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Phil Hudon comes from a big harness racing family, there is Jerry and Dave who are cousins, Jerry is in Alberta and Dave is located in British Columbia, (BC). Phil also has brothers John and Steve out in BC and in Ontario, Phil has his brother Pat and dad Joe. If anyone has had the pleasure of speaking with Phil, there is something about his laugh that seems so genuine. Phil comes across laid back and easy going and the laugh suggests he truly enjoys having a good time, regardless of who he's talking to. A touching moment right of the bat is Phil describing what his brother Pat had to overcome. Several years ago during a qualifier, Phil's brother Pat was driven into the track due to a horse accident. "He's lucky to be around" Phil says. "He's good now, but it was scary at the time." Thank God Pat is okay, it is tough to think of what the drivers have to contend with at times day after day. Yes drivers wear helmets, but all their limbs are exposed and it's a blessing and a testament to the skill drivers possess that accidents rarely occur. Big Jim by far, would be Phil's most exciting horse he's raced to date. "We won the Breeders Crown (at Pocono Downs) and the Governors' Cup (at Woodbine Racetrack) and we got to race against all the top horses for a couple of years and I've never experienced that before. It's pretty thrilling to drive a horse like that, a world class horse." Phil explains. "That's what it's all about right there" says Phil. "Drivers can get good horses... but great horses make you look so much better." Away from the rush of racing horses, if Phil isn't following hockey, you can catch him at a baseball game. "I used to like the Canucks, but I like the home teams so now it's the Leafs unfortunately" says Phil laughing. Oh Phil, I feel your pain and so does every Maple Leafs fan out there. "I like the Blue Jays, LA Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers in baseball." Phil notes. Life has been hectic for Phil who races seven days a week! "I go everywhere now. I go to Flamboro once a week and Western Fair on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the rest of the week I'm at Mohawk/Woodbine." That sure is a lot of mileage and travel time, but it only goes to show how much Phil is dedicated to the sport he's passionate about as well as doing his very best to support his family. Phil has three kids, Madison 14, Zach 7 and Delaney who is 7 months old. "It's tough; you miss out on family time because it's work, work, work." Phil acknowledges. "There are nights they're going out for dinner and you miss out on all of that. On weekends, you just can't take off and go to the cottage unless you book the weekend off but then you lose your drives." It must be difficult trying to hold together two firm commitments. On one side you have your family in your heart and the other side, there's horse racing which you love and you need to be fully committed to driving and ensuring you're always showing up to the track to be able to provide for the family you love. It is reasons like these that I feel the horsemen and women within the horse racing industry do get enough praise for what they do with the sacrifices involved. Phil does admit it's tough on the family at times with all his travelling. "I'm hustling a bit more this year" explains Phil. "I got to get back rolling because I was slumping for a bit.... I find I am sharper when I am racing everywhere. Plus I am going for 4,000 wins so I'd like to get that. I am still a couple hundred away though." It would be awesome for Phil to win his 4,000th win at Woodbine or in a major stakes race. Talk about what an awesome win photo shot of that would be, nothing short of spectacular. North America Cup for number 4,000! "Wins are wins" says Phil. "You can win a five claimer and it picks you up.... I find racing all the time keeps you sharper." Phil came to Ontario from British Columbia at a very young age, Phil was only 16. "It was tough; I had no friends, nothing." Phil says. "It was just me, my dad and his girlfriend at the time and two dogs, we only had four horses." "I quit school at 16, but I wish I didn't though." Phil explains, "I thought about (finishing school) a bit... but I wanted to drive horses, that's what I really like doing." Phil explains how it can be tough in some races when the horse you're driving is really pulling, but there isn't one particular drive that sticks out to Phil that would he would consider his most intense drive. Phil unfortunately has been in a few accidents which resulted him popping out his shoulder a few times and cracking his wrist once. Phil considers himself lucky to date, which is remarkable and that must say a lot about his driving skills and his keen awareness for the horses and drivers around him each and every race. "There's been people badly hurt, you know with broken arms and legs. I've just been lucky, touch on wood." Phil says. Luck plays a role in many things in life, but for the time Phil has been driving, I strongly believe it's his driving aptitude combined with luck that has brought him this far. Phil does not give himself enough credit. During our conversation, Phil pays respect to his fellow horsemen, the horses, the owners, but not once did Phil give any credit to himself. Phil should give himself more credit; no one lasts long in any career without being skilled, decent, humble and respectful. Of which all of these attributes Phil possesses. Phil was a big wrestling fan back in the day; Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock were his two guys he would cheer on. "Back in the day, the Rock was awesome and with Stone Cold, they were playing a good role." Phil says UFC is another sport Phil really enjoys watching. One of his favorite fighters is BJ Penn. "I loved BJ Penn he was awesome, the Prodigy... I like watching good fights, there's a bunch for great athletes like St. Pierre, and he was awesome." Phil says. However, don't expect Phil to be entering the Octagon, he enjoys watching the fights, not being a part of the fights. Phil enjoys the brotherhood of the driver's colony at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks. "I don't really do grudges" says Phil. "You go about your business; if you end up in a grudge match you're only hurting the owner and the horse. You need to keep your head on right; you always need to use your head." Phil does consider himself a joker, one who can dish out the laughs and still be able to laugh at himself. To be a fly on the wall in the driver's room, one can only imagine how much fun the drivers have with one another. by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

It has been such a downward spiral for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs that this latest lowest of lows has harness racing driver Jody Jamieson contemplating switching allegiances to another NHL team. As for which team Jody might start cheering for, nothing has been decided but all of us Maple Leafs fans understand that at some point we must all move on or do we become the Chicago Cubs of the National Hockey League. "It's in my blood" says Jody, "I'm a diehard fan but this is getting out of hand." Jody's career in harness racing has been remarkable, with some comparing his success to the likes of hockey greats Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. As flattered as Jody is by the comparison, in no way does he consider himself to be painted with the same brush as the hockey legends. "It's a lofty comparison, and it's not something I am not comfortable with" Jody notes. Admittedly, Jody feels he was able to jump start his career thanks to his father, legendary trainer Carl Jamieson. "My father is a hall of fame horseman and I had probably one of the best starts anybody could have in this business, by having him back me up." Jody says. A key piece of advice given to Jody by his dad is to always be respectful, regardless of whom that person is. It doesn't matter if it's a groom or a racing official, everyone matters. Jody Jamieson's name is up there with drivers such as Tim Tetrick, Mike Lachance, Chris Christoforou and Brian Sears and even after all the wins and accolades, Jody's focus hasn't changed. There's never a race he takes for granted and Jody admits he's human and makes mistakes, like everyone else. "I'm out to win every possible race I'm in... it's never lack of trying or being prepared but I make mistakes. Thank God there is another race right after that one where I can try and redeem myself." Jody says. With any sport, competition is extremely fierce and the guys who lead the standings are always battling between themselves and new comers. The saying goes, if you're going to win, you want to beat the best and Jody acknowledges everyone on the track wants to make a name for themselves. "That's what makes this game so fun, in one moment you're king of the castle but twenty minutes later you're knocked off." Jody adds, "It's very competitive, every twenty minutes, every night of the week." All drivers and trainers have been through dry spells, going through stretches of time without positive results. A piece of advice Jody was given is you need to learn to lose well before you learn to win well. "Don't get to high with the highs and don't get to low with the lows" is Jody's approach to keeping a level head to remain mentally grounded. "If you look at my record, I have way more losses than I do wins and I've learned to deal with it and keep it on the track as much as possible." With people having hard days or rough spells, it's amazing how well the horsemen are able to cope and still keep it classy amongst them. "I find in Canada and Ontario, it's the kind of people we are." Jody says. "We all try to get along off the track; there is no reason to be enemies off the track and not like each other. But when we go to the gate, it's on! I think that's taken for granted in other places, with people taking issue of being beat in a race." "Not only is life too short, our careers are too short to be hung up on every last thing, so you have to keep it light." Jody says. "I think I can relate to almost anybody, I enjoy busting (chops) and I can handle having my (chops) busted as well." Speaking with Jody, the biggest take away I got would be understanding how tough it is to mature in such a highly competitive sport. Yet in an odd way it can still be very easy. Yes I am aware there is a contradiction to what I have just written but the difficulties I perceive is being young with an ego. At this point I am not speaking for a driver, I am thinking of myself as a young one who is 18 or 20 and all I focus on is me and my success. If something were to come in between, I can honestly admit I would of taken issue from the get go. However, through it all in any sport, life hands you a constant wave of highs and lows and the earlier you notice these waves, the easier it is to 'ride it out' so to speak. Things can't always go your way, if they did, how would anyone learn? Over the last couple of years, Jody admits there have been some up and downs and this year he is more driven because of that. "Last year it took me until December to win a Classic race. It was the Cleveland Classic with Apprentice Hanover." Apprentice Hanover is trained by Benjamin Wallace and won the race in a time of 1:52.1 at Northfield Park. "There were big races where I came in second or third, but it wasn't the win." Jody admits. Jody is happily married to Stephanie and Jody has a daughter Hailey who is 11, a son Jett who is 2 and a baby girl on the way who is due in July. As much success as Jody's had over the years, he is now racing for his family, not just for him and this means ensuring his family can live happily. "I have a young family and I am recently married and I want to be a part of their lives to... I'm going to spend the best time with my family and I am not going to change anything. I'm going to be prepared as ever, more prepared than I've ever been to go on the race track every night." Jody says, "Before it was about wins and putting up big numbers, now it's about making a great living and being able to provide for my family down the road." "I had the one year where I broke the wins records in Canada. I drove right until the end of the year and then I quit for a month and just relaxed, it gets really stressful.... I had that one (great) year and I thought I want to treat myself a little bit." Jody adds, "I want to be the top guy and make enough money to enjoy life." Jody also missed some time away from the track to attend the O'Brien awards and Jody flew to Finland to be the ambassador of Canadian harness racing. To add to Jody's time away was the volcano eruption in Finland where the dust had to settle before Jody could fly back home. So at what point did Jody change his outlook? Or at what point did a light go off where Jody realized it was more than just about him? "When you're in it, running from track to track winning races and having some success, you don't think of anything until you're laying on a beach in Mexico... you don't think of it until then." Jody points out. Throughout his career, Jody has grown close to many people who have supported him and who always believe in his talents. "Mark MacDonald and I used to be thick as thieves and as best friends off the track and fierce enemies on the track." Jody continues, "We'd do anything to beat each other and Mark moved away and we haven't kept in touch as much, but definitely Mark was a huge influence in my career. He helped me learn my craft and have a better mindset on the race track for sure." Jody loves what the new Meadowlands racetrack is doing, "they're doing incredible work" he says and at one point in Jody's career, the idea to go to the big M did cross his mind, but home is where the heart is. "I'm from Moffat, Ontario, Canada and this is where my family is and this is where my family's family is. This is where I'll be unless something worse happens like what is happening with this Liberal government." "In 2011 the Standardbred industry received $176 million dollars to operate harness racing in Ontario. In 2014 harness racing will be lucky to have $70-$80 million." Jody points out. The money the racing industry received is from an agreement between the racetracks and the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation, (OLG) which is a Government entity, based on revenues brought in from the creation of the SLOTS programs at each racetrack. With the racetracks already established, the OLG agreed to give a percentage of all revenue to the racetracks so the OLG could put in slot machines and the money given to the tracks would go towards purse money to create a higher level of competition within the province. Anthony Macdonald, who is a horseman, is running as a PC provincial candidate hoping if an election takes place, the standardbred industry will have a stronger voice at Queen's Park, (the provincial legislator). Jody is a strong advocate and supporter of Anthony and his efforts to bring more awareness to the standardbred community and Jody is willing to help anywhere he can. "Anyone who knows Anthony, you can't tune him out and I am going to campaign hard to help get him elected." Jody states. "We have 3 or 4 candidates who are pro harness racing on the Conservative side." Jody feels strongly that the Liberal government has messed up several industries outside of harness racing, such as the gas industry, the powers sector and even the teachers union. "Horses don't speak" says Jody, "they are nice to look at and people love them but they don't speak. We need to do a better job speaking for them.... The OLG's revenue was around a billion dollars and we were only getting around 20 percent, maybe less. Now the OLG is taking in the full 100 percent in revenue. We are in trouble and this money, (the $500 million/5 year proposal from the Liberals), it has kept racing open but we are on a life line and we are bleeding badly." Away from the politics and the tracks, Jody is the type of guy who likes to help others where and when he can. Jody would love to help the Toronto Maple Leafs, maybe try and get them a Stanley Cup sometime soon! "I'm so aggravated with this season, I like Randy Carlyle. He's a horse guy who started in the horse racing business before he was drafted." As you can tell, Jody is a massive hockey fan and aside from the Leafs, his favorite team is the Jamieson Jets, an adult men's hockey team. One thing to point out is Jody's son Jett was not named after the hockey team, even though some people make that connection. However if the dad who named the son said it wasn't, there's nothing to discuss. If Jody had a man cave, it would be filled with Toronto Maple Leaf paraphernalia and his entire top win photos including the North America Cup pictures, the Battle of Waterloo and Breeders Crown pictures. To date, the second heat of the 2007 Little Brown Jug is Jody's most memorable race. In that race he was driving great horse Tell All. "I could remember my heart beating the whole time."Jody says. "The half was in 56.1... I kicked the ear plugs on him around the last turn and he dug in, but he really didn't dig in like I thought. Brian Sears slipped off of David Miller's back going three wide in the stretch and I didn't know half way down the stretch if I could hang on. So I hit the wire not knowing if you have a clear cut win. It was the best ever (feeling)... I'll never forget him." "I would love to win the Hambletonian. I've been fortunate to win big races and I'd love to win them all again. Just because I won them, doesn't mean they're off my bucket list." Jody adds, "It would mean a lot to me to win any of those races again, they're special, special races." Jody enjoys interacting with fans. "I love meeting fans...they message me of Facebook and Twitter. I think its wild and I thrive on it, I love meeting with the fans and doing whatever I can to meet fans." Jody says. A few summers ago, Woodbine asked Jody to go to a Jack Astor's opening in Toronto as the restaurant was doing simulcasting. "I went in my driver suit, not a soul knew who I was, not a soul and I had my suit on and they knew what I did at the end of the day they loved it. I loved it and meeting people who want to get to know me. Like I said, horses can't talk but I can and I want this industry I love to survive and prosper." By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2014 inductees. A total of 14 horses and people have been elected to the Hall of Fame.   Wando and Horatio Luro are among the three horses and four people representing Thoroughbreds. Rocknroll Hanover and Wally Hennessey are included on the list of three horses and four people representing Standardbreds. The Thoroughbred Inductees are: Male Horse Category:  Wando - bred and owned by Gustav Schickedanz, Schomberg, Ontario Female Horse Category:  Apelia - bred and owned by Steve Stavros, Knob Hill Stables, Newmarket, Ontario Veteran Horse Category:  Cool Mood – owned by David Wilmot, Kinghaven Farms, King City, Ontario           Veteran People Category:  Horatio Luro – Argentine-born trainer of Northern Dancer           Jockey Category:  Robert Landry - Toronto, Ontario           Builder Category:  William (Bill) Graham - owner of Windhaven Farms, Caledon, Ontario and Lexington, Kentucky           Builder Category:  Arthur Stollery, owner Angus Glen Farms, Unionville, Ontario The    Standardbred Inductees are: Male Horse Category:  Rocknroll Hanover – bred by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc, Hanover, Pennsylvania. Owned by Jeffrey Snyder of New York, New York; Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, Cheltenham, Ontario; and Perretti Racing Stable, LLC, Cream Ridge, New Jersey.            Female Horse Category:  Dreamfair Eternal – bred by Mary and John Lamers, and owned by John Lamers,                 I ngesoll,      Ontario Veteran Horse Category:  Albatross – bred by John E Wilcutts, Aberdeen, North Carolina; Charles A Kenney, Lexington, Kentucky; Elizabeth B Peters, Wilmington Delaware; and Mark Lydon, Abington, Massachusetts.  Owned by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc. Hanover, Pennsylvania; George Segal, Versailles; Castleton Farm, Lexington, Kentucky; Hal S Jones, Montgomery, New York           Trainer/Driver Category: Wally Hennessey, Coconut Creek, Florida           Builder Category: Dr. Ted Clarke, Elmira, Ontario           Builder Category:  Robert Murphy, Vancouver, British Columbia           Communicator Category:   Bill Galvin, Mississauga, Ontario    T        The seven Thoroughbred representatives in the 2014 class include: Wando, one of only seven horses to ever win the Canadian Triple Crown was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2003 for breeder owner Gustav Schickedanz, an honoured member of the CHRHF.  Trained by Mike Keogh, with Patrick Husbands as his primary jockey, the Langfuhr son retired from racing with 11 wins, eight of them in stakes, in 23 starts and earnings of $2.5 million.  He began his career as a stallion in 2006, first in Kentucky before returning to his birthplace in 2011. Wando’s progeny have earnings in excess of $5.2 million and include Grade 1 winner Turallure.   Apelia, a very fast filly owned and bred by Steve Stavro's Knob Hill Stable, was named Canada's Sovereign Award champion sprinter in 1993.  Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Phil England, she won half of her 24 career starts and was a stakes winner at the highest level for three consecutive years.   A winner in New York, Kentucky, New Jersey, as well as Ontario, Apelia was ridden by Hall of Fame jockeys Larry Attard and Don Seymour in all her races except one.  Apelia is the dam of champion mare Saoirse. Cool Mood, herself a daughter of Northern Dancer, won the 1969 Canadian Oaks for Hall of Fame Builder D.G. Willmot, and went on to become one of Canada's most influential broodmares. In fact, she produced two fillies who in turn, would both produce Canadian Triple Crown winners. Her daughter Shy Spirit was the dam of Izvestia, and daughter Passing Mood was the dam of With Approval. The latter is an equine member of the Hall of Fame along with his half-brother, Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. Argentine-born trainer Horatio Luro, nicknamed “El Gran Senor” was hired as a trainer by E.P. Taylor and was best known in Canada for training Northern Dancer in 1964, 50 years ago.  During his career, Luro trained 43 Stakes winners including three Queen’s Plate winners. Named Canada’s outstanding jockey in 1993 and 1994, Robert Landry’s stats over a 29 year riding career include 17,656 mounts with purse earnings of $69.7 million and over 2,000 wins.  Of note was his 1999 Atto Mile win on Quiet Resolve, as well as the 2004 Queen’s Plate aboard Niigon.  He rode five consecutive Canadian Champion two-year-old fillies from 1996-2000.   The 2003 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award winner for lifetime achievement as a jockey, Landry has also made significant contributions to the promotion of racing, including participating as a board member for LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.  W. (Bill) D. Graham has been an integral participant in the horse racing industry for almost half a century as an outstanding breeder, owner and racing executive.  He is the owner of Windhaven Farms which operates in both Caledon, ON and Lexington, KY, and has bred many Sovereign Award-winning horses throughout his career including the 2012 Canadian Horse of the Year Uncaptured.  Graham also bred U.S. Grade I winner Joyful Victory who was victorious in the 2013 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita.  Arthur W. Stollery was the owner and breeder of two of Canada’s most celebrated racing stars, both CHRHF inductees:   Kennedy Road, named after the location of his Unionville based Angus Glen Farms, dominated Canadian racing for three years.  He was named Champion 2-year-old in 1970 and again Champion as a 3 year-old the following year; 1971. This was followed by more accolades including Canadian Horse of the Year in 1973.  Kennedy Road was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 and has a stakes race, which is contested annually at Woodbine, named after him.  Laurie's Dancer, named after Stollery’s daughter, was an outstanding racing daughter of Northern Dancer. She captured the Canadian Oaks in 1971 on her way to being named Canada's Horse of the Year. During that season, she was also victorious in the very prestigious Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.  Laurie's Dancer was enshrined in to the Hall of Fame in 2006.            Standardbred inductees include: Rocknroll Hanover banked more than $3 million during his racing career, for owners Jeffrey Snyder of New York, New York; Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, Cheltenham, Ontario; and Perretti Racing Stable, LLC, Cream Ridge, New Jersey.   Career highlights included victories in Canada’s most prestigious races for two and three year olds, the Metro Pace for two-year-old pacers and the North America Cup for three-year-olds  He then embarked on a second career, becoming one of North America’s most prolific stallions before passing away in 2013.  To date the son of Western Ideal, out of Hall of Fame mare Rich N Elegant,  has sired winners of $60.7 million including eight million-dollar-plus winners.  Dreamfair Eternal retired from racing in 2012 after a seven year career that included 56 victories, and every major stake event on the older pacing mare schedule, earnings of over $2.5 million and Horse of the Year honours in Canada in 2010.  During that year she racked up wins in the final of the Masters Series, an elimination of the Roses are Red Stakes, elimination and final of the Milton Stakes, the elimination and final of the Forest City Pace and the Breeders Crown.  The daughter of Camluck was bred by John and Mary Lamers and owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ontario, while Patrick Fletcher trained her for most of her career.    Wally Hennessey, born in Prince Edward Island and now a resident of Coconut Grove, Florida, has more than 8,500 victories to his credit and has banked earnings in excess of $57 million.  During the early stages of his career, Hennessey re-wrote the record books setting new standards in both wins and earnings.  In the late 1990s, he enjoyed success with the trotter Moni Maker, a winner of $5.5 million and numerous stakes including the Nat Ray in three different years, the Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown.   Throughout his career, Hennessey has been remarkably consistent, winning at least 200 races in each of the last 25 years, and driving horses to earnings in excess of $1 million for 24 straight years.  In the summer of 2007, Hennessey was inducted into the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. Dr. Ted Clarke is recognized by his peers as a visionary in the horse racing industry.  Clarke’s strong and steady leadership has helped guide Grand River Raceway to be a leader in innovation and growth.  Prior to Grand River’s opening, Clarke led numerous initiatives to put Elmira Raceway on the path to stability, including the inauguration of Industry Day, the Battle of Waterloo and the establishment of the Ontario Teletheatre Network.  He was honoured for his innovative thinking and leadership with the Lloyd Chisholm Achievement Award in 1999 from the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association. The late Robert Murphy, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, was one of Canada’s most respected horse breeders and owners, and was known by his popular Red Star moniker.  First introduced to racing at Cloverdale Raceway in 1980, he rapidly became one of Canada’s most prolific owners.   He averaged 935 starts as an owner each year between 2005 and 2009.  In 2007, at the age of 74, Murphy owned more Standardbreds than anyone else in Canada.  Mr. Murphy had a great impact on harness racing in BC with both his breeding and training centres, but that impact extended across the continent as his horses raced all over North America. A champion on the track and in the breeding shed, Albatross was a major influence on the Standardbred breed.  He won 59 of 71 starts, including the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes in 1971, and earned in excess of $1.2 million.  Two of his major stakes wins in Canada included the Prix d’Ete and Canadian Pacing Derby.  He retired as both the fastest and richest horse in the history of the breed.  As a sire, Albatross's thousands of sons and daughters have won more than $100 million, including Niatross who is considered by many to be the greatest pacer of the 20th Century, and Fan Hanover who is the only filly to ever win the Little Brown Jug. William (Bill) Galvin, a native of Arnprior, Ontario, and now a resident of Mississauga, Ontario,  made a tremendous impact on horse racing in the country as a Canadian horse racing historian, poet, author, publisher, educator, horseman, humanitarian, publicist and former Thoroughbred racing official.  Galvin’s promotions transcended racing.  He led a charge to bring ice horse racing to the Rideau Canal and expose the sport to thousands of potential fans.  He started the Race for MS fundraiser to gain exposure for the sport, and ran numerous other high profile campaigns dedicated to the well-being of horse racing during his career.   He was also the executive editor of TROT Magazine and a member of the Advisory board for the School of Equine Studies at Toronto’s Humber College of Applied Arts.            The Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Wednesday, August 6, 2014             From the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Last year's O'Brien Award winning two-year-old colt pacer Arthur Blue Chip has been sidelined and will miss the 2014 Pepsi North America Cup. In a conversation with Trot Insider on Monday, the colt's trainer and co-owner Dr. Ian Moore reported from Florida that the son of Shadow Play suffered an unspecified stall injury a few weeks back, and that injury will keep Arthur Blue Chip off the track for an undetermined amount of time. "He incurred a stall injury and he's off the track for a little while right now. The prognosis is pretty good for full recovery." To read the rest of the story click here.

The more and more I have the opportunity to speak with people within the harness racing industry, the more and more my view on humanity changes for the good. For all the negatives in the world that grab the headlines, a shadow is cast on what should be the brightest of headlines, which is the horsemen and women that form harness racing. Despite the uncertain future of horse racing in Ontario, many within the industry remain positive and hope for the best. The best being the Ontario Government will come to terms with the racetracks to ensure further growth, such as we see south of the border in states like New York and Ohio. Having to deal with these issues over the years is one of Canada's top harness racing drivers, Sylvain Filion. "In 1999 I came here to Ontario and after three years I went back to Quebec. I was there for five years and then came back here." Sylvain explains. Making a big move from his native hometown in Quebec, Sylvain Filion made the move to Ontario as racing in Quebec declined and became virtually nonexistent. "They quit racing in Montreal" says Sylvain. "The racing was very good there, but when they quit racing I came to Ontario." "It sounds kind of like what is happening here" Sylvain notes. "They had money from the slots and then the Government took the money away and that is what killed harness racing. So hopefully that won't happen here." It must be deja vu for Sylvain. There is one positive rumor circulating that the government may have a plan to help the horse racing industry. There is word that negotiations are under way that will ensure the success of harness racing for the next five years, if not longer. Speaking with Sylvain, he's currently feeding his adopted daughter, Stella-Rose and little Stella-Rose will be turning one in a few days. Sylvain and his wife Dominic adopted Stella-Rose eight months ago and they could not be happier. The cheerfulness is Sylvain's voice radiates of pride and joy all due to the new edition to the Filion family. Will Sylvain and Dominic adopt another baby so Stella-Rose may have a brother or sister? Sylvain says possibly but it's too soon to say for sure. "It's about time I became something" Sylvain says with a laugh. "Right now it's my greatest achievement. My wife and I couldn't have a baby and we have wanted a baby for over twenty years so we adopted and it has worked out. We are very very happy!!" Sylvain comes from a family with deep roots in the horse racing world. "I was born with horses all around me. My father still has that farm in Quebec and my grandfather had 5 or 6 horse as well. That's how my father and uncles got started." Sylvain says. Sylvain's father, Yves won the North America Cup and the Prix d'Ete with Runnymede Lobell in 1988. One is of his uncles, Herve, is the world renowned Hall of Fame horsemen. "There's still a lot I want to do, there's big races I'd like to win, like the North America Cup, (which takes place at Mohawk racetrack). I came second once and my father won it. The Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug are ones I would like to win." "At the start of each year, we cross our fingers and hope a horse comes through that can have us do great things." Sylvain says about any potential break out horses. Sylvain does not train any horses, as he puts it, he is 100% focused on driving. If he had to pick one of his favorite horses out of all he's driven, he feels Breeders Crown winner Goliath Bayama is the favorite. As for Sylvain preference for track type and style, he says he enjoys the one mile tracks like the Meadowlands compared to the 7/8th mile tracks. Yes, that one eight makes a difference. "When you're on the 7/8th, you have the whole stretch to get into position and at the mile tracks, when you leave the gate you have an eighth of a mile until you hit the first turn" is how Sylvain describes the flow. "If you decide to leave hard, you might have a long drive going into the first turn." Meaning you're stuck on the outside leading to a longer trip for the horse and burning unnecessary horse power. During the warm months, Sylvain loves to play golf and is an avid fan of the sport. The one golfer he admires most is 'The Lefty', Phil Mickelson. "I like his aggressive style, every time he goes for broke when he plays." Sylvain says. When the weather turns cold, Sylvain and his wife Dominic usually head south for a vacation getaway. This year was a tad different as the happy parents were basking in the warmth of their new bundle of joy, Stella-Rose. Happy Birthday Stella-Rose! When Sylvain decides to hang it up and call it a great career, what he hopes to do with his family is travel. "I like Costa Rica, the wildlife there is pretty amazing. I'd like to go to Europe. I was there once to train a horse and that was at 9/11." Sylvain went to France to work with and train a horse he was set to drive in a big trotting race in Montreal, the Trot Montreal. "They invited horses from all over the world to race in Montreal." Sylvain explains. "I was a little anxious to come back because I was stuck there for an extra five days." Sylvain was telling me about how much fun the drivers have amongst themselves. Once they're in the bike and on the track, it's strictly business and game on, "Here at Woodbine we take our jobs very seriously. Once we are out there on the track we are all professionals and may the best horse win." However between drives and/or races, the horsemen really know how to keep the atmosphere light. "There are jokes amongst the drivers" Sylvain says. "We spend so much time together. Especially in the summer when we are driving five or six nights a week, we get to the Paddock for 6:30pm and we are there until 11:30pm. So we have to find a way to have a bit of fun and enjoy ourselves." Some examples of jokes played on one another; a driver, who has a couple of races off, may grab a pair of gloves from another driver and tie knots in the fingers of those gloves. So when the owner of those gloves grabs them to head out, that driver has to go out without any gloves on or has to rush and get a pair from a trainer. For fun, sometimes baby powder is put into the helmet of an unsuspecting driver. As you may guess, when the helmet goes on, that drivers' entire head and face is covered. Another prank is putting shoe polish around the goggles of another driver where that said driver is left with rings of polish around his eyes for the rest of the night. They must be tearing up with laughter at times! Sylvain admits, one prank that happened to him is when someone tied his shoe laces "into 2000 knots so I had to cut out all the laces before I left to go home after the races." Priceless! Sometimes they tease one another, "You have to be able to laugh at yourself" says Sylvain. "You have to remain humble. When a guy is parked out the whole mile and he comes in last, he's asked if 'he's caught a cold out there?'...we are a tough group, but a fun group." By Roderick Balgobin, for Supernova Sports Club www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova        

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, March 27, 2014 - Excitement is the air as 28 nominations from the top four-year-old pacers in North America were received for the September 21st harness celebration at Hippodrome 3R for the renewal of the Prix d'Ete. The race will be the richest purse for four-year-old pacers in 2014 at $200,000. In fact nine of the top ten three-year-old money winning colts and geldings of 2013 were nominated. The field is led by Vegas Vacation, trained by Casie Coleman and a winner of over $975,000 in 2013 with a record of 10-4-1 in 20 starts, which saw the winner of the 2013 Little Brown Jug take the prestigious O'Brien Award for three-year-old pacing colts & geldings. His impressive stablemate Lucan Hanover is also nominated. Sunshine Beach, trained by Mark Steacy, is the fastest of the nominees in the inaugural renewal of the Prix d'Été by virtue of his world record mile of 1:47.4f taken in winning the Battle of Brandywine in 2013. In that race he defeated the 2012-2013 Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous in arguably one of the best races of the year. Sunfire Blue Chip, winner of the Adios and Hempt stakes, and trained by Jimmy Takter is an accomplished potential contender. Twilight Bonfire, second in last year's North America Cup, behind Captaintreacherous, Fool Me Once and Rockin Amadeus are additional top caliber nominees. Apprentice Hanover, a winner of nine straight races, including the Cleveland Classic, until finishing third to Foiled Again in Saturday's first leg of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway could be a serious contender. Nominated, from the powerful Ron Burke Stable, is Dedi's Dragon, who defeated Captaintreacherous, in winning the Monument Circle last season. Quebec fans will be cheering potentially for Hippodrome track record holder (1.52.4h) and champion Ontario 3YO pacing colt, Duc D'Orleans, as well as Captive Audience and Normandy Invasion. Nominees are required to make a sustaining payment of $1,000 by April 15th to maintain their eligibility. This group, with 16 nominees holding sub 1:50 records, has the potential of offering Quebec harness fans the best and most competitive fields of world class pacers seen in the La Belle Province since the last Prix d'Été in 1992. Stay tuned! From the Quebec Jockey Club  

TORONTO, March 27 - An elite group of 70 horses remain eligible to the 31st edition of the Pepsi North America Cup, one of harness racing's most prestigious events and Canada's richest harness race with a $1 million final. The one mile pace for three-year-olds at Mohawk Racetrack, is scheduled for Saturday, June 14. Headlining this year's group of nominees is the Dan Patch Award winner and undefeated He's Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary. The son of American Ideal boasts a 1:50 speed badge along with $291,722 in earnings. O'Brien Award winner Arthur Blue Chip, who banked $400,120 last season, also remains a top contender for this year's prize. The son of first-crop sire Shadow Play amassed a 6-2-1 record from 11 starts last season. He capped off his year as the richest two-year-old colt pacer. Luck Be Withyou, the 2013 Breeders Crown champion, is also on the list and one of the early favourites for the race. National Debt, who remains undefeated in his career after capturing the Buddy Gilmour Memorial at The Meadowlands, is also on the list of nominees. The Pepsi North America Cup eliminations are set for Saturday, June 7. Sustaining payments will be due on April 15 and May 15. The list of nominees follows: AGADIR HANOVER ALWAYS B MIKI ARI ALLSTAR ARTHUR BLUE CHIP AVALANCHE HANOVER BEAT THE DRUM BONDI HANOVER BOOMBOOM BALLYKEEL BRODYS SCRAPPER BUGGER BRUISER CABANA BOY HANOVER CAPITAL ACCOUNT CARRACCI HANOVER CRAFTY MASTER DANCIN HILL DOO WOP HANOVER EWALD HANOVER FOR A BETTOR TIME FORT KNOX GOLD ROCKS HERE COMES WILLIAM HE'S WATCHING IDEAL COWBOY IDEAL MAGIC IDEAL SHADOW IDEALBEACH HANOVER IM DRINKIN DOUBLES JACK ATTACK JET AIRWAY JIGGLE IT JK ENDOFANERA JOURNEYMAN LETS DRINK ON IT LIMELIGHT BEACH LUCK BE WITHYOU LUCKY KING LYONSSOMEWHERE MAJOR DEAGAN MAJOR TRICK MCWICKED MELMERBY BEACH MOLIERE HANOVER NAKED CITY NATIONAL DEBT ODDS ON RHODONITE ON GOLDEN Ponder P L HELLCAT PARNU HANOVER PLAY IT AGAIN SAM SILVERHILL SHADOW SMACK TALK SOME MAJOR BEACH SOMESTARSOMEWHERE SOMETIMES SAID SOMEWHERE FANCY SURPRISE HANOVER SWEET BEACH SWEET TALKIN CLYDE TELLITLIKEITIS THATS MY OPINION THREE OF CLUBS UNLOCKED WACO BRUISER WEATHER HANOVER WELL WRITTEN WESTERN VINTAGE WHISKEY N PIE WHISTLE JIMMY K WICKED BUSINESS WINDS OF CHANGE Total Horses after the following payments. February 15 - 77 Qualifiers moved to Saturday Due to mild and wet temperatures scheduled for this Friday, Woodbine Racetrack will shift its qualifying sessions to Saturday. Seven qualifying sessions till take place, beginning at 4 p.m. by Greg Gangle, for WEG

Freehold, NJ --- As the 2013 harness racing season came to a close, the then 3-year-old Captaintreacherous headed to the Meadowlands for a race against the sport’s best older male pacers. Although “The Captain” finished sixth in that race -- the $512,000 TVG Free for All Championship won by ageless Foiled Again -- trainer Tony Alagna was happy with what he saw. Now as the 4-year-old Captaintreacherous gets ready to compete regularly in the older division, Alagna remains pleased. Captaintreacherous returned to Alagna’s stable in February after two months of R&R at Brittany Farms in Kentucky and is being pointed toward a June return to action.        "He has matured a lot from the time he was turned out,” Alagna said. “He grew some more, he put on some more muscle tone. When we sent him to Brittany he was still in very good condition, flesh-wise and weight-wise, for as hard as he raced. When he came back in, he just put on more bulk. He looked tremendous when he came in. “Right now we’re shooting to qualify sometime at the end of May or the first part of June. We’ll set up his schedule after we qualify, but we’ll probably aim for the Meadowlands Maturity (on June 13). I’m very happy with his progress. You can just see that maturity and how much he’s changed with just 60 days turned out. It’s really amazing. I’m excited, very excited.” Captaintreacherous won 13 of 16 races and $2.05 million last season and received his second consecutive Pacer of the Year Award. His wins included the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Max Hempt Memorial, Cane Pace and American-National Stakes. Trained by Alagna and driven by Tim Tetrick for the Captaintreacherous Racing ownership group, The Captain joined Rocknroll Hanover and Gallo Blue Chip as the only horses to win the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, and Meadowlands Pace in the same season. Captaintreacherous became the first horse to win back-to-back Pacer of the Year honors since Jenna's Beach Boy in 1995-96 and joined Niatross as the only horses to accomplish the feat at ages 2 and 3 since the award was first given in 1970. Pacer Bret Hanover was honored at ages 2, 3 and 4 with the Horse of the Year Award from 1964-66. Undefeated female trotter Bee A Magician received the 2013 Horse of the Year Award over Captaintreacherous and Foiled Again. “Of course you want to be Horse of the Year, but he got Pacer of the Year and I thought he deserved it,” Alagna said. “He put the best resume together for the entire year. No other pacer put together as complete a resume at (age) 2 or at 3 when he won the award. No horse compiled a whole year like he did. “Bee A Magician is a phenomenal filly and it was a great year for racing. I think this past year, when you had Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician and I Luv The Nitelife and Foiled Again and Father Patrick -- there were so many great stories. You can go down the list. It was a great year for harness racing and I was just glad to be part of it. It’s exciting.” Captaintreacherous’ push for Horse of the Year likely would have received a boost with a win in the TVG final, but he finished sixth, beaten by only two lengths. He was trying to become the first prominent 3-year-old male pacer in more than 30 years to defeat older rivals in a stakes-caliber event. “Even though he didn’t win, he was only beaten two lengths for the victory after a hard 3-year-old campaign,” Alagna said. “I was happy to gauge where he fit against that bunch at the end of the year. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy. We had confidence and faith in our horse and hoped he’d win, but we weren’t going to dodge the opportunity to do something that was good for the industry as well. All the positive feedback that we received after the race; (ownership managing partner) Myron Bell can tell you stories about all the people who contacted him and thanked him for putting the horse in that race. That says something.” Captaintreacherous now joins Foiled Again, Golden Receiver and the rest of the sport’s top older pacers in a star-studded division. Foiled Again was Pacer of the Year in 2011 and is the division’s three-time defending champion. With $6.05 million in career purses, the 10-year-old is the richest harness racing horse in North American history. “You have to admire Foiled Again,” Alagna said. “I see him every day out here at the farm. He’s just an amazing athlete. He’s a great horse and he’s fun to watch.” Alagna is ready to join the fun with Captaintreacherous. “I haven’t raced a horse like this, as far as the older division, since Lis Mara,” Alagna said, referring to the sport’s top older male pacer of 2006, who he helped condition while second trainer for the Erv Miller Stable. “I have great memories of racing Lis Mara, going to places and how much the fans appreciate the older division. It’s going to be exciting.” by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2014 ballot. A total of 36 horses and people, including 18 Standardbred racing candidates and 18 Thoroughbred racing candidates have been selected to appear on this year’s ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will declare the winners in their respective categories.  Results will be announced Tuesday, April 8.   On the Standardbred ballots representing this year’s six voting categories are as follows: Male horse category, Blissfull Hall, J M Vangogh and Rocknroll Hanover In 1999, Blissfull Hall captured harness racing’s elusive Pacing Triple Crown.  Owned by Ecuries Daniel Plouffe, Inc. of Bromont, QC, this champion was trained by Ben Wallace with Ron Pierce as regular driver.   A 31 race career over two seasons amassed a record of 19-4-6, a mark of 1:49.2 and earnings of $1.4 million before embarking on a successful career as a stallion. J M Vangogh, purchased as a yearling for $4,500 by Paul Chambers of Harrington, Delaware, made a remarkable recovery from an accident in the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final as a two year old to earn $2.28 million in 206 starts over 8 seasons and the nickname “The Comeback Kid”.  Rocknroll Hanover banked more than $3 million during his race career, for owners Jeffrey Snyder of New York; Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, Cheltenham, ON; and Perretti Racing Stable, LLC.  Career highlights include victories in Canada’s most prestigious races for two and three year olds, the Metro Pace and the North America Cup.  He then embarked on a second career, becoming one of North America’s most prolific stallions before passing away in 2013. Female horse category: B Cor Tamara, Dreamfair Eternal and J Cs Nathalie Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000.  Bred and owned by Peter Core of Dresden, ON, the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and granddam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall.  Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.7 million. Dreamfair Eternal retired from racing in 2012 after a career spanning seven years, 56 victories, including every stake event on the older pacing mare schedule, earning over $2.5 million and being named Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2010.  The daughter of Camluck was bred, raised and owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON with Patrick Fletcher receiving training credit. As a broodmare, J Cs Nathalie has produced two millionaires for owner John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON -- pacing colt Dreamfair Vogel, and pacing mare Dreamfair Eternal.  Dreamfair Vogel was a winner of 19 races and over $1.1 million with a mark of 1:49.3.  Dreamfair Eternal, a winner of 56 races and over $2.5 million in purse earnings was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2010. The trainer-driver category: Yves Filion, William Gale, and Wally Hennessey. Yves Filion, 67 of Saint-Andre-D’argent, Quebec was one of his province’s premier trainer-drivers for close to 30 years driving in almost 18,000 races with 4,362 wins and $26.5 million in earnings.   Training credits include 248 winners and horses earning in excess of $3.4 million.   Pacing colts Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama each became millionaires with Filion responsible for both training and driving. William Gale, 65 of Woodstock, Ontario, was one of Canada’s leading drivers for a period that spanned the 70s, 80s and 90s. Between 1982 and 1997, Gale recorded 16 consecutive $1 million+ seasons.  During his career, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. Wally Hennessey, 56, of Prince Edward Island, has more than 8,200 victories to his name and has banked earnings in excess of $55 million.  In the late 1990s, he enjoyed success with the trotter Moni Maker, a winner of $5.5 million and numerous stakes including the Nat Ray in three different years, the Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown.  In the summer of 2007, Hennessey was inducted into the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. Candidates in the builders’ category: Dr. Ted Clarke, John B. Ferguson and Robert Murphy. Dr. Ted Clarke is recognized by his peers as a visionary in the horse racing industry.  Highly regarded for his thoughtful insights, Clarke’s strong and steady leadership has helped guide Grand River Raceway to be a leader in innovation and growth.  Before Grand River, Clarke led numerous initiatives to put Elmira Raceway on the path to stability, including the inauguration of Industry Day, the Battle of Waterloo and the establishment of the Ontario Teletheatre Network. John B. Ferguson may be best known for his time in the National Hockey League, but his passion for Canadian horse racing was drawn from early years spent with his father and grandfather at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC.  In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson also took a role in track management.  He was hired by Blue Bonnets in Montreal and after leaving hockey became the President of Windsor Raceway.  He was also one of driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The late Robert Murphy, a native of Vancouver, BC, one of Canada’s most respected horse breeders and owners, was known by his popular Red Star moniker.  First introduced to racing at Cloverdale Raceway in 1980, he rapidly became one of Canada’s most prolific owners.   He averaged 935 starts as an owner each year between 2005 and 2009.  In 2007, at the age of 74, Murphy owned more Standardbreds than anyone else in Canada. Outstanding Standardbreds: Albatross, Artsplace, and Happy Lady Albatross was voted US Harness Horse of the Year in 1971 and 1972.  He won 59 of 71 starts, including the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes in 1971, and earned in excess of $1.2 million.  As a sire, Albatross's thousands of sons and daughters have won more than $100 million. Artsplace was the1992 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following an undefeated four-year-old season.  He was a two-year-old world record holder winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida, soundly defeating champion Die Laughing.  He won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million during his racing career which saw him race many times in Canada before becoming a world class sire. Happy Lady, a daughter of Most Happy Fella, raced in 1977 and 1978 for owners Myra Masterson of St. Catharines, ON and Linda Lockey of Ridgeville.  Though her race career was brief, she won $528,825 in purse earnings and attained a mark of 1:55.2.  Trained and driven by the late Jim Rankin, she was almost flawless in her juvenile campaign, winning 15 of 16 races.  As a sophomore she won 19 of 24 starts. Communicators category selections: Harry Eisen, Bill Galvin and Frank Salive. The late Harry Eisen spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario.  As a lifelong journalist, he spent many years exposing the sport to the public, including the majority of his 40 years at the London Free Press.  Eisen who once said he saw his first harness race when he was “three or four years old”, sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a boy.  He was inducted into Western Fair’s Wall of Fame in 1980. As a publicist, promoter and author, Bill Galvin, a native of Arnprior, ON made a tremendous impact on horse racing in Canada. Galvin’s promotions transcended racing.  He led a charge to bring ice horse racing to the Rideau Canal and expose the sport to thousands of potential fans.  He started the Race for MS fundraiser to gain exposure for the sport, and ran numerous other high profile campaigns dedicated to the health of horse racing during his career. Leamington, ON native Frank Salive was known for over 35 years as “The Voice” of Canadian harness racing.  During his career it is estimated he called over 100,000 races, becoming a fan and industry favourite for his knowledgeable and informative calls and silky voice.  Frank’s career as a track announcer began at Sudbury Downs in the late 70’s and continued at tracks throughout Ontario,  includin  fourteen years at Ontario Jockey Club/Woodbine Entertainment Group harness tracks and concluding at Pompano Park, Florida.  Salive was also a regular writer for the Canadian Sportsman for several years. From the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Alberta's Kelly Hoerdt, co-owner and developer of the undefeated top harness racing colt, National Debt, announced tonight that his next race will be in the Diplomat at Woodbine Entertainment & Gaming in Toronto on April 26th.   It was expected that his next race would have been in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono Downs. The first leg of the Diplomat on April 26th goes for $20,000. The second leg on May 3rd goes for $20,000, and the final on May 10th for $50,000. The Diplomat is for three-year-old colts that are non-winners of $100.000 in 2013.   "The schedule was going to be tight," Hoerdt said. "The Bobby Weiss Final was only a week away from the start of the Diplomat. The Diplomat goes for a little bit more money. We were deciding between the Diplomat and The Simpson at the Meadowlands for his next start. He needs to be up there anyway as he has the Somebeachsomewhere and the North America Cup after that at Woodbine.   "We are going to give him  a little time off," Hoerdt explained. "He is going to go in the care of Bob Young in Ontario. He is going to look after him for a month or so. We will qualify him around the 19th of April.   "We were estatic after winning the Buddy Gimour Final the other night," Hoerdt said. "Timmy ( Tetrick ) gave Ron Coyne a great report on the horse after the race.  Ronnie said he was fully recovered when he got back to the winner's circle. Ronnie said he was real happy with the way he came out of the race. Ron Coyne is going to be his trainer for the whole three-year-old campaign."   by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

After earning a diploma in Marketing and Sales from Humber College, Carmen Auciello could have walked through many different doors. Despite the good possibilities, the door closest to his heart was the door that led back home and after spending a short time away in the business world, that is what Carmen did. Carmen has never had to look back and he may not want to. "I was bored with my job and about a year after I finished college, I decided 'if I'm ever going to try this I am going to do so now when I am 21 years old instead of later in life and regretting why I didn't try this sooner'. And it's been great!" Carmen says. "My father and I have been partners and we started at the bottom and worked our way to a bigger and 70 horse stable and now we are one of the top (stables) in Canada." It's a touching thought knowing Carmen could just of easily chosen another career path but he trusted his gut, his intuition and the hard work has paid off for him and his family. Carmen credits his dad for all of his inspiration. "He's been supporting 4 kids and a wife for many years now. He had his ups and downs and there were years we struggled financially. I saw the heart and soul he put into it, year after year after year to try and support myself and my sisters and the family. I felt I owed it to him to get involved and continue the family business. Definitely owe everything to him." "Hard work has a lot to do with (the success) but there is more to it. I think with me, I went and got an education and learned how to run a business. I learned how to sell myself and sell my services and I learned how to deal with owners and clients. Without them, the owners, we are nothing. I can't afford to own all these horses by myself." Carmen continues his beliefs that without his owners providing him quality horses, no matter how good he is, Carmen could only go so far. "Aside from working with the horses, there is a lot more to being successful than just training horses." Carmen explains he's "put more of a business oriented aspect into my job, my career and my business... there is having the right people, you have to have them doing it right and you need to trust them. You need to become affiliated with people who believe in you and want to invest in you. That is what I've worked on the last few years and I am proud of that." Carmen offers wonderful advice for anyone wanting to get into the horse racing industry. Passion is vital, yet more is needed to ensure security let alone success. "I would ask them to what capacity do they want to be involved? There are a lot of people who are happy to jog horses and do the more hands on approach for a living. You're not going to get rich, but you can have a very fulfilling career. Do they want to train? Do they want to drive? Do they want to own their own business and grow it to where they're one of the biggest stables in North America?" "Learning to have an eye for a horse, spotting a good horse when you see one....You got to put the time in and everyone is not cut out for it. There are a lot of people that can train a horse better than me, but they cannot run a business." Carmen emphasizes that working with top quality stables is the best way to learn, whether you want to drive or train. At the end of the day, any chance of success is based on having a plan and knowing how to execute that plan to fruition. With the cuts in racing within Ontario, Carmen still manages to employ ten workers, three in the USA and the rest at his stable in Port Perry, Ontario. Why has Carmen been able to employ close to a dozen employees? "Why? My rates are fairly reasonable, we are a family orientated business but at the same time we are trying to grow it the best we can. I didn't settle, when 25 horses was at my max I didn't say 'I'm full'. If somebody offered me a horse I found a way to accommodate them." "We expanded to the States and we had upwards of 20-25 horses at one time. We are making expansions to our facility here to accommodate ten more horses. When people are willing to invest in you and bring you horses, you have to accommodate them." Carmen also acknowledges the scary part to any business; "There will be times when things aren't as good and you need to be prepared for that as well." Something unique Carmen offers to all of his owners is a flat fee rate, ensuring there is no end of the month surprises baring any extreme circumstances such as veterinary emergencies. "What you see is what you get" explains Carmen. "Not only are my rates very reasonable compared to other guys, it is also flat rate and owners know what their bill is going to be at the end of the month. It's all inclusive." "There are so many costs in training a horse and running a stable" Carmen acknowledges. "Owners think $45 a day? Oh this is cheap. But when trainers need to add in the additional costs for shoeing, vitamins and anything extra that comes up, which always happens, it adds up and then owners think they are getting ripped off. It's all about perception." Carmen emphasizes managing costs and looking for ways to save. Such as buying in bulk does help him keep his prices low. "If I feel the horses don't need it, they don't get it. It is not cutting corners; it is keeping the costs down. If I keep my cost down, then that saves money for the owner and we all have a chance to make money." In terms of which races and where Carmen likes to place his horses, he prefers to stick with Woodbine Racetrack (and Mohawk in the summer months). Whether the horse races for a $4,000 purse or a $16,000 purse, it will eat the same and need the exact amount of care and attention regardless. So for Carmen, he steers clear of the 'B' tracks since it is not as easy to make money. Sure if the horse wins three or four races at a 'B' track, it may cover costs and provide a little profit but in reality it is not feasible for growth in the long term. If owners are not making money, they are most likely to pull out of the game and that is one less horse immediately and that experience may sour the owner for a lifetime ensuring they will not buy anymore horses. Carmen's stable has the most starts at Woodbine this year and his stable has the second most starts in North America. How did he get to this point? "You have to invest money, but you also have to sell yourself and find others to invest. I consider myself a salesman because that is what I am doing, selling my services.... Anybody can do it, I would suggest you put something together where you can claim one horse, race it at Woodbine. Start with one and hopefully have it snowball from there. As for Carmen's stable in the USA, he is based in Pine Bush, NY and mainly has his horses race at Yonkers and the Meadowlands for the time being. Once more racetracks open up in Pennsylvania such as Pocono Downs and Harris Philadelphia; he will expand to racing at all four. Right now his stable in the USA has 15 horses, but Carmen hopes to have that number grow to 25 maybe even 30. For 2014, Carmen considers his best horse to be Bugger Bruiser who he bought for $40,000 last year, and then went on to win all four races after he joined Carmen's barn bringing in over $200,000. "He hasn't raced yet this year but I have him entered into all the big races, the North America Cup, the Meadowlands Pace" confirms Carmen. "He's the nicest horse we've ever had and we are going to give him a shot and hopefully he will dance the big dance with all the other good horses. He's definitely my number one contender this year." Away from the track, Carmen enjoys playing hockey and golf with his buddies, though he admits he doesn't have the time to get out as much as he used to. Carmen has a 3 year old daughter named Leah and a 7 month old son named Hudson. Carmen also gives a lot of credit to his wife Ashley, who he says has been so amazing, supportive and strong. "She's allowed me to chase my dream" Carmen says. "There are a lot of nights where I am out at the track, I'm not at home and she's at home taking care of the house and the kids.... She's been supportive since day one." As Carmen's stable grows and with more owners joining the ranks, one thing Carmen ensures is that he wants his owners to have a say. For instance, for a long while Carmen was loyal to driver Anthony Macdonald and vice versa, and not to say there is no loyalty but Carmen does his best to respect an owner's choice for who is driving their horse. Which is understandable as this is a team endeavor. "90 percent of the time it's up to me, but at times owners may request a driver change". In the midst of all the racing going on, Carmen is currently building his man cave in his basement! At the time of the interview, Carmen was headed out to buy an 80 inch TV for the cave. Yes I said 80 inch TV, well done sir! Aside from the TV, Carmen will add a booming stereo as well has his racing trophies and the blanket from the Super Final last year and a blown up picture of the Super Final Win. Carmen's goal is "to add as many trophies and pictures as I can." At the rate Carmen is going, he may need to expand the man cave shortly, or build a second man cave. Maybe have one in Canada and the other at his stable south of the border. by Roderick Balgobin of Supernova Sports Club www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova  

TORONTO, CA March 5 - An impressive group of 77 sophomore including rookie standouts Hes Watching, Arthur Blue Chip and Luck Be Withyou have been nominated to the 31st edition of the Pepsi North America Cup.   One of harness racing's most prestigious events, the $1 million race is set for Saturday, June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack.   Headlining this year's group of nominees is the Dan Patch Award winner and undefeated Hes Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary.   The son of American Ideal boasts a 1:50 speed badge along with $291,722 in earnings.   Arthur Blue Chip, who banked $400,120 last season along with an O'Brien Award, was the richest rookie-pacing colt of 2013. The son of first-crop sire Shadow Play amassed a 6-2-1 record from 11 starts last season.   Luck Be Withyou, the 2013 Breeders Crown champion, is also on the list and one of the early favourites for the race.   The Pepsi North America Cup eliminations are set for Saturday, June 7. Sustaining payments will be due on March 15, April 15 and May 15.   The complete list of this year's Pepsi NA Cup eligibles are listed below: AGADIR HANOVER ALWAYS B MIKI ARI ALLSTAR ARTHUR BLUE CHIP AVALANCHE HANOVER BEAT THE DRUM BEST OF THE BUNCH BONDI HANOVER BOOM BOOM BALLYKEEL BRODYS SCRAPPER BUGGER BRUISER BUSHWACKER CABANA BOY HANOVER CAPITAL ACCOUNT CARRACCI HANOVER CRAFTY MASTER DANCIN HILL DEVIL'S ARCADE DOO WOP HANOVER EARTHSHAKER EWALD HANOVER FOR A BETTOR TIME FORT KNOX GOLD ROCKS HERE COMES WILLIAM HES WATCHING IDEAL COWBOY IDEAL MAGIC IDEAL SHADOW IDEALBEACH HANOVER IM DRINKIN DOUBLES JACKATTACK JET AIRWAY JK ENDOFANERA JIGGLE IT JOURNEYMAN LET'S DRINK ON IT LIMELIGHT BEACH LUCK BE WITH YOU LUCKY KING LYONS SOMEWHERE MAJOR DEAGAN MAJOR TRICK MARCO DE VIE MCWICKED MELMERBY BEACH MOLIERE HANOVER NAKED CITY NATIONAL DEBT ODDS ON RHODONITE ON GOLDEN Ponder PLAY IT AGAIN SAM P L HELLCAT PARNU HANOVER SHADIOS SILVERHILL SHADOW SMACK TALK SOME MAJOR BEACH SOMESTARSOMEWHERE SOMETIMES SAID SOMEWHERE FANCY SURPRISE HANOVER SWEET BEACH SWEET TALKIN CLYDE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT TELLITLIKEITIS THAT'S MY OPINION THREE OF CLUBS UNLOCKED WACO BRUISER WEATHER HANOVER WELL WRITTEN WESTERN VINTAGE WHISKEY N PIE WHISTLE JIMMY K WICKED BUSINESS WINDS OF CHANGE   by Greg Gangle, for WEG  

TROIS-RIVIERES , February 20, 2014 - Daniel Dube, a native son of Trois-Rivieres and now competing in the New York area as a professional harness racing driver, can't wait to come to his hometown and Hippodrome 3R this summer. "It is a pleasure for me each time I return to the Hippodrome 3R to race," Dube said. "This is where I started my career. I never missed the opportunity to go there when we visit my family and my wife's family. And the revival of Prix d'Ete will surely be another opportunity to return. " In the racing world, Dube needs no introduction In both Canada and the United States, he won multiple championship's and many of the most prestigious races in the sport such as the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug. Last summer, he paid a visit to the Trois-Rivieres racetrack and he won in 1:52.4 with the horse Duc Dorleans , the fastest mile in the history of Hippodrome 3R. "The track at Trois-Rivieres is fast, there is no doubt," Dube said. "It compares favorably with the best tracks in North America. The Prix d'Ete should draw the attention of the best four-year-old pacers in America, because it will be a great event. Several trainers, including the accomplished Ron Burke, who has raced some horses in Charlottetown in the Gold Cup & Saucer, will be interested by a purse of $200,000 in the new Prix d'Dete. If I get an opportunity to have a drive, I will certainly be there. " A reminder that Sunday, September 21, 2014 is a date to put on the agenda for all harness racing fans who want to see the best drivers and the best four-year-old pacers in North America at the Hippodrome 3R. Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the $200,000 Prix D'Ete and the $50,000 consolation race, must be postmarked by Saturday, March 15, 2014. For more information about the race, nomination forms and conditions please go to www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Hippodrome 3R

National Debt has only four lifetime starts, winning all four easily in Alberta Canada. On Saturday the impressive colt will step up in class and face the best early season three-year-old harness racing colts at the Meadowlands in the William Buddy Gilmour Series. In those four lifetime starts, National Debt owns two track records.  National Debt became the fastest two-year-old pacer in Alberta Downs history in just his second start, defeating a field of older horses in 1:53.3. In his fourth lifetime start National Debt equaled the track record for two-year-old colts at Northlands Park, rolling to victory in 1:55. Kelly Hoerdt trained and drove the colt in all of his four starts. Kelly shares ownership of the talented son of Allamerican Native-Our Inheritance with Blair & Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta.  The colt was a $17,000 purchase at last year's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Kelly was named Co-Trainer of the Year at the recently completed Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Awards. Hoerdt, 47, scored 82 training wins during the 2013 racing season and earned $623,245 in purses, $438,100 at Alberta Downs to make him the season's leader.  Also at the awards, National Debt was named Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year. The William Buddy Gilmour Series begins next Saturday at the Meadowlands.The first leg goes for $17,500. The second leg on March 1st goes for $20,000, and the final on March 8th for $75,000.  The series is for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime. "He is a fantastic horse," Hoerdt said. "He is the best horse I ever had. I don't know how he is going to be at the Meadowlands. He has had a couple of good qualifiers. "He was awarded the two-year-old of the year last night," Hoerdt added. "He went 1:53 in just his second lifetime start. We have a shortage of horses in Alberta. They mix the classes. He won his maiden in 1:57. He then went in non-winners of two thru four. It is like jumping up three classes. He did not race against two-year-olds in that race, they were all aged horses. The horse he sailed by in twenty six went on to win the Western Canada Pacing Derby. In all his starts he had a plenty of horse left at the end. This is why he is at the Meadowlands. "I haven't seen the two qualifiers but I got feedback from Tim Tetrick," Hoerdt explained. "Tim said the horse has tons of talent, but is very green. Every time he took the horse off the helmet he couldn't wait to get by that horse. That's the sign of a great horse. He goes by them, but doesn't want to open up on them. He liked him. Another good thing is that Tim had his choice to drive two other horses in that race and picked us. I am hoping Tim drives him in the Gilmour. "We have had a problem getting him ready for the series," Hoerdt said. "We gave him time off after his fourth start. I should have trained him down to two minutes in Alberta. With the bad weather we were only able to train him down to 2:03 before I sent him to Ronnie Coyne. The plan was to have one start in him, but Ronnie was getting dumped on with the snow. The Gilmour is just a launching pad. They are not going to get the guts ripped right out of him in his first start. Last year the divisions went in 1:52 and 1:53. He is coming off the qualifier in 1:56.  The time doesn't mean as much as the way he did it. I know that sitting behind him, 1:51 or 1:52 is not out of his reach. He may be a little short in his first race. Everybody else is going to be in same boat with the bad weather and cancellations" There are fifty one horses eligible for the William Buddy Gilmour. The notables include Capital Account, Dinner At The Met, Pierce, and Fire In The Belly among others. Capital Account trained by Jimmy Takter won in 1:52.4 by five lengths on February 8th at the Meadowlands. Dinner At The Met trained by Erv Miller won in 154.3 on February 15th at the Meadowlands. Pierce, although he broke stride the other night at the Meadowlands, has a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 at the Red Mile in a qualifying race. Fire In the Belly, trained by Jim King Jr., won easily at Dover Downs in 1:54.2 on February 16th. "We have made a lot of stake payments for him." Hoerdt said. "We jumped in with both feet. He's paid up for the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace and Messenger. He is out there for sale. We don't have a for sale sign on him. Those payments have to be made if you plan to get any money for the horse. "I sent the horse to Ron Coyne in New Jersey." Hoerdt added. "My partner Blair Corbeil has a horse with Ron already. I met Ron a couple of years ago at Harrisburg. He has a smaller operation with his wife. All the horses get individual attention, as opposed to a big barn. We are on the same page as far as training the horse." "We are waiting to see if he can do it against the competition at the Meadowlands," Coyne stated. "I am pretty confident he can go in 1:51. Can he do it this week, probably not. It would have been nice if we had a start along with the two qualifiers.  We have been fighting the weather for a couple of months now. They were fighting the weather up in Alberta when he first started training. We got the two qualifiers in. I was happy with both qualifiers. The first qualifier he was in need of a soft journey. We covered him up and let him sprint the last hundred yards. The other day we raced him a little bit more. We were hoping for a sharper qualifier, around 1:55. The pace up front did not dictate that. He finished it off coming home in twenty seven and change. "Timmy(Tetrick) liked him quite a bit," Coyne said. "He said he has got some talent. Everybody is down on the fence. Can he make the next jump? I expect Tim will drive the horse on Saturday. I don't see any better horses that he could drive. I am hoping he will stick with him. “We wanted to stay away from any 1/2 mile tracks early," Coyne explained. "They have put him in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono next. That will stretch his legs a little more. Hopefully that will set him up for the rest of the season’s stakes races." If all goes well, starting with Saturday's Buddy Gilmour Series, Kelly Hoerdt and his team will have a successful three-year-old stake season with National Debt. They will have defied the odds of racing a horse from Alberta, Canada and being successful in the highly competitive racing of the big tracks in the Northeast. By Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

February 18 - Jody Jamieson, a two-time winner of the Pepsi North America Cup - Canada's richest harness race, will be the guest on Woodbine Racing Live's pre-game show this Saturday, February 22, beginning at 6:45 p.m. The 37-year-old is also a three-time O'Brien Award winner as Canada's top driver. Jamieson has banked over $103 million in career earnings along with 6,770 victories. He also captured the World Driving Championship in 2001 in Finland and Sweden along with a 2011 victory in the U.S. The veteran reinsman will join WEG's Greg Gangle and offer his thoughts on the entire program and much more. First race post time is slated for 7:25 p.m. by Greg Gangle for WEG  

TORONTO, February 14 - Nominations for Woodbine Entertainment Group's major stakes events, including the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup and the $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic, close Tuesday, February 18. Woodbine Racetrack will once again proudly host the 'Fall Four' stakes for two-year-olds in 2014, which includes the Goldsmith Maid and Three Diamonds for fillies and the Governor's Cup and Valley Victory for open competitors. Nominations for these rich events are acquired by February 18. Also, sustaining payments are due for the 2014 Simcoe, Simcoe Filly and SBOA stakes events for three-year-olds. Woodbine Entertainment Group will also handle the nomination process for the 17th annual Battle Of Waterloo and sixth annual Battle Of The Belles at Grand River Raceway. Their marquee event will be raced during the track's annual Industry Day Celebration, on Monday, August 4 with a 1:30 p.m. post time. Nominations can be made online through the following link: https://www.woodbineentertainment.com/Woodbine/Horsepeople/Standardbred/SBNominationForm.aspx For more detailed information on all events that close February 18, please click the link below: http://www.woodbineentertainment.com/Woodbine/Horsepeople/Standardbred/Pages/StakesNominations.aspx If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than the said due date or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended.   by Greg Gangle, for WEG  

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