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Harness racing owner Hans Enggren will watch Sunday as his 5-year-old trotter Resolve competes in Sweden's famed Elitloppet at Solvalla Raceway. It has been more than three decades since Enggren can recall having a horse in the elite race, but the thought of his previous attempt to win it with a horse named Spirits Supreme triggers an amusing anecdote which could have started with the line, "A man walks into a bar with a horse." The bar, located in Gettysburg, Pa., near Enggren's adopted hometown of Abbottstown, was owned by Enggren and renamed in honor of Spirits Supreme, who raced in the 1983 Elitloppet. One day, Enggren decided to show off the horse to the establishment's patrons. "To everyone's delight, I brought Spirits Supreme right into the bar," the 86-year-old Enggren said, laughing, "and he gracefully baptized it, I guess you would call it." Spirits Supreme was unsuccessful in his attempt for an Elitloppet victory, not to mention barroom etiquette, but Enggren is hopeful that Resolve can get him to the winner's circle. Resolve, who received the 2015 O'Brien Award for the best older male trotter to compete in Canada, races in the first of two Elitloppet eliminations. The top four finishers from each division advance to the same-day final. Resolve is trained by two-time Elitloppet winner Ake Svanstedt, who also will drive the stallion. Five-year-old stallion Nuncio, whose success in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3 included victories in the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, competes in the second elimination and is the 2-1 favorite to win the event according to online oddsmakers. Since turning 4, Nuncio has raced in Europe for owner/trainer Stefan Melander. He finished third in the 2015 Elitloppet, which was won by Magic Tonight. Resolve, who will start his elimination from post No. 2, is the fourth choice in the pre-race odds, at 12-1. Timoko, who won the 2014 Elitloppet, is 7-1 and Propulsion is 8-1. Timoko and Propulsion, who raced in the States for trainer Tony Alagna at ages 3 and 4, are in the same elimination as Resolve. Defending champion Magic Tonight, who raced in the U.S. for trainer Noel Daley in his early years, is in the second elimination and will start from post seven. He is 41-1. "I'm very excited," said Enggren, a native of Sweden who moved to the U.S. in 1952. "I know a lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to get the horse there and to get me there. It will be nice to meet some old friends and see Resolve race. I know Nuncio has been declared a pretty strong favorite, but I have high hopes for Resolve. "I think an awful lot of my trainer. According to comments I've seen in the Swedish papers, they feel like I feel --- that Svanstedt has improved the horse tremendously." Enggren, perhaps best known as the breeder and owner of 1985 Hambletonian winner Prakas as well as heading Meadowbranch Farms, bought Resolve in July 2014. Last year, Resolve won four of 13 races and hit the board a total of 12 times on his way to $700,938. His wins included the TVG Free For All Series championship and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. He finished second in the Maple Leaf Trot final, as well as the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Hambletonian Maturity. This year, Resolve is officially winless in two starts, although he did get to the finish line first in the Mack Lobell Elitloppet Playoff on May 8 at the Meadowlands only to be disqualified for going inside several pylons in the stretch. Despite the missteps, the connections received an Elitloppet invitation. Resolve is the lone U.S.-owned horse in the race. "It would mean a lot," Enggren said about the possibility of winning the race, which he has attended numerous times over the years. "I was brought up in Sweden with horses in the late '30s, early '40s. I always was very closely attached to Solvalla. As a kid, I was there a lot. If we were to win, it would be truly amazing. I have promised everybody here that I'm not going to cry if they take pictures." Is it a promise Enggren thinks he can keep? "We'll see," he said, adding with a laugh, "Perhaps I will wear very black glasses." Ken Weingartner

LUCAN, Ontario . . . Seelster Farms today announced that the harness racing Dan Patch and O’Brien Award winning Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year,  Wheeling N Dealin, is the latest addition to their stallion roster for 2016.   Wheeling N Dealin enjoyed a spectacular freshman season during which time he never tasted defeat in nine starts. He swept the Bridger Series, won the Champlain in a season’s best 1:55, captured the elim and final of the William Wellwood Memorial and concluded the season with a sweep of the Breeders Crown.   He was the overwhelming choice as the best two-year-old trotting colt of the year in Canada and the US winning the O’Brien and Dan Patch Awards.   As a sophomore, Wheeling N Dealin started in the three toughest races for his group, the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic and the Kentucky Futurity. In the first, he finished second in his elimination timed in 1:53.1 and, in the second, he was a close third in his elim and fourth in the final.   Wheeling N Dealin concluded his racing career late this summer at Mohawk, winning his final two starts including a life best 1:54 performance. He retires to the Seelster Farms’ breeding shed with $913,000 in earnings.   In addition to his talent on track, Wheeling N Dealin also possesses a deep pedigree. His sire is the great Cantab Hall, a winner of $1.5 million in his racing career and the sire of such standouts as Father Patrick ($2.6 million), Wild Honey ($1.6 million), Explosive Matter ($1.5 million), etc.   Wheeling N Dealin’s dam is the multiple stakes winner Quick Credit who won more than $553,000 and has also produced Sugar Wheeler ($354,000).   The introductory fee for Wheeling N Dealin is $4,000. For further information, please see or call (519) 227-4294.   2012 Breeder's Crown     2012 Bridger Final     2012 Champlain Stakes     2012 William Wellwood Final  

Last year undefeated JK She’salady was voted Horse of the Year in Canada with 45% of the vote. The winner of the Shes A Great Lady, Three Diamonds and Eternal Camnation, all held in Ontario, stood out from the pack, and she certainly met all the qualifications for the award, but the owner—3 Brothers Stables—consists of three brothers from New York, the trainer, Nancy Johansson, is based in New Jersey, and the horse was bred in New York, so her Canadian credentials weren’t strong enough for some. As a result, the Casie Coleman trainee, McWicked, whose only stakes win in Canada was a Cup elimination, received 11 votes to the filly’s 19.  So when there isn’t a standout Canadian based trotter or pacer, handicapping the Horse of the Year contest up North can be tricky. In 2013 undefeated Bee A Magician won the award in a landslide with 81% of the vote. She took the Elegantimage, Casual Breeze, Simcoe and Super Gold Final in Ontario that year. The Kadabra filly also received 78% of the vote for the Dan Patch, so she was admired with equal fervor on both sides of the border. BAM is by an Ontario stallion, handled by a Canadian based trainer and owned by Canadians. In 2012 Jug winner Michaels Power was voted Horse of the Year in Canada. He also won the Confederation Cup, a split of the SBSW, the Upper Canada Cup and three Gold legs. He was trained by Casie Coleman and driven by Scott Zeron. Jeffrey Snyder, from the US, owns the gelding. Michaels Power received 44% of the vote. The undefeated freshman trotter, Wheeling N Dealin, garnered 25%. The latter raced exclusively in Canada as a two-year-old, winning nine times, including the BC, Wellwood and Champlain. He’s Pennsylvania bred, but otherwise of Canadian origin. And in 2011 San Pail, who had a career year, won in Canada with 92% of the vote, and he was designated the Dan Patch winner in the US with 80%. The eleven-year-old is Canadian from head to tail. So what horse will win in 2015? It certainly isn’t a San Pail 2011 or BAM 2013 kind of year. For instance, none of the eligible, viable candidates made a season ending splash in the BC, Matron, Final Four or TVG. The 2013 winner Bee A Magician, who leads all North American aged trotters in earnings, may be the first ever to rule the roost more than once in Canada while not doing so in consecutive years. SBSW is the only horse to win consecutive O’Briens, although he finished in a dead heat with Tell All the first time. Armbro Flight is the only three time pre-O’Brien winner; Handle With Care and Fan Hanover are the mares that won twice. BAM won the highest profile open trot in Canada, the Maple Leaf, as well as the top mare’s open, the Armbro Flight. She also beat the boys in the Cutler, Charlie Hill and Centaur down South. After D’One beat her in the Fresh Yankee and Muscle Hill, and won the Allerage Mare and BC Mare, it looked like that one might take the Dan Patch from BAM, but D’One went back to Sweden prior to the TVG Mare. BAM is a prime candidate. On the other hand, perhaps we’ll have back to back freshman fillies occupying that slot, for the first time ever in Canada. Armbro Ranger and Jade Prince each won consecutively, fifteen years prior to the inception of the O’Brien awards, but never two fillies. LA Delight raced exclusively in Ontario; won 11 of 12 starts; is second to BC winner Pure Country in divisional earnings; won the Great Lady and splits of the Eternal Camnation and Champlain; won three OSS Gold legs and the Super Final; is trained and owned by the iconic Bob McIntosh; is driven by Randy Waples; and was sired by on again off again OSS stallion Bettor’s Delight. What’s not to like? She didn’t race past the Super Final, missing the BC, Matron and Three Diamonds, so she won’t beat out Pure Country for the Dan Patch in her division, but she will be voted the top freshman pacing filly in Canada. With each passing year racing becomes more Balkanized, and one manifestation of that is that fewer and fewer of the top fillies travel to the WEG circuit for the Grand Circuit stakes. That was the case again this year. This may serve as a detriment in her battle for the Dan Patch divisional title, but won’t impact her quest for division honors in Canada. It may hurt her in the Horse of the Year vote, however. Three fillies: Trixton’s mama, Emile Cas El; Whenuwishuponastar; and JK She’salady have been voted O’Brien Horse of the Year awards. And Armbro Flight, Handle With Care and Fan Hanover won it prior to the establishment of the O’Brien Awards in 1989. Freshman pacer Control The Moment won 8 of 9 starts, including the Metro and Nassagaweya and is the fastest two-year-old among the top ten on the money list from that class. However, he finished sixth in the BC and didn’t go on from there. His Canadian connections are solid and he made all his starts up there, but being by Well Said he has no record of achievement in the OSS. LA Delight is a more likely choice among the juvenile set. What about the rest of the competition? State Treasurer had a great year, winning 9 of 11 starts at the highest level and earning a division leading $866,000, but the bottom fell out in Lexington and he was beaten soundly by Miki on his home turf in the BC. A division O’Brien? Yes. Horse of the Year? No. It’s tough to overcome a subpar fall season in the awards game. Southwind Frank had three wins in Ontario, including the BC, but he may not even take his division. The Kadabra colt Tony Soprano was very strong in the OSS with a win in the Super Final as well as three Gold legs. He has no GC resume, but Bob McIntosh trains him and owns a piece as well, and Randy Waples and John Campbell drive. The first foal of Windsong Soprano doesn’t merit Horse of the Year consideration, but due to the quirky nature of the O’Brien voting, the division may be his. Poor Frank. Tony’s paternal sister, Caprice Hill, was another demon in the OSS, winning her Super Final and three Gold legs for Tony Alagna. Yannick, Tim and Randy drove. Overall she won 7 of 10 starts and earned a nifty $454,000. She was bred by Hanover, but her owner, Tom Hill, is Canadian and she’s by Kadabra. Again, division? Yes. The Mach Three sophomore Solar Sister had a very good year, winning the Super Final, three Gold legs and the SBOA Classic for the McNairs. She earned $435,000 on 8 wins in 16 starts overall. An O’Brien for her division? Maybe. HOY? No. I say maybe because her paternal sister Wrangler Magic also had a good year. She was unusual in that she was better on the GC than she was in the OSS. Wrangler Magic won the Fan Hanover and the Simcoe, but she was only 2 for 6 in the OSS. The Simcoe was her only win after July 2 and she didn’t get past her BC elimination, so she probably won’t even win her division. Tony O’Sullivan’s mercurial Muscle Mass filly, Muscle Baby Doll, won a split of the Casual Breeze and 3 of 5 starts in the OSS program. A tenth place finish in her Super Final didn’t help. Mission Brief won the Elegantimage and the elimination for that one, but she lost in the BC, while Wild Honey took the BC, but finished second in the Elegantimage final and elimination. Again, Ron Burke describes Mission Brief as the best horse he ever trained, but the O’Brien Awards are different. Reverend Hanover didn’t race enough and Twin B Thong was stuck behind LA Delight. She won 10 times in 15 starts for $337,000 and won in 1:52. Doug McNair drove. So it should come down to Bee A Magician or LA Delight. BAM will win a Dan Patch and an O’Brien in her division, while the Bettor’s Delight filly will win an O’Brien. BAM could have locked up Horse of the Year honors with a BC win, in either division, but she finished fourth in the open. Shake It Cerry then beat her in the TVG Mare. And LA Delight probably could have put herself in position to win if she beat Pure Country in the BC, but she wasn’t staked to it. The same goes for the Three Diamonds and the Matron. Like I said, this is not a San Pail 2011 or BAM 2013 year. The O'Brien’s are whacky awards in that there are so many ancillary factors that play a part in choosing the winners. Tough to get inside those Canadian minds. by Joe FitzGerald for Harnesslink Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.  

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 28 - Harness racing trainer John Bax is no stranger to success, having collected nearly $20 million in lifetime earnings. On Saturday evening, the veteran conditioner will be looking to add another win to his collection with Stubborn Belle in the $129,661 WEG-S.B.O.A Final for three-year-old filly trotters at Mohawk Racetrack. Her first start of the season came in the eliminations a week prior, with an impressive win in 1:55.2. "I was real happy with her," said Bax. "I think it was a good tightener for her, we've got the inside (in the S.B.O.A. final) so I'm hoping she'll be just one race better. Touch wood, hopefully she stays healthy." The daughter of Taurus Dream spent her winter across the border before returning to the track, fresh and ready for her sophomore campaign. "She enjoyed Florida as much as I did! She's come back pretty good, a few hiccups here and there. She can be a bit hard on herself so we've got the odd bump and bruise. Despite that, I think she's getting back to where she needs to be." According to Bax, his trainee can certainly put the "stubborn" in "Stubborn Belle" and though somewhat calmer as a three-year-old, she still considers herself to be the boss. Heading into the final, she'll be looking to prove it to a strong field. "I think she's got as good a chance as any. Obviously I'm hoping for a win but I think she looks good in there. There's a couple new horses coming out of the woodwork and I'm sure they're going to be heard from." Bill Budd's Meadow Seelster certainly made herself known last week, finishing a strong second to Stubborn Belle after making a break at the start. Since returning to the track in 2015, she's continued to trot faster with each start. Another one to watch will be Second Sister as she looks to build upon her gate-to-wire 1:55 win in the second WEG-S.B.O.A elimination for Team McNair. "The three-year-old year, you always have to step up," said Bax. "It's a long year so I won't read too much into one race, but I'm looking forward to a good three-year-old season with her." In 2014, Stubborn Belle picked up another win off the track, capturing the O'Brien Award for Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly to cap off a season with earnings in excess of $500,000. She edged out fellow nominee Danielle Hall, who broke stride early in her elimination, rallying for sixth and the also eligible position in Saturday's event. "I felt disappointed for Carl (Jamieson)," said Bax. "It would have been nice if he could have gotten a good start in her somewhere. That's the problem with making all that money as a two-year-old, it's hard to put a horse in for their first start back and get a race where they don't get beat up by older horses. "I'm sure it's just a blip, (Danielle Hall) is a nice mare. She always liked to beat the good ones." Stubborn Belle will be headed next to Ontario Sires Stakes action and Bax has Grand Circuit events such as the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage stakes also on her radar. "I'm hopeful she'll be good enough for the Hambletonian Oaks in August. There's lots of racing for her, it's a long season so you don't want to stretch them out too much too early. It's going to be a good year." Saturday night's card at Mohawk will be highlighted by the WEG-S.B.O.A finals for both three-year-old filly trotters and pacers. The $129,661 final for trotting fillies is carded as Race 3, while the $127,661 final for sophomore pacing fillies will take place as Race 6. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Hannah Beckett for WEG Communications  

The London region is home to four of this year’s harness racing inductees to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.   The hall was established in 1976 and has a ceremony each year to honour those who have made a substantial contribution to harness racing and thoroughbred horse racing.   The late London writer Harry  Eisen is an honouree this year, along with the late St. Thomas thoroughbred breeder and owner Bob Anderson, Woodstock standardbred driver and trainer Bill Gale and broodmare J Cs Nathalie, owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll.   The induction ceremony will take place in Mississauga on August 5.   Harry Eisen Eisen loved the sport and was a pioneer of horse racing journalism in Ontario, spending most of his career at The London Free Press.   His column, Mostly About Horses was widely read.   The tales about Eisen were legendary as he was also a handicapper of extraordinary ability.   He was well known at the tracks across Ontario.   Eisen once said he went to his first horse race when he was only three or four years old. He sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a youngster.   He was inducted to the Western Fair Raceway Hall of Fame in 1980, the first non-horseperson to be inducted.   Bob Anderson He was a longtime owner of Anderson Farms in St. Thomas and was involved with breeding, racing and selling both thoroughbred and standardbred horses for more than 40 years.   He bred and matured over 1,400 horses including champions Pinafore Park, Larkwhistle, and Prince Avatar. Some of the sires he bred included Ascot Knight, National Assembly and Alydeed.   Anderson once told me the secret to success is to pay for quality. "I very seldom regretted buying quality. Sometimes it's worth reaching a little bit."   Bill Gale He was a leading driver in Canada for a three-decade period, beginning in the 1970s.   He had 16 consecutive seasons earning more than $1 million.   Gale won many big races including a pair of Breeders Crown championships. He drove King Conch to a World Record 1:56.2 in the two-year-old trotting colt category.   In 1991, Gale won an O’Brien Award as Canada’s top driver.   J Cs Nathalie Owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, this mare produced two million-dollar earners - Dreamfair Vogel and Dreamfair Eternal.   J Cs Nathalie will join her daughter, Dreamfair Eternal, in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.   Dreamfair  Eternal won an O’Brien as Canada’s horse of the year in 2010 and received her induction to the hall last year.   J Cs Nathalie has produced 13 horses and 11 of them together have banked more than $4.5 million in purse earnings.   Courtesy of CTV News - London

Standardbred Canada has announced the winners of the 2014 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s champions in harness racing over the past season. The annual Black Tie Gala was held Saturday, February 7 in Mississauga, Ontario, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre. The awards are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. O’Brien was born in Alberton, PEI. JK Shesalady took home the O’Brien title as Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year honours. The daughter of Art Major was perfect in her juvenile season, scoring 12 victories and earning over $930,000 for her owner-breeders 3 Brothers Stables (Alan, Ronald and Steven Katz) of New York, N.Y. She racked up wins in the Tompkins-Geers, the Eternal Camnation, and swept the Shes A Great Lady Stake at Mohawk Racetrack. She also won stakes at Hoosier Park and The Red Mile, and swept the Three Diamonds at Woodbine Racetrack and then ended her invincible season with wins in the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record for two-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:50.1 effort in winning the Shes A Great Lady Final at Mohawk. Chris Christoforou, of Campbellville, Ontario, won his fourth title as Canada’s Driver of the Year. 2014 was a year of milestones for Christoforou as he surpassed 6,000 career wins in early November and then in mid-November, eclipsed $100 million in earnings. He scored 242 wins and drove horses to over $5.4 million in earnings. Christoforou last won this award in 2003. Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ontario, successfully defended his Trainer of the Year title. Moreau has been a mainstay on the WEG circuit for over 10 years, and led all Canadian trainers in the wins and earnings charts last season. Moreau trained 241 winners and horses to $2.7 million in earnings and operates a large stable of claiming and conditioned horses. Bill Davis, of Langley, B.C. won his second O’Brien Award for Horsemanship. Davis was the inaugural winner of this award in 2003 and put together some incredible stats in 2014, considering it was probably the most personally challenging year of his career. Davis lost 17 horses in a horrific barn fire in early June. Despite this major setback, he drove 139 winners and horses to $726,000 in earnings, while training 100 winners and horses to $584,000 in purse earnings. Anndrovette took home her fourth consecutive O’Brien trophy as Canada’s top pacing mare. In 2014, at the age of seven, the daughter of Riverboat King continued to perform at her usual high standard, winning six of 22 races while adding $538,000 to her bankroll. That seasonal total pushed her career earnings over $3 million. She took a season’s best of 1:49.1 at Mohawk in winning her third consecutive Roses Are Red Stakes title. Artspeak was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. The Western Ideal colt won eight of 10 races which included a seven race win streak, and over $805,000 while taking on North America’s finest pacing colts. His winning efforts in stakes competition included a division of the Nassagaweya, the elimination and final of the Metro Pace in a season’s best 1:50.2 and the Governors Cup. Lady Shadow took three-year-old pacing filly honours. The daughter of Shadow Play followed a productive two-year-old season with another outstanding year, winning six races and banking over $280,000. She turned a lot of heads with a sensational 1:49.2 lifetime best in an elimination of the Canadian Breeders Championships at Mohawk Racetrack. Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt honours went to McWicked, who boasted 21 top three finishes from 23 starts and almost $1.5 million in earnings. He took a mark of 1:47.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in winning the Max Hempt Final in world record time. The son of McArdle put together a strong finish to his sophomore campaign with wins in the Breeders Crown Championship and Progress Pace. Modern Legend, a son of Modern Art, bred, owned and trained by Dave Drew of St. Catharines won the Older Pacing Horse division. Last season saw him win five races and over $437,000. His most exciting performance of the season was a three length victory in the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, Canada’s oldest harness stakes event in a career best 1:47.2. Stubborn Belle was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. She won five races and over $524,000 and was always a threat in stakes competition. The Taurus Dream filly posted a victory in the Peaceful Way Final at Mohawk, her richest payday on the season, and won half of her six Ontario Sires Stakes events. Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt honours went to Habitat who enjoyed an impressive season, winning seven races and over $567,000 while taking a mark of 1:53.4 in the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile. The Conway Hall colt also added wins in the Kindergarten, William Wellwood Memorial Trot Final and Matron Final to his resume. Riveting Rosie added another O’Brien to her owner’s trophy case, this time as a three-year-old. The Muscle Mass filly won five races and $438,000 for her connections, and was a top Ontario Sires Stakes performer, collecting four wins in six events. Harper Blue Chip, the winner in the three-year-old trotting colt division, was on the board in 12 of 15 races last season and earned almost $700,000 for his owners. He was perfect in Ontario Sires Stakes competition with four victories to his credit. One of his most impressive races came in his third place showing in the Hambletonian. Older Trotting Mare honours went to Classic Martine who won half of her 18 races and earned $452,000 while scoring victories in the Miss Versatility Final, the Armbro Flight and the Ima Lula Trot. Intimidate, Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year in 2012, took the hardware as Older Trotting Horse of the Year. The five-year-old son of Justice Hall raced 14 times in 2014 and earned over $655,000 for his owners. His most impressive start of the year was his final one on November 29, where he trotted to a 1:51.2 victory in the TVG Free For All at The Meadowlands Racetrack. Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., won the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category. They have enjoyed considerable success as breeders during the last decade and manage to keep and race many of their homebreds. From 18 starters bred by the McIntoshes that raced last year, they won 56 races and almost $1.5 million in purse money. Tyler Borth, 22, of Ingersoll, Ontario, won the Future Star Award following a season that saw him drive 99 winners and horses to $451,000 in earnings while training 17 winners and horses with purse earnings of $65,000. The complete voting results will be released on Standardbred Canada’s website on Tuesday, February 10. A complete list of winners follows. 2014 O’Brien Award Winners Pacers Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY   Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer Artspeak –owned by Brittany Farms, Versailles, KY, Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON, Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, OH, In The Gym Partners, Staten Island, NY   Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer Lady Shadow - owned by Lindsey and Connie L Rankin, Lexington, MI   Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer McWicked – owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY   Older Pacing Mare Anndrovette - owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ   Older Pacing Horse Modern Legend - owned by Dave Drew Associates Inc., St. Catharines, ON   Trotters   Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Stubborn Belle - owned by Al J Libfeld, Pickering, ON and Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough, ON   Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Habitat - owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA, Our Horse Cents Stables, Clifton Park, NY, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA   Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Harper Blue Chip - owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable, Kingston, ON, David R McDonald, Cornwall, ON, David K Reid, Glenburnie, ON, George R Judson, Athens, ON   Older Trotting Mare Classic Martine - owned by Hauser Bros Rcng Ent LLC, Orangeburg, NY – Susan M Oakes, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Conrad E Zurich, Fayetteville, NY, and Edwin J Gold, Phoenixville, PA   Older Trotting Horse Intimidate – owned by Determination, Montreal, QC and Judith Farrow, Hemmingford, QC   HORSE OF THE YEAR JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY   People Awards   O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Bill Davis, Langley, BC   Armstrong Breeder of the Year Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., Leamington, ON   Driver of the Year Chris Christoforou, Campbellville, ON   Trainer of the Year Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON   Future Star Award Tyler Borth, Ingersoll, ON STANDARDBRED CANADA MEDIA EXCELLENCE AWARDS   The Media Excellence Awards program, established by Standardbred Canada in 2008, is aimed at honouring exceptional work that covers Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal.   Outstanding Written Work Dave Briggs – 'Desperate Situations'   Outstanding Broadcast Woodbine Entertainment Group - North America Cup HD Broadcast   Outstanding Photography Clive Cohen – Horses Racing In The Fog   From Standardbred Canada

TORONTO, January 26 - Not even the cold temperatures could cool off the red-hot harness racing trainer Richard Moreau Monday night at Woodbine. Moreau's stable sent out seven starters in six races over the course of Monday's 10-race card and visited the winner's circle an impressive five times. Driver Sylvain Filion teamed up with Moreau to drive four of the five winners. The Moreau barn didn't waste anytime winning races, as they swept the first three races of the night. Trotter Big Package, a first time starter for the Moreau stable, won the opener with Filion in the bike in 1:57.1. In the second race, three-year-old pacer Camvicted also won in his Moreau barn debut to remain unbeaten in two career starts. Trevor Henry piloted the sophomore to victory in 1:54.1. Trotter Tymal Colossus kept the barn's hot streak going by easily winning the third race with Filion in 1:57. Moreau didn't send out his next starter until the sixth race, but he picked up right where he left off. Pacer Arrived Late and Filion turned in a big last-quarter to track down and defeat the favourite Velocity Headlight in 1:56. Moreau would next send out a pair of trotters in the top-level conditioned trot and score his fifth victory in upset fashion. Filion was able to get the veteran trotter Watkins to the wire first for a 13-1 upset in 1:55.2. The other Moreau starter, Cracker Zack, finished fourth. Moreau's final starter on the evening, Gonna Rock N Roll, finished out of the money in the final race of the night. The five win evening for Moreau catapults him ahead of Joe Cirasuola for top spot in the WEG trainer's standings. Moreau has won 15 races from 74 starters in 2015 at Woodbine. The veteran conditioner is a finalist for the O'Brien Award as Canada'a top trainer in 2014. The O'Brien Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7. Moreau will look to keep the hot streak going when he sends out three starters Thursday night at Woodbine. Richard Moreau's five winners Race 1 - Big Package Race 2 - Camvicted Race 3 - Tymal Colossus Race 6 - Arrived Late Race 9 - Watkins Mark McKelvie

Harnesslink's Sydney Weaver has been named as a finalist for the 2014 Standarbred Canada Media Excellence Awards. The winners will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre. The Media Excellence Awards program is aimed at honouring those who have, through one piece of exceptional work, covered Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal. 2014 marks the seventh year for this program. The finalists in the Outstanding Written Work category are Dave Briggs for his story, 'Desperate Situations', published in the October 2014 issue of Hoof Beats magazine and Sydney Weaver for her story, 'The Magic of Christmas' published on May 4, 2014 on Harnesslink. 'Desperate Situations' is a feature that provides a snapshot of the human face on the Ontario slots crisis and takes a look into the lives of breeders Dr. Pat and Anna Meyers (Emerald Ridge Farm), former Woodbine Entertainment Group executive Bruce Murray, training centre owner Jason Libby and caretaker Bob Coole to see how the end of the Slots at Racetracks Program impacted their lives. Dave Briggs was a winner of this award in 2008. In 'The Magic of Christmas', Sydney Weaver writes about how longtime horse owner Cesar Kowalski, made her wish for a horse for Christmas come true. On Christmas Day in 2012, Kowalski gave part ownership of pacing mare Sydney Seelster (aka Pinky) to Sydney Weaver as a Christmas gift. To read the rest of the story click here.

Time to handicap the O’Brien awards, the winners of which will be announced on February 7. One knucklehead gave a Dan Patch divisional vote to Sports Chic over JK She’salady,  but we can comfortably assume the Art Major filly, who won five times in Canada, including the Three Diamonds, She’s A Great Lady and Eternal Camnation, will cruise to victory. Artspeak, who had eight wins in ten starts, including the Governor’s Cup, a split of the Nassagaweya and the Metro, should win the freshman pacing O’Brien. The latter two were big wins in Canada and he took the Metro in 1:50.2. He earned more than $800,000. The opposition, the Ponder colt Go Daddy Go, won an elimination for the BC and one for the Metro, but that won’t get you an O’Brien. He won four times, was not a star in the OSS, and did not take the Super Final—the lightly raced Reverent Hanover did. A colt that isn’t even the best sire stakes colt in Ontario can’t be expected to beat out Artspeak. Lady Shadow beat Major Dancer in a split of the Cinderella at Maywood for Doug McNair. She also won the Battle of the Belles and took a couple of Gold Legs. Major Dancer won the Town Pro and scored seven wins and 16 board finishes in 19 starts, with success coming in the NYSS. Lady Shadow should take this O’Brien for sophomore filly pacers. JK Endofanera won the North America Cup, which often serves as a leg up on an O’Brien divisional title. Although last year’s winner, Captaintreacherous, didn’t have the required three starts in Canada, so Vegas Vacation took the O’Brien. And the previous year Michaels Power beat out Cup winner Thinking Out Loud. JK End also won a split of the SBSW. While he earned more than a million he was not a dominant player in the division after that Cup win. He made the board 17 times in 20 starts, but a split of the Tattersalls Pace was his only subsequent Grade I win. His competition, Casie Coleman’s McArdle colt McWicked, was second in his SBSW split and won his Cup elimination. He was fourth in the final. He did win the BC, Adios, Hempt and Progress, and he was voted a Dan Patch, although he had no Triple Crown wins. Casie may swing this one to McWicked. Having the Cup winner not win an O’Brien three years running would be noteworthy. American In Paris had a very successful year, but she’s a preferred mare. Anndrovette, on the other hand, won the Roses Are Red for the third year in a row and also took the elimination for that race. I don’t see how one can give a preferred mare the nod over a four-time Dan Patch winner for the O’Brien. In the aged male pacing division 5-year-old State Treasurer has a better resume. He won the Molson and beat Modern Legend in the Allerage at The Red Mile. However, Modern Legend won the big one, the CPD, at 65/1 odds, slaying kingpin Sweet Lou in the process. Dave Drew’s pacer will probably get the nod. The two freshman trotting fillies, both based in Ontario, leave voters with a tough choice. Danielle Hall is the best two-year-old filly Dewey has produced. He no longer stands in Ontario, having taken up residence in New York for the steeply discounted fee of $6,000. And the other filly, Stubborn Belle, is a product of the peripatetic Taurus Dream, who passed in France almost two years ago. Lots of nominees by OSS stallions that have since moved on or passed or by marginal stallions: Muscle Mass, Dewey Justice Hall, Infinitif, Taurus Dream, Modern Art, Ponder…. Danielle Hall has a win in the Champlain, a Super Final win and five OSS Gold wins. She finished second to Mission Brief in the BC as well as in her BC elimination. Danielle was also second in her Goldsmith Maid elimination. She won a couple of more races and earned a little more money than Stubborn Belle, who won the Peaceful Way when Mission Brief broke. Stubborn Belle won three times in the OSS and finished third to Danielle in the Super Final. She was also back of Danielle in the BC. Stubborn Belle’s Peaceful Way win tops anything Danielle accomplished, but overall Danielle was better in open competition and in the OSS, so I’ll go with her. The Conway Hall trotter Habitat and Don’t Rush, a son of Infinitif, contest the two-year-old O’Brien. The former is a legitimate Grand Circuit colt, who drew off in the Wellwood, while Don’t Rush was no factor. Habitat also won the Matron and a split of the Bluegrass. There’s no way to justify choosing Don’t Rush over Habitat. Riveting Rosie, who deserves the O’Brien for a three-year-old filly trotter, started slowly but improved as the year went on. She wasn’t up to beating the Grand Circuit bunch, but she did finish second behind Shake It Cerry in the Elegantimage. She won the OSS Super Final. The other nominee, White Becomes Her, consistently finished back of Rosie. Harper Blue Chip had an outstanding season, earning $700,000, sweeping the OSS and finishing third in the Hambletonian. Any other time he’d be a deserving winner. However, Trixton won the Simcoe, Goodtimes and his Goodtimes elimination in Canada, and he also took the Hambletonion. Sorry, Harper. The fact that Bee A Magician, who was winless in Canada this year, is a finalist is reminiscent of Foiled Again being one in 2013. Classic Martine, the Dan Patch winner, won the Armbro Flight and two legs of the Miss Versatility in Ontario. BAM won the BC, but you can’t justify voting her an O’Brien. Intimidate won the most prestigious race for older trotters in Canada, the Maple Leaf Trot, and he took the TVG final at season’s end. You can’t privilege a reliable preferred performer like Slip Into Glide over him. JK She’salady is the only viable Horse of the Year candidate. She won that award by a narrow margin in the US, but much of her opposition, Sweet Lou, Shake It Cerry, Father Patrick and Sebastian K are all horses that failed to make three starts in Canada, so none of them qualify for the O’Brien. McWicked does but he only received two HOY votes. JK She’salady won the Three Diamonds, Eternal Camnation and Shes A Great Lady in Ontario. This one’s a no brainer. by Joe FitzGerald for

On Monday, December 15, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2014 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season. The winners will be announced at the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. This will be the 26th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Eight past O’Brien Award winners are looking to add to their trophy collections and are either defending titles or are nominated in a new division. These past winners include: Anndrovette, Bee A Magician, Intimidate, Riveting Rosie, Chris Christoforou, Bill Davis, Richard Moreau, Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., & Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. To read the rest of the story click here. 2014 O’Brien Award Nominees Pacers Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY Sports Chic – owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Paoli, PA and Blake Macintosh, Waterdown, ON   Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer Artspeak –owned by Brittany Farms, Versailles, KY, Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON, Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, OH, In The Gym Partners, Staten Island, NY Go Daddy Go – owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON and Dave Boyle, Bowmanville, ON   Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer Lady Shadow - owned by Lindsey and Connie L Rankin, Lexington, MI Major Dancer - owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge, Mac Nichol, Burlington and Adriano Sorella, Milton, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer JK Endofanera - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY McWicked – owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY   Older Pacing Mare American In Paris – owned by Doug Millard, Woodstock, ON Anndrovette - owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ   Older Pacing Horse Modern Legend - owned by Dave Drew Associates Inc., St. Catharines, ON State Treasurer – owned by Sally A MacDonald, Souris, PE and Paul G MacDonald, Regina, SK   Trotters   Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Danielle Hall - owned by Carl R Jamieson, Rockwood, ON and Thomas Kyron, Toronto, ON Stubborn Belle - owned by Al J Libfeld, Pickering, ON and Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough, ON   Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Dont Rush - owned by Dustin Jones Stables Inc., Waterdown, ON and Greg L Judson, Athens, ON Habitat - owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA, Our Horse Cents Stables, Clifton Park, NY, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA   Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON White Becomes Her - owned by Twilight Stables Inc., Brampton, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Harper Blue Chip - owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable, Kingston, ON, David R McDonald, Cornwall, ON, David K Reid, Glenburnie, ON, George R Judson, Athens, ON Trixton - owned by Brixton Medical Ab, Matawan, NJ and Christina Takter, East Windsor, NJ   Older Trotting Mare Bee A Magician – owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON, Herb A Liverman, Miami Beach, FL and David H Mc Duffee, Delray Beach, Fl Classic Martine - owned by Hauser Bros Rcng Ent LLC, Orangeburg, NY – Susan M Oakes, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Conrad E Zurich, Fayetteville, NY, and Edwin J Gold, Phoenixville, PA   Older Trotting Horse Intimidate – owned by Determination, Westmount, QC and Judith Farrow, Hemmingford, QC Slip Into Glide – owned by Craid I Turner, Ingersoll, ON and Benoit O Baillargeon, Rockwood, ON   People Awards   O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Bill Davis, Langley, BC Dustin Jones, Waterdown, ON   Armstrong Breeder of the Year William Andrew, Calgary, AB / Meridian Farms, Milton, PE Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., Leamington, ON   Driver of the Year Chris Christoforou, Campbellville, ON Trevor Henry, Arthur, ON   Trainer of the Year Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Jimmy Takter, East Windsor, NJ   Future Star Award Tyler Borth, Ingersoll, ON Nick Gallucci, Brantford, ON  

Charlottetown, PE - The fields are set for another weekend of racing at Red Shores Charlottetown Saturday at 6pm with Red Shores Summerside going post-ward at 1pm on Sunday. The Bring a Friend promotion, which has Standardbred Canada teaming up with tracks across the country, will also take place with fans being treated to behind the scenes tours, prize giveaways and winner's circle presentations. The Saturday program includes an impressive line-up from one of Atlantic Canada's newest stables. Foxyhall Racing, owned by Ron Hall of Summerside PE, has joined forces with trainer-driver Jason Hughes of Charlottetown. The partnership has been successful so far. Narragansett, a five-year-old brown gelding by Rocknroll Hanover, will attempt for his third win in a row in race 9. It won't be easy with red hot Camcun off the rail who is sporting a three race win streak for Kenny Arsenault. There are two new horses out of the Foxyhall stable that have been noticed by the rail-birds. Say It Again Sam has won both starts since arriving from Mohawk including a 1:58.2 posting and final quarter charted in a dazzling 27.4 seconds. He is favored to win his assignment in race 4. Astor moves to the Island from Yonkers Raceway in New York. The son of Camluck won his qualifier by a whopping 21 lengths in 1:57.2 and starts from post 8 in race 7 for Hughes. In other action, All Turain will try to extend his winning streak to nine when the pacer goes to the gate in the evening's featured event in race 11. Brodie MacPhee will be back in the bike for trainer-owner Trevor Hicken and his co-owner Lee Hicken. The line-up has Cambest Kisser (pp1), Touch of Lightning (pp2), Perfect Escape (pp3), Judge Jon (pp4), R Sonoflife (pp5), All Turain (pp6). A familiar name returns to the racetrack for the 2014 campaign. Zip the Lip, owned by Orville Willis and Don Sweet of O'Leary, gets the rail for his regular pilot Brian MacPhee in the open trot. For the complete list of entries, top picks and live video go to Hail the Taxi Debuts in Summerside feature Summerside, PE - Hail the Taxi makes his Prince Edward Island debut Sunday in the top class at Red Shores Summerside. Post time for the 12 dash card is 1pm. The Bring a Friend to the track promotion, presented by Standardbred Canada, will also highlight the card with race hostess Marie MacRae taking guests on behind the scenes tours, winner's circle presentations and prize draws. The action will be carried at Hail the Taxi joins the Darren Trainor stable after competing on the Ontario circuit at Mohawk, Flamboro, Woodbine and London. The four-year-old qualified over Mohawk in 1:55.2. Gilles Barrieau is listed to drive from post 4. Here is the field. Outside the Wire (pp1), Lucky Encounter (pp2), High Bar (pp3), Hail the Taxi (pp4), McMaverick (pp5), Ultimate Luck (pp6), SA Summers Luck (pp7). The afternoon back-class has Acton O So Royal listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for owner-trainer Wayne Pike. The pacer has a win and a third from three starts this season. Regular pilot Mark Bradley is on stakes assignment in Truro so Norris Rogers will pick up the catch-drive. Veterans Blu Meadow Willie and Life Savior are also triactor possibilities. The always popular barn 4 will send out some contenders on the program. Joachim, owned by Wendell and Robbie Shaw, Summerside and Derek Folland, steps on the track to compete in race 9 for catch-driver Michael McGuigan while owner-trainer and driver Rocky Schurman handles Carrera Angel in race 10. Schurman and Carrera Angel won the Summerside pace during the big O'Brien Awards race card in February. Silverhill Lucky hasn't missed the top three yet this season. The colt gets top billing once again when he competes in race 6 for owner Casey Gavin, Tignish, trainer Thane Mann and driver Terry Gallant. This combination is one of the hottest teams on the grounds right now. For the complete list of entries, results, top picks or live video go to by Lee Drake, for Red Shores

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

Growing up in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Patrick's dream was to train harness racing horses. Patrick is working hard to make good on his dream, currently having 22 horses in his care after moving to Ontario just over 3 years ago, the biggest province for harness racing. "I wanted to be a driver when I first came here (to Ontario). I wasn't real successful at it and didn't set the world on fire by any means." Patrick says. "I was driving the long shots and driving my own horses... some horses were really nice and some weren't. That's why I decided I was only going to train horses." When Patrick decided to focus only on training that's when results started to roll in, going from training 2 horses to 22 in a relative short time frame. Speaking with Patrick, it's quite surprising to find out he's only 21. The way Patrick carries himself; you would think he's 30 or 35. To the point, he's very mature for his age. "I want to do things successfully" says Patrick. "I try really hard all the time and my goal is to win. I want to win. I will drive 5 hours to Rideau Carlton, (Ottawa, ON), to win a horse race.... I want to bring owners in." There can be so much said for what Patrick aims for and the biggest element is Patrick being able to bring in more owners, this is how the sport will grow end over end. In a way it reminds me of compound interest, earnings will be made on prior earnings. What is most gratifying to Patrick is seeing one of his horses win, more so knowing the time and work he put into working with that horse and seeing the fruits of his labor pay off. Patrick expresses how much he enjoys working with each horse, tinkering with the small things that other trainers may not notice. Back in PEI, Patrick trained horses with his father, Harold. "He taught me a lot" says Patrick. "I owe him pretty much everything. He had a full time job and I went to school and there was a time we had ten horses and we did them after work and after school, being at the barn until 11:30 at night. Then going home and doing school work. We trained horses and I was (listed) as the trainer of them. He helped me, but if I wanted to change something, he would always say, 'You're the trainer'. My dad is the one who helped me out the most, taught me how to change shoeing; he's the main man behind it all." "There were times when I did change stuff (with the horses) and it back fired. Then he would give me advice that I should have done it this way or that way. That is what helped me out a lot." Patrick explains. Listening to Patrick, his dad taught him that mistakes will be made, but what you learn from those mistakes is what matters most. We all make mistakes at one point or another, but do we take the time to learn from our mistakes? "I have a business now with help from my family, my dad, my mom and my brother Robert who pretty much got me set up here in Ontario. (Robert) got me here, he bought me a car, and he's the one who put a roof over my head. He's been good." Back in PEI, working with his dad, Patrick found working with horses to be fun despite the long hours. Patrick admits it became tougher for him once he moved to Ontario. Here in Ontario the competition is steep and fierce. Woodbine and Mohawk race tracks are the two premier tracks in the province of Ontario, however the competition at any one of the other tracks is just as fierce. "You go to Flamboro Downs and you're driving against Jody Jamison, there's Doug McNair in London (The Raceway at Western Fair)... you're always going against the top drivers anywhere. Then when I started training, I was training against the best trainers, like Richard Moreau. It was my dream to train horses and that was the hard part, facing trainers like Richard Moreau and Victor Puddy, guys that put up really big numbers." Being humble, Patrick knows he is not as established as trainers like Casie Coleman, Richard Moreau and Anthony Montini but he is willing to put in the work to reach that level of success. "I won't lie, when I first got here I thought I was a rock star" admits Patrick. "I drove in with the nice shoes and tried to live the 'life'." "I was working hard, but not putting money away. When you look at the bank account and I am walking around with nice shoes on, nice training suit... and a car my brother bought me. I paid him back as we went along but I could have paid him back (quicker). It was time to get my head on straight and let's get it going. If I am going to do it, I am going to do it now." There would be times when Patrick would be at the shopping mall and he's on his phone talking to his mom or grandmother and they want to know why he wasn't saving his money. Patrick said his grandmother gave him a great piece of advice, 'it doesn't matter how much money you have so long as your bills are paid.' That's a motto Patrick is trying to live by, day in and day out. "It's night and day" Patrick explains. "I am a different person than I was. I'm the person who was working hard in PEI with my dad. I'm not the guy who came here and thought I could just live the life. You get a reality check when you come here cause everybody else here is trying to be successful. They're trying, doing everything they can and I had to pull myself to that level." "That's the stuff I'm thankful for. My family might be in PEI but I can always talk to them. They help me get my head around, even when I am having a bad day at the track." Patrick says "...they always keep me on the straight and narrow. That's what keeps me motivated." Robert Shepherd, who is Patrick's oldest brother is someone Patrick fondly looks to for advice, whether it was back when Patrick was still in school in PEI or to present day. "When Robert was in Alberta and I was still at home in PEI, he'd always be there for me to talk to or to give me advice." Patrick says, "I have another brother Stephen, but me and Robert are close. I could always pick up the phone and call him... He's been a big brother that put me on the map." Back when Patrick was in school, instead of hanging out at the bars with friends on Saturday nights, he was at the farm working, tending to the horses. "I worked, lived and did everything at the barn" is how Patrick describes his life back then. "My mom always kept my (busy) growing up, playing hockey or curling, but I stopped all that early... because I was getting more and more into the horses. I didn't care if all my friends were going to a beach party; I was going to the races. If I was not at the races, I was in bed and sick." "There's probably one thing I missed out on and that was my prom and graduation." Patrick goes on to say, "I wish I was there for my prom and my graduation. I had everything ordered and I was supposed to be there but... I finished high school early. I had all my credits and I moved here to Ontario with half a year to go. I got here, started driving, working to get some money going." "Ya I missed my prom and graduation, but I still graduated. My mom wanted me to come back, but at the time I wanted no part of that. I wanted to stay here." Since arriving to Ontario, Patrick admits he's been quite fortunate to have owners who are willing to invest in him. Especially given the timing of his move to Ontario and what has transpired with the provincial Government and now the long term uncertainty of what lies ahead for the industry. However, this doesn't seem to faze Patrick, and it's his confidence in his abilities to persevere is what I believe draws owners to him. Owners who are willing to buy more and more horses and equipment such jog carts to ensure he has all the tools to be successful. Patrick notes that any interaction is all about respect. It doesn't matter that he is 21, all that matters is he's fully committed and handles himself and all his affairs professionally. Sure he could go out on Saturday nights with friends, but knowing that he has horses racing the next day at Flamboro Downs (Hamilton, On), Patrick has come to learn what is a priority and what can wait. Patrick will see you at Flamboro Downs. Fellow trainer Richard Moreau is someone Patrick looks to as a role model when it comes to training horses. "He does his own thing. You don't hear Richard yelling and screaming or anything like that. He's a very quiet guy, very loyal guy. I want to be like Richard and win races and win the O'Brien awards." Patrick's plan for the 2014 peak summer season is simple. It is to win, but not just win; Patrick wants to put up massive numbers. "I want things to be on the up right and keep winning, I have 22 horses now but I'd like to have 42 horses." Patrick says. There is no reason to believe Patrick can't have a stable of 50 or more and I wouldn't be shocked that one day soon Patrick will have a stable of horses numbering in the triple digits. With his mind set and desire to succeed, the sky is the limit for Patrick yet my inclination is Patrick is striving for the stars and beyond. There are plenty of reasons why I can see Patrick's name amongst the stars of the game in the near future. By: Roderick Balgobin   Twitter: ScSupernova

Within in minutes, I learned something special, this harness racing facility has a very unique approach in its desire to attract fans and future fans. There is something for everybody! Social media is very important at Western Fair Raceway, it's a great way for people like track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle and Racing Manager Greg Blanchard to reach out to new and old fans alike, keeping fans in the loop instantly. "I make myself approachable to everybody" says Sugar Doyle, "whether it is a fan in Chicago, California or Toronto or wherever, if they are letting you know they are playing your track, you got to get back to them and say thanks and wish them luck. Let's make it interesting for them, have them win something through a contest. Let's have fun! We can communicate through twitter and it doesn't cost them a thing." Saying this, Sugar had just finished packaging a prize to be shipped to a lucky contestant in Toronto. Speaking with track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle was great. Sugar is all passion, and that passion is fueled by harness racing. How come Shannon Doyle is called 'Sugar'? Well, back in his home province of Prince Edward Island, (he's a Summerside chap), Shannon was the coach of a novice A hockey team and all the kids on the team had nicknames. The kids wanted to call him 'Candy man' since he always had a lollipop or some type of candy in his mouth. Well, that name didn't really jive and then one of the hockey mom's coined him 'Sugar' instead and since that day he says "I've been rolling with Sugar ever since." Sugar is extremely stoked for the upcoming Molson Pace (Friday May 30th with a 7:05pm post time), and if Foiled Again were to show up to the Molson Pace, Sugar says "this was worth the move from Edmonton just to call this race." Prior to joining the Western Fair team in the summer of 2013, Sugar was the track announcer at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred races. "I'll admit this is closer for me to get back to PEI in the summer. I can drive there opposed to flying across the country." Sugar notes. In high school yearbooks, when students put down their "last will and testament" as Sugar describes it, his message was "One day I will be involved in horse racing". Truer words have never been written. When Sugar is calling a race he really feeds off the fans, and when he sees fans going wild, yelling and cheering their horses on, Sugar gets amped up even more! In 2002 due to a blood clot in his lungs, Sugar's dad passed away abruptly. "A lot of the reason I'm doing what I am doing, I am living my dream here calling races. I left work at the tax centre in Summerside to call horse races. A big part of that is my father passed away right after retirement, he had some dreams but didn't get to fulfill them." Sugar explains. Two years ago, Sugar had his plans set to co-host the O'Brien awards. The day before Sugar was set to fly out to attend the awards, he passed out on the roof of Northlands Park. "I thought I was a little bit nervous about the flight I was going to take the next day to Toronto to go to the O'Brien awards." Sugar notes. "I chalked it up to a bit of anxiety and I come back from the O'Brien's and I was in emergency about a month later and had a blood clot in my lungs. So I am just lucky to be here." Sugar's dad had to of been looking out for him From Above as a guardian angel. "To suffer one of those, I know how quick it could have been over. I was there the morning my dad dropped to the floor and how quick it was over. To have that happen and be on an airplane the next day, and to survive the flight back with a blood clot... my dad must have been looking out for me. The angels have been with me ever since." It's been a full year since Sugar has been given a clean bill of health and he's is still living his dream, enjoying every race, every day, wire to wire. Meeting with Greg Blanchard, the Racing Manager of Western Fair was a true delight. If you haven't met Greg, he's quite genuine and down to earth. As the night progressed, Greg was pulled aside for various reasons and with each interaction; Greg was always calm and classy. There was no 'show' to put on, the philosophy I observed was all about enjoying what you do, and if anything extra arises, there is a team behind you for support. Fans of horse racing may remember Greg from his on-air days with Woodbine Entertainment. "We are focused on having the best product out on the track... bringing more fans to the stands" Greg says. "You can't ignore technology and advancements, we have embraced that and it is a part of our growth strategy going forward but we are not losing sight of the live race fan and we are going to make coming to the races here in London a fantastic live experience." Greg joined the Western Fair team in the fall of 2010 as assistant racing manager and announcer. This is Greg's first season as Racing Manager and it's easy to understand what a difficult time he must have had with the transition given the outlook of the industry last fall. However Greg doesn't see it that way. Instead Greg sees opportunity for growth and expansion at every turn, asking how we can do more for the fans opposed to remain content with current success. One thing you quickly learn about Greg is he always looks at any approach from a team stand point, even if it means more work for himself. "It was a new role for me at a time where racing in Ontario faced its biggest challenge ever." Greg admits. "Going into next season, I think it will make it easier without all the external forces. Facility upgrades and improvements will help enhance the fan experience going into next season." Greg mentions they are planning on redoing the inner tack including the infield stage followed by improvements to the grandstands. "For the whole family, we make Family day a big event along with boxing day and several other days. We try and make it more fan friendly for the younger kids." Greg caught the 'bug' from an early age spending time at the races with his dad. Greg says, "We can't lose sight of that, I was a kid once and that's how I first got exposed (to harness racing). For me it was hanging out with my father, running around with the other kids just oblivious to racing but enjoying ourselves, having races amongst us." To cover all the amazing people who make up the Western Fair would take a couple of weeks, but what was so warm and welcoming was walking into the paddock and having talented drivers like J Bradley Harris walk up and shake your hand. Drivers, trainers and grooms came and went and everyone was either laughing or joking. If not, they were intensely focused on their horses. The bond horsemen have amongst themselves is unique, refreshing and pure. Truth be told, the only way to understand the experience is to see it for oneself and the team at Western Fair offers that opportunity to fans through open house events on qualifying days. Fans can get up close with the drivers and horses they cheer on, get an autograph or two as well as have their picture taken with one of the horses. Meeting Angie Carroll was a warming interaction, such a sweet person whose brother is Alfie Carroll, one of the leading drivers at Western Fair Raceway. Angie won the award of Caretaker of the year in 2013 as the Best Groom at Western Fair by an overwhelming vote. Every time I saw Angie, she was always beside her horse, the bond between the two being clearly strong and mutual. If Angie had to choose anything other than working with horses for a career, Angie would like to be an interior designer. As Sugar and I progressed through the paddock, we met many wonderful horsemen and women. Trainer John Blancher was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time while taking care of Sure As Shooting. "I started out in 1973 with my first race horse when the Sired Stakes first started" John says. You wouldn't know it but John is 70 going on 45! "My family had been involved with work horses growing up on the farm and I've done it up til now." John as he says, "laid himself off" or retired from work three months ago. John admits he has much more time to devout to his horses without having to work fulltime. When you hear what some people contend with willingly because they truly love the animals they work with is inspirational. To the horsemen and women it's not work at all. It really makes one think and contemplate what truly matters in the world, work hard play hard and enjoy the fruits of life is the motto I am left with. There's something John told me that I will carry for the rest of my life; "The outside of the horse is good for the inside of a man." As John spoke those words, I happened to be staring into the eyes of Sure As Shooting and I couldn't look away. The soul combined with the energy and power these majestic animals possess has no relation. Western Fair Raceway is a part of the Western Fair District which is comprised of a sporting complex which hosts four ice rinks, three of which are set to NHL size standards and the fourth set to Olympic size standards. A great deal for anyone wanting to have a fun and thrilling night out is to go to the Western Fair Raceway on Friday nights. For an awesome price of $40 per person, you are treated to a buffet dinner at the Top of the Fair restaurant starting at 6pm followed by live harness racing which kicks off at 7:10pm. Aside from the competitive racing, patrons can dine on delicious dishes such as chipotle pork which has just enough kick to the taste buds that will leave you wanting another bite. The jerk chicken is spiced so well, all you need is some reggae music to make you feel you were dining on the beaches of Jamaica. The fajita bar and taco pasta salad are must haves as well, and all the servers are very polite and attentive. You can follow all the live action from any vantage point with TVs at every dining table and larger screens along the top so if you're grabbing another bite or two, you can still take hold of all the action. Truly neat is how the Top of the Fair restaurant lays out the selection of dishes. Instead of the traditional mesh hall line up for selecting food, is the great idea of having selections spread throughout the length of the top floor so if you are coming up for seconds, you are not stuck waiting in the traditional long line seen at most buffets. Once you're a fully satisfied of food and competitive racing, your $40 also includes a 10:30pm comedy show at Yuk Yuk's which is only a short walk away, while remaining indoors. Not to forget Western Fair will also include $15 in casino play. Another facet to the Western Fair District, which was formed in 1867, is its agriculture aspect, hosting Artisan and Farmer markets which are second to none. The true beauty of the Western Fair District is it is a not for profit agriculture association that continuously reinvests revenue into the District and community itself, boasting a proud and proper slogan of 'Our Roots Run Deep'. By: Roderick Balgobin Twitter: ScSupernova

TORONTO, February 14 - Sylvain Filion, the 2013 O'Brien Award winner as Canada's top driver, will be the guest on Woodbine Racing Live's pre-game show this Saturday, February 15, beginning at 6:45 p.m. Filion, a resident of Milton, finished as the leading money-winning driver on the WEG circuit in 2013 with over $5 million in purse earnings. The talented reinsman also led all drivers in the nation in purse earnings with $6.1 million. Filion's biggest thrill in 2013 came in the $683,000 Metro Pace as he steered Boomboom Ballykeel to a 10-1 upset victory. The Quebec-born driver will join WEG's Greg Gangle and offer his thoughts on winning back-to-back O'Brien Awards along with the 11-race program. by Greg Gangle, for WEG  

Here are interviews from some of the key winners at the 25th annual Joe O'Brien Awards Night last Saturday at PEI.  

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