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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 grandriverraceway.com. 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 kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca. For sponsorship information, or to donate a prize to the event, contact Kelly Spencer at kspencer@grandriverraceway.com. For information about the CRCNSW, contact Karen Goodman at kgoodman@communityresourcecentre.org. 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

TORONTO, February 20 - Legion Of Boom pulled off a mild harness racing upset to win The Count B series final Friday night at Woodbine. A field of ten three-year-old pacing colts and geldings squared off in the $43,800 finale of the three-week series event. Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair left from the rail at 9/1 and got away fifth entering the first turn. As the field neared the half, McNair sent Legion Of Boom first up, allowing the 4/5 favourite Conversation Boy to pick up second-over cover. Legion Of Boom wasted no time charging first up and cleared to the front before the final turn. Conversation Boy, who was left without cover first up, made a break around the final turn spoiling his chances. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.2, Legion Of Boom had to dig deep in the stretch to hold off several rivals and score a half-length victory in 1:54.4. Dialamara finished second, while Nobettorplacetobe and His Boy Elroy finished third and fourth respectively. A gelding son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is trained by Gregg McNair and now has two wins in the first five starts of his career. The victory is extra sweet for driver Doug McNair, as he shares ownership of the gelding with Equus Standardbreds Inc. Legion Of Boom now has career earnings of $34,830. The clocking of 1:54.4 knocked close to two-seconds off his previous career mark. Legion Of Boom returned $20.20 to win. In order to be eligible to The Count B series, the three-year-old colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. Legion Of Boom Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, February 13 - The frigid temperatures continued Friday night at Woodbine, but the harness racing action was hot in the second legs of The Count B and Ontario Girls series. Round two of The Count B for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings drew 13 horses split into two $17,000 divisions, while the Ontario Girls for four-year-old pacing mares second leg featured a field of ten in a lone $18,000 division. In the first division of The Count B, the talk of the tote-board was the undefeated Camvicted, but a final turn and stretch battle took just enough out of him to suffer his first career defeat. Driven by Trevor Henry, Camvicted got away second early, but was quickly right lined to the front around the first turn. It appeared the favourite was going to get to call all the shots, but Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair came first up around the final turn to confront the leader. After a third-quarter of :28.1, Camvicted came into the stretch with Legion Of Boom breathing down his neck. The two geldings went toe-to-toe down the lane, but would be picked off late by the hard-charging His Boy Elroy and Jody Jamieson. Situated fifth and more than five-lengths off the front at the three-quarter pole, His Boy Elroy unleashed a late rally of :27.4 down the centre of the track to score the victory by a length in a career best 1:55.1. Camvicted had to settle for third, as Legion Of Boom edged by him late to finish second. A three-year-old son of Jeremes Jet, His Boy Elroy finished fourth in an opening leg division. He is trained by Jean Guy Belliveau for owner Dan Mac Rae. Friday's second leg victory was His Boy Elroy's first win of 2015 and his second career tally. He now has over $31,000 banked from 15 career starts. His Boy Elroy returned $13 to win. His Boy Elroy The second division of The Count B saw plenty of action down the backstretch, but once Conversation Boy and Sylvain Filion found the front it was game over. Conversation Boy got away in fourth, as Newbie sprinted out to the lead. The lead was short lived, as immediately down the backstretch Nobettorplacetobe moved from second to first. However, leg one winner Dialamara followed from third and circled around to become the third leader by the mid-way point. Filion kept the chain going and rushed Coversation Boy from fourth to first before the final turn and that would be the winning move. Conversation Boy reached the three-quarter pole in 1:26.1 and then paced comfortably down the lane holding off Dialamara to win by three-quarters of a length in a career best 1:54.1. Nobettorplacetobe finished third, while Newbie took fourth. A son of Tell All, Conversation Boy was able to turn the tables on Dialamara, as he had finished second to his counterpart in a first leg division. Conversation Boy is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Robert Key and now has two wins from six starts this season. The second leg victory now gives him four career wins and pushes his career earnings over $47,000. A $2 win ticket on Conversation Boy returned $4.70. Conversation Boy Later on in the evening, it was the ladies turn to shine in the Ontario Girls series. Bet Ya and trainer-driver Jack Moiseyev got to the wire just in time to score the leg two victory. A four-year-old daughter of Jeremes Jet, Bet Ya got away in fifth and made a first-over move down the backstretch. She would eventually clear by the favourite Regally Ready before the final turn and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1. In the stretch, Bet Ya and Moiseyev were able to create some separation on their rivals and appeared to be on their way to victory, but Artistic Fusion made a late rally to make things very tight at the wire and put the photo-finish camera to use. In the photo, Bet Ya prevailed by a nose over Artistic Fusion in 1:54 for her first win in two starts this year and seventh of her career. Jakardez got up to finish third. Bet Ya is owned by Joanne Colville and Nancy Macnevin. Friday night's victory pushes her bankroll over the $100,000 mark to $108,430. The clocking of 1:54 is also a new lifetime best for the Ontario sired mare. Bet Ya paid $7.30 to win. Bet Ya Both series will conclude next week with their respective fianls. The $43,800 final of The Count B will take place next Friday (February 20). The $44,600 Ontario Girls final will take place the next evening (Febraury 21) to go along with the $45,000 Ontario Boys final. The second leg of the Ontario Boys is scheduled for Saturday night. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

The biggest day of harness racing on British Columbia's calendar, B.C. Breeders Classic Day is in the books at Fraser Downs, and it was a day dominated by a pair of Ontario-based reinsman. Millbanks Writer was sent off as the favourite in the $50,000 Betty Millbank Memorial Breeders Stake Final for two-year-old pacing fillies, and she got everything her way on the front end. With Serge Masse at the controls, Millbanks Writer forged her way to the lead off the gate with a swift :27 opener. Kevin Anderson settled second choice Fast Lane Elektra on her back, with longshots Fast Lane Firebolt (Clint Warrington, Jr.) and Kootenay Mystic (Bill Davis) comprising the top four. Those fillies remained unchanged and unhurried through a wind-stiffened 1:00.3 half and wind-aided 1:30.4 third panel. To view the rest of this story click here.

The temperature was just above the freezing mark for an eight-pack of qualifiers Friday morning at Mohawk Racetrack. The track was listed as fast Friday, but the judges did allow a one second variant on the chilly and windy morning. Many eyes were on the seventh qualifier, as World champion Hes Watching and Milton Stakes winner Voelz Hanover lined up behind the gate. Leaving from post six in a field of six, Voelz Hanover and Randy Waples sprinted off the gate to grab the early, while Hes Watching and Jody Jamieson dropped in the two-hole. After an opening-quarter of :28, Volez Hanover kept the tempo hot with a :27.3 second-quarter to lead Hes Watching by half a dozen lengths. Voelz Hanover reached the three-quarter pole in 1:24, but Hes Watching, who was five lengths back, started to hit his best stride as they rounded the far turn. In the stretch, Hes Watching would track down Voelz Hanover, but came up half a length short at the wire in 1:53.4. Hes Watching paced his last quarter in :28.4, while Voelz Hanover's final panel was in :29.4. Hes Watching was making his second qualifying appearance in as many weeks in preparation for the Breeders Crown eliminations next weekend at the Meadowlands. The son of American Ideal is trained by Dave Menary, who shares ownership with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Muscara Racing Trust. Hes Watching has won five of 12 starts this season for earnings of over $837,000. His career bankroll currently sits at over $1.1 million. Voelz Hanover was making her first appearance since finishing fourth in the Fillies & Mares Preferred at Mohawk on October 10. She was entered to race the following week at Woodbine, but was a vet scratch sick. A nine-year-old daughter of Astreos, Voelz Hanover recorded the biggest victory of her career back in September when she won the $286,000 Milton Stakes at Mohawk. She is trained by Corey Johnson for owner Richard Berthiaume and has won six of 16 starts this season for earnings of over $262,000. Voelz Hanover's career record currently sits at 44 wins from 168 starts for earnings of over $1.7 million. Also making an appearance Friday morning was Valley Victory elimination winner Whataworkout. The Frank Antonacci trainee turned in a 25 length victory in 1:58. Driven by Domenico Cecere, Whataworkout was making his first appearance since making a break in the stretch of the $521,000 Valley Victory on October 25 at Woodbine. A two-year-old son of Muscle Hill, Whataworkout has won twice in his first five starts for earnings of over $32,000. He is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut. Ontario Sires Stakes standout Sports Chic was also a winner Friday morning. A two-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Sports Chic won her qualifier by 13 lengths in 1:56.4. Driven by Jody Jamieson, this was Sports Chic's first charted line since finishing fourth in the $250,000 OSS Super Final on October 11 at Mohawk. Trained by Blake Macintosh, Sports Chic has won five times from 10 starts for earnings of over $241,000. Macintosh is also a co-owner of the filly along with Hutt Racing Stable. The full list of Friday morning's winners can be found below. Mohawk Qualifiers - Friday, November 7 Race 1 - Whataworkout (Domenico Cecere) - 1:58 Race 2 - Sports Chic (Jody Jamieson) - 1:56.4 Race 3 - Sas Warkentin (Scott Young) - 2:00 Race 4 - Century Angeldust (Mike Saftic) - 1:58.2 Race 5 - Barefoot Beauty (Doug McNair) - 1:59.1 Race 6 - Hldontghttoyurdrms (Jonathan Drury) - 2:00.2 Race 7 - Voelz Hanover (Randy Waples) - 1:53.4 Race 8 - Screen The Call (Jody Jamieson) - 1:58   Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred  

Sayitall BB captured the first $37,600 Cinderella Stake division for 3-year-old pacing fillies handily in 1:52.2 with Tim Tetrick at the lines for harness racing trainer Ronnie Burke. "When she cleared and made the top, the rest was easy," Tetrick said. "She's a very nice mare with a lot of talent and she did everything right. I never even pulled the plugs either. She'll go with all of the better mares I'm sure, and if I'm not driving her in the future, I'll sure be watching out for her." Sayitall BB accomplished this latest triumph impressively in wire-to-wire fashion, through splits of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:24.4, with Mamas Fallen Angel (Doug McNair) second and Somethinincredible (Dave Magee) third. Sayitall BB is owned by Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi, and now has $186,660 in seasonal earnings from seven wins in 12 starts. She has $208,310 in career earnings from 12 wins in 17 lifetime trips postward. The daughter of Tell All is the 11th foal out of the Nobleland Sam mare Challo BB. Sayitall BB Lady Shadow (Gregg McNair) held on to win the second $37,600 Cinderella Division in 1:53.2 over rival Major Dancer (Brett Miller). McNair also conditions the daughter of Shadow Play-Lady Camella-Camluck for owners Lindsey & Connie L Rankin of Lexington, MI. Lady Shadow grabbed the lead easily and never looked back through a very soft opening first quarter and half in :27.3 and :57. "I knew there was another horse getting close to me at the wire and so did she," said McNair. "This is her last race of the season and she deserves a break now as she's raced tough all season." Lady Shadow continued to have an easy lead over her six rivals, clocked in 1:25.3 at the three-quarter marker with Kayla Grace (Todd Warren) and Rocknroll Meg (Tim Tetrick) both throwing late challenges at her, but to no avail. At the last moment, Major Dancer, who had been riding the rail in the two-hole, snuck up the rail and narrowly missed besting the winner. Rocknroll Meg held on for third, with Kayla Grace grabbing fourth. Lady Shadow now has $259,635 in seasonal earnings from six wins in 13 starts, and $449,527 in career earnings from 11 wins in 21 starts. She is the ninth foal out of her dam and was a $19,000 yearling purchase at the 2012 Forest City Sale. Lady Shadow By Kimberly Rinker, for Maywood Park

Trainer Gregg Mc Nair is making the long 500 mile trek from Ontario, Canada to Melrose Park, Illinois for Windy City Night with a pair of 3-year-olds pacers with the credentials to be a force in their respective stakes.  Both horses will be handled by Gregg’s 25-year-old son Doug who in less than eight years of driving has over 2,000 career victories and is closing in on $30 million in money won. Mc Nair’s two Maywood Park bound pacers—the Cinderella filly Lady Shadow and the Windy City Pace starter Three Of Clubs—have chalked up close to a half-million dollars in purse earnings between them this year and figure to substantially add to their totals Friday night. Lady Shadow has been a terror on the Ontario circuit this year, chalking up wins in 5 of her 12 starts and banking $240,835 with 24-year-old Doug in the bike. However the Shadow Play filly ended up a far back eighth as one of the favorites in the $225,500 Ontario Sire Stake Final at Mohawk last week after being parked out to sizzling fractions of :26.1 and :54.1. “Lady Shadow just didn’t get off the gate really good,” said the younger McNair. “I should have tried to put her in the 3-hole right away but sometimes she’s tough to back off and we ended-up outside to some fast fractions.   “She can be a tricky horse off the gate and was making breaks earlier but she is good on a half. Last year as a 2-year-old she went some big trips at Grand River (a half-mile track).” Lady Shadow went 5-for-8 as a 2-year-old and was 4-for-4 with Doug, including three Ontario Stake victories at Grand River Raceway. On paper Lady Shadow looks like a stick-out in the eighth race first $37,600 Cinderella division. I told Doug: ‘I’m putting pressure on you because I made her 4-5 in my line and the best bet of the night.’  “I like that kind of pressure,” he answered. The morning line has Lady Shadow at 2-1, closely followed by Major Dancer (Brett Miller) at 5-2. Stable-mate Three Of Clubs (programmed 6-1), is in a much more difficult situation in the Windy City with the morning lines favorites Let’s Drink On It (5-2, Travis Seekman) Somewhere In L A (2-1, Brett Miller) and Big Boy Dreams (4-1, Tim Tetrick) starting inside of her with posts 1, 2 and 3, while the Mach Three Colt has slot four.   Three Of Clubs dropped his first 10 decisions as a sophomore before posting back-to-back triumphs in his last two starts, both Ontario Sire Stakes. He appears to be sharp at the right time for the $180,000 Windy City. “He’s been sharp all year but he has been bad-gaited,” replied Doug. “It’s not that he’s been breaking but sometimes in a mile he can get rough. But the horse has got a lot of power. He’s been a lot better in his last couple of starts and his confidence right now has gone through the roof. “The horse does get around a half real well. Last year he was just super-fast and dominated at Grand River.” King Of Clubs won all four of his Ontario Sire Stake starts on Grand River half-miler as a freshman with Doug. The colt later was second in his Breeders Crown elimination and took the fifth place check in the $500,000 championship.   The Windy City Pace will go as the ninth race with a scheduled post of 9:50 pm (Chicago Time) It will be preceded by the $57,100 Abe Lincoln 2-year-old colt pace, the $92,300 Galt Trot for 3-year-old males, and two $37,600 Cinderella divisions for sophomore filly pacers. The $25,000 Associates-McKeever stake, the third leg of the Maywood Pacing Series, was also scheduled but became a “no-go” because of insufficient entries. No word yet from the track’s Race Office if the ICF stake will be re-scheduled or cancelled. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Three Of Clubs fought off challenges early and late on his way to an authoritative 1:51.1 harness racing triumph in the $250,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final for sophomore colt and gelding pacers on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Driver Doug McNair shot Three Of Clubs to the front from post position six, and he would chop out the opening quarter in 27 seconds flat. Silverhill Shadow (Chris Christoforou), who started from post ten, was unable to find an inside position, and he was forced to press on. McNair wasn’t about to let him clear, though, and left him on the outside through the 55 second half. Victor Bayama (Sylvain Filion) elected to tip three-wide on the far turn to try and get around Silverhill Shadow, and public choice Jet Airway (Randy Waples) tracked that move. However, they were both still very wide and still clearly behind Three Of Clubs as he cruised through three-quarters in 1:23.1. Pocket-sitter Play It Again Sam and a wide Jet Airway had clear aim at Three Of Clubs the entire length of the stretch, but they didn’t have the pace to track him down, and Three Of Clubs went on to win by two lengths in 1:51.1. Play It Again Sam was the runner-up and Jet Airway had to settle for third. Prince Clyde (Trevor Henry) was the fourth-place finisher and Victor Bayama wound up fifth. “He had great gate speed last year, but we’ve had trouble with him all year,” McNair said of Three Of Clubs, who is headed to the Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in suburban Chicago. “He was getting bad gaited near the end of the mile. Kudos to the guys who work for dad, Dad (winning trainer Gregg McNair), and all the vets, they got this horse ready for the end of the year and they did a great job. I thought he had a good shot as long as he was good gaited. He can get off the wings good. It’s too bad he’s had trouble all year because he should have twice amount the money on his card he’s got.” Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ontario, also co-owns Three Of Clubs, a colt by Mach Three, with Hall of Famer Keith Waples of Durham and Tony Lawrence of Hanover, Ontario. Three Of Clubs got his second win from 12 efforts this year, and he now has six career victories. He has earned $255,480 on the campaign and $462,097 lifetime. The full results from tonight’s race card at Mohawk may be viewed Mohawk Results – October 11. By OSS News

The top harness racing performers in this year’s Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots program faced off in eight $50,000 Finals tonight at Mohawk Raceway Saturday. The competitiveness of each division was evident in the exciting races which saw both favourites and longshots victorious. The following are recaps of each final. Two Year Old Trotting Fillies – Second Sister “I pulled on the right line at the head of stretch and she did the rest.” That’s how Doug McNair described his trip with Second Sister in the two-year-old trotting filly final. McNair and Second Sister sat back in fourth during the early going while Wing Flash, who left from post 10, grabbed control for Trevor Henry and reeled off fractions of :27.4, :57.3 and 1:27.1. McNair had his filly three wide and driving down the lane and she managed to haul down the leader in the final few feet to win in 1:56.3, a new life mark. Wing Flash held for second while Tymal Illbthere got up for third. “She’s been good all year, I’ve had road trouble with her two or three times when we raced her here. She didn’t surprise me at all tonight. I figured if I had no road trouble she’d be good and she was,” explained Doug McNair afterwards. “She trotted :27.2 at the end, that’s a big last quarter for a two-year-old trotting filly in the Grassroots. I just let her coast to the end, I was easy on her at the end of the mile.” Trained by Gregg McNair for Jarold Hawks of Michigan, Second Sister was recording her third win in eight tries this year and upped her earnings to $55,000 on the year. Bred by Diamond Creek Farm of Kentucky, the Deweycheatumnhowe daughter, a half-sister to Unshakeable ($210,000), sold as a yearling for $32,000. Hawks noted that while the filly is eligible to the Breeders Crown, he’s fairly certain this will be her final race of the season. “She’s had a good season, we’ll turn her out and let her mature,” he noted. Two Year Old Pacing Fillies – Stonebridge Quest Longshot Stonebridge Quest dueled with leader and favourite Ms Mac N Cheese in the late going in the two-year-old pacing filly final and prevailed for Trevor Henry. Ms Mac N Cheese with Sylvain Filion at the controls showed her rivals the way getting the girls by the fractions in :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24. Out from the pocket popped Stonebridge Quest who managed to get by the leader and hit the wire first in 1:53.1. Ms Mac N Cheese fought gamely to the wire and was a very close second followed by Show Some Leg. Henry was impressed by the performances of both fillies. “I was sure (he had won) at the wire, but I was a little worried (mid stretch). She was half way by pretty easy and then Sylvain’s horse come back on. His horse fought back well. “She’s a nice filly, when I drove her in Clinton, she didn’t know a lot, it was just her second lifetime start. She overcame it and won that day and raced well,” he said of Stonebridge Quest’s only other win this year back in July. A daughter of Camluck owned by breeder Angie Stiller of Arva, and Glenview Livestock Ltd., of Guelph, Ontario, Stonebridge Quest is a full sister to $774,000 winner Stonebridge Tonic and $528,000 winner Stonebridge On Ice. Two Year Old Trotting Colts - Mandeville In the two-year-old trotting colt final three of the rookies broke stride before the first turn which saw El Diablo Hall on top for Keith Oliver by the opening panel in :28.2. He went past the half in :59.1 and three-quarters in 1:28.1. For the last half of the race he had pressure from Mandeville and Steve Condren who went on to win in 1:57.2. El Diablo Hall, who has not finished worse than second in 10 starts this year, held for second while Olympic Son was third. Trainer Wayne Langille of Harley, Ontario, co-owns the winner, a son of Majestic Son, with Brett Burleigh of Paris, Ontario. This was the fourth win in eight starts this year for Mandeville who was bred by Dr. John Brown of Granton, Ontario and sold for $10,000 as a yearling. After his third place finish in last week’s Semi-Finals Langille was concerned the horse wasn’t himself – “he didn’t cool out like he should” - and treated him with ulcer medication which seemed to help. “I’m going to turn him out tomorrow,” Langille said. “The big track suits him, his mistakes this year have all been on the smaller tracks.” Two Year Old Pacing Colts – Star Cover Star Cover played giant slayer in the rookie pacing colt final as he hauled down heavy favourite Thinkofagameplan to win in 1:53. Jody Jamieson had Star Cover on top early and he hit the first quarter in :26.4. Randy Waples and Thinkofagameplan passed the leader well before the :55.3 half but he was overtaken by Twin B Scandal before the 1:24.4 third panel. Jamieson had Star Choice back on top as the field swung into the stretch and opened up to win by three lengths. Thinkofagameplan took second while Twin B Scandal was third. Star Cover was notching his third win in 10 tries this year. Trainer Blake MacIntosh of Waterdown, Ontario, who co-owns with Stuart McIntosh of Essex and Brett Authier of Wheatley, Ontario, said that this will be the colt’s final start of the year. “We’ll turn him out now. Jody gave him a great trip,” he praised. Jamieson noted that it wasn’t the trip he’d planned but it worked out anyway. “I was hoping to be able to follow Randy but there were a few horses between us. This colt’s been improving all the time. I knew if I had room he’d come home well, he has a good closing kick.” Bred by Winbak Farm of Maryland, the Royal Mattjesty son sold for $4,500 at the Forest City Sale. His dam is the former OSS standout Armbro Rosebud who earned $721,000 in her career. Three Year Old Pacing Fillies – Dana Dearest Throughout the OSS season Dana Dearest has shown an explosive rally from off-the-pace that carried her to four wins from five starts in the provincial program. She came through again with those tactics in tonight’s $50,000 Grassroots Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies, rallying into hot fractions and winning in 1:51.3. Her Own Land (James MacDonald) led the field of ten fillies to the opening quarter in :26.1 but Born To Dream (Jody Jamieson) was parked and pressing at that point, and she would clear to command in the backstretch. Born To Dream would get to the half in :54.4, but Shadows Wonder (Trevor Henry) was out and moving out of third at that point, and she would become the new leader as they raced into the far turn. Shadows Wonder reached the three-quarters in 1:22.3, giving the cold shoulder to Her Own Land, who was now first over. Meantime, Dana Dearest and Chris Christoforou were trying to get involved, tracking three-wide cover and then moving four-deep into the stretch. In the lane Shadows Wonder had kicked away from the field and looked to get to the wire first, but Dana Dearest was in top gear on the far outside, and she would come with that unrelenting brush all the way to the wire, which she found a length to the good over fellow closer Bet Ya (Jack Moiseyev). Shadows Wonder would finish third. “It was very hot speed up front, which suits my filly exactly,” said Christoforou. “She loves to come into strong fractions and come home good. She raced really well. Everybody was leaving. I looked over to my right and everybody was leaving; I looked to my inside and everybody was leaving, so I was just trying to keep up as much as I could with her. She’s not that quick leaving. Luckily, we were just close enough to get the jump on them late. “There’s no pressure driving for my dad (owner/breeder Charalambos Christoforou of Campbellville, Ontario), especially when he’s out of the country (in Greece)." Trained by Casie Coleman, Dana Dearest was winless in four starts last year, but she’s turned it around in her sophomore campaign, going nine for 16. She has season’s earnings of $102,820 and a career bankroll of $107,048. “She’ll be turned out now,” said assistant trainer Tony Beaton. “We were happy with the race. I expected the speed up front and that works for us as she’s a good closer.” Three Year Old Trotting Fillies - Quadrophenia A 13-1 upset was triggered by Quadrophenia and driver James MacDonald in their finale. Leaving from post position three, Quadrophenia was fast off the wings of the gate, and she was first at the :27.4 opening quarter. Public choice Mystical Wishes (Doug McNair) was fourth at that point, but she would move to the outside in the backstretch, and Mystical Wishes took over the top spot just past the 57 second half-mile marker. Mystical Wishes opened up a gap on the field to the 1:25.3 three-quarters and still had the lead for much of the stretch. However, she got soft inside the final sixteenth and Quadrophenia re-rallied out of the two-hole, passing Mystical Wishes and winning by a head in 1:55.1. Mystical Wishes had to settle for the runner-up position and Missys Ga Ga (Rick Zeron) circled from eighth to third in the final quarter. "I don't think she deserved to go off at 13-1,” said MacDonald. “She was caught in last week. She's a nice filly from a good family." Dave Menary trains the victorious Kadabra filly for owner Kjell Magne Andersen of Norway. Quadrophenia, who was unraced as a freshman, has five wins from 12 attempts this year to go with a bankroll of $65,300. Quadrophenia won twice in Grassroots competition during the regular season at Mohawk – on June 17 and September 2. Three Year Old Trotting Colts - Kremlin Kremlin wriggled free off the rail early in the stretch and then passed the leaders late to claim victory in the final for three-year-old trotting colts. The final time was 1:55.2, a new lifetime mark for the winner. Warrawee Promesse and Wayne Henry showed stout speed early in the proceedings, and they would work around Jack Litten and Doug McNair for the lead before the :27.3 opening quarter. Warrawee Promesse would then be unchallenged in the second quarter, and he got to the half in :56.4. Around the far turn Warrawee Promesse opened a bit of a gap on his foes, but then first-over challenger Tyrone Haji (Randy Waples) began to chip into the margin before the 1:25.4 three-quarters. Jack Litten was still locked up in the pocket and Kremlin, with Sylvain Filion at the lines, moved up to sit right behind Jack Litten on the inside. In the stretch Warrawee Promesse drifted out off the rail and Jack Litten was able to slip through and grab the lead. However, Kremlin had gotten to the outside and was taking the overland route. McNair urged Jack Litten to try and get him home, but Kremlin got up late to win by half a length. Jack Litten finished second and Ramas Last Son was up to collect third. Richard Moreau trains Kremlin, a Kadabra gelding, for owner Mike Wassilyn of Rockwood, Ontario. Kremlin, a winner in Grassroots competition on June 9 at Mohawk and in last week’s Grassroots Semi Final, scored his sixth triumph from 16 efforts this season and his eighth career victory. Bred by Overseas Farms Ltd., Kremlin has put away $70,472 on the campaign and $80,352 lifetime. "I'm not sure if we'll keep racing him or give him a break,” stated Wassilyn. “That will be up to Richard, who has done a tremendous job with him. Sylvain deserves a lot of credit as well; he's driven him great. We bought him from Riina Rekila in June, and she was quite helpful when we first got him. Sylvain said his gait's improved a lot." Three Year Old Pacing Colts - Atomic Million AM The fractions were hot and the action was heavy, but when the dust settled, public choice Atomic Million AM emerged with a 1:50.3 victoy in the final OSS Grassroots Championship of the night, for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Regal Babe (Doug McNair) blasted full bore from the outside post 10, and he would clear his rivals for the lead. However, the first quarter was hot, :25.4 hot, and High Flier (J. Harris) was left on the outside and forced to drive on despite the swift tempo. Up the backstretch Regal Babe and High Flier hooked up in a duel, but High Flier finally got the top spot at the :53.3 half. While High Flier was clearing Regal Babe for the lead Atomic Million AM (Rick Zeron) commenced a first-over bid out of the fifth position. Regal Babe began to fall back on the far turn, so Zeron was able to get Atomic Million AM down to the rail for a couple strides. However, he came right back to the outside and closed more ground on High Flier at the 1:21.4 three-quarters. High Flier held Atomic Million AM off early in the stretch, but Atomic Million AM forged his way past for good just before the eighth pole. From there Atomic Million AM persevered to the wire, which he reached two lengths to the good over a closing Nirvana Seelster (Phil Hudon). High Flier held third despite the testy tempo. "I told the owner last week that we'd win tonight,” Zeron said. “I was very confident. We got locked in last week. I didn't get the trip I'd hoped for tonight, but he was strong and brave and got the job done." Alain Martin of Gatineau, Quebec, bred, owns, and trains Atomic Million AM, a gelded son of Million Dollar Cam-Lady Hustler (Daylon Hustler). This was his 11th win from 17 efforts this year and his 14th career victory. He has earned $110,382 in 2014 and $122,902 lifetime. "He'll get turned out now. He's been good to me all year and deserves a rest," offered Martin. Tonight’s finals also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Ontario Sires Stakes. There will be more celebrating when the Super Finals, for the top performers in the Gold division, are contested on October 11 back at Mohawk. To view the full results from tonight’s program, please click Mohawk Results - September 27. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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