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There is an old adage in harness racing that says “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Sometimes, though, how you start is how you finish. And in the case of Rockin Ron, how he starts and how he finishes are often fast. Rockin Ron has reeled off 11 consecutive wins since joining the stable of trainer Ron Burke in November. He will try to make it 12 in a row when he faces eight rivals in Saturday’s opening round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. His most recent victory came in last Sunday’s Confederation Cup, where Rockin Ron defeated 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit by three-quarters of a length in a Canadian-record 1:50.1 mile at Flamboro Downs. As has often been the case during his win streak, Rockin Ron grabbed the lead during the opening quarter-mile and never looked back. It was the eighth consecutive race in which he paced his opening quarter in less than 27 seconds. It also was the second time in his last three starts in which he finished with a final quarter in less than 27 seconds. Since becoming a member of the Burke Brigade, Rockin Ron has been in first place at the first call in eight of his victories. Twice he was in second place and once he was in third. In 19 career triumphs, only twice has Rockin Ron come from further back than third at the halfway point. “A lot of our drivers, when they know a horse has speed like that, they want to use it,” said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Rockin Ron. “I don’t blame them. You don’t see horses often leave in 26 and change, come right back to you, and then come home in 26 and change.” Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras will start Saturday’s $75,000 Graduate from post four. The remainder of the field is In The Arsenal, National Seelster, J Eagle Feather, Americanprimetime, Rock N’ Roll World, Split The House, Artistic Major, and My Hero Ron. Rock N’ Roll World and My Hero Ron also are from the Burke stable. “In a perfect world, I wouldn’t mind seeing (Rockin Ron) race from behind this week,” Weaver said. “It’s his first time on a big track in a while; maybe change the tactics. They’re not machines, you have to look after them a little bit. The first start we had him, we raced him out of a hole and he shook loose late and exploded. But who knows what will happen Saturday.” A son of Real Desire out of Im All A Roan, Rockin Ron has won 19 of 40 career races and earned $313,858. He is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and RTC Stables. The group thought they had a deal in place to buy Rockin Ron in early 2015, but the sale fell through. Last year, Rockin Ron won two divisions of the Indiana Sire Stakes and finished fourth in the event’s Super Final, which was won by standout and future Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete. “We love the Indiana-breds,” Weaver said. “We’ve been a huge fan of the whole program. “The secret is kind of out. When you look now, the best older pacers are Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, you could throw Rockin Ron in there I think, and they’re all Indiana-breds. I think it’s a great place; I love to try to buy horses and race them there. Rockin Ron looks like he’s another one in that same line. “The horses that race in Indiana, when you take them away from there, they produce. They’re tough. To do what (Rockin Ron) has done is the extreme aspect of that, but maybe he’s the type that likes Ronnie’s training program and likes to be put into the race.” Rockin Ron is staked lightly this season, with the Ben Franklin Pace and Prix d’Ete also on his schedule. “We usually try to take it easy with the 4-year-olds,” said Weaver, who has enjoyed success with past Pacer of the Year Award winners Foiled Again and Sweet Lou. “Midway through the spring we didn’t have him staked at all. I don’t think he was even on our staking list. After one of the races earlier this year at The Meadows, I asked if we might not want to try him in some of the 4-year-old races. I’m glad we did. “That was a pretty big mile (last weekend). We’re anxious to see how he does Saturday and then we’ll go from there. I’d be OK if Rockin Ron stepped up to be our best one, that’s for sure.” Ken Weingartner

The Meadowlands Championship Harness Racing Meet takes flight this weekend with the first leg of both the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) for sophomores and the Graduate Series for four-year-olds.   The NJSS (all purses $25,000) trotters race on Friday with Hambletonian winter book favorite Southwind Frank making his debut amid a bulky field of twelve colts (race six) and freshman Breeders Crown winner All The Time coming out in the first of two filly divisions (race two).   Saturday night's card is heavy with talent.   Boston Red Rocks makes his seasonal bow in the NJSS colt pace (race eleven) and Blue Moon Stride is back to defend her NJSS tiara in the filly competition (race five).   The Graduate trot split into a pair of $50,000 divisions with Wings Of Royalty coming in off last week's 1:51.4 upset win in an overnight race leading race two from the rail. 2015 Trotter of the Year Pinkman catches a tough field (race six) that includes Musical Rhythm and Maestro Blue Chip, a duo that had modest sophomore campaigns but have morphed into unbeaten early season sensations. Something's gotta give in what promises to be a slugfest.   Nine pacers were declared for the $75,000 Graduate pace (race eight) with another emerging star in Confederation Cup winner Rockin Ron looking to extend his ten race seasonal unbeaten streak heading up that field.   Saturday is Preakness Day and a large crowd is expected to watch Nyquist attempt to advance to possible Triple Crown winner status. Make your reservations early via The Meadowlands website.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations

When last seen in these parts, Pinkman was exiting the harness racing winner's circle following his 2015 Hambletonian victory. The altered son of Explosive Matter returns to The Meadowlands in the sixth race on Friday, May 13 to face six foes with his sites set squarely on next week's opening leg of the Graduate Series.   Pinkman's 2015 season resulted in his being named as the Dan Patch three-year-old trotter of the year. He danced virtually every dance, winning eleven of seventeen starts including the Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity to go along with the Hambo win while banking over $1.8 million. Leaving from post four tomorrow night, Pinkman comes in off of a pair of conditioning qualifiers for Jimmy Takter who trains him for owners Christina Takter, Jon & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Yannick Gingras will drive.   Transitioning into the summer meet, all of The Meadowlands outdoor attractions are now open for business including Victory Terrace with its spectacular NYC skyline views and a fashionable bar crowd. Directed toward that demographic is Friday's $50 Spring Handicapping Contest providing an arena for new fans to compete for cash prizes.   The guaranteed horizontal wagers are in place, free program pages for the late Pick-4 are available courtesy of Trackmaster and the last race Hi-5 Super Jackpot stands at $212,593 to open the weekend.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Meadowlands Media Relations    

East Rutherford, NJ - As the beginning of the "Championship Meet" on May 7 draws near more of trotting's elite are embarking on their racing season.   The marquee match-up on Friday night at The Meadowlands pits 2015 Trotter of the Year JL Cruze against multiple Dan Patch award winning mare Shake It Cerry in a $25,000 Open Handicap trot. These two finished just a nose apart in a 1:49.4 world and track record in last season's Graduate Final over this same mile oval nine months ago.   Shake It Cerry is making her first start of the year off a winning 1:55 qualifier last week. The champion daughter of Donato Hanover is closing in on $2.5 million in career earnings for owner Solveig's Racing Partners and trainer Jimmy Takter. She finished 2015 strong with a convincing win over top mares in the $200,000 TVG FFA Championship final for David Miller, who will drive on Friday.   JL Cruze returned in good form following his winter hiatus and has won both of his 2016 outings including a 1:53 score here two weeks ago. It was a Cinderella season in 2015 for owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Jr and Steve Iaquinta who got way more than they bargained for when trainer Eric Ell brought JL Cruze home from the Harrisburg mixed sale for $30,000. He'll again be driven by John Campbell, who played a large role in the many successes of last year. Both trotters are preparing for the inaugural edition of the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff scheduled for a special Mother's Day matinee card on May 8.   The Meadowlands will be giving away tickets to the Monster Jam in Mat Life stadium later this month and you can enter to win a Kentucky Derby trip as well.   It was announced yesterday registration is now open for the "Championship Meet Survivor Challenge". Top prize is $2,000 and a seat in the 2017 World Harness Handicapping Challenge.   From the Meadowlands Media Department

After winning the Graduate Series for harness racing 4-year-old pacers, Doo Wop Hanover will try to move to the head of the class in Saturday's $430,600 William R. Haughton Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack. Doo Wop Hanover goes to the Haughton - where there is no restriction on age - with a four-race win streak after sweeping three preliminary divisions and the final of the Graduate. He has won six of 10 races overall this season and earned $254,020 for owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks. He will start the Haughton from post No. 5 with John Campbell driving for trainer Steve Elliott and is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The nine-horse Haughton field also includes Ben Franklin Pace winner Luck Be Withyou, Molson Pace champion State Treasurer, last season's North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, and harness racing's all-time richest horse Foiled Again. Doo Wop Hanover is among four 4-year-olds - along with Luck Be Withyou, JK Endofanera, and Lyonssomewhere - in the Haughton. "He's learned how to race," Elliott said about Doo Wop Hanover, who has won 12 of 39 lifetime starts and earned $561,327. "He's more controllable this year. Now he'll sit outside and ride instead of trying to run off with you. He's bigger and stronger. He's just a nice horse." The Haughton will be Doo Wop Hanover's second stakes-level test against older horses this year. He finished third, beaten by a nose, in a round of the TVG Free For All Pacing Series in May. The race was won by JK Endofanera. "Anytime you can race 4-year-olds against 4-year-olds, you're racing good horses, but they're all pretty equal," Elliott said. "The older horses can throw four :26 quarters at you like it's nothing. Three-year-olds, there are a few that can, but most of them have to have a :27 quarter somewhere. "I think it's beneficial that they have the 4-year-old races. It allowed the horses to grow into themselves. That 3- to 4-year-old transition, where they had to race against all the older horses, it didn't get much tougher than that. If you could pick your spot and get a trip, it was OK, but week in and week out it's very tough. You have to go against the likes of Foiled Again and those kinds of horses, they're just flat-out iron horses. And there are a lot of good horses out there now." Luck Be Withyou is the 3-1 second choice in the Haughton, where he will start from post nine with Brian Sears driving for trainer Chris Oakes. State Treasurer, starting from post eight with David Miller at the lines for Ian Moore, is 7-2 on the morning line. Doo Wop Hanover is not the only Graduate Series champion looking to keep a win streak alive on Saturday. JL Cruze, who won the Graduate's trotting edition with a world-record 1:49.4 triumph last weekend, is the 3-5 favorite in the $443,300 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters. It was JL Cruze's 11th consecutive victory and gave the gelding 15 wins in 17 starts this season. Campbell will drive JL Cruze from post six for trainer Eric Ell and owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta. The connections paid $50,000 to supplement JL Cruze to the Hambletonian Maturity. The six-horse Hambletonian Maturity will be contested at 1-1/8 miles. The remainder of the field, in post order, is Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry, Resolve, Gural Hanover, and Il Sogno Dream. JL Cruze raced through the winter and spring, captured four series championships -- the Super Bowl, Singer Memorial, Shiaway St Pat and Weiss - prior to the Graduate. He posted three wins over Father Patrick in the Graduate Series, edged 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry by a nose with his world-record effort in the final, and also holds a victory over world champion Sebastian K. "He's more than surprised us," Dittmar said about JL Cruze, who was purchased by the group for $37,000 at November's Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale. "We thought he would be very competitive in the winter series, getting into the Graduate Series we just hoped he could get some checks. But the more he raced, the better he got. It's just a dream come true." The 1:49.4 mile last weekend was the first sub-1:50 win by a trotter on a mile racetrack in harness racing history. The only faster victories on any sized track anywhere were Sebastian K's 1:49 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono last year and Enough Talk's 1:49.3 at Colonial Downs in 2008. "When you see 1:49.4 come up (on the timer) for the first time ever at the Meadowlands, I've been in this business for 30-some years, and it's just crazy," Dittmar said. "How else can you explain it? When you think of all the great trotters that have raced at this track, to see us come up here and do 1:49.4 is just absolutely amazing." by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA  

Doo Wop Hanover made it a harness racing series sweep, winning the $250,000 Graduate Final in 1:48, but he had to work very hard to get to the winner's circle on Friday night at The Meadowlands. The pace was frantic and frenzied early in the mile as Lyonssomewhere and Andy Miller were intent on the lead, parking out Bushwacker around the first turn. That speed duel resulted in a wild 25.2 first quarter. There was a chasm of nearly six lengths back to Rockeyed Optimist in fourth, who then had to make up that ground and commit first over, which enabled Doo Wop Hanover to track his cover from the half-mile pole onward. Lyonssomewhere led the field past three quarters in 1:21, with Rockeyed Optimist stalled first over and Doo Wop Hanover forced to fan three-wide at the three quarter pole. In the meantime, Limelight Beach was lurking in the pocket as the field turned for home. Lyonssomewhere refused to yield ground as he continued to lead through the stretch, John Campbell got to work on Doo Wop Hanover and he was gathering momentum down the center of the track, but Lyonssomewhere just wasn't giving up. Finally, in the shadow of the wire, Doo Wop Hanover was able to reel in the pace-setter and score the series sweep getting up by a head over Lyonssomewhere who was very game in defeat to finish second, with All Bets Off a rallying third. Doo Wop Hanover is trained by Steve Elliot and owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks. Blood confirmed that son of Rocknroll Hanover will make his next start in the William Haughton Memorial, with eliminations (if necessary) to be held on Saturday, July 11th and the Final on Meadowlands Pace Night, Saturday, July 18th. The victory was the twelfth in the career of Doo Wop Hanover, who now has earnings beyond $566,000. Doo Wop Hanover New Jersey Sire Stakes action kicked off the Friday program with a $25,000 division for the two year old filly pacers and the first division featured plenty of action. In fact, there were no less than five lead changes throughout the mile. The first to the lead was Show Time Hill, as she flashed the most speed off the gate, but Sonoma Valley paced on through the first quarter and she cleared the lead past the opening quarter in 28.2. That lead was short-lived, as Show Time Hill pulled the pocket as soon as the fillies straightened up on the backstretch and would lead again between calls because the 9/5 favorite Blue Moon Stride launched a backside brush to the lead and would clear that lead before the half-mile in 57.4. The race favorite then faced immediate pressure from Rock My Girl, who surged past the favorite as the field moved into the far turn and she glided past three-quarters in 1:26.2. before turning for home in full command. Blue Moon Stride briefly pulled from the pocket with hopes of catching Rock My Girl, but all she could do is chase that filly home as Rock My Girl powered home in 27.1 to win in style in 1:53.3. Rock My Girl, a $20,000 Lexington-Select yearling, is a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and is the first foal out of the dam My Girl's A Star (Art Major). She is owned by West Wins Stable, Adriano Sorella and Ron Broadstone and trained by Casie Coleman. John Campbell guided the filly to victory. Rock My Girl In the first $20,000 Two Year Old Colt Trot, Southwind Frank was bet down like an international good thing and the punters were right, although they had to survive a real scare. Released as the 1/2 prohibitive choice, Southwind Frank went right to the lead and was able to roll through tepid fractions of 30, 1:00.3 and 1:30 with Brooklyn Hill, a $390,000 Harrisburg yearling on his back throughout the mile. While Southwind Frank seemed to be rolling right a long, Dave Miller pulled the pocket midway on the far turn with Brooklyn Hill and from there the race was on as the pair of freshman trotters kicked away from the field and stormed through a 26.3 final quarter with only a neck separating the two on the wire, with Southwind Frank holding on. Both trotters showed an amazing turn of foot and the future for both looks bright. Southwind Frank was a $100,000 yearling purchase at the Lexington-Select Sale. He is a son of Muscle Hill out of Flawless Lindy (Cantab Hall). This is that mares first foal. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Our Hrs Cents Stables and J & T Silva Stables and trained by Ron Burke. The winner driver was Yannick Gingras. Southwind Frank The second division for the two year old trotting colts featured another short-priced favorite for Ron Burke in Southwind Flash. But he would have his hands full with Jack Vernon, a well-bred colt for Randy Beeckman. It would be Jack Vernon who dictated the terms. In fact, he led at every point of call into the stretch, wheeling off fractions of 28.4, 1:00 and 1:30.1, before facing the challenge of Southwind Flash who pulled the pocket as the field approached the top of the stretch. But, Jack Vernon had plenty left in the tank and trotted home in 27.1. while fending off the favorite to win in 1:57.2. Not to be out-done, Dominion Beach, the son of Hambletonian Oaks winner Windylane Hanover, who watched all the action early, trotted home quite well, showing rapid acceleration and rallied past Southwind Flash late to steal second money. Jack Vernon is by Muscle Hill out of Vernon Blue Chip (Sir Taurus). The win was the second in Sire Stakes action for John Campbell. Jack Vernon is a kin to New Jersey Sire Stakes Champion, Blue Mac Lad, trained by Randy Beeckman for Miller's Stable who purchased the talented colt at the Lexington-Select sale for $50,000. Jack Vernon The two year old colt pace drew 10 freshman pacers in one division for $25,000. Ideal Rocky was sent off as the 4/5 favorite, but she was green behind the gate, which cost her ground early on. There was not much early speed off the gate, which enabled longshot Rock N Roll Style to take the field to the opening quarter from the pole in 28.3. Rock Power was moved early to secure position and led between calls as Boston Red Rocks powered up and took the lead before the half-mile in 57.3 and would never look back, leading the field past three-quarters in 1:26.2 before pulling away in the stretch to win impressively in 1:53.2. The win was the third on the card for John Campbell, all in Sire Stakes action. Boston Red Rocks is by Rocknroll Hanover out of McGibson (McArdle). He is trained by none other than Steve Elliot, who is having a sensational season and ownerd by Richard Berks, who purchased the colt at Harrisburg last year for $50,000. Boston Red Rocks The two year old filly trotters were split into two $20,000 divisions. All The Time was released as the 3/5 favorite in the first split, but she was never in contention for the win, but the opposite was the case for her stablemate, Hollywood Hill. That filly was allowed to coast along first over while Silvia reach the opening quarter in 29.1, but Hollywood Hill quickly took over as the field reached the backstretch. From there, trainer and driver Jimmy Takter put the whip on his filly's tale and she responded past the half-mile in 59 seconds. The leading margin only expanded from there as Hollywood Hill found herself four lengths clear as she trotted past three-quarters in 1:27.4. Her lead proved to be insurmountable as she coasted through the stretch to win emphatically in 1:56.2. Southwind Adele rallied to finish second as Silvia faded to third. Hollywood Hill is by Muscle Hill, out of the marvelous mare, Lantern Kronos (Viking Kronos), making her a half-sister the Hambletonian contender The Bank. She is owned by Goran Falk and was trained and driven by Jimmy Takter. Hollywood Hill The second division saw speed from the far outside as Dream Child made the lead from post 10 and was able to do so through moderate fractions. The Muscle Hill filly spun through fractions of 28.3, 59.1 and 1:29.2, while going unchallenged. Race favorite Gifted Lady was allowed to settle just off the pace in third and Takter bided his time with his filly, before pulling her as the field circled the far turn. He steadily gained on the leader and was able to edge away late for a popular victory as the 6/5 choice in 1:57.4. Gifted Lady is by Muscle Hill out of Alix Hall (Conway Hall). She is a half-sister to Flex The Muscle and was driven by her trainer Jimmy Takter for owner and breeders Silver Linden Farms. Gifted Lady Both Jackpots in the Super Hi-5 went unclaimed, with the fifth race carryover now standing at $173,354 and the last race carryover growing to $157,586. Total handle for the Friday program yielded a 16-percent increase over 2014, with on-track handle up a staggering 46-percent. The large crowd remained after the races for a Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular. Post time for the 13-race Saturday program is 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (July 1, 2015) - Fresh off his world-record victory, Doo Wop Hanover seeks a series sweep in the $250,000 Graduate Final, the highlight of a stakes-filled harness racing card on Friday (July 3) at the Meadowlands. In victories in the first three legs of the series for four-year-old pacers, Doo Wop Hanover set two different track records, one at Tioga Downs when he won in 1:47.4, and two weeks ago at the Meadowlands when he set a world record of 2:02.3 for the little used one-and-one-eighth mile distance. The Steve Elliott-trained son of Rocknroll Hanover drew post two in Friday's race and faces eight other foes including fellow Elliott-trainee Rockeyed Optimist, who saw his seven-race winning streak come to an end when finishing second to Doo Wop Hanover in his world-record victory. Doo Wop Hanover is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Rockeyed Optimist is the second choice at 8-5. Ron Burke sends out the uncoupled duo of All Bets Off and Limelight Beach. All Bets Off adds Lasix for the first time on Friday. Burke said the career earner of more than $1.2 million bled in his previous two starts. The Graduate Final is race ten on Friday's twelve-race card that also features six divisions of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotters and pacers. Burke sends out a pair of two-year-old trotters that drew in separate six-horse divisions. In race two, Southwind Frank makes his pari-mutuel debut for Burke off a sparkling win in a baby race at Gaitway in 1:55.3. "He was not impressive starting out," explained Burke of the $100,000 Lexington Select yearling, "but he's got really good upside and we have plenty of reasons to believe he's a top colt." Burke sends out morning line favorite Southwind Flash in race four, the other division for male freshman trotters. Southwind Flash won both of his baby races at Gaitway. He was an $85,000 Lexington Select yearling and the first foal out of Friendly Amigo, an earner of more than $557,000 during her racing career. "He actually trained down better than 'Frank," said Burke. "No one else could go with him in both of his qualifiers, but we actually think he'll be even better following horses when he races the better ones." Handicappers will also have the opportunity to wager into a pair of large carryover pools in the Jackpot Super High 5. The Race Five carryover is $170,877 and the Race Twelve carryover is $154,332. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Justin Horowitz

Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety has joined Patumahoe’s Geoff Small as NZ’s most successful trainers of Group One Breeders Crown Final winners after Katy Perry’s hard fought success in last Sunday’s $A297,000 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Both have achieved five Breeders Crown Final successes in the specialised two-four age group categories, just one ahead of NZ’s premier trainer Mark Purdon. Cran Dalgety’s growing list of ABC Grand Final winners is: Sparks A Flyin (2001 3YO fillies), Smiling Shard (2009 2YO colts/geldings), Bit Of A Legend (2012-13 3YO colts/geldings) and Katy Perry (2014 2YO fillies). Former world champion driver Mark Jones partnered Sparks A Flyin. Current NZ champion Dexter Dunn has driven the stable runners since 2009. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is challenging as NZ’s most successful trainer at the Breeders Crown, taking into account his additional three Grand Final seconds _ Smiling Shard (2010 3YO colts/geldings), Onlyforyou (2012 2YO fillies) and Bit Of A Legend (2014 4YO entires/geldings). Northern-based, but Canterbury-raised Geoff Small, set the early pace among the Kiwis. Small’s ABC Pacing Grand Final winners are: Pullover Brown (2003 3YO Fillies), Changeover (2007 3YO Colts/geldings), Tintin In America (2009 3YO Colts/geldings), De Lovely (2010 3YO Fillies) and Cowgirls N Indians (2011 2YO Fillies). He also has a Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA (open class race) to his credit, with All Tiger in 2009. Recuperating Cambridge driver David Butcher has partnered all but one of Small’s ABC winners. Templeton driver Anthony Butt partnered Pullover Brown for her ABC win after also driving her to win the NZ Oaks that season.  Anthony Butt, a close second driving Joanne’s A Delight in last Sunday’s 2YO Fillies Final, also won the 1998 ABC 3YO Fillies Final driving Under Cover Lover, Mark Purdon, who gained early ABC Final training successes with Galleons Assassin (2005 2YO trot) and Fly Like An Eagle (2012 3YO colts/geldings), doubled his quota when (My) Ayra (2YO fillies trot) and Follow The Stars (2YO colts/geldings) delivered last Sunday. His additional driving win with (Our) Twentyten (who he formerly trained) in the 3YO trot final on Sunday, makes him jointly NZ’s top driver in the 2-4YO age group catergories, with David Butcher, who besides the Small-trained winners, also reined Miami H to win the 2010 3YO trot final for trainers Derek Balle and Owen Gillies. Victorian trotting training master Chris Lang is the most successful Breeders Crown trainer with seven wins. His successes, all in ABC trot finals, are: Kyvalley Road (2002-03 2 & 3YO trot), Right Interest (2006 3YO trot), Skyvalley (2008-09 3 & 4YO trot) and Let Me Thru (2009-10 3 & 4YO trot). Lang has also added three Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA wins, a race for open class trotters, with former champ, Sundons Gift (2007-08 & 2010). Lang’s brother, champion Victorian reinsman Gavin, although winless at the Breeders Crown this year, remains the most successful driver in Breeders Crown Finals, with 10 successes. Courtsey Of Cran Dalgety Racing

Nick Surick, the leading harness racing trainer at Freehold Raceway, did not have a racing background when he became a horseman. All Nick knew was he wanted to be a part of harness racing industry any way possible. As of the 22nd of May, Nick leads as the top trainer at Freehold Raceway with 26 wins out of 118 starts resulting in $86,000 in total purse winnings for 2014. "I have no horse racing background whatsoever" says Nick. "I actually grew up in Freehold, NJ and I lived about five minutes away from Freehold Raceway which was a ten minute bike ride. I used ride my bike to the track to watch the races as a kid." Nick credits his mom, Debbie, for always supporting him. "Through the bad times she helped me, good or bad she always stood behind me. She always wanted me to be happy" says Nick. His parents divorced right around the time Nick was getting into the harness racing industry and it must have been difficult for him, for anyone in that position. What originally drew Nick to the track was the gambling component. Nick's father, Kevin, helped introduce Nick to this unhealthy lifestyle due to the fact that Nick's father had substance abuse issues and was a known gambler. "I was a gambler; I was actually thrown out of a lot of tracks for underage gambling. My father was an alcoholic and a degenerate gambler." Nick admits. "I was more hooked that way more than anything. Aside from the gambling back then, I think the horse itself intrigued me and I liked the animal so much that it was good for me. " "I really wasn't the best student when it came to school." Nick explains, "I really couldn't care less about school. I dropped out of my second year in college so I could train full time when I got the opportunity from one of my big owners, Howard Schneidler. It all came together at the right time. "Once I learned the backside to horse racing, that's when I lost the itch for gambling. It was about growing up, maturing and getting smarter." Nick says. "Now that I was physically with the horse, gambling was not an issue anymore." The fact Nick was able to break away and cut the cord, so to speak, speaks volumes. Once Nick established himself as a horseman, it came to the point where Nick's father was constantly causing Nick problems at the Raceway and in life as a whole. "He caused me a lot of headaches at the track" Nick says about his father. "With me training horses, it wasn't good for him. He started making things up, telling people to bet horses (based) on what I said which are things I never said. If I talk to him a couple times a year, that's a lot. He was hurting my livelihood. "I had to take a step back, even though he's my dad I had to cut him out." Nick admits. "I had to think about my future and hopefully I have a lot of years ahead of me. "Drug and alcohol abuse made him a person he wasn't." Nick continues, "He was nasty to people... when you're under the influence you become a different person." The best piece of advice Nick ever received was from Richard Annunziata and it was about Nick ensuring he surrounds himself with good people. "He told me this when I was 16 and I am 26 now but I still remember it" says Nick. "Surround yourself with successful people; surround yourself with people that are better than you.... If you surround yourself with bad apples, that's who you're going to be. "That's what I did" says Nick. "I cut out all of the bad people from my life. The people who were bringing me down." Once Nick graduated from high school, he admits he changed lives. Nick did a 180 degree turn to better his life and to develop into a better person. Was it easy? That's tough to say as everyone deals with changes in their own manner but knowing that change is needed and working towards that is a task in itself. What Nick did is commendable, not many people can switch 'tracks' in life and to do so at a young and impressionable age is astounding. When Nick got started, he first worked for fellow trainer Eric Abbatiello. "I never had anyone behind me to push me, I did it all on my own." After working with Eric Abbatiello, Nick and his (now former) partner Anna Glide joined forces. "We worked together for four or five years and the business grew together between us" Nick explains. "We went from two horses to thirty five horses almost overnight. "When it comes to owners, I am happy with who I have," Nick says. Once Nick finds people he is comfortable with and who he believes has a good heart, Nick is content and doesn't go looking for more. It's about quality, not quantity for Nick. "I've learned a lot from Erv Miller... like who to accept in your barn." Nick states. "My girlfriend Hannah is his daughter." Working with Erv, Nick says "I've learned to individualize each horse. Treating each horse as their own... treat each horse as a separate entity." "Anytime I need any advice, I can pick up the phone and call Erv," says Nick. "He has one of the best managed barns I've ever seen. His memory is unbelievable!" Nick is open when he admits he doesn't like change, right now he's very happy residing near Freehold Raceway and all the major tracks are within driving distance. "Right now I take it one day at a time" says Nick when asked about what the future may hold for him. "I'm comfortable with my 30 to 40 horse barn." When it comes to Pacers or Trotters, hands down Nick prefers the Pacers. "I just haven't had any luck with the Trotters" laughs Nick. Nick pulls double duty at Freehold Raceway where he drives as well. Nick only plans on driving at Freehold Raceway and admits it's a lot of fun. Nick considers driving more of a hobby compared to training which is his passion. Nick believes the harness racing industry is headed in the proper direction by pushing to have the major races showcased on National TV. "We need a lot more one on one interaction with the drivers, trainers and the public." Nick says. Nick credits the success of his barn to his employees, the second trainers, the grooms and most importantly his owners. "I'm nothing without them and their financial backing" Nick states. "I've got great people behind me; I've got to give them credit. Nick Surick can't take care of 35- 40 horses, it takes a team. There's no magic, its teamwork." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova        

The market for the 2YO Diamond division of the Harness Jewels should be a lot clearer after Friday night. So if you like one now, I suggest you back it, because if Joanne’s A Delight, Fight For Glory, Supersonic Miss or even Linda Lovegrace, perform superbly at Alexandra Park on Friday night, you can expect their odds to shorten drastically. Fight For Glory and Joanne’s A Delight are both graduates of the New Zealand Yearling Sales and will therefore compete in the rich $150,000 final, while Supersonic Miss and Linda Lovegrace, will both have their final hit-outs before the Jewels on May 31st in a two-year-old event on the undercard. “There is very little between our three fillies (Fight For Glory, Supersonic Miss, and Linda Lovegrace), but we have always slightly favoured Supersonic Miss,” admitted Rasmussen. “But in saying that, Linda Lovegrace was very good when winning the Caduceus two starts back, and Fight For Glory really surprised us last week as we thought she would need the run. ”She should strip even better this week and we expect her to prove very hard to beat on Friday,” she added. Other fillies well in the market for the Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond include Democrat Party, and to a lesser extent, Katy Perry. 2YO Diamond Pace F Mob 1609m 1 Joanne's A Delight 3.80   2 Linda Lovegrace 5.00   3 Democrat Party 5.00   4 Fight For Glory 4.20   5 Katy Perry 17.00   6 Unforgiving 21.00   7 Bettor Be Supreme 21.00  

Although Arthur Pegg, Vice President of Simulcast Sales for WatchandWager.com LLC (the company now owning Cal-Expo) and its parent company WatchandWager.com LTD, has a great deal of experience with horses and horse racing (his father, Peter Pegg, was a bloodstock agent), he hadn’t had much contact with harness racing until Cal Expo joined the WaW “team” 18 months ago. But you can tell that Arthur “thinks” like a harness racing executive. He has a copy of Guerilla Marketing “right in front of my desk.” Guerilla Marketing, written by Jay Conrad Levinson in 1984, is a seminal book on modern advertising: it identifies the major players in a given field, the second-tier providers, and the smaller “others” trying to make their mark, and emphasizes that the “others” cannot employ the same marketing tactics as their larger competitors, that they must find innovative, “unconventional” methods of attracting and keeping customers, and that then “it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits.” (The latter is the corollary of the adage “There’s no better way to kill a bad product than with good advertising.”) Harness racing certainly can be defined as “outside the mainstream” in terms of modern wagering and entertainment, and Cal-Expo, 900 miles from Vancouver’s Fraser Downs and just over double that from the nearest U.S. track, Running Aces near Minneapolis-St. Paul, is an outsider within an outsider. Yet in the first year under the stewardship of Pegg and WatchandWager, “simulcasting sales for Cal-Expo were up 27%,” he reports. “People like the larger track with movement in the racing, larger fields when we can provide them, and competitive racing, and we are delivering that regularly.” (Not to mention the Pacific Standard Time product, putting out content late in the East Coast day, when there is little competition.) WatchandWager.com is a subsidiary of WatchandWager.com LTD (the ultimate “parent company” is Webis Holdings PLC, traded on the London exchange), which offers an advanced deposit wagering platform for all forms of gaming. “In looking to expand to the U.S. marketplace,” Pegg continued, “the models showed that it was best to be associated with a racetrack as a ‘hub,’ and Cal-Expo was available and fit in our plans. So we began to operate the meet there in October 2012, and the company is U.S.-based in San Francisco.”And WaW has followed classic guerilla marketing tactics through its central website for gaming: “We offer more tracks than any other platform, and we offer more free programs than any site.” You can get a program for Solvalla on WatchandWager.com, but not Woodbine or Meadowlands – “We are working on trying to find a pricing model that is acceptable to all parties involved.” “The customer is king for WatchandWager,” Pegg notes. “We go the extra mile for our patrons, and deliver value-added tools to them, such as the separate basic instructions on wagering that we have developed for five different breeds of horses on which we offer opportunity.” Pegg himself has seen a lot of the U.S. en route to his present high position, achieved at age 33. A native of Virginia, Pegg graduated from Penn State University (100 miles from the nearest racetrack, Penn National), where “interestingly, I majored in meteorology.” But one can see a definite connection between the weather and the ponies: racetrack conditions play such an important part of racing, and what is “a 40% chance of rain tonight” but another way of saying “Rain this evening is 3 to 2”? Pegg is also a graduate of the renowned University of Arizona Racetrack Management Program, steered that way by Lenny Hale, of NYRA and Maryland Jockey Club fame. He joined WatchandWager, where in short order he developed a job profile entailing ADW operations and business/product development, which includes overseeing simulcasting, licensing requirements and compliance, the company website, performance analytics, and … …marketing. And he’s working with California harness veterans Chris Schick and Ben Kenney, subcontracting as operations overseers to WatchandWager as Golden Bear Racing, to help revive the fortunes of Cal-Expo, while the parent company tries to expand its “footprint” in the United States. by Jerry Connors, for Harnesslink.com

Truro Raceway, (located in Truro, Nova Scotia), is about to celebrate another season of harness racing starting this Sunday, April 20th, 2014. The race card, featuring 9 races, has the 2013 top driver Ryan Ellis penciled in to drive 4 out of those 9 races. Post time is scheduled for 1:30pm local time. Ryan Ellis, 33, is actually the back-to-back-to-back leading driver at Truro Raceway. He has been the top dash winner in 2011, 2012 as well as 2013. Speaking with Ryan felt like I was kicking back with an old friend who shares a passion for NASCAR while enjoying a cold beverage. Ryan is a big 'Little E' fan, that being Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88. "When I started getting into (NASCAR) he was a rookie and I don't know why but I started following him" says Ryan. "His father was amazing... reading about his father, he seemed so dominant." Ryan is bang on there, Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s nickname was 'The Intimidator' and nobody dared to mess with Dale Sr. because he'd find you on track to even the score, usually upping his score by one! Ryan recently went down to Darlington, South Carolina to catch the Southern 500! Talk about your need for speed. "I got back yesterday, it was awesome, unreal!" Ryan says. "It's kind of shaped like Mohawk in a way, in an egg shape.... It's something everyone should do at least once." Aside from horse racing and being a NASCAR aficionado Ryan is also a full time pilot for Air Canada Jazz. "I'm a pilot for Air Canada Jazz and I just came to do harness racing as a hobby.... I've had my license since 2007." Ryan originally got into harness racing as his dad, Wayne Ellis, trained horses when Ryan was young. "He's the one who got me into it. When I was in Junior High about 13-years-old, he bought a race horse named Lonewaterhobo that I would putter around with. I would jog him and race him in amateur races. I like the excitement, the challenge and I always wanted to drive (horses)." During high school Ryan started to work on getting his pilots license, however the idea of being a full time horsemen was truly appealing so he decided to give it a go. "As soon as I graduated from high school I went to Mohawk and worked for Joe Stutzman and lived in the dorms there." Ryan goes on to say with a laugh, "that didn't last long, it was quite a shock, and I thought it was going to be all gravy. Then I came home and finished getting my pilot's license." "As a hobby, I've had some pretty good success at it and it is still a hobby but I get quite a few drives out of it... its fun for sure" says Ryan. "I've been racing for about 7 years. I was flying bush planes for 5 years up north so I kind of got out of harness racing a little bit." 'I had a couple of cheaper horses while I was up there. I bought into a third of a horse just to have something back (home). I didn't have much in way of jogging and training during those five years and once I got back home I started to get back into it." Ryan says. "I got my trainer's license which I had for about a year. Then I started to qualify to get back into driving." Ryan's first race as a driver was on a horse he owned. "I bought her just get my qualifying drives, and I think it was in September of 2007 that I had my first drive. I actually ended up getting parked; I finished third but was parked the entire mile." Ryan says, "I was kind of nervous... that night I had three drives and I remember in my third race I ended up winning. My buddy Darren Crowe gave me that drive; it was the favorite off the rail." Ryan always looks forward to all the stakes races that take place in the Maritime Provinces, such as the Gold Cup & Saucer which takes place at Charlottetown Driving Park in Prince Edward Island. "My most memorable race would have to be the Gold Cup consolation race (with) the horse Rare Jewel, (in 2011). He's a really nice horse, he's made over a million dollars. We ended up drawing the outside and didn't make the final and he ended up winning the consolation of the Gold Cup. It was 1:53 flat on Gold Cup night and the place was packed." Ryan explains. Back in the day Ryan's favorite driver was always Doug Brown. If Ryan could choose any race to win, it would be the Little Brown Jug. So why the Little Brown Jug? "I like half mile track races, I don't know if that's because that's all we have down here but I love seeing those good horses on Jug day. I love watching the Jug and watching Tim Tetrick drive, he's the best of the best." Ryan says. "For me, for it to be realistic, winning the Gold Cup in Charlottetown and to be a part of that night would be awesome." One of Ryan's closet friends, Darren Crowe finished second to him in the driver championship a couple of years ago, "it came down to the last race" Ryan says. "We are really good friends and I'm in his barn and he's the guy that 'taught me the ropes'. I always looked up to him as a kid in Truro and next thing we are battling it out for the driver's title. It was pretty cool but we give each other a hard time." Ryan also enjoys racing Legend cars, which are cars designed from the 30's and 40's but supped up to drive on tracks. "Last year, one of my owners has a couple of legend cars so I went one time to practice and then to race one on a local track." Ryan says with a laugh, man he enjoys the thrill and rush of anything moving fast! Horses, cars and planes! Oh my! Ryan and his wife Danica have a young daughter, Ivy, who is almost eight months old. Ryan and Danica also have a stable filled with 30 horses. Danica is into equestrian riding full time, so not all are Standardbreds. (Yes, Danica like Danica Patrick... it always comes back to racing with Ryan!) At Truro Raceway, purses are generally $500-$1,000, so it's understandable that horsemen in the Maritime Provinces need a second form of income to provide for their family. Given the Canadian harsh winters and being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, these island Provinces have a much smaller window for a racing season. With that being said, the folks in the Maritimes always make the best of any situation. No matter what it may be, you can always tell Ryan is enjoying himself. His enthusiasm and upbeat demeanor is extremely contagious and throughout the entire conversation I could not stop smiling or laughing. Even typing this article several hours later I am still smiling. One day maybe Ryan will be driving horses full time at some of the biggest tracks in North America, winning major races like the Little Brown Jug. He has the spirit and genuine attitude of a gentleman and it is horsemen like Ryan that will help drive the harness racing industry. Keep smiling! by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

Last week the ring-around produced five winners including my each-way bet of the week Dream Gal, which bolted in at odds of $6 and $1.80. Others to tip out winners included Mark Jones, Steve Richardson (TAB), Todd Mitchell, Matt Williamson, and Tim Williams. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Cambridge - Thursday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for unbeaten juvenile trotter The Driving God - race five. Scott Phelan: Thinks Seven Blue Chips can make the most of his ace alley in race number six. Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Thomas McBride to prove very hard to beat in the seventh race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine as his Harnesslink Bet of the Week – race nine. Forbury - Thursday Nathan Williamson: Thinks the very consistent Nickelson will get some money in race three. Ricky May: Is very bullish about the chances of Pay Me Sush in the sixth race on the card. John Dunn: Has opted for Graduate Under Fire, who has been in brilliant form of late. He looks well placed in race number seven. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes looks well suited to the short 1200 metre sprint distance in race nine on the card. Terry Chmiel: Expects Moondyne Joe, who was in need of a run when third in a good field last start at Addington, to prove too good - race eleven. Blair Orange & Mark Jones: Have both opted for Strike On Command, who is unbeaten from two appearances at Forbury Park - race twelve. Jonny Cox:  Rates Sara Holley, who has drawn well for Thursday’s assignment, as a very good each-way bet. She also competes in the last race on the card. Tim Williams: Has added to the puzzle by tipping Bobbie McArdle in race twelve. Trifecta perhaps? Addington - Saturday Josh Dickie: Was impressed with how Speeding Spur trialled on Monday and expects him to highly competitive in the Two-year-old Trotting Stakes - race four. Anthony Butt:  Has opted for impressive two-year-old trialist Curlimore, who looks a great chance from a good alley in race number six. Matthew Williamson: Expects Zhenya to appreciate the drop back in class in race number seven. Craig Thornley: Thinks Given only needs to trot to be competitive - race eleven. Ken Barron: Was very pleased with Pacquiao last start and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Snooki – Hawera (Saturday), race three. Each-way: Prince Fearless – Addington (Saturday), race four. Curlimore  - Addington (Saturday), race five Value: Dark Side  - Forbury Park (Thursday), race five.

Cam's Card Shark, one of the leading stallions of his generation, has just been retired from stud duty, but hopes are high in Ohio that one of his greatest progeny can carry on his dynamic legacy in the breeding shed. Shark Gesture, whose earnings in excess of $2.8 million are the most of the more than 1,700 racehorses that Cam's Card Shark sired and one of the fastest with a speed mark of 1:48.1s, will be represented by a crop of two-year-olds this season. Abby Stables in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is standing the big, dark brown stallion.  "Shark Gesture is the total package," Abby Stables' Teresa Maddox told Harness Racing Update."   Shark Gesture developed into a horse for the ages. A $110,000 yearling purchase by Norm Smiley, Shark Gesture raced from two to four, posting some impressive victories.  He was retired to the breeding shed due to an injury and stood as a stallion in Ontario for the 2008 season. Later that year, when the injury had fully healed and he trained excellently, Shark Gesture returned to the races and started three times. But it was as a six- and seven-year-old that he excelled, earning over $1.8 million. He beat some of the best aged pacers, including the likes of Foiled Again, Mister Big, Art Official, Boulder Creek, Artistic Fella, Shadow Play and Won The West 12 times, including by more than 10 lengths in the Hoosier Cup.  Maddox said because Shark Gesture disappeared from the breeding scene for three years people may be confused about his history.  "He really hasn't gotten a fair shake as a stallion," Maddox said. "If you go back and look at some of his races, he was phenomenal. He's well-mannered, he's intelligent and was a bear on the racetrack. It's just a breath of fresh air to have him in Ohio. We welcomed him with open arms." Shark Gesture can be seen in action on his page at www.abbystables.com . His web page comes complete with race footage, photos, pedigree, articles and both a downloadable and digital breeding contract.  "There is no reason because he had 44 foals that raced from his first and only crop as a stallion, standing in Ontario and bred to mostly Ontario-bred mares, that people should have forgotten about him because he went back to the races," said Smiley. "He is still a good horse.  This year he has two-year-olds that are training and I've got good reports on them. Trainer Fred Grant has a colt by Shark Gesture out of Boca Babe.  Fred owns the dam and owns a piece of the colt and said, 'he's very good-gaited, very sound, very willing and has lots of speed. I just love him.'" Trainer David Miller, currently training a two-year-old Shark Gesture filly named Hex, described her as a "big, strong, great-gaited, intelligent filly who is showing excellent speed." Another trainer, Jenny Melander, has a nice sturdy black filly named When Sharks Fly and echoed Miller's comments about Shark Gesture's offspring. "His foals are big and sturdy, with heart, speed, intelligence and strength," she said.   Shark Gesture is truly an anomaly. How many horses return to the races two years after retiring and earn almost twice as much, facing battled-hardened competitors? In total, he posted 31 sub-1:50 miles, 16 of those 1:49 or better and four of those sub-1:49. As a 2-year-old, he won the Bluegrass Stakes (recording a freshman mark of 1:51.3), the Simpson Stakes and an elimination of the Breeders Crown.  At three, he won the Breeders Crown, the Tattersalls Pace (with a sophomore speed mark of 1:49.1), the Bluegrass Stakes, the Simpson Stakes and the Progress Pace. In an abbreviated four-year-old season, he won the New Hampshire Sweepstakes. In his return to the races, he won the William R. Haughton Memorial two years in a row, the Canadian Pacing Derby Final (with a lifetime mark of 1:48.1), the Graduate Series twice, the Dan Patch Invitational Pace and the Bettor's Delight. He broke track records at Tioga Downs and Hoosier Park and tied the track record when he won the Canadian Pacing Derby. "He's won all the big races, beat all the good horses," Maddox said. "He beat Foiled Again (the top aged pacer last year) more than once. He beat Won The West. He's beat them all at one point or another. His owners believed in him so much, they told us the story (of why he retired and then returned to the races) and it was just a no-brainer for us." 2010 Graduate Final William R. Haughton Memorial Smiley recalled why he bought Shark Gesture. Even though he was big and growthy, Smiley liked him, viewing him six times. "There are certain horses you go to the auction and put a price on and you go to that price or a few bucks more," Smiley said. "With him I said I was buying him, period."  Smiley subsequently offered shares to his brother, Gerald, and Thomas and Louis Pantone. Typical of a Cam's Card Shark offspring, Shark Gesture grew into his body from two to three. He stood about 17 hands high and had a long stride. Early in Shark Gesture's two-year-old season, he won the Bluegrass in 1:51 3/5, but he was still developing and growing. As a three-year-old, he did some amazing things, none more so than winning the Breeders Crown only a week after he fell down in a mishap in his elimination race for the final. He finished third and was moved up to second, but Norm Smiley and trainer Erv Miller feared the colt might not survive the accident. Once the bike and equipment were removed, Shark Gesture stood up and walked off as if nothing had happened, although he did have some cuts and abrasions. Driver Brian Sears, Miller, Smiley and the horse's vet shook their heads in disbelief. "If that's not a tough horse, I don't know what is," Smiley said.   A week later, he won the Breeders Crown with George Brennan, who would become his principle driver, steering him in what was a clean trip, racing on or near the pace. "Nobody knew that horse like Georgie," Smiley said.  "George was tremendous with that horse from the first time he drove him." Shark Gesture raced only eight times in an abbreviated four-year-old season and was retired, his notable victory in the New Hampshire. Some of the notable offspring from the 32 starters from his first crop as a sire include stakes winner Piston Broke, 1:49.2s ($291,131) and Best Ears, 1:49.4f, ($188,483). After Shark Gesture recovered from his injury and trained solidly, Norm Smiley made the decision to bring the horse back to the races. It would prove to be a shrewd decision. In 2009 at the age of six, Shark Gesture came into his own, racing 29 times and winning seven, including the Haughton Memorial and Canadian Pacing Derby and topping all pacers with more than $900,000 in earnings. At age seven, he raced 12 times and winning seven, notably the Graduate, Bettors Delight, Dan Patch (by a whopping 10½ lengths), and repeating in the Haughton.  He finished second by a length in the Franklin. He was retired at the end of the season.  "He was just amazing," Norm Smiley said. "This horse never got the respect he deserved. He was a tremendous racehorse." By Perry Lefko, for Harness Racing Update

Consistent eight-year-old mare Live Lea ended an eleven start losing streak when she was victorious in yesterday’s Grey Valley Cup at Reefton. The win followed a luckless fifth on the first day of the two day meeting at Westport when Live Lea sat on the back of leader and winner Fly The Flag but was unable to find clear air in the straight. Robbie Holmes put the quick beginner in the same position on Sunday, however this time he shunted out on the home bend and Live Lea let down with a powerful finish centre track to down leader Graduate Under Fire by a length and a half. Live Lea, who is trained by Grant McStay, has now won 7 of her 81 starts, she has also finished a further 19 minor placings. Meanwhile, Steve Roulston of Bob’s Blue Boy fame, trained his first winner since 2006 when Sueno was successful in the second race on the card, while Bob Butt reined home an early double on the 10-race card. By Mitchell Robertson

Former Auckland Cup winning trainer, Doug Gale, will leave his long-term Helensville base a New Zealand Trotting ‘Hall-Of-Famer’. Gale, who trained Kate’s First to win the 1997 edition of the Cup, will be inducted into the New Zealand Trotting Hall-Of-Fame on Friday night for his 608 training victories since 1988. Any trainer who conditions more than 500 winners in his or her career automatically becomes an inductee. Gale will looking to leave his Rimmer Road property in Helensville in April and intends to train his new team from Scott’s Ferry Beach, near Bulls in May. His new base will be just 30 minutes from the Manawatu harness racing track in Palmerston North. “I think I will do a better job for my owners down there. I’ve spent nine months looking for the right property. It also means I will no longer have to truck my horses to the beach, I’ll be able to take them there in the cart,” Gale said. The 59-year-old said his “type of horse” would be suited to Central Districts racing and didn’t believe he would lose much in travelling time. “When I travelled to Cambridge it would sometimes take me two hours just to get on the other side of Auckland. Cambridge will actually be only an hour further than where I am now, and I’m not ruling out racing at Alexandra Park. “If I have a horse good enough I’ll certainly be lining him or her up there. It also opens possibilities in Nelson and Marlborough and will also make Addington just a day trip away,” Gale said. He said the advent of the larger Auckland Council had also swayed his decision to move south. “Our area is gradually becoming more and more urbanised. And the forest which I drive through to the Beach is now governed by the Forest Authority rather than the Regional Council. “When there’s a high fire risk I can no longer take my horses through the forest like I used to. I have to take the long way around and that’s frustrating. “The state of the industry also played a part in the shift. My owners have been agreeable to the move, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Gale. Gale currently works a team of about 15 from his north-west Auckland stable. He intends working a similar number down south. “I have always been a beach trainer. In fact my career started off in the 1980s when trainers like Peter Wolfenden, Frank Cooney and Mike Nicholas would send their horses to me to have them swum and beach trained. “It saved them from turning them out. I also had a pool which helped me get a few,” the Grey Lynn-born and Mt Albert Grammar educated horseman said. An Auckland University graduate, former school teacher, and racing sub editor with the New Zealand Herald, Gale said he always loved the trots and yearned to work in an outside job. He has trained 524 winners ($4.8m in purses) since 1988. He’s also trained a further 49 more with Wendy Williams from 2007-2009, and 25 with Maurice Calder from 2000-2001. His best season was in 1998 when he trained 59 winners and netted $616,343 in stakes. That was a year after his greatest triumph – Kate’s First and Peter Ferguson winning the Auckland Cup by a head from Brabham. He also trained Five Star Anvil to run second behind Russley Rascal in the 2010 Woodlands Northern Derby, and Motoring Anvil third behind Holmes D G and Annie’s Boy in the 1998 New Zealand Derby. “I have no intention of retiring. I may slow down in a few years, but it is still my ambition to win a Derby. I’d really like to win a Derby before I bow out,” Gale said. Gale spent 27 years working from his Helensville stable. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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