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It's hard to believe but today (down under, tomorrow in North America) harness racing's www.harnesslink.com celebrates its 17th birthday.  Harnesslink is the brainchild of international horse agent, John Curtin (J.C. International), who 17 years ago saw a need for a world-wide harness racing website that put online the latest harness racing news from around the globe. John says, "Our policy is to keep improving every single day - 365 days of the year. We have staff working every day of the year to bring you all the latest harness racing news from every corner of the world. When Harnesslink launched in 2002 there were only four harness racing websites on the internet, so we've been in a unique position to have watched the harness racing community embrace the technological world during this time. It has been our pleasure to keep harness racing fans around the world informed of what is happening within our sport. We are projected to have over 3 million unique IP users in 2019, which will make Harnesslink the world’s most read harness racing site. "We will also have some blockbuster improvements to our website shortly," Curtin added.  We are still looking for ways to improve and provide you, our customers, with better coverage throughout the world, we continously strive to do this! We currently have more than 170,000 photos in our library and over 250,000 articles. If any of our readers have a worthy news item, please feel free to send it to news@harnesslink.com and we will do our best, as always, to print your article. We'd like to thank all of you for coming back regularly to read Harnesslink, if you're reading this you're obviously one of our faithful followers and we thank you. From the staff at Harnesslink

RINGOSTAR TREB WINS ELITLOPPET FINAL; BOLD EAGLE MAKES BREAK IN FIRST HEAT

As we are into another breeding season in New Zealand, our breeders are yet again being left to fend for themselves in a market which is slowly killing off it participants. The number of live foals born each season continues to drop and the viability of the industry as we know it is in real doubt. Anyone reading the Harness Racing New Zealand board notes will know that this issue has been high on their agenda for a few years now but what action have they taken to date - Zero The time is well past for having another committee meeting about it and for action to be taken. One only has to look over the Tasman to see what can be done to help breeders and try to halt the annual reduction in mares bred. Harness Racing New South Wales have had the "Colonial Stallion" fee in place for a while now. Any breeder in New South Wales who breeds to a colonial bred sire receives a $500 rebate off the service fee paid for by Harness Racing New South Wales. This week the Harness Racing New South Wales Club (the equivalent of NZMTC) announced they would pay for the registration of all foals born in New South Wales from this years breeding season. And both HRNSW and the HRNSWC are working together to bring more initiatives to fruition to help the average breeder stay in the industry. As I have discussed previously there are so many alternative schemes to help breeders stay in the industry and these are prevalent all over the world. Just not in New Zealand. As we progress into the smaller crops that have been bred in the last few years, some clubs are going to struggle to attract enough horses to hold a race meeting. The time for action is well past but I don't hold out much hope for any positive moves on this matter going by the performance of HRNZ to date. JC

Harness racing in New Zealand is in a real bind in our opinion and unless our leaders do something very quickly then we could very easily become a "sunset industry" in this country. The breeding figures for the just completed breeding season are now available and the annual decline in mares bred continues unabated with the decline looking to be in the region of 7.5%. This decline has been evident for well over a decade now and if it is not stopped our industry as it is presently structured will cease to exist. We are not saying the harness racing industry as we know it, will disappear but its shape and form will look nothing like what we have at present. That is the cold hard reality we face when the number of foals bred cannot possibly meet the needs of a racing programme set up for foal crops of nearly double what we are going to now produce. A lot of short sighted people have claimed repeatedly that we are only getting rid of the poorer performed mares each year and that the decline is nothing to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the continuing decline we are seeing it is only a matter of time before the ability of some clubs to conduct meetings will be severely compromised. Regional areas of New Zealand that rely on horses from other provinces will be the first to feel the pinch in our view. We already have a situation in the thoroughbred code where they are absent from some provincial areas in New Zealand where they use to be strong and we think that harness racing will go that way as well if the breeding numbers continue to decline. Many point to the yearling sales as a guide to how healthy the industry is but it only represents 20% of our industry and while good for morale it can't change the basic premise that harness racing is an industry in rapid decline. The strength of harness racing in New Zealand has always been the fantastic spread of our industry throughout the country. In other words the grassroots of our industry has always been our strength. If that base was to be severely weakened, then the whole structure becomes vulnerable.  There are numerous methods used overseas to help the breeder stay in the industry and we have covered these in depth in previous articles. Harness Racing New Zealand and the New Zealand Racing Board have been strangely silent on solutions for this complex problem. There has been plenty of hand wringing and platitudes but no plan of action to help breeders stay in the industry. Time is of the essence in this matter and the longer we dither before doing something, the more chance that the intervention will be too little too late. JC

Last week was on the up  for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8   Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon  Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2  Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson -  Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8   Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9   Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line.   Harnesslink Media

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

Last week threw up four winners with Maurice McKendry, James Stormont, Blair Orange and Matthew Williamson tipping out winners why six others were in the money which is not a bad effort. This week we have three meetings again and hopefully we have again passed on the good oil. Cambridge - Thursday night Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green in race 4 will be very hard to beat. Sean McCaffrey - Confident that stable runner Strawberry Miss will go close in race 5 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Huxwell back left handed is a big chance in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Looking for David Butcher to strike with Bute Mach in race 7 Peter Scaife - Bad draw and all,rates Mach Cullen a good chance in race 7  Tony Herlihy - Likes Downunder Stride to make a winning debut in race 8   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thinks Gyrate is overdue to win a race and is a big chance in race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes Indiana Jones in race 4 after last week's great run Ricky May - Sticking with Crackapaca in race 5 after her huge run last week Gerald O'Reilly - Very keen on Zin Zan in race 6 after his big finish last week Blair Orange - Rates Oasis Dream a winning chance in race 10   Oamaru - Sunday Cran Dalgety - Thinks stable runner Uaintseennothinyet is a big chance in race 2 Matthew Williamson - Is very keen on Smokin Bird making it two from two in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Rates Tas Man Bromac a big chance to upset Smokin Bird in the same race Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox is a big chance in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Sterns Arising a chance to go three in a row in race 8   Harnesslink Media

When I talk to overseas harness racing administrators, trainers and owners on my travels and we discuss the management and governance structures of our respective countries and whether they are delivering the best results for participants in our industry, I am frequently having to defend the structure and management of the industry in New Zealand. Northern Hemisphere people struggle to see how you can run harness racing in 2014 with a structure and governance that is a relic of a different time. Northern Hemisphere tracks are owned by either wealthy individuals or companies and they make all the decisions with regards to their tracks. This gives them the ability to adapt their programs and race structure to suit their immediate needs or those of the stakeholders who operate at their tracks. These tracks live or die on the strength of their product and  they try at all times to deliver a superior product to their customers.  As with any structure, there are issues and conflicts but in the main they do a far better job of selling and marketing harness racing to the general public than we do here in New Zealand. Over a period of time I have come to the conclusion that they have a far better management and governance structure than the Southern Hemisphere does. I have given up defending the structure of harness racing in New Zealand and have become a strong advocate for major change in how our industry is governed. How can it be in 2014 that we have a system of governance for our industry that is manifestly inappropriate for a business in the 21st century.  Currently we have a system that is controlled by the trotting clubs of New Zealand. Any major changes to the administration or structure of  ANYTHING  within the trotting industry requires the approval of a majority of those clubs. They meet once a year which means change within the industry happens at a glacial pace. The Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand can tinker at the edges but for anything major they need to take the proposal to the annual meeting of trotting clubs for their approval. Can you imagine any business in 2014 being able to survive and prosper if they were unable to adapt to changing trends and challenges in their business on a regular basis due to the necessity to wait for a once a year meeting for approval. If you speak as I do regularly do to a  lot of the successful businessmen who are involved in the harness racing industry in New Zealand, you quickly appreciate how frustrated they are at the inability to change what many see as a dysfunctional governance and management structure. Both the Auckland and New Zealand Metro trotting clubs have made massive gains in recent years in how they structure and manage their business due to the influence of several successful businessmen on their respective boards. But there is so much more they would like to do both now and in the future but are hamstrung to a certain extent by the current management and governance structure.  So what should any new management and governance structure look like.  First and foremost the clubs should concentrate on what they do best, running their clubs and their race meetings in a professional and profitable manner. That is what they were originally set up to do and most do an exemplary job. But any governance or leadership role in the management structure of harness racing in New Zealand should be withdrawn. The management of the day to day running of harness racing  should remain as it is now. Harness Racing New Zealand employees do a sterling job implementing the current policies and strategies of the industry as set by the executive and we are lucky to have them. The current executive and clubs structure should be replaced by a board that has industry representatives but also has a much stronger business focus and expertise. An eight member board with five business orientated members who have a knowledge of the harness racing industry along with one representative from each of  the three industry groups that have a large monetary investment in the industry; 1)                  Owners 2)                  Breeders 3)                  Trainers/Drivers  Should this board be elected by industry participants or be a mixture of elected /appointed members is something for wiser heads than mine. However the details of how a structure such as this would evolve need to be carefully developed so we don't harm the industry we are trying to help.   Now I can hear the screams emanating from some quarters but I also know from having already had this discussion with many of the major players in the New Zealand Industry that there is a broad consensus on the need for structural change. People involved in the harness racing industry are some of the most passionate people you would  ever come across. Why would you work in this industry with its long hours in any weather if it wasn't for a genuine love of what you were doing. We have some fantastic people in the harness racing industry in New Zealand who do a wonderful job of promoting our sport to the wider public and we have a great racing product that is in my view as good as anywhere in the world. What we don't have is a governance structure that lets this industry flourish. Just have a look at the last twenty years and see how much this industry has changed and progressed. Frozen Semen and Shuttle Stallions have opened our industry up to the very best stallions available worldwide with a result that our equine product has closed the gap enormously with the Northern Hemisphere product. Trackside has taken our racing product to a much wider audience throughout Australasia. Betting options have expanded and harness racing clubs have diversified their income streams. The only thing that has NOT changed for several generations are our governance structures. I have spoken to several government ministers about this issue and the message is always the same. Any change to the present structures must come from WITHIN the industry itself. If this industry is to truly reach its potential and maximize its returns to its stakeholders, then we need a governance structure that is more applicable to the 21st century and not the 19th century. I therefore invite any like minded people who hold a similar view to my own to contact me to see if there is a way we can progress this matter further.  John Curtin JC International jdci@harnesslink.com

For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

Funeral arrangements have been set for longtime harness racing owner/breeder/trainer/driver Joseph Muscara, who died Monday, July 7, at age 90. John Curtin, longtime friend and business associate of Joseph Muscara, is flying in from New Zealand to give the eulogy. Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing on Sunday, July 13, from 7-9 p.m. at The Lamb Funeral Home, 101 Byberry Rd., Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Viewing will also be at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Knowles Rd and 2nd Street Pike, Southampton, Pa. 18966, on Monday, July 14, from 10-10:30 a.m., immediately followed by his Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. His Interment will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one's choice. (With files from Harnessracing.com)

Surrounded by his extended family in his home outside of Philadelphia, Pa, harness racing veteran owner and former trainer/driver, Joseph Muscara, passed away Monday at age 90. Muscara has been involved in harness racing since the early 1970’s. Running his stable at Liberty Bell Park, he was one of the first in the Standardbred business to begin exporting race horses from Australia and New Zealand on a regular basis. In the mornings he would be out at his stable at Liberty Bell Park training horses and by the afternoon he was running his very successful real estate development and construction company in Philadelphia. “There is no one in the harness racing business world-wide who has purchased and imported more horses from down under to the United States than Joe Muscara,” said longtime friend and business associate, John Curtin, who came in from New Zealand just two weeks ago to see Joe. “Over the last 40 years he has spent millions of dollars on horses from down under and for the most part has done extremely well with many of them.” The Muscara Standardbred Stable and Muscara Racing Trust, with his sons also involved in the business, have also faired very well with racing and purchasing horses in North America also. Muscara Standardbred currently have three world champion stallions in Mach Three, Art Official and Mister Big, and recently purchased half interest in the 2013 Dan Patch award winning two-year-old pacer of the year, He’s Watching and also own part of A Rocknroll Dance. They currently have 20 race horses with trainer Darren Cassar and they still import horses from down under. Recent winners include Dream Out Loud N, Ginger Spice N and Erle Dale N. Joe Muscara had purchased Mister Big for $250,000 at the Harrisburg horse sale and he went on to win $4 million. He’s Watching, who Muscara Trust purchased half interest in this past winter, is one of the favorites this Saturday to win the prestigious $776,000 Meadowlands Pace. “I remember one of the first horses he ever owned named Dream Volo,” said Robert Muscara, “And my dad was the leading owner/trainer at Liberty Bell back then in 1970 and that horse really helped him get his career going. He would rather work the horses than work in the construction business. “He first got his USTA license in 1970 and over his career he owned thousands of horses that made millions of dollars,” Robert Muscara said. “He was the most prolific importer of horses from New Zealand and Australia in the history of harness racing. And he always cut out the dead wood. If a horse was not earning his keep Dad would drop him in class until he could win or he got rid of them. “He was very pleased this past weekend when he saw He’s Watching win his elimination division of the Meadowlands Pace in 1:48.1,” Robert Muscara said. “He was really hoping that this horse could win him his second Meadowlands Pace. He won his first Meadowlands Pace with Mach Three in 2002.” Joe's daughter Cheryl remembered her father recently at his 90th birthday party and had reminded him about one of his special birthdays years ago, "It was 50 years ago today we will always remember your birthday when you turned 40....it was when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and we all watched the show at your birthday party." Details are pending for the funeral arrangements and will be posted when available. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

PUT ON A SHOW’S FILLY GETS A NAME

Surrounded by family and friends from as far away as New Zealand, harness racing veteran Joseph Muscara celebrates his 90th birthday on Monday. A big party was held on Sunday in his home in Huntington Valley outside of Philadelphia, PA. Although not in good health he was pleased to have family and friends with him for the milestone event. And the celebration got underway a little early as his pacer, Montana Pablo A, scored an upset win at odds of 17-1 Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway. Muscara has been involved in harness racing since the early 1970’s. Running his stable at Liberty Bell Park he was one of the first in the Standardbred business to begin exporting race horses from Australia and New Zealand on a regular basis. In the mornings he would be out at his stable at Liberty Bell Park training horses and by afternoon he was running his very successful real estate development and construction company in Philadelphia. “There is no one in the harness racing business world-wide who has purchased and imported more horses from down under to the United States than Joe Muscara,” said long time friend and business associate, John Curtin, who came in from New Zealand to celebrate Joe’s 90th birthday. “Over the last 40 years he has spent millions of dollars on horses from down under and for the most part has done extremely well with many of them.” But the Muscara Standardbred Stable and Muscara Racing Trust, with his sons also involved in the business, have also faired very well with racing and purchasing horses in North America also. Muscara Standardbred currently has three world champion stallions in Mach Three, Art Official and Mister Big, recently purchased half interest in the undefeated two-year-old pacer, He’s Watching and own part of A Rocknroll Dance. They currently have 20 race horses with trainer Darin Cassar and they still import horses from down under. Recent winners include Dream Out Loud N, Ginger Spice N and Erle Dale N. Joe's daughter Cheryl reminded her father, "It was 50 years ago today we will always remember your birthday when you turned 40....it was when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and we all watched the show at your birthday party." Happy 90th birthday to Joe Muscara and hopefully many more winners down the road. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com  

The Tony Herlihy trained Irish Whisper wasn’t supposed to be able to be beat Stent in the Group One feature but the “Iceman” as Herlihy is known certainly drove the six year old by Sundon as though he thought he could. With The Fiery Ginga setting a strong tempo in front early Herlihy launched his charge inside the final 1500 metres to lead. At this stage favourite Stent was settled 2nd to last with the strong pace on. As they passed the 550 metre mark Colin De Filippi sent Stent forward and most would have predicted him to whoosh on by which he did but to Irish Whispers  credit he fought back to win by a nose. “That was a brave run, he had to be good today and he was” said an almost out of breath trainer/driver Tony Harley. “Stag came around and made me work a bit and then Stent went passed me but he fought back, it was a very good run” Owned by Murray Norman Irish Whisper is fast returning the big price tag that was paid for him some 14 months ago when the deal was negotiated by bloodstock agent from Auckland John Curtin. Irish Whisper trotted the 2700m mobile in 3.22.33 a mile rate of 2.00.6 with his last quarter in 29.8. Stent was gallant in defeat with Dr Hook running third there was some distance back to the fourth horse Boizel who was 10 lengths away. Herlihy has now won the feature Group One on no less than five occasions. Justin Le Lievre

New Zealand Cup runner up Fly Like An Eagle has soared into Sydney and will attempt to qualify for the Miracle Mile by winning Saturday night's Cordina Sprint at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Trainer Paul Fitzpatrick welcomed the Kaikoura Cup winner into his stable on Tuesday and is hoping for a strong showing this weekend. "I can't really do much in such a short time, I have had a good chat with former trainer Mark Purdon and he has given me a good idea of what I am dealing with, he has joined my stable in peak form," Fitzpatrick said. "Something similar happened with Auckland Reactor during his career, unfortunately not everything went to plan with him but after Fly Like An Eagle drew so well on Saturday night I'm expecting a pretty big effort." Fitzpatrick confirmed that he knew for nearly a fortnight that Fly Like An Eagle would be joining his stable for a shot at the Miracle Mile. "The horse has been bought to send to America and John Curtin is the agent for the sale, he spoke with me a couple of weeks ago and mentioned there was a possibility that Fly Like An Eagle would be coming across, I'm not too sure how long he will stay here for but I think they might be keen to target some of the bigger Victorian races as well." Meanwhile Fitzpatrick is hoping Lous Lad can continue on his winning way this weekend after scoring back to back victories since resuming from a break. "I hadn't really planned on a Miracle Mile campaign with him because he has always just been below the very best ones but I'm really pleased with how he has come back since the spell and in the back of my mind has always been the Bohemia Crystal Free For All on Miracle Mile night." "He hasn't taken any harm from the run on Saturday night on the wet track, his recovery was very good but it is going to mean that he will have four runs in the space of four weeks." Courtesy of Harness Racing New South Wales  

Harnesslink announced today that Chris Tully, a well-known harness racing insider, has added the role of Social Media Director for Harnesslink.com to his growing list of duties.  Tully, a recent MBA graduate and marketing manager, is well-versed in all aspects of Standardbred harness racing, including sales, breeding, racing and industry promotion. Over the course of his 40 years of involvement in the sport, Tully has been an auction company executive, racetrack manager, amateur driving champion, trainer, owner, pedigree reader, yearling sales ring handler and sales agent. Harnesslink.com’s founder and CEO, John Curtin noted, “We are very excited to have someone as energetic and knowledgeable as Chris Tully to head-up our social media department. Social Media is one of the fastest growing components of our digital platform.  His diverse skill set and vast experience will give Harnesslink a trustworthy content source for our expanding Twitter, Facebook , YouTube and Instagram presence.” Tully began working with horses at his father, Hall of Famer Phil Tully’s breeding farm, Woodstock Stud in Bethel, NY, when he was just eight years old.  He started out painting fences, mowing and weed trimming, during his youth and over time worked his way into the barn, cleaning stalls, feeding broodmares, and ultimately grooming yearlings for the sales. Over his formative years, Chris rubbed horses for George Gilmour at Monticello Raceway and Hall of Famer Jim Doherty at the Meadowlands.  After attending Morrisville College, Tully then worked for his father’s successful auction sales company, Garden State Standardbred performing data entry. Eventually, his pre-internet-era innovations with pedigree production helped elevate him to the position of Sales Manager. He then tried his hand at amateur driving, and soon found himself in the winner’s circle for five legs and the final of the popular CKG Billings Harness Drivers Series that helped him earn the United States Harness Writers Association Amateur Driver of the Year honors in 1993. Currently, Tully is handling the marketing efforts for Winners Circle Blueberries, ensuring that the five million packages sold annually worldwide have a prominent picture of a champion racehorse and a QR code linking back to the firm’s webpage and harness racing industry sites.  In addition, he coordinates the various harness racing promotions that the Bill Augustine supports, such as race sponsorship, HHYF philanthropy, amateur driving, and race program advertising. Tully served for nine years as a director for District 8 (Upstate NY) for the United States Trotting Association, and was also the General Manager of Goshen Historic Track. Tully is currently the national first vice president of the United States Harness Writers Association, and has been the Monticello-Goshen Chapter’s president for the last decade.  In addition, Tully is a popular graphic artist and is responsible for the design and production of the Dan Patch Awards journal, as well as the Hall of Fame Souvenir journal and the Harness Racing Museum gift catalog. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com

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