in January. American Rock, who finished second in last week's opening leg, now has earnings of over $38,000. He paid $6.30 to win. American Rock In order to be eligible to the Youthful Series, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The $37,000 Youthful final will take place next Saturday (April 11) at Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 28 - Sophomore pacing colts took centre-stage Saturday night at Woodbine for the first leg of the Youthful series. A solid harness racing group of 21 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $15,000 divisions for the opening round of the three-week series event. Fresh off his win in the WEGZ series last Saturday, Dialamara kept the momentum rolling with a 1:52.3 victory in the first division. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Dialamara got away early in fifth and would jump into the outer flow down the backstretch. American Rock, the 9/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter. Around the final turn, Dialamara got right up along side the favourite to set up a stretch battle. In the lane, Dialamara was able to forge past American Rock in deep stretch to win by a head. Team Captain finished third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. A three-year-old son of Lis Mara, Dialamara now has four wins from seven starts this season for trainer Patrick Fletcher. The first leg triumph increases the sophomore's career bankroll to over $92,000 for owner John Lamers. The 1:52.3 clocking lowers Dialamara's career-mark by more than a second. He returned $8.40 to win. In the second division, Legion Of Boom dug deep in the stretch to hold off his rivals and score a 1:55.1 victory. Driven and co-owned by Doug McNair, Legion Of Boom was put right on the front immediately by McNair. After cutting out fractions of :28.1 and :57.1, Legion Of Boom was confronted first up by Pantheon Hanover. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3, Legion Of Boom squared off with Pantheon Hanover in the stretch and would show plenty of grit to hold off his rival and get the job done. Giovanni took the place spot, while fourth went to Nobettorplacetobe. A three-year-old son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is trained by Gregg McNair for his son Doug, who co-owns with Equus Standardbreds Inc. The sophomore pacer now has three wins from six starts in his first season of racing. The winner's share of the purse increases his bankroll to over $41,000. Legion Of Boom's victory was one of four winning steers for driver Doug McNair on the card. The McNair trainee returned $4.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The second round of the Youthful series will take place next Saturday (April 4). For full results from tonight's card click here. Mark McKelvie

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