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For the second night in a row the unseasonably warm weather and a lightning fast harness racing track at Rosecroft Raceway have produced new stakes and track records for two-year-old Maryland sired horses.   The first split for filly pacers went as an early non wagering event. HS Shauna (Up Front Charlie) took air to the quarter in 28.2 before gaining the lead, stopping the timer in a stakes record 1:54.2 for reinsman Roger Plant Jr. Steve LeBlanc trains for owner/breeder Cary Grady. Tell Me The Truth was up for place.   That new record only stood for 15 minutes as Cool Toy (Cool Flying Fun) with Jason Green in the bike brushed out of the pocket to catch Princess Rusty in the 1:53.3 stakes and track record in the second division. Elwood Tignor trains for owner Breakaway Racing, Nick Callahan was the breeder.   The trotting colts and geldings opened the overnight card. Driver Brian Burton put What That Is (Cam's Rocket) in the pocket for most of the mile, charging down the stretch to win by four lengths over Iron Mine Bro shattering the stakes and track record in the 1:57.2 mile. Judy Welty trains for owner Brian Emerson, Richard Hans is the breeder.   Stakes action continues with the second round of preliminaries on Saturday Oct 14 and Sunday Oct 15.   By Cheri Stambaugh

(Fort Washington, MD) - The race unfolded differently but at the end the result was the same as Hyway Marcus was victorious Sunday evening (October 8) in the harness racing RUS MidAtlantic Monte Trotting Series Final at Rosecroft Raceway. With the victory, Hyway Marcus completed the hat trick, sweeping the harness racing series. Determined not to let Hyway Marcus have his own way, One True Friend (Hillary Hartnett) powered to the front, parking Hyway Marcus to the first quarter with Keenan (Maria Buchanan) third, racing along the rail following the leader. Hartnett had her horse, the lone mare in the race, in front by one and a quarter length in a brisk :28.1 at the first station. After being stung throughout the first quarter, Sascha Moczulski took Hyway Marcus to the front with One True Friend sitting second through middle fractions of :58.1 and 1:28.1 with the leader being two lengths in front at the three-quarter mark. By this time Keenan was beginning to tire, six lengths behind the leader in third place. Once past the three-quarter marker, the all-to-familiar story played out as Hyway Marcus opened up on the field with a seven length lead at the top of the stretch to coast home in a final quarter of :31.4 to stop the teletimer in 2:00, seven and a half lengths over One True Friend who put the victor to task in the early portion of the race. Closing from sixth at the three quarter mark was Catalyst (Stephanie Jacobs) finishing third another length behind. Fourth, but placed fifth for violation of the breaking rule was Mr Protab while Pine Tab was elevated to fourth. Keenan, paying the price for his early pace finished sixth. With the victory, Hyway Marcus finished the season with a perfect three for three record and now has a lifetime RUS record of 8-6-1-0. The six year old son of Gut Instinct is owned by Joseph Faraldo, Gilbert Teitel, and Charels Wittstruck. Moczulski was the winning trainer. RUS MidAtlantic would like to thank all its sponsors of the series, Back on Track, Knutsson Trotting, Miller Lite, Poulin Grain, in addition to numerous others. Plans are already underway for the 2018 series. Anyone interested in becoming a member of RUS MidAtlantic or a sponsor of the 2018 series may contact RUS MidAtlantic through their website. By Allan Schott for RUS MidAtlantic   RUS MidAtlantic - Bringing racing under saddle to DE, MD, NJ, and VA      

The first harness racing preliminaries for the Maryland Sire Stakes freshmen pacing colts and geldings and trotting fillies went to post Sat Oct 7 at Rosecroft Raceway.   In the first early non-wagering event for the pacing colts and geldings, Russel Foster put I Run The Show (Cam's Rocket) in the pocket til the head of the stretch, winning by a ½ length over Bo Breeze in the 1:55 mile for owner/breeder Michael Hans and trainer Roger Hans.   The first division for trotting fillies saw a lot of change in positions with Iron Mine Krystal (Four Starz Robro) coming from mid pack at the half to win by a length in 1:59 setting the Stakes Record for 2 year old trotting fillies. Dancing Spirit was second. Art Stafford Jr. was in the bike for trainer Greg Haverstick and owner/breeder Iron Mine Branch LLC.   The second split for pacing colts and geldings saw Roger Plante Jr. pull Allie's Finale (Allie's Western) from fourth to take the lead at the half, opening up 3¾ lengths on the field in the 1:53.3 Stakes and track record mile for 2 year old pacing geldings. Lloyd's All In was up for place. Steve LeBlanc trains for owners Leblanc Racing, Count De Money Stable, Wm. Lutz Jr and J. Stuart. Jacob Ramsburg is the breeder.   Gaagaa Gone (GooGoo GaaGaa) remains undefeated (5 - 5) winning the second division for trotting fillies in the first wagering race. Reinsman Russel Foster sent Gaagaa Gone to the engine and never looked back with Worthy Renegade crossing the wire second in the 2:00.1 mile. Richard Hans trains the filly for owner/breeder Corey Callahan.   Stakes action continues Sunday (Oct. 8) with early non-wagering events starting at 5:15 pm.   By Cheri Stambaugh

(Fort Washington, MD) - A field of six trotters will compete Sunday (October 8) evening in the RUS MidAtlantic Monte Series Final, being contested at Rosecroft Raceway. The $5,000 race is headlined by Hyway Marcus, who won the first two legs of the series and is looking to complete the series sweep. The tilt will go as a non-wagering event after the third race on the regular harness racing card with an estimated post time of 7:30pm. Hyway Marcus (post 2), is trained and ridden by Sasha Moczulski for new owners Joseph Faraldo, Gilbert Teitel, and Charles Wittstruck. The six-year-old son of Gut Instinct has developed a reputation for being a star RUS trotter with a lifetime record of 7-5-1-0. The horse has made only two starts this year under saddle, winning series legs at Ocean Downs and the Meadowlands with a seasonal mark of 1:59.4 set at the Meadowlands. Looking to be his main contender is Pine Tab (post 5), ridden by Helene Gregory. The Nick Surick trainee in his first lifetime start was dueling Hyway Marcus in the stretch at the Meadowlands, getting to within a ¼ length when he went off-stride. With a race under his belt, his connections are looking for an improved effort here. Another contender is One True Friend (post 3) who finished second in the second leg of the series at the Meadowlands. Since that effort, the lone mare in the race came in first at Saratoga, followed by second place finishes at Batavia and in the Elizabeth Miller Memorial at Monticello this past Monday. Hillary Hartnett is once again in the irons for trainer Wesley Miller. Other horses in the race are Mr Protab (post 1, Emma Wahlberg) who won his lone start last year at Ocean Downs and looks to improve off a third-place finish at the Meadowlands in his seasonal debut. Catalyst (post 2, Stephanie Jacobs) looks to improve with the return to the 5/8 mile oval after putting in a dull race at the Meadowlands. Keenan (post 6, Maria Buchanan) finished second in his lifetime debut at Ocean Downs but jumped off before the start at the Meadowlands. With a cleaner start, he may be in the thick of things late. First race on the wagering card is slated for a 6:40pm post. Allan Schott RUS MidAtlantic - Bringing racing under saddle to DE, MD, NJ, and VA      

Standardbred horses are a mainstay at The Great Frederick Fair, and this year, breed aficionados hope to bring more fans to the sport of harness racing and the horses themselves. Saturday is Standardbred Day at the fair, although there will be harness racing through Saturday. On Saturday, horse lovers will be treated to harness racing, the exciting Sulky to Saddle races and the Standardbred Horse Show. Sulky to Saddle will feature Standardbreds being ridden a mile at the trot in the speedy time of around two minutes. The Standardbred Show will feature retired racers and those too slow to race. These horses will show off their gaits, their jumping ability and other traditional equine pursuits. Like thoroughbred owners, Standardbred owners are hoping to show the public that retired racing Standardbreds make good saddle horses and companion horses. “There are only two fairs in Maryland that do harness racing,” said Colby Hubble, who stables horses at the Frederick Fairgrounds all year long. “The Pocomoke Fair and the Frederick Fair.” Harness racing brings out the betters at Ocean Downs, near Ocean City, and Rosecroft, in Prince George’s County. Betting doesn’t happen at the Frederick races, but by watching the local races, you can get an idea of what to look for if you want to try your hand at your closest off-track betting facility. What makes Standardbred racing fun is the horses themselves, Hubble said. “They’re very mild-mannered.” Standardbreds have two gaits, trotting and pacing. Some lineages are better for trotting, while others are geared to pacing. Most trainers have both. Hubble trains her horses nearly every day after work. “My grandfather had Standardbreds,” she said. “I started coming to the barn when I was 12, and I got my first horse at 14.” Standardbreds aren’t as tall as their racing counterparts, thoroughbreds. They are more muscular, however. Size isn’t usually a factor, Hubble said. “Smaller ones can be faster than the larger ones.” The driver’s weight doesn’t matter, either. Drivers, like jockeys, tend to be athletic and drive anywhere from eight to 10 horses a night. “We start from a moving gate, not a standstill,” Hubble said. “It’s the ball in motion theory. Once they get going, weight doesn’t matter.” Harness horses travel an average of 30 to 33 miles per hour. Nearly all the races are a mile long — twice around the track at the fairgrounds. The Sulky to Saddle Race, also known as Racing Under Saddle, is becoming a fan favorite at other tracks, said Clarissa Coughlin, one of the coordinators of the Sulky to Saddle and the Standardbred Horse Show. “We want to highlight the Standardbred and the versatility of the Standardbred,” she said. “They’re very giving horses. Some will race the night before a show the next day.” Racing Under Saddle with Standardbreds is popular in Europe and has been revived at the Meadowlands Racetrack, where harness racing’s biggest American race, the Hambletonian, takes place. Most of the saddle jockeys are women. “It’s not easy to get on the back of a Standardbred and trot at 30 miles per hour,” said Coughlin, who recently rode her retired winning Standardbred, Game Day, in a saddle race. By Karen Gardner Special to 72 Hours Reprinted with permission of The Frederick News-Post

Berlin, MD....... In the inaugural running of the "Powder Puff Derby at Ocean Downs Sunday night, Hannah Miller and the five year old trotting mare, Bella's Punkett, prove the best in a race that featured all harness racing women drivers.   The drivers initially dined before the races in the track's clubhouse restaurant and followed up the dinner with a meet and greet session with the fans on the track's apron prior to the races.   After a late scratch of Jarming Lady knocked down the field down to seven horses, the race, a conditioned trot carrying a purse of $4200, carded as the sixth of twelve races on the night, went off without a hitch.   Karen Moore and Joeyscash quarter pole moved and opened up on the field with quarters of 30.1, 59.2 and 1:30.1 before Miller, patiently waited for clearance and fired Bella's Punkett on a first over mission from fifth position.   Advancing smartly on the far turn, Bella's Punkett came along side the pace setter finishing the mile in 2:01.3, winning by five lengths. Linda Mac Donald and Let It Go rallied for the place edging Joeys cash.   "I was happy to be asked to participate", said Miller, "since it was a very worthwhile cause. All the ladies were glad to be part of this race."   Also participating were Miriam Toland aboard Rocketpedia, Lorie Davis and Tiger's Too Good, Stacy Chiodo and Whitesville Liz and Doreen Dailey and HS Deroy.   The late scratch cost Janet Haigh- Bivona a seat at the dance floor.   All the ladies donated their five percent winnings to the children's cancer foundation " Believe In Tomorrow" with the total amount being donated to the fund at $720.00 for the night's festivities.   by Ocean Downs Staff  

Russell Foster was the spring driving champion at Rosecroft Raceway and is the leading harness racing driver this summer at Ocean Downs. But the 28-year-old Maryland native never imagined this kind of success in the sulky. Prior to October 2015, Foster had won a total of 67 races over a span of more than six years. Since then, he has won 403 times. Foster's success can be traced to his purchase of pacer Hi Sir in June 2013. By the end of 2014, the Foster-trained-and-driven Hi Sir was a force on the Maryland circuit and helped propel Foster's career to new levels. In 2016, no one won more races than Foster at Rosecroft (96) and he visited the winner's circle a total of 192 times. This year, Foster has already won 185 races, good for 33rd most in North America, and his $1.20 million in purses is nearing his $1.35 million in 2016. Foster, the son of trainer Arty Foster Jr., recently took time to talk to Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association's Harness Racing Communications division about his career. KW: You're having another great year. What have been the keys to your success? RF: I don't really know if there has been a key to it. I'm just showing up every night and trainers have been putting me on a lot of good horses. That makes my job a lot easier. I've just been lucky to get some good drives. KW: What have the last two years been like? Did you foresee this type of success? RF: No, I didn't. It's been a big lifestyle change. I had a horse of my own (Hi Sir) that I took over to Rosecroft and was doing really well there. My dad brought a couple over and they started doing well and people just started listing me (to drive). I didn't really think I was going to be a catch driver. It just took off on me. KW: At what point did you realize it was going in that direction? RF: I would say last year. I didn't realize it was going to take off the way it did. It just kept going the way it was going and I took it as it came. KW: You mentioned it's been a lifestyle change. What kind of adjustment was it? RF: You're spending a lot more time at the track. I worked for my grandfather for the last 10 years, so I was always at the track a lot paddocking horses for him. But I wasn't at the track every night until the last race every night. It's a lot more late nights, a lot more time at the track. It's tough to get used to, but you get used to it after a while. KW: Is it tough mentally, too, as you're getting acclimated? RF: It was tough at first. I was used to driving only a couple horses a night, so I was really focused in on those horses. Now when you're driving 10 or 12 a night, you don't really have the time to put all that much thought into every race. I really think that's better in a way because a lot of times when I was driving just a couple I'd really overthink things. Now I just kind of go with the flow of it. I think it's better. KW: Are you the type of person that would dwell on things when they didn't go well, or were you able to turn the page? RF: If I drove a bad race it used to really bother me and it took me a while to get over it. Now, five minutes later you have to get right back on the next one. You've got to learn to turn the page. That makes it a lot easier. You still feel bad about the bad ones, but you don't have time to dwell on it. You've got to be ready for the next one. KW: Is that one of the biggest adjustments you have to make? RF: Yeah, I would say so. You've got to be able to move on to the next one. KW: What have been the highlights for you so far? RF: I've had success with my horse (Hi Sir) at Rosecroft. He got horse of the meet a couple different times over there. Mr Ham Sandwich, I won three or four (Maryland) Sire Stakes finals with him. That was a big thrill. KW: Your family has been involved in racing for a long time. Is this something you always wanted to do? RF: Yeah, I always enjoyed it. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I loved going to the track with my dad; I loved going to Rosecroft. It's where I wanted to go every weekend and I had a lot of fun with it. Whenever I had spare time on the weekends and during summers, I spent a lot of time at the barn and always enjoyed jogging horses and all that. KW: How old were you when you started jogging horses? RF: I'd say 12 or 13. KW: Did you work with the horses during high school, or were you involved in other things? RF: I played soccer my freshman and sophomore year, but after that it was pretty much all the horses. KW: When did you decide you wanted to start training and driving a little on your own? RF: Right from the time I was 16 I wanted to try to have one or two of my own. When I turned 19, I got my driver's license and I gave it a shot. It didn't seem like it was a realistic thing for me at the time; I didn't do very good starting out. I just focused more on working for my grandfather. He had 20 head racing at the time, so I didn't really have time to focus on much else. Then around 2012, 2013, he started to cut back on horses. So I got focused more on driving at Rosecroft. That's when things kind of went that route. KW: Have you had any other jobs? RF: No, never had any other job than this. KW: What do you most enjoy about working with the horses? RF: I just love being around them. Even now with driving all the time, I still work at the barn every day. I still enjoy that aspect of it. I just love it. There's nothing else I ever wanted to do. KW: Is it nice to have success so close to home? RF: That's definitely a plus. Of course it would be nice to have success somewhere else too, but I loved going to Rosecroft when I was growing up, I used to love watching races there. So to have success there is pretty cool. KW: Have you thought about expanding to other tracks more? RF: I drive a few for my dad at (Harrah's Philadelphia) here or there. It's definitely tougher up there, tough to break in. But I give it a shot every now and then. I drive quite a few in Delaware. It's tough there also, but I'm trying my hand there. I hope to pick up a few drives this winter at Dover. KW: Do you see yourself doing more of that as time goes on? RF: I think so. Hopefully as I get better and my name gets out there more. Hopefully I can keep making the right moves and people give me a chance. KW: How have you seen yourself improve, what have you learned, in these last couple years? RF: You just feel a lot more comfortable out there. You become a lot more patient. I used to always press a little too hard, I think. The more you're out there, the more comfortable you feel. You get a better feel for how the races are going and take your shots at the right time. When you first start out, you're more nervous and worried about making the right move. Once you do it more and more, you stop thinking so much and it just kind of comes to you. KW: When Ocean Downs closes you'll have some time before Rosecroft reopens, so what are your plans? RF: Harrington goes four nights a week, so I'll be there every night. Those other three nights I'll just try to get some family time in before Rosecroft opens up. I'll be going six nights a week then. So now I just want to spend time with my wife (Megan) and son (Blake). My wife is a big help to me. I wouldn't be able to have horses on my own if she wasn't there. She takes care of things when I'm on the road. KW: What do you like to do when you're not busy at the track or at the barn? RF: I just like hanging out with my son and watch him play. He's almost a year-and-a-half now; he's getting to the fun stage. Other than that, I always liked fishing, going out on the boat and being on the water. KW: Where do you like to fish? RF: Just around here locally, the Chesapeake Bay, the Wye River, places like that. KW: Looking at your stats, you're going to go past last year's numbers pretty soon. That must feel good. RF: Yeah, coming into the year I was just hoping I would improve a little bit. I kind of set a goal for myself to get over 200 wins this year. I'm just hoping things keep going the way they're going. I never set any goals before, but I thought if I could get to 200 wins this year it would be a pretty good step up. KW: It's got to feel pretty good the way everything has come together these last couple years. RF: It definitely does. I didn't think it was going to happen, so it's a very pleasant surprise. KW: What does the future hold? What would you like to accomplish down the road? RF: I've never been real big on setting goals, so I haven't put much thought into that. I just hope to keep getting drives, keep competing and keep progressing each year. I'm just taking it as it comes right now. I just want to keep moving in the right direction. KW: That's worked for you so far. RF: Yeah (laughs), we'll just keep doing it the way we're doing it, I guess. Ken Weingartner

Laurel, DE --- Maryland harness racing driver Ricky Still was injured while driving at Ocean Downs in July. With a broken kneecap and femur, Still is facing significant medical bills and won't be able to work for some time. His brother has launched a Go Fund Me page on his behalf, which can be reached at this link.

On Sunday July 30 the Maryland Standardbred Race Fund (foaled) Stakes for harness racing two year olds started with the trotting colts and geldings going to post in race two.   Driver Chuck Connor Jr. sent Whats The Word (Donato Hanover) to the lead, striding off to win by 17½ lengths in the 1:58.2 mile. Iron Mine Bro was up for place. Arden Homestead Stable and Janice Connor are the owners with Janice also picking up training duties. Fred Hertrich is the breeder.   The filly pacers split in three divisions. In the first split George and Tina Dennis Racing's Michelle's Jazz (Roll With Joe) moved up from mid pack going up the back stretch to take a two length victory over leader Cheyenne Zone. Frank Milby was in the bike for trainer Joe Columbo in the 1:56.4 mile, Winbak Farm was the breeder.   Race six saw the lead change several times, after a couple of miscue's at the start. Pedal Power (Roddy's Bags Again) made a break at the start, recovered and worked her way passed the pack going three deep at the ¾ pole to win by a neck over Toms Trophy in 2:02.2. Reinsman Art Stafford Jr. drove for trainer and co-owner Darrell Lewis and Leah Lewis. The breeder was Winbak Farm.   The final split of the night had the crowd screaming for their favorite in the tight photo. Jason Green gave Cool Toy (Cool Flying Fun) the perfect pocket trip, charging down the stretch to win by a nose over Tell Me The Truth and Sanza. Elwood Tignor trains for owner Breakaway Racing and breeder Nick Callahan.   The action continues on Monday July 31 with two divisions for 2 year old filly trotters and four splits for colt and gelding pacers.   By Cheri Stambaugh

The pacing fillies started the Sunday night July 9th harness racing card with two divisions of prelims.   Whitesvillemichele (Capitol Power) held off a strong challenge by Cheap Ain't Fast winning by a neck in the 1:58.4 clocking. W. David Hill III drove for owner/trainer/breeder Gary White.   The second division for pacing fillies saw the favorite Miss Valerie (Allie's Western) take control in the gate to wire win over Evergreen Marla stopping the clock in 1:59.1. Reinsman Roger Plante Jr. had a little scare when Miss Valerie jumped the photo finish light at the wire. Steve LeBlanc trains and co-owns the filly with Count De Money Stable and William Lutz Jr. Tom & Linda Winebrener are the breeders.   Hybrid Henry (Cam's Rocket) took some air to the quarter before taking the lead from LG's Hotshoeboy setting a stakes record for trotting geldings of 1:58.1. Russell Foster was the pilot for owner/trainer/breeder Richard Hans.   The sire stakes prelims continued on Monday night July 10th with the pacing colts and geldings. Mr Ham Sandwich (Cam's Rocket) returned to winning form in the second race with Russell Foster in the bike. The 1:55 mile was just short of the stakes record. Adios Muchachos finished second 5 lengths back. Judy Welty trains the winner for owner/breeder Brian Emerson.   Trotting filly Holy Trout (Holy Guacamolie) remains a perfect 7 for 7 in 2017 for owner/breeder Dr. William Solomon. Roger Plant Jr. was the driver in the 2:01.3 mile with Daygone up for place.   The second round of prelims continues Sunday and Monday July 16th & 17th.   By Cheri Stambaugh

FORT WASHINGTON, MD - Rosecroft will wrap up its harness racing spring meet this week with live programs on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday's 12-race program will start at 6:40 p.m. Qualifying races will begin at 4 p.m. There will be a special 5:40 p.m. first race post Wednesday. Russell Foster, who shared Rosecroft's Spring and Fall Meet driving titles last year, is all alone at the top with 64 wins. His closest competitor is Frank Milby with 43. Brian Burton has driven 39 winners and Roger Plante Jr. 35. The training title will be up for the grabs the final week with Kenneth Schlotzhauer and Judith Welty tied with 16 wins each. Burton is one off the leaders with 15 and Jerry Nock has 14. David Joseph  

FORT WASHINGTON, MD - Racing fans are being given a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at harness racing and jog a Standardbred when Rosecroft plays hosts to "I Want to Be a Driver" Tuesday, May 30. Two packages are available for the event, which begins at 3 p.m. and includes an evening of live harness racing at Rosecroft. The "I Want to Be a Driver" package includes a jog around the five-eighths mile track on a two-seated sulky, paddock tour, barbecue on the track apron, a group winner's circle photo, and a meet-and-greet with hors d'oeuvres. The package costs $90. The Spectator Package includes all of the above without the jog for $45. For more information on "I Want to Be a Driver," sponsored by the Cloverleaf Standard Owners Association, contact Gina Maybee of Cloverleaf at 301.567.9636. David Joseph          

FORT WASHINGTON, MD - Rosecroft kicks off its 34-day spring harness racing meet Sunday evening with an expanded schedule and live racing on Kentucky Derby Day and Preakness Day. The spring meet will be Rosecroft's second live meet under The Stronach Group, the parent company of the Maryland Jockey Club, which completed purchase of the 67-year-old facility in August. The Stronach Group quickly invested in Rosecroft with a new high-definition, 21-by-30 television in the infield, a new pace car, and the inaugural running of the $100,000 Potomac Pace, the first $100,000 race to be contested at Rosecroft in nearly 10 years. Rosecroft will race Sunday and Tuesday the weeks of March 5 and March 12 with a 4:40 p.m. post on Sunday and a 6:40 p.m. post on Tuesday. They will go to a three-day week beginning March 19 with a Wednesday post time of 6:40 p.m. Rosecroft will also add Saturday programs on April 15, May 6 (Kentucky Derby Day), and May 20 (Preakness Day). Post time on Saturdays will be announced shortly. "We're excited about the spring meet and efforts to reinvigorate Standardbred racing in Maryland," said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. "We think the additional race dates will welcomed by our fans, and we hope to build the fan base through our off-track betting facilities. Installing a new infield board and the inaugural Potomac Pace were a good start last fall. We'll continue listening to our guests and horsemen to improve the facility and racing." Returning to Rosecroft will be driver Russell Foster, who shared last year's spring driving title with Jonathan Roberts and the fall driving title with Roger Plante Jr. "I'm excited to be back over there," said Foster, who recently received the Delaware Standardbred Owners Association's Horizon Award, presented to the horseman making outstanding progress during the year. "We've had a couple horses who have done well over there and it's a place I've been going to since I was a kid. I'm looking forward to it." David Joseph david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.457.6451      

Christina Talley, 50, passed away after a long two-year battle with cervical cancer at Penninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md. on Feb. 10. Ms. Talley, who was born in Bel Air, Ohio, daughter of the late Jack and Martha Talley, is survived by her significant other, Curtis Daniels, four children, five grandchildren and several uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. A horse enthusiast throughout her life, she cared for horses owned by her father, a renowned Delmarva-area harness race caller Jack Talley, who also owned and trained a number of harness race horses. Later she became an owner of horses with Go Nurse, she favorite. Go Nurse won Horse of the Year at Ocean Downs in 2001. A funeral Service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Salisbury Baptist Temple, Salisbury, Md. At 10 a.m., a one-hour visitation will be held prior to the services. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Salisbury Baptist Temple, 6413 Hobbs Road., Salisbury, Md. 21804. Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, P.A., 501 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, Md. 21804. To send condolences to the family, please visit www.hollowayfh.com

Rosecroft's 2016 Fall Meet comes to an end Thursday night with leading harness racing driver and trainer titles on the line and a visit from Santa Claus. First race post for the 13-race closing night program is 6:40 p.m. Driver Russell Foster goes into Thursday's final program with 50 wins, just one more than Roger Plante Jr. Frank Milby is third with 36. On the training side, Brian Burton and Kenneth Schlotzhauer are tied with 17 winners, two ahead of Joseph Offutt. Arty Foster Jr., leads in win percentage with 12 victories from 33 starts (36 percent). Closing night at Rosecroft will include a visit from Santa Claus, who will be available for free pictures between 7-8 p.m. There will also be a special $15 buffet in the Terrace Dining Room and $1 hot dogs and $1 sodas at the first floor concession stand. David Joseph

In September 2015, Leonard "Buddy" Jones III and Kevin Fitzgerald were thrilled when the auctioneer called "Sold!" after their $1,400 bid for one of the harness racing horses going through the Chick's Sale ring. "We liked the way he looked," Fitzgerald explained. "Did we know what we were looking at? No. We didn't have a clue what we were buying." He's not exaggerating. Three weeks before the sale, the idea of owning a racehorse hadn't crossed either of their minds. Jones, however, received a call from a coach who wanted his daughter to join a particular softball team. Jones agreed to meet with him to talk it over. "I met him at Ocean Downs and we were betting on the horses," Jones said. "He had horses. He told me there was more money on that end than betting on it." That was all the encouragement it took for Jones to rally the support of Fitzgerald and head for the September 2015 Chick's Sale in Harrington, Del. Lucky for them, the horse they happened to bid on was Walton Shaw A (2002, p,10,1:53.1h, $301,884). Though he was nearing the end of a winless season, Walton Shaw A had what they lacked -- experience. "Everybody said he was classy," Fitzgerald said. The 14-year-old pacer proved it to them in 2016, winning five races and earning just under $20,000 for Fitzgerald and Jones under the guidance of conditioner Jay Shores this year. Though they initially sent Walton Shaw A to a trainer in Delaware, as that's where he'd been racing before the sale, Jones and Fitzgerald quickly realized they wanted to be hands-on owners. “It was too far away for us to go and see our horse,” Jones said. It was just a matter of weeks before they moved the pacer to a training center in Salisbury, Md., a short drive from both of their homes. Walton Shaw A earned a few checks at Rosecroft Raceway before the track closed in December. When the five-eighths-mile oval reopened in March, Walton Shaw A proved all he’d needed was some time off. Jones and Fitzgerald made their first trip to the winner's circle March 8 after Walton Shaw A made a huge three-wide move from the back of the pack to win easily by five lengths in 1:56.1. The older pacer continued to earn checks just about every week for his eager owners before earning a second victory May 3 in a $5,000 claiming race. He again came from behind to make a big move at the three-quarter pole, drawing off to win by more than seven lengths in 1:55. In June, Jones and Fitzgerald excitedly began racing Walton Shaw A at their local track, Ocean Downs. Classified as a C-2 pacer, Walton Shaw A put in a game effort every week but faced some stiff competition. His owners were pleased to see him drop down to the C-3 level in July. After a solid third-place finish July 22, driver Roger Plante Jr. put Walton Shaw A right on the front the following week. He stayed there, winning by nearly a length in 1:57. "We were tickled," Fitgerald said. Nevertheless, he and Jones didn't have high hopes the following week when Walton Shaw A was moved back up to the C-2 level. The pacer surprised them though, coming first over to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.1. "I didn't expect him to win," Fitzgerald recalled. "He went off at 22-1." Walton Shaw A returned to Rosecroft this fall and earned his 44th lifetime win Nov. 1, coming from behind as he so often does to win in 1:55.2 for Plante. He's earned a second and third since, and his connections are hoping to race him once more before he retires. They credit Walton Shaw A's success with getting them hooked on harness racing. They've already got two other horses and can be found at the barn more often than not. Fitzgerald, a school bus driver and mechanic who'd never interacted with horses, says he never pictured himself working with the animals. "I never thought I'd be into the horse thing," he said, "but I really enjoy it." He says other horsemen have proven helpful, providing pointers and advice when needed. He also credits Walton Shaw A with being the perfect first horse. "He made it look easy," Fitzgerald said, adding that even when the horse got loose at the farm he went right to his stall. And while the potential purses might have sparked Jones’ initial interest in harness racing, you wouldn’t know it listening to him now. When asked what he considers Walton Shaw A’s best race, it’s not one of the horse’s wins he mentions. “I thought it was when he went in 1:53 and finished eighth at Rosecroft,” Jones said. “That is impressive for a 14-year-old horse.” Though sorry to see his career coming to an end, Jones and Fitzgerald know they have Walton Shaw A to thank for getting to experience the thrill of harness racing. They say they have no plans of parting with the old pacer. "He's the family pet," Fitzgerald said. by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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