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TORONTO, March 30 - Maplelea and Cast No Shadow scored first leg victories in the harness racing Blossom Series Monday night at Woodbine. A group of 15 three-year-old pacing fillies were split into two $15,000 divisions for the first round of the Blossom Series. The first division saw a familiar horse to series action continue her recent run of dominance. Fresh off a sweep of the HPI Series, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron picked up right where they left off with a 1:57 victory. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, Zeron elected to take Maplelea to the back of the pack and paced along seventh around the first turn. Down the backstretch, Maplelea moved off the pylons and would pick up cover to be perfectly placed second-over as the field turned for home. In the stretch, Maplelea cruised by her rivals and paced home in :27.2 to win by two-lengths. Doctor Terror finished up well to take second, while Much Adoo finished third. A three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won four-consecutive starts for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her 2015 record now sits at an impressive six wins from eight starts for earnings of over $73,000. Maplelea paid $3.20 to win. In the second division, Cast No Shadow and Chris Christoforou scored an impressive open-length victory at 5/1. Beyonces Rockn, the 3/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter, while Cast No Shadow paced along in fourth. Christoforou would get his charge out in moving and came first up around the final turn to challenge the favourite at the three-quarter pole in 1:27.1. In the stretch, Cast No Shadow blew by Beyonces Rockn and stormed home strongly in :27 to win by 5 ¾ lengths. Moonlit Dance just got up for second, while Beyonces Rockn had to settle for third. A three-year-old daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams. After failing to win a race in four starts last season, Cast No Shadow is a now a perfect four-for-four in 2015 and has banked $31,500. Her clocking of 1:54.1 knocked almost two-seconds off her previous career-mark. Cast No Shadow returned $12.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom Series, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Blossom will take place next Monday (April 6). Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 28 - Sophomore pacing colts took centre-stage Saturday night at Woodbine for the first leg of the Youthful series. A solid harness racing group of 21 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $15,000 divisions for the opening round of the three-week series event. Fresh off his win in the WEGZ series last Saturday, Dialamara kept the momentum rolling with a 1:52.3 victory in the first division. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Dialamara got away early in fifth and would jump into the outer flow down the backstretch. American Rock, the 9/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter. Around the final turn, Dialamara got right up along side the favourite to set up a stretch battle. In the lane, Dialamara was able to forge past American Rock in deep stretch to win by a head. Team Captain finished third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. A three-year-old son of Lis Mara, Dialamara now has four wins from seven starts this season for trainer Patrick Fletcher. The first leg triumph increases the sophomore's career bankroll to over $92,000 for owner John Lamers. The 1:52.3 clocking lowers Dialamara's career-mark by more than a second. He returned $8.40 to win. In the second division, Legion Of Boom dug deep in the stretch to hold off his rivals and score a 1:55.1 victory. Driven and co-owned by Doug McNair, Legion Of Boom was put right on the front immediately by McNair. After cutting out fractions of :28.1 and :57.1, Legion Of Boom was confronted first up by Pantheon Hanover. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3, Legion Of Boom squared off with Pantheon Hanover in the stretch and would show plenty of grit to hold off his rival and get the job done. Giovanni took the place spot, while fourth went to Nobettorplacetobe. A three-year-old son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is trained by Gregg McNair for his son Doug, who co-owns with Equus Standardbreds Inc. The sophomore pacer now has three wins from six starts in his first season of racing. The winner's share of the purse increases his bankroll to over $41,000. Legion Of Boom's victory was one of four winning steers for driver Doug McNair on the card. The McNair trainee returned $4.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The second round of the Youthful series will take place next Saturday (April 4). For full results from tonight's card click here. Mark McKelvie

ELORA, ON - Over the course of two days next week, more than 800 Grade 3 students will delve into the unique Pizza Perfect event at Grand River Raceway. The local youngsters will spend the field trip in a hands-on agricultural education program themed after the favored pie. The ninth annual event happens on March 31 and April 1 in the race paddock at Grand River Raceway. The students are bused in from 20 local schools across four school boards in the Waterloo-Wellington area. More than 8,000 local students have benefitted from this program since its inception at the Elora racetrack in 2006. Pizza Perfect is a one-day program designed specifically for Grade 3 students. The event is themed after pizza, which typically represents all four food groups identified by Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating. The agriculture-awareness program involves a comprehensive study of related agriculture, nutrition, food processing, economics, mathematics, science, arts and language, and agricultural careers. Pizza Perfect explores these subject areas with complete interactivity. Hands-on activities and live demonstrations include milking a cow, cheese making and transplanting seedlings. Hosted by the Grand River Agricultural Society (owner/operator of Grand River Raceway), Pizza Perfect is made possible with the help of more than 85 volunteers and representatives from over 30 agricultural producer's groups, associations and suppliers. Educational video about the Pizza Perfect program, produced by Grand River Raceway. Photo gallery of past Pizza Perfect events WHAT: 9th annual Pizza Perfect - agricultural education event hosted by the Grand River Agricultural Society (owner/operator of Grand River Raceway) WHEN: March 31 and April 1, 2015 WHERE: Paddock Building at Grand River Raceway in Elora WHO: 800 Grade 3 students (400/day) from 20 schools across four school boards WHY: This hands-on field trip is an ag-education program themed around ag products required to build a pizza. Throughout the day, kids explore different stations hosted by ag producers, and enjoy pizza for lunch. Dorothy Key, Administrator Grand River Agricultural Society  

TORONTO, March 26 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced that the mandatory payout for the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 is set for Saturday, April 4, the second-to-last card of the Woodbine harness racing meet. Harness racing moves to Mohawk for 118 dates, beginning Thursday, April 9. In preparation for the event, the final opportunity to wager on the Jackpot Hi-5 before the mandatory payout date will be Monday, March 30. The carryover will continue to build through that date, provided there is not a single winner. The wager will then be suspended for the Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 cards of racing, allowing customers to prepare for the mandatory payout prize. The Jackpot Hi 5, which currently boasts a carryover of $726,120.53, requires horseplayers to select the first five finishers in exact order on the last race of the card. The Jackpot proviso means that the entire pool pays out only when there is one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order. The Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, has become a popular part of the WEG wagering profile since it launched in 2013. WEG has offered mandatory payout events, with carryover, with much success. On August 30, 2014, the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 at Mohawk generated a total pool of $2,522,851. Each 20-cent payout returned $1,347.36 that evening. The 'Hi-5' on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine also generated a large total pool of $2,002,026. That night, the $0.20 cent payout was worth $8,759.15. On a card where there is not a mandatory payout, and not just one winning ticket, half of the wagering pool is carried over and offered on the next racing card. The other half is paid out in consolation payouts to those Jackpot Hi 5 tickets which have the correct order of finish. If there are no winners of the wager, the entire pool, minus takeout, carries over. The Jackpot Hi 5, which offers a 20-cent minimum and a low takeout of 15%, has proven to be popular among core and new racing fans. This past Monday night, $56,794 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi 5 pool. For fans and horseplayers wanting further details on WEG's Jackpot Hi 5, including details, strategy and carryover info visit www.WoodbineEntertainment.com/JackpotHi5. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 16 - The second leg of the Lifetime Dream took centre stage Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of ten four- and five-year-old trotting mares contested the $20,000 second leg of the three-week harness racing trotting event. Seawind Pascale improved off her second-place effort in the first leg to come away with a gate-to-wire score Monday night in 1:54. Driven by Rick Zeron, Seawind Pascale sprinted out to the lead and would set honest opening fractions of :27 and :56.1. Around the final turn, the leader was challenged first up by Samira Hanover and the two mares squared off past the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4. In the stretch, Seawind Pascale put away Samira Hanover early, but got tested in deep stretch by an outside push from Her Name Is Lola. At the wire, Seawind Pascale held on to prevail by a neck over Her Name Is Lola. Standing My Ground, who got a two-hole trip, finished third, while Samira Hanover had to settle for fourth. Kate Smith, the winner of leg one, made a break around the final turn and finished ninth. A five-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, Seawind Pascale is trained by Ted MacDonnell and now has three wins from five starts in 2015. MacDonnell co-owns the trotting mare with Seawind Amg Stbs 2005 Inc. Monday's victory was the ninth career-win for Seawind Pascale and pushes her career earnings to $117,800. The clocking of 1:54 establishes a new lifetime best for Seawind Pascale. She paid $7.30 to win. The $44,400 final of the Lifetime Dream will take place next Monday (March 23). Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 14 – J Js Delivery and Chris Christoforou went gate-to-wire to win the second leg the WEGZ series Saturday night at Woodbine. A compact group of seven three-year-old pacing colts and geldings squared off in the $17,000 second round of the WEGZ. However, only four of the seven horses were returning from last week’s first leg. One of the new faces to the series made an immediate impact, as J Js Delivery picked up the victory in his first start of 2015. A son of Jeremes Jet, J Js Delivery got his cue to sprint off the gate from driver Christoforou and grabbed the early lead. Dialamara, the first leg winner, got away in second and would tag along in the pocket. Around the final turn, Dialamara spoiled his two-hole trip by making a break at the three-quarter pole. The costly break by the leg one winner allowed J Js Delivery to create plenty of separation on his rivals in the stretch and draw clear for a 4 ¼ length victory in 1:54. Halton Hurricane took second, while Jet Settin Mitt finished third. Trained by Bill Robinson, J Js Delivery was making his season debut Saturday night off a sharp qualifier on March 5. The sophomore pacer, who made his last start of 2014 on December 15, recorded two wins from nine starts and banked just over $30,000 in his rookie season. The clocking of 1:54 matched J Js Delivery speed-mark from last year. A $2 win ticket on J Js Delivery returned $4.10 to win. The WEGZ series will come to a close next Saturday (March 21) with the $42,400 series finale. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 13 - Maplelea crushed her rivals for the second consecutive week in the Horseplayer Interactive harness racing series Friday night at Woodbine. Headlining a field of seven three-year-old pacing fillies, Maplelea was sent off as the 1/9 choice and performed just like her odds would indicate. Driven by Rick Zeron, Maplelea made a second-quarter brush to the lead from third and reached the half in :57.2. After taking the field by the three-quarter pole in 1:26.3, Maplelea paced away from her rivals with ease down the lane to score a dominant 9 ¼ length victory in 1:53.4. War Filly finished second, while Wake N Bake took third. A three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea is owned and trained by Andrew Moore. The sophomore pacing filly now has four wins from six starts in 2015 and seasonal earnings of over $46,000. The clocking of 1:53.4 knocks more than two-seconds off Maplelea's previous career mark of 1:56. A $2 win ticket on Maplelea returned $2.20. The Moore trainee will now have a chance at the Horseplayer Interactive series sweep in the $39,400 final next Saturday night (March 21). Mark McKelvie

London, March 12, 2015 -- Officials at The Raceway in London have announced that Friday morning's qualifying session has been cancelled to give the track crew time to prepare for Friday nights live harness racing program which is scheduled for 7:15 pm. The track was forced to cancel programs this past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday due to the warmer temperatures which caused extreme thawing in the racing surface. Greg Blanchard Raceway Manager

The Toronto casino debate is set to reignite, this time focused solely on expanded gaming at Woodbine racetrack, the Star has learned. Woodbine Entertainment Group, the company that operates the northwest Etobicoke track, has in recent months lobbied Mayor John Tory (open John Tory's policard), councillors and city officials to reconsider council’s May 2013 vote. To read the article written by David Rider of the City Hall Bureau Chief click here.  

London, March 10, 2015 -- Based on a dramatic improvement in the track and a favourable weather forecast this afternoon and evening in London, officials at The Raceway at Western Fair District have announced that tonight's live harness racing program is a go. The 12-race card gets underway at 6:15 p.m. A pair of $7,500 Guaranteed Pick-4 pools will be offered up. Free programs and live streaming video available at www.westernfairdistrict.com. Greg Blanchard

TORONTO, March 6 - Maplelea scored an impressive victory Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack in the first leg of the harness racing Horseplayer Interactive series. Just one $17,000 division featuring seven horses was needed for the first leg of the three-week series for Ontario sired three-year-old pacing fillies. Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron sent a strong message to their six rivals with a five-length victory in 1:56. Sent off as the heavy 2/5 favourite, Maplelea got away fifth in the early stages and Zeron would wait until just past the midway point to bring the public's choice to the outside. Around the final turn, Maplelea made a powerful charge first up and took over command from Wake N Bake heading into the stretch. Maplelea immediately created separation from her rivals in the lane and would pace home in :28 to take the first leg of the Horseplayer Interactive. Wake N Bake held on to finish second, while third went to War Filly. A daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea was coming off a second-place finish in the Miss Vera Bars series final last week. She is owned and trained by Andrew Moore and now has three wins from five starts in 2015. Friday's victory pushes Maplelea's career earnings over $39,000. She returned $2.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Horseplayer Interactive, the Ontario sired sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $50,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. The second leg of the Horseplayer Interactive is scheduled to take place next Friday (March 13). Mark McKelvie

London, March 3 -- Due to forecasted treacherous weather for this afternoon and into this evening in the London area, The Raceway at Western Fair District has canceled live racing for tonight. Live racing is scheduled to resume on Wednesday evening at 6:15 PM. Greg Blanchard 

ELORA, ON - Standardbred Canada is partnering with Grand River Raceway to deliver a fresh twist on its popular running race, Giddy Up & Gallop. The revamped event features a half-mile fun run for kids ages 5 - 14. Participants will run one lap on the Elora, ON racetrack, between the horse races, on Friday, June 12, 2015. The event will benefit The Community Resource Centre of North & South Wellington (CRCNSW), a community benefit agency located in nearby Fergus. The efforts of CRCNSW are designed to fill gaps in community service, including transportation, outreach and support programs, childcare and Ontario Early Years. In addition to receiving partial proceeds from the event, race entry fees for 20 local children from CRCNSW programs will be sponsored by horse racing trainers and drivers. In past years, the Giddy Up and Gallop Fun Run has raised funds for the Friends Of We Care, Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy, The Children's Wish Foundation, the Chase MacEachern Foundation and The Equestrian Association for the Disabled. Event Details: The running race will be staged as part of Grand River Raceway's popular Fun & Frivolity Friday Race Night. Friends and family members can gather in the grandstand or trackside to cheer on runners. The race will also be televised on in-house monitors and shown as part of the track's live broadcast, streamed at www.GrandRiverRaceway.com. Afterwards, runners and their entourage can enjoy a full night of live horse racing entertainment, which includes plenty of dining options, contests on The Tarmac Show, and free kids' horse education and activities in The NEIGHbourhood under the Tarmac Tent Kit pick-up starts at 5:30 p.m. under the Tarmac Tent. Post time for the first of 12 horse races is 6:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies and the running race kick-off at 6:45 p.m. There will be a warm up and a special Mascot Race at a distance of 50 metres before the race. Following the run, there will be a complimentary snack and awards ceremony for all participants. Click here to register. The cost to participate is $15 if you sign up before April 30. After April 30, the cost increases to $20. After May 31, registration is $25. The first 300 registered runners will receive a FREE souvenir t-shirt. For race information, contact Kathy Wade Vlaar at kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca For sponsorship information, or to donate a prize to the event, contact Kelly Spencer at kspencer@grandriverraceway.com For information about the CRCNSW, contact Karen Goodman at kgoodman@communityresourcecentre.org Kelly Spencer Grand River Raceway

TORONTO, February 26 - A few weeks off didn't bother Nippy W Hanover as she was razor-sharp in winning the harness racing $41,200 Miss Vera Bars series final Thursday night at Woodbine. Originally set for two preliminary legs and a final, Mother Nature caused the second-leg of the Miss Vera Bars to be cancelled twice, forcing officials to scrap the second-leg and send the series directly to a final Thursday night. All nine three-year-old pacing fillies that competed in the first leg on February 5 returned for the final. Maplelea, the winner of leg one, took most of the support at the windows and was sent off as the 4/5 favourite. However, she would have to settle for second-best, as Nippy W Hanover got the job done in 1:57.1. Driven by Mario Baillargeon, Nippy W Hanover got away in second from her rail starting spot. Down the backstretch, Baillargeon opted to circle around to the lead and never looked back. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:28 with Maplelea first up at her wheel, Nippy W Hanover turned aside the favourite's challenge in the lane and paced home in :29.1 to win by 2 ½ lengths. Wake N Bake closed well to finish third, while Docs Hollywood took fourth. A daughter of American Ideal, Nippy W Hanover is trained by Blair Burgess for owners Karin Olsson Burgess and Mac Nichol. The sophomore pacing filly finished second in the first leg after winning her 2015 debut the week before. The series final victory improves Nippy W Hanover's career record to four wins from 12 starts and earnings exceeding $50,000. A $2 win ticket on Nippy W Hanover returned $6.90. Nippy W Hanover In order to be eligible to the Miss Vera Bars series, the three-year-old fillies had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. Mark McKelvie

It came down to the final race and an inquiry for Marilyn Spitzig and Debbie Campbell to garner the 11 dollars in points and leapfrog into first place in the Hanover Raceway and Slots Handicapping Contest. The event lasted 8 weeks and was sponsored by Hanover Raceway and Slots, Woodbine Entertainment and HDTV in Hanover and Walkerton. Spitzig and Campbell each win a 50 inch High Def Smart TV from HDTV thanks to their final total of $323.80 dollars in selections over the 8 week tournament.   Ron Lauson and Mike Stachelscheid of Hanover finished in 2nd place and won $500 dollars, while Harold and Heather Fleet of Hanover finished in 3rd place, and won $250.00. A total of 15 teams of 2 and 3 players took part in the contest.  Hanover’s next Race promotion is a 2015 Dodge Ram Truck giveaway with Woodbine.   HPI or Cash Card players can register at Woodbineentertainment.com/winatruck and each time they spend $50.00 in wagers at a Woodbine sponsored simulcast theatre, they will receive 1 ballot towards the new truck giveaway.  The contest runs each and every day in March, so participants can earn up to 31 ballots.  For more information contact the Hanover Raceway Simulcast. Hanover Raceway  

London, February 22, 2015 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District in London honoured its top harness racing performers for 2014 during their annual awards night on Saturday. Among the highlights was driver Alfie Carroll taking home his first trophy as Driver of the Year, Kendal Gustav being selected as overall Horse of the Year and Natasha House being voted Caretaker of the Year. Two other awards were announced the night of the ceremony and they include Lisa Thompson who was selected as Horsewoman of the Year and the Dave Wall Outstanding Service Award which went to longtime London horseman Larry Fitzsimmons. Here is a complete look at this year's Raceway award winners: Older Pacing Horse - Kendal Gustav Older Pacing Mare - Twilight Seelster Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt - Good Side Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly - Delta Grace Tone Older Trotting Horse - Moonbeam Hall Older Trotting Mare - Thundering Ovation Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt - M C Wood Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly - Sonny With A Chance Claiming Pacer - Cat Four Claiming Trotter (Tied) - Strike A Light and Weskey Driver - Alfie Carroll Owner - Keith Cassell Dave Wall Outstanding Service Award - Larry Fitzsimmons Caretaker - Natasha House Horse of the Year - Kendal Gustav Horsewoman of the Year - Lisa Thompson Greg Blanchard  

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