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The field for the 2014 Ontario Regional Driving Championship scheduled for Friday, May 9 at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London, Ont. has been confirmed. The participating drivers are: • Alfie Carroll • Scott Coulter • Billy Davis Jr. • Trevor Henry • Jody Jamieson • James MacDonald • Doug McNair • J.R. Plante The top two drivers from the eight-race competition will join six other drivers at the 2014 National Driving Championship scheduled for Tuesday, August 26 at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park. Several drivers declined invitations to take part due to other commitments, including Sylvain Filion, Canada’s Driver of the Year for 2013, Randy Waples and Scott Zeron. To read the rest of the story click here.

It has been such a downward spiral for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs that this latest lowest of lows has harness racing driver Jody Jamieson contemplating switching allegiances to another NHL team. As for which team Jody might start cheering for, nothing has been decided but all of us Maple Leafs fans understand that at some point we must all move on or do we become the Chicago Cubs of the National Hockey League. "It's in my blood" says Jody, "I'm a diehard fan but this is getting out of hand." Jody's career in harness racing has been remarkable, with some comparing his success to the likes of hockey greats Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. As flattered as Jody is by the comparison, in no way does he consider himself to be painted with the same brush as the hockey legends. "It's a lofty comparison, and it's not something I am not comfortable with" Jody notes. Admittedly, Jody feels he was able to jump start his career thanks to his father, legendary trainer Carl Jamieson. "My father is a hall of fame horseman and I had probably one of the best starts anybody could have in this business, by having him back me up." Jody says. A key piece of advice given to Jody by his dad is to always be respectful, regardless of whom that person is. It doesn't matter if it's a groom or a racing official, everyone matters. Jody Jamieson's name is up there with drivers such as Tim Tetrick, Mike Lachance, Chris Christoforou and Brian Sears and even after all the wins and accolades, Jody's focus hasn't changed. There's never a race he takes for granted and Jody admits he's human and makes mistakes, like everyone else. "I'm out to win every possible race I'm in... it's never lack of trying or being prepared but I make mistakes. Thank God there is another race right after that one where I can try and redeem myself." Jody says. With any sport, competition is extremely fierce and the guys who lead the standings are always battling between themselves and new comers. The saying goes, if you're going to win, you want to beat the best and Jody acknowledges everyone on the track wants to make a name for themselves. "That's what makes this game so fun, in one moment you're king of the castle but twenty minutes later you're knocked off." Jody adds, "It's very competitive, every twenty minutes, every night of the week." All drivers and trainers have been through dry spells, going through stretches of time without positive results. A piece of advice Jody was given is you need to learn to lose well before you learn to win well. "Don't get to high with the highs and don't get to low with the lows" is Jody's approach to keeping a level head to remain mentally grounded. "If you look at my record, I have way more losses than I do wins and I've learned to deal with it and keep it on the track as much as possible." With people having hard days or rough spells, it's amazing how well the horsemen are able to cope and still keep it classy amongst them. "I find in Canada and Ontario, it's the kind of people we are." Jody says. "We all try to get along off the track; there is no reason to be enemies off the track and not like each other. But when we go to the gate, it's on! I think that's taken for granted in other places, with people taking issue of being beat in a race." "Not only is life too short, our careers are too short to be hung up on every last thing, so you have to keep it light." Jody says. "I think I can relate to almost anybody, I enjoy busting (chops) and I can handle having my (chops) busted as well." Speaking with Jody, the biggest take away I got would be understanding how tough it is to mature in such a highly competitive sport. Yet in an odd way it can still be very easy. Yes I am aware there is a contradiction to what I have just written but the difficulties I perceive is being young with an ego. At this point I am not speaking for a driver, I am thinking of myself as a young one who is 18 or 20 and all I focus on is me and my success. If something were to come in between, I can honestly admit I would of taken issue from the get go. However, through it all in any sport, life hands you a constant wave of highs and lows and the earlier you notice these waves, the easier it is to 'ride it out' so to speak. Things can't always go your way, if they did, how would anyone learn? Over the last couple of years, Jody admits there have been some up and downs and this year he is more driven because of that. "Last year it took me until December to win a Classic race. It was the Cleveland Classic with Apprentice Hanover." Apprentice Hanover is trained by Benjamin Wallace and won the race in a time of 1:52.1 at Northfield Park. "There were big races where I came in second or third, but it wasn't the win." Jody admits. Jody is happily married to Stephanie and Jody has a daughter Hailey who is 11, a son Jett who is 2 and a baby girl on the way who is due in July. As much success as Jody's had over the years, he is now racing for his family, not just for him and this means ensuring his family can live happily. "I have a young family and I am recently married and I want to be a part of their lives to... I'm going to spend the best time with my family and I am not going to change anything. I'm going to be prepared as ever, more prepared than I've ever been to go on the race track every night." Jody says, "Before it was about wins and putting up big numbers, now it's about making a great living and being able to provide for my family down the road." "I had the one year where I broke the wins records in Canada. I drove right until the end of the year and then I quit for a month and just relaxed, it gets really stressful.... I had that one (great) year and I thought I want to treat myself a little bit." Jody adds, "I want to be the top guy and make enough money to enjoy life." Jody also missed some time away from the track to attend the O'Brien awards and Jody flew to Finland to be the ambassador of Canadian harness racing. To add to Jody's time away was the volcano eruption in Finland where the dust had to settle before Jody could fly back home. So at what point did Jody change his outlook? Or at what point did a light go off where Jody realized it was more than just about him? "When you're in it, running from track to track winning races and having some success, you don't think of anything until you're laying on a beach in Mexico... you don't think of it until then." Jody points out. Throughout his career, Jody has grown close to many people who have supported him and who always believe in his talents. "Mark MacDonald and I used to be thick as thieves and as best friends off the track and fierce enemies on the track." Jody continues, "We'd do anything to beat each other and Mark moved away and we haven't kept in touch as much, but definitely Mark was a huge influence in my career. He helped me learn my craft and have a better mindset on the race track for sure." Jody loves what the new Meadowlands racetrack is doing, "they're doing incredible work" he says and at one point in Jody's career, the idea to go to the big M did cross his mind, but home is where the heart is. "I'm from Moffat, Ontario, Canada and this is where my family is and this is where my family's family is. This is where I'll be unless something worse happens like what is happening with this Liberal government." "In 2011 the Standardbred industry received $176 million dollars to operate harness racing in Ontario. In 2014 harness racing will be lucky to have $70-$80 million." Jody points out. The money the racing industry received is from an agreement between the racetracks and the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation, (OLG) which is a Government entity, based on revenues brought in from the creation of the SLOTS programs at each racetrack. With the racetracks already established, the OLG agreed to give a percentage of all revenue to the racetracks so the OLG could put in slot machines and the money given to the tracks would go towards purse money to create a higher level of competition within the province. Anthony Macdonald, who is a horseman, is running as a PC provincial candidate hoping if an election takes place, the standardbred industry will have a stronger voice at Queen's Park, (the provincial legislator). Jody is a strong advocate and supporter of Anthony and his efforts to bring more awareness to the standardbred community and Jody is willing to help anywhere he can. "Anyone who knows Anthony, you can't tune him out and I am going to campaign hard to help get him elected." Jody states. "We have 3 or 4 candidates who are pro harness racing on the Conservative side." Jody feels strongly that the Liberal government has messed up several industries outside of harness racing, such as the gas industry, the powers sector and even the teachers union. "Horses don't speak" says Jody, "they are nice to look at and people love them but they don't speak. We need to do a better job speaking for them.... The OLG's revenue was around a billion dollars and we were only getting around 20 percent, maybe less. Now the OLG is taking in the full 100 percent in revenue. We are in trouble and this money, (the $500 million/5 year proposal from the Liberals), it has kept racing open but we are on a life line and we are bleeding badly." Away from the politics and the tracks, Jody is the type of guy who likes to help others where and when he can. Jody would love to help the Toronto Maple Leafs, maybe try and get them a Stanley Cup sometime soon! "I'm so aggravated with this season, I like Randy Carlyle. He's a horse guy who started in the horse racing business before he was drafted." As you can tell, Jody is a massive hockey fan and aside from the Leafs, his favorite team is the Jamieson Jets, an adult men's hockey team. One thing to point out is Jody's son Jett was not named after the hockey team, even though some people make that connection. However if the dad who named the son said it wasn't, there's nothing to discuss. If Jody had a man cave, it would be filled with Toronto Maple Leaf paraphernalia and his entire top win photos including the North America Cup pictures, the Battle of Waterloo and Breeders Crown pictures. To date, the second heat of the 2007 Little Brown Jug is Jody's most memorable race. In that race he was driving great horse Tell All. "I could remember my heart beating the whole time."Jody says. "The half was in 56.1... I kicked the ear plugs on him around the last turn and he dug in, but he really didn't dig in like I thought. Brian Sears slipped off of David Miller's back going three wide in the stretch and I didn't know half way down the stretch if I could hang on. So I hit the wire not knowing if you have a clear cut win. It was the best ever (feeling)... I'll never forget him." "I would love to win the Hambletonian. I've been fortunate to win big races and I'd love to win them all again. Just because I won them, doesn't mean they're off my bucket list." Jody adds, "It would mean a lot to me to win any of those races again, they're special, special races." Jody enjoys interacting with fans. "I love meeting fans...they message me of Facebook and Twitter. I think its wild and I thrive on it, I love meeting with the fans and doing whatever I can to meet fans." Jody says. A few summers ago, Woodbine asked Jody to go to a Jack Astor's opening in Toronto as the restaurant was doing simulcasting. "I went in my driver suit, not a soul knew who I was, not a soul and I had my suit on and they knew what I did at the end of the day they loved it. I loved it and meeting people who want to get to know me. Like I said, horses can't talk but I can and I want this industry I love to survive and prosper." By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

‪TORONTO, April 12 - West Side Story, driven by Chris Christoforou, provided the 6-1 upset in the lone $18,000 division in the opening round of the Don Mills Series, Saturday at Woodbine.‬ ‪The talented son of Conway Hall got under the wire in 1:54, one length ahead of 1/9 favourite Hldontghttoyurdrms (Jonathan Drury).‬ ‪Christoforou elected to use off-the-pace tactics with West Side Story as he landed fourth in the early stages as Hldontghttoyurdrms was the leader at the opening station in :27.2.‬ ‪Hldontghttoyurdrms continued to lead his 10 rivals past the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25.3.‬ ‪Around the final turn, Christoforou angled West Side Story off the pylons and was within striking distance of the tempo-setter at the top of the stretch.‬ ‪West Side Story continued to gain on the publics choice and marched past Hldontghttoyurdrms in deep stretch en route to his tenth career score. Mego Moss (Jody Jamieson) finished third..‬ ‪Trained by Per Henriksen for Asa Farm and Steve Organ, West Side Story increased his bankroll to $118,657. The son of Conway Hall has crafted a 3-3-0 record from seven starts this season.‬ ‪He paid $15.30 to win.‬ by Greg Gangle, for WEG

TORONTO , April 7 - Thirteen trotting mares made their way to Woodbine Racetrack Monday evening to kick off the opening round of the Lifetime Dream Series. Rockin With Dewey looked every bit the part of a 1/5 favourite as she captured the first $18,000 division in 1:56.1. Driven by Mario Baillargeon, Rockin With Dewey scored by a commanding five and a quarter lengths to celebrate her tenth career tally. Baillargeon was first to the front in the early stages, but allowed Justasmalltowngirl (Paul Macdonell) to the lead at the opening quarter in :26.4. Rockin With Dewey quickly regained the front and led her six rivals past the half in :56.4 and three-quarters in 1:27.1, before dashing away from her rivals en route to victory. Frisky Magic (Randy Waples) came on for second, over Bop Too The Top (James MacDonald). Trained and co-owned by Ben Baillargeon along with breeder Diane Ingham, Rockin With Dewey increased her bankroll to $219,300. She paid $2.50 to win. In the other split, 3/5 favourite Rose Run Oriana and James MacDonald got under the wire first in 1:57.2. Over a track rated as 'Good,' MacDonald elected to sit in the two-hole behind Be Winnin (Jody Jamieson) before the opening quarter in :26.3. Marabou (Jonathan Drury) angled out of third and was quickly on the move as they took over command before the :57.1 half. Rose Run Oriana quickly engaged the tempo-setter and was the new leader heading toward the three-quarter pole. MacDonald and Rose Run Oriana led their six rivals past three-quarters in 1:27.2 and fended off all comers down the lane en route to the victory. Standing My Ground (Sylvain Filion) finished second, with Her Name Is Lola (Phil Hudon) third. Trained by Joe Cirasuola for owner Shirley Halas, Rose Run Oriana enjoyed her 14th career victory as her bankroll now sits at $125,717. She paid $3.40 to win. The Lifetime Dream series is for four and five-year-old trotting mares, who are non-winners of $200,000 lifetime as of December 31, 2013. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

TORONTO , April 7 - Sophomore pacing colts and geldings were showcased Monday evening at Woodbine in the second round of the Youthful Series. Andreios Kardia, driven by Steve Byron, captured the first of two divisions in 1:55.4 over a 'Good' track. Byron was in no hurry at the start as Regal Son (Randy Waples) made his way to the front to lead the field of six past the first quarter in :27.2. As the talented pacers headed towards the half, Paul Macdonell elected to send second-choice Dragon Seelster to the front before the half in :58. Kuchar (Jody Jamieson) began the first-over attack around the final turn, giving live cover to 4-5 favourite Andreios Kardia. Kuchar and Dragon Seelster matched strides past three-quarters in 1:27.3, but down the lane Byron showed Andreios Kardia open racetrack and the son of Badlands Hanover exploded in deep stretch to capture his third career victory. Trained by James Madill for owner Ina Madill, Andreios Kardia increased his bankroll to $28,480. With the track down-graded to 'Sloppy,' Highland Tartan and James MacDonald captured the second division as the favourite in 1:56.2. MacDonald elected to sit in the two-hole in the early going as Reasonable Force (Jody Jamieson) made their way to the front past the opening quarter in :27.1. Highland Tartan was then angled to the outside and crossed over to command to lead past the middle-half in :59.1 and 1:29.1. As the field turned for home, Reasonable Force angled out of the pocket, but could only reach the leaders saddle pad as Highland Tartan prevailed in deep stretch to score the narrow win. Little Ben (Luc Ouellette) enjoyed a ground saving trip to finish third. Trained and co-owned by Marty Fine along with Mary Clark, Highland Tartan enjoyed his second career victory as his lifetime earnings now sits at $15,200. The son of Major In Art paid $4.90 to win. The Youthful Series is for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers, who are non-winners of three races of $15,000 in 2013. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 5, 2014-The Ron Burke Stable ATM, officially named Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, continued with Round 3 Saturday night. Burke trained the winners in all but one of the evening's four, $50,000 divisions. Since the last (grouping) shall be first, let us begin where we usually do, with Foiled Again. He and driver Yannick Gingras went the distance, though not without having to work for it. Drawing outside his six rivals, Foiled Again quickly negated that nuisance. He went around pole-sitting P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) before a 27-second opening quarter-mile. From there, the match race was on. After a :55.4 half, these two separated themselves from the overmatched quintet. Foiled Again found three-quarters in 1:24, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Then, P H Supercam took his shot. He dove inside and close ground, but could not reach. Foiled Again prevailed by a head in 1:52. Rock On Moe (Eric Carlson) was a best-of-the-rest third as the 66-1 rank outsider. For Foiled Again, a 10-year-old Dragon Again gelding, the $25,000 payday increased his lifetime loot to $6,105,968 (79-for-201). Burke co-owns (as Burke Racing) with Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables. Foiled Again, now 3-for-3 in this series and the season, returned the legal-minimum $2.10, with the exacta (two wagering choices) paid a season-low $3.10. Triple wagering was a no-no in all divisions due to limited wagering interests. "The first two weeks, he didn't have any pressure," Gingras said. "(Tonight), I wanted to air it out a bit. "Even so, he was loafing around until he heard (P H Supercam) coming. Then, he picked it up and he dug in. There was no way the other horse was going by me." Getting in the way of a Burke blitz was Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson). After a pair of seconds (one in a dead-heat) in this series, the Ontario contingent broke through. Leaving from post No. 3 in the third division, Apprentice Hanover was away third as Itrustyou (Gingras)-part of Burke's 1-2 favored entry-set sail through intervals of :26.4 and 56.3. Apprentice Hanover then moved to the leader, who offered just passive resistance. It was Apprentice Hanover grabbing the lead before a 1:23.3 three-quarters, leaving two-leg winner Mach it So (Tim Tetrick) first-up. The lead was two lengths turning for home, and Apprentice Hanover needed all of it. Mach it So moved to him but missed a neck in 1:52.4. Third went to rallying Clear Vision (George Brennan), part of the favored twosome. For Apprentice Hanover, a 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere owned by Brad Grant and trained by Ben Wallace, he returned $7.50 (third choice) for his sixth win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22.40. "He was a little funny in the first turn, same as he was in the last turn in the opening round," Jamieson said. "I thought it may have cost me early position. "It's always a challenge for a 4-year-old in this series. All the credit goes to Ben (Wallace). He managed him very well (in Canada). He wasn't getting tested up there, and was racing every other week. Going into this series, I wanted to make him work harder, because I knew he'd be taking on top horses." Saturday night's other Levy winners were... --Easy Again,r,5 (by Dragon Again); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,M1 and Panhellenic Stbs/driver Brennan; 1:53.1/$2.40 (POE). --Bettor's Edge,g,5 (by Bettor's Delight); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,M1 Stb/driver Gingras; 1:52.2/$2.20 (POE). As with Foiled Again, Bettor's Edge is 3-for-3 in this series. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway                     Frank Drucker Director of Publicity 810 Yonkers Avenue Yonkers, NY 10704 Phone: 914 457 2432 E-mail: FDrucker@YonkersRaceway.com      

TORONTO, April 4 - After an impressive victory in the opening leg of the Blossom Series last week at Woodbine, Rock N Roll Xample repeated her effort with a convincing score in the lone, second-leg division Friday at Woodbine. The pacing miss will look for the $36,000 series sweep on Friday, April 11 at Woodbine. Outtathewheelhouse (Jonathan Drury) gunned their way to the front to lead past the opening station in a quick :26.3, ahead of Polk Dot Hanover (Billy Davis, Jr.). Heading towards the half in the $15,000 tilt, James MacDonald pulled on the right line and aimed Rock N Roll Xample out of third and to command before the mid-way point in :56.2. From there, the heavily-favoured daughter of Rocknroll Hanover guided her rivals past three-quarters in 1:24.2, before opening up on her eight rivals to score a comfortable four and three quarter length victory in 1:53.4. Noble Jilly (Jody Jamieson) finished second with Wildcat Magic (Chris Christoforou) third. Trained by Shawn Robinson for owner/breeder Robert Hamather, Rock N Roll Xample increased her bankroll to $66,090. The bay lass has a 6-2-1 record from 11 starts this season. She paid $3.90 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

TORONTO, March 31 - It was a memorable night for Milton resident Randy Waples as the veteran driver notched his 6,000th career win. Waples guided Account Rollover to a 1:52.3 victory in the second of two Youthful series divisions for Hall of Fame trainer Bob McIntosh to capture the milestone. "It's such a special feeling to reach any milestone let alone 6000," Waples said following the win. "It was even extra special because it was one of Bob's (McIntosh) horses. We've had a lot of success together, won a lot of major races and been friends for years. That was really the icing on the cake." Waples, who began his driving career in 1984 has over $114 million in purse earnings. Dragon Seelster (Paul Macdonell) was the first leader past the opening station in :27.3. As the field settled and headed towards the half, American Island (Doug McNair) made their way to the front and led past the half in :56.3. Waples and Account Rollover came first-over and cleared to the front before three-quarters in 1:24.2. From there, the son of Rocknroll Hanover fended off a late challenge from Dragon Seelster to capture the win. Kuchar (Jody Jamieson) finished third. Account Rollover increased his bankroll to $41,810 for McIntosh along with co-owners Al MacIntosh Holdings Inc, and CSX Stables. Unraced as a rookie, the bay gelding has a 5-2-1 record from eight starts this season. Twomickeytrip and Paul Macdonell teamed up to win the other $15,000 division as the pair got under the wire first in 1:56.3. Reasonable Force (Jody Jamieson) was hard-used to earn the front past the opening quarter in a quick :26.4. As the sophomores headed towards the half, Glory Beach (Sylvain Filion) angled out of third and took over command to lead past the mid-way point in :56.3 and three-quarters in 1:25.3. Regal Son (Randy Waples) began the first-over attack around the final turn, giving live cover to Twomickeytrip. Turning for home, GloryBeach was still in command, but the backfield began to close on the tempo-setter. MacDonell showed Twomickeytrip open racetrack and the four-time winner responded as he wore down the tempo-setter in deep stretch en route to victory. GloryBeach stayed for second, over Royal Reception (Chris Christoforou). Trained and co-owned by Richard Fife along with Grace George, Twomickeytrip increased his bankroll to $50,080. The bay gelding has a 3-1-1 record from nine starts this season. He paid $9.20 to win. The Youthful Series is for three-year-old colts and geldings, who are non winners for three races or $15,000 in 2013. by Greg Gangle, for WEG  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 29, 2014 - "He stopped surprising me a long time ago," driver Yannick Gingras said before Foiled Again's 200th career start. There would be no surprises Saturday night, as Foiled Again's 78th lifetime victory was among his simplest in Round 2 of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Leaving from post position No. 4 in the last of four, $50,000 divisions, Foiled Again, leading a 1-20 Ron Burke-trained troika, had nothing more than a soggy stroll. After fractions of :28.1, :57, 1:25.3 and 1:53.4, Foiled Again found himself getting to the finish line 3¼ lengths before his competition. In this case, the closest competition was entrymate Aracache Hanover (Dan Dube), with Texican N (Brian Sears) third. For Foiled Again, a 10-year-old Dragon Again gelding, the $25,000 public workout payday increased his lifetime loot to $6,080,968. Burke co-owns (as Burke Racing) with Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables. He returned the legal-minimum $2.10, with the exacta (Texican N second for this wager) paying $7.70. The win pool of $84,083-of which $56,387 was wagered on the "Foiled" faction-is believed to be the largest since the filly See You at Peelers whipped the boys in the Art Rooney Pace a couple of seasons ago. Foiled Again was just one of four repeat winners as the Levy series rolled on. It had to be contagious...even the Philadelphia 76ers won tonight. Mach it So (Tim Tetrick) has become the bettor's best friend. After winning at 8-1 in the opening leg, he snapped 9-10 choice Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson) on the money in the evening's fourth division to the tune of 20-1. Leaving from post No. 6, Mach it So was well back early as Dancin' Yankee (Ron Pierce) made the lead around Apprentice Hanover. After a 27-second opening quarter-mile, Sweet Lou (Gingras), half of the 9-10 second-choice (not a misprint as Apprentice Hanover was the wagering favorite), came to visit. However, the leader was in no mood for company, parking "Lou" passed a 55-second intermission. Down the backside, Sweet Lou's barn buddy, Easy Again (George Brennan), made a bold move, wide from fifth. However, going the 1:23.1 three-quarters, the leader stood his ground. Entering the lane, after Sweet Lou gave up the ghost, Apprentice Hanover adroitly slipped out of the pocket. He looked every bit the winner before the blur of Mach it So-fifth turning for home--nailed him by a head in 1:52.4. Third went to Easy Again. For Mach it So, a 4-year-old Mach Three gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trainer P J Fraley, he returned $42.80 (fourth choice) for his second win in two series/season starts. The exacta paid $116.50, with the triple returning $256. "He's been under the radar, but he's been very sharp," Tetrick said. "There was a lot of action up front, and that's what gave him a shot." The evening's other Levy events were won by... --Bettor's Edge,g,5 (by Bettor's Delight); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,M1 Stb/driver Gingras; 1:53.4/$2.60 (POE); --Itrustyou,g,6 (by Third Straight); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,RTC Stbs/driver Gingras; 1:55/$2.10 (POE). The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

TORONTO, March 28 - Thirteen sophomore pacing fillies made their way to Woodbine Racetrack on Friday evening to contest in the opening round of the harness racing Blossom Series. Heavily-favoured Rock N Roll Xample and Violet Bayama captured there respective $15,000 splits in races one and two. Sent off at 1/5, Rock N Roll Xample and Randy Waples was much the best in 1:54.1. Waples elected to sit in the pocket past the first quarter as Noble Jilly (Jody Jamieson) led through the :27.4 opening split. Rock N Roll Xample was then quickly on the move and took over command to lead her six rivals past the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:26.2. Turning for home, Rock N Roll Xample and Noble Jilly separated themselves from their rivals and battled through the stretch, but Noble Jilly couldn't match strides of the Rock N Roll Xample, who won by three-quarters of a length. Deuces For Charity (Paul Macdonell) finished third. Trained by Shawn Robinson for owner/breeder Robert Hamather, Rock N Roll Xample enjoyed her fifth win from 10 starts in 2014. The daughter of Rocknroll <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /> Hanover now has 58,590 in career earnings. She paid $2.50 to win. One race later, Violet Bayama fended off a late challenge from 1/5 favourite Missevil to win in 1:55.3. The talented daughter of Somebeachsomewhere went gate-to-wire through panels of :28.2, :58.1 and 1:27.1, before putting away Missevil in deep stretch en route to victory. Wildcat Magic (Chris Christoforou) finished third. Trained by Stephane Laroque for owner/breeder Bayama Farms and Jacques Damours, Violet Bayama celebrated her third career victory as her bankroll now sits at $40.280. She paid $7.30 to win as the 5/2 second choice. The Blossom Series is for sophomore pacing fillies, who are non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. Greg Gangle Rock N Roll Xample Violet Bayama 

Chris Christoforou is one of the premier names in harness racing, and if a fan does not recognize his name it's most likely they are new to the sport. Chris has quite the extensive resume from winning the Little Brown Jug in 2000 with Astreos, to winning the Breeders Crown in 1993 aboard Earl. Chris won the Breeders Crown two more times, in 1999 and 2002. Chris has won pretty much every major stake race between Woodbine Racetrack, (Toronto, ON) and Mohawk Racetrack, (Campbellvile, ON). This includes the Canadian Breeders (twice), the Don Mills (twice), the Oakville Stakes (twice), the Burlington, the Fan Hanover and both the Champlain Pace and Trot which combining both Champlain series wins gives him a lucky seven victories (4 times in the Pace and 3 times in the Trot). Acknowledging these major wins is the tip of the iceberg and there's at least two dozen more stake wins. That's a pretty big iceberg that could take down the Titanic once again. What is left for Chris to win? Pretty much every race where he's driving and despite the success, Chris maintains a strong and focused drive to continuously reach the Winner's Circle. "The Hambletonian..." says Chris, "...is one I would love to win given the opportunity." With the future uncertainty that looms for harness racing in Ontario, (with the Ontario Government cancelling the slot revenue agreement), Chris remains passionate about wanting to stay close to home. "It depends on the future here in Ontario," Chris says, "but I have no plans to leave. I'd really like to stay here, it's my home, it's my family... and hopefully I can. "I enjoy my life, I enjoy my career and we make a living." Chris explained, "It's tough at times but I would never discourage anyone from wanting to get into the (racing) business." Chris is fine with the thought of his children following in his footsteps as well as his father's. Chris won his first race in 1990 at Flamboro Downs driving Delias Star to the Winner's Circle. In all this time, Chris continually keeps it fresh by maintaining a positive attitude and keeping things light whenever possible. "I find if you are enjoying what you are doing, people catch that vibe from you and it rubs off on them." Chris explains, "The guys I drive with, we all get along and it's a good group of guys here (at Woodbine Racetrack). It's not easy when you are competing with guys night in and night out, but I thing we do a really good job of (having fun)." Asking Chris if he had a memory of a special time where the drivers meshed cohesively and were quite successful, he says "It was strong in the WEG circuit (Woodbine Entertainment Group), in the 80's and up til now it's been very strong." "The top 5 or 6 guys here can drive with anyone in the world as far as I'm concerned. From Campbell to Sears to Lachance, just because we drive here (at Woodbine/Mohawk), it doesn't mean we are any less skilled. Put up Jody Jamieson, Randy Waples or Paul MacDonnell and they can drive with anyone and they have proven that in the past." Talking with Chris is quite fulfilling, and not in terms of generic terms or metaphors, but the open honesty of how good his fellow drivers are, no matter where they race. A perfect example is Chris paying respect to Dave Palone who drives predominantly at the Meadows (located in Washington, PA). Yes, it is a different size track than others, it's a 5/8th mile oval but according to Chris regardless of the type of track, Dave Palone can drive with the best no matter where. Chris is quick to point the good and talent in others. With Chris you get the sense that there is always a silver lining. "Take the top 50 drivers in North America and it's a very slim margin as to who is better." Chris looks to the horses that make up the difference, "Give the 50th guy the best horse and the top guy the fifth best horse and I am pretty sure, 90% of the time the guy with the best horse wins. To that point, it's all horse power." When driving any horse, Chris looks at past performance to see how to best deal with the horse during the race. However "...tactics can switch in a split second. If the horse is moving from a low percentage barn to a higher percentage barn, you are more likely to be more aggressive." "An extreme chess match" Chris says, "very very fast chess game." Horse racing has its strains like any other career, and Chris is grateful to his wife, Camilla, for being so supportive. "It's tough when the kids are off for two months in the summer and I'm busy racing." Chris says. How does Chris balance the intensity of work with family, "every now and then in the summer if I'm in a slump, we'll jump in the car for two days and go to Niagara Falls, ON, change things up and get a refresher." It's all about quality time. In any job, business and career one thing that's constant is communication. Flat out, it's a requirement. During a race when fans are standing at the fence, the sound of the horses charging to the wire is intoxicating. Along with the ground vibrating you can hear faint sounds coming from drivers, but not all the discernable. At the start of the race, Chris explains very little, if any is being said. "You hear drivers hollering down the stretch for sure but the only thing a driver hears, and I don't think drivers even realize it, you can hear if a horse is getting rough, or if his gait is changing." Chris explains, "The sound pattern the horses make when their gait is changing, short stepping. A lot does get blocked out, you're in the zone." "At Woodbine, if a driver's horse is getting rough, he starts screaming and it's usually a sound of panic so everybody knows what's coming and tries to avoid that guy. We all know what each other's voice sounds like, so even if you can't see him and he's three or four horses ahead of you, you know who it is." When it comes to pacers or trotters, Chris would have taken the pacer over the trotter in his early days. Now with his experience, Chris will opt for racing a trotter, not only for the strategy but for the technique involved. When it comes to any game outside of horse racing, Chris' favorite sport is soccer and he loves the English Premier League. His team is Manchester United aka the Red Devils. "We're having a tough year, with a new manager and the team wasn't left in the best shape. There's some older players that need to retire, it's been a slow process." Chris thinks Manchester United will give team manager David Moyes a couple of years to figure things out. "Ferguson (Sir Alex Ferguson was the previous manager) has his back and picked him as his replacement. So they will give Moyes time to work things out." If you're planning to come over to his place to watch the Derby where rivals Manchester United and Manchester City square off, you better be wearing the right colors. No City fans allowed. Ok well, Chris being the nice guy he is may let you in but I think that's just the Canadian politeness poking through. Let's just say United fans only. With a laugh Chris says there's a driver/trainer at Flamboro Downs, Anthony Haughan, who gives Chris a hard time as Anthony is a supporter of another Manchester United rival, Liverpool. "He sent me about 5 messages yesterday about how bad my team is. We have a lot of fun with it." Chris says. Being the soccer fan he is Chris is cheering for England in the 2014 World Cup taking place in Brazil. "My mother is English... so I got to cheer for them. I think Germany has the best team this year and are probably the favorites and Brazil to." What's the one sporting event Chris has on his bucket list that he definitely wants to cross off? It's the World Cup. It's tough for him to go, because June is part of the peak season for horse racing, but when he retires, that's one of his first trips. So long as it's taking place somewhere warm! By Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

Brad Grant saw winning streaks come to an end last week for Apprentice Hanover and Wake Up Peter, but the harness racing owner is hoping his 4-year-old pacers will return to posting victories Saturday night. Wake Up Peter competes in the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Series final at Meadowlands Racetrack while Apprentice Hanover races in the second round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers. Also in action for Grant in the Levy is Word Power. Last week, Wake Up Peter saw his four-race win streak halted by a ninth-place finish in his second leg of the Hirt Series. Wake Up Peter, driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Larry Remmen, lost a shoe and went off stride from the second-over position on the final turn. "We were disappointed with his race last week, but you throw it out," Grant said. "Hopefully he'll have a good week." Wake Up Peter has won four of five starts this year and earned $34,250. He won his first-round division of the Hirt Series from post nine in 1:51.3 before losing from post one last week. He drew post 10 for the final. "He drew the inside and didn't have any luck, and the week before he won out of the (nine) hole, so maybe it's a sign," Grant said, laughing. Avatartist, who won both his preliminary divisions of the series, drew post two for the final for trainer Tony O'Sullivan and driver David Miller. O'Sullivan's Ontario Success, who also won a prelim, got post seven with driver John Campbell while Teresa's Beach, who won his second round of the Hirt, got post eight for trainer Johnny Waite and driver Bret Brittingham. At Yonkers on Saturday, Apprentice Hanover will race in the third of four $50,000 second-round Levy divisions. Apprentice Hanover saw a nine-race win streak halted last week by a dead-heat second-place finish behind Foiled Again. "We caught a nine-race win streak, and then you run into the wall," Grant said, with the "wall" being 10-year-old Foiled Again, who is the richest harness racing horse in North American history and the three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer. Apprentice Hanover, driven regularly by Jody Jamieson, won just two of his first 15 starts last year, but turned the corner for trainer Ben Wallace after being treated for an ulcer. "He had some health issues and he seems to be over them and responded well," Grant said. "Ben has worked hard at it; his people have worked hard at it. Jody brought him back carefully and drove him carefully. As much as it's good for me as an owner, it's nice to see their hard work rewarded. He's responded and hopefully he'll keep going." Apprentice Hanover will start from post one in his Levy division. His race also includes first-round winners Easy Again and Mach It So. Word Power, trained by Remmen and driven by Jamieson, will start from post four in his second round of the series. His split also includes first-round winner Bettor's Edge. Word Power finished fourth last week, beaten by three lengths by Mach It So, in his first start of the season. "I thought he could have done better the other night, but I understand because it was his first start out," Grant said. "Hindsight is a great thing; maybe if we had a race under his belt Jody would have gotten him into the race a little bit more. I thought we caught one of the lighter divisions that night and maybe it would have been a chance to take advantage of it, but it didn't work out that way. "I think the colt is competitive, but I don't think he matches up against some of the older veterans yet." Apprentice Hanover and Word Power have ample stakes schedules following the Levy Series while Wake Up Peter has the Whata Baron Series at the Meadowlands. "We're just going to race him around and see how it goes," Grant said about Wake Up Peter. "I don't think he's at the level of Apprentice or Word Power or the rest of the horses. He's a horse that this year we didn't plan on staking a lot. He's got one more series after this at the Meadowlands and really that's it for him." Wake Up Peter was winless in 19 races last year, but earned $307,091 while racing out of the stable of trainer Tony Alagna. Grant bought the horse in January. "I'd raced against him for the last two years and I always liked him," Grant said. "He comes out of a great barn and came to us in great shape. "He made a lot of money chasing horses, but he ain't going to make that kind of money chasing them anymore. He's got to get his confidence. Larry and Ray (Remmen) both feel this year we'll pick our spots and race him around and braven him up. Hopefully he'll get stronger and we'll see what next year brings." As for Apprentice Hanover, who has won 16 of 35 lifetime races and $597,105, and Word Power, who has won seven of 19 and banked $382,584, time will tell. "It's all going to depend how they perform as to how far we'll go with them," Grant said. "We're going to give them every opportunity, that's for sure. It's a tough transition year for a 4-year-old; the older horses are lasting longer, racing longer, racing better. "You've got The Captain (Captaintreacherous) coming back, you've got Vegas Vacation coming back, Sunshine Beach coming back, so there's a good crop of 4-year-olds out there plus the older horses that you've got to race against. It's going to be great racing for the fans. "This is a learning year for us. We're going to try to pick our spots and hopefully take home some of the spoils." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 22, 2014-That Foiled Again came out swinging in the opening round of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series shouldn't have come as a surprise...though some of the wagering public needed convincing. The now-10-year-old, who is richest Standardbred in the history of harness racing with more than $6 million in career earnings, began his season and a quest for a third Levy title, throwing down the gauntlet with a wire-to-wire win the last of five, $50,000 divisions. In play early from post position No. 6, Foiled Again as (along with entrymate Hillbilly Hanover) the 13-10 second choice, career win No. 77 couldn't have been less stressful. A Westchester waltz through fractions of :27.4, 57.1, 1:24.4 and 1:52.1 had him 2¾ lengths to the good at the wire. Meanwhile, Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson), the bully of Woodbine who hit town with nine consecutive wins (5-for-5 this season), was sent off as the 2-5 favorite. However, he made no effort to leave from post No. 3, and was forced to play catch-up. He moved from fourth and gained on Foiled Again, but lost any chance when he could not cleanly negotiate the last turn. Apprentice Hanover did recover to catch Hillbilly Hanover (George Brennan) in a dead-heat for second. Start No. 199 for the Dragon Again gelding increased his lifetime loot to $6,055,968. Ron Burke trains and co-owns (as Burke Racing) with Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables. He returned $4.70, with the exacta paying $6.70 and the triple returning $14.40. "I was somewhat surprised to Jody (Jamieson) did not leave, but honestly, I don't think it would have changed the outcome," Gingras said. "Foiled Again qualified back great, and I came here to win tonight. "(Foiled Again) has lost the opening round of the series the last couple of years, and that forced him to race in all legs to make the final. Our goal is race well enough the first few weeks of the (five) preliminaries, so he can steal a week off at some point before the (Apr.26) final. The night's fastest Levy event-and fastest local mile of the season-was turned by Easy Again (Brennan, $3.10), who popped pocket (from post No. 5) before the three-quarters, then strolled home by 3¾ lengths in 1:51.3 (early fractions of :26.3, :55.4 and 1:23.2). Malak Uswaad N (Brian Sears) grabbed second, with P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) third. For Easy Again, a 5-year-old Dragon Again ridgling co-owned (and trained) by Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 and Panhellenic Stables, it was his third win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $18, with the triple returning $112. "At the five-eighths, I could see Ron (Pierce's) horse (Eddie Sweat) was done, so I moved," Brennan said. "He finished very well." The evening's other trio of Levy events were won by... --Mach it So,g,4 (by Mach Three); owner Bamond Racing/trainer P J Fraley/driver Tim Tetrick; 1:52.1/$19; --Bettor's Edge,g,5 (by Bettor's Delight); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,M1 Stb/driver Brennan; 1:52.4/$2.60 (POE); --Itrustyou,g,6 (by Third Straight); co-owners (as Burke Racing, trainer) Burke,Weaver Bruscemi,RTC Stbs/driver Gingras; 1:52.4/$5.50 (POE). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Saturday, March 22nd will begin the six week long, Legends vs. Phenoms Drivers Challenge. Each race on the next five Saturday programs will be a part of the Challenge, with the following format. · The driver with the most points accumulated for each team will win a $2,000 bonus. · Points are accrued as follows: o Win - 10 points o 2nd - 9 points o 3rd - 8 points o 4th - 7 points o 5th - 6 points o 6th - 5 points o 7th - 4 points o 8th - 3 points o 9th - 2 points o 10th-12th - 1 point On the sixth Saturday, April 26th, the top 5 point earners for The Legends and the top 5 point earners for The Phenoms from the first five weeks will qualify for the Final, where the Overall winner will win $15,000, the runner-up will receive $5,000, third place will receive $3,000 and fourth through tenth will each receive $1,000. For purposes of this coming Saturday, March 22nd, the drivers will be divided as follows: Legends: Dave Miller, Andy Miller, Jody Jamieson and Jim Morrill Jr. Phenoms: Scott Zeron, Tony Hall, Tyler Smith, Joe Bongiorno, Jim Meittinis, Vincent Ginsburg , Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smtih, Eric Abbatiello and all other drivers on the card. The Drivers Challenge will take place each Saturday through April 26th. Darin Zoccali

This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series opening legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. This is the opening event of the 2014 Grand Circuit season. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features four $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 21) in the first round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 22) card at Yonkers will see five $50,000 divisions in the opening round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Defending champion Feeling You competes in the third division of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and 2012 champ Rocklamation races in the first. Anndrovette, the three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer, is in the second division. Former Dan Patch Award winners Economy Terror, who was named best 2-year-old filly pacer in 2011, and Somwherovrarainbow, who earned the same honor in 2012, also are racing in the first round. Million-dollar-earners Camille, Handsoffmycookie, Krispy Apple, and Royal Cee Cee N add depth in the field of 29 Matchmaker hopefuls entered Friday. A total of 36 (of the 47) series eligibles are in to go in the opening round of the George Morton Levy. Ten of the entrants carry the hope and dreams of trainer Ron Burke, including the season-debuting Foiled Again. Foiled Again, the richest pacer in history, leads a field of 36 into the opening round of the Levy. Twice a Levy champion and twice (including last season) a bridesmaid, the sport's $6,030,968 ageless wonder makes his 199th career start. The 10-year-old Dragon Again gelding, co-owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables, landed post position six in the final event, with Yannick Gingras doing the honors. He draws in with the red-hot Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson, post three), the scourge of Ontario who has won nine consecutive races (five-for-five this season). Ben Wallace trains the 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere for owner Brad Grant. Burke and P J Fraley (six entered in the opening round) each have coupled entries in the second division, where double-millionaire Sweet Lou (Gingras, post five) makes his 5-year-old debut for Burke. Doctor Butch, last season's Art Rooney Pace champ at Yonkers, commences his 4-year-old season in the fourth division. Tim Tetrick drives for owner Ken Jacobs and trainer Linda Toscano. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next four weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 26. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 18, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's six-week Free-For-All foray, better known as the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series Matchmaker, begins Saturday night. Thirty-six (of the 47) series eligibles are in to go, resulting in five, $50,000, opening-round divisions. They go as races 2.4,5,9 and 11 on the 12-race card. Ten of the entrants carry the hope and dreams of trainer Ron Burke, including the season-debuting Foiled Again. Twice a Levy champion and twice (including last season) a bridesmaid, the sport's six-million-dollar ($6,030,968) ageless wonder makes his 199th career start. The 10-year-old Dragon Again gelding, co-owned (as Burke Racing) by his trainer, along with Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables, landed post position No. 6 in the final event, with Yannick Gingras doing the honors. He draws in with the red-hot Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson, post 3), the scourge of Ontario who has won nine consecutive races (5-for-5 this season). Ben Wallace trains the 4-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere for owner Brad Grant. Burke and P J Fraley (six entered in the opening round) each have coupled entries in the second division, where double-millionaire Sweet Lou (Gingras, post 5) makes his 5-year-old debut. "Lou" ended his 2013 season with a handy win in an Open Handicap here. Doctor Butch, a statebred standout and last season's Art Rooney Pace champ, commences his 4-year-old season in the fourth division. Tim Tetrick drives for owner Ken Jacobs and trainer Linda Toscano. Tuesday Pick 5 pays off $231 for $.50 cent wager Yonkers Raceway’s Tuesday Pick 5 had many fans investing with many fists on Tuesday. A $25,000 guaranteed pool—fortified with a $7,500 carryover—attracted $38,283 of fresh lettuce. The winning combination of  1-A Stitch in Time ($3) 2-Wilcox ($2.60) 5-Kehmywood ($13.60) 3-Cole Heat ($2.90) 1-Grantor Hanover ($7.60) paid $231 for every half-a-buck. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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