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Pacing superstar Im Themightyquinn has thrown off the effects of injuries and illness and is poised to make a triumphant return to racing by proving too fast for his eight rivals in the $21,000 Memorial Day Stakes at Gloucester Park on Friday night, despite the significant disadvantage of starting from the outside of the front line in the 2130m feature event. The nine-year-old champion, who pulled up sore after finishing second to Im Victorious in the 1730m Members Sprint at Gloucester Park last October, looks a picture after a thorough preparation from leading trainer Gary Hall sen. and punters are excited at the prospect of supporting him at his first start in a race for 196 days. A month ago he sped over the final 400m of a track workout at Hall's Serpentine training establishment in 27.1sec. and he has improved considerably since then. Im Themightyquinn, winner of 51 races from 102 starts for earnings of $4,377,016, goes into Friday night's race with a splendid first-up record, having won at his first outing after a spell in each of his three previous preparations. Star reinsman Gary Hall jun.is certain not to set Im Themightyquinn alight in the early stages and to allow the champion to drift back to the rear before making use of his sizzling speed at a later stage in the race. Hokonui Ben, winner of the WA Pacing Cup in January, has fared well in the random draw and is sure to appreciate the distinct advantage of starting from the prized No. 1 barrier. Trainer Aldo Cortopassi will be anxious to set the pace and he certainly will be mindful of the prospect of an early challenge for the lead from Polak, who is capable of mustering great pace from the No. 5 barrier. Hokonui Ben appeals as the main danger to Im Themightyquinn. He set the pace and held on to win narrowly from the fast-finishing This Time Dylan over 2130m two starts ago. And then he finished an excellent fourth behind Finbar Abbey in the 2902m Easter Cup on Thursday of last week when he started off 40m and sustained a spirited finishing burst. However, it is difficult to visualise Hokonui Ben or any other runner seriously challenging Im Themightyquinn. Victory for Im Thenmightyquinn would give the Hall father-and-son combination its first success in the Memorial Day Stakes, an event which has been held annually since Ken Ford drove Halt to victory in 1959. Hall sen. now has high hopes that Im Themightyquinn will end his several near misses in the Memorial Day Stakes. Hall has trained the runner-up in five memorial Day Stakes --- Zakara (1991), Bengeeman (2003), Patches (2006), Dartmoor (2009) and Whos Mistake (2013). Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who will be represented by Red Salute, has won the event twice. He scored with Captain Lee (Chris Lewis) in 1995 and Tsunami Lombo (Morgan Woodley in 2011). Chris Voak will drive the consistent Red Salute, who should gain an ideal passage after starting from barrier two on the back line. PERSISTENT THREAT POISED FOR FIVE IN A ROW Persistent Threat was the most impressive of the three heat winners on Tuesday of last week and he possesses the versatility and natural speed to make the greatest appeal in the $100,000 WA Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The Advance Attack gelding, trained in Bunbury by John Graham, fared poorly in the random draw and will start from the outside barrier (No. 7) on the front line, which is a serious disadvantage over the sprint journey of 1730m. However, Persistent Threat has shown wonderful versatility in winning at his only four starts, in which he has been driven with plenty of confidence by Tom Buchanan. He reappeared after a two-month absence in a qualifying heat of the Sales Classic last week when he started from the No. 5 barrier and was sixth in the one-wide line at the bell before Buchanan sent him forward, three wide, 650m from home. He ran home fast and won, hard held, by a length from Lot twenty One, rating 1.58.6. Persistent Threat's first three starts were in January and February when he was not fully extended in winning twice at Pinjarra and once at Bunbury. His gross time in his heat last week was 2min. 7.5sec., which compares more than favourably with the times recorded by the other heat winners, Blacklist (2min. 8.3sec.) and Ezygatboy (2min. 9.5sec.). Ezygatboy and Blacklist are much more favourably drawn in the final than Persistent Threat, something which is sure to hearten the connections of both geldings. Ezygatboy will start from barrier two on the front line and Blacklist will start on the inside of the back line. Ezygatboy, to be driven by his trainer Garry Butler, made a stylish debut in winning his heat, in which he was restrained from barrier six and was sixth at the bell before he produced a sparkling late sprint to win by a length and a half from, Nitro lad at a 2.0.5 rate. Blacklist, trained and driven by Shannon Suvaljko, also made a smart debut when he raced three wide for the first 500m before bursting to the front 1100m from home and scoring easily by one and a half lengths from Bettor Twisted, rating 1.59.4. He is related to former champion The Falcon Strike and will have many admirers. Captain Oats, a Rich And Spoilt colt trained by Courtney Burch, drew the prized No. 1 barrier and he will be popular with punters. Reinsman Gary Hall jun. will be out to repeat his effort in this event in 2010 when he set the pace with hot favourite Blissfull Boy from barrier one and won the classic from Touch of Tango and Bettors Ace. The No. 1 barrier also proved a decisive factor in this race 12 months ago when Chris Lewis drove Mister Jadore to an all-the-way victory over Swagga (driven by Hall) and Lukey (driven by Suvaljko). ISABELLA JANE HAS FAMILY TRADITION TO UPHOLD Talented filly Isabella Jane has a family tradition to uphold when she contests the $100,000 Clipsal WA Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Byford trainer David Thompson is hoping that she will follow in the footsteps of his stable star David Hercules, whom he prepared for his victory over Tiger Reed Lombo and Grinjaro in a version of the WA Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings in May 2009. The other version of the 2009 classic was won by Ballas Arockstar. Isabella Jane is by American stallion Sportswriter and is a half-sister to David Hercules, who has amassed $805,444 in prizemoney from 29 wins and 31 placings from 87 starts. Like A Dame, the dam of David Hercules and Isabella Jane, has also produced smart pacers in Gran Tarino and Hugh Victor. Like A Dame's dam Hold Tight produced Fake Embrace, winner of the Sales Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings in March 2004. Isabella Jane, to be driven by Colin Brown, has raced only once --- for a strong victory in a heat of the Sales Classic on Tuesday of last week when, she started from barrier four and raced three wide for the first 550m before moving to the breeze and eventually getting to a narrow lead with 250m to travel. And then she impressed by dashing right away from her rivals and winning by three lengths from Choccywoccy, who finished strongly, out five wide, after enjoying a soft run three back on the pegs. Isabella Jane will not have things all her own way in the final on Friday night after drawing out wide at No. 6 on the front line. She is likely to receive plenty of opposition, particularly from three back-line runners, Straittothehilton, Choccywoccy and La Mia Juliette. Straittothehilton will have admirers from the inside of the back line. Her effort when third behind Isabella Jane and Choccywoccy in the qualifying heat was full of merit. She started from the outside of the front line and broke into a gallop soon after the start, dropping back to last. She was still last at the bell before rattling home, six wide on the track. La Mia Juliette, trained and driven by Peter Tilbrook was a 46/1 outsider when she made a successful debut in a heat of the classic on Tuesday of last week. She was sixth in the one-wide line at the bell before finishing strongly to beat the pacemaker Lovers Prayer. Chris Lewis, who has driven the winner of the Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies six times, will handle the polemarker Maddyann Maree for Harvey trainer Peter Kimberley. Maddyann Maree possesses good gate speed and has shown promise with a second, a third and three fourths from her five starts. She goes into the race with the distinct advantage of the No. 1 barrier. Lewis has won the classic with Miss Booth (1991), Parthenon (1994), Backin A Jiffy (2000), Hindu Sitara (2003), Amongst Royalty (2006) and Fidelius Charm (2008). ALTA CHRISTIANO HAS EVERYTING IN HIS FAVOUR A return to mobile racing, a reduction in distance and the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line are the three ingredients which should ensure that star four-year-old Alta Christiano returns to the winning list when he contests the $25,000 Del Basso Smallgoods The Johnson final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The chunky New Zealand-bred stallion, trained by Gary Hall sen., should make amends for his defeat as the 7/4 on favourite in the 2902m Easter Cup on Thursday of last week by proving too smart for his rivals in this week's event over 2130m. He suffered his first defeat in Australia last week when he began slowly from a standing start and settled down almost 60m behind the early pacemaker Hez Got the Nod. He dashed forward in the first circuit to get to the front after 950m and was not caught until the final 70m when a close third behind Finbar Abbey and Polak. Alta Christiano possesses excellent gate speed and relishes the task of leading in his races. Clint Hall should get him straight to the front and then lead his 11 rivals a merry dance. Shirlz Sensation, one of seven four-year-olds in the race, is in top form and has given powerful performances to win at his past three outings, all over 2130m and all after he had covered extra ground. But his prospects diminished considerably when he drew the outside barrier on the front line. A perfect draw on the inside of the back line has enhanced the place prospects of the Colin Brown-trained Erskine Range, who looks set to trail Alta Christiano throughout the race. However, it is unlikely that he has the ability to outsprint Alta Christiano in the final stages. Vapour, trained by Gary Hall sen., has been running home powerfully for teenager driver Lauren Jones in several recent starts and the four-year-old, who will start from the back line, should again be prominent in the concluding stages. by Ken Casellas

The $110,000 Courageous Lady goes postward this Friday evening, April 25. The race is an open event for North America's top three-year-old-filly pacers and is the first national stake of 2014. Kayla Grace is a late supplement to the field and has been named the 3-1 morning line favorite by Dave Bianconi, Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting. She enters this event with an unblemished 15 for 15 record, a mark of 1:55.1 at Hazel Park and earnings of $69,227. However, all 15 of Kayla Grace's races have been raced in the state of Michigan. This will be the first time she crosses state lines to compete on the national stage. "It is really hard to say how she will do," said her trainer, Marie St. Charles. "Michigan is not a real strong state and she has never been tested. All I know is that she knows how to race and she obviously knows how to win." St. Charles was reluctant to supplement to this race because of the rich $10,000 buy-in. "That is a lot of money to put up to be able to race. We have been considering this move for quite some time, then I just had a horse claimed off me for $10,000 and felt is was a sign that we should do it." Kayla Grace is far from St Charles' only good horse that she has conditioned. She had a lot of success in Michigan, having trained 13 Michigan Sire Stake Champions. "My horses have won big races at Woodbine and Hawthorne, too," added St. Charles. "But we are definitely excited, because this race is a big step for us." Some of the fillies staked and expected to race in this year's Courageous Lady did not enter, according to Dave Bianconi. "Two or three of the anticipated fillies came up sick. I wish the field size was seven or eight, but what we lack in quantity, we have made up in quality," said Bianconi. "The undefeated filly coming down from Michigan definitely makes for an intriguing story." The Complete 2014 $110,000 Courageous Lady Field: PP HORSE TRAINER DRIVER M/L 1 Shell Bell Steve Carter Aaron Merriman 6-1 2 Sister Stroll Brian Brown Ryan Stahl 9-2 3 Kayla Grace Marie St. Charles Brad Kramer 3-1 4 A La Notte Hanover Ron Burke Chris Page 7-2 5 Fiyonce Ron Burke Josh Sutton 10-1 6 That Woman Hanover Dan Altmeyer Mike Wilder 4-1 by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

The excitement in harness racing starts to build as the starting car drives into position and the gates fan out engaging the horses to approach. During that time, the Starter announces to the drivers to approach and the race is about to kick off! Brad Pittock of The Raceway at Western Fair, (located in London, ON) is the Starter who prides himself on fairness and always keeping in mind safety at all times. Whenever the starting car moves into position, Brad like all starters faces the field and is also the eyes for the driver of the starting car, notifying him of any horses nearby if and when the cars has to make any turns. Brad watches as each horse approaches ensuring everyone is aware of the timing. The starter must also control the tempo using a joystick as an accelerator, (which is connected to the driver's foot accelerator), to increase the starting car's velocity while on his left side there is a switch to open and close the gates. "I operate the speed of the car around the turn" explains Brad. "It is pretty much like a golf swing, you continue to pick up speed around the turn and ideally when you get to the start, you're flowing away from (the field). You don't want to bring them up to the start and just take off... this way the horses can come out on their best foot and follow through." Yes there is a driver in the front seat who steers, but it's the Starter who must ensure there is fairness by maintaining a gradual rise in speed so all horses leave the gate together. The Starter keeps an eye out for any broken equipment and is in constant communication with the judges pending any inquiries after the race and if a horse is required to go to the test barn after each race. The Starter must relay all information clearly to the horsemen, so everyone is aware and not caught off guard. Communication is of vital importance as any hiccup not only affects the horses and horsemen, but the betting public as well. Brad announces through his microphone to the drivers at one minute intervals starting when there is three minutes to post. "I say three minutes, two minutes, one minute and when we get to the middle of the track that is the official call (to post). There is a horn and a light, what I will do is hit the horn and turn on the light and that is called by the rule book the 'official call' and then I will see the horses coming my way." Brad says. "Generally if there is a scratch in the race, when they're coming up I will give a verbal (announcement) as to what the scratches are." Brad notes, "they're very aware, but if a driver is in every race, he may not know (there is a scratch). A 'scratch' means a horses has been pulled out of the race after the program has been released. A horse can be scratched for various reasons, primarily the reason is due to the horse being sick or the racetrack Veterinarian doesn't feel the horse is fit enough to race. "I've had my starter's license for 14 years" says Brad. "I originally started in Hanover and I've also filled in at Flamboro Downs. I've also worked at Woodstock and at Grand River when Grand River first started. I've been here (at Western Fair) for the last eight years and I work at Clinton Raceway as well." By doing so, Brad has a year round job as a starter as Western Fair races from September to May and Clinton Raceway conducts live racing from June through August. Brad also trains two horses on the side. Brad went to Seneca College for the Harness Horse Industry Operation program that was taught by well known trainer Benjamin Wallace. "I also worked down in the States for a few years for a buddy who (learned) his trade under Linda Tuscano." Brad explains. "I've also worked for a couple different barns training horses and then had a public stable. More recently, probably the last twelve years I've just had a couple horses myself and do the starting for a living." Brad's personality suits his career as he's always conscientious about others and their well being. "I want to be able to give everybody an opportunity to make a living with their horses" says Brad and this is his motivation for every race. Aside from looking out for everyone's interest, Brad took the Starter's role as a means to make a living as well as training horses. Brad taking care of his own needs helps facilitate the needs of others in an honest and moral way. "You want to make sure the public has a fair and equitable opportunity for their dollar and give them a good chance. Also with my horse background I know how tough it is to make a living owning horses and training horses... it is a strength for me to be conscientious for others to make a living." Every track Brad works at has a different driver. So being able to work cohesively with as many people possible is a major aspect for Brad to ensure everything from his standpoint runs in a fluid manner. "It's a partnership for sure" says Brad. Every race needs someone like Brad, someone who cares for everyone! Brad enjoys taking fans in the starting car for a great experience, a view unlike any other. To see the horses, nostrils flaring in eager anticipation, going into full step as the starting car pulls away is second to none. The only people with a better view are the harness drivers themselves. At Western Fair, the car pulls away going into the first turn and sitting to Brad's right give you a full view action of the horses battling for position going into the turn and you are able to get a full view on the back end as the horses come out of the first turn. Even better, with Western Fair being a half mile track, as the starting car sits in the far side away from the grandstand, you're able to witness the thrill of the drivers making moves to the outside as they gear up for the final 1/2 mile coming out of the third turn. This is where key decision making comes into play by the drivers and ultimately having a major factor in outcome. If you're interested in riding along in the starting car, be sure to check with the Racing Manager at Western Fair, Greg Blanchard. If and when it is possible, Greg would be sure to have you enjoy the experience of a lifetime along with Brad. The ride does get bumpy so be sure to hold on! By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com  Twitter: ScSupernova

Top trotter Stent has been ruled out of the upcoming ‘Triple Crown’ at Alexandra Park by his co-trainer Colin DeFilippi and will now head for a well deserved spell. “I haven’t been happy with him since he got back from Australia,” advised DeFilippi. “He just seems jaded and has had a few problems with corns, so he will head to the spelling paddock before preparing for the Cup carnival. Stent’s brilliant Australian campaign included wins in both the Trotters Grand Prix and a heat of the Great Southern Star, while he also placed second in the Glenferrie Challenge and the Great Southern Star Final. “He won well over $A150, 000 in Australia, so I think he deserves a let-up,” he added. Meanwhile, the first leg of the ‘Triple Crown’, the Anzac Cup, will be run at on Friday night with a field that will include Superbowlcheerleader, Clover Don, Prime Power, Sovereignty, and Boizel, Flying Isa, and Zedalite, who will all return from Australia for a shot at Group One glory. One trotter that won’t be there is Master Lavros, with his trainer Mark Jones opting to steer clear of the mobile event with the giant gelding. “I want to stick to the standing starts with him so he will miss this week and race in the Greenlane Cup before eyeing up the Rowe Cup,” said Jones. By Mitchell Robertson  

OK, you’re driver Daryl Bier, known from Cal Expo to Dover and Pocono, from Pompano to The Meadowlands. You’ve had experience with really good horses before, as you currently guide the top FFA trotter Modern Family, and have had former world champion Special T Rocks, $900,000+ winner Higher And Higher, and others. You’re sitting behind a four-year-old who only has six months of actual racing experience and you are in the $36,000 Open Handicap feature race at Dover on closing day, April 10, but you know he’s a very fast horse who’s getting better. Your even-money main opposition broke early, so you decided to go to the point with the 6-5 second choice, and you rate the half in 56.1. Then it gets fun. You open him a notch to get away from your remaining rivals, and he responds instantly – he’s not a big horse, but he’s quick as can be. You whiz past the ¾ (“I didn’t think to look at the time; I was thinking about my $18,000 winners share); then, early on the final turn, you kick the earplugs out on your horse, test him a little more. He visibly downshifts on the TV monitors, and Daryl feels it in the bike – we’re going FAST! Through the lane, Bier takes him in hand, but he still destroys his field that has collective earnings of $1.9 million lifetime, by six (or more) lengths. Daryl gets to look at the timer past the finish – it says 1:48.2. Quick math tells him that’s a last half, on a five-eighth-mile track, in 56-degree temperatures, with nobody around him, for a horse in his 16th career start, in 52.1. He gets a chance to look at the ¾ time – it was 1:22.3, which means he paced in 26.2 down the back, and then when he downshifted, his horse came the last quarter (on a 5/8-mile track) in 25.4! Daryl returns to the Dover winners circle with a big smile. His brother Sean, a veteran of the racetrack game, is jumping and hollering – “DID YOU SEE THAT?” (probably not intended at Daryl, who of course did see that). The Dover paddock is abuzz after the race. Oh, did we mention that in his previous start, coming from behind wicked fractions, he had tied the all-time Dover record of 1:48, first set by his year’s 3YO champion, Heston Blue Chip? Meet Bandolito. Unraced at two in  2012, the son of Ponder-Sody’s Home Brew was brought to the races by veteran Florida horseman Warren Harp, and Daryl got a call from an agent he had worked with, Gary Brown. The horse fit a pattern Daryl has used with much success – buy promising horses who didn’t race or didn't race much at two: Modern Family didn’t start as a freshman, and Special T Rocks only raced twice at 2 – and the price was right. So he was brought into the Bier stable, with Daryl’s brother David making the initial purchase while agreeing that if the horse was good enough to make the Kentucky Sire Stakes in the summer, Daryl and longtime stable patron Charles Dombeck would join the ownership. Bandolito came north, where he came under the care of Team Bier, which includes caretaker Brad Sawyer (“He has Modern Family, too, so he’s a top man”) and horseshoer Chuck Crissman Jr., the father-in-law of Daryl’s brother Sean (Crissman comes more into the story later, and then again right at the very end). Third in his first northern start, the unheralded sophomore then rips off six straight between Harrah’s and Pocono, including a 1:51.3f-27 triumph (in his fourth lifetime start). Off to Kentucky under the new Bandolito partnership. The Ponder colt wins his two prelims with ease at the famous Red Mile, both with sub-27 last quarters, and Bandolito is 1-10* in the final. “I decided to use Tim Tetrick that night,” Daryl said, “because Tim obviously knows good horses, and I wanted to see what he thought of the horse, whether he was for real.” 1:49.4 later (26.2 on the end), Tetrick turns to Bier and says, “I like him. He’s a real good horse.” And thus basically ended Bandolito’s first campaign. Oh, the calendar will say he started back in December 2013, but this was really round two for Bandolito. And he didn’t come out of his corner strongly. A hard-closing fifth in a 1:51 mile at Dover just six days before Christmas was a good start, but then Bandolito caused some concern – while winning a race. “He was second-over, but won by only a head in 1:52.3, and I was worried,” Bier recalled – his people were considering nominating him for the Levy Series around then, but that kind of mile wouldn’t do. “And then he quarter-moved in his next race, for $18,000, and was caught and beaten almost two lengths.” The answer came quickly. Bandolito was dead lame the next day, one foot obviously distressing him. “But Chuck (Crissman) saved us right then and there. He figured out the foot problem, got him straightened away. He didn’t walk for three weeks after the lameness,” but things progressed well for Bier/Crissman/Sawyer and the other owners, so well that with their careful nurturing Bandolito qualified on March 19. Two weeks later he equaled the all-time Dover record of 1:48 on April 3 – his 15th lifetime start. Came home in 52.1-25.4 a week later – start #16. “We were more excited about that race, because nobody was pushing us and because of the sheer speed.” What’s next for Bandolito? Good question. Perhaps the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial on Kentucky Derby Day (a race in which Bier and Special T Rocks equaled a 1:48.2 world record two years ago) at Pocono, where Bier recently re-established his base, maybe after an overnight start this weekend if Daryl can get one for him. Afterwards? … But they are fun question marks to have! Daryl: “We got a copy of the race, and I watched it with Chuck on his big screen TV. And you can see things pretty good on it, and the eighth, just into the turn, from when I kicked the earplugs, we timed him in 12 seconds. We both timed that, and did it a couple of times. A 12-second eighth … that’s a 24-second quarter…” How good IS Bandolito? By Jerry Connors, for Harnesslink.com    

Life is different these days for the wife-and-husband team of trainer Julie Miller and driver Andy Miller, but their passion for harness racing remains unchanged. As Julie Miller prepares undefeated Perfect Alliance for Wednesday's $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series final for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, she talked about the bond that keeps Team Miller moving forward as Andy Miller recovers from an accident April 15 at Yonkers Raceway. Andy Miller, who had vertebrae surgery at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital last week, hopes to be released by sometime Tuesday but could be sidelined for six months. "We have a passion for the sport and we love racing, so I think that's what is keeping us going more than anything," Julie Miller said Monday morning. "We're going over the horses, going over the training, going over who is in and who raced and evaluating performances. It's kind of a nice positive diversion from worrying about the rest and recovery that's going to be Andy's journey ahead. "I could do this job without him, and he could do this job without me, but we don't want to. We want to do it together. It's been nice because we can still bounce ideas off each other." Many staff members at the Millers' stable have worked there for a number of years, some more than a decade, which has helped keep the operation moving smoothly. "I'm really fortunate," Julie Miller said. "First thing when I got back to the barn, they said we're a hundred percent behind you and Andy. We know it's going to be a little extra, but we understand. I have a phenomenal staff. Everything is still going like clockwork because everybody is still going 110 percent." Miller said she was grateful for the outpouring of support from the harness racing community, as well as from neighbors that are not involved in the sport. "People have been wonderful, sending us notes and texts and well wishes," she said. "Everyone has been so helpful, even preparing meals for the family and helping with the kids. I can't thank people enough." Andy Miller has won 8,054 races in his driving career and nearly $101 million in purses, with both totals ranking among the top 25 in North American harness racing history. Julie Miller has won 1,156 lifetime races as a trainer and nearly $20 million in purses. She has earned $557,730 this season, good for seventh place among all trainers in North America. We spoke with Andy's doctor (Monday) morning and he said that all of his test results and X-rays and ultrasounds and scans are coming back with flying colors," Julie Miller said. "Now it's just a paperwork issue of trying to get out of the hospital. We're looking forward to it being Monday afternoon or at the latest Tuesday. "He's walking already. The other day when I was at the hospital he'd already made the turn around the nurses' station and was turning for home and I said, 'I can't even get your bed remade and you're already coming back.' He was in such healthy condition that it's really going to help him to recover." The Millers are thankful that Andy's back injury wasn't more severe. "Every time we want to feel sorry for ourselves, I think that I wasn't in the conference room being told he was paralyzed or couldn't walk," Julie Miller said. "We're blessed because it could have been worse. Andy is a very upbeat, positive person. People that know him know that he loves to work and he's always positive. He's keeping that momentum even with this challenging road ahead." The Millers hope to have some more winning performances to evaluate in the near future, particularly with Perfect Alliance heading into Wednesday's Weiss final a perfect 8-for-8 this season. The 4-year-old mare, who will be driven for the second week in a row by Yannick Gingras, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in a field of seven. She starts from post No. 6. Perfect Alliance is owned by New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural, Meadowlands General Manager Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger. She competed in three of the four preliminary Weiss rounds, notching her three victories by a combined total of 14 lengths. Series division winners Clementine Dream, who is 3-1, and Dough Dough, who is 7-2, are the next choices on the morning line. "(Perfect Alliance) is a clear-cut choice, but it's still a horse race," Julie Miller said. "Luckily, Yannick has elected to go over there and drive her again for me; I appreciate that on his part. I think she's a push-button horse, and Yannick agreed the other day. Having a new catch driver on her made me a little apprehensive, but he said she was super and got along good with her. As long as she has no obstacles, I think she should be excellent in that race." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

The brilliant Ready Cash colt, Brillantissime, will look to make amends for a last start costly gallop when he fronts for the Prix Paul Karle a 120 000 euro Group 2 race for 3YO males over 2100m at Vincennes' petite piste on Tuesday evening. Philippe Allaire's striking colt had been the star of the B-generation thus far but in the Criterium des Jeunes, the first of his generation's classiques or group one races he broke within spitting distance of the line as he loomed up alongside eventual winner Billie Montfort. Previously Brillantissime had won the first two group races of the crop, including the Prix Emmanuel Margouty the only group race for 2YO colts in December and the following month prevailing in the Prix Maurice De Gheest the first of the generation's 3YO elite tests. His was handed his first major defeat in the Prix Paul Viel in mid February when he was third to Black d'Avril and Brutus de Bailly, who he will meet here again. But he was back to his brilliant best for all but the last 50 metres of the group one Criterium and is at short odds in early betting for the race and will be driven once again by regular pilot Jos Verbeeck. His greatest danger will be Oceano Nox colt Black d'Avril who has made the step up to group racing with aplomb for trainer Frederic Prat . He was third in the Critierium des Jeunes at his last start and of course won the Prix Paul Viel the start before that, after running third to Brillantissime in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the first of this year's group races in mid January - in his first group race. He will be driven by Mathieu Mottier. Master driver Jean Michel Bazire will be at the reins of Brutus de Bailly who was a fast finishing second last start in the Criterium des Juenes although some distance behind Billie de Montfort. The son of Niky is trained by Bruno Bourgoin. One who impressed early in his career is Franck Anne's stunning colt Bolide de Gueron who was one of the first to show promise of this crop. The long striding strapping son of Cygnus d'Odyssee won his first three races in commanding fashion and then was third in the Prix Emmanuel Margouty the only group race for 2YO colts in France and then ran fourth in both the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Prix Paul Viel. He led the Criterium des Jeunes until the turn into the straight where he broke under pressure and will be looking to return to the promise he showed earlier. Last start winner Bijou de Spinelly is making his first start in a group race after compiling a record of three wins and two seconds in just 8 starts. Yves Dreux' son of Diamant Gede won his first start at La Capelle in November and looks a promising colt. Jean Etienne Dubois also has a promising sort in Bixente a son of rising star sire Quaker Jet who was fourth in the Criterium des Jeunes in his last start, which was only his second time in group company. Best of Sly is one of three entrants in the field by first crop sensation Sam Bourbon (the others being Bioness and Bolero de Daidou) and was sixth in the Criterium des Jeunes. PRIX PAUL KARLE Vincenne 22/04/14 FR Group II 2100m 3M 120, 000e 1 Bolero de Daidou (h Sam Bourbon - Djakarta) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: Jean Francois Senet 2100 2 Bixente (h Quaker Jet - Ketty Mesloise) Dr: Jean Etienne Dubois Tr: Jean Etienne Dubois 2100 3 Bijou de Spinelly (h Diamant Gede - Nana Loving Fair) Dr: Yves Dreux Tr: Yves Dreux 2100 4 Black d'Avril (h Oceano Nox - Olivia d'Avril) Dr: Mathieu Mottier Tr: Frederic Prat 2100 5 Brillantissime (h Ready Cash - Ivre de Victoire ) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Tr: Philippe Allaire 2100 6 Bioness (h Sam Bourbon - Quiradelle d'Hilly) Dr: Jean Pierre Dubois Tr: Patrick Chevrier 2100 7 Best of Sly (h Sam Bourbon - Quinella Aimef) Dr: Pierre Yves Verva Tr: Sebastien Guarato 2100 8 Bolide de Gueron (h Cygnus d'Odyssee - Olivia) Dr: Franck Anne Tr: Franck Anne 2100 9 Brutus de Bailly (h Niky - Ninon de Bailly) Dr: Jean Michel Bazire Tr: Bruno Bourgoin 2100 10 Bots Dub's (h Rolling d'Heripre - Plus de Melody) Dr: Philippe Guyard Tr: Philippe Guyard 2100 11 Bernador (h Gobernador - Richlyly) Dr: Dominik Locqueneux Tr: Ã…ke Kristoffersson 2100 by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

The undoubted filly star of the class of 2011, Billie de Montfort will be at very short odds to win the 120,000 euro Group 2 Prix Masina for 3YO fillies over 2100m at Vincennes on Tuesday evening. The daughter of Jasmin de Flore won the group one Criterium des Jeunes in brilliant fashion last start as she fought back the advance of top colt Brillantissime who broke under pressure just short of the finish line. Sebastien Guarato's beautiful filly who will be driven again by the in form Eric Raffin has won six of her eight starts including the Prix Une de Mai, the top race for 2YO fillies. Her other two placings were both seconds and has already won 247 200 euros. Dominique Lemetayer fronts with Bambina Magic a daughter of Nuage de Lait who was one of the two fillies to get the better of Billie de Montfort thus far in her career, besting her in the group two Prix Roquepine on February 1 at her very first start at group level and only her fifth career start. However she galloped in the Criterium des Jeunes at her last start. Fabrice Souloy has switched rising monte star Beauty Turgot back to harness after two successful outings under saddle. The daughter of Hand du Vivier , who will be driven this time instead of ridden by Franck Nivard took out the Prix Holly Du Locton undersaddle after a second placing in her first group two monte the Prix Ali Hawas. But she is also a dab hand in the cart having run third in the group two Prix Une De Mai in her last start as a 2YO. Wearing the famous colours of Jean Pierre Dubois is Bassana de Marlau a daughter of boom first season sire Sam Bourbon. Trained by Patrick Chevrier she won her last start, a 60,000 euro race at Vincennes earlier this month which was her fourth victory in just nine starts. She has finished fourth in two of her four group races, failing to finish the other two. Philippe Allaire has entered yet another daughter of his former champion Ready Cash in Bliss Nevele who will make her first attempt at a group race with Jos Verbeeck in the cart, and has come in for some early support. PRIX MASINA Vincennes 22/04/14 FR Group II 2100m 3F 120,000e 1 Bahia d'Hermine (Gai Brillant - Princess Charmeuse) Dr: Francois Lagadeuc Tr: Jean Michel Baudouin 2 Billie de Montfort (Jasmin de Flore - Quismy de Montfort) Dr: Eric Raffin Tr: Sebastien Guarato 3 Bassana de Marlau (Sam Bourbon - Jessie de Vonnas) Dr: Jean Pierre Dubois Tr: Patrick Chevrier 4 Brise de l'Alba (Quido du Goutier - Cely de la Meritee) Dr: Charles Dreux Tr: William Bigeon 5 Bella Swift (Quick Wood - Otaya du Verger) Dr: Franck Anne Tr: Franck Anne 6 Beauty Turgot (Hand du Vivier - Quouragane) Dr: Franck Nivard Tr: Fabrice Souloy 7 Bambina Magic (Nuage de Lait - Rive Magic) Dr: Tony Le Beller Tr: Dominique Lemetayer 8 Balzane de Bootz (Nem - Queza de Bootz) Dr: Jean Michel Bazire Tr: Jean Michel Bazire 9 Baraka de Bellou (Prodigious - Oilifina) Dr: Mathieu Abrivard Tr: Adrien Pereira 10 Brindille Mika (Nahar de Beval - Noblessemika) Dr: Adrien Lamy Tr: Bruno Marie 11 Bliss Nevele (Ready Cash - Quick Nevele) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Tr: Philippe Allaire 12 Bonnie Cadence (Qualypso Jiel - Potuna Saint Andre) Dr: Emmanuel Allard Tr: Emmanuel Allard 13 Bianca d'Atout (Saxo de Vandel - Geline d'Atout) Dr: Mathieu Mottier Tr: Dominique Mottier by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

Topflight trotting action took place Friday-Saturday in France at Paris-Vincennes and Enghien including Quinte+ on both programs and graded events for four year-olds (males and females). The Prix Gaston de Wazieres, a Gr. II 120,000e test for four year-old mares over 2100 meters autostart, went to Alesia d'Atout with Mathieu Mottier aboard. This pair prevailed in a close photo over two Dubois-clan rivals, Africaine with Jean-Etienne Dubois up and the Julien Dubois teamed Atlesima. The winner was timed in a solid 1.12.6kr as she recorded her sixth career victory. April 18, 2014, Paris-Vincennes, Prix Gaston de Wazieres, Gr. II females, 120,000e, 2100 meters autostart, 13 starters, 1.12.6kr 1st Alesia d'Atout (4f Defi d'Aunou-New York Jet-Halimede), Mathieu Mottier up for trainer Dominique Mottier and owner J.Y. Lherete, 3.7/1, her sixth win for 321,250e lifetime 2nd Africaine (4f Oiseau de Feux-Italiene), Jean Etienne Dubois driver/trainer, 3.5/1 odds 3rd Atlesima (4f Rocklyn-Noblessima), Julien Dubois up for trainer Philippe Moulin, 2/1 The males four year-oilds contested the 120,000e Gr. II Prix Gaston Brunet and favored Aladin d'Ecajeul took the top prize for reinsman Eric Raffin and trainer Sebastian Guarato. The victory raised his earnings to over 496,000e as he scored in hand to stop the timer in 1.13kr. The son of Quaker Jet looks like he could be an aged contender for future years. April 18, 2014 Paris-Vincennes, Prix Gaston Brunet, Gr. II males, 120,000e, 2100 meters autostart, 9 starters, 1.13kr 1st Aladin d'Ecajeul (4m Quaker Jet-Nancy d'Ecajeul-Halimede), Eric Raffin up for trainer Sebastian Guarato, 1.1/1 odds, owner Philippe DeWulf, ninth career win 2nd Africain (4m Oardo-Kamine), Franck Nivard up, 9/1 3rd Adonis du Goutier (4m Coktail Jet-Quintaescencia), Dominik Locqueneux, 43/1 Also on the Friday evening program at Vincennes there was an interesting undercard. The Quinte+ Prix Alethem went to Under Blue, handled by Pierre Vercruysse for trainer Bjorn Goop. The six-year old daughter of Elvis de Rossignol scored in 1.14.5kr over 2850 meters. Favorites dominated the contest causing the 2e exact order payoff (absent jackpot) to be only 2,784e. April 18, 2014 Paris-Vincennes, Prix Alethem, 75,000e, 2850 meters distance handicap, 16 starters, 1.14.5kr, Quinte+ jackpot 7.45 million euros 1st Under Blue (6m Elvis de Rossignol-Jangala-Buvetier d'Aunou), Pierre Vercruysse for trainer Bjorn Goop and owner Lars Hallberg, ninth career win for 210,850e lifetime, odds were 2.5/1 2nd Ultra Classique (6m Kiwi-Javana de Moi), Eric Raffin, 6/10 odds 3rd Tina Jolie (7f Jasmin de Flore-Minea des Picanes), Anthony Barrier, 9/1 Lightly raced three year-old fillies contested the Prix Palma with victory to the second time winner Bianca de Lou. The daughter of Ready Cash from Prima de Lou by Coktail Jet was reined by Christophe Martens. Dubois fillies by Password and Goetmals Wood finished second and fourth in the closely fought event. April 18, 2014 Paris-Vincennes, Prix Palma, females, 35,000e, 2850 meters, 14 starters, 1.16.9kr 1st Bianca de Lou (3f Ready Cash-Prima de Lou-Coktail Jet), Christophe Martens, 2/1, Vincent Martens trainer for Ecurie Olmenhof, her second win for 30,600e euros lifetime 2nd Belle d'Hommeur (3f Password-Place d'Honneur), Julien Dubois, 66/1 3rd Blue Comet (3f Ni Ho Ped d'Ombree-Komete d'Urzy), P-Y Verva, 56/1 4th Be You Soon (3f Goetmals Wood-See You Soon), Patrick Chevrier, 50/1 Saturday action at Enghien showcased a solid victory by well-regarded Clint W. Boko in the Prix de l'Arginne. The five year-old son of Abano As from Holland scored in 1.12.9kr with fast closing fractions over the 2150 meter distance. Robin Bakker was in town to handle the winner for trainer Paul Hagoort. April 19, 2014 Enghien, Prix de l'Argonne, 2150 meters autostart, 15 starters, 72,000e, 1.12.9 kr Fractions: 1.13.5kr at 1000; 1.13.7kr at 500 1st Clint W. Boko (5m Abano As-Vantz Boko-Garland Lobell), Robin Bakker up for trainer Paul J.P. Hagoort, his ninth win for career earnings of 244,591e, Holland, 4.7/1 2nd Vulcain de Vandel (5m Jag de Bellouet-Ophelia de Vandel), Franck Nivard trainer/driver, 2.5/1 3rd Dream Magic BE (5m Dream Vacation-Dentesca Cla), Josef Franzl trainer/driver, 14/1, Germany Also on Saturday, Alex The Winner posted an impressive score in the Prix de Lons-le-Saunier for male four year-olds. Jean-Etienne Dubois piloted his owned/trained pupil to the fourth career victory for the powerful striding chestnut son of Orlando Vici. April 19, 2014 Enghien, Prix de Lons-le-Saunier, 2150 meters autostart, 13 starters, 46,000e, 1.14.4 1st Alex The Winner (4m Orlando Vici-Likely Jet-Defi d'Aunou), Jean-Etienne Dubois driver/trainer/owner, 9/10 favorite, his fourth win for lifetime earnings of 72,520e 2nd Ambre Atout (4g Coktail Jet-Maya d'Atout), Franck Nivard up, 8/1 3rd Andalou d'Huon (4m Otello Pierji-Nina d'Huon), Michel Lenoir, 33/1 The day's Quinte+ event went to Uprince with Franck Nivard teaming. He defeated a solid veteran field in 1.12.7kr over 2150 meters autostart in the 60,000e Prix de la Porte d'Auteuil. The Barjon owned, Pierre Levesque driven Tornado de l'Ocean was second ahead of Elles W.Phedo with Johanna Lindqvist at the lines. April 19, 2014 Enghien, Prix de la Porte d'Auteuil, 2150 meters autostart, 15 starters, 60,000e, 1.12.7kr, Quinte+ with 7.5 million euro jackpot 1st Uprince (6g Prince d'Espace-Malupricia-Capriccio), Franck Nivard, 2.7/1, his 10th win for career earnings of 312.700 euros 2nd Tornado de l'Ocean (7g Look de Star-Taluina), Pierre Levesque, 3.5/1 3rd Elles W. Phedo (8f Kesaco Phedo-Elles W. Lolita), Johanna Lindqvist, 12/1 by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Darren Crowe is a 23 year veteran who feels blessed to have been able to be in harness racing for this long. Darren has been one of the leading drivers at Truro Raceway for many years and has made quite an impact on horsemen throughout his career, including last year's top driver, Ryan Ellis. "The last four years we've been going at it" says Darren about the competition between him and Ryan Ellis for top driver at Truro Raceway. It's definitely about bragging rights and as Darren says "we give it to each other pretty good." One thing all horsemen enjoy is joking and having fun with one another. "I enjoy my job and I love getting out of bed each morning and coming to work and a lot of people can't say that" says Darren about his passion for working with horses. Darren in past years raced in Alberta and in Ontario at Western Fair Raceway and Flamboro Downs. One key race Darren drove in was the Nat Christie in Alberta. "It was pretty cool; I just got there a couple days before I went to work for Meridian Farms. Bill Andrews, he had a couple of horses in it and one of them made the finals, so it was pretty cool to be in it. I think Hawaiian Cowboy won it that year." Darren says. Hawaiian Cowboy won the Nat Christie in 2001 by 4 ½ lengths driven by Luc Ouellette. Darren is currently the Active Director for Standardbred Canada in the Atlantic region and his goal is to voice the opinions and concerns of his fellow horsemen constructively. Darren is a family man with a two-year-old son Brennan and his wife of three years is Robyn. "We weren't going to have any children, but we decided to have one.... I love spending the afternoons with him. We have this little fella and we are happy with him so we are going to quit at one." Darren says with a chuckle. To the point, when it comes to horse racing, Darren's most proud of being able to do what he loves for this length of time. He definitely doesn't take his work for granted. "Once you have a kid your perspective on life changes a bit. Things that used to bother me, like getting parked in a race or a horse going lame... things happen and you move on. I can go home and see my little fella and hangout with him." "For example I grew up on a dairy farm" explains Darren. "My best friend growing up has a dairy farm and in the afternoon if my little fella wants to go do something we'll go hangout there and do some field work or milk some cows, he enjoys it. That's how I unwind." With Darren growing up on a dairy farm, he got into horses through his best friend's dad and grandfather, who both had horses. "I kind of took a liking to them and came up through that way, cleaning stalls and jog their horses."Darren explains. "They were friends with Phil Pinkney who was an O'Brien award winner for Horsemanship and he's in the barn next to me and I grew up around Phil, watching what he did with young horses and shoeing. I shoe horses for Phil now, probably 18-20 years and I learned so much from him in regards to shoeing and looking for soundness." "I've had great owners over the years" says Darren. "Good owners, that's the key. You have to have owners that are going to stand behind you." Through the years, Darren has had quite a few horses pass through his care that have gone on to be quite successful, but the biggest name of all would be Somebeachsomewhere! "I got to shoe Somebeachsomewhere when he was here in the Maritimes." Darren says. "That was cool, going on to be the horse he was. I got to say I got to shoe him as a yearling til his 3-year-old year when he left." "As it turned out now, nobody knew he was going to be the horse he was as a yearling. He is just a nice horse, a little rough to shoe cause he would throw you around a little bit." Darren admits. "Now that he's the sire he turned out to be its pretty cool thinking I got to shoe that horse when he was here." Darren does have a pair of Somebeachsomewhere's shoes left as a keepsake which is pretty awesome, what a piece of horse racing memorabilia to have! Darren plans on getting the shoes chromed and then displayed on a plaque. Darren likes to keep shoeing simple and not make it complicated as others try to make it. It's about having proper angles and keep the levels right. "Horses are horses and you got to keep it simple" says Darren. "A lot of people get hung up on shoeing in regards to different shoes and fancy shoes... messing with their angles. A lot of it has to do with confirmation of the horse. If the horse has good confirmation, chances are you're not going to mess with the shoeing very often. Just keep it simple and he'll be what he's going to be. God made them that way, that's how they're going to be." Darren doesn't get hung up on what races he has won or hasn't with the exception of one given that he's a Truro native. "The Exhibition Cup, that's the free for all race of the year. During the Grand Circuit week and it wasn't for a lot of money, maybe $7,500 but I had the longest shot on the board at 99-1 and the horse ended up winning that race." Darren says. One major aspect to horse racing Darren feels the sport needs is better marketing and more attention. "I always thought the show they had on Monday nights on the Score was a pretty good show. Then they changed it a little to Bet Night Live, I think people like the interaction and interviews with the drivers and trainers talking about their horses. It's not on anymore, probably due to funding." During the discussion with Darren, they idea of company sponsorship came up such as putting company names on numbers or even if Nike got into the business and designed helmets for drivers. Having the Nike logo on the back or side of helmets would be awesome and the ad revenue can go towards purses or even to drivers. With drivers including Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos and sporting shirts in ads and being paid to do so. What if Scott Zeron had his race jacket designed by Reebok and in billboard ads you see him sporting the jacket with the Reebok logo and the next big upcoming race featured right beside the logo and which track the race would be taken place? Even t-shirts with the Under Armour logo and the name of top horses like Foiled Again or Vegas Vacation beside it. That could be a fashion trend that could draw potentially millions of dollars for the horse racing industry. Drivers, trainers, owners and race tracks could all draw in funds in sponsorship revenue. All other sports do it, why not horse racing? Start with the biggest races and have it trickle down to the point where all tracks and all races can attract news fans through new trends. Kids might want to sport a pair of Nike Shoes that are nicknamed 'The Captain' and have Captaintreacherous' profile on the shoe, or major stake names that he's won designed in the trainer's or driver's colors. Why not? It's different and new, if it hasn't been done up to now, who says it can't work? "Look at NASCAR and what they do with their sponsorship" says Darren. "It's boring up until the last ten laps but look how much they do." In the TV show Duck Dynasty, the characters are sporting Under Armour camouflage shirts... if hunting can get that type of sponsorship, why not horse racing. "It's a great show" says Darren. "Why not? It would have to be the right sponsor and they'd have to get some kind of bang for their buck right." "There's a lot that can be done promotion wise, but I think TV would be the best route." Darren explains. "If Jody Jamieson won a race on national television and he had Nike on his suit, that's a pretty good plug for Nike." Or after certain races, the winning driver is filmed drinking Powerade or Gatorade or Chocolate Milk. Drinking Milk would help promote another farming industry as well. "Jeff Gural at the Meadowlands, he runs it his way but it seems to be working" according to Darren. "He wants people to bet and he's pretty well on the right track I think." Definitely check out the interview by Standardbred Canada's website featuring Trot Radio host Norm Borg and Meadowlands' owner Jeff Gural, (Episodes 319 and 320). It's a beautiful discussion about open communication and drawing positive attention to the sport. By, Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com  Twitter: ScSupernova

Queensland horseman Steven Doherty is ready for the next chapter in his career. Today (Monday), Doherty will leave Australian shores bound for Europe where he will be based with trainer Henk Grift in Germany for the next twelve months. The 28yo will join the Dutch born trainer who prepares a huge team of trotters near Dusseldorf. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for the gifted farrier and he’s eager to make the most of his time abroad. “I’ve got to thank Darren McCall and his partner Karina for providing me with this opportunity. Karina is a good friend of world respected administrator Klaus Koch and things snowballed from there, I got my visa sorted at the German Consulate in Sydney and now we’re off and I can’t wait.” Doherty explained. Grift regularly competes at venues in France, Germany, Scandinavia and his native Holland with great success. Doherty will carry out plenty of farrier work for the Grift stable but is also hopeful of doing some race driving during his time in northern Europe. “I’m not actually sure what my role will be within the stable but I know there will be plenty of horses to be shod and that’s fine because I’m certain to learn many new techniques, it will be vastly different to what I know but I’m really looking forward to creating new styles and learning a lot more in this area. “If I can carry out some race driving during my time up there that will be an added bonus, I enjoy the trotters and it will be great to work with some very talented animals. “The timing is just right; I’m young and single with no major commitments and I’ve heard so many great stories from those who have travelled previously. I’m going with an open mind and I’m really looking forward to it although the language barrier may take some sorting but that’s all part of the adventure.” Doherty is the son of Peter, a respected horseman along with his grandfather Jim Madden while his Uncle Craig McKinnis, is a highly decorated Victorian based farrier. In 2006, Doherty represented Queensland in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship staged in both Victoria and Tasmania. Doherty drove his first winner at age 16 when successful aboard the Ann Perrin trained Karamea Rosalie at Rocklea. Former Redwood Classic winner Bonbillie Fella is rated as the best trotter that Doherty has set behind, winning three of his four drives behind the Fake Left entire. By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)  

Happy Easter from harness racing documentary film ''I Am, A Harness Racing Horse'' To see video click here Produced by Monica Thors                      

Happy Easter from Harnesslink

Napoleon Bar (7h Varenne-Dalmezia-Coktail Jet) easily took today's Gr. I International UET Masters Series Gran Premio Costa Azzura at Turin. The Enrico Bellei teamed, Catello Savarese trained son of Varenne was timed in 1.11.3kr over 1600 meters autostart to earn the winners share of the 132,000 purse over 10 rivals. The M.L. Truccone bred campaigner, now a 13 time career winner of 632,107, easily dispatched Mack Grace Sm (8m CC's Chuckie T-Ambro Grace Sm) with Roberto Andreghetti up for trainer Antonio Porzio. Owen CR (6m Cantab Hall-Boemia CR) was third for trainer/driver Pietro Gubellini with I Am Grif (10g Viking Kronos-O'Hara Park) fourth for Maurizio Cheli and Newyork Newyork (7m Supergill-Viola d'Amore) landed fifth with Lorenzo Baldi up. Postions were drawn for the April 25 Gran Premio Citta’Di Torino, a Gr. II European four year-old event over 2060 meters. 13 trotters will contest this one for the €77,000 purse. J-P Dubois brings Tast Of Bourbon, a son of Donato Hanover, to the event against a solid group at Torino. Gran Premio Citta' Di Torino (Gr. 2)- € 77.000 Ringostarr Treb (R. Vecchione) Renoir Dany (G.P. Minnucci) Radiofreccia Fi (Fed. Esposito) Royal Blessed (Lor. Baldi) Re Degli Dei (T. Di Lorenzo) Ruty Grif (A. Buzzitta) Rori Axe (A. Guzzinati) Romanesque (M. Smorgon) Tast Of Bourbon (J.P. Dubois) Radio Wise (x) Rue Du Bac (R. Andreghetti) Rania Lest (E. Bellei) Roberto Grif (A. Greppi) byThomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Motu Crusader confirmed his harness racing status as one of the mot consistent pacers to race in Tasmania in many years when he powered home to win he 2014 Examiner Newspaper Easter Cup over 2698 metres in Launceston last night. The Zeke Slater-trained seven-year-old not only had to overcome a back mark of 40 metres but he also travelled three-wide for the last two laps. Motu Crusader has won the past two Group 3 Tasmania Cups along with other feature races in Tasmania since finding his way into Slater's Seven Mile Beach stables. The gelding is owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth who have invested heavily in standardbreds to become two of the biggest owners in the nation. Motu Crusader ($5) settled at the rear of the field while Dylan Ford took the Keith Toulmin-trained Falco Peregrinus ($10) to the lead and that gelding set a solid pace while the well-backed favourite Call The Marshall ($3.20) enjoyed the coveted one-out-one-back position. When driver Grant Campbell opted to set Motu Crusader on a forward move 1400 metres out he flushed out Cal The Marshall that led the three-wide brigade. Falco Peregrinus kicked clear turning for home but a wall of horses made a charge for the line with only four metres separating the first eight across the line. Motu Crusader hit the line less than a neck clear of Falco Peregrinus with last year's Easter Cup winner Biggernbettermax ($22.70) a close-up third. Listen to what trainer Zeke Slater had to say about Motu Crusader's brilliant Easter Cup win. Peter Staples

Marc Campbell's winning drive in the 2013 Gold Cup and Saucer is by far one of his most memorable victories. Marc guided Escape the News (trained by Ron Burke), to victory in a staggering 1:50.4 to set the track record at Charlottetown Driving Park. "I drove the horse, (Escape the News) the week before the trial and I was half expecting them (the people that brought the horse up to PEI), to tell me how to drive. I had no idea what to expect" says Marc. "The only thing I got told was he is kind of lazy.... I love those horses so it was perfect. "I love those big grinding, kind of lazy horses. I like to make them work." Marc notes. "For some reason I get along with them and as soon as I heard that, I was pretty excited. Some people wouldn't be, but I was." After winning the trial, Escape the News drew the 7th spot, "It took the pressure off me and put it on the other guys." Marc explains. Marc, 29, is grateful to the racing manager at the time, Brett Revington, who suggested Marc's name and reputation as a good driver to the Burke stable for helping Marc land the opportunity to drive Escape the News. If it were not for Marc's grandfather, Charles MacDonald, perhaps Marc would never have grown into the horsemen he is today. Charles MacDonald taught his grandson that hard work and understanding the importance of quality work was the essence to success. Marc also had his two uncles, Jimmy and Michael MacDonald to help guide him as well; ensuring his hard work would pay off. "I started at an early age, my grandfather had horses and my uncles were into horses and helped get me into it." Marc explains. "I was raised by my grandfather and my mom and two brothers, (Shawn Campbell and Robby MacDonald), lived with my grandparents." "My mom, Jeanie, loves racing right now and she goes to all my races but growing up she wasn't really into it, she knew we had horses. She's a huge fan right now and loves going to the track now." Marc says. "My grandfather is the whole reason I drive and train... working at the barn with him, he was a real special guy to me. He's the one who started taking me to the track" say Marc. "It was with him I jogged my first horse. He dragged me or I dragged him to the track. I started driving matinee (amateur) races when I was 14 years old. He put the gas in the truck and took me where I had to get to." Growing up, Charles MacDonald would buy older horses to help teach Marc how to properly care and tend to the horse's needs. "You take care of the animal and they'll take care of you" Marc says. "They weren't expensive, but it taught you how to work from the bottom up." In essence, the value Marc was taught was to never take anything for granted. A fond recollection Marc has is being at his first Gold Cup and Saucer race in 1994 when he was ten with his grandfather. "I remember trying to hang on to the fence so I can see over the fence to see the race and I remember the crowd." Mark recalls, "I was lucky to grow up watching the Gold Cup and Saucer and I drove in it twice before last year and to actually win it was special." 'The best thing about my grandfather is he treated everybody the same. It didn't matter how much money you have or you didn't have, he treated everybody equally. I try to learn from that, he was a pretty amazing guy." Marc watched how his grandfather worked and interacted with others since Charles MacDonald was the quiet type, the type of person who led by example. With Marc, you can hear the heartfelt emotion rise the more he spoke of his grandfather. Unfortunately Marc's grandfather passed away a few years ago. "That was pretty hard to get through but we did it with thanks to my wife, and she helped me keep battling.... She's always in my corner." Marc is married to Natasha, going on seven happy years, (although they've been an item for 12 years) and they have three kids, their son Landon who is six, Allie who will be five next month and Rayah who is 19 months. A couple of months ago, Marc and Natasha got the happy news that they are expecting a fourth child. "I keep saying it's going to be a boy" says Marc. "So it will probably be a girl... it's going to be fun and we are getting excited by it." Marc's wife Natasha trained horses with her stepfather, trainer Darryl MacLean, prior to meeting Marc at the track. "He does pretty good... I drive a little bit for him" Marc says. "Sitting at the dinner table, horse racing will come up. My family supports me huge, I have other uncles who were never really involved in horse racing until I started to get involved and now they follow me like crazy. At (last year's) Gold Cup, the after party went on for a long time. Being surrounded by friends and family when I pulled into the winner's circle and a bunch of them put me on their shoulders; it was a pretty cool feeling." Back in the early part of 2007 prior to getting married in the summer, Marc was working in Ontario for Anthony Macdonald. "I drove some for (Anthony). I drove a few at Flamboro and some at Kawartha. I did drive for a few other people... it was pretty fun." Marc continues that he got hurt at the barn one day, so bad that he packed up and moved back home. "It was kind of a freak thing. Down in London... I was getting a harness ready for a horse I was going to drive and I stepped awkwardly onto a mat from off a platform where we get ready and I pulled all the ligaments in my ankle. My ankle blew up... and tore everything in it." Aside from driving, Marc does train horses so he is one of the lucky few people in the Maritimes who is able to be a fulltime horseman. "We've been pretty lucky so far and hope things keep going." Marc says gratefully. David Rose is someone Marc also credits for helping him getting started as a young driver. Marc got his license when he was 18 and David helped Marc by giving him catch drives when possible. "Very smart guy, very quiet guy too" is how Marc describes David. "He started giving me catch drives and I got to drive this three-year-old colt, Elm Grove Rebel, that he had who was making breaks and was a bit erratic at times but very fast. I drove him a couple times and a stake race came up... and I remember I moved him first up and at that time I didn't move that many horses first up because I didn't have any power. "This day David told me don't be scared to move him (first up), so I did. He ended up winning in 1:56 which was the fastest win at that time. I remember that day and thought, 'this first up stuff isn't that bad' and I've been doing a lot of that ever since." Marc is a keep it simple type of person, family and being a top quality horseman is what matters. Marc enjoys taking his kids to hockey, playing hockey with them and cheering on the Montreal Canadiens. "My kids are big Montreal fans now so it's pretty fun to watch games.... My son is a big Carey Price fan and he likes competing" Marc says. "I like Brandon Prust a lot, I like the way he plays. He's a tough little guy... kind of makes me think of how I would play if I played, getting into the corners, mix it up and have some fun." It was at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game where Marc met his father, Carl Campbell, a few years ago. "It was the first time, I found out I had a sister, Ellen, so we met her first and then we met the whole family and we have been in contact the entire time." Marc explains. Many people would hold a grudge about not knowing their father or the fact that there are siblings out in the world. But . Marc isn't the type of person to judge; rather Marc quite understands the situation. Marc recalls having a memory or two from a young age but nothing that stands out in his mind. "I don't hold anything against (my dad). The way I see it, he's probably lived with guilt for quite a few years so I think that's enough torture." Marc states. "We have a good relationship now, so it's all good. When I was a teenager I thought about it and was half mad at the world because of it, but as you get older you get wiser." "Once you have kids, things change so much it unbelievable" says Marc. "They teach you to have patience. It teaches you so much, it's pretty cool." by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova

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