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New Zealand's leading junior driver Brad Williamson is having one of those seasons that just keeps getting better and better. Week in, week out, Brad is churning out the winners at a great rate and the run he is experiencing is showing no signs of abating. Today at Winton Racetrack Brad added another three winners to this season's tally and showed why he is so highly rated by a lot of his contemporaries on the track. "That is the first time I have driven three winners in one day so it was a big thrill especially because I only had four drives on the program," Brad explained when talking to Harnesslink this afternoon His first winner came in the form of the three year old trotter Sam Galleon who after missing away and settling a long way from the leaders, got over the top of them late in the piece for an impressive victory. The son of The Pres looked pretty green throughout the run and looks to have plenty of upside going forward. "He has got a lot to learn but there is no doubting the ability is there." "He is a half brother to three open class trotters so he is bred to be above average." "There is a lot of improvement there yet when he learns a bit more ringcraft," Brad said. Brad's second winner today was the smart Monarchy mare Pyramid Monarch who backed up her impressive second at Addington last Friday night to Harriet Of Mot with an impressive front running victory. Away brilliantly from her 30 metre handicap to grab the lead after just 400 metres, Pyramid Monarch was never in danger afterwards, coasting down to the line for an easy victory. It was win number eight for the mare and her fourth this season and took her earnings over the $70,000 mark. "She is such a lovely mare to drive." "Her manners are great and she tries so hard every time she goes to the races." "She is just a little money making machine at the moment and I don't think she is finished yet," Brad said. Brad's third winner was the four year old Real Desire gelding Dissolution who surprised everybody by sitting parked out the whole journey and still having enough petrol in the tank to scoot away and win easily in the end. "He is really starting to come into his own this horse." "Not long ago he wouldn't have been able to do that but he has been a big improver recently and that was a good effort today," Brad said. Todays wins took Brad's tally for the season to an impressive 41 victories which is 23 ahead of the chasing pack and barring injury he looks to have the New Zealand Junior Driving premiership in the bag with six months of the season still to go. Harnesslink Media      

Cracklin Rosie and harness racing driver Phil Hudon timed a late rally perfectly to win the first leg of the Miss Vera Bars Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of 10 three-year-old pacing fillies competed in the $17,000 opening leg of the Miss VeraBars. Originally a field of 11, Cracklin Rosie started from the second-tier in Thursday's contest. Driven by Phil Hudon, the Luc Ouellette trainee got away eighth in the early stages. Mattjestic Tempo sprinted to the front for driver Doug McNair and posted an opening-quarter of :27.2. The leader was left alone in the second-quarter and reached the half in :56.4. Heading into the final turn, Cracklin Rosie was brought to the outside by Hudon and sat fourth-over, as Mattjestic Tempo continued to march along on the lead and reached the third-station in 1:25.1. In the stretch, Cracklin Rosie was angled to the far outside and took dead aim at the leader. Mattjestic Tempo appeared to have enough of a jump on her rival, but Hudon timed it perfectly and Cracklin Rosie surged by in the final strides to win by half a length in 1:54.2. Windsun Glory finished third, while Arizona Seelster rounded out the Superfecta. Cracklin Rosie was more than six-lengths off the lead turning fpor home and paced a :28 final-quarter to snag the victory at odds of 2/1. The three-year-old daughter of Badlands Hanover is owned by Luc Ouellette Incorporated, Anita Ouellette and Alan Alber. Cracklin Rosie entered the MissVeraBars opener off a fourth-place finish in the Blizzard Series Final on January 22. She now has two wins in four starts this season after going winless in five last year. The Ouellette trainee increased her career earnings to over $33,000 with the victory. Cracklin Rosie paid $6.20 to win. Phil Hudon continued his hot start to 2016 with a Grand Slam on a big Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Hudon, who entered Thursday’s card leading all Woodbine drivers in victories, visited the winner’s circle four-times to increase his 2016 wins total to 24. The Guelph, Ontario resident’s four victories were highlighted by three-year-old pacing filly Cracklin Rosie sweeping by her rivals late to win the $17,000 first leg of the Miss Vera Bars Series. Hudon also steered trotter Tymal Wizard to a 30/1 upset in the evening’s sixth-race. His two other victories came with trotter Southwind Alice and pacer Regal Fame in the finale. Hudon was not the only driver to have a big night. Jody Jamieson drove three winners on the card, while Doug McNair and Paul MacDonell also had a pair of victories, respectively. Wagering numbers were strong Thursday night, as a total of $1,888,590 was wagered on the 11-race card. Strong pools carried from start to finish over the course of the night. The evening’s seventh-race led the way with a Win pool exceeding $53,000 and both the Exactor and Triactor pools topping $50,000. The Pick-5 wager continues to gain momentum, as a total of $37,413 was wagered into the pool Thursday. The Pick-5 begins each night on the opening-race. Live racing continues Friday night with The Count B and Ontario Girls Series highlighting another 11-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

One of the great differences that exist between the Thoroughbred Racing industry and the Harness Racing industry in New Zealand is the reluctance by the harness racing industry to use high profile New Zealanders who are heavily involved in harness racing in its promotion. With the recently completed Thoroughbred yearling sales still fresh in the memory, one couldn't help but notice the amount of main stream TV and newspaper coverage throughout the sales that was centered around the involvement of high profile sporting celebrities. Brendon McCullum and Richie McCaw were popping up all the time in coverage of the sales but they were just two of the many high profile people that the thoroughbred industry used to get that all important media coverage at their biggest time of the year. Harness racing on the other hand seems almost reluctant to use high profile sports people in the same way and it is something that we should really address as in the view of Harnesslink, we are missing a great promotional opportunity here. Mainstream media will cover our upcoming yearling sales but the amount of coverage will be guided in a lot of ways by how many human interest stories that have a wider public appeal they can report on. Brendon McCullum has been involved in harness racing for a long time now and is one obvious route we could go down but to us the involvement of the Whitelock brothers in harness racing presents a great opportunity to present harness racing to a wider mainstream audience. The family have been heavily involved in harness racing for generations and All Blacks such as Sam have helped out at the All Stars barn when learning about the game. The fact that the Whitlocks are seen as such great role models for aspiring rugby players in New Zealand is a big plus in the wider community. Braeside Lodge at Palmerston North, the boutique breeding establishment run by Braeden Whitelock and his wife Caroline is one of New Zealands most successful and they have had a presence at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale for several years now. This year is no exception where they have four yearlings entered and all from quality mares and all by leading sires. We found it hard to select one above the others but we took a real liking to Lot 61, Hicori after watching the video of him parading. A son of Mach Three, Hicori is typical of that stallions progeny and you would struggle to get a better maternal pedigree page than his one. The dam Paddy Brown 1:57.7 ($46,726) is a daughter of leading broodmare sire Christian Cullen and Hicori is just her second foal. The second dam Braeside Star 1:59.8 $(67,225) has left six winners from eight foals including such smart horses as Braeside Derby 1:54.2 ($160,784) and Ohoka's Artsplace 1:57.9 ($94,313) while her unraced Artsplace daughter Braeside Lady has already produced the champion three year old filly O Baby 1:54.8 ($391,273) The third dam is the champion broodmare Tuapeka Star so the pedigree page is as good as you will find in this years catalogue. Promotion of harness racing through people like Sam Whitelock and his wider rugby family is essential for the industry if harness racing is going to attract more widespread coverage in the main stream media. Harnesslink Media  

Meredith Noble had attended harness racing at the Greene County Fairgrounds in her hometown of Xenia, Ohio, for years, but can never recall a sound at the racetrack there like she heard on Aug. 5, 2015. It was the roar of the crowd. And it was loud. And it was for her. The 28-year-old Noble, driving in the third race of her newly-started career, was on her way to a 4-1/4 length win with Reckoning Day in an Ohio Ladies Pace Series event at the fairgrounds. The race was contested over a track named after her late father, Sam "Chip" Noble III, a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame who had passed away in January 2014, and Meredith was wearing her father's helmet and colors. In addition, Reckoning Day was trained by her older brother, Dan, for local owner Christi Pokornowski. "When I'm on the track I'm so zoned into what I'm doing and what's going on in that moment I don't hear anybody else," Meredith said. "But when I came down that stretch and I got right before the grandstand, I could hear that entire crowd cheering. I've never heard a crowd cheer like that. I don't know if it was because it was a ladies race or if it was because it was my dad's home track and I was wearing his colors, but I can't even begin to describe how good of a feeling that was. It was just absolutely amazing. "That was also very emotional; definitely bittersweet. But it was a wonderful win. Coming here and being at my home track where I spent so much time, whether I was just watching dad or helping out, I can't explain how much that meant to me." Noble finished last year with four wins in eight drives, all in the Ohio Ladies Pace Series. She got her first career driving triumph three days prior to her win at Xenia, guiding April Roach's Monibags Bluegrass to victory at the Preble County Fair in Eaton. Then a week ago she added to her resume by getting her first win as a trainer, as brother Dan drove Addys Way to victory in the Fillies & Mares Open at Miami Valley Raceway. "I do it for the love of it, honestly," said Noble, who works as a dental assistant Mondays through Thursdays and spends much of her remaining free time working with her brother and a stable of 18 horses. "It's a little bit of a transition since dad only messed with 2- and 3-year-olds. Dan's given me the chance to mess with some of the older horses as well. I do like seeing the horses develop, and then once they're developed I like helping them reach their potential, make them the best they can be. Even with some of the older horses there are still things inside of them that you can bring out that maybe somebody else hasn't yet." Noble was always around harness racing growing up, helping out here and there, but her focus through her teenage years was on riding and show horses. About four years ago, she began helping her father more and more and soon she was helping train horses with her father and brother. "I did that before we found out dad had cancer," Noble said. "I had a lot of fun. I decided I wanted to give this a try. I always wanted to have a race with him and Dan, but we weren't fortunate enough for that. I did training miles with the two of them. I will always have that memory. I will always have the memory of just the smile on my dad's face of pure joy with the three of us being out there together on the track. I carry that with me." Following the passing of her father, Noble received encouraging words from Dan --- who himself has driven more than 4,200 winners and was the national dash champion in 2011 --- about continuing on a path to becoming a licensed driver and trainer. "Dan came to me and said I'd worked really hard and I needed to do this," Noble said. "He said that he saw it and dad saw it, that I had the talent to do this. He said he would keep working with me. "I've been working with him on my days off. He keeps reminding me of things. It's nice to have that relationship and we can reminisce and keep dad alive. He can teach me things that I didn't get to learn from dad that he got to learn. I'm just really glad that I have him. It's given us the opportunity to get closer as brother and sister." Noble has two horses racing Friday night at Miami Valley, Addys Way in the Fillies & Mares Open Handicap and E Ticket Ride in a condition/claimer. Dan Noble, who is fifth in wins at Miami Valley but only three victories behind co-leaders Trace Tetrick and Tyler Smith, will drive both horses and owns E Ticket Ride. Addys Way is owned by Perkins Racing Stable. Although Noble is fully enjoying her time with the horses, she is not ready to make training and driving a fulltime career. She plans to continue working as a dental assistant for the foreseeable future. "I work with some great people and for some great people," Noble said. "It's truly a team effort. I get to see something different every day. It's kind of like coming in and working with the horses. I definitely have a passion for both. "I'm pleased with how the horses are doing. I have no complaints. As long as they stay sound and everybody stays safe, I'm happy. I love the business, I love the horses, and I loved having that opportunity to learn from my dad." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

STICKNEY, IL - A pair of harness racing series finals, along with a consolation final took place on a breezy Wednesday night at Hawthorne Race Course. Race six on the Wednesday card was the Whizzer R. White pacing series consolation final as a field of nine lined up after the scratch of Big Moon Rizing. Early in the consolation final JDs Brent N Sheree took the lead and led the field into the lane. At the top of the stretch he lost his action and dropped back. Dale Hiteman and Ocaptain Mycaptain ducked to the inside to avoid traffic and kept their momentum, winning in 1:57 over the track listed as good. First Frost made a sustained move to finish 2nd, while Mr Mark Patrick was third. Ocaptain Mycaptain is owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables, Inc. and is trained by Carl Porcelli, Jr. Race seven was the $16,600 Suburban Downs Pacing Series final with a full field of ten. Leaving for the early lead was Tyron My Gigolo and Kyle Husted but they quickly gave up the early lead to Freedomformysoul. Freedomformysoul led the field into the lane as favorite Kolt Power looked for room while second choice Valiente Stride made a three wide bid. Late in the stretch, Freedomformysoul battled on but Tyron My Gigolo dove to the inside and rallied for the victory at 26-1. Freedomformysoul finished second, just holding off Valiente Stride. Tyron My Gigolo covered the mile in 1:54.4. Tyron My Gigolo is owned by Quaid Racing LLC and trained by James Ellison. Race eight was the $22,200 final of the Whizzer R. White Pacing Series as Over Friskie looked for a clean sweep of this series. The field of nine, after the scratch of Mr Pickpocket, saw Trace Tetrick move early to take the lead with 4-5 favorite Over Friskie early as John Jay tracked him the entire way. Into the stretch, Over Friskie opened up, winning by daylight in a lifetime best 1:53.2. John Jay held second, One To Draw To finished third. Over Friskie is owned by Ervin Wickey and trained by Tom Tetrick. Jim Miller

Louisville, KY --- For two Ohio gentlemen rapidly approaching octogenarian status, it appears that harness racing owners Don McKirgan and Keith Ross have discovered the ever elusive Fountain of Youth. Contrary to popular belief, the “Water of Life” is not a liquid and is not presented in a golden chalice. The key to eternal vitality presents itself in many different forms and in this case, it just happens to be a horse. In what is a certainly not a twist of fate, this equine vessel’s name is Like Old Times and she is the Buckeye State’s 2015 Horse of the Year. “(Driver) Ronnie (Wrenn Jr.) has done a terrific job with her,” said Ross when he accepted his homebred’s divisional hardware. “He told me good horses improve his talent, but I think he is being modest. “There was one occasion where Ronnie could not drive her and Donnie asked me who I wanted to put up on her. I told him to put himself up and he said, ‘What should I do?’ I told him to just ask Ronnie who said, ‘Just drive her like I do and she will win.’ When Don said that to me it was right before the race and I just walked away. When we were in the winner’s circle he asked me why I did that and my response was, ‘Don, we have been together more than 40 years and you have never done anything that anyone told you to do.’ “I know it shows how old I am, but I am old (79). “That win probably makes Don the oldest trainer and driver (at age 75) to win a race here in Ohio, but age is just a number because it has been one of the best years of my life. I think this filly has added on at least another four years for both of us.” Like Old Times is a daughter of Chip Chip Hooray and the Royal Troubadour mare Royal Two. She has performed on 25 occasions in her two-year career under McKirgan’s watchful eye and compiled a record of 14-6-2 with a bankroll just under $315,000. She served notice she was a force to be reckoned with on Aug. 22, 2014 at Scioto Downs. After competing in a mile where she never even caught a glimpse of the fence, Like Old Times hit the wire first in 1:57.1, which was a track record. She completed the season with a slate of 10-3-2-2 and just over $64,000 in purse money. “We always knew she was a very nice filly,” Ross said. “Her dam is a 100 percent producer and she has thrown two other horses that made over $200,000 (Cool Colby and Lucky Colby, both by Jailhouse Jesse). “Royal Two only raced once as a 2-year-old and she won a Pennsylvania Sire Stake race in that start. Unfortunately, she broke a bone so we had to retire her, but she has been nothing but good to us and Like Old Times is definitely the best horse from the 11 foals she has produced. “In nearly all of her races as a 2-year-old she was parked out wide, but when Dan Noble drove her in the Ohio Sire Stakes final he said if she had not been so far back she would have won. She was third by a head and we were happy with that. We just wanted to protect her and still do.” In 2016, Like Old Times amassed just under $251,000 and did capture the $225,000 Sire Stakes final in a romp. In 15 trips to the gate, her picture was taken on 11 occasions and the other four appearances were second place finishes. “How can you ever think to even complain about that kind of year?” Ross said. “I think her total margin of defeat in those races was by a total of three lengths. We were so lucky to have her and Ronnie always drove her just enough to win. He took care of her and we are so grateful for that. “For example, look at what she did at Delaware (County Fairgrounds in the Ohio Breeders Championship). She was second by a nose and her and Ronnie both thought they won. She came back to the barn not ever knowing she was beaten. Also, the one we lost to was Dan Ater’s horse (Honey B) and if we are ever going to lose to somebody, I would rather it be him.” McKirgan heartily concurs with Ross’ assessment of this filly, but adds an additional component to why Like Old Times is so successful. “She is the best horse I have ever had in my barn,” he said. “She has perfect manners on and off the track. She is also very intelligent and enjoys her work. When it comes to trotting fillies they can be difficult and have a lot of bumps in the road. This one has never had an issue. She is beautifully gaited and although I put headpoles and a hood on her ears as a 2-year-old, I don’t think she needs them. I just never wanted to change anything since she has done so well. If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. That is one thing I’ve learned over the years.” Although all her appearances were within the confines of Ohio’s state lines, Like Old Times will be venturing into new territory in 2016. “I had her eligible for a late closer race at Lexington last year,” Ross said. “I’m glad we did not end up racing her there because all it did was rain. We really think she will like a big track, but we also think she adapts herself to any kind of environment just because of how much she loves to race. Her personality is like no other horse I’ve ever had and I’ve had several that made it to the Hambo. Our goal was to just take care of her. “She is in training now and we are putting her in some of the bigger races this year. The first one we are pointing to is at Miami Valley on May 8. She will compete primarily in Ohio and at The Meadows. We look forward to seeing how she does this year and I will be there to watch her every time she races. “I may be old, but this one makes me look forward to putting my head on the pillow so I can wake up in the morning and I think she has done the same for Donnie. “Also, I never expected her to win Horse of the Year. I was just tickled she won 3-year-old filly trotting champion. I was amazed and humbled by the fact people voted for her. I can’t thank them enough. Especially with all the tremendous Ohio horses that raced this year.” McKirgan clearly has the same confidence in this state champion that Ross possesses. “She is training well and we just hope she can come back this year in the same form,” he said. “She seems to be, but you never know until it happens. Also, this a year where she will take on older mares, so you have to take that into account, but if anyone can do it, this one can. She just loves being out there, is easy on herself and does everything on her own. It has been a pleasure to watch Mr. Ross enjoy here and she has probably added at least another four years on to my life. She makes you want to get up and come to the barn each morning to see her.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Never in the history of harness racing has the phrase "coming from the clouds" been more appropriate than when applied to the last-to-first victory by Trustworthy Kid in the $22,500 Preferred handicap trot at The Meadows Wednesday - the last victory of a storied career for legendary harness racing horseman Walter "Boots" Dunn, who had passed away that morning. Driver Brian Zendt had the entire field in front of him at the 5/8 pole, but he rallied "The Kid" five-wide off the final turn, charging furiously to the finish to win by a length in 1:55.4gd for Boots's Dunn Stable. That's Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston, the legendary "Voice" of harness racing, struggling mightily to hold things together after the race and during the winner's circle presentation. Excellent camera work also by the Meadows' TV crew, staying with Trustworthy Kid in their shot for a long time as Zendt guided him back to the paddock. Here is the race.   Trustworthy Kid, Trainer Walter 'Boots' Dunn last winner     Harnesslink Media

Harness racing driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. made his 3,000th trip to the winner's circle after winning with Say It Again Sam in Northfield Park's fifteenth race on Wednesday (February 3). Wrenn led at every call with Say It Again Sam, eventually besting his competition by 4-1/4 lengths. The 1:58.1 clocking was the 13th career score for the six year-old pacer, who returned $2.60 to win. The 29-year-old Wrenn began driving in 2008. His 3,000 wins have helped him garner almost $14 million in purse earnings. He won the 2013 and 2014 national dash driving titles and finished second in 2015. Wrenn is a 2005 graduate of Hartland High School in Hartland, Mich. He played center field for and graduated from Mott Community College in Flint. Although Wrenn comes from a racing family, he did not take an interest and become involved with horses at an early age. "I was 19 or 20 when I jogged my first horse. I was always really busy with sports and stuff," said Wrenn. "I didn't really have time for it." However, after weighing his options and slowly becoming more interested with the family business, Ronnie decided on a career in racing. "I was just sitting at the table working on stuff from school on my computer one night and looked up and told my dad I wanted to be a driver. He looked at me like I was crazy. But I was old enough that he really didn't have a lot of say, and so far it has all worked out pretty well." Wrenn has found success and has been a regular to the winner's circle since his very first time behind the starting gate. He won his first race, aboard Artful Power in a $1,400 Billings race at a Michigan fair. "It was hard breaking in at first. I guess I got lucky to be put on some good horses and things just took off," offered Wrenn. "My parents and grandparents really helped me a lot as well as countless other people." Wrenn's fasted and richest win ever came in last year's $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs with Doo Wop Hanover in 1:49.2. He rates the best horses he has ever driven as Arch Madness, Betterluvnexttime, Doo Wop Hanover, Luck Be Withyou, Night Pro and Victory Is Coming. Ronnie's favorite horse to drive is Victory Is Coming. Her 1:53.3 world record performance on July 3, 2015 at Northfield Park stands as Wrenn's favorite of his 3,000 victories. He was most impressed with her effort in that race because she won despite being parked the entire mile. Ronnie credits several people as having large influences on his life and career. Along with his father and uncles, "My mom is my biggest fan and has been more supportive than anyone could even imagine. I am also very lucky to have Briana (his girlfriend) and my two sisters, Sandy and Katie." Wrenn says his ultimate dream race to win would be the Little Brown Jug, "But I would take the feature races at Northfield too. I am a big fan of the Battle of Lake Erie and the Milstein Memorial," said Wrenn. "There are many owners and trainers that have given me opportunities and I will be forever grateful to them," offered Wrenn. "To win races, a driver has to drive fast horses for talented trainers with good owners." Although this milestone victory came in a $4,600 condition race, Wrenn was happy to win a milestone victory with a horse conditioned by Virgil Morgan Jr. "Virgil was one of the very first trainers in Ohio to use me and give me a chance with nice horses. He really helped jump start the success I have had." Ayers Ratliff

Amid all the “Kiwi this” and “New Zealand that”, which has dominated much of the Summer Of Glory conversation, harness racing trainer Brent Lilley’s strong stable is happy to wait in the shadows until show time on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Champion trotter Keystone Del will attempt to unseat New Zealand raiders Monbet and Speeding Spur in the Settle Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix. And 89 minutes later Messini will rip from barrier six to take the fight to Ohoka Punter and Smolda in the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup. Lilley’s runners are among the few Australian chances at single-figure odds in the betting, and the Bolinda trainer was looking forward to having his chargers return to the grand stage. It will be familiar ground for five-time Group 1 winner Keystone Del, who Lilley said had “been going really well”. “We have kept him a little on the fresh side lately because it will be 12 or so weeks from the start (of his campaign) to the Great Southern Star and he has a very busy schedule,” he said. “He is the forgotten horse a little bit with Monbet, but it is a star-studded field.” Lilley said the attention given to the favourite was not misguided. “He’s all class Monbet. We will probably have an advantage, having been drawn inside him. “Anthony (Butt) is a very good race driver and will try and place (Keystone Del) in the running. But it is not just Monbet, it’s Glenferrie Typhoon, Arboe, Speeding Spur and Kyvalley Blur is going very well and has a good draw. “There are definitely half a dozen chances in the race. It is never ever easy and you expect to get competition, that is what it is all about. This is one of the best trotting fields we’re seen over here.” There will be no excuses from Keystone Del’s camp. “He’s ready to go. It’s so hard to always peak with all the group 1s over the next five to six weeks, but he’ll be more than competitive.” Similarly, Messini is expected to give followers a good sight in the A. G. Hunter Cup, having performed admirably in last Saturday’s showcase. “He went really good in the Victoria Cup,” Lilley said. “He made an early move, then got held up at the corner and hit the line full of running. “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to this week. The 3200m and standing start don’t hold any worries.“ Drawn sixth, Messini could well be in the mix, but there is plenty of pace inside, not the least of all being Yankee Rockstar (barrier two), Ohoka Punter (barrier three) and Smolda (barrier five). “Some of the better chances have drawn the front row. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out in the first 100m, we’ll be up among it,” Lilley said. “In an ideal world we’d step to the front and stay there, but everyone on the front row is thinking the same. “If we step good and get to the front of the field that would be great, but it’s a 3200m race and so there’s plenty of time to work into it.” by Michael Howard

Just A Bee, splendidly handled by Mike Micallef, buzzed out of the gate in a hurry and never looked back while stinging her six rivals with a 1:51.3 mile in the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace for harness racing Mares on Wednesday night at Pompano Park. The eight year-old daughter of Mr Feelgood, carding panels of :27, :56.1and 1:24, put the stinger in for good with a :27.3 finale to pin a defeat measuring 2½ lengths on Godiva Seelster, with Wally Hennessey in the bike. Southwind Trini was third for Brad Kramer while Art Frenzy finished fourth. Sandysgoldenhour picked up the minor award in the talented field of seven. For the winner, trained by Micallef for Anita Micallef, John Mc Goff and Greg Heath, it was her initial victory of the year in four starts and 41st success lifetime, sending her career bounty to $286,231--$165,015 of that since the owners claimed her for $12,000 in early September of 2014. In finishing second, Godiva Seelster, making her first start back after a two month vacation, extended her streak of getting purse money to 73 races-the last time missing a purse check being September 9, 2012. In a post-race interview, driver Mike Micallef said, "the last few starts I kind of floated her out and looked for a good spot early. Tonight, when the gate sprung, my mare knew I meant business by giving her a couple of reminders leaving. We were lucky enough to get a bit of a breather in the second quarter and, then, on the backside, I knew SHE meant business as I didn't ask her anything and she was off to a :55.2 final half. She's been very good to us!" As the 9 to 5 second choice, Just A Bee paid $5.80 to win. In the $10,000 co-feature for the ladies, Ed Hensley's Pertty Music also used gate-to-wire tactics to hit the wire first in 1:52.3-her winning margin one length over Deuces For Charity, driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr., with De Vins Girl and George Napolitano, Jr. teaming up to be third. Shortest Distance actually lived up to her name by taking the shortest distance around to be fourth while Drea's Good Powow finished fifth in the sextet. Fractions for the winner were :27.1, :55.2 and 1:23.4 with a :28.4 finale capping the mile and prompting driver Hensley to say, "she was a stride away from winning from off the pace last week so I thought I'd like to try and control the situation tonight. It worked out well and she was pretty tough in the lane when it counted." For Pertty Music, a six year-old daughter of Jereme's Jet trained by Ashleigh Hensley, it was her first win of the year in five tries and 21st success lifetime with her career bounty leaping to $280,849 with the victory. As the 3 to 2 second choice, Pertty Music rewarded her faithful with a $5.00 win mutual. Racing continues Saturday night with a 10 race program with first post set at 7:30 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park

Mustang Art doesn't do sick days. OK, that is a slight exaggeration. Mustang Art has missed a race here or there because of sickness. But what Mustang Art has never missed since beginning his harness racing career in January 2010 is a month without racing. That's right. The 9-year-old male pacer has started at least one race in 74 consecutive months. "It's like I always say," trainer Jim McGuire said with a laugh, "he kind of likes his job I guess." Mustang Art has won 42 of 238 career races, hit the board a total of 123 times, and earned $697,522. The gelding was claimed by his current connections --- owners Max Walton and Gregory Papaleo, both from Delaware, and Pennsylvania-based trainer McGuire --- for $15,000 in August 2011. So far this year, Mustang Art has won three of five Delaware Special Handicap starts at Dover Downs and earned $43,950. On Monday, he faces seven rivals in the $30,000 Open Preferred Handicap. Sean Bier will drive Mustang Art, leaving from post five. "I've been in the business for quite some time and I've never had a horse that's so tough," the 72-year-old Walton said. "He's unbelievable. He's a rare horse. I never dreamed I'd have a horse like him. "He's given me a lot of great memories. He's meant a lot to me." Mustang Art is a son of stallion Artiscape out of the mare Paula Seelster, who earned nearly 90 percent of her lifetime $583,613 in purses after the age of 4. She retired following her 8-year-old season in 2002. Mustang Art's half-brother Wazzup Wazzup, an 8-year-old gelding, has earned $403,437 in his career and is 1-for-1 this season in Canada. Unraced at age 2, Mustang Art won his career debut on Jan. 24, 2010 at Woodbine Racetrack. He continued racing in Canada until July 2011. A month after his arrival in the U.S., he was claimed by McGuire at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "There were two claims on him the night I got him," McGuire said. "I got lucky there. "I was looking for something and he caught my eye. I looked him over and decided to take a shot. When he turned 5, he started getting better and better. But he showed high speed before then. His mother was a pretty good mare and (Mustang Art) had a couple brothers that were decent racehorses also. I like to look at the dams and what they produce." Mustang Art has made at least 41 starts in each of the past four years, competing primarily at Dover Downs and Pocono, and set his career mark of 1:48.3 in 2013 at Pocono. According to the U.S. Trotting Association's Information and Research Department, tens of thousands of horses have raced in the past 25 years but only 222 have made 40-plus starts in at least four consecutive years. "He's quite an athlete; he's very light on his feet," McGuire said. "He takes pretty good care of himself. He doesn't require a lot of work. Of course with 40-some starts every year he keeps himself pretty tight. He likes to go out in the paddock for a couple hours every day and he jogs a little bit. He seems to be happy doing that. "He's real nice to be around. He doesn't do anything wrong. A kid could take care of him." Mustang Art's three wins this season have come at odds of 33-1, 13-1 and 16-1. "That's been amazing," McGuire said, laughing. "Everybody is talking about that now. And he had three different drivers (Brett Miller, Marcus Miller, and Bier) in those three wins. It seems like he knows what he's doing on his own." The plan for this year is for Mustang Art to continue his workmanlike routine through the meets at Dover and Pocono, with perhaps occasional trips to Harrah's Philadelphia. "He may get a short break in between (Dover and Pocono) but he usually stays pretty good," McGuire said. "I've had some decent horses over the years, but he's been the best one I've ever had. He's been a pleasure." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

DOVER, Del. --- Cheyenne Robin, the only four-year-old in the lineup, used a late surge nearing the finish line to score a 1:51.2 lifetime mark winning the $20,000 Mares Open pace at Dover Downs on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Harness racing driver Tim Tetrick tripled.   Corey Callahan pulled Cheyenne Robin out of fifth in front of the grandstand and eased the Rocknroll Hanover-Cheyenne Margie bay up on the outside to finally engage front-pacing Scandalicious (Tony Morgan) heading to the three quarters where the twosome battled around the final turn. The pair were side by side in the lane with Springforth (George Dennis) coming along the passing lane. Cheyenne Robin then rallied to reach the wire first with Springforth taking second in front of Scandalicious, third. Leased by The Cheyenne Gang, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Cheyenne Margie won for the second time with a second in three 2016 starts. It was her 12 lifetime victory advancing lifetime earnings to $178,414. The winning driver was Callahan’s third on the card. Mildred’s Button pulled out of fifth in mid final turn and came four-wide under the direction of Montrell Teague and then rolled past the leaders for a 1:54.4 victory in the $15,000 secondary feature. It was Teague’s second win and the first of the year for the American Ideal-Miss It Mildred five-year-old mare, her trainer Dave Rearic and owners Bill Mears and Janine McIlvain. Lady Beth (Tetrick) and Cover Up Hall (Wolfenden) were second and third respectively. Tim Tetrick guided Sage N to a 1:51.2 triumph in a $12,500 distaff pace. Shine N Shimmer (Callahan) and Valerya (Jonathan Roberts) dueled from the backstretch to mid-homestretch before Sage M began her charge to the win. The Christian Cullen-Smart Decision mare is trained by Scott DiDomenico for C.V. Iannozzo, Triple D Stables and JFE Entertainment.  It was her first win of the New Year. Matinee Dragon (G.Dennis) closed for second with Shine N Shimmer holding on for the third place check.    Meet leader Corey Callahan drove three winners, Tim Tetrick, Tony Morgan and Jonathan Roberts had two wins apiece. BLUEBIRD REVEREND SEEKS THIRD IN-A-ROW N $21,000 OPEN TROT Bluebird Reverend winner of the last two $20,000 Open trots must overcome starting from post 8 this week's $21,000 edition on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at Dover Downs... First post is 4:30 p.m. Montrell Teague will again hold the lines for owner- trainer Bob Reeser and partners Dee Dennis, Jay Johannsen who own Bluebird Reverend an Indiana juvenile champion. Among the seasoned rivals in the nine-horse field are Mike Casalino's Tough Mac, with Corey Callahan Owner-trainer Bob Shahan and Jim and Amanda Parson's local favorite I Like My Boss and George Dennis driving. The rest of the talented field features Ted Gewertz's Panamanian Hanover, piloted by Tony Morgan. RBH Venture's War Cry Hall, with Ross Wolfenden, sharp Drinksforthehouse with Corey Callahan driving for Howard and Josh Kaufman, Providence West's Odessa and Justin Vincent from post 9 in the second tier, Callan Racing's steady Spunky Jack handled by Roger Plante and Ed Gannon Jr.'s Winbak Charles M with Jonathan Roberts. Another field of nIne makes up the $15,500 sub-feature for 4&5-Year-old trotters. PCF Stable's Kolbee's Star (Callahan) has won his last two starts, Bob Shahan's Machuca (A.Davis), Jim Moore's fast gelding Royal Becca J (Jack Parker) leaves from the rail with Triple D Stab;es and CC Racing's Stirling Diva (Wolfenden) alongside. Eric Good and trainer Gary Simpson's steady Adrenalin Junkie (Jim Morand), John and Sarah Swart's Winmando (Vince Copeland), Craparotta&Berry Racing's Inner Peace (Pat Berry) and Bobby Glassmeyer's Tymal Signature (Roberts) from the second tier. During February, Dover Downs races five days a week. Monday through Thursday beginning at 4:30 p.m. Sunday's post time is 5:30 p.m. No Live racing on Friday and Saturday. Watch the races and enjoy dining in the Winners Circle Restaurant. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs where there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad

One of the real success stories in the trainers ranks in harness racing in New Zealand over the last five or six years has been the emergence of Nathan Williamson from a young rookie wannabe to the leading trainer in Southland in that short time. It has been a whirlwind progression and one that has quickly established Nathan as the go to trainer in the south. Recently we sat down with Nathan to discuss his reasons for why he went south to establish himself and how he sees the future for not just himself but harness racing in Southland. Harnesslink - How did the Southland connection come about for a North Otago boy. Nathan - It was when I had just won the second of the Harness Jewels with Springbank Richard at Cambridge. I still had plenty of time left as a junior driver but Matthew was getting close to driving and dad was going to have start helping him getting established. I could see down the track that Brad would also join the driving ranks so I thought it would be a good time to make a move so everybody got a fair shot. I had a few offers from some of the better stables in Canterbury but Kirk Larsen had a vacancy and I thought it would be a really good opportunity which it turned out to be. Harnesslink - With all your success as a junior driver and with time as a junior still available, what lead you to the training ranks so quickly. Nathan - I was earning good money from the the driving and figured that I would still get plenty of opportunities in the junior ranks so that gave me a bit of a financial backstop to have a go at training. I started out just pretraining a few for local trainers and the odd one for myself after I had finished work for the day at Kirk's. The big thing down here is the owners and trainers will give you a hand if they can and that is a big help when you are trying to get established. Harnesslink - How long did you stay at Kirk Larsens for Nathan - Just over 12 months all up before I went out full time on my own. I initially leased a property at Makarewa. I only had six- eight in work in that first season but I had already brought a couple at the yearling sales in 2009 to develop and sell as well. One of those was Classievale, a Courage Under Fire colt and he developed into a lovely horse and I managed to get good money for him when I sold him to Australia which helped with the bills. Harnessslink - When did you move into Ben and Karen Calder's Grinaldi Lodge setup Nathan - About twelve months after I went out on my own. Ben and Karen have got 80 acres here and they have their own operation running alongside mine and we work in together. It is a fantastic setup to train from and Ben and Karen have been very supportive which has made my job so much easier. There is room for up to 25 horses here and I am full most of the time which keeps us really busy most of the year. Harnesslink -  Your first training winner came along pretty quickly. Nathan - Yes I was lucky enough to have the Dominion Handicap winner Jaccka Justy in the barn when he won his maiden at Ascot Park so not a bad horse to bring up my first winner with. Harnesslink - Does the stable- clients buy a lot of horses from the yearling sales.? Nathan - It is becoming a major focus due to the ongoing success we have been having with the yearlings we have purchased in the last few years. Onedin Mach won ten for me before we sold him to North America and Tas Man Bromac already has nine wins to date and they are just a couple of the success stories so the sales have become very important. We brought five last year and I am happy with them all at this point. I have a fair bit of time for a Mach Three colt from a half sister to Power Of Tara that shows promise and he will be at the workouts in the next few weeks. Harnesslink - Are you breeding from any mares. Nathan - I am breeding from a couple of mares with other owners. Bet's Best is a Sundon mare that won eight from just twenty starts for me and we have her in foal to Monkey Bones. The other mare is Wattie's Sweetheart who is a Mach Three mare I trained who got injuried after a few starts. I thought she was really smart and Ben and Karen and I have bred a Grinfromeartoear colt and an Art Major colt from her to date so she has been given a chance. Harnesslink - Any horses coming through at the moment that really stand out Nathan - I think Statham is potentially the best horse I have had anything to do with. He has all the attibutes of a top horse from gate speed to toughness. I have been very patient with him to date to let him grow into his big frame but this campaign I think he will make people sit up and take notice. I also have a lot of time for a three year old trotter Dark Horse who won her first couple before missing away last start. It is early days but she has a lot of ability. Harnesslink - What do you prefer, pacers or trotters Nathan - Don't tell dad but I like my pacers more to be honest. I have had a lot of success with the trotters and still are today but I enjoy the challenge of developing a pacer more to be honest. Harnesslink - Any operation this size must have good staff. Nathan - I am spoilt a bit with regards to staff to be honest Josh Kennett is my foreman and its great to have someone with his experience around when you have a big stable. Josh takes a lot of the pressure off my shoulders. Ron Lilley helps out on a part time basis but he is the go to man when I have a problem and need advice. The stable wouldn't function anywhere near as well as it does without his imput. Geneieve is a young stablegirl here and Austin Stack will help out on fastwork days when we need him. I had better mention my farrier Brendan Franks or I will hear about it. Brendan is great around the stables, he keeps everybody grounded.  Harnesslink - A married man these days. Nathan - I got married in the middle of last year to Katie Jones Katie has been around horses all her life so she understands the industry. She is a full time teacher but is always down here at the barn helping out when she can. Harnesslink - You recently purchased some land of your own Nathan - Katie and I have brought 35 acres not far from Ben and Karen's. At the moment it has only got a track on it but plans are underway to eventually move the training operation there. One of the pluses will be an ability to take a few more horses than I can at present. Harnesslink - We see you are a committee member of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club Nathan - I am keen to get involved and help in any way I can. The industry down here has given me so many opportunities so its good to give something back. Harnesslink - How do you see the future for harness racing in Southland Nathan - The HRNZ proposals for change have been grabbed with both hands down here. Maybe not in the way they envisaged but the clubs are looking at major changes about how we operate which will really lift the industry down here. There is a very positive atttitude to the changes within the industry which gives you some confidence for the future. Harnesslink - No plans at any stage to move home in the future. Nathan - No, I love it in Southland I would say to any young trainer trying to get established in harness racing in New Zealand that they have a far better chance of succeeding in Southland than anywhere else in the country. The locals are so supportive of young drivers and trainers which is not always the case further north. Harnesslink would like to thank Nathan for taking the time to share with our readers how he has become the leading trainer in Southland  and we wish him all the best for the future. Harnesslink Media 

The prevailing view is that cheating in sport is more commonplace and more egregious now than ever before. Cheating in sport comes in two basic forms — doping and match or spot fixing. The former relies on the scenario where the alchemists will always be one step ahead of the chemists, where those who use illicit performance enhancing drugs will beat the overseers and continue to compete under an unfair advantage. In this year’s Olympics in Rio, the Russian track and field team will almost certainly have to sit it out in the bleachers after the Russian governing body accepted an indefinite ban from competition after the alleged cover-up of positive doping tests. The Kenyans, the doyens of long distance running, are under a cloud of suspicion. Yet for all the headlines, one could mount a sound argument that doping in sport had reached its acme almost thirty years ago and the introduction of the WADA Code in 2004 combined with more effective policing and pro secution of athletes taking banned substances is leading to what we all hope for when we watch sport — a level playing field. That is not to say professional sport in terms of doping is clean but it is cleaner than it was. Last month UK Athletics called for world track and field records to be reset because of the great suspicion that surrounds those that sit on the books now. Take women’s track and field events. From the 1500m down all records were set in the 1980s and 90s with the exception of one event, the 400m hurdles. There are a number of world records in women’s track and field events that are clearly not legitimate. The record for the women’s discus throw was set in 1988 by East German athlete, Gabriele Reinsch with a throw of 76.80 metres. Not one female thrower has broken 70 metres this century. American sprinter, Florence Griffith-Joyner, still holds the 100m and 200m sprint records, both obtained in 1988 — the latter set at the Seoul Olympics, the so-called ‘Dirty Games’. Griffith-Joyner maintained she never took drugs but the dramatic changes to her physique told a different tale. She retired from competition after the Seoul Games. Random drug testing of IAAF athletes commenced the following year. She died in 1998 aged 38. East German athlete, Marita Koch broke the 400m world record at the World Championships in Canberra in 1985 with a time of 47.60 seconds. Her recorded 100 and 200 metre splits of 11.3 and 22.4 seconds would have qualified her for the women’s 100m and 200m sprints at the 2012 Olympics in London. One of the great ironies of communist East Germany’s State Plan 14.25 — a program designed to shovel performance enhancing drugs into their athletes, is you couldn’t run Koch’s time driving around in a Trabant then or now. These records need to stand both as a testament to cheating and as a marker for questionable achievement in future. Doping may be on the decline while the pernicious effects of match and spot fixing are clearly still with us. Match fixing is pervasive and difficult to police by nature. Last night the ABC’s Four Corners program ran an exposé on match and spot fixing on the professional tennis circuit. The show made some claims about tennis players on the fringes of the ITP circuit without naming many but went on to uncover what stands as the biggest threat to the integrity of professional sport — unregulated betting agencies taking millions of dollars in bets on sporting events around the world. The Australian has been reporting on some questionable matches, including one played at the Australian Open less than a fortnight ago. Not only do these illicit betting agencies refuse to co-operate with authorities, they engage in money laundering with organised criminal syndicates. For many years gambling has been used as a means of laundering money, taking the black money from various criminal activities and washing it clean through a bookmaker. It was a rule of thumb that if $60 came back clean from a $100 of dirty money wagered, that was a decent outcome for those involved. Forty years ago, greyhound racing was literally awash with black money. Harness racing faced a similar problem in the 1980s. Legal casinos now face the problem everyday and are inclined to take the gambler’s money without caring much about where the dough has come from. Indeed it was said of harness racing that when Australia’s king of race fixing, George Freeman was about, there wasn’t a trotting meet anywhere in the country where one or more race on the card was bent. The important lesson here is that level of contrivance and cheating effectively destroyed what integrity harness racing may have had. Legitimate punters simply walked away from the sport. Harness racing has never recovered. The online unregulated bookmakers offer a similar service to that which Freeman enjoyed in the 1970s and 80s; the opportunity not just of washing money and obtaining a smaller return but where crime groups are able to predetermine the outcome of a sporting event, they not only come away with clean money but more of it. In practical terms there is little Australian authorities can do about online unregulated bookmakers who run off shore, often out of hotel rooms with a handful of laptops and a bank of plasma screen TVs. The best option is to co-operate and share information with other jurisdictions and hope for the broad sweep of US federal investigators to move in. Even then it’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole. But the rules are the same as they were in Freeman’s day. If a sport loses its integrity through match fixing or widespread doping, spectators and television audiences simply move on. We have the template for this via one of the world’s most lucrative sports, Major-league Baseball. The problems can be traced back to the players’ strike of 1994-95. It was only when the dispute was resolved that the governing body, MLB, believed the industrial landscape was too fraught to consider implementing an anti-doping policy. An anti-doping policy had not been in place in the MLB since 1985. And so it became open slather on doping. Big hitters became bigger hitters. For a brief moment, the US was gripped with a fascinating dual over a number of seasons between Mark McGwire at the St Louis Cardinals and Barry Bonds at the San Francisco Giants tonking the ball out of the park on a regular basis. McGwire broke the season home run record in 1998 with 70 home runs. Three years later Bonds smashed it with 73. Both men were juiced up on steroids. In 2004, the MLB agreed to a moratorium on drug testing. In that season players in the major and minor leagues were tested but no punishments were applied. Results from that period reveal seven per cent of players were using steroids and an astonishing 78 per cent were using some type of banned substance. To this day the National Baseball Hall of Fame has chosen to avoid handing hall of fame status to players from that period. Most importantly, attendances at games went into a deep trough and television audiences shrank. People knew they were being conned and wouldn’t have a bar of it. This is the soundest argument you can make for the WADA code and the tough policing of doping in professional sport and why the match fixers need to be sent packing. The salutary lesson for all sports administrators is if you build it they will come but if you degrade and debase it, they will turn away. By Jack The Insider Reprinted with permission of The Australian

The 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold harness racing Grand Circuit is drawing to a climactic finish. Last week’s Victoria Cup hero Lennytheshark leads the race to be crowned champion open class pacer this term but it’s far from a done deal. With his success in the Inter Dominion and the Victoria Cup, the David Aiken trained star heads to the final leg of the season, the Gr.1 $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 28 with a healthy lead over his rivals. It’s a lead but he’s not across the line and those rivals won’t go quietly. Lennytheshark has banked 200 points, 40 clear of his nearest rival, Kiwi star Smolda while WA Pacing Cup winner My Hard Copy sits in third with 108 points. The latter both start this weekend in the Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National A G Hunter Cup at Melton on Saturday, another leg of the Grand Circuit series. And both pacers boast terrific claims of winning the 3280m stand-start feature and catapulting Lennytheshark with the one leg remaining. Smolda took down Lennytheshark in the Ballarat Cup two starts ago before the roles were reversed in last week’s Victoria Cup and many expect the Mark Purdon prepared pacer is the horse to beat this weekend. His two mile stand start form is solid with placing’s already this season in both the New Zealand and Auckland Cups. Another New Zealand trained pacer commanding respect is the Tony Herlihy trained Ohoka Punter, a winner of the Shepparton Cup in track record time two starts ago before scoring comfortable again last week in the Pure Steel. The former Victoria Derby winner will be handled by champion reinsman Anthony Butt, a winner of 7 previous Hunter Cups. Mossdale Conner, fresh from his excellent effort in last week’s Victoria Cup with his fast finishing third behind Lennytheshark and Smolda is another Kiwi trained star with solid credentials. The Greg Hope trained six-year-old has emerged strongly this season with placing’s in the New Zealand and Victoria Cups plus the New Zealand FFA. Franco Nelson is no stranger to stand-start features with a placing in the 2014 New Zealand Cup before running an almighty fourth in the latest edition after starting first-up after several months and has now joined the stables of Tim Butt, a five times Hunter Cup winning conditioner. Punters should closely respect New Zealand bred pacers after winning 16 of the past 23 editions while 14 have been trained across the ditch. The last Perth trained winner of the Hunter Cup was Another Party back in 2001 for the Reed family and the sandgropers are pinning their faith in My Hard Copy and Jason Rulz. My Hard Copy carries excellent recent form in his home start and can be forgiven for his effort last week in the Victoria Cup after drawing poorly while Jason Rulz has excellent stand-start form and is aiming to break maiden ranks on Australian soil. Former South Australian horseman Geoff Webster has a dual pronged attack with Franco Ledger and Flaming Flutter; both boast excellent stand-start form. Franco Ledger was runner-up last year behind Arden Rooney while Flaming Flutter has been twice placed in the Inter Dominion. The Emma Stewart trained Yankee Rockstar is chasing his biggest victory and after winning the Stawell Cup in track record time four starts ago, his scintillating victory last week at Melton gives his a great chance. Im Corzin Terror is a multiple Country Cup winner and thrives under the stand-start conditions, luck has deserted him at his past couple of starts but can’t be treated lightly here. Popular pacer Messini always performs on the big stage and his effort last week in the Victoria Cup was great, a proven stand-start performer who rates highly. Recent Geelong Cup winner It Is Billy is looking for another Cup victory and the proven stand-start performer has a knockout chance. Five Star Anvil could provide talented young reinsman Zac Phillips with his biggest moment in the sport but faces a big challenge after drawing awkwardly on the second-line. Tasmanian owned pacer Star Chamber is a stand-start specialist and although yet to win at Melton, he has blowout claims. The last Australian bred pacer to claim victory in the Hunter Cup was the greatest champion of all in Blacks A Fake who won it back in 2008 after starting from a massive handicap of 30m defeating Smoken Up. This edition of the Hunter Cup will be historic in many ways and should not be missed, its race 7 on the program and timed to start at 9.32pm local time. The Hunter Cup will switch back to mobile start conditions next year. by Chris Barsby

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - If harness racing driver Steve Smith brings in a 95-1 shot, are we in for more, six more weeks of winter? Smith and Bullseye ($192.50) was cited for excessive tote board lighting Tuesday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $10,000, eighth-race pace with the chunkiest mutuel of the season. Unhurried from post position No. 7, Bullseye was seventh at the three-quarters and fifth into the lane. He outmuscled Inthenameofjames (Jason Bartlett) by three-quarters of length in 1:55, his first board finish in three 2016 tries. Last Dragon (Brian Sears), the just-over-even-money favorite, led into the stretch but tired and finished last. Bullseye, a 5-year-old Cam's Card Shark gelding owned by Alroy Chow and trained by Anita Vallee, also led the highest exacta ($793) thus far this season. It's fair to say upset, which begin the Pick 5 sequence, was responsible for the wager going unclaimed. Thus, Friday night's gimmick features a carryover of $2,163.39 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). Frank Drucker

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