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Lease Ness Monster won her third straight $13,000 Fillies and Mares Open on Thursday (May 28) at Northfield Park. David Waltz of Clayton, Michigan owns the pacer with her trainer Matthew Waltz, also of Clayton. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was aboard for the winning drive. Lease Ness Monster (Lease On Life-Sheza Hot Monster-Mark Johnathan) was assigned post eight. She fired off the gate and led her competition through fractions of :27.2, :56.1, 1:24.3 and 1:53.1. There was never an anxious moment for the winner, who bested her competition by a full length. Completing the race were So Long My Love, Wild Dream, Schmatie, Prima Dragon, Get Your Armor, Cadie's Gotta Gun, Power Everywhere and Hot Mandy. Lease Ness Monster now has five wins in 13 starts this year. Thursday's victory represents her ninth career score and bolstered her bankroll to $78,368. She returned $6.80 to win. Not only did Wrenn win the featured event of the night, he scored five more times on the 15-race program. Ayers Ratliff    

Harness Tracks of America and David Snyder, President of International Sound Corporation, are pleased to announce the renewal of the HTA Scholarship Awards for the 2015-2016 academic year. The annual program offers $15,000 in scholarships for postsecondary education to daughters and sons of licensed harness racing trainers, drivers, caretakers and management personnel, or young people themselves who are actively engaged in the harness racing industry. Interested candidates can retrieve brief instructions and an official application form at www.harnesstracks.com, or by contacting HTA Scholarship Committee Coordinator Heather McColloch, [hmccolloch@northfieldpark.com], c/o Northfield Park, 10705 Northfield Road, Northfield, OH 44067, 330-467-4101, ext. 2204. Deadline for application submissions is July 10, 2015.  Inaugurated in 1973 by the late HTA Executive Vice President Stan Bergstein, the scholarship program trustees have awarded 208 grants totaling $778,950 to 141 college and advanced degree students. The Snyder Family and ISC, providers of racetrack and sport facility video, graphics and audio services to over 100 U.S. and international clients, have been the primary benefactors of the fund. Significant monetary assistance also has come from the Tioga Horsemen’s Association, Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir of the New Meadowlands and Chris McErlean, an HTA Scholarship alumnus and current senior executive at Penn National Gaming.  Heather McColloch c/o Northfield Park 330-467-4101, ext. 2204 hmccolloch@northfieldpark.com

Like Old Times was much the best in Northfield's harness racing feature race on Wednesday (May 27). She romped in the $17,500 Gin Blossom Series Final. The sophomore filly is trained by Don McKirgan for owner Keith Ross of Bellefontaine, Ohio. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was aboard for the winning drive. Like Old Times (Chip Chip Hooray-Royal Two-Royal Troubador) began from post seven. She was parked through the initial :28.3 and :58.4 fractions. She took the lead in the third panel and remained on top through times of 1:28.2 and 1:58.1. She was an uncontested four lengths in front at the wire. Completing the race were Es Mucho, Sammy De Vie, Guth, Lu's Neely, Northern Cone, Mr Fix It Elwood, Treasure Volo and Sammy Sammy Sammy. Wednesday's win was Like Old Times' fourth victory this season in five starts. It bolstered her career win tally to seven and her lifetime earnings to $91,105. She was heavily favored and returned $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff          

Indiana Cam prevailed in Northfield Park's feature race on Tuesday (May 26) when he captured the $17,500 Spring Break Series Final. The harness racing gelded sophomore is trained by Ron Steck, who also owns the pacer with Bruce Soulsby. Keith Kash Jr. was aboard for the winning drive. Indiana Cam (Majestic Blue-One Fine Cam-Camluck) was the benefactor of three breaking rivals at different points in the mile, including both 4-5 favorites. He started from post three and was third approaching the :27.4 opening quarter, when the horse sitting second made a break, advancing Indiana Cam to the garden spot. He remained in the pocket through the :57.2 half. Starting up the backstretch the horse on the lead made a break. Indiana Cam inherited the front and maintained the lead through times of 1:26.1 and 1:56. He was 1 ½-lengths in front at the wire. Completing the race were Fan Of Terror, Stonebridge Saga, Bold Secret, Stirling Cyclone, Nashville Bound, Major Monte and JM'sDukeofdelight. Tuesday's win was Indiana Cam's first victory this year in five starts. It bolstered his career win tally to three and his lifetime earnings to $20,682. He returned $30.00 to win. Ayers Ratliff

Graceful Beauty captured the $17,500 final of the harness racing Wallflower Series on Thursday (May 21) at Northfield Park. She is owned and trained by Adam Short of Archbold, Ohio. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was in the sulky. The five year-old pacing mare had competed in three legs of the Wallflower Series leading up to Thursday's final. She proved herself to be a true force for her competition by posting two victories and a third place finish in those legs. Graceful Beauty (Rocknroll Hanover-Mango Hanover-Big Towner) started from post two. She led her competition at every call through fractions of :27.2, :56.4, 1:27.3 and 1:57.1, besting her competition by 1 ¾-lengths. Completing the race were Winemen Dine Me, Yourplaceormine, APP Panda, Feelin Outragous, Lucky L and Dream Roll. Thursday's win was the fourth victory this year in seven starts. That quintuplet of wins this season also represents her career. Her lifetime earnings now stand at $34,432. She was heavily favored and returned $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff

Jason Thompson scored the 1,000th win of his driving career while driving Miss Riley in Northfield Park's opening race on Monday (May 18). They returned $14.60 to win after sitting the pocket and using a stretch kick to win, stopping the clock at 1:57. The time represents a new lifetime mark for the five year-old harness racing trotting mare. Thompson became interested in racing at an early age. He often rode with his grandfather John Dyer to various tracks to watch harness racing. Jason's first job in the industry was cleaning stalls for Sophie Zubkoff (Twaddle). Jason drove his first race in 1996 and finished seventh at the Paulding County Fair behind Pleasant Jerry in a $2,000 claiming race. 36-year-old Thompson remembers his first win as being aboard Mr Morris in 1997 at the Van Wert County Fair in a $1,000 overnight event. Mike Wolfe was the largest mentor to Thompson when he began driving regularly. "Mike gave me a lot of good advice and pointers," said Thompson. "He helped me and taught me a lot." Thompson credits the best horse he has ever driven as being Midnight Jewel. His fastest win was aboard Tug River Claude at Colonial Downs in 1:51.2. To date, Jason Thompson has not only won 1,000 races but has earned purses totaling over $3.5M. In addition to driving on a nightly basis, Thompson trains a stable of three horses with his long-time girlfriend Kerry Merriman. Ayers Ratliff

Lease Ness Monster crossed the finish line faster than any harness racing four-year-old mare in the history of Northfield Park when she won the $13,000 Fillies and Mares Open in 1:52.1 on Thursday (May 7). The clocking breaks the 1:52.2 former record by Don't Blame Her (Greg Grismore) in 2007. David Waltz of Clayton, Michigan owns Lease Ness Monster. Scott Bateson is her trainer and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was in the sulky for the winning drive. Lease Ness Monster (Lease On Life-Sheza Hot Monster-Mark Johnathan) started from the rail. She led her competition through fractions of :27.3, :55.4, 1:23.1 and 1:52.1. There was never an anxious moment for the winner, who bested her competition by six-lengths. Lease Ness Monster now has three wins in 11 starts this year. Thursday's victory represents her seventh career score and bolstered her bankroll to $65,368. She was the race favorite and returned $5.00 to win. Ayers Ratliff  

Northfield Park has announced the dates of four Iron Maiden Late Closing Series. These series offer increased racing opportunities for younger horses to start their seasons. All of the late closers carry a condition of: Non-winners of One Pari-Mutuel Race (Ohio Breds N/W Two) or Non-Winners of $7,500 Lifetime (Through 4/30/2015). The series are divided into filly and mare pacers, colt and gelding pacers, filly and mare trotters, and colt and gelding trotters. However, the trotters will be combined if at least 10 horses do not pay into each event. A one-time $200 payment will be required of each entrant to be eligible. Payments are due by May 15. Conditions for the series can be found at www.northfieldpark.com. The link is under the "For Horsemen" tab located on Northfield's homepage. Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing driver Sam Schillaci scored the 3,000th win of his driving career aboard Pay The Winner in Northfield Park's opening race on Monday evening (May 4). They boldly loomed from far back to pass their rivals, besting the competition by eight and ¼-lengths in 1:58 over a sloppy surface. Sam grew up in the horse business. His father owned harness horses and his uncle and cousin were trainers. Schillaci, 52, drove his first race in in 1979 behind the pacing mare Jenny Roe Gill. She was not only his first drive, but was also the first horse that returned to the winner's circle sporting Schilliaci's maroon and gold colors. Schillaci's richest win was aboard Memphis Flash in the 1998 edition of the $215,300 Cleveland Classic at Northfield Park. Sam credits Memphis Flash as being the best horse he has ever driven. Teeth Of The Dog posted Schillaci's fastest win in August, 2000 when he won the $11,000 Invitational Pace in 1:51.3. Sam's drives have amassed over $11 million in purse earnings. Having been involved with harness racing all his life, Sam does a lot more than just catch drive at Northfield Park. The Macedonia, Ohio resident works very hard and has turned the sport into a way of life. He trains a stable of 32 horses with Jodi, his wife of 15 years. "I have not driven a whole lot for most of the last decade," stated Schillaci. "I had lost most of my interest in driving for the most part, but with racing coming back like it has and the nice purses here at Northfield I have regained my interest and passion. I am now looking forward to my 4,000th win." Ayers Ratliff

After driving a winner in the first leg of the seven-month C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series at Pompano Park last Saturday, Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford was back in the winners circle at Northfield Park on Thursday (April 23) after the completion of the second leg of the seven month series. Up behind his own Bold Strike, Oldford took no prisoners and used the front-end route to score an easy three-length victory in a time of 1:59.2. For the Croswell, Michigan automotive manufacturer rep marked his 103rd career win. He (Bold Strike) was full of trot and when the gate sprung he was in high gear so I just let him ramble,"Oldford said via phone after the race. "We had an easy lead and were never seriously challenged throughout the mile." Perhaps no serious challenges arose because after the :28.2 first quarter Oldford kept the pedal to the metal as Bold Strike trotted the next three quarters in :30 and a piece to lead Pembroke Snapshot and driver "Hot-Handed Hannah" Miller to the finish wire. Third place went to Good Friend driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. Although Oldford was pleased with his driving victory he couldn't say enough nice things about Hannah Miller who is beginning to make a name for herself as an excellent harness driver. "She's won quite a few races lately against some veteran amateur drivers and wherever she races she's usually the one to beat," he said. "She did a masterful job tonight with her trotter despite having to start from the eight hole. She gunned him out of there and found the two hole and got a good journey. However, my horse was strong on the lead... but she was second best." For Oldford, USHWA's Amateur Driver of the Year in 2013, it was his second consecutive driving victory and third in his last five starts. Already Oldford has six winners this season and has his sights on winning more than19 races which is his most prolific output since he started amateur driving in earnest in 2006. John Manzi

Harness racing longshot players were celebrating after the horses crossed the finish of Northfield Park’s seventh race on Wednesday (April 22) when #3 Follow A Dream bested his rivals at odds of 60-1.        Robert Corbin of Ashland, Ohio owns the five year-old pacer.  Trainer Renee Houska enlisted the driving services of Luke Ebersole.  Wednesday’s win was Follow A Dream’s first race this year and represents his third lifetime score.           Follow A Dream was chased across the wire by #8 Here Comes Whitey (8-1), #9 Tidbit (10-1) and #6 Coin Of The Realm (45-1).    Follow A Dream returned $122.80 to win; the 3-8 Exacta paid $1,465.80; the 3-8-9 $1 Trifecta returned $9,427.90; and the 3-8-9-6 10¢ Superfecta paid $9,905.43. The remainder of the 15-race Wednesday program was dominated by Ronnie Wrenn Jr. who won five races on the card.  Wrenn’s scores included UF Cashnmychips ($4.20) in race two, Worldofsunnytimes ($3.80) in race three, Activator ($3.20) in race four, Nino Marino ($9.40) in race five and Like Old Times ($17.20) in race nine.  Wrenn, 28, began driving in 2008 and is approaching 2,500 career victories and $10M in total purse earnings.  Wrenn was the leading driver in North America in 2013 and 2014.  He is third so far in 2015 and trails the leader (Aaron Merriman) by less than 30 wins. Ayres Ratliff

Ronnie Wrenn Jr., winner of more races than any other harness racing driver in North America in both 2013 and 2014 was at it again on Monday (April 20) at Northfield Park. He won four races on the 15-race program including both the $13,000 Open Pace and $13,000 Open Trot. Rockin Finish was impressive in winning the evening's Open Pace. Virgil Morgan Jr. trains the six year-old gelding for Canadian owner Gerrie Tucker. Rockin Finish (Rocknroll Hanover - Please Me Please - Camluck) started from the far outside and was parked every step while his competition carved stiff fractions of :26.2, :55.1 and 1:23.4. Rockin Finish struck the lead in the stretch and bested his competition by a half-length, in 1:53.4. Completing the race were Fancy Creek Elusive, Hotunderthecollar, Action Metro Max, Solar Surprise and Artist Night. Espen De Vie did not finish. Monday's triumph was the fourth win in 13 starts this year for Rockin Finish. It increased his lifetime win tally to 25 and his earnings to $376,947. He returned $17.60 to win. Victory Is Coming was the winner of the weekly Open Trot. Betty and John Shaw own the eight year-old. Ammon Hershberger conditions the buckeye-bred trotting mare. Victory Is Coming (Victory Sam - Norse Comer - Overcomer) left alertly from post four and led her competition at every call. She set well-rated fractions of :28.1, :58, 1:27.1 and 1:55.4 and was 2 1/2-lengths in front at the finish. Completing the race were Edit, Julians Caesar, Easy Strength, Zorgwijk Mercedes, Viewlander, Kirty Dream and Mama Made Me Blue. Victory Is Coming now has three wins in seven starts this year, 53 career successes and a bankroll of $584,595. She was the heavy favorite and paid $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff  

Champagne Tonight ended her harness racing career the same way it began - with a win. She was victorious in her final trip around a racing oval when she crossed the wire a winner in the 10th race at Northfield Park on Thursday (April 9). Ronnie Wrenn Jr. piloted the five year-old mare from the second tier and let her competition carve out the :27.2, :55.4 and 1:25.2 ambitious fractions. Wrenn swooped Champagne Tonight three-deep in the final turn, struck the lead in the stretch and stopped the timer in 1:56. Northfield Park Wall of Famer, Clair Umholtz trains the pacer for Umholtz Racing Inc. and Kennedy Sports Corporation. Champagne Tonight (Western Terror-Lake Shore Drive-Real Desire) leaves the track after winning 14 times and making the ticket a total of 29 of her 56 starts. She bankrolled $330,521 and took a 1:51.3 mark at the age of two at Pocono Downs. Since day one after purchasing Champagne Tonight as a yearling for $10,000 the Umholtz/Kennedy partnership could not have been happier with her. "She trained down beautifully and been a dream to race," said Umholtz. "She is definitely the best horse I have ever had." Her connections have decided to breed her to Somebeachsomewhere (PA) and hope to have a healthy foal in 2016 that will possess Champagne Tonight's heart, talent and passion for racing. Champagne Tonight was one of six wins on the Thursday card for Ronnie Wrenn Jr. Ayers Ratliff

As the Ohio weather changes for the better, harness racing fans can start focusing on some exciting racing events slated this year at Northfield Park. The $200,000 (est.) Battle Of Lake Erie is set for Friday, June 12 and has 22 nominees. The nominated list includes two-time Battle of Late Erie champion and the richest standardbred of all-time, Foiled Again (1:48 f, $6,921,281) and the defending Battle champion Clear Vision (148.2 f, $2,312,132). Battle nominees also include a host of other millionaire performers: Michael's Power (1:48.1 s, $1,748,161), All Bets Off (1:48.3 f, $1,098,092) and Twilight Bonfire (1:50.1 f, $1,003,070). The $200,000 (est.) Cleveland Trotting Classic will go to post on Friday, July 3. This will be the inaugural event for this newly formed race for veteran trotters. Among the 28 trotters nominated to the Cleveland Trotting Classic are millionaires: Market Share (1:50.2 f, $3,683,960), Daylon Magician (1:51.1 s, $1,786,104) and Celebrity Secret (1:52.3 m, $1,099,663). The connections of top three year-olds in the country have shown great interest in the $500,000 (est.) Carl Milstein Memorial. This race is for three-year-old pacers and has been slated for Friday, August 14. Included in the 35 nominees are last year's stand-outs: In The Arsenal (1:49.4 m, $396,318, Go Daddy Go (1:51.1 m, $365,567), Lyons Levi Lewis (1:52.1 s, $362,078) and Lost For Words (1:50.4 m, $200,286). Three sophomores have staked into the Milstein who are still unbeaten. These include: Roland N Rock (14 wins), Wiggle It Jiggleit (6 wins) and Allbeef N Nobull (4 wins). The $125,000 (est.) Courageous Lady is the final marque event on Northfield's calendar. North America's top three year-old pacing fillies will take the stage to compete on Friday, November 27. There are 47 fillies nominated to the Courageous Lady, including last year's top-performers: Sassa Hanover (1:50.1 m, $485,591), Southwind Roulette (1:51.4 f, $300,595), Sports Chic (154.2 f, $220,779) and Well Hello There (1:53 f, $214,132). Northfield Park's Stakes Calendar for 2015: Friday, June 12 Battle Of Lake Erie, Ohio Sires Stakes (three year-old filly pace and trot) Friday, July 3 Cleveland Trotting Classic, Ohio Sires Stakes (two year-old filly pace and trot) Friday, July 17 Ohio Sires Stakes (three year-old colt pace and trot) Friday, July 24 Ohio Sires Stakes (two year-old colt pace and trot) Saturday, August 1 Summit County Fair Stakes Friday, August 14 Carl Milstein Memorial, Ohio Sires Stakes (three year-old filly pace and trot) Friday, August 21 Ohio Sires Stakes (two year-old colt and filly pace and trot) Friday, November 27 Courageous Lady Ayers Ratliff

Harness racing longshot players were cashing in after the horses crossed the finish of Northfield Park's fourth race on Thursday (April 2) when #8 Juliana's Director swooped from the back to win at odds of 68-1. New York Thunder Stable of Washington, Pennsylvania owns the four year-old pacer. Trainer Calvin Hollar enlisted the driving services of Greg Grismore. Thursday's win was Juliana's Director's first win this year in six starts and represents her fourth lifetime score. Juliana's Director was followed across the wire by #6 Here And Now (8-5), #3 Mephisto Waltz (28-1) and #5 Four Hour Nap (6-1). Juliana's Director returned $138.20 to win; the 8-6 Exacta paid $661.00; the 8-6-3 Trifecta returned $13,923.60; and the 8-6-3-5 10¢ Superfecta paid $2,861.70. Ayers Ratliff

Northfield Park has announced the dates of three Spring Late Closing series. These series offer increased harness racing opportunities for younger horses coming back to the races this season. All of the newly added Late Closers carry a condition of: Non-winners of Two Pari-Mutuel Races (Ohio Breads N/W Three) or Non-Winners of $15,000 Lifetime (Through 3/15/2015). Tuesdays (April 21, April 28, May 12 and May 19) will offer The Spring Break Series for horse and gelding pacers. Each leg will be raced for a $5,500 purse. The final will be Tuesday (May 26) for a purse of $17,500. Wednesdays (April 22, May 6, May 13 and May 20) highlight The Gin Blossom Series for trotters. Each of these legs will also carry a $5,500 purse. The $17,500 final will be Wednesday (May 27). Thursdays (April 16, April 23, May 7 and May 14) will host The Wallflower Series for filly and mare pacers. Each of the four legs will carry purses of $5,500. The $17,500 final (all purses guaranteed) will go to post on Thursday (May 21). A one-time $300 payment will be required of each entrant to be eligible. Payments are due by April 1. Conditions for the series can be found at www.northfieldpark.com. The link is near the bottom of Northfield's homepage. Northfield Park Adds $60,000 Pick-5 Total Pool Guarantee to Tuesday’s Card Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $60,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Tuesday’s (March 31) program.  Beginning in Race 3, the $60,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $14,157.66. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.    Tuesday’s post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratliff

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