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A Senate committee advanced a bill Thursday to legalize historical horse racing machines in Kentucky, which closely resemble casino slots. The horse racing industry is banking on the bill to keep their lucrative facilities open after the state's highest court ruled them an illegal form of gambling. Senate Bill 120 passed unanimously through the committee despite strong criticism in testimony from representatives of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, who argued such a change could be made only through a constitutional amendment and would be struck down again in court. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last year and reaffirmed in January that these slot-like machines do not constitute legal pari-mutuel wagering such as live horse racing, raising alarms in the industry about the facilities having to close and cutting off a major source of revenue. Senate Bill 120 was filed Tuesday by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, and adopts the horse racing industry's preferred solution of changing the definition of pari-mutuel wagering in state statute to include these HHR machines. Keeneland Association attorney Bill Lear told legislators the Supreme Court decision declaring the machines illegal stated if the state's definition of pari-mutuel wagering is to be changed, it "must be made by the people of the commonwealth through their newly elected legislature" — arguing this meant a statutory change instead of a constitutional amendment requiring a statewide referendum. Kentucky horse trainer Tom Drury told legislators the loss of revenue from such wagering would lead to massive job cuts and devastate the entire horse industry, which is estimated to have a $4 billion economic impact for the state. Family Foundation spokesman Martin Cothran countered it was "preposterous" to attempt to include machines indistinguishable from slots within the definition of pari-mutuel wagering such as live horse racing with pooled bets, saying the bill was clearly an unconstitutional expansion of gambling. Cothran also called SB 120 "a millionaires' stimulus bill," saying the state has only collected 8% of the approximately $750 million in revenue from HHR machines since 2014, with a "small oligarchy" of horse tracks — the only ones able to use the machines — raking in the large majority. Referring to Churchill Downs, Cothran said the company "has moved further and further away from horse racing, becoming an ever more lucrative multibillion-dollar casino corporation. Its stock is also publicly traded, which means it is owned by shareholders, many of whom reside out of state." Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, took issue with what he called the "overtly specious" and "glib" testimony of the Family Foundation, saying he had "never seen testimony that insulted an entire industry more than what I heard today." In a December committee meeting, Thayer warned Family Foundation officials that if they blocked the effort to legalize HHR machines in the upcoming session, 100,000 jobs in the Kentucky industry would be at risk and "the blood will be on your hands." Kentucky Equine Education Project, a horse racing advocacy group, applauded the committee's advancement of SB 120 in a statement, arguing it "is solely about maintaining the status quo and preserving the jobs and economic development opportunities that historical horse racing has consistently provided our state." The bill could clear the full Senate as early as next week but may face a tougher test in the House, where the Republican caucus remains divided between supportive urban members and anti-gambling rural members. This division within the caucus last year blocked a bill to legalize and tax sports wagering, which has stalled again this session. Reprinted with permission from the Louisville Courier Journal    

The first nomination payment for the Kentucky Proud Series (County Fair Racing) is to be postmarked no later than February 15th, the cost is $50. The sustaining payment is due in April.   To be eligible, your 2 or 3 year old either had to be sired by a registered KY stallion or a product of mare that was in the KY residency program. You can find more on these requirements 810 KAR 7:040 section 2 -https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/kar/810/007/040.pdf Nomination forms can be found here: https://khrc.ky.gov/Documents/2021%20Nomination%20Form%20V.1.pdf   The first payment for 3 year old Kentucky Sire Stake eligible horses must also be postmarked no later than February 15, the cost is $300. The next two payments for three year olds will be March and April. Two year old payments are March, April and May. In order for a horse to remain eligible for their three year old year, they must make the first payment as a two year old. Yearling nominations are due in May. Nomination forms can be found here: https://khrc.ky.gov/Documents/KHRC%20KYSS%20Nomination%20Form.pdf   More information can be found at https://khrc.ky.gov/newstatic_info.aspx?static_id=165&menuid=32 and www.khha.net.   by Amanda Stephens, for the KHHA

Kentucky Harness Racing Association President Bob Brady today announced new enchancements to the Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series, the Commonwealth Series and the Kentucky Proud Series.   "This will really boost the budding Kentucky harness racing program, Brady said. "It’s exciting to see the results of hard work and cooperation among all of the industry stakeholders -- racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers and drivers.  This growth is made possible by purse contributions from historical horse racing at The Red Mile and the newly opened Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel.".   The highlights of the program include:   Championship Series   • 4 Legs (NEW in 2021) • $250K Finals (No Starting Fee) • $5M+ est. in purses in 2021   Commonwealth Series   • 4 Legs (2 legs added for 2021) • Reduced Starting Fee for Legs ($250) • $50K Finals (No Starting Fee) • $1.75M est. in purses in 2021   Kentucky Proud Series (formerly Fair Program)   • $25K Finals • Purses Increased based on Entries ($1K/entry) • Trailer Bonus on ½-mile tracks ($1K/trailer)   $7.5M+ est. in Total Purses    In addition to the program enhancements, the KY Sire Stakes Advisory Board approved a new stallion bonus program for 2021.  Although final details are being established, the program will consist of bonus payments to owners of Kentucky bred and sired horses competing in both the Championship and Commonwealth Series.    “Specific details are being established and will be announced in the near future.  We anticipate being able to pay bonus payments to owners of horses placing 1st through 5th in all series legs and finals.  If your horse is satisfies the mare residency program requirements and is sired by a Kentucky stallion, you will receive a significant bonus to the already nice purse payments,” says Brady.  “With the recent expansion of the Kentucky harness program, our hope is to attract top stallions to the Commonwealth,” continued Brady.   “Although there have been recent news reports regarding the Supreme Court of Kentucky decision relating to the Encore (Exacta) historical horse racing machines, we are confident that the KHA, working closely with our Thoroughbred counterparts, industry colleagues and our legislators, will collectively reach a solution that ensures continued growth of the Commonwealth’s signature horse industry through purses generated from the new racing and gaming facilities in Kentucky,” says Brady.     The Kentucky Harness Association (“KHA”) is pleased to announce several exciting introductory benefits to serve its members.  Working closely with the team at the newly opened Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel located in Oak Grove, Kentucky, the KHA is able to provide exciting introductory benefits to our members racing in the upcoming fall meet that begins on October 14.  Introductory member benefits include:   Race Sulky Accident Insurance Free Pre-Race Veterinarian Inspections Awards for leading Trainer, Driver and Owner (with KY bonus)   Race Sulky Accident Insurance Coverage for members with registered sulkies that are involved in an on-track accident (specific details will be provided prior to meet opening). Free Pre-Race Veterinarian Inspections (2020 Race Season) Under the new Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations, all horses are required to undergo a veterinarian examination as a condition of entry.  Working in conjunction with the race meet team at Oak Grove, the KHA has been able to secure an arrangement for participating horsemen with a local veterinarian that will be present at the track.  The introductory service rate of $5.00 has been negotiated for all horsemen.  For 2020, the KHA will pay for all such inspections for its members. Further details can be obtained at the Oak Grove race office. (Proof of Membership Required). Awards for leading Trainer, Driver and Owner (with KY bonus) The fall meet leading trainer, driver and owner based on wins (total earnings serving as tie-breaker), will receive the following:   $1,000 winning bonus (an additional $500 if KY resident) 1 Free Night Stay at the Oak Grove Racing and Gaming Hotel (weekday in 2021) $150 Gaming Voucher $100 Garrison Oak Steakhouse Gift Card  “An active membership base is critical to a successful harness racing circuit in Kentucky.  Our members are a priority for the KHA.  Our goal to is to promote, support and facilitate growth in the harness industry in Kentucky through our members and industry colleagues.  We are working on many other benefits to support the efforts of our members.” says Bob Brady, President of the KHA   From the Kentucky Harness Racing Association  

Perfect Sting remains undefeated after winning the $250,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes Final for two year old pacing colts and geldings at the Red Mile today. After settling fourth, the son of Always B Miki made a move to the front during the 26.6 second quarter. He was challenged at the top of the home straight, but he responded to win going away by two and a half lengths. Perfect Sting is now a perfect six for six and has earnings of $194,400. His time today was 1:49.8 – his second sub 1:50 mile of the season. Perfect Sting is the third foal of the fast Bettors Delight mare Shebestingin 1:47. Interestingly there is a New Zealand connection with Mark and Pauline O’Connor owning Wantapieceofme, a half sister to Shebestingin. Always B Miki is the current leading first season sire in the US. While his book is full in Australia he is still available in New Zealand at a fee of $7,000 plus GST.

LEXINGTON, KY -- Glamour-boy phenom Tall Dark Stranger continued his winning ways when holding off stablemate Fortify to win the $250,000 Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace Final of the Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS), which was one of eight harness racing divisions on the $2-million championship card Sunday (Sept. 20) at The Red Mile. Securing the pocket to a :26.1 first quarter, Tall Dark Stranger slid off the pylons and around early leader Caliber to lead the field by the half in :54.2. The North America Cup champ continued on a loose lead to three-quarters in 1:21.3 as Fortify mounted a late-race challenge from pocket turning for the finish. The Nancy Takter-trained pair raced on equal terms to mid-stretch but Tall Dark Stranger surged back to the front to win by a neck in 1:48. Captain Kirk finished third with Sea Of Life fourth. Passing $1 million in earnings this season and padding his career earnings to $1,741,645 for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms and Howard Taylor, Tall Dark Stranger won his eighth race from nine starts this season and his 16th from 18 overall. Yannick Gingras drove the Bettors Delight colt--bred by James Avritt Sr. out of his mare Precocious Beauty--who paid $2.10 to win. Driver David Miller began his big day with Blue Diamond Eyes, besting 2-5 favorite Making Waves in a 1:51 mile to win the Two-Year-Old Filly Pace and his first of four finals on the afternoon. Away third as Making Waves paced to the quarter in :28.3, Blue Diamond Eyes edged off the pylons moving to the backstretch and brushed to the top heading towards a :56.4 half. Making Waves tracked the leader tightly from the pocket rounding the final turn to three-quarters in 1:24.3, where the public choice angled outside for the attack. Through the stretch Making Waves dug into Blue Diamond Eyes, but the Ron Burke trainee repelled the pocket popper and hold sway by one-and-a-half lengths. Making Waves settled for second with High Minded sliding up the pegs for third and Single Girl snagging fourth. Off a victory in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship, Blue Diamond Eyes added a fourth win to her seven-start resume and pushed her bankroll to $317,042 for owners Thomas and Scott Dillon. The Brittany Farms-bred Captaintreacherous filly returned $6.40 to win. Undefeated Always B Miki colt Perfect Sting kept his record intact with a blowout 1:49.4 victory in the Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace in rein to David Miller. Native's Filou fired from post 7 to the lead entering the first turn and took the field by the quarter in :28.2. Perfect Sting soon tipped outside from fourth and advanced towards the lead moving into the backstretch, but Native's Filou accelerated towards the half to stretch out Perfect Sting to a :55 midpoint. The 1-9 favourite cleared command heading to the final turn and led to three-quarters in 1:22.4 as Native's Filou angled from the pocket to challenge the leader late, though levelled out late while Perfect Sting strode away to a two-and-a-half length victory. Captains Place slid up the pylons for third with Fulsome taking fourth. Winning all six of his starts, Perfect Sting--a homebred for Brittany Farms LLC and Val D'Or Farms--has earned $194,400. Joe Holloway, who trained the colt's dam Shebestingin, conditions the $2.10 winner. Off a runner-up finish in the Peaceful Way Stakes, Lady Chaos returned stateside with a sweeping move late in the mile for David Miller to score at 6-1 in the Two-Year-Old Filly Trot. Race-favorite Darlene Hanover dashed by early leader Beautiful Game after a :27.4 opening quarter to lead the field into the backstretch. Dutiful raced third while Miller floated Lady Chaos slightly off the pegs from fourth as Darlene Hanover strolled to the half in :56.1. The Linda Toscano trainee flushed Dutiful for cover into the final turn but fanned three wide by three-quarters in 1:25 for the stretch drive. Darlene Hanover clung to a diminishing lead as Beautiful Game veered out of the pocket to take a short lead before Lady Chaos, towards the center of the track, stormed by to win in 1:53.1. Eazy Pass rallied to best Darlene Hanover in the final strides for third. Now a four-time winner from seven starts, Lady Chaos has banked $248,303 for owners Richard Gutnick, Thomas Pontone, Joseph Lozito Jr. and Enviro Stables Ltd. The Cantab Hall filly bred by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Av And Son Bloodstock LLC paid $14.40 to win. Linda Toscano and Dave Miller teamed in the following final with Baby Your The Best to upset 1-9 favorite Reflect With Me with a 1:49.3 mile in the Three-Year-Old Filly Pace. Pettycoat Business protected position from the pylon post moving to a :27.3 first quarter but yielded control when Baby Your The Best brushed first over from third into the backstretch. Baby Your The Best kept the pace hot to a :55.2 half and to three-quarters in 1:23.1 as Reflect With Me attempted to gain ground first over. Spinning for the finish Baby Your The Best scooted away from Reflect With Me, extending her lead to three-and-a-half lengths at the finish with Pettycoat Business finishing third and Gai Waterhouse fourth. A Captaintreacherous filly owned by Richard and Joanne Young, Baby Your The Best won her third race from nine starts this season and her fifth from 22 overall, earning $457,947. Steve Stewart, Conquest Acres Lp and Michael Robinson bred the $14.20 winner. Per Engblom trainee Beads trotted a paid workout at the start of the Sunday card with a 1:51.2 romp in the Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot. Driver Brian Sears sent the Archangel colt to the point from post 2 and held a firm lead through fractions of :28.2, :56.2 and 1:24 before widening to a three-and-three-quarter length victory as the 1-9 favorite. Barley inched by pocket-sitter Ontopofthehill to take second while Simsalabim gave chase in fourth. Beads, bred by Atlantic Trot Inc. and Steve Stewart, competes for owners Renee Spahr and Christina Takter. The colt collected his fifth win from 10 starts this season and his seventh from 18 overall, earning $260,463. He paid $2.10 to win. Hypnotic AM surpassed the million-dollar plateau with a 1:51.1 victory as the 3-5 favorite in the Three-Year-Old Filly Trot. The Marcus Melander-trained Chapter Seven filly landed in the pocket behind Panem moving to a :27.2 opening quarter. As Tuscany parked and progressed uncovered before going offstride into the backside, Hypnotic AM vacated pocket and circled to the front heading to a :55 half. Crucial edged first over and rolled towards the leader with Ms Savannah Belle in tow circling the final turn, drawing within a length of the lead by three-quarters in 1:23.2. Hypnotic AM drifted slightly off the pylons through the stretch, leaving a seam for Panem to slide through and secure second while Crucial gave pursuit from third and Ms Savannah Belle settled for fourth. Bred by Courant A B for owner Courant Inc., Hypnotic AM won her fifth race from nine starts this season and her 12th from 18 overall, amassing $1,041,260 in earnings. Brian Sears drove the $3.40 winner. With 7-5 favorite Cuatro De Julio losing stride into the first turn, Venerate vaulted to the lead and cruised to a 1:51.4 victory in the Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot, a fifth of a second off the world record. Venerate led pylon-starter Cricket Fashion by the quarter in :28 with New Legacy racing third and Bidensky fourth. The Julie Miller-trained colt by Love You continued uncontested to the half in :56.1 and by three-quarters in 1:24.4 chased by Cricket Fashion as his lead grew. Venerate hit the finish clear of Cricket Fashion with New Legacy farther back in third and Bidensky taking fourth. Owned by Pinske Stables and Andy Miller Stable Inc., Venerate won his third race from six starts, earning $188,766. Steve Stewart and Kemppi Stable bred the $10.40 winner while Andy Miller sat in the bike. State-bred stakes action continues at The Red Mile on Monday (Sept. 21) with eight $50,000 finals of the Kentucky Commonwealth Stakes for freshmen and sophomores of each sex and gait. First-race post time for the 12-race card is slated for 1:00 p.m. (EDT). By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

Marie Ortolan Bar can succinctly sum up the fairytale she is living with colt Cuatro De Julio, this season's fastest 2-year-old trotter thanks to his near harness racing world-record-equaling 1:51.4 mile two weeks ago, and winner of eight of 10 races as he heads to Sunday's $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship at the Red Mile. "It's a story about faith, love, and friendship," said Marie, who trains Cuatro De Julio. "He is a gift. It is a wonderful story." Cuatro De Julio arrived in Marie's life when she most needed a gift like him. The colt was bred by partner Jean Pierre Dubois' Dream With Me Stable and raised by Marie in Kentucky. She realized quickly he was different. She realized, too, he was a horse to change her life. For more than a decade, Marie battled a variety of debilitating health conditions, from blood disorders to a rare congenital heart defect known as Ebstein's anomaly. She nearly died on multiple occasions and was forced to give up training horses for the better part of eight years. She still worked with babies at Dubois' breeding farm, but her illnesses had taken a toll on her physically and mentally. "When you fall very sick, they fix one problem but then another one comes," Marie said. "It is not fun to be sick. Your spirit wants to go, but your body says no. I was so weak. One day you say enough." Marie's faith helped sustain her during this period. "If you do not have God in your life, you have nothing," she said. And on March 22, 2018, a colt by Trixton out of the Ready Cash mare Clarabelle arrived and renewed her strength and outlook. It was Cuatro De Julio, or Fourth of July, which is Dubois' birthday. "I would say when he was one month old, he was very special; very special, very smart," Marie said. "When he was four months, he would follow me everywhere. I would say, go play with your friends. But he followed me everywhere. He was the dominant one. He was always the first for everything. "The way he moved was not so beautiful, there were others more elegant, but what I loved was the shoulder, the neck, the bottom, and he was never sick. He was never weak. I told everybody, when he was seven months, I have a good horse. I told everybody that this one is special. If you meet Cuatro, you will fall in love." So special, Marie decided to get her trainer's license again. With the help of numerous friends, including Judi and Henry Lunsford and Lee and Al Eferstein, she began training Cuatro De Julio. "This horse gave her the thrill and happiness and the will to come back and train again," said Lee Eferstein, whose husband Al has become Cuatro De Julio's regular driver. "He brought all of that back for her. He is just so special for so many reasons." Said Marie, "You never train a horse alone. You train a good horse with good people around you, people who love the horse. Without Lee, I'm nothing. She gave me my confidence back. Without all the friends and advice, I'm nothing. Everybody helps. We are a team." Cuatro De Julio's career began on the Kentucky fairs circuit, where he won six of seven races including the season-end final at Lexington's Red Mile. His only loss came in his debut when Marie drove him at the Ballard County Fair. "That was a very bad idea," Marie said, laughing. "This horse is not easy. If you fight with this horse, you will lose." Following that first start, Al Eferstein, a veteran of the Kentucky fairs, took the seat behind Cuatro De Julio. After sweeping the remainder of their fair circuit starts, they tackled the Kentucky Sire Stakes. Cuatro De Julio won his first KYSS start, made a misstep in the second, and rebounded by nearly matching Walner's world record for a 2-year-old trotting colt on a mile track in the most recent. "People are always asking me, when are you going to put up a catch driver?" Marie said. "He goes very well with Al. We won eight races easy. When something works, why would you change?" Following the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, Cuatro De Julio is eligible to the Grand Circuit races at Red Mile and the Breeders Crown at Harrah's Hoosier Park. But there is no reason to look to the future. The present is a wonderful story as it is. "Working with horses is a passion," Marie said. "We all have a dream and we have to follow the dream, but there is a lot of sacrifice. The recompense now is Cuatro. This horse saved my life." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Red Mile and the Kentucky Sire Stakes finals are the first eight races. Following are the morning-line favorites in each final, in race order. Three-year-old male trotters, Beads, 1-1. Two-year-old filly pacers, Making Waves, 4-5. Two-year-old male pacers, Perfect Sting, 6-5. Three-year-old filly trotters, Hypnotic AM, 5-2. Three-year-old male pacers, Tall Dark Stranger, 4-5. Two-year-old filly trotters, Darlene Hanover, 5-2. Three-year-old filly pacers, Reflect With Me, 6-5. Two-year-old male trotters, Dancinginthedark M, 2-1. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

The word perfect is the perfect adjective in Perfect Sting's name at this point in his harness racing career. Trainer Joe Holloway believes another adjective might suit the 2-year-old pacing colt as his career continues: Special. Perfect Sting, a son of two of history's fastest horses, stallion Always B Miki and mare Shebestingin, is 5-for-5 this season for Holloway and breeders/owners Brittany Farms and Val D'Or Farms. His next start comes in Sunday's $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers at Lexington's Red Mile, where he will leave from post five with regular driver David Miller and is the 6-5 morning-line favorite. Red Mile hosts all eight Kentucky Sire Stakes finals for 2- and 3-year-old pacers and trotters on Sunday. Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup winner Tall Dark Stranger, ranked No. 2 in harness racing's current Top 10 poll, headlines the championship for 3-year-old male pacers. Reflect With Me, unbeaten in six starts this year and ranked No. 9, leads the group of 3-year-old female pacers. Perfect Sting debuted July 28 with a dead-heat win at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and followed with a neck victory at The Meadowlands. Since then, he has won three Kentucky Sire Stakes starts at Red Mile, all by a minimum of a length. His 1:49.2 triumph on Aug. 25 is the season's fastest mile for a 2-year-old pacer. Only 11 freshmen in history have been faster. "A long time ago, I said I think this is going to be the best horse I ever trained," Holloway said. "So far, so good. But he's got to do it. We've got five more starts, at the most six, to see. They each get tougher now, but I think he can handle it. He's never been tired yet." During his Hall of Fame career, Holloway has trained a number of standout pacers, including three-time Dan Patch Award winner Jenna's Beach Boy and millionaire Always A Virgin as well as Hall of Famer Always B Miki (who shares the record for history's fastest mile, 1:46, with Lather Up) at ages 2 and 3. So his praise for Perfect Sting speaks volumes. "He's just far more advanced than Jenna, Miki, Always A Virgin; any of those," Holloway said. "David trained him (in the spring) and said when he puts it all together, he's going to be great. Each time out he's getting a little bit better and he's learning more. David said in three or four start he'd figure it out. He's still not quite there, but he'll get there. He does it effortlessly, so let's hope he continues that way. "It's too early to proclaim him the best, but I think he's got a real chance to do something special. Maybe he won't, maybe he will. But if he does, it will be a fun ride. "I called it early, David called it early, and now we just have to see." In addition to training Perfect Sting's sire during the early part of his career, Holloway trained Shebestingin throughout her career. Shebestingin was the sport's all-time fastest female pacer until 2019, when Shartin N's 1:46.4 mile bettered Shebestingin's mark by one-fifth of a second. "The mare deserved to have a great horse," Holloway said. "Hopefully he continues on." Following the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, Perfect Sting is slated to start in the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes at Red Mile before going to the Breeders Crown at Harrah's Hoosier Park. "This was the plan the whole time, we're shooting for everything at the end," Holloway said. "Right now, everything seems to be working OK." Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Red Mile and the Kentucky Sire Stakes finals are the first eight races. Following are the morning-line favorites in each final, in race order. Three-year-old male trotters, Beads, 1-1. Two-year-old filly pacers, Making Waves, 4-5. Two-year-old male pacers, Perfect Sting, 6-5. Three-year-old filly trotters, Hypnotic AM, 5-2. Three-year-old male pacers, Tall Dark Stranger, 4-5. Two-year-old filly trotters, Darlene Hanover, 5-2. Three-year-old filly pacers, Reflect With Me, 6-5. Two-year-old male trotters, Dancinginthedark M, 2-1. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

With the exciting Kentucky Sire Stakes program beginning this Sunday at The Red Mile, the Kentucky Harness Association wants to remind all participants of the new Commonwealth Series and declaration details.  As previously announced, the new Commonwealth Series consists of two (2) legs and a final.  The legs will carry guaranteed purses of $20,000 each (regardless of splits) and the finals for each of the 8 divisions will go for $50,000.  Specific details relating to both series are set forth in the attached Kentucky Horse Racing Commission publication. All eligible horses have the option of participating in either series, but must declare a Series before the second leg of the Championship Series and the first leg of the Commonwealth Series.  Once declared, the participating horse must stay in that Series.  “The Commonwealth Series is an exciting new program in Kentucky that affords horsemen racing opportunities during these challenging times.  It gives participants a choice that has not existed before.  With Sunday’s card alone, there are seven Sire Stakes races for two-year-old trotters with purses of $280,000,” says Bob Brady, President of the Kentucky Harness Association. The Championship and Commonwealth Series will take place over the next five (5) weeks and will culminate with Championship Series Finals on September 20th of $250,000 in each of the 8 divisions and Commonwealth Series Finals on September 21st of $50,000 in each of the 8 divisions. From the Kentucky Harness Association

Management at The Red Mile announced today that the outlook is bright for its 2020 harness racing meet, which begins on Sunday, August 2 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 11.   As of this writing, the Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship Series and Commonwealth Series hosted by the Lexington, Ky. track will have purses as advertised. Also of note, nominations for the track's major open stakes races are up from last year.   The KYSS Championship Series is scheduled to have three $40,000 legs and $250,000 finals for 2 and 3-year-olds, while the new Commonwealth Series will have two $20,000 legs and a final worth $50,000.   The sire stakes program kicks off Aug. 16 and concludes with the rich finals on Sept. 20 (Championship Series) and Sept. 21 (Commonwealth Series).   The Red Mile's major stakes portion of the meet starts Friday, Oct. 2 and closes with the traditional Kentucky Futurity Day card on Sunday, Oct. 11. Races will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during those two weeks with an afternoon post time of 1:00 p.m.   With nominations for the open stakes races up from last year, purses for the majority of those 20 marquee events are expected to be on par--or likely higher--than those offered in 2019.   One change for this year that should be noted by horsemen is rather than hosting late closers during the final two weeks of the meet, the track will instead have overnights with conditions--and anticipated purses--similar to the late closers of the past.   "We want to encourage owners and trainers participating in stakes to bring their young horses along, as always," said Red Mile shareholder George Segal. He said the race office will review the horse population and tailor conditions specific to the horses that will be on the grounds or planning to ship-in race day.   With the industry just now coming back from its COVID-19 shutdown, Segal said that the payments and starting fees associated with the late closing program is one less thing horsemen will have to deal with.   "We'll basically provide them with unique opportunities to showcase their young horses, and of course there's no better racing surface to do that on than at the Red Mile," he added.   The two-weeks of major stakes events--coupled with the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale--creates what's come to be known in the industry as "The Lexington Experience." The sale will be held at the crosstown Fasig-Tipton Pavilion the evenings of Tuesday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 10.   From the Red Mile    

LEXINGTON, KY-- Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras visited the winner's circle six times as he swept the remaining $50,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) consolations and collected victories in four of the eight $250,000 KYSS Finals on Sunday, Sept. 15 at The Red Mile. Gingras swept the early double as he wired the KYSS consolation for three-year-old trotting fillies with Fade Into You and held on by a neck to win the KYSS consolation for two-year-old trotting fillies with Bange Bi. Fade Into You, a Ron Burke-trained daughter of Cantab Hall, led the field unpressured through a :28.2 first quarter and a :58 half. Ma Was Right then charged first over from third and forced the pace to quicken passing three-quarters in 1:24.2, but faltered through the stretch. Fade Into You finished two-and-three-quarter lengths in front of pocket-sitter Mother Teresa to stop the clock in 1:54.4. Nomo Volo finished third. Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phillip Collura, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Fade Into You won her third race from 17 starts this season and her fourth from 27 overall, earning $191,268. Bluestone Farms LLC and Fredericka Caldwell bred the $3.80 winner. Bange Bi, trained by Trent Stohler, sat third to the quarter as Jasmine Volo and Shape Shifter battled through a :28.4 opening panel. Gingras then brushed the Manofmanymissions filly to the top and withstood a first-over bid from 3-2 favorite Heaven after a :57.3 half and through three-quarters in 1:27.2. She clung to command through the stretch but managed to keep a neck in front of Creature Of Habit, who kicked from second over to finish second in a 1:55.2 mile. Delovely Hall came from third over for third. Owned by Trent Stohler Stable Inc., Stately Gaits Stable, James Bafia and Hen-Shaut Stable, Bange Bi won her second race from five starts, earning $38,400. M. Biasuzzi Stable Inc. bred the $7.40 winner. Asiago took the lead, yielded the lead and surged back to the lead to win the KYSS final for three-year-old trotting fillies in 1:50.4. Driver Yannick Gingras floated Asiago off the gate while Refined and French Cafe battled on the lead to a :27.2 first quarter. Gingras then tipped the Muscle Hill filly from the pylons and circled to the lead while tracked by Strip It Down As. Strip It Down As overtook Asiago on the front after a :54.4 half and continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:22.3, but failed to turn away Asiago in the stretch as the Per Engblom trainee pounced from the pocket to a three-and-a-quarter length victory. Strip It Down As settled for second while Refined finished third. Bred by James Wilhite Jr., Asiago won her sixth race from 14 starts this season and her seventh from 24 overall, earning $387,985. She competes for owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, Sam Goldband and Black Horse Racing and paid $4.20 to win. Asiago Gai Waterhouse converted a pocket trip into a victory to down Baby Your The Best in the KYSS Final for two-year-old pacing fillies. Baby Your The Best, sent the 1-9 favorite, sat third as Gai Waterhouse led to a :27.4 opening quarter. She then angled off the pylons from third and brushed to the lead before a :54.4 half and faced no pressure circling the final turn towards three-quarters in 1:23.3. Gai Waterhouse gunned from the pocket through the stretch, edging to a three-quarter length victory in a 1:50.3 mile with Baby Your The Best second. Blood Red, stalking the top two, held third. Conditioned by Domenico Cecere for owner Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Gai Waterhouse won his second race from four starts, earning $155,000. Brittany Farms LLC and Melvin Hartman bred the daughter of Western Ideal, and Yannick Gingras sat in the bike. She paid $10.40 to win. Gai Waterhouse Gingras collected his third KYSS Final when Ms Savannah Belle bested her competition to win the two-year-old filly trot in 1:52.4. Sent the 1-2 favorite, Ms Savannah Belle sat fourth to a :27.3 first quarter set by Shishito, who then yielded command to Ms Savannah Belle moving to a :56.2 half. Crucial came first over from fourth entering the final turn and ranged towards the leader nearing three-quarters in 1:25.3 but stalled through the stretch as Ms Savannah Belle held firm to win by a length and a quarter. Shishito reclaimed second from Crucial, who faded to third. A homebred daughter of Muscle Hill for Al Libfeld, Ms Savannah Belle won her third race from six starts, earning $179,658. Per Engblom trains the $3.00 winner. Gingras capped the card by sending Ready For Moni to the top midway through the mile and holding control in progress to a 1:54.1 victory in the KYSS Final for two-year-old trotting colts. Expectations left for the lead from the outermost post while pylon-starter Rays The Limits moved into second and odds-on favorite Ready For Moni sat third passing the first quarter in :27.4. Gingras then revved the Ready Cash colt from third to the outside and advanced to the top past a :55.4 half. Ready For Moni decelerated rounding the final turn, forcing Ontopofthehill to angle off the pylons and rush towards the leader nearing three-quarters in 1:25.4. Ready For Moni then accelerated into the stretch and faced little challenge when hitting the finish one-and-a-half lengths better than pocket-sitter Expectations. Rays The Limits took third. Owned by John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Herb Liverman and Bud Hatfield, Ready For Moni won his fourth race from five starts, earning $161,500. Per Engblom trains the Moni Maker Stable-bred colt who paid $3.60 to win. Ready For Moni Catch The Fire cleared control past the quarter and withstood a far-turn challenge before kicking three-lengths clear to win the KYSS Final for two-year-old pacing colts in 1:49.4. Moneyman Hill motored to the lead while Roll With Jr moved into second and Catch The Fire third. Past the first quarter in :26.3, Catch The Fire dashed from third and took control prior to a :54.2 half as Sea Of Life--moving first over before the half--drew closer to the front. Sea Of Life reached the leader's wheel coming to three-quarters in 1:23 but promptly retreated while Catch The Fire scooted away from his competition to win. Roll With Jr snagged second while Put To Right, rallying from last, finished third. Owned by Ct Stables LLC, Catch The Fire won his fourth race from nine starts, earning $237,333. Dr. Fred Kruszelnicki bred the Captaintreacherous colt while Mike Wilder sat in the sulky for trainer John Ackley. He paid $3.40 to win. Catch The Fire Greenshoe cruised to a 1:50.3 victory under minimal encouragement in the KYSS Final for three-year-old trotting colts. Chin Chin Hall protected position from the pylons and took control to the first turn while Thunder tucked into second and Greenshoe, the 1-9 favorite, third. Driver Brian Sears sent the Marcus Melander trainee for the front past a :28.2 first quarter and swept to command before a :55.4 half. He continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:24.1 as Super Schissel applied slight first-over pressure moving to the top of the stretch. Greenshoe strolled to the finish two lengths better than Chin Chin Hall, who took second, with Super Schissel another two lengths behind in third. Winning his eighth race from 10 starts this season and his 10th from 14 overall, Greenshoe has accrued $968,223 in earnings for owners Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli. Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz bred the Father Patrick colt who paid $2.10 to win. Greenshoe Bettor's Wish bolted to the top from post 10 and sped clear of his competition to take the KYSS Final for three-year-old pacing colts in 1:48.1. Sent the 3-5 favorite, Bettor's Wish parked through the first turn as Can't Beach That, from post 9, also shot for the top and beat the odds-on choice to the pylons. Bettor's Wish pushed past Can't Beach That to lead the field following a :26.3 first quarter. He then maintained his speed through a :54.1 half and through three-quarters in 1:21.3 to kick three-lengths clear of Can't Beach That settling for second. Pyro gave pursuit from third. Bred by Brittany Farms LLC, Bettor's Wish won his ninth race from 13 starts this season and his 14th from 25 overall, earning $1,381,600. Chris Ryder conditions the Bettor's Delight colt and co-owns with Bella Racing, Ltd., Fair Island Farm Inc. and Bettors Wish Partners. He paid $3.40 to win. Bettor's Wish Beautyonthebeach completed her KYSS sweep with a 1:49.2 victory as the 1-9 favorite in the KYSS Final for three-year-old pacing fillies. Hydration hustled to the lead moving to the first turn while Beautyonthebeach and Summer Charm charged from outside posts towards the front. Beautyonthebeach cleared command past a :26.4 first quarter while Summer Charm took the pocket from Hydration yielding in third. Hydration then pulled first over into the final turn--with Blue Ivy in tow--and marched to the pacesetter's side through three-quarters in 1:22.3. However Hydration lost steam entering the stretch and Beautyonthebeach retook command and held off all late challengers to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths. Summer Charm settled for second while Blue Ivy kicked off cover for third. Owned and bred by James Avritt Sr., Beautyonthebeach won her fifth race from 12 starts this season and her 10th from 25 overall, earning $474,873. Doug McNair sat in the bike behind the Somebeachsomewhere filly for trainer Gregg McNair and paid $2.10 to win. Beautyonthebeach Stakes action resumes at The Red Mile when the Grand Circuit makes its annual stop to the Lexington oval starting on Thursday, Sept. 26 with Bluegrass Stakes encompassing the racing weekend. The Grand Circuit meet concludes on Sunday, Oct. 6 with the 127th edition of the Kentucky Futurity among other undercard stakes. By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

Doc's Hooligan blew by the field to score in the $50,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes consolation for 3-year-old harness racing pacing colts and geldings on Saturday at the Red Mile. Winning driver Elliott Deaton kept his gelding to task down the lane and got up to nab Shipshape in the final strides, stopping the clock in a lifetime-best 1:49.2. Military Secret was stepped around by the top two in the stretch, but held on for third. Blacklight was sent to the engine early and hung 4/5 favorite Egomania out to dry as they headed to the quarter in :26.3. Aaron Merriman would then drive on with Egomania and wrested away control of the lead on the backstretch. He guided the field of seven to the half in :53.1 and then the three quarters in 1:21.1, but yielded to first Military Secret and then Shipshape as they straightened out and tired to finish sixth. Shipshape put away Military Secret halfway down the stretch, but Doc's Hooligan would then rally from the backfield and get by for a final margin of victory of just a head. There were no other horses in contention as they entered the final sixteenth. Doc's Hooligan's earnings will now top $60,000 as he picks up his fifth win from 23 starts for owner Chuck Grubbs. Top trainer Dan Noble conditioned the colt that paid $9.80 to win. A race later, Jax Reddy would emerge victorious from a similar deep-stretch duel in another $50,000 KYSS consolation, this one for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Sheena Soldier had grabbed the lead into the first turn for Josert Fonseca and had to defend against early pressure from first-up favourite King Slayer. Those two squabbled to the three-quarters and as they turned for home, Sheena Soldier vacated the rail for Jax Reddy, who put the leader under further duress. Jax Reddy reached up on the inside to give Deaton a driving double, and King Slayer finished third after being repelled. St Martins and Fire N Fury were off-stride at the start and finished well back. Sheena Soldier was clocked at the quarter in :30.0, half in 1:00.3, three-quarters in 1:29.2, and Jax Reddy came home quickest of the field in :28.0. He earned a new lifetime mark of 1:57.3, dropping his previous one by almost seven seconds. Jack Gray owns and trains the homebred by Dejarmbro. His horse has now won six races and raked in $43,500 from 10 starts. This is the first major Kentucky Sires Stakes event victory for the colt who had previously racked up several wins on the Kentucky fair circuit, including one he had won by 70 lengths. The winner went off at 3/1 and paid $8.60. Chief Mate was not forced to sweat out a battle to the line like the others as he won comfortably in the third $50,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes consolation for freshman pacing colts and geldings. The 3/5 favorite opened up five lengths on the far turn and coasted to a 1:51.4 4¼ length win. Major Risky was game late and moved up for second, followed by Millennial in third. Chief Mate found the lead going into the first bend and made driver Montrell Teague's job very easy from then on. He put up fractions of :28.3, :56.4, 1:24.2, and a final quarter of :27.2. What the Luck pulled out as the eight-horse group approached the five-eighths, but he would never reach the leader's wheel disc and eventually dropped to fourth. Major Risky grabbed his cover and paced by foes to pick up a place check. Millennial also came from the outside flow but made little headway towards the second-place finisher and settled for the show spot. This was Chief Mate's third win from six starts for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Brittany Farms. The son of Captaintreacherous' earnings will increase to $39,750. He had previously captured two Kindergarten events at the Meadowlands where he took a mark of 1:51.1. He went off as the odds-on favourite and paid $3.40 to win. Kentucky Sires Stakes action concludes Sunday, Sept. 15 with two more $50,000 consolations and eight $250,000 finals for each division of 2- and 3-year-old. First-race post is set for 3:00 p.m. (EDT). By Nicholas Barnsdale, for The Red Mile

For several years, Michael Holmes and his sister Sarah kicked around the idea of starting a Standardbred harness racing stable. After watching one of their father's horses win a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship in 2018, the talk turned to action. Michael, 27, and Sarah, 30, launched Lexington-based Happy Hour Racing last fall, bringing together a group of people from the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries, plus college friends, to purchase five yearlings. All five horses made it to the races this season, with two wins and a total of 15 top-three finishes in 34 starts so far, good for $134,096 in purses. Both of the stable's victories came on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and the group is hoping to visit the winner's circle at Lexington's Red Mile soon. Hit Show, a 2-year-old male trotter, finished second in a division of the Kentucky Sire Stakes on Aug. 31 at Red Mile and is ninth in points in the series. That same day, its 2-year-old female trotter Heaven also finished second in the KYSS and is 11th in points. The Kentucky Sire Stakes championships are Sunday at Red Mile and the consolations are Saturday. The draws for both days are Wednesday. In addition, Happy Hour Racing's 2-year-old female pacer Coconut Beach won on Aug. 30 at Vernon Downs in a division of the New York Sire Stakes and is 13th in the points in the series. The New York Sire Stakes championships and consolations are Saturday and Sunday, respectively. "We're hoping to have a good weekend," Michael Holmes said. "We're excited. We've got 70-plus shareholders and it's been a lot of fun for all of us so far. It's been a blast." Michael and Sarah are no strangers to racing, both Thoroughbred and harness. Their dad, New Zealand native Tony Holmes, and mom Susan have a small commercial Thoroughbred breeding operation, Marula Park Stud in Lexington, and have also bred Standardbreds. Tony was the co-breeder of millionaire trotter Guccio as well as his stakes-winning full brother Lagerfeld. Last year, Tony's Windy Corner, which he also co-bred, won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old female trotters. "It's in mine and Sarah's blood," Michael said. "We were following dad's filly that he raced. Now we're hooked. We talked about (starting a stable) for several years. We saw Windy Corner and we got all excited and decided to start a partnership. The bug kind of hit us a little later but it's been exciting." Michael is in his fifth year working in finance for Thoroughbred breeder WinStar Farm. Sarah has worked with several Thoroughbred operations and is now at the family's Marula Park Stud. Happy Hour Racing owns two horses, Coconut Beach and Generous Pour, on its own and shares ownership on the remaining three -- Oreo Dream Xtreme, Heaven, and Hit Show. Coconut Beach, Heaven, and Hit Show are trained by Erv Miller; Oreo Dream Xtreme and Generous Pour by John Butenschoen. Following the conclusions of the Kentucky and New York sire stakes, Coconut Beach, Heaven, and Hit Show are staked to the Grand Circuit events in Lexington, not to mention the Breeders Crown in Canada. "We were just extremely happy to get to the races," Michael said. "We've at least seen what kind of talent we have. It's been a good start. "It's exciting. With the Thoroughbreds, they race every one or two months and we're getting entries every other week. It's a lot of action. That's what we wanted. We wanted to show people the purse money that's out there (in harness racing) and how frequently they race. We're hoping we can bring the sport some new owners. Some might branch out and buy horses on their own." Michael said Happy Hour Racing has no intentions of expanding in the near future. "We don't have any plans to buy any more horses as of right now, but we're open to doing whatever we have to do to make this work," he said. "Fingers crossed. We've been fortunate so far. I've really enjoyed it and I know Sarah has too."  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

LEXINGTON, KY--Ron Burke trainee Pyro survived a heated clip to take the quickest of two $30,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) harness racing divisions at The Red Mile on Saturday, Sept. 7.   Pyro sat third while Tony Alagna trainee U S Captain cleared command from post 7 before a :26 first quarter. Driver Elliott Deaton then tipped Pyro from third and circled to the front up the backstretch while U S Captain's stablemate, odd-on favorite Captain Ahab, rushed uncovered towards the top nearing a :52.3 half.   Captain Ahab failed to clear the lead from Pyro circling the final turn and began to backtrack past three-quarters in 1:21.2. Odds On Boca Raton circumvented his tiring stablemate entering the stretch and gave chase while U S Captain slipped from the pocket to challenge the leader late. Pyro kept a neck in front at the finish in 1:49 while U S Captain and Odds On Boca Raton settled for second and third respectively.   Returning $29.80 to win, Pyro collected his fourth victory from 15 starts this season and his sixth from 28 overall, earning $121,491. The Sweet Lou gelding--bred by Diamond Creek Farm LLC--races for owners Burke Racing Stable, Larry Karr, Phillip Collura and Weaver Bruscemi.   Dancin Lou darted from a pocket trip to deliver as the odds-on choice in the other KYSS colt split, winning in 1:49.2.   Leading the field past a :28.2 first quarter, Dancin Lou yielded command to Can't Beach That, who brushed uncovered from fourth moving to a :55 half. He slowed the tempo approaching three-quarters in 1:23 but failed to withstand a stretch bid from Dancin Lou, who pounced from the pocket to win by one-and-a-half lengths. Can't Beach That settled for second while Major Deception, stalking the top two, held third.   Bred by Anvil And Lace Farm, Dancin Lou won his eighth race from 13 starts this season and his ninth from 23 overall, earning $120,203. Tahnee Camilleri conditions the Sweet Lou colt for owners David Kryway and 1362313 Ontario Ltd. Marcus Miller drove the $3.20 winner.   Sent the 1-9 favorite, Beautyonthebeach nears a potential KYSS sweep as she collected her third-consecutive victory in preliminary competition when taking the sole $30,000 dash for three-year-old pacing fillies.   Driver Elliot Deaton dashed the heavy-betting choice to the top from post 8 moving to the first turn and faced little challenge from there. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere set fractions of :27.2, :55.1 and 1:23.2 on the lead while only enduring mild far-turn pressure from stablemate Prescient Beauty, who quickly gave way turning for the finish. Beautyonthebeach widened to a four-and-a-quarter length victory at the finish while chased by pocket-sitter Summer Charm. Alii Nui took third.   A homebred for James Avritt Sr., Beautyonthebeach won her fourth race from 11 starts this season and her ninth from 24 overall, earning $349,873. Gregg McNair trains the $2.10 winner.   The Red Mile will host the $250,000 KYSS finals and $50,000 consolations over two nights: Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15. A double draw will occur for both cards on with the entry box closing Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 a.m. The Saturday card, featuring the consolations, begins with first-race post at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) while the Sunday card, featuring the KYSS finals, starting at 3:00 p.m. (EDT).  By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

Lexington, KY - Horsemen should be advised that The Red Mile will have a double draw on Wednesday September 11, for Saturday and Sunday. It is the Kentucky Sire Stake Finals and Consolation draw. Please enter by Wednesday 9:30 AM.   Find the condition sheet here.   From the Red Mile  

While John Ackley grabbed a hot dog, Charles Taylor grabbed the best horse they've ever had. Taylor, who has spent a dozen years in harness racing as an owner, and his trainer Ackley were at the 2018 Lexington Selected Sale looking for a yearling that might be able to compete on the Grand Circuit. They had already purchased one horse when Catch The Fire entered the auction ring and figured the son of Captaintreacherous would exceed their budget. Ackley decided to get a hot dog. Taylor remained and watched the bidding. When it stalled, Taylor jumped in and bought Catch The Fire for $15,000. By the time Ackley returned, Taylor had signed the slip. On Sunday, Catch The Fire will compete in the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old male pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia. A week later, he will be at Lexington's Red Mile for the $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes final. From there, if all goes well, he will spend the remainder of his campaign on the Grand Circuit, including the Breeders Crown. For the year, Catch The Fire has won three of seven races and finished second on three occasions, earning $82,093 in the process. The colt has a mark of 1:50.4, which puts him tied for the fifth-fastest win time of the season for a 2-year-old pacer. "We just couldn't believe we got him for $15,000," Taylor said about the colt, whose dam Dream Outloud is a half-sister to Life'sliltreasure, who produced O'Brien Award-winner Control The Moment. "Nobody was bidding so I jumped in and I grabbed him. I liked his pedigree and it was a first-time Captaintreacherous, so we were willing to take a shot at him. He was a little small, but he has great conformation. And I think as anybody can see now, he loves to race. "This is by far the best horse we ever had. About two years ago, we decided we were going to make a run at getting a Grand Circuit horse. It just so happened our Grand Circuit horse turned out to be a $15,000 horse." Taylor is the CEO of a telecommunications company, with offices in Ohio and Georgia, and also the CFO of Cell Phones for Soldiers, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. He grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and was introduced to harness racing around the age of 4 by his father. "My goal in life was to own Standardbreds since I was a little kid," said Taylor, who races under the name CT Stables and has an eight-acre farm in Washington Court House, Ohio. "My father was a big harness racing guy and it just got in my blood. It's a thrill for me to watch Standardbreds. Around 2007, we were at a racetrack and my wife said, you know, you should buy a horse. Well, one horse turned into 10, into 15, and just kept going. I have probably 20 horses now." Catch The Fire, with regular driver Mike Wilder, will start Sunday's PASS final from post six and is 7-1 on the morning line. Papi Rob Hanover is the 3-1 favorite, followed by Adriano Hanover at 4-1 and Cattlewash at 9-2. "Win or lose, we're excited," Taylor said. "This is why we all do it. We've had offers to sell him and I could never do that. I couldn't take our one chance at maybe racing in the big races and give it away to somebody else. (Catch The Fire) loves what he's doing and he's got the heart to do it. He's a little smaller than the rest of them but he just loves it. He comes off the track and he's ready to go another mile. "To me, he's proven in the last couple weeks that he belongs. That's what we were hoping for. It's so easy to think you have a great horse, but if they can't keep stepping up week after week, you've got to consider them maybe not as good. I think at this point he's proven that he at least deserves a shot with the best. We're very excited." Racing begins at 12:40 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Harrah's Philadelphia. For additional details regarding the PASS finals for 2-year-olds, click here. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

LEXINGTON, KY-- Hambletonian runner-up Greenshoe vaulted off cover at the top of the stretch and soared to a six-length victory in a 1:50.4 mile when winning the first of two $30,000 divisions of Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) for three-year-old harness racing trotting colts on Thursday, Sept. 5 at The Red Mile.   Driver Brian Sears placed the Father Patrick colt in the pocket while Guaranteed battled Thunder through a :27.4 opening quarter. The pacesetting duo continued to match strides through a :55.1 half and past three-quarters in 1:24.3, but began to falter turning into the stretch as Sears mounted his charge three wide.   Greenshoe glided to the front and widened his lead through the stretch while under pursuit from Pilot Discretion in second. Chin Chin Hall finished third.   Winning his seventh race from nine starts this season and his ninth from 13 overall, Greenshoe has accrued $843,223 in earnings for owners Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli. Marcus Melander conditions the Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz-bred colt who returned $2.20 to win.   Super Schissel held off a pocket-popping charge from odds-on favorite Don't Let'em to take the second KYSS colt split.   Also driven by Brian Sears, Super Schissel followed cover rounding the first turn as Don't Let'em floated towards the lead after a :29.2 opening quarter. He accelerated up the backstretch as Super Schissel drew alongside before yielding command to the Per Engblom trainee past a :56.4 half. Super Schissel then cruised to three-quarters in 1:25 in progress to a 1:52.3 victory. Don't Let'em finished a neck behind in second while Manatlas finished six lengths farther back in third.   An Uncle Peter colt bred by Coyote Wynd Farms, Super Schissel won his second race from 10 starts this season and his sixth from 23 overall, earning $324,067. Al Libfeld and Perry Soderberg own the $4.60 winner.   Super Schissel   French Cafe cruised off a pocket trip to a three-and-a-quarter length victory in the first of two KYSS divisions of sophomore trotting fillies.   Caterina Hall cleared command from French Cafe heading to a :28 opening quarter while Queen Of Trixs raced from third. She continued on the front through a :55 half but faced a challenge around the final turn as driver Andy Miller moved French Cafe off the cones. Miller pushed French Cafe to the lead passing three-quarters in 1:24.3 and extended her lead through the stretch, trotting to a 1:52.3 victory while Queen Of Trixs gave chase in second. Celebrate It All closed from last for third.   A homebred for Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, French Cafe won her third race from seven starts this season and her sixth from 16 overall, earning $132,900. Julie Miller trains the daughter of Father Patrick who paid $3.80 to win.   French Cafe   Strip It Down As surged back to the lead when headed in the stretch to win the first KYSS filly division.   Driver Elliott Deaton dashed the odds-on favorite to the front heading to a :29.1 opening quarter. She faced no challenge through a :57.4 half but lost the lead when Dark As A Pocket lunged outside from fourth and stuck a head in front nearing three-quarters in 1:26.4. Dark As A Pocket clung to the lead through the stretch but gave way as Strip It Down As powered through the inside to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths in 1:54.1. Refined kicked off cover for second while Dark As A Pocket settled for third.   Owned by breeders Acl Stuteri Ab and Kjell Johansson, Strip It Down As won her third race from five starts this season and her fifth from 12 overall, earning $75,929. Anette Lorentzon conditions the Archangel filly who paid $3.40 to win.   Strip It Down   KYSS action resumes at The Red Mile on Saturday, Sept. 7 with two $30,000 divisions for three-year-old pacing colts and a single $30,000 split for three-year-old pacing fillies. The card starts with first-race post at 7:00 p.m. (EDT).   By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile  

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