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Okemos, MI --- The Michigan Gaming Control Board released orders on Tuesday (Jan. 21) dramatically reducing the harness racing schedule at Northville Downs and Hazel Park Raceway in 2014. The orders, which are being appealed by the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association, authorize ten day harness meets at both Northville and Hazel Park. Those schedules represent a dramatic reduction from the harness dates previously anticipated. Needless to say, the MGCB decision to accept the tracks’ amended applications will have a devastating impact on Michigan’s Standardbred race horse industry. Even more devastating than the slashing of race dates is the timing of the schedule authorized for Northville Downs. Instead of beginning their meet Jan. 31, as originally announced, Northville intends to race Fridays and Saturdays from March 7 through April 5. Hazel Park intends to race their harness meet on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from April 12 through May 3. According to Tuesday’s orders, both facilities will then convert to Thoroughbred tracks. Despite Northville’s assertion that higher handle and lower track maintenance costs are the reason for their delayed start date, many believe that their strategy is to create as much disruption as possible for the Standardbred industry. Why you ask? Delaying the availability of purse money until March will force more harness horsemen out of business and accelerate the decline of live racing -- something Northville has stated publicly they would prefer. The MHHA and the race tracks have been at odds over track demands that horsemen pay entry fees for the privilege of racing at their facilities. It’s the tracks’ position that, because they are losing money, they are entitled to a greater share of simulcast purse pool revenue. Since the tracks already retain sixty percent of simulcast purse pool commissions, and their “solution” does nothing to solve the industry’s core problems, the MHHA has refused those demands. The financial situation of our horsemen, who collectively lost well over $1 million in 2013, is more dire than the tracks’, so shoring up their bottom lines on the backs of our horsemen is not a reasonable solution. Further, the MHHA believes that, by law, the horsemen’s share of the simulcast purse pool can only be used for purses. While the Thoroughbred horsemen believe they have found a way to circumvent that 1995 Racing Law requirement, the courts may ultimately have to decide if they will be able to do so moving forward. Recognizing the immediate impact that this MGCB decision would have on Michigan’s Standardbred industry, an emergency meeting of the MHHA Board of Directors was held late Friday. In an effort to mitigate the potential damage to our horsemen, the MHHA offered Northville Downs $100,000 in non-simulcast purse pool funds if they would agree to race their original 26 day schedule. That offer was ignored. We are horrified by the MGCB’s decision and have expressed our concerns about both the moral and legal implications of Tuesday’s orders. Time will tell if the tracks’ apparent strategy to wrestle complete control of the industry away from the horsemen will succeed, but there is no question that the short term impact will be harmful to thousands of horsemen -- not to mention countless local agricultural economies around the state. In fact, just since the MGCB orders were released, we have received word that dozens of horses are already being culled from Standardbred stables across the state. We ask all horsemen to be patient as the MHHA moves forward with its appeal of Tuesday’s orders and considers what further actions might be possible to try and mitigate the damage to our 2014 racing season. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact your representatives in Lansing. Make sure they understand what is happening in our industry and let them know how it impacts you and those with whom you do business. If the tracks believe they can force the Standarbred horsemen out of business in what appears to be an attempt to eliminate live racing here in Michigan, they should be prepared for a significant fight. Submitted by the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association

We are visiting today with the recently crowned leading dash-winning driver in North America Ronnie Wrenn Jr. This past year Ronnie tallied 714 winning drives, which ranked him as the the winningest driver in North America. His UDRS driving rating was an outstanding 0.361. He was the leading driver at both the Northville and Northfield meets. Wrenn, who turned 27 in August has been driving regularly only for four years. Ronnie has been in the sulky for most of Anvil Raider N 23 victories on the year, the most in harness racing in 2013. Wrenn was a finalist for the Dan Patch Human and Horse Awards for 2013 as the Rising Star. We caught up with him as he was driving to be with his girlfriend to bring in the new year together. One-On-One is done exclusively for by Brian McEvoy HLINK: Congratulations on a great year of racing and winning the 2013 North American dash title. What are you up to? When is the surgery scheduled on your wrist? RW:  I just finished my last day of racing for the year. I finished up with 5 winners on the night. It has been a lot of work for the year. I have definitely raced a lot of races. It has been hard. Winning the title has not set in yet. When I have the time off I will realize what I have accomplished. To be included in the same class of the top 5 drivers is pretty sweet. I am having surgery on January 6th at Ohio State U. Once the surgery is done. I should have about 4 weeks of rehab. I should be back racing in late January or early February. It is just about the time the purse increase should start at Northfield. It's my right wrist and it is an old sports injury that I have put off for years and now have to deal with. HLINK: You have raced at an incredible amount of tracks this year, Northfield Park, Northville Downs, Raceway Park, Scioto Downs, Batavia Downs, Buffalo Raceway, Colonial Downs, Monticello Raceway, Delaware Ohio Fair, Hazel Park, The Meadows, and several other fair tracks. You must have put a lot of miles on your car? RW: I have 148,000 miles on a 2011. Of that I have put 70,000 miles on the vehicle this year. HLINK: You only started driving about four years ago. Tell us about how you started driving and the influence of your uncle Peter. RW: The first year I just messed around driving a couple of horses The last two years is when I picked up catch drives. My two uncles have had a great influence on me. Peter has helped me from a driving aspect. My uncle Gary, a blacksmith, also has helped me greatly. I have talked a lot on the phone with both my uncles for advice. I was going to school in Michigan. I was studying criminal law. I started picking up a lot of drives. It was getting busy, so I chose this path. HLINK: I heard you were a pretty good ball player. How good were you? RW: I played football and baseball in high school. I played some baseball in college. I played center field. I loved the sport. I gave it up to go into the horses. I wasn't going to the major leagues, but I could have played further in college. HLINK: You grew up in Michigan. You started your driving career at the Michigan tracks, and at Windsor in Canada. It must be depressing to watch the decline of harness racing in your home state? RW: When I first started racing all I wanted to do was race at the premier tracks of Michigan. I was hoping to remain racing there. I was for about a year. It looks now like it is near the end of it. Ten live days of racing at Northville and Hazel doesn't add up to a lot of days. If you are a horseman you can't make a living racing there. It was really sad that Michigan didn't approve casinos at the racetracks as just happened in Ohio. I think it is about to come to the end. HLINK: You recently drove Anvil Raider N to his 22nd victory on the year. This is the most racing wins in harness racing for 2013. It might also have been his swan song. U.S. Trotting Association rules require the 14-year-old to retire on December 31st. RW: It was one of the first horses I started to catch drive. I probably drove him the most the last two years. I drove him a lot this year. For him to set the record for most wins this year is pretty neat. It is unfortunate he has to retire as he is still racing like he is a 6-year-old. He has had a lot of miles on his body. It is just like athletes. You can perform better at twenty then in your forties. It is probably a good rule. He is one the few horses I have ever been around that has raced so well in his 14th year of racing. He was racing at a level where he could still hold his speed. He was sharper this year then he has been in the last 5 years. HLINK: You were recently invited for a drive-off at Monticello Raceway against Bruce Aldrich Jr. on December 12th. Tell us about that experience? RW: I loved the idea of what John Manzi came up with in the drive-off. I think a lot of other tracks should try this. I must have got over 200 texts that day My Facebook page and phone were lit up. The first 8 races we went back and forth. The next couple of races didn't work out for me. I had a couple of horses break stride. It is never fun losing but it was a very cool experience. I would definitely do it again. HLINK: When you come back to racing next year after the surgery is Northfield going to be your home base for racing? RW: When I return I will start driving back at Northfield. I love that place and they treat me good. It fits my driving style. On a half mile track you have to be more aggressive. Northfield is a real run and gun track. You don't really go slow quarters as you do at other tracks. I might go down to Lebanon to drive at Miami Valley a little bit when they open in February. I am just going to see how things go. I am considering driving at the Meadows again pulling doubleheaders. It just depends what the purse structure is at Northfield. It would be nice to one day be driving at the premier tracks back east. I want to keep getting better and one day drive on the big stage. I am still learning a lot and new to the business. HLINK: Do you have any insight into when the purses will go up at Northfield?. What about Miami Valley not having any tellers for people to bet with? RW: I probably don't want to say too much as I am not 100%. I guess February is when the purses will be going up a little bit. They have to generate some revenue from the casino. Miami Valley opens in February and I would think they would kick up their purses at the same time. That would prevent the horseman from going on down to Miami Valley. The teller situation I don't think has been worked out yet. I don't think they have a contract with any of the tracks. I hope whoever is working for us gets that worked out. I hope we can race for a lot of money for a long time in Ohio. HLINK: You had an unfortunate situation when you went to race this summer at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. You were fined for leaning back too far in the bike when driving. You were not happy about the drivers being fined for this. You packed up and left on the first day of racing. RW: When all the drivers showed up the first day they had a whole new set of rules they were trying to enforce. I am really not sure who came up with the rules. I was really looking forward to driving during Jug week. I had a disagreement with the judge. I really didn't think I was leaning back. He thought I was. It is just like in major league baseball where every pitcher and batting has his own form. We are all not robots. We are all individuals which use our skills in different ways. I never have been too far back to control my horse. Maybe when someone just starts driving they should say something. HLINK: Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you see yourself eventually making the move to the Meadowlands and the other big tracks in the northeast? RW: If a trainer called me up and said to come out here and drive my horses. I would come out in a heartbeat. I want to keep getting better. I was locked in this year,driving smarter. I want to be patient and get my horses in the right position at the right time. If I am driving in Ohio that would be fine. Wherever the premier tracks are in the next five years is where I want to be. HLINK: I see on Facebook you are a huge Dallas Cowboy fan? Are you disappointed they did not make the playoffs again this year? RW: I am really disappointed they didn't make the playoffs. I was reading where in the last 20 years they are something like 2 and 18 in week 17. You don't make the playoffs struggling the last game of the season when it means something. I am a diehard fan. When I was younger they were awesome. They were America's team. The last few years they have been a struggling team. I am a Cowboy fan for life. They are like the Yankees of football. By Brian McEvoy for  

Fridays 15-race program is headed by the Stuart A. Wiener Memorial Pace; a California Sire Stakes featuring Show Runner and two divisions of the second leg of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting Series. First post is 5:20 p.m. (PDT). The Stuart A. Wiener Memorial is named for the man who has raced trotters and pacers with his wife Wendi since 1990. They were married for 42 years and he passed away on Dec. 5 from a heart infection at the age of 65. He is also survived by his daughter Jennifer, her husband Jon and a 10-year-old grandson Nathan. He was CFO at Health Science College in Henderson, Nevada and enjoyed his work, but it was his love of horses that really showed through, Wendi said. Our first horse was Shot N, who we had with Ross Croghan, and he is still on the farm. Stu loved everything about the game, including the betting, and a perfect union was made. For many years, the Wieners have raced their horses with trainer Nathalie Tremblay, including their favorite pacer Bewareofthisaffair. Stuarts name did appear on some of the horses along with Wendis brother Alan Kraslow, but most of the performers raced under her name. Stu loved going to Sacramento and hanging out with the horses. We both loved Nathalie and Dave (Kuri) and we have all been together so long that its not as much a business as it is family. He even had the chance to jog a horse by himself once, and he never stopped talking about it. Stu really loved the horses and proof is that we have seven retired here on the farm. Life was always interesting, especially on race night when we went to Dish Network to watch every race. The last few months Stu actually felt good and was even back to golf, but who knew. I keep telling people that we need to celebrate Stus life. Even with all the health problems he had in the last several years, he had a pretty fantastic life. It was the horses that actually lifted him at the worst times. Contentious field set for Invitational Trot A well-matched field is set for Fridays $5,000 Invitational Trot, with last weeks upset winner K D Amazin Spirit taking on the stablemates Franks Best and Inside Broadway and the hard-knocking Axle. K D Amazin Spirit is a 7-year-old son of Thadrow out of the Monterey Judge mare K D Charm who is owned, trained and was bred by Keith Willey and will have xxxx at the controls. He comes into this assignment with $104,000 in his account and a 1:54 2/5 mark that was established here earlier this season. He had no shown much in his first three starts since returning from Running Aces, where he closed out that campaign with a win, but he certainly returned to top form in last weeks clash at the head of the class. Plano motored him right to the top, he set the fractions without a challenge and came home with nearly four lengths to spare at nearly 16-1 that evening. Franks Best was runner-up in that affair as the 2-1 choice and figures to once again get plenty of support. The Bob Johnson owned, trained and bred 6-year-old has $185,000 in the bank, a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on the mantle and has posed for pictures following three of his last six trips to the post here with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. Inside Broadway is a half-brother to Franks Best and gives Johnson another strong look at the outcome. The 4-year-ood Broadway Hall offspring rattled off three straight wins between November 9 and December 6 and has been burdened with the outside posts in his last two appearances, including the demanding No. 10 slot on December 13. James Kennedy will again be in the sulky. Axle is a Michigan-bred son of Hard Rock who figures right in the thick of things with his best mile. He dead-heated for the win in a conditioned contest on November 22, but has had to settle for minor awards in the interim while doing his work at this top rung. George Reider trains and David Siegel drives and they co-own the performer with Robert Thronson and Greg Robinson. BEGINNING THIS WEEKEND, THERE WILL BE A $10,000 GUARANTED POOL FOR THE PICK 5 ON BOTH FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. THE PICK 4 GUARANTEE CONTINUES TO BE $20,000 ON FRIDAYS AND $25,000 ON SATURDAYS. Mark Ratzky                        

Driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who has a lock on the 2013 North American dash title, told Friday morning that he will miss about a month of action as a result of wrist surgery scheduled for Jan. 6 at The Ohio State University. Through Dec. 26, the 27-year-old Wrenn has 696 victories, a 51-win lead over runner-up Dave Palone, who has won four national dash titles including in 2012. Wrenn's win total this year has mostly come at Northfield Park, where he has a comfortable lead in the local standings with 370 victories. "It's my right wrist, it's an old sports injury that I've put off for years now and dealt with,” Wrenn explained by cell phone as he was traveling from spending Christmas in his home state of Michigan to his home near Northfield Park where he was scheduled to drive Friday night. "I am going to take the time to get it fixed. To read the rest of the story click here. 

Theodore G. Taylor, 86, of Westland, Michigan, passed away on December 2, 2013. He was born on April 22, 1927, in Columbus, Ohio, the son of James M. and Isabel Wallace Taylor. He grew up on a farm in Madison County, London, Ohio. He was a Navy veteran of World War II, having served in the Pacific Ocean on the USS Whitley. Taylor's love for horses became his lifetime profession. He owned, trained and raced standardbreds. He raced in Europe as well as the United States. During his racing career he was one of the top 10 drivers in the country. He was inducted into the Harness Horsemen's Hall of Fame in both Michigan and Florida. Taylor is survived by his wife of 54 years, Judith Ann Waters Taylor; sisters, Phyllis T. Jacob, Eunice T. (Hugh) Mac Rae and Nancy T. (Bill) Robinson; and nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, James R.; and sisters, Mary T. Brown and Sue Ellen Harrison. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. From the USTA

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has agreed to move Thoroughbred and mixed-breed racing next year to Detroit-area harness tracks Hazel Park Harness Raceway and Northville Downs, making them both permanent Thoroughbred racing sites, pending state approval. The five-year agreement was reached on Dec. 1, a deadline set by the Michigan Gaming Control Board after the tracks earlier this year proposed amendments to their live dates applications to include Thoroughbred and mixed-breed licenses. The contracts have been sent to the board’s office and await approval. The Michigan HBPA has been in talks with both tracks, as well as Flint-area harness venue Sports Creek Raceway, to host Thoroughbred racing since the closure of Pinnacle Race Course in southern Detroit at the end of 2010. Since Pinnacle’s closure, the state’s Thoroughbred meet has been conducted at Mount Pleasant Meadows, a mixed-breed track in rural central Michigan. To read the rest of this story click here.

His nickname, “The Voice”, is on his license plate. His signature harness racing announcer voice is known by everyone in North America and throughout the world who has ever listened to harness racing. And most recently he called his 165,000th race. He’s Roger Huston, the voice of The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, PA., and today is the 30th anniversary of The Meadows going live with its television broadcast show. And Roger has been there and hosted the show in nearly every performance since its inception. “It was on Wednesday, October 16,” Huston said, “My 165,000th race call was the third race and it was won by Tomasso and driver Mike Wilder in 1:58.3. It was an $11,000 Claiming Trot.” Most people would not be able to recall such data in a moment’s notice. That’s not the case for Roger Huston. His memory of racing dates, events, horse names, drivers, trainers, records, the whole nine yards, is part of his trait as one of the best racetrack announcers of any horse breed in history. But where does keeping all those statistics both horse related and personal come in? “I have always been a stats person,” Huston explained. “It started from my teenage days watching the Cleveland Browns. I then started keeping stats during the game for the Sports Information Director at Wilmington College and the Mid Ohio Conference. Keeping Wilmington and League stats and writing stories for newspapers and the schools in Wilmington, Cedarville, Ashland, Defiance, Bluffton, Ohio Northern and Findlay. “So when I started announcing,” Huston added, “I also started keeping track of the races and time trials and a complete itinerary for each year. 128 different venues I have called races at and 165,128 races going into today’s card at The Meadows.” Huston is also very proud of his records as an announcer. Records that will most likely never be broken as Huston, age 71, has no plans on retiring any time soon. He has also called races at 37 different locations for remote broadcasts of the Meadows races. At these venues Huston actually called the races at the Meadows from the other tracks, watching them on television. “My first remote broadcast was pretty unique,” Huston said. “I called the races at the Meadows from my parent’s house in Xenia, Ohio. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. It was covered by two newspapers and three Dayton TV stations. “I once called a race from a viewer’s swimming pool.” Huston recalled. “We did a remote from the residence of horse owner Jim Schamming. They had a party that night with about 35 people and we did the whole TV show from his living room and the swimming pool.” I asked Roger if that was the most unique venue to have called a race from, but he shook his head, laughed and said no way. “Aside from horse races,” Roger said, “I have called actual baby races, pig races, turtle races, you name it but one of the most unique races I called was from 2,000 feet above the Three Rivers in a Medivac helicopter and it was broadcast by a Pittsburgh radio station. The race was between the inclines of Mt. Washington and Duquesne. It was trolley cars racing down the incline.” When it comes to different racing venues, Huston has done most of them. He has called at 37 different county fairgrounds in Ohio alone. Then there are the fairs in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota and more. But Roger, you forgot New Jersey! Only because this reporter was there, working at Freehold Raceway and I got to co-host the show that night with Roger Huston. It was great. We were set up in the hallway at the restaurant entrance, an eight foot table, head sets, one 19” TV monitor, broadcast equipment and tons of Roger’s stat books and race programs. People stayed and watched us all night. They wanted to personally meet Roger and get his picks for the night. But most exciting was to see Roger call the Meadows races on TV yet it sounded just like he was at his home track. As for calling races outside the USA, Roger has done that too. He has called at tracks all over Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Wales and even in Australia. “And to this day I still keep records each year,” Huston said. “I use them for the TV show which I am so proud is celebrating its 30th anniversary today! Our first show was Tuesday, November 1, 1983. Jerry Connors was my co-host for the first two shows and then we had various drivers, trainers, owners and caretakers on the show.” It is an amazing feat for Roger Huston and he never tires from traveling to remote fairs and events to call races. It’s what he lives for and enjoys. By Steve Wolf for

We all need, no matter what your religious affiliation is, to say a little prayer. It was reported today by the United States Trotting Association (USTA) that John Pawlak of the publicity department, underwent surgery Friday evening at Mt. Carmel East Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to have a brain tumor removed. While subsequent testing found that the tumor was benign, post-operative swelling required Pawlak to have additional surgery on Monday, October 21. According to his wife, Kris, Pawlak has been sedated and is resting comfortably but has a long recovery ahead of him. Pawlak, along with co-USTA employee, Carol Cramer, were both recently voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame Communicators Corner by the United States Harness Writers Association. Pawlak has been a long-time employee at the USTA and before that was the track announcer and publicity man at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio.   He has done outstanding work over his career not only as journalist but also as a radio announcer and television broadcaster covering racing throughout the world. This season he reported from along with assisting in organizing the World Trotting Council Meetings in France, which he has helped run for many years. Since John is unable to receive gifts and cards in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, it is suggested that they be sent to the USTA offices at 750 Michigan Ave., Columbus, OH 43215 and they will be forwarded to the Pawlak’s. By Steve Wolf for

Metrodisle paced home for her fourth straight win Friday (September 27) in Northfield Park’s thirteenth race. The five year-old is owned by Darren Tannyhill of Fenton, Michigan and is trained by Dean Eckley. Josh Sutton has driven the mare for the succession of the quadruplet victories. Metrodisle began from post seven and was sent hard right from the gate. She led the mile from start to finish, pacing fractions of :27.4, :56.1, 1:25.1 and 1:54.3. She maintained a 1 ½-length margin of victory over her closed competitor, LF Kilowatt Time (Keith Kash Jr.). The mile clocking represents a season’s mark for Metrodisle. Friday’s triumph increased Metrodisle’s (Metropolitan-Rondisle Hanover-Arturo) seasonal win tally to six and her career earnings to $45,257. Despite having three prior victories, she returned $24.80 to win. Driver Josh Sutton had another successful Friday. Metrodisle was one of four winners on the Friday program for Sutton. Ayres Ratclif

Mountain View, CA --- The 2013 edition of the TrackMaster Big 5 Harness Handicapping Challenge came to a conclusion this past Saturday, wrapping up a little over a month of entertaining competition. In a newly designed “Big 5” format, contestants put their handicapping skills to the test over five weekly rounds of preliminary action on the five premier tracks racing each Saturday. The top five in each week secured one of the coveted spots in the finals and their shot at $5,000 in cash prizes. Albert Czerniga from Hamilton, Ontario Canada took home first place and the top payout of $2,000 in cash with a final bankroll of $930. He narrowly beat out second place finisher, Wendy James from Farmington Hills, Michigan, who ended up with a $910 bankroll and earned $1,000 for her efforts. Third place finisher went to Bob Malewski of Oak Lawn, Illinois, who picked three winners on the day but fell a little short with only $850 in the bank, though still good enough to “cash” for the $500 third place prize. Randy Rueger of Utica, New York and Ray Garnett of South Paris, Maine rounded out the top five, each winning a one year unlimited subscription to TrackMaster Harness Pro . “Once again, our Harness Handicapping Challenge was a huge success,” said Jim Vanderbosch, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TrackMaster. “The players seemed to enjoy the new format, and as one of the few contests dedicated to harness racing, this is something participants look forward to every year. We are already planning our next contest, which will take place in the spring of 2014, with even a few more twists to the format. Stay tuned!” TrackMaster is greatly appreciative of its valued sponsors, TVG and the United Stated Trotting Association, along with all of the participants who played over the course of contest and helped make this year’s contest a success. TrackMaster and its sponsors offer their congratulations to the grand prize winners as well as all those who won weekly prizes. TrackMaster, a wholly owned subsidiary of Equibase Company LLC, provides a full range of handicapping products for the three major racing breeds — Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Standardbred. Equibase Company LLC is a partnership between subsidiaries of The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and serves as the Thoroughbred industry’s official database. Additional information about the companies is available at and . TrackMaster   

Eight Michigan Sires Stakes (MISS) finals were held on the Monday, Sept. 2, Labor Day afternoon card at Hazel Park, with four going being the gate as non-wagering affairs prior to the regular program. Although for the most part the races consisted of short fields, eight different stallions were represented in the winner's circle. The quartet of races on the betting card got underway with the $35,172 MISS final for 2-year-old male pacers. The Brad Kramer-driven Beastly was fourth at the three-quarters but the gelded son of Stampede Hanover-Todd's Affair rushed past the competition in the final turn to draw clear by 10 1/2 lengths as the 1- 9 favorite in 2:02.2. Man The Torpedo (Skip DeMull) was a distant second, with Chasing Jake (Jason Merriman) third. Kelly Goodwin owns and trains Beastly, who won for the third time in six starts. Kramer sent Lady Laker to the lead from post 7 in the $39,377 MISS final for 3-year-old filly trotters, and by the :58.1 half she had a three-length lead, expanding the margin to seven lengths at the 1:27 three-quarters. The 1-9 favorite then cruised to the wire 15 lengths in front in 1:58. Defending MISS champion Kendall Marie (Peter Otten) finished second, with Crazy Sherry (Carl Putnam Jr.) third. A daughter of Lockkeeper-Hyercass, Lady Laker is trained by Al Tomlinson for owner David Vanderhyde. She was  undefeated in four starts in 2012, and in 2013 her four wins also include the Hanover in mid-July at Balmoral Park. Her earnings went past the $100,000 mark with her MISS win on Monday. Ovewhelming favorite That'll Be The Rei successfully defended his MISS title as Mike Micallef directed the son of Cheyenne Rei-Unspeakable Joy gelding to a wire-to-wire, 1:55.1 victory in the $37,827 MISS final for sophomore male pacers. That'll Be The Rei defeated runner-up Lexington Avenue (Kody Massey) by five lengths, with Sharp Cheeser (Darrell Wright) third. Micallef also trains That'll Be The Rei for owner Dan Courtemanche. The win was his ninth in 14 starts this year and 18th overall in 24 career starts. That'll Be The Rei increased his earnings to more than $120,000 with the victory. Haberdashery busted the favorite brigade wide open in the last of the four betting races with a 50-1 upset in the $40,077 MISS final for 3-year-old male trotters. The 1-2 favorite Zeplin, driven by Goodwin, appeared on his way to victory but when he broke stride in the stretch, it paved the way for Haberdashery and driver Jeff Sweeney to go on to the 2:02.4 victory. Zeplin recovered to finish second, with Winwood Scout and driver DeMull third. A gelded son of Keystone Nordic-Ready Elegance, Haberdashery won for the first time in six career starts. The winner is trained and owned by Chris Allen. All four early races were won in relatively easy fashion. Lady Windsor started things off with a 2:00.1 victory for trainer-driver Wright in the five-horse, $35,272 MISS final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Keep It Sweet (Larry Lee Smith) was 13 lengths back in second, with Best Friend Always (Todd Buter) another 18 lengths behind in third. E.J. Underwood III owns Lady Windsor, a daughter of Coventry-Rhonda T. The career-best win was her sixth straight in seven career starts. Scrappy Alex and trainer-driver Putnam led wire to wire in the $35,222 MISS final for 2-year-old male trotters to score in 2:09.3. SS RC CR (Rex Putnam) finished 2 3/4 lengths behind in second, with Just A Kid (Tim Roach) third. A gelded son of Scrappy Robert-Classic Enterprise, Scrappy Alex is owned by Sam Heron. The win was his fourth in nine starts. Kramer and Kayla Grace romped to a 15 1/4-length win in 1:58 in the $34,372 MISS final for 2-year-old filly pacers. Sue's Your Daddy (Jeff Sweeney), TC Country (Otten) and Winwood Elle (DeMull) finished second, third and fourth, respectively, as the short field crossed the wire in post-position order. A daughter of He's All That-A Maze Of Grace, Kayla Grace remained undefeated in nine starts. She is trained by Marie "Ginny" St. Charles, who shares ownership withEd and Cheryl Sayfie's ECS Racing. Super Soph, whose nine-for-nine freshman season in 2012 included the MISS final, successfully defended that title with a career-best 1:53.2 score in the $34,627 contest for 3-year-old filly pacers. Jason Merriman was in the sulky as Super Soph led gate to wire to defeat Don't Stare (Keith Crawford) by 2 1/2 lengths, with Reiwatch (Kramer) third. A full sister to Canadian Hall of Fame inductee Admirals Express, Super Soph is a daughter of Admirals Galley-Platinum Card. Greg West trains Super Soph for owners Ryan Morefield, Brian Campbell and Mark Wamp. Her earnings now stand at more than $128,000. Submitted by Hazel Park Publicity Department  

On Sunday (August 18) Raceway Park hosted eight divisions of Ohio Sires Stake racing action as part of the 12-race program. Freshman Colt and filly trotters and pacers all competed for Ohio Sires Stakes’ third-leg honors.     Filly trotters started the show off right in the opening race of the evening with a track record performance.  Turbochargedroxie (Cayenne Turbo-Raffinee Baby-Lucky Almahurst) broke the track record for two year-old filly trotters when she won by 2 ¼-lengths, stopping the clock at 2:00. The old 2:00.2 record stood for 20 years and was trotted in 1993 by Sayyourprayers and driver Thomas Jackson.  Turbochargedroxie started from post five in the $30,000 first division and was fourth through an opening quarter of :30.  She rushed first-over in the second quarter, took the lead and never looked back.  She posted the final three fractional times of 1:01.4, 1:31.1 and 2:00.  The race was Turbochargedroxie’s fourth lifetime start and second victory.  This race represents a new lifetime mark for the winner and increased her bankroll to $25,492.  Dan Noble piloted the filly for co-owner/trainer David G. Morgan of Zanesville, Ohio and Deborah Rush of Mount Gilead, Ohio.  Finishing behind Turbochargedroxie were Rose Run Princess, Anniesbluejeanbaby, OIM Bad, Emilene’s Future and Mclean.  Iron Princess was scratched. Turbochargedroxie returned $4.00 for the win. Rompaway Galaxy (Rompaway Wally-Rompaway Wynona-Mr Vic) took the $30,000 first division for two-year old colt Ohio-bred trotters for trainer Krista Williams in the evening’s second race.  Rompaway Galaxy began from post one and was third though a :30 opening quarter.  He moved to the lead after the quarter and never looked back.  He posted times of 1:01.2, 1:31.3 and 2:00.3, easily besting his competition by 6 ¾-lengths.  Mike Micallef drove for owner Rompaway Farms LLC of Battle Creek, Michigan.  It was the fifth career win for Rompaway Galaxy in six starts and pushed his earnings to $71,550.  Completing the race were Hooray For Willie, Fiftyshades Of Nay, Manstreet Willy, Inquiring Andy and Can’tcutthatchip.  Rompaway Galaxy was heavily favored and paid $2.40 to win. Pacers were scheduled next and Paydaze On The Way was the winner in Race 4, capturing $30,000 first division for freshman filly pacers.  Dan Noble drove the filly for trainer Diana Riegle and owners Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Edwin Gold of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Richard Lombardo of Solon, Ohio and Karen Rose of Leesburg, Ohio.  Paydaze On The Way (Look Sharp-Shantytown Girl-Towner’s Big Guy) left from post four and never looked back.  She posted fractions of :30, 1:01.3, 1:31 and 1:59.3, winning by one length.  The race was the fifth career start for Paydaze On The Way and was her four victory.  Finishing in succession after the winner were Lady Julie, Crown Time Keeper, APP Panda, Ataway Samantha and Shakin Friskie.  Paydaze On The Way returned $2.20 to win. Pacers were back in action in the fifth race for the $30,000 first division for colt pacers.  Big Bossman (Feelin Friskie-Lovely American-Matt’s Scooter) led every step through times of :30.2, :59, 1:27.2 and 1:57.2.  The gelding is owned by Parent Racing Stable LLC of Holland, Ohio. Trainer Doug Hinklin called upon Greg Grismore to drive.  The race was the third win in six starts for Big Bossman, who now has $34,835 in earnings.  Big Bossman was a ½-length winner and was followed home by Dibs, Chance I Might, Led Schneppelin, Upfront Clays Boy and Hawks Cry Hoboken.  Big Bossman paid $7.60 to win. Filly trotters returned for the sixth race.  Maes Perfect Storm (Neely Dunn-Salient-Ilooklikemymom) went gate to wire to win the $30,000 second division. The race was Maes Perfect Storm’s seventh lifetime start and second score, bringing her earnings tally to $37,312.  Dan Noble piloted the filly for Chagrin Falls, Ohio owner Charles Branthoover and trainer Robert Lippiatt.  Noble steered Maes Perfect Storm through fractional times of :30.4, 1:01.3, 131.2 and 2:01.3.  Finishing behind Maes Perfect Storm were In The Grippers, Emery Jean, Greased, Sandy’s Wish, Cookie N Ice Cream, Hush Hush Chip and MJ’s Victory Jody.  Maes Perfect Storm was and upset winner and returned $24.40 for the win. Soul Train (Trainforthefuture-Dances On Air-Muscles Yankee) took the $30,000 second division for two-year old colt Ohio-bred trotters for trainer Scott Cox in the evening’s seventh race.  Soul Train started from post five and sat fourth through fractional times of :30.4, 1:02.1 and 1:32.4.  He made his move in the fourth quarter and drew off by 2 ¾-lenthgs in 2:03.  Chris Page drove for owners Parent Racing Stables LL of Holland, Ohio, Robert Crynick of Strongsville, Ohio and John Novak of Olmstead Township, Ohio.  It was the fourth career win in eight starts for Soul Train, who now has earnings of $44,008.  Completing the race were Noah Count, Happy Go Jamie, Happy Dance, Zippy Sam and Bradymeister.  Soul Train was heavily favored and paid $3.00 to win. Pacers were scheduled next and Rosy Fire was victorious in the ninth race, capturing $30,000 second division for freshman filly pacers.  Kyle Ater drove the filly for trainer Mark Winters Sr. and owners Bret Schwartz of Washington Court House, Ohio, William Bean of Sabina, Ohio and Stephen Montemarano of Sunbury, Ohio.  Rosy Fire (Feelin Friskie-Justin Rose Jet-Jet Laag) appeared to be a victim of soft fractions of :29 and 1:00.1. However, Ater tipped the filly and took the lead approaching the 1:28.4 three-quarters, than maintained a 1 ¼-length win in 1:58.2.  The race was the eighth career start and third win for Rosy Fire, who now has earnings of $35,457.  Finishing in succession after the winner were Lucky L, R Spunky Girl, Friskie Six, Friskie’s Angel, Spiffy Sam and Baby Slider.  Rosy Fire returned $7.80 to win. The final Ohio Sires Stake race of the evening was the tenth race, the $30,000 second division for two year-old colt pacers. Rocket Beau started from post seven and led at virtually every call through fractions of :27.3, :57.4, 1:26.4 and 1:56.4, besting his competition by a neck.  Driver Chris Page was victorious with Rocket Beau (Pine Valley-Sunny Sally-Falcon Almahurst) for owners Jennifer and Beau Brown of Upper Sandusky, Ohio and Solon, Ohio owner Richard Lombardo.  Brian Brown is the gelding’s trainer.  Following Rocket Beau were Friskie Adam, Player’s King, UF Fast Feelin, Two Will Forever, Friskie Shadow and Feel Like Autumn.  Rocket Beau returned $6.60 to win.    

Sometimes a name fits a horse’s personality and that was the case with Thisbigdogwilfight, who has been retired from racing at the age of 10 after being one of the premier Illinois-conceived-and foaled pacers of this century. “It was time,” said his long-time trainer Jim Eaton. “He wasn’t able to overcome his problems anymore. These last couple of years the horse has had a lot of trouble with his front ankles and I think the arthritis just got so bad it was time to quit with him.” Thisbigdogwilfight is turned out to pasture with 56 career victories, the vast majority of them coming in the circuit’s highest level overnight events and ICF stakes, purse earnings of $978,789 and has a former world record holder. “If he wasn’t so close to earning a million dollars (only $21,215 shy) I might have not tried to come back with him a couple of months ago. I thought he deserved the chance to reach it. But it just didn’t work out.”Sometimes a name fits a horse’s personality and that was the case with Thisbigdogwilfight, who has been retired from racing at the age of 10 after being one of the premier Illinois-conceived-and foaled pacers of this century. “It was time,” said his long-time trainer Jim Eaton. “He wasn’t able to overcome his problems anymore. These last couple of years the horse has had a lot of trouble with his front ankles and I think the arthritis just got so bad it was time to quit with him.” Thisbigdogwilfight is turned out to pasture with 56 career victories, the vast majority of them coming in the circuit’s highest level overnight events and ICF stakes, purse earnings of $978,789 and has a former world record holder. “If he wasn’t so close to earning a million dollars (only $21,215 shy) I might have not tried to come back with him a couple of months ago. I thought he deserved the chance to reach it. But it just didn’t work out.” Originally a $6,000 yearling purchase by Redbud Stable, of Frankfort, and Michael McNeely, of Normal, the son of The Big Dog was sold to Michigan owner Bob Silberberg in April of 2011. Thisbigdogwilfight got it done year after year on any size track showing grit and determination that made him one of most popular horses on the Chicagoland circuit for almost a decade. He’s one of only a handful of pacers in the country that ever won a race under 1 minute and 50 seconds five consecutive years, from 2006 through 2010. The gelding also holds the record for the most appearances on Super Night at Balmoral Park with eight and seven of those came in championships. Of Thisbigdogwilfight 56 lifetime victories, 38 came in a Free For All, Invitational, a stake elimination or a final. The horse came close to banking $1 million despite never winning a six-figure race. His 2007 victory in the $90,000 Carey at Hawthorne was the highest purse he ever won. Thisbigdogwilfight’s beginning didn’t start out on a promising note. “He was an orphan growing up,” said Eaton. “His mother actually killed one of her babies so he was taken away from her soon after he was born and given to a surrogate mare who nursed him.” Before he made his first 2-year-old start in late June of 2005, did Eaton see any indications from the bay horse that he might go on to be a star pacer? “Not my any stretch of the imagination,” replied the 56-year-old trainer who was inducted into the Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. “When he was in training he never showed any signs of being a good horse. In fact he didn’t show what’s so ever that he was going to be a horse who would even try. “I had another yearling that time. A horse called Third Day who went on to make $600,000. Every time they trained together he whipped “Dog.” He did it dozens of time. “Dog” had no interest in beating him or any other horse. “I remember when (owner) Phil Langley (Redbud Stable) came out one morning to watch the horse train. He came off the track shaking his head and telling me: ‘Well maybe we can make some money with him at the fairs.’ That’s how poorly he trained early on as a 2-year-old. “When it was time to qualify him I had Dave (Magee) up to drive. He was listed in the same race on another horse that was highly regarded by his trainer and Dave asked me if ‘does this Dog horse have any stock.’ I told him no and to go ahead and drive that other horse. “Pat Berry drove him that morning and left with him and ‘Dog” won his qualifier in 1:57 which surprised me. I didn’t think he could pace a quarter in 28 seconds.” When did Eaton think his ‘Dog’ might go on to have his day as a top-notch pacer? “He did have some decent races in his first season but it wasn’t until his last start that year that I thought he could end-up being a real good horse. He was in an Illinois-bred stake at Maywood and he drew off and won it in 1:53.1, a fast mile for a 2-year-old on a half. “Later on as a 6-year-old in 2007 he paced in 50 and 3 at Maywood, a world record for an aged gelding on a half-mile track that stood until last year.” Thisbigdogwilfight has always been a horse that preferred to be home in Illinois where he has had a special bond with his long-time caretaker Sondra Brown. “When the horse was out east for a couple of winter to compete he didn’t always do well,” said Eaton. “I think part of it was he missed Sondra and also his familiar surroundings. Each time he came back home he got real good again. “However the horse did have one of my very favorite races at The Meadowlands. It was back in 2009 when he won an ($35,000) Invitational there and did it going from last to first in 50 and 2. He beat some very good horses in it like Western Shore and Shark Gesture.” There’s is a happy ending for Thisbigdogwilfight. “Sondra and her husband (trainer) Mike Brown have a 10 acre place in Momence (IL) and they are going to take ‘Dog’ there to live out the rest of his life. They even have a broodmare there to keep him company.” This “Dog” deserves it, along with a future induction into the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

Hazel Park, MI - Longwell and harness racing breeder/owner/trainer/driver Dan Shetler were able to grind out an impressive first-over victory against pacesetter Sir James (Mark Headworth) in capturing the $100,000 William C. Connors Memorial Saturday at Hazel Park.

Six 3-year-old trotters will go postward in Friday night's (July 12) $100,000 William Connors Memorial at Hazel Park Raceway, with the compact field having met last weekend in a prep race won by Sir James.

The Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association season opener is in the books and harness racing man Jerry Mihelich will long remember it as his first big win with Keeping Grace, trained by Marie St. Charles.

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