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CAMPBELLVILLE, April 24 - Moonlit Dance and harness racing driver James MacDonald made a bold statement with a 1:52 victory in the opening leg of the Princess Series Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Just a single $20,000 division, featuring a field of eleven, was needed for the first leg of the three-week Princess Series for three-year-old pacing fillies. Moonlit Dance, the 9/5 favourite, turned in a razor-sharp performance to strike first in the series-opener. Driven by MacDonald, Moonlit Dance got away early in fourth and would be right lined to the outside in the second-quarter. The daughter of Art Major would eventually clear to the front before the final turn and took the field down to the three-quarter pole in a speedy 1:23.4. In the stretch, Moonlit Dance quickly created several lengths of separation on her rivals and cruised home in :28.1 to score her first victory of the season by four-lengths. Maplelea paced a :26.4 final-quarter to come from tenth at the three-quarter pole to finish second, while Twin B Honour finished third. Moonlit Dance is trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owner David Goodrow Stable. The sophomore pacing filly came into Friday night's race having finished second in all three of her starts this season. The 1:52 victory is the second victory of her career and establishes a new career-mark. Moonlit Dance's career bankroll now sits at $44,354. She returned $5.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Princess Series, the three-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $100,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Princess will take place next Friday (May 1) and series action continues Saturday night at Mohawk with the first leg of the Diplomat for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 27 - The second leg of the harness racing Celias Counsel series Thursday night at Mohawk saw a repeat winner and a filly break her maiden. A pair $15,000 divisions were contested Thursday evening in the second round of the three-week Celias Counsel series for three-year-old trotting fillies. In the first division, Hape and trainer/driver Jack Moiseyev returned to the winner's circle for the second leg in a row with a 1:57.3 victory. A daughter of Pilgrims Taj, Hape came first up from third in the second-quarter and cleared to the front before the final turn. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:27.4, Hape drew away from her rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory. Giona finished second, while Allies Gift took third. Hape is now two for two in 2015 and has an opportunity next week to sweep the Celias Counsel series. The sophomore trotting filly is owned by Joanne Colville and Nancy MacNevin. Hape's career record now sits at four wins from 12 starts for earnings of over $42,000. The clocking of 1:57.3 missed her lifetime mark by just a fifth of a second. Hape returned $6.20 to win. In the second division, Tymal Signature broke her maiden with a 1:57.3 triumph. Driven by Mario Baillargeon, Tymal Signature would be situated in the two-hole around the final turn. After leader Ladyone reached the three-quarter pole in 1:26.3, Baillargeon brought his filly off the cones and trotted right on by to score a 2 ¼ length victory. Ladyone just held on to finish second over Flexceptional. A daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, Tymal Signature is trained by Mark Etsell, who shares ownership with Robert Newton and Steve Organ. The three-year-old trotting filly entered Thursday's second leg off a second-place finish in the opening round a week ago. Tymal Signature's first victory comes in her ninth start of the season and 11th of her career. The Etsell trainee now has a career bankroll of over $24,000. Tymal Signature paid $11.40 to win. In order to be eligible to the Celias Counsel series, the three-year-old trotting fillies had to be non-winners of $30,000 in 2014. The top-ten money earners from the first two rounds of the series will contest the Celias Counsel final next Thursday (April 30). Mark McKelvie

DUNDAS, April 23 - The return of the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs is less than a month away and it is shaping up to be a great harness racing event. A total of 23 top-level four-year-old pacers have made the final payment to remain eligible to the $200,000 (added) Confederation Cup on Sunday, May 17. World champion Hes Watching headlines the group of 23 eligibles. The Dave Menary trainee enters his four-year-old season with over $1.1 million in earnings and will be looking for hometown success, as he is stabled just a stone's throw away from Flamboro Downs at Stephenson's Training Centre. Other notables on the list include Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach and Ontario Sires Stakes champion Three Of Clubs. Eliminations for the Confederation Cup will be contested on Sunday, May 10 and will serve as a great appetizer for the big night a week later. The post position draw for the 'Cup' will take place on Wednesday, May 13 and will be live on CHCH News at Noon. The draw will also be streamed online. Confederation Cup night, Sunday, May 17, will be filled with great entertainment both on and off the track. Fans will be entertained by Flamboro's famous miniature race, a Racing Under Saddle (RUS) event, the Money Machine Madness and sampling stations. Fans will also have a chance to get up close and meet drivers and RUS riders. Greg Blanchard and Ken Middleton will provide commentary and analysis of all the night's action for both fans on track and watching via simulcast. Fans are also asked to bring a canned food item on Confederation Cup night in support of the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Hamilton. Those who bring a canned food item will receive a ballot for a chance to win a dinner for eight at Flamboro Downs. Post time for both elimination and Confederation Cup night is 6 p.m. For more information and details visit www.FlamboroDowns.com. All Bets Off Best Said Bettorever Big Boy Dreams Boomboom Ballykeel Hes Watching Ideal Cowboy Lets Drink On It Limelight Beach Luck Be Withyou Lyons Somewhere Mattamerican Melmerby Beach National Debt Nirvana Seelster Ok Gorgeous P L Hellcat Somewhere Fancy Somewhere In L A Speckled Door Three Of Clubs Unlocked Vance Bayama Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 20 - Three-year-old trotters were on display Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack in a trio of Tie Silk harness racing series first leg divisions. A group of 23 sophomore trotting colts and geldings were split into three $15,000 divisions for the first round of the Tie Silk. The trotters not only had to battle with each other Monday evening, but also heavy winds blowing in their face down the lane. In the first division, the Pennsylvania invader Great Magic was victorious in 1:58.3. Driven by Trevor Henry, Great Magic grabbed the early lead and would face his first challenger down the backstretch in the form of Raising Richard and trainer/driver Eddie Green. Raising Richard would be unable to get by the leader and would eventually make a break nearing the three-quarter pole. After putting away the first up challenger, Great Magic open up several lengths on his rivals in the lane and trotted on to a 3 ¼ length victory. Guscrest got up for second, while Amityville Lindy overcame a pair of breaks to finish third. A son of Kadabra, Great Magic shipped up north from the Meadows for the Tie Silk and into the care of trainer Paul Reid for owner Robert Key. The sophomore trotter came into Monday evening's contest with three wins in his last four starts. Great Magic, who did not win a race in two starts as a rookie, now has a 2015 record of four wins from nine starts. His earnings now exceed $44,000. Great Magic paid $6.40 to win. Tarot and driver Randy Waples scored a 1:56.4 victory as the 7/5 favourite in the evening's second division. A son of Taurus Dream, Tarot trotted out to the early lead, while Arrakis was to his outside around the opening turn. Waples would make a give and go move by allowing Arrakis to clear in the second-quarter, but circled back to the lead with Tarot. The favourite would look strong around the final turn and reach the three-quarter pole in 1:26.2. In the stretch, Tarot was under no pressure and trotted home to win by a comfortable two lengths over Hemi Seelster. In Secret, the 9/5 second choice, finished third. Tarot, who is trained by Dave Tyrrell for owner Michael Casalino Jr, failed to win a race in 11 starts last season, but the gelding's luck has turned right around this year. The Tyrrell trainee now has five wins from 9 starts and earnings of over $46,000 in 2015. A $2 win ticket on Tarot returned $4.80. In the third and final division, Waples would pick up his second Tie Silk victory of the night with 1/9 shot Covert Operative. The heavy favourite got away in third and would trot along in that position until about the midway point. Covert Operative and Waples came first up around the final turn to challenge the leader Duh Bubbees. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:29.3, the two trotters would come off the final turn and battle it out down the stretch. Duh Bubbees tried his best to fend off the heavy choice in the lane, but Covert Operative would ultimately overtake the lead and prevail by a length in 1:59.2 Its Huw You Know, the longest shot on the board at 45/1, finished third. A son of Deweycheatumnhowe, Covert Operative is trained by Per Henrisken for owners Andrea Lea Racingstables Inc. and Asa Farm. The gelding trotter came into Monday night's Tie Silk opening leg with two wins from three starts this season. Covert Operative now has a career bankroll of $32,650. The Henriksen trainee paid $2.30 to win. In order to be eligible to the Tie Silk series, the three-year-old colt and gelding trotters had to be non-winners of $30,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Tie Silk will take place next Monday night (April 27). Changes to Mohawk qualifying schedule The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to inform harness racing people of upcoming changes to the Mohawk qualifying schedule. Beginning on Monday, April 27, two qualifying sessions will be held each week at Mohawk Racetrack. Qualifiers will take place every Monday and Friday until the end of May. Starting in June, the qualifying schedule will shift to Tuesdays and Fridays. Two-year-old baby races will be added to the qualifying lineup beginning on Saturday, June 6. Baby races will take place each Saturday, except June 20, until July 4. Post time for all qualifying sessions is 10 a.m. Below is a list of upcoming qualifying dates at Mohawk. Thursday, April 23 - 10 a.m. Monday, April 27 - 10 a.m. Friday, May 1 - 10 a.m. Monday, May 4 - 10 a.m. Friday, May 8 - 10 a.m. Mark McKelvie

London, April 19, 2015 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District will have its 2015 Wall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday, May 15th and, for the first time, the prestigious honour will go to a horse rather than a human recipient. The incomparable Camluck, who has long resided at Seelster Farms in nearby Lucan, will be honoured during a ceremony that night in recognition of his remarkable contributions both on the race track and as a sire. The son of legendary Cam Fella became one of the fastest horses of his generation by virtue of his 1:48.4 time trial effort in 1992 at Lexington’s Red Mile. Over the course of his brilliant racing career, he earned more than $1 million while facing one of the very best older pacing crops of all-time that included the likes of Artsplace, Staying Together, Cambest, Silver Almahurst and Odds Against just to name a few. However, it was in the breeding shed, where Camluck made his greatest impact and stamped himself as one of the greatest pacing stallions in harness racing history. From 2332 foals, Camluck produced just shy of 1,600 race winners and he retired recently with overall offspring earnings of $218,771,118. His average earnings per starter was $118,768 and he produced 28 starters who banked more than $1 million and 62 performers who took a record of 1:50 or better. Wall of Fame Night will also feature the kick off race in this year’s Racing Under Saddle (RUS) series in Ontario. Fans will have a chance to watch and wager on the event as well as meet and greet with the riders and take part in the different promotions offered that night. The RUS series, sanctioned by the Ontario Racing Commission in 2014, is in its second full season in Ontario and has been growing in popularity.  Visit www.rusontario.com for more details. There will also be a pair of mini races scheduled that same night – one galloping and one gaited – as part of the fun. The Raceway’s signature event, the $150,000 Molson Pace, is slated for Friday, May 29th. Defending champion State Treasurer has recently qualified and is expected back in search of a first-ever Molson three-peat.  The Molson Pace will once again be contested as an Invitational and more details on potential starters, along with the various promotions being planned, will be announced soon. Greg Blanchard  

CAMPBELLVILE, April 18 - The photo finish camera got put to work to decide a highly entertaining second leg of the harness racing Don Mills Trotting Series Saturday night at Mohawk. A field of 11 four and five-year-old trotters battled it out in the lone $20,000 division and all eyes were on the 2/5 favourite Bourbon Bay. The heavy-favourite came into Saturday's Don Mills second leg off a victory in round one and was undefeated in six starts this season on the WEG circuit. However, that undefeated streak would come to an end Saturday, as Exemplar at odds of 23/1 got up just in time to nail Bourbon Bay at the wire and prevail by the narrowest of margins. Driven by Mike Saftic, Bourbon Bay showed early speed to grab his usual position on the front-end. Down the backstretch, Wild And Crazy Guy, the other first leg winner, came up to engage the favourite and would eventually overtake the lead through a solid opening-half of :55.4. Around the final turn, Exemplar and driver Trevor Henry came off the rail from their position in fourth to make a move on the outside, while Bourbon Bay came out of the two-hole nearing the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Bourbon Bay had retaken the lead and tried to take off from his rivals. Exemplar didn't appear to be a big threat towards the leader halfway down the lane, but the 23/1 longshot dug deep and trotted up the middle to nail Bourbon Bay at the wire in 1:53.3. The photo finish camera confirmed that Exemplar had prevailed by a nose to hand Bourbon Bay his first loss on the WEG circuit. Etruscan Hanover finished second, while Sheer Flex was fourth. A five-year-old son of Andover Hall, Exemplar, who finished third in an opening leg division, is trained by Richard Moreau for owners Andrea Lea Racingstables Inc. and Asa Farm. The 1:53.3 victory is a new career-mark for Exemplar and is the ninth win of his career. The gelding now has a 2015 record of three wins from 11 starts and earnings of $34,400. Exemplar's career bankroll now sits at over $121,000. The Moreau trainee returned $48.50 to win. The Don Mills Trotting Series will come to a close next Saturday with the $44,400 final. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 13 - Cast No Shadow and Maplelea came into Monday night's $36,200 Blossom Series final at Mohawk with a shot at a series sweep, but Doctor Terror and harness racing driver Jody Jamieson had other plans. A compact field of six three-year-old pacing fillies lined up Monday for the final of the Blossom over a 'sloppy' surface at Mohawk. Cast No Shadow, who was undefeated in five starts this season coming into the final, was sent off as the 1/2 favourite, while Maplelea, who entered the final on a five-race win streak, went off at odds of 3/1. Both fillies scored impressive victories in the preliminary rounds and were going for the series sweep Monday night. However, the Blake MacIntosh trainee Doctor Terror would not allow the brooms to come out and came away with the series final victory at odds of 9/2. Driven by Jamieson, Doctor Terror sprinted out to the early lead and would give way to Cast No Shadow in the second-quarter for a two-hole trip. The favourite would set fractions of :58.2 and 1:27.3 to bring the field into the stretch. Maplelea, who paced along sixth, had her chances take a hit around the final turn, as her cover stalled on the way to the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Doctor Terror came off the rail and would grind down Cast No Shadow to overtake the lead. Moonlit Dance came charging on the far outside in deep stretch, but Doctor Terror held her off to win by a head in 1:57.2. Cast No Shadow finished third, while Maplelea got up for fourth. A daughter of Western Terror, Doctor Terror has made all three of her starts this season in the Blossom Series. Along with a victory and a pair of runner-up finishes, Doctor Terror walks away from the Blossom with a total of $25,600 in earnings. Last season, Doctor Terror won a Grand Circuit event at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and banked over $110,000. She is owned by Blake MacIntosh and Stuart McIntosh. Doctor Terror returned $11.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom Series, the three-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races of $15,000 in 2014. Mark McKelvie

There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun

Racetrack magnate Jeff Gural hates dishonesty. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand why the man who spent more than $100 million to build a new grandstand at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey said he was “really angry” with Standardbred trainer Corey Johnson. Both horses Johnson raced in the Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands in November of 2014 — including Traceur Hanover, the winner of the 2-year-old colt pace — later tested positive for cobalt. The lab in Hong Kong Gural personally employed to do the testing reported each horse had five times the threshold level of cobalt typically found in a horse’s system. Gural, 72, also was irked that the New Jersey Racing Commission had allowed Johnson to race in the Breeders Crown in the first place. The Ontario Racing Commission suspended the trainer on the Monday before the Crown finals after another horse he trained received a positive test for elevated total carbon dioxide (TC02) levels at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. “The guy embarrassed the sport,” said Gural, who maintains a sizeable list of trainers banned from racing at the Meadowlands as well as the two smaller harness tracks he also owns in upstate New York — Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Yet, Gural couldn’t bar Johnson’s Crown entries because the Breeders Crown is operated by the Hambletonian Society, which defers to the sport’s state and provincial regulators to determine a participant’s eligibility. The New Jersey Racing Commission allowed Johnson to race because the trainer had not had a hearing in Ontario prior to the Crown finals. After the cobalt positive, Gural not only banned Johnson from racing at his tracks, he also banned entries from Quebec-based owner Richard Berthiaume, the owner of both of Johnson’s Breeders Crown entries. “We’ve now made changes to our rules so that can never happen again,” Gural said, explaining the language in those rules is so broad that the track will now be able to reject entries for all stakes races at his tracks, even those operated by outside groups. The Breeders Crown will return to the Meadowlands in 2016. Gural is puzzled why people in horse racing call him a polarizing figure. To read the extensive full article written by Dave Briggs click here. Dave Briggs is the co-editor of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine and a freelance horse racing columnist and features writer. For 18 years, he was the editor of the harness racing trade publication The Canadian Sportsman.

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 8 - The 2015 Mohawk Racetrack meet is set to get underway this Thursday, April 9 for a 52nd season of live harness racing. The 118-date meet of North America's premier harness racing will feature racing every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tuesdays will be added to the lineup beginning June 2 for the balance of the meet. First-race post time each night is 7:25 p.m. "Back to Mohawk makes for an exciting time," said veteran driver Paul MacDonell. "It's spring in the air and everyone is showing optimism with young horses and everything that's coming up. It's an exciting time." The 2015 meet will once again be highlighted by the 32nd edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 20. The 'Cup' undercard will be made up of the Fan Hanover, Goodtimes, Roses Are Red Stakes and the Mohawk Gold Cup. A special post time of 6:30 p.m. will be in place for Pepsi North America Cup night. This year's meet will see the return of the popular Mohawk Fireworks and Family Fun Night during the Victoria Day long weekend on Saturday, May 16. Post time on fireworks night will be 6:45 p.m. The high-profile stakes calendar will once again bring the finest pacers and trotters to Mohawk throughout the entire season. The Metro Pace, Canadian Pacing Derby and Shes A Great Lady Stakes will headline a spectacular evening of harness racing on Saturday, September 5 while the Maple Leaf Trot and Canadian Trotting Classic will makeup an 'All-Star' evening of trotting events on Saturday, September 19. Along with the world-class harness racing, horseplayers will notice a brand new wager added to the betting menu when racing returns to Mohawk. The new Standardbred Jackpot Pick-6 wager will require horseplayers to select the winner of the final six-races each night. If there are multiple winning tickets, 50 per cent of that evening's pool will be carried over to the following card. The other half will be paid out in consolation payouts to those Jackpot Pick-6 tickets which contain the highest number of winners. If only one horseplayer successful hits the Pick-6, they will take home the entire 'Jackpot'. The Jackpot Pick-6 carries a $0.20 minimum bet and a 15 percent takeout. Along with the special post times on signature event evenings, an early post time of 7:05 p.m. will be in place on Saturday, May 2. Fans can stay up to date on news, promotions and events all-season long by visiting www.MohawkRacetrack.com and the Mohawk Facebook and Twitter pages. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, April 6 - A pair of harness racing  sophomore pacing fillies continued their dominance Monday night in the second leg of the Blossom Series at Woodbine. Two $15,000 second leg divisions of the series event for three-year-old pacing fillies were contested Monday evening. First round winners Cast No Shadow and Maplelea returned to score victories once again and set up a potential showdown in the series final. In the first division, Cast No Shadow improved her record to five for five in 2015 with a sharp 1:52.2 victory. Driven by Mike Saftic, Cast No Shadow, the 1/5 favourite, sat off the pace early on and would get into the outer flow heading towards the final turn. A fading first up challenger would force Cast No Shadow and her cover to go three-wide, but that wouldn't faze the public's choice. Cast No Shadow would explode off her cover in the stretch and charge by leader Moonlit Dance to prevail by a length and three-quarters. High Fashion Mel and Nippy W Hanover finished third and fourth, respectively. A daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow paced home in :26.4 to remain undefeated in 2015. She is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams and now has over $40,000 in career earnings. The clocking of 1:52.2 knocked more than two-seconds off Cast No Shadow's previous career-mark. She paid $2.50 to win. Cast No Shadow Maplelea, the HPI Series winner, scored her fifth consecutive victory with a 1:56 triumph in the second division. Sent off as the 1/2 favourite, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron got away sixth and last in the early stages of the race. Little pace was offered in the second-quarter and the field got to the half in just 1:00.1. Maplelea started up on the outside down the backstretch and was situated second-over coming off the final turn. In the stretch, Maplelea powered by her rivals to score a length and three-quarters victory. Her individual final-quarter was a dazzling :26.1. Doctor Terror finished second, while Beyonces Rockn took third. A daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won seven of nine starts this season for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her career bankroll now sits at over $82,000. Maplelea returned $3 to win. Maplelea Both Cast No Shadow and Maplelea will now have a chance at the Blossom Series sweep in next Monday's $36,200 final at Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications

An action-packed second leg of the harness racing Youthful series was the Doug McNair show Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A pair of seven-horse $15,000 divisions took place in the second and final preliminary leg of the Youthful series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The first division of the evening featured a matchup between round one winners Dialamara and Legion Of Boom. The public put their support behind Dialamara, as the Patrick Fletcher trainee was sent off as the 1/2 favourite, while Legion Of Boom was the second-choice at 5/2. Driver Sylvain Filion wasted no time putting Dialamara on the front-end and the pair were able to control the tempo down to the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1. Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair were situated second-over around the final turn, but still several lengths off the leader as they turned for home. In the stretch, Legion Of Boom blasted down the centre of the racetrack and would pace by an all-out Dialamara to win by half a length in 1:53.4. Giovanni finished third, while Pantheon Hanover rounded out the Superfecta. A son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is co-owned by driver Doug McNair and is trained by his father, Gregg. Equus Standardbreds Inc. rounds out the ownership of the gelding pacer. Legion Of Boom now has a record of four wins from seven starts in his first season on the track. The leg two victory pushes his bankroll over $49,000 and his clocking of 1:53.4 knocks a full-second off his previous career-mark. A $2 win ticket on Legion Of Boom returned $7.10 to win. Legion Of Boom The second leg of the Youthful took place five-races later on the card and by that time snowy conditions had taken over the Toronto oval. American Rock and McNair would take the second division at 2/1 to give the reinsman a round two sweep. A son of Rocknroll Hanover, American Rock came first up in the second-quarter and overtook the lead just past the mid-way point from Nobettorplacetobe. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1, American Rock and McNair would hold off their rivals in the lane to score the victory by a length over Nobettorplacetobe in 1:54.1. Team Captain came off second-over cover to finish third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. American Rock is trained by Ben Wallace for owner Brad Grant and now has four wins from seven starts in 2015. The sophomore pacer was purchased by his connections during the Meadowlands Mixed Sale in January. American Rock, who finished second in last week's opening leg, now has earnings of over $38,000. He paid $6.30 to win. American Rock In order to be eligible to the Youthful Series, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The $37,000 Youthful final will take place next Saturday (April 11) at Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, April 4 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group offered a mandatory payout on the harness racing Jackpot Hi-5 wager Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Jackpot Hi-5 wager requires a horseplayer to select the top five finishers in order. If there are multiple winning tickets, 50% of the evening's pool is paid out to the winning tickets, while the other half is carried over to the following card. The last single winner to take home the entire 'Jackpot' was on December 8, 2014. As a result, a record carryover of $847,458.26 had accumulated over the past several months and was offered in a mandatory payout on Saturday's card. Scheduled as the last race on the 11-race program, the Jackpot Hi-5 had $2,581,505 (before takeout) of new money wagered Saturday night, bringing the total pool size to $3,041,738. The result was a payout of $4,317.55 on a $1 wager ($863.51 on a $0.20 wager) after the son of Mach Three, Camaes Fellow and driver Jonathan Drury came away with the victory at odds of 4/5. Camaes Fellow The top five finishers are as follows: 1. #4 Camaes Fellow - 4/5 2. #2 Bilbo Hanover - 4/1 3. #8 Cougar Hall - 7/1 4. #12 Regal Son - 12/1 5. #6 The Rev - 11/1 The Jackpot Hi-5 wager, which was added to the WEG betting menu in October 2013, has a $0.20 minimum bet and a takeout rate of 15 per cent. The Jackpot Hi-5 will now start from scratch on Monday evening's card at Woodbine.McNair doubles up in Youthful. Mark McKelvie  

The sport of harness racing will break through another major barrier Saturday night with one of the greatest wagering opportunities ever offered. It is the culmination of gambling vision, a reduced takeout for the players and a very popular new wager. The combination of all those things and a mandatory payout will give harness racing their entrance to gambling High Society on Saturday with a deal that nobody can match.   April kicks off with a spectacular Final Four Saturday , offering a plethora of big events to wager on. Highlighting the afternoon will be three $1,000,000 preps for the Kentucky Derby .The Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Bluegrass from Keeneland on their new surface will make the Derby picture a little clearer. Some of the biggest pools of the year will be offered, but the biggest and most popular wager will not be on a million dollar thoroughbred race in the afternoon. It will be on a $35,000 harness race in Toronto Saturday night.   This is not opinion. It's a fact. I realize that for most people in racing, what I just stated makes absolutely no sense. That is completely understandable. My opinion is based on knowing that the investment opportunity that Woodbine is offering is far superior. If you look at the wagering dynamics of the Woodbine bet, I think you will agree. Based on an estimated pool of $3,000,000, that means that $2,152,542 in new money will be combined with the carryover of $847,458 to reach the $3 million mark. Those numbers would easily establish this bet as the biggest harness racing pool in North American history. By reducing the takeout by more than 40% for the duration of the bet, Woodbine has created the rarest of bets, one that pays out more than it will take in on Saturday night, At the levels established above, the takeout on the new money would be $332,881.30. That leaves us with a Saturday net pool of $1,819,660. Now we add the carryover of $847,458 to get a final pool of $2,667,118. In other words the Saturday winning High Five wagers of $2,152,542 will be rewarded with winnings of $2,667,118, a surplus of $514,576. Based on a $3,000,000 pool, for every winning dollar Woodbine is going to pay you almost $1.24.   While the three million dollar preps offer field sizes of six, seven and eight , Woodbine has assembled a twelve horse field to make the race more appealing to the masses. A twenty cent minimum assures that players of every size bankroll can participate. You can box five horses for $24 or you can key one on top of four others for the tidy sum of $4.80. Others will be spending thousands to try and hit the High Five multiple times because of the extraordinary return. The USTA and Canada along with some forward thinking track operators have been working diligently and are listening to horseplayers to make the gambling side of the game better. They are succeeding in creating a new frontier and should take a bow Saturday for a moment in time that five years ago was unthinkable. The deluxe program page is available courtesy of Track Master and the USTA Strategic Wagering platform at www.ustrotting.com. More than thirty years ago, Niatross gave harness racing its Roger Bannister moment when he broke the 1:50 barrier in Lexington. Saturday the gambling side of the business will have their Neil Armstrong moment. It's one small step but for one shining moment this bet will vault harness racing into the gambling mainstream for the simple reason that everyone that gambles knows what a good bet is when they see one. Let's not waste this marvelous opportunity.   By Michael Antoniades  

Louisville, KY --- He is not quite sure how all these harness racing agents tracked down his number, but Andrew Moore’s cell phone began to ring incessantly on Jan. 9. Nearly 90 days later, people still have not received the message as Moore and his girlfriend, Dr. Tiffany Richards of Russell Equine in Ontario, have no intention of selling their stable star Maplelea. “I guess you should never say never,” said the 35-year-old Prince Edward Island native. “But it would have to be a partnership and it would have to be the perfect situation. Believe me, my girlfriend picked her out and she said she is not going anywhere. Somehow or another, the woman always wins.” The 3-year-old daughter of Sportswriter and the Run The Table mare Maple Lady is one the hottest horses in harness racing and will seek to make it five wins in a row when she competes in the second leg of the Blossom Series at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday (April 6). She will commence her mile from post six, with regular reinsman Rick Zeron in charge, as the 4-5 morning line favorite after a facile triumph in 1:57 in the first leg of the series on March 30. A $7,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, Maplelea’s seasonal record now stands at a sparkling 8-6-2-0 with just under $60,000 in the bank and a mark of 1:53.4s in a dominating performance in the second leg of the Horseplayer Interactive Series on March 13. The filly took those first two legs by a total margin of 14-1/4 lengths before cruising home in the final by 4-1/4 lengths in 1:55.3. As a 2-year-old, however, she only made it to the gate on three occasions, hit the board once and earned a mere $979. So how did Maplelea come home fourth at Rideau Carleton in a $3,870 non-winners race on Dec. 28 and pace to a maiden-breaking triumph in an $11,900 non-winners contest at Woodbine on Jan. 8? Well, it’s pretty simple really. It involved a little bit of luck, a lot of class in the family tree and Zeron grabbing the lines. “To tell you the truth I was looking at her pedigree at the sale and her mother was a nice mare that made more than $260,000 going up against the best,” said Moore, who is a schoolteacher by day. “Meanwhile Tiffany was looking her over and she was slightly off in one knee, as well as being on the small side, but not many people would notice the knee. Tiffany really wanted her, especially after her mother and brother went through the ring and the price was right, so we took her home. “She was easy to break and then right around the first week of December, before I could even put hobbles on her, we found her face down in her stall with one of her back feet stuck in the stall bars,” Moore said. “Thank God we were able to get her shoes off and get her out of there. “She was sore in her back and hind end, but I was not sure what kind of racehorse she would ever be after that or if she did something that would not allow her to ever be a racehorse. So I just gave her time and did not even jog her for months after that. “Last year was just about giving her an education and she was racing against colts, as well as older mares. Also, I took care of her while I was driving. I just wanted her to learn what she was supposed to do and then was ever so fortunate she did not hurt herself too badly. We had a chiropractor work on her and now I always put a mat up in her stall. She goes nowhere without it because she’s a good-feeling horse and does like to bounce around in there.” Although her sire was certainly no slouch, Maplelea does hail from a high quality female line. All four of her siblings have made it to the races and collected purse money, with Storm The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere, p,4,1:50.2, $169,909) the most prolific to date. Her dam is a half-sister to College Student (Beach Towel, p,3,1:54, $117,563), Rusty’s For Real (Real Artist, p,3,1:50f, $429,747), Takemewithyou (Artiscape, p,1:51.2f, $158,206) and Winbak Carl (Royal Mattjesty, p,1:51f, $101,948). Her second dam, the Cam Fella mare Cams Exotic, also amassed $618,585 on the racetrack and at the astonishing age of 27 has a 2-year-old Dragon Again colt in Cloud Speed. Her last two foals have both broken the $100,000 barrier in purse money. Also, Maplelea’s third dam, Armbro Exotic, although nowhere near as superb on the racetrack as Maple Lady and Cams Exotic, or in the breeding shed, did produce a full brother to Cams Exotic in Exotic Earl p,4,1:50.2 ($412,165) and is by Niatross. “I did train a couple Run The Tables and one thing I noticed about them was they had a lot of longevity,” Moore said. “Also, I was very attracted to her third dam and that pedigree. “Maple is just such a pleasure to be around; words cannot express it. She has great manners, is two fingers to drive and we are just lucky she did not hurt herself badly in her stall. To this day, we have no idea how she managed to do that, but we just know we don’t want it to ever happen again and are so very thankful.” As far as what awaits Maplelea after her participation in the Blossom Series, Moore and Richards will allow her to tell them. They are, however, pointing towards a prestigious race her dam was ninth in. “Because of that injury, I did not pay her into very much as I just did not know if she was going to come back from it,” he said. “I did pay her into another series after this one and she is paid into the Fan Hanover. I know those are the very best fillies and we will see if she can go with them, but you will never know if you don’t try. “Let’s just say I don’t think she could ever really disappoint us and she is just a very special filly.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

TORONTO, April 1 - The hype and anticipation has been building for more than three months and it will all come down to the final race this Saturday night at Woodbine. The harness racing Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, will finally be paid out this Saturday night, as a mandatory payout is in effect. On a regular evening, the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool is only paid out if there is a single winning ticket. If multiple winning tickets hit the 'Hi-5', half of the wagering pool is carried over to the next card, while the other half is distributed in consolation payouts. The traditional rules are not in effect this Saturday, as instead the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool will be paid out and split among all the winning tickets. A mandatory payout is familiar ground for this wager on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit, but the carryover of $847,458.26 is the largest carryover into a mandatory payout in track history. Since the Jackpot Hi-5 was integrated into the WEG betting menu in October of 2013, two large 'mandatory payout' programs have taken place. The first to draw major interest was on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine. A carryover of $656,383 was brought into that evening and helped generate a total pool of $2,002,026. The Jackpot Hi-5 race that night featured a field of 11 pacers and was won by Drain Daddy and Jody Jamieson from post position three at odds of 4-1. The winning trip saw Drain Daddy get away fifth and make a first up move down the backstretch, clearing to the front in the third-quarter and never looking back. The favourite in that contest finished out of the top-five helping return a $0.20 payout of $8,759.15. The next mandatory payout on a large carryover took place at Mohawk on Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace night, August 30, 2014. The stakes filled card and the substantial interest in the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover of $647,331 would lead to a record-setting evening for Mohawk. An additional $2,026,548 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 to bring the total pool for the mandatory payout to $2,673,879. The Jackpot Hi-5 dash was scheduled to feature a field of 11 pacers; however a scratch reduced the race to a field of ten with one trailer. Resistance Futile, the 9/5 favourite, and driver Corey Callahan came away with the victory from post position two. The winning duo moved out from fourth in the second-quarter following cover and would clear to the front as they entered the final turn. The public's choice would pace away from his rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory. The second and third choices on the board finished third and fourth, playing a large factor into a $0.20 payout of $1,347.36. The Jackpot Hi-5 helped propel the handle for that August evening to a new Mohawk Racetrack record of $5,006,896. If the healthy pools from the past two sizable mandatory payout nights are any indication, this Saturday's Jackpot Hi-5 race has a chance to generate a large pool exceeding well over any previous mandatory payout pools. The nearing Jackpot Hi-5 race will also feature a different twist, as a field of 12 horses will contest the mandatory payout dash. Each starter in the field will receive money and the class level itself will receive a purse increase. The Jackpot Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum bet. A horseplayer could spend $19,008 by boxing all 12 horses in the field. Boxing five horses would cost a fan $24. The combinations appear to be endless, but ultimately if a horseplayer is able to map out a ticket with the top-five finishers, certainly a portion of a hefty Jackpot Hi-5 pool is there to be collected. Mark McKelvie  

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