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CAMPBELLVILLE, October 10 - The annual Ontario Sired Autumn Series got underway Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack with harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies squaring off. Sheer Talent rallied from off the pace to defeat nine rivals in the $16,000 first leg for driver Jonathan Drury and trainer Carmen Auciello. The lead changed hands several times during the early stages of Monday's contest. Sports Leader, who was parked for three-eighths, finally cleared to the front ahead of Manhattan Play, the even-money favourite, and led the field by the half :56.4. Manhattan Play popped the pocket and circled back to command on the far turn to pace by three-quarters in 1:27. Sheer Talent, who got away eighth, got into the outer flow on the far turn and sat third-over, five lengths from the front turning for home. Daenerys Hanover, who was first up at three-quarters, pressed at Manhattan Play in the lane, while Sports Leader was also in the mix. However, Sheer Talent had the most pace of any filly in the lane and rocketed by on the far outside to win by a length and a quarter in 1:56.2. Daenerys Hanover finished second, while Sports Leader finished half a length ahead of Manhattan Play for third. A daughter of Badlands Hanover, Sheer Talent now has three wins in 10 starts this season. The rookie pacing filly was purchased for $20,000 at last year's Forest City Yearling Sale and has banked $29,700 in her first season for owner Robert Burgess. A $2 win ticket on Sheer Talent returned $8. In order to be eligible to the Ontario Sired Autumn Series, the two-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $30,000 as of September 30, 2016. The rookie pacing fillies will meet up again next Monday (October 17) for round two. Autumn Series action continues Tuesday with two first round divisions for two-year-old trotting fillies. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 4 - Candlelight Dinner appears to be on the path to stardom after another fabulous harness racing performance in the Whenuwishuponastar Series final Thursday at Mohawk Racetrack. The Casie Coleman trained filly was clearly the horse to beat in Thursday's final after an outstanding six length victory in the opening leg. A field of eight went behind the gate for the $39,800 event with $75,759 of the $83,172 in the Win pool wagered on Candlelight Dinner. The American Ideal filly didn't appear to break a sweat, as she jogged to a five length victory in 1:52.2. Driven by Jonathan Drury, Candlelight Dinner got away fifth, before making a brush to the front at the half in :56.3. The Coleman trainee made a :27.2 third-quarter look easy, before cruising home in :28.2 for the victory. Black Jack Pat, who won the second leg, finished second, while Moment To Ponder was third. A $110,000 purchase at last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Candlelight Dinner is now three for three to start her career for owners Mac Nichol, Let It Ride Stable and Howard Taylor. "Right from the get-go she has just been a sweetheart," said Coleman. "She got a little hot on me like most American Ideal's can, but we taught her out of that right away, that's why J.D.'s (Jonathan Drury) been racing her the way he is. "He's handled her really well, teaching her how to race when she is a dead favourite." Through three starts, Candlelight Dinner's smallest margin of victory is four and a half lengths. Coleman noted that the filly will be aimed towards the upcoming Grand Circuit events at Mohawk. "I have no plans to take her to New York for Sires Stakes," Coleman said. "She'll have a week off and then she is in the four stakes in a row here with the Eternal Camnation, (Shes A) Great Lady and stuff like that." Candlelight Dinner's Whenuwishuponastar victory gives Coleman two victories in the last three editions of the event, as Happy Becky captured the 2014 edition for the five-time O'Brien Award winning Trainer of the Year. Candlelight Dinner While the Whenuwishuponastar Series concluded Thursday, the Define The World Series got underway. A scratched down field of five rookie trotting colts and geldings met up for the $14,000 first leg. Tom Durand trainee Seven And Seven powered by a pair of rivals in deep stretch for a 1:57.4 victory. The son of Chapter Seven followed along closely, as Cant U Spell led the compact group through fractions of :29.4, 1:00.2 and 1:29.1 In the stretch, the favourite Awol Hanover came off the back of the leader looking to score the victory, but Seven And Seven had the most trot on the far outside and got up for trainer/driver Durand to win by a length. A $17,000 purchase at last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Seven And Seven is owned by June & Tom Durand and Allan Smith. The rookie trotting colt was making his second career start Thursday after a fourth place finish in his debut on July 14. Seven And Seven The second leg of the Define The World Series will take place next Thursday (August 11). Live racing continues Friday evening at Mohawk. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

JULY 23, 2016 - Reigning division and North America Cup champion Betting Line captured his sixth straight harness racing victory in the second of two $105,000 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series divisions at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening. Starting from Post 8 in a skirmish that also featured the number one and two point earners in the three-year-old pacing colt division, Magnum J and Sintra, Betting Line eased away from the starting gate and watched from sixth as Magnum J and Arsenic duelled to a :26.3 opening quarter. Magnum J was still in control at the :55.2 half, but Semi Automatic, Sintra and Betting Line had shifted into the outer lane and were threatening by the 1:22.1 three-quarters. Rolling off the turn driver Jonathan Drury of Guelph shifted Betting Line into overdrive and, in spite of a few wonky steps, the colt laid down a :26.4 final quarter to claim his sixth straight victory and second straight in Gold Series action. Sintra was three lengths back in second and Magnum J held on for third in the 1:50 mile. "We're not exactly sure what he did just quite yet," said trainer Casie Coleman of Betting Line's awkward stretch drive. "JD (Drury) said he couldn't have felt any better, he was just jogging, and he never spoke to him, just sitting there on him like a passenger and all of a sudden he just got all out of gear. "We don't see anything on the track, and I don't see any marks on him where he touched himself or nothing, and JD said once he gathered him out of it he was perfect and pulled up good," Coleman continued. "It's kind of a head scratcher for us, but he has had a tendency in the past, when he gets all by himself alone on the front he just kind of looks at stuff - that's why he wears that big shadow roll - but every once in a while he sees something. He did do it right at the wire in the Somebeachsomewhere, not near as bad as that tonight, but yeah, I wish we could, obviously, 110 per cent correct whatever that problem is, but we really don't know." Overall Coleman was very pleased with the way Betting Line raced in his first start since having a splint treated in early July. "I was really, really happy with the way he was steering tonight," said the Cambridge resident, who shares ownership of Betting Line with Ross Warriner of Burlington, Christine Calhoun of Chatham and Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON. "That splint actually took me almost two weeks before I could even train him." The son of Bettor's Delight and Heathers Western will enjoy one more week of relative leisure before his schedule shifts into high gear. Following the fourth Gold Series Leg at Georgian Downs on August 7, Betting Line heads to Northfield Park for the August 13 Carl Milstein Memorial, followed by the Battle of Brandywine at Pocono Downs on August 20. The final Gold Leg goes postward Sept. 7 at Mohawk and the Campbellville oval also hosts the Simcoe Stake on Sept. 10, before Betting Line heads back to the U.S.A. for the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 22. "He gets pretty busy now, so I was glad to be able to give him a little bit of a break, in this little gap," said Coleman of the winner of $1,224,922. "He needed that time." Betting Line Betting Line will be joined in the Carl Milstein Memorial by his Ontario rival Sintra, who has also been invited to the August 13 event. "Instead of being a 'paid into' event, this year it's an invitational and Sintra's been invited to that, so that's going to fit pretty big on his radar," said trainer Dave Menary of the Mach Three colt he owns in partnership with Brad Gray of Dundas and Michael Guerriero of Brampton, ON. While Sintra settled for his second runner-up finish behind Betting Line, his stablemate Nvestment Bluechip took home the Gold Series trophy from the first division. Starting from Post 5 driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat fired Nvestment Bluechip off the gate and reached the opening quarter in :26.3. The pair then settled in behind fan favourite Gerries Sport, who led the field to a :55 half and 1:23.3 three-quarters. Jamieson tipped Nvestment Bluechip out as the colts turned for home and the Shadow Play son was able to reel in the favourite and grab his first win of the season in a personal best equalling 1:51.1. Gerries Sport finished a neck back in second and Nocturnal Bluechip was three-quarters of a length back in third. "Tonight's, I think, a pick me up for the horse and our ownership group, and Jody and I," said Menary. "I mean he was supposed to be the star of the barn this year, where Sintra's had the limelight so far. "He come back so good, and maybe he got thrown to the wolves a little bit early," added the trainer. "He was in pretty tough, and he had the odd bad post, and nothing really lined up, but the money's in the bank, he's a good horse and hopefully this is a step in the right direction, that he's turned the corner." The win was the first in seven sophomore starts for Nvestment Bluechip, who won four of 11 outings at two, including three Gold Legs and his Champlain Stakes division, in addition to finishing second in the Super Final and third in the Breeders Crown. "He was just a good horse, he just did it week-in-week-out. He did it on the five-eighths, seven-eighths, he did it in the pocket, off the pace, locked in, on the front end," said Menary. "Now, there's so many good horses. When you're two you're able to win a little bit slower, you can get by with a few flaws and little bit of bad luck, but when you're three they can all go so fast, there's so many good horses, you can't get by with bad luck or flaws." Cambridge resident Menary shares ownership of Nvestment Bluechip with Michael Guerriero of Brampton, Denis Breton of Welland and Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON. Saturday's win boosted the colt's lifetime earnings to $452,303 and he will be looking to pad that total further when the three-year-old pacing colt titans gather for the fourth time on August 7 at Georgian Downs. Nvestment Bluechip The Ontario Sires Stakes returns to Mohawk on Monday, July 25 with Gold Series action for the two-year-old trotting colts. The colts will make their second Gold Series appearance in Races 2, 3, and 8, with the Campbellville oval's first race rolling in behind the starting gate at 7:30 pm. Ontario Racing

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 21 - Art Major filly Candlelight Dinner turned in an impressive six-length victory in the opening leg of the Whenuwishuponastar harness racing series Thursday at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of seven rookie pacing fillies met up for the $14,000 first leg of the Whenuwishuponastar. The annual series has produced many top fillies, including last year's winner L A Delight. Casie Coleman trainee Candlelight Dinner entered the opening round off a strong 1:54.1 victory in her career debut July 5. With a strong debut to go with a pair of impressive qualifiers, the betting public made the Art Major filly 1/9. Driven by Jonathan Drury, Candlelight Dinner left from post five and was unhurried into the first turn. The Coleman trainee was parked around the opening bend, but cleared to the front with ease before three-eighths. After reaching the half in :58.3, Candlelight Dinner surrendered the lead to a blasting Touching Thought, who paced up from sixth to first. The new leader's time on the front end was short-lived, as Drury angled the heavy-favourite to the outside at the three-quarter pole in 1:27. Retaking the lead at the top of the lane, Candlelight Dinner pulled away from her rivals with ease and cruised home in :27.2 for a 1:54.2 victory. Black Jack Pat, who sat on the back of the favourite, finished second. Moment To Ponder was third, while Touching Thought dropped back to finish fourth. A Lexington Selected Yearling Sale graduate, Candlelight Dinner was purchased for $110,000 last fall. She is the eighth foal out of Jate Lobell mare Time N Again and a full-sister to millionaire pacing mare Romantic Moment. Candlelight Dinner is owned by Mac Nichol, Let It Ride Stables Inc., and Howard Taylor. She now has two wins in two starts and $14,000 in earnings. The second round of the Whenuwishuponastar Series will take place next Thursday (July 28). Live racing continues Friday night at Mohawk. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Betting Line returned to Ontario Sires Stakes action at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday night and the North America Cup champion powered to a one and one-quarter length Gold Series victory in 1:49.4. Starting from Post 4, driver Jonathan Drury of Guelph, ON eased Betting Line away from the starting gate and settled into fourth as Nocturnal Bluechip and Sintra sprinted out to a :26.3 opening quarter. Heading for the :55.1 half Drury and Betting Line advanced up the outside on Sintra and driver Jody Jamieson, but Jamieson put his foot on the accelerator and Drury opted to hold his position rather than battle for the front end. Sintra led the field to the 1:22.3 three-quarters, but Betting Line was able to power by the pacesetter in the stretch, leaving Sintra to settle for second. War N Munn closed hard to be third in the $105,000 contest. "He raced good, as he always does," said trainer Casie Coleman of her star pupil. "JD (Drury) did a good job with him because he had a live splint bothering him and we were too close to the race to treat it." Coleman added that Betting Line is scheduled for a visit to the veterinarian on Monday to treat the splint, which caused the colt to run in slightly in the stretch, and should be back in fine form for the July 23 Gold event at Mohawk. "He's done that (run in) to me before with splint issues," noted the Cambridge, ON resident. "But we'll get it fixed up for the next Gold in three weeks' time." Following the July 23 Gold Series event, the reigning Ontario Sires Stakes champion heads south of the border for the Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park on August 13 and the Battle of Brandywine at Pocono Downs on August 20. Saturday's victory extended Betting Line's win streak to five, with his only loss of the season coming in his May 14 debut, where he was second. The Bettors Delight son has banked $1,172,422 in his career to date for owners Coleman, Ross Warriner of Burlington, Christine Calhoun of Chatham and Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON. Magnum J captured the other Gold Series division, controlling the tempo for much of the race before cruising home a two and three-quarter length winner in 1:51. The mile time was a new personal best for the Big Jim son. Nvestment Bluechip and Voracity finished second and third. Doug McNair of Guelph piloted Magnum J to the win for his father, trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, and his partners Tony Lawrence and William Brown of Hanover. The partners also raised a Gold Series trophy in the season opener at The Raceway at Western Fair District on May 27. With two Gold Series victories Magnum J has sole ownership of top spot in the division standings with 100 points and will look to pad that lead when the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings return to the Campbellville oval on July 23. On Monday, July 4 Mohawk Racetrack will kick off the Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old season with two Gold Series divisions for the freshman pacing colts. The newcomers to the provincial program will make their debuts in Races 2 and 3. First race post time is 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

CAMPBELLVILLE, June 24 - Lindys Nightmare and Collective Wisdom captured first round divisions of the harness racing Town Pro Series Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. The Town Pro Series has been used as a launching pad by lightly raced three-year-old pacing fillies over the years and after Friday's first leg it appears the 2016 edition will continue that tradition. Lindys Nightmare turned in a sizzling 1:50.4 performance to capture the first division. The Frank Antonacci trainee took over the lead in the second-quarter for driver Rick Zeron and reached the half in :56.1. Lindys Nightmare paced her third-quarter in :27.4 and still had plenty of energy left for the stretch drive. The 3/2 favourite rocketed home in :26.4 to draw away from her five rivals to score a 4¾ lengths victory in a career-best 1:50.4. Twenty Three Red came from fifth at the three-quarter pole to grab second, while Southwind Tango, who followed Lindys Nightmare into the stretch, finished third. A daughter of Western Terror, Lindys Nightmare was making just her fourth career start Friday. The Antonacci trainee was unraced at two, made a break in her career debut on May 1st, but now has three consecutive victories. Owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Lindys Nightmare has now earned $22,000 for her connections. She paid $5.10 to win. Lindys Nightmare Collective Wisdom enjoyed a pocket trip and pounced in the lane to score a 1:52 victory in the second division. Rocknroll Vision, the 4/5 favourite, went to the front and led the field of the five by the opening-quarter in :27. The public's choice went unchallenged through fractions of :56 and 1:24. In the stretch, Collective Wisdom was angled off the back of Rocknroll Vision by driver Jonathan Drury and the 7/2 second choice powered by to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:52. Queen Ideal finished third. A daughter of American Ideal, Collective Wisdom now has two wins in five starts this season after going winless in four outings at two. The Richard Moreau trainee has now banked $22,900 this season for her 1187422 Ontario Inc. ownership group. Collective Wisdom paid $9.60 to win. Collective Wisdom In order to be eligible to the Town Pro Series, the three-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of March 31, 2016. The second round of the Town Pro will take place next Friday (July 1). The first leg of the Summertime Series highlights live racing Saturday night at Mohawk. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

The much anticipated harness racing match up between State Treasurer and Wiggle It Jiggleit developed around the final turn Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, but neither horse came away with a victory. Nickle Bag spoiled the Horse of the Year showdown with his 10th victory of the season in Saturday's seven-horse $34,000 Preferred. State Treasurer showed good early speed and cleared to the front ahead of Nickle Bag heading into the first turn. The 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year posted opening-fractions of :26.2 and :55. Wiggle It Jiggleit left alertly, but was quickly dropped into fourth by driver Montrell Teague. The 2015 U.S. Horse of the Year got his cue to charge first up heading into the final turn. State Treasurer and Wiggle It Jiggleit went toe-to-toe by the three-quarter pole in 1:22.4, but waiting patiently in behind the superstars was Nickle Bag and driver Trevor Henry. Wiggle It Jiggleit wrestled the lead away from State Treasurer and had a few lengths on Nickle Bag with an eighth of a mile to go, but the classy veteran tracked down the Teague stable star to win the Preferred by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.1. State Treasurer battled hard to finish third. A six-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, Nickle Bag scored his eighth Preferred victory of the season Saturday. The Bill Robinson trainee has now won two of his last three starts to improve his overall 2016 record to 10 wins from 16 starts. Nickle Bag has earned $184,860 in 2016 for owners Linda and Harry Loyens. His latest Preferred victory gives him 29 career wins and pushes his career earnings over $640,000. Nickle Bag paid $14.90 to win. Nickle Bag Wiggle It Jiggleit's second-place finish was just his sixth loss in 33 career starts and trainer Clyde Francis admitted he was disappointed. "We thought he would race a little better than he did," said Francis. "He didn't look as good as he did when we trained him the other day. I hope there is not much to it." Francis indicated that Wiggle It Jiggleit never really found comfort during the course of Saturday's race and at moments appeared to be close to going off stride. "He's always had a little funny way of going, but he was worse tonight." Wiggle It Jiggleit's next start is just a week away in the Confederation Cup on Sunday, May 15 at Flamboro Downs. Francis has full confidence the 2015 U.S Horse of the Year will bounce back. "You just back up and regroup and try to find out what the problem is." Wiggle It Jiggleit last start at Mohawk before Saturday's contest was a second-place finish in last year's Pepsi North America Cup. Also on Saturday, War N Munn recorded the WEG Series hat-trick with a huge performance in The Diplomat final. A field of nine three-year-old pacing colts and geldings battled in the $57,600 Diplomat final and it was action packed from start to finish. Dreamfair Mesa fired out from the middle of the gate to grab command and post a hot opening-quarter of :25.3. Several rivals began to charge up on the outside in the second-quarter, including the 1/5 favourite Gerries Sport. Dreamfair Mesa surrendered the lead to Worthy Art moments after posting a half-mile time of :54.3. Gerries Sport and Sylvain Filion were left first-over, while War N Munn, who had yet to see the pylons after leaving from post-nine, sat second-over. Gerries Sport took a narrow lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:22. The heavy-favourite tried to seal the deal in the stretch, but War N Munn and driver Jonathan Drury fired off cover and grabbed the lead midway down the lane. War N Munn finished the job in a career-best 1:50.2 for a two-length victory over Shocking Image and Worthy Art. Gerries Sport dropped back to finish fourth. Trained by Carmen Auciello, War N Munn turned in a massive parked-out effort for his sixth win in 10 starts this season. The three-year-old son of Stonebridge Regal has now scored victories in The Count B, Youthful and The Diplomat Series finals this season. "He shows up every night," said Auciello following the victory. "I knew tonight was going to be tough with the nine-hole, but J.D. (Jonathan Drury) couldn't have done a better job at working out a trip." War N Munn pushed his seasonal earnings over the $100,000 mark with the victory for owner George Munniksma. The sophomore pacer now has career totals of eight victories and earnings exceeding $148,000. War N Munn paid $11.50 to win. War N Munn Pacing fillies and mares also shared the spotlight on Saturday night. Chris Matthews trainee Lay Lady Lay went gate-to-wire to win the $57,400 Princess Series final for three-year-old fillies in 1:54. Doug McNair guided the daughter of Up The Credit to her first win in three starts this season. Lay Lady Lay is owned by 1posse2steves3brothersstb of Guelph, Ontario. She paid $5.60 to win. Lay Lady Lay Waasmula posted the fastest mile of the night in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred. The Bruce Goit trainee stopped the clock in 1:49.3 for her fifth win of the season. Driven by Trevor Henry, Wassmula has now recorded victories in three of her last four starts. She has banked $88,240 this season for owner Brent Vincent. Waasmula Henry finished the night with four driving victories. Live racing resumes Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Canada's reigning Horse of the Year made his season debut Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, but Nickle Bag spoiled the party with the nation's fastest harness racing mile of 2016. A strong field of nine older pacers competed in the $34,000 Preferred Handicap pace. State Treasurer, last year's Canadian Horse of the Year, was making his 2016 debut and started from the outside post-nine. Driven by Chris Christoforou, State Treasurer was able to float out and drop in sixth as the even-money favourite. Nickle Bag, the 8-5 second choice, left hard from post-six for Trevor Henry to grab the front and post an opening-quarter of :26. Nickle Bag kept the pace honest in the second-quarter and reached the half in :54.3. Christoforou started up State Treasurer nearing the half and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee was sent first up entering the final turn. However, cover did develop for State Treasurer rounding the final turn, as stablemate Arthur Blue Chip angled out from third at five-eighths. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:22.3, Nickle Bag brought the field into the lane and waved goodbye. The Bill Robinson trainee finished off his mile with a blazing :26.2 final-quarter to win by 4¾ lengths in a career-best 1:49. State Treasurer came off cover in the stretch, but was unable to gain any spots and finished fourth in his season debut, pacing home in :26.4. Mohawk Warrior came from sixth at the top of the lane to finish second, while The Rev turned his two-hole trip into a third-place effort. A six-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, Nickle Bag secured his ninth victory of the season Saturday. The Robinson trainee has picked up seven of his nine victories this year in the Preferred. Owned by Linda and Harry Loyens, Nickle Bag surpassed his 2015 earnings total with Saturday's victory. The veteran pacer has banked $167,860 in 15 starts this year, compared to $162,790 in 26 starts last year. Nickle Bag's victory Saturday was his 28th career triumph and it brings his career earnings to $627,490. He paid $5.30 to win. Nickle Bag Although State Treasurer was unsuccessful in his season debut, history shows that may not be a bad thing. The Dr. Moore trainee finished sixth last year in his debut (May 2, 2015 - Preferred Pace) before going onto divisional and Horse of the Year honours. Also on Saturday, the second leg of The Diplomat Series was contested. A group of 13 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $20,000 divisions. War N Munn continued his WEG Series success with a 1:52 victory in the first division. The Carmen Auciello trainee got away fourth in the field of six for driver Jonathan Drury. Mach Power posted an opening-quarter of :28.3, but was quickly passed in the second-quarter by Shocking Image. The new leader reached the half in :57.2 and led the field around the final turn, while War N Munn charged first up to pull to within a length of the lead at the three-quarter pole. Shocking Image reached the third marker in 1:25.3, but quickly surrendered the lead in the lane to War N Munn. The 2-5 favourite rocketed home in :26.1 for a 2 ¼ length victory. Shocking Image was second, while Mach Power finished third. A son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn now has five wins in nine starts this season. The sophomore pacing colt has signature victories this season in The Count B and Youthful Series finals. War N Munn now has seven career victories and earnings of $119,261 for owner George Munnuiksma. His mile of 1:52 knocked three-fifths of a second off his previous career mark. The Auciello trainee paid $2.80 to win. War N Munn In the second division, Gerries Sport got his own way in the middle-half and finished up strong for an impressive victory. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Gerries Sport, the even-money favourite, left from post-seven and touched down on the front just after passing the opening-quarter in :26.1. Flaherty, the 7-5 second-choice, got a two-hole trip behind the favourite. Gerries Sport went unchallenged in the middle-half and posted panels of :55.4 and 1:25.1. The soft middle-half was the turning point, as the public's choice left his rivals behind and charged home in :26.4 for a 3½ lengths victory in 1:52. Flaherty maintained his position to finish second, while Worthy Art was third. A son of Mach Three, Gerries Sport is trained by Richard Moreau for Gerrie Tucker. The three-year-old colt is now two for two to start 2016 after posting three wins in 12 starts as a rookie. Just like War N Munn in the first division, Gerries Sport lowered his lifetime mark by three-fifths of a second. The son of Mach Three now sports a career bankroll of $56,845. Gerries Sport paid $4.20 to win. Gerries Sport The first leg of The Diplomat did not fail, therefore the 10 horses that earned money Saturday night have landed spots in next Saturday's $57,600 final. In order to be eligible to The Diplomat, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $100,000 in 2015. Live racing resumes Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Heavenly Hill benefited from a front-end duel to win the harness racing Blossom Series final Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of ten three-year-old pacing fillies contested the $40,400 Blossom Final. Heavenly Hill was sent off as the heavy favourite after a convincing victory in last week's second leg. The public's choice got away third for driver Jonathan Drury, as 90-1 shot Radar Trap and Randy Waples made the front from post-nine to post an opening-quarter of :27.2. Jody Jamieson quickly pulled the pocket in the second-quarter with Noone To Depend On, but Waples was not in a giving mood. Radar Trap and Noone To Depend On waged war by the half in :55.2. Around the final turn, Drury angled Heavenly Hill out from third and went three-wide around the lead pair, who began to fade. The favourite posted a three-quarter time of 1:24.2 and pulled away from her rivals in the lane. Heavenly Hill stopped the clock for a three-length victory in 1:53.4. Windsun Glory finished second, while Evangelin Seelster was third. Heavenly Hill's victory was the second series final victory in three-days for owner George Munniksma and trainer Carmen Auciello. The daughter of Art Colony now has three wins in six starts this season. The Blossom final was the fifth career victory for Heavenly Hill and pushes her career earnings over $138,000. The clocking of 1:53.4 knocked two-fifths of a second off her previous career-best. Heavenly Hill paid $2.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2015. The opening round of the Tie Silk Series for three-year-old trotters also took place Monday. In the first $16,000 division, Muscle Hustle made a second-quarter move to the lead for trainer/driver Per Henriksen and never looked back. The son of Muscle Mass scored a 2¼ lengths victory in 1:57.1. Chestnut Schofield finished second, while On The Ridge was third. Muscle Hustle was making his season debut Monday and now has two wins in four career starts for owner Ecruie Bergh. He paid $20.30 to win. Donicus lived up to his heavy-favourite status and scored a blow out victory in the second division. Owner/trainer Eddie Green steered the son of Deweycheathumnhowe to a 13 length triumph in 1:56. P C Foreign Affair finished second and two-lengths ahead of Blownoutofthewater. Donicus now has six wins in eight starts this season and seven career victories overall. The Green trainee has banked $45,520 of his $54,680 career earnings this season. Donicus paid $3.40 to win. In order to be eligible to the Tie Silk, the three-year-old trotters had to be non-winners of $30,000 in 2015. Also on Monday, Fearless Man scored his second Preferred win in his last three starts. Trainer/driver Rick Zeron put Fearless Man in his usual spot on the lead and never looked back. The Zeron trainee posted solid fractions of :27, :55 and 1:23.4. In the stretch, Fearless Man trotted home in :31.1 over the 'Good' track and secured his fourth win of the year by half a length in 1:55. Hldontghttoyurdrms rallied for second, while Exemplar finished third. Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Noblock Racing Stable, Murray Greenfield and Cool Cat Racing, Fearless Man now has four wins in 10 starts this season for earnings exceeding $93,000. The six-year-old gelded son of Elegant Man now has 26 career victories and earnings of over $465,000. Fearless Man paid $5.10 to win. Live racing resumes Thursday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 9 - The Youthful Series final highlighted an action-packed Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A competitive field of eight three-year-old pacers competed in the $39,800 series final. War N Munn was made the 9/5 favourite in the Youthful final and came through in the clutch for his believers with a career-best 1:52.2 victory. The Carmen Auciello trainee was driven by Jonathan Drury and found an early seat in fifth. Flaherty cut the mile and posted opening fractions of :27 and :56.1, while Easy Lover Hanover, who was going for the series sweep, sat in the pocket. The Catamount Kid came first up from fourth, which allowed Drury to catch cover and place War N Munn second-over around the final turn. Flaherty posted a three-quarter clocking of 1:24.2 with his rivals breathing down his neck. In the stretch, War N Munn fired off cover and despite drifting out, the Auciello trainee cruised home to a four-length victory over Easy Lover Hanover. Flaherty finished third, while The Catamount Kid was fourth. A son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn was forced to skip leg two and qualify due to miscue in leg one. Despite making a break in the first round, the sophomore pacing colt finished second. Saturday's victory gives War N Munn four wins in seven starts this season, including a second series final score. Back on February 19, the Auciello trainee captured The Count B series final. War N Munn, who is owned by George Munniksma of Washington, New Jersey, now has over $106,000 in career earnings. He paid $5.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful, the three-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2015. Also on Saturday, the first leg of the Don Mills Trotting Series and the $34,000 Preferred Pace were contested. Musical Rhythm had been the talk of the town all winter and he brought his impressive talents to Mohawk Saturday. The Ben Baillargeon trainee picked up his eighth victory in a row in the eight-horse $20,000 Don Mills Trotting Series first leg. Driven by Mario Baillargeon, Musical Rhythm sprinted out to the front and never looked back. He posted fractions of :28.1, :58.1, 1:27.4 and 1:55.4 to score his sixth victory in six starts this year. Grana Padanno, who is also trained by Baillargeon, finished two-lengths back in second, while Mystery Bet was third. A four-year-old son of Cantab Hall, Musical Rhythm has now won 10 of 11 starts since being purchased by Santo and Nunzio Vena, Claude Hamel and Baillargeon in November. Saturday's victory pushes his seasonal earnings to $81,000. Musical Rhythm now has 15 career victories and earnings exceeding $177,000. He paid $2.50 to win. In order to be eligible to the Don Mills, the four and five-year-old trotters had to be non-winners of $150,000 lifetime as of December 31, 2015. Ellis Park turned in a huge performance to win the Preferred Pace in 1:51.2. A field of six competed in the top-level pace and Nirvana Seelster once again found himself on top heading into the first turn. After an opening-quarter of :27, Nickle Bag circled around from second to grab command heading down the backstretch. Ellis Park, who was 7/1, got away at the back with driver Randy Waples, but was out and gaining ground on the leader at the midway point. Nickle Bag was confronted by Ellis Park rounding the final turn and led the field by the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1. In the stretch, Nickle Bag and Ellis Park waged war with the outside challenger taking the lead part way down the lane. Nickle Bag tried to battle back up the inside, but Ellis Park would not be denied his 21st career victory and won by a head. Boomboom Ballykeel, who won the Preferred last week, finish third in a photo with Mohawk Warrior. A seven-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, Ellis Park scored his second win in four starts Saturday. He is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owner David Goodrow Stable. Ellis Park now has $39,000 earned this season to bring his career total to over $400,000. The O'Sullivan trainee paid $16.50 to win. Live racing resumes Monday night at Mohawk. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

The 2015-16 Woodbine Fall/Winter meet concluded Monday night with the second leg of the Blossom Series and a Preferred Trot highlighting harness racing action. The two $17,000 Blossom Series divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies featured new winners to open the doors for an intriguing final next week. In the first division, Mattjestic Tempo took full advantage of a pocket-trip to win at 5/1 in a field of six. Driven by James MacDonald, Mattjestic Tempo flashed early speed to head towards the front. Newcomer Westsluckycam cleared to the front at the opening-quarter of :27.4 and proceeded to lead the field through middle-half fractions of :57.2 and 1:26.3. In the stretch, Mattjestic Tempo came to the outside and surged by to victory in 1:55.3. Noone To Depend rallied late and finished 1¾ lengths behind the winner in second. Westsluckycam dropped back to finish third. Blueberry Will, who won a leg one division last week, struggled in Monday's first division and finished sixth and last. A daughter of Royal Mattjesty, Mattjestic Tempo entered Monday's contest off a third-place effort in leg one. The sophomore pacing filly is trained by Blake MacIntosh, who shares ownership of the filly with Stuart McIntosh. Mattjestic Tempo's leg two victory is her first win in 11 starts this season and third overall. She pushes her career earnings over $50,000 with Monday's victory. The MacIntosh trainee paid $13.80 to win. Mattjestic Tempo The second division saw a familiar face on the Woodbine circuit return to score a career-best victory. Heavenly Hill and driver Jonathan Drury got away third in the early stages before brushing to the lead in the second-quarter. It was lights out from there, as Drury and the 3/2 second-choice cruised home in :28.4 to win by 2½ lengths in 1:54.1. Bas As Leader finished second, while the 7/5 favourite Evangelin Seelster finished third. Windsun Glory, who won a leg one division, crossed the wire in fourth. A daughter of Art Colony, Heavenly Hill competed last season locally for trainer Dave Menary and captured an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division. The sophomore pacing filly was purchased in January by owner George Munniksma and was recently competing at Yonkers. Heavenly Hill, who was debuting Monday for trainer Carmen Auciello, picked up her second win in five starts this season and knocked a fifth of a second off her previous career-mark. She now has four career victories and earnings exceeding $117,000. Heavenly Hill paid $5.10 to win. Heavenly Hill Also on Monday, Hldontghttoyurdrms scored an 8/1 mild upset in the $34,000 Preferred Trot. Fearless Man, who was aiming for a second consecutive Preferred win, trotted out to his usally spot on the front. After posting fractions of :27.3, :57 and 1:25.1, Fearless Man led the field into the stretch, but the 4/5 favourite had several challenger close in behind. In the stretch, Hldontghttoyurdrms and driver Jonathan Drury came off third-over cover to storm by their rivals to win by a length in 1:55. Zeus Lightning trotted home well and just missed the victory in second, while Fearless Man dropped back to finish third. A seven-year-old son of Muscles Yankee, Hldontghttoyurdrms is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Frank Spagnolo. The veteran trotter picked up his second win in a row Monday and second in 12 starts this season. Hldontghttoyurdrms pushed his career earnings over $400,000 with his 23rd career victory Monday. He paid $19.30 to win. Hldontghttoyurdrms Live racing now moves to Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening. A 10-race card will kick-off the Mohawk meet. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

The Youthful, Preferred Pace and a milestone highlighted the final Saturday night card of the 2015-16 Woodbine Fall/Winter harness racing meet. The action-packed 10-race card was contested under chilly temperatures and a light snowfall. Easy Lover Hanover extended his win-streak to six in a row with a 1:53.1 score in the $17,000 second leg of the Youthful for three-year-old pacers. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Easy Lover Hanover sprinted out from post-seven and cleared to the front just after a :27 opening-quarter. After posting middle-fractions of :56 and 1:24.1, Easy Lover Hanover extended his lead to more than three-lengths with an eighth of a mile to go. The Catamount Kid, who was a 2/1 co-favourite, turned in a solid stretch-rally to close in on the leader, but the Wallace trainee didn't fold and won by head. Sporty Mercedes finished third, while Flaherty, the other 2/1 choice, rallied from seventh at the half to finish fourth. A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Easy Lover Hanover is now a perfect six for six since joining the Wallace barn earlier this year. Saturday's victory was the colt's seventh career victory. Owned by Brad Grant, Easy Lover Hanover has now earned $55,000 this season. He paid $7.20 to win. Earlier on the card, Boomboom Ballykeel scored a 5/1 mild-upset in the $34,000 Preferred Pace. Nirvana Seelster, who was aiming for a second consecutive Preferred victory and third in a row overall, cut the mile and posted panels of :26.4, :55 and 1:23.2 to lead the field into the stretch. Boomboom Ballykeel and driver Sylvain Filion sat second-over around the final turn, while the favourite Nickle Bag followed in behind. In the stretch, Boomboom Ballykeel battled by Nirvana Seelster in the final-eighth to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.2. Nickle Bag finished third. A five-year-old son of Mach Three, Boomboom Ballykeel now has four wins this season for trainer Richard Moreau and owners Ballykeel Racing Inc. Saturday's victory was the first career WEG Preferred victory for the Moreau trainee, who won the 2013 Metro Pace. Filion's winning drive behind Boomboom Ballykeel was one of four victories on the evening for Woodbine's leading driver. Boomboom Ballykeel paid $13.50 to win. Also on Saturday's card, driver Jonathan Drury surpassed $10 million in career earnings. The young reinsman reached the career milestone by guiding six-year-old pacing mare D Gs Pesquero to victory in the evening's opening race for trainer Carmen Auciello. Drury, who won 142 races last year, has driven 34 winners this season for earnings nearing $600,000. Last season was a career best for Drury, as he drove the winners of over $2.1 million. The next milestone on the horizon for Drury is the 1,000 win mark. He currently sits at 928 career wins. D Gs Pesquero - A career milestone for Jonathan Drury The 2015-16 Woodbine Winter/Fall meet wraps up Monday night with a 10-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

The harness racing series finals of The Count B and Miss Vera Bars were in the spotlight Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of nine three-year-old pacers competed in the $42,200 The Count B final, while a field of eight three-year-old pacing fillies squared off in the $41,600 Ontario Girls final. All eyes were on Carmen Auciello trainee War N Munn, who aimed for a series sweep in The Count B Final, and the sophomore lived up to the hype. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn, the 2/5 favourite, sprinted off the wings of the gate from post-eight. Gotti and Trevor Henry also left hard and dueled by the opening-quarter with War N Munn in :26.1. War N Munn cleared to the front midway around the first turn and Drury was able to catch a second-quarter breather, as the favourite paced by the half in :56. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4, War N Munn said goodbye to his challengers and sprinted home comfortably in :28 to win by an impressive 7½ lengths in 1:52.4. Gotti help his position to finish second, while New Standard rallied from near the back to finish third at odds of 50/1. A son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn is owned by George Munniksma of Washington, New Jersey. The sophomore pacing colt shipped into the barn of conditioner Auciello from trainer Kerin Warner for the start of The Count B series. War N Munn is now three for three in 2016 and sports a career record of five wins in 12 starts. The Count B final victory established a new career-mark for the three-year-old and pushes his career earnings over $81,000. War N Munn paid $2.90 to win. War N Munn Preliminary leg winners Cracklin Rosie and Bad As Leader headlined the Miss VeraBars final. Cracklin Rosie, the 8/5 favourite, got away sixth for driver Phil Hudon, while Bad As Leader, the 2/1 second choice, was placed closer in third by driver Trevor Henry. Arizona Seelster cut out an opening-quarter of :27.2 and also led the field by the half in :57.1. Henry opted to pull from third nearing the half and quickly cleared to the front with Bad As Leader before the final turn. Meanwhile, Cracklin Rosie was moving up on the outside in mid-pack, but was pushed out three-wide and took the long way around the final turn. After a three-quarter clocking of 1:25.2, Bad As Leader would not surrender the lead and paced home strongly to win the Miss VeraBars final by a length and a half in 1:53.4. Im In Luv finished second, while Windsun Glory grabbed third. Cracklin Rosie was just nosed out for fourth by Party In Rome. A daughter of Badlands Hanover, Bad As Leader is trained by Victor Puddy for owners Bill Manes and William Cripps. The sophomore pacing filly now has four wins in six attempts this season and six victories in ten career starts. The MissVeraBars final victory pushes Bad As Leader's career earnings to over $69,000. She paid $6.70 to win. Bad As Leader Both series carried the same conditions, as Non-Winners of Three Races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015 were eligible to The Count B and Miss VeraBars. Winter series action continues Saturday night at Woodbine with the final of the Ontario Girls and second leg of the Ontario Boys. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Second leg harness racing action of the Ontario Girls and The Count B Series took place under frigid conditions Friday at Woodbine Racetrack. Just a single division was necessary for each series with their finals scheduled for next Friday (February 19). Ainsleynoelle pulled off a mini upset against seven rivals in the $18,000 Ontario Girls second leg. Driven by Randy Waples, Ainsleynoelle got a pocket trip and was able to convert in the lane for a 1:55.2 score at 7/1. Mach Magic cut the mile, but gave way late to finish second by a length. Pinky Tuscadero finished third. Amazing Control, who won a first leg division, finished fourth, while the favourite Double Olives was sixth. A four-year-old daughter of Jereme's Jet, Ainsleynoelle is trained by Colin Johnson for owners Debbie Element, David Heffering and Ecurie JGV Enrg. Friday's victory was her first win in six starts this season and eighth victory overall. Ainsleynoelle, who finished fifth in a first leg division last week, now has over $89,000 in career earnings. She paid $17.40 to win. Ainsleynoelle In order to be eligible to the Ontario Girls, the Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares had to be non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Despite a first-quarter break, War N Munn scored another impressive victory in the $17,000 second leg of The Count B Series. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn got away fourth, but made a quick break heading towards the first turn and was brought to the outside. Once off the pylons and back pacing, Drury sent his charge to the lead in the second-quarter. War N Munn was mistake-free in the final three-quarters and cruised to a three-length victory in 1:55. Gotti finished second, while The Loan Ranger was third. Three Truths, who won a first leg division, finished fourth. A three-year-old son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn is now two for two in The Count B Series and 2016. He is trained by Carmen Auciello for owner George Munniksma. War N Munn now has four career victories and earnings exceeding $60,000. He paid $3.10 to win. In order to be eligible to The Count B, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three-races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. War N Munn Live racing has been cancelled for Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack due to the projected extreme cold temperatures. Live racing resumes Monday night (February 15). Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Winter harness racing action ramped up Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack with round one of The Count B and Ontario Girls Series. Each series featured a pair of divisions for their opening leg. A group of 14 sophomore pacing colts and geldings were split into two $17,000 The Count B divisions, while 15 Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares competed in two $18,000 Ontario Girls splits. The Count B Series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings saw the first split go to a newcomer north of the border. War N Munn went gate to wire for a 1:54.1 victory. The son of Stonebridge Regal shipped in from the Kerin Warner barn into the care of trainer Carmen Auciello. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn fired out to the front and got to dictate the pace. After posting panels of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:25.2, War N Munn opened up several lengths of separation and cruised home in :28.4 for a 6¾ lengths victory. St Lads Charger, who sat fourth for the majority of the mile, finished second, while New Standard came from last to finish third. War N Munn is owned by George Munniksma. The sophomore pacer was making his 2016 debut after winning two of nine starts as a rookie for earnings of $43,011. War N Munn established a new career mark with his 1:54.1 victory. He paid $10.10 to win. War N Munn The combination of Drury and Auciello appeared to have a good shot to sweep The Count B first leg, as they teamed up with the 3/5 favourite Big Bang Boom in the second split. Drury stepped on the accelerator at the start and blasted Big Bang Boom to the lead. The Auciello trainee went untouched through solid fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24.1 to lead by almost five-lengths turning for home. Three Truths, the 7/2 second choice, came out from fifth around the final turn for driver Sylvain Filion and sat seven-lengths off the lead at the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Big Bang Boom ran out of steam at the eighth-pole and was swallowed up by a hard-charging Three Truths, who stopped the clock in 1:55.1. Gotti finished two-lengths back in second, while Big Bang Boom held on to hit the board in third. A son of Shadow Play, Three Truths is trained by Richard Moreau for owners Ratchford Stable and Brian Shebib. The Count B opening leg victory is the first win in four starts this season for the sophomore pacer. Three Truths won three of eighth starts last season and now has a career bankroll of $23,060. Friday's clocking of 1:55.1 established a new career mark for the son of Shadow Play. Three Truths paid $9.50 to win. Three Truths The Ontario Girls Series kicked off with a fantastic stretch duel in the first division. Much Adoo, the 9/5 favourite, got away second, but was quickly circled to the lead in the second-quarter by driver Doug McNair. Fresh off her Blizzard Series victory, Double Olives found a seat in fourth and sat there until angling out first-over just after the half. Much Adoo posted middle-fractions of :57 and 1:25, while Double Olives pulled to within less than a length of the lead turning for home. In the stretch, the public's top two choices went toe-to-toe with Much Adoo holding off a battling Double Olives to win by a length in 1:54. Pinky Tuscadero, who sat second-over turning for home, finished third. A daughter of Classic Card Shark, Much Adoo picked up her second win in three starts this season for trainer Cody Henry. She is owned by Aaron Waxman and Alan Alber. Much Adoo increased her career earnings to over $97,000 with her seventh career victory Friday. She paid $5.90 to win. Much Adoo In the second division, Amazing Control came through as the even-money favourite for a 1:55.1 victory. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Amazing Control was able to get a pocket trip in behind Twin B Sweetheart. The leader cut out fractions of :27.2, :57.4 and 1:26.3, while Amazing Control was primed to pop the pocket in the lane. In the stretch, Jamieson pulled on the right line and Amazing Control powered by Twin B Sweetheart to win two-lengths. Tilkum finish third. A daughter of Shadow Play, Amazing Control is trained by Meg Crone for owners Hutt Racing Stable. The four-year-old pacing mare now has two wins in four starts this season. Amazing Control increased her career earnings to over $83,000 with her fourth career victory Friday. She paid $4.20 to win. Amazing Control The Count B and Ontario Girls Series resume next Friday (February 12) with round two. In order to be eligible to The Count B, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015, were eligible to the Ontario Girls Series. Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine with the opening leg of the Ontario Boys Series. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun

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