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WILKES-BARRE PA - The weather may have been cold and windy for the opening night of the 2019 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but one place where it was hot was near the claiming box, as no fewer the fifteen horses were haltered in the five claiming events at the mountain oval Saturday night - including Urban Renewal, the winner of the featured $20,000 claiming handicap pace on the opener. With two speedy favorites drawing posts one and two, driver Eric Carlson raced out and accepted a 4-tuck with the altered son of Cam's Card Shark, then came uncovered on a night when the speed was winless in the first nine races. That figure soon went to 0-for-10, as Urban Renewal grinded right to the lead on the turn, then drew off to win by 3¼ lengths in his farewell for trainer Mike Watson and Clifford Grundy, who saw the horse taken for a $35,000 claiming price. Each of the five claimers had at least two horses changing hands - the $30,000/$35,000-tagged feature saw half of the field of eight entering new barns, with hopeful owners laying out an amazing $297,500 trying to get a sharp horse for the early-season campaigns. In the race after the feature, a $17,500 conditioned pace, a horse was finally able to last wire-to-wire, and appropriately it was a horse backed by the noted front-favoring team of driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Hunter Oakes, the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Epaulette A, who took a North American mark of 1:51.3 for the ownership of the Northfolk Racing Stable. Epaulette A had favored Soho Wallstreet A coming at him late, but withstood that rival in crossing the beam ¾ of a length to the good. Both feature winners went over the $200,000 mark in career earnings with their triumphs. Jim Morrill Jr., who had made his first sulky appearance since October 26 on the Wednesday card at Buffalo, was in mid-season form on the Saturday Pocono program, guiding three winners, including $61.00 winner Western Alumni (who also was promptly claimed). Simon Allard also posted a driving triple. The trotters and pacers next take to the Pocono oval on Tuesday, when a 16-race card featuring several hopefuls for the upcoming Weiss Series goes postward at 4 p.m. - Pocono will race at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays this year in trying to garner the "simulcast gap" money, while the Saturday and Sunday cards will stay at 7 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

The Colin Brown-trained Patrickthepiranha has shown yet again why he’s the horse to beat for next month’s WA Derby, following an eventful running of the Sales Classic (2130m) for the three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park last night. In a race marred by an incident where two spectators threw shoes on to the track, all six horses managed to get around safely and it was Patrickthepiranha that outlasted the rest. Brown also had Its Rock And Roll in the $50,000 event, which he drove, while Dylan Egerton-Green took the drive on Patrickthepiranha. The veteran reinsman tried to find the front on Its Rock And Roll, but Shockwave was able to hold the front from barrier three. The early speed allowed Patrickthepiranha to settle behind the leaders and gain the perfect run throughout. Patrickthepiranha hit the front with 100m left, before $91 outsider Walsh flashed down the outside late to almost cause a major upset. The Four Starzzz Shark gelding held on to win by a head and ran home in 58.9. Egerton-Green said he was impressed by Patrickthepiranha’s performance and was fortunate to avoid a serious accident after the incident. “We actually didn’t see it, so he was fine,” he told RWWA Harness. “The horse went good and he’s probably got a bit of room for improvement off that run. “I don’t think he saw Walsh coming. “He always finds the front then switches off a bit, so I’ve probably got a bit of training to do there.” Egerton-Green said he was confident Patrickthepiranha could go to the WA Derby on April 6 without another run, but said the Group 2 Western Gateway next week could be a suitable option. Brown said he would consider running Its Rock And Roll in the Western Gateway next week as well. In the filly’s edition of the Sales Classic, Has No Fear proved too classy for her rivals in scoring a 7.4m victory. Elsewhere on the night, Eloquent Mach and Major Trojan continued to enhance their WA Derby claims, running first and second respectively in the WA Derby Prelude (2130m). The pair finished produced a repeat of the result from the Battle Of Bunbury last Saturday night. Meanwhile, Handsandwheels justified his short-priced quote to take out the Group 2 4&5YO Championship (2130m) for the Andrew De Campo stable. Handsandwheels was able to control the race from barrier one and never looked like being beaten. Vincenzo Peruggia and Lord Willoughby filled the minor placings. In the Free-For-All event of the evening, consistent pacer The Bucket List made a well-deserved return to the winners circle, storming home to beat Whozideawasthis and Vultan Tin.   Tim Walker

LEBANON, OH - Saint Patrick's weekend has certainly been a time of celebration for the Kayne Kauffman harness racing Stable! After winning the $25,000 championship of the Herb Coven Jr. Memorial Series for mares with Tura Lura Lural on Friday night, Kauffman returned to the Miami Valley winner's circle on Saturday night by winning the $25,000 championship leg of the George Williams Memorial Series for male pacers. Gerardo, a 4-year-old son of Rockin Image, took a new lifetime mark of 1:51.2 while topping Reagan's Avenger (Chris Page) and Velocity Smoke (Dan Noble). Despite drawing outside his main contenders, Kauffman sent Gerardo on a mission when the gate swung open, pacing three-wide around the first bend before clearing to the front just past the :26.3 opening panel. With an outer tier developing quickly thereafter, Kauffman kept the pedal to the metal through middle fractions of :54.1 and 1:22 before bravely pacing a :29.2 final quarter to seal the deal. Reagan's Avenger finally got to the winner's wheel at the head of the stretch, but Gerardo dug down deeper and widened to a 2-1/2 length margin at the wire. Gerardo's 1:51.2 clocking represented a new speed badge for owner Mark Bogen's newest acquisition, purchased at auction in February. Gerardo now has five career triumphs and $127,030 in purse earnings. Two races later, Fan Of Terror (Sam Widger) pulled a mild upset in the weekly feature, the $25,000 Open I Pace, also establishing a new lifetime mark of 1:50.4. The former claimer, a 7-year-old Western Terror gelding, also went gate to wire, holding off a determined Granite (Brett Miller) and fast-closing Dancin Yankee (Chris Page) with a gritty performance. Latest owner Therl Hensley has almost recouped the $30,000 he plucked down to claim Fan Of Terror a month ago. In three starts he has earned $28,750 with two wins and a second-all in Open class company. Peter Redder is now training the winner of 30 career races, including six victories in eight tries already this season. Fan Of Terror Angelo J Fra (Brett Miller) copped the $20,000 Open II, finding room along the pylons in the stretch to sneak through for a 1:51 score. Fox Valley Reggie (Tyler Smith) was runnerup and Evergreen Elite (Kyle Ater) picked up the show dough. Kris Hinchcliff has trained the winner, who surpassed $400,000 in earnings, for Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi LLC for the past several years. Driver Chris Page topped the driver's colony on Saturday night with a Grand Slam. His first of four wins came behind the trotter No Whip Chip, who paid $4.60 for his 1:56.1 score. His other triumphs were with The Optimist (1:53.1, $6.60), A True Rock Star (1:51.4, $9.20) and GD Western Joe (1:50.4, $8.00). Gregg Keidel

Warrior Inside started life as a winner. A Kentucky thoroughbred, the chestnut brown bay gelding racehorse trained at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In his debut last March in New Orleans, he placed second in a field of 63. But his fourth race at Churchill Downs was his last, coming in eighth. He'd developed career-ending bone chips in both front knees. Life after racing for most horses usually ends in one of two ways. Animals with good genes are used for stud service in hopes of producing superior stock. Others are sent to slaughter at rendering plants in Canada and Mexico. Furniture store chain IKEA made headlines in 2013 when traces of horse meat were found in the store's famous Swedish meatballs, which were sent out to several countries across Europe.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 80,000 horses annually get processed for meat. More: Oxford firefighters, Oakland Co. deputies rescue horse trapped under ice More: Woman gets jail for neglect of horses in western Michigan (L to R) Mr. Palmer and Warrior Inside play with each other at their stalls inside Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth, Michigan on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. This farm caters towards retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program that rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win. . (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Warrior Inside got lucky. He ended up at Canter Michigan, one of the few sanctuaries in the country that gives losing horses another shot. "When horses broke down, they would just get rid of them," said Canter Michigan's horse trainer Jennifer Blades on owners of racetracks. "Now, they're not allowed to do that, so that's made more horses come in through the Canter program." Warrior Inside, known as Indy by his handlers, is one of nine horses at Canter Michigan. The organization in Commerce Township, founded in 1998, today has 19 affiliates nationwide rehabbing former racehorses for new careers as show horses or for law enforcement. Blades, said most of the horses she sees “just weren’t fast enough” or suffered an injury — common for young horses. Jennifer Blades, the owner and operator of Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth poses for a portrait with Warrior Inside, a former race horse on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. The farm caters towards retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program which rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win. . (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Road to recovery Indy's trainer, Tim Glyshaw, donated the horse to Canter Michigan which sent him to Michigan State University's large animal clinic for surgery in May. Afterward, he spent six months in rehab at a Lansing-area farm.  But surgery and rehab is expensive. Horse operations usually cost between $3,000-$4,000 and rehab an additional $2,000-$3,000, Blades said. Canter Michigan relies on fundraisers and support from other nonprofit agencies. In December, the ASPCA granted $225,000 to nine equine rescue groups, including the Michigan and national chapters of Canter. After rehab, Blades said, training begins. “We start with groundwork,” said Blades. “We put them in a crosstie and they learn to be groomed, handled and to be quiet. A lot of the racehorses are very jumpy and they will kick at you and will bounce around a little bit to break the ties.” Warrior Inside, a former race horse, burns off energy inside Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.  (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   Not all horses receive the same training, since every equine is different. Some horses may only be able to spend 20 to 30 minutes outside, while others can last for an hour, Blades said.   “When I go to work with a horse, I have a basic plan, but I have to adapt it according to how they’re doing that day or each horse individually,” she said. “And they have their good and bad days just like we do. Some have more of a work ethic and really want to be good, and others don’t really want to be bothered."   Horse racing in Michigan  According to the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, a group dedicated to improving horse racing in the state, the rise of the sport in Michigan began in 1933 when Gov. William Comstock signed a law legalizing horse racing with wagering. Northville Downs became the state’s first racetrack, opening in 1944. Others soon followed, including Jackson Harness Raceway, Hazel Park Race Track and Detroit Race Course. Harness racers move down the home stretch at Northville Downs race track on Saturday, May 14, 2016 in Northville. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier)   Horse racing hit its peak in the late 1980s, with eight tracks operating across the state, in cities such as Flint, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant and Muskegon. But the industry began to decline with increasing competition from other types of wagering, starting with the creation of the Michigan Lottery in 1972. Casinos built on Indian reservations became big in the 1980s, and Detroit saw the opening of three casinos in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Simulcasting, where guests could watch and bet on multiple live races in one location, helped keep racetracks open a little longer, but could not solely save them. Muskegon Race Course closed in 1997, with many of the other racetracks following suit into the late 2000s.  Last year, Hazel Park Race Track abruptly closed after nearly 70 years of business.The track was one of two racetracks still operating in the state, and the only track offering thoroughbred racing. Shortly after the closing of Hazel Park, home builder Hunter Pasteur Homes announced that Northville Downs will be sold and converted into a mixed-use development. The track plans to stay open through the 2020 racing season, and hopes to operate at a new location after the property is sold. Canter Executive Director Robbie Timmons said the group received two horses from Hazel Park right after the track closed, with another brought in last September. One equine has already found a new home.    However, Blades does not expect any horses from Northville Downs, since it only has standardbred horses, which are used in harness racing. Canter only trains thoroughbreds, with the majority coming from places like Ohio and Kentucky. A new life Willowbrooke Farms in Plymouth, caters to retired race horses enrolled in the Canter USA program that rehabs, retrains and finds new homes for thoroughbreds who leave racing at young ages when they become injured or are not fast enough to win.  (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)   How long it takes to get a racehorse ready for adoption can vary. Blades said horses are available for sale within a couple of months. But equines that have been injured might not be suitable for adoption until they've spent five to eight months in the program. When Indy is ready, he's expected to fetch $1,800, Blades said. Horses at Canter usually sell for prices ranging from $800 to $2,000 to buyers from as far away as North Carolina and Texas. Blades has yet to learn what Indy’s new career path will be, but she believes he "can do almost anything." “He’s quiet, easygoing, so I think he could be a pleasure horse. He’s built to be a jumping horse the way he moves, but we have not jumped him yet because we didn’t want to push it too soon. I think he’s gonna make some Canter adult an awesome horse for whatever they choose. "I just want to see the horse go on and be happy and have a good career and a good home.” By Micah Walker Reprinted with permission of the Detroit Free Press

Google Me, the fastest pony in local harness racing, could potentially come out of early retirement. Tyler Lopes retired his five-year-old Indiana-bred mare after she broke multiple track records and became the first mare to win the prestigious Champion of Champions at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre last month. However, he suggested yesterday that he could potentially change his decision should his mare still have a burning desire to compete. “I don’t plan to bring her back but if she wants to race again then she goes back to racing,” said Lopes, who co-owns Google Me with his father Robert. “It all depends on how she copes (with retirement) because some horses don’t know how to deal with themselves when they’re not racing. “It’s like an athlete retiring. It’s always difficult at first because it’s all you know and some of them don’t cope so well with it and get quite stressed and what not. “Because of her heart and how much she loves to race she may not be happy not racing so we’ll wait and see and play it by ear. “If the mare turns around and tells us she wants to race then she goes back to racing.” Competing with driver Candyce Martins in the sulky, Google Me set the new overall track after achieving a lifetime best time of 1:01/1 during the qualifying heats of the Champion of Champions, which is also a new mare’s record and four-year-old’s record. Lopes’s horse then capped a phenomenal weekend at the track by becoming the first mare to win the Champion of Champions title, having achieved the fastest average time of 2:05/3 over the two heats in the Final Dash. Lopes said his horse’s historical feat was a “childhood dream come true”. “She broke multiple records at once so it was a lot to take in and a bit of a childhood dream come true for me to be honest,” he said. “To be honest, it took a while to sink it. “To do it in the manner that she did it was definitely a surprise but I always knew she could do it. “It was just a matter of when she chose to show us that type of speed. “In the back of my mind I was kind of hoping it would work out that way. It’s a fairytale ending and really couldn’t be better. It was literally perfect.” Lopes said he saw potential in the horse when he purchased her as a yearling. “I saw her running around with the other yearlings and she just caught my eye,” he recalled. “Looking at her I could tell this filly was going to grow into a serious racehorse. “I couldn’t have asked for a better horse. Everything about her is amazing; her personality, she’s easy to work with and she knows and loves her job.” Lopes thanked all those who played a role in his horse’s success. “It takes a whole team to make it work and be successful and everyone that was involved with her this year deserve a huge congratulations,” he said. “I’m very grateful to all of them. “The mare has definitely had a very good year and it would not have been possible without them.” By Colin Thompson Reprinted with permission of The Royal Gazette

The former AFL player at the centre of a bizarre incident in which a pair of shoes were allegedly thrown at horses during a race at at Gloucester Park last night has responded to the claims with a social media post. Swan Districts player Rhys Palmer posted an update on the saga on Facebook about 4.00pm this afternoon, stating he wanted to provide “clarity as to the events that unfolded” that were just a case of “quite simply boys being boys”. “Firstly, let me be clear, no shoe was deliberately thrown at a horse during any race, & I have the utmost respect for the racing community and all those involved,” the post read. “It was simply unfortunate timing. “I was having a light hearted wrestle with a young teammate, oblivious to what was happening around us. “What transpired was a shoe being thrown which unbeknown to us was unfortunately at the same time the horses had made their way around the course.” In the post, Palmer apologised to the owners, trainers and drivers involved, as well as his football club, and said security footage would support his version of events. He rounded his response off with a pledge to donate to the Off The Track program that rehomes retired racehorses. While some remained sceptical, many who responded to the post applauded Palmer’s efforts to allay concern the incident was deliberate. Racing and Wagering WA stewards are investigating the incident with a possibility the culprits will be banned from all harness racing, horse racing and greyhound racing clubs in WA. Palmer has been playing in the WAFL since his AFL career ended in 2017 after 123 games with the Dockers, the Giants and finally Carlton. Swan Districts has confirmed their players were involved in the incident at Gloucester Park and were investigating what happened. One of the horses in the race was part-owned by the Swan Districts coach. By Rory Campbell Reprinted with permission of 7News Perth

Gore trainer Syd Breen had a moment to cherish at Wyndham on Saturday when he prepared Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket to quinella the MLT/Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup. “I've never had a quinella in a race before,” an excited Breen said “but that's the second time I've had three in a race and Sagwitch has won them both.” “I broke him as a yearling and liked him, Paul Matheson bought him, then as a two-year-old sold him to Australia for $100,000,” explained Breen. “But he didn't pass a vet test so Paul and his wife Nancy carried on with him and gave me 10 percent. He is Nancy's first horse. After training for a period during the 1990s, Breen had a break and described Sagwitch - seven wins - as his best, at least since resuming in 2014. Matheson, who manages the Falls Hotel in Mataura for the race sponsoring Mataura Licensing Trust, also has a share in Santanna's Rocket. So too has Ross Cleland, described by Breen as an integral part of his operation. “Ross has had shares in a lot of good horses, Night Allowance was one of them.” Another enjoying the result was winning driver and former local,but now Rangiora-based Mark Hurrell, who had finished last aboard Sagwitch in the Autumn Cup at Ascot Park a fortnight ago. “He stepped good today, he's not always the best away,” Hurrell said. “He was slow away last time then they went slow and sprinted home, it didn't suit him. He's better if they go hard and he doesn't need to do any work.” Sagwitch settled fifth in line but when the one-out train formed a lap out, the five-year-old was shuffled back. Last from the 1200 to the 600, Hurrell then moved the five-year-old forward four wide and he kept the run going right to the post winning by a length and a quarter in a smart 4:00.9. “I could have moved when they went forward but I didn't want him to do much so waited before I put him in the race, he just kept going,” said Hurrell. Tyler Dewe's joy after winning aboard The Commando in the Lamb Drive/Cattle Graziers Trot at Wyndham on Saturday could well have been ever greater. The Commando was the 599th winner for trainer Phil Williamson who had expected a big run at Addington on Friday night from Ultimate Stride. The abandonment of the meeting, as consequence of the shooting drama in Christchurch, put paid to that. Had the juvenile made a winning debut on Friday, the next day Dewe would have been handed the honour of getting the 600th. However, the win itself was enough for Dewe who joined the staff at Williamsons around Christmas time and has relished his time in Oamaru. “It's good to get the opportunity, I love it there,” said Dewe who was scoring on a Williamson horse for the first time. “Matt helped me get the job and I stay with Brad.” Dewe was also thrilled to get the win for his grandfather Arnold Dewe “He has been one of my biggest supporters and is quite ill,” he said. The Commando was bred by Bev Williamson and passed to her son Matthew who had driven the four-year-old in all but one of his previous starts. Attendance at a birthday party in Australia meant Matthew missed the win. Bev Williamson also featured as the winning breeder of Chinese Whisper, successful in the Neville Cronin Memorial Trot. The three-year-old out of Little Contessa was trained and driven by Bev's son Nathan and is raced by Nathan's wife Katie in partnership with farrier Brendan Franks. A Sundon gelding, Chinese Whisper was racing for just the second time and despite the unruly draw of 13, was comfortable when making it two from two. Back in the field early, he got a drag up on the back of Robbie Royale commencing the last lap, led from the 900 and was too strong. “I've never pulled the plugs on him yet so I don't know what would happen but he is probably doing his best anyway,” Nathan Williamson said. “He's got good breeding, manners, gait, speed, but physically is not ready to do much more. There's a Gold Chip coming up for him so we'll have to make a decision whether to carry on or let him strengthen, he should be a better four-year-old.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

Big wins are nothing new to Gary Woodham but the success of Flying Even Bettor in the $30,000 group three Alabar NZ Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham on Saturday gave him a great deal of satisfaction. Along with his wife Kerry, the Plimmerton-based General Manager Customer for the New Zealand Racing Board races Flying Even Bettor with Glenys and Phil Kennard, Ken and Karen Breckon as Breckon Racing Syndicate, along with Jim and Ann Gibbs. The syndicate was formed three years ago and in our first year we got Spankem and The Devils Own,” Needham explained, “Another Masterpiece was the next and then Flying Even Bettor.” The Devils Own and Another Masterpiece finished second in the Kindergartens of their year, 2017 and 2018. “Three times we've tried, following the same preparation each time, and now we've won it,” Woodham said. At the end of their appropriate seasons, both Spankem and Another Masterpiece were named two-year-olds of the year with Spankem going on to land the million dollar Miracle Mile at the beginning of this month. “When The Devils Own went to Australia for the Victoria Derby last year he got a virus and was very ill. He's back in work now with Brent Mangos and he'll be the trainer when he races again.” But the win meant more to Woodham than picking up a group three. For some time he has been studying the operation of harness racing in the region and doesn't need a second excuse to visit. “Harness Racing New Zealand used the model of Southern Harness as a text book case and I wanted to know more about it,” he said. “With the help of Kevin McNaught (Chairman) and Jason Broad (General Manager), I've seen it up close and love the way all the clubs are working together. They're doing right for the region, take costs out and that allows them to increase stakes. This is my 12th visit.” Woodham also acknowledged their assistance when the Wyndham Club raced at Cromwell earlier in the year. “We were about to launch our new betting platform and needed their help with race times, we wanted them to finish earlier. They made the changes to work in with us and we are indebted to them. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen–trained Flying Even Bettor was driven by Blair Orange to give him his third win in the race. Three wide for the first 500 metres, the Bettor's Delight was gelding no sooner one-out than stablemate Copperfield arrived to give him cover. Once in the straight Flying Even Bettor was unleashed and soon put the issue beyond doubt, to win in 1:54.4. “He didn't show a lot of gate speed but it worked out well,” said Orange who was sitting behind the winner for the first time. “He felt good on the turn and when he let down he found the line well.” Earlier, Orange had won aboard the Paul Court-trained Major Sass. It was her third win from five starts, all of the wins at Wyndham. The three-year-old daughter of Art Major led out and pulled clear in the straight to win the Southland Harness Awards Ladyship Final by four and three quarters lengths in 1:56.2. Orange scored his third win for the day aboard Ohoka Achilles who clocked 2:55.9 for the mobile 2400 metres of the Astra Stu and Jean Pace. It was a comfortable win for the four-year-old who had chased U May Cullect home at Ascot Park last Saturday. The half-brother to Ohoka Texas is trained at Woodend Beach by former Wyndham horseman Regan Todd. After Tartan Robyn scored his second win in nine starts when taking out the PGG Wrightson Real Estate Cromwell Pace for owner and breeder Graeme Edgar, trainer Hamish Hunter described the four-year-old as a horse that couldn't be rushed. “He's got a patient owner and has taken lots of time,” said Hunter, “18 months ago he couldn't pace but turned the corner in the spring and gets a little better each time.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

March 15, 2019 - Today was the finale of the harness racing Winter Meet at Cagnes-sur-Mer and there was a good lineup of trotting action that began with the Prix de Syracuse (purse 27,000€, 2925 meters, 13 European starters). In this race the 5/10 favorite Popeye Diamant (8g Love You-Jasmin Diamant) won again timed in 1.14.5kr, his fourth win in eight starts in France. Gerhard Biendl trains and drove the winner for Stall M.S. Diamanten as he increased his career earnings to 154,789€. 3.4/1 Ursus Caf (6m Toss Out-Nespola Caf) was two lengths back second for Enrico Bellei, and third was 8.3/1 Callicot du Vivier (7g Repeat Love-Kalika du Vivier) with trainer Y-A Briand at the lines. Popeye Diamant The Cagnes-sur-Mer Winter Meet finale feature today was the Gr. III Prix de Vincennes (purse 80,000€, 2925 meters, 11 starters). The 4.9/1 odds Bulle de Laumont (8f Hand du Vivier-Ozo de Laumont) scored timed in 1.13.8kr with trainer Stephane Cingland aboard for owner Josiane Pigaue, her 18th career win in 52 starts that raised career earnings to 306,830€. 78.6/1 Creative Castel (f Pomerol de Laumac) was second for J.Ch. Feron, the pilot for trainer Nicolas Ensch. 2.7/1 Balbir (8g Ganymede) took third for trainer/driver Mickael Cormy, ahead of the 2/1 favorite Calle Crown (5m Great Challenger) with David Bekaert up. 2.9/1 Bolt (8m Prince Gede) was fifth for Junior Guelpa in this competitive field. Bulle de Laumont To watch a replay of this race click here.             Today’s featured trot at Mauquenchy was the Prix de la Societe des Courses de Bihorel (purse 29,000€, 2850 meters, 14 European starters) and 1.6/1 favorite Moni Viking (6m Maharajah-Jeunesse Doree) prevailed with Bryan Coppens teaming for trainer Pierre Vercruysse. The winner is owned in Norway by Jan Lyng and racing barefoot today he recorded his third victory in 10 starts in France, now for 186,629€ earned for the career. 12.6/1 Jerry Mom (6m Ready Cash-Graziella) rallied for second handled by David Thomain for trainer Luc Roelens and owner JPB Building BVBA, this one a full-brother to Traders. 19.5/1 Concerto Cointerie (g Quopeck) took third for Nicolas Dromigny ahead of 4.2/1 Caresse (7f Ready Cash-Stefani Hanover) reined by Eric Raffin for trainer Bjorn Goop. Moni Viking Earlier in the week it was announced that the 2019 Prix d’Amerique winner, Belina Josselyn, was sidelined until Fall Season due to injury. Belina also won the Prix de Paris marathon event that completed the France Triple Crown events. She was the first mare in 20 years to win the Amerique. The injury statement follows (translated): Wednesday, late in the morning, Jean-Michel Bazire gave news of his champion, Bélina Josselyn (eight years old), victim of a slight crack of the rudimentary internal metacarpal of the anterior left. "At the end of the meeting, I felt that she had lost some flexibility, but I thought the whole rest would do her good," says JMB. But we saw a little mark on the result of the control radio that she passed; This is a small crack. Nothing serious, he adds, even if his spring season is cancelled. " Heroic, this winter, in Vincennes, during which time she won the Grand Prix of America and the Paris Marathon, the ballerina of the French trot could be reviewed in the fall, in the province. "If all goes well, she will be re-started in September or October," said Bazire. Belina will have six weeks of stall rest due to the injury. Thomas H. Hicks

March 15, 2019 - The great gelding Aubrion du Gers (9g Memphis du Rib-J’Arrive du Gers) returned to harness racing action today at Caen, winning the Prix de Cauvicourt (purse 32,000€, 2200 meters autostart, 14 starters in this Quinte+ event). Owner/trainer Jean Michel Bazire teamed the now 42-time winner in just 66 starts to the 1.13.2kr timed victory. His career earnings reached 2,197,179€ with today’s win. Marie Brigette Anty bred this champion. The 1/5 favorite left the gate from post one and was away third between horses before gaining the lead that he did not relinquish. 25.1/1 Blues de Landiers (8g Phlegyas-Mega des Landiers) rallied for second and 17.7/1 Clif de Pommereux (7m Love You-Noune du Pommereux) took third with David Thomain up for trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. 19.6/1 Dreammoko (6m Timoko) took fourth ahead of 32.6/1 Alamo du Goutier. The Quinte+ payoff for a winning 2€ ticket was 1844.60€. There were 495 winning tickets and the Q+ pool was 3,883,229€. The race total pools, all bets, reached 8,029,000€. Aubrion du Gers For the Race Replay click here.   On the same card was the Prix de Canapville (purse 31,000€, 2450 meters, 13 European starters) and the 1.12.7kr timed winner was 2.1/1 Very Kronos (5m Ready Cash-Glide About-Yankee Glide) with Erik Adielsson at the lines for trainer Svante Bath and owner Kjell Johansson. The winners career earnings increased to 133,507€ as Very Kronos won his first race in France in two starts. 10.4/1 Excellent (5m Real de Lou) was second with Alexandre Abrivard up for breeder/owner/trainer L.Cl. Abrivard. 5.6/1 Current Affair (5f Love You-Global Future) secured the third check with David Thomain aboard for trainer Tomas Malmqvist. 2.2/1 Ghazi BR (5m Cantab Hall-Fiery Chip) was fourth for trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire. The pace in this race was contested initially by Spickleback Face (5g Raja Mirchi-No Finish Line) that Robert Bergh trains and Frabck Nivard teamed. Very Kronos For the race replay click here.    Thomas H. Hicks

YONKERS, N.Y. – Late last summer, harness racing trainer Amanda Kelley skimmed through a sales listing in the hopes of finding a reasonably priced horse who could race in the claiming ranks at Saratoga Raceway. Such a horse would fit longtime owner Fred Scheigert’s stable, which is predominantly comprised of claimers and New York breds who fit at the Spa. Among the listings was Mar Nien, who came with a $12,500 price tag. Kelley began researching the horse and after looking at his lines, realized the listed price had to be a mistake. The Australian-bred pacer by Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Armbro Operative mare Champagnesheffield began his stateside career in August and showed promise. He won his debut at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 1:50.2 for Chris Scicluna before posting two runner-up efforts timed in 1:50.4 and 1:49.2. Kelley followed up on the listing and sure enough, the correct price was much higher. She was sure Scheigert wouldn’t want to make such a sizeable outlay on one horse, but she decided to present the opportunity anyway. “I asked the owners if they would be interested,” Kelley remembered. “I told them it could be a really good investment for the stable and shockingly they said, ‘OK, go look at him.’ So, we did, and it went from there. He checked out with a clean bill of health and came on the team.” Kelley grew up training American Saddlebreds before delving into the Standardbred world working on breeding farms. She spent time helping trainers at Saratoga and fell in love with racing. Pushed by her mentors, Kelley worked to earn her training license. She made her first start in 2015 and soon connected with Scheigert. Less than a year after getting her license, Kelley was training all his horses. “They knew me, they were comfortable with me, and asked if I would take all their horses. It was everything. It was terrifying,” she said. “They like to do things a certain way. They like mostly claiming. Mar Nien is actually one of the first purchases I’ve ever done for them, aside from claiming.”' Mar Nien made his presence known from the moment he entered Kelley’s stable. The gelding came with a personality that set him apart. “He has a little goofball attitude. I feel he’s talented, I really like him, and he’s fast, but his personality is playful,” Kelley explained. “He loves the other horses, he talks to everybody. He’s definitely a neat personality in the barn.  “His head is constantly going, it’s on a swivel. He has to look at everything,” she continued. “You could be jogging him along and his head is completely to the left or right. He’s very observant; he catches everything. He likes his mid-morning naps, don’t bother him then. But he loves attention, you can give him hugs, he’ll put his head on you. He’s cool to be around.” Mar Nien also proved to be a handful on the racetrack and keeping him calm in the morning became a priority.  “He can get a bit aggressive. He likes to work, he likes his job,” Kelley said. “We try to keep him quiet when he jogs because he likes to be a little more enthusiastic than you want. If someone else is training out there, hang on, because he thinks he should be doing it, too. He just has a really good work ethic. He covers the ground nice, he’s smooth, there’s just no wasted movement with him. He’s a little guy but has a big heart and big motor.” Mar Nien debuted for Kelley and Scheigert in a $10,170 overnight at Saratoga September 15. With Bruce Aldrich, Jr. in the sulky, the gelding capitalized on a pocket trip and posted a 1:51.1 victory with a :27.1 final quarter. The following week, Mar Nien circled the field to win the $15,000 Open Handicap in 1:52. “His first start, I said, ‘OK, now we’re going to see what kind of horse he is.’ It’s always nerve-wracking the first start,” Kelley said. “He still had the plugs in. We were like, ‘wow.’ Bruce shook Mr. Scheigert’s hand and he said, ‘you have a nice animal.’ That was really exciting to hear. The next week, it was just a repeat. It was very exciting.” Mar Nien earned three victories and two placings from five more starts to close his 2018 season before Kelley gave him a break for the winter. Although any plans were contingent on how Mar Nien trained back, Kelley kept the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series in the back of her mind. Mar Nien qualified back February 19 at Pompano Park, winning in 1:55.3 from post nine. A week later, the 7-year-old won another trial at the south-Florida oval, skipping over a sloppy track in 1:51. “We qualified him once and he went easy, took him back and just came the second half. I trained him a mile-and-a-half that week, then requalified him. This time, we asked him a little bit,” Kelley said. “When the time came up, we were like, ‘woah.’ I don’t know if we were quite expecting to go that much, but he just does it on his own. He came out of that really good and then we shipped up.” Mar Nien will make his seasonal debut in the ninth race Saturday (March 16) at Yonkers Raceway, the sixth and final division of the Levy Series first leg. It will be Kelley’s first time harnessing a horse in a Grand Circuit race. “It’s terrifying, it’s exciting,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even get this opportunity and I’m so thankful for it. I haven’t done racehorses my whole life, but people give you this opportunity and say, ‘we trust you with this.’ To give you a nice animal, it’s pretty awesome. “I’m really thankful for the people around me, the people in the barn and the people who helped make this happen,” Kelley continued. “The owners and everybody that’s been there for me. I’ve needed help along the way and these are great people.” Mar Nien drew post one and will start as the race’s 5-2 morning line favorite with Greg Merton in the sulky. He will face the likes of More The Better, who drew post three and is 3-1 off a runner-up finish from post eight in a local $23,000 overnight March 9. Gokudo Hanover will start from post two, an improvement from the outside posts that hampered his last two outings; the 7-year-old gelding is 7-2 for Brennan and DiDomenico.  Bellow’s Binge won a $29,000 overnight in his last start March 9 and is a 7-2 morning line for Bartlett and Banca. Mach Doro will make his second start for Cushing and Gibbs after winning on debut March 4, but will have to overcome post seven. Cruise Patrol, Lockton Luck, and Ballerat Boomerang complete the field.  “To me, every horse in there is a threat,” Kelley said. “It’s all the way the race works out. I would love to get away first or second. I’d like to see him get away like that and handle anything that comes at him. I just hope he finishes strong and he races strong. My job is just to make sure he shows up and races and finishes strong.” Saturday night’s card features six divisions of the Levy Series First Leg. Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 15, 2019 -- Beware the Ides of March (Friday the 15th), provided you weren't mesmerized by the start of Yonkers Raceway's harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker. Five, $40,000 groupings were consecutively contested, featuring the best pacing mares around. Here's the skinny... First division Odds-on Ideal Lifestyle A (George Brennan, $3.90)--from post position No. 2--took over from lone leaver Twinkle (Scott Zeron) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile, then held sway (:57.2, 1:24.4, life-best 1:52.3). Twinkle tried the winner inside through the lane, but missed a length. Write Me a Song (Jordan Stratton) was a non-threatening third, with Newborn Sassy (Tin Tetrick) and Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno) settled for the minors. For Ideal Lifestyle A, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Western Ideal owned and trained by Tahnee Camilleri, it was her second win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.40, the triple returned $40.60 and the superfecta paid $153.50. Ideal Lifestyle A Second division With the rain teeming down, a first-up--from post No. 4--Delightmemphisn (Jason Bartlett, $6.60) snapped 2-5 choice Bettor Joy N (Tetrick) at the (1:53) wire. First leader Magic Forces (Brenan) was a best-of-the-rest third, with Freakonomics (Zeron) and Sell a Bit N (Stratton) picking off the final pay envelopes. Bettor Joy N had laid down early intervals of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:24.2, but just faltered by a short nose. For second choice Delightfulmemphisn, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Enzed Racing and trained by Nifty Norman, it was her fifth win in eight '19 tries. The exacta paid $11.40, the triple returned $24.80 and the superfecta paid $57. Third division Rain continued and so did formful results. It was a down-the-road--from post No. 3--Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan, $2.60) winning as she pleased (:28.1, :56.3, 1:25, 1:52.2). Rockstar Angel A (Zeron) chased from a loose pocket, beaten 3½ lengths. A weak, first-up Queen Lostris N (Mark MacDonald), Bettor's Up (Bartlett) and Lakeisha Hall (Brennan) were the other payees. For Apple Bottom Jeans, a 6-year-old daughter of Mr. Apples co-owned by Ed Gold, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro & Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Dylan Davis, it was her third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $9.20, the triple returned $52.50 and the superfecta paid $160.50. Fourth division More precipitation, more predictable performances. From post No. 6, Favored Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr., $5.50) eschewed an early three-hole, then completed her wet rounds (:26.4, :56.4, 1:24.3, life-best 1:52.1). Feelin' Red Hot (Brennan) took a shot from the pocket, but missed by three-quarters of a length. For Seaswift Joy N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Brad Grant and trained by Tony Alagna, it was her third win in five '19 efforts (3-for-3 here). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $15.60, the triple returned $87 and the superfecta paid $339. Seaswift Joy N Fifth division ....and the theme continued. Defending series champ Shartin N (Tetrick, $2.20), began her purse season by fooling very few. From post No. 2, she found herself away third before finding front. From there (:27.4, :56, 1:24.3, 1:52.2), she was a puny parimutuel proposition. Don't Think Twice A (Bartlett) made first lead, yielded and missed, beaten a half-length. Bettorb Chevron N (Stratton) closed for third, with Dude'salady (Marohn Jr.) and Mach it a Par (Brennan) settling for the small change. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin in America Kiwi lass, co-owned by her chauffer, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she comes off a 19-for-24, million-dollar season. The exacta paid $5.60, the superfecta returned $10.40 and the superfecta paid $34.40. Saturday evening's (March 16th) opener of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series features six, $50,000 divisions (races 4 through 9) for the Free-For-All gentlemen folks. Earlier Friday evening, Dan Dube knocked an item off the to-do list, getting career win No. 8,999 with Rural Art ($6.30) in the $20,000, third-race pace (1:54.4, updates if necessary) Frank Drucker

WASHINGTON, PA, March 15, 2019 -- Dew A Little Dance and Wild Wild Western each captured his second straight $12,500 split in Friday's second leg of the Walter Russell Memorial Pace for 3- and 4-year-old colts, stallions and geldings at The Meadows. A 4-year-old A Rocknroll Dance-Artbitration gelding, Dew A Little Dance has been ahead at every call in the series for Tony Hall, trainer Norm Parker and owner Tom Klosky, Jr. He prevailed in 1:52.4, 2-3/4 lengths better than Delray Dude, with Stonelake third. Parker earned a Walter Russell training sweep when Wild Wild Western, a sophomore son of Western Ideal-Caila Fra making only his third career start, rallied for Mike Wilder to score in 1:54.2. Touch Of The West was second, beaten 2-3/4 lengths, while Big Pocket Teen completed the ticket. Jacobs Creek Racing, Andrew Altobelli and John Deters campaign Wild Wild Western Hall, Parker and Wilder each fashioned a triple on the 13-race card while the broodmare Artbitration enjoyed a rare double as another of her sons, Klosky-owned Dew N Doughnuts, won a conditioned pace. Dew A Little Dance         - Chris Gooden photo The Meadows currently is hosting four series for 3- and 4-year-olds, with all championships set for Friday, March 22, first post 1:05 PM. In other second-leg action this week: Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot -- Fillies & Mares Sweet Madam opened a big lead early and held off a pair of challengers late to triumph in 1:57, fastest this year for a sophomore filly trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Galary Girl was second, a neck back, while Famous Dilemma completed the ticket. Hall piloted the daughter of Winning Mister-Sweet Mademoiselle for trainer Parker and owner/breeder Bob Key. Jim Pantaleano took the other $12,500 divisions with Revival and Moshannon Magic. In the $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot, Party At The Banks blew away the field with a 27.4 third quarter for Dave Palone and scored in 1:54.2. Ron Burke conditions the 5-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K-Beach Party As, whose career earnings now stand at $135,923, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Wilder and Pantaleano each garnered three wins on the 13-race program.   Ken Weaver Memorial Trot -- Colts, Stallions & Geldings Looped from the gate, Explosive Magic continued to the front and scored a decisive 1:56.4 victory in Tuesday's fastest division. Smokee Mirrors and Bellsandwhistles took the other $12,500 splits. Brian Zendt tallied a Ken Weaver double -- among his three wins on the 13-race card -- behind Explosive Magic and Smokee Mirrors. Explosive Magic, who suffered a neck defeat in the opening leg, made amends with his powerful front-end victory for trainer Dirk Simpson and owners Dirk Simpson Stable and Lawrence Barnett. The 3-year-old Explosive Matter-Magical Paige gelding downed Cash Hit by 2 lengths, with Explosive Form third. Elsewhere on the card, Windsun Glory made a successful return from a three-month layoff with a 1:53 win from post 9 in the $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Palone was aboard for Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva Stables and Larry Karr. The 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Windsun Princess now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $380,368.   Donna Dunn Memorial Pace -- Fillies & Mares Walk On Air followed the live cover of her stablemate, Hip To My Lou, then blitzed by her in the lane to capture her division. The other $12,500 split went to She Dragons. Walk On Air, a 3-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou-Into Thin Air, took a mark last year of 1:56.4 but hadn't raced since Sept. 25. Nevertheless, she had enough pop for Dan Charlino to out-finish Hip To My Lou by 2 lengths in 1:55.2, with Flipping Fun third. Burke conditions Walk On Air for Burke Racing Stable, Adriano Sorella and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. In the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, Mac Deeno sprang a 17-1 upset in 1:56.3 over a "good" surface for Pantaleano, trainer J.L. Adams and owner Mike Foote. The 6-year-old son of Broadway Hall-Macdeena vaulted over $200,000 in career earnings.   Evan Pattak

For Jeff Connelly, training standardbreds is an escape from the battles of life on the farm. It's something to look forward to when the times are tough and a distraction from the day-to-day grind. And given that the sport is only a hobby, it's no surprise the 70-year-old has long periods without success. But Connelly was the toast of home club Birchip on Sunday when his gelding Clontarf Guy bolted up in the McLennan Bulk Fuel Pace (2150m). Driver James Herbertson had the son of Union Guy tucked away three-back-the-pegs for much of the race, but found clear air down the back straight the final time and the horse zipped around the field for a dominant victory. The result ended a long time between drinks for the Birchip Harness Racing Club committee member, who last prepared a winner all the way back in November 2000. On that occasion, it was Pop A Top Again that broke through for his one and only career triumph. Since then, Connelly has had more than 140 starters without a win. "I gave it (training) away for five years. I'm a farmer and I just lost a little bit of interest for a while," he said. After that break from the sport, it was essentially Clontarf Guy that encouraged Connelly to go and regain his trainer's licence. "I would have broken Clontarf Guy in and it would have taken me two years to get him running. And I wouldn't have got my licence back until he was ready to go ... so it's been five or six years (I've been back training)," Connelly said. "It's taken until now to win a race with him ... it's been a battle." Clontarf Guy's breakthrough came at his 41st trip to the races and at the age of eight. But given the way he attacked the line to win by more than 12m, there looks to be a few more in store. "I went there not expecting to win the race," Connelly, the breeder and owner, said. "I've changed his training and I changed his blinkers ... he raced at Swan Hill three weeks ago and he was showing a lot there, but they locked wheels and he got flattened. He was put out of the race more or less. "But on Sunday, he was just a different horse. I had a damn good day. I was rapt and I wasn't expecting it - not the way it happened." Connelly, a former president of the Birchip club and past winner of the Mallee Bull Pacing Cup, said he became involved in horse racing around the time he moved to his farm about 40 years ago. "Horses take my mind off the farm. We have some tough times on the farm and if I've got a horse to jog around of a morning, you think of something else instead of the farm," he said. A bumper crowd turned out for Sunday's meeting and watched Dunrobbin take home the 2019 Mallee Bull Pacing Cup. Trained by Mark Thompson and driven by Rodney Petroff, the four-year-old gelding beat Top The Ace (Peter Fitzpatrick/James Herbertson) and John Richard (Rod Carberry/Michael Bellman). Clontarf Guy has drawn barrier four for the Patrick Dwyer Memorial Pace (2250m) at Boort on Sunday. Tim O'Connor for Trots Media

Having devised its Vision Capture Project to move beyond established broadcast workflows and OB in 2017, the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) recently called on solutions from German broadcast innovator Lawo to further revise and streamline its production model. Now operating four OBs instead of six, with three Mercedes Sprinter vans and a fixed site to cover metropolitan race events from a central control room, using Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) provides integrated control. NZRB handles New Zealand’s Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) operation for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing, scheduling daily racing and selling racing and sports bets through a retail network, online and telephony channels. NZRB is also behind the broadcast of racing on two national television channels and Trackside Radio. In 2017, and with OB trucks that were close on a decade of very hard use, the NZRB faced 1,100 OB days racing across the country each year – the number of events and variety of scale bringing into question its previous production standards and raising the opportunity of mixed OB and Remote Production. Following moving to an IP Layer 3 network, Phase 2 of the project saw the NZRB team work with Sony on four HD-capable and scalable OB trucks to cover its existing and very demanding nationwide OB workflow. As part of this design the NZRB team identified VSM as integral to achieving the same flexibility and scalability as seen in the Remote Production model, allowing the shared use of ‘Expansion’ vehicles to seamlessly enhance capability such as extra workspaces and camera count. VSM provides operators with overarching control over their systems in an extremely adaptable way – user panels and interfaces can be configured without limitation in order to meet the requirements of different workflows and applications, with the whole system under redundant control. “One of the key selling points of VSM was the portfolio of support and compatibility for third-party protocols, in addition to Lawo’s own products with Ember+. This was key given the wide range of products used in the design of the HD OBs, without compromising on capability,” says NZRB Broadcast Engineer Michael Tompkins. As Lawo regional representative, Professional Audio & Television (PAT) was instrumental in the successful application of the advanced technology underlying the migration. “Initially, we had several whiteboard sessions that gave us confidence we had a solid idea that could work,” says NZRB’s Vision Capture Project SME Jamie Annan. “PAT had the knowledge and expertise to assist in design, configure ,and troubleshoot a system using the equipment they sold, rather than being there just to sell a product.” Using the 1Gbps Layer 3 network between remote site and control room, and 10Gbps Layer 3 between control rooms, the new model uses a mix of J2K, SMPTE 2022-6, and AES67/Ravenna to provide video and audio between each layer of production under a VSM control system run from two separate locations, ensuring geographical redundancy. The OB design had to maintain the NZRB’s ability to cover the full extent of its racing, but be physically smaller in size, while also providing greater cost efficiencies across the production. Internally, the trucks had to provide cost-efficient yet scalable industry-standard capabilities – requiring VSM to provide integrated control of switchers, routers, and a replay server as well as the connecting network. The basic daily OB setup for a truck covers running up to ten system cameras, with capacity for 12 and other SDI, Commentary, Presentation area and roaming interviews, on a typical day internal crew is Director/Vision switcher, Sound Op, Replay op, Engineer, and a Vision Control op – all operating from within the truck. VSM supports all of these requirements, with the capacity to adapt to any future changes or expansion of the NZRB broadcast operation. By SVG Staff  Reprinted with permission of

Columbus, OH - Following the U.S. Trotting Association's 2019 Board of Directors Annual Meeting held March 8-11 in Columbus, OH, the USTA's Call to Action Subcommittee issued the following announcement regarding the issue of harness racing hidden trainers on Thursday (March 14). At the Call to Action Subcommittee meeting on Friday night (March 8) the committee updated their plan regarding the initiative to prohibit hidden trainers from continuing to ply their unethical trade by using program trainers (commonly referred to as "beard" trainers) when that hidden trainer is banned from being licensed or has been suspended. "The essence of the beard trainer problem is that trainers currently under suspension or whose license has been denied are conducting business as usual, they are making a mockery out of the industry," said Call to Action Committee Chairman Mark Loewe. "Currently, we have to rely on the state regulators and licensing is their only tool to combat this problem." "It is important to note that beard trainers are cooperating in a scheme to defraud the regulators and the public, so they are also culpable," added Loewe. USTA Director and Subcommittee member Joe Faraldo previously presented the concept of "regulatory discovery" to end this unethical practice. Essentially, regulatory discovery requires suspected beard trainers to provide a series of documents to regulators, who could examine the flow of money and other communication to ascertain they are just acting as a shill for the hidden, unlicensed trainer. If so, the beard trainer would also be suspended or have his or her license application rejected. "It is important to note that this process is not expensive for the regulators because it requires no additional detectives or other investigatory expense" explained USTA President Russell Williams. "And it should also be noted that it is very likely that it won't be necessary to get every commission to adopt regulatory discovery or to catch every beard trainer. A few prosecutions will go a long way," added Williams. The USTA first presented the regulatory discovery concept at Association of Racing Commissioners International meetings in Omaha, NE last July, and will pursue it to a conclusion. As a result, the proposal was assigned to an ARCI subcommittee for further consideration. The committee determined that they will submit it again for discussion at the ARCI meeting scheduled for August 8-10 in Saratoga Springs, NY. The USTA is also prepared to take the concept directly to regulators, track operators and horsemen's organizations. In fact, Faraldo indicated that the policy has already been implemented at Yonkers Raceway, where he is the president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. At this year's Call to Action Subcommittee meeting, the committee drafted three proposals regarding guidelines for regulatory discovery to be distributed to racing commissions, racetracks, and horsemen's associations, respectively. In addition, the USTA is also looking at its own licensing and membership structure to determine whether it can act as an association to implement regulatory discovery. Ken Weingartner

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