Three-year-old harness racing pacing fillies faced off in three $6,666 eliminations for the Alberta Sires Stakes Diamond leg on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Favourite Barona Mercedes romped to an open length victory to kick off the elimination round for trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt. Firing from post five, Barona Mercedes set up shop on the front end and powered through quarter panels of :27.4, :56.2, 1:25 while extending her lead to five lengths en route to a personal-best 1:53.4 victory. Freesia (Gerry Hudon) and G Ts Jamie (Bill Tainsh Jr.) were the best of the rest. Hoerdt shares ownership of the Brandons Cowboy-Insurance Fee filly with Amy Henry of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. and Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta. After just one pari-mutuel start as a two-year-old, Barona Mercedes boasts a career record including five wins in 11 outings and $28,897 in purses. She was also a stakes winner in the Wild Rose earlier this year and came within a head of the Alberta Princess champion Nighttraintovegas in her first Sires Stakes leg. To read the rest of this story click here.
1. National Debt, Scott Zeron, Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1 Last year, National Debt won all four of his starts while competing in Alberta for trainer/co-owner Kelly Hoerdt, who received Canada's 2013 O'Brien Award for Horsemanship. He was sent to New Jersey-based trainer Ron Coyne Jr. for the start of this season and captured the Gilmour Memorial Series during the winter. National Debt, who finished fifth in his Pace elimination, won by JK Endofanera, has won seven of 10 lifetime races and earned $76,073. Owned by Hoerdt, Blair and Erna Corbeil, and the J&T Silva Stables, National Debt had issues with allergies earlier this season while racing in Canada and missed nearly two months prior to his Pace elim. "He had a couple good tighteners in qualifiers, and this was his first test for speed against these colts, but all in all it went well," Coyne said. "He showed a good burst of speed at the end, he came home :26.2 and he finished up really nice, so I was really happy about that. It's all a matter of the post and the trip and we'll see if we get lucky. "We missed a few of the big dances, but we're ready to go again," Coyne said. For a feature about National Debt from earlier this year, read here. 2. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 2-1 JK Endofanera (Art Major-Presidential Lady) won his elimination in 1:48.2 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He is trying to become the 10th horse to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. For more, read here. 3. He's Watching, Tim Tetrick, David Menary, 5-2 He's Watching (American Ideal-Baberhood) won his elimination in 1:48.1 and is 5-2 on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. For more, read here. 4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 12-1 One of two horses in the race from the Takter Stable, Tellitlikeitis (Well Said-Kikikatie) is a son of 2009 Meadowlands Pace winner Well Said out of the million-dollar-earning mare Kikikatie. He led early in his Pace elimination, which was won by He's Watching, but finished fifth. Tellitlikeitis, owned by Lothlorien stable, has won four of 12 career races and $389,022. He finished second to JK Endofanera in the North America Cup. "I expect him to be better," Takter said. "He had three weeks off [prior to his Pace elim] and that's a long time in this group. I had to play it like that with him, unfortunately. I cannot race him every dance because he has issues. But he's got a perfect seat, the four post. If the pace is right, we know he can pace :25 the last quarter. If I get him a little bit better, he's quick enough that he can give you something." 5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 6-1 The 2013 Breeders Crown champion finished third in his Pace elim, won by He's Watching. Luck Be Withyou has won once in five starts this season and captured six of 16 career races, good for $404,827. He is owned by John Craig and trained by Bill Cass in Canada, with Oakes taking over in the U.S. Luck Be Withyou is a son of Western Ideal out of the mare Trim Hanover. He is a three-quarter brother to millionaire female pacer American Jewel. 6. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 The colt tried to find room inside of JK Endofanera in the stretch, but was unable to get past the leader and finished third in his Pace elimination. Just three-quarters of a length separated JK Endofanera, runner-up Always B Miki, and Lyonssomewhere. Geoffrey Lyons Mound owns Lyonssomewhere, who is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Miss Kitty Hanover. He has won five of seven career races and $98,570. "He didn't have enough room, but I thought he raced really, really good," Takter said. "He can step out of the gate extremely well. It's hard not to take advantage of that, but by the same token, you pay a little bit for that. "At the Meadowlands, it's not necessarily the best spot to sit behind the leader unless he's a very good leader. If you don't get racing room, you're playing with luck. With luck, yes he can win, without a doubt, and we need to be lucky in this race. It will be an interesting race." 7. Jet Airway, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 15-1 Erv Miller is hoping for big things from the big horse as the year goes on. Jet Airway opened 2014 with a second-place finish to JK Endofanera in the Simpson Memorial at the Meadowlands. Owned by Miller, Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle, Jet Airway has won six of 18 career races and $130,834. He is a son of Jereme's Jet out of the mare Aromatic. He raced 10 times as a 2-year-old, winning three races, but was shut down in early October. Marcus Miller, who recently got career win No. 2,000, is Erv's 25-year-old son. "He's a really fast horse, a big horse," Miller said about Jet Airway. "I think, hopefully, from midseason on he'll just keep getting better. It just seems he needed the racing to get going. He went a big mile [in his elim]. Marcus did a good job and he had a lot of pace finishing. "I could tell last year he was a pretty nice horse. I wanted to shut him down because he was real immature. I think as time goes, he'll just keep getting better." 8. Sometimes Said, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell, 15-1 Always in the hunt, Sometimes Said has won only twice but hit the board in 14 of 18 career races. He finished second by a neck from post nine in last year's Breeders Crown, which was won by Luck Be Withyou, and was second in the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Owned by Fashion Farms, Sometimes Said is a son of Well Said out of the mare Lady Sometimes. He has earned $341,254 lifetime. Sometimes Said finished second in his Pace elim, beaten 2-3/4 lengths by He's Watching. "He's had a good week," Campbell said. "It's hard to say whether post eight will help him or hurt him, it depends how the race unfolds. It would probably be in his best interest if they're rolling along up front and he can get cover in the outer tier. "It's a tough group of horses. He went a big trip last week and he'll have to come back and be better than that this week." 9. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1 Came home the fastest of all Meadowlands Pace finalists with a :26.1 final quarter-mile to miss by a neck to JK Endofanera in his Pace elim. Always B Miki has won five of 20 career races and earned $219,916. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Val D'Or Farms, and Roll The Dice Stable. Always B Miki was disqualified from third to fifth for interference in his Hempt Memorial elimination and went off stride in his North America Cup elim. He has three wins, including a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, and two second-place finishes (by a neck and a nose) in the five starts this year in which he's minded his manners. "I was apprehensive coming into [the Pace elimination] because he's just been a problem horse that way," Holloway said. "He's got a lot of speed, but he's not the easiest horse to deal with. He steered fairly well [in his elim] and raced well. He can go a tough trip, he's probably one of the tougher ones that way, but he is tough to deal with. "He's got the speed to go wherever they want to go. As long as he gets a decent trip he'll work it out from there." Always B Miki is a son of Always A Virgin, who was trained by Holloway and won two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown (Cane Pace and Messenger) in 2007, out of the mare Artstopper. He is a half-brother to Yagonnakissmeornot, who finished second in this year's Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final. 10. Doo Wop Hanover, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 30-1 Elliott is the only trainer in the race to have won the Meadowlands Pace previously, having captured the trophy in 2006 with Artistic Fella and 2009 with Well Said. Only two trainers, Brett Pelling and Bill Robinson, have more Pace victories. Doo Wop Hanover finished fourth in his Pace elim, which was won by JK Endofanera. He is a son of 2005 Meadowlands Pace winner Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Deer Valley Miss and is a three-quarter brother to stakes winner Knock Three Times. For his career, Doo Wop Hanover has won five of 19 races and $180,788. He won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in May and the Hempt Memorial Consolation in a career-best 1:49 on June 28. He is owned by Peter Blood, Rick Berks and Gary Piontkowski. Post 10 has produced four Meadowlands Pace winners, tied for the third most of any starting spot, but none since The Panderosa in 1999. "I've had better draws," Elliott said with a laugh. "But when [Doo Wop Hanover] gets on the lead or first over, he wants to rock and roll, and he's better with a trip. We should be able to get a trip from there, we'll just hope it's not a bad one. "He's been good all year. He's a nice colt. He might be a notch below the best ones, but there's so many times now when the trip dictates the outcome. We just want to be somewhere in the live flow. You've got to be in it. If you're not in it, you can't win it." * * * Tim Tetrick and Ron Pierce have enjoyed multiple successes in the Meadowlands Pace in recent years, combining to win six of the last seven editions of the race. Pierce has won the Meadowlands Pace a total of four times, second to only John Campbell's seven Pace victories for the most among all drivers in history. Pierce's victories were with Dream Away (1997), Art Official (2008), Well Said (2009) and Roll With Joe (2011). He drives Luck Be Withyou in Saturday's race. Luck Be Withyou, who starts from post five and is 6-1 on the morning line, finished third in his Pace elimination, which was won by He's Watching. Pierce won last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers with Luck Be Withyou. Tetrick has won the Meadowlands Pace with Southwind Lynx (2007), One More Laugh (2010) and Captaintreacherous (2013). He drives He's Watching in Saturday's race, starting from post three. He's Watching, who won his Pace elimination in 1:48.1, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. "I sure would love to [win again]," Tetrick said. "I have a great horse to do it with. I like my chances. "There are some really nice colts in here and it's a tough group." Campbell will go for Meadowlands Pace win No. 8 with Doo Wop Hanover from post 10. Brian Sears, driving 2-1 morning line favorite JK Endofanera, tries for his second Pace triumph while Yannick Gingras, with Lyonssomewhere, also will be going for his second win. Scott Zeron (driving National Debt), Brett Miller (Tellitlikeitis), Marcus Miller (Jet Airway), Corey Callahan (Sometimes Said) and David Miller (Always B Miki) all are seeking their first Meadowlands Pace win. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Three-year-old pacing fillies were in the spotlight on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs as they faced off in three Wild Rose Stakes divisions. Barona Mercedes circled a field of seven to win the first $13,333 division in a career-best 1:56.1 clocking by four lengths for trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt and his partners Amy Henry of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. and Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta. Favourite Rummys Command (Keith Clark) battled three-wide early on for the lead before carving out fractions of :28, :58.3 and 1:27. Meanwhile, second choice Barona Mercedes advanced from the back of the pack and ducked into the pocket around the final turn before re-emerging to wear down the pacesetter in the stretch. Triple Action (Jamie Gray) finished nearly nine lengths back in third. To read the rest of this story click here.
TORONTO, April 26 - West Side Story, driven by Chris Christoforou, stormed home to win the $43,000 final of the Don Mills Series on Saturday evening at Woodbine. After capturing his division in the opening round of the series, the Per Henriksen trainee scored back-to-back wins and his fifth tally of the year. Mego Moss (James MacDonald) was quickly marched to the front well before the opening quarter in a quick :26.4 with post time favourite Hldontghttoyurdrms (Jonathan Drury) sitting In The Pocket. As the talented trotters headed towards the half, Crosbys Clam Bake (Paul Macdonell) was still parked on the outside, but would cross over to the position of command before the half in :55.4. West Side Story was on the outside in the backfield and was able to catch live cover as Hldontghttoyurdrms heading to the outside before three-quarters. Crosbys Clam Bake opened up on his rivals at three-quarters in 1:24, but West Side Story angled off cover at the top of the stretch and used his patented closing kick to wear down Crosbys Clam Bake to win by two and a half lengths. Hldontghttoyurdrms stayed for third. Owned by Steve Organ and Asa Farm, West Side Story celebrated his biggest payday of his career as his bankroll now sits at $140,157. The four-year-old son of Conway Hall enjoyed his 11th career tally and now has a 5-2-0 record from eight starts this season. He paid $8.30 to win. Henriksen confirmed that West Side Story and stablemate Frisky Magic will head to France to compete overseas. Earlier on the card, the undefeated National Debt extended his win streak to seven as he cruised to victory in the lone $20,000 division of The Diplomat Series. Driven by Sylvain Filion, the heavily-favoured son of Allamerican Native led from start-to-finish through panels of :27, :55.4 and 1:24.3, before coasting to victory in 1:52.2 Roget Mach Em (Jack Moiseyev) finished second, with Somewhere In L A (Steve Condren) third. National Debt, who recently entered the Bob Young stable from previous trainer Ron Coyne, is owned by Kelly Hoerdt, Blair and Erna Corbeil and J and T Silva Stables LLC. "That's exactly what we wanted to see tonight," Young said following the race. "He went to the lead, got a nice second quarter breather and brushed home strong. He looked well within himself at the wire and we couldn't ask for more." The bay increased his bankroll to $70,750, while returning $3 to his backers. National Debt remains eligible to the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup scheduled for June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack. The Diplomat series is for three-year-olds, who are non-winners of $100,000 in 2013. The second $20,000 leg of the series will take place on Saturday, May 3, with the $50,000 (added) final on Saturday, May 10. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
TORONTO, April 24 - The undefeated National Debt will no doubt get the bulk of attention from the betting public on Saturday evening when he contests the lone division of The Diplomat Series. The son of Allamerican Native-Our Inheritance remains a perfect six-for-six in his career and is fresh off an eye catching 1:50.3 winning effort in the $60,500 Buddy Gilmour Memorial at The Meadowlands on March 8. The career winner of $60,750 in earnings recently shipped north to Canada from the US and into the care of veteran conditioner Bob Young from previous trainer Ron Coyne. "I've had him roughly a month today (Wednesday)," Young said. "He's trained once at Woodbine and schooled twice and it's all systems go for Saturday. He's had a really good month and settled in well." The youngster was a $17,000 yearling purchase for Kelly Hoerdt and Blair and Erna Corbeil of Edmonton. After going a perfect four-for-four last year in Alberta, Hoerdt and Corbeil elected to send their stable star to Ron Coyne in New Jersey at the start of this season to prepare for the Buddy Gilmour Memorial series at The Meadowlands. Prior to the series sweep, Jerry and Theresa Silva joined the ownership group following a private purchase. After his impressive victory in the rich final, National Debt was then sent to Young in Ontario to prepare for The Diplomat Series before aiming for the North America Cup. Although National Debt will make his first appearance on Ontario soil, it isn't the first time Young has laid eyes on the bay. "I saw him as a yearling after he was bought because he shipped to Mohawk then onto Edmonton to Kelly and Blair's," Young said. "I thought he looked a lot like his brother, Grin For Money ($476,632 - 1:49.4), but was a taller horse with more leg. Same type of head and stood well and very well built like his brother." After getting acquainted with the speedy pacer over this past month, Young admits that he likes what he sees in the North America Cup prospect. "He's very easy on himself and looked after himself very well," he said. "I wanted to train him this morning at 9 a.m., but he was sleeping so we waited for him to get up. That's just the type of horse he is. He's very laid back. "He gets over the ground very easy; he has a great attitude and is versatile," Young continued. "He doesn't need to be put on the front; he tracks cover really well and has a great kick to him." With the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup less than two months away, Young certainly has the June 14 date marked on his calendar. "It's a very exciting time of the year," Young said. "Piece Of The Rock was third in the North America Cup out of the 10-hole at 98-1 (2010 edition), so it just goes to show anything can happen in a race and that was a thrilling moment. To have a top horse like National Debt in the barn is really something special. All we can do is take it week-by-week and do out best to make sure he's at his best." "It said a lot about him when he won the Gilmour in (1):50," Young continued. "The question remains if he can go in (1):47 or (1):48 and be an elite three-year-old. We know he can go in (1):50 and hopefully there is another two seconds or so in him. Until he does it, we don't know." Following the North America Cup, National Debt will once again return to the US. "After The Diplomat he doesn't have anything to the Somebeachsomewhere then the North America Cup. After that he'll go back to Ronnie (Coyne) in the US and get ready for more stakes down there." National Debt will begin from post seven in the lone $20,000 division of The Diplomat in race three on Saturday evening. Sylvain Filion is scheduled to drive. The field will line up as follows: 1. Weather Hanover 2. Highland Tartan 3. Pop Pop Joe 4. Somewhere In L A 5. Roger Mach Em 6. Prince Clyde 7. National Debt 8. Account Rollover 9. Big Surf Also on Saturday, the $43,000 final of the Don Mills Series will take place in race seven. The field will line up as follows: 1. Its Payday Friday 2. Flight Of The Kiwi 3. Hldontghttoyurdrms 4. Crosbys Clam Bake 5. Our Mojo 6. Enough About You 7. West Side Story 8. Tough Mac 9. Mego Mossgal. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
Alberta's Kelly Hoerdt, co-owner and developer of the undefeated top harness racing colt, National Debt, announced tonight that his next race will be in the Diplomat at Woodbine Entertainment & Gaming in Toronto on April 26th. It was expected that his next race would have been in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono Downs. The first leg of the Diplomat on April 26th goes for $20,000. The second leg on May 3rd goes for $20,000, and the final on May 10th for $50,000. The Diplomat is for three-year-old colts that are non-winners of $100.000 in 2013. "The schedule was going to be tight," Hoerdt said. "The Bobby Weiss Final was only a week away from the start of the Diplomat. The Diplomat goes for a little bit more money. We were deciding between the Diplomat and The Simpson at the Meadowlands for his next start. He needs to be up there anyway as he has the Somebeachsomewhere and the North America Cup after that at Woodbine. "We are going to give him a little time off," Hoerdt explained. "He is going to go in the care of Bob Young in Ontario. He is going to look after him for a month or so. We will qualify him around the 19th of April. "We were estatic after winning the Buddy Gimour Final the other night," Hoerdt said. "Timmy ( Tetrick ) gave Ron Coyne a great report on the horse after the race. Ronnie said he was fully recovered when he got back to the winner's circle. Ronnie said he was real happy with the way he came out of the race. Ron Coyne is going to be his trainer for the whole three-year-old campaign." by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com
Perfect Alliance completed her sweep of the Charles Singer Memorial with dominant 1:52.2 stakes record performance in the $53,200 final for Andy Miller. Sent away as the overwhelming 1/5 betting choice, Perfect Alliance followed Time To Quit around the first turn before brushing to the top before the 55- half. Ray Hall ranged up first over for Tetrick and pressed the leader toward the 1:24- three quarters before Perfect Alliance kicked it into another gear and drew out to an open length win under minimal urging in the record mile. Longshot Little Bitty Lies rallied late for Marcus Miller to take the place and Time To Quit stuck around for third. The winner is trained by Julie Miller for owners Meadowlands Racing Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gural (racing under Little E, LLC), General Manager & CEO Jason Settlemoir, Dave Stolz and Art Geiger. Julie Miller was beaming with pride in the winners circle. "She was unbelievable tonight," said Miller. "I couldn't be more excited. She had a great week, was training great all week and she raced great tonight." Miller confirmed the Bobby Weiss will be next on her mare's agenda. National Debt continued the parade of unbeaten prospects when he captured the $60,500 Buddy Gilmour pacing series final in Saturday's eleventh race. Driver Tim Tetrick protected the eventual winner's position from the rail, allowing second choice Capital Account a short lead before retaking before the 55.2 half. The winner faced token pressure through the 27.4 third panel with Gingras waiting in the pocket with Capital Account for the homestretch to unleash his colt from the pocket. National Debt had the answer when asked by Tetrick, sprinting home in 27.2 for the 1:50.3 win. Capital Account was a well meant second and Dinner At The Met third. Tetrick was pleased with his colt once again. "A 1:50 mile in March is pretty big," said Tetrick. "He got a little lazy on the lead and he has some things to learn, but the talent is there. Now we just have to see if he can pace in 1:47." National Debt is now six for six in his career and doubled his lifetime earnings with the Gilmour win for owners Kelly Hoerdt, Ema & Blair Corbell and their new partner J & T Silva Stables. Ron Coyne, Jr has been deputized by Hoerdt to tend to his prize pupil while stateside and his work thus far has been impeccable. Total handle for the Saturday program was $3,426,720, which included slight on-track gains. Racing returns Thursday, with a 10-race program and post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali
"I just try to put the horses in the best spot and usually when you put them in the best spot they can do it from there.” A month into his return from hip surgery, driver Tim Tetrick is eyeing two big races Saturday at Meadowlands Racetrack, not to mention another career milestone. Tetrick, who was last season’s Driver of the Year as voted upon by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, will take the lines behind National Debt in Saturday’s $60,500 Buddy Gilmour Memorial Series final for three-year-old male pacers and Ray Hall in the $53,200 Charles Singer Memorial final for trotters. In addition, the 32-year-old Illinois native is 10 wins from 8,000 lifetime victories. When he reaches that mark, he will become the youngest driver in harness racing history to do so. Walter Case, Jr. holds the record, having notched win No. 8,000 at the age of 37 in 1998. “That’s a huge number,” said Tetrick, who became the youngest driver to reach 7,000 wins in May 2012. “I’ve been very fortunate. I never dreamed something like that could happen when I started out, but I’m glad it did. The main thing is just trying to do the best I can for all the clients that trust me with their horses." Tetrick, who also was USHWA’s Driver of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2012, ranks No. 25 on the all-time list for wins. He has led the sport in purses for each of the past seven years and ranks No. 7 in career earnings, with $141 million. Only Billy Haughton won more consecutive purse titles, with eight straight from 1952-59. In December, Tetrick had surgery on his left hip, which sidelined him until Feb. 5. He has won 24 of 163 starts since his return and is getting more comfortable every day. “When I first came back I felt out of shape; it was like starting something all over again,” said Tetrick, who has suffered from a degenerative hip condition since childhood and had surgery on his right hip in 2008. “I can understand why horses don’t win right off the bat. “It took some time to get my legs back under me, but I feel good now. The muscles are getting stronger and I’m pretty much pain free.” Tetrick will drive for his biggest purses since his return when he races Saturday night at the Meadowlands. National Debt won his only start this season, drawing off for a three length win over Dinner At The Met in 1:50.3 in the first leg of the Gilmour Series on Feb. 22. The colt was unbeaten in four starts in Alberta last year, when he was trained and driven by co-owner Kelly Hoerdt. Hoerdt, who received the 2013 O’Brien Award of Horsemanship, sent the horse to trainer Ron Coyne, Jr. to race at the Meadowlands. The horse is staked to all the major races for three-year-old pacers. “He’s got a lot of pressure on him now,” Tetrick said about National Debt, “but he impressed me very much. When I qualified him I thought he was a nice colt, but I didn’t know he was going to go in 1:50. When he got out there under the lights, he turned it on and he did it real handy. I moved with him at the half and he brushed and crushed. He’s got a big motor.” National Debt, who starts from post one, will be challenged by eight rivals, including Dinner At The Met and Capital Account. The Erv Miller-trained Dinner At The Met has won four of five starts this year and the Jimmy Takter-trained Capital Account has captured three of four races. Ray Hall, out of the stable of trainer Mark Harder, faces two horses that are unbeaten this year in the Singer. Time To Quit has gone five-for-five and Perfect Alliance is four-for-four. Ray Hall, who has won two of six races, finished second to Perfect Alliance in his two preliminary legs of the Singer. “My horse has done nothing wrong at this point, he just ran up against the standout of the series,” Tetrick said. “Perfect Alliance is definitely the one to beat, but I like (Ray Hall). Hopefully in the final he can be right there and get a good piece of it.” From Harness Racing Communications
Prominent harness racing owner Jerry Silva has purchased a 33.3% interest in the three-year-old pacing colt National Debt, according to trainer Kelly Hoerdt, who reported this to Harnesslink.com. National Debt, who is sired by Allamerican Native, and is undefeated in five lifetime starts. Racing mainly in Alberta, Canada, National Debt made the national scene last week when he won a division of the $150,000 Gilmour Pacing Series at the Meadowlands and is now one of the favorites in the $75,000 final on Saturday, March 8. “This is absolutely the best fit for us,” said Hoerdt, “I retain one-third, Blair Corbeil of Alberta keeps another third and Jerry Silva has his one-third. I want to thank all the other people who made offers. We had offers to purchase 50% and 100% of the horse. Jerry is one of the prominent owners in the United States and we could not be happier. “I am also happy that he will be staying in the care of Ron Coyne, Jr.” Hoerdt added. The price set on the colt was not revealed. By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com
It was an enticing mix of old and new at The Meadowlands on Saturday night with fan favorite Golden Receiver making a successful return to the track and a couple of lightly raced three year olds with big futures captured divisions of the Buddy Gilmour series. Golden Receiver has had a remarkable career for trainer Mark Harder and owners Our Horse Cents Stable and Nina Simmonds, winning over two million dollars with many of his greatest victories coming at The Meadowlands. Now aged nine years, Golden Receiver returned to the racing wars with Corey Callahan aboard after a two and a half month respite following his second place finish in the 2013 TVG Pacing Championship final on November 30. On Saturday, driver Callahan called upon his mount's customary speed and style to set comfortable (for him) fractions of 26.1, 54.4, 1:22.4 before holding off the formidable late bid by the pocket sitting Easy Again by a neck in 1:49.2. Both Harder and Callahan were elated by the return of their "Big Horse" in the same fine form he has exhibited for the past several years. The Buddy Gilmour series (formerly known as the Jr Trendsetter) for three year old colts and geldings has long been a springboard for lightly raced sophomores to gain needed experience as they embark on what their connections hope will be a summer stakes campaign. The winners of the pair of $17,500 divisions raced on Saturday gave further cause for optimism to their connections who had already made the February 15 nomination payment to the Meadowlands Pace on each. Brittany Farms has raced many champions through the years and were a partner in last year's Pace winner Captaintreacherous. George Segal's nom de course looks to have another potential prodigy in the American Ideal colt Capital Account. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Capital Account didn't make his first start until December 21 but has demonstrated unusual speed in his four prior outings with three wins and a place. Saturday's race was another step forward, resulting in a five length win in a new record of 1:51-. Pierce, also from Takter's barn, was second and Grandpa Don, third. Yannick Gingras has been aboard for all of Capital Account's races and handled him flawlessly again in this one. There's no questioning the colt's speed and once his mind and gait catch up he's going to be a force. National Debt comes from an entirely different background but was no less impressive in his east coast debut after travelling across the continent. He is being trained in New Jersey by Ron Coyne Jr. for Blair and Ema Corbeil and their partner Kelly Hoerdt, who developed and drove the undefeated colt to four impressive wins in Western Canada last fall. National Debt made a quick impression on the locals with his sharp appearance and long, powerful strides. With two qualifiers under his belt for fitness, National Debt and Tim Tetrick caught the similarly unbeaten Dinner At The Met in his Gilmour split. On this evening, after taking an early tuck in third, Tetrick moved National Debt to the lead just past the 56.1 half and let him roll on a bit. When Dinner At The Met rolled up to challenge into the stretch National Debt had plenty in reserve, sprinting home in 26.3 to hold safe by three lengths in 1:50.3. Most impressive were the two separate bursts of speed National Debt displayed, one, making his bid for the lead past the half, the other in the stretch. When Tetrick asked for speed in the final eighth, the response was devastating. National Debt could provide quite the surplus for his connections in 2014. It was a tremendous night for wagering at The Meadowlands Saturday. The Total handle was a robust $3,625,092, which was a slight bump from last year. In addition, on-track handle was up as the facility was packed with patrons taking advantage of the first signs of spring in the northeast. The attractions at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will only grow in the spring with the opening of Victory Terrace, the rooftop bar and lounge and The Backyard, which will be the expansion of the track apron with entertainment and dining options galore. Racing resumes on Thursday, with the second round of the Charles Singer Memorial trotting series, with post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali
National Debt has only four lifetime starts, winning all four easily in Alberta Canada. On Saturday the impressive colt will step up in class and face the best early season three-year-old harness racing colts at the Meadowlands in the William Buddy Gilmour Series. In those four lifetime starts, National Debt owns two track records. National Debt became the fastest two-year-old pacer in Alberta Downs history in just his second start, defeating a field of older horses in 1:53.3. In his fourth lifetime start National Debt equaled the track record for two-year-old colts at Northlands Park, rolling to victory in 1:55. Kelly Hoerdt trained and drove the colt in all of his four starts. Kelly shares ownership of the talented son of Allamerican Native-Our Inheritance with Blair & Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta. The colt was a $17,000 purchase at last year's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Kelly was named Co-Trainer of the Year at the recently completed Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Awards. Hoerdt, 47, scored 82 training wins during the 2013 racing season and earned $623,245 in purses, $438,100 at Alberta Downs to make him the season's leader. Also at the awards, National Debt was named Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year. The William Buddy Gilmour Series begins next Saturday at the Meadowlands.The first leg goes for $17,500. The second leg on March 1st goes for $20,000, and the final on March 8th for $75,000. The series is for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime. "He is a fantastic horse," Hoerdt said. "He is the best horse I ever had. I don't know how he is going to be at the Meadowlands. He has had a couple of good qualifiers. "He was awarded the two-year-old of the year last night," Hoerdt added. "He went 1:53 in just his second lifetime start. We have a shortage of horses in Alberta. They mix the classes. He won his maiden in 1:57. He then went in non-winners of two thru four. It is like jumping up three classes. He did not race against two-year-olds in that race, they were all aged horses. The horse he sailed by in twenty six went on to win the Western Canada Pacing Derby. In all his starts he had a plenty of horse left at the end. This is why he is at the Meadowlands. "I haven't seen the two qualifiers but I got feedback from Tim Tetrick," Hoerdt explained. "Tim said the horse has tons of talent, but is very green. Every time he took the horse off the helmet he couldn't wait to get by that horse. That's the sign of a great horse. He goes by them, but doesn't want to open up on them. He liked him. Another good thing is that Tim had his choice to drive two other horses in that race and picked us. I am hoping Tim drives him in the Gilmour. "We have had a problem getting him ready for the series," Hoerdt said. "We gave him time off after his fourth start. I should have trained him down to two minutes in Alberta. With the bad weather we were only able to train him down to 2:03 before I sent him to Ronnie Coyne. The plan was to have one start in him, but Ronnie was getting dumped on with the snow. The Gilmour is just a launching pad. They are not going to get the guts ripped right out of him in his first start. Last year the divisions went in 1:52 and 1:53. He is coming off the qualifier in 1:56. The time doesn't mean as much as the way he did it. I know that sitting behind him, 1:51 or 1:52 is not out of his reach. He may be a little short in his first race. Everybody else is going to be in same boat with the bad weather and cancellations" There are fifty one horses eligible for the William Buddy Gilmour. The notables include Capital Account, Dinner At The Met, Pierce, and Fire In The Belly among others. Capital Account trained by Jimmy Takter won in 1:52.4 by five lengths on February 8th at the Meadowlands. Dinner At The Met trained by Erv Miller won in 154.3 on February 15th at the Meadowlands. Pierce, although he broke stride the other night at the Meadowlands, has a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 at the Red Mile in a qualifying race. Fire In the Belly, trained by Jim King Jr., won easily at Dover Downs in 1:54.2 on February 16th. "We have made a lot of stake payments for him." Hoerdt said. "We jumped in with both feet. He's paid up for the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace and Messenger. He is out there for sale. We don't have a for sale sign on him. Those payments have to be made if you plan to get any money for the horse. "I sent the horse to Ron Coyne in New Jersey." Hoerdt added. "My partner Blair Corbeil has a horse with Ron already. I met Ron a couple of years ago at Harrisburg. He has a smaller operation with his wife. All the horses get individual attention, as opposed to a big barn. We are on the same page as far as training the horse." "We are waiting to see if he can do it against the competition at the Meadowlands," Coyne stated. "I am pretty confident he can go in 1:51. Can he do it this week, probably not. It would have been nice if we had a start along with the two qualifiers. We have been fighting the weather for a couple of months now. They were fighting the weather up in Alberta when he first started training. We got the two qualifiers in. I was happy with both qualifiers. The first qualifier he was in need of a soft journey. We covered him up and let him sprint the last hundred yards. The other day we raced him a little bit more. We were hoping for a sharper qualifier, around 1:55. The pace up front did not dictate that. He finished it off coming home in twenty seven and change. "Timmy(Tetrick) liked him quite a bit," Coyne said. "He said he has got some talent. Everybody is down on the fence. Can he make the next jump? I expect Tim will drive the horse on Saturday. I don't see any better horses that he could drive. I am hoping he will stick with him. “We wanted to stay away from any 1/2 mile tracks early," Coyne explained. "They have put him in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono next. That will stretch his legs a little more. Hopefully that will set him up for the rest of the season’s stakes races." If all goes well, starting with Saturday's Buddy Gilmour Series, Kelly Hoerdt and his team will have a successful three-year-old stake season with National Debt. They will have defied the odds of racing a horse from Alberta, Canada and being successful in the highly competitive racing of the big tracks in the Northeast. By Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com
Smooth Criminal came within one-fifth of a second of his lifetime mark on Saturday at Northlands Park as he held off 45-1 longshot Overcard to win the $9,000 Open Pace in 1:53.1 over the 'good' track. Trainer/driver Bill Tainsh Jr. quickly sent Smooth Criminal to the lead from post three and carved out fractions of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:24.3 before holding off the pocket-sitter. Overcard and Philip Giesbrecht finished a quarter-length behind in second. Smooth Criminal paid $13.70 to win as the 5-1 third choice. Timberline Court, the 3-5 favourite, finished third for Gerry Hudon. The five-year-old Blue Burner gelding is owned by Willie Wychopen of St. Paul, Alta. and Edmonton's Walter Moroz. Now two-for-five this year, Smooth Criminal has 16 wins lifetime and his earnings sit just a few thousand dollars shy of the $200,000 plateau. He took his 1:53 speed mark as a three-year-old in an Alberta Sires Stakes elimination at Alberta Downs. Hudon was the evening's win leader with three victories aboard Cabo Real ($4.50), the repeating Mr Brightside ($7) and Burn The House ($7.50). Meanwhile, Gary Clark, Travis Cullen, and Kelly Hoerdt each had a pair of wins on the 12-race program. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
Standardbred Canada has announced the winners of the 2013 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event, the annual Black Tie Gala was held in Charlottetown, PEI, at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel and PEI Convention Centre. The awards are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. O’Brien was born in Alberton, PEI. Bee A Magician who was perfect in her 2013 season, was the unanimous choice in the Three-Year -Old Trotting Filly division and was also voted Canada’s Horse of The Year. Bee A Magician won all 17 of her races last season and earned in excess of $1.57 million for a perfect sophomore campaign. The daughter of Hall of Fame sire Kadabra took a mark of 1:51 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The invincible filly’s stakes victories included the SBOA elimination and final, the Casual Breeze, the Elegantimage elimination and final, three Ontario Sires Stakes events including the Super Final, the Delvin Miller, Hambletonian Oaks elimination and final, the Simcoe, Breeders Crown elimination and final, American National and Moni Maker. Sylvain Filion successfully defended his Driver of The Year title. In 2013 he led all reinsmen in the nation in terms of purse earnings, as his mounts banked $6,111,736. Filion finished as the leading money-winning driver on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit with over $5 million to his credit between Mohawk Racetrack and Woodbine Racetrack. The resident of Milton, Ont. earned the Lampman Cup for the second straight year, as he topped the Ontario Sires Stakes standings for drivers. Filion celebrated his richest win of the season while steering Boomboom Ballykeel to a 10-1 upset victory in the $683,000 Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. Richard Moreau was voted Trainer of The Year following an impressive season that saw his stable win 279 races and earn $3,623,805 in purses. The resident of Puslinch, Ont. earned training titles across Ontario at Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District and Woodbine Racetrack. Moreau topped the Canadian trainer standings with $3.5 million in earnings and 270 wins. He celebrated the biggest win of his career this past season when Boomboom Ballykeel captured the Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. The 2013 season marked the 14th consecutive year that his stable has surpassed the $1-million mark in purse earnings. Alberta’s Kelly Hoerdt won the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship. Hoerdt is a successful driver/trainer who is annually near the top of the training and driving charts in Alberta. The 2013 season was another productive year for Hoerdt, as he trained 82 winners and horses to $623,000, and drove 66 winners and horses that earned over $490,000. Hoerdt was the leading trainer in terms of earnings at Alberta Downs. His stable was led by sophomore pacing colt Premium Attaction, a multiple stakes winner that rattled off six wins in 11 races and over $111,000 Precocious Beauty was honoured as Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of The Year. Precocious Beauty won seven of 11 races, $462,912 in purses and took a mark of 1:50.1 which tied a world record for a one-mile track. Her richest payday was a victory in the Shes A Great Lady at Mohawk. The two-year-old pacing colt title went to Arthur Blue Chip, who scored six wins in 11 starts and bankrolled $400,120 for his connections. The son of Shadow Play took a mark of 1:51.2 in his Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk before being scratched ‘sick’ from the final. His most lucrative payday was a runner-up finish in the Governor’s Cup. He also won a handful of Ontario Sires Stakes races, an elimination of the Battle of Waterloo and a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes. I Luv The Nitelife returned as a seasoned sophomore in 2013 and added another O’Brien (Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of The Year) to her trophy case. The talented filly boasted a record of 13-1-1 in 15 races and $1.2 million in earnings. She took a mark of 1:48.4 in the Valley Forge at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. She also set a two-heat world record of 3:42.2 in the Jugette. She swept the Fan Hanover, the Lynch, the Mistletoe Shalee and closed the season as strongly as she began with a win in the Breeders Crown and runner up finish in the American National. Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation took the hardware home as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of The Year. Vegas Vacation gave his connections the ride of a lifetime in 2013. Conditioned by Casie Coleman, the son of Bettors Delight put together a sophomore record reading 10-4-1 from 20 starts while banking $976,037 in purses. He wheeled off victories in his first four races which included the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and an elimination of the Pepsi North America Cup. On September 19 he captured the Little Brown Jug in straight heats – both timed in 1:50. ‘Vegas’ finished his sophomore season with a win in the Matron Stakes to put his bankroll at just over $976,000. Anndrovette continued to dominate the pacing mare ranks in 2013, and, for the third consecutive year, was crowned Canada’s Older Pacing Mare of The Year. The daughter of Riverboat King was on the board in all but three of her 21 races. Some of her major wins included three legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway along with the Roses Are Red and Breeders Crown eliminations. On July 20 at Mohawk Racetrack she captured the Roses Are Red final in a career best 1:48. The talented mare now has 35 lifetime wins and a career bankroll of almost $2.6 million. The $6 million horse, Foiled Again was voted Canada’s Older Pacing Horse of The Year. Foiled Again didn’t show any signs of slowing down in his nine-year-old season, as he won 11 of his 29 starts, including three Levy divisions, the Ben Franklin elimination and final, as well as the Breeders Crown elimination and final for his third straight million-dollar campaign. He entered the year within reach of the all-time earnings record for pacers, and he managed to obliterate that mark by adding $1.4 million to his bank account while visiting 11 different racetracks along the way. He closed the season by sweeping the elimination and final of the TVG Free For All Pace at the Meadowlands. Riveting Rosie was the winner in the two-year-old filly trotting category. Riveting Rosie closed out her rookie campaign with six wins in eight starts and earnings of $468,613. Her major victories included the Peaceful Way Final, her Ontario Stakes Super Final and a division of the Champlain Stakes. In the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, it was Father Patrick who took the O’Brien trophy. He topped the earnings chart in his division and was flawless in 10 stakes starts with his only blemish coming in an early season two-year-old race where he was beaten by just a head. Father Patrick amassed $752,395 in earnings with major wins in the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, William Wellwood Memorial Trot, Champlain Stakes and Bluegrass Series. Flanagan Memory was voted Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year after a productive season which saw him win seven of 11 races and $408,798 in earnings. He clocked a season’s best 1:53 effort in winning his Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk. He also scored victories in the Goodtimes and several OSS events. Maven was voted Canada’s Older Trotting Mare of The Year. Since winning the 2012 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack, Maven has been one of the most consistent trotters in North America. She added wins in the Miss Versatility Trotting Series, an elimination and final of the Armbro Flight, and the Allerage. She showed just how good she was by claiming a second Breeders Crown title. At season’s end Maven had won 10 of 14 races, and added $513,485 to her bankroll. For the second consecutive year, Mister Herbie captured the title as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse of The Year. Although Mister Herbie only won one race in 2013, he was a strong contender in many of the major stakes and scored six runner-up finishes in stakes competition, including the Maple Leaf Trot, Allerage, John Cashman Memorial and Breeders Crown, finishing the season with $492,067 in purses. Seelster Farms, of Lucan, Ont. was honoured as the Armstrong Breeder of The Year. In 2013, Seelster-bred horses scored 248 wins and $2.1 million in earnings. In the Future Star category, the winner of this first-time award was trainer/driver Travis Cullen. The 21-year-old Alberta-based horseman closed out Alberta Downs' 2013 meet with five wins on the final card of the meet while securing both the Lacombe track's driving and training titles. Amidst a career-best year, the Edmonton horseman concluded the Alberta meet with a chart-topping 64 training victories and 86 driving wins. The complete list of winners follows. 2013 O’BRIEN AWARD WINNERS PACERS Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer - Precocious Beauty owned by James L Avritt Sr., Lebanon, KY Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer - Arthur Blue Chip owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Guelph, ON – R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB – Serge Savard, Saint-Bruno, QC Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer - I Luv The Nitelife owned by Richard P. Young, Boca Raton- Joanne Young, Coconut Creek, FL Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer - Vegas Vacation owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge- Adriano Sorella, Milton – Anthony B Beaton, Waterdown – Phyllis M Saunders, Hamilton, ON Older Pacing Mare - Anndrovette owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ Older Pacing Horse - Foiled Again owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown – Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA – JJK Stables LLC, Fort Lauderdale, FL TROTTERS Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter - Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter - Father Patrick owned by Father Patrick Stable, East Windsor, NJ Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter - Bee A Magician owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON – Herb Liverman, Miami Beach – David H McDuffee, Delray Beach, FL Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter - Flanagan Memory owned by Liette Flanagan, Repentigny-Rene Dion, Saint-Lazare, QC Older Trotting Mare - Maven owned by William J. Donovan, Ft Lauderdale, FL Older Trotting Horse - Mister Herbie owned by Jeffrey R Gillis, Hillsburgh – Mac T Nichol, Burlington, ON- Gerald T Stay, Buffalo, NY PEOPLE AWARDS O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Kelly Hoerdt, Beaumont, AB Armstrong Breeder of The Year Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON Driver of The Year Sylvain Filion, Milton, ON Trainer of The Year Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Future Star Award Travis Cullen, Edmonton, AB STANDARDBRED CANADA MEDIA EXCELLENCE AWARDS The Media Excellence Awards program, established by Standardbred Canada in 2008, is aimed at honouring exceptional work that covers Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal. Outstanding Written Work Paul Delean ’Reaching Improbable Heights’ 'Reaching Improbable Heights', written by Paul Delean, was published in the December, 2012 issue of Trot Magazine. It tells the story of trotter Intimidate’s incredible journey from obscurity to harness racing’s biggest stage and the ride of a lifetime that two smalltime owners from Quebec are still pinching themselves over. Outstanding Broadcast Woodbine Entertainment Group North America Cup HD Broadcast Woodbine Entertainment Group’s North America Cup broadcast aired across Canada on The Score television network on Saturday, June 26, 2013. The one-hour special of the $1-million North America Cup was the first live high definition broadcast of a standardbred race in Canada. The show featured live race coverage of the main event, a feature on Marvin Katz (co-owner of eventual winner Captaintreacherous) and a profile of a very special racing fan – Sydney Weaver. The broadcast was a production of WEG’s broadcast department, produced by Rob Platts and directed by Kris Platts. Outstanding Photography Clive Cohen Clive Cohen captured the sunset behind trainer Rene Dion warming up Ocean Mist Beauty on September 19, 2013 at Mohawk Racetrack. The image was published on WEG’s Facebook page later that night. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
The Alberta Standardbred Horse Association (ASHA) has announced the nominees for its 2013 awards banquet, which will be held on Saturday, February 15 at the Northlands Park Paddock Theatre. Cocktails are at 6 pm and dinner/awards starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $50 per person and to purchase tickets please call 1-800-852-5985. The nominees are listed below. Two-Year-Old Filly - Rummys Command, Justapassin Fanci, Shark Festival Two-Year-Old Alberta Filly - Nighttraintovegas, Triple Action, Sweet Sugar Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding - Ghost Pine, National Debt, Jet Tracker Two-Year-Old Alberta Colt/Gelding - Comes Home First, Blue Eyed Cowboy, Pass The Port Three-Year-Old Filly - Contesta Hanover, American Passion, Keep The Dream Three-Year-Old Alberta Filly - GTs Selene, Crackers Hot Shot, Emotions Run Wild Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding - Beren Hanover, Senga Nanjeing, Big N Bad Three-Year-Old Alberta Colt/Gelding - Premium Attaction, Play Me Right, Blue Star Admiral Champion Aged Mare - Feelin Flush, Blue Star Beauty, Credit Card Junkie Champion Aged Horse/Gelding - Trust The Artist, Smooth Criminal, Flak Jacket Claimer Of The Year - Fillies/Mares - Just Saucy, Fancy Camelot, Feelin Flush Claimer Of The Year - Colts/Geldings - Greek Ruler, Raging Fingers, Da Terror Groom Of The Year - Christine Scott, Amy Henry, Christine Cutting Trainer Under 200 Starts - Marjorie Dumont, Richard Schneider, Gerald McGinn Driver Under 200 Starts - Rene Goulet, Deborah McLeod, J.F. Gagne Trainer Of The Year - Kelly Hoerdt, Travis Cullen, Keith Clark Driver Of The Year - Travis Cullen, Gerry Hudon, Brandon Campbell Horseman Of The Year - Travis Cullen, Kelly Hoerdt, Gerry Hudon Owner Of The Year - Kelly Hoerdt & Blair Corbeil, Rod Starkewski, Blair Thomas Breeder Of The Year - William Zaretsky, Allan & Kathleen Neurauter, Meridian Farms/Bill Andrew Horse Of The Year - To Be Announced Breeders Recognition Award - Larry Thomas
On Wednesday, December 18, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2013 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season. The winners will be announced at the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala on Saturday, February 8, 2014. This year marks the 25th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Nine past O’Brien Award winners are looking to add to their trophy collections and are either defending titles or are nominated in a new division. These past winners include: Anndrovette, Bee A Magician, Foiled Again, I Luv The Nitelife, Intimidate, Mister Herbie, Sylvain Filion, Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. and Seelster Farms. Sylvain Filion will defend the Driver of the Year title against first-time nominee Doug McNair. Filion, 44, of Milton, ON, is currently the leading money winning driver on the WEG circuit with over $5 million to his credit between Mohawk and Woodbine. With 281 victories, he is closing in on Scott Zeron for the title as WEG’s top dash winning driver. He has a good shot of achieving that as Zeron has moved to The Meadowlands. A career winner of 7,477 races, Filion recently surpassed $6 million in earnings in 2013 in addition to going over $80 million in his career. He is also the regular driver for O’Brien finalist, Intimidate. Doug McNair, 24, of Guelph, ON, is enjoying a productive year as he’s driven 292 winners to go along with $5.6 million in purse earnings, his second best year on record ever for money. McNair was the regular driver for O’Brien finalists Precocious Beauty and Love Canal. There will be a new name beside the Trainer of the Year category as Gregg McNair and Richard Moreau are looking for their first National title. McNair, 52, of Guelph, ON, is en route to a career year and sits second in the Canadian trainer earnings standings. McNair conditions O’Brien finalist Precocious Beauty and to date has trained 109 winners and horses to $3.1 million in purse earnings. Moreau, 49, of Puslinch, ON, was a finalist in this category last year. The conditioner has been a mainstay on the WEG circuit for the last decade. He leads the Canadian trainer standings with $3.5 million in earnings and 270 wins. He celebrated the biggest win of his career this past season when Boomboom Ballykeel captured the $683,000 Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. Kelly Hoerdt, 47, of Beaumont, AB, receives his third nomination for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship and he is up against first time nominee Paul MacKenzie. Kelly Hoerdt is a successful horsemen who is annually near the top of the training and driving charts in Alberta. He’s been training in Alberta on and off for 25 years. Hoerdt was the leading trainer in earnings at Alberta Downs this year. He’s currently in the top five trainers at Northlands for both wins and money and sits in sixth at Northlands in the driving charts. Hoerdt has 66 wins and $487,528 in earnings as a driver and 81 wins and $616,517 as a trainer. Paul MacKenzie, 52, of Puslinch, ON, has been driving and training for over 35 years and has managed to be one of the top B circuit drivers for decades. The Charlottetown native is the all time leader in driving wins at Flamboro Downs. In 2013 he was the third leading dash winner at Grand River and in the top 10 drivers at Flamboro. Paul drove 169 winners and horses to earnings in excess of $1 million in 2013. He didn’t focus much on training. Unfortunately MacKenzie suffered some injuries at Grand River in late October and has not driven since. Precocious Beauty and Shes Da Bomb, both sired by Art Major, are the finalists in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly category. Precocious Beauty won 7 of 11 races, $462,912 and took a mark of 1:50.1 which happened to tie a World Record for the mile track. Her richest payday was a victory in the $451,000 Shes A Great Lady at Mohawk. Shes Da Bomb had 5 wins in 8 starts and earnings of $216,056. She paced to her season’s record of 1:50.3 at The Red Mile. Both fillies captured divisions of the Eternal Camnation Stakes and Champlain at Mohawk. Arthur Blue Chip and Luck Be Withyou didn’t battle each other much on the racetrack but the two will vie for the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt title. Arthur Blue Chip scored 6 wins in 11 starts, bankrolled $400,120 and took a mark of 1:51.2 in an elimination of the Metro at Mohawk before being scratched from the final. His most lucrative payday was a runner-up finish in the Governor’s Cup. He also won a handful of Ontario Sires Stakes races, an elimination of the Battle of Waterloo and a division of the Nassagaweya. Luck Be Withyou’s victory in the Breeders Crown at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs was the highlight of a 40 year partnership between owner John Craig and trainer Bill Cass. Luck Be Withyou had 5 wins in 11 races and $363,402 in purse earnings. He took a mark of 1:50 in an elimination of the Breeders Crown, and also scored a victory in a division of the Champlain at Mohawk. I Luv The Nitelife returned as a seasoned sophomore and looks to add another O’Brien to her trophy case. She is up against Love Canal in the three-year-old pacing filly division. I Luv The Nitelife boasted a record of 13-1-1 in 15 races and $1.2 million in earnings. She took a mark of 1:48.4 in the Valley Forge at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. She also set a two-heat world record of 3:42.2 in the Jugette. She swept the Fan Hanover, the Lynch, the Mistletoe Shalee and closed the season as strongly as she began with a win in the Breeders Crown and runner-up finish in the American National. Love Canal put together a record of 4-3-1 in 13 races, earned $344,693 and took a mark of 1:50.1 at Mohawk in the Canadian Breeders Championship one week after her win in the elimination. She also had victories in the final of the SBOA Stake and an Ontario Sires Stakes event. Sunshine Beach and Vegas Vacation are finalists in the sophomore pacing colt category. Sunshine Beach hit for 16 top three finishes, including eight wins in 20 starts for earnings of $913,702. He defeated Captaintreacherous in the Battle of the Brandywine in a 1:47.4 world record mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in August and was a runner-up to the division leader in the Breeders Crown. He was also victorious in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, Bluegrass Stakes and the Progress Pace. Vegas Vacation put together a sophomore record reading 10-4-1 in 20 starts while banking $976,037 in purses with major wins in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, Empire Breeders Classic, Simcoe Stakes, Little Brown Jug and the Matron Stakes. He was also a close runner-up in the Hempt Memorial, the Tattersalls Pace and the Adios. Anndrovette is looking to defend her crown as Canada’s Older Pacing Mare against the talented Rocklamation. Anndrovette is looking for her third consecutive trophy as the country’s top pacing mare following a season where she scored 7 wins and bankrolled $564,827. She took a mark of 1:48 at Mohawk in the Roses Are Red Final -- a Canadian record -- and also posted a win in the elimination. She won three legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker, an elimination of the Breeders Crown and finished third in the final. Rocklamation won 5 of 21 races and earned $546,217 on the season while posting a mark of 1:49.3 in the Golden Girls at The Meadowlands. She won two legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and captured the Milton Stakes at Mohawk. A Rocknroll Dance and Foiled Again are the Older Pacing Horse finalists. Multiple World Champion A Rocknroll Dance was the first horse in harness racing history to pace three consecutive sub-1:48 wins. Those scores came this year in an invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (1:47.4f) and in the elimination and final of the Canadian Pacing Derby (1:47.3-1:47.2). He established World Records as a four-year-old on both five-eighths and half-mile tracks. His 1:49.1 world mark on a half was taken winning the Battle Of Lake Erie at Northfield over Foiled Again, and his 1:47.4 world mark on a five-eighths came in an invitational race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He defeated the best older pacers of the year in winning the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk in track and Canadian record time. A Rocknroll Dance has been retired from racing and will begin his stud career in 2014 at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. The $6 million horse, Foiled Again didn’t show any signs of slowing down in his nine-year-old season as he won 11 of his 29 starts, including three Levy divisions, the Ben Franklin elimination and final as well as the Breeders Crown elimination and final, for his third straight million-dollar campaign. Following Foiled Again's final start of the year, trainer Ron Burke noted that the iron tough pacer has exceeded his expectations with all of his accomplishments. He earned $1.4 million on the year, while surpassing the $6 million career marker and closed the season sweeping the elimination and final of the TVG Free For All Pace at The Meadowlands. Miss Aultsville and Riveting Rosie are nominees in the two-year-old filly trotting category. Miss Aultsville established a stakes, track and Canadian record of 1:59.2 for two-year-old trotting fillies on a half-mile track in an Ontario Sires Stakes event, one of her two season wins. She earned just over $151,000 on the season. Riveting Rosie closed out her 2013 campaign with six wins, one second and one third in eight starts and earnings of $468,613. Riveting Rosie’s major victories were the Peaceful Way Final, The Ontario Stakes Super Final and a division of the Champlain. Father Patrick and Muscle Matters will face off in the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division. Father Patrick topped the earnings chart in his division and was flawless in 10 stakes starts with his only blemish coming in an early season two-year-old race where he was beaten by just a head. Father Patrick amassed $752,395 in earnings with major wins in the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, William Wellwood Memorial Trot, Champlain Stakes and Bluegrass Stakes. Muscle Matters was lightly raced but earned $218,800 in 6 starts, half of which he won. He took his mark of 1:55.4 in winning the OSS Super Final at Mohawk. Bee A Magician, who was perfect in her 2013 season, is up against Motown Muscle in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly division. Bee A Magician won all 17 of her 2013 races and earned in excess of $1.57 million for a perfect sophomore season. The invincible filly took a mark of 1:51 at The Meadowlands and won the SBOA elimination and final, the Casual Breeze, the Elegantimage elimination and final, three Ontario Sires Stakes events including the Super Final, the Delvin Miller, Hambletonian Oaks elimination and final, the Simcoe, Breeders Crown elimination and final, American National and Moni Maker. Motown Muscle enjoyed a productive 2013 campaign, hitting for 6 wins in 14 races and $331,423 in purse money. She took a mark of 1:53.4 at Mohawk and racked up wins in a division of the Casual Breeze, Canadian Breeders Championship elimination and final, and several Ontario Sires Stakes events. Flanagan Memory and Your So Vain are the sophomore trotting colt nominees. Flanagan Memory won seven of 11 races for $408,798 in earnings. He clocked a season’s best 1:53 effort in winning the OSS Super Final at Mohawk. He also scored victories in the Goodtimes and several OSS events. Your So Vain was a winner of 5 of 13 and $382,105. He posted a mark of 1:52.4 in winning an elimination of the Canadian Trotting Classic. He also added wins in the Simcoe Stakes, Bluegrass Stakes, and a heat of the Kentucky Futurity to his resume. Bax Of Life and Maven are the Older Trotting Mare finalists. Bax of Life won 4 of 23 races and earned just over $155,000. She took a mark of 1:52.2 at The Red Mile. She was a nose winner in a Breeders Crown elimination and second in the Miss Versatility. Since winning the 2012 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack, Maven has been one of the most consistent trotters in North America. She swept the Miss Versatility Trotting Series including a 1:51.4 World Record in the final at Delaware. She also added wins in an elimination and the final of the Armbro Flight and Allerage to her credentials. She showed just how good she was by claiming a second Breeders Crown title. At season’s end Maven had won 10 of 14 races, and added $513,485 to her coffers. Intimidate and Mister Herbie are the Older Trotting Horse finalists. Both horses were O’Brien winners in 2012 – Intimidate as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year and Mister Herbie as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse. Intimidate stepped up to the Older Trotting Horse ranks to win 7 of 9 on the year and bank $176,000. He won several Preferred events and took a mark of 1:51 in the Credit Winner at Vernon Downs. Although Mister Herbie only won one race in 2013, he was a strong contender in many of the major stakes and scored six runner-up finishes in races including the Maple Leaf Trot, Allerage, John Cashman Memorial and Breeders Crown, finishing the season with $492,067. Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. and Seelster Farms are nominated in the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category, and are both previous winners of this award. McIntosh’s 98 starters have accounted for 228 wins and just over $2 million in earnings in 2013, while Seelster-bred horses have posted 254 victories and $2.1 million in purse earnings. In the Future Star Category, the finalists for this first-time award are Travis Cullen and Patrick Shepherd. Horseman Travis Cullen, 21 of Edmonton, AB, closed out Alberta Downs' 2013 meet with five wins on the last day of racing while securing both the Lacombe track's driving and training titles. Amidst a career-best year of over $366,000 in trainer earnings and over $577,000 in driving earnings, the Edmonton horseman concluded the Alberta meet with a chart-topping 64 training victories and 86 driving wins. His 2013 total of 109 training wins in Canada places him fourth among all trainers while his .430 UTRS leads the nation. Patrick Shepherd, 21, of Lynden, ON, trained 112 winners and horses to $542,799 in earnings. His Canadian win total ranks as the third best among all conditioners, as does his .389 training average. One of the 24 horse nominees will be honoured as Canada’s Horse of the Year. The winners will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, February 8, 20114, at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown, PE. The complete list of finalists and owners is as follows. 2013 O’Brien Award Nominees Pacers Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer Precocious Beauty - owned by James L Avritt Sr., Lebanon, KY Shes Da Bomb – owned by F. Bellino And Sons LLC, Bronxville, NY Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer Arthur Blue Chip – owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Guelph, ON – R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB – Serge Savard, Saint-Bruno, QC Luck Be Withyou – owned by John H. Craig, North York, ON Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer I Luv The Nitelife - owned by Richard P. Young, Boca Raton- Joanne Young, Coconut Creek, FL Love Canal - owned by Let It Ride Stables Inc – Robert Cooper Stables LLC, Boca Raton, FL - J and T Silva Stables LLC, Long Beach, NY Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer Sunshine Beach - owned by Hudson Standardbred Stb Inc., Hudson- Conrad Leber, Montreal QC – Diane Bertrand, Edmonton, AB Vegas Vacation – owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge- Adriano Sorella, Milton – Anthony B Beaton, Waterdown – Phyllis M Saunders, Hamilton, ON Older Pacing Mare Anndrovette - owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ Rocklamation - owned by J and T Silva Stables LLC, Long Beach, NY – Stable 45, Boynton Beach, FL- Our Horse Centre Stables, Clifton Park, NY Older Pacing Horse A Rocknroll Dance - owned by A Rocknroll Dance Stable, Wauseon, OH Foiled Again - owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown – Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA – JJK Stables LLC, Fort Lauderdale, FL Trotters Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Miss Aultsville - owned by Old Aultsville Stable, Mississauga, ON – Pealer Pen, Camp Hill, PA – John Kopas Stables Ltd. Milton, ON Riveting Rosie - owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Father Patrick - owned by Father Patrick Stable, East Windsor, NJ Muscle Matters - owned by Nunzio Vena, Bolton – Santo Vena, Brampton – Benoit Baillargeon, Rockwood – Richard Thompson, London, ON Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Bee A Magician – owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON – Herb Liverman, Miami Beach – David H McDuffee, Delray Beach, FL Motown Muscle - owned by Bet Max Stables Inc., Casco – Benenati Inc., Clinton Twp, MI Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Flanagan Memory - owned by Liette Flanagan, Repentigny-Rene Dion, Saint-Lazare, QC Your So Vain – owned by P G Van Camp Stables, Port Perry, ON Older Trotting Mare Bax Of Life – owned by Jerry Duford – Joanne S Wray, Campbellville, ON Maven - owned by William J. Donovan, Ft Lauderdale, FL Older Trotting Horse Intimidate – owned by Judith Farrow, Hemmingford – Luc Blais, Lochaber Ouest, QC Mister Herbie – owned by Jeffrey R Gillis, Hillsburgh – Mac T Nichol, Burlington, ON- Gerald T Stay, Buffalo, NY People Awards O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Kelly Hoerdt, Beaumont, AB Paul MacKenzie, Puslinch, ON Armstrong Breeder of the Year Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON Driver of the Year Sylvain Filion, Campbellville, ON Doug McNair, Guelph, ON Trainer of the Year Gregg McNair, Guelph, ON Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Future Star Award Travis Cullen, Edmonton, AB Patrick Shepherd, Lynden, ON
Contesta Hanover pulled off a 29-1 upset in the $75,000 Northlands Filly Pace, defeating Crackers Hot Shot in a two-horse breakaway down the stretch on a snowy Friday night at Northlands Park. Gerry Hudon worked out the winning trip for trainer Keith Clark, whose last Northlands Filly Pace winner, Dewinton Destroyer, was also an upset winner at odds of 11-1 in 2011. The De Winton, Alta. conditioner shares ownership of Contesta Hanover with partner Robert Jones of Slave Lake, Alta. When the gate closed, Emotions Run Wild (Kelly Hoerdt) worked her way to the lead over inside starter Keep The Dream, Clark's favoured filly, with outsider G Ts Selene (Travis Cullen) left parked out through a :27.2 opening quarter. Keep The Dream made a quarter pole move edging off the rail ahead of G Ts Selene and pursued the early leader past the :56.4 half-mile mark. As the 1-9 favourite began to edge by into the top spot, second choice Crackers Hot Shot (Bill Tainsh Jr.) rallied three-wide from mid-pack and quickly rolled by with Contesta Hanover following that move nearing the three-quarters in 1:26. Crackers Hot Shot and Contesta Hanover took off from the rest of the field into the final turn and locked in a stretch duel with the latter persevering in deep stretch for the 1:56.3 victory over the frozen track. "I had a good trip," commented Hudon in the winner's circle. "I saw it mapping out early; they were going lots of speed [up front] and I knew if I could keep it tight I would get it all in the end." Despite winning her elimination two weeks ago, Contesta Hanover was overlooked by the betting public and paid $61.40 to win by one length over Crackers Hot Shot. The longest shot on the board at odds of 61-1, Cenalta Fireworks (Scott Knight) came from last to show, finishing nearly nine lengths behind, over Keep The Dream. "I thought the other horse [Keep The Dream] was going to win, but Gerry did a great job and we have to thank Keith too, he got her ready," noted Jones. "We're very, very happy." The Yankee Cruiser filly, who went winless in three starts as a freshman, now boasts a career record reading 7-7-6 in 38 starts with earnings soaring to $47,151. In overnight racing action, 2012 Northlands Filly Pace competitor Credit Card Junkie ($5.40) and Clark overcame a post eight start one race earlier to the win the weekly $9,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace. The 8-5 favourite tucked into third early on and then swept to command down the backstretch en route to her 10th win of the year from 21 starts, clocked in 1:58.3. Phoenician Girl (Travis Cullen) came on for second, finishing two lengths behind the winner, while pacesetter Gts Jerilyn (Brandon Campbell) finished third. Clark bred and owns the four-year-old Camystic filly with Doris McDougall of Cochrane, Alta. and Calgary's Verne Rea. The $75,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby for three-year-old colts and geldings will headline Saturday's harness racing card at Northlands Park, which gets underway at 6 p.m. To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Northlands Park. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca.