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TORONTO, December 9 - Icthelight Hanover and Jimbelina made their sire Big Jim proud in the opening round of the harness racing Niagara Series Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A group of 16 sophomore pacing fillies battled over two $17,000 first leg divisions Friday evening. Icthelight Hanover kicked the series off by scoring a 13-1 upset for trainer/driver Rick Zeron. The daughter of Big Jim blasted to the front from the eight-hole and posted an opening-quarter of :28. The public's choice, Hot Spot Hanover, circled around from the two-hole to grab command heading towards the half and posted fractions of :57.2 and 1:26. In the stretch, Hot Spot Hanover could not live up to her 2/5 billing and gave way to Icthelight Hanover up the inside. The Zeron trainee was able to muscle by the favourite and reached the line a nose ahead of an outside charging Queenofthejungle for a 1:54.1 score. Hot Spot Hanover finished third. Icthelight Hanover now has five wins and over $49,000 earned this season in 25 starts. The sophomore pacing filly has now visited the winner's circle six-times in her career and banked $69,056 for owner Holland Racing Stable. The Zeron trainee paid $28.80 to win. Icthelight Hanover The second division saw another opening-quarter leader click off a two-hole trip, as Jimbelina won in a career-best 1:52.2. The Rene Bourassa trainee was fired out from post-seven by Sylvain Filion and posted a snappy opening-quarter of :26.2. Before the field could enter the backstretch, Docs Sausalito was out of the two-hole to circle around to command. Docs Sausalito kept the tempo honest, pacing by the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:24. In the stretch, Jimbelina was angled to the outside and immediately surged by Docs Sausalito to go on for a length and a half victory. Docs Sausalito finished second, while Art Angel Baby was third. A daughter of Big Jim, Jimbelina made just $360 in three starts as a rookie, but now is an eight-time winner with over $47,000 banked in 17 starts as a three-year-old. The Bourassa trainee is owned by Roland Trudel. Jimbelina paid $7.10 to win. Jimbelina Three-year-old pacing fillies, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016, were eligible to the Niagara Series. Round two of the series will take place next Friday (December 16). Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack with the first leg of the Valedictory Series and a $34,000 Preferred Pace headlining an 11-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

London, December 9, 2016 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District has an exciting opportunity for an Assistant Racing Manager to join its harness racing team. The Raceway, located in London, Ontario, is a part of the Western Fair Association - a not-for-profit Agricultural Association that operates a multi-faceted entertainment District which includes music and shopping, gaming and sports along with the annual Western Fair. The Raceway hosts an eight-month live racing season (October - May) highlighted by Molson Pace night, held on the last Friday in May (Closing Night). As part of the management team, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to join a growing organization with a long term commitment to horse racing in the province. Those interested in finding out more about this position can click here. Greg Blanchard Raceway Manager Tel: 519-438-7203,239Toll Free: 1-800-619-4629Fax: 519-438-2388Email:  

Environment Canada has issued a snow squall advisory for the London area overnight Thursday and into Friday, thus officials at The Raceway at Western Fair District have cancelled harness racing qualifying on Friday morning. The qualifiers will instead switch to this Monday morning at 11 a.m. The track will also be closed for training on Friday morning. Live racing is scheduled for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Track officials will continue to monitor the weather and plan to update that status of that night's program by 12 p.m. (noon) on Friday.    

ELORA, ON -- In the wake of recent industry consultations with Ontario Racing (OR) on a potential long term funding plan, the General Manager of one of the tracks involved in the Ontario Standardbred Alliance offered his perspective on the current climate facing the harness racing industry in the province. "At present there is a great deal of uncertainty in the industry regarding the proposed Alliance structure for racetracks with Woodbine Racetrack acting as a service provider to carry out the administration of the business activities and services required by the group," said Dr. Ted Clarke of Grand River Raceway in Elora. "I have been witness to many constructive actions undertaken by Woodbine (and formerly OJC) that facilitated Elmira Raceway's emergence from a debt ridden entity in 1987 into the operation at Grand River Raceway today." In January of 1990, Woodbine agreed to the first intertrack of the Greenwood Standardbred signal outside their own system at Mohawk Racetrack when they teamed up for common pool wagering for the customers at Elmira Raceway. This opened the door for similar intertrack activities at many of the province's 'B' tracks and led to an increase in purses at those venues. Woodbine agreed to the first combination of live and intertrack programs using their signal mixed with the live operation in Elmira. Woodbine also agreed to send their thoroughbred signal to Elmira providing the basis for mixed breed cards. In 1997, they accepted the Elmira live signal to distribute throughout their network, the first time a 'B' track had received such an advantage. When the Slots At Racetracks Initiative saw the necessity for Elmira to move to Elora, Woodbine agreed to that move into what was at that time a shared home market area. Woodbine gave full approval that Grand River could operate as it had in its own home market area. "During the last 25 years, Woodbine could have overrun the Elmira/Grand River operation many times and it would have had the potential to increase their bottom line," explained Clarke. "It should come as no surprise that they didn't. The current Alliance structure builds on the cooperative relationship that has existed for many years and I would expect the proposed province-wide Alliance to do likewise." Eight tracks make up the Alliance, including Grand River, Flamboro, Georgian, Hanover, Clinton, Mohawk, Woodbine and The Raceway at Western Fair District. The partnership has been administered by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and the unique business model has allowed the tracks involved to realize efficiencies in several areas which have been critical to the overall success of the Alliance in the first three years. These include a centralized tote service, centralized race office and purse cheque distribution, the handling of simulcast contracts with other racing organizations and ADW platforms, in addition to other back of house services. The Standardbred Alliance has been able to not only stabilize but grow wagering on its product by offering a consistent wagering platform in more locations. And, by linking all tracks to the HPIBet platform, offer a loyalty program across the province. The remote wagering on the Standardbred Alliance has grown with the integrated approach to scheduling and expanded distribution, especially in the U.S. "A lot of hard work and co-operation between the Alliance tracks has produced positive results and we believe that customers in Ontario have benefitted. We should strive to continue improving this customer experience and we feel that the stability of a long term funding agreement and a stronger Alliance will be vital to achieving this," said Clarke. Dr. Ted Clarke (519) 846-5455 ext. 399 | (519) 465-7884 Kelly Spencer  

TORONTO, December 7 - A few flurries are expected to be floating through the Toronto air this weekend, which only seems fitting as Winter Series harness racing action begins Friday at Woodbine Racetrack. The opening leg of the Niagara Series for three-year-old pacing fillies is carded for Friday evening, while round one of the Valedictory Series for sophomore pacing colts and geldings is scheduled for Saturday. Each series features two preliminary legs and a final. The Niagara and Valedictory Series finals will both take place on the special Boxing Day matinee card (December 26). Non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016 were eligible to be nominated to each series. A group of 16 three-year-old pacing fillies have been split into two $17,000 first leg divisions of the Niagara Series. Mike Bishop trainee Hot Spot Hanover is coming into the first Niagara division on a roll with four wins in her last six starts. The daughter of Well Said has been installed as the 8/5 morning line favourite and will leave from the rail with driver Sylvain Filion. Hot Spot Hanover has won five of 12 starts this season with eight top-three finishes. Of the 16 fillies entered in the Niagara, Hot Spot Hanover has made the fewest number of starts in 2016. Marvalous Jet is the 7/2 second-choice from post-four and will be making her second start for new trainer Dean Nixon. A daughter of Delmarvalous, Marvalous Jet spent her summer racing on the Pennsylvania Fair Circuit and is a nine-time winner from 28 starts in 2016. The Nixon trainee finished second in her debut for new connections last Friday at Woodbine. The second Niagara division features a pair of fillies coming into Friday's contest off a victory. Nick Gallucci trainee Docs Sausalito has won two of her last four starts, including a four-length score in a Non-Winners of Three event last Friday. The daughter of Art Colony has won five of 20 this season and is the 5/2 morning line favourite from the rail for driver Randy Waples. Big Jim filly Jimbelina is the 3-1 second-choice and has put together a strong 2016 campaign. The Rene Bourassa trainee has seven victories and six runner-up finishes in 16 starts. Jimbelina most recently captured a Non-Winners of Two event last Friday at Woodbine and will once again have Sylvain Filion at the controls. The duo will start from post-seven. The Niagara Series divisions have been carded as Races 2 and 8 on Friday's 10-race card. Last year's Niagara was captured by Wanda Bayama, who swept the series for Filion and Stephane Larocque. The Valedictory Series has attracted 20 three-year-old colts and geldings for Saturday's opening leg. The first ten-horse $17,000 division features Bruce Goit trainee Lyons Sands. The son of Somebeachsomewhere will be making just his second career start on the WEG Circuit, but the sophomore has been red-hot this season on half-mile ovals. Lyons Sands has won eight of 10 starts this season and is riding a four-race win streak into Saturday's contest. J Harris has driven the Goit trainee to seven of his eight victories this season and once again will be his driver in the Valedictory. Another sophomore coming into the Valedictory with plenty of momentum is Awesomeness for trainer Ryan Maxwell. The son of Mach Three didn't make his career debut until October 4 and has since won four of seven starts, including his last two outings. Awesomeness recently joined the Maxwell barn and won his debut for his new connections on November 28 at Woodbine. Randy Waples is listed to drive the Mach Three gelding from post-eight. Ontario Sired Autumn Series winner Think On It headlines the second split. The Bob McIntosh trainee recently had a five-race win streak snapped, but will look to start a new streak from post-five Saturday. The son of Ponder has won five of 13 starts this season and will reunite with Paul MacDonell, who steered Think On It to a sweep of the Autumn Series. The second division also features a quarter of sophomores coming up from south of the border. Robert Key homebred pacers Artful Bliss (post-three) and Dragon Strikes (post-six) are shipping in from The Meadows to race for trainer Rod Boyd, while Mark Ford has sent up pacing colt Breaktime Hanover (post-seven) to Gregg McNair. The fourth newcomer to the circuit is Keystone Dylan (post-nine), who had been racing at Pocono and will be making his debut for new connections of Marty Fine and company. The Valedictory Series divisions have been carded as Races 3 and 4 on Saturday's 11-race card. Last year's Valedictory final was captured by Shades Of Bay in a series-record clocking of 1:50.3 for driver Phil Hudon and trainer Sean Mehlenbacher. Post time for Friday and Saturday's cards of racing is 7:30 p.m.   Mark McKelvie

A local harness racing trainer who was caught on camera injecting a horse with performance-enhancing drugs in 2010 pleaded guilty to fraud and attempted fraud over $5,000 in Superior Court Monday. According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, Chris Haskell, 39, was filmed using a syringe to give horse He’soneinamillion a tracheal and “intramuscular” injection during an OPP horse doping investigation in October 2010. The drugs were administered in the “backstretch of stalls” which had high walls to hide the illegal injections and were given hours before a race. Racegoers bet a total of $26,669 on the event where Haskell’s horse ended up finishing out of the money in ninth. Crown attorney Brian Manarin noted that tracheal injections are only used by veterinarians in urgent situations. “This was not considered an emergency,” he said. On Nov. 7, 2010, Haskell was arrested at the now shut Windsor Raceway. A search of his person revealed six “loaded syringes” full of performance-enhancing drugs which police alleged he intended to use to give his horses Enzo Seelster and Ideal Gift a boost. Bettors laid down a total of $17,722 and $24,743, respectively, in each race, but after the syringes were discovered Haskell’s horses were kept from competing. The Windsor trainer was arrested during the OPP investigation that also netted Derek Riesberry, another area trainer whose precedent-setting case marked the first time in Canada horse doping was prosecuted criminally. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Haskell’s case was delayed while Riesberry’s charges worked their way through the legal system, but on Monday both the Crown and defence stated Haskell should face the same fines as Riesberry — a $2,500 fine for the fraud (injecting a horse) and $1,250 for attempted fraud (being caught with drug-filled syringes). Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin agreed with the lawyers’ joint submission and said the trainer has one year to pay. Haskell’s defence lawyer, Andrew Bradie, said his client has been unable to train racehorses while waiting for his case to be concluded. Instead, the single man who has one child has been working part time with young horses. Outside of the courtroom, Haskell, who appeared in court wearing a suit with a purple shirt and patterned tie, declined to comment on his plea. by Dan Taekema Reprinted with permission of The Windsor Star

November 21, 2016 – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has commissioned the services of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) camera company to capture footage of morning harness racing qualifying sessions at The Raceway at Western Fair District. The “drone” will be in operation on the morning of Friday, December 2nd . The intent of this pilot project is to explore innovative ways to build on the officiating capabilities of AGCO Race Officials. Currently, racetracks are required to provide the Race Officials with race patrol video throughout the race course. These live and recorded images are viewed by the officials both during and after the race in order to determine if any violations of the Rules of Racing have occurred. The unique camera angles possible from drones could provide improved fields of view that could ultimately assist AGCO judges in officiating races – focusing on potential infractions such as interference, urging violations, or horses leaving the course (pylon rule). Based on the findings of the pilot, the AGCO may request the cooperation of other tracks in Ontario. Horse people interested in participating in this December 2 pilot should contact the Race Office at Western Fair.  Greg Blanchard                       

TORONTO, November 19 - Thats The Ticket charged home to win the $427,000 Three Diamonds for harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies at odds of 5-1 Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Chris Ryder trained pacing filly was able to convert off a perfect third-over trip from driver David Miller for her second win in 14 starts. Idyllic Beach, the 6-5 favourite, left out hard to grab command ahead of a pesky Someomensomewhere. The public's choice posted an opening-quarter of :27.2 and was unchallenged in the second-quarter to lead the field by the half in :56.4. Caviart Ally came first up just after the half and supplied cover to Candlelight Dinner from fifth and Thats The Ticket in sixth. The first-over challenger pulled up along side Idyllic Beach at three-quarters in 1:25.2. In the stretch, Thats The Ticket shot off cover and delivered a stunning stretch rally to fly by her rivals with powerful strides. The Ryder trainee crossed the wire first in 1:53.4, 3¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Idyllic Beach. Candlelight Dinner edged out Caviart Ally for third. Known as a front-end favouring racetrack, Thats The Ticket completely ignored the Woodbine track bias to win the Three Diamonds. "We had planned on just racing her off the end of it there and hopefully get some cover that takes us where we needed to go," said Miller post-race. "Passed the half when they all started moving I was hoping they would get up with the leader, which they did and everything worked out good, but I moved her over at the head of the stretch and she really dug." Thats The Ticket, a daughter of Roll With Joe from the Artsplace mare Art Account, has shown big closing speed throughout her rookie season, including last week's :26.4 kicker to finish second in her elimination. Miller was confident victory was within reach with an eighth of a mile to go. "About half way through (the stretch) she was almost up to the leader and starting to get wound up," noted Miller, who did not drive the Ryder trained filly in the elimination. "I was feeling pretty comfortable and she won pretty handy." Owned by Craig Henderson, Robert Mondillo and Lawrence Minowitz, Thats The Ticket now has two wins in 14 starts and earnings of $331,824 this season. She paid $13.70 to win. by Mark McKelvie    

TORONTO, November 18 - The Autumn Series for Ontario-Sired harness racing three-year-olds came to a close Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack with four added money finals. The conditions Friday were as close to a perfect as they could get for a November evening, as mild temperatures and a 'Fast' track was the scene at Woodbine. Georgies Pockets started the evening by completing the sweep of the three-year-old colt and gelding trot division with a 1:55.4 score. The Jack Moiseyev trainee was sent off at 1/5 favourite in the ten-horse $37,000 event and got away sixth. Mission Man and Moonstar Mission dueled on the front and led the field by the half in :57.2. Georgies Pockets was moved into the outer-flow trotting down the backstretch and was situated third over and almost five-lengths from the leader Mission Man at the three-quarter pole in 1:26.2. Georgies Pockets and Moiseyev were pushed wide coming off the turn and had plenty of work to do in the lane. The Muscle Mass colt quickly found his best stride and rocketed by his rivals for a 2¾ length victory. The Land Shark finished second, while Moonstar Mission was third. Owned by M T Pockets Stable, Georgies Pockets now has six wins in 11 starts this season for earnings of $71,500. "You know this is a front-running track, so the mile he put in tonight was an absolute super mile," said owner Ron Ruggles. "He's been a very consistent horse, he's had a lot of problems, but when is right he wins." Georgies Pockets swept the Autumn Series with victories of 5 ¾ lengths and six-lengths in the preliminary legs before his nearly three-length triumph Friday. The Moiseyev trainee is now a 12-time winner with career earnings of $166,150. He paid $2.60 to win. Georgies Pockets Moiseyev kept the ball rolling by guiding Lady Marina to a 1:53.2 victory in the $38,600 three-year-old filly pace final. A pair of scratches, including morning-line favourite Never Any Doubt, shaved the field for down to eight. Lady Marina sprinted off the wings of the gate for Moiseyev and dropped into the two-hole behind Jimbelina, who cut an opening-quarter of :26.4. The leader would continue to roll along in the middle-half by posting panels of :56 and 1:24. Moiseyev was sitting pretty turning for home in the pocket and Lady Marina converted off the two-hole trip by shooting by Jimbelina in the lane and pacing home to win by a length in a career-best clocking. Tempus Seelster rallied from the back for second, while Top Royal was third. A daughter of Art Colony, Lady Marina was knocking on the door for a victory after finishing second in last week's second leg. "She's been racing good her last couple starts," said Moiseyev. "It just worked out I got a nice two-hole trip and that's what she needed and she paced home good, she's a nice little filly to drive." Trained by Stacey Reinsma, Lady Marina now has two wins in seven starts this season after winning once in 11 tries as a rookie. The Art Colony filly brought her seasonal earnings to $43,966 and her career earnings to $89,132 with Friday's victory. Lady Marina is owned by Reinsma and Bill Galvin. She paid $9.20 to win. Lady Marina Think On It completed his own sweep of the Autumn Series by taking the $39,000 three-year-old colt and gelding pace final in a career-best 1:52.1. Driven by Paul MacDonell, Think On It got away fourth and had an up close seat to watch Twomacsonemach and P L Jackson duel for the opening three-quarters of the mile. Twomachsonemach posted fractions of :26.2, :54.4 and 1:23.1, while parking out P L Jackson for the majority of the mile. MacDonell slipped off the pylons moving towards the far turn and had Think On It placed second-over. In the stretch, Think On It shot off cover and surged by to take the Autumn Series final by three-quarters of a length. Mayfield Duke rallied from well-back to finish second, while Twomacsonemach held on for third. A gelded son of Ponder, Think On It not only swept the Autumn Series Friday, but he also extended his current win streak to five. "He's a very confident horse right now," said MacDonell. "He's been racing on the front, but he certainly doesn't need to be on the front. They started to race pretty hard in the early part of the mile tonight and I was able to get some nice cover on the backstretch and when I moved him, he moved with authority." Think On It is trained by Bob McIntosh and now has five wins in 12 starts this season after winning one of five as a rookie. The sophomore pacer increased his seasonal earnings to $50,560 and his career earnings to $70,390 with his Autumn Series sweep. Think On It is owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc, Dave Boyle and James Walker. He paid $5.20 to win. Think On It Majestic Presence capped off the night by capturing the $36,000 Autumn Series final for three-year-old trotting fillies. The Dagfin Henriksen trainee flashed some early speed to grab command heading into the first turn. Majestic Presence put up an opening-quarter of :28, but surrendered the lead entering the backstretch to Devils Advocate, who moved up from third. Devils Advocate fronted the field by the half in :58.4 and three-quarters in 1:27.3 to lead the field into the lane. Majestic Presence enjoyed the pocket ride through the middle-half and was angled to the outside in the lane by Henriksen. Majestic Presence powered by Devils Advocate in deep stretch to win by a length and a quarter in a career-best 1:56.2. Whambamthankumaam finished third. A daughter of Majestic Son, Majestic Presence was making just her fourth start since moving into the Henriksen barn. The sophomore trotting filly won a first leg division and finished second in last week's second leg. Majestic Presence now has two wins in 18 starts this season and three career victories overall. Her seasonal earnings now sit at $36,350 and her career earnings $53,350 for owner Gerald Haggerty. Majestic Presence paid $7.30 to win. Majestic Presence In order to be eligible to the Autumn Series, the Ontario sired three-year-olds had to be non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 in 2016 as of September 30, 2016. Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack with the $1.7 million Fall Four Stakes. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, November 17 - Going for his seventh-consecutive harness racing win in his 11th start of the season, Huntsville headlines the $520,000 Governors Cup Final on Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The homebred Somebeachsomewhere colt for owner-trainer Ray Schnittker and Charles Iannazzo, owned along with partners Steven Arnold and Ted Gewertz, has amassed $603,234 in earnings this season, taking a mark of 1:49 at The Red Mile in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. "We had two other colts, both were [by] Somebeach[somewhere], but they just never finished their last hundred feet," Schnittker said. "Both of those horses had about $350,000, $400,000 made, but they never had that pop. [Huntsville] was second at Chester the one day; he got shuffled into the last turn and was still big enough to come home in a [1]:51 mile; he showed me he might have what it takes." Most of Huntsville's wins this year have come on the lead, with his effort in the Breeders Crown elimination being one of his few off-the-pace performances. Huntsville in Breeder's Crown "He's pretty nice to drive," Schnittker said. "He can leave, sit a hole, and he's very comfortable. He really feels like he wants to get by at the end of the mile; towards the wire." Huntsville's 1:49.1 victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace was his last start heading into the Governors Cup, as no eliminations were necessary. "I've had enough races the way these have been going," Schnittker said. "Other than that race in the mud [at The Red Mile in a Bluegrass division], every race he has been in or has gone [1]:51 or better. Those miles start beating up on them, but so far he has been taking them pretty well. "We trained him in a mile of [1]:57 at Goshen, and are more or less trying to keep an edge on him. He's probably as sharp as he's ever going to get right now; it's hard to keep him this good this long." Tim Tetrick will drive Huntsville from post position two. "The way they cross the track at Woodbine I don't think post matters that much," Schnittker said. "If we were at the Meadowlands, I'd like [post] two a lot better, but I think Woodbine's pretty fair that way." The Governor's Cup will be Huntsville's last race this season. "I haven't really looked at the schedule [for next year], but he's going to get a good eight to ten weeks off," said Schnittker. "We'll bring him back when he's ready." Ray Cotolo for WEG Communications      

Harness Racing This Week: Fall Four finals, Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, Ont., and Progress Pace eliminations, Dover Downs, Dover, Del. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit returns to Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday (Nov. 19) with the Fall Four finals for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. On tap will be the C$520,000 Governor's Cup for pacing colts, the C$447,000 Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters, the C$427,000 Three Diamonds for pacing fillies and the C$404,000 Valley Victory for colt trotters. On Monday (Nov. 21) Dover Downs will host $35,000 eliminations in the Progress Pace for 3-year-old colt pacers. The $300,000 (est.) Progress Pace final will be held on Nov. 28. Complete entries for the Woodbine races are available at this link. The Dover entries are available at this link. Last time: Always B Miki will always be remembered as a champion. The fastest pacer in the history of harness racing capped his career in triumphant fashion, using a sustained first-over bid to overpower All Bets Off and sprint off to a 1:48.2 victory in the $400,000 TVG Free For All Pace on Saturday evening (Nov. 12) at The Meadowlands. David Miller moved Always B Miki first-over out of midfield after patiently stalking sizzling fractions of :25.4 and :54.1, making gradual gains into pacesetter All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) through the far turn. The 5-year-old Always A Virgin stallion pushed to the fore in upper stretch, leaving All Bets Off well in his wake and evading eventual runner-up Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) by 4-1/4 lengths. Melmerby Beach (Marcus Miller) benefitted from the outer flow and saved third with a mild stand-side push over the tiring All Bets Off. Miller and trainer Jimmy Takter had nothing but glowing reports of Always B Miki's curtain call. "When I asked him, he took right off," said Miller. "Jimmy (Takter) has done a great job keeping him good all year, and I tell you what, he's good today as he's been all year. He's an incredible horse; he's a true champion." "It's a wonderful feeling standing here at our home track," said Takter. "He's just a wonderful horse to be around. He's so personable, anybody working with this horse just would love him. "It's nice to quit on the top, too. This horse has a future ahead of him, and it's going to be very, very exciting to train his offspring." Always B Miki wraps up his racing career with 30 wins in 53 starts -- 12 of those wins coming this year -- as well as $2,715,368 in earnings for Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter. Obrigado, one of two of the eight in the $400,000 TVG Free For All Trot to have not contested a Breeders Crown event two weeks ago, sought control of the terms early and dug in to parry a barrage of pressure in a compelling race which saw the entire octet covered by two lengths at the winning post. The 6-year-old Boy Band gelding pushed clear of JL Cruze (John Campbell) following a :27.2 initial quarter-mile and worked to stave off the first-over threat of 3-year-old Crown champion Bar Hopping (Tim Tetrick) through the far turn. Upon straightening for home, Mark MacDonald called upon Obrigado for every ounce of effort he had remaining, and the pair dug in to withstand a late three-wide charge from Crazy Wow (Yannick Gingras) by a nose in 1:52.4. Lookslikeachpndale (Scott Zeron) charged down the grandstand side to take third over odds-on favorite Resolve (Ã…ke Svanstedt), who only could muster fourth place from a third-over trip while only missing by a neck. Trainer Paul Kelley shares ownership of Obrigado with the SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins and Stable 45. In the $200,000 TVG for trotting mares, Hannelore Hanover rallied from off the pace to once again defeat Bee A Magician, vaulting home and reeling in the quadruple millionaire for a 1:51.4 score. Lady Shadow used nearly identical tactics as Always B Miki en route to her 1:50 win in the $200,000 TVG for pacing mares, grinding down rival Solar Sister and evading the late-emerging Bedroomconfessions by 1-1/2 lengths. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the current leaders: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 1,660.5; 2. David Miller - 1,325; 3. Tim Tetrick - 1,231.5; 4. Scott Zeron - 641.5; 5. Brett Miller - 609.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,576.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,498.5; 3. Tony Alagna - 608; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 491; 5. Erv Miller - 477. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 357.42; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 294.17; 3. Marvin Katz - 280.8; 4. Tom Hill - 249; 5. Al Libfeld - 226.8. Looking ahead: The 2016 Grand Circuit season will conclude after Thanksgiving with the Progress Pace at Dover Downs and the Courageous Lady for 3-year-old pacing fillies at Northfield Park. Paul Ramlow Grand Circuit Publicity Director

TORONTO, November 15 - The 2016 Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) harness racing stakes season will come to a close Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack with nearly $1.8 million on the line in the Fall Four. The Governor's Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds and Goldsmith Maid will see many of the finest two-year-olds in the sport attempting to finish off their rookie seasons in style. The richest event of the Fall Four is the $520,000 Governor's Cup, which features a field of 11 pacing colts and geldings. Two of the fastest two-year-olds in harness racing history, Downbytheseaside and Huntsville, will go toe-to-toe in Saturday's main event. Huntsville is coming into the Governor's Cup off a sensational 1:49.1 Breeders Crown victory on October 29. The Ray Schnittker trained colt has won seven of 10 starts this season, including the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) Championship and a pair of Grand Circuit events at The Red Mile. Downbytheseaside has done his best to stay out of the shadow of Huntsville, despite finishing second to his rival on three different occasions, including the PASS Championship and Breeders Crown. The Brian Brown trained colt has won seven of 12 starts this season. With no eliminations necessary for the Governor's Cup, Downbytheseaside tuned up for Saturday's contest with a winning qualifier last Friday at Dayton Raceway. The parallels between Huntsville and Downbytheseaside's rookie seasons run deep. Both are sons of Somebeachsomewhere, both have seven victories this season, both have followed almost identical schedules and both have victories over each other, with Hunstville holding a three to one advantage. However, the deepest connection that will long be remembered between the two standouts is October 8th, 2016 at The Red Mile. On a breezy fall afternoon in Lexington, Huntsville and Downbytheseaside each captured a division of the International Stallion Stake and both did so by equaling the World Record of 1:49. Huntsville versus Downbytheseaside is becoming one of the hottest rivalries in the sport and anticipation is already building for potential classic showdowns next season at age three. However, one final two-year-old battle looms for the superstar rookies and it only seems right that they will lineup side by side in the Governor's Cup. Huntsville and driver Tim Tetrick drew post position two, while Downbytheseaside and driver David Miller landed post position three for Saturday's $520,000 event. While the two big dogs in Saturday's Governor's Cup will have a close eye on each other, they will also have their hands full with their nine other rivals, which includes Breeders Crown third-place finisher Miso Fast, Kindergarten winner Air Strike and Dream Maker Series winner Bettors Dream. The Governor's Cup certainly has the makings of a potential classic, but the three other Fall Four events are also loaded with talent. The $427,000 Three Diamonds for two-year-old pacing fillies features Breeders Crown champion Someomensomewhere and Shes A Great Lady champion Idyllic Beach. IdyllicBeach bested Someomensomewhere in last Friday's elimination by just a neck, while Caviart Ally came through with a strong effort to take the other split. Someomensomewhere has won three of her last five going into Saturday, while Idyllic Beach is undefeated in three starts north of the border. The $404,000 Valley Victory for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings could be the scene of a "Snowstorm". Ron Burke trainee Snowstorm Hanover turned in a dominating effort to win his elimination last week in 1:55.1. The son of Muscle Massive is red-hot going into the Valley Victory final with back-to-back wins, including a victory on November 3rd in the Matron at Dover Downs. Local standout Jake will look to get in the way of Snowstorm Hanover. The Luc Blais trainee captured his elimination last week in 1:55.4 and has never finished out of the money in nine career starts. Similar to the Governor's Cup, the Goldsmith Maid for rookie trotting fillies did not require eliminations. A competitive field of 10 is scheduled to compete for $447,000. Princess Aurora has quietly earned $212,676 in the shadow of stablemate Ariana G this season, but with no Ariana G in the Goldsmith Maid, the Jimmy Takter trained filly will have a chance to grab the spotlight Saturday. Princess Aurora has three victories this season and has hit the board in eight of 10 outings. Saturday's card will be the final million dollar card of the 2016 North American harness racing season, which has seen many classic moments. With nearly $1.8 million up for grabs in the Fall Four, more signature moments will be added to the 2016 yearbook. The full draw for the Fall Four card will take place Wednesday. Post time Saturday is 7:30 p.m. Here are the post position draws for the Fall Four Finals. $520,000 Governor's Cup 1. Miso Fast by Roll With Joe 2. Huntsville by Somebeachsomewhere 3. Downbytheseaside by Somebeachsomewhere 4. Blood Line by Somebeachsomewhere 5. Some Attitude by Somebeachsomewhere 6. Who Said Not To by Well Said 7. Filibuster Hanover by Somebeachsomewhere 8. Western Hill by Western Ideal 9. Tuxedo Bay by Somebeachsomewhere 10. Air Strike by Always A Virgin 11. Bettors Dream by Bettor's Delight   $447,000 Goldsmith Maid 1. Princess Aurora by Cantab Hall 2. Southwind Tesla by Chapter Seven 3. Gravitator by Kadabra 4. Temple Ruins by Donato Hanover 5. Myammie Drama by Muscle Hill 6. Magic Presto by Kadabra 7. Winter Sweet Frost by Kadabra 8. Cameron Hill by Muscle Hill 9. Cool Cates by Yankee Glide 10. Blinded By Lindy by Crazed   $427,000 Three Diamonds 1. Someomensomewhere by Somebeachsomewhere 2. Bettors Up by Bettor's Delight 3. Idyllic Beach by Somebeachsomewhere 4. Caviart Ally by Bettor's Delight 5. Candlelight Dinner by American Ideal 6. Thats The Ticket by Roll With Joe 7. Rockette by Rocknroll Hanover 8. Black Jack Pat by Well Said 9. Obvious Blue Chip by Roll With Joe 10. Happy Hannah by Well Said AE: Bid Writer by Sportswriter   $404,000 Valley Victory 1. Southwind Cobra by Muscle Hill 2. Andy M by Andover Hall 3. Jake by Muscle Hill 4. Moonshiner Hanover by Andover Hall 5. Snowstorm Hanover by Muscle Massive 6. Quadrangle by Muscle Hill 7. International Moni by Love You 8. Fraser Ridge by Triumphant Caviar 9. What The Hill by Mucsle hill 10. Sir John F by Donato Hanover AE: Lindy The Great by Crazed Mark McKelvie

Winning races might be in Caviart Ally's blood and there could be no more appropriate time for the 2-year-old female pacer to get her first open stakes harness racing victory than Saturday's C$427,000 Three Diamonds Stakes at Woodbine. After all, Three Diamonds is in her blood too. Caviart Ally hails from a family of stakes winners, starting with half-brother All Speed Hanover and half-sister Allamerican Coed. Dam Allamerican Cool is a half-sister to Hall of Fame mare Eternal Camnation and Caviart Ally's fourth dam is Hall of Fame mare Three Diamonds. The family also includes stakes-winners Life Sign and Threefold, who were both out of Three Diamonds. "I think it's sort of cool that she's in this race," said owner Buck Chaffee, referring to Caviart Ally's connection to Three Diamonds. "We buy yearling fillies to become broodmares. She had just a great family, really deep. We picked her out because of the breeding and we're just really happy that she's developed into a nice racehorse." Chaffee and his wife Judy own Caviart Farms, a 230-acre breeding and boarding facility in Paris, Ky., and have enjoyed their share of success over the years, most notably with multiple-stakes-winner Caviart Sydney. Caviart Farms purchased Caviart Ally, whose sire is Bettor's Delight, under the name Airlie Hanover for $35,000 at last fall's Standardbred Horse Sale. "It's just really nice to have one at this level," Chaffee said. Caviart Ally heads to the Three Diamonds off a win in her elimination last Friday at Woodbine. Caviart Ally won by a half-length over That's The Ticket in 1:54.3 with Andy McCarthy driving for trainer Noel Daley. In her previous start, Caviart Ally finished second by a neck to Breeders Crown winner Someomensomewhere in the Kindergarten Classic Series championship at the Meadowlands. It was Caviart Ally's fourth second-place finish in a span of five starts, with none of the setbacks coming by more than a half-length. For the year, Caviart Ally has won two of 13 races, hit the board a total of nine times, and earned $110,479. "We've liked her from the beginning," Chaffee said. "She trained down super. Her first (qualifier) she raced really great. She came the last quarter in :25.4, just really strong. We didn't know if she was going to be able to race at the top level or not, but we thought she was going to be a good horse. "But we knew it was going to take her a little while. She was a late foal, she's a June foal, so we tried to give her as much time as we could to let her develop. She's really come on recently. She got a little sick in the middle of the year and had a couple of bad races, but other than that she's been right there. We're just happy that now she's gotten to compete against some really nice fillies." Caviart Ally was eligible to the Breeders Crown, but her connections decided to skip the event. "We didn't think she was quite ready," Chaffee said. "In retrospect, that might have been a mistake on our part. But maybe it turned out for the better, too, because she's still pretty fresh and racing well. Next year she's staked to all the big races and we're looking forward to that as well." Idyllic Beach won the other Three Diamonds elimination by a neck over Someomensomewhere in 1:55.3. In September, Idyllic Beach won the She's A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk. Saturday's Woodbine card also includes the C$520,000 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, C$447,000 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old female trotters and C$404,000 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters. The Governor's Cup features the top three finishes from the Breeders Crown --- Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, and Miso Fast. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Governor's Cup and Goldsmith Maid. Snowstorm Hanover and Jake won eliminations for the Valley Victory. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

TORONTO, November 10 - Harness racing returned to Woodbine Racetrack Thursday evening with Autumn Series action highlighting a 10-race program. A quartet of $16,000 second leg Autumn Series divisions for three-year-old colts and geldings were contested with a pair of round one winners repeating. Think On It delivered a carbon copy of his round one victory by taking Thursday's first division for pacing colts and geldings in 1:54.4. The Bob McIntosh trainee was sent to the front by driver Paul MacDonell and never looked back. Think On It posted fractions of :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25.4. Tango Star, the 5/2 favourite, was pressing first up at three-quarters, but had difficulties and blew the turn. Think On It took full advantage of his rivals troubles and cruised home to win by a length and a quarter over pocket-sitter Bugatti. Sure Fired Bet finished third. A gelded son of Ponder, Think On It now has four wins in 11 starts this season after winning one of five as a rookie. His round two victory pushes his seasonal earnings to $30,060 and his career earnings to $49,890. Think On It is owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc, Dave Boyle and James Walker. Despite winning last week, Think On It paid $11.50 to win Thursday. The second division was action-packed right from the start, but it was calm and patient drive from Trevor Henry that got Twomacsonemach to the winner's circle. The Victor Puddy trainee left from post-two and got away near the front, while the leadership shuffled multiple-times throughout. Cams Lucky Sam was parked around the first turn and was all out to clear to the front at the half in :55.3. Senior K, the 5/2 favourite, had been parked every step of the way and was left first over after Cams Lucky Sam cleared. Henry slipped off the pylons with Twomacsonemach to sit second-over on the final turn. Senior K grinded away and at Cams Lucky Sam, as they rolled by three-quarters in 1:23.3, but neither had much left from a stretch drive. In the stretch, Henry showed his charge clear sailing and Twomacsonemach responded to win by a length and a quarter in 1:54.1. Several horses rallied to finish up well, including P L Jackson and Archangel Three, who finished in a dead-heat for second. A gelded son of Mach Three, Twomacsonemach now has eight wins in 22 starts this season after going winless in eight as a rookie. The Puddy trainee increased his seasonal earnings to $42,761 and his career earnings to $46,021 with Thursday's score. Twomacsonemach is owned by Wayne Mac Rae and Howmac Farms Lid. He paid $12.40 to win. Over on the trotting side, Mission Man capitalized off a great trip to strike for a 25/1 upset in the first division. Driven by James MacDonald, Mission Man left from post-ten and was able to drop in the three-hole. The Land Shark cut the mile and posted fractions of :28, :58.2 and 1:27.2. In the stretch, MacDonald was able to angle out Mission Man and feeed him open racetrack. The Russell Bax trainee hit his best stride and surged by rivals for a three-quarter length victory in 1:57.3. The Land Shark had to settle for second, while Monopoly, who came first up on the final turn, was third. A gelded son of Manofmanymissions, Mission Man had just one win in 17 starts coming into Thursday's contest. The Bax trainee, who was unraced at two, finished fourth in a leg one division last week. Mission Man now has $30,260 earned for owners Baxmar Holsteins Ltd. He paid $55.60 to win. For the second consecutive week, Georgies Pockets turned in a dominating performance to win an Autumn Series divison. The Jack Moiseyev trainee, who won by nearly six lengths last week, made a backstretch move from fourth to first and cleared to the lead at five-eighths. Georgies Pockets cruised by three-quarters in 1:27.3 and then proceeded to leave his rivals in another area code, trotting home strongly for a six length score in 1:56.3. Innovative Force finished second, while Jls Bad Moon Risin was third. A son of Muscle Mass, Georgies Pockets now has five wins in 10 starts this season after winning six of nine as a rookie. His seasonal earnings now sit at $52,000, while his career earnings are over $146,000 for owner M T Pockets Stables. The Moiseyev trainee paid $2.80 and will now have a chance at a series sweep. The Autumn Series for three-year-olds will conclude next Friday (November 18) with all four categories finals taking place. In order to be eligible to the Ontario Sired Autumn Series, the three-year-olds had to be non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 this season as of September 30, 2016. Live racing continues Friday at Woodbine with the eliminations of the Valley Victory and Three Diamonds headlining the 11-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Columbus, OH --- Despite Walner’s dominance of the 2-year-old male trotting division, Moonshiner Hanover is prepared to step out from the harness racing shadows and demonstrate he possesses the power to sparkle in his C$25,000 Valley Victory elimination on Friday (Nov. 11) at Woodbine Racetrack as he makes his bid for 2017 Hambletonian glory. “He has really turned around since the (Pennsylvania) Sire Stakes final,” said Chris Beaver, the colt’s co-owner and conditioner. “It would seem like he has speed because he has been leaving off the gate, but it takes him some time to get into gear. In that race (second to Giveitgasandgo) I took the hood off and the mini-bit out of his mouth to allow him to put the driver into the race. It seemed to work because he has turned the corner since then.” Fresh off five consecutive second place finishes to the likes of world record holders Walner and Don Dream, as well as Sortie and Shake It Off Lindy, in contests such as the $600,000 Breeders Crown final, a $55,250 division of the Bluegrass Stake and a $32,050 division of the Standardbred Stake, Moonshiner Hanover seeks his second career triumph on Friday evening. The son of Ad-Madam Hooch will leave from post position seven in the second of two Valley Victory eliminations with the smoking hot Scott Zeron holding the lines. The card also includes two C$25,000 eliminations for the Three Diamonds for freshman pacing fillies. A $27,000 purchase at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale, Moonshiner Hanover is owned by Beaver, Synerco Ventures Inc. and Bill Manes. He is the 9-2 fourth choice on the morning line in his Valley Victory elimination (race eight) and will compete against the likes of $294,450 Peter Haughton Memorial victor What The Hill (post position two, 5-2, David Miller) and $266,000 William Wellwood Memorial second place finisher Jake (post position one, 3-1, Sylvain Filion). “Hopefully his last start of the season will be in the final,” Beaver said. “He’s been battling OCDs in his ankles this year and we are going to take them out, so he might have a late start to next year. He will be staked to everything though.” Sporting a slate of 10-1-6-1 and banking $258,631 from his first season of campaigning, Moonshiner Hanover is the second foal from his dam, who is by Credit Winner. Madam Hooch collected $181,843 during her time competing and foaled New York Sire Stakes winner Gabe The Bear Dean to the cover of Lucky Chucky as her first offspring. That gelding has earned $224,521 while performing primarily on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and went through the 2013 edition of the Standardbred Horse Sale to Ray Schnittker for $105,000. “We were very fortunate to pay what we did for this colt,” Beaver said. “He’s a beautiful horse and one we thought would go for $60,000, but he went early in the sale. Sometimes when a horse like that goes on the first day, which he did, sometimes they are overlooked.” Moonshiner Hanover’s ownership contingent was aware he had OCDs removed from his hocks prior to the sale, but it took them some time to discover the colt was suffering the same issue in his hind ankle. “We did a lot of work on his stifles when he was training down, but it took us some time to discover the OCDs,” Beaver said. “We x-rayed his left hind ankle and it came up. We think he has also improved because he has learned how to work through a little pain. We don’t think it is anything serious and were not aware of it at the sale, it is just something he has learned to manage.” The talented colt is only one member of Beaver’s burgeoning stable of quality stock. His roster includes world record holder Muscle Up The Goal, the swift and reliable Il Sogno Dream, Ohio champion Kestrel and state standouts Kanthaka, Buckeye Boss, Evanora, Kerfuffle Cookie, Fraser Ridge and Andy M (the latter two will both start in the first Valley Victory elimination on Friday). Beaver, a long-time trotting bastion in his home state of Ohio, is the reigning Trainer of the Year in that state, and in 2016 has amassed $2.16 million in purse money, the most ever in his career. Moonshiner Hanover may just very well be the horse that captures the prize he most covets -- the Hambletonian -- as world recorder holder and 2009 participant Triumphant Caviar sustained a bug bite prior to the final. The stallion, who now stands at Abby Stables, was eighth in that year’s edition of the classic and went on to finish second to Muscle Hill in the $600,000 Breeders Crown later that fall. “Over the last three years my stable has certainly grown,” he said. “I owe that to Triumphant Caviar. From just his foals alone I have made over $1.2 million and he is receiving some recognition for his achievements. I have breeders out east talking to me about him and already filling out applications. “We spent all summer building a new farm. We sold our other one and after buying seven yearlings here at Harrisburg this week, it looks like we will already need to expand it. He has allowed me to buy more expensive horses like this one that are not under the $15,000 range. Our recent success really is because of him.” The complete entries for the Nov. 11 Woodbine races are available at this link. by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

CAMPBELLVILLE, November 10 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the final wagering numbers for the recently concluded Standardbred harness racing meet at Mohawk Racetrack. The 2016 Mohawk meet, which began on April 7, featured 144 race cards, 26 more than 2015, and had an "all-sources" wagering total of $215,022,527, an 18.5% increase over the 2015 "all-sources" wagering total of $181,432,465. The average per-race handle showed a 1.07% increase from 139,135 in 2015 to $140,629 in 2016. The 2016 meet was highlighted by a record-setting evening on Mohawk's signature night. The Pepsi North America Cup card on Saturday, June 18 generated the highest handle in both the history of the event and Mohawk Racetrack, as $5,241,508 was wagered on the 15-race card. Wagering on the 2016 Pepsi North America Cup card was up an impressive 22% in comparison to 2015. This was the second consecutive year that the Pepsi North America Cup card handle record was broken, while the previous Mohawk Racetrack single-card handle record of $5,006,896 set in August of 2014 was surpassed by $234,612. A record crowd of 17,602 passed through the entrances on June 18 and saw three-year-old pacer Betting Line win the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. Fans also witnessed the fastest mile in the 53-year history of Mohawk, as Always B Miki captured the Mohawk Gold Cup in 1:47.1 on the undercard. For the second consecutive season, Sylvain Filion led all drivers in victories during the Mohawk meet with 192. Richard Moreau topped the trainer standings with 94 wins. The leading owner for the meet was Serge Godin's Determination stable with 30 victories and over $1.2 million in earnings. Live Standardbred racing now shifts to Woodbine Racetrack for the Fall-Winter meet beginning Thursday. Mark McKelvie

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