The Albert Standardbred Horse Association Awards Banquet will be held on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at the Northlands Paddock Theatre in Edmonton, and earlier today the trio of finalists for each category was announced. “We are very excited to have Shannon Doyle and Margaret Graham return as emcees for our very special evening,” said ASHA’s Project Coordinator, Orianna Scheck. Cocktails will kick off the night at 5:00 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. The popular band ‘Five On The Side’ will also be returning. The event will honour Alberta’s outstanding equine athletes and their owners along with some of the province’s finest horsemen. Tickets are $50.00 each and are available from Shelly Gray at the Northlands Race Office and at the ASHA office in Calgary. Please contact Orianna Scheck at the ASHA office at (403) 263-7765 for further information. Here are the nominees for each of the categories: CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES FILLY FIRE WATCH MY VILLAS ON FIRE CAM FINISH CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY MY VILLAS ON FIRE FIRE WATCH TRUE ROCK CHAMPION TWO YEAR OLD AB STAKES COLT/GELDING COOL COWBOY JOHNNY GUN URCUTOFF CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT/GELDING COOL COWBOY URCUTOFF COOL COWBOY CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES FILLY NIGHTTRAINTOVEGAS BARONA MERCEDES MOTHERS MELODY CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY NIGHTTRAINTOVEGAS SHARK FESTIVAL RUMMYS COMMAND CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES COLT/GELDING SOTALLY TOBER BLUE EYED COWBOY COMES HOME FIRST CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT/GELDING BLUE EYED COWBOY OUTLAW GUNPOWDER COMES HOME FIRST CHAMPION AGED MARE SING LIKE AN ANGEL FEELIN FLUSH BLUE STAR BEAUTY CHAMPION AGED HORSE WHO DOESNT CLAIMER 10,000 AND OVER COLTS/GELDINGS PLAYBOOK RAGING FINGERS GREEK RULER CLAIMER UNDER $10,000 FILLIES/MARES FANCY CAMELOT OVERNIGHT SUCCESS QUEENS HERITAJ CLAIMER UNDER $10,000 COLTS/GELDING BR MONEY MATTERS YANKEE LUKE HILLDROP SHADY GROOM OF THE YEAR AMY HENRY CHRISTINE CUTTING SEAN MOORE TRAINER UNDER 200 STARTS MARJORIE DUMONT RYAN GRUNDY LANCE WARD TRAINER OF THE YEAR JAMIE GRAY KELLY HOERDT TRAVIS CULLEN DRIVER OF THE YEAR TRAVIS CULLEN PHIL GIESBRECHT BRANDON CAMPBELL HORSEPERSON OF THE YEAR TRAVIS CULLEN KELLY HOERDT JAMIE GRAY OWNER OF THE YEAR KELLY HOERDT-BLAIR CORBEIL RODNEY STARKEWSKI JAMIE GRAY BREEDER OF THE YEAR KURT & KATHY SCHMIDT MERIDIAN FARMS-BILL ANDREW OUTLAW STABLE FASTEST GIRL EMMASPHERE FEELIN FLUSH FASTEST BOY WHO DOESNT BREEDERS RECOGNITION AWARD ALLAN NEURAUTER RON MCLEOD AWARD COLLEEN HAINING HORSE OF THE YEAR TO BE ANNOUNCED From the Alberta Standarbred Horse Association
Camaes Fellow persevered by a head over Wazzup Wazzup for the second week in a row to take the $34,000 Preferred Pace while Carmen Auciello had a training triple during the 2015 opening card at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday night. Jonathan Drury sent Auciello and Stephen Klunowski's Camaes Fellow around early leaver Calgary Seelster (Doug McNair) heading to the first turn and reached the quarter pole in :26.4 over the sloppy track. The seven-year-old Mach Three gelding continued to lead the field, which was scratched down to six with Modern Legend out, through middle splits of :56.2 and 1:24.2. As they passed the third quarter mark, Wazzup Wazzup (Randy Waples) launched his attack on the pacesetter and those two took off down the lane in a heated battle to the wire with Camaes Fellow hanging on for the 1:52.1 triumph. Calgary Seelster finished seven and a half lengths behind in third. Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte) advanced from the back of the pack to finish fourth while 6-5 favourite Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) earned the final paycheque in fifth. To view the rest of the story click here. 2,000th career win for Kelly Sheppard Making his first start of the New Year on Saturday night, Kelly Sheppard steered his own trotter Kdazzle to victory in the seventh race at Flamboro Downs and reached a special career milestone in the process. Sheppard sent favourite Kdazzle ($4.50) on the move near the half and advanced from fourth into the pocket spot behind the pacesetting Empire Strikesback. When the leader broke stride around the final turn, Kdazzle went on to win in 2:04.2 over the sloppy track by two and a half lengths with Audrey Pearl following in second. Sheppard's victory aboard Kdazzle was his 2,000th driving win. The Dundas, Ont. horseman trains and co-owns the five-year-old homebred gelding as part of the Sea Of Green Inc. stable. To view the rest of the story click here. Northlands feature to Blue Star Beauty Blue Star Beauty prevailed from the pocket in Northlands Park's first Open event of the year for distaffers on a frosty -23 degree Saturday afternoon. Driven by Kelly Hoerdt in the $10,000 feature, Blue Star Beauty followed pacesetter Crackers Hot Shot through fractions of :29.1, :59 and 1:29 before overtaking her in the stretch for the 1:59.4 victory over the frozen track. Blue Star Beauty paid $7.20 to win. Favourite American Passion abandoned an early attempt to leave after being caught wide and later closed from last in the compact field of five to edge out Crackers Hot Shot for second-place. Feelin Flush finished fourth and Clearly Best was fifth while Sing Like An Angel was scratched sick. To view the rest of the story click here. Rod Donlevy loses fight with cancer at age 65 Surrounded by his family and friends, former Canadian Trotting Association President and longtime CTA director Rod Donlevy of Saskatoon, Sask. passed away on December 25, 2014 at the age of 65 after a heroic battle with cancer. Rod worked as a charter in the Western provinces during his university days and owned a number of horses through Ballantyne 17 Stable. During his time with the CTA, he helped negotiate the sale of the Evans Avenue offices, and was active in merging CTA and CSHS to become Standardbred Canada. In addition to his time with the CTA, Donlevy also started Central Program Register Ltd. with his father Urban and friend Gerry Cronin in the late 1960s. To view the rest of the story click here.
Charlottetown Driving Park hosted a double-header of PEI Colt Stakes on Saturday with the two-year-olds featured during the afternoon card and three-year-olds front and center in the evening. Gilles Barrieau, Clare MacDonald and Mike Stevenson each won three of the stakes divisions, which ranged in purses of $5,400 to $6,300. Barrieau pulled off the biggest upset of the day when he catch-drove Landed Alien to a 1:57.4 triumph, converting from the pocket to defeat heavy favourite Lovineveryminute at odds of 11-1. Jackie Matheson trains the sophomore filly, who earned her first stakes victory and a new lifetime mark. Barrieau also drove two-year-old winners Dixeland Band (1:59) for trainer Kevin MacLean and filly Jann Down (1:59.3) for trainer Stephen Mason. To view the rest of the story click here. Emotional win at Kawartha Downs It was an emotional night at Kawartha Downs tonight for the Boyd family, who buried family patriarch Ross Boyd this afternoon. They then travelled to the track to watch grandson Nick record two victories on the card including one with a horse he owns and trains. Boyd went gate-to-wire with his own colt, two-year-old Rise Against, who won in 1:58.3. Boyd, of Guelph, Ont., also trains the youngster, who was notching his first lifetime win in just two starts. Boyd was also in the winner’s circle following the third race thanks to a 1:57.2 effort by Lucky Regal. “We buried my grandpa this afternoon and tonight down the lane it was like he was helping me across the wire,” Nick said following the win. To view the rest of this story click here. Accident mars Alberta stakes Mothers Melody and Shark Festival were victorious in the $10,000 Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Filly Stakes for three-year-olds on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs, but the final division was marred by an accident at the top the stretch. Charismatic Art (J.F. Gagne) was leading the fillies around the final turn in the second division when she broke stride causing interference to Rummys Command (Jim Marino) in behind and Blue Star Escape (Kelly Hoerdt), who fell in the backfield. The rest of the field was able to get around the breaker with Shark Festival (Keith Clark) closing off cover for the 1:56.3 victory. Favourite Rollin Deep (Travis Cullen) finished one and a quarter length behind in second with Great Desire (Philip Giesbrecht) back in third. Marino was up on his feet quickly after being dumped from the sulky. Hoerdt told Trot Insider he was doing okay after the race, but headed to hospital to have his left ankle x-rayed. Both drivers booked off their remaining assignments after the 10th race accident. To view the rest of this story click here. Hat Trick for Sparling at Leamington Hockey season may not have started yet, but Rob Sparling Jr. scored three wins on the Saturday afternoon card at Leamington Raceway. Starting in the third race with an impressive two-year-old Bettors Delight filly, Passion Delight ($3.70), "Spar" made it look easy, winning in 2:04.3 over the "good" track for trainer Andrew McCabe and owner Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, Ont. The time of the mile was a track record for freshman fillies. His next win with DS Surprise ($4.10) wasn't so easy as he battled tooth and nail with St Lads Top Model and Alfie Carroll, ending up in a dead-heat for win in 2:00.3. DS Surprise is owned by Archie and Janice McEachern of Alvinston, Ont., with Janice handling the training chores. Sparling's third win was memorable as well, as he drove three-year-old filly Blissfullannmarie ($25.10) to a maiden win in 2:04 for trainer Catharine Gaudreau and owner Don Wilkins of Bothwell, Ont. With the 2014 election campaign just underway, Lakeshore mayor Tom Bain didn't need the winner's circle platform to announce his candidacy as no one in Lakeshore dare run against the popular mayor. Still, he was in the winner's circle with his trainee Wallet Sniffer, catch-driven by Alex Lilley for owner Don McMurren of South Woodslee, Ont. and parked the mile in 2:02.3. The handle for the Saturday afternoon card was $9,153. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Leamington Raceway. (With files from Leamington Raceway)
Bestinthebusiness proved to be the best on Sunday evening at Flamboro Downs, winning the $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace for horses and geldings. Leaving from post seven, Bestinthebusiness ($14.80) out-sprinted outside assignee Adkins Hanover to the lead during a :26.4 opening panel. He continued on to the half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:25 and then cruised home for the 1:54.3 triumph. Adkins Hanover followed one length behind while the hard-charging Tendtowin rallied wide from the backfield to show. Ryan Holliday was the winning driver behind the six-year-old Another Mile gelding, who is trained by Stephen Davis and owned and bred by the Mighican-based Brett Boyd Racing Inc. Eat Me Up ($14.50) left from outside her five rivals and went wire-to-wire to win the $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 in 1:56.3 with Insincerity following two and a half lengths behind from the pocket and Shellace rounding out the top three finishers. Bob McClure steered the five-year-old Mach Three mare down the road for trainer Richard Moreau and owner L. David Ratchford of North Sydney, N.S. To view the rest of this story click here. Wire to wire victory for Oakmont at Truro Oakmont went wire-to-wire to win the top class at Truro Raceway for the third consecutive week during Sunday afternoon's harness racing card. Oakmont held a commanding lead in the $1,275 Winners Over Pace through fractions of :28.1, :57.1 and 1:26 and cruised home for the season's best 1:55.4 triumph with pocket-sitter Sf Razamatazz following one and three-quarter lengths behind under the wire and Electric Syl closing from the back of the five-horse field for third. Danny Romo trains and drove Oakmont for his last two wins -- one of which was a dead-heat -- while Robert Laffin took the lines for Sunday's score. Oakmont now has six wins in 15 starts this year in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. after a winless seven-race 2013 campaign in Ontario. The seven-year-old I Am A Fool gelding is owned by Grayland Farm of Pugwash, N.S. To view the rest of the story click here. Johnny Gun shoots his way to Alberta win Two-year-old pacing colt Johnny Gun won the fastest of the three Alberta Sires Stakes Lonestar divisions on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs while Darryl Cutting trainees Pablos First and undefeated Urcutoff were victorious in the other races. The Sires Stakes divisions carried purses ranging from $16,800 to $17,100. Favourite Johnny Gun ($3.40) was first up and first home to equal his lifetime mark of 1:56.2 in Sunday's middle split. Johnny Gun and driver Travis Cullen settled off the pace in sixth place from post five and began to chip away at their 14-length deficit after the :27.1 opening panel. They advanced into second by the half in :59.4 and took over command from Chillinlikeavillin (Kelly Hoerdt) approaching the final turn. Johnny Gun then began to open up on top by the 1:28 third quarter station and extended that lead to fourth lengths as he kicked home in :28.2 to secure the victory. Withflyingcolours (Keith Clark) finished second off a pocket trip while early trailer Senga Shaganappi (Ryan Grundy) followed the winner's cover and finished third. To view the rest of the story click here. Make it two straight for Carrera Angel at Summerside Carrera Angel made it back-to-back victories taking the Sunday feature race for the second week in a row at Red Shores Summerside. The time of the mile was 1:59 flat. Owner/driver Rocky Schurman hustled the nine-year-son of Camluck off the gate to the lead into the turn and then released Say It Again Sam (Jason Hughes) en route to the opening quarter in :28-seconds flat. Carrera Angel tracked the pacesetter through splits of :58.3 and 1:28.4 before unleashing a powerful finishing kick to notch his fifth score from 18 starts this season. Cambest Kisser (Kenny Arsenault) found racing room in the stretch to finish second with Van Zant (Ron Matheson) rallying late to complete the triactor. Action O So Royal edged out Paphos to claim the Peter Coughlin Memorial in 1:59. Brian MacPhee did the driving for owner/trainer Wayne Pike of Winsloe, P.E.I. MacPhee came right back in the next race with Jarretts Jet to record a driving double. Garth Cole was the winning trainer. Bakardi Arti posted the fastest mile of the afternoon going right to his lifetime mark of 1:56.4 for Walter Cheverie, trainer Jonah Moase and owners Neal Moase of Cornwall, P.E.I. and Heather Neill of North Milton, P.E.I. Driver Todd Walsh enjoyed a great weekend competing in the Billings Driving Challenge. The Charlottetown resident won another division of the Billings with In Cahoots for owner Leon Stewart of Summerside, P.E.I. Jason Hughes, Walter Cheverie and Kenny Arsenault also recorded driving doubles on the program. From Red Shores
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