For the second week in a row, the Jordan Hope trained Little Santamonica shipped in for the mares Open handicap at Batavia Downs and once again took the winners share of the $9,500 purse for harness racing owner Kelly Hope. After firing right to the front from post five for reinsmen Truman Gale, the 6-year-old daughter of Little Steven opened up a two-length advantage and maintained that margin through quarters of :28.3, :58.1, 1:26 before stopping the clock at 1:54.2. She returned $4.10 for the win as the solid public choice. This was the tenth win 21 attempts for Little Santamonica this year and it brought her earnings up to $97,725 for the season. Asset Management (Fern Paquet) who shipped in from Tioga Downs was second and Bazooka Terror (Kevin Cummings) was third. Drivers Shawn McDonough and Ron Beback Jr. both scored driving triples on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs this Friday (Aug. 8) with a 6:35 post time. Tim Bojarski
Just before the start of the second race, a major wind-driven rainstorm rolled into Genesee County and inundated the area. By the time that race was completed, the track had gone from fast to sloppy and continued to degrade from there. As a result, unsafe track conditions developed and the management of Batavia Downs decided to cancel the remainder of the 12 race card, sighting concern for the safety of the horses and horsemen. Todd Haight, Batavia Downs Director/Manager of live racing said "The track had washed out from the deluge of rain and became unsafe to race on so we had to do what was best for the horses when it became evident that conditions were not going to improve. It was unfortunate because we had a very large crowd on hand for Back to the Track night but it was the right thing to do." All Back to the Track activities originally planned for tonight has been rescheduled for next Saturday (Aug. 9) and will be combined with the Old Fashion Night promotion that was already assigned to that date. Patrons are also reminded to bring back their racing programs from tonight (Aug. 2) anytime for a free replacement the next time you come to the track. Live racing resumes tomorrow, Sunday (Aug. 3) at Batavia Downs with a 1:15 post. Tim Bojarski
Goshen, NY -- His nickname was 'Ace.' Many didn't know him as Jack. But after 38 years operating the television camera system at the Little Brown Jug, millions have enjoyed Jack Elliott's work. Although an Ohio legend now, Jack Elliott's first experience with communication equipment is different than you might think. Infantryman Elliott served in WWII active combat duty in the European theater as a forward observer radio operator. "I was 18 and turned 19 on the Rhine River before crossing on pontoon bridges into the main part of Germany," Elliott recalls. "I froze my feet in the Battle of the Bulge. Had to rub them with snow, to get them numb to be able to slide into the sleeping bag." After the war with Germany ended Jack was being sent home to another infantry division, the 8th, to head for Japan to fight. Fortunately half way home the war with Japan ended. Born in 1926 in Buffalo, New York, Elliott grew up in nearby Gowanda. After fighting in the Battle of the Bulge with the 79th Infantry as a teenager, Elliott came home and attended broadcasting school in Kansas City. He began his career with WBEN-TV in Buffalo and then with NBC's WNBK affiliate in Cleveland as that station's technical director. Jack remembers his learning curve with some of the equipment. "My first camera job was a disaster. In December 1947 I was assigned to run a camera at a professional wrestling match. It was in Buffalo and the place was packed. I had never seen a pro match before and thought it was for real. The crowd was very loud. There was a switch on the camera, that no one had mentioned to me, that could cut off the microphone, so I could hear the truck's control room better. "Well, I had a close-up of the two wrestlers in the middle of the ring, and as they rolled over to the side of the ring, I moved my head around the camera and did not pan with the wrestlers. I was really digging the match. The truck could not get me since the crowd noise was overpowering their signal. They sent a man up from the truck and he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the viewfinder, which was showing nothing but an empty screen." That was simply a bump in the road as Jack tells it. "Back in the 50's I was the number one cameraman at the TV station owned by NBC. I was flown around the country doing football games and if a big star came to town, I was removed from my technical director's job and moved over to the number one camera. Bob Hope was just one of the stars I filmed." Neither fame nor technical glitches could get in the way of Jack's love for camera work and television. Ultimately, Elliott got into sales and made the deal with Northfield Park for its first TV system in 1967, and installed the first color cameras at Scioto Downs in 1974. While at Northfield in 1967, Jack recalls some of the earliest equipment he had to work with. "Back in those days there were no computers. Instead we had a room called the Calculating Room with about 32 men in it. Each had a Monroe Calculator which was a super adding machine. It could also subtract and divide, and had a big crank handle on the side. "The Mutuel department placed two men on each price. Their figures had to match for it to be an official payoff. They had runners who would take the results to the "propper" so the winning ticket holders could get paid. This took about 10 minutes after the race. My company installed about eight cameras in that room and we televised the price payoffs and sent them via cable to the proper area." Elliott continues, "We also installed the first race camera for the judges. I had a cable that went from my video playback room to the judges office on the backstretch. They could hold hearings and I would playback the video of the race in question. The General Manager hated to lose those calculating room guys when the computers came. The computers didn't bet on the races and these guys bet big time." In 1975 Elliott realized that the sport of harness racing was lacking celluloid history. He started gleaning footage from USTA films of historic races such as the Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug. This built the foundation for the groundbreaking series Great American Trotters and Little Brown Jug Greats through Elliott's company, Colorigination. Eventually, these premier works encouraged Elliott to produce four annual Year End Review collections for the best trotters and pacers, the Breeders Crown and Canada's Best, beginning in 1993. After nearly four decades filming the Jug, and 32 years as Scioto's director of televised production, Jack retired in 2007. The immortal Stan Bergstein noted in a 1997 issue of Times: In Harness that, "If video historian Jack Elliott of Circleville, Ohio had not started collecting and organizing the films and videotapes of the modern era's great races, the sport would have no visual record of its equine stars." The impressive collection of harness racing videos assembled by Elliott constitutes a catalog of greatness, invaluable to the history of the sport. A decade later in Hoof Beats, Bergstein reiterates, "the sport owes Jack Elliott a debt of gratitude." Museum director Janet Terhune agrees. "Back in the 90s the Sulky Sweeties of Scioto Downs awarded Jack their "Good Guy" award. But Elliott's efforts mean so much more to the sport than his pleasant demeanor. He has single-handedly ensured that the motion picture history of the Standardbred has been preserved and protected for generations to come." In addition to the videos Jack Elliott has contributed to the Harness Racing Museum's collections over the years, it is his intention to entrust his life's work to the Museum's care. That is only one of the many reasons that at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 6 in Goshen, Elliott shall be honored with the Museum's Pinnacle Award, which recognizes and provides appreciation for exemplary efforts put forth by members of the press and public relations professionals, in the promotion of the sport in general and The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in particular. By Chris Tully
The honeymoon is not over for Bill Mack when it comes to harness racing. Mack, a breeder/owner in central New Jersey, sends 3-year-old filly trotter Sally Savannah into Wednesday's third round of the Bobby Weiss Series at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sally Savannah finished second in her Weiss division last week and was third in the opening round. Driven by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Neal Ehrhart, the filly is 9-2 on the morning line. The 71-year-old Mack has owned horses since retiring from his job as a criminal court administrator for the state of New Jersey. Most of his horses have "Savannah" in their names, which is a nod to the city where Mack and his wife Lorraine spent their honeymoon. "(Sally Savannah) is racing very well," Mack said. "I like her determination; she just seems to like to race. I'm hoping to have a nice year with her." A homebred daughter by stallion Equinox Bi out of Mack's mare Sassy Savannah, Sally Savannah won two of nine races last year and earned $42,512. She won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Stallion Series, finished second to world champion Designed To Be in a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars and capped her 2-year-old season by finishing third in her division of the Keystone Classic. "She finished last year well and she's back where she left off," Ehrhart said. "We toyed around with the idea of putting her in the regular sire stakes last year, but thought it might be pushing it. It worked out because she did well in the Stallion Series. "I don't know yet where we'll put her this year. I'd rather be a star in the Stallion Series than put her in over her head. A lot of the top 3-year-old (trotting) fillies are going to come out of Pennsylvania. Maybe she'll get there, but she'll let us know." Sally Savannah, who was named by one of Mack's granddaughters because she was naming all her dolls "Sally" at that time, also is eligible to the Arden Downs Stakes and Currier & Ives this year. "This series should be a good prep for the sire stakes," Ehrhart said. "She's been facing a lot of 4-year-olds (in the Weiss) and that's what has impressed me. "This horse is a lot like her mother, and that's a good thing," the trainer added. "George Napolitano said (Sally Savannah) is a very smart horse. She can size up a race and know where she needs to be." Sassy Savannah was a rare yearling purchase for Mack. He bought her for $6,000 under the name Strapless at the 2002 Standardbred Horse Sale. Sassy Savannah won a division of the Arden Downs as a 2-year-old and a Landmark Stakes at age 3, finishing her career with $101,242. "She was sick as a dog at the sale," Ehrhart said. "That might have hurt her (price in the auction), but it didn't hurt her down the road." Mack and Ehrhart have been a team for nearly 15 years. Mack found Ehrhart through an advertisement in Hoof Beats magazine. "He's a nice person," Mack said. "He's easy to deal with. He's done I think as well as could be expected with my horses." Said Ehrhart of Mack, "He's the epitome of what a good racehorse owner should be. He cares about the horses and is patient and never puts them in positions they shouldn't be in. We have a trust and he has confidence in me. He leaves me to do my thing and we've held our own." The two hope to continue the success with Sally Savannah. She faces six rivals Wednesday in the Weiss Series, which is for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters that entered 2014 with fewer than three career wins or $40,000 in lifetime purses. Clementine Dream, who finished second in the Super Bowl Series final in January, is the 5-2 favorite. Connie Keeper, who has finished second in both her Weiss races, is the 2-1 choice in the first division. Perfect Alliance and Take The Money, both undefeated this year out of the stable of trainer Julie Miller, are skipping this week's races after winning their starts in the previous two rounds. "It's a lot stronger series than I had anticipated," Mack said. "I think she'd have to hit the board (Wednesday) and next week to make the final. But I always have high hopes for my horses. Hopefully she'll do alright." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
LONDON, ON — After missing the Grassroots Championship by just nine points, two-year-old pacer Brodys Scrapper will be looking to capitalize on his second opportunity at a post season pay cheque in Tuesday’s Grassroots Consolation at The Raceway at Western Fair District. Through his six regular season Grassroots starts Brodys Scrapper posted one win, one third, two fourths and two fifths for 88 points and thirteenth spot in the point standings — the top 10 point earners advanced to the Sept. 21 Championship. The Mach Three son’s 1:56.1 personal best came in the Aug. 24 Grassroots event at Kawartha Downs and trainer Bud Sinclair of Stratford, ON is hoping the gelding is ready to match that effort from Post 2 in Tuesday’s tenth race. “He trained super the other day. Hopefully he’s fresh and ready to go,” says Sinclair, who shares ownership of the gelding with his wife Lindsey Sinclair and Kenneth Bryant of Dorchester, ON. The Sinclairs bred and raised Brodys Scrapper, who is out of their $192,922 winning mare Witness To Fame, and the trainer says the gelding is very much like his mother, who was a Grassroots winner at both two and three. “Everything off that mare, they want to kill you when you start with them,” he says ruefully. “To train him down was a nightmare. “It was real hard to get him to focus on stuff,” Sinclair continues. “I raced him in a bunch of maidens just to braven him up and he finally figured it out. He has tons and tons of speed; it’s just the mental part, he’s very tough on himself.” Brodys Scrapper made his racing debut in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on June 27 and has made eight more starts, scoring four wins, one third and $17,986 for his owners. After Tuesday’s Consolation, the gelding will wrap up his season in the Ontario Sired Autumn Series at Woodbine Racetrack. “He’s got four more starts if he makes the final of the Autumn Series,” notes Sinclair. “He’ll have more starts than we’d really like, but the way the industry is right now you don’t want to pass up an opportunity to make money.” The trainer is hoping a recent alteration to the gelding’s equipment will help Brodys Scrapper earn a pay cheque in the $20,000 Grassroots Consolation on Tuesday. In the last regular season Grassroots event, on Sept. 12 at Mohawk Racetrack, driver Sylvain Filion moved the gelding early and was unable to reapply the brakes once Brodys Scrapper reached the front. “Once you start him up he doesn’t know ‘Whoa’ again,” explains Sinclair. “So I’ve changed his rigging a little bit this time.” With a few equipment changes and a little maturity, Sinclair is also hoping Brodys Scrapper can follow in his mother’s footsteps and make a successful return to the Ontario Sires Stakes program as a three-year-old. “I think next year he’s got a great future ahead of him,” says the trainer. “I hope he can step up a level, I know the speed is there, he just has to get the mental part.” Among the challengers Brodys Scrapper will face in his last freshman Ontario Sires Stakes battle are two colts who finished ahead of him in the point standings. Major Homer finished in eighth spot and gets Post 6, while eleventh ranked Allstar Seelster will benefit from Post 1. The two-year-old Grassroots Consolations will be featured in Races 1 through 6, 9 and 10; with the first $20,000 contest parading onto The Raceway at 4:05 pm. Fans will have an opportunity to wager on a special $1,000 Pick 8 on the eight Grassroots Consolations. For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e1015lonn.dat by Sandra Snyder for the Ontario Sire Stakes
CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — During the winter of 2010-11 long time Boston Bruins fans Joe MacIsaac was watching his team play the Toronto Maple Leafs while thinking up names for the latest foal from partner Carolyn Williston’s broodmare Chelemark Gizmo. As the Boston faithful chanted ‘Thank You Kessel’ — referencing the 2009 trade deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Leafs in exchange for draft picks that would become Boston stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton — MacIsaac thought, ‘Why not?’ and weeks later the name Thankyoukessel was approved by Standardbred Canada. Thankyoukessel made his racing debut in the summer of 2012 and over the past two years has amassed a consistent record of seven wins, two seconds and three thirds in 19 starts for earnings of $212,445. Competing at the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Series level this season the gelding has posted two wins, two thirds and one fifth, ranking him second in the point standings heading into Saturday night’s $200,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack. “He started off the year good with a win down in London and he really, really didn’t give us a bad race all year,” says Moffat resident MacIsaac. “He doesn’t do a whole lot wrong; he’s a pretty nice boy.” In addition to his successes in the Gold Series, Thankyoukessel also captured the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 20 in a personal best 1:54.2 and his sophomore debut in a May 2 overnight event at Woodbine Racetrack. The Ken Warkentin gelding has surpassed the standard set by his full-sister Witch Way, who was a Gold Final winner and earned $170,833 in her career. “The best thing about that mare, all her foals have been good gaited,” says MacIsaac, who raced a two-year-old Federal Flex half-brother to Thankyoukessel this summer and will start training a yearling Federal Flex brother this fall. “That makes it a lot easier to get them to the races.” Thankyoukessel and driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville will make their run at the OSS division title from Post 3 in Saturday’s seventh race and MacIsaac is expecting another exciting show from the talented Ontario-sired colts. Point leader Buddy Hally will start from Post 4, Goodtimes and Mid-Summer Challenge winner Flanagan Memory gets Post 7, and Yonkers Trot Elimination winner and reigning Super Final champion Creampuff Macdaddy will start from Post 9. “I don’t know how it will end up shaping up,” notes the trainer, “But Flanagan Memory looks like the horse to beat.” Thankyoukessel finished third to Flanagan Memory in the Sept. 20 Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack, a mile timed in 1:53.3, and MacIsaac is not sure the gelding can alter that result on Saturday. However, whether Thankyoukessel finishes off his sophomore stakes campaign with a win or a loss, MacIsaac and Williston will head home just as happy with the trotter’s efforts as Boston fans have been with the Kessel trade. “We’re just looking forward to tomorrow (Saturday). I hope things work out for him and he gets a piece of it, but regardless, it’s been a great year for us,” MacIsaac explains. “Anything he gets will be a bonus for us right now. We’re going to enjoy it any way.” Post time for Mohawk Racetrack’s Saturday, Sept, 28 program is 7:25 pm, with the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals featured in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10. For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0928mohsn.dat Ontario Sires Stakes
ELORA, ON — Buffeted by extreme weather, Grand River Raceway was forced to cancel its program of racing after just two Gold Series divisions had gone to the post on Friday, Sept. 20. One freshman pacing filly division and one freshman trotting filly division were completed before the severe thunderstorms arrived. The remaining divisions, two for the trotting fillies and one for the pacing lasses, will be contested as non-betting events before the Elora oval’s Sunday evening program. The non-wagering events will begin at 5 pm, with the regularly scheduled card getting under way at 6 pm. Racing over a fast track in the second race of the evening, the $105,000 division of two-year-old pacing fillies did their part to give fans their money’s worth in spite of the abbreviated program. Starting from Post 5 Porsche Seelster sprinted away from the starting gate to a :27.1 opening quarter, but was quickly under siege from favourite Alibi Seelster, who took over before the :56.2 half. Alibi Seelster carried on to a 1:25.1 three-quarters and was on top by a length turning for home, but the rest of the field was just shifting into gear. In spite of traveling up the outside through the bulk of the race, Performing Art was able to put a nose in front of Alibi Seelster, Porsche Seelster and Medoland Lindeylou at the wire. All four fillies were clocked in 1:56.1. Otis Hall conditions Performing Art for Sauble Hill Farms of Tara and his Nasussito Racing Inc. of Ayr. Cambridge resident Billy Davis Jr. guided the Shadow Play daughter to her first lifetime victory, assuring her of a berth in next weekend’s Super Final. The $70,000 trotting filly division saw Toughs Legacy trot to a four length win in 2:01 in spite of a racing surface that had been downgraded to sloppy and three seconds slower than normal. The Kadabra daughter and Guelph resident Paul MacDonell bested Flexible Woman and Tosca. Richard “Nifty” Norman conditions Toughs Legacy for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL. The filly’s first lifetime win also boosted her from sixteenth in the point standings into the top 10. The top 10 point earners advance to the $200,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 28. The remaining contestants for the rich freshman filly Super Finals will be decided following Sunday’s trio of rescheduled Gold Series divisions, which get under way at 5 pm over the Grand River Raceway oval. For complete results please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0920grvrn.dat Ontario Sires Stakes
OTTAWA, ON — Ontario’s three-year-old trotting colts have one last opportunity to qualify for the Grassroots post season on Thursday, Sept. 5 at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Two local colts, Northern Matador and Cabertoss, currently sit among the top 20 point earners after the first five regular season events. To extend their Ontario Sires Stakes season both colts need a victory over the Rideau Carleton oval on Thursday; only the top 10 point earners will advance to the Sept. 21 Grassroots Championship. Northern Matador has accumulated 67 points from one win, one fourth and three seventh-place finishes in Grassroots action and is currently ranked sixteenth. The Muscle Mass gelding will make his bid for a second victory from Post 5 in the first of four $18,000 divisions Thursday. From 10 sophomore starts the Mark Steacy trainee has two wins, one second and one third for earnings of $10,540. He posted a personal best 2:00.2 clocking at Rideau Carleton in a July 25 overnight event. Clarke Steacy of Gananoque, Landmark V Racing Stable of Kingston, Diane Bertrand of Edmonton, AB and Bridle Path Stables Ltd. of Ossining, NY share ownership of Northern Matador. From just three Grassroots starts, Cabertoss has one win and one fourth to his credit for 58 points and a number 18 ranking. William Murray Jr. of Mountain owns the Muscle Mass colt, and his father William Murray of Kingston trains. Cabertoss will start from Post 6 in Thursday’s eleventh race, and heads into the test off a second-place result in an overnight event at Rideau Carleton on Aug. 29. In 11 starts this season the colt has delivered two wins and two seconds for earnings of $11,838. The three-year-old trotting colts will be spotlighted in Races 2, 4, 8, and 11 on Rideau Carleton Raceway’s Thursday evening program, which gets under way at 6:30 pm. by Sandra Snyder
Columbus, OH-Hoof Beats magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse, celebrated its 80th anniversary by launching a dynamic new version of its digital edition, Hoof Beats Direct. Using technology built by Publishers Press, the new Hoof Beats Direct has several features that set it apart from both the print version of Hoof Beats, launched in 1933, and the original Hoof Beats Direct, launched in 2007 as a PDF product: The magazine is browser-based, so readers will no longer have to download an entire PDF file. It is compatible with both desktop computers and all major mobile platforms, meaning readers can access the magazine wherever they go. It is available to read on the date that the magazine is mailed, reaching readers several days sooner than the print version. Rich media features include links to extra content such as videos and photos. Readers can share selected stories through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Best of all, the magazine is accessible to ALL readers that order-or currently have-a Hoof Beats print subscription. Readers can access the magazine through USTA Online Services at myaccount.ustrotting.com. Those living outside the U.S. who wish to receive the digital version only will see reduced subscription rates. Now, Hoof Beats Direct only is $17.50 for USTA members and $35.00 for non-members. "For years, Hoof Beats has been producing content in two different worlds: print and online," said Executive Editor T.J. Burkett. "Now we can combine both to bring our readers a magazine that is interactive, compelling, convenient and more timely." In order to share the new Hoof Beats Direct with all fans of harness racing, the September issue of the magazine, including its award-winning Hambletonian coverage, is available for FREE to those who have an account through USTA Online Services. Visit myaccount.ustrotting.com to create an account or to log in. by Ellen Harvey
CLINTON, ON — Legends Day at Clinton Raceway always features a group of harness racing’s most revered drivers and trainers, but fans attending this year’s edition on Sunday, Aug. 18 may also catch a glimpse of several former stars from the National Hockey League. Brothers Dave, Dale and Mark Hunter, best known for their careers with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues, respectively, will be on hand to watch two-year-old trotting colt Strike It Big battle in the Grassroots event featured on the Legends Day program. And while Strike It Big has shown some promise in the early stages of his career, the novice trotter was not solely responsible for the gathering of the Hunter clan. “My grand-daughter is getting married on Saturday, Carol’s daughter,” explains Richard “Dick” Hunter, who, along with son Dale and neighbour Randy Clark, comprise Chasin The Dream Stable of Petrolia and share ownership of Strike It Big with Alvinston resident Rick Podolinsky and Dave Hudson of Dallas, TX. Having the colt racing the day after the wedding was a stroke of luck Hunter was willing to take advantage of, however, and the family has arranged a bus to pick them up at their Oil Springs homestead Sunday morning and deliver them to Clinton for the trotter’s fifth lifetime start. “It just hit perfect, didn’t it,” says Hunter, noting that the bus will hold 40. “We’ll see how we do.” Strike It Big will battle for a share of the $18,000 Grassroots purse from Post 8 in the seventh race on Sunday. The Striking Sahbra son started his season at the Gold Series level, but after failing to hit the board in two attempts trainer Dan Creighton opted to drop the youngster down to the Grassroots level. The strategy paid off as Strike It Big recorded his first win in his Grassroots debut at Georgian Downs on July 30. In the Aug. 8 test at Mohawk Racetrack the trotter finished fifth, closing hard after getting away at the back of the 10-horse field. 'He’s a very nice colt. Like others, he’s had his struggles, but he’s learning,” says Strathroy resident Creighton. “We have hopes for him to be a nice horse. He’s definitely shown some ability.” A $21,000 purchase out of the Forest City Yearling Sale last fall, Strike It Big initially caught Dick Hunter’s eye because of his conformation, but it was the colt’s number in the sale that sealed the deal. “I was going by his stall and the owner was there, and another guy who was helping him. I got talking to the owner and he said, ‘This is quite a colt’,” recalls Hunter. “’He said, ‘This is quite a colt,’ and I looked up and I said, ‘That’s number 99, well I hope he’s as good as Wayne Gretzky was.” Should Strike It Big find success at Clinton on Sunday, it would cap off an exceptional week for the Hunter family. In addition to the much anticipated wedding, last weekend Dale and Mark Hunter returned to London from the Czech Republic sporting gold medals from the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament where Dale served as the national team’s head coach and Mark as the general manager, the same roles they perform with the OHL’s London Knights. “How he gets around Clinton, we don’t know, but hopefully he makes a good account of himself,” says trainer Creighton of Strike It Big’s prospects. “Hopefully there will be a big crowd of Hunters up there. I know that Dick, he enjoys the horses because it does get the family together.” No matter how the young trotter performs, or how many family members are on hand to cheer him home, Hunter is confident the busload from Oil Springs will enjoy Clinton Raceway’s biennial Legends Day celebration. “Ian (Fleming) does a heck of a job up there,” says the longtime owner. In addition to the five Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts (Races 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8), Clinton Raceway General Manager Ian Fleming and his staff have a full slate of Legends Day activities planned for fans, including an opportunity to meet 12 of harness racing’s legendary reinsmen. The event gets under way at 1:30 pm and full details are available at http://www.clintonraceway.com/page/legends. For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0818clntnn.dat by Sandra Snyder
INNISFIL, ON — Ontario’s exciting three-year-old pacing colts sweep into Georgian Downs on Saturday, July 27 for six Grassroots divisions and local colt Champagne Phil will be looking for his second victory on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit. Champagne Phil posted a 1:52.4 personal best in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack and will be looking to replicate that effort from Post 2 in the fourth $15,000 division on Saturday. In eight sophomore starts Champagne Phil has posted two wins, with his other victory coming over the Georgian Downs oval on July 6. Competing against non-winners of three races, the Shanghai Phil son and driver Brad Forward logged a 1:53.4 triumph. Kenneth Oliver conditions Champagne Phil for ICR Racing of Pefferlaw. Joining Champagne Phil on the gate in the fourth division is Rude Boy, who faded to seventh in the season opener after suffering broken equipment. The Armbro Deuce gelding will be looking to atone for that result from Post 3 at Georgian Downs. Michael Sinclair trains Rude Boy for Rosemary Shelswell of Cookstown, Steve Organ of Aurora and Guy Beaulieu of Chelmsford. Through 12 starts this season the gelding has tallied two wins and two seconds. Trainer Gary Kingshott gave Stonebridge Adam a test run over the Georgian Downs oval on July 20 and the colt delivered a 1:55.2 victory. The Stonebridge Regal son was a winner in the Grassroots season opener, laying down a personal best 1:53. Bob McClure will steer Stonebridge Adam from Post 5 in the tenth race for Rockwood resident Kingshott and his partners Shannon Bennett of Toronto, Gregory Kingshott of Rockwood and Terence Molony of Mississauga. The three-year-old pacing colts will wage their Grassroots battles in Races 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10 on Saturday evening, with Georgian Downs sending its first race behind the starting gate at 7:25 pm. For complete entries click here Ontario Sires Stakes
CAMPBELLVILLE, ON - During Shadow Play's exceptional racing career Dr. Ian Moore called the pacer one of the toughest horses he had ever worked with, so when the stallion's first crop of Ontario yearlings went on the auction block last fall the Guelph resident was willing to invest some money. Moore and his partners purchased four Shadow Play offspring and the horseman admits they were outside their comfort zone when it came to Arthur Blue Chip, a $135,000 acquisition at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. "Our ownership group had never paid over $50,000 for one until last year," explains Moore. "But Serge (Savard) has three new partners from Quebec in on him - there's six of us - so it's not bad." Moore, St. Bruno, QC resident Savard and Gail and Ron McLellan's R G McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, NB campaigned Shadow Play during his $1.5 million career (2007-09) and are part of the Shadow One Stable formed to acquire Arthur Blue Chip. Joining the longtime partners under the Shadow One banner are Rick Andreoli of Lachine, QC, and Jonathan Besner and Diane Deslauriers of Montreal, QC. The group also acquired Shadow Play son High Flier, who is competing on the Grassroots circuit. "It's fun for me, having trained Shadow Play, now getting to train his babies," says Moore. "We've had four since last fall - Arthur looks like the best one - and it's been a lot of fun." Shadow Play's offspring are off to an impressive start, recording nine wins, five seconds and eight thirds in Gold and Grassroots competition and posting earnings of $361,325, putting him at the top of the ranks of Ontario pacing stallions. In the North American rankings Shadow Play sits second, just behind Somebeachsomewhere, a horse he also battled on the racetrack. Arthur Blue Chip has done his share to contribute to his sire's early success, capturing a division of the season opening Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack on June 28 and finishing a boxed-in sixth in a division of the second leg at Mohawk on July 8. Those two efforts earned the youngster third spot in the two-year-old pacing colt standings and on Friday, July 19 he will be back at Mohawk to take on the division's stars in the $150,000 Mid-Summer Challenge. "He's just getting better every day, basically," says Moore of the half-brother to $1.5 million winner Kenneth J. "He trained real good all winter, he's a beautifully gaited colt, but he's kind of on the lazy side. He's always gone wherever we wanted to go with him, but he's never been real flashy about it." Arthur Blue Chip and Milton resident Randy Waples will take on the top colts from Post 1 in Friday's Mid-Summer Challenge, slated as Race 7, and most of his owners will be on hand to see how he measures up against Ontario's best. "Most of the Quebec partners will be here tomorrow (Friday)," notes Moore. "They've never seen the horse before." Moore says Arthur Blue Chip trained well on Tuesday and seems to be over a rash that had been troubling him in recent weeks, so the trainer is hoping for a peak performance from the youngster. The two-year-old pacing colts square off in Race 3 for the $50,000 Mid-Summer Consolation and Race 7 for the $150,000 Challenge, while the two-year-old pacing fillies compete for Consolation honours in Race 2 and the Challenge title in Race 5. Post time for Mohawk Racetrack's first race on Friday evening is 7:25 pm. For complete entries click here. Ontario Sires Stakes
When the draft plan for a sustainable horse-racing industry in Ontario recommended harness racing no longer be held at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, few people were more surprised than the man running the track. Nick Eaves, the president and chief executive officer of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, which operates Woodbine and Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, said Monday he was caught off guard when the three-member bipartisan Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel recommended in its June 28 report that harness racing use Mohawk as its lead track and leave Woodbine solely to the thoroughbreds. To read the full article written by David Briggs click on this link
The Canadian Sportsman Magazine and Woodbine Entertainment Group have teamed up to produce a superb harness racing handicapping section for this year's 30th annual North American Pepsi Cup racing stakes races this Saturday night at Mohawk Raceway.
I've spoken to a lot of people in the harness racing industry in Ohio in recent weeks and they all have expressed deep sadness and sympathy for their colleagues in Ontario. They all say it's such a shame about the end of the successful Slots at Racetracks Program.
Dave Briggs, who since 1995 has been the editor of and writer for The Canadian Sportsman, Canada's oldest magazine, has won Harness Tracks of America's Dan Patch Award for exceptional media, publicity and public relations contributions to the sport of harness racing.