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MILTON, May 25, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment today announced new dates for several harness racing stakes to be held this season at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   The stakes rescheduling only impacts events that were originally slated for May or June. All other races remain the same on the 2020 stakes calendar. As previously announced, the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers has been rescheduled to Saturday, August 29. The Fan Hanover (3-Year-Old Filly Pace), Roses Are Red (Mare Pace) and Armbro Flight (Mare Trot) have all been rescheduled to join the Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, August 29. Eliminations (if necessary) for all four events will take place on Saturday, August 22. The Goodtimes for three-year-old trotting colts has been rescheduled to Saturday, September 5. Eliminations (if necessary) will be held on Friday, August 28. The Somebeachsomewhere for three-year-old pacers has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 12. The final event to be rescheduled is the SBOA Stakes for Ontario sired three-year-old fillies. The SBOA will now take place on Saturday, November 14 with eliminations (if necessary) scheduled for Saturday, November 7. Woodbine Mohawk Park will no longer play host to a leg of The Meadowlands administrated Miss Versatility Series (originally scheduled May 29) or Graduate Series (originally scheduled June 6) in 2020. The Meadowlands has confirmed with Woodbine their intentions to reschedule the Mohawk Park leg of the Miss Versatility for later this season at the New Jersey track, while the Graduate Series leg has been cancelled due to scheduling constraints. Live Racing, without spectators, is scheduled to resume on Friday, June 5 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The revised 2020 stakes schedule for Woodbine Mohawk Park. Stake Previous Date New Date SBOA 3FT Elims Saturday, May 9 Saturday, November 7 SBOA 3FP Elims Saturday, May 9 Saturday, November 7 SBOA 3FT Final Saturday, May 16 Saturday, November 14 SBOA 3FP Final Saturday, May 16 Saturday, November 14 North America Cup Elims Saturday, June 13 Saturday, August 22 Armbro Flight Elims Friday, June 12 Saturday, August 22 Fan Hanover Elims Saturday, June 13 Saturday, August 22 Roses Are Red Elims Saturday, June 13 Saturday, August 22 North America Cup Final Saturday, June 20 Saturday, August 29 Armbro Flight Final Saturday, June 20 Saturday, August 29 Fan Hanover Final Saturday, June 20 Saturday, August 29 Roses Are Red Final Saturday, June 20 Saturday, August 29 Goodtimes Elims Friday, June 12 Friday, August 28 Goodtimes Final Saturday, June 20 Saturday, September 5 Somebeachsomewhere Saturday, June 6 Saturday, September 12 Mark McKelvie        

MILTON, ON - May 23, 2020 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to notify all harness racing drivers and trainers that when Qualifiers resume on Thursday, May 28, the driver/trainer changes rooms, showers and lounge will be closed until further notice as an important COVID-19 safety precaution and physical distancing protocol. Drivers and trainers are asked to contact Megan Walker at or (416)-709-6793 to schedule a time to pick up their suits and other items on Monday, May 25, Tuesday, May 26 or Wednesday, May 27 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Only drivers and trainers who have scheduled a time will be permitted to pick up their suits and other items. Woodbine Mohawk Park will be releasing its qualifying and race night paddock protocols next week in advance of the resumption of Qualifiers on Thursday. Training to commence at Woodbine Mohawk Park with strict physical distancing protocols Training at Woodbine Mohawk Park with strict physical distancing protocols in place will be available from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday (May 27), and Saturday (May 30). Training hours will be allotted by signing up on a first come first serve basis.  Sign-ups will start at 3 p.m. on Monday (May 25).  Trainers are limited to no more than 10 horses per day. A limit of 50 horses are permitted in the paddock during a training time slot. Training time slots will be in 2.5 hour increments (6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.).   All paddock COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place for training hours, including the requirement to have all personnel wearing a face mask. Only trainers and essential licensed personnel over the age of 16 will be permitted through the security checkpoint. To sign-up for training which opens at 3 p.m. on Monday, click here. Jamie Dykstra Woodbine Entertainment

All harness racing horses wishing to qualify at Mohawk Thursday May 28 & 29 and June 1 & 2 must enter with the race office before noon Friday, May 22.   Preference for qualifying shall be given to Ontario Sired three-year-olds.   The Race office will produce qualifying entry sheets for those four dates on Monday, May 25.   Horses who currently meet the amended qualifying standards set by the AGCO will not be permitted to qualify during those four dates.   The Race Office recommends all trainers use Standardbred Canada's new and improved online entering system for making their entries going forward.       Jamie Dykstra Director, Communications & Content Woodbine Entertainment 647-400-6235

A little trivia here… What free-legged pacer once had the nickname ‘Recall Hanover’ - among harness racing people - around the B-tracks of Ontario? Keep reading along for the answer… I spotted a beautiful photo of a veteran racehorse, on Facebook, this past week and then reached out to his owner Jansen Sweet to talk about this former Ontario pacer - now getting set for his 13-year-old racing season in Prince Edward Island. Shiftyn Georgie (Rambaran-Paradigm Shift-Camluck) was bred by Ailsa Craig’s Rick Heamen and he’d make his first career start back on July 18, 2010 at Clinton Raceway - where he’d try to go all the way, but just miss by a head - finishing second with Alfie Carroll aboard in 2:00.2… It’d be one year later when Shiftyn Georgie would pace to his lifetime best of 1:56.1 over Woodstock (July 15, 2011), circling them 3-wide, with Billy Davis Jr. in the bike… Now this horse must have a thing for the warm month of July, because last year - at the age of 12 - this old campaigner would roll gate-to-wire over the Summerside, P.E.I. half-miler (July 9, 2019) to match his lifetime best - winning easily in 1:56.1 - with Marc Campbell driving. “That was a big trip,” says co-owner Jansen Sweet. “And he’s much better behaved now than he used to be… He’s a little more relaxed, than when he first came to us, that’s for sure. He jogs with no gear on - getting lead along behind another horse and jog cart - he’ll follow along nice and easy for around for 4 ½ miles…” The Charles F. Willis Memorial Raceway, in O’Leary, P.E.I., is where Georgie now calls home. I know the track well. It opens for matinee (non-betting) harness racing through the summer months and it happens to be both the spot where I drove in my first amateur race and where I began calling races too… “They used to call him ‘Recall Hanover’ because he’d cause recalls at the summer tracks, in Ontario, but he’s been good here,” says Sweet. “He’s well-mannered all around - very easy going around the barn, when he’s jogging and when he gets turned out, but when we put the bridle on him - he gets his game-face on and he knows it’s time to go to work. He turns it around then.” Sweet’s brother, Jaycob (18), does the conditioning and he was able to pick up his first career training win with Georgie just one year ago (May 20, 2019) at Summerside. “Jaycob had a great rookie season picking up the top trainer title at Summerside’s Red Shores track. He works hard and puts a lot of time into it,” says Sweet. “If he’s not working with our horses, he’s usually training someone else’s or he could be out there dragging the track. I believe he’ll be aiming for his harness driver’s license late this year.” For Georgie there’s been no regular pilot, in the sulky, since moving east. I’ve counted 11 different drivers on board for his 40 Maritime starts. “He’s almost better if we switch it up,” mentions Sweet. “Jason Hughes has always driven most of our horses. Marc Campbell matched his life mark. And then Dale Spence won 3 in a row with him last Fall,” continues Sweet. “He’s not a real tough horse to drive. He can leave really good - that’s usually the game plan and if they don’t get to him around the three-quarters - he’s usually good to go.” A mid-summer purchase for ‘about’ $3,500 in 2018 - Georgie would take to his new P.E.I. surroundings right away… “We originally bought him for the $5,000 Claiming Series at Old Home Week,” he says. “We raced him in Summerside and he won his first start for us in 1:58.1 and then we thought - maybe we shouldn’t have put him in that claiming series - we liked him that much… Well he was already in to go 4 days later in Charlottetown - so off we went… He did end up getting claimed off of us, during that series, but we’d take him back in the final and he’s been with us ever since.” The ownership crew of Jansen, Allison Sweet, Brody Ellis and Susan Thompson also own another former Ontario pacer in Rising Fella - once campaigned by trainer Bob McIntosh. “He’s done well for us too. We keep a small barn, but we have a lot of fun racing here on our island tracks.” Earning $8,500 is a good season for any race horse down east as the costs aren’t as great… “We had a pretty good year all around,” offers Sweet. “Georgie made the most, last season, so he earned the number one stall, in the barn, with a window view… He doesn’t need the vet much and he gets turned outs lots too - I know he got lots of turn-out time in Ontario, but I think he’s taken to the P.E.I. air - they say it can turn them around…” So what’s the game plan for Georgie’s upcoming season? “We’ll race him a few times and see where he fits… He’s got the age and the ugly ankle factor - so that keeps him pretty safe around the $4,000 claiming level. We’ll see how he comes back to the races, but he has trained down well - better than Rising Fella actually.” There’s a pretty good chance you’ll see Shiftyn Georgie in action on the opening weekend for P.E.I.’s return to racing in early June. “He’ll be ready,” confirms Sweet. “We’ll qualify the end of May and hopefully we’ll get him in to race when Charlottetown opens up.” Shiftyn Georgie was able to go over $100K in career earnings, last Fall, for his P.E.I. connections. - His richest career win would come in a $9,000 purse event (NW $30,000 Lifetime), at The Raceway, in October of 2012. Racing for trainer Murray Preszcator, at the time, driver JR Plante would guide him to a 1:56.2 victory over a track rated 2 seconds off - winning over General Manager (Trevor Henry) and Southwind Whiski (Alfie Carroll). - His final Ontario start took place at Hanover Raceway on July 21, 2018. It would be a sixth-place finish in a $7,000 claiming event, for trainer Natalie Baumlisberger, with Bruce Richardson aboard. - Stats: Life - 226 -23-33-32 ($102,377) P4 1:56.1 Woodstock - Stats: 2019 - 26-6-4-5 ($8,565) P12 1:56.1 Summerside Shiftyn Georgie’s 1:56.1 win in 2019 Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

TORONTO, ON - May 14, 2020 - The return of live horse racing in the Province of Ontario just got one step closer. Earlier today, the Ontario government announced a framework to gradually reopen the Province in stages. Stage 1, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 19, allows for horse racing without spectators and physical distancing measures in place. "This is great news for the sport of horse racing and the tens of thousands of people it employs throughout the Province," said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. "With this news, our plans to resume Standardbred racing at Mohawk Park on June 5 and Thoroughbred racing on June 6 at Woodbine remain on track. We appreciate the government's recognition that we can operate spectator-free horse racing safely by following strict physical distancing protocols. "I would also like to thank the entire horse racing community for their patience, understanding and commitment in following health guidelines during this time. In doing so, it has put the entire industry in the position to resume live horse racing in the coming weeks." Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, harness racing at Mohawk Park was suspended on March 19, while the opening of Woodbine's Thoroughbred season, originally scheduled for April 18, was postponed. Jamie Dykstra Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - May 13, 2020 - Woodbine Entertainment would like to inform harness racing people that the Mark Austin Memorial held at Dresden Raceway has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominations for the Mark Austin Memorial were scheduled to close Friday, May 15. Originally scheduled for June 14, 2020, the Mark Austin Memorial, along with dates for the two preliminary legs, will be rescheduled for later this year. As such, a new closing date for nominations will be announced in the coming weeks. The Mohawk Race Office will continue to administer all payments for this series. Jamie Dykstra Woodbine Entertainment

“Harness racing has a short window to reinvent itself and become relevant again - in a way that hasn’t been seen for many decades. The status quo will not be sufficient to capture this opportunity when racing returns,” says horse owner/game designer Ryan Clements. “I think there’s a lot we can do. There is going to be many eyes on our sport if we do come back soon. And when we do get that brief moment, with no other major sports in play, we’ll have a chance to build a new fan base and we may never get this chance again. I believe we have to make the most of it - when we do come back… We have to look professional… We have to act professional… And when we do open - we have to open big. Let’s get those HD (high-definition) racing signals out there. Show our very best product. Now is the time to be investing in our future.” A resident of London with his business operation - The Farm Games - based in the forest city, Clements comments that he is not being biased in saying that he’d like to see London race during the summer months… “If there’s anything that can be done to see racing happen, this summer, maybe now is the best chance for a track like The Raceway… If any track is willing to make a serious run at racing, with a nice HD signal and have everything in place to put on a great show - including a top notch broadcast - then I’m all for it… For any big on-track crowds - it looks as though it may not happen this summer, in Ontario, but I’m going to be optimistic and hold out hope that spectators will be allowed back - at some point in 2020.” Talking horses now with Clements and he is very excited about the upcoming season for his stable… “Our four horses will be stabled at Dorchester Fairgrounds,” he says. “There’s P L Nikita - a 3YO trot filly and a winner of an O.S.S. Gold last season and P L Olivia - a 2YO trot filly. Both are home-breds for Prince Lee Acres… She Started It - a 3YO trot filly and she’s been our heart-breaker. It looked like she’d win a few O.S.S. Golds last season, but she broke very late (in the mile) in both starts, but we’ve got some high hopes for her again this summer. She grew lots over the winter and has been nursed along this Spring - she is definitely O.S.S. Gold talent.” Owned by Bright Future Racing (which includes about 25 owners) - Ryan is proud to mention there’s plenty of support, for the filly, that comes by way of Strokers Billiards in London. “They’ve got a nice photo of her - hanging on their wall. Some of the staff and customers are owners, within Bright Future Racing, so it’s great to see them getting behind her like that. And finally there’s St Lads Yeah Yeah - a 2YO colt pacer we picked up on day two of the London sale - he’s the first horse that sold that day. He was small, but his mom (Sand Song) won 39 races and he’s from the first State Treasurer crop. Over the winter he grew lots and he’s going to be a great size now… He’s another one for Bright Future Racing.” The Farm Games: “We make mobile games!” Off And Pacing, Catch Driver and Turf Dynasty are very popular mobile games within the horse racing community. While many businesses have struggled, with the ongoing pandemic, The Farm Games has actually seen an increase, in demand, for their products. “We saw about a 30% increase in play, for April, between both new users and regular players,” says Clements. “It’s interesting, to note, that we actually saw the first increase, for Catch Driver, come from Italy and we all know that they got hit first with the virus - so we did notice a surge, there, when this pandemic began.” Clements on his company’s games… Off And Pacing - “There’s well-known driver Yannick Gingras and he loves it! He gets to have his own stable of champion horses… That game has gotten us to where we are now!” Catch Driver - “There’s well-known harness racing owner Mark Weaver who gets to be a driver in championship races… It’s becoming quite popular for lots of people!” Turf Dynasty - “It’s an evolution of Off And Pacing, but for thoroughbreds… It’s starting to gain some traction!” Catch Driver VR Arcade - “The delivery date for this arcade unit was the end of this May. It’s more than VR (Virtual reality) - you’re physically racing… It will soon be ready to go!” Many have seen the ‘virtual Kentucky Derby race’ that was held recently. The race consisted of past triple crown winners - with well-known horse race announcer Larry Colmuss describing the action… “It looked great,“ states Clements. “And that’s exciting for me… Virtual races, like that, are not out of reach for our company.” Kentucky Derby 2020 - And I agree - the race did look great and it likely cost a lot of money to produce, too, but I believe it was money well spent - especially during this difficult time… I think we all knew, beforehand though, who was going to win the race - right? From the Twitter page of Ryan Clements… ‘Things everyone can learn from horse people.’ 1. Get out of bed early. 2. Work hard. 3. Enjoy an afternoon nap. 4. Make mistakes, but never give up. 5. Be real - show your emotions. 6. Be passionate - care about people and animals. 7. Enjoy good times and keep going through the bad.   Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

London, March 4, 2020 -- After much consideration, management at The Raceway at Western Fair District has made the decision to cancel the harness racing Camluck Classic Invitational which was scheduled for Friday, May 29. The $150,000 race is slated to return in 2021. The City of London Series, which had finals slated for the same night as the Camluck Classic, has been postponed and will be worked into the schedule when live racing resumes at The Raceway. The Camluck Classic is traditionally the final program of the meet at the London oval and as indicated by Ontario Racing, it is not anticipated that there will be any live racing in the province during the month of May. Stay up to date by visiting Greg Blanchard

Born and raised into the business, horse owner Amber Guse began her work in harness racing some 25 years ago… “Both my parents, Patti McGillivary and Bill Windsor, owned and trained,” she says. “I began working alongside Mom at the age of 7… I can still remember, back in the day, carrying the pales and blankets down the long path to the old paddock at Western Fair. It was around that time that I just fell in love with the horses.” On her first career win as a horse owner… “That came about 10 years ago, at Flamboro, with Hope Tobea Star and she was parked out most of the mile… She was far from a star, for me, but on that day she was the biggest star. There’s nothing better than meeting your own horse back in the winner circle!”  A top notch caretaker, for trainer Steve Bossence, Amber has worked for the Bossence barn over the last decade… “It all started when I moved my mare over to the training center where Steve was stabled. I then began helping out with his horses and the rest is history…” she says. “I’m very thankful for all the nice horses I’ve looked after, over the years, for Steve and his owner Stephen Palermo… They’ve certainly helped in making some of my dreams come true!”  Speaking of dreams - a top performer for Amber, at The Raceway, comes to mind… “My fave girl to race was always Distinctiv Dreamer,” she states. “She won me quite a few races there in London… My most favourite win, ever, was our first together… I bought her for just $1,500 (February 2013) and I really wasn’t expecting much, from her, in her first start - to be honest I was only hoping for a cheque… Well she had other plans and drew off, on the field, to win by 17 lengths and at that moment I knew we had something special. That girl was always game and just loved to win… She was the horse that made all my dreams come true!” Amber has also owned and raced (at The Raceway in recent years) Total Knockout, Stonebridge Loyal and her newest acquisition Golden Leader. Some special moments and memories from horses, that Amber has looked after, over the years… “I had the pleasure of looking after Ms Goliath while working for Jason Libby (2008). She got me my first O.S.S. Gold win and raced against some classy fillies that year - she was a special one! Strike a Light is also an extremely special guy. I have driven across the country to bring this boy home multiple times. We had many wins together and also took home awards in back-to-back seasons. He’s a super special guy - now enjoying his retirement life. And Nebraska Jack - he’s my heart horse… He’s the classiest, sassiest horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking after… I just love him!” Favourite wins, this past season, as a caretaker… “I would have to say our Preferred wins with Nebraska Jack (Aged Trotter of the Year at The Raceway 2019)… After claiming him for $12,000 and then watching him turn into this solid top class trotter - it’s been simply amazing! And Raising Royalty (3YO Trotting Colt of the Year at The Raceway 2019) winning the City of London Final was a pretty special moment for the whole team as well.”  On being the runner-up for an O’Brien Award for Caretaker of the Year 2019… “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that phone call… I just burst into tears… All I know is horses and I’ve worked so hard to get to where I’m at now. It was such an overwhelming feeling and at the same time - a feeling of accomplishment… There are so many amazing caretakers, in this business, that it was honestly just an honour to be noticed!”  A few weeks following the O’Brien Awards - the Annual Raceway Awards Banquet took place and Amber was recognized as a Caretaker of the Year nominee… “Being my second time to be recognized, for this award, was truly an honour… I was up against some wonderful caretakers that also put so much time and work into their horses… It was a great feeling to be a nominee!”  The Bossence barn happenings right now… “We have two babies in training currently. Publicity Seeker is going amazing - he has a great attitude and is loving his work thus far - we’re really excited to see what he grows into… We also have a gorgeous red filly - Royal Gossip - that has had a little time off due to being a big growthy filly. She’s just starting back again and so far is looking pretty good out there… And finally - our racehorses are pretty much good to go. We just need some races for them…” On this current downtime from racing… “There’s no such thing as downtime in my world,” she laughs. “I have 3 children - Emma (13), Brody (10) and Adelynn (4) - life can sometimes get crazy busy between working, racing and then raising a family… Thus far I think I’ve done a pretty great job juggling it all. I have some pretty talented, smart and caring kids - along with some happy horses - life is good!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District  

ELORA – With horse racing shut down in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand River Raceway has no choice but to wait for government go-ahead before starting up for the season. Jamie Martin, director of operations at the raceway, is hopeful racing can start in late spring or early summer – but it won’t look the same as it has in the past. “We’re expecting to be open on June 3, but I think we’re probably a couple weeks away from hearing something more definitive,” he said in a phone interview on April 23. He is hopeful racing will resume sometime in June – if not, July. However, that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to flood the raceway to enjoy live horse racing. “We know it would be without spectators so we would just be providing … essential staff on site to conduct the races,” he said. What those changes look like are not yet clear, as raceways in Ontario wait for guidance from the province. “It could be a range from taking everybody’s temperature as they enter the restricted area,” Martin indicated, saying the race paddock is “a pretty hectic place on a race night. “You’ve got 80 horses in there and then people with each horse, so we’re going to have to implement some procedures.” He added, “We may have to drag the races out so there’s more time between races,” allowing the horses and caregivers time to move in and out of the paddock area while maintaining separation. The stringent requirements will need to be in place before racing begins, because, “first and foremost we need to protect the safety for the people that are working in there and we will do that,” Martin said. While the harness racing industry is waiting to start up again, Ontario Racing has made $1,000 a month available in April and May for each eligible horse aged three and up that was in training. “That’s taking the prize money that would have been paid out in those months and it’s sort of diverting it to all the horse owners and trainers to help them,” Martin explained. “It doesn’t cover the cost, but to help them maintain their horses in training and help look after them.” (For more information about eligibility requirements and submitting an application visit Though spectators will not be permitted when racing initially starts, betting will still take place. Many racetracks, like the Grand River Raceway, televise races and bettors will be able to do so remotely. “And actually, in our case, probably about 50% of the betting on our races actually occurs from the United States,” said Martin. Racing needs to start up again and get wagering going to help support the prize money and the stables and horses competing, he added. Another challenge for the Grand River Raceway is a halt in its construction process. The raceway had begun a $6-million renovation to add a 17,000-square-foot addition to the Lighthouse Restaurant building, doubling the banquet and kitchen space at the raceway and offering additional office space and boardrooms. The addition was scheduled for completion in June, prior to the start of the racing season, but now Martin is hoping for a an early summer completion. As for annual traditions like the Weiner Dog races in July and Industry Day in August, Martin said the raceway is waiting to make a decision until more is known. “We’re just sort of waiting to hear what we’re going to be permitted to do and not permitted to do,” he said. By Jaime Myslik Reprinted with permission of THe Wellington Advertiser

Mississauga, ON — On Thursday (April 23), officials with Flamboro Downs announced that the 2020 edition of the Confederation Cup has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event for 4-year-old pacers was scheduled to be contested in May, but Flamboro officials have stated that, at this point, they are now considering presenting the annual stakes event this fall. “It is difficult at this time to announce an alternative date for the Confederation Cup without knowing what other tracks are doing with their own stakes schedules,” Flamboro Downs General Manager Chad Gates was quoted as saying via release. Gates went on to say, “Flamboro will be exploring possible dates in September that will best align with stakes schedules within the industry.” Trot Insider will convey all updates in regard to the rescheduling of the Confederation Cup when they become available. from Standardbred Canada

When we last raced at The Raceway - we did so without harness racing fans, spectators and horseplayers on track, but they were still with us - cheering, watching and playing - somewhere… Whether it was through HPI, TVG, an OTB or tuning in online for our live video feed - we’ve always appreciated the strong presence of our off-track crowd.  Meet one of our biggest off-track racing fans Andrew Herpy, 53, of Dayton, Ohio… First introduced to thoroughbred racing, as a child, he really enjoyed those majestic animals, but he quickly fell in love with harness racing because those horses raced more frequently and he got to know them better. “After a while, I didn’t even need to look at a program - to know who they were - their characteristics told me who they were… For example their colour, gait, head and just the way they went over the track - I just knew who they were. At the end of the day, though, I have a deep respect for all breeds of horses.” Herpy describes himself as ‘the biggest horse race fan in the world’ and he still remembers when and where it all began… “I was just six years old, at River Downs, near Cincinnati, Ohio… My family had box seats and dad would put me on his shoulders so I could see the stretch runs. Looking back I can still remember a turf race - with the bright colours of the jockey silks - contrasting against the lush green grass - the excitement of the crowd… I was hooked right then and there!” He’s been the fan, the player, the online supporter for horse racing, but he does feel that someday there could be more… “I’ve always wanted to be a part of racing, but I’ve never owned or raced horses… Many times, I’ve thought, that there’s likely more for me in this business - we’ll have to see. I still have a lot of friends that race and I do enjoy giving them my best wishes and cheering them on whenever they’re in to go.” Favourite harness horse(s) past and present? “Artsplace period,” states Herpy. “He was prolific on the racetrack and legendary in the breeding shed. It also helped that he was trained by Gene Reigle - who happened to be from Greenville, Ohio - which was very close to my parents’ house. I used to ride my bike to go see him (Artsplace) when he was there. It wouldn’t have been too many times though - he was a busy horse back then… He was amazing!” And then came simulcast racing… “I gained an interest in Canadian harness racing about twenty years ago through Woodbine and Mohawk,” Herpy explains “When I lived in Ohio, we were likely one of the last places to bring in simulcasting, of other tracks, from across North America. We started going to Hoosier Park for both live racing and simulcasting - this would’ve been when I was first introduced to some of the other tracks in Canada. It opened up a whole new racing world for me.” Favourites at The Raceway, for Herpy, past and present… “My favourite horse is easy - it’s Blue Moose all the way - he’s so honest… And for drivers it’s Trevor Henry - before he moved on, to the big track, he dominated Western Fair. He’s aggressive, but has a great sense of pace. I knew he’d make his way to Woodbine and he’s done great there too. I’ve loved all the aspects of racing at Western Fair.” As a horseplayer Herpy enjoys chasing after the PICK 4 plays in London… “I had a great run with them last year, cashing eight in a row - some were big and some were small… I remember playing a PICK 4 ticket, there, six years ago and getting back almost $2,000 with a 19/1 single to complete it. The ticket cost just $3.60 - so that’d be my best score ever in London.” Trevor Henry With there being zero harness racing action, currently in North America, what’s been keeping this die-hard racing enthusiast occupied? “Over the past five years, or so, I’ve really been interested in bloodlines,” says Herpy. “So I’ve now been dragging out my sales/auction books every day and reviewing every page. That definitely keeps me busy. You can likely tell, by now, that I have a great passion for the sport. I’ve always wanted to be more involved somehow and maybe I’ll get that chance to bring it to another level at some point - I would really like to be an advocate for the sport on any level. Time will tell and I have lots of it!” And now it appears we’re running out of time and track for this ‘big race fan’ - final words Andrew… “I would just like to extend my best wishes to all horsemen and women, across the world, during this tough time… One of my best friends, Jeremy Day from Daydream Racing, has a two-year-old trotter in training - Muscles Frankee - a well-bred Southwind Frank colt… I’ll wish him and all the connections good luck. Here’s hoping we get to see that colt and all the other harness horses in action soon!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

She may just be 15, but Gracie Mae Barr has always had a thing for the horses. This young Thamesford, Ontario miss grew up watching both of her parents, Scott and Bethany, work in the business of harness racing. “There is no chance that I wasn’t going to be into the horses,” states Barr. “My parents are into harness racing - my Dad trained full time and my Mom works the London Selected Yearling Sale… The day I was born (March 8, 2005) my Dad raced two horses, Coyote Sam and Future Honey, at Western Fair Raceway and they both won! For me - I think it’s just meant to be… ” Though it’s been a lifetime of horses, for Barr, it’s only been over the last few seasons that she’s been attending the races in London. “My first actual memory of the Raceway was when my Dad took me in to see a ‘mini pony race’. We went to watch and cheer on our friend Travis Moore who was racing his pony Wally,” she says. “And now I enjoy watching and cheering on many who race in London… Sue McNeight and the Horner Stable, Lorne House, Paul Chapman, Brent Belore, the Reibeling’s and there’s lots more - pretty much anyone than can get me to the track on race days - I’ll cheer them on too…” So being this young lady, relatively new to the backstretch, we asked if there was a horsewoman that Barr has noticed and now looks up to on race nights… “It’s Teesha Symes - no question,” she says. “From watching her I can tell she’s a hard worker and I can see that she cares a lot for her horses too… She’s always smiling so she must love what she does and her horses always look great when they walk into the race paddock - everything just looks so professional…” Barr’s favourite racehorse, this meet in London, has been Hidden Potential - a former top class pacer who found his form with the ‘seniors pace’ events. “He’s a really nice horse, to be around, except in the winner’s circle,” notes Barr. “He has knocked me over, in there, but other than that - as long as he has his chew chain and carrots - he’s a happy boy.” Another Raceway fave for Barr, this racing season, would be her victory with Family First. “He was my first win, paddocking by myself, for trainer John Pentland,” she says “John is a family friend that we’ve known for years. I started going to his barn with my Dad on the weekends and now, with school shut down, I’ve been busy working at his stable… My parents are OK with it as long as my grades don’t suffer.” And in her spare time Gracie Mae - like so many others in the business - has a retired racehorse to ride…”His racing name was Nospeednofeed, but I call him ‘Buddy’. My Dad used to race his mother Tenacious Dream.” Another connection for Barr and Pentland has been the impressive filly Lauras Love - they share ownership on this lightly raced daughter of Betterthancheddar. “She didn’t race as a two-year-old, because she was a little on the immature side and John wanted to take things slow with her,” she explains. “That way she could maybe have a strong three-year-old season and so far she has.”  Indeed she has… Lauras Love would debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park, on January 23 of this year - finishing sixth, but her strong 26.3 final quarter would indicate that she may be good to go next time out. And just one week later - that she was… “When she won that night - as she crossed the finish line - there may have been a few tears, not only because it was my first win as an owner, but because it was our first win together. I’ll also never forget Ken Middleton giving me the shout-out in the winners circle - it was just a real special night!”  Now a winner of 4 from 5 career starts - Lauras Love gets some down time to freshen up as Ontario - and the rest of North America - awaits the return of harness racing. “I’m just beyond proud of what she has accomplished,” says Barr. “I knew last year that she had some talent, but I had no idea she would go out and win four in a row. She’s the first horse that I’ve officially owned and there’s no other horse I’d rather own than her. She’s super goofy - with a lot of personality, but she’s just meant for me…” And the future plans for Lauras Love - is there any chance that we’ll see her at The Raceway going forward? “I’m not sure where else she’ll race - other than at Woodbine Mohawk Park,” reports Barr. “It’s completely up to her trainer to decide… And I’ll trust that he’ll do what’s best for her - he’s been right so far!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway  

Michigan’s David Omicioli, owner of the good harness racing mare Turbo Diva, reached out to us recently after reading up on some people stories at The Raceway. “We’re also on lockdown,” reports Omicioli. “Hopefully we see a vaccine developed soon for this coronavirus… I miss my horses and I miss hanging out at the racetracks…” Turbo Diva raced in London for trainer Tim Myers and now finds herself stabled in Hamburg, New York. “She was able to race one time at Buffalo Raceway (a fourth-best finish on March 11) before that track closed,” says Omicioli. “My cousin (Frank Mahiques) is now training her there. She’s enjoying her life in Buffalo… There’s a pool, a walker and a ten-acre paddock at the farm - plus she also has a new best friend in Mya - my cousin’s nine-year-old granddaughter… Buffalo is scheduled to re-open May 2, but I think that could be just a mark on the wall.”   Omicioli has raced pacers Qarma Blue Chip and Surf Report (both trained by Myers) at The Raceway, over the last few seasons, and he’s also enjoyed watching and cheering on Reel - a Preferred class pacer conditioned by Myers. “I really like that big horse… He rarely seems to get an easy trip, but he’s always a contender whenever he races.” Trainer Myers now co-owns a two-year-old, with Omicioli, that was purchased at the London Selected Yearling Sale last Fall. “There’s a funny story how I bought him,” he chuckles. “My oldest son Nick, Tim and I were at the sale and we weren’t having any luck buying a yearling on that final Sunday, but we liked a few horses that were going to sell late. So getting a bit restless Tim says ‘Let’s go look at those yearlings we picked out.’… Then after looking over those potential stars again - for a third or fourth time - we returned to the sales arena. We chose a spot up high in the bleachers. Tim, Nick and I had just sat down when we saw that a yearling was stuck on a price of $3,000… Now I just knew it was a ‘Control The Moment’ (yearling) and I didn’t even have my catalog open, but Nick did, so I turned to Nick and asked ‘Do you think the horse is worth $4,000?’… Nick replied ‘I think so!’… So I raised my hand and I got the horse for $4,000.” “I was thinking, at the time, even if he didn’t make it as a racehorse - I’d get my $4,000 back… Nick said ‘You should have seen Tim’s face!’… Tim was a little upset, with me, because we didn’t even go look at the horse beforehand and I remember as we walked down the bleacher stairs, to go sign the sales slip, Tim asked me if it was a colt or a filly… I turned to him and said ‘Hell, I don’t even know!’… Nick and I laughed about it all the way back to Michigan…” Trainer Jim Jarvis and his son Dillon had been with the three gentlemen, at the sale, earlier on the weekend. “They were with us, but they had to leave because Dillon had hockey,” says Omicioli. “Dillon told me on the way out that he wanted in, if I bought anything, so now Dillon and Tim are going to be added to the ownership line with me. It should be fun!”  And the yearling sale story doesn’t quite end there… “Nick had suggested a name change to ‘Just Trust Me Tim’, but I’ve come to like his registered name ‘of Thatmomentinlife’… Anyhow the colt is doing well and he paces right along free-legged. We have him paid up for the Ontario Sire Stakes and hopefully we’ll be talking about his sale story and some racing stories - in the years to come!” Thatmomentinlife - most appropriately named considering how the hammer dropped on this hip #251 at the London Selected Yearling Sale of 2019… Good luck guys! Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway

Like so many others, involved in harness racing, horseman Lorne House was born and raised into the business as well… “Indeed I grew up in it,” he says. “My Dad, Mike House, had horses and my Grandfather, Alf Smith, he raced horses too.” It’s now been about 20 years in the business, for House, as a licensed harness trainer and driver in Ontario. His first career training win would come in London, with Fluid Drive, on November 4, 1999… “He was the first horse I ever owned too,” says House. “Don McElroy would have drove him and many others for me back then. I just didn’t have the itch to drive at that time…” That itch would indeed come along, a few years later, when House would get in the majority of his qualifying drives, at The Raceway, during the Spring of 2001. It’d be Sarnia, in September of that year, where he’d guide Tinkers Magic to an off-the-pace win for his first career driving victory. And then it would be Fantastic Lil giving Lorne his first London driving win in early 2003. The pair would double up, next start at Flamboro, before that same mare would get claimed. “The guy that claimed her - well I guess he didn’t like her… He called me to see if I wanted her back, not long after, but I turned him down.” And so it goes - Fanstastic Lil would retire with just two career victories. A few favourite horses, for House, over the years at The Raceway… “Grogan was a nice, nice trotter I trained and drove… I still remember the day he won an O.S.S. Grassroots in London (June 19, 2007)… The track was sloppy and we won by 11 in 2:00 flat! If the track would have been fast, that day, we’d have broke the track record I’m sure,” states House. “He’s retired now and I believe he’s breeding Dutch Warmblood mares in Indiana.” “Kendal Gustav was another great horse to drive,” offers House. “I had lots of thrills aboard him. He was just so consistent and when it was time to go - it’s like he just knew and he’d show up… I could always count on ‘Gus’.   A very interesting question came up, recently, during a COSA TV special featuring driving legends Ron Waples, John Campbell and Bill ODonnell. Broadcast host Greg Blanchard would ask the gentlemen if there was ever a horse they never had a chance to drive, but wish they could have… Well they all quickly agreed on Niatross as that one horse they wished they could have drove in a big race. So I then asked House that same question and his answer may surprise some… “The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) would be the dream horse and an obvious choice for many, I’m sure, but I’ve always liked the hard knocking older horses - the blue-collar types, so Admirals Express would likely be that one horse for me.” Outside of harness racing House says he’s a big Toronto Blue Jays fan and he loves to fish as well. “I do miss seeing the Jays play and my boy (Luc) loves the baseball too, but he’s not a Jays fan just yet though,” he laughs. “The fishing I picked up from my Grandfather years ago - we’d get out lots… And now it’s been Luc and I getting out.” Lorne’s son Luc, at just 8 years of age, would come up big, recently, on the Niagara River around Queenston. “We’d never fished there before, but away we went last Friday (March 27),” says House. “We weren’t there 15 minutes and Luc hooked on to a 12-pound rainbow (trout)… And he wouldn’t need any help, from me, though he was getting tired into the stretch, but he dug in and landed him,” House chuckled. “It was a very proud moment for us both and he was grinning from ear to ear… We’d end up catching 13 that day and he’d catch 8 of them… I always loved fishing with my Dad and Grandpa, so my boy Luc - I guess he gets it honest enough!” “We weren’t there 15 minutes and Luc hooked on to a 12-pound rainbow (trout) And like his Dad - Luc enjoys the horses too… Sitting alongside Lorne, at The Raceway in 2017, Luc would guide Ping to an exhibition pony race victory… “Now that was fun! Just for him alone - he was ecstatic… And we still have Ping too - she looks after the yearlings on the farm.” Final words go to House on this current downtime for horse racing… “We’ve been quite busy training and I look after the track at Dorchester Downs,” he says. “Angela (Clark) has been training Munndutch back under saddle, but we’ll have him back in the bike when racing returns… We’re just hoping to get back to racing soon and preferably in London. There’s no doubt we’ll be ready to race when and where the tracks are open.”    Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway

With a very light schedule of harness racing taking place throughout the world, right now, it was easy to catch up with lifelong harness racing fan and bettor Melissa Keith. A recent winner of the 2019 John Hervey Award (for feature writing) at the Annual Dan Patch Awards - Keith, of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, had been a recent addition to the Bettors’ Corner - featured on the Ontario Racing website. Keith’s Friday night in-depth analysis, for The Raceway, was just starting to heat up - when all of a sudden - Ontario harness racing came to a halt due to the corona-virus. “My favourite win of the season was Rubber Knows beating Dan Dar Mal on that final Friday night card (March 13). She was my Ontario Racing ‘Spot Play’ of the night on the Bettors’ Corner and she’d return $50.90 to win!” Keith’s interest in harness racing goes back to the days of Sackville Downs, in Halifax, N.S., attending the races with her Dad and brothers. “I can remember my elementary school class getting a tour of the backstretch, back in the day, as well. I became fascinated by these amazing animals and the unique world of the racetrack.” “Sackville Downs had incredible crowds and handle - up until it closed in the 1980’s, so simply attending the races was enough to cultivate a strong interest in harness racing. There were several stars, at the time, who captured everyone’s imagination: Winners Accolade, Waveore and Angels Shadow were the ‘big three’. When my Dad signed me up for riding lessons, naturally I was paired up with a retired standardbred pacer (Starshot Lobell). I took some heat for occasionally letting him pace fast under saddle on the farm’s training track!” After many years of watching and wagering on the horses around the Maritimes – Keith was bound to find a few favourites along the way… “My favourite racehorses, past & present, is a long list! The first horse that I really followed closely was a pacer who came to Sackville Downs, from Sudbury Downs, in the 1980’s - a good-looking pacing stallion named Syd Grattan. Carl Jamieson trained and drove him - many years later I learned Syd Grattan was the horse Carl credited with really getting his career moving forward. There was also a trotting stallion by the name of Sunbound who was driven and also trained, I believe, by Ken Arsenault (not the Kenny Arsenault still active in P.E.I.). I cheered for him trackside every race and he was the first horse I ever got out for a winner’s circle photo with. They weren’t the winningest or fastest horses, at Sackville Downs, but they were charismatic and exciting to watch. My Dad’s friend Charlie Piper bought a grey gelding by Smog - named Irish Fog and I became a fan of this pacer as well.”  It’s years later now and after learning to play the horses, growing up around Sackville Downs, we asked - when was it that Keith would actually stumble upon The Raceway as a betting option? “My earliest memory of The Raceway is watching and wagering, with my Dad, at the Sackville Superbowl OTB and finding out that it was a tough track to handicap! And then I wasn’t following racing so much, during my university years, because there was no track around and no online wagering yet, but I got drawn back into it immediately in the Moni Maker era. I remember going to Champions OTB on Bloor Street, on a Sunday morning, to watch her in the Prix d’Amerique. She was one of a kind!” “This year is tough - with horses sidelined now - right as the Grand Circuit races were scheduled to start with the MGM Borgata (formerly George Morton Levy) and Blue Chip Matchmakers Series at Yonkers. It was disappointing, but understandable when The Raceway closed as a corona-virus precaution back on March 19… So my favourite ‘active’ horses, right now, are hopefully going to come back strong: Gimpanzee, Shartin N and hopefully Bold Eagle makes it back to North America.”  Looking back on some favourites, at The Raceway, Keith says she really enjoyed the 2014 edition of the Molson Pace. “That race featured such a gutsy effort by State Treasurer. He had a rough start and had to close from last for a three-horse photo finish with Foiled Again and Apprentice Hanover. He got there just in time! Scott Coulter is probably my favourite driver at The Raceway; he seems to get the best from any horse and rates horses so well on the front end. From past Western Fair drivers - Dave Wall & Trevor Ritchie both obviously went on to have great careers with great trotters… I associate them with Goodtimes and Peaceful Way - two of the best trotters I’ve ever seen race.” “Past performers Button Up and Lady Latte were a couple of my Raceway favourites as well. Before the COVID-19 hiatus, I was enjoying the emerging rivalry among Windsong Ophelia, Warrawee Usain and Super T - three talented young trotters who were ready to duke it out again on March 20 - which ended up being cancelled. Talbot Eh Plus has probably been my favourite horse this season. She’s won half her starts, racing respectably at Woodbine Mohawk Park and dominating at the mile distance on a half.” And one last bit from Keith on handicapping The Raceway… “Handicapping The Raceway, for Ontario Racing, has really highlighted the quality winter racing at Western Fair. Wagering is up - which reflects that as well. Favourites often win, but there is value to be found and that last turn is always full of suspense. I’ll be looking forward to another Camluck Classic, but more than that, I’ll be looking forward to the return of the regular London races that keep the sport rolling.”  *To read Melissa’s two-part award-winning story from 2019 - click on the following Harness Racing Update links… Part 1) The tragic and mysterious death of a harness horseman… Part 2) A wanderer with an incredible heart… Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Announcer - The Raceway

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