In one of the classic harness racing stretch drives of the year, Clear Vision and driver Tim Tetrick nosed out Foiled Again and Yannick Gingras in winning the Grand Circuit inaugural $122,000 Dayton Pacing Derby. The time of the race was a track record 1:49 mile and it was the first time that Tetrick had ever driven the horse. It was race favorite Dancin Yankee and driver Tyler Buter who was first to show out of the starting gate, brushing by Night Pro (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) to a speedy :25.4 opening quarter mile. Then at the half mile marker in :53.4, Tetrick sent Clear Vision first-over and they flushed out Foiled Again who went right after Dancin Yankee and took command of the race by the three-quarters in 1:21.1 as Dancin Yankee spit out the bit and began to fade. That left Clear Vision first-over with Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson) on their backs going around the last turn but Clear Vision was still on the move. Collaring Foiled Again at the top of the stretch, those two went at it neck and neck in a driving finish to the wire with Clear Vision barely getting up in the final stride to win it. Apprentice Hanover was two and one-half lengths back in third. “It was very very tight,” said Tim Tetrick after the race, “It was horse race against Foiled Again. He’s one of the best horses I have ever seen, Foiled Again. He just doesn’t give up. He got a little rougher trip then my guy got up right when he needed to. I was loving the trip we were getting but with Foiled Again it’s so tough to get by him. I was in the right spot and my horse worn him down. “He (Clear Vision) is a nice horse and can tough it out,” Tetrick said. “He knows how to get the job done.” An eight-year-old gelding by Western Hanover, it was the sixth win this year for Clear Vision. He is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Panhellenic Stable and Jim Koran. He paid $4.60 to win. Tetrick came right back to the winner’s circle in the very next race after he won the $162,000 inaugural Grand Circuit Dayton Trotting Derby for older horses, also in a track record time with Market Share. It was Lindy’s Tru Grit (Scott Zeron) who took full advantage of the rail and sped to the early lead with race favorite Creatine and driver Dan Nobel sitting half in-half out in the two-hole and Daylon Magician (Jack Moiseyev) stuck first-over and floating on the outside in third. They went that way to the opening quarter mile in :26.3. Daylon Magician finally worked his way to the front and then Noble came first-over with Creatine with Wishing Stone (Yannick Gingras) second over and following third over was Market Share to the half mile in :55.1. Then the backstretch, before the three-quarter mile marker in 1:24.1, Tetrick sent Market Share three-wide and they came marching on and were able to clear to the lead after the bold move before the top of the stretch. From there it was a breeze for Market Share as he pulled away from the field and went on to win going away by three and one-half lengths in 1:52.4. Opening Night (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) was able to close for second with Creatine third. “If you look at him (Market Share),” Tetrick said, “he’s not very big but he has a big heart and he tries. It’s been kinda tough on Linda pulling her hair out this season trying to get him right. He’s had some health issues but he now has showed how he has made over $3 million. He’s done it the hard way, he won the Hambletonian, he was a $16,000 yearling and I have a special place (in my heart) for him. “When my horse is on his game,” Tetrick added, “He can race with the best in the country. Maybe by Breeders Crown we can beat Sebastian K.” For Market Share, a five-year-old stallion by Revenue S, it was his fourth win this year for trainer Linda Toscano and owners Richard Gutnick, T L P Stable and Bill Augustine. He paid $7.80 to win. An $11,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace, named in memory of R. J. "Skeeter" Brown, was also featured on the card. Latenite Rendezvous (Chris Page), making her first start at Dayton Raceway, was victorious for the partnership of Jerry Daugherty, Roger Hall and Page. They won in track record time of 1:51.4. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Well known Reporoa harness racing enthusiast Danny McGill has had a lot of smart horses over the years and in last nights Alexandra Park winner Elliesjet he seems to have another one to keep the bank manager happy. Danny has had a great run over the years breeding such smart types as Magie Lilly Rose 1:54.1 ($202,718), Golden Trowel 1:52.4 ($117,056) and Maximus Meridius 1:52.3 ($109,515). His latest winner though has been a bit of a surprise to the noted stockman. "She is a big filly, I mean really big and I didn't think she would have any speed," he told Harnesslink today. By Jeremes Jet from the speedy Village Jasper mare Elle Mary Rose 2:00.7, Elliesjet has been given plenty of time to grow into her large frame. "The original plan was to get her up and running and try to sell her but after after the way she has gone the last two weeks we have taken the for sale sign down," Danny said today. The 4 year old mare was having just her third lifetime start last night and on the back of a super third last week was warmly supported even though she drew the outside of the second row. Patiently driven in the early stages by driver Todd Mitchell, Elliesjet settled back in the running line before Todd sent her forward after 600 metres to grab the lead. From there it turned into a procession as Elliesjet gradually increased the tempo and then powered away in the home straight for an emphatic win by four lengths. Elliesjet paced the 2200 metres in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.1 and 28.9 Today Danny was musing that you should never judge a book by its cover. " Todd said she absolutely jogged it and had plenty left at the finish so thats very encouraging," "Gareth Dixon (trainer) has suggested we should look at some of the support races over the Xmas carnival at Auckland so thats where we are heading," he said. Its been a big week for Danny as a half sister to Elliesjet in Annie Morva was successful at Menangle last Saturday night. "She ran second in the Ladyship stakes to Adore Me at three at Alexandra Park and then we sent her to Blake Fitzpatrick in Sydney to race. "Its worked out really well as she has topped the $100,000 mark in earnings and took a mark of 1:52.9 when she won last week," Danny said Danny almost made it a trifecta for the week as a breeder when the trotter he bred Al Bundy was an unlucky third at Alexandra Park last night. With Elliesjet and Annie Morva in such fine form, Danny looks in for a very profitable summer over the next few months. Harnesslink Media
Sometime (8f Blue Dream-Isaline Fortiniere) won tonight’s €100,000 featured Gr. II Prix du Premier Quinte+ International Belgique at Hippodrome Mons Ghlin. Christophe Martens teamed the pacesetting winner for his brother and trainer Vincent Martens, timed in 1.12.7kr over the 2300 meter autostart course. The 9/2 odds classy mare outlasted a death-seat challenge from Roi du Lupin (9g Fleuron Perrine-Itelia de Saint Pol) handled by Pierre Vercruysse for owner/trainer J-P Marmion. Solea Rivelliere and Roxana de Barbray were next across the line in the 14 horse International field with two entries, thereby producing 16 betting interests. The race was the first time a Quinte+ event has been conducted outside of France and fitting that the Martens brothers, from Belgium, produced the victory. Jackpot was €6,850,000. The Hippodrome Mons Ghlin card also showcased three other rich events. The €40,000 Grand Prix Paris-Turf Belgique over 2850 meters went to Sweden’s Vendi (9f Armbro Trick-Wixy Fly) and Didier Brohier. The 1.2/1 favorite scored in 1.13.7kr over Trou Normand and Saint James. 16 horses contested this 2850 meter autostart International contest. The €32,000 Prix d’Avenches Belgique, over 2300 meters autostart, went to Laurier Dag (7g Love You-Jingle Sund-Sugarcane Hanover) with Rik Dupuydt aboard. The 3/2 favorite scored in a sharp 1.11.6kr over Uppercut Ducal and Under Street in another 16 horse field. The €35,000 Prix des Geniteurs (Finale 3 year-olds) Belgique drew 12 starters over the 2300 meter autostart distance. Highness Worthy (3m SJ’s Photo-Oqui Worthy II-Super Darby) scored for Marc Huygens in 1.16.2kr over Happy Canthis and Honey Walker N. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com
In the world of harness racing there is not much that super star trotter Sebastian K has not done. The eight-year-old stallion by Korean has nearly $3 million in career earnings, has won most every major event in Europe, came to the USA this year and scored the fastest one mile race in Standardbred history with his 1:49 mile at Pocono Downs. So what’s left for the world champion to prove? How about making his first start ever on a half mile track! That’s right. Sebastian K has never raced on a half mile oval. He has 74 lifetime starts, 34 wins, 14 seconds and 2 thirds in his championship career. But can he handle the sharper turns on a half mile track? “It will not be a problem,” said Bjorn “Bernie” Noren, second trainer for Ake Svanstedt, “He (Sebastian K) is in good shape and with his quick early speed he will be OK on the smaller track.” This Saturday Sebastian K and Svanstedt will start from post six in the $250,000 International Trot Preview at Yonkers Raceway. The invitational event has drawn eight of the top trotters in racing. Included in the field and making his USA debut of another European champion, Commander Crowe, who has raced against Sebastian K in the past. Also in the field and the only mare against male rivals, is the 2013 Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. In fact, the total career earnings of the eight horses in the race is an amazing $17 million. Both Commander Crowe and Arch Madness are career earners of more than $4 million each. The Yonkers International Trot also tests the stamina of these champion trotters as the race is not the usual distance of one mile, the mainstay of North American harness racing, but is an extra distance race at one and one-quarter mile. How will that affect Sebastian K, who now has to maneuver the sharper turns of a half mile oval five times instead of just four times. “It will affect the American horses much more than it will Sebastian K,” said Noren. “They are not use to going an extra quarter mile, but Sebastian K, Commander Crowe and Arch Madness have all raced extra distances and should have an advantage over the other horses.” Commander Crowe has just come over from Europe and may not have had enough time to recover from the stress of trip and according to Noren, “He may not be at 100% for this race. He is a very great horse but the trip overseas is very tough on a horse. He could be in good shape but I would look for him to be at his best for the Breeders Crown next month at the Meadowlands. “It is good that he (Commander Crowe) has come over here to race,” Noren added, “The competition will help make the races more exciting for everyone here.” When asked to size up the competition against Sebastian K on Saturday, Noren summed it up. “Of course Sebastian K is the best in the race,” Noren chuckled, “And Ake Svantsted is so good at measuring a horse in an extra distance race. I think that Archangel and Arch Madness can be good and if Commander Crowe is feeling good he will be tough too.” The big question in the race will be that most of the horses entered have not set foot on a half mile track for most of their careers and they include Commander Crowe, Archangel, Sebastian K, Natural Herbie and Not Afraid. That’s five of the eight starters. And the other three, Bee A Magician, Obrigado and Arch Madness, have all won or were second in their last starts on Yonkers half mile oval. The morning line has Natural Herbie from post seven as the 3-1 race favorite. He is on a three-race winning streak. Arch Madness is the second choice at odds of 7/2 and for the first time since arriving in the USA, Sebastian K is not the race favorite in the morning line, but third choice at 4-1. With such keen competition, the revival of the International Trot will be quite the event to watch this weekend. Here is the field in post position order: $250,000 International Trot Preview 1 ¼ miles Commander Crowe (Orjan Kihlstrom) 8-1 Bee A Magician (David Miller) 8-1 Archangel (Matt Kakaley) 6-1 Obrigado (Jason Bartlett) 5-1 Arch Madness (George Brennan) 7/2 Sebastian K (Ake Svanstedt) 4-1 Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder) 3-1 Not Afraid (Brett Miller) 20-1 By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Usually a trainer seeks out new owners to purchase horses for them to train. But these days harness racing trainer Dee Hotton is taking a different approach. She is seeking other trainers who may want her to train their horses. Hotton, who trains her stable out of the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio, does not miss a day of training during the winter months as she moves her stable to Pinehurst Racetrack in Pinehurst, North Carolina from January to April and then comes back for the spring and summer race season. “A lot of trainers turn their horses out for the winter,” Hotton says, “and then put them back on the track come springtime. But these days there are a lot of young horses that maybe didn’t make it to the races, or were injured early and already turned out. With the winter’s the past few years so harsh, why not allow me to take their horses with me to Pinehurst and start their comeback early and then when I return they can have their horses back and already in shape to begin training down for the race season or I can have them ready to qualify. “I am still training horses to race myself,” Dee was quick to reply, “But I am also looking to take in outsiders this winter. “Not every horse is going to be stakes caliber,” She explained, “but there are a lot of early closer series at many tracks that they can be prepped in advance to be ready for. And at Pinehurst it is a lot less expensive to train a horse as compared to south Florida. The weather may not be as ideal, but we rarely have a day we can’t get on the racetrack to work out.” Dee Hotton is also seeking harness racing fans who are ready to take the plunge and become actual racehorse owners. “I have partnerships forming where people who have been racing fans can now be a partial owner at a really affordable price,” Hotton explained, “I can put them into the exciting world of harness racing and offer harness racing enthusiasts the opportunity to make the dream of owning a quality Standardbred become a reality. We strive to make horse ownership easy, successful, and fun!” Deirdre “Dee” Hotton founded, owns, and manages the Dee Hotton Stable. She has been involved in harness racing for over 25 years. She dreamed of training horses from a very young age after driving harness horses in Ohio matinee races while in her teens. Graduating from Ohio State with a degree in Horse Production and Management, Hotton made that dream a reality by establishing her own stable. “There is nothing like the experience and delight in watching your horse cross the finish line first,” says Dee Hooton. “The sheer exhilaration of racing is beyond words. At the Dee Hotton Stable we take pride in communicating with our partners and we believe your experience should be very enjoyable and fulfilling. Your life may never be the same after you experience the sensations of being a harness racing owner.” With two brand new tracks opened and racino enriched purses leaping at all four pari-mutuel tracks and at the numerous county fairs throughout the summer, Ohio is the hotbed for harness racing and the Dee Hotton Stable is right in the middle of it all. She also has the best online website at www.deehottonstable.com that has all the details of her operation, rates, past winners and more. If anyone is interested in joining a partnership and getting involved in harness racing as an owner, they are encouraged to contact Dee Hotton anytime and talk about it. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great harness racing newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance. Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Get your friends to enter “Win The Wheels Contest” - How would you like to win a set of $1,400US custom race bike wheels from Forward Motion Technologies, perhaps a full set of RazorHorse shoes, maybe a five gallon bucket of Lifeline Horse Supplement or a $100 Amazon gift card? AU: Thin skinned stewards - Following an exclusive article on Harnesslink earlier this month, Victorian horseman Lance Justice is the subject of stewards' inquiry. Angered by the suspensions he received at Melton on September 29, Justice questioned the lack of definition between light and heavy interference stating: "The stewards are too heavy handed. There is no defining difference between light, medium or heavy interference, and as such, it’s just bang...this is the sentence. Its mandatory sentencing gone mad." AU: Novelty or offensive? - In a world of political correctness, would be it okay to conduct a race limited to third generation Australians? How about a race for men only? Embryo transfers are just wrong! - Embryo transfers in race horses, just like cloning or any other unnatural forms of reproduction in horse racing, is just plain wrong. NZ: Stakes money: How to calculate it - As an industry that covers different hemispheres and numerous countries, you would think that the powers that be would come up with a system regarding stakes money won that is uniformly accepted worldwide. NZ: Shuttle Stallions – Where is the $$ going? Breeding operations in the southern hemisphere are locked into the use of shuttle stallions if they want to stay relevant in a hugely competitive market. They either buy a chunk of a stallion, purchase the Southern breeding rights or get a fee for service provided to the stallion owners. But where is the actual money going? Stallion Review – ALWAYS A VIRGIN - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Always A Virgin, p,3,1:48.4 ($1,135,559). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).
Talented Victorian pacer Abettorpunt is expected to be a major improver in tomorrow night’s harness racing Grand Circuit opener. Sent north for a two-start Queensland campaign, Abettorpunt failed to settle into his new surroundings ahead of his last week’s Gold Coast Cup. Although the son of Bettors Delight performed admirably when third behind Avonnoa, trainer David Lewis wasn’t happy with Abettorpunt’s condition heading into the feature. “He just wouldn’t settle in during the first few days,” Lewis said. “Before last week’s run he had barely eaten and was in a sooking mood. “I think it came down to being in a small yard instead of his normal open paddock and he just didn’t like it. All he would eat was a bit of hay and that was when we stayed with him and watched him. “When no one was there keeping him company, he just wouldn’t eat.” To Lewis’ joy, Abettorpunt has “picked up” this week, including eating his feed and bouncing around the yard, as he heads into the Queensland Pacing Championship at Albion Park. “He has settled in a lot better as his stay has gone on,” Lewis said. “He has picked right up, is eating better and is in a general better mood. “I expect him to improve in the Championship, although the draw hasn’t helped.” As Lewis pointed out, Abettorpunt will begin from the middle of the second row, with in-form local, Avonnova, and proven star For A Reason faring better along the front line. One of two Belinda McCarthy-trained runners, For A Reason will begin from three, with Avonnova to come out of five. “Avonnova is the one to beat,” Lewis said. “If he can get to the front and have a quiet time of it, I don’t think he will be beaten. “Our draw isn’t the best, but sometimes in these big races being off the second row can help if they go hard up front. “I’m much happier with him this week, but we’ll just have to see how the race pans out.” PAUL COURTS
It’s that time of the week as Harnesslink presents another ‘Flashback Friday’, written by multiple award-winning journalist PAUL COURTS. If you have any past champions or magical moments you’d like to relive, contact Paul who will be glad to hear from you…enjoy! Memories of one of Western Australia’s most loved heroes – Preux Chevalier - will be sparked at Gloucester Park tonight. The former idol will be honoured with the running of the Preux Chevalier Final for M0 mares. While Preux Chevalier is no longer with us, having died at the ripe age of 29 in 2007, the stallion’s feats will live on forever. Bred by Roy and Lil Adam, Preux Chevalier was trained by Barry Perkins throughout his career for owners Ken and Wendy Lavin. One of the greatest pacers produced on this side of the equator, Preux Chevalier’s exhilarating speed exciting onlookers, who affectionately referred to him as ‘The Frog.’ Given the moniker due to his French name, Preux Chevalier translates to Valiant Knight, which is fitting for a star which overcame numerous obstacles. By Lumber Dream from Heather Frost, Preux Chevalier was foaled on September 13, 1978, and after being broken in by Perkins, was due to make his debut as a two-year-old only to be scratched on the eve of the race. Perkins discovered the freshman was suffering from a minor injury, with the youngster undergoing a stifle operation, which kept him sidelined for the season. Fourth on debut in December 1981, Preux Chevalier took until his sixth start before breaking his maiden at the juicy odds of 40/1. Ironically, his victory was recorded on Inter Dominion night at Gloucester Park, but few would have guessed they’d seen a future Inter Dominion winner in the making! Racing his way into the West Australian Derby, Preux Chevalier was pulled out of the Blue Riband after travelling 200 metres and was subsequently found to have fractured his cannon bone. Returning as a four-year-old, Preux Chevalier raced nine times for seven wins and two thirds. One of those thirds came in the Golden Nugget behind fellow stars, Classic Garry and Wondai’s Mate, with Classic Garry leading throughout to equal the track record. In his final outing for the term, Preux Chevalier rated 2:00 at Gloucester Park to break the track record shared by dual Inter Dominion winner, Gammalite and Wondai’s Mate. Nine wins from 10 starts as a five-year-old saw Preux Chevalier earn $153,025 - placing him third behind champions, Gammalite and Popular Alm, as the nation’s richest earners for the 1983/84 season. Among his victories that term was the 1983 West Australian Cup, beating Wondai’s Mate and Black Irish – his 13th consecutive win. Despite his rise to the top of Australian racing, Perkins decided to bypass the 1984 Adelaide Inter Dominion, but made the trip to Sydney for the Miracle Mile in January. Favourite at 8/11, Preux Chevalier was settled at the tail of the field, and despite Perkins angling him three-wide at the bell, was a beaten conveyance along the back straight, finishing last as Double Agent raced to glory. Sent for a spell upon his return home, Preux Chevalier came back with a vengeance during his next campaign. Racing 21 times during the 1984/85 season for 18 wins and three placings, Preux Chevalier earned a record $448,678 for the term. Winning his first nine starts, the boom performer was on target for another east coast challenge – this time his true colours shone through. A hit and run mission to Moonee Valley resulted in victory in the Winfield Gold Cup, before returning home for a gutsy second behind Village Kid in the WA Cup. Taken back to Harold Park for the 1985 Miracle Mile, Preux Chevalier secured the prestigious sprint in a record 1:56.7. A week later Preux Chevalier dead-heated with Paleface Bubble in the Harold Park Cup – the first time a major race had produced a dead-heat at the Glebe circuit. Preux Chevalier was finally ready to contest an Inter Dominion, heading to Melbourne for the 1985 Championship. First stop on the road to the series was his triumph in the Hunter Cup, beating Wondai’s Mate and Panyan, while smashing Popular Alm’s world record by a second-and-a-half. A dominant pre-post favourite for the Inter Dominion, Preux Chevalier made a clean sweep of the series, beating Village Kid and Game Oro in the Final. Sent for a well-earned break after the Final, Preux Chevalier returned with a third and a second before rounding out the season with a WA Winter Cup win. Preux Chevalier was unbeaten from five Australian starts the following season, while lowering his best time to 1:54.3. Sent across the Tasman after a successful trip to Queensland, Preux Chevalier was unplaced in the New Zealand Cup before securing the NZ Free-For-All and finishing second in the Travelodge Free-For-All. Set for the Australian Pacing Championship at Moonee Valley, Preux Chevalier was scratched from the series by what was to be a career-ending suspensory injury. Later named Australian Horse of the Year, Preux Chevalier was retired to stud with 41 wins and 10 placings from 56 starts. PAUL COURTS
Baseball fans in New York are familiar with the "Le Grand Orange," the nickname of popular former Mets star Rusty Staub. Now, nearly 30 years after Staub's retirement, racing fans in New York will get their first in-person look at "Le Grand Blonde," globe-trotting trotter Commander Crowe. Commander Crowe races Saturday night in the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational at Yonkers Raceway. It will be Commander Crowe's first start on American soil. He has raced twice previously in North America, both in the Breeders Crown Open Trot at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, finishing third each time. An 11-year-old Swedish-born gelding, Commander Crowe has won 60 of 104 career races, earning $4.78 million. His earnings rank No. 5 among all trotters in history and his triumphs include the prestigious Elitlopp Invitational, which he captured in 2012. The International Trot Preview, to be contested at 1-1/4 miles with a field of eight horses, is the precursor to the return of the International Trot next year at Yonkers after a two-decade hiatus. Joining Commander Crowe in this season's event are Sebastian K, another star from Europe who this year became history's fastest trotter, and 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, the lone female in the field. Also in the race are Arch Madness, a multiple-stakes-winner of $4.25 million lifetime who finished second to Commander Crowe in the 2012 Elitlopp, and 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel. Rounding out the group are Obrigado, Natural Herbie, and Not Afraid. Commander Crowe will start the International Trot Preview from post No. 1 with Orjan Kihlstrom at the lines for trainer Fabrice Souloy. He enters the race off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Gran Premio Turilli in Rome on Oct. 5. In August, he raced three heats to win the Grade 1 Aby Stora Pris in Sweden. "We hope for the best," Souloy said. "For us, in Europe we know the track, we know what to do. But in America, we don't know so much. We don't know the track, we don't know which (post) is the best; it's a little new to us. If it's a race in France or Scandinavia, I could say, yes, that's good. We'll see." Souloy expects Commander Crowe to have no trouble negotiating the turns on Yonkers' half-mile oval. "The turns are not a problem for him," Souloy said. "He will not care about it." Commander Crowe arrived in central New Jersey on Saturday, following two days in quarantine, and will remain there in preparation for November's Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands. Souloy hopes the extra time will help Commander Crowe get acclimated to racing in North America. In his previous trips to the Breeders Crown, the horse arrived just prior to the event. "We were disappointed, yes and no," Souloy said about Commander Crowe's previous Breeders Crown starts. "The season was so long for him; he started to race in March and he went all the season, so many transports, and I think when he got here he was a little down. I think in 2012 if he had come in June or July, he would have been much better than that. The trip was really tough. "In 2012, he had raced 14 times. He went to Norway, he went to Denmark, he went to Sweden; he went everywhere. It was a tough season. It is so difficult to keep him on the top until November." Commander Crowe, a chestnut gelding who didn't begin racing until late in his 3-year-old season and won the first 23 starts of his career, moved to Souloy's stable in 2010. He is owned by the Snogarps Gard ownership group of Barbro Wihlborg, Ulf Wihlborg and Joakim Wihlborg. He is a son of Juliano Star, out of the Mack Lobell-sired mare Somack. "For me, in 2012, the horse was fantastic," Souloy said. "He won everything in Europe. In 2013, he had so many problems, (including) an infection in the leg. This year, he has been really good. It is nice to be asked to come back here again because we feel the horse has come back really good." On Saturday, Commander Crowe will renew his rivalry with Sebastian K, who followed trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt to the U.S. last winter and has won eight of 11 races and $663,853 this season. On June 28, he won in 1:49 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to become the fastest trotter in history. "I am not surprised because he was so fast in Sweden," Souloy said. "Long distance, I think he is not his best. He is a real miler, really fast. It's not the same style (of racing here). In Europe, you get many attacks and you need to be really strong. For me, it is a horse for a mile. I am not surprised by his success." Souloy, like many fans, is looking forward to Commander Crowe's starts in the States. "It's nice for the sport," he said. "It's nice to have many good horses." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Over the past few weeks one of harness racing’s top young performers, Artspeak, has seemed to have fallen apart to a degree. The two-year-old son of Western Ideal had been enjoying a perfect season, was unbeaten in seven starts and everyone in the industry was talking about him becoming the second “Captaintreacherous” for trainer Tony Alagna. Then came the second week in Lexington. Artspeak made his big move in the backstretch, cleared to the lead after the half mile marker and as they started down the stretch he did something he never did before. He made a break. He went off-stride for driver Scott Zeron, was able to regroup but it was too late as In The Arsenal won the race and Cartoon Daddy was second and Artspeak had to settle for third place. OK, Artspeak is not a machine, he is flesh and blood and he is still a somewhat green young horse that can have a “bad day” so you don’t look back and move forward to the next race. Remember this is the colt that romped in the Metro Final. That next race was the following week, the eliminations at Woodbine Racecourse for the prestigious Governors Cup. Drawing the outside post eight, Zeron gets away in fourth place with Artspeak, can’t seem to follow any cover, then gets rough gaited and makes a break before the three-quarter pole. But once again he regroups for Zeron and finishes third to make this Saturday’s $565,000 final. But what is going on with Artspeak? Why is he breaking? What happened to this unbeaten colt that was all the talk of harness racing? Since Artspeak isn’t speaking to anyone about what happened we went to the next best source, trainer Tony Alagna. “The day he raced at Lexington,” Alagna said, “We chalked that up to the way the track was that day. A few horses made breaks that normally don’t make breaks. We took him home and he was fine. Trained great and then we race him again and he breaks again. “We were really taken by surprise when he broke again,” Alagna said. “I was just happy that he was able to come back and finish third and make the final. We are not really sure why he did it again. I came up early to Canada and trained him today and all systems are good for the weekend.” Artspeak drew post six in the 7th race Governors Cup final. He will be facing nine rivals, most of whom he had handily beaten in the past. “He is still green in many ways,” Alagna explained. “Even when we baby raced him he showed some tendencies to want to make a break on the final turn, but once he started racing that was a thing of the past. He has matured over the summer and he was a good this morning as he has been all season and we are going into the race this weekend in top form. “When you look at his lines,” Alagna said,” in both races where he made the breaks, he still was able to come back and pace his last quarters in :27 and change to finish third. Horses usually don’t come back from breaks and do that. Even with his bobble last week he still paced as fast as the other elimination winner.” Provided that Tony Alagna is correct and Artspeak is back to form, then the rest of the field had better watch out. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
A half-length loss in the Hambletonian Stakes prevents Nuncio from a chance at history, but the 3-year-old male trotter can add to his credentials with a win in Saturday's $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway. The Yonkers Trot is the third jewel in harness racing's Trotting Triple Crown. Nuncio finished second to stablemate Trixton in the first leg, the Hambletonian, and defeated stablemate Father Patrick by 1-1/4 lengths in the second leg, the Kentucky Futurity. Nuncio, trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by John Campbell, will start the eight-horse Yonkers Trot from post No. 2. The colt has won nine of 14 races this year, including his Yonkers Trot elimination last week, and earned $1.04 million for owner Stefan Melander's Stall TZ Inc. The most recent horse to win the Trotting Triple Crown was Glidemaster in 2006. The last horse to capture two jewels and finish second in the remaining leg was Mack Lobell in 1987. Takter has won the Yonkers Trot three times; Campbell has won twice. "John was very pleased with him (last week)," Takter said about Nuncio, who brings a three-race win streak to Yonkers. "He was very strong in the stretch. He's in great form. The horse is sharp." Nuncio has never finished worse than second in any of his 24 career starts, posting 14 victories while earning $1.50 million. Eight of Nuncio's 10 lifetime second-place finishes have come behind Father Patrick, who leads all harness racing horses in purses this season with $1.38 million. Takter did not enter Father Patrick in the Yonkers Trot. "That's very difficult, especially racing in all the major stakes," Takter said, referring to Nuncio finishing first or second in all his starts. "He's got a fantastic resume. He's a really hard worker. "Father Patrick, he's (Wayne) Gretzky or Michael Jordan. There's no effort. Nuncio really has to work at it to be what he is. The other one, he's just got it. But Nuncio has got a hell of an attitude; a great attitude." New York Sire Stakes champion Gural Hanover, who won the other Yonkers Trot elimination, starts from post No. 1 with Jim Morrill Jr. driving for trainer Ron Burke. Saturday's card at Yonkers also includes the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers and the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational, along with the $150,854 Lady Maud for 3-year-old female pacers and $124,590 Hudson Trot for 3-year-old female trotters. The Messenger is the third leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. Takter's Lyonssomewhere won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, and starts the Messenger from post No. 3. Limelight Beach, who won the second leg of the Crown, the Little Brown Jug, did not enter the Messenger. Lyonssomewhere went off stride while leading his elimination in the Little Brown Jug and failed to advance to the second heat. "He could have won the Jug if he didn't do whatever he did in the last turn," Takter said. "It was like the biggest shock of the year. If he won his elimination, he would have had a hell of a shot at it. It's the small details. You've got to click. That's why it's tough to win it." Luck Be Withyou, who won the Messenger elimination last week, starts from post five with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Chris Oakes. The field also includes multiple-stakes-winners McWicked and All Bets Off. The last horse to win the Pacing Triple Crown was No Pan Intended in 2003. Sebastian K, history's fastest trotter with a mark of 1:49, headlines the International Trot Preview, which also features European star Commander Crowe and 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who is the only female trotter in the eight-horse event. Commander Crowe is making his first start in North America since the 2012 Breeders Crown. He will stay in the U.S. to compete in this year's Breeders Crown in November at the Meadowlands. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
On Halloween this year while children and the “young at heart” will be out trick and treating in the neighborhood, an unsung hero in the sport of harness racing will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Unknown to many of the younger generation in our industry, Aime Choquette, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has been a “behind the scenes” great in harness racing and on October 31, Aime will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Born in 1914 in Sherbrooke, Aime returned to his home town four years ago and lives a quiet life in an assisted living center. He is close to his sister, age 94, and has breakfast with her every week. “I don’t get around as much as I use to,” Aime says, “I have to use a walker now but that has only been this past year. But other than that I think I am doing pretty well for almost 100 years old. I smile every day thinking how fortunate I am to have lived this long. I never thought growing up that I would live to see my 100th birthday.” A confirmed bachelor, Choquette, who did not get into the harness racing industry until he was age 38, had spent the next 52 years devoted to the sport. Starting out as a trainer of show jumping horses in Quebec, Canada, it was in 1952 that Choquette first switched over to become a caretaker in the Delvin Miller Stable, a relationship that would last for more than 30 years and see many world and Grand Circuit champion trotters and pacers come from the Miller Stable. “At the time I was maybe one of the best show jumpers in all of Canada,” Aime explained. “One day at a big event in Trois-Rivieres in 1951 at the Warwick Horse Show, I did a jump that no one had ever attempted before. I jumped the great horse Pete Hackley, over four jumps that were set up next to each other. “Delvin Miller happen to be in the area at that time and heard about the jump I had made,” Aime said, “and he was introduced to me and said he was interested in having me work for his stable and learn about harness racing. At the time the show horse business was going downhill and harness racing was moving uphill, so I took up his offer.” Promoted to second trainer in 1959, Choquette would travel throughout North America on the grand circuit with Delvin Miller for most of his life, prepping yearlings at Miller’s famous Meadow Lands Farm in Pennsylvania and wintering at Pompano Park in Florida. One of Choquette’s quotes that has stood the test of time include: “…we educate them, we never break them…” In referring to the early training of young horses. During Choquette’s long career he has shared his horsemanship, wisdom and friendship with many of today’s racing industry leaders, who were grooms under Choquette’s tutelage. They include the late Andy Grant, former president of the Hambletonian Society, and the late Castleton Farms president, John Cashman, Tom Charters, current president of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, Jerry Monahan, Red Mile GM, former USTA Registrar Bob Leuhrman, Jim Moran of Vernon Downs, horsemen Walter Bonafice, Don McKirgan, Lenford “Bucky” Waugh, Bob Yohn, Soren Landin, Tomas Nilsson, Fred Kristofiak, David Seitz and many others. Some would say that Choquette could be a tough taskmaster, but tempered that with his natural talent for teaching that was often reinforced with the reminder that…“You young fellas are here to learn.” And the horses that Choquette worked with reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing greats including Countess Adios, Dancer Hanover, O’Brien Hanover, Speed In Action, Tarport Hap, Meadow Bright, Songflori, Arndon and Delmonica Hanover, just to name a few. And Amie also traveled around the world with Delvin Miller, racing their great stable and winning nearly every major stakes race in harness racing. Amie alone took Delmonica Hanover to France and prepped her for her victory in the prestigious Prix d’Amerique. “I saw those hills at the Vincennes racetrack,” Aime recalled, “and realized that she (Delmonica) would have to race up and down them and never could miss a step so I would train her in short trips every day, up and down until she knew it made no difference and she would trot up and down at full speed with ease. When she beat the boys it was a great day and such a historic event in harness racing.” Even at age 90, trainers would still call upon Aime to come to Pompano Park and the local training centers to watch their horses train a mile and ask him for his opinion on what they were doing right and wrong. They knew that even if Aime could not sit in a sulky anymore, that his eyesight and knowledge were still so keen. In his later years Aime wanted to help those in the business that were less fortunate them himself and with the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, he would funnel money to their sunshine fund. The Chapter then renamed it the Amie Choquette Sunshine Fund and he has donated thousands of dollars that have been given to horsemen in need. This reporter has been a friend of Amie’s for many years and had the opportunity to visit him in Sherbrooke just one month ago. We had breakfast together with racing photographer Ann MacNeill and fellow journalist Melissa Keith and, of course, Aime was full of himself getting to go out with two young women. Aime is still very spry and his memory sharp as a tack. He took out his scrape book to show the ladies photographs from his early years in both show horse and harness racing. He has a great collection of memorabilia dating back older than he is. And he was so pleased to have company who traveled so far just to visit him. And when we left he say goodbye in what was a trademark response that he and Delvin Miller would say to everyone that came to the stable, “We’re glad you got to see us!” Everyone is being encourage to send Amie a birthday card congratulating him on his milestone birthday. His mailing address is Aime Choquette, 2835 Du Manoir, Apt. 220, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1L 2E6. We know he would love to hear from his many friends he has made over the last, let’s say, 100 years! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
The following letter was sent to the membership of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York by its president, Joe Faraldo. The Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway have spent a great deal of time, effort and resources in securing new markets to simulcast races from Yonkers. It started with a relationship with Australian harness racing, which has now grown to a market that wagers more than $30 million a year on races from Yonkers. The next new market is Europe. For the last year, no kidding, we have been working on getting races from Yonkers simulcast to the PMU, the French pari-mutuel wagering association that takes bets from much of Europe. Those efforts are coming to fruition with the start of Sunday simulcasting on November 9 and continuing every Sunday through the end of the Yonkers meet December 14. It’s always challenging to enter a new market and this European market is extra special. The PMU hosts the second largest wagering pools in the world. And Yonkers will be the first track, harness or thoroughbred, which will be simulcast there from the United States on a weekly basis. Here are some of the things Yonkers & the SOA of NY have teamed together on to educate bettors overseas and to help make this venture a success: Developed web site in French www.yonkers-france to promote Yonkers and have an easy way to give out racing information to bettors overseas. Created social media pages (facebook, twitter, pinterest) in French for fans to keep up with American racing. Started and funded in cooperation with Yonkers an ad campaign in the daily French racing form, The Paris Turf, and also on the French racing television channel in an effort to insure that we properly promote Yonkers’ signal. Engaged domestic ADWs to offer promotions for members to wager on Yonkers on Sundays. Some ADWs will provide multiple reward benefits for wagering on this special Sunday card. The Yonkers signal will also be distributed to Switzerland, Belgium, Spanish Basque community, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia and Malta The French PMU marketing branch is offering $5,000 Euros (approx. $6,500) on the first two Sundays to the French bettors that wager on Yonkers. Engaged an expert as an overseas liaison to help us make decisions and coordinate our efforts to put our best foot forward. We believe this will open the door to more of this simulcasting at more reasonable times on a different day of the week – that would be more convenient to the horsmen . Obtained permission to have advanced wagering on Sunday card from the NYS Gaming Commission. As part of this effort the International Trot will return in 2015 to Yonkers Raceway and its Preview will be raced October 25th, 2015 on a blockbuster card including the Yonkers Trot, The Messenger Stakes, the Lady Maud and the Hudson Filly Trot. The real payoff to the global expansion is commingling because it presents the opportunity for much bigger wagering pools which would be very attractive to our players currently based here in the US. Basically, we have busted our butt to for a long time and with a lot of days, weeks and months of extraordinary cooperation with Yonkers and the NYS Gaming Commission. The Commission has been encouraging us to move forward to promote our sport and has been extremely sensitive to the sacrifices and unique needs of the French initiative. There is no doubt as to its untapped potential. We realize that this initial Pilot Program will mean sacrifices for everyone and so far everyone has gone out on a limb to make this work, however but this initial sacrifice will lead to the start of a global exposure for Yonkers and our industry. It will insure to a large extent, more than anything else, a future for our game. We are excited about the Pilot Program’s potential expansion which will not be as onerous on all of our resources as this startup is. We are pleased about the participation and cooperation from the NYS Gaming Commission and Yonkers and truly believe that Tim Rooney, Sr. aptly said of these six weeks of the Program, “we have but one chance to get this right, we can’t fail”. The SOA and Yonkers will see to it that those horsemen participating in these French simulcasts will be rewarded. We know the sacrifices the SOA and Yonkers have made; the numerous meetings, the planning, the expense and we sincerely hope that all horsemen join hands in the effort to insure the vitality of our business. Programs like this are essential for our future. A future which as we have seen can be altered overnight.
This Week: Messenger Stakes, Yonkers Trot, International Trot Preview, Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Fall Four Stakes, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Dayton Pacing Derby and Dayton Trotting Derby, Hollywood Dayton Raceway, Dayton, Ohio; Circle City and Madison County, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; and John Simpson Stakes, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action this week will get underway on Friday (Oct. 24) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway with the $160,000 Dayton Trotting Derby for older trotters and the $122,000 Dayton Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on Friday, Hoosier Park will offer Circle City races for 3-year-old trotters and pacers, There will be three divisions in the $90,000 3-year-old colt pace, three divisions in the $82,200 3-year-old filly trot, two divisions in the $74,300 3-year-old colt trot and two divisions in the $71,000 3-year-old filly pace. On Saturday (Oct. 25), Hoosier will race Madison County events for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Each of the four divisions carries an estimated purse of $75,000. Rounding out the busy Friday of Grand Circuit racing, Vernon Downs will contest the John Simpson Stakes for freshman pacers and trotters. There will be three divisions in the $31,005 2-year-old colt trot, two divisions in the $26,816 2-year-old filly trot and single divisions in the $26,503 2-year-old colt pace and $25,616 2-year-old filly pace. Yonkers Raceway will offer five Grand Circuit stakes on Saturday night led by two Triple Crown events, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger for 3-year-old pacers. Also on tap will be the $250,000 International Trot Preview for older trotters, the $150,854 Lady Maud for 3-year-old pacing fillies and the $124,590 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Woodbine will offer the Fall Four Stakes on Saturday featuring the C$565,000 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old colt pacers, the C$521,000 Valley Victory for 2-year-old colt trotters, the C$464,000 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, and the C$424,000 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Woodbine entries can be seen at this link. Last time: The Windy City Pace at Maywood Park was the featured event this past weekend on the extensive Grand Circuit schedule. Big Boy Dreams and Tim Tetrick won the Windy City Pace. Big Boy Dreams won the $180,000 Windy City Pace on Oct. 17 in wire-to-wire fashion for driver Tim Tetrick in 1:51. The Ron Burke trainee and New York Sire Stakes competitor notched his fourth win of the year in 10 starts. Big Boy Dreams took the field to a brutal :25.4 first quarter and a :54.1 half, with Let's Drink On It challenging the leader going to the 1:22.2 three-quarters. But Big Boy Dreams just continued to draw away in the stretch to win by 2-1/2 lengths. He now has $168,495 in seasonal earnings for owner Dominic Rosato. It was "Elimination Saturday," on Oct. 18, with Yonkers Raceway hosting elims for three stakes events. Fifteen 3-year-old colts and geldings turned into eight for Yonkers Trot No. 60, as standouts Nuncio (John Campbell) and Gural Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) were comfy winners in the pair of $40,000 eliminations. Nuncio, in play early from post position No. 5, waited his turn before finally making the lead. He parked Skates N Plates, then strode home by 3-1/2 lengths through fractions of :28.4, :58, 1:26.4 and 1:56.2. Don Dorado was second, with Journey and Expressive Action third and fourth, respectively. Gural Hanover, New York Sire Stakes champion and the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into this season's Trot, won the draw in the second elim. He retook from a breaking-soon-after Flyhawk El Durado before finishing his four turns though panels of :28.4, 58.1, 1:27.2 and 1:56.3, a length faster than Resolve. Third went to King City, with Datsyuk getting the final place at the table. The $40,000 elim for the 59th Messenger -- nine sophomore colts/geldings to end up with eight -- was won by a pocket-sitting Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick). From post No. 2, he whipped a cone-skimming Forty Five Red by a neck in 1:53 with McWicked a belated third. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 1,890; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,002; 3. David Miller - 869.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 625.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 523. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,957.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,519; 3. Erv Miller - 396.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 349; 5. Tony Alagna - 312. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 431.4; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 386.4; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 277; 4. Brittany Farms - 254.45; 5. Robert Key - 232. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Hoosier Park and Vernon Downs. Hoosier will feature the Carl Erskine Trot for 3-year-olds, the Monument Circle for 3-year-old male pacers, the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby for older pacers, the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers and the Moni Maker for 3-year-old filly trotters. Vernon will offer the Artiscape for older pacing mares, the Muscle Hill for older trotting mares, and a pair of Kindergarten finals for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
As the famous saying goes “the older the fiddle the sweeter the tune” and there was never a truer word spoken at Portmarnock Raceway last Sunday when the annual “Legends” drivers race was held at the Dublin, Ireland venue. With an average age of 60, each driver, a harness hero in their respective heydays, paraded before the event in front of hundreds of adoring friends, family and fans all anxious to see these legends of the track all strut their stuff just one more time. As the starting car pulled away, a huge cheer rang out from the packed stands as Seamus Corey from Belfast locked horns with County Meaths Patrick Kane in an early battle for supremacy. With a circuit left to run, Joe Haide aboard Deans Alibi entered the fray and put the geldings devastating turn of foot to good use, quickly striding five lengths clear. Although Tom Richardson with Springhill Jack and Phillip Gilligan with Major Tom tried to launch race-winning challenges in the home stretch it was Deans Alibi who landed the spoils to the delight of the oldest driver in the racem Joe Haide. The runners up spot fell to Mahogany Montana who performed creditably for Seamus Corey whilst Christy Bennett, a former pro who hasn’t drove competitively in a race in 20 years, finished third aboard favourite Oakwood Outlaw. Coy about his age when quizzed in the winners enclosure winning driver Joe admitted to be north of 70 years old, but to those there on the day he showed he had lost none of his prowess in the bike or indeed the ability to make a vital tack change when things are going wrong. Deans Alibi had ran poorly in his own race earlier on in the afternoon, seeming to hate the sloppy conditions. After having a quick consultation with the owner, a mesh face mask was obtained and produced which had the desired effect and Deans Alibi knuckled down to a gutsy win to the delight of Joes wife Peggy, and dozens of family members that had came along to see a true legend in action. Bragging rights were put to good use in the clubhouse after racing and a big party was held in honour of all participants who regaled patrons with anecdotes and tall tales of their exploits from the 1960s right through to this very day. The “Legends” race remains one of the highlights of the season at Portmarnock and it was great to see so many people turn out on the day to pay homage to those who gave their best years to the sport they love for our enjoyment. The last word must go to Joe Haide for when he was asked if he will be back in 2015 to defend his title he bellowed “Of course I’ll be back, there’s plenty of kicks still left in this mule!” By Thomas Bennett, for Portmarnock Raceway
Already a member of an elite harness racing fraternity, Bitobliss will tackle a new challenge at Kilmore’s Cup meeting on Sunday. At is stands, Bitobliss is one of only three pacers to register consecutive wins in the club’s flagship event since its inauguration in 1964 when captured by You Crovottie. Thanks to his victories in 2011 and ’12, the Scott Stewart-trained stallion sits alongside Popular Alm and Game Oro to form the ‘terrific three’. Popular Alm was the first to achieve the feat in 1981 and ’82, followed by Game Oro in 1985 and ’86. Stewart is hoping Bitobliss’ connection to Popular Alm can continue in the Sprint named after the former superstar. Popular Alm was prepared by the late Bob and Vin Knight, who Stewart worked for during the late 1980s and early ‘90s. As for Bitobliss, he has drawn perfectly in barrier one in the 1690-metre feature. “That is a top barrier, but hopefully we haven’t used up all our luck with the draw,” Stewart declared. “From there I’d like to see him hold the lead, but we’ll have to see what happens when the mobile lets them go.” Although first-up for three months, Bitobliss is in “pretty good shape” after three solid trials, with Stewart confident of forward showing. “He’s had three good trials and his work at home has been great,” Stewart said. “He has certainly come up better than he did when he had a few runs last July. “His work has lifted and he is just generally better within himself. “I would have liked to have another crack at the Cup, but it’s just too much first-up from a spell.” Following his provincial engagement, Bitobliss will return to Tabcorp Park Melton for the Smoken Up Sprint on November 7. Should the son of Blissfull Hall race as expected, Stewart will head to Menangle for the Coca-Cola Sprint a week later in a bid to earn a berth in the Miracle Mile. Australasia’s premier speed test, the Miracle Mile is scheduled to be held at Menangle on November 29. “All that depends on how well he is going,” Stewart said. “For now I’m just concentrating on Kilmore then we will go from there.” PAUL COURTS