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It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is our review of the three year old trotting fillies division 1) Habibti Ivy - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    3 wins,    0 seconds,    4 thirds,    Lt $46,629 Very smart Love You filly who raced the boys most of the season with great credit. Won the Trotting Oaks very comfortably and first filly home in both the New Zealand Trotting Derby and the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final. Has a better head to head record against both Sunny Ruby and Arya. Missed the Harness Jewels due to a foot issue but her dominance the rest of the season makes her the top pick for this award. 2) Sunny Ruby - 2015 Season: 20 starts, 4 wins,  4 seconds,  1 thirds,    Lt $78,469     Very busy season having been racing in September and still going now in June. Has gone from being a typical Sundon headstrong filly with a tendency to over race to a lovely mannered filly with a lethal sprint. Ran 2nd in the Trotting Oaks and capped off a great season with a stunning win in the Harness Jewels in 1:54.7 Has finished behind Habibti Ivy both times they have met which makes it hard to place her in front of that filly for this award. 3) Arya - 2015 Season:    9 starts,    6 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $118,692 Daughter of Angus Hall having a right old time of it in Australia as her record above shows. She seems a class above them but real question marks about the quality of the opposition. Came back to New Zealand for the Trotting Oaks but soundly beaten by Habibti Ivy when she ran fourth there. Again finished behind Habibti Ivy in the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final before beating that filly home in the Northern Trotting Derby when Habibti Ivy broke. Hard to make a case for Arya to be New Zealand 3 year old trotting filly of the year when she has one third placing in New Zealand from only three starts this season. 4) Yagunnakissmeornot - 2015 Season: 11 starts, 4 wins,  1 seconds,  3 thirds, LT $41,324   Very strong early part of the season but not so good when thrown in against the very best. Unlucky to have struck such a strong crop of quality fillies and did have a few issues especially left handed which explains her missing some of the big races down south. Selection Habibti Ivy - She has a better head to head record against all her challengers and won the big race restricted to fillies in the Trotting Oaks. First filly home in both the New Zealand Derby and New Zealand Sires Stakes  which gives her a big edge for this award. Harnesslink Media

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is a review of the 2 year old trotters colts / geldings division.   1) Conon Bridge - 2015 Season:    4 starts,    2 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $47,071   From just four starts the son of Raffaello Ambrosio showed enough to suggest he has a huge future in front of him. Started off the unruly in all four starts which put him at a major disadvantage compared to his rivals but still very competitive with the very best. Races without an overcheck which led to his down fall in the Harness Jewels when he dipped his head down and galloped. His recovery to run sixth was an outstanding effort in the circumstances. Looks a certainty for this award. 2) Royal Willie - 2015 Season:    7 starts,    2 wins,    2 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $10,986 Very smart son of Majestic Son but manners let him down big time late in the season. Good enough to sit parked at Auckland and win against the maidens and very smart in the two year old trots in the north before heading south for the Harness Jewels. Ashburton can't have agreed with him as he galloped at both the workouts prior to the Harness Jewels and on the big day itself. Expect him to be a major player as a three year old. 3) Gershwin - 2015 Season:    7 starts,    2 wins,    1 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $7,053 Another smart Muscles Yankee trotter but again his manners deserted him when it counted late in the season. Galloped in the Harness Jewels for no reason but staged a big recovery to run seventh. Ran High Gait to a nose in 2:00 at Cambridge which is a good indication of his ability and thereabouts in all his starts in the north prior to heading south to the Harness Jewels. Another one to watch out for as a three year old. Selection Only one horse in the running really and that is Conon Bridge and hard to make a case for any of the others ahead of him. Harnesslink Media

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is the Harnesslink review of the two year old trotting fillies 1) High Gait - 2015 Season:    6 starts,    5 wins,    1 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $61,941 The daughter of Muscles Yankee was just a natural two year old trotter who was outstanding throughout the season. Beaten in the Harness Jewels but the result had a lot to do with her drawing barrier twelve on the big day. Her win prior to the Harness Jewels at Addington was outstanding and probably the run of the season in the two year old trots. High Gait won the most races and the most money in the two year old division and it is hard to see how she doesn't win the gong for best two year old trotting filly.  2) Missandei - 2015 Season:    4 starts,    1 wins,    1 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $60,085 Smart Angus Hall filly who was a late arrival to the competition but capped it off with a tenacious win in the Harness Jewels. Drew beautifully at barrier two in the Harness Jewels which helped bigtime when her main danger drew poorly on the second line but still got the job done. If the season had gone on for another couple of months, Missandei may have showed that wasn't a one off but that is not how the system works. High Gait does hold a two - one advantage over Missandei on raceday. 3) Wilma's Mate - 2015 Season:    8 starts,    2 wins,    2 seconds,    2 thirds,  Lt $30,036 High speed daughter of Pegasus Spur who was not far away from the two above. Threw the toys out once or twice but very competitive in the main and looks to have a big future. Never got the rub of the green in a lot of her races and unlucky not to have won more than two races during the season. Selection Has to be High Gait with five wins from six starts and beaten into second by a half head in the other. The most wins and the most money should cement it for her. Harnesslink Media

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is our review of the four year old colts and geldings pacing division 1) Sky Major - 2015 Season:    11 starts,    6 wins,    0 seconds,    1 thirds,    Lt $326,187  Certainly turned up when it counted in the big four year old races on both sides of the Tasman. Previously regarded as a sit/sprint specialist, Sky Major showed he had a few more strings to his bow as a four year old. Not convinced he is great stayer but has more developed more options race wise as he has matured. Devastating sprint off a soft run and won three of the four big races open to four year olds this season in Australasia. The son of Art Major looks unbeatable for the gong in this division. 2) Dalton Bromac -  12 starts,    7 wins,    2 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $91,692 A season of what might have been for the son of Major In Art. His form in the first six months of the season was outstanding, combining both speed and toughness and drew comparisons to Christen Me at the same stage Became crook prior to the Chariots Of Fire and put aside briefly. Although he raced well after that, am not really sure he was as sharp as he was earlier in the season. No luck at Auckland but considered a serious challenger to Sky Major in the lead up to the Harness Jewels before having a bleed at Addington in mid May and being put aside for the season. 3) Messini - 2015 Season:    14 starts,    4 wins,    3 seconds,    2 thirds,    Lt $85,787 Would get the award for travelling for sure. The son of Art Major didn't cop the Auckland way round at all in the four year old features there but his win at Addington prior to the Harness Jewels was was one of the runs of the season. His effort to run third to Sky Major in the Harness Jewels from the outside of the second line was the run of the race that day and seemed to find his best form in the later part of the season. Selection Not a difficult decision with Sky Major winning three of the four big races for four year olds during the season. Hard to see how you vote for something else. Harnesslink Media

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 12 - Bee A Magician set a Canadian record in her harness racing return to Mohawk Racetrack Friday night for the Armbro Flight eliminations. A fantastic group of 17 older trotting mares were split into two $35,000 eliminations to qualify for the $272,000 Armbro Flight final. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, headlined the first elimination and continued her impressive five-year-old season with a Canadian and track record performance of 1:51.1. Driven by Brian Sears, Bee A Magician got away in fourth and sat in that spot through the opening-half. Around the final turn, Sears sent the Richard 'Nifty' Norman trainee first up to challenge the leader Handover Belle and edged ahead to the lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:23.4. In the stretch, Bee A Magician trotted home effortlessly in :27.2 to win by four-lengths and establish a new Canadian and track record. Classic Martine finished second, while Allie Labrook was third. "I was really happy with the way things worked out," said Sears following the race. "She was really good tonight scoring down and I think the cool weather might have helped her a little bit too." Bee A Magician has now won five of six starts this year. All six of her starts have been made over the course of the last 41 days, but Sears said that didn't show Friday night. "She was razor-sharp tonight, I was really happy with her." A daughter of Kadabra, Bee A Magician now has 36 career victories and added to her bankroll of over $3 million. The clocking of 1:51.1 erased the former track record of 1:51.4 set by Perfect Alliance in last year's Armbro Flight final. Perfect Alliance also set the former Canadian record of 1:51.2 in May last year at Woodbine. A graduate of the Ontario Sires Stakes program, Bee A Magician has now won 15 of 17 career starts at Mohawk. She returned $2.80 to win. Bee A Magician The second elimination saw another heavy favourite visit the winner's circle. Shake It Cerry extended her win streak to three in a row with a 1:52.4 victory. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Shake It Cerry made a second-quarter move from fourth to take the lead at the half in :56.1. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4, Shake It Cerry pulled away from her rivals in the lane and trotted home under no urging from Gingras in :28 for a 2 ¾ length victory. Rockin With Dewey finished second, while Bax Of Life got up for third. Charmed Life and Frau Blucher rounded out the top-five to advance to the final. Following the race, Gingras talked about a pending matchup with Bee A Magician. "Bee A Magician is tough and she's a great mare," said Gingras. "She won just as easy as myself, so it's going to be a great matchup." A four-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover, Shake It Cerry is trained by Jimmy Takter for the Solveigs Racing Partners. She now has three wins from six starts this season and 26 in her career. Shake It Cerry's career earnings sit at over $2.1 million. She paid $2.60 to win. Shake It Cerry The Armbro Flight final will take place next Saturday (June 20) as part of the Pepsi North America Cup card. The post positions for the final were drawn following the eliminations. Here is how they will lineup in the $272,000 final. 1. Bax Of Life 2. Classic Martine 3. Shake It Cerry 4. Rockin With Dewey 5. Bee A Magician 6. Charmed Life 7. Frau Blucher 8. Harley Momma 9. Handover Belle 10. Allie Labrook AE: White Becomes Her Mark McKelvie

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is the 3 year old fillies review 1) The Orange Agent - 2015 Season:    13 starts,    10 wins,    1 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $326,398 As the season's record shows this was one very special filly. Some of her wins of the daughter of American Ideal during the year were nothing short of sensational . Her Northern Oaks win where she made a stellar field of fillies look second rate coupled with her New Zealand record win in the Nevele R Fillies Final where she never looked out of second gear were moments to saviour. And then to top it off The Orange Agent throws in a Harness Jewels win where she was attacked through the first half in 55.4 but still had enough in the tank to get home in 55.7 with a closing quarter in 25.6 and had the audacity to prick her ears with 50 metres to go. As good a three year old filly as New Zealand has produced.  2) Fight For Glory - 2015 Season:    13 starts,    7 wins,    4 seconds,    0 thirds,    Lt $395,989 You have to feel for Fight For Glory who has had a great season herself but ran into a filly just a touch better in The Orange Agent. Head to head during the season it was 3-2 in favour of The Orange Agent so there wasn't much between them but there was a gap. Of the four big three 3 year old fillies races during the season, Fight For Glory won one while her nemesis won three. Fight For Glory was dominant in Australia against their best in the New South Wales Oaks and the daughter of Art Major may yet get her rewards for a stellar season when the Australian awards are handed out as she is headed back there for late season races. These two stood out from a stellar crop of fillies of the likes of Start Dreaming, Linda Lovegrace, Supersonic Miss and Democrat Party  Each of these fillies produced runs during the season which were outstanding but they couldn't consistently reach the level of The Orange Agent or Fight For Glory.  Selection for 3 year Filly Of The Year - The Orange Agent Harnesslink Media

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 11 - The buzz for this Saturday's Pepsi North America Cup eliminations is electric, but not lost in the shuffle is the excitement surrounding harness racing's previous two Horse of the Year recipients gracing the Campbellville oval. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and JK Shesalady, the 2014 Horse of the Year, will be strutting their stuff this weekend at Mohawk. Bee A Magician will make her Mohawk return Friday night in an elimination for the Armbro Flight Stakes. The "Queen Bee" will leave from post two in the first $35,000 elimination (Race 3) with regular driver Brian Sears in the sulky. The five-year-old daughter of Kadabra is off to a fantastic start this season with four wins from five starts, including a victory last Saturday in the $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs. The $100,000 in earnings Bee A Magician received for winning the Hill Memorial made her the newest member of the triple millionaire club with over $3 million in career earnings. The Richard 'Nifty' Norman trainee has been installed as the 6/5 morning line favourite in Friday's elimination. The three-year-old pacing colts may take centre stage on Saturday night in the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations, but all eyes will be on JK Shesalady in an elimination for the Fan Hanover Stakes. The three-year-old daughter of Art Major puts her perfect 13 for 13 record on the line in Saturday's third-race. JK Shesalady will be making her second start of the season Saturday and will team up with driver Tim Tetrick to leave from post three. The Nancy Johansson trainee has had plenty of success north of the border. Last season, JK Shesalady won the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady at Mohawk and the $424,000 Three Diamonds at Woodbine en route to being named Horse of the Year on both sides of the border. The sophomore pacing filly enters Saturday night with $947,375 in career earnings. JK Shesalady is the overwhelming 2/5 morning line choice in her elimination. Both Bee A Magician and JK Shesalady are big fans of Mohawk Racetrack. Bee A Magician has won 14 of 16 career starts over the Campbellville oval, while JK Shesalady is a perfect three for three at Mohawk. Fans won't want to miss the opportunity to see two of harness racing's superstars race on back-to-back evenings this weekend. If all goes well for Bee A Magician and JK Shesalady, both stars could be racing on Pepsi North America Cup night (June 20). Post time Friday and Saturday evening is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie

It is quickly coming around to that point of the New Zealand harness racing season where we start to hand out the gongs for best performed in each age group and gait divisions. Harnesslink thought we would do a review of each of the categories with our view on where the contenders sit. This is the two year old pacing fillies division Contender 1) Dream About Me - 5 starts    5 wins,    0 seconds,    0 thirds    Lt $213,332 We have been blessed with some outstanding two year old fillies over the last 130 odd years in New Zealand harness racing but none have looked as talented as Dream About Me. The daughter of Bettor's Delight has just looked exceptional from the first time she stepped onto a racetrack and it is hard to convey in words how good she is. Her Harness Jewels win was very special where she worked from the outside of the front line to lead and comfortably hold on in a new New Zealand record of 1:53.3 on a very cold Autumn day. However the run that epitomized to Harnesslink how brilliant she was,occurred at the workouts of all places on the Saturday prior to the Harness Jewels. Dream About Me paced her last quarter in a freakish 24.8 and that was with driver Tim Williams sitting quietly in the bike and the ear plugs still in. Unbeaten in five and New Zealand record holder to boot, Dream About Me is the only possible choice for two year old filly of the year in New Zealand. Unlucky In any other year the daughter of Panspacificflight in Arden's Choice would have been a serious contender for two year old filly of the year but she had the grave misfortune to strike one as good as Dream About Me in her year. Only the third biggest stake winning filly behind Dream About Me and Northern Velocity (Mach Three) but clearly the second best in the country, finishing second to Dream about Me on three occasions. Northern Velocity won $140,000 but looked a filly a shade below the best whenever they met. Selection Dream About Me 

Every little thing she does is magic. Or at least it has been so far this harness racing season for Bee A Magician. The 5-year-old female trotter, who was harness racing's 2013 Horse of the Year, has started her campaign with back-to-back wins over male rivals - first in a track-record performance in the Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway and next from the Meadowlands' post 10 in a prep for Saturday's Arthur J. Cutler Memorial. She will try to make it three in a row when she leaves from post eight with driver Brian Sears in the $183,650 Cutler Memorial final at the Big M. A mare has never won the Cutler, which was first contested in 1998. In fact, Bee A Magician is only the fourth to compete in the event, joining Fern (eighth in 2000), Mystical Sunshine (fifth in 2006) and Buck I St Pat (second in 2011). The Cutler is part of a card at the Meadowlands that includes the seasonal debuts of Dan Patch Award-winner Artspeak in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers and millionaire JK Endofanera in the first round of the TVG Free For All Series for older pacers. Last year, Bee A Magician won four of 17 races and earned $421,314 for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and she finished second in the Hambletonian Maturity, Allerage Farms Mare Trot, and Ima Lula Series championship. "She's just bigger, stronger, more mature," trainer Nifty Norman said. "It's just the difference between being a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old. And she seems very settled and happy with herself. Her appetite is great and she just seems really content. Hopefully that trend continues." Bee A Magician was undefeated in 17 starts at age 3, earning $1.54 million, and was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. Although she saw her win rate drop last season, she hit the board 12 times and trotted a then-world-record 1:51.1 to capture a preliminary division of the Miss Versatility Series. Three times she finished second in races that either set or equaled the world record. "I think the strength of that (trotting mare) group probably doesn't get enough credit," Norman said. "Classic Martine and company, there are some good horses in that class. We went in (1):51 a bunch of times last year racing those mares. I think two or three of them are probably good enough to go against the boys as well. It was a really good group. "At the same time, I think (Bee A Magician) is better this year. She seems to be handling things better." Last week, Bee A Magician and driver Scott Zeron left from post 10 and methodically moved to the front in an opening quarter-mile of :27.4. They yielded the lead to DW's NY Yank prior to the halfway point and remained in second until exiting the final turn, when Zeron moved Bee A Magician to the outside and trotted home in a national season's best 1:51.3. Elitloppet invitee Wind Of The North finished second and Melady's Monet was third. "It was fantastic," Norman said. "I was very, very pleased with that. It was unbelievable. Scotty read the race well. No one left (from the starting gate) and he ended up getting a perfect trip really. But she was very good as well." Bee A Magician is not the only former Dan Patch Award winner in the Cutler Memorial final. Two-time honoree Market Share, who was making his 2015 debut in the prep and finished sixth, will leave from post three. The remainder of the field includes Opening Night, Master Of Law, Expressive Action, Lindy's Tru Grit, and Appomattox. "I think Brian will probably try to do a similar thing to what Scotty did," Norman said about the final. "He'll probably put her in the flow and try to be the last horse to the top, I would imagine. But we'll see how it works out." If all goes well, Bee A Magician will follow the Cutler with a trip to Harrah's Philadelphia for the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 24. And she could see a number of starts against the boys throughout the season. If that's the case, once Sebastian K and Father Patrick enter the fray there could be times when at least four Dan Patch Award winners meet up. "As long as we're competitive I think we're probably going to race the boys a bit more often," Norman said. "Obviously there are some horses to come out of the woodwork yet; I think the class is probably going to get stronger as we go forward. But at the moment it seems like we're competitive in there, so that's alright." Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Opening Night, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell 2. DW's NY Yank, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 3. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano 4. Master Of Law, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter 5. Expressive Action, Pat Berry, John Grasso 6. Wind Of The North, David Miller, Daryl Bier 7. Lindy's Tru Grit, Andy Miller, Julie Miller 8. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman 9. Appomattox, Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke 10. Melady's Monet, John Campbell, Kevin McDermott by Ken Harness Racing Communications USTA

With the end of year harness racing awards coming in to focus, we made our feelings on the present voting system pretty clear the other day. We don't like the present system and feel that some of the people getting a vote know less than some punters holding up a bar on a Friday night  Most journalists we speak to see this years horse of the year award as cut and dried. Christen Me is deemed by most to be a shoe in for the award which raises real issues for us. A major contender yes  -  A shoe in, no In our view Stent has had one of the best seasons ever by a trotter in Australasia yet his name is only mentioned in passing by most journalists as an after thought. We think that the old bias against trotters is still alive and well because there is no other reason or circumstances we can think of where Stent wouldn't be the favourite for the title. Stent won more Group1 races than Christen Me and more races overall yet is hardly mentioned as a legitimate contender. In a lot of ways the seasons of these two champions have a remarkable similarity. Both missed their big targets during Cup week, both won the major race for their gait at Auckland and both had wonderful seasons in Australia. Earlier this week we proposed a points system as the fairest method of determining the winner of all the annual awards at season's end. The system we proposed was the one outlined below here. Group 1    Points   1st - 15    2nd - 8    3rd - 6    4th - 4    5th - 2  Group 2    Points   1st - 10    2nd - 6    3rd - 4    4th - 2    5th - 1 Group 3    Points   1st -  7     2nd - 4    3rd - 3    4th - 2    5th - 1  As an exercise we have applied the points system to what we think were the three best horses going around in Australasia this season who are eligible for this years award and the points ended up looking like this. Stent  -  170               Christen Me  - 121             Adore Me  - 104 During the season Stent won seven Group 1 races while Christen Me won five and Adore Me three. Will Stent win the Horse Of The Year title  -  Absolutely not. Does Stent deserve to win the Horse Of The Year title  -  Without doubt in our view The only reason we can find as to why Stent won't win the title is a well ingrained bias favouring pacers coupled with some of the voting panel having little or no knowledge of harness racing. JC

Adios Butler was a super-star of the sport in the early 1960s and left his mark on the Chicago circuit before going on to be named Harness Racing Horse of the Year twice. The much heralded pacer came to Sportsman’s Park in 1960 for the second running of the American National Maturity Pace. National Hall of Famer Bye Bye Byrd captured the inaugural edition of the stake for open company pacers, ages 4 and up in 1959. A Saturday July 16 crowd of 12,759 hammered “The Butler” down to 1 to 5 odds and they didn’t come away disappointed. With Eddie Cobb in his sulky, Adios Butler toyed with the field of nine for the first 3/4’s of a mile before drawing off to a 2:01.1 victory. Adios Butler’s co-owner Del Miller had this to say to the Chicago media after the race: “The colt can do anything. It isn’t so much what he has done but how he’s done it. Last week at Yonkers he met the best pacers including the 1959 Horse of the Year Bye Bye Byrd and Widower Creed and he beat the field hands down. He came home the last half :57.4, and he did it almost casually.” A son of the great Adios, “The Butler: was a 1980 induction into the Illinois Hall of Fame and entered the National Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY 10 years later. The horse was trained early-on by Paige West, a Maryland native in his middle 20’s. West turned the lines over in 1959 to Canadian Clint Hodgins, a future Hall of Famer, and Adios Butler went on to stardom. That season the 3-year-old became the first pacer to win the sport’s “Triple Crown”, initially taking the Cane Pace at Yonkers, then the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio where he became the first horse to win on a half-mile track with a sub 2:00 mile, and finally the Messenger at Roosevelt in a record time of 2:00.1. As a 4-year-old, Adios Butler won 13 of his 17 starts and was named 1960 Horse of the Year. That fall he paced to his record 1:54.3 time trial at Lexington with West, the first harness horse to break the 1:55 barrier. After becoming the fastest horse in history, Adios Butler was shipped to California, sharing a plane with the 1960 Jug champion Bullet Hanover. The plane in which both horses were traveling caught fire while in the air, but fortunately the pilot was able to land safely at Chicago’s Midway Airport. West drove Adios Butler in his final starts in California, including the memorable 1-1/8 leg of the American Pacing Classic at Hollywood Park. Setting all the fractions “The Butler” passed the mile marker in a respectable 1:59.4. Then, when the others began to challenge, Adios Butler turned on the afterburners and paced his final eighth in a quick 11.2 seconds. The two-time Harness Horse of the Year (1960 and 1961) ended his career with 37 wins in 50 starts and earnings of $509,844. Adios Butler left the track as the richest and fastest horse in harness racing history. Adios Butler in the Little Brown Jug By Mike Paradise

Orlando, FL --- As she traveled from New Jersey to Florida for Sunday night's harness racing Dan Patch Awards tribute, trainer Nancy Johansson passed time on her flight by reading a Hoof Beats magazine story about her Horse of the Year winner JK She'salady. JK She'salady, bred and owned by 3 Brothers Stables, was undefeated in 12 races last season and became the first 2-year-old female pacer in harness racing history to be named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. She was honored Sunday at USHWA's Dan Patch Awards Night of Champions Banquet at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld. "When I was reading that story it really sunk in more, like, wow, this is what we're coming all the way to Florida for," Johansson said. "It's very exciting. It's something that I think everybody works for, and it's nice to be able to accomplish that. It's really sunk in more now." JK She'salady is the fourth 2-year-old to receive Horse of the Year, joining pacer Niatross (1979), trotter Nevele Pride (1967) and pacer Bret Hanover (1964). The three previous 2-year-old winners were colts. She is the first female pacer to be voted Horse of the Year since Rainbow Blue in 2004 and the fourth female pacer overall to receive the honor. The others were Bunny Lake in 2001 and Fan Hanover in 1981. "It's unbelievable," Johansson said at the time of the Horse of the Year announcement in December. "The hard work paid off. She's just such a special horse. "She's as perfect as they come, and I guess finishing off with Horse of the Year exemplifies how perfect she is." In addition to joining the connections of JK She'salady in picking up the Horse of the Year trophy, the 33-year-old Johansson received the Rising Star Award from USHWA. "It's nice that somebody appreciates your ability and your hard work," Johansson said. "Not everyone might admit it, but I think all people like to be recognized. It's very gratifying." The trip to Orlando was gratifying for reasons other than picking up awards. Johansson and her husband, trainer-driver Marcus Johansson, got to enjoy some vacation time with children Ella and Marcus Jr. "Marcus is a huge part of everything that goes on," Johansson said. "He's just as qualified to be Rising Star as I am. It's a lot of fun (to be together). It's great that it happened to be in Orlando this year and we got to have a couple of days away (from work) and my kids got to have a little fun. They sacrifice a lot because we work crazy hours and we're always running around." Older female trotter Shake It Cerry, trained by Johansson's father, Jimmy Takter, received the Trotter of the Year award and older male pacer Sweet Lou, trained by Ron Burke, received the Pacer of the Year trophy. Takter received the Trainer of the Year honor. In addition to owning JK She'salady, 3 Brothers Stables - Alan, Ronald and Steven Katz - was named Breeder of the Year and shared Owner of the Year with John Fielding. Other honorees included Hall of Fame inductee Joe Thomson, Communicators Hall of Fame inductees Bob Marks and Kathy Parker, Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award winner Russell Williams, Breakthrough Award winner Emily Gaskin and Driver of the Year winner Yannick Gingras. Horses receiving awards for division honors -- in addition to JK She'salady, Shake It Cerry and Sweet Lou -- were 2-year-old male trotter Pinkman, 2-year-old female trotter Mission Brief, 3-year-old male trotter Father Patrick, older male trotter Sebastian K, older female trotter Classic Martine, 2-year-old male pacer Artspeak, 3-year-old male pacer McWicked, 3-year-old female pacer Color's A Virgin, and older female pacers Anndrovette and Rocklamation (tie). For a complete list of honorees, click here. By Ken Weingartner / Harness Racing Communications / USTA    

Pompano  Beach, FL- Long time Grand Circuit harness racing trainer/driver Paige H. West, passed away early Sunday morning Nov. 23, 2014, after a long illness. He was 82. He had been a local resident since 1986 after moving from Salisbury, MDs. Mr. West was retired from the harness horse racing business. He was the trainer and sometimes driver of Adios Butler, the Horse of the Year in 1960 and 1961. Purchased as a yearling by 24-year-old West in 1957, Adios Butler would  become harness racing's first Pacing Triple Crown Winner in 1959. Racing free-legged, he would go on to become the fastest Standardbred of all time in 1960 with his 1:54.3 time trial at Lexington’s Red Mile.  “What a great horseman and friend he was,” said fellow driver Lucien Fontaine, “I had known Paige for 57 years and he was the consummate gentleman and one of my mentors. Later in his life he became an avid golfer and had five holes in one.” He is survived by his wife, Lois; sons, Todd (Mary) and Dana; grandchildren, Lauren and Cory; and many friends. No services are being planned. Memorial contributions may be made to St Jude Children's Hospital, 501 St Jude's Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 108 F. Old York Road, Hamilton, NJ 08620. Arrangements were made by Kraeer Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 200 N. Federal Hwy., Pompano Beach, FL 33062. Phone: 954.941.4111 By Steve Wolf with files from USTA

The 2013/2014 Harness Racing New South Wales Industry Awards night was held at the Sofitel Hotel Sydney tonight (Saturday) where the achievements of both participants and equines were recognised. Brilliant pacer Beautide was unanimously voted the NSW Horse of The Year following spine tingling victories in the Newcastle Mile, Len Smith Mile, Miracle Mile and 2014 Inter Dominion. The Aged Pacer of The Year was also awarded to Beautide whilst the 2YO of The Year was taken out by Artistic Flite with the exciting Bling It On taking the 3YO honours. The Nicole Molander trained Keystone Del was named the Aged Trotter of The Year for the second year running. A special and moving tribute was paid to the late Ross Gigg with daughter Hayley accepting the Don Clough Appreciation Award in his honour. The Board and staff of HRNSW would like to congratulate the following award winners; Award Winner Cockburn & Co Solicitors Carnival of Cups - Leading Trotting Trainer Brent Lilley Musco Lighting/PMG Media Carnival of Cups - Leading Driver Amanda Turnbull NSW Owners Association Carnival of Cups - Leading Trainer Steve Turnbull Albury HRC Carnival of Cups - Leading Horse Smokin Bopper NZ Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 1 Meeting Dubbo Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 2 Meeting Eugowra Tabcorp Carnival of Cups - Best Level 3 Meeting West Wyalong Tabcorp Centurions Amanda & Steve Turnbull Belinda McCarthy Blake & Gavin Fitzpatrick KerryAnn Turner Lauren Panella Nathan Hurst Robbie Morris Paul Fitzpatrick Shane Tritton Daily Form Service Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Country) Mitch Turnbull Lexus of Parramatta Junior Driver Encouragement Award (Metro) Kylie Barnes OAMPS Champion Junior Driver Lauren Panella OAMPS Champion Driver Amanda Turnbull OAMPS Champion Trainer Steve Turnbull National Trotguide Best Coverage by a Regional Newspaper Newcastle Herald NSWHRC Best Coverage by a Regional Television Station NBN Newcastle Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Volunteer Appreciation Awards Kevin Wheatley, Elaine Sullivan, Margaret Ford Penrith HRC / IntelliTek Don Clough Appreciation Award Ross Gigg House of Brook NSW Broodmare of the Year Full Pleasure Yirribee Stud in conjunction with Alabar NSW Sire of the Year Presidential Ball USA Harness Breeders NSW Outstanding Service to the Breeding Industry Paul Kahlefeldt (Redbank Lodge Standardbreds) Bulli HRC NSW 2YO Trotter of the Year Royal Treat 46% of votes Cockburn & Co Solicitors NSW 2YO Filly Pacer of the Year  Bamako Mali 92% of votes Lincoln Farms NSW 2YO C&G Pacer of the Year  Artistic Flite 100% of votes Sky Racing NSW 2YO of the Year Artistic Flite 76% of votes Bulli HRC NSW 3YO Trotter of the Year My Valerie 69% of votes Lexus of Parramatta NSW 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year Shes A Runa 46% of votes Cordina Farms NSW 3YO C&G Pacer of the Year Bling It On 100% of votes Tabcorp NSW 3YO of the Year Bling It On 100% of votes NSWHRC NSW Aged Trotter of the Year Keystone Del 92% of votes Wagga HRC NSW Aged Mare Pacer of the Year Frith 100% of votes Harness Racing Travelworld NSW Aged E&G Pacer of the Year Beautide 100% of votes Garrards Horse & Hound NSW Aged Horse of the Year Beautide 100% of votes OAMPS NSW Horse of the Year Beautide 100% of votes   Dale Walker

Adam Bowden was in the Kentucky Futurity winner's circle last year with Creatine and he hopes to return there following Sunday's 122nd edition of the trotting classic, this time with Father Patrick. Bowden and his father, Chris, operate Diamond Creek Farm, which is part of Father Patrick's ownership group. Father Patrick, who has won 20 of 23 career races and $1.92 million, drew post No. 1 for Sunday's $435,000 Kentucky Futurity for 3-year-old trotters at The Red Mile in Lexington. Nine horses entered the Futurity, so eliminations are unnecessary. Yannick Gingras will drive Father Patrick for trainer Jimmy Takter in the one-dash-for-the-cash event. Rounding out the field in post order are Il Sogno Dream, Martiniwithmuscle, Datsyuk, Hillustrious, Nuncio, Mr Lindy, DD's Hitman, and Lightning Force. Sunday's card also includes the $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity, $173,000 Allerage Farm Open Trot, $160,500 Allerage Farm Open Pace, $90,000 Allerage Farm Mare Pace, and $89,000 Allerage Farm Mare Trot. Father Patrick brings a four-race win streak to the Futurity, including a 4-1/2 length victory over Lightning Force in 1:50.4 in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile last Sunday. He also has won the $613,800 Canadian Trotting Classic, $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and $340,000 Zweig Memorial since losing by a half-length to Datsyuk in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. "Last week he was on cruise control and still trotted in sub-1:51," said Bowden, who owns Father Patrick with John Fielding, Christina Takter, Brittany Farms, Brixton Medical AB, and the group of Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. "Hopefully, we're in the winner's circle on Sunday. Jimmy gives me two thumbs up. I'm hoping that's going to be the case." Last year, the Diamond Creek-bred-and-owned Creatine won the Futurity for hometown trainer Bob Stewart. Bowden had planned to sell Creatine when he was a yearling, but the horse was withdrawn from the auction because of an infected hock and remained with Diamond Creek. Creatine races Sunday in the Allerage Farm Open Trot. "We've been with Bob since the beginning and for him to be a Kentucky guy, no offense, I love Father Patrick, but I don't think anything is going to top last year," Bowden said. "That was the most exciting thing for me. It was the first time. It was a homebred with a good friend of mine. We always believed in the horse and we finally won one of the big ones. That was exciting." The Bowdens started Diamond Creek Farm in 2005 in Paris, Ky., and now have a second location in Pennsylvania. Diamond Creek will stand Father Patrick as a stallion at the conclusion of his racing career. Father Patrick, bred by Brittany Farms, is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream. He is a full brother to million-dollar-earner Pastor Stephen. "We're very happy and lucky; we want to stand the best horses," Bowden said. "After his 2-year-old year, we took a huge risk that (Father Patrick) was going to come back and be dominant at 3. Right now it looks like our gamble is going to pay off. Cantab Hall is arguably the hottest sire in the sport, along with Muscle Hill, and here's his greatest son so far. It's a great sire line and we're hoping it continues with Father Patrick." The Kentucky Futurity is the second jewel in this year's Trotting Triple Crown. Trixton won the first, the Hambletonian, but has since been retired because of injury. The third jewel, the Yonkers Trot, is Oct. 25. Takter trained and drove Trixton in the Hambletonian. Another of his charges, Nuncio, finished second in the race. Father Patrick went off stride from post 10 and finished off the board for the only time in his career. Nuncio will be driven by John Campbell, his regular pilot, in Sunday's Futurity. Nuncio has won 12 of 22 career races and finished second in the other 10. Eight of those runner-up finishes have come behind Father Patrick. "Nuncio is one tough horse," Bowden said. "He's a great horse and in any other year he's the best horse. "One of these days you think he's going to beat his stablemate. But I hope it's not Sunday." Takter sends out the likely favorite in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, Shake It Cerry. She was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter and has won 10 of 12 races this season. She will start from post three with driver Ron Pierce. Scream And Shout and Heaven's Door will start inside of Shake It Cerry while to her outside are Highest Peak, Chivaree Hanover, Vanity Matters, and Yoga. Scream And Shout and Yoga also are from the Takter Stable. The Allerage Farm Open Trot features Sebastian K, the fastest horse in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 win earlier this year, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, 2010 Kentucky Futurity winner Wishing Stone and recent Centaur Trotting Classic winner Master Of Law. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and multiple-stakes-winner Classic Martine lead the way in the Allerage Farm Mare Trot, where they will encounter Dan Patch Award-winner and defending race winner Maven. Sweet Lou, who has won 10 of 15 races and nearly $1 million this year, and Foiled Again, North American harness racing's all-time money-winner, are among the 10 horses in the Allerage Farm Open Pace. Eleven horses were entered in the Allerage Farm Mare Pace, including three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette, stakes-winners Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow, world champion Shebestingin, last year's race winner Shelliscape, and 2012 winner Drop The Ball. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

Hanover Raceway closes out its 2014 season on Saturday night, and has added some extra special features to the final dash. First of all, Hanover has added 2 more races so we’ll have 12 races for our local horsemen. Hanover will also pay tribute to its top horsepeople and horses on saturday with its season ending awards presentations. The awards include top Driver, Trainer, Ab Fleishauer Horse of the Year, Claimer and Trotter of the year. GM Gord Dougan says with the nice weather expected he has also added the Red Rascal Band to play on the flat roof from 7-9:30pm.   Hanover Travel and Cruises will be on hand to announce the winner of the 2500 dollar travel voucher from all the FREE ballots collected over the course of the season.  Dougan adds, we’ll also award 2 sets of Adirondack Chairs, foot rests and end tables to 2 of the 16 winners of the Best Seats in the House draw each and every race night. Dougan has also ordered some extra Mohawk programs so fans will be able to follow the OSS Grassroots Championships at the same time as the live Hanover races.  and he says there were some prizes that were not picked up during the live season, so we’ll have extra prize draws for fans in attendance to win items like Hanover Raceway Sports Bags, Tshirts and other HR memorabilia. Post time for the final day of live racing is 7:15pm From the press box at Hanover Raceway

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