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Pan From Nantucket (No Pan Intended) scored an impressive victory in the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night. The Jose Godinez-trained pacer has been a threat in the Yonkers Open this year and not only started from the outside post on Saturday but was outside the race's odds-on favorite Sparky Mark. Pan From Nantucket moved aggressively first over and squared off with the public choice who was on the front end before wearing him down in the stretch and recording the victory in the $17,000 feature. Sand Summerfield (Billy Dobson) closed for second while Sparky Mark (Jim Morrill Jr) had to settle for third for the second consecutive week. Pan From Nantucket, whose win came in 1:57, was piloted by Bruce Aldrich Jr.who scored four wins on the Saturday card, three of the victories coming while driving for trainer Jose Godinez. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a carryover of nearly $2,000 in the pick five pool. First post time is set for 12:45pm. by Mike Sardella for Saratoga Raceway  

Harness racing driver Joe Bongiorno was taken off two drives at the Meadowlands Racetrack Saturday evening because in a pre-race interview he said “I will not be pushing my horses because the owners said not to try too hard, they are in a series next week.” The two horses in question that Bongiorno spoke about and was replaced on were Shoobee's Place in the sixth race and Code Word in the eighth race. “The decision to replace Joe Bongiorno on those two horses was done by the judges,” said John Tomasello, presiding judge at the Meadowlands. “It was done because of the interview he gave before the races and in the best interests of the betting public. “He was only taken off the two horses he talked about,” Tomasello explained, “Those two horses he indicated would get “easy trips” and we understand about racing and how racing lays out. However we expect horses to be raced to win and we don’t want to hear that they are in a series next week. We are concerned about the races here tonight. That was the reason we made the driver changes tonight. We want to see every horse here tonight given the best chance to win.” When asked if there will be a further investigation into this situation, Tomasello said “possibly.” In the sixth race, Shoobee’s Place was driven by Marcus Miller and finished fourth in a photo at odds of 4-1. Code Word was driven by Steve Smith in the eighth race and was never a factor, finishing eighth at odds of 6-1. Bongiorno, 21, of Colts Neck, NJ, has been driving professionally for less than five years. He currently has 407 career victories and $2.9 million in purses earned by the horses he has driven. In 2011 he was voted the national Amateur Driver of the Year by the United States Harness Writers Association. Bongiorno could not be reached for comment. By Steve Wolf, for

Addington’s Met Multiplier has proven extremely popular since its inception some 20 months ago. Twenty-five pacers or trotters have now earned the Met Multiplier bonus with $7,500 paid out to each qualifying horse’s owners and trainers. The “Met Multiplier Honour Roll” shows harness horses right across the classes in both pacing and trotting gaits from a diversity of stables. Current total pay-out is at $187,500 for the new initiative. The scheme is designed to encourage trainers to support the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) with a lucrative incentive for the connections. To earn a Met Multiplier a horse has to start at a (NZMTC) meeting a minimum of 15 times over a 12 month rolling period and be placed 1st or dead heat for 1st in one of those qualifying starts. So that means that your horse has 12 months to have the 15 starts and gain one win from when it first starts at a NZMTC meeting. E.g. A horse that has its first start at Addington on  14 March 2014 must have a minimum of 15 starts at NZMTC meetings and be placed first in one of those starts by 13 March 2015. Horses that have had more than 15 starts and are yet to win can still qualify as long as they win a race within their 12 month period and at the same time satisfy the 15-start criteria within that time period. Addington’s Racing Manager Brian Rabbitt said “that the initiative has proved to be a winning formula for the club, owners and trainers. We have seen an increase in horse numbers and our starter numbers are tracking above the national average which is a positive result. It is intended to keep the scheme going especially as many owners and trainers are taking advantage of it and there are several horses very close to earning a cheque for their connections.” Full details and conditions of The Met Multiplier Reward can be found under the Racing - Promotions and Incentives section at or contact Brian Rabbitt or Richard Bromley at the Addington Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.  Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington  

The YOR ! Racing With Mark Jones Syndicate scored the perfect result, after only three days as lessees, when Crazy Heart won the Signprint Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace at Forbury on Thursday, March 6. The syndicate obtained the lease of the 3YO Santanna Blue Chip filly from breeders, Frances and Max Bowden, after she ran a first-up seventh at Timaru on February 23. However, Crazy Heart stepped up a gear for the syndicate, powering home from three back on the outer with a well-timed finish in the hands of Blair Orange. Crazy Heart arrived in time to wear down front-running Expressive Art, and Delightful Dash (parked), in a 1:57.4 rate for the 1700m. The 120-strong Syndicate, managed by Canterbury racecaller Mark McNamara, includes Racing Board colleague Maryanne Twentyman, who gained a pleasant surprise to see Crazy Heart win when hosting Thursday’s Trackside Radio show. Northern racecaller George Simon, and champion netballer Irene Van Dyk, are other celebrities in the syndicate. This is the third Syndicate win for the Mark Jones-based syndicate and third at Forbury Park. They first tasted success when Curve won at Forbury on June 6 last year, while Pat’s First Sun obliged for them at the December 13 Forbury meeting. Both earlier winners were returned to their original owners. Crazy Heart is the third foal and first winner from the two-win In The Pocket mare Belle’s Girl. Meanwhile, the Mark Jones stable racked up its 46th win of the season when Strike On Command delivered in the final event, the C1 Next Meeting 24 March at Wingatui Mobile Pace. Strike On Command, handily placed on the outer by Blair Orange, swept to the front early in the run home and held fellow Canterbury visitor Memorable by two lengths in a 2:00 rate (2200m). The consistent 3YO McArdle-Noble Strike colt took his record to three wins and five placings in 11 starts for Australian owner Kevin Stanley. By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of MARK JONES RACING)

By Bill Liblick, re-printed with permission by As EPR Properties and Empire Resorts prepares to present their resort destination plans next Thursday evening at a private presentation at Bethel Woods, and not at Empire’s operational facility, the harness racing horsemen at Monticello Raceway have declared war. The horsemen feel they have been betrayed and used as a pawn by Empire Resorts, the owner of Monticello Raceway, and are fearful that the Standardbred racetrack and the industry that has employed thousands of residents over the years in Sullivan County will be gone if the company receives a license to operate a full-fledged gaming hall. When racino’s were permitted in New York State it saved the horse racing industry from dying. The introduction of video slot terminals has seen racetracks such as Monticello, Tioga Downs, Saratoga, and Yonkers flourish thanks to a percentage of the take going into racing purses. Although attendance and actual pool totals from Monticello Raceway attendees is minimal, the racetrack has become a cash cow for Empire Resorts thanks to simulcasting and off-track betting wagering.  Monticello Raceway has in essence become a huge television studio. Under proposals from EPR and Empire Resorts they say they are going to construct a new harness track at the Concord no matter what happens – with or without table games – but will they? Horsemen claim Empire Resorts is capping purses at 2013 levels and if they are granted a table gaming license there will be no increases. They also say there are no guarantees the harness track will even remain open. The Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association has declared a war against Empire Resorts. They argue track owners slammed the door on them once the resort destination amendment was approved in November and that they refuse to negotiate. Things are so bad, the horsemen have exercised their right to stop Monticello’s simulcast signal from being broadcast, preventing Empire Resorts and New York State from receiving millions in revenue. Empire has since slashed purses and cut back the number of races in a card. They have even shut down the horsemen’s lunch room. According to Alan Schwartz, President of Monticello’s Harness Association The dispute between management and the horsemen at Monticello Raceway is very easy to understand. “The parent company of the racetrack seeks to obtain a lucrative license to construct a Las Vegas style casino, complete with slot machines and table games. They would be one of just two, and possibly the only casino permitted in the Catskills. Despite the tremendous windfall such a license would bring to the parent company, it flatly refuses to allow the horsemen or breeders to share in any portion of the huge anticipated profits.” Schwartz claims that “in order to get the casino amendment passed, management both figuratively and literally called the horsemen their “partners.” The logo of their lobbying group prominently contains a horse. Their radio commercials ballyhooed their support for racing. Of course, once the amendment passed, management’s idea of “partnership” quickly degenerated.” Under the present video lottery gaming law, horsemen and breeders get a fixed percentage of the track’s net win. When a racino underperforms, the purse money generated is less, even though it isn’t the horsemen’s fault. When the racino does well, purses go up modestly – In essence a true economic partnership. Schwartz maintains Empire Resorts wants a firm cap on purses and breeding contributions at 2013 levels. He says if that happens, harness racing will become a near-zero or zero growth industry. “Nobody is going to buy or breed horses in this state when places like Ohio, Massachusetts, Delaware and Pennsylvania offer significantly more industry support.” Schwartz acknowledges that harness racing won’t die in the next several years, but “consider, however, that the price of feed, diesel fuel, veterinary services; literally anything you can think of, will be significantly higher in just a few years. Once you can’t pay to maintain racehorses, the sport will evaporate from sheer economics – And that’s exactly what our racetrack management “partners” would love to see happen.” Although Empire Resorts blames Albany for the horsemen’s plight, Schwartz asserts the law speaks only about minimum contributions. “No government can interfere with the private right of contract. Racetrack management hides behind Albany when, in reality, their own lobbyists pushed for and signed off on the legislation.” Schwartz says “The horsemen and breeders at Monticello and elsewhere refuse to be “silent” former partners. If management wishes to embrace us as economic partners, as mandated under the video lottery gaming law, gaming can move forward in a meaningful way in the Catskills, and the renaissance created by Albany through the VLT program can continue to flourish, for not only the six harness tracks owners but also for the state, education and the agriculture and racing industries. If that doesn’t occur, we really have nothing else to lose.” Schwartz professes he is trying to negotiate in good faith, but Empire Resorts is not, so with “few weapons in this fight” they had to pull the simulcasting signal. “We are also acutely aware of the loss of revenue to the track, the horsemen and the industry. Yet, we have pondered just how much money these track operators strive for while they jeopardize an entire industry for their own profit; a racing industry that worked hard to spawn the birth of VLTs at tracks in this and other states. We cannot just sit by and watch an industry get swallowed up by a handful of track operators professing to be concerned about our sport, whose ultimate goal is to kill it.” The right to withhold the export of signal from Monticello is a right granted to horsemen by Federal law. Schwartz explained, “That 1978 law very wisely recognizes that the horsemen at a host track are the real guardians of this sport. It armed the horsemen with the important tool to use only when they perceived a crisis threatening the very existence of the game. It has been used very sparingly and with the utmost of caution.” A mediator has been appointed by the New York State Gaming Commission in an attempt to resolve the situation. Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts/Monticello Raceway issued the following statement in response the suspension of simulcasting. “Monticello Casino & Raceway (“MC&R”) continues to support the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act (“Gaming Act”). When they authored the Gaming Act, the Senate, Assembly and the Executive protected the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association (“MHHA”), and the entire racing industry. As New York State moves toward approving four casinos in upstate New York, future revenue for the horsemen is governed by the Gaming Act, and current revenue is governed by the New York State Lottery for Education Law. Degliomini added, “It is sad and unfortunate that we are being attacked for legislation that actually protects harness horsemen’s interests. While MC&R continues in good faith, through negotiation and mediation, to attempt to secure an agreement with MHHA, the MHHA is now attempting to amend a law that they don’t like by unfairly punishing our business, our employees, our loyal customers and even their own members. We are simply track owners, not elected officials. The MHHA should stop this destructive behavior and turn the simulcasting signal back on.” With all the new resort destination proposals coming out of the woodwork this dispute is something Sullivan County does not need. Schwartz does raise many valid concerns that must be addressed if a racino operator is granted a full gaming license, Monticello Raceway, the horsemen, and the industry must be protected.  

My belief is that if you run a business properly and have competent counsel, the tricks of the trade and opportunities for tax savings are things that are best discussed on a case-by-case basis with your accountant. There is no one size fits all answer.  I have no secret formula to pay little or no taxes, however I can provide some tips here to keep your business running more smoothly and with fewer tax-related crises. Tip #1 Taxes are not a do-it-yourself project. Selecting an accountant should be a careful process. It should never be based on the size of a refund or how fast you will get your money back. You should ask if they are a CPA (state licensed) or an enrolled agent (licensed by the IRS).     Tip #2 The IRS agents like to say if it isn't in writing, it never happened. Good record keeping is a must for any business. I suggest you pay for as many expenses as you can with a debit or credit card so you have some trail of where you spent your money even if you lose receipts. Cash is the absolute worst way to pay for expenses. Tip #3 Deposit 100% of your income and make sure income deposited equals income reported on the top line of your tax return.  Virtually every IRS fraud case involves unreported income. If you follow what I stated above you will very likely never be investigated for tax fraud provided your expenses are reasonable for the type of business you are engaged in. Remember there is rarely a valid excuse for "forgetting" any appreciable amount of income Tip #4 In general ask your tax advisor about claiming the standard mileage rate for auto expenses unless you drive less than 15,000 business miles a year or have a compelling need for a very expensive vehicle. I have found the convenience of the mileage rate method and the reduced record keeping that accompanies it saves my clients considerable time and money. The issue here is how much burden do you want in keeping gas receipts and other records related to auto maintenance. Tip #5 I recommend routinely filing extensions on March 1st if you have not already filed your returns by that date. This protects you in the event of sickness, injury, floods, fires, etc. You are thus allowed until October 15 to file. It takes five minutes, and it's free. You have to pay any tax due by April 15, but you will save needless penalties for late filing by getting a preventative extension "just in case". Tip #6 Most horse businesses cannot claim bad debts.  If you never reported income, you cannot claim income you never reported as a bad debt. In other words if owner Jones fails to pay your training bill, it's bad luck; take him or her to court, but the IRS will not feel your pain. Tip #7 If you lose 1099's you received during the year and you absolutely cannot get them from the payer, wait until August to file and ask the IRS for a wage and income statement. I have clients who show up with no records for many years. I often use IRS records to help reconstruct income where records have been lost.   Tip #8 Don't hand your tax preparer unopened envelopes. We aren't psychics, and it's a great time waster. I often drop my fee up to 20% if a client is very well organized and has good records that are well organized. Tip #9 Many horsepersons tell me they cannot afford health insurance. The reality is you cannot afford not to have health insurance. It's tax deductible and in some cases subsidized under the Affordable Health Care Act. There are now penalties for not having health insurance as well. Medical expenses cause more bankruptcies than any other reason. I cannot emphasize enough how I feel about this topic.   Tip #10 Be sure that you have a business plan. Again, not only is this essential for you as a business owner to plan how you will run your business and to forecast your expenses and income, but it also tells the IRS that you are putting the effort and planning into a true business and not a just a hobby. Larry Rosenblum, E.A., MBA, is an enrolled agent and president of The Equine Tax Group a national tax firm specializing in representing the horseperson before the IRS and State tax departments. Rosenblum retired from the IRS after a 33-year career, which saw him involved in numerous cases involving the equine industry. He can be reached at (888) 338-3999 or

After looking back at the results from last month’s Yearling Sales, it’s not surprising to see that Mark Purdon and Robert Dunn are the country’s leading trainers. Purdon, along with his formidable band of owners, purchased approximately 22 yearlings for costs of around $1,066,000 at the New Zealand Sales, while Dunn and clients acquired roughly 12 yearlings spending around $500,000. Purdon and Dalgety were also active at the Australian APG Sales. Which raises the question, how can the small compete? Don’t get me wrong, Purdon, Dunn, and all of their brilliant owners are great for this industry and deserve and earn all the success that they get. But in a few years is it going to be Purdon, Dunn, and Dalgety racing each other? Now that is something that wouldn’t be good for the industry at all. Mark Jones, who is in no way, shape, or form, a “small trainer” says that if he wasn’t a ‘seller’ he would struggle to survive, which makes you think.  How does everyone else fear? “I don’t have the numbers of Purdon or Dunn so I survive by selling, but I am worried that the majority of the people in the game won’t be able to survive as it is simply getting too tough,” said Jones. “I’m one of the lucky ones, but it’s becoming increasingly hard for young and small trainers to compete and unless stakes go up their chances of staying in this industry are very grim which is very bad for the future of the sport.” “I believe it is up to clubs, especially Addington, to up stakes as owners need to race for more money.” Jones also believes that HRNZ could cut a lot of costs and direct that money into the stakes. “And we need more races for the poorer horses, so they have a chance to earn,” he added. “I also think we need training centres to give young enthusiast somewhere to start from as no young trainer can afford their own property,” Jones suggested. “It’s very hard for young people to get backers, as owners are a dying breed, especially in the Auckland region.” “The way things are going it won’t be long before the big stables are racing each other,” he concluded. So, “How can the small compete?” – It’s something worth pondering over anyway. Perhaps it could be ‘The Big Question’ on The Box Seat? Or would that mean that they were just trying to ‘Keep Up With The Joneses’? By Mitchell Robertson

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) has received reports of several cases of equine Strangles (S. equi sp. equi infection) in the Waterloo-Wellington County area. Strangles is not a reportable disease in the province of Ontario, however, it is highly contagious to horses and other equids, and outbreaks are a concern to the equine industry. The reported cases have predominantly shown signs of high fever (40-41⁰C) and mucopurulent nasal discharge with only occasional horses developing enlarged lymph nodes with abscessation. Disease Facts: Strangles is a highly contagious infection of horses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. Clinical signs include fever, nasal discharge and, most typically, lymph node abscessation. Transmission occurs by direct nose-to-nose contact with infected horses or via contact with contaminated surfaces, objects or people (e.g. twitches, tack, buckets, feed troughs, stall walls, fences). The bacterium can survive indoors for weeks to months depending on temperature. The disease is diagnosed by detection of S. equi using bacterial culture and/or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of nasal or lymph node discharge, nasopharyngeal (throat) swabs or nasal or guttural pouch washes. Treatment involves managing the fever and encouraging abscesses to burst. Antibiotics should only be used under veterinary supervision as they may prolong the maturation of abscesses and the disease process. Infection control Minimize all human and animal traffic in and out of the premises. No horses should leave the premises unless they are being taken to an isolation facility, as this increases the risk of spread to other horses. All owners, riders and other personnel in the barn should be made aware of the situation to ensure strict control measures are followed, and so they don’t inadvertently carry the bacterium to other equine facilities Isolate suspect horses as much as possible in a separate, low-traffic area or treat the stall as a quarantined area. Handle infected and suspect horses using gloves, designated coveralls and designated footwear/footbaths. Promote hand hygiene (using products such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers) even when gloves are worn. Take temperatures twice daily on all horses in the facility, including those not showing signs of disease. If a fever is detected (>38.5°C, >101.3°F), the horse should be considered infected and isolated/quarantined until diagnosed. Monitoring should continue for at least two weeks after the last case shows clinical signs. Clean all equipment and surfaces of visible organic material (e.g. dirt, hair, manure) before applying disinfectants. Most common disinfectants are effective. Test horses that have recovered from disease at least twice at one week intervals using throat swab or nasal wash samples to confirm they are negative. Identify those horses that are carriers and intermittently shedding S. equi by testing nasal or guttural pouch washes. Carriers can shed the bacterium for months or years. Prevention Isolate new horses coming on to the farm, or those returning from extended absences, for 2-3 weeks and test them to ensure that they are not shedding the bacterium. If isolation cannot be performed, barn managers should ask for proof of Strangles–free status (based on recent testing) prior to accepting new horses. Discuss with your veterinarian about vaccinating for Strangles. Vaccines can help minimize the severity of disease but may not be appropriate during outbreaks. It is recommended that horses that have been frequently vaccinated for Strangles or have had the disease itself should have a S. equi antibody titre performed prior to vaccination to avoid potential immune reactions. The best method of disease control is disease prevention. See the resources below for other basic biosecurity and infection control practices. RESOURCES OMAF: WORMS & GERMS BLOG: EQUINE GUELPH: Submitted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food

The rules of harness racing are dictated by the state where the racing activity occurs. All racing ovals are situated within the boundaries of a certain state. By virtue of inherent police power to protect the health, safety and morals of its citizens, each sovereign state independently determines how our sport is conducted. On this score, consider that medication regulations are solely within the purview of the individual state governments. When regulations are deemed to be "uniform," that identity happens only because each of the participating states adopt mirror image rules. Even if they appear to be the same or substantially similar from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the rules are, in fact, unique to each state. Licensing is a function of the state as well and, as everyone in our industry is aware, being licensed in one state in no way guarantees that a license will issue in others.  Federal law was created by the states. The promulgation of the U.S. Constitution was accomplished only because the independent colonies agreed to abdicate a very limited amount of their respective powers to a federal government for the greater good of all. As powerful as the federal government may at times seem, it can only act if a constitutional provision allows it to do so. In the racing realm, the sparse instances of federal regulation occur based upon the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That provision reserves solely to Congress the regulation of commerce across state lines. It makes perfect sense. Imagine if each state developed their own regulations for the size and shape of mud guards on the rear of tractor trailers. Truck drivers would be required to carry scores of different flaps, and to stop and change the flaps at the border of each state. In fact, 55 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down just such state regulations as unconstitutional burdens on interstate commerce. Thus, the Interstate Commerce Clause permits the federal government to regulate things such as interstate simulcasting and the transportation of horses across state lines. So, what about a state law or regulation that prohibits the interstate movement of racehorses for periods of time? Can such rules pass constitutional muster, or should they be struck down as being in conflict with the Interstate Commerce Clause as unnecessarily impeding the free flow of business among the states? These questions are not hypothetical. Several states have regulations geared towards ensuring that there are always enough horses to fill race cards at meets. Both the Pennsylvania Code and New York regulations dictate that a harness horse may not race at a track other than the track where claimed for 30 days or the balance of the current racing meeting, whichever comes first, unless released by the racing secretary. In Maryland, the rules bar a claimed harness horse from racing outside the state for 60 days if the claim was at Rosecroft, or for 30 days if the claim was at Ocean Downs, unless the respective meet ends sooner. Delaware regulations contain a blanket 60 day prohibition on racing a claimed horse out of the state without approval of the track where the horse was claimed. May a state prohibit an owner from immediately racing a claimed horse in another state? That was exactly the question decided by the Kentucky Court of Appeals last month. The case, Jamgotchian v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was brought by a Thoroughbred owner who claimed a horse at Churchill Downs in Kentucky in May of 2011. Under Kentucky Thoroughbred rules, the horse was not permitted to race outside the state until the Churchill meet ended on July 4, 2011. In June, the owner entered the horse at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. The racing secretary, in consultation with Churchill officials, rejected the entry based upon the Kentucky regulation. The owner claimed that the Kentucky prohibition violated the Federal Interstate Commerce Clause. In its ruling, the court stated that the test to be employed was whether, a) the challenged law is protectionist in measure, or; b) whether it can fairly be viewed as a law directed to legitimate local concerns, with effects upon interstate commerce that are only incidental. In other words, the court initially indicated that not every state regulation affecting interstate commerce is unconstitutional. In applying the test to the regulation in question, the court first reasoned that the general regulation of horse racing is both a traditional and legitimate state function, and is thus a valid exercise of Kentucky’s police power. In its analysis, the court pointed out that out of the thirty-eight states that permit wagering on horse racing, twenty-seven states have a claiming law similar to Kentucky's regulation. In sum, state regulation of claiming is pervasive across the United States. As to whether the regulation is protectionist or discriminatory, the court pointed out that the regulation applied evenly to both in-state and out-of-state licensees. Also, it determined that the effect on interstate commerce is incidental, inasmuch as the prohibition was strictly limited to horses acquired in the claiming realm. The court reasoned that the aggrieved owner could have purchased a horse privately or at an auction sale, and could have freely and immediately raced that purchase elsewhere. Finally, the court concluded that the regulation was limited in duration and scope, inasmuch as it banned transport out of state for racing for only the duration of the meet, which at the outside was just three months. To read the full text of the case, click here:,33&as_ylo=2014 While Kentucky upheld the regulation, it is unclear whether a federal court would agree with the reasoning of the Court of Appeals. That just might be Mr. Jamgotchian’s next move. By Chris E. Wittstruck, who is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.

The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to offer a breeding to Guccio as part of our stallion breeding auction.  This is a unique opportunity as his book is sure to be full and closed very shortly.   The world champion and million-dollar winning trotter Guccio 4,1:51.1f ($1,021,809) begins stud duty at Victory Hill Farm, one of the leading farms in Indiana.  He will stand for a fee of $5,000 for the 2014 breeding season.    Trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, Guccio is a son of Yankee Glide and the $181,000 winner Southern Senorita. He showed talent early as a 2-year-old, taking a mark of 1:55.4 as a freshman and winning the Champlain. He became one of the top contenders of his generation as a 3-year-old and missed winning the $1.5 million Hambletonian by a neck. His 3-year-old record of 1:52.1 was earned via a victory in a Bluegrass division at The Red Mile and then as a 4-year-old in 2013 he trotted to his personal best of 1:51.1f, establishing a world record for 4-year-old trotters.   “Guccio is a very classy and beautiful horse and one of my personal favorites,” said Takter.   “He is a world champion and a perfect racehorse in every way.  It was our plan to race in Europe in 2014 had this opportunity for him to enter the stud not developed.  Indiana clearly has one of the most attractive regional programs and we do plan to breed to Guccio as I believe he has every quality to become an outstanding trotting sire.”   Income raised by the stallion auction, nearly $540,000 over the past 15 years, supports the Museum's General Operating Fund. It helps to ensure quality services, special exhibitions, traveling exhibits, promotional support and educational programming for children and adults. Our efforts also help to encourage new owners and fans!   For additional information on the auction, to donate breedings, or to receive a complete list of stallions and conditions for bidding, please contact Joanne Young at 845.294.6330, or visit, where updates will also be posted.    The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, N.Y. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last tour 4 p.m.). Thanks to USTA support, the Museum is currently offering free admission for walk-in visitors and group docent-guided tours at a minimal charge per person. For additional information about the Museum, its membership program, special events and educational programs please call 845.294.6330 or visit   From the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame  

Today the Massachusetts Racing Commission, with a 3-2 vote, has selected Penn Gaming’s harness racing track, Plainridge Racecourse, as the recipiant of the sole slot machine operators license in the state.  “I believe the Commission will be issuing certain conditions to the license which we have until tomorrow to accept.” Said Chris McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, Inc., “I am not involved in that discussion but I would assume there will be no issues with our accepting whatever is required for the license. Officially I don’t believe the Commission awards the license until tomorrow.” The commission will take an official vote to award the license Friday. Commissioners Gayle Cameron, Enrique Zuniga and Bruce Stebbins said in individual statements that they slightly favored Plainville, which would be operated by Penn National Gaming, over a proposal by Cordish Cos. to build a slots parlor in Leominster.   Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby and Commissioner James McHugh said they were leaning toward Leominster. Thursday’s vote came after two days of evaluation presentations and only a few hours of formal deliberations by the five-member commission. All five commissioners stated their positions on the license during the morning deliberation session. “This is an exciting moment and an energizing moment,” McHugh said prior to the vote. “We have two very strong applicants...I am happy that we have two applicants of this caliber.” Penn National must report to the commission by 9:30 a.m. Friday on whether it will accept the license conditions. If the company accepts the conditions and is officially awarded the slots license, it would install 1,250 slot machines in a new facility it would build to include restaurants and a sports bar, as well as harness racing. Plainridge had appeared out of the running for the slot license as late as last August when the state gaming commission ruled that the then owners of the track were unfit to hold a license. The track’s bid was resurrected when Penn National stepped in to purchase an option on Plainridge. Horsemen and others called the Plainridge application the last chance to save harness racing in the state. Penn National had said it would not continue racing if it did not receive the slot license. By Steve Wolf for

A harness racing trophy, passed on from generation to generation in a Nova Scotia family, recently gave its owners an unexpected surprise when it was discovered an Olympic medal from the 1900s was buried in the top portion of the relic. According to a CTV Atlantic feature story, the trophy, which was awarded to Allan Charles MacDonald after he won an ice racing event for trotters in Nova Scotia back in 1928, was passed on from a number of members of the MacDonald family before the medal was discovered. “They used to have plastic flowers in it, that’s what it was for – just plastic flowers,” said Gerard MacDonald, the great grandson of Allan Charles MacDonald, referring to what his parents used the trophy for. “She (Gerard’s mother) took the flowers out and it was all foil in the bottom of the cup, so she took the foil out to clean it and under the foil was the medal. We probably asked a few family members ‘What’s this? Do you know anything about it?’, and they didn’t, so I remember we just put it in the drawer.” To read the rest of the story click here.

DOVER DE - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's principal organization for media workers, held its annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Dover Downs complex, with the weekend culminating in the Dan Patch Awards Banquet held Sunday (Feb. 23) night, attended by almost 400 people and streamed worldwide for live viewing. During the Saturday meeting, the Directors of the Association voted for Bob Marks and Kathy Parker to be on the Communicators Hall of Fame voting ballot this summer. Marks has been a leading force in many harness dimensions over his 50 years in the sport, most recently as Marketing Director for Perretti Farms, while Parker, from a prominent harness family, worked her way through the ranks at the Horseman and Fair World weekly magazine until becoming editor in 1995 and later general manager of the Horseman Publishing Company, positions she maintains to this day. At the conclusion of the meetings, the membership voted in their slate of association Officials for 2014-15. Chris Tully, an MBA marketing specialist and writer whose digital literacy and social media acumen has helped bring USHWA to the cutting edge of communications technology, was elected President of the association, succeeding Steve Wolf of; Tully's "first official act" was to present Wolf, who now becomes the Chairman of the Board, with a gold Lifetime Membership pin. Tim Bojarski, writer/blogger for the USTA, moved up a chair to 1st Vice President, with the 2VP position going to Shawn Wiles, Monticello Raceway chief racing officer and a longtime USTA and USHWA director. Judy Davis-Wilson, who is based in Dover and worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the weekend, especially the banquet, was returned as Treasurer; Alan Prince, who attended his 48th consecutive USHWA meetings weekend, remains as Executive Treasurer. Also elected was Jerry Connors as USHWA secretary. Much of the discussion during the two days of meetings focused on the sport's Halls of Fame in Goshen NY, where plans for renovation and modernization are starting to advance rapidly, and where USHWA makes a significant contribution. In addition to the physical reconfiguration of the Halls of Fame area, the directors and membership discussed several by-law and rules change relating to the Halls, especially the re-establishment of a Seniors category for both. Debate was plentiful, lively, and well-reasoned on all sides, and some of these matters were tabled until a Committee, soon to be appointed, can focus on the merits - and the eventual wording -- of the varied proposed changes. The attendees heard reports from the many committees that keep USHWA functioning throughout the year, and were glad to hear from Davis-Wilson, voted the organization's member of the year, that the treasury was in a very good shape, pointing to future success in USHWA's upcoming progressive efforts. The Dan Patch Awards Dinner was as always the highlight of the gathering, with superstar sophomore trotting filly Bee A Magician "finishing her unbeaten season" by being elected Trotter of the Year and then Harness Horse of the Year; her contemporary, the pacing colt Captaintreacherous, took down overall honors for that gait after a brilliant campaign showing speed and courage in equal amounts. Also honored were the quartet to be inducted into the Halls of Fame Sunday, July 6 in Goshen: Harness Racing Hall of Famers David Miller and William Weaver, and Communicators Hall inductees Carol Cramer and John Pawlak. by Jerry Connors for USHWA

Favourite Who Doesn't converted off a perfect pocket trip to nail last week's Open Pace winner Smooth Criminal at the wire in Saturday's feature race at Northlands Park. Trained and driven by Canada's 2013 Future Star Award winner Travis Cullen, Who Doesn't established a new lifetime mark with his latest victory, clocked in 1:52.1, on a -17 degree afternoon in Edmonton. Who Doesn't followed Smooth Criminal and Bill Tainsh Jr. through fractions of :28, :56.1 and 1:23.3 in the $9,000 Open before kicking home in :28.2 to steal the spotlight. Despite drifting out in the stretch, Who Doesnt prevailed in a photo finish by a head over the pacesetter while Flak Jacket and Jamie Gray finished nearly seven lengths behind in third. Who Doesn't, who now has two wins and two seconds in six seasonal starts, paid $4.70 to win as the 6-5 bettors' choice. Cullen shares ownership of the five-year-old Mach Three gelding with his family -- Jeanne, Kenneth and Jodie Cullen. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park. Repritned with permission by

This weekends three series finales at Cal Expo honor the memory and contributions of Alan Kirschenbaum, Richard Staley and Marvin Shapiro. The Alan Kirschenbaum Series is named for the longtime owner and breeder and past president of the California Harness Horsemens Association, who died in October 2012. Kirschenbaum was a major factor in California as an owner, breeder and amateur driver for many years. With his stallions Little Steven and British Sterling standing at Cherry Tree Farm in Wilton, he helped support the industry in California. In the past, he had even waived his stallion fees to help the California horsemen breed their mares to help the horse population survive in the Golden State. He was also a huge supporter of the California Sire Stakes and amateur races. Richard Staley, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 66, was one of the top owners to ever campaign trotters and pacers in California. He was involved in the sport for more than 25 years and during that entire period had only one trainer, Hall of Famer Doug Ackerman. Over the years Staley and Ackerman would regularly go to the major sales to select and purchase the regally-bred years that became the bulwark of the Staley Stable and provided California harness racing with many of his classiest performers. Marvin Shapiro was the son of L.K. Shapiro, who owned the Hall of Fame thoroughbred and California-bred champion Native Diver. He was the president of Western Harness Racing Inc. in the 1960s and spearheaded legislation that sanctioned night racing in California. He died in 2003 at the age of 83. Marvin Shapiro Finale, Open Pace in spotlight A contentious $7,350 finale of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series and an Open Pace headed by One And Only are the main events on Saturday nights Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. Itsabouttonight and Plum Crazy Baby captured the two divisions of the first leg of the Shapiro, while last week saw one division and it was Majestic Lass who come rolling late to post a $47 upset. An 8-year-old daughter of Art Major, Majestic Lass is owned by Kimberly Andres, is conditioned by Salvador Wenceslao and will have Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. No threat in the first leg of the Shapiro, she came back last week to be up by a head over another longshot in Pips Jenny G., with the $1 exacta returning a cool $515 in that affair. Itsabouttonight will represent owner/trainer Gretchen Smith with Tim Maier at the helm. The Illinois-bred mare dominated her division of the opening leg over a sloppy track, then was a close third last weekend after opening up a large lead at the head of the stretch that evening. Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old Relentless Yankee mare who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi with Dario Solares training and Dave Siegel doing the honors. She was a very convincing victress in the first leg, then was first over in her most recent appearance and had to settle for the fourth as the 8-5 favorite behind Majestic Lass. Completing the field are Red Star Gilda with Williams Hernandez; No Mo Parking for Mike Jarvis; Curvacious with Luke Plano in the sulky; Pips Jeeny G, Patrick Galbraith; and Little Schoolgirl, who leaves from the outside slot with James Kennedy at the helm. One And Only gets top billing in the Open Pace for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and driver Luke Plano. The son of Bettors Delight rattled off five straight wins between December 21 and February 1 before having the streak broken at most recent asking after doing his work from the demanding No. 10 post position. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

There is a “grass roots” movement currently going on in harness racing, which is being led by two prominent horse owners, Richard and Joanne Young of South Florida. They have been owners in the Standardbred industry for 20 plus years. Joanne has been riding and showing Arabian horses for 30 years. Over the years they have had the pleasure of owning not one, but two world champion performers, Put On A Show (31 wins in 50 starts with earnings of $2.4 million) and I Luv The Nitelife (17 wins in 25 stars with earnings of $1.9 million) in addition to other stakes winners over the years. I Luv The Nitelife was recently announced as the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year for 2013. They travel throughout the country to watch their horse’s race and are big supporters of the industry. Now the Young’s are on a different mission, one that has been involved in a series of hotly debated discussions for years but solutions have been far from being solved. The Young’s want every track and state racing commission that has harness racing to put a stop to drivers who over use the whip in races and take their feet and touch or kick their horse during a race. This all came about because someone did a blog on the internet last Fall, regarding the non compliance with the rules regarding kicking and whipping that woke Joanne Young up. The Young’s took the initiative and started asking and inquiring about the rules and regulations of various states. They sent letters and emails to major race and industry officials throughout the country and learned quite a bit. “I couldn’t tell you how many emails, letters and calls we made,” Joanne said. “ We got back some calls and about a half dozen emails and some of them were so encouraging. Most states have rules but track management and the judges need to enforce them and in some cases increase the fines and suspensions significantly so drivers will not abuse the horses as many do.” “Tracks and judges make their own rules and maybe give a fine after a couple of offenses.” Young said. “It’s like a slap on the wrist and some drivers may say it’s worth the fine to win the race because of the purse. Personally I don’t see why either method is used.  These horses are bred to race and I don’t believe that a whip or a “kick” does anything to make the horse perform better.  To those people that say the “kick” is nothing and does not hurt the horse, I say all you have to do is watch what happens to the driver’s leg when he comes into contact with the hock.  The leg is forcefully pushed back and looks like kicking.  So whatever you want to call it, it looks horrible and the public perceives it as abuse.  For that reason alone it needs to be banned.”  According The United States Trotting Association’s penalties that are suggestions as guidelines to pari-mutuel state gaming commission and racetracks are:  “The penalty for kicking as defined herein shall not be less than 9 days suspension.”  For excessive whipping the suggestion is, “The mandatory minimum penalty for a whipping violation shall be a fine in the amount of $100 and a 3 day suspension from driving for the first offense and for each subsequent violation the mandatory minimum penalty shall increase in the amount of $100 and 3 days (e.g. $200 and 6 days for the 2nd offense, $300 and 9 days for the 3rd offense, etc.)”  “These rules are a joke and everyone in the harness racing business knows it, because either they are not enforced or the penalty is too lenient.” Joanne Young said. “ We want to see a cohesive rule that states that the right hand remain on the right line and the left hand remain on the left line during the race and that the feet must have no contact with the horse.    “The penalty for not following these rules will be suspension for 2 months and a $5,000 fine,” Young continued, “or placement of the horse. We need to make the punishment harsh enough to stop the actions.  Of course an easier fix is just to ban both practices immediately. Other countries have rules in place and no kicking or one handing whipping is allowed or tolerated. If the owners/drivers/trainers lose money you can bet that the drivers will stop immediately. We need to bring some credibility back to this sport.” Jeff Gural, the prominent owner and CEO of three racetracks, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, wrote back and also talked with the Young’s about their quest and encouraged them with this scenario. “I met with the drivers before the start of the meet,” Gural said, “and told them anyone kicking a horse would not be allowed to drive at our tracks, period. No one complained. The whipping is tricky because to change the rule in NJ you need public hearings, etc. The drivers are opposed to this but we have implemented a temporary rule which has cut it way down, but I will back any effort to make the rules stricter.” Joanne has been in touch with the Ohio and Kentucky Racing Commission in regards to their recent rule changes.  She is also in the midst of trying to get a rule change on the agenda with the New Jersey Racing Commission. The Young’s also have had encouraging conversations with prominent owners, drivers and trainers who are on board with rule changes and harsher penalties.  Not everyone though wants to publicly share his or her personal views.  According to Joanne, this is due to the fact that the  “old school” of racing sees nothing wrong with the status quo and some fear repercussions.  “We had one judge,” Richard Young said, “Who actually said he had no problem with a driver touching the hock or flank of a horse when racing and that as long as a driver did not slash a horse with a whip, it was okay. He said horses are tough and can take it. That just infuriated us to no end. How can anyone, especially, a racing judge, say something like that?  “We want this movement to be in a positive light,” Joanne Young explained. “There is a public perception of abuse and we can and should stop it. It is an easy fix for the harness racing commissions to all agree to a cohesive and enforceable rule. I also believe the drivers would like the same rule for all the harness tracks making their job easier.  The USTA is going to be meeting this March. If you a proponent of banning the kicking and one handed whipping please voice your opinion with them or contact me. All we need is for the racing commissions to agree, and we can finally put this controversial subject to rest.” By Steve Wolf for

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