Day At The Track
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Haste trotted home for his 50th career victory, winning the 12th race at Northfield Park on Tuesday (June 21). The 14 year-old harness racing veteran, with 372 career starts, also has 56 seconds and 52 third place finishes. Haste (Inquirer-Over Proximity-Overcomer) has career earnings of $635,360 with a lifetime mark of 1:57.3 at Yonkers Raceway at age five. The trotter's richest win was in the $31,600 Ohio State Fair Stakes at Scioto Downs in 2005. Haste is a well-traveled campaigner -- his 50 wins have been spread across 20 different racing surfaces. Haste started from post three. He received a garden trip through fractions of :28, :58 and 1:27.3. He popped the pocket in the final quarter bested his competition by three-quarters of a length in 1:58.1. He returned $7.40 to win. Sue Stockwell trains Hate for owner Garry Martin of Aurora, Ohio. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was aboard for the winning drive. Ayers Ratliff

The 1:58.1 freshman filly harness racing trotting record set by Rose Run Keepsake and Steve Carter in 2008 was equaled on Tuesday (July 1) in Northfield Park's sixth race. First time starter, Youre're Majestic, appeared to be an unlikely candidate to equal a track record. The program showed her only line as a qualifier, trotting in 2:07.2. But when the horses crossed the finish, she was in front and no other two year-old filly has ever trotted the Flying Turns faster. Gloria Gillis of Mansfield, LA owns You're Majestic. Trainer, Ladarrius Whitaker called upon Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the winning drive. You're Majestic (Majestic Son-You're Adorable-Inquirer) started from post four. She sat in a stalking position and let her competition carve ambitious fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:28.2. Wrenn tipped her inside at the top of the stretch and You're Majestic responded like an experienced horse and bested her competition by ¼-length in 1:58.1. You're Majestic was the only freshman in the race and returned $27.40 to win. The win was one of six victories on the night for Ronnie Wrenn Jr. Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $7,500 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Wednesday’s (July 2) program.  Beginning in Race 3, the $7,500 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $1,458.07. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.      Wednesday’s post time is 6:00 p.m. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Dave Briggs, writing for the Guelph Mercury newspaper, and M. Kelly Young, writing for Hoof Beats magazine, were named the winners in the 52nd annual John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing journalism, the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) announced Monday. Meadowlands Racetrack photographer Michael Lisa and Dave Witten of Horseman and Fair World magazine were the winners in the 14th annual George Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography. Woodbine Entertainment won the 30th edition of the John Hervey Award for excellence in broadcasting for a feature on Sydney Weaver, a 13-year-old with cerebral palsy who is a licensed groom, horse owner, award-winning writer and public speaker. Briggs won the news/commentary category for his story titled “Horse barns at Mohawk ‘silent as a grave,’” which examined the shutting of the backstretch stables at Mohawk, and appeared in the Jan. 9, 2013 edition of the Guelph Mercury newspaper. Briggs has been awarded a record six Hervey honors. Melissa Keith received honorable mention in the news/commentary division for her story, “What Women Want; Can Racing Attract the Female Horseplayer?” It appeared in the April issue of Trot magazine. In the feature category, Young won for her story, “Win One for Ryan; Pacer races for stricken youngster,” which appeared in the November issue of Hoof Beats. The story recounted the chance meeting between Marc Reynolds and Marie Hunt and Reynolds naming a horse, River Run For Ryan, in honor of Hunt’s son, who has a rare genetic disease called Hunter Syndrome. Susan Higgins and Lauren Lee received honorable mention in the feature category. Higgins was recognized for her story, “‘Make Sure Things Go Right;’ Maine Cast fulfills a dying wish with sire stakes championship,” which appeared on the U.S. Trotting Association website on Nov. 21 and in the December issue of Hoof Beats. Lee was recognized for her story, “The Cornerstones,” about Meadowlands media duo Bob Heyden and Sam McKee entering the Communicators Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, which appeared in June 20 issue of The Canadian Sportsman. The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of longtime horseracing writer Neil Milbert, Dorf Feature Service newsroom assistant/writer Lou Monaco and Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. In the photography categories, Lisa won in the race feature division for a photograph of driver David Miller heading onto the track on a snowy night at the Meadowlands. The photo appeared in the March 13 issue of Horseman and Fair World as well as the March 14 issue of The Canadian Sportsman. Witten won in the race action category for a photograph of the first turn of the Hambletonian. The photo appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of Horseman and Fair World. Claus Andersen and Mark Hall received honorable mention in the race action category; Andersen for a photo of Bee A Magician winning the Hambletonian Oaks that appeared on the Oct. 17 cover of The Canadian Sportsman and Hall for a photo of Pet Rock winning the Winbak Pace that appeared on the USTA website on Sept. 19. Dave Landry and Barbara Livingston received honorable mention in the race feature category; Landry for a photo of John Campbell driving with his great nephew Tyler McLinchey that appeared on the Sept. 12 cover of The Canadian Sportsman and Livingston for a photo of retired star Staying Together and Kentucky Horse Park Equine Operations Director Wes Lanter that appeared on the USTA website on Oct. 1. The photography categories were judged by Bill Denver, the track photographer at Monmouth Park and Parx Racing as well as a regular contributor to the New York Daily News and Wall Street Journal, and Phil McAuliffe, a longtime newspaper and magazine photographer who worked as a harness racing groom while a teenager. In the broadcast category, Woodbine’s feature on Sydney Weaver was written, voiced and produced by Paul Salvalaggio. It originally aired on June 26 as part of the one-hour North America Cup presentation on The Score television network. To watch the video, click here. The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of award-winning longtime horseracing writer Neil Milbert, Daily Racing Form Programming Manager Lou Monaco and Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn. Hervey Award winners will be honored as part of the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Dover Downs. For more information about the banquet, visit www.ushwa.org. by Ken Weingartner for USHWA

Today at the New Jersey Racing Commission meeting their official report will state that the Borgata is now the only casino in Atlantic City to offer horse racing simulcasting. As of New Year’s Eve, Bally’s Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat all ended having simulcasting. The once great Mecca on the east coast for gambling has come upon hard times over the past years and horse players are the first to feel the effects.  Casinos in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland have taken their tolls on business along with online wagering sites. The casino operators state that profits from horse racing simulcasting have decreased to the point where it is no longer profitable to offer wagering on the horses so they have cut it out and thus are cutting their losses. About 12 miles from the casino strip in Atlantic City is Atlantic City Racecourse, which is also still offering simulcasting, but the majority of players who still enjoy watching and wagering on the ponies are flocking to the Borgata.  In December the Borgata posted simulcast revenue of more than $133,000, which was equal to the total amount of revenue from the other four casinos that called it quits on simulcasting. Most casinos thrive on being able to offer their patrons the opportunity to wager on any and all events they can legally offer. One could consider having simulcasting a proper addition to a gaming venue to keep patrons happy, even at a break even or loss, but such is not the case in Atlantic City. Thus the Borgata’s simulcasting revenue has already begun to increase as they are now the only game in town if you want to bet on horse racing. It is hard to believe that in the coming months that only one casino in AC will offer wagering on the Kentucky Derby. I guess the lines will be out on the street that day to place a bet. Alan Mitchell has been in Atlantic City since simulcasting began at the casinos back in 1993. He was the former harness racing handicapper for the Philadelphia Inquirer for many years who still follows and plays the horses. “I just can’t believe there is only one casino in all of Atlantic City that has simulcasting,” Mitchell said. “Now there is no place on the boardwalk to place a bet. And all the numbers totaled leaves room for at least one casino on the boardwalk to have a racebook. “Harrah’s came in years ago and built the casino and harness racetrack in Chester,” Mitchell said, “So they have invested in racing to get the casino yet their four casinos in AC have stopped simulcasting. That does not make sense. They own a racetrack yet cut out wagering on it at their sister casinos. “The Delaware Valley area was always steeped in tradition for horse racing.” Mitchell explained. “Liberty Bell Park, Brandywine Raceway, Garden State Park, Atlantic City Racecourse, Keystone “Philadelphia” Park and Delaware Park all had successful meets and now only three tracks are left because they are in Pennsylvania and have casinos attached to them. But Harrah’s Philadelphia is the worst because they have never really tried to promote racing. The place is very poorly run. “Harness racing was always a great night time entertainment venue in Philadelphia,” Mitchell explained. “And Harrah’s could have been popular if they raced at night instead of during the day and go against the other local thoroughbred tracks. That was just plain ludicrous. They have the same caliber of horses and the same top drivers competing as does the Meadowlands in New Jersey. But the Meadowlands races at night and takes in $3.5 million in handle while Harrah’s Philadelphia goes during the day and takes in maybe $500,000. Harrah’s has the lights to race at night but in all these years they have never made an effort to try a nighttime race schedule. If they had they may have gotten thousands of people to come out for the races at night. “Harrah’s is not going to change what they are doing,” Mitchell said. “I predict they will put their track and casino on the market and try to get out of the racing business in Chester. If they do I hope someone comes along who will give it a try with night racing. It may not be a solution to the simulcasting ending at the casinos in Atlantic City, but perhaps once the other casinos see how well the Borgata can do being the only location in town to place a horse racing bet, other casinos may come back and reopen. We can only hope.” By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com 

I'm Justa Lady, one of the all-time great trotting mares at The Meadows who combined talent and tenacity in a harness racing career that brought her 73 wins and nearly $700,000 in earnings, has been retired due to injury.

Rarely do horses driven by dash leading harness racing driver Jack Flanigen go off at 25-1 but that was the case on Wednesday night when Justine Colleen took the short route home to upset in the $7,000 Filly and Mares Open trot, at Batavia Downs Casino.

The venerable I'm Justa Lady, at 10 the oldest in the field, poured through the Lightning Lane to score a 7-1 upset in Wednesday's (May 25) $22,500 Filly & Mare Preferred Trot at The Meadows, the 72nd victory in her distinguished harness racing career.

No Satin Intended, who hadn't raced since Oct. 6, converted a perfect pocket trip to a shocking 21-1 upset harness racing victory in a division of Tuesday's (April 12) Valentowner Pace at The Meadows. Also capturing $15,000 opening-leg splits in the series for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers were Fall Bliss, Border Fighting and Zipnthruthehall.

For the second night in a row, it was a "Winter Wonderland in Western New York," as the curtain came down on another season of harness racing at America's oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs Casino.

Dink Adoo made up a big deficit with a furious stretch run to win the featured Open Handicap trot on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night's top harness racing purse of $24,000.

Habanero, trained Amber Buter and driven by husband Tyler, found racing room coming down the stretch with several trotters in contention to win the featured harness racing trot of the night (Tuesday October 12) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Demonstrating her dominance once again, Tom's OK Lady shrugged off the effects of a wide trip and easily captured Tuesday's (October 12) $22,500 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot - her sixth consecutive harness racing win and third straight from post 9 - at The Meadows.

Assigned post nine because of her recent dominance, Tom's OK Lady overcame a tough first quarter and held on late to capture her fifth consecutive harness racing victory in Tuesday's $22,500 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows.

Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon is back on top of the Billings Eastern Region harness racing leaderboard. After being sidelined for weeks due to cancer surgery, Hunsdon vaulted back to the lead after a victory at Yonkers Raceway on Monday night.

A high-priced claimer for most of the year, Fox Valley Armor may have left those ranks behind forever when he captured Monday's $22,500 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows for his fifth consecutive harness racing victory.

Passed at the three-quarters and in danger of falling back, Real Amor showed real spunk and rallied to capture the fastest division of Monday's harness racing $120,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake at The Meadows.

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