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There are some important changes in the 2015 harness racing stakes schedule, as racetracks embrace the mega program model and move away from carding isolated stakes races. Perhaps the most significant change is the return, after a one-year hiatus, of what came to be known as “Super Sunday” when it was held at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The Battle Of Brandywine, Colonial Trot, and the Valley Forge for sophomore pacing fillies, which were an essential mid-August component of the calendar, return to Pocono Downs on Saturday, August 22. Last year Northfield took advantage of the gap created by their absence by carding the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial on the same weekend. The race was a big success as All Bets Off beat Luck Be Withyou and McWicked. It will be great to have the Battle, which has been a fixture since 1960 and the Colonial, since 1968, back in play. And the Milstein will be held a week earlier than last year, on Friday, August 14. The Dan Patch, which sees a $50,000 bump to $300,000, and will be raced as an early closer, will also be raced on August 14. The Whata Baron and Artistic Vision, both for three and up pacers, will be carded at the Meadowlands on May 2, two weeks later than last year. That same day the Lady Suffolk, which has been raced on Fridays, joins the Dexter Cup on Freehold’s Saturday card. And the following day, Sunday, May 3, the Miami Valley Distaff Trot and Pace will be raced. Last year Shebestingin won the pace, named for Sam ‘Chip’ Noble, while Maven won the trot—both in track record time. The purse for each has been doubled to $100,000 this year. The first TVG pacing series leg has been dropped back a week to Saturday, May 7. Last year it was a stand-alone race, but in 2015 it will be paired with the Cutler, which serves as the first TVG trotting leg.  The Graduate series for four-year-old trotters and pacers will kick off at Tioga Downs on Memorial Day with a $50,000 leg for each gait. Subsequently four legs, carrying $75,000 and $100,000 purses, will be raced at the Meadowlands in June. Actually, even before Memorial Day, the latter group will be able to get going on May 17, when Flamboro offers the reconstituted Confederation Cup for four-year-old pacers. That one carries $200,000 in purse money. So, when you add in the $250,000 Graduate finals on July 3 and July 11, plus the $200,000 Prix d’Ete for four-year-old pacers on August 23, there will be plenty of opportunities for those crossing the bridge to the aged class. On Sunday, May 24, Harrah’s Philadelphia is offering the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Open pace, named for Howard Taylor’s father. Harrah’s will also card the Maxie Lee and Betsy Ross that day. The SBSW and North America Cup will both be a week later in 2015. The former will offer richer splits as the purse has jumped $75,000 to $225,000. Last year David Menary had to decide whether to start He’s Watching in the SBSW or the Rooney, as they were on the same day. This year the Rooney, and companion Lismore, will be raced a week before the SBSW. Last year WEG shuffled their stakes lineup so as to add strength to Cup night; finals for the Roses Are Red, Armbro Flight and Fan Hanover were all held that day. This year the finals for those three have been moved to the following week, June 20, and the eliminations for those stakes will be relied on to make the Cup program compelling. The Mohawk Gold Cup, in which upset winner Evenin Of Pleasure paid $164.30 last year, will also be raced on June 20. The Battle Of Lake Erie has been dropped back five weeks to June 12. That’s the day before the elimination round for the NA Cup. Last year the Battle was sandwiched between the Haughton and the USPC. This year two legs of the Graduate series bookend it. The Roll With Joe has leaped ahead almost two months to Sunday August 23—the same day as the Prix d’Ete. The purse lost $25,000 during the move; the Joe now goes for $175,000. Eliminations for the Canadian Pacing Derby are six days later. The $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity moves ahead two weeks on the schedule in 2015. Last year it was by itself, but in 2015 it joins the Stanley Dancer, Del Miller and Miss Versatility on July 18. The Hambletonian falls one week later this year, on August 8. The Oaks, Peter Haughton, Merrie Annabelle and Cashman are back, but instead of the Ima Lula for four-year-old trotting mares, the inaugural $200,000 Fresh Yankee for three and up mares joins the ticket. Opportunities for this class are scarce, so this is a plus move on the part of the Meadowlands. The Ima Lula will be raced on the previous Saturday. And the Cane Pace, which has been raced at Tioga the last three years, will be moved back two weeks and slotted into the Hambletonian Day program. The Yonkers Trot was pushed ahead three months to October 25 last year, but in 2015 the Yonkers Trot and the Messenger head back to Saturday, September 5. The Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot will now be raced the previous week. Last year the Messenger and Yonkers Trot butted heads with the Fall Four at Woodbine; this year they take on the Canadian Pacing Derby, Metro, She’s A Great Lady and Simcoe. The Maple Leaf Trot, in which Intimidate upset Sebastian K, jumps ahead almost two months to September 19, where it joins the Canadian Trotting Classic, Elegantimage, Wellwood and Peaceful Way. This sets up a situation where the Chip Noble Memorial Trot at Scioto Downs, the Maple Leaf, the Centaur at Hoosier Park and the Dayton Trotting Derby will be raced on successive weeks. The latter, like the Distaff stakes at Miami Valley, benefits from Ohio’s infusion of slots money; the purse has jumped $50,000 to $150.000. The Breeders Crown moves back a month to October 24 at Woodbine, with the Erskine, in which E L Titan upset Father Patrick, going six days later. The Fall Four move up a month to November 21 and 22 at the Meadowlands. The Governor’s Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds and Goldsmith Maid will be augmented by the Tarport Hap, which has been out of the rotation since See You At Peelers won in 2011, and the Continentalvictory, a new race for three-year-old trotting fillies. The TVG finals will be raced one week earlier than last year. (Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.com)

TORONTO, February 10 - The deadline for nominations to several of the Woodbine Entertainment Group's major harness racing stakes events, including the Pepsi North America Cup, is rapidly approaching. Nominations to the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup, $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic, $455,000 Fan Hanover, $410,000 Elegantimage, $270,000 Goodtimes, $225,000 Somebeachsomewhere and the $125,000 Casual Breeze stakes events close Tuesday, February 17. Along with the nominations to those events, sustaining payments are also due on February 17 for the 2015 Simcoe, Simcoe Filly and WEG SBOA stakes all for three-year-olds. Once again in 2015, WEG is handling the stakes administrations for all Alliance racetracks. Nominations to the Confederation Cup for four-year-olds at Flamboro Downs, the Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway also close on February 17. To view full information on the events that close on February 17 and all WEG stakes events, click here. All nomination fees are payable to the Woodbine Entertainment Group and can be made online or by mail. To make stakes nominations online, click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than said due date or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 9 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the date for the 2015 Pepsi North America Cup and the rest of its $18 million-plus Standardbred stakes schedule. The 32nd edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for the finest three-year-old pacers in North America will take place on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk. The eliminations for Canada's richest harness race will be contested a week prior on June 13. The Pepsi North America Cup, WEG's signature stakes event, was first staged in 1984 and throughout its more than 30-year history has been captured by the likes of Precious Bunny, Gallo Blue Chip, Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere. The race will once again feature a stellar undercard of several top stakes events. The $455,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $330,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older pacing mares, the $270,000 Goodtimes Stakes for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters, the $265,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older trotting mares and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup for older pacers round out an impressive stakes card on Pepsi North America Cup night. Returning by popular demand, WEG will once again be offering purse money to all finishers in the Pepsi North America Cup and other major stakes finals. The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% respectively, of the remaining purse. The 2015 stakes calendar is also highlighted by the return of the Breeders Crown to Woodbine. The 12 championship events for each division in harness racing will take place on Saturday, October 24 and will be returning to the Toronto oval for the first time since 2012. Breeders Crown night will be the richest card of harness racing contested anywhere in 2015 with close to $6 million in purse money on the line. WEG has hosted 155 Breeders Crown races since the championships were established in 1984, more than any other host. Mohawk will once again be the battle ground for several of harness racing's most notable Grand Circuit events. The annual Labour Day weekend extravaganza featuring the $665,000 Metro Pace for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings and the $635,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers and will take place on Saturday, September 5. The 'Pacing Derby' and Metro Card will also feature the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies. The Labour Day weekend card will offer purses of over $2 million. The $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-old trotters will take its usual spot in mid-September on Saturday, September 19. Over the last several years, the Maple Leaf Trot had been staged in July, but will now be paired with the 'Trotting Classic' in September for an 'All-Star' trotting card. The 63rd edition of the race carries a purse of $600,000. The Canadian Trotting Classic and Maple Leaf Trot card will also feature the $390,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings and the $385,000 Peaceful Way Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies. Once again in 2015, WEG will continue to handle administrative duties for all Standardbred Alliance track stakes events. Payments to all WEG and Alliance stakes are payable and should be mailed to the Woodbine Entertainment Group or can be made online at www.woodbineentertainment.com/sbpayments The full 2015 Standardbred stakes events booklet is available at http://bit.ly/1zZNTSt by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications  

The introduction of graded stakes races to harness racing is an issue that has gnawed away at owners, trainers, drivers and fans for a half-century, but we’re no closer to making it a reality today than we were back in the sixties. A survey that Tom White, one-time publicity director at The Red Mile and the Little Brown Jug, conducted on the topic more than three decades ago offers us some perspective. White concedes that his audit would not stand up to scientific scrutiny, but it certainly holds much anecdotal value. He wanted opinions on how to grade the slightly more than 2% of races that were not specifically for claimers or conditioned by earnings, age or sex. He sent a list of all unrestricted races—except by age and sex—to “40 knowledgeable harness racing representatives,” asking those folks to designate them as Grade 1, 2 or 3. He also allowed for a No Grade option. And 80% of them responded. The powers that be in Thoroughbred racing formulated a list of 330 graded stakes for 1973 and 1974; it was reduced to 276 in 1980. White used 69 races from the Standardbred calendar for his survey. Only 35 of 100 Thoroughbred tracks in North America carded graded stakes in 1981. Last year’s precept that every open stakes race—regardless of how insignificant it is—come under the Grand Circuit umbrella, works against any sort of graded stakes paradigm in harness racing. Every track and publicity director’s race in the Standardbred world is a Grade 1 as far as they’re concerned. Four races, the Hambletonian, Jug, Messenger and Wilson drew perfect Grade 1 scores. The Wilson went away after the 2012 edition; of the other three, the Hambletonian would no doubt still get a perfect score, but I’m not sure about the other two. There’s a great deal of resentment over the fact that two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown—the Jug and the Messenger—are raced over half-mile tracks. Also, the Messenger lost much of its cachet when Roosevelt closed and the race embarked on a nomadic journey that now has it rooted at Yonkers Raceway. The purse is $500,000 but many owners and trainers keep their premium stock clear of half-mile tracks; All Bets Off, Ronny Bugatti and Bolt The Duer won the last three. The Jug doesn’t engender as much enmity as the Messenger, but there are plenty of harness racing aficionados who discount it as a post position crap shoot. Races that came within one or two votes of a perfect Grade 1 score in the 1981 survey are the Meadowlands Pace, Kentucky Futurity, Cane, Yonkers Trot, Adios, Oaks and Fox Pace. Only one individual labeled the Meadowlands Pace a Grade 2 stake, and certainly it would fall solidly in the Grade 1 column today. The same goes for the Kentucky Futurity. The Cane, which was shown the door by the Rooneys after the 1997 edition, and spent 14 uneventful years at Freehold, one at Pocono and the last three at Tioga, carries a shorter purse than the Messenger, but has escaped the twice-arounds. Lyonssomewhere beat He’s Watching and JK Endofanera in 2014; Captain T beat Vegas Vacation in 2013; and Dynamic Youth beat Pet Rock and A Rocknroll Dance in 2012. Switching to the bigger track has drastically improved the talent. This year the race will move to the Meadowlands where it will enhance the Hambletonian Day program. The Cane is a solid Grade 2, which has drawn better quality fields than the Messenger of late, and is striving to regain its Grade 1 status. The Yonkers Trot would also have more of a problem drumming up Grade 1 votes in 2015. Nuncio crushed a soft field in this year’s $580,000 edition. Six, or 17%, of the Hambletonian winners have also won the Yonkers Trot in the 35 years since Tom White conducted this review. Just as the better pacers tend to avoid the Messenger, the better trotters sit out the Yonkers Trot. The Adios, which was classified as a Grade 1 by 31 of the 33 respondents, is another race that has fallen somewhat out of favor. Only 14% of the Meadowlands Pace winners in the last 35 years also won the Adios; the last to do so was Davids Pass nineteen years ago. Only 13 % of the NA Cup winners have also won the Adios since the Cup was rebranded in 1984, and again, Davids Pass was the last to do it. This year the Adios will be held on Saturday, August 1. One assumes the Hambletonian—and the Cane—will be the following Saturday. McWicked, Sunfire Blue Chip, Bolt The Duer, Alsace Hanover, Delmarvalous and Vintage Master won the last six editions of the Adios. Needless to say, reputation notwithstanding, the race wouldn’t garner all those Grade 1 votes today. Thirty-one of the 33 respondents designated the Oaks as a Grade 1, and I assume the result would be equally one-sided today. The Fox Stake, on the other hand, has done a free fall from grace. Around since 1927, it was the richest race for freshman pacing colts at one time. Adios, Good Time, Bret Hanover, Romeo Hanover, Laverne Hanover and Albatross all won the Fox. Unfortunately racing at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds isn’t what it was, and in recent years the likes of Harfo Hanover and Blooming Genius won the race. Rating it a three would be too generous. Some of the stakes which garnered two-thirds of the votes in White’s survey have been eliminated. The Colonial, Holmes, Kentucky Pacing Derby, Prix d’Ete (3YO), Sweetheart and World Trotting Derby are all gone. The venerable Dexter and Lady Suffolk, which are raced at Freehold, are now Grade 3 stakes. The Peter Haughton Memorial Pace, which was raced at Roosevelt, is no more. The Adioo Volo is now a Grade 3; the Tattersalls Pace, which is now raced in divisions with no heats, is a Grade 2. Can’t have two winners and be a one. The Peter Haughton freshman trot is still around and noteworthy. The Tarport Hap has been eliminated, along with the Niatross, and previously mentioned Wilson. Sweetheart and Holmes as Jeff Gural gradually purges the calendar of colt and filly stakes so he can concentrate on series for the four and up group. The Breeders Crown, the most important addition to the stakes landscape in the last thirty-five years, had yet to be introduced when Tom White solicited these opinions in 1981. All of them would rate a Grade 1 designation today. A race needed 22 votes for Grade 1 status to qualify under White’s system. Eighteen, or 26%, made the cut. Less than half that number would warrant a Grade 1 designation today. With so many buying strictly for sire stakes racing, it apparently doesn’t matter. by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 19 - The spotlight will be on Mohawk Racetrack this Saturday night as two Canadian Pacing Derby eliminations, two Metro Pace eliminations and three She's A Great Lady eliminations will take centre stage. The Canadian Pacing Derby has a rich history as the oldest stakes race in Canada for standardbred racehorses and on Saturday night the sport's top stars will bring their talents north for a pair of six-horse eliminations. 2013 Pepsi North America Winner Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick will start from post five in the second $40,000 elimination. A two-time Pacer of the Year, Captaintreacherous has had to make the tough transition from age three to four this season, but has still shown his grit and determination facing the big boys. Last Saturday night, 'The Captain' won the $34,000 Preferred in prep for the Canadian Pacing Derby and trainer Tony Alagna was delighted with his performance. "I was happy with his effort, it was a confidence builder he needed going into this week's elimination," said Alagna. "We drew away from Sweet Lou, but we caught Bettors Edge who has been racing really well, so hopefully the short field helps and he gets a fair shot again." 'The Captain' is a big fan of Mohawk Racetrack as he has never lost in six career starts over the Campbellville oval. "He's always been his best up here," said Alagna. "We've had him up here for major races, so he's always been on his game when he came up here. He likes the atmosphere and he seems happy up here." 'The Captain' has two wins in seven starts this season and has never finished out of the money for seasonal earnings topping $176,000 The top horse this season on the WEG circuit, State Treasurer, will line up two spots inside Captaintreacherous. State Treasurer has won the WEG Preferred six times this season and has won seven of his 12 starts for earnings of over $296,000. Trained by Dr. Ian Moore, State Treasurer will be driven by WEG's leading driver Chris Christoforou. The hottest horse in harness racing headlines the first elimination. The Ron Burke trainee, Sweet Lou, enters his elimination on a nine-race win streak and having won his last seven starts in 1:47.4 or better Sweet Lou has drawn post two in his elimination and will have his regular pilot Ron Pierce in the sulky. A five-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser, Sweet Lou has made over $3 million in his career, but joining him in his elimination is the richest standardbred in the history of the sport, Foiled Again. Also trained by Ron Burke, Foiled Again has earned over $6.3 million and continues to compete at the top level at the age of ten. Foiled Again, who will start from post six with driver Yannick Gingras, is also a previous Canadian Pacing Derby winner having won the 2012 edition. The top five finishers from each elimination will advance to the $650,000 final on Saturday, August 30. Elimination winners may choose their post position for the final. 15 of the sport's brightest freshman pacing colts and geldings have been split into a pair of eliminations for the chance to race in the $685,000 Metro Pace Final on Saturday August 30. Leading the group of 15 is the Alagna trainee, Artspeak, who is undefeated in four career starts and enters the Metro elim fresh off a victory in the Nassagaweya Stakes last Saturday night. Artspeak and driver Scott Zeron will start from post position five in the first $40,000 elimination. Alagna said he was happy with how Artspeak came out of the Nassagaweya Stakes. "Artspeak jogged back super, everything checks out good," said Alagna. "We are really happy with the way he drew and hopefully he has another good shot this week and takes another step towards the Metro final." The son of Western Ideal - The Art Museum was a $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase and is owned by the Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and the In The GYM Partners. One of the top local rookies, Traceur Hanover, will meet up with Artspeak for the first time. Trained by Normand Bardier Jr., Traceur Hanover enters this weekend's elimination with three wins in four starts and is also coming off a victory in his Nassagaweya split. Randy Waples sits behind the son of Western Ideal - Transference for owner Richard Berthiaume, who bought Traceur Hanover for the same price as Artspeak at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. The other $40,000 elimination appears to be a wide-open affair, with seven rookie pacers looking to be in the top five to secure a spot in the rich final. Sports Bettor, who will start from post position seven, is coming off a 69-1 upset victory in his division of the Nassagaweya last Saturday night. Trained by Mark Austin for owner-breeder Frank Gentile, Sports Bettor broke his maiden in style with the Nassagaweya upset. Before his breakthrough in the Nassagaweya, Sports Bettor had finished second in three of his five career starts. Randy Waples will drive the son of Sportswriter - Shellys Delight. Also in the field of seven is this year's Battle of Waterloo winner, Go Daddy Go, who will start from post three for the Hall of Fame connections of driver John Campbell and trained Bob McIntosh. The top five finishers from both eliminations will advance to the $685,000 final on August 30, with elimination winners earning the right to select their post position for the final. The She's A Great Lady has attracted 25 rookie pacing fillies that have been split into three eliminations. Shakai Hanover, a division winner of last Saturday' Eternal Camnation Stakes, headlines the first $35,000 elimination. Trained by Carl Jamieson and driven by Jody Jamieson, Shakai Hanover will start from post position three and has won twice in four career starts. The daughter of Well Said - Shes A Fan set a new career mark with her Eternal Camnation victory of 1:52.4 and has earned just under $83,000. The second elimination features undefeated filly Band Of Angels from the Ron Burke barn. A daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven - Time N Again, Band Of Angels has won her first five starts of her career, with all five victories coming in New York Sires Stakes events. She will start from post six with driver Yannick Gingras and ships north with over $133,000 in earnings and a mark of 1:52.3. The final elimination stars another undefeated filly that will have Yannick Gingras in the bike. JK Shesalady won her division of the Eternal Camnation Stakes last Saturday to improve her record to four for four. Trained by Nancy Johansson for owners the 3 Brothers Stable, JK Shesalady has a speed badge of 1:52 and earnings exceeding $68,000. The top three finishers from each elimination and one third place finisher drawn by lot will advance to the $450,000 final on Saturday, August 30. All three rich finals will take place Saturday, August 30 at Mohawk Racetrack. The party will start at 6 p.m. and first race post time is 7:25 p.m. Here are the fields for Saturday night's stakes eliminations. PP/Horse/Driver Race 3 - Canadian Pacing Derby Elimination One - Purse: $40,000 1. Thinking Out Loud - John Campbell 2. Sweet Lou - Ron Pierce 3. Captive Audience - James MacDonald 4. Domethatagain - Ron Pierce 5. Sunshine Beach - Chris Christoforou 6. Foiled Again - Yannick Gingras Race 8 - Canadian Pacing Derby Elimination Two - Purse: $40,000 1. Ellis Park - Steve Condren 2. Bettors Edge - Matt Kakaley 3. State Treasurer - Chris Christoforou 4. Modern Legend - James MacDonald 5. Captaintreacherous - Tim Tetrick 6. Clear Vision - Brett Miller Race 6 - Metro Pace Elimination One - Purse: $40,000 1. Lyons Levi Lewis - Yannick Gingras 2. Trading Up - Scott Zeron 3. Go Daddy Go - John Campbell 4. Lone Survivor - David Miller 5. Dudes The Man - David Miller 6. Asap Hanover - Tim Tetrick 7. Sports Bettor - Randy Waples Race 11 - Metro Pace Elimination Two - Purse: $40,000 1. The Wayfaring Man - Jack Moiseyev 2. Pierce Hanover - Paul Macdonell 3. Amora Beach - Tim Tetrick 4. Some Power - David Miller 5. Artspeak - Scott Zeron 6. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 7. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples 8. Rollin Ring Afire - Matt Kakaley Race 4 - She's A Great Lady Elimination One - Purse: $35,000 1. The Show Returns - Tim Tetrick 2. Bedroomconfessions - Scott Zeron 3. Shakai Hanover - Jody Jamieson 4. Strut My Stuff - John Campbell 5. Palette Tina - Yannick Gingras 6. Aria Hanover - Tim Tetrick 7. Bettor Be Steppin - Corey Callahan 8. Kays Dragon Lady - Matt Kakaley Race 9 - She's A Great Lady Elimination Two - Purse: $35,000 1. Solar Sister - Doug McNair 2. Divine Caroline - Corey Callahan 3. Missy Tap Tina - Tim Tetrick 4. Cashaway - Tim Tetrick 5. Jk Shesalady - Yannick Gingras 6. Well Hello There - Matt Kakaley 7. Southwind Mischief - Chris Christoforou 8. Shesastarreporter - Jonathan Drury 9. Ideal Nuggets - John Campbell Race 10 - She's A Great Lady Elimination Three - Purse: $35,000 1. Float On By - Tim Tetrick 2. Macarena Mama - Chris Christoforou 3. A Plus - Scott Zeron 4. Bin N Heaven - Doug McNair 5. Betty And The Jets - Doug McNair 6. Band Of Angels - Yannick Gingras 7. Happy Becky - David Miller 8. Dancin Caroll - Jack Moiseyev by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications.

TORONTO, August 14 - It's been over four months since the launch of the Standardbred Alliance in Ontario on April 1 and wagering on Standardbred horse races at these tracks is already seeing a sharp increase compared to the same period last year.   From April 1 through August 9, "all-sources" wagering on Standardbred Alliance racing is $148,227,950, an encouraging 8.92 per cent rise over the $136,083,298 bet through the equivalent period in 2013.   The numbers are promising on a per race basis as well. Last year, an average of $57,347 was bet per race (2373 races). After April 1, in 2014, an average of $60,280 per race (2459 races) was recorded, also a strong 5.11 per cent increase. Number of races is up 3.6 per cent over last year.   "There's plenty of work to do, but so far the alliance concept is proving to accomplish what it had intended," said Jamie Martin, Executive Vice-President of Racing at Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and Chair of the Standardbred Alliance board. "It's helped to create some positive momentum for the industry, plus a platform for the core standardbred tracks to be partners in this new era. Racing fans are responding well at Mohawk and the other Alliance tracks under the new model with wagering up strongly both per race and overall."   Grand River Raceway, in Elora, is seeing double-digit wagering increases both per race and overall.   "We have experienced an increase in wagering of 16.56 per cent per race, leading to a 10.58 per cent rise overall on our live racing product," said Dr. Ted Clarke, General Manager of Grand River Raceway. "Total wagering on our Industry Day on August 4 was the highest since 2005. The positive wagering results and attendance indicate the fan base and interest are solid."   The Standardbred Alliance, led by Woodbine Entertainment Group, is a consortium of eight Ontario racetracks. Launched April 1, the members represent a three-tier racing hierarchy, 'Grass Roots' (Clinton, Hanover), 'Signature' (Flamboro, Georgian, Grand River and Western Fair) and 'Premier' (Mohawk and Woodbine).   The tracks have worked together to implement operational efficiencies, co-ordinate a year-round racing calendar, develop a program of racing that is attractive to foreign and domestic customers, and establish consistent purses.   The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is buoyed by the wagering rise through the early months of the Standardbred Alliance concept.   "We're glad to see wagering is up," said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA. "Fans are continuing to embrace this wonderful sport and it's gaining new ones. The next step is to have racing fully integrated into the province's gaming strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the model."   Highlights of the season so far include State Treasurer's win at the Molson Pace at Western Fair, JK Endofanera's win in the Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk, Shadows Wonder's victory in Clinton's Kin Pace, Go Daddy Go's score in the Battle of Waterloo at Grand River and Warrawee Promesse's tally in the Dream of Glory at Hanover.   The Georgian Downs meet is in full swing, with the Earl Rowe Memorial Cup Trot set for August 23, while the start of the final part of the 2014 Flamboro Downs meet is scheduled for September 2.   Several major stakes are set for the latter half of season on the WEG circuit, including the Metro Pace at Mohawk on August 30, the Canadian Trotting Classic on September 13, while the 'Fall Four' (Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds, Governor's Cup and Valley Victory) is set for Woodbine on October 25.   by John Siscos, for WEG  

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

On Wednesday night the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2014 and welcomed its newest members both horses and individuals. Albatross, Dreamfair Eternal and Rocknroll Hanover are the Standardbreds that made up part of the 2014 class. Joining these Standardbreds in the Hall Of Fame are the late Robert Murphy (breeder/owner); Dr. Ted Clarke, in the builder category; trainer/driver Wally Hennessey, and communicator Bill Galvin. Apelia, Cool Mood and Wando are the Thoroughbreds that make up part of the 2014 class. Trainer Horatio Luro, jockey Robert Landry and breeders William ‘Bill’ Graham and Arthur Stollery are also 2014 inductees on the Thoroughbred side. The Induction Ceremony was held at the Mississauga Convention Centre in Ontario. 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. 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. "My job was to bring the best out in my horses and he made it easy, said Sarah Lauren Scott, Rocknroll Hanover's caretaker. "He brought out the best in all of his connections. He was a once in a lifetime horse and his legacy will live on." Female Horse Category: Dreamfair Eternal – bred by Mary and John Lamers, and owned by John Lamers, Ingersoll, Ontario. Dreamfair Eternalretired from racing in 2012 after a seven-year career that included 56 victories, and every major stakes 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. Patrick Fletcher trained her for most of her career. "This is certainly a great honour for myself and my family. 'Eternal' is a large part of our family," said owner John Lamers. "‎I want to thank Pat and Karan Fletcher for the amazing job they've done with Dreamfair Eternal over her racing career. ‎ "‎She's an outstanding race mare and she's equally as good a mother," noting that Lamers has a filly sired by fellow Hall Of Famer Somebeachsomewhere on the ground that might have a "bit better conformation" than her Mom. Lamers hoped that the filly has just as good of a career.‎‎ 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, Kentucky; Castleton Farm, Lexington, Kentucky; Hal S Jones, Montgomery, New York. 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. "This is a very distinct honour for me," said Hanover Shoe Farms' Murray Brown, who was around Albatross his entire life‎. Brown considers Albatross "probably the greatest two-year-old of any breed that's ever lived," recalling how he'd have to race against aged horses in his freshman year. "It's unheard of for a two-year-old to race against aged horses. He did it with regularity."‎ Noting that Albatross was the first sire of any breed to sire progeny with more than $100 million in earnings, Brown called Albatross "the perfect horse" and stated that "his name is a fixture in the breed and will continue to be. ‎" Wally Hennessey, 58, 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. "To be inducted takes hard work and dedication from many," said Hennessey. "I was blessed to grow up with four great brothers and sisters. They were very supportive and competitive and loving. We were all on each other's team. "Not to point out one person, but my brother Dan has been with me my whole career. Without Dan I definitely would not be standing here. I had a father I was so proud of. I never wanted to let him down. He was so talented. I learned my early lessons from my father. My greatest influence could not be here. My mom, I wish she was here, but she could not travel to be here. Without her love and what she taught me, I would not be here. To my wife Barb and daughter Christie -- you're my greatest supporters and Barb you hung in with me and that was hard to do. And my daughter is my inspiration." "It's been a journey one could only dream about and I'm so glad dreams do come true." 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, Dr. 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 fact of the matter is, with the industry being in the state it's in, it's important to remember the things that got us to where we are," said Clarke, imploring the industry to pull from the same end of the rope going forward.  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. 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. 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 harness racing on ice 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. "What a special and memorable occasion this is tonight," said Galvin. "I congratulate you all and thank each and every one responsible for this tremendous honour. "This evening is especially memorable with the presence of Dr. John Findlay, who presented to me. I received my an introduction to horse racing in the standardbred sport as a very young lad in Arnprior, Ontario. Those early days at Madawaska Farms with Dr. John Findlay would define and shape my career.  "Tonight, my life comes full circle from those unforgettable country fairs in the Ottawa Valley, to the glory day of Canadian harness racing in the 1980s, to the pinnacle of my career tonight at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, with the man who introduced me to the sport‎ - Dr. John Findlay." By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com with files from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame  

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title. Trained by local conditioner Mark Steacy, Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver Brian Sears in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon. Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. The son of Majestic Son - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19. In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28. Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak. Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line. Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1. Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game. "We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck." Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best. "I think with the trio of Jimmy Takter's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen." Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver Brian Sears. "It's going to be up to Brian Sears, but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be." Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the Mark Steacy trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter. In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with Majestic Son, the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites Chocolatier and Trotting Triple Crown winner Glidemaster. On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip. No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday. State Treasurer will start from post two with driver David Miller in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship. The five-year-old son of Real Desire - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3. State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles. His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair. State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner. Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 ½ lengths. This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

East Rutherford, NJ - The $257,700 United States Pacing Championship (USPC) will provide the stage for nine of the finest in the aged pacing division to do battle on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands. A testament to the quality of the group is the fact that the combined career earnings of these nine pacers is in excess of $20 million. Among the chief contenders in Saturday's race is Captaintreacherous who dominated his division and was subsequently named "Pacer of the Year" as a freshman and sophomore, a distinction he shares with only the immortal Niatross. Faced this season at age four with graduation into the open ranks to battle the best of the older set was expected to be a daunting task and the competition has been fierce. Captaintreacherous was born to be a star with the pedigree and presence to demand $250,000 at the 2011 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. He came from the greatly anticipated first crop of champion racehorse Somebeachsomewhere and boasts a very accomplished maternal line. White Birch Farm bred and raised the colt and when Myron Bell and Tony Alagna saw him during their annual farm canvass they agreed he was priority one. The winning bid was made by Bell on behalf of a partnership that included George Segal's Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and Myron and Stephanie Bell's Riverview Farm. White Birch proprietor Michael Parisi was offered a stake and remained a partner on the horse as well. They would choose the nom de course Captaintreacherous Racing for this endeavor. Myron Bell has been the racing manager for George Segal's Brittany Farms for more than thirty years. Throughout their relationship many of the sport's stars both on the track and in the breeding shed have campaigned under the Brittany banner. Over the past decade, Myron has managed a number of partnerships that include several high-profile Standardbred owners and breeders with remarkable results. Captaintreacherous represents the culmination of a lifetime spent breeding, buying and racing the best. "My groups, such as Captaintreacherous Racing, are looking for that top horse that we can race successfully at the highest level and then hopefully have a future in the breeding shed. I could not do any of this without their confidence and support," said Bell. "We bought just one colt from Somebeachsomewhere's first crop and our aim was to buy the best one. "Captaintreacherous was the number one colt from that crop, in our opinion. He showed beautifully and offered the best pedigree that I'd seen for years. He had all of the attributes that we seek; conformation, attitude, ability...and he had no weaknesses." Things began well for Captaintreacherous. He seared through his two-year-old campaign with Tim Tetrick joining the team as his regular driver, listing the Wilson and Metro among eight wins in ten starts for over $900,000 and his first "Pacer of the Year" title. Brought back at three with great expectations, "The Captain" exceeded even those lofty ambitions and ran the table with the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown among his thirteen triumphs and $2 million in seasonal earnings. Along the way Captaintreacherous captured the hearts of racing fans with his grit and determination, often appearing on the brink of defeat only to battle back and get to the wire first. His talent and will; coupled with his breeding and imposing presence, drew the attention of several suitors for his services as a stallion. Ultimately it would be industry leader Hanover Shoe Farms whose participation in a syndication agreement led to a decision to stand Captaintreacherous at their Pennsylvania nursery when he goes to stud in 2015. "It is absolutely imperative that you have a strong syndicate when the horse goes to stud," Bell opined. "You need breeders with the right mares to want the horse to succeed and support him with those mares. If they are shareholders they are enhancing their own interests as well as that of the horse. After the first two seasons in the shed, when a new star retires to stud, if you don't have that support, interest wanes and you have a few down years even if the horse hits. "We sold a few shares of the horse to serious breeders after his freshman season to establish value. There was understandably great interest in "Captain" last year and by Lexington we had a few serious offers to stand him. Hanover bought a significant interest in him and they have the type of mares we seek to give him a chance to be his best. We will syndicate him further at the end of this racing season and he will go to stud at Hanover." For his career, Captaintreacherous has won 22 of 31 starts and over $3.1 million, averaging a remarkable $100,000 per start. He won the Meadowlands Maturity his first race this season, but is winless in his last four starts. In Saturday's USPC as "The Captain" looks to move forward off a wicked tune-up in last week's prep, he finds himself starting from post eight, just outside Sweet Lou who has won seven straight and been the star of this division thus far in 2014. "We had no illusions that he was going to go through this season against these types of horses without getting beat. I think he has raced well in each of his starts this year and was fantastic last week, pacing his last half in :52 flat. Sweet Lou has been very good, but I don't fear him. My feeling is that "Captain" is improving in each race and will continue to improve. He needs to get lucky at the draw and you always need racing luck, that's a given. "Tony Alagna and Tim Tetrick have done a marvelous job racing Captaintreacherous. To campaign a horse at that level over three seasons, keep him fit, healthy and sound is a testament to Tony and his crew. Tim handles the pressure that comes with the job beautifully and deserves tremendous credit for his body of work driving "Captain". It truly "takes a village" to campaign a horse like this and I really feel that we have yet to see his best. "One of the most gratifying elements of this ride has been the response to Captaintreacherous by the harness community and particularly the racing fans," Myron said in closing. "He has given the ownership group many thrills and the enthusiasm shown by his fans is right at the top of that list." The complete field: UNITED STATES PACING CHAMPIONSHIP - $257,700 1. GOLDEN RECEIVER CoCallahan JaHuff 2. STATE TREASURER DaMiller IaMoore 3. THINKING OUT LOUD JCampbell RoMcintosh 4. SUNFIRE BLUE CHIP ScZeron JiTakter 5. FOILED AGAIN YaGingras RoBurke 6. BETTOR'S EDGE MaKakaley RoBurke 7. SWEET LOU RoPierce RoBurke 8. CAPTAINTREACHEROUS TiTetrick ToAlagna 9. CLEAR VISION BrAMiller RoBurke   The US Pacing Championship is race five on Saturday's All-Star Hambletonian card and clearly one of the most anticipated races of the day. The fifteen-race program begins at noon, gates open at 10:00am with the annual Hambo hat giveaway. The Hambletonian may be viewed on CBS Sports Network from 4:00 to 5:30pm. Find more information including access to a free Hambo Day program by visiting The Meadowlands website. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

Batavia, NY - The first of eight visits by the lucrative New York Sire Stakes takes place Sunday afternoon at Batavia Downs and for the local fans it's a chance to see some of the biggest names in harness racing. The 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers will be on hand and that means some very exciting action. There will be three legs of the NYSS and two of the Excelsior series and the entrants will be competing for combined purses in excess of $140,000. The first division goes for $39,200 and looks to be the main event as it is loaded with talent and speed. Perennial training leader Ron Burke will start 3-5 morning line favorite All Bets Off, who ships in with some impressive credentials. He won the $300,000 Art Rooney pace at Yonkers Raceway in May and after winning his elimination heat in 1:48.3, finished third in the $500,000 Hempt final at Pocono Downs behind McWicked last month. In that race, McWicked set a new world record for 3-year-old colts on a five-eighths mile track (1:47.3). This will be the third start in the NYSS for All Bets Off this year who won at Vernon Downs in 1:50.2 and just ten days ago finished second at Yonkers in 1:52.4 to Capital Account, who looks to be his toughest competition in today's race. He has earnings of $291,575 already this year. All Bets Off, who starts from post five and will be driven by Matt Kakaley, is part of an entry that includes stablemate Keystone Honor. Capital Account has competed in some high-profile stakes already but without positive results. He drew post eight in both the $69,000 Somebeachsomewhere and $45,500 North America Cup elimination at Mohawk and finished well beaten in both. But even though he does not sport the gaudy numbers of the morning line favorite, he certainly has beaten him. In his last start at Yonkers in NYSS action, Capital Account was pulled third over up the backside before tipping four-deep around the leader All Bets Off at the top of the stretch. He then outpaced the 1-5 favorite to the wire to win by a half-length. The 16-1 shot was overlooked last week but certainly won't be in here. Capital Account is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and will start from post three for leading NYSS driver Jim Morrill Jr. The second $39,200 division is headed by Canadian conditioner Cassie Coleman's Twin B Tenacious. After getting 2014 off to an inauspicious start, Twin B Tenacious has now strung together four straight wins (the last a NYSS event at Yonkers) and registered a 1:50.3 lifetime mark at the Meadowlands in the process. Steve Smith, who has been at the helm for all four victories, will once again be in the bike and start from post four. Forty Five Red, who is another entry from the powerful Burke stable, comes in off two consecutive wins at Yonkers Raceway which includes his seasonal mark of 1:52.3 in his last outing. Although he hasn't missed a check all year, his most recent outings have probably been his best to date and indicate he will be a legitimate threat to the favorite. The third division is worth $38,500 and looks to be a wide-open affair. Stay Up Late has been made the morning line favorite but has yet to win in stake action at three. He has gone off the favorite in his last three starts but his sole victory this year came in an overnight event at Yonkers Raceway on July 8 in 1:53.3. He gets Jim Morrill Jr. up for the first time this year and starts from post four Neat draws the rail for trainer Erv Miller and is coming in off three very impressive starts. After just getting beat in 1:53.4 in a NYSS race at Buffalo on June 27, Neat finished second in an overnight at Pocono Downs in 1:50.1 over a sloppy track the following week. He was then back in Sire Stake action at Yonkers his last start where he got away sixth and chased a :56 flat last half parked out to finish third in 1:52.3. Neat is rated at 5-2 for driver Brent Holland. 3-1 third choice Sir Sam's Z Tam has the fastest seasonal mark and the most money earned of any other horse in this race, but also has the only NYSS victory this year. After hitting the board four consecutive times, he found himself parked out in a fast last half at Yonkers before finishing fifth. Sam's Z Tam will start from post three for trainer/driver the Pat Lachance. The undercard features two divisions of the Excelsior series and they are slated to go as race seven and ten. The first split goes for $12,600 and has two horses that have dominated the class; Cabbie's Delight and Murder He Wrote. 8-5 favorite Cabbie's Delight has not been worse than second in six Excelsior starts. In fact he is the point's leader to date in the series. He won four straight out of the gate before finishing two close seconds in his most recent starts. Trainer Sam Serianni has Jason Bartlett in the bike this week as he looks to get back in the winner's circle. 9-5 co-favorite Murder He Wrote has won his last two starts, including a NYSS event at Buffalo Raceway where he blew up the tote board at 45-1. The roan gelding drew immediate respect after that when he went off the prohibitive favorite the following week at Yonkers where he won wire to wire in 1:54.1. Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Murder He Wrote and starts from post five for conditioner Linda Toscano. The final $12,600 Excelsior contest is headlined by 2-1 choice Believeinthespirit. After having negligible success in four straight NYSS races, trainer Ed Lohmeyer reclassified his charge to the Excelsior and the change has proven fruitful. Believeinthespirit has won his last two starts in convincing fashion and looks to continue the streak from post two. 5-2 second choice Archetto Hanover is the second highest point getter in the Excelsior series behind Cabbie's Delight and has three wins and two seconds to show for his efforts. Trainer Erv Miller has Brent Holland up for this trip and will depart from post five. Post time for the first race is 1:15. For more racing information or to watch race replays as soon as they are declared official, logon to www.bataviadonwsgaming.com. Or if you would like to bet online and watch live streaming coverage of the races as they occur, logon to www.bataviabets.com and open an account. by Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

I Luv The Nitelife, who was named the best 3-year-old female pacer of 2013 in both the U.S. and Canada, is ready to return to action after being sidelined last November because of a fractured knee. She will compete in a qualifier Saturday morning at the Meadowlands, with the hopes of returning to stakes action in September. "Swim and train, that's been her program," said trainer Chris Ryder, adding happily, "Now we get to swim and race. That's better than training." I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races last year and $1.25 million for Ryder and owners Richard and Joanne Young. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Jugette and Mistletoe Shalee. Her 1:48.4 time in the Valley Forge is the world record for a 3-year-old filly on a five-eighths-mile track. For her career, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune has won 17 of 25 races and $1.94 million. No female pacer in history has won more money at ages 2 and 3. Ryder hopes to have I Luv The Nitelife, who suffered a minor setback because of atrial fibrillation in early June, ready for the Milton Stakes in mid-September. "She's going to qualify a couple times and then we'll look for an overnight or two," Ryder said. "She's training very well. Everything is good with her. "It's exciting. It's tough to get a horse like this. It's a little crushing when they go down. You get a little used to winning those big races; you can't take it for granted. When it's gone, you realize there's a hole there. And it's near impossible to fill." Father Patrick, who is 6-for-6 this year and will bring a 15-race win streak to the $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands, also is entered to qualify on Saturday morning at the Big M. Other Hambletonian eligibles in the qualifier are Billy Ruffian, DD's Hitman, and Uva Hanover. On the pacing side, North America Cup winner JK Endofanera and Fan Hanover winner Uffizi Hanover are among 3-year-olds entered to qualify. Sweet Lou, the winner of six consecutive starts including the Ben Franklin Pace and William Haughton Memorial, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $40,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for pacers at the Meadowlands. The seven-horse field also includes Captaintreacherous, Thinking Out Loud, and Golden Receiver. Maven, the sport's top older female trotter in 2013, is the 2-1 favorite in Friday's $30,000 A-2/A-1/FFA handicap for trotters at the Meadowlands. Coraggioso is the 3-1 second choice in the field of seven, which also includes Maven's stablemate D'Orsay. Maven and D'Orsay are the only females in the race. Dancin Yankee, who sits just outside the Top 10 in harness racing's weekly poll, goes for his sixth win in a row Saturday night in the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He is the 5-2 morning line choice; Bolt The Duer is the 3-1 second pick. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 22, 2014--McWicked, projected as the favorite for Saturday's $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Lite at The Meadows, didn't hurt his chances when he pulled post position 2 in Tuesday's draw. Somewhere in L A and Let's Drink On it, who along with McWicked won Adios eliminations last Saturday, drew post positions 5 and 7, respectively. The draw was a mixed bag for horses with local connections. The Meadows-based trainer Ron Burke drew 3 and 9 for his Adios pair, At Press Time and Carracci Hanover, while Cammikey, campaigned by Cam Land Inc. of Washington County, will leave from the rail. No. 1 is the fifth-winningest post position this year at The Meadows. McWicked has won four of his last five starts--including the $500,000 final of the Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs--faltering only in the final of the North America Cup. The son of McArdle-Western Sahara is owned by SSG Stables and conditioned by Casie Coleman, who is bidding to become the first female trainer to win an Adios final. Several others have a chance to write their way into Meadows history. A win by Somewhere in L A would give trainer Jimmy Takter his third blanket of orchids in the last six years--he won with Vintage Master in 2009 and Sunfire Blue Chip last year--while a victory by Let's Drink On It would make 21-year-old Tyler Smith the youngest final heat winning driver in the 48-year history of the race. The Pace for the Orchids will go as race 12 with an approximate post time of 4 PM. It anchors a powerhouse 16-race card that features a total of six Grand Circuit stakes. The Adios field from the rail out, with drivers and trainers: 1. Cammikey Brian Zendt Bill Zendt 8-1 2. McWicked David Miller Casie Coleman 7-5 3. At Press Time Matt Kakaley Ron Burke 6-1 4. Beat The Drum Tim Tetrick Staffan Lind 20-1 5. Somewhere In L A Brett Miller Jimmy Takter 5-1 6. Stevensville Mark MacDonald Ray Schnittker 20-1 7. Let's Drink On It Tyler Smith Joe Seekman 7-2 8. Bushwacker Dave Palone Chris Ryder 10-1 9. Carracci Hanover Yannick Gingras Ron Burke 15-1 by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

Elora, ON --- It was a banner night for trainer Casie Coleman and driver Chris Christoforou as they teamed up to sweep the trio of C$70,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series events for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers on Wednesday (July 16) at Grand River Raceway.  All three winning colts – Bob Ben And John, Southwind Indy, and Rollwiththepunches – are from the first crop of Sportswriter, who Coleman also trained throughout his career, including his victory in the 2010 North America Cup. In the first Gold Series test Bob Ben And John and Christoforou moved from third to first before the :56.3 half-mile marker.  From there, he would go on to reach three-quarters in 1:26.2 before he closed with a :28.2 final kicker to win by a length and three-quarters in 1:54.4, which was the fastest of the three divisions.  Go Daddy Go (Randy Waples) challenged Bob Ben And John first-over in the final half but had to settle for second and early leader Moonwards Hanover (Paul MacDonell) checked in third. West Wins Stable of Cambridge and Adriano Sorella of Milton, Ontario, own Bob Ben And John, who is a perfect two-for-two in his career, with both victories coming in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series events.  Bob Ben And John, who was bred by Frank Coleman and sold for $17,000 at last year’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, is the fifth foal out of the Cambest mare My Best Girl, making him a half-brother to the likes of Ohmybelle ($223,097). Odds-on favorite Sporting The Look (Jody Jamieson) was in control through stations of :28, :58.1, and 1:27.1 in the second section, but he would make a break in stride and leave the course just past three-quarters.  With Sporting The Look out of contention, Southwind Indy and Christoforou inherited the lead from the pocket, and Southwind Indy would go on to win by a length and a quarter in 1:56.3.  Sports Bettor (Randy Waples) was the runner-up and Windsong Lightning (Eddie Green) grabbed third. It was the first win in two tries for Southwind Indy, who is owned by West Wins Stable, Steve Calhoun of Chatham, Ontario, and Southwind Farms LLC. of Pennington, New Jersey.  Southwind Farms also bred Southwind Indy, who was purchased for $45,000 out of the 2013 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.  Southwind Indy is the first foal out of the Rocknroll Hanover mare Its Only Rocknroll.  Its Only Rocknroll’s dam is Armbro Wallflower (Village Jasper), a multiple-time OSS winner at two and three, including the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final for 3-year-olds in 2002. Deetzy (Randy Waples) showed the way through fractions of :29, :58, and 1:26.4 in the OSS Gold Series nightcap, but Christoforou fanned Rollwiththepunches wide for the drive following an off-the-pace trip, and Rollwiththepunches would take the lead at the top of the stretch.  Once he was in control, Rollwiththepunches drew away to score by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:56.2.  Win One Soon (Phil Hudon) finished second, followed by Lyons Jimmydean (James MacDonald). Like Bob Ben And John, Rollwiththepunches improved his record to two-for-two in his career and in OSS competition for owner West Wins Stable.  Bred by Concord Stud Farm LLC., Paul Stromick, and Birnam Wood Farms, Rollwiththepunches was taken out of last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for $17,000.  Rollwiththepunches is the first foal out of the Western Terror mare Terroronthebeach, a half-sister to Guestimate ($656,546) and Dinner Guest ($554,867). Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series action for the rookie colt and gelding pacers will resume on August 10 at Georgian Downs.  For full results and charts from Wednesday night’s events, please click - http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0716grvrn.dat From the Ontario Sire Stakes

WASHINGTON, PA, July 15, 2014--Hempt winner McWicked and a quartet from the powerful Ron Burke stable will lead a competitive field of 18 sophomore colt and gelding pacers into the 48th edition of the $600,000 (est.) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Three $50,000 eliminations are set for the evening of Saturday, July 19 and will go as Races 3-5. The top three finishers in each split return for the final the following Saturday afternoon. Trained by Casie Coleman for SSG Stables, McWicked cruised home by 2-1/4 lengths in the final of the $500,000 Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, taking his lifetime mark of 1:47.3 and extending his career bankroll to $573,447. He also took one of the North America Cup eliminations, finishing fourth in the final. Off since the Hempt, the son of McCardle-Western Sahara goes from the rail in the third elimination, with David Miller driving. As might be expected, Burke, harness racing's leading conditioner, is well represented in the signature race of his home track. Perhaps the sharpest of Burke's four-pack is At Press Time, who chased McWicked home in the Hempt and came back with a facile score--at 1-9--in the PA All Stars at Pocono. Matt Kakaley will pilot the son of Western Terror-So Right from post 3 in the third elim for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Also part of the Burke quartet are Carracci Hanover, whose victory in a non-winners of 2 event is his only start this year; Somesizesomestyle, beaten a length while finishing fifth in the PA All Stars, and Limelight Beach, in whom Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and M1 Stable recently purchased an interest. Trainer Tony Alagna will send out a trio of Adios contenders--Journeyman, Maxi Bon, Bondi Hanover--while conditioner Jimmy Takter is seeking his third blanket of orchids in the last five years with Somewhere in LA. In addition to the Burke quartet, the banners of local owners will be carried by Cammikey, campaigned by Cam Land LLC, whose farm lies just down the road from The Meadows, and Mattamerican, owned by Bob Key. First post this Saturday is 6:55 PM. The elimination fields, in post position order, with trainers and tentative driver assignments: Race 3 1. Bushwacker Chris Ryder Brett Miller 2. Journeyman Tony Alagna Scott Zeron 3. Limelight Beach Ron Burke Yannick Gingras 4. Somewhere In LA Jimmy Takter Brett Miller 5. Carracci Hanover Ron Burke Yannick Gingras 6. Kingofthejungle Dirk Simpson Tony Hall Race 4 1. Maxi Bon Tony Alagna Scott Zeron 2. Somesizesomestyle Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 3. Let's Drink On It Joe Seekman Tyler Smith 4. Cammikey Bill Zendt Brian Zendt 5. Mattamerican Norm Parker Dave Palone 6. Beat The Drum Staffan Lind Brett Miller Race 5 1. McWicked Casie Coleman David Miller 2. Stevensville Ray Schnittker TBA 3. At Press Time Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 4. Some Playa Jennifer Sabot Jim Pantaleone 5. Brioni Robin Cruise Andrew McCarthy 6. Bondi Hanover Tony Alagna Aaron Merriman by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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