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A very familiar group of older state-bred pacers renewed acquaintances on Friday, August 29th at Maywood Park as a classy field of five local stars knocked heads in the $25,000 Egyptian Stake which was Leg 2 of the Maywood Park Pacing Series. Much like a fine wine, John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's Fort Silky just continues to get better with age as he rolled to an impressive two-length wire to wire victory in a blistering 1:50.4, which was just 2/5th's of a second off the track record on the half-mile oval. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard the eight-year-old son of Ft Apache Hanover was sent right to the front from his outside starting spot. In total control of the proceedings, the Terry Leonard trained gelding reeled off splits of 28.1, 56.1 & 1:23.2 while in hand to Maywood's leading reinsman. After turning aside a first over bid from the always dangerous Al's Hammered (Robert Smolin), Fort Silky paced home in a wicked 27.2 to notch his 21st win in the past two seasons. Al's Hammered was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Mystical Walter (John De Long) finished third, 6 ¾ lengths behind the winner. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering Fort Silky returned $5.60, $2.20 & $2.10 while running his career record to an impressive 47-43-28 in 196 lifetime starts with earnings of $664,350 for his proud connections. Fort Silky has now captured the first two legs of this series as he looks to repeat his 2013 win the series. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park  

Friday’s $25,000 Egyptian stake, the second leg of the Maywood Park Pacing Series for ICF colts and geldings ages three and up, came up a little short in number but tall in talent. Most of the top older ICF pacers will square off in the fourth race feature and all know their way around the Maywood Park oval with defending series champion Fort Silky having by far the most success on the half-miler in the six-horse field. The 8-year-old son of Ft. Apache Hanover is looking for his 15th lifetime win at Maywood and he’ll have his work cut out to get it for Paw Paw, Illinois owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Keeler. The current star of the Terry Leonard Stable landed the outside six post with the likes of Fox Valley Norman, Mystical Walter, Al’s Hammered, Fancy Creek Elusiv and Silver Devil inside of him with posts 1 through 5, in that order. Fort Silky (Casey Leonard) and Silver Devil (John De Long) are expected to provide the early speed from the outside while the longshot Fox Valley Norman with the one-slot has shown in the past he can also leave in a hurry. The Perry Smith trainee won the Go Sox at Maywood last season as a 3-year-old in front-end fashion. Silver Devil took this year’s Aged Cardinal Championship at Maywood back in June while his Nick Giberson trained stable-mate Fancy Creek Elusiv came away with the 2013 Maywood Pace Championship. They’ll race up-coupled Friday with different ownership. Sitting on top of the ICF Aged Division is Bob Phillips’ Al’s Hammered who has been close to unstoppable in his 5-year-old season. The 12-time season winner has captured the circuit’s Invite a half-dozen times already, while also coming away with triumphs in Balmoral’s Broadway Preview and Betzotic, the aged ICF title at  Springfield, and the Taser Gun on Mt. Sterling’s half-mile fair track. The Egyptian will be Al’s Hammered first start at Maywood since 2012 when he won the Cole Muffler stake near the end of his 3-year-old season. However, the winner of over $12,000 lifetime, did drop his four other 3-year-old Maywood trips postward, the only year he has raced there. Mystical Walter comes off a resounding 1:52 victory in the ICF Aged Pace Stake at the Du Quoin State Fair. Last season’s Illinois 3-Year-Old Male Pacer of the Year was victorious in the 2013 Langley on Super Night, captured both State Fair titles, and took the Incredible Finale Final and a Hanover at Balmoral. A son of Yankee Skyscraper, Mystical Walter dropped a head decision to Fancy Creek Elusiv in last year’s Maywood Pace Final and still racked up over $195,000 in purse earners for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading and Mystical Marker Farms. With regular driver Casey Leonard at the lines of his family stable’s venerable Fort Silky, Dave Magee will make a rare appearance at Maywood Park Friday to drive the Erv Miller trained 4-year-old. The National Hall of Famer did drive Mystical Walter once early in the horse’s 3-year-old campaign. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

When the draw came out for Maywood Park’s Friday program I was more than a little surprised to see the Roger Welch Stable’s Indiana champion Always About Katey in-to-go on the circuit’s half-miler. The 5-year-old Indiana bred mare has put over $736,732 on her card in 2 and 1/2 years of racing for owners William De Long (Clinton, WI), Pat De Long (South Beloit, IL) and her namesake Katey McClymont (Janesville, WI). It’s rare to see Always About Katey not racing in Indiana Invites and it’s even rarer to see the mare at Maywood Park. She finished second in last year’s Cinderella, the only time she’s competed on a half-mile track. “She’s hasn’t been racing well,” said her trainer Roger Welch. “She hasn’t been trying and I was looking for a softer spot to drop her in and maybe braven her-up. There wasn’t anything in Indiana for her and nothing at Balmoral. So I thought I’d shake things up and race her at Maywood. “She’s no lock in Friday’s race. There are some nice mares in it and Katey hasn’t been good lately.” However, Always About Katey is the class of the race and the heavy 6-5 morning line favorite. She was the 2012 Indiana Filly of the Year when she won 10 of 12 races, including a pair of $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Gold events, the $75,800 Circle City at Indiana Downs, and both Balmoral’s $53,900 Hanover and $113,000 American National, racking up $406,545. Last season as a 3-year-old Katey added another $284,657 to her bank account, capturing 7 of 17 starts including another $200,000 Indiana Gold stake in a career best time of 1:51.3. This year Katey is 3-for-16 and while 2 of those wins came earlier in Hoosier Park Invites, the mare has dropped 10 of her last 11 decisions and has a modest $45,530 on this year’s card. Kayey did draw well Friday with the 3-slot for Todd Warren, the stable’s regular Illinois driver. Inside of Katey are Weekend Update (programmed 8-1) and Whistle Pig (10-1). The 4 through 8 slots will be manned by Sealark Hanover (15-1), Poco Granny (9-2), Sleazy Does It (6-1), Auniqueaquistion (12-1) and Mu Caliente (12-1). Windy City Diane (20-1) has the second tier 9-post. The $9,100 eighth race distaff event for non-winners of $9,500 in their last five starts, will share of Maywood spotlight with the same conditioned ninth race for colts and geldings. Bob Phillips Holdingallthecards is listed at 8-5 despite the seven-slot. The Tom Simmons Stable’s Kansas Wildcat is next at 3-1, followed by Dandy Farms Rhombus (4-1) who will make his first career start on a half-miler. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

Maywood Park and the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative will offer a guaranteed Pick 4 pool of $25,000 on Thursday, August 21st thanks to the wager going unclaimed last Friday night. (Aug.15) The $1 minimum wager on the Pick 4 entails races 8 through 11 on Thursday night. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Post time for the opener on Thursday, August 21st at Maywood Park is 7:10 p.m (central). by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park

Balmoral Park will offer a guaranteed Pick 5 pool of $35,000 on Wednesday, August 20th. Because the 50 cent minimum wager was not hit on Sunday, August 17th, a carryover of $5,212 will be added to Wednesday's pool. The popular low cost Pick 5 wager will be offered on races 1 thru 5 this Wednesday. In addition to the Pick 5 guarantee fans will have a chance to walk away with a big payday later in the night as Balmoral will also offer a $10,000 guaranteed pool on their $1 Pick 4 wager. The Pick 4, which is on races 6-9 on Wednesday night features a low takeout of just 15%. The chances for another big score will continue on Thursday, August 21st at Maywood Park as the half-mile oval offers a $25,000 guaranteed pool on the $1 Pick 4 that night. The wager went unclaimed last Friday (August 15) so a carryover of $10,577 will be added to the pool on Thursday night. The Pick 4 is on races 8-11 on Thursday nights at Maywood Park. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pools courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Post time for Wednesday's opener at Balmoral is 7:10 pm (central). Maywood also has a first post of 7:10 p.m (central) on Thursday. by Tom Kelley, for Balmoral Park

Getting a confident steer from driver Travis Seekman, Dennis Nehmer & Robert Phillips Dakota Roadster powered by his rivals nearing the half-mile mark and never looked back in route to an impressive 3 ½ length victory in Friday's $10,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.4. Despite starting in the second tier Seekman managed to get his charge away in fourth as Fox Valley Cadet (Todd Warren) and Pathologist (Brian Carpenter) battled through an opening quarter in 29.0. Heading into the stretch for the first time Seekman made what would prove to be the winning move, pulling from fourth and powering to the top as the field reached the half-mile mark in 58.4. Quickly facing pressure from a hard charging Gett'er Done Dune these two battled neck and neck by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1. A fit and fresh Dakota Roadster then seemed to find another gear on the final turn, rebuffing the challenge of the favorite as he began putting daylight between himself and his rivals while pacing away to his first career victory. Joel's Z Tam (Casey Leonard) who got away to a slow start, rallied from last to finish second while Gett'er Done Dune held on for third. An $8,500 yearling purchase, Dakota Roadster returned $7.80, $5.00 & $7.40 while running his record to one win and two seconds in three career starts with earnings of $8,500. Driver Travis Seekman and Dakota Roadster were on cruise control as they strolled under the wire with an easy win in Friday's $10,000 Fox Valley Barzgar Stake. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Maywood Park and the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative will offer a guaranteed Pick 4 pool of $20,000 tonight thanks to the wager going unclaimed on Thursday night. The $1 minimum wager on the Pick 4 entails races 10 through 13 tonight. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com. Tonight is Back To The Track night as well and will also feature an array of food and drink specials along with plenty of giveaways as Maywood Park plays host to the first Windy City Weiner Nationals which will be contested between each of the first six races on the program. Post time for the opener on Friday night at Maywood Park is 7:10 p.m (central). by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park

Coming off an impressive late rushing victory in her second lifetime start at Balmoral Park, Kay Willis's good looking freshman pacing filly Lex showed that a half-mile oval also suits her style as she blew right by her rivals in the lane to record a sharp two-length victory in Thursday's $10,000 My Metallica Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.3. Well positioned in third as the heavily favored Lyrics Fall, who came into the race sporting a perfect two for two record carved out splits of 29.2, 1:00 & 1:29.1 driver Kyle Wilfong moved the daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U first over as the field moved into the final turn. Chewing up ground quickly on the outside of her rivals, the Nelson Willis trained miss overtook the pace setter as the field straightened for the money and then began to draw clear of the field while under only mild urging from her confident pilot. Lyrics Fall was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role on this night while BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) shook loose late to rally for the show dough. Sent off as the second choice in the betting Lex returned $7.20, $3.00 & 3.60 while moving her bankroll up to $8,040 for her owner-breeder. Live racing continues on Friday, July 11th at Maywood Park with the 1st Annual Windy City Wiener Nationals providing some great entertainment for both young and old between the first six races on the card. There will also be food and drink specials offered along with some great giveaways as part of the U.S.T.A.'s Back To The Track promotion. Post time for the first race is 7:10 p.m. (central). by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

This Saturday’s Meadowlands Pace will kick off the “30 out of 30” Grand Circuit Challenge, which provides fans the opportunity to win a $1 million prize if they can pick the winners of 30 designated top races during this year’s racing season.   Contestants can enter immediately at www.harnessracingambassadors.com/million_dollar_challenge where they will find specific details of the contest, rules and access information about each race.   Participants will be provided with Track Master Platinum Plus Past Performances, as well as ‘pro-picks’ and race analysis from featured handicappers.   Aside from the grand prize for a ‘perfect 30,’ there are also prizes for the top four contestants who picked most correctly. Sign-up generally takes less than five minutes and all that is required is a valid email address.   The contest features key Grand Circuit races, including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown at leading tracks in North America, including Mohawk, The Meadows, The Meadowlands, Hoosier Park, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Northfield Park, Saratoga, Delaware (OH), The Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Yonkers and Maywood Park.   The Harness Racing FanZone is brought to you by the USTA and our partners at Converseon as part of the ongoing social media initiative to build awareness and promote the great sport of harness racing.   To find out more visit http://www.harnessracingfanzone.com/ or join the Ambassadors at http://www.harnessracingambassadors.com/.   GET IN THE ZONE   The Harness Racing Fan Zone is for you…the fans. It’s the place to be for seeing, sharing, and connecting with harness racing fans around the world. So get in on the action and get in the zone.   Want to help promote harness racing? Earn exciting rewards and access offers by helping to spread the word about your passion for harness racing through social media by joining the Harness Racing Ambassador Program. You can join here, it takes less than five minutes.

ANDERSON, Ind.-July 8, 2014 - Hoosier Park Racing & Casino has recently partnered with The Harness Racing Fan Zone, an industry wide social media initiative, and is excited to announce a new "30 out of 30" Grand Circuit Challenge, which provides fans the opportunity to win a $1 million prize if they can pick the winners of 30 designated top races during this year's racing season. The first of its' kind in the sport of harness racing, this unique handicapping contest is sponsored by the United States Trotting Association and will highlight the biggest harness races across North America. Hoosier Park's signature event, the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational, will be included in the "30 out of 30" contest and will highlight the 2014 racing season on Friday, August 8. Now in its' 21st edition, the Dan Patch Invitational pace attracts the top rated horses in North America to Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval seeking the lucrative $200,000 purse and a spot in Hoosier Park's history. The contest also features key Grand Circuit races, including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown at leading tracks in North America, including Mohawk, The Meadows, The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Northfield Park, Saratoga, Delaware (OH), The Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Yonkers and Maywood Park. "This contest is designed in the spirit of one of harness racing's most treasured traditions, the Grand Circuit," said John Campbell, president of the Grand Circuit. "The Grand Circuit has always been a traveling roadshow to success and riches for horsemen and horses alike," added Campbell. "This contest now allows fans to come along and participate, while having the chance to become a millionaire in the process." For those who miss a race and don't qualify for the $1 million grand prize, there are $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 second, third and fourth prizes available for those who choose the most correctly. Each week, entries will be posted online to give fans the opportunity to pick the winners in advance of each race. A leaderboard will help all entrants track their progress so that they can play along throughout the racing season. Fans can also participate in the optional Harness Racing Ambassador program, to connect with other fans, earn rewards and share their experiences through social media. All sign-ups for the $1 million prize must be received before noon on July 12, 2014 and are limited to one per person. Contestants can enter immediately at www.harnessracingambassadors.com/million_dollar_challenge where they will find specific details of the contest, rules and access information about each race. Participants will be provided with Track Master Platinum Plus Past Performances, as well as 'pro-picks' and race analysis from featured handicappers. The Harness Racing FanZone is brought to you by the USTA and their partners at Converseon as part of the ongoing social media initiative to build awareness and promote the great sport of harness racing. To find out more about this initiative please visit www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com or join the Ambassadors at www.HarnessRacingAmbassadors.com. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park  

The 2014 Maywood Park Pacing Series kicked off on Friday, July 4th with the first of the three leg series, the $30,000 Cook County Stake attracting a field of seven ICF pacers. After taking this series last year, John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler's Fort Silky showed that taking "champs" belt will be no easy task as he cruised to a two-length victory in a snappy 1:51.2 for driver Casey Leonard. Taking advantage of the defection of morning line favorite Al's Hammered who was scratched sick, Leonard charged away from post position four with the eight-year-old son of Ft Apache Hanover easily made the top as the field rolled through an opening quarter in 27.2. Keeping a first over Fancy Creek Elusiv (Ryan Anderson) at bay Fort Silky continued to pace along steadily on top through middle splits of 56.0 & 1:23.2. With plenty in reserve the Terry Leonard trainee found another gear heading around the final turn, quickly widening his advantage as he cruised home with his second win in 11 starts this season. Silver Devil (John De Long) rallied late to finish second while Fancy Creek Elusiv held on for third. A 17-time winner in 2013 Fort Silky continues to put up big numbers now boasting $628,850 in earnings for his proud connections. Bet to the near exclusion of his rivals Fort Silky returned $3.00, $2.10 & $2.10. The Maywood Pacing Series awards a $25,000 bonus to the higher point earner of its three-race series. The bonus has gone to a Terry Leonard trainee the past four seasons with Fort Silky taking last year's championship after the great Well To Do Guru had taken home top honors in 2010, 2011 & 2012. Fort Silky took the first step towards defending his Maywood Park Pacing Series with an easy win in Friday's $30,000 Cook County Stake. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

SILVER SPRING, Md. --- Sidney A. Alpert, a master innovator of raceway video and sound systems at a number of racetracks and a holder of a number of patents during the last half of the 20th century passed away at age 87. Born in Washington, DC, Alpert passed away after a short illness in Silver Spring, Md. On June 30. Alpert served in the U.S. Army during World War II as an x-ray technician, and early in his career was a successful photographer at The Washington Times Herald with Jacqueline Bouvier (later wife of President John F. Kennedy) as one of his protégés. He also was team photographer of the Washington Capitals of the Basketball Association of America (forerunner to the NBA). Mr. Alpert became interested in harness racing and seeing a need for improved filming of races, formed his company, Electronic Race Patrol (ERP). Mr. Alpert began his career in racing by filming races in the 1950's at Maryland tracks, Rosecroft Raceway, Laurel Racecourse, and Baltimore Raceway, among others. He teamed with the DuPont Chemical Company to develop a special film for use at night and was the first to film night-time races. Alpert was the first to introduce live closed circuit race-monitors at the tracks he serviced. He was first to show fans live races and replays on a split-screen. Next, he introduced color to showcase races on television. In the 1960's he was the first to bring live video broadcasting to racetracks in the mid-west, at Maywood Park and Aurora Downs in Chicago, IL. With high-quality equipment, Maywood was the first racetrack to broadcast nightly feature races on a live television newscast, at station WGN in Chicago. Alpert was the first to utilize in-house video production editing facilities, one of the many of Alpert's major racing industry advances. At Brandywine Raceway, more than 400 professionally-produced TV vignettes featuring horsemen, farriers and track personnel were among the videos presented during nightly racing programs. He was the first to install television monitors at every racetrack dining room table, where fans could watch live racing during dinner, or change the channel to view other live sporting events. Alpert's ERP Company also made noted television broadcast advancements at the ill-fated, burned-down Garden State Park thoroughbred track in Cherry Hill, N.J. In 1977, with the racetrtack burning, Alpert was high atop the blazing facility video-taping the disastrous fire directly beneath him. He was saved from the fire when a press box regular showed him a seldom used stairway on the far end of the roof, from which he escaped. In addition to television, Alpert was a master of sound at the track. At Brandywine, one standing outside the entrance could not hear the public address sound, but once the door opened, sound was loud and clear. There was state-of-the-art sound in Brandywine's famed track-side dining room from hundreds of speakers in the ceiling. At Brandywine, he wrote new bugle calls recorded by a team of professional trumpeters, with a different musical arrangement for each of the night's races. Following the demise of Brandywine, in 1989, Alpert fostered a remarkable project under his new company, 'Stars and Stripes' Stable, which proved too early and ahead of its time. He visualized making full-card racing a staple on cable TV. His concept was to race entire programs at a track in Chester County, Pa., and without any patrons in attendance. The races would be shown on an all-racing channel with wagering.  Alpert envisioned having a daily early evening harness racing TV program in the fashion of the popular late night shows (ala Johnny Carson etc.) featuring owners, trainers, drivers and fans as participants. Alpert's concept included transmitting wagering information to fans at home via fax machine. Unfortunately, after coming close to fruition, he had to abandon the project and then retired. During the 1980s, Sid and wife Lenore (who passed away in 2012), owned several successful stakes winners horses. Two of his favorites were pacers Stargell Lobell and Commander Bond, the horse on which Herve Filion won his 10,000th race - the most in the sport at the time. Alpert was an avid collector of fine arts and manuscripts. He accumulated the world's largest collection of Currier and Ives prints, which is featured in the Time-Life Series of books, Antiques and Collectables. His Currier and Ives collection of horse racing prints can now be seen at the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen, N.Y. Other parts of his collections are on display in museums, including the Springfield Museum in Springfield, MA. Alpert is survived by a brother, Larry Alpert (Eleanor), a sister Delores Diamond, a son Mark (Sharon) and grandchildren Julie and Jennifer Alpert, and grandchildren, Adam and Stacey Rosenthal. Graveside funeral services were set on July 2, at Judean Memorial Gardens, Olney, Md. Memorial contributions may be made to Ohev Shalom-The National Synagogue, Washington, DC. by Marv Bachrad, for Delaware Valley Chapter of USHWA

Looking more like a seasoned veteran than a two-year-old making just his second lifetime start Frank Baldachino & Earl J. Smith's Gett'er Done Dune looped the field on the backstretch and then cruised to an easy 1¾ length victory over five other state-bred freshmen pacing colts in Friday's $10,000 Enzo The Baker Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:58.4. Content to sit near the back of the pack as Just Do It Jesse (John De Long) strolled through leisurely splits of 30.0 & 1:00.3 driver Casey Leonard put Gett'er Dune Dune into motion as the field moved by the halfway mark. Not waiting for his cover to lead him into contention Leonard quickly swung three and then four wide on the backstretch, sweeping from fifth to first with a move not see very often on the half-mile oval as the field reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:30.2. Quickly opening up a 2½ length lead on his rivals around the final turn the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Zsa Zsa Bilmac was under wraps through the lane as he reported home with his first career victory. Dakota Roadster (Robert Smolin) finished second while Quinnocchio (Kyle Wilfong), who tried to follow the winner's big move rallied to finish third. An $1,800 yearling purchase Gett'er Dune Dune returned $3.40, $3.00 & $2.10 while upping his bankroll to $7,500 under the guidance of conditioner Kathy Millman. Casey Leonard had Gett'er Done Dune on cruise control as they hit the wire with an easy win in Friday's $10,000 Enzo The Baker Stake at Maywood Park. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Fresh off a game wire to wire win in her career debut, the Peter Dora owned and trained Lyrics Fall made it two in a row to open what looks like a promising career as the speedy youngster knocked off five other Illinois conceived and foaled two-year-old pacing fillies by 2¾ lengths in the $10,000 Juxtaposition Stake on Thursday night at Maywood Park. The final time was 1:57.2. Hustled off the gate from post position four by driver Casey Leonard the daughter of Yankee Skyscaper--Fall Colors led the field through an opening quarter in 28.3. After relinquishing the lead to a hard charging BS Tyrichess (Brian Carpenter) as the field moved by the half in 57.4, Leonard did not wait long before sending his filly back to the front, charging by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:28.1 with a 1 ¾ length advantage. Comfortably in front of their rivals around the final bend and into the stretch, the $1,800 yearling purchased looked like a "million bucks" as she cruised home with her second win in as many tries while under no pressure whatsoever. Duneside Splash (Travis Seekman) finished second while Gracie On My Mind (John De Long) rallied to finish third. Sent off as the odds on choice after the win in her debut, Lyrics Fall returned $3.60 $2.20 & $2.10 while moving her bankroll up to $10,000 for her owner-trainer. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

Columbus, OH --- The Harness Racing Social Media Initiative, sponsored by the United States Trotting Association and key partners, today announced a new “30 out of 30” Grand Circuit Challenge, which provides fans the opportunity to win a $1 million prize if they can pick the winners of 30 designated top races during this year’s racing season. Entrants can enter the contest immediately at www.harnessracingambassadors.com where they will find specific details of the contest, rules and access information about each race. Sign-up generally takes less than five minutes. The first race will be the Meadowlands Pace on July 12.   The contest features key Grand Circuit races, including the Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown at leading tracks in North America, including Mohawk, The Meadows, The Meadowlands, Hoosier Park, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Northfield Park, Saratoga, Delaware (OH), The Red Mile, Scioto Downs, Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Yonkers and Maywood Park.   A full list and schedule is available at www.harnessracingambassadors.com/million_dollar_challenge. The hashtag, #Harnessracing1m, has been created for sharing. “This contest is designed in the spirit of one of harness racing’s most treasured traditions, the Grand Circuit,” said John Campbell, president of the Grand Circuit.   “The Grand Circuit has always been a traveling roadshow to success and riches for horsemen and horses alike,” added Campbell.  “This contest now allows fans to come along and participate, while having the chance to become a millionaire in the process.”  For those who miss a race and don't qualify for the $1 million grand prize, there are $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 second, third and fourth prizes available for those who choose the most correctly.   Each week, entries will be posted online to give fans the opportunity to pick the winners in advance of each race.   A leaderboard will help all entrants track their progress so that they can play along throughout the racing season.   Fans can also participate in the optional Harness Racing Ambassador program, to connect with other fans, earn rewards and share their experiences through social media.    All sign-ups for the $1 million prize must be received before noon on July 12, 2014 and are limited to one per person.  About the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative Launched in September 2013, the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative is a partnership among the U. S. Trotting Association, the social media consultancy, Converseon, and key industry groups to help drive marketing innovation and engagement with current and new fans for the sport.  The initiative’s mission is to help support key racetracks, industry groups and help provide foundational support and a common, “best practice” framework by leveraging social technologies and platforms and strategies to positively brand the sport of harness racing and generate greater awareness, visibility and engagement with a new generation of fans.   Other active promotions include the 100 Top Moments in Harness Racing Contest (http://harnessracingfanzone.com/promotions/top100moments).  Key foundational elements of the initiative to date include the Harness Racing Ambassador Program and the www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com. Dan Leary Director of Marketing and Communications USTA

Continuing to show that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with among this seasons ICF three-year-old colt pacing set Paymaq Racing's Uncle Ugly turned Friday's $92,000 Maywood Pace into nothing more than a stroll in the park as he cruised to a beautiful five-length victory in 1:53.3 for driver John De Long. Gunned away from post position five by De Long, the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper---Yankee Blue took an early tuck behind longshot Fox Valley Cupid (Robert Smolin) before looping that rival as the two sped by an opening quarter in a brisk 27.1. "I was a little surprised that horse (Fox Valley Cupid) was able to get away from the gate as quickly as he did," said De Long. "I never anticipated having to take an early tuck but I knew that horse was a longshot and I wanted to be in control of things so I waited for things to settle down just a bit then just sent my horse back on his way." Rolling along through the heavy humid air Uncle Ugly proceeded to put up middle splits of 55.2 & 1:23.3 while his rivals struggled to maintain a deteriorating outer flow. After turning aside a first over bid from PQ Three (Ryan Anderson) and watching the overwhelming 1-2 favorite Unlocked (Dave Magee) make a break while trying to move up three-wide, De Long and Uncle Ugly began to draw away from the pocket sitting Fox Valley Cupid as the field moved into the final turn. "I was a little nervous heading into that last turn because I knew some of Erv's (Miller) other horses were still looming out there but my horse just picked up the bit again and really started to dig in," said a smiling De Long. Dig in he did, quickly sprinting away from the rest of the field as he left no doubt as to who was the best on this night while cruising under the wire with his fifth win in 10 lifetime starts. Fox Valley Cupid, the 28-1longshot did well to hold on for second while Beach Boy Brody (Casey Leonard) overcame a miscue at the half-mile mark to rally for the show dough. The second choice in the wagering, Uncle Ugly returned $4.80 & $4.80. Show wagering was not allowed on the race. Unraced as a two-year-old, Uncle Ugly, who was a $19,000 yearling purchase now boasts a record of five wins, two seconds and two thirds in 10 starts with earnings of $84,012 while under the watchful eye of trainer Erv Miller. by Tom Kelley, for Maywood Park

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