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Schedule of events: The final Grand Circuit race of the 2014 season was to be at Northfield Park this Friday (Dec. 12) as the Northeast Ohio oval was to host the $150,000 Cleveland Classic for 3-year-old male pacers. However, only five sophomore pacers entered for the $150,000 guaranteed purse and the race was canceled. Their ownerships will each receive a check in excess of $17,000 for entering. Last time: Hall of Famer David Miller guided McWicked to a 1:48.4 victory this past Sunday (Dec. 7) in the $301,560 Progress Pace for 3-year-old male pacers at Dover Downs. Paying a $25,000 supplemental fee paid off for owner Ed James' S S G Stables as McWicked swept both the $35,000 Progress Pace Preview and the $301,560 final in identical clockings of 1:48.4, but the manner of victories varied. After a near wire-to-wire success the prior week, this time Miller drove the McArdle-Western Sahara colt out of third approaching the half and then sided-up to leader JK Endofanera, driven by Yannick Gingras, on the backstretch. They battled around the final turn before McWicked pulled away early in the stretch for his 12th win of the year, raising his seasonal bankroll to $1,472,937 and $1,652,554 for his two seasons of racing. JK Endofanera was 1-1/4 lengths back in second with Tim Tetrick rallying Somewhere In L A for third money. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the final standings for the 2014 season: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 2,287; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,182; 3. David Miller - 1,023.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 877.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 647. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 2,490.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,913; 3. Erv Miller - 446.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 411; 5. Julie Miller - 347. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 550.03; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 500.03; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 367; 4. Brittany Farms - 294.45; 5. Robert Key -272. Looking ahead: The 2014 Grand Circuit season has concluded; the 2015 Grand Circuit schedule will be released in January. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Pompano Beach, FL…Monday, December 8, 2014…McFlirty, perfectly driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr., pulled off a minor upset at Pompano Park on Monday night by winning the $12,000 Open Handicap Pace for fillies and mares. The eight year-old daughter of McArdle, trained by Jamie Rucker for owner James Stonecipher, scored in 1:51.4, “rudely” interrupting the three race winning streak of Pertty Music, driven by Ed Hensley, off at a dime-to-a-dollar in the betting. Winbak Heavenly, with Peter Wrenn in the bike, was third, four lengths away while Mach Me Not finished fourth. Kayla’s Dream picked up the minor award in the field of six. It was McFlirty first away as the wings folded with Pertty Music, slightly off the gate at the start before revving up, on to take command at the opening panel in :27.2. Positions remained unchanged with Pertty Music comfortably in front after a moderate half in :56.1. The pace began to quicken on the backside with Hensley seemingly after his mare a bit through a :28 third quarter. It was a few strides later that Macomber left the coziness of the pocket with McFlirty, pulling on even terms at mid-stretch and edging clear by three parts of a length at the wire. In a post race interview, driver Ricky Macomber said, “I thought my mare would be better this week, especially after getting a good tightener in her first start here last week. She can leave a little so I gave her a chance to get into the action early on knowing that Eddie’s mare (Pertty Music) would probably like to have the front end. The trip was perfect…nice and cozy.” When asked if he was surprised to get by an overwhelming favorite, he said, “We’ve beaten his mare before in Indiana, so I wasn’t overly surprised—but very pleased! She raced great.” Earning her 40th lifetime victory, McFlirty pushed her 2014 scorecard to 6-2-1 in just 16 starts, pushing her seasonal earnings to $60,680. She’s backed $448,196 lifetime to go along with her mark of 1:49.3. As second choice in the betting, McFlirty paid $8.80 to win. by John Berry, for Isle Pompano Park

DOVER, Del. --- Sunday, Dec. 7 was Miller Time at Dover Downs as harness racing driver  David Miller drove both winners in the six-figure feature races on a chilly and windy early evening in Delaware. The Hall of Famer guided McWicked to a 1:48.4 victory in the track's signature event, the 301,650 Progress Pace after steering Sonofa Sizzle home in 1:52.1 in a mild upset to win the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Two-Year-Old Male pace final. Paying a $25,000 supplemental fee paid off for owner Ed James' SSG Stable as McWicked swept both the $35,000 Progress Pace Prevue and $301,650 final in identical clocking of 1:48.4, but the manner of victories varied. After a wire-to-wire success the prior week, this time Miller drove the Mcardle-Western Sahara colt out of third place approaching the half and then sided-up first-over to race leader JK Endofanera, driven by Yannick Gingras, on the backstretch and battled around the final turn before pulling away early in the stretch for his 12th win of the year raising his seasonal bankroll to $1,472,887 and $1,652,504 for his two seasons of racing. JK Endofanera was a length back in second with Tim Tetrick rallying Somewhere In LA for third money. Bib Boy ?Dreams (Ron Pierce) winner of the recent Matron Final at Dover was fourth in front of million-dollar winner All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley), fifth. After a strong summer campaign, McWicked, who was a strong favorite in the Little Brown Jug, but had to settle for a fifth in the final, tailed off slightly until recently when trainer Casie Coleman got the colt back to top form finishing third in the Matron, then second in a Breeders Crown elimination prior to a 1:49 success in the $531,250 final before coming to Dover Downs. Two races earlier, Mike White's Sonofa Sizzle, bred by Delawareans Charles and Diana Coursey, came on strongly for Miller in the $100,000 DSBF final for a 1:52.1 triumph. Remember Me VK with Montrell Teague in the bike, had carved out a 1:51.4 DSBF all-time fastest mile a week ago in a prelim, and this week led from the start with fast fractions until the field turned down the homestretch. Sonofa Sizzle came from way back on the outside to rush to the front and victory. A 54-1 shot, Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis) came on Second with Smoking Joey (Corey Callahan) third. A son of Life Sizzles-JK Lady Like, Sonofa Sizzle won for the fourth time this season in 10 starts with three seconds and a third. The Gary Green-trainee has now won $115,516 Joining David Miller with two wins were drivers Allan Davis, Tony Morgan and Ross Wolfenden and trainers Buddy Bright and Wayne Givens. . On Monday, the final $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Two-Year-Old final of the boasts a strong field of filly pacers led by Totally Rusty and Purrfect Bags. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs

DOVER, Del. ---- It's D-Day at Dover Downs on Sunday, Dec. 7. On the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a harness battle on the racetrack is led by McWicked and JK Endofanera, headlining the $301,560 Progress Pace. Meanwhile, Remember Me VK is the one to beat in the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Male Pace Final. Post time is 5:30 for the 15-race program. Last week, McWicked, with David Miller driving, scored a 1:48.4 victory in a wire-to-wire victory in the Progress Pace Prevue, a week after winning the $531,250 Breeders Crown Final. SSG Stables' McWicked is conditioned by Casie Coleman and leaves from post 4. JK Endofanera and Yannick Gingras driving for the sport's leading trainer, Ron Burke, was third in the Breeders Crown, and finished second last Sunday for owners 3 Brothers Stable. The recent $186,550 Matron Final upset winner at Dover Downs, Dominick Rosato's Big Boy Dreams was a game third in the Prevue. An 11-time winner this year, Baldachino, Shelswell, Panhellenic and Burke Racing stable's $1-million winner ,All Bets Off, who scored impressive victories in the $500,000 Messenger Stake, $400,000 Carl Milstein at Northfield and the New York Sire Stakes championship, has the services of Matt Kakaley. J&T Silva, TLP stables and Deo Volente Farms' Somewhere In LA, trained by Jimmy Takter with driver Tim Tetrick, should profit moving from outside post 8 to post 5 this time. Completing the select field of six is National Debt, owned by Blair and Emma Corbeil, Kelly Hoerdt and J&T Silva Stables. The Ron Coyne-trainee will be reined by Dover Downs' leading driver Corey Callahan. Remember Me VK (Montrell Teague), after being scratched in the DSBF first leg prelim returned to score a decisive 1:51.4 victory, the all-time fastest win in the DSBF program. Bobby Wyatt trains the gelding for owners Ron Benton and Sharon Wyatt. A week ago, Sonofa Sizzle, owned by Mike White and trained by Gary Green, was a strong second. Hall of Famer David Miller will be in the bike. Howard Taylor's Smoking Joey brings a three-race win streak with Corey Callahan at the controls for meet leading trainer Doug Lewis. Art Stafford Jr. will pilot Scott Woogen's homebred KJ Ben who along with Dashboard racing for trainer Rich Ringler and owners Joann King and Maria Ringler are the only other starters to win prelims. The other contestants are Don Marine's Rigged To Go (Ross Wolfenden) from the rail, Art Season (Allan Davis) for owners S.I. White Nanticoke and Legacy racings and George & Tina Dennis and Ask SW Stables-bred and owned Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis). Dover Downs races Sundays at 5:30 p.m. and weekdays, Monday through Thursday beginning at 4:30 p.m. It is suggested that those who would enjoy watching races from the Winners Circle restaurant should call for reservations, phone 302-674-4600. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs  

Horse owner Ed James figures it's best to do a lot of listening and limit his talking. So James listened when he was advised that McWicked was the best horse in the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale. And his response was succinct. "I said, OK I'll buy him," James recalled, laughing. "I make it simple." James, who races as S S G Stables, bought McWicked for $210,000. He put the 3-year-old pacer in the care of trainer Casie Coleman and the colt has won 11 of 22 races, hit the board a total of 20 times, and earned $1.32 million. His victories include the Breeders Crown, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Delvin Miller Adios, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. On Sunday, McWicked will start from post four with driver David Miller in the $301,560 Progress Pace at Dover Downs in Delaware. McWicked is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line behind 7-5 favorite JK Endofanera, who drew post two with driver Yannick Gingras. The six-horse Progress Pace field also includes Big Boy Dreams, National Debt, Somewhere In L A, and All Bets Off. McWicked, who was supplemented to the race for $25,000, won this past Sunday's $35,000 Progress Pace Preview by two lengths over JK Endofanera in 1:48.4. The stakes record for the Progress Pace is 1:49, set in 2012 by Heston Blue Chip. "I've been in this business for 58 years and never had a horse this good," the 83-year-old James said about McWicked. "I have no concern at all with him. I trust in the ability he has to be as good as the next best one. I think David gave him a great drive the other night. Hopefully he can do it again." James, who is the president of SSG Gloves, purchased McWicked following a 2-year-old campaign in which the colt won three of 10 starts and $179,617 while in the stable of trainer Julie Miller. He turned over the horse to trainer Jim McDonald, who prepped McWicked for his 3-year-old season, and then to Coleman. "Casie said, 'This is a real good horse. I can make him a great horse.' So she did," James said. "I'm not that smart as far as horses go. But I'm smart as far as people go. And I'm fortunate enough to know good people and I'm fortunate enough that they'll take my horses. I've had very good luck. "I don't say much of anything to my trainers, which they appreciate," he added. "My trainers never hear from me, unless they call me." McWicked leads all 3-year-old pacers in earnings, followed by North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, who has banked $1.02 million. Messenger Stakes winner All Bets Off is third on the list, with $911,425. McWicked's only off-the-board finishes were a fourth in the North America Cup final, after winning his elimination, and a fifth in the Little Brown Jug final. "He had a little bit of road trouble in the North America Cup, but that's OK," James said. "I never did drive, I have no intentions of learning to drive, so I don't tell anybody how to drive." McWicked won seven of eight starts between June 21 and Sept. 7, then was winless in his next seven races before capturing the Breeders Crown on Nov. 22 at the Meadowlands. He has raced on Lasix his three most recent starts, picking up two wins and a second. "The horse came back to where he was and he's doing exactly the same thing he used to," said James, whose other top horses include millionaire Hyperion Hanover. "I thought when we started out the year he'd end up one of the top horses of the year. Now with the slump he had, it may not come out that way. That's up to the judges. "I'll appreciate (divisional honors) if it comes, but mainly for the benefit of the trainers." One more stakes event, the Cleveland Classic on Dec. 12 at Northfield Park, remains on the schedule for the 3-year-old male pacers following the Progress Pace. McWicked is not eligible to the race, but could be supplemented for $15,000. "Casie hasn't decided if he's going to race," James said. "If she wants to race him again after this one, I don't particularly like half-mile tracks, but that doesn't mean she can't race him there if she thinks he's the best." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

This Week: Progress Pace, Dover Downs, Dover, Del. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit will be at Dover Downs this Sunday (Dec. 7) for the $301,560 Progress Pace for 3-year-old male pacers. McWicked, the only supplemental entry, romped to a 1:48.4 victory in the $35,000 Progress Pace Preview, turning back seven rivals for his 11th win of a $1.3 million season, this past Sunday (Nov. 30) at Dover Downs. Complete entries for the race are available at this link. Last time: The Meadowlands hosted a pair of $500,000 TVG FFA Series Championships this past Saturday night (Nov. 29). Sweet Lou was all alone at the wire in the $500,000 TVG final for open pacers. Sweet Lou, in the final race of his career, won the $500,000 TVG final for open pacers at the Meadowlands in 1:48 by 3-3/4 lengths. Sweet Lou and driver Ron Pierce led the field to the 1:21.3 three-quarters and on to the long homestretch. Only 10-year-old Foiled Again parted ways with the pack to muster a challenge for Sweet Lou, but at the wire, it was Sweet Lou first and alone for the last time. Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) was second and Clear Vision (Tim Tetrick) third. The stallion with the distinctive white blaze was soon mobbed by a crowd that included his owners, Phil Collura, Larry Karr, Weaver Bruscemi and Burke Racing. Ron Burke trains the 5-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future, who is set to stand stud at Diamond Creek Farm in 2015. The win was the 11th in 19 season's starts for Sweet Lou and took his 2014 earnings to $1,361,433. He has banked $3,478,894 lifetime on the strength of 33 victories in 74 starts. Intimidate fanned five wide down the stretch to trot by the field to win the $500,000 TVG final for open trotters at the Meadowlands by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2. He was driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Luc Blais and owners Determination and Judith Farrow. Intimidate was a 1:51.2 winner in the TVG final for open trotters. There were no surprises as the race left the starting gate, with Ake Svanstedt guiding Sebastian K to the lead by the :26.1 first quarter and Maven (Yannick Gingras) right behind him. Creatine (Ron Pierce) trotted up with a rush to get alongside Sebastian K, where he remained through the :54.1 half and on to the 1:23 three-quarters. As the field turned for home, Market Share and driver Tim Tetrick went three wide to press hard on those two leaders and appeared poised to go by before Intimidate emerged five wide to trot by the field for the win. Market Share was second and Creatine third. It was just the fifth win of the year for Intimidate in 14 starts and enough to put him over $1 million lifetime, with career earnings now of $1,224,008. He is a 5-year-old gelding by Justice Hall out of Fabulous Tag. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 2,277; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,177; 3. David Miller - 1,003.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 877.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 647. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 2,480.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,908; 3. Erv Miller - 446.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 411; 5. Julie Miller - 347. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 550.03; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 500.03; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 357; 4. Brittany Farms - 294.45; 5. Robert Key - 272. Looking ahead: The final Grand Circuit race of 2014 will take place next week at Northfield Park as the Ohio track will host the Cleveland Classic for 3-year-old male pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

DOVER, Del. --- McWicked, the only supplemental entry, romped to a 1:48.4 victory in the $35,000 Progress Pace Prevue turning back seven rivals for his 11th win of a $1.3-million season on Sunday, Nov. 30 at Dover Downs. With Hall of Famer David Miller at the controls, McWicked moved up quickly to take the lead from JK Endofanero and Yannick Gingras just past the opening quarter in :26.3. From there it was all McWicked passing the half-mile pole in :54.3. Big Boy Dreams, upset winner of the recent Matron Stake at Dover Downs, was first to take a shot as Ron Pierce pulled out to challenge after the half heading to the three-quarters in 1:22.1. Miller then poured it on rolling home in :26.3 to stop the clock in 1:48.4, the fastest local time of the season, four-fifth-of-a-second from the track record of 1:48, established last Spring by Bandolino. JK Endofanera, raced second behind McWicked for most of the mile and finished second with Big Boy Dreams, third. All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) was fourth in front of Somewhere In LA (Tim Tetrick). McWicked was fresh from victory in the recent Breeders Crown. The ultra-consistent McArdle-Western Sahara colt trained by Casie Coleman for SSG Stables of North Boston, N.Y. has been 1-2-3 in 20 of his 22 races this year. He has banked $1,322,157 in 2014 and $1,491,774 in his career while winning 13 races, 10 seconds and five thirds in only 32 races. All eight starters return next Sunday (Nov. 7) for the $301,000 Progress Pace Final. Fans at the track will receive the handsome 2014 Progress Pace cap. Also on the strong program were three $20,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) 2nd leg preliminaries for two-year-old colt pacers. Remember Me VK with a 1:51.4 performance is the fastest ever for a freshman, 1:51.4, with Montrell Teague in the bike for trainer Bobby Wyatt and owners Ron Benton and Sharon Wyatt. Remember Me VK was also winner of last month's $100,000 DSBF Final in Harrington Raceway track record time of 1:52.3. Sonofa Sizzle (Corey Callahan) was an easy second. Seboomook Katahdin (Allan Davis) was third. Corey Callahan teamed with Howard Taylor's Smoking Joey to win the first DSBF prelim fashioning a 1:53.4 score. The Riggins-You Don't Know Me gelding, never out of the money in eight starts, is trained by Doug Lewis. Rigged To Go (Ross Wolfenden) was runner-up with Art Season (Allan Davis) third. Scott Woogen's KJ Ben, handled by Art Stafford Jr. won the third and final $20,000 prelim with a 1:54.1 victory, his fifth in eight lifetime trips. A homebred son of Riggins-Winsmith Karen, Duane Wagner conditions the winner. Dashboard (Trace Tetrick) and Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis) were second and third respectively. Montrell Teague and Art Stafford Jr. had driving doubles. A pair of $20,000 DSBF Filly paces and an $18,000 Mares Open pace highlight the Monday, Dec. 1 card. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. There is no live racing Friday and Saturday. Sunday racing resumes at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge for parking or admission when visiting Dover Downs. Leading harness and thoroughbred simulcasts are featured from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight daily in the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 29, 2014- First-up McErlean (Eric Carlson, $19) held off favored Beach Memories (George Brennan) Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Harness Racing Open Handicap Pace. Sitting in early from post position No. 4, McErlean watched as Mickey Hanover (Dan Dube) had to work to get around pole-assignee Orillia Joe (Brent Holland). "Mickey" did, getting early fractions of :27.3 and :56.4. Shortly thereafter, MrErlean moved from fifth, with locally-debuting Beach Memories--as the 9-10 choice--in behind. Mickey Hanover led past the 1:25.1 three-quarters, but was about to drop anchor. It was McErlean taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, then holding off Beach Memories by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.3. Orillia Joe, P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) and Mach's Beach Boy (Pat Lachance) rounded out the payees. For fourth choice McErlean, a 5-year-son of McArdle owned by Muscara Racing Trust and trained by Darren Cassar, it was his eighth win in 30 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $69.50, with the triple returning $505. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule changes, with first post every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) this weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

DOVER, Del. ---- McWicked, fresh from a 1:49 victory in last week's $531,250 Breeders Crown Final leads a stellar group of seven rivals in a $35,000 prevue of next week's $301,000 Progress Pace on Sunday, Nov.30 at Dover Downs. Post time is 5:30 p.m. David Miller will drive the Casie Coleman trainee owned by SSG Stables from post 1. Ms. Coleman will also start Ontario campaigner, Play It Again Sam, driven by Brett Miller, for Adriano Sorella and West Wins Stable. Big Boy Dreams, a 24-1 upset winner of the recent $186,550 Matron Final at Dover Downs will return with Ron Pierce in the bike, drew post 5. Dominick Rosato owns the five-time winner this season. In addition the Ron Burke Stable will start two others, 3 Brothers Stables' $1-million winner, JK Endofanera, who raced big for Yannick Gingras, third beaten by three-quarter length, as beaten favorite in the Breeders Crown and Baldachino, Shelswell, Panhellenic and another $1-million winning colt, Burke Racing stable's All Bets Off. The Messenger Stake, Milstein Final and New York Sire Stakes winner from among 11 races this season while winning $908,625 will be reined by Matt Kakaley. Tim Tetrick will guide the fast Somewhere In LA for J&T Silva, TLP stables and Deo Volente Farms from outside post 8. The Jimmy Takter gelding has won seven times and been in-the-money 17 of 22 starts earning $481,412 this year. Completing the lineup are Blair and Ema Corbeil, Kelly Hoerdt and J&T Silva Stables' National Debt, trained by Ron Coyne from post 2 and John Cancelliere's Parnu Hanover, a winner of his last two starts. Dover Downs races Sundays at 5:30 p.m. and weekdays, Monday through Thursday beginning at 4:30 p.m. There is no charge for parking or admission at Dover Downs. Daily simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing daily begins 12 Noon until 12 Midnight. For those planning to watch racing and dine in the Winner's Circle Restaurant, reservations are suggested. Call 302-674-4600. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs    

The often raced and often claimed pacing mare, Diamond Tiara notched her 20th seasonal victory at Monticello Raceway when she defeated a field of claimers in a time of 2:00.4 over a sloppy racetrack on Monday November 17. With her victory the 7-year-old daughter of McArdle now is just two wins shy of the track record of 22 victories set by another claiming pacer, Golden Storm GB, back in 1985. Once again Jimmy Taggart, Jr. handled the driving chores for trainer Mike Watson and as he's done nearly every time before, gunned Diamond Tiara to the front this time from the five-hole and they had a length and half lead when they passed the first stanza in :30.3. From there, it was catch me if you can, and nobody could as Diamond Tiara made every pole a winning one en route to an easy five-length victory over Artemis Blue Chip and driver Jimmy Devaux. "She (Diamond Tiara) has raced her heart out all season long and those miles on the front end have taken a toll on the ole gal," Taggart said after the race. "She's always been game but lately she's been tailing off at the end of a mile. Today the muddy track probably didn't sting her as much and she finished like her old self." Asked if the track record for most wins in a season is an objective, Taggart answered; " We'll take it week by week. If she wins again soon then we'll probably look to at least tie the record. But she's not the soundest horse in the world." Again owned by (Phillip) Mike Schultz after multiple claims to get her back, Diamond Tiara was sent off at odds of 4-5 and paid $3.60 for win. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

Leading harness racing trainer Amanda Grieve remains confident her latest promising campaigner – Sparkling – can remain unbeaten at Melton tonight. Producing a sensational debut victory at Ballarat a fortnight ago, Sparkling faces a small, but select, field over 1720 metres. Drawn wide in barrier six, the daughter of Mcardle has improved since her maiden voyage and is “more than capable” of overcoming the obstacle according to Grieve. “She was very impression on debut, which wasn’t a surprise,” Grieve said. “She’s come through the run well and her training since has been pretty good. “It’s only small, but a handy field, so she will need to improve again. “The draw isn’t the best, but with a bit of luck, she is more than capable of winning.” Citing Morton Plains as the one to beat, Grieve rates Rebel Diamond as the one to watch. Morton Plains, which will come from gate seven, finished second behind Sparkling, having won her two previous starts. Winner of the Australian Pacing Gold Consolation last season, Rebel Diamond completed a stylish first-up win at Shepparton earlier this month. The daughter of Art Major has drawn barrier five. “Morton Plains is a very nice filly and I know Rebel Diamond has some wraps on her,” Grieve said. “It’s not going to be an easy race by any means.” To be given a short break after tonight’s run, Sparkling will then be aimed at various features, with the Victoria Oaks the main objective. “She will have a wee break after this, then we will see how she shapes up when she comes back,” Grieve said. “If she can match it with the better ones we will aim at the Oaks. “We’re not getting carried away just yet as it is only early days and she has a long way to go.” PAUL COURTS

Course specialist Strike On Command stretched his unbeaten run to four wins in as many Forbury starts when delivering at the Tuapeka meeting on Sunday, October 26. The Mark Jones-trained McArdle gelding completed a winning double for the stable and in-form driver Blair Orange at Forbury, with Hellavahanover bouncing back to winning form in the day’s opener. Blair notched a quartet of Tuapeka wins, also scoring with Bit Of A Legend’s younger brother Lookofalegend and Change Time, both for West Melton trainer Ken Barron. Strike on Command was well-rated by Blair, settling three back on the outer, then making a move to be parked briefly with a lap to run. He had cover coming with Aidan’s Rocket working to parked at the 750m, then wore down the Nathan Williamson-trained Aidan’s Rocket in the run home, scoring by a neck. He paced the 2200m (stand) on the sticky track in 2:50.6, the leaders running their last 800m in 58.3s. Strike On Command is raced by New South Wales owner Kevin Stanley, who also raced his Bettor’s Delight half-sister Cotton Row (three wins, TT, 1:57.8), and is now breeding from the latter. Both Strike On Command and Cotton Row are from a good- winning OK Bye mare Noble Strike (1:56.8h, US), who numbered a PGG NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Fillies South Island Graduette win and a Nevele R Fillies Heat among her two NZ wins for Ian and Malcolm Shinn. Noble Strike scored another 15 wins in North America, earning the equivalent of $149,602. She (Noble Strike) is a half-sister to other big USA winners in Time Flies (1:52, US; 36 wins incl. 32 in the US for $624,230 career winnings) and Ultimate Pursuit (1:51.6, US, 44 wins incl. 38 in the US). Hellavahanover, who returned to the Mark Jones stable after a stint with Gareth Dixon in the north last term, winning first-up at Auckland in March, was also good fresh on Sunday. First-up since being pulled up at the Kurow meeting in early August, Hellavahanover didn’t put a foot wrong off the unruly mark over 2200m at Tuapeka. Blair improved with her to a one back-one out trailing spot with 1400m to run, had her out and running at the 400m and she did enough to hold favourite Springfield Eyre (who tracked her from the 1400m) by a neck. The 4YO Brylin Boyz-Malabar Hanover mare trotted 2:59.8 for the trip when the track was slushy. Hellavahanover is the first foal from her Malabar Maple dam, a half-sister to former top NZ trotter Romper Stomper (2:00.1 mile rate 2600m, 12 wins & $180,579), and the two-race trot winner Amanda’s Flash. Romper Stomper trotted a NZ mobile 2600m record, at the time, of 3:14.2 (2:00.1 mile rate) when he won the Group One 2007 $75,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at Addington onShow day, when beach-trained by Robbie Holmes. Now 15 and living out retirement as a hack, Romper Stomper was co-raced by Cambridge trainer John Dickie with Hamilton’s Phil Sherley, also a co-owner of Hellavahanover. Meanwhile, Classiebee, who previously won five for the Mark Jones stable, won first-up since transferring to Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight at the Tuapeka meeting. Classiebee, largely due to a well-rated front-running drive from Rory McIlwrick, lasted to just hold fast-finishing favourite Titan Banner in a C1-2 pace. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here        

The first race on the program at Methven today was blessed with three really smart 3 year olds and as expected they dominated the finish. McArdle Star, Highview Freedy and Until Further Notice all had their supporters prior to the race and all went well enough to justify that support. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn led easily from barrier one with Sam Ottley in the bike while the Jimmy Curtin trained and driven Until Further Notice settled three back on the inner from his second row draw. The Ken Barron trained McArdle Star with stable reinsman Blair Orange in the bike settled third last from his second line draw.. Sent forward three wide with cover by Blair with a lap to run, McArdle Star found the death seat with 900 meters to run and sat there until the 400 meters when he went up to eyeball Highview Freddy as they turned for home. Blair did little more than flick the reins at McArdle Star up the straight as he went on for an impressive debut win by 2 and 1/4 lengths from Highview Freddy who was just as clearly second. Until Further Notice cleared the pocket three back on the inner as they turned for home and ran on well for third but was 2 and 1/2 lengths from Highview Freddy at the finish. McArdle Star paced the 2300 meters on the grass in 3:02.3, a mile rate of 2:07.5 on a track rated as dead. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients of Ken Barron in Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star is as the name suggests is a 3 year old by McArdle from the talented Presidential Ball mare Star Of The Ball 1:56.1 ($68,647) The first foal from Star Of The Ball by Christian Cullen was named Two Twenty in reference to the fact he cost $220,000 at the sales. Why he didn't amount to much on the racetrack, the next two colts in Merv 1:53 ($67,763) and Macha 1:55.8 ($115,297) were well above average. The grand dam of Star Of The Ball is none other than the champion broodmare in Black Watch. McArdle Star looks to have inherited all the family ability and should be in for a profitable season judging by todays run. Harnesslink Media      

The first harness racing meeting for the new season at Methven comes up for decision on Sunday and as per usual for this time of year it sees the emergence of a lot of spring 3 year olds. Race 1 for the CO 3 year olds and older over 2300 meters from behind the mobile has drawn a smart field with several promising 3 year olds lining up. McArdle Star form the Ken Barron barn has drawn poorly at three on the second line but his trial runs suggest a big debut run from the son of McArdle. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star will have the services of in form reinsman Blair Orange and looks a big winning chance. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn is another 3 year old who looks above average and from the one draw can make his own luck. A full brother to the outstanding Highview Tommy 1:55.2 ($1,021,904) Highview Freddy had four starts at two against Say My Name and company so it is a big drop back in class here. He ran a lovely fourth behind Margarita in his first run back from a spell and looks sure to be a major player with Sam Ottley in the bike. Another runner from the Robert Dunn barn is Altissimo who has drawn nicely at barrier three. She is a 3 year old daughter of Mach Three from a Beach Towel half sister to the champion pacer Elsu 1:53.6 ($2,083,352). Altissimo qualified recently on the track in very impressive fashion and has the services of leading reinsman John Dunn in the bike.  Another 3 year old making his debut for the season is the Gotta Go Cullect gelding Until Further Notice from two on the second line from the Jimmy Curtin barn. Until Further Notice is a recent addition to the stable and he is now owned by long time stable client Ralph Nieper who raced his half brother Slash An Burn 1:54.7 ($277,288) from the Curtin barn. Placed twice as a two year old when racing out of the Murray Swain barn in Southland, Until Further Notice won a trial last week at Ashburton with smart closing sectionals of 56 .8 and 27.4 and looks ready to rumble. Just so all the 3 year olds don't have it all their own way, the Nigel McGrath trained and driven Western Art with four seconds in his last five starts looms as a fly in the ointment for the 3 year olds as he is well overdue to take out a maiden race.  We think with his favourable draw Highview Freddy just gets the nod from us but it  really is an open race and it wouldn't surprise us to see one of the other four mentioned in this article salute the judge. Harnesslink Media

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

The C0 pace for 3 year olds and older at the Oamaru Harness Racing clubs meeting today (September 14th) drew three horses with a reputation for being above average pacers. Cran Dalgety lined up the talented Christian Cullen gelding Cody Singer who is big on ability but still lacks a touch of ringcraft. Kevin Court lined up Smokin Bird, a daughter of Bettor's Delight who had won her only start at two but is still classed as a maiden as she starts her 3 year old season. The third of the fancied horses was Tas Man Bromac, a son of American Ideal who had also won his only start at two and races out of the barn of Nathan Williamson. The public made Smokin Bird a warm favourite but there was plenty of support for Cody Singer and Tas Man Bromac as well. Smokin Bird got away first and grabbed an early lead with Tas Man Bromac settling fourth on the inner and Cody Singer last after missing away for a few strides. It stayed that way until Dexter Dunn moved Cody Singer around the field to sit parked at the 1600 meters mark and Nathan Williamson came off the inner with Tas Man Bromac and slotted into the one by one. Then Dexter decided he wanted the front with Cody Singer but Matthew Williamson on Smokin Bird didnt want to hand up and they went to war for the next 600 meters. By the time they reached the 800 meters mark, Cody Singer had dropped in on Smokin Bird's back which left Tas Man Bromac parked out. Thats how they stayed until they turned for home where Nathan shot Tas Man Bromac clear for an easy and impressive win. Smokin Bird stuck on gamely for second after being mauled mid race while Cody Singer ended up fifth but only four and half lengths from the winner. Tas Man Bromac paced the 2600 meters from a stand in a very smart 3:19.2 with closing sectionals of 57.8 and 28.5 Tas Man Bromac is the second foal of the imported North American McArdle mare Tasmcmanian who is a half sister to five in 1:55 including Arts Conquest 1:50 ($880,576) and Lifeoftheparty 1:54 ($151,365) Shy Devil, the dam of Tasmcmanian went 1:53.3 and earned $169,185 on the track and is a half sister to the talented Gamma Ray 1:52.1 ($467,504) and XLR Ray Shun King 1:52.1 ($207,210). Tasmcmarian is closely related to two outstanding mares in Naughty But Nice 1:54 ($1,062,197) and Leah Almahurst 1:52.3 ($1,053,201) Tas Man Bromac lived up to his pedigree today with a performance that suggested he had many wins left in front of him. Harnesslink Media    

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