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Louisville, KY --- She may not possess the height, girth or breadth of some of her colleagues or capture any awards for her breathtaking beauty, but Armatrading has what it takes to be a Kentucky Sire Stakes champion. Her pilot and conditioner, Mark O’Mara, actually has a specific phrase for her personality and feels this particular trait sets her up perfectly to repeat that feat on Sunday (Aug. 30) at The Red Mile in the $175,000 final for 3-year-old filly trotters. “She has the “little man’s syndrome,” said the Florida Hall of Fame member. “She is not very big or flashy, but when it is time to go on the track she puffs up because all she wants to do is win. I think she wants to prove size doesn’t matter and with her it doesn’t. She always tries so hard.” A daughter of Groton Hall and the Dream Vacation mare Silver Thatch, Armatrading is co-owned by her breeder Atlantic Trot Inc. and Oscarsson Racing Stable. Although Silver Thatch was unraced and is not as prolific as Wonderbolt, the dam of Kentucky Sire Stakes champions Bolt The Duer (Ponder, p,3,1:47.4f, $1,828,995), Blue Claw (Jenna’s Beach Boy, p,4,1:49.4, $576,635) and Shanghai Lil (Jenna’s Beach Boy, p,2,1:51.2, $1,070,251), she has produced three Sire Stakes finals starters and one champion. Armatrading, the fifth of six foals from her dam, is the only one of her siblings to bring home the title, as she was the 2014 2-year-old trotting filly winner. Her half-brother Banco Solo (Master Glide, 4,1:53.4f, $264,852) was fifth as the second choice in 2012 as a freshman and his connections thought enough of him to race him in the Hambletonian, Stanley Dancer Memorial and the American-National as a 3-year-old. Her other half-brother Scacco Matto (Master Glide, 4,1:55.4f, $121,434) was third in his edition of the 2013 2-year-old final as the favorite and second as the public’s second selection in his 2014 contest as a sophomore. This filly’s record may not be to the same level as her older brothers, but give it time. Last year as a freshman, Armatrading was 9-2-0-2, earned $111,184 and trotted in 1:57.4, which may not immediately grab peoples’ attention, but she was in top form throughout the summer and fall months. Previously trained by the now deceased Kenneth Oscarsson, Armatrading was brought along slowly by design to be in peak fitness for the Kentucky competition in both the Sire Stakes series and for the Grand Circuit at Lexington. The filly ended her campaign with fourth place finishes in an $84,250 division of the Bluegrass Stake and an $80,550 division of the International Stallion Stake. O’Mara is following the same program as Oscarsson, who thought highly of her last year, when Armatrading was a freshman. She has only gone to the gate on five occasions this year as a 3-year-old with two wins, a second place finish and $12,750 in the bank, but she has lowered her mark to 1:55.4. She also enters the final off a very sharp triumph in her $15,000 Sire Stakes leg on Aug. 20. This was when she set her new speed badge and it was a strong rebound from a costly break when she finished sixth in the same company on Aug. 9. “She came to my barn in April,” O’Mara said. “The Kentucky Sire Stakes final was the goal for her all along so I brought her along slowly. She raced at Hoosier but that was to prepare her for this very race. She has a very smooth stride and does not normally break. That night (Aug. 9), however, she was actually a little too fresh. She was full of herself and wanted to go right then, but she got right back on stride. In her last race she was so ready to trot I had trouble keeping her settled in the post parade. Hopefully, I have done my job and she will be prepared to race well on Sunday night.” Armatrading is unlike many of the other members of her age, gender and gait group, in that she has absolutely perfect manners and is very calm. “She is so quiet,” O’Mara said. “When she is in the stall it is like she is not even in the barn. We train at a fair track and the fair recently ended, but we had a lot of visitors come to our barn. They would go right up to her stall, because she is the one they were attracted to because of her demeanor and manners. She got all the attention.” After her campaign to capture her second Kentucky Sire Stakes title has been satisfied, Armatrading will follow the same schedule that was employed last year. “I am not sure if she is quite good enough to beat some of the best 3-year-old trotting fillies out there,” O’Mara said. “But she has the heart and wants to win so badly. She proved herself last year at The Red Mile meet so she is eligible to those races again this year and to the American-National. I am very much looking forward to Sunday night and to the rest of the fall with her to see if we did our job right.” $175,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes Final-3-year-old Filly Trot PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1 - Jane Eyre by Groton Hall -Tom Jackson-Fred Grant      2 - Mama's Brokn Heart by Tsunami Ranger -TBA-John Duer      3 - Skeeter P by Master Glide  -Josh Sutton-Eric Patalan      4 - Wildcat Spirit by Groton Hall -Joe Putnam-Frank O'Mara     5 - Crime Wave Hall by Groton Hall -Luke Ebersole-Renee Houska     6 - Armatrading by Groton Hall -Mark O'Mara-Mark O'Mara by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent   

ANDERSON, Ind.-August 15, 2015 - Not to be outdone by their female counterparts in their respective $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on the evening of the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes, 3-year-old harness racing geldings Homicide Hunter and Freaky Feet Pete demonstrated their superiority over overmatched rivals as the 1-5 and 1-9 wagering selections. Homicide Hunter, from the first crop of Mr Cantab and out of the Like A Prayer mare Evening Prayer, was content to allow 53-1 shot Jumpinthejailhouse to set the early pace and was trotting comfortably in fifth position throughout the first quarter mile which was clocked in :27.2. As the leader advanced to the half, however, in :56.1, the Curt Grummel conditioned gelding was given the green light by driver John DeLong to commence his advance. Responding with ease, Homicide Hunter cleared the field and headed to the top of the stretch with a length and a half advantage. After hitting the three quarter mark in 1:25.1, DeLong shook the reins at the gelding and the race for second was on. As the trotted to the wire, Homicide Hunter distanced himself from his pursuers and stopped the clock in 1:53.4, five lengths ahead of second place finisher Bluebird Reverend with Rockin Stein holding on gamely for third. The gelding, who is owned by Dr. Patrick Graham, now shares the track record for 3-year-old colts and geldings with Rose Run Parker, and when bettors cashed their tickets he provided $2.40. With the triumph Homicide Hunter increases his win streak to 10 for 10 in 2015. His career resume is 20-13-2-3 and he has amassed more than $300,000 in earnings. "Last year we had some problems with him trotting to the wire," DeLong said. "This year there is absolutely no problem with anything he does. Not only is his record perfect, he is perfect. There is not one thing you can say about him that is not praise. He is a very nice horse to drive because his manners are the best you could ask for. It's really a very special thing to be able to drive him and to see how he has matured from last year to this year." Once Homicide Hunter devastated his opponents with pinpoint accuracy, it was Freaky Feet Pete's turn to take aim on his next Indiana championship. The crowd at the Anderson facility was pressed up against the fence anxiously awaiting his performance and the energy was electric as regular pilot Trace Tetrick moved him toward the gate. Larry Rheinheimer's pupil left well, settled in third and allowed Vague Traces set a torrid pace of :25.4 in the first panel. At the same time the tote board lit up with a stiff time of :53.3 for the half, Tetrick simply moved his hands and in a flash the gelding had cleared Vague Traces. By the time Freaky Feet Pete hit the lane, he had placed three and a half lengths between him and his colleagues and paced three quarters in 1:21.0. From there on in it was simply the Freaky Feet Pete show. As he moved down the lane effortlessly, widening his advantage with every stride, the apron erupted with a loud round of applause for Indiana's champion. Freaky Feet Pete crossed the finish line in 1:48.2 and second place finisher Skim The Top was seven lengths in arrears, with Swing City just behind. The patrons in attendance this evening were awed by the performance because Tetrick never even popped the plugs and had a strong hold on him midway through the stretch. This horse, owned and raised by Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer, could have went much, much faster if ever was ever asked. The evenings are few and far between when a track record, which is what this time was is established with such sheer, breathtaking ease. Freaky Feet Pete paid $2.10 to his loyal backers and with this triumph improved his record to 8-7-1 for 2015 with just under $190,000 in purse money. For his career, the gelding has a record of 17-15-1-0, with his only loss coming at the hooves of Meadowlands Pace and Milstein Memorial victor Wiggle It Jiggleit. He has now collected nearly $450,000 during his two years of competition. Larry Rheinheimer confirmed to Peter Lurie of HRTV the gelding would be a Breeders Crown participant. "Driving him is something unreal," said Trace Tetrick with a huge smile on his face. "He just does everything so easy and he comes from a great family as his dam is a 100 percent producer. He paces so well that it seems like he's going in 1:58 when he's going in 1:50 and it's like he has no idea he's going that fast himself. You never even have to ask him. I knew at the top of the stretch I would never even have to pop his plugs out, so I wrapped him and just sat there on the way home. He is a very, very special horse and having the opportunity to sit behind him is an indescribable feeling." Kimberly French  

ANDERSON, Ind.-August 14, 2015 - In an action-packed harness racing undercard leading up to the 22nd edition of the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes presented by Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, the fillies were the first to strut their stuff in the first two editions of the four $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Finals on Friday, August 14 and each post time favorite certainly relished the spotlight. Nora Rockwell, whose owner and trainer, Marlin Fry was a bundle of nerves prior to the contest for 3-year-old pacing fillies, proved the public was spot on and Fry had no cause for concern as she would let no other rival put their nose down first on the wire. She captured her event in 1:51.0, which ties her lifetime mark and was the public's overwhelming choice at 4-5. White Metro, the second selection at 2-1 came away on top and led the field through the first quarter in :26.4, but Yannick Gingras, who picked up the drive this evening, confidently sent Nora Rockwell straight to the lead. She paced a half in a strong :54.3, with Rockin Good breathing down her neck and hit the three quarter pole in 1.21.3. At the top of the lane the favorite dispensed of that lass, but faced another challenge in Mystical Treasure. Throughout the length of the strength Mystical Treasure attempted with every stride to overhaul the leader, but Nora Rockwell refused to be denied as she tripped the timer by a very long head, with Mystical Treasure annexing second place and White Metro in the show slot. The daughter of Palone Ranger and the V P Finance mare, Norma Rockwell, paid $2.40 to win, now sports a resume of 31-13-9-2 and has collected purse money collected of nearly $250,000. "I knew there was no way I wanted to behind that horse and although I have not driven her before I was confident from the program lines, as well as how she felt, I had the horse to do it," Gingras said. "She paced through some fast fractions, but she felt great right until the finish line. I am very thankful for the drive. I'm not here at Hoosier Park very often, but whenever you get the opportunity to drive a horse like this in a $75,000 race you are thrilled to have it. She definitely is a very nice filly and it was a pleasure to drive her." After the scratch earlier in the day of what would have been the heavy favorite in Churita, the 3-year-old final for trotting fillies definitely left the door wide open for any member in nine horse field to rise to claim the crown. The wagering public decided to cast their lot with the Ron Burke conditioned Hannelore Hanover who was sent to the gate as the 1-5 favorite. It was Diamond Dagger, however, at 10-1 that took the field through the first panel in :28.0 and the half in :57.0. Midway to the three quarter pole the rest of the fillies decided to give chase with Jesse's Promise the biggest threat. After three quarters in 1:26.0, Hannelore Hanover made her bid and it was a demolishing one. The filly, steered by Hoosier Park's all-time leading driver in Ricky Macomber, trotted by the rest of her colleagues like they were standing still and continued to pour it on all through the homestretch. The duo stopped the clock in 1:55.0, which is a new lifetime standard for the daughter of Swan For All and the Dream Vacation mare All Society. Jesse's Promise and Diamond Dagger were second and third. Hannelore Hanover paid $2.40 to win and is the property of Burke Stable, Weaver and Bruscemi, William Haas Jr. and Frank Baldachino. With her third victory of the season, the filly now possesses a career record of 16-4-8-2 and a bankroll of roughly $165,000. "We only started her twice as a 2-year-old because she was sore and we think she had a cranky attitude because of it," Jamie Rucker, Burke's assistant trainer, said. "Also, we knew she was a nice filly and we would just bring her back this year. You have to be patient with her and let her do what she wants to do out there. Did she see how she totally changes her stride while she's racing? For the first half (mile) she is kind of choppy but she knows when it is time to go and she shifts into gear. Then she adjusts and is perfectly gaited. We are very pleased with her and think she is improving at the right time." Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, August 15. With an adjusted post time of 4:00 p.m., Saturday's 14-race card will feature the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for the two-year-old divisions. For more information on the upcoming entertainment and live racing schedule at Hoosier Park, please visit Kimberly French

When she is scoring down or on her way to the gate, Churita's adoring harness racing fans line up on the fence at Hoosier Park nudging one another with their elbows and talking softly amongst themselves about how fabulous she looks. It's as if the Anderson oval is her very own personal runway and all in attendance are only there to witness her. "You really can just see it in her eyes," said her owner Jack Porter. "It is also in the way she carries herself and holds her head." The 'it' Porter is referring to is star power and this Indiana champion possesses it in spades. The 3-year-old daughter of Airzoom Lindy and the Yankee Paco mare Stonebridge Volare may not be an international superstar, but she is certainly a local celebrity. The reasons for this deep reverence are well-deserved as Matt Rheinheimer's charge has cruised to a career record of 18-16-1-1, collected $422,050 and established a track record of 1:53.4s, which is her swiftest mile to date. She is perfect in eight trips to the gate this season and will seek to add luster to her already sparkling resume on Friday (August 14) when she takes on nine rivals in her $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Final. It is the seventh race on the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes card with an approximate post time of 7:31 p.m. and regular reinsman Trace Tetrick will be holding the lines. She will commence her journey to the wire from the rail. "My job is just to keep her happy," Rheinheimer said. "She has already more than exceeded my expectations so anything she does makes me happy." "The minute she steps on the track she is all business and you could never ask anything more from her than that." Churita has been defying the odds since Porter purchased her as a yearling for a fair racing prospect. She was not even his or Rheinheimer's first choice, but she went for the right price and is only competing in the Sire Stakes program because that is what she was eligible to. In fact, she is the only horse Porter has owned after several decades in the business that has competed at this level. "When other trainers come up to you and say if they had to lose to anyone they are glad it was her because we deserve it is an indescribable feeling," Porter said. "And to be honest, I never anticipated she would be undefeated at this point of the season." "I really thought Golden Big Stick was going to give her some competition and would improve from two to three, but even when she has someone look her in the eye she just digs in." "She doesn't want to let another horse go by." Most trotting fillies do have a bit of an attitude and Churita, while not quite a diva, does have her own air about her. "She is terrific to be around and always takes care of herself," Rheinheimer said. "But there are times when you just need to leave her alone." "She needs to do her own thing and she lets you know that." Despite her devoted minions and her domination of the local competition, this young lady will remain at her home base until the end of the season. "We have her nominated to a couple stakes like the Circle City," Porter said. "But it all depends on her." "She doesn't owe us a thing and anything else she does is like icing on the cake." "If she is sound and healthy we will go, but if not that is perfectly fine too." Rheinheimer admitted he was always nervous during the filly's campaign last year as he was astonished at how talented she was, but this year it's different. Not that he still isn't on edge about her at times, but he now can enjoy her a bit more. "I am in awe of her," he said. "Not that I don't get anxious at times, but I just am astonished how good she really is." "She is by far the best horse I have trained and I feel so very fortunate to have her." "You always wish for a horse like this to come along and when they finally do it's something very special." Churita's $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final will be part of the star studded card at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, August 14 that features the 2015 installment of the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes. The entire racing card will be part of a special weekend tagged as the "Dan Patch Festival Weekend" and will feature extreme entertainment, giveaways, and racing. The thrill-themed weekend will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside free fireworks, giveaways, and interactive family-friendly entertainment. First post is 5:15 p.m. For more information, please visit . Kimberly French

Louisville, KY --- It wasn’t exactly how harness racing trainer Aaron Lambert hoped to have Dynamic Youth break the million dollar barrier, but he feels the 6-year-old pacing gelding will still have plenty of opportunities to hit the winner’s circle throughout the year. “It was not the set of circumstances I wanted for him when he accomplished that achievement,” he said. “With a fifth place finish in the (Ben) Franklin final (July 4); but the way the race set up for him I was not displeased with his effort. He always gives everything he’s got in every race and you can never ask for anything more than that.” Dynamic Youth has been a substantial presence in Lambert’s barn since he selected him from the 2010 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg. The son of Bettor's Delight and the Western Hanover mare Always True was an $85,000 yearling purchase and went through the ring named Altdelete Hanover. He is the first of six foals from his dam and the only one of her progeny to earn more than $100,000. Currently owned by J&T Silva Stables, Kenneth Tucci and C&G Racing Stable, the gelding has been a model of consistency throughout his career and has taken on the best in the sport in most of his trips to the post. In fact, he was the winner of the 2012 Cane Pace, equaled a world record of 1:48.1f on a five-eighths-mile track at age four, which remains his lifetime mark, and was the 2013 Pennsylvania Horse of the Year for his performances in overnight events at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. “He is just such a pleasure to be around,” Lambert said. “He’s an easy keeper around the barn and we really do not have to do much with him except turn him out with his chums. I’m just very glad to have him back because I was not sure if we would be able to return him to the races after last year. He got sore behind, so I just stopped on him and gave him all the time he needed. He’s actually come back even better than he was before and seems to be doing very well.” As a 2-year-old Dynamic Youth started 12 times with a record of 3-1-3 and a bankroll of just under $77,000. He competed primarily on the New York circuit and closed his year out with an eighth place finish in the $510,000 Governor’s Cup final at Harrah’s Philadelphia. As a 3-year-old the gelding collected nearly $600,000 from 18 trips to the gate. Although he was sixth in the $306,204 Art Rooney Pace, he was second in the $587,315 Confederation Cup final, won the Cane after a sixth in the elimination and closed out his season by finishing second in the $250,000 Monument Circle, the $260,000 American-National Stake and the $215,000 Windy City Pace. The gelding returned at age four to make $179,900 from 23 races. He was third in the $223,500 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby and fourth in the $223,500 Quillen Memorial, while also competing in the Ben Franklin, William Haughton Memorial and US Pacing Championship. Keep in mind he was facing the likes of Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, A Rocknroll Dance, Foiled Again, Thinking Out Loud, and Pet Rock every week. Those horses were certainly not an easy group to contend with week in and week out. In 2014, Dynamic Youth made 14 appearances on the track with a record of 4-3-1 and just missed breaking the $100,000 mark for the year in earnings with $90,375. After Lambert determined the horse just wasn’t himself and discovered he was off behind, he was placed on an extended vacation. He did not compete from August of last year until he qualified this year on March 10. With plenty of racing still remaining for the season, Dynamic Youth has already collected $83,075 with his record standing at 11-4-2-2. He’s won in 1:49f and appears poised for yet another successful year. His career statistics are 78-24-14-10 with purse money of $1,022,907. “We did not stake him to much this year because we really were not sure if he would race for us again,” Lambert said. “Since he seems to like a five-eighths track we are going to keep him up here in the overnights at Pocono and just race him on that schedule. “I’ve always said about him, that if he is within two lengths at the top of the stretch he always has the chance. He’s such an honest horse, with the best manners and is easy on himself. He really is a class act and definitely deserves some attention for what he has done throughout his career. Not many come around like him and he has proven the $85,000 that was spent on him was worth every penny, as in this business you never know what is going to happen or if the horse will work out. He certainly has done much more than that and in a very good way.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Louisville, KY --- Like most of us, he has a very specific outlook on life and throughout the duration of Stacia Hanover’s career harness racing trainer Steve Elliott has adhered to his primary philosophy. “It’s the same whether it walks on two legs or four,” he said. “The colts you can bull them down a little bit, but not the fillies. You need to let them do what they want to do, because if you don’t they will make you pay for it. There’s just no sense in fighting with any woman. All you can do is say, ‘Thank you honey’ then try again the next day.” That’s why if Stacia Hanover decides to buck and generally just be high maintenance while being harnessed for her $20,000 James Lynch Memorial elimination at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (June 27) the filly will most certainly have her way. Once she is prepared for her mile, Scott Zeron will guide her to the sixth spot on the gate in the evening’s fourth race where she is the 7-2 morning line third selection behind Nancy Johansson's Wicked Little Minx (5-2) and Joe Holloway’s Bettor Be Steppin (3-1). “It’s been a battle with her, but Scott has done a great job with teaching her how to race,” Elliott said. “She just wanted to go 100 mph and would not relax in a hole, but now she is much more comfortable racing that way. We’ll see what we have this weekend. The goal is to have a nice, consistent horse that goes on next year. I think she has the ability to do just that.” Stacia Hanover is a daughter of Western Ideal and the Art Major mare Stolly Up Bluechip. She is the second foal out of her dam and a half-sister to Seashell Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere, p,3,1:51.4f, $99,245). Owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio, Stacia Hanover was a $35,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. She definitely showed promise as a 2-year-old as one of her three triumphs was in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. From five starts she amassed earnings of $94,225 and a mark of 1:53.4. “She is a tiny thing,” Elliott said. “We stopped on her last year because she was sick and then I tried to qualify her when I should not have. She just was not over that illness. That is when I realized my mistake and figured we would just get her ready for this year. She is still very small, but she is much stronger.” The filly returned to work this season with her fourth visit to the winner’s circle after reigning victorious by a head in a $15,500 non-winners contest on April 24 at the Meadowlands. She was then fourth in a $16,000 event under similar conditions, but her last quarter was in :26. Her next three races resulted in second place finishes in a pair of New Jersey Sire Stake legs and the $100,000 final. The Show Returns is the filly who beat Stacia Hanover by a neck in the NJSS final and showed her performance at 40-1 odds that day was no fluke as she finished second in the $387,990 Fan Hanover final on June 20 at Mohawk. “We are just being patient and taking our time with her,” Elliott said about Stacia Hanover. “TheWestern Ideals seem to improve as they get older so that is also what we are keeping in mind. The owners are having fun and bringing people to the races to see her. They are happy and the situation with this filly is what harness racing is really all about as people are enjoying themselves with friends as well as family.” Although, Van Dusen and Cimaglio are reveling in their filly’s accomplishments they were a little shocked at the balance on the stakes sheet after Elliott plotted her course for 2015. “They were like, ‘Geez, when did you get so high on her?’” Elliott said. “Those stakes payments can really put things in perspective, but with each race she improves as she continues to learn. We have to give her the opportunity to prove herself. I think she belongs and that she will be worth the wait. There is an old saying, ‘If you don’t wait on them, they will make you wait.’ I’m just fortunate I have owners like this that allow me to have patience with a horse like her.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Louisville, KY --- There certainly are not many horses that break a track record in their very first pari-mutuel engagement, but that’s exactly what the trotting colt Royal Deceptor did. That situation, however, is not the only reason he is the best horse Chip Foster has ever owned during his three decades of involvement in the harness racing industry. “This horse has been an absolute thrill for me and my partners Mike Sentiwany and Mike James,” he said. “I’ve bred and bought horses to race for 30 years. We never had one good enough to even start in a New York Sire Stake race, let alone break a track record. I told everyone after he did that it would not matter to me what he did the rest of the year, but he went out and earned more than $70,000 as a 2-year-old. “Now we have the opportunity to compete in the Empire Breeders Classic which has a $250,000 purse. I’m tickled just to be there as this horse only (sold for) $11,000 as a yearling and he will be racing against horses like Crazy Wow and Habitat. He is very special to us in many, many ways.” Foster is referencing the next engagement for the son of RC Royalty and the Malabar Man mare Art Of Deception, which is on Sunday (June 21) at Vernon Downs. Carded as the ninth race, the Empire Breeders Classic sports a purse of $255,325 and has an 11-horse field. Royal Deceptor, who is driven by Mike McGivern and conditioned by his wife, Cheryl, will commence his mile journey from the third post position and will seek to collect his fifth win from seven starts on the season. He possesses a resume of 14-6-2-2 for his career, has earned $113,350 and owns a lifetime mark of 1:58h. “He is very spoiled,” Cheryl McGivern said. “We fell in love with him the day we brought him home and fully expected he would go for a much higher price. He has quite the personality and loves to talk. He really enjoys his turnout time each day in the paddock. We bring him to the track only to race him and then take him right back home. We are just so very pleased to have him.” Royal Deceptor was purchased by his connections at the 2013 Morrisville Sale and has performed only on the New York circuit. His dam was unraced and her first three foals earned just over $60,000 between them. Art Of Deception, however, is a daughter of Keystone Delicious, who herself is a daughter of American Winner with Speedy Crown as her broodmare sire. Keystone Delicious also did not make it to the races, but she produced Marian’s Man (Malabar Man, 4,1:56.3s, $468,060) and Mr Tasty (Malabar Man, 4,1:53.2s, $462,209). “We can’t afford to buy $100,000 yearlings and definitely had a budget going into the sale,” Foster said. “We thought Royal Deceptor would go for more money, as Royalty For Life won the Hambletonian and RC Royalty did not breed many mares. We were prepared to go to $20,000 for him and Mike (McGivern) thought he was the best horse in the sale. Fortunately, he came into the ring right after the sales topper, which I really liked, but he went for $59,000. “The bidding opened on this horse at $10,000 and then we bid $11,000. We sat there waiting for another bid, but there was silence and then he was ours. We were in shock we got him for that price and we were very lucky. We realized his dam hadn’t foaled anything really at that point, but we felt that she would and he had the potential to be a very nice horse.” The McGiverns, who have also been in the business for about 30 years, operate a small stable in Gansevoort, N.Y., and always had faith in Royal Deceptor’s ability. In fact, they talked him up considerably to Foster and his partners. That faith was rewarded when the world witnessed Royal Deceptor’s debut at Buffalo Raceway on July 9, 2014. That was when the colt captured a $27,750 New York Sire Stake contest in a new track standard of 1:59.3 with a last quarter in :28.4. The previous record was 2:01.2, which was established in 2012 and tied in 2013. “Mike James and I drove to Buffalo to watch him, unfortunately my other partner had to care for his ill wife and could not attend,” Foster said. “Mike and Cheryl kept telling us how good this horse was, but having been in the business for awhile I had a wait and see approach. My jaw was on the ground that he broke two minutes for the mile, let alone set a new track record. That’s when I told everyone he didn’t have to win another race all year, because that was enough for me.” But Royal Deceptor did visit the winner’s circle again in his next start and subsequently picked up checks in his next five races before finishing sixth in the $225,000 New York Sire stakes final. This year, the colt won his first three starts, which were all in overnights at Saratoga, prior to a fourth place effort in a NYSS race at Monticello Raceway. He posted another triumph in a NYSS contest at Yonkers Raceway and was fifth placed eighth for breaking at Vernon Downs in his last start, also in NYSS competition. “Mike had to take him up a little bit in that race and he took a step, but he got right back on stride,” Foster said. “I’m very happy with the third post for this upcoming race and I know we have to have the perfect trip. Habitat and Crazy Wow are great horses, but anything can happen in horse racing. We are very fortunate just to be racing for that kind of money and to have a nice chance. “All the credit has to go to Mike and Cheryl. They are very patient and are excellent with trotters. I’m also happy for them they have a horse like this. They have a very small barn and had a horse named Cash Me Out (Cash Hall, 3,1:56.4h) that won more than $350,000 on the New York circuit over the last couple years. To have another horse do the same thing on a relatively small investment is truly an accomplishment for them and they really deserve it.” For the time being, Royal Deceptor will continue to compete in the Empire State and although he is not eligible for the Hambletonian, he is staked to the Yonkers Trot. “We don’t usually stake our horses,” Foster said. “Even with this horse as he only was $11,000, but he deserves the chance to see what he can do against the top horses. I really can’t explain what a thrill it is either to have a horse to enter in a classic race like that. Actually, this race on Sunday is the highest purse we all, including Mike and Cheryl, have ever raced for.” Cheryl also cannot say enough good things about Royal Deceptor. “Our job is simply to keep him happy,” she said. “It is an absolute pleasure to be associated with him and words cannot express how much gratitude we have to just be around him.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent   

Louisville, KY --- Bruce Trogdon and Brian Brown did not anticipate Color’s A Virgin would take home the harness racing hardware in the 2014 edition of the Jugette, but both men hope to return to the Delaware County Fairgrounds winner’s circle on Wednesday (Sept. 23) after this year’s version with Serious Filly. “It’s a tough group with a lot of nice fillies,” said Trogdon. “I don’t think she’s quite ready to beat the likes of JK She’salady, but I’m hoping Serious Filly will provide me with the opportunity to defend our Jugette crown.” By Somebeachsomewhere and out of the Rocknroll Hanover mare Seriously, Serious Filly will continue her quest to be ranked in the upper echelon of her division when she leaves from post seven in her C$35,000 elimination of the Fan Hanover Stake on Saturday (June 13) at Mohawk Racetrack. Trace Tetrick will be holding the lines when the filly competes against reigning Horse of the Year JK She’slady, Better Be Steppin, The Show Returns and Bedroomconfessions. “We don’t have her quite where we want her yet,” Brown said. “We are trying some different things with her such as shoeing, because she gets a little rough and likes to toss in some steps during her miles. She has ability though and is like Color in that she is fine with coming first over. “Although she did not win last week in her race at Hoosier Park, I was very encouraged by her performance (second against older females) and am looking forward to racing her in Canada. That race was exactly what I wanted to see before taking her there.” Serious Filly is the first foal out of Seriously, who netted just under $280,000 during her racing career and was third in the 2010 Jugette. Trogdon purchased Seriously’s dam, the Die Laughing mare Serious Smile, in 2002. Seriously is a half-sister to Artbitration (Artiscape p,4,1:52s, $727,129), Blissful Smile (Blissfull Hall p,5,1:50.2s, $$778,734) and Serious Damage (Allamerican Ingot p,1:52.2f, $160,654). Serious Smile is a daughter of the Tyler B mare So Cozy, who earned just under $900,000 on the racetrack and was the 1987 Dan Patch Award winner for 2-year-old pacing fillies. As a broodmare, So Cozy produced six $100,000 earners from 16 foals. “I love this family,” Trogdon said. “Even if Serious Filly does not perform extremely well on the racetrack, she will definitely be an addition to the broodmare band. She really is bred to be any kind of horse. She is a very big filly and we only raced her four times last year because she was pretty rough gaited, so we quit with her in August to give her time to grow into herself.” The filly collected two wins and $14,675 in purse money from her abbreviated freshman campaign, but has really come to hand this year while racing primarily in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program. Serious Filly has compiled a record of 5-4-1-0 this year while amassing $80,522 and established her lifetime mark of 1:53.2f on May 2 in a PaSS race at The Meadows. In her last race at Hoosier Park on June 5, she paced the fastest final panel of all seven horses in the field (:27.2) and stopped the timer in 1:51.4, two lengths behind Stable Eyes. “I really liked how she finished up that race,” Brown said. “I told Trace to just take it easy with her and let her do her thing out there, just like he does with Color. This filly also doesn’t like to be rushed and can really take a lot of air, which is also similar to Color. I was pleased to see her coming at the end of the mile, but again she put in a step in the stretch. The competition in Canada certainly will be quite tough, but I think she will give a good account of herself.” Although Trogdon and Brown are seasoned veterans and realize champions are rare rather than the norm, they do have high hopes for Serious Filly as the year continues. “She is staked to everything and we think she is on the right path to becoming a very nice racehorse,” Trogdon said. “All we can do is provide her with the opportunity and keep working on straightening her gait out.” “She is bred to be an extremely nice horse,” Brown said. “She has the speed and the right attitude, but she is still a little green and that could be why she is still putting steps in her races. I think as the year goes on, she will show she belongs with the best fillies in her group. Canada will be the first step in seeing exactly what we have. She has been able to win while still not being right on gait. She won’t be able to do that against these quality horses on Saturday night.” This filly is not the only horse Trogdon and Brown will be shipping north of the border, as Color’s A Virgin is entered in a C$35,000 elimination for the Roses Are Red final later in the evening. The champion mare captured her first two engagements of 2015 at Hoosier Park, before finishing seventh in her next two starts. She then was second on May 29 in a $21,000 Mares Invitational again at Hoosier Park, before returning to the winner’s circle in the same class at the same facility on June 5. “We think she is 90 percent back to herself,” Brown said. “Trace was much happier with her last week than he has been, as he told me she did feel like the same horse as last year. When we took her up to Miami Valley (for the Chip Noble Memorial), she tied up and came out of the race dehydrated. We’ve been drenching her every day and pumping her full of fluids. She might not win up in Canada, but we think she is on the way back. We were not sure what the problem was, as she never did this last year, but we have a handle on it now. “Candy (Candy’s A Virgin) was eligible for this race too and was doing really well, but she popped a gravel so she is taking some time off.” Trogdon feels he might be to blame for Color’s A Virgin's health situation. “I turn her out and let her eat lots of grass at the farm (Emerald Highlands) between all her races,” he said. “This program worked really well for her last year and I’m thinking I did not give her enough time to do that before we raced her at Miami Valley and then back at Hoosier Park. From now on, I’ll make sure I don’t do that to her again.” Despite his affinity for his female homebreds, Trogdon also has a vested interest in the North America Cup eliminations on the same card. “We bred and raised Hurrikane Ali (Rocknroll Hanover-She's The Greatest),” he said. “We sold him in Lexington as a yearling (2013, $63,000). Even though we do not own him, it would be terrific to see him win the North America Cup since we had him as a baby.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Louisville, KY --- When harness racing trainer John Butenschoen selected Boots N Chains and Suit And Tie from the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale, obviously each yearling possessed their individual appeal, but both colts also satisfied another essential criteria: they were Pennsylvania Sire Stakes eligible. “We focus on the Pennsylvania program and anything else is an additional perk,” said the 52-year-old Illinois native. “Suit And Tie was the first surviving foal out of a Yankee Glide mare (and he is) by Andover Hall. Of course we go with a budget and a list of things we are looking for. He fit perfectly ($30,000 sales price). “Boots N Chains, however, was a bit of a different story. We gave $75,000 for him, which is quite high for us and he was on the smallish side, but we were familiar with the family. The Pinskes had his full older brother (Leave Your Mark 4,1:55.4f, $123,360) down in Florida a couple years ago and we trained him. He was a very nice horse and I really like this family.” Each colt will look to improve upon their career and seasonal records when they leave the gate side-by-side in the $119,565 Currier and Ives Trot for 3-year-old males at The Meadows on Saturday (June 6). In what is carded as the 10th race, Suit And Tie commences his mile from post position four, while his stablemate starts trotting from post position five. Boots N Chains is the 3-1 morning line choice and Suit And Tie is 5-1. “It may not be the biggest of stages, but I’m happy with the opportunity to go for a purse of more than $100,000 if other people decide to take their horses elsewhere,” Butenschoen said. “It’s not like it used to be where if you had a nice horse you knew where to race them. Now it is about managing them correctly and placing them in the right spots so the owners can make some money with them. “It may not sound as exciting as being in some of the big stake races, but if you can stay right in Pennsylvania and race for money like this, why wouldn’t you? I did that with Allstar Partner a couple years back and he made over $200,000 just racing in the sire stakes by winning the final.” As 2-year-olds, Suit And Tie, co-owned by William Wiswell and M and L of Delaware, and Boots N Chains, co-owned by Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick, earned what was proffered for them and more. Suit And Tie collected just shy of $50,000 from 17 performances. He was third in his Breeders Crown elimination, but ninth in the $500,000 final and set his 2-year-old mark of 1.58.1f in his sole victory at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Aug. 13, 2014. “The only thing that held this horse back was his mentality,” Butenschoen said. “He finished out the year very nicely as he was trotting home very strongly in the Kindergarten and I was very pleased with him in the Breeders Crown. He really lost all chance in the final, but still did his best.” Boots N Chains also gave a good account of himself in his first year of competition as he trotted in 1:54.4 and amassed just under $120,000 in purse money with only one triumph from 12 starts. He was, however, second to French Laundry in the $240,500 Kindergarten final and to Muscle Diamond in a $77,120 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile with a last panel in :27.4. Although their year has just begun, both colts have been promising. Boots N Chains has compiled a record of 4-2-0-1 and $35,767. Suit And Tie has collected $20,080 and possesses a resume of 4-1-1-0. Despite the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit being the primary focus, if either colt should prove they are prepared for another stage, Butenschoen has them staked in order to do so. “They are both Hambletonian eligible,” he said. “They are paid into other races, too and I wouldn’t say they are heavily staked, but they have the opportunity to compete in those races should the case arise. “How I look at it is if they have the ability to go to the Hambo, great, it’s what we all dream of in this business, but if not, I just hope I can spot them correctly in these stakes with good purses to do the right thing by my owners. All of us horsemen are always perpetually reaching for that ring, but we also have to make the appropriate decisions for our businesses so we can afford to continue to do that.” By Kimberly French 

Louisville, KY --- He might not receive as much press as the sport’s top rated horse Bee A Magician or Elitloppet bound Wind Of The North, but Obrigado’s harness racing connections feel he possesses the ability and class to be one of the top older trotters of 2015. “He’s staked up to everything and is such an intelligent horse,” said Paul Kelley, who co-owns and conditions the 5-year-old gelding. “He never does anything wrong and is a cool horse to be around.” After an extended winter vacation, Obrigado will be making his third start of the season on Saturday (May 23) at Yonkers Raceway in a $42,000 Open Handicap. He will commence his journey from post position seven with Mark MacDonald at the lines in the fifth race on the card and is the 5-2 choice on the morning line. “He’s done very well at Yonkers and always gives a good account of himself,” Kelley said. “We are really looking forward to this season with him.” A Maine champion at age 2 and 3, Obrigado was bred by Mike Andrew of Gorham, Maine, and is a son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony. He is a full brother to Kanalla Bella 3,2:01h ($81,025), A Cappella Bella 3,2:01.4h ($85,060) and Iza Bella 4,1:58.3h ($232,295) and was purchased by Kelley, Linwood Higgins, Bill Weaver and Stable 45 at the 2013 Standardbred Mixed Sale for $53,000. The gelding is a very handsome horse and that is initially what caught Kelley’s eye. The fact that he reeled off 21 consecutive victories after finishing fourth and third in his first two starts certainly did not impair the acquisition either. Kelley always thought Obrigado would be a very nice addition to his barn, but was overjoyed by how well the gelding performed last year. He compiled a record of 21-9-7-1, set a track record of 1:52.3f at Tioga Downs and doubled his bankroll by earning $173,742. In his last race of 2014, the former Ivan Davies trainee illustrated he was a force to be reckoned with as he came home fourth behind Natural Herbie, Commander Crowe and Bee A Magician in the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational on Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway. “We were tickled to death to receive the last invitation and were anxious to see how he would perform against some of the top horses in the sport,” Kelley said. “He did much more than show he could hold his own and that race gave us notice that he belonged with those horses. Being from Maine, you never knew how he was going to measure up and when we bought him it was with the intention of having a nice horse for the upstate New York circuit. He is just so much more than that and everyone that comes in contact with him ends up becoming a fan. He is that kind of horse.” The gelding qualified twice this year on April 23 and April 30 before finishing second on May 9 in an Open Handicap at Yonkers. He was second again in the same class at the Hilltop on May 16. A triumph this weekend would bring his resume to an extremely consistent 47-31-9-2 and bring him closer to the $400,000 mark in career purse money (he is currently at $363,164). “We started off this year with some changes, as I am now stabled at Mark Ford’s training center,” Kelley said. “It is absolutely tremendous here and we made a great choice. Also, Mark MacDonald is at the barn every morning. He will be the one driving Obrigado now as he has done plenty of work with him and really likes the horse. I think he is an excellent fit and has definitely earned the drive by all the time he has spent with us. He also provides great feedback on how the horse is doing.” Although it is not yet June, Kelley is very excited to see exactly what Obrigado will accomplish. “Everyone always asks how he is doing and where he will be going,” Kelley said. “But we will just let him tell us how to proceed all year. It’s all up to him, but I have confidence in him. He could never let us down as he is so smart and gives more than 100 percent every time you lead him over. You never know what can happen from year to year, but we think he can improve upon last year and we hope to have a lot more fun with him this year.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Louisville, KY --- He’s traveled many miles and been a resident of many harness racing barns, but Boffin may have just finally discovered where he belongs. “It is so hard to tell when a horse has an abscess,” said Tyler Tinch, the horse’s conditioner. “This horse was sent to me just days after he popped several of them in his hind foot, so it took some work to get him right, but I really think we can get him back to the level where he went 1:52.1, which is his mark.” A son of Donato Hanover and the Tagliabue mare Trace Anthem, Boffin, on a three race win streak with a track record performance of 1:53.4 at Miami Valley Raceway included in those triumphs, will take on the likes of Lady Blitz and her stablemate Natural Herbie in a $21,000 Invitational at Hoosier Park on Saturday (April 25). The gelding will have his regular pilot Tyler Smith in the bike and will leave from post position seven. “I’ve only had him for about six weeks,” Tinch said. “He was delivered to me from Northfield Park and Miami Valley is only 12 minutes away, so I have not had to haul him, but generally he is a very quiet horse.” Boffin was selected by former conditioner Charlie Norris and was purchased for $20,000 at the 2011 Standardbred Horse Sale for Jason and Doug Allen. He has collected the most purse money from his dam’s seven foals with $213,767 in the bank, but also has a yearling full brother, Pompen Hapenstance, whose future career has yet to be determined. Although Trace Anthem only earned $30,278 in her racing career, her dam Astraea Hanover, by Valley Victory, was a top stakes-performer and winner. Astraea Hanover's older full sister, Accent On Victory, was a $100,000 yearling and black type is present in Boffin’s female line all the way to Kimberly Kid, who was tops in his division for three consecutive years in the 1950s. The gelding only raced twice at age two, winning on both occasions, as he had to be put on the shelf after a knee injection caused an infection. Norris thought enough of him as a 3-year-old that he was staked to all the major races, including the Hambletonian. Although he did not compete in that contest, he was third in his Yonkers Trot elimination but had to be scratched from the $450,000 final. From 18 starts that year, Boffin accrued a record of 3-1-4 and earned $71,949. He was second in a $65,750 Old Oaken Bucket division at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and third in the $50,000 Earl Beal Consolation. In November of that year, the gelding was transferred to the barn of Julie Miller where he remained until January of 2014. That is when he took up residence in Kevin Lare’s barn at Dover Downs after being purchased by Angela Coombs of Harwood, Md. Boffin was under Lare’s care until September 2014 and then was moved to Julianne Bobby’s shedrow. Racing primarily on the Pennsylvania and Delaware circuits, the horse won ten of his 27 starts, was second three times and collected just under $80,000. He began this season still with Bobby, but was sent to Kevin Ehrhardt to compete at Northfield Park in February. Ehrhardt was also the trainer of record for Boffin’s first start, which was a victory, at Miami Valley Raceway in an $11,000 non-winners contest on March 15. Shortly after that he arrived in Tinch’s barn. “He’s not the biggest horse, but he is put together well and compact,” Tinch said. “In my experience with trotters that is how you want them to be. I heard when he was at Delaware and Northfield that he would pull himself up and out in the middle races. Sometimes he would just come to a stop. They could not quite figure out what do with him and it had to be because his feet were bothering him. “We’ve been poulticing him and to be quite honest, I’ve never seen a horse pop gravels like that in his back feet. It normally happens in the front. We could tell when he started feeling good as he ran off on the guy that helps me one morning. He does like his own way. It wasn’t too bad, as they only went about 20 seconds faster than I wanted him to go, but after that I train him myself now. Believe it or not, that was the week he set the track record. I guess he was letting us know he was ready to trot.” In 2015, Boffin has amassed $37,947 in earnings and his resume stands at 10-6-0-0. After Saturday evening’s race, the gelding will return to Miami Valley before transitioning to Scioto Downs. “I think he’ll really like the track at Scioto,” Tinch said. “I’m also very happy to have him. He’s a horse with a lot of class that just had bad luck. Now that we have him healthy, I think he’s going to be very competitive with this group. My girlfriend just loves him and has all kinds of pictures of him because she thinks he is so handsome. As long as we can keep the abcesses away so he is happy, that will be the key, but I think if that happens he will reward us throughout the year.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Louisville, KY --- When the ball dropped to usher in 2015, there probably wasn’t a happier person on the planet than harness racing trainer / driver Daryl Bier to see 2014 come to an end. After enduring personal and professional tragedies throughout those 365 days, he was on the brink of walking away from the sport, but the optimism he experienced after purchasing world champion Wind Of The North late in the season is why he decided to stay in the game. “I tried to buy him for almost a year and was thrilled when I finally got him,” said the Smyrna, Del., resident. “I think he can be a top horse and trot in 1:51. He and Bando (Bandolito) are the only reason I’m still going on. I only have a two horse stable and they are it, but I have so much faith in them both. I’m also very excited to see what Wind Of The North will accomplish this season. Bando too, but he doesn’t owe us anything after what he has already done for us.” Wind Of The North will make his next appearance on Friday (April 10) in the $27,500 Open Handicap Trot at the Meadowlands after his first score of the season in a sharp 1:52.3 in a $20,000 Open Handicap at Dover Downs on April 1. The waters, however, will certainly be a little deeper at the New Jersey oval with the red hot Melady’s Monet leaving right beside him from post position seven; Lindy’s Tru Grit on the other side in the five hole; and the horse he held on to defeat in a blanket finish last week, Tough Mac, in the second spot on the gate.The seven horse field in this Open Handicap also includes the always dangerous Master Of Law, Rolls Blue Chip and Il Mago. Wind Of The North will be in rein to Hall of Famer David Miller and is 4-1 on the morning line for what is carded as the 11th race. “I was very pleased with his race at Dover and think he will do well at the Meadowlands,” Bier said. “He cut the entire mile and went :27.4 for the first quarter, then finished in :27.2 without ever extending himself. He was in the same gear the entire way around the track.” A son of Cantab Hall and the Pine Chip mare Talk To The Wind, Wind Of The North is the only foal from five siblings to earn any purse money on the racetrack. He was purchased for $5,000 at the 2011 Standardbred Horse Sale and was co-owned by Glen Zimmerman and Clifton Green until Bier and Joann Dombeck brought him home last October. Conditioned by Green, Wind Of The North earned just under $16,000 as a freshman, nearly $100,000 as a sophomore and $105,150 in 2014. He trotted his world record mile of 1:51 on a five-eighths-mile track at Pocono Downs on June 28, 2014, with David Miller in the bike in a $21,000 non-winners contest. The gelding has a record of 56-14-11-6, collected $235,981 and his record this year stands at 5-1-1-1. “After I got him I just stopped on him and turned him out,” Bier said. “I wanted to give him some time, then bring him back for a strong season in 2015. He’s done nothing wrong and I am very pleased with him. He’ll tell us where to go all summer long.” Last year at this time, Bier and his long-time partner and Joann’s husband Charles, were anxiously awaiting what 2014 would bring for them with their stable star Modern Family and Dover Downs track record holder Bandolito. They thought both horses were poised for exceptional seasons and also had a new addition to the stable in December of 2013 with Punxsutawney, who had earned just over $300,000 in his first two seasons of racing with starts in a Hambletonian elimination and finals of the Kentucky Futurity and Canadian Trotting Classic. It was on Memorial Day weekend, however, when the black clouds rolled in and they did not just blot out the sun, but nearly obliterated it from the sky for Bier and the Dombeck family. It started out with Bandolito’s eighth place finish in the Molson Pace on May 30. After a brutal trip against some of the sport’s best, who he had competed admirably against in prior starts, the public’s third choice just didn’t seem to be the same after hitting the wire. “One trip like that can ruin a horse,” Bier said. “He was so strong coming into the race and I thought we had such a good chance. For the rest of the season I kept trying to get him back to where he was, but I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to.” Less than two weeks later, Bier was wondering if he was ever going to return to full health after a freakish four horse accident in a qualifying race at Pocono Downs on June 12. Bier, who was driving Punxsutawney, broke his pelvis in four places and the horse had to be put down on the track. “All I can remember was laying there thinking, who does this happen to?” Bier said. “It was just a training race, a qualifier, but I didn’t have much time to think about myself as I could hear the vet yelled to me that the horse had a spiral fracture, he had to be put down right then because there was absolutely nothing they could do. I couldn’t even move to go to him. I just had to lay there.” Before he even had an opportunity to fully heal, the Grim Reaper arrived again on July 19 after Modern Family, the stable’s pride and joy, and one of the top horses in training, died nearly instantly after a fourth place finish in the $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot after coming home in :27.3. The horse had an aneurysm that would never have been detected even with modern veterinary care. “It was devastating to everyone involved with the horse,” Bier said. “I don’t have words to describe it. I just don’t. He was everything and for something like that to happen to him...Charlie (Dombeck) was demoralized and wanted to get out of the business entirely after losing Modern Family in that way. To have to see that horse on the ground in the paddock like that is something I can’t erase from my memory.” With his professional career in turmoil due to his injury and his stable nearly decimated, Bier received another staggering blow when his father, veteran horseman Arthur "Artie" Bier, passed away on Aug. 21, joining his wife who had died several years earlier. “That was when I decided I had enough,” Bier said. “I wanted out so I packed my mother-in-law and family up to head off to Alaska for a week. I felt like Charlie did and I wanted to get out of the business as well. I am being utterly serious when I say I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Maybe I even had one.” After Bier returned from Alaska, the opportunity to purchase Wind Of The North was available and he got on the horn to Charlie Dombeck. “I wanted to put all my stock in at Harrisburg and just get out,” Dombeck said. “Even the Somebeachsomewhere foal from Higher And Higher was not something I wanted to keep. Daryl and I had a lot of luck and a lot of nice horses, for example Special T Rocks who was a world champion, but Modern Family was something special. “My heart just wasn’t in it anymore after that loss, but Daryl kept telling me Wind Of The North could be just as good as Modern Family. He had all the faith in the world in him, so (my wife) Joann was telling me to buy a piece of him. She also owned Special T Rocks and that’s when I told her, ‘why don’t you buy him?’ So she went in with Daryl and we are just going to see what he does this year. “We are also keeping Higher And Higher and her foal. He talked me out of putting them through the sale.” So Wind Of The North is the primary reason Bier and the Dombecks did not just fold up their tent and leave for what they thought might be greener pastures, but their perspectives have certainly changed as Dombeck just takes things as they come now. Bier will be moving back to Florida to race before the end of the year, but he’s come a long way from just six months ago. “Last year at this time, I had a top pacer and a top trotter,” he said. “Now I have one of each again, although they are my only two horses. We’ve staked Wind Of The North to the Cutler and the Cashman and think he can do well enough to be invited to the Maxie Lee. Thankfully, I have Bando back as well and he’ll tell us what to do, but Wind Of The North is the horse that kept Charlie in the business and gave me the hope to stay in it as well.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Louisville, KY --- He is not quite sure how all these harness racing agents tracked down his number, but Andrew Moore’s cell phone began to ring incessantly on Jan. 9. Nearly 90 days later, people still have not received the message as Moore and his girlfriend, Dr. Tiffany Richards of Russell Equine in Ontario, have no intention of selling their stable star Maplelea. “I guess you should never say never,” said the 35-year-old Prince Edward Island native. “But it would have to be a partnership and it would have to be the perfect situation. Believe me, my girlfriend picked her out and she said she is not going anywhere. Somehow or another, the woman always wins.” The 3-year-old daughter of Sportswriter and the Run The Table mare Maple Lady is one the hottest horses in harness racing and will seek to make it five wins in a row when she competes in the second leg of the Blossom Series at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday (April 6). She will commence her mile from post six, with regular reinsman Rick Zeron in charge, as the 4-5 morning line favorite after a facile triumph in 1:57 in the first leg of the series on March 30. A $7,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, Maplelea’s seasonal record now stands at a sparkling 8-6-2-0 with just under $60,000 in the bank and a mark of 1:53.4s in a dominating performance in the second leg of the Horseplayer Interactive Series on March 13. The filly took those first two legs by a total margin of 14-1/4 lengths before cruising home in the final by 4-1/4 lengths in 1:55.3. As a 2-year-old, however, she only made it to the gate on three occasions, hit the board once and earned a mere $979. So how did Maplelea come home fourth at Rideau Carleton in a $3,870 non-winners race on Dec. 28 and pace to a maiden-breaking triumph in an $11,900 non-winners contest at Woodbine on Jan. 8? Well, it’s pretty simple really. It involved a little bit of luck, a lot of class in the family tree and Zeron grabbing the lines. “To tell you the truth I was looking at her pedigree at the sale and her mother was a nice mare that made more than $260,000 going up against the best,” said Moore, who is a schoolteacher by day. “Meanwhile Tiffany was looking her over and she was slightly off in one knee, as well as being on the small side, but not many people would notice the knee. Tiffany really wanted her, especially after her mother and brother went through the ring and the price was right, so we took her home. “She was easy to break and then right around the first week of December, before I could even put hobbles on her, we found her face down in her stall with one of her back feet stuck in the stall bars,” Moore said. “Thank God we were able to get her shoes off and get her out of there. “She was sore in her back and hind end, but I was not sure what kind of racehorse she would ever be after that or if she did something that would not allow her to ever be a racehorse. So I just gave her time and did not even jog her for months after that. “Last year was just about giving her an education and she was racing against colts, as well as older mares. Also, I took care of her while I was driving. I just wanted her to learn what she was supposed to do and then was ever so fortunate she did not hurt herself too badly. We had a chiropractor work on her and now I always put a mat up in her stall. She goes nowhere without it because she’s a good-feeling horse and does like to bounce around in there.” Although her sire was certainly no slouch, Maplelea does hail from a high quality female line. All four of her siblings have made it to the races and collected purse money, with Storm The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere, p,4,1:50.2, $169,909) the most prolific to date. Her dam is a half-sister to College Student (Beach Towel, p,3,1:54, $117,563), Rusty’s For Real (Real Artist, p,3,1:50f, $429,747), Takemewithyou (Artiscape, p,1:51.2f, $158,206) and Winbak Carl (Royal Mattjesty, p,1:51f, $101,948). Her second dam, the Cam Fella mare Cams Exotic, also amassed $618,585 on the racetrack and at the astonishing age of 27 has a 2-year-old Dragon Again colt in Cloud Speed. Her last two foals have both broken the $100,000 barrier in purse money. Also, Maplelea’s third dam, Armbro Exotic, although nowhere near as superb on the racetrack as Maple Lady and Cams Exotic, or in the breeding shed, did produce a full brother to Cams Exotic in Exotic Earl p,4,1:50.2 ($412,165) and is by Niatross. “I did train a couple Run The Tables and one thing I noticed about them was they had a lot of longevity,” Moore said. “Also, I was very attracted to her third dam and that pedigree. “Maple is just such a pleasure to be around; words cannot express it. She has great manners, is two fingers to drive and we are just lucky she did not hurt herself badly in her stall. To this day, we have no idea how she managed to do that, but we just know we don’t want it to ever happen again and are so very thankful.” As far as what awaits Maplelea after her participation in the Blossom Series, Moore and Richards will allow her to tell them. They are, however, pointing towards a prestigious race her dam was ninth in. “Because of that injury, I did not pay her into very much as I just did not know if she was going to come back from it,” he said. “I did pay her into another series after this one and she is paid into the Fan Hanover. I know those are the very best fillies and we will see if she can go with them, but you will never know if you don’t try. “Let’s just say I don’t think she could ever really disappoint us and she is just a very special filly.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Louisville, KY --- He’s earned $1.06 million, set his lifetime mark of 1:50.3f at age five, will be returning to the scene of his greatest triumphs on Friday night at The Meadowlands (March 20) and has the first stall in his barn. It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane. It’s Sevruga. “The horse was sold in July to Joe Pennacchio and he really cares about him,” said Julie Miller, the gelding’s conditioner. “He realized he might not be doing as well as he should have been and he sent him back to us. It is so terrific to have him back home. Right when he got off the van, his ears were pricked and he took up exactly like he had never left.” The 7-year-old son of SJ’s Caviar and the Malabar Man mare Stunning Lindsey will compete in a $27,500 Open Handicap at the Meadowlands on Friday. It is race six on the card and Sevruga will leave from post position five with his regular pilot, Andy Miller, in the bike. The venerable trotter will take on six foes and is listed at 6-1 on the morning line. It is his second pari-mutuel engagement of 2015 after finishing sixth at Dover Downs on March 11. “I can qualify him three times, but he’s just too smart and knows the difference between that and a real race,” Miller said. “He knows when there is money on the line and gets much more out of his races. At Dover he came out of that race a little sick, but he’s fine now. I expect him to take a couple starts before he is really fit.” Sevruga has faced the starter on 85 occasions with 30 victories, 19 second place finishes and 10 thirds. Unraced at age two, the gelding earned just under $150,000 as a 3-year-old while only performing in two races around the $100,000 purse mark. At that time he was trained by Tyler Raymer and co-owned by Raymer and Jim Meittinis. He was first sent to Andy and Julie Miller as a 4-year-old and earned $244,000 from 21 races. He was also fourth in that year’s Nat Ray and Maxie Lee Memorial behind champion Chapter Seven. It was as a 5-year-old, however, when Sevruga showed how classy he was. He banked $484,575, compiled a record of 22-9-7-2 and posted triumphs in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial and the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and only failed to hit cash a check twice. “We were so tickled to death when he won those two stakes,” Miller said. “Especially after all the opens he had been in and he proved he could go anywhere as he had won at Pocono, Chester and Yonkers. We were so happy for him that he was able to accomplish that.” After failing to cash a check in the 2013 Breeders Crown and Allerage Pace at the end of his campaign, it was discovered the horse had a piece of bone jutting off the side of an ankle and after Dr. Patty Hogan removed the chip, Sevruga showed up for his 6-year-old campaign as good as new. He captured his first two starts, was second in the third, then third in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final and second in the Maxie Lee. Shortly after a fifth place finish in his Cashman elimination, Sevruga was sold and transferred to the barn of Kevin Carr. In his seven starts for Carr he won only one time. Pennacchio returned him to the Millers in the fall and in the six times he raced for them to end his season, he collected a win, two seconds and a third. For the 2014 season, the gelding added $186,870 to his bank account from 23 races. “We gave him some time off to freshen him up and now he is ready to go,” Miller said. “I don’t know if he can keep up with some of the top stakes horses out there, especially with the group of 4-year-olds we have coming out, but he still enjoys being out there. “We have been so lucky to have him and I can’t say enough good things about Joe Pennacchio giving him back to us. When you are a trainer, it’s a job, but there are some horses you really fall in love with and he is it.” As for his personality, Sevruga is exactly what you would expect of a horse that has put together such an outstanding career. “There is not much to say about him because he is such a pleasure to be around in every possible way,” Miller said. “He loves the attention he gets being in the first stall and he just always behaves like a classy, old gentleman. Like I said before, he might have lost a step, but he showed he can still get it done in his qualifying win at the Meadowlands on Feb. 26. We feel he can still do really well in the Opens, but no matter what he does, we are just so, so, happy to have him home.” by Kimberly French USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association Web Newsroom

Louisville, KY --- He doesn’t have a clue why she is presently such a tough customer, but harness racing driver Mike Micallef is clearly thrilled Just A Bee has discovered her best stride. “I have no idea why she is so good right now,” said her conditioner and pilot. “She is just a happy horse and I haven’t done a thing with her other than just freshening her up before bringing her from Hoosier to Pompano.” A daughter of dual hemisphere champion Mr Feelgood and the Camluck mare Tawnees Mark, the 7-year-old Just A Bee has earned $190,416 from 135 lifetime starts. She is owned by Anita Micallef, John Mc Goff and Greg Heath and has been reminiscent of her sire during her time in the Micallef barn. She has paced 15 miles for her current connections with 10 triumphs and when she hasn’t hit the winner’s circle it might very well be only Micallef’s fault. “I don’t want her to be too hard on herself,” he said. “Everything she has done is all on her own and she is competing against some very tough company with Pertty Music and McFlirty. They are extremely nice mares. I can’t say enough about how good she has been.” Her dam has only dropped three foals, but Just A Bee is a half sister to A Regular Terror (Western Terror p,5,1:54.3h, $126,175) and has campaigned in Canada, New York, Indiana and Florida. The mare finished fourth in her only qualifying start at Mohawk Racetrack a 2-year-old, then went to the gate 22 times at age 3 at Rideau Carleton, Flamboro Downs, Kawartha Downs and Batavia Downs. As a 4- and 5-year-old she raced exclusively in the Empire State and only performed at Buffalo Raceway, Batavia Downs and Tioga Downs. She almost always brought home a check. After a barn change from Courtney Ohol to Charles Stewart and a six week vacation in early 2014, Just A Bee surfaced at Hoosier Park. While in Stewart’s care she lowered her lifetime mark by three full seconds and caught Micallef’s attention. “I thought she would fit in really well with our program down in Florida,” he said. “But I never imagined she would do this well.” But Micallef does admit there might be something to her new routine that she may relish. “I let her gallop twice a week,” he said. “I just let her go around a mile.” Just A Bee also seems to just enjoy life and may just be coming into her own as she matures. “She is funny,” Micallef said. “She pins her ears back every time anyone comes near her, but the minute you pet her she is all over that. She is such a nice horse and once you pay attention to her, she loves it.” The mare will remain in Florida for just a bit longer before she returns to the Midwest and commences the remainder of her season at Hoosier Park. “They just posted the conditions and they have a $21,000 Open back in Indiana,” Micallef said. “That’s where I base my stable. I want to see if she can compete up there, but I think she can. In her last start I literally was pulling the bit out of her mouth she wanted to go so much. She’s been taking on good quality mares down here so I don’t know why she can’t do the same up there. “I don’t think it’s just the track with her. Believe me, no one is as surprised as me she is this good right now. She’s just really enjoying herself out there and my job is just to keep her happy.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Louisville, KY --- His record stands at a perfect 14 for 14, he’s paced in 1:51.2 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and ended his freshman season with a triumph in the $86,000 American-National Stake over Earndawg, the Orange and Blue victor, so it’s pretty difficult to imagine getting Roland N Rock on stride was no simple task. “He always wants to trot and we just let him do it now,” said his co-owner/trainer Duane Roland. “He’ll even trot right up until the gate, but once he’s racing he’s all pace. We have never had one problem with him breaking so we allow him to do whatever he wants.” Born in Iowa, a son of Rocknroll Hanover and the Cambest mare Hank’s Chip, Roland N Rock competed primarily on the fair tracks in his native state and is the product of Duane and Connie Roland’s Harrisburg excursion in 2011. The couple, whose entire family has been heavily involved in the sport since 1969, were hoping to cash in on the Perretti Farms dispersal of their broodmare band. After spending $6,000 for Hank’s Chip, who was already in foal, it appears the Rolands did just that. “We have about 75 to 80 horses out here, with about 25 foals a year,” said the Grinnell resident, who owns, conditions and steers all his own stock. “We were looking for some mares in foal to Rocknroll Hanover, but we have a budget as we own a 1,500 acre farm that produces soybeans and corn. That is how we make our living and our horses are just for pleasure. We were able to purchase two mares, as we paid $9,000 for another, but her foal turned out nothing like Roland.” As Roland N Rock paced his way through the Iowa fair circuit, offer after offer came through to buy him, but there was not even the most remote possibility they would sell. “I am 47 years old and I’ve waited a lifetime for a horse like this,” Roland said. “My entire family is in this business and we have had some nice horses. My father Roger sold Panaramic Art for $60,000 and that was one of them, but I think this one is even more special. “Ones like these sometimes never come along. I knew we had something different on my hands in July when he paced the fastest half in Iowa history (:57.2) at Oskaloosa. When John Delong got off him at Springfield, he said he could have went much faster and was very impressed with him. All the way back to the paddock after that race, people were asking me how much they could buy him for, while I just kept shaking my head.” The Roland family certainly is a mainstay and/or cornerstone of the Iowa harness industry, as cousin Dan has grabbed headlines for his driving and brother Royal is no slouch in the sulky either. Royal is also a director for the United States Trotting Association and the treasurer for the Iowa Harness Horsemen’s Association. Duane is the secretary and Dan is on the board. “We all have our own places, half-mile tracks and training facilities,” Roland said. “We race against each other because when we tried keeping our horses together, no one could agree on anything. We all have our own ideas on how things should be done and no one is willing to change that.” There is, however, an alteration in the Roland family’s agenda for the summer of 2015. “We think he is the real deal and we are taking him out East to race against the best,” Roland said. “We are coming with him as I want to do all the work on him myself. I could ship him out there to someone else, but this horse means a lot. Connie and I are looking forward to the journey. “In fact, I just finished staking him and he’s in just about everything. There’s the Meadowlands Pace, the Progress Pace, the Matron and the Messenger. He will have to earn his way into the Jug or Lexington, but I think he will give a good account of himself. We just used the money he made to give him the opportunity. I don’t know about the Breeders Crown right now. That depends on how well he races. “We are just very excited to have this kind of opportunity with him and to be on the road all summer long. I can’t explain the kind of thrill this horse has provided us with. He was so much better than these other horses, some guys were wondering if it would take the heart out of them having to chase him all the time and never being able to catch him. “Also, you just can’t describe the feeling of holding a horse back for a half behind the entire field and just waiting for the chance to let them loose because you know he is going to go by them all. It’s absolutely unbelievable.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

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