Five years after harness racing trainer Casie Coleman won the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup and set Sportswriter on track to become the leading stallion in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, the trainer is back in the NA Cup with Arque Hanover. Casie Coleman of Cambridge remembers Sportswriter’s 2010 victory in the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack as if it was yesterday, not five years ago. “Saying that, I’ve got three-year-olds of his in the barn,” she said, laughing. “Time flies.” Sportswriter, now based at Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON, is the leading stallion in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Coleman said it all started with his Pepsi North America Cup win. “We had a rough Cup week with Sportswriter. I wasn’t even sure we were going to be able to race in the final that week (due to serious feet problems). He ended up winning it and it was pretty special,” Coleman said. “Obviously that sealed the deal to take him to stud which was going to be a huge stepping stone. So far, he’s proven himself as a sire.” Saturday night, Coleman will try to win the NA Cup for the second time in her career. She sends out Arque Hanover from post seven with Hall of Famer John Campbell in the bike on behalf of part-owner and fellow trainer Jeff Gillis of Hillsburgh, ON. Earlier this year, Gillis sent Arque Hanover to Coleman’s U.S. stable to race in a stakes event at Yonkers Raceway in New York City. Coleman maintains stables in Canada and New Jersey. When Arque Hanover returned to Canada, Gillis and fellow owners Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON, Big Als Stable of Woodbridge, ON and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY opted to keep the son of Rock N Roll Heaven with Coleman for the North America Cup run. “Switching barns back and forth so many times wasn’t going to make much sense for the horse. So, they just decided they would keep him with me for the Cup. Then after the Cup he’s going back to the States and he’s pretty fully staked through the summer in the U.S.” Coleman said she was impressed with Arque Hanover’s second-place finish in his NA Cup elimination on June 13, despite finishing six lengths behind morning line Cup favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit, an opponent Coleman calls “an absolute creature. No one’s beaten him, yet, and he’s just been awesome.” Arque Hanover, winless in five starts this year, has been pegged at 25-1 in the morning line. “Hopefully, they can go some speed duels up front. I don’t believe mine will be part of the speed duel, but you never know. He can leave lots if (John) Campbell decides to do that. But, in a perfect world, I’d love to somehow be second over. That would be sweet, but I’m a realist… Not many people can beat Wiggle It Jiggleit, especially the way he looked last week. But, it’s a horse race. You never know and I think my horse is as good as any of the other ones.” “He’s just a sweetheart. He’s good-gaited, he’s a nice horse in the barn. Everything we’ve asked of him, he does it. He just wants to do his job. He digs hard right to the wire and he definitely doesn’t want to be beaten. We’ve only had the horse about a month or so, but, so far, I haven’t found many bad qualities on him.” The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup is race 12 on a gangbusters 15-race, stakes-rich Mohawk card that starts with a 6:30 p.m. first-race post. The Pepsi North America Cup will also be televised live on TSN. The show begins at 10 p.m. For more information about the Pepsi North America Cup, including a long list of fan promotions, please visit: www.northamericacup.com Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing
Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Nifty Norman might not be expecting his star mare Bee A Magician to beat the sport’s top male trotters in Friday’s $236,000 Crawford Farms Open at Vernon Downs, but he’s not shying from the challenge, either. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, will face nine male rivals in the Crawford. The field includes world champion Sebastian K, who was Sweden’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and is harness racing’s No. 1-ranked horse this season, plus major stakes-winners Archangel, Intimidate, Market Share, Mister Herbie, and Spider Blue Chip. “I’m not intimidated,” Norman said. “We’ve got to do it at some point, anyway, and I think she seems really good right now. I don’t expect to win, but I expect her to be good. She looks fantastic, nice and sound.” Bee A Magician, a 4-year-old mare who was undefeated in 17 races last season, has won two of eight starts this year and finished second on five occasions. She enters the Crawford off a track-record 1:55 victory over the boys in the open on Aug. 22 at Yonkers Raceway. “That had some bearing on our decision, although that was not the same quality field,” Norman said. “But I liked the way she raced there. “Basically, we’ve got to race and it was either against the mares for $40,000 (in Monday’s Miss Versatility Series leg at Tioga Downs) or the boys for $240,000. Getting a piece of $240,000 is better than winning for $40,000. We figured we’d give it a shot. “Plus Classic Martine is racing as good as anybody right now. It’s not like facing the mares was going to be easy.” Prior to the win in the Yonkers open, Bee A Magician finished second twice to Classic Martine in the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands. Classic Martine captured the final by a neck in 1:51.1, equaling Bee A Magician’s world-record time for a 4-year-old female trotter. Three of Bee A Magician’s second-place finishes this year came in miles of 1:51.2 or faster. Another came in the Hambletonian Maturity, contested at 1-1/8 mile, against 4-year-old male rivals. “I haven’t been disappointed with her at all this year,” said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. “I’ve thought she’s gone some great trips. “People keep asking what’s wrong with her because she’s not winning every race. I didn’t expect her to. It’s tough at this age (4). This year is really a learning curve to see how she handles the step up. It’s more to help plan for next year.” Bee A Magician, who has won 29 of 38 races and $2.49 million, will start the Crawford from post three with regular driver Brian Sears. Sebastian K, who has won seven of eight races this year, his first season in North America, starts from post five for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. He is the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:49 win in the Sun Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28. Intimidate is the only horse to defeat Sebastian K this year, winning the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose. Intimidate, who starts from post eight, won last year’s edition of the Crawford, then called the Credit Winner. Market Share, who has won 24 of 49 races and $3.43 million in his career, was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. He will start Friday from the trailing position, post 10. “It’s a very good field, that’s for sure,” Norman said. “(Bee A Magician) has got a good spot. There’s lots of speed in there, and if she winds up getting a good enough trip, she should be good enough to get a piece.” The field for the Crawford in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 2. Spider Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Chuck Sylvester; 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 4. Flanagan Memory, Brett Miller, Rene Dion; 5. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 6. Master Of Law, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 7. Mister Herbie, Brian Sears, Jeff Gillis; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais; 9. Quick Deal, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 10. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano. Spider Blue Chip and Bee A Magician will race as an entry. Market Share will start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title. Trained by local conditioner Mark Steacy, Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver Brian Sears in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon. Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. The son of Majestic Son - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19. In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28. Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak. Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line. Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1. Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game. "We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck." Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best. "I think with the trio of Jimmy Takter's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen." Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver Brian Sears. "It's going to be up to Brian Sears, but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be." Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the Mark Steacy trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter. In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with Majestic Son, the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites Chocolatier and Trotting Triple Crown winner Glidemaster. On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip. No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday. State Treasurer will start from post two with driver David Miller in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship. The five-year-old son of Real Desire - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3. State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles. His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair. State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner. Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 Â½ lengths. This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
It was Friday, August 19, 1960. Six starters lined up behind the starting gate for the once two dash event. Dee's Boy picked up the first dash victory in 2:06 for driver Lloyd MacAuley. Newport Frisco picked up the second dash victory in 2:06.3 but despite having the better summary (2-1), Dee's Boy and MacAuley were declared the first ever winner of the Gold Cup and Saucer. The first ever Gold Cup was contested for a purse of $2, 500, now in 2014, the 55th edition of the Sobey's Gold Cup and Saucer will race for the largest purse in the race's history $75, 000. The prestigious race isn't about the money. It's about the show. It's about the people. It's about Prince Edward Island. When the horses hit the track for post parade and they walk in front of the grandstand, the lights go dark and Kerri Wynn MacLeod sings the Island Hymn as thousands of people in attendance stand for this Island tradition. The only thing in site is the Farris Wheel from the carnival lit up in the background. The rail horse parades down the track, whether it be Eighteen, R Js Dexter. Winner's Accolade or Kilkerran Ingle, as soon as that spot light from above picks up the first horse and the sound of track announcer's voice booms over the crowd, chills instantly spill down a person's spine. During those 54 years of bone chilling action, there have not only been some great races but some memorable race calls as well. In 1968 Miramichi Post became the first Maritime-bred to ever win the Gold Cup. Ten-years later two-time winner Ventall Rainbow was the first horse to make Four appearances in the Cup and Saucer. That very same year Eric and Harry Webby of Dartmouth won a record fifth Gold Cup. In 1980, The Gold Cup trials were first introduced as well the Gold Cup and Saucer consolation debuted. Who can forget 1986 when Phil Pinkney flipped Rev Your Engine out three wide from last just past the 5/8's hooking up with fraction setter Angels Shadow past the three quarters and they battled the whole way down the lane before Rev Your Engine landed on the line a nose in front. How about 1993, When Little Black Book started to open up on the field up the back stretch, "Little Black Book is turning it on, look at her go! Little Black Book has them by four and she's looking for more," said track announcer Kevin 'Boomer' Gallant. She jogged in 1:54.1 just missing her own Canadian record for aged mares on a half mile track of 1:54 that she set in her Gold Cup trial. The record stood for 15 years. 1995, Mike MacDonald aboard Sandy Hanover converted off a three-wide move past the three quarters to become the winningest driver in Gold Cup and Saucer history with five victories. ( Ventall Rainbow twice, Pearl's Falcon, Winner's Accolade were his others). In 1993, Native Born and driver Brett Robinson moved out of the two-hole approaching three quarters, drawing away from the field winning by 12 lengths in 1:53.1 closing it out in :27 flat, setting a new Canadian record for aged stallions on a half mile track at the time. MacDonald almost had number six in 2003, Harmony P, raced in the Consolation the night before, and drew into the final after a scratch. It was a young protege of MacDonald's that nailed his on the line. Mark MacDonald had Sand Olls Dexter coming from the clouds just at wire to nail his old teacher by a nose. Sand Olls Dexter would then win it the following year in the slop giving Mark MacDonald his second of three career Cup victories. Hall-of-Famer Wally Hennessey picked up his second victory in 2005 aboard Driven To Win, establishing a new track record of 1:51.2. Long-time Island horsemen Earl Smith made history in 2008 aboard the longest shot on the board Pownal Bay Matt, leaving from post 8, Smith laid parked the entire mile before getting up in the final strides to become the oldest driver at 59 years of age to ever win the big event. That was also a special day as the Cup and Saucer was raced on Sunday afternoon due to the cancellation of the races on Saturday night. Over its 54 years of winners, The Gold Cup and Saucer has played host to many 'Boom, Just like that!" calls from track announce Vance Cameron. The island would become a buzz wondering who Mike MacDonald would have coming to the big race over the years, but over the last five years the race has grown to see trainers such as Mark Ford, Jeff Gillis and the top trainer in North America make his first trip to the Gold Cup and Saucer last year, Ron Burke. Who can forget last year's Gold Cup and Saucer. In a race full of Cameron's famous race calls, it was arguably one of his most entertaining Gold Cup's to date. As Up The Credit and Carl Jamieson parked out R Caan and Jason Ryan, Cameron voice started to electrify. "There's a brouhaha in the Cup and Saucer, opening quarter, Boom just like that! :26.2." Up The Credit and R Caan slugged it out to the half before R Caan cleared around the 5/8's turn. "Making the front now is R Caan, Up The Credit is second, WOW! :53.2," boomed Cameron. R Caan started to draw away from Up The Credit up the back stretch before the Burke Brigade of Hillbilly Hanover (Gilles Barrieau) and Escape The News (Marc Campbell) started to eat up race track. As they move three-wide past the three quarters with Escape The News the furthest one out, the track record was in clear sight. "Three quarters, amazing. 1:21.4, they got a shot at the track record, they got a shot at the Canadian record," said Cameron as every member in the crowd was now cheering for the record. As they hit the head of the lane it was a battle of the Burke Brigade. The two top drivers in the Maritimes, Campbell and Barrieau dueling it out, both with a pair of Burke horses, Escape The News paced onto the lead by the tote board. "Marc Campbell has won the Gold Cup and Saucer, Escape The News, a driving quadruple. Hillbilly Hanover is second, R Caan is third. 1:50.4, that's a new track record for the Charlottetown Driving Park, and that is, Marc Campbell's biggest lifetime win." So much history, so much class and so much excitement all build into one race. The Gold Cup and Saucer. This year, the 55th running will carry it's highest purse ever of $ 75,000. Rumours are starting to float on what trainers are coming and what horses they will be bringing. One thing that can be guaranteed, No matter who comes, the Gold Cup and Saucer will still be one of the greatest shows in North American racing. Nominations for this year's Gold Cup and Saucer are due Monday, August 4. The post position draw for the trials will be held on Tuesday, August 5, with Trial 1 scheduled to go post ward on August 9. The final for the Gold Cup and Saucer, presented by Sobeys, is held on Saturday, August 16. by Bo Ford, for Red Shores
CAMPBELLVILLE, July 17 - Mister Herbie, a two-time harness racing O'Brien Award winner, will make his third appearance in the Maple Leaf Trot this Saturday night, at Mohawk Racetrack. Owned and trained by Jeff Gillis, the six-year-old millionaire son of Here Comes Herbie is overlooked on the morning line at odds of 15-1 with favoured Sebastian K, a decisive 2/5 mutuel favourite, capturing most of the attention. However, it was only two years ago that Mister Herbie, sent to post at 8-1, upset the heavily-favoured Chapter Seven to win the Maple Leaf Trot with a strong stretch run in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4. "I'd take a repeat of that," grinned Gillis. Stepping up against Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), on Saturday, Gillis knows that Mister Herbie will have to be at his best. In 2012, Chapter Seven was a well-backed favourite, but certainly not as touted as Sebastian K. "It's not to the same extent," agreed Gillis. "Sebastian K looks fairly invincible when you can leave as hard as he can, and then come some pretty wicked back halves. "It's pretty hard to figure out a strategy to beat that. But, that's why we run the race. Favourites go down. Horses are not machines and they can come up with a less than one hundred percent performance. Someone could take a run at him." Mister Herbie is lightly raced this campaign. He made his qualifying debut by trotting home a dominant 15-length winner in 1:55.3 on June 6, his first start since an even effort at Meadowlands Racetrack in late November. He's posted a trio of second-place runs since that qualifier including a runner-up effort to Market Share in last week's elimination, the very rival Mister Herbie chased home in the 2013 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot. Gillis was intent on giving his champion gelding some time off this winter following a year in which Mister Herbie won just once, yet still banked $492,607 in purse earnings thanks to six runner-up finishes in stakes competition. "He spent eight weeks in Kentucky. We deliberately brought him back a little bit slower, in part, because of how late the season ran last year," explained Gillis. "We took our time with him and hopefully we'll finish strong. He's done everything on schedule so far and gotten a little bit better each time. He's heading into the race in good form." Gillis knows his charge will need to drop considerable time off his 1:53.2 elimination clocking on Saturday to win a second Trot final. In fact, Mister Herbie will likely need to equal or better his own Trot final performance of 1:50.4. "If they get a good track on Saturday, I suspect they're going to flirt with the track record, and I'd be just as happy if we held it when it was over too," he grinned. Steve Condren, who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image, will be charged with engineering a winning trip and Gillis has every confidence in the veteran driver. "Steve is a tremendous driver and very accomplished. He has a lot of experience and I think he suits the horse," said Gillis. As for the conditioner's idea of the perfect trip? "Ideally, we'll get away mid pack and someone would soften up Sebastian K and we'd be second over and pounce on tired horses," he offered. "It takes a lot of luck for something like that to unfold, but I think it's going to be an interesting race. I'm not sure everyone will lay back and let him (Sebastian K) get an easy half." And while the Maple Leaf Trot is certainly first and foremost for Gillis and Mister Herbie heading into Saturday's lucrative $603,000 event, the conditioner does have one other key date circled on the calendar later in the season for Canada's reigning champion aged trotter. "The race I'd really like him to win is the Breeders Crown," said Gillis. In 2012, Chapter Seven turned the tables on 'Herbie' to win the Breeders Crown at Woodbine and last year, at Pocono Downs, 'Herbie' dueled with Market Share to a furious finish only to lose by a nose. "I feel he deserved a better fate the last two years and that would be one that would mean a lot to me. It was heartbreaking (losing the photo)," said Gillis. Until then, its eyes on the prize for Gillis and a horse he clearly has a lot of respect for. "He's the perfect horse in every sense of the word. He does everything right, full of personality and I'm extremely fond of him," said Gillis. "We haven't really won a big one in a couple years. Herbie's Maple Leaf Trot was probably our last big win, so I feel like we're due for another." Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred
CAMPBELLVILLE, July 15 - A stellar 13-race card featuring the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been assembled for Saturday night (July 19) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), highlights the field of ten for the 63rd edition of Canada's most storied trotting event, the Maple Leaf Trot (Race 9). The eight-year-old "Scandinavian Powerhouse" won his elimination last Friday (July 11) for trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt in 1:52.2. Upon earning the right to select his post position for the final, Svandstedt selected the rail as the starting spot for his prized trotter. Svandstedt, a top horseman in his native Sweden for many years, relocated his stable to North America this season and is in the midst of a successful campaign, thanks in large part to Sebastian K who is a perfect five for five on North American soil. The high point of the season thus far for Sebastian K was a seven-length victory in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs on June 28, in which he became the fastest trotter in the history of harness racing with a jaw-dropping mile time of 1:49. Before coming to North America, Sebastian K had victories in top events such as the 2013 Oslo Grand Prix, a heat of the 2013 Elitlopp and the 2012 UET Trotting Masters. The nine rivals who will look to knock Sebastian K off the top of the mountain, include the last two Maple Leaf Trot winners, Mister Herbie ('12) and Market Share ('13). Market Share won the second elimination last week in 1:53 with a last quarter of :26.4 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Linda Toscano. His connections selected post position two for the final. The five-year-son of Revenue - Classical Flirt is the richest horse in the field with over $3.2 million in career earnings. Market Share followed up his Maple Leaf Trot victory last year with a triumph in the Breeders Crown. His career highlights also include two million-dollar race victories in 2012 in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk. Leading the charge for the local horses will be Mister Herbie, who finished runner-up to Market Share in not only his elimination last week, but also in last year's final. The Jeff Gillis trainee won the 2012 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4 and was last year's O'Brien Award winner as top older trotter in Canada. Mister Herbie will start from post six and will be driven by Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image. The seven other challengers in the field are a group of well accomplished standardbreds. Intimidate, a past Breeders Crown and O'Brien Award winner, will start from post three for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais. Ron Burke, North America's leading trainer, will send out two starters. Archangel, post four, was the 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, while Wishing Stone, post five, has had success in both North America and Europe with victories in the 2012 Copenhagen Cup in Denmark and the 2013 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia. Creatine, last year's Kentucky Futurity winner, will start from post seven for the duo of Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance and trotting conditioner Bob Stewart. Undercover Strike will leave from post eight and is a Preferred winner at both Mohawk and the Meadows. He is sent out by trainer Tony O'Sullivan and will be driven by Doug McNair. Flanagan Memory, who won last year's Goodtimes, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and an O'Brien Award, starts from post nine for trainer Rene Dion and Woodbine/Mohawk's leading driver Chris Christoforou. Modern Family, a multiple stakes winner, will start from post ten for trainer Daryl Bier and will have Ron Pierce, a two-time Maple Leaf Trot winner, in the sulky. The field of ten for the Maple Leaf Trot has combined for 188 career victories and career earnings of $13,837,506. The Maple Leaf Trot undercard will feature four Canadian Breeders Championships (Races 2,3,7,10) for three-year-olds. Trevor Ritchie, a three-time Maple Leaf Trot winning driver ('03 Rotation, '06 Peaceful Way, '07 Equinox Bi), recently announced his retirement from driving. Ritchie will be on hand Saturday night to present the trophy to this year's winner and will be a special guest on Mohawk Racing Live's pre-game show beginning at 6:45 p.m. Post time for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot card is 7:25 p.m, with the Maple Leaf Trot expected to go behind the gate at 10:05 p.m. Here is the field for the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot. Race 9 - Maple Leaf Trot - Purse: $603,000 PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer/Morning Line 1. Sebastian K - Ake Svandstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 2/5 2. Market Share - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano - 6-1 3. Intimidate - Sylvain Filion - Luc Blais - 12-1 4. Archangel - Jody Jamieson - Ron Burke - 10-1 5. Wishing Stone - Randall Waples - Ron Burke - 20-1 6. Mister Herbie - Steve Condren - Jeff Gillis - 15-1 7. Creatine - Mike Lachance - Bob Stewart - 15-1 8. Undercover Strike - Doug McNair - Tony O'Sullivan - 25-1 9. Flanagan Memory - Chris Christoforou - Rene Dion - 25-1 10. Modern Family - Ron Pierce - Daryl Bier - 20-1 AE: Wheeling N Dealin - Jody Jamieson - Luc Blais - N/A by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
Mohawk Racetrack hosted a compact five-race qualifying session on Friday morning under pristine conditions. A trio of upper echelon performers took to the Campbellville oval and recorded wins by large margins. Strictly in terms of winning margin, the biggest victory of the morning came in Race 5 when Sunshine Beach, who was in rein to Chris Christoforou, motored off to a 23-length win in Race 5. The mile was clocked in 1:51.3 and the four-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere capped off his mile with a :25.2 final quarter. The morning effort was the second qualifying performance of the season for the career winner of $950,108 in purses. One race prior, two-time O’Brien Award winner Mister Herbie made his 2014 charted debut by trotting to a dominant 15-length win for trainer Jeff Gillis and driver Steve Condren in 1:55.3. The millionaire son of Here Comes Herbie was trotting his first charted mile since having last raced at the Meadowlands Racetrack in late November. To read the rest of the story click here.
Perfect Alliance puts her perfect 10-for-10 record this season on the line in the first of two Armbro Flight eliminations for older female trotters Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. The 4-year-old Perfect Alliance is coming off a world-record 1:51.2 win over 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician on May 19 in a division of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine. The time is the fastest by a 4-year-old female trotter on a mile racetrack. She is the 3-5 morning line favorite in her elimination, which also includes Upfrontluckycarol, Intense America, Rockin With Dewey, Ma Chere Hall, Bax Of Life, and Lady Laker. Perfect Alliance starts from post seven with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Julie Miller. Perfect Alliance had totaled two wins in 18 starts at ages 2 and 3 before bursting onto the scene this season with wins in the Singer Memorial Series and Bobby Weiss Series. "She couldn't be much better," Gingras said. "She's done everything asked of her and has been very impressive. I couldn't be happier with her." Gingras, who also is the regular driver of 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter Maven, has been driving Perfect Alliance since Andy Miller was injured in an accident in April. Maven just recently returned from Sweden, where she finished sixth in the international invitational Elitlopp. "I think (Perfect Alliance) fits really well (with the top older female trotters) off that last start," Gingras said. "You really don't know until they go out and do it, but she had raced very well and I felt she had some more. I was very happy to find out she did." Four-year-old Bee A Magician is the 6-5 favorite in the second Armbro Flight elimination, with Classic Martine the second choice at 8-5. It will be Bee A Magician's second start of the campaign after going 17-for-17 last season on her way to Horse of the Year honors in both the U.S. and Canada. She is trained by Nifty Norman and driven by Brian Sears. Chris Oakes' Classic Martine, another 4-year-old, has won all three of her starts this season, including her division of the Miss Versatility in 1:52.2. One race earlier, she won in 1:51.2 at Pocono Downs to become the fastest 4-year-old female trotter on a five-eighths-mile oval. The remainder of the second Armbro Flight elim field is Angies Lucky Star, Charmed Life, Daylon Miracle, and D'Orsay. * * * Trainer Joe Holloway sends out the favorites in each of Saturday's two eliminations for the Roses Are Red Stakes at Mohawk. Shebestingin is the 2-1 morning line pick in the first division and Somwherovrarainbow is the 4-5 selection in the second elim. Somwherovrarainbow has won six of eight races this year, including the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, and was last seen pacing the fastest mile ever by a female pacer on a five-eighths-mile track when she won in 1:48 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. She brings a three-race win streak to Mohawk. Shebestingin, who happens to be the fastest female pacer in history thanks to her 1:47 win last year at The Red Mile, is returning to stakes action after being scratched from the Betsy Ross Invitational because of a fever on May 25. She has won two of four races this season, with one second-place finish. She finished fifth in the mares preferred at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 1. "These girls can rock," Holloway tweeted recently. (Follow @joehollowaystab). "Rainbow is feeling very good and trained well," he texted Wednesday. "I hope Sting rebounds; she might still be off her game some from being sick." Anndrovette, the three-time Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer, is the 5-2 second choice in the first elimination. She won the Betsy Ross in 1:50.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia. "Rumors of her demise are premature," co-owner Jeffrey Bamond quipped after Anndrovette picked up her second win in seven starts this season. Also in the first elim are Jerseylicious, Charisma Hanover, Summertime Lea, Shelliscape, and Drop The Ball. Joining Somwherovrarainbow in the second elimination are Krispy Apple, Rocklamation, Monkey On My Wheel, Voelz Hanover, Yagonnakissmeornot, and Camille. * * * Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, was among 14 horses entered in the Fan Hanover Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. The group was split into two seven-horse eliminations, to be contested Saturday, with the top five finishers from each division advancing to the final. Sent out by the father-and-son team of trainer Gregg McNair and driver Doug McNair, Precocious Beauty is in the second elim. She is coming off a 1:52.4 win in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs last weekend in her seasonal debut. She is owned by breeder Jim Avritt Sr., who was looking forward to her campaign. Precocious Beauty has won eight of 12 lifetime starts and finished worse than second just once. She is unbeaten in four starts at Mohawk, where last year she captured the She's A Great Lady Stakes and divisions of the Champlain and Eternal Camnation stakes. Precocious Beauty is the 2-1 morning line favorite in her elimination. The rest of the second elim is Rock N Roll Xample, Mamas Fallen Angel, Table Talk, Major Dancer, Lady Shadow, and Bahama Blue. Uffizi Hanover, who won the 2013 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female pacers, is in the first elim. She is joined by Take That Hanover, Barefoot Beauty, Nat A Virgin, Beach Gal, Wanna Rock N Roll, and Fancy Desire. Beach Gal, who beat older horses her last time out, is the 5-2 morning line choice. She finished third in last year's She's A Great Lady. * * * There are two eliminations Friday for the Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters. Elim No. 1 features 2013 New York Sire Stakes champion Flyhawk El Durado, who is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Trained in the U.S. by Mark Ford, he races out of the stable of Jeff Gillis in Canada. The colt has a win and two third-place finishes in three starts this season. Entranced, trained by co-owner Garth Gordon, is the second choice at 9-2. He is coming off a second-place finish to Massive Talent in a division of the Ontario Sire Stakes. Massive Talent, from the barn of Nifty Norman, is 9-1 in the same Goodtimes elim. Thomas Durand's Hitchin A Ride, another Ontario Sire Stakes winner last week, is 5-1. The rest of the field is Massacaia, Musical Spell, Skates N Plates, Verdi, Il Sogno Dream, and So Not Cool. The second elim features Jimmy Takter's New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Trixton, who has won three in a row since finishing second to Odds On Amethyst in his seasonal debut. Trixton's three wins are by a total of 22 lengths. He is the 3-5 morning line choice. Harper Blue Chip, trained by Mark Steacy, is the second pick at 6-1. Last year, he won a division of the Champlain Stakes and finished second to Father Patrick in the Wellwood Memorial. Pasadena Star, trained by Bob McIntosh, also won a division of the 2013 Champlain and has won six of nine starts in his career. Lightly raced Speak The Truth, from the stable of Linda Toscano, won a leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes in May. The remainder of the field is Adversity, Dontcheatonmenow, Mister B's Way, Sas Warkentin, See The Wind, and Raise The Curtain. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Favourite Cougar Hall earned his second consecutive win over the game Machal Jordan in the featured $34,000 Preferred Pace on Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Driven by Jack Moiseyev, Cougar Hall matched his 1:51.4 season's mark that he established while winning the top class by half a length over Machal Jordan last Saturday. In this evening's Preferred, J J Shark (Sylvain Filion) forced the leaving post eight starter Lucky Terror (Jonathan Drury) to settle for the pocket spot during a :26.3 first quarter battle. Dali (Luc Ouellette) got away third with 6-5 favourite Cougar Hall following in fourth. As the field headed into the backstretch, Dali moved underway from third and took over the lead before hitting the half-mile marker in :55.3. The stallion was then confronted by Cougar Hall, who cleared to command past the 1:23.4 third quarter station and began to open up multiple lengths on the field to secure the victory. The late-closing Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte) narrowed the winning margin to one and a quarter lengths. In Commando (Chris Christoforou), a half-length winner over Cougar Hall in his last outing two weeks ago, finished third. Cougar Hall now has four wins in six starts during his four-year-old campaign and a seasonal bankroll totalling $60,100. The grey son of Somebeachsomewhere is owned by trainer Jeff Gillis, Gerald Stay, Mac Nichol, Thomas Kyron and Carl Jamieson. Cougar Hall paid $4.40 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
Sent postward at odds of 12-1, the class-climbing Lucky Terror upset the popular millionaire, Mystician, in a final quarter sprint to take the top conditioned class at Woodbine Racetrack on a cold Saturday night. With Jack Moiseyev catch-driving, Lucky Terror prevailed by a nose in the 10th race for non-winners of $28,000 in the last five starts (also eligible non-winners of $175,000 lifetime). Mckinney (Sylvain Filion) set up shop on the front-end after leaving from post three and led the field of seven through fractions of :27.1, :55.3 and 1:24.2. Meanwhile, Lucky Terror moved underway from fifth at the half with 3-5 favourite Mystician (Scott Zeron) following his cover. Lucky Terror battled the leader around the final turn, eventually edging by, while Jeff Gillis trainee Mystician launched his late attack to make it into the win photo in a 1:52.3 mile. Lucky Terror paid $26.40 to win. Third-place honours went to Mckinney, who held off Frankies Dragon (Chris Christoforou) and Grande Seelster (Randy Waples) over a length and a half behind. Lucky Terror is trained by Shaun McDonald and owned by Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, Ont. and Leonard Christopher of Acton, Ont. The win was the seven-year-old Western Terror gelding's 28th lifetime and the lion's share of the $28,000 purse lifted his career bankroll to $254,683. Lucky Terror pulled off the biggest upset on the 12-race card, which only saw three post-time favourites make it to the winner's circle. The fastest mile of the -10 degree night was 1:51.4, posted by post 10 starter Alexas Jackpot ($18.10) and Jonathan Drury in the fourth race for conditioner Marty Fine. The winner upset another popular Gillis-trained and Zeron-driven starter, Speed Again, who cut fractions of :26.2, :55, and 1:23 from post nine. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Racetrack. Videos of all races are attached. Printed with permission of Standardbred Canada
Ontario Success doubled up in the Snowshoe Series thanks to a 1:54 score in Monday’s second-leg assignment at Woodbine Racetrack, and his perfect record in the preliminary legs figures to make him a popular item in next week’s rich final. With Chris Christoforou at the lines, Ontario Success survived a first turn park out before grabbing the lead as the field moved into the backstretch. He led the field to the half in :57, but was overtaken going into the final turn by Meetyouatmidnight. That foe sprinted to the three-quarter pole in 1:25.4, but his wheels started to wobble as the field entered the stretch. Ontario Success used a :27.4 closing to re-rally to the lead, and he managed to fend off a late-rushing KG Dragonator by a neck in 1:54. Tex finished third. The four-year-old son of Lis Mara-Loving Success, who was sent off as the 3-5 favourite, resides in the barn of trainer Tony O’Sullivan for owner/breeder Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, Ohio. The four-time winner pushed his lifetime earnings to $44,884 with the victory. Sanattle Slew turned a second-over trip into a 1:55.1 tally in the second division for the tandem of driver Billy Davis, Jr. and trainer/owner/breeder Jeff Gillis. Brother John shot to the lead and threw down panels of :27.2, :57.4 and 1:27, but he couldn’t last on the lead. Sanattle Slew tracked cover behind Allcardsallthetime, and when Davis flipped him off cover Sanattle Slew charged home in :27.4 to win by a length over Hopiesdragninthedo in a career-best clocking of 1:55.1. Third prize went to Dreydl Hanover. Sent off at odds of 8-1, Sanattle Slew won for just the second time in his career. The lion’s share of the $15,000 purse boosted his bankroll to $25,990. The $34,600 final of the Snowshoe Series is scheduled for Monday, January 27 at Woodbine Racetrack. In other Monday evening action at the Rexdale oval, Catch The Dream took home weekly bragging rights in the $34,000 Preferred Trot. Randy Waples came first-over with the Bruce MacDonald trainee, and the six-year-old son of Cash Hall-Anything But Love gelding got up to win by three-quarters of a length over the tempo-setting Take My Picture in 1:55.2. Watkins came on late to grab the show dough. It was the second consecutive victory for the 21-time winner, who pushed his lifetime earnings past $260,000 in the process. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Racetrack. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
TORONTO, December 28 - Sylvain Filion and Richard Moreau retained their titles as Woodbine Entertainment Group's (WEG) leading harness racing driver and trainer, respectively, after the 2013 Standardbred racing season came to a close Saturday night at Woodbine. Filion finished with 248 wins at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks, five in front of Scott Zeron, who had 243 victories, while Jody Jamieson was third with 213, including a pair on the final night. Moreau collected his third WEG training title after winning 126 races. Jeff Gillis had 81 wins, while Carmen Auciello wound up third with 76 victories. Filion, who lives in Milton, had to share his first WEG driver championship with Jody Jamieson in 2012, each with 284 wins. But this year he stands alone. "This past year has been a memorable one for me both on and off the track," said Filion. "I drove many terrific horses and am very thankful for the opportunity. Winning with Boomboom Ballykeel (in the $683,000 Metro Pace for trainer Richard Moreau) was certainly unexpected and that was a great thrill. Off the track, my wife and I adopted a baby and that's something very special." The 44-year-old Filion, who also led all drivers in purse earnings on the WEG circuit with over $5.3 million, is seeking a second consecutive O'Brien Award as Canada's Top Driver, an honour he earned for the first time for his accomplishments last year. The 49-year-old Moreau, who captured his first WEG title in 2010, also led all trainers in purse earnings with over $2.5 million. The Puslinch, Ontario resident is an O'Brien Award finalist for Canada's Trainer of the Year. Live racing returns to Woodbine on Monday, January 6 and continues on a three-day-a-week schedule (Monday, Friday and Saturday). First race post time is 7:25 p.m. Videos of all Saturday night races are attached.
Santanna Blue Chip was a household harness racing name back five years ago in 2008 when the excellent son of Art Major won $1.6 million. He raced successfully in his three-year-old season against none other than Somebeachsomewhere, Art Official, Shadow Play and Dali. Well, he’s back and back winning again too! Returned to racing after a four year stint as a stallion, Santanna Blue Chip rewarded his backers in his third start, winning the fourth race $16,000 n /w pace and at a price of 9-1! In his first two start, and now he is eight years old, Santanna Blue Chip, driven by Billy Davis, Jr., enjoyed a third-over trip behind Real Rocker (Randy Waples) who was following the first-over Lennon Blue Chip (Jonathan Drury) as they were coming on to challenge pacesetter Kindly Poet (Sylvain Filion) with My Man Charley (Anthony Macdonald) sitting the two-hole trip. At the three-quarters in 1:24.4, Davis sent Santannta Blue Chip three-wide and he looped the field and then held on in the stretch to win by a half length in 1:53 over late closing The Ladies Man (Mike Saftic) and Lennon Blue Chip. He is trained and owned by Jeff Gillis of Hillsburgh, Ontario and paid a generous $18.90 to win. As a stallion he bred 123 mares last year in New Zealand. Click here for a recent article on Santanna Blue Chip on Harnesslink. Videos of all races are attached. by Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
Super sire Somebeachsomewhere quinelled the richest race on the card at Woodbine raceway tonight Saturday the 7th of December. The $24,000 second race was won by the three-year-old colt Apprentice Hanover with Jody Jamieson in the bike for harness racing trainer Ben Wallace. Another three-year-old colt Cougar Hall was second for trainer Jeff Gillis. Videos of all races are attached.
Monday evening’s qualifiers served as a dress rehearsal for Saturday night’s grand opening of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment’s brand new grandstand. Meadowlands employees and their families were invited to Pink, the terraced dining room in the new building, for a complimentary tasting of the new menu and give the servers a test run of the facility. The races began at 6:00pm with the accomplished older trotter Mister Herbie cruising around the oval in 1:53- for driver Tim Tetrick. After a 57- half, “Herbie” turned on the jets and won by many lengths. Trainer Jeff Gillis shares ownership of the $1.7 million winning son of Here Comes Herbie with Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay. So Surreal (Somebeachsomewhere) won easily in 1:53.4 (final half in 55-) for trainer/driver Ray Schnittker prepping for next week’s Governors Cup eliminations. Gewertz, Kurnit & Arnold are partners with Ray on the colt. Don’t Blame Her, long a favorite of the Bongiorno family, sharpened up with an eye catching 1:54.2/27.1 effort in the third. Barbara and Bobby own the mare, driven by their son Joe. Brad Irvine trains. Another preview night of qualifiers comes along this Thursday at 6:00pm. Horsemen have been invited to attend on that occasion to sample the fare in Pink. Then the house opens for real on Saturday with a stakes laden card of racing. Stay informed with a visit to The Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment website. by Nick Salvi for the Meadowlands
In otherwise an uneventful Saturday night harness racing driver Jack Moiseyev won three races at Woodbine Racetrack. He won two for trainer Jeff Gillis. Three-year-old Somebeachsomewhere colt Cougar Hall in 1:51 and five-year-old Camluck son Mystician in 1:52.2. Videos of all races are attached.