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Columbus, OH --- The USTA's online entry program, which has been in the beta testing phase during the past month, is scheduled to go live on April 7. When the platform kicks off officially on Monday, nine racetracks are signed up and ready to start taking online entries. The nine tracks are Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, Maywood Park, The Meadows, Plainridge Racecourse, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Northfield Park, and Yonkers Raceway. "We are ready to go with nine tracks and about 40 trainers that have been part of the testing period," said USTA Director of Registry and Member Services T.C. Lane. "But this is going to grow rapidly as new racetracks and trainers are being added every day." During the beta testing period that began on March 17, more than 700 horses were entered electronically by nearly 40 trainers, including Ron Burke who entered more than 130 during the trial. Of the tracks participating, Dover Downs accepted 269 online entries as of April 1. "It's going to be a big help for stakes especially," said Burke, the 2013 Trainer of the Year. "But for the everyday racehorses, it's still going to be a tremendous advantage." The USTA has produced an informative video that describes the benefits of online entries and serves as a tutorial for trainers on how to use the platform. The video can be viewed here. With the USTA's new, online entry program, harness racing becomes the first of the racing breeds in North America to have the capability to enter horses electronically. It allows trainers to enter their horses via the internet from computers or mobile devices days ahead of the current system. The online entry project was spearheaded by Lane and Sherry Antion-Mohr, USTA director of information technology. "Trainers can now map out their racing schedules at their own leisure, a week or more in advance," said Lane. "It also makes things much easier for race secretaries at the tracks." Trainers can start to enter horses electronically as soon as the condition sheet is made available from the race office, typically seven to 10 days before the races. by Dan Leary, for the USTA

The 2014 stake schedules for both Balmoral and Maywood Park have been released by racing secretary Doc Narotsky. The action kicks off at Balmoral on March 29th with the Taurus Bomber Stake for Illinois conceived and foaled three-year-old pacing colts. Maywood’s stake season gets underway on Friday, April 11th with sophomore pacing colts slugging it out in the Sportsmaster Stake. The first “major” state-bred stake of the season will be contested on Sunday, May 18th with three-year-old pacing fillies squaring off in the $45,000 Violet Stake at Balmoral. There will also be Violet and Cardinal Stakes for Illinois conceived and foaled pacers and trotters on Sunday, May 25th, Wednesday, May 28th, and Saturday, May 31st at Balmoral Park. Maywood’s first big event of the season will be the $100,000 Filly Maywood Pace for ICF three-year-old fillies on Friday, June 13th.  The $100,000 Maywood Pace for ICF sophomore pacing colts will be held the following Friday, June 20th. . The first Hanover Stakes of the season at Balmoral Park will feature a pair of events for three-year-old trotters on Saturday, June 7th.    The Southland Festival of Racing will provide a weekend filled with state-bred action at Balmoral on Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th with pacers and trotters squaring off in $50,000 battles like the Mini Me Stake, Loyal Opposition Stake, Incredible Finale Stake, Ann Vonian Stake, Kadabra Stake, Fox Valley Evita Stake, Fox Valley Flan Stake and Plesac Stake. A pair of $50,000 Hanover’s for two-year-old colt and filly pacers are scheduled for Saturday, August 2nd at the Crete oval while a pair of $60,000 events for freshmen trotters will be contested on Sunday, August 3rd. Balmoral will also play host to Illinois’ biggest night of racing, Super Night, on Saturday, Sept. 13th.  As always, the state’s top pacers and trotters will be on display as they battle for more than $1 million in purse money. The prestigious American National’s kick off on Wednesday, Sept. 17th with a pair of $90,000 trotting stakes for two-year-olds. October will be a busy month for the youngsters as the $100,000 Lady Lincoln Stake for two-year-old trotting fillies takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 1st while their male counterparts battle in the $100,000 Lincoln Land Stake on Sunday, Oct. 5th Balmoral Park. Maywood will also host the $60,000 Cardinal and Violet Stakes for two-year-old colt and filly pacers on Friday, Oct. 3rd. If the last few years were any indication of things to come then racing fans throughout the country will want to circle Saturday, Oct. 11th and Friday, Oct. 17th, on their calendars as some of North America’s best pacers and trotters are expected to visit the Chicagoland area as Grand Circuit action comes to town. Balmoral Park will play host to the $250,000 three-year-old colt pace, $225,00 American National three-year-old colt trot, $200,000 American National Aged Pace, $180,000 aged trot, $175,000 American National three-year-old filly pace, $150,000 three-year-old filly trot, $125,000 two-year-old colt pace and $125,000 two-year-old filly pace approximately one month earlier than in recent years.    Maywood’s biggest card of the season is just six days later on Friday, Oct. 17th with the $225,000 Windy City Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, the $130,000 Abe Lincoln Stake for two-year-old pacing colts, the $110,00 Galt Trot for three-year-old trotting colts and the $100,000 Cinderella Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies sharing the spotlight. The $30,000 Associates-McKeever Stake for ICF pacers is also scheduled for that same night. Below is a complete list of both tracks entire stake schedules. All purse values are estimated. Date       Day Track A-S-G ICF Name Est Purse 3/29/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Taurus Bomber 10,000 4/5/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Song Cycle 17,000 4/5/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Direct Balance 10,000 4/11/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Sportsmaster 10,000 4/13/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Trotting Tilly 10,000 4/16/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Speedy Rodney 10,000 4/18/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Desperate Lady 10,000 4/26/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Rambling Willie 17,000 4/26/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 4/27/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Koochie 10,000 4/30/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Iggy Magoo 10,000 5/2/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Taser Gun 10,000 5/3/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/11/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet Eliminations 10,000 5/11/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/14/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 5/16/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Gosox 10,000 5/18/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Violet 45,000 5/18/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet Eliminations 10,000 5/21/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal Eliminations 10,000 5/24/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal Eliminations 10,000 5/25/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Violet 40,000 5/28/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 5/31/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Cardinal 45,000 6/1/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Jimmy Sunshine 5,000 6/4/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Egyptian Grande 5,000 6/5/2014 Thur May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace Elim 10,000 6/7/2014 Sat Bal 3ct Hanover 35,000 6/7/2014 Sat Bal 3ft Hanover 35,000 6/8/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Bingo Johnnie 5,000 6/11/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Misty Misty Misty 5,000 6/13/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace Elim 10,000 6/13/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Filly Maywood Pace 100,000 6/14/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Broadway Preview 30,000 6/14/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Southern Rocketop 10,000 6/15/2014 Sun Bal 2cp ICF Wicked Brew 10,000 6/15/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Million Dollar Bye 5,000 6/18/2014 Wed Bal 2fp ICF Incredible Tillie 10,000 6/18/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Star Slinger 5,000 6/20/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Maywood Pace 100,000 6/21/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Sue Fee 20,000 6/22/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/25/2014 Wed Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/26/2014 Thur May 2fp ICF Juxtaposition 10,000 6/27/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Enzo The Baker 10,000 6/28/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 6/29/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Mystical Victress 10,000 7/2/2014 Wed Bal 3ft ICF Sorce Ann 10,000 7/4/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Cook County 30,000 7/5/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Hot Head 10,000 7/5/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ohyouprettything 10,000 7/6/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Vaporize 10,000 7/9/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Psychic Spirit 10,000 7/9/2014 Wed Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Diva 10,000 7/10/2014 Thur May 2fp ICF My Metallica 10,000 7/11/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Fox Valley Barzgar 10,000 7/12/2014 Sat Bal 3cp Hanover 45,000 7/12/2014 Sat Bal 3fp Hanover 40,000 7/13/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Brandenburg 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian Elim 10,000 7/19/2014 Sat/Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita Elim 10,000 7/20/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac Eliminations 10,000 7/20/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan Elim 10,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Mini Me 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Loyal Opposition 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Incredible Finale 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Kadabra 50,000 7/26/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Ann Vonian 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Fox Valley Evita 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Plesac 50,000 7/27/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Fox Valley Flan 50,000 8/2/2014 Sat Bal 2cp Hanover 50,000 8/2/2014 Sat Bal 2fp Hanover 50,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 2ct Hanover 60,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 2ft Hanover 60,000 8/3/2014 Sun Bal 3+T ICF Mikes A Mystery 25,000 8/16/2014 Sat Bal 3+P ICF Big Tom 40,000 8/16/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Parklane Powerful 40,000 8/29/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Egyptian 30,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Eliminations 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat/Sn Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Elim 15,000 9/6/2014 Sat/Sn Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Elim 15,000 9/7/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Elim 15,000 9/7/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Elim 15,000 9/10/2014 Wed Bal 2ct American National Elim 15,000 9/10/2014 Wed Bal 2ft American National Elim 15,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Orange & Blue 250,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Filly O&B 225,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3+p ICF Tony Maurello 115,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Pete Langley Mem 170,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad 100,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3fp ICF Grandma Ann 170,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed 100,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes Cons 25,000 9/13/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Lorna Propes 115,000 9/14/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Su Mac Lad Cons 25,000Date Day Track A-S-G ICF Name Est Purse 9/14/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Lady Ann Reed Cons 25,000 9/17/2014 Wed Bal 2ct American National 90,000 9/17/2014 Wed Bal 2ft American National 90,000 9/20/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Yates Eagle 15,000 9/20/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Thrifty Way 15,000 9/24/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Elim 15,000 9/26/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal Elim 10,000 9/26/2014 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet Elim 10,000 9/27/2014 Sat Bal 3cp ICF Bye Bye Byrd 15,000 9/28/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Elim 15,000 9/28/2014 Sun Bal 3fp ICF Direct Dottie 15,000 10/1/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land Cons 25,000 10/1/2014 Wed Bal 2ft ICF Lady Lincoln Land 100,000 10/1/2014 Sun Bal 3ft ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/3/2014 Fri May 2cp ICF Cardinal 50,000 10/3/2014 Fri May 2fp ICF Violet 60,000 10/5/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land 100,000 10/5/2014 Sun Bal 2ct ICF Lincoln Land Cons 25,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 2cp American National 125,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 2fp American National 125,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3cp American National 250,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3ct American National 225,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3fp American National 175,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal 3ft American National 150,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal ap American National 200,000 10/11/2014 Sat Bal at American National 180,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 2cp Abe Lincoln 130,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3+p ICF Associates-McKeever 30,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3cp Windy City Pace 225,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3ct Galt 110,000 10/17/2014 Fri May 3fp Cinderella 100,000 10/18/2014 Sat Bal 2fp ICF Beecher 10,000 10/19/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet Elim 10,000 10/22/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal Elim 10,000 10/26/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Violet 40,000 10/26/2014 Sun Bal 3ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/29/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Cardinal 40,000 10/30/2014 Thur May 3ft ICF Speed N The Tunnel 10,000 10/31/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 10/31/2014 Fri May 3fp ICF Giggles The Clown 10,000 11/1/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Crete 10,000 11/2/2014 Sun Bal 2fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/2/2014 Sun Bal 2ft ICF Monee 10,000 11/5/2014 Wed Bal 2ct ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/6/2014 Thur May 3ct ICF Lifes A Holiday 10,000 11/14/2014 Thur May 3fp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/15/2014 Sat Bal 2cp ICF Betzotic 10,000 11/21/2014 Fri May 3cp ICF Cole Muffler 10,000 11/22/2014 Sat Bal f&m p ICF Fox Valley Memory 15,000 by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral & Maywood Park

Columbus, OH --- History will be made on Saturday night (March 22) when Shark Fantasy competes in the seventh race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Not because the 4-year-old pacer, co-owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino, is trying for his third straight win, but because he will be the first horse ever in racing history to have been entered into a race electronically. With the USTA's new, online entry program, harness racing becomes the first of the racing breeds to have the capability to enter horses electronically. It allows trainers to enter their horses via the internet from computers or mobile devices days ahead of the current system. Shark Fantasy was the first of 15 electronic entries made for races Saturday at Pocono Downs by Ron Burke, the 2013 Trainer of the Year. The online entry project was spearheaded by T.C. Lane, the USTA's director of registry and member services, and Sherry Antion-Mohr, USTA director of information technology. "Trainers can now map out their racing schedules at their own leisure, a week or more in advance," said Lane. "It also makes things much easier for race secretaries at the tracks." Trainers can start to enter horses electronically as soon as the condition sheet is made available from the race office, typically seven to 10 days before the races. The system is currently in the beta testing phase at six racetracks - Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Maywood Park, The Meadows, Northfield Park and Pocono Downs. Among the many trainers involved in the early testing are Ron Burke, Mark Ford, Homer Hochstetler, Julie Miller, Virgil Morgan and Jimmy Takter. The list of racetracks and trainers is growing every day during the test period and there have been rave reviews from those utilizing the system. "What I really like is the convenience," said trainer Julie Miller. "I set the timetable of when I want to look up my horses, what tracks they fit, what conditions they fit and to be able to submit it online is going to be really a key advantage that I know my horses are entered and I know I've done my homework properly. "What it really is going to do is allow me to come in and focus on my horses because I won't have to focus on office work from 7:30 in the morning until noon," added Miller. Peter Koch, race secretary at Meadowlands Racetrack, said he is looking forward to the project's rollout after being introduced to the new system at the race secretaries' meeting in December 2013. "Most tracks are in the situation without a barn area so everybody is calling in entries now," explained Koch. "If that is alleviated some, it will clearly let us do some other things in the morning to get ready for the draw. "Basically, anybody who races here is racing at multiple tracks," added Koch. "So if you are racing at multiple tracks and they have different draw times, it's really going to be beneficial to people to be able to enter all of their horses at one time on the internet and then make adjustments as the week goes along." The system will be fully operational beginning in April. "Mike Tanner, the USTA's executive vice president, told our board of directors last year that we would have an online entry system ready by this year's meeting at the end of March, so we went to work," said Lane. by Dan Leary for the USTA

Columbus, OH --- Michael Chosky from Pittsburgh, Pa. and David Pankenier of Maricopa, Ariz., became the final two qualifiers in the USTA World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifying Series with wins in the contests involving Maywood Park on Friday (March 14) and Balmoral Park on Saturday (March 15), respectively. Each of the 10 winners earned entry ($800 value) to the finals of the $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship at The Meadowlands on Saturday (April 19). The USTA free, online contests conducted on www.HorseTourneys.com involved racing from 10 different USTA member racetracks from Jan. 30 through March 15. First prize in this year's WHHC final is $24,000 with payouts to the top 10 finishers. For more information, click here or visit the Meadowlands website at www.meadowlandsracetrack.com. Last year's winner of the WHHC final was USTA qualifier Jeff Klahr from Erie, Pa. Free TrackMaster Platinum Plus past performances were provided to all contestants for the 10 contests. Following are the 10 winners from the 2014 USTA World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifying Series: Thursday (Jan. 30)--Northfield Park--Gerry Tuzzolino (Shoreview, Minn.) Friday (Jan. 31)--The Meadows--Jeffrey Arnold (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) Friday (Feb. 7)--Meadowlands--Arthur Nigro (Tuckahoe, N.Y.) Saturday (Feb. 8)--Yonkers--Rick Arbiter (Kingston, N.Y.) Thursday (Feb. 13)--Dover Downs--Matt Minger (New Lenox, Ill.) Saturday (Feb. 15)--Cal Expo--Chris Revington (London, Ontario, Canada) Saturday (Feb. 22)--Pompano Park--Walter Andrasi (Middleburg, Ohio) Friday (March 7)--Buffalo Raceway--Ron Rippey (Wayne, N.J.) Friday (March 14)--Maywood Park--Michael Chosky (Pittsburgh, Pa.) Saturday (March 15)--Balmoral Park--David Pankenier (Maricopa, Ariz.) by Dan Leary, USTA Director of Marketing and Communications

Columbus, OH --- The last two chances to win a free entry to the 2014 World Harness Handicapping Championship in the USTA's online qualifiers will be this weekend with races from Maywood Park on Friday (March 14) and Balmoral Park on Saturday (March 15). First post time for both tracks is 8:10 p.m. (EDT). Adding to the excitement in the final two contests of the USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifying Series is that fact that it will be opening night of the 2014 racing season at both Illinois tracks. Contestants can enter both contests at www.HorseTourneys.com. Over the past weekend, Ron Rippey, a public handicapper for the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger since 1978 and winner of the 2006 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, earned the eighth spot in the USTA's qualifying series in Friday's contest involving Buffalo Raceway. The $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship will be held at the Meadowlands on Saturday (April 19). In addition, free TrackMaster Platinum Past Performances for Maywood Park and Balmoral Park will be available to all contestants approximately 48 hours before each contest at www.HorseTourneys.com. Following is the schedule/results with featured racetracks for the 2014 USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifying Series: Date--Track--Winner Thursday (Jan. 30)--Northfield Park--Gerry Tuzzolino (Shoreview, Minn.) Friday (Jan. 31)--The Meadows--Jeffrey Arnold (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) Friday (Feb. 7)--Meadowlands--Arthur Nigro (Tuckahoe, N.Y.) Saturday (Feb. 8)--Yonkers--Rick Arbiter (Kingston, N.Y.) Thursday (Feb. 13)--Dover Downs--Matt Minger (New Lenox, Ill.) Saturday (Feb. 15)--Cal Expo--Chris Revington (London, Ontario) Saturday (Feb. 22)--Pompano Park--Walter Andrasi (Middleburg, Ohio) Friday (March 7)--Buffalo Raceway--Ron Rippey (Wayne, N.J.) Upcoming events Friday (March 14) Maywood Park--8:10 p.m. Saturday (March 15) Balmoral Park--8:10 p.m. by Dan Leary, USTA Director of Marketing and Communications  

With a new 16-month contract with the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association in place both Maywood Park and Balmoral Park are busily preparing for the opening of the 2014 racing season which will take place on Friday, March 14th at Maywood Park. Balmoral Park will host its opening weekend of racing on Saturday, March 15th and Sunday, March 16th.  As always, post time at both tracks will be 7:10 p.m. (central). Racing Secretary “Doc” Narotsky has announced the “box” is now open for the Friday program at Maywood Park and entries will close at 10 a.m. (central) on Monday, March 10th.  Entries for the opener at Balmoral will be taken until Wednesday, March 12th at 10 a.m. (central). In a slight departure from its usual racing schedule Balmoral Park will be dark on Wednesday, March 19th and Wednesday, March 26th before getting into full swing with its usual Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday racing schedule. Maywood will race on Thursday’s and Friday’s as usual.  A full stake schedule for both tracks will be announced shortly.   Also, with the new contract in place Balmoral-Maywood’s ADW provider, BetZotic is back up and fully operational.  For more information on this exciting new way to play, please go to www.betzotic.com   Below is a tentative post time schedule for both tracks and the betting schedule for each racing night. Please note that the Pick 6 wager at Maywood Park will now have a .20 cent minimum! Maywood Park (Thursday   1 –   7:10   WPS EXA TRI SFC     DBL PK-6 (20 cent)   2 –   7:33   WPS EXA TRI SFC   3 –   7:56   WPS EXA TRI SFC   4 –   8:19   WPS EXA TRI SFC      PK-3       5 –   8:42   WPS EXA TRI SFC       6 –   9:05   WPS EXA TRI SFC   7 –   9:30   WPS EXA TRI                PK-4   8 –   9:53   WPS EXA TRI SFC   9 – 10:16   WPS EXA TRI SFC 10 – 10:39   WPS EXA TRI             HIGH-5           Maywood Park (Friday)   1 –   7:10   WPS EXA TRI SFC DBL   2 –   7:33   WPS EXA TRI SFC   3 –   7:56   WPS EXA TRI SFC   4 –   8:19   WPS EXA TRI SFC PK-6 (20 cent)       5 –   8:42   WPS EXA TRI SFC       6 –   9:05   WPS EXA TRI SFC   7 –   9:28   WPS EXA TRI SFC PK-3   8 –   9:51   WPS EXA TRI SFC   9 – 10:16   WPS EXA TRI SFC    10 – 10:40   WPS EXA TRI             PK-4 11 – 11:04   WPS EXA TRI SFC 12 – 11:28   WPS EXA TRI SFC      13 – 11:52   WPS EXA TRI             HIGH-5 Balmoral Park (Sunday and Wednesday)         SUN    WED   1 –   7:10     7:10   WPS EXA TRI SFC DBL   2 –   7:33     7:32   WPS EXA TRI                  PK-5   3 –   7:56     7:54   WPS EXA TRI SFC   4 –   8:19     8:16   WPS EXA TRI SFC PK-3       5 –   8:42     8:38   WPS EXA TRI SFC        6 –   9:05     9:00   WPS EXA TRI SFC   7 –   9:30     9:25   WPS EXA TRI                  PK-4   8 –   9:53     9:47   WPS EXA TRI SFC       9 – 10:16   10:09   WPS EXA TRI SFC 10 – 10:39   10:31   WPS EXA TRI         HIGH-5       Balmoral Park (Saturday)   1 –   7:10   WPS EXA TRI SFC DBL   2 –   7:33   WPS EXA TRI SFC   3 –   7:56   WPS EXA TRI SFC   4 –   8:19   WPS EXA TRI SFC       5 –   8:42   WPS EXA TRI SFC PK-5        6 –   9:05   WPS EXA TRI SFC   7 –   9:28   WPS EXA TRI SFC PK-3   8 –   9:51   WPS EXA TRI SFC   9 – 10:16   WPS EXA TRI SFC     10 – 10:40   WPS EXA TRI             PK-4 11 – 11:04   WPS EXA TRI SFC      12 – 11:28   WPS EXA TRI SFC  13 – 11:52   WPS EXA TRI         HIGH-5 For complete information on both tracks visit www.maywoodpark.com and www.balmoralpark.com

After a flurry of activity and a hearty debate among the IHHA Board of Directors, WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT ON A CONTRACT!  The length of the contract begins Friday, March 14 and continues through June 30, 2015.  In this 16 month contract, the purse cut will be 10% now and stay at that level through January 4 of 2015.  Then, there will be a 24 day dark period (from Jan. 4 through Jan. 28).  On January 29, 2015 the purses will be cut an additional 15%.  The purse overpayment will increase to the amount equivalent to 35% of recapture (or $2.5 million).  Those purse structures almost certainly will get us to June 30, 2015.  Additionally, Wednesday racing will be eliminated in 2015.  Nobody knows more than I how painful purse cuts are but this deal at least gives us 10 months of a relatively small cut and another six months that are at least spelled out for everyone to see in advance.  The fact of the matter is, in our opinion, this is the best we can do with the dreadful hand we are dealt.  Recapture eats up almost 40% of what we generate and that percentage only grows when our handle declines.  This process has been very frustrating and extremely agonizing.  It took crazy twists and turns and at times looked as though no contract would ever be signed.  In the end, we have 16 months of racing ahead of us and three legislative sessions to possibly be "saved." Everyone knows the story and everyone should understand that the clock on the life of Illinois harness racing is ticking.  In addition, I want to earnestly thank the racetracks, not for their unremitting stubbornness, but for the way they conducted themselves publicly with respect to literature and pronouncements they put forth.  Both sides tried very hard to keep the "warfare decibel level" to a minimum and that kept the process shorter than it otherwise would have taken.  Also, let's not forget that the tracks, to their credit, are extending us an interest free line of credit of $2.5 million.  Finally, a huge thank you to all of the people who texted, called, emailed, etc. and all of the staff and directors of the IHHA.  We used all of those communications as a measuring stick of support and we've been overwhelmed by that unwavering backing. Have a great 16 months of racing! From Dave McCaffrey, President of IHHA

Today, the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association (IHHA) tried to get a temporary contract to begin racing immediately at Balmoral and Maywood Park. Unfortunately, again we could not agree to terms. We will continue as often as possible to work towards a sensible solution. Discussions between all parties (IHHA, May/Blmp, and Illinois Racing Board) took place with no agreement.  The length of the contract continues to be a major sticking point.  On a separate note, I want to comment on mediation; I hope to clear up some possible misconceptions.  First and foremost, mediation has been mandated by the IRB.  This was a result of negotiations that endlessly unfold like the movie "Groundhog Day."  Almost daily, potential deals progress and then inevitably blow up.  After witnessing these events for the umpteenth time over the weekend, the IRB mandated mediation.  The IHHA happily welcomes the IRB mandate of mediation.  Perhaps, with professional help, a deal can actually make it to the finish line and a deal can be made.  The IHHA proposal to race through the mediation process has been met with a thud.  With $5.5 million in our purse account, there is absolutely no reason in the world that we shouldn't be racing for 2013 purses, IF NOT MORE, during the process. In the meantime, we'll keep trying to make a deal that ensures horse people of racing for their money, preferably in 2014.  From Dave McCaffrey, for IHHA

This weekend's USTA online qualifying contests at Maywood Park on Friday, Feb. 28 and Balmoral Park on Saturday, March 1, as well as last week's qualifier at Buffalo Raceway, which was postponed when racing was canceled due to weather, have been rescheduled. Buffalo Raceway's free, online WHHC qualifier is now scheduled for Friday, March 7 with first post time at 6:40 p.m. (EST). The Illinois tracks have been rescheduled for the following weekend with Maywood Park on Friday, March 14 and Balmoral Park on Saturday, March 15. First post for those contests will be 8:10 p.m. (EST). All contestants that registered for each of these three contests on their originally scheduled dates at www.HorseTourneys.com will still be entered on the new dates. New contestants can enter each contest and get free TrackMaster Platinum Plus past performances approximately 48 hours before each contest at www.HorseTourneys.com. These will be the final three dates in the USTA's 10-contest free, online series of qualifiers for the 2014 World Harness Handicapping Championship at The Meadowlands on April 19. by Dan Leary for USTA  

Chip Lackey gave the Gene Vallandingham-trained Giant Sculpture a perfect drive in last weeks Open Handicap Pace, working out a two-hole trip with the son of Village Jolt and posting a four-length decision in a lifetime-best 1:52 clocking. "I dont have many winners circle pictures on my wall, but this is one Ill be proud to put up there," said the veteran Lackey. "Winning an Open Pace and having the picture taken with Gene and Lou Pena was very special." Vallandingham and Lackey go back to 1973, when Gene first came to California. I went to work for Gene when he first got out here, and then I went back with him to Maywood Park the next year and he was the leading trainer. The victory with Giant Sculpture was the second in five starts with Lackey in the sulky. The first time I drove him back in January he was 11-1 and put in a real game, first-over effort and got there by a nose. He had also put in some solid races coming into last week, giving me a good finish every time. According to Chip, post position played a big role in his strategy last week. We had been drawing outside Docs Zippy every week and I didnt want to battle with him early, but this time we were inside and I sent my horse and was able to work out a pocket trip. They may have been going :55 to the half that night, but I knew I had a ton of horse. I made sure to ease out a little early so we didnt get trapped in, and he gave me a super kick. It was very gratifying to go out there and win a race like this for such great people. Sire Stakes, Open Pace, Jim Grundy Series on tap A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds that finds King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdown renewing their rivalry; the opening leg of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series featuring Donna Letsgo and an Open Pace are the main attractions at Cal Expo Saturday night. King Of The Crop had to settle for second in the first stakes clash for the sophomore pacing colts on January 18, but has posed for pictures following the last two big-money events. The Little Steven homebred carries the banner of Frank Nevarez with James Kennedy doing the driving and training. The bay performer left little doubt in the February 1 clash, drawing off by five and a half-lengths that evening in a snappy 1:55 1/5 mile. Backed down to 1-5 for the most recent gathering of this group two weeks ago, he had to work much harder as he opened up on the lead at the head of the lane and held by a head over Rikybrnthegaragdown. The latter is by Living It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra and races for Maryann Plano with son Luke reining and training. He made every pole a winning in the first Sire Stakes of the season on January 18, was a distant third in the next one and then fell just short of catching his arch-rival in that last added-money affair two weeks ago. He returned last week to post a convincing score in a conditioned event. Last weeks Open Pace saw Giant Sculpture pulling off the upset. He is a 6-year-old son of Village Jolt who carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC, is conditioned by Gene Vallandingham and will once again be handled by Chip Lackey. He was able to work out a perfect trip in the most recent clash at the head of the class, sitting the pocket and then exploding in the stretch for a four-length score in a lifetime-best 1:52 performance. One And Only had to settle for the exacta completion that evening while leaving from the outside post as the 1-2 favorite for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, conditioner Lino Pacheco and pilot Luke Plano. He rattled off five straight victories at this top rung between December 21 and January 21, including a score from the demanding No. 10 post. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

Hinsdale, IL - For the second week in a row, live harness racing in Illinois has been cancelled because of a contract dispute between the owners of Maywood and Balmoral Park Racetracks and the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association (IHHA). The central conflict surrounds the question of what rights do the horsemen have in directing their own bank account known in racing as the purse account. "At the core of this dispute is who decides how to spend money that is clearly earmarked for purses, which essentially are paychecks for the people who make horseracing possible." said IHHA President Dave McCaffrey. "Those people are grooms, trainers, drivers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, farmers and breeders. Our purse account currently has over $5 million and we want to start racing for that money." The current impasse exists because the racetracks have proposed an immediate, substantial cut to purses so that purse money can be dribbled out over the next couple of years. The IHHA has countered saying that horsemen would rather race for similar money as in 2013 at least until the end of the next legislative session. "It's very difficult for horsemen to make a living at the current purse levels," said IHHA board member Mike Knicley. "A decrease in purses now will only make it more difficult to stay employed in this industry." The IHHA believes that the very people who provide the horses to race, have a better understanding of the impact that purse levels have on the day to day operations. They say that the racetracks miss the point on the effect that an immediate purse cut will have on the quality of life for horsemen. "It's like cutting someone's hourly rate from $12 to $9," said McCaffrey. "People have to be able to make a living right now. Our money is being held hostage and those purses are paychecks for our families. The bottom line is that the $5 million is our money; we're not asking for increases, just to use our money to add some stability." McCaffrey emphasized that other factors may play a role later in 2014. "Things can change very quickly in Springfield," he said. "We don't know what the legislature will do in the next year, but we do know that hardworking people in racing need to have control of their own money. The question is, do we allow the racetracks to chop purses now so they can race for a couple of more years by having their "labor force," the ones who put on the show, working for miserable wages, or do we race for 2013 purses now and try and maintain a decent existence?" While the future for Illinois horse racing is uncertain, a gambling bill is gaining steam again in the Illinois Legislature. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has said in the past that once a pension bill is passed, he will be able to turn his attention to gambling expansion. Pension reform legislation was signed by the Governor in December 2013. Illinois horseman can only hope that the much needed relief that a signed gaming bill will bring does not come too late.   submitted by the IHHA

Columbus, OH --- Matt Minger from New Lenox, Ill. won Thursday's USTA qualifier for the 2014 $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands in April, by selecting 19-1 longshot Coopers Beach, who paid $16.80 to place, and raised his total earnings to $134.50 on the 12-races contest from Dover Downs. Entering the final race of the contest, the top four contestants Joseph Desposito ($124.30), Minger ($117.70), Randy McMillan ($112.50) and Joseph Ernsthausen ($111.30) each had a different selection in Dover's Race 15. While McMillan picked the winner #6 Fancy Colt with his alternate selection, he still only finished third when the favorite paid only $6.00, $4.20 and wasn't enough to catch Minger with his $16.80 score. Despite being shut out in the finale, Desposito held on for second. A total of 616 entered the Dover Downs contest. With his victory, Minger earned a free berth ($800 value) to the $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC), which will be held at the Meadowlands on Saturday, April 19, 2014. The next contest in the series of 10 USTA Free, Online Qualifiers to the WHHC takes place Saturday night, Feb. 15 with the first 12 races from Cal Expo where first post time is 8:45 p.m. (Eastern). Contestants can enter free at www.HorseTourneys.com prior to the start of the first race. Free TrackMaster Platinum Past Performances are available now on that site. Following are the top 10 finishers in the fifth USTA online qualifier for the WHHC: USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifier 5 - Dover Downs, Feb. 13, 2014 # Name Earnings 1 Matt Minger $134.50 2 Joseph Desposito $124.30 3 Randy McMillan $122.70 4 John Jones $117.50 5 Lewis Falton $115.00 6 Joseph Ernthausen $111.30 7 Ken Snyder $109.40 8 Brian Spaeth $107.80 9 Rob Luke $106.80 10 Jerry Carney $105.80 Following is the schedule/results with featured racetracks for the 2014 USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifying Series: Date                      Track                 Winner Thursday Jan. 30 Northfield Park Gerry Tuzzolino Friday, Jan. 31 The Meadows Jeffrey Arnold Friday, Feb. 7 Meadowlands Arthur Nigro Saturday, Feb. 8 Yonkers Rick Arbiter Thursday, Feb. 13 Dover Downs Matt Minger Saturday, Feb. 15 Cal Expo 8:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 Buffalo Raceway 6:40 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 Pompano Park 7:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 Maywood Park 8:10 p.m. Saturday, March 1 Balmoral Park 8:10 p.m. by Ellen Harvey for Harness Racing Communications  

Racing Secretary "Doc" Narotsky has announced that qualifying dates for both Balmoral Park and Maywood Park will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 12th and Friday, Feb. 14th, as horsemen and management continue to try and iron out details for a 2014 contract.   Balmoral Park will hold qualifiers on Wednesday, Feb. 12th with a start time of 10:30 a.m. Entries for that qualifying date will close at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11th.   Maywood Park will conduct qualifiers on Friday, Feb. 14th with a start time of 11:00 a.m. Entries will close at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13th. A 45-day qualifying standard will still be in effect at both ovals in order to give handicappers the best possible information regarding each horse's fitness when racing resumes at both tracks. For complete information on both tracks visit www.maywoodpark.com and www.balmoralpark.com by Tom Kelley for Balmoral and Maywood Park

COLUMBUS, OH (Feb. 10, 2014) - Rick Arbiter of Kingston, N.Y. and Arthur Nigro from Tuckahoe, N.Y. won the weekend's two USTA World Harness Handicapping Championship Free, Online Qualifiers to earn berths ($8,000 value) to the $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC) at the Meadowlands on Saturday, April 19, 2014. Arbiter started slowly in Friday (Feb. 7) evening's contest involving the first 12 races at the Meadowlands. With only three-second place finishers selected through the first seven races, he had only $29.40 in his bankroll. But he rallied to pick the winners of the last five races, including #6 Solid Queen (Race 8), who paid $31.00, $12,20, and Race 11 victor #5 Nutmeg's Cider, who returned $19.40, $7.80, to finish with $139.00. John Merola, who also hit the final three races to earn $109.20, was second best among the 816 entries. Last year's 2013 WHHC champion Jeff Klahr finished 38th. In the Yonkers contest on Saturday (Feb. 8), Nigro scored for $90.40 of his winning total in the last four races. His $165.00 total was $13.20 better than runnerup David Schanker's $151.70. Shanker held the lead with two races to go but was shutout in the contest's final two races while Nigro picked Race 11 winner 7 Whogoesfirst $14.40, $6.40 and finale runnerup #4 Hello Hot Shot $14.80 to earn his victory. There were 799 total entries. The next two contests in the series of 10 USTA Free, Online Qualifiers to the WHHC take place Thursday, Feb. 13 with the last 12 races from Dover Downs and Saturday, Feb. 15 with Cal Expo's first 12. Contestants can enter free at www.HorseTourneys.com prior to the start of the first race. Free TrackMaster Platinum Past Performances are available now on that site. Following were the top 10 finishers in each of the the USTA online qualifiers for the WHHC during the past weekend: USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifier 3 - Meadowlands, Feb. 7, 2014 #          Name                                 Earnings 1         Rick Arbiter                          $139.00 2         John Merola                         $109.20 3         Charlie Carden                    $108.00 4         Patrick Ruta                         $103.80 5         Randy Bauer                        $ 99.20 6         Patrick Garvin                      $ 98.60 7         Jim Bourgoin                        $ 97.40 8         Ray Garnet                          $ 95.80 9         Jeff Kingsbury                      $ 93.20 10       Diane McClyment                $ 91.40 USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifier 4 –  Yonkers Raceway,  Feb. 8, 2014 #          Name                                  Earnings 1         Art Nigro                               $165.00 2         David Schanker                   $151.70 3         Carl Hiel                                $139.40 4         John Iannone                        $129.70 5         John Mucciolo                       $126.60 6         William Johnson                   $123.40 7         Lewis Falton                          $120.50 8         Glenn Mink                             $119.30 9         Glenn McConaughy               $117.60 10       Jim Peake                              $116.80 Following is the results/schedule with featured racetracks for the 2014 USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifying Series: Date                                       Track                          Winner Thursday Jan. 30                Northfield Park       Gerry Tuzzolino Friday, Jan. 31                     The Meadows        Jeffrey Arnold Friday, Feb. 7                        Meadowlands        Arthur Nigro Saturday, Feb. 8                    Yonkers                Rick Arbiter Thursday, Feb. 13             Dover Downs               4:30 p.m.  Saturday, Feb. 15                Cal Expo                    8:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21                  Buffalo Raceway          6:40 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22              Pompano Park             7:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28                    Maywood Park            8:10 p.m. Saturday, March 1               Balmoral Park             8:10 p.m. by Dan Leary, for USTA          

With discussions continuing between management and horsemen to get a contract ironed out that will preserve the standardbred industry in Illinois, management has announced that the “normal” Feb. 15th date for nomination payments for the 2014 stakes season has been pushed back to March 1st. “While we hope and expect our live racing product to resume very soon, we felt it would be in the best interests of horsemen in both Illinois and throughout the country to extend the deadline for nomination payments until March 1st in order to allow everything to be finalized.”   Information on the 2014 stakes schedule and nomination forms will be available once a full racing scheduled has been announced at www.balmoralpark.com and www.maywoodpark.com.  

Wednesday's scheduled start of the 2014 Illinois harness racing season has been pushed back after contract negotiations between the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association and Balmoral Park and Maywood Park management reached an impasse. Racing was originally scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Balmoral Park. Maywood Park's Thursday opening also will likely be scrapped. The Illinois Racing Board requires us to have a contract before we race and we've been unable to come to terms with the racetracks in regards to handling our purse account," said Tony Somone, IHHA's executive director. "We're hopeful things can be worked out in time for our season to start by this weekend.' Members of the IRB have been mediating meetings between the two groups. Another is scheduled for today. by Mike Paradise for the Daily Journal  

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