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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

National Debt has only four lifetime starts, winning all four easily in Alberta Canada. On Saturday the impressive colt will step up in class and face the best early season three-year-old harness racing colts at the Meadowlands in the William Buddy Gilmour Series. In those four lifetime starts, National Debt owns two track records.  National Debt became the fastest two-year-old pacer in Alberta Downs history in just his second start, defeating a field of older horses in 1:53.3. In his fourth lifetime start National Debt equaled the track record for two-year-old colts at Northlands Park, rolling to victory in 1:55. Kelly Hoerdt trained and drove the colt in all of his four starts. Kelly shares ownership of the talented son of Allamerican Native-Our Inheritance with Blair & Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta.  The colt was a $17,000 purchase at last year's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Kelly was named Co-Trainer of the Year at the recently completed Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Awards. Hoerdt, 47, scored 82 training wins during the 2013 racing season and earned $623,245 in purses, $438,100 at Alberta Downs to make him the season's leader.  Also at the awards, National Debt was named Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year. The William Buddy Gilmour Series begins next Saturday at the Meadowlands.The first leg goes for $17,500. The second leg on March 1st goes for $20,000, and the final on March 8th for $75,000.  The series is for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime. "He is a fantastic horse," Hoerdt said. "He is the best horse I ever had. I don't know how he is going to be at the Meadowlands. He has had a couple of good qualifiers. "He was awarded the two-year-old of the year last night," Hoerdt added. "He went 1:53 in just his second lifetime start. We have a shortage of horses in Alberta. They mix the classes. He won his maiden in 1:57. He then went in non-winners of two thru four. It is like jumping up three classes. He did not race against two-year-olds in that race, they were all aged horses. The horse he sailed by in twenty six went on to win the Western Canada Pacing Derby. In all his starts he had a plenty of horse left at the end. This is why he is at the Meadowlands. "I haven't seen the two qualifiers but I got feedback from Tim Tetrick," Hoerdt explained. "Tim said the horse has tons of talent, but is very green. Every time he took the horse off the helmet he couldn't wait to get by that horse. That's the sign of a great horse. He goes by them, but doesn't want to open up on them. He liked him. Another good thing is that Tim had his choice to drive two other horses in that race and picked us. I am hoping Tim drives him in the Gilmour. "We have had a problem getting him ready for the series," Hoerdt said. "We gave him time off after his fourth start. I should have trained him down to two minutes in Alberta. With the bad weather we were only able to train him down to 2:03 before I sent him to Ronnie Coyne. The plan was to have one start in him, but Ronnie was getting dumped on with the snow. The Gilmour is just a launching pad. They are not going to get the guts ripped right out of him in his first start. Last year the divisions went in 1:52 and 1:53. He is coming off the qualifier in 1:56.  The time doesn't mean as much as the way he did it. I know that sitting behind him, 1:51 or 1:52 is not out of his reach. He may be a little short in his first race. Everybody else is going to be in same boat with the bad weather and cancellations" There are fifty one horses eligible for the William Buddy Gilmour. The notables include Capital Account, Dinner At The Met, Pierce, and Fire In The Belly among others. Capital Account trained by Jimmy Takter won in 1:52.4 by five lengths on February 8th at the Meadowlands. Dinner At The Met trained by Erv Miller won in 154.3 on February 15th at the Meadowlands. Pierce, although he broke stride the other night at the Meadowlands, has a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 at the Red Mile in a qualifying race. Fire In the Belly, trained by Jim King Jr., won easily at Dover Downs in 1:54.2 on February 16th. "We have made a lot of stake payments for him." Hoerdt said. "We jumped in with both feet. He's paid up for the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace and Messenger. He is out there for sale. We don't have a for sale sign on him. Those payments have to be made if you plan to get any money for the horse. "I sent the horse to Ron Coyne in New Jersey." Hoerdt added. "My partner Blair Corbeil has a horse with Ron already. I met Ron a couple of years ago at Harrisburg. He has a smaller operation with his wife. All the horses get individual attention, as opposed to a big barn. We are on the same page as far as training the horse." "We are waiting to see if he can do it against the competition at the Meadowlands," Coyne stated. "I am pretty confident he can go in 1:51. Can he do it this week, probably not. It would have been nice if we had a start along with the two qualifiers.  We have been fighting the weather for a couple of months now. They were fighting the weather up in Alberta when he first started training. We got the two qualifiers in. I was happy with both qualifiers. The first qualifier he was in need of a soft journey. We covered him up and let him sprint the last hundred yards. The other day we raced him a little bit more. We were hoping for a sharper qualifier, around 1:55. The pace up front did not dictate that. He finished it off coming home in twenty seven and change. "Timmy(Tetrick) liked him quite a bit," Coyne said. "He said he has got some talent. Everybody is down on the fence. Can he make the next jump? I expect Tim will drive the horse on Saturday. I don't see any better horses that he could drive. I am hoping he will stick with him. “We wanted to stay away from any 1/2 mile tracks early," Coyne explained. "They have put him in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono next. That will stretch his legs a little more. Hopefully that will set him up for the rest of the season’s stakes races." If all goes well, starting with Saturday's Buddy Gilmour Series, Kelly Hoerdt and his team will have a successful three-year-old stake season with National Debt. They will have defied the odds of racing a horse from Alberta, Canada and being successful in the highly competitive racing of the big tracks in the Northeast. By Brian McEvoy, for

Launched by Racing And Wagering Western Australia on the eve of the 2013 Western Australian Yearling Sale the Epona Mares Bonus Scheme has had a remarkable first year of operation. Commencing on 1st March 2013, mares which win in Western Australia earn for their owners an amount equivalent to 10% of the winning stake which is credited against the mare and which can be claimed back when the mare eventually retires to stud. The 10% Epona Mares Bonus is in addition to the winning stake and mares can earn up to $5,000 each in Epona credits. Since 1st March 2013 winning mares in Western Australia have generated more that $260,000 in Epona Credits which in effect means that in winning stakes alone these successful race mares have won more than $2.6 million. The Epona Mares Bonus Scheme had an immediate impact on prices for fillies at the 2013 Western Australian Yearling Sale where the fillies actually averaged more than the colts. The 2014 Gloucester Standardbreds Western Australian Yearling Sale will be held on Sunday 23rd February commencing at 1:00pm and of the 113 lots in the catalogue 53 are fillies. Harness Racing Australia

Hldontghttoyurdrms was pushed to the limit in Monday’s $34,000 Preferred Trot at Woodbine Racetrack, but he managed to stave off a late challenge from his stablemate Nowucit Nowudont en route to winning the top class for square gaiters for the third straight start. With Jonathan Drury at the controls, Hldontghttoyurdrms was parked by Amigo De Grande past the quarter pole in :26.2 before being released to the lead. Once he crossed over to the pylons, the Corey Johnson pupil managed to whack out middle panels of :56.2 and 1:25.4 before coming under attack. Amigo De Grande sprinted out of the two-hole to come after him while Nowucit Nowudont swung wide off cover and started to go to work. Hldontghttoyurdrms used a :28.1 closing quarter to win by a nose over Nowucit Nowudont in 1:54. Amigo De Grande was a head back in third. Frank Spagnolo, Frank Schimizzi and Saverio Spagnolo share ownership on the five-year-old son of Muscles Yankee-Sweet Gabriella who won for the third time in four starts this season. The 13-time winner pushed his lifetime earnings over $170,000 with the victory. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Racetrack. Reprinted with permission by

If you attended the SBOA banquet February 15, 2014 you might have missed the quiet young couple sitting at the back of the room.  They were unique in this crowd of veteran breeders. Dave and Helen Friesen were there to bid on a stud’s service fee for their first horse, a Standardbred broodmare, named Roxanna Hanover. While others these days are selling their stock and leaving the business, this young pair are jumping in with a passion. Dave and Helen live in South Woodslee, a little town east of Windsor, Ontario. Dave works in a manufacturing plant near their home, while Helen stays home and looks after their four children (all under the age of six). Their next door neighbours, Tom and Liz Knight, were the ones that peaked their interest in the sport of horse racing. After joining the Knights on a trip to Dresden and getting their pictures taken in the winner’s circle, they wanted to learn more about the sport. Dave and Helen loaded their four children and their parents in the SUV and headed off to Leamington for the race days in September and October 2013. Caleb, their youngest son had just been born, so they would park close to the track’s outside fence and leave Mom and son in the car to watch. The other three kids, with Dave and grandparents in tow, visited the pony rides, got their faces painted, petted the animals in the mini zoo and clapped at the fence as they watched the horses race by. It was the family atmosphere at the track that convinced the Friesens that this was something their whole family could enjoy. Tom and Liz Knight helped them pick out, Roxanna Hanover, a daughter of Real Artist out of a Matt Scooter mare with a mark of 1.53.2 and earnings of over $160,000 Jack McIntosh,  father of the famous horse trainers  Robert and Doug McIntosh, often said” When everyone walks you run, and when everyone runs, you walk.” This young couple may be walking when everyone else is running. Who knows maybe they will be the owners of future champions in this great sport of harness racing. Good luck Dave and Helen, we will look for you in the winner’s circle. By Ruleen Lilley, for SBOA (Ontario)

From Charles Degliomini, Executive Vice President of Empire Resorts/Monticello Casino & Raceway   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.   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.  

An unexpected plus from the revitalization of harness racing in the state of Ohio: sharp Buckeye-based trainers, realizing that there is now money to be made, start advertising, looking for new owners – thereby giving the coffers of the trade press a little extra jingle! Dee Hotton, who is based at the Wooster OH fairgrounds, recently advertised that she is looking for new owners for whom to train their horses for campaigning in the state – but she has always been a bit “ahead of the curve,” though. (How many trainers do you know who have had their own website for years, and who use the word “behooves” – and before noon, no less?) Hotton was born on Long Island (or “Lon Gisland,” as the natives pronounce it) to a father who was a rabid fan of the trotters and pacers at Roosevelt and Yonkers. When her father was transferred by his business to Ohio when Dee was two, the family went along, and in the newly-adopted state the father undoubtedly found plenty of choices to scratch his harness racing itch – while his daughter “had decided by junior high that she was going to work with horses for her livelihood.” Graduating early from high school and from the Wooster branch campus of Ohio State University’s program for learning all ends of standardbred care, Hotton went into the care of the sulky set at a young age.  Dee was a harness “natural” across the board, too, driving in matinees at 15 and fair purse races at 16, and she carries a lifetime .292 UDR despite fewer than 500 career trips behind the gate! And August 9 of this year will mark the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of Dee last losing a purse race while in the sulky – OK, be a spoilsport and point out that she’s only driven once since 8-9-04. “And I wasn’t even supposed to drive that one,” Hotton recalled with a chuckle. “Don McKirgan had been driving my horse for me, but he decided he had a chance to make more money with the horses he was listed on at another fair, and mine didn’t look like much, so I decided I’d just drive him myself.” 6-1 in a 3-horse field, Hotton sent her charge right to the top and held on by ¾ of a length in her first drive in eight years. (Note: Any good story about Ohio fair racing is 50-50 to have McKirgan somewhere in it.) Despite this sulky success, Hotton is now devoting herself strictly to the training side, though she says, “I’m glad I did do some driving, because now I know exactly the sort of things to tell my drivers, and I might also have a little more credibility to them, having been a driver myself.” There is no doubting Hotton’s credibility on the training side, with a career UTR of .322 (she’s been over .300 in 14 of the last 17 years), and many talented horses benefitting from her tutelage. One star, however, might have taught Hotton, now the master conditioner, more about training than anyone else. Magnificent Mel, a 1976 son of Little Brown Jug winner Melvin’s Woe, raced when he was two, and was still on the track when he was 14, accumulating 81 wins and over $200,000 in earnings. If you know of Melvin’s Woe, you know how hard the Joe O’Brien stable had to work to keep the big-hearted racehorse something close to racehorse sound, and he passed on this last-named trait – plus his speed and huge heart -- to his son. “With Magnificent Mel, we had to do a little of almost everything over the course of his career – I worked him back from bowed tendons, had him stand in ice boots, used all kinds of therapy, and even used interval training back what it was an innovation,” Hotton remembers. “Working with that horse was the best education I could have, and he was a great horse – he went a 2:00 mile at Northfield in 1988, when he was 12, the first time a horse that old had broken 2:00 there.” Focusing on the Ohio Sire Stakes program in recent years, Hotton’s best horses have been a duo who were nice horses that unfortunately raced in a two-year period where there was a dominant OhSS performer in their class: “Glory Bound always had to go up against Dunkster, and Buckeye Man was in the same year as Sing Jesse Sing.”  Seeing as Dunkster and Sing Jesse Sing won about $1.400,000 between them, Hotton did some good schoolin’ to have horses who were second to the others’ caliber. “I’m looking for owners who want to race in Ohio, because I think with the slots money it’s a very good time to maximize the possible upside of horse ownership,” Dee continue. “I’ve been partners with owners on horses, and if I had a new owner who would have a little more confidence if the trainer owned a part of the horse, I’d certainly consider that option depending on the situation. “I’ve raced overnight horses, but right now I’m focusing on stakes horses, two- and three-year-olds, with the improvement in money that is coming to the Ohio Sire Stakes,” she added, and indeed Hotton was contacted for this piece in her winter training headquarters of Pinehurst NC, preparing, she hopes, some of 2014’s Ohio stakes stars. If Dee Hotton’s abilities and focus sound right for you and your horses, visit her website at by Jerry Connors for

 TORONTO, February 13 – Harness racing’s social media hottest news, Sydney Weaver,  was reunited with Sydney Seelster – A Valentine’s Day giftial media community erupted on Sunday Feb. 9 following the $6,250 claim of Sydney Seelster at Flamboro Downs. Horses are claimed every day in the harness racing world, but this particular claim upset many fans of the sport. To some, the horse might be just a $4,500 claimer (plus allowances), but for owner Sydney Weaver the pacing mare was worth a lot more. In 2012, Weaver, a thirteen-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, received the best Christmas gift any child could receive – a racehorse named Sydney Seelster, hand delivered by longtime owner Cesar Kowalski. Since then, Weaver and her namesake horse have been inseparable. On race day, the Weaver family can always be spotted wearing pink in light of Sydney Seelster’s nickname, ‘Pinky’. Weaver, of Acton, Ont., has a deep passion for the sport and is often found trackside at Mohawk throughout the summer. In addition to being a harness racing super fan, Weaver is also an ambassador for the sport as an award-winning writer, public speaker and inspirational leader. With the help of her father, Don, Weaver also founded Friends Of We Care – a charity designed to send special needs kids to summer camps. Needless to say, Weaver has certainly accomplished a lot at a young age. This past Sunday, Weaver was heartbroken Sydney Seelster was claimed by Guy Gagnon of Gatineau, Quebec. The standardbred racing community was taken aback by the news of Weaver losing her most prized possession.  Fans immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to offer their thoughts and support, demonstrating how the standardbred racing community can quickly band together. “At first, I couldn’t believe it. I actually thought it was a joke,” Weaver said. “Then it hit me and it wasn’t a very pleasant night. It was just an awful feeling to lose something or someone so close. We barely slept.” Though it may have seemed impossible to some supporters that Gagnon wouldn’t know the relationship Weaver had with Sydney Seelster, it turns out that the Quebec resident simply is not a participant on social media sites where Weaver’s story is prominent. “I honestly had absolutely no idea about the story behind Sydney Weaver and her horse,” Gagnon said. “I feel terrible for putting the claim in and certainly never would do that to the little girl and her horse. “My wife is a school teacher and deals with kids every day,” Gagnon continued. “I coach kids hockey and I’m very involved with children. We wouldn’t like it if something like that happened to us. I wish this never happened, but we are doing what is right and giving the horse back. It’s the right thing to do. I would like to meet Sydney and her family in the future and offer my sincere apologies in person.” Gagnon also offered his thought process behind seeking Sydney Seelster. “I had a horse claimed on me last week and wanted to fill the stall. I searched a bunch of cheaper horses at Western Fair and Flamboro and noticed Sydney Seelster.” Weaver is thankful that Sydney Seelster will be returning home. “I’m just happy to be getting ‘Pinky’ back,” Weaver said. “She’s a part of our family and we’re thankful to have so many caring friends.” Weaver’s mother, Lisa, is also appreciative for Gagnon’s efforts. “We thought it would be possible for him not to know the story and that turned out to be the case,” she said. “We’re very thankful for Mr. Gagnon’s understanding and doing what we felt was right. Mr. Gagnon was very apologetic and sincere throughout this entire process and we thank him for that. Something that started out awful has turned out for the better and we are very lucky to have so many caring friends in this sport. “We know horses are claimed everyday,” she continued. “We understand the business and logic of the sport. We just didn’t think in a million years that she would leave Sydney.” Sydney Seelster was entered into a $7,500 claimer (plus allowances) on Wednesday, February 12 at Flamboro Downs, in which the Weaver family claimed their loved one back. Gagnon also arranged to pay the difference in the claiming price ($3,125) as Sydney Seelster was raised in class and Gagnon offered the Weaver’s any prize money that the 22-time winner earns. Sydney Seelster finished third in the $5,000 event, earning $600 for the Weaver family. A simple misunderstanding has been rectified in lieu of one of harness racing’s most beloved owners. So is it a coincidence that Sydney Seelster is being re-united with Weaver two days before Valentine’s Day?  Maybe…maybe not, but it’s certainly a perfect time to mend a broken heart. by Greg Gangle for WEG

In the earlier article on Canadian horseman Trevor Henry, we mentioned his vehicle used for racing and the mileage on it, showing that travel was an important – and difficult – part of the top horseman’s life that many people don’t think about. This article is the second of an occasional series to be run in the next few weeks, talking to other top 2013 dashwinners, how they get between tracks and the mileage they are accumulating, along with topics of current interest. Today we profile Yannick Gingras.   Yannick does not use a truck traveling between tracks because he is a catch-driver, as opposed to Henry, whose family also trains horses and thus making him a horsehauler as well, needing the bigger vehicle. Gingras currently drives an Audi, himself, in his dashes to the various raceways fairly close to home, and he estimates he puts “about 45,000 miles” on his vehicle. “Then, of course, we fly out-of-town for the other stakes races.” Yannick, who went past the $100 million mark in career earnings at the tail end of 2013, has of course come out smokin’ hot at The Meadowlands this year, before the "traveling season" has begun, and we asked him if, since Tim Tetrick had a late start to 2013 because of hip surgery, whether he thinks he can break Tetrick’s streak of seven consecutive moneywinning titles. “So much of that sort of thing depends on what horses you get to drive, whether you have luck on key nights like the Breeders Crown,” he replied. “Also, I am not going to push myself hard just to win a title – what good is it to say at 50, ‘Well, I won the money title in such-and-such a year, but I had to spend a lot of time away from my family in order to do so.’ The quality of my life is the most important thing to me.” For a man who spends much time thinking of grounding principles, as expressed above, Gingras was excited about the revival of the Prix D’Ete at the Hippodrome 3R track in Quebec, a track (then known as Trois Rivieres) that was one of his racing “homes” in his formative years. “I was a pretty regular driver there when I started out, about 2000 or so, and last year I went back for a day of racing and was lucky enough to win six races on that card. “You know, just before I left Quebec and came to Yonkers, two of my best friends were Mario Charron, who’s a top driver up there, and Serge Turenne. I left just about a month before Serge had his accident,” a fatal one when horses stacked up just before the half at Trois Rivieres in 2001. “Serge was a good guy, and a good horseman, well-respected.” (In the overall scope of harness racing and safety improvement, it is noted that there has been only one racing fatality since Turenne’s death in 2001 – that of Hal Belote at Harrington in 2006.) Gingras concluded, “I look forward to going back this year if one of my trainers and owners can come up with a good, competitive horse. I also like the fact that it is a race just for 4-year-olds, so they don’t have to battle the top free-for all, older horses.” Driver                                Total Wins              Tracks                              Wins Yannick Gingras 537 Philadelphia* 257     Meadowlands* 141     Pocono* 28     Yonkers* 28     Mohawk* 14     Lexington* 13     Tioga 10     Hoosier* 6     Meadows* 6     Trois Rivieres 6     Balmoral* 5     Delaware* 5     Vernon* 5     Monticello 4     Saratoga 3     Freehold 2     Dover 1     Harrington 1     London 1     Woodbine 1         * -  won $100,000 race at this track     by Jerry Connors for

To stay afloat and thrive in these tough economic conditions, equine managers need to be more business-savvy than ever.  Business planning is essential to the viability of any business, but it is often overlooked by managers in the horse industry.  “So many horse business owners are overwhelmed with the daily pressures of running a business that they fail to establish a clear vision and look at the ‘big picture.’ The process of writing a plan encourages business owners to evaluate every aspect of operating an equine business, which in turn, will make them better prepared when problems arise,” explains Carey Williams, Equine Extension Specialist. In February and March of 2013, Rutgers offered a new workshop called the “Equine Business Planning Course,” hosted by Dr. Carey Williams and Dr. Robin Brumfield (Farm Management Specialist) and funded by Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) and the Equine Science Center.  Throughout this series of seminars, 31 participants learned about and began each of the seven sections of a business plan for their own equine businesses.  The course and workbook got rave reviews from students.  Nearly all participants reported that they would make changes to their businesses as a result of the course and workbook.  One student told us, “I have changes to improve [my business] in every area of my business plan.  It’s exciting!”  Others asserted that the course gave them newfound direction: “I knew [business planning] was important, and I knew what I needed to do, but didn’t know how to cut into manageable pieces that I could then go and use to not only develop a plan, but plan for the future and envision growth.” Missed the course?  Good news- the standalone workbook is still available for sale!  It has been improved based on the students’ feedback and also includes a DVD with extra resources and some of the recorded presentations from the course.  The workbook also includes a sample business plan to help readers understand each section.  Students called the workbook “easy to follow” and “a wonderful tool in building my plan.”  The cost is $40 for the workbook and access to a specialist for questions.  There are a limited number available for sale, so contact Laura Gladney (848-932-3229 or for an order form today! From Rutgers Equine Extenson

The list of stallions registered with the Ontario Standardbred Improvement Program for the 2014 breeding season is now available. The list can be found on the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) website. Progeny from these stallions will be eligible to compete in Ontario Sired restricted races, receive Ontario Sired Rewards and participate in the OSS Program. Demonstrating continued confidence in the Program, the owners of 85 per cent of the top breeding stallions in Ontario in 2013 committed to standing their stallions in Ontario in 2014. These stallions represent those with the highest service fees, indicating that Ontario breeders will continue to produce a quality horse supply and an attractive racing product. “Ontario has always had an enviable sires stakes program,” says Ann Straatman of Seelster Farms and a member of the Standardbred Improvement Program’s Advisory Group. “Fortunately, our OSS program continues to be very competitive in terms of purses, Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred Rewards and racing opportunities.” Owners of stallions not currently in the program can late register their stallions after the January 15 deadline and the program administration will post updated lists as required. For more information on Ontario’s Horse Improvement Programs, visit the Program pages at or contact the Program Administrator at 416-213-0520. From the Ontario Sire Stakes Program

Fresh off a front-stepping score in the Preferred 3 at The Raceway at Western Fair District, Leafs And Wings used his come-from-behind skills to notch an impressive tally in Monday’s $11,000 Preferred 2 & 3 at the London half-miler. Sent off at odds of 6-1 in the eight-horse affair, Leafs And Wings got away seventh for driver Scott Wray while Smokin Bear shot to the front and supplied the field with fractions of :28, :57 and 1:27.1. Leafs And Wings was third-over and covered up through the middle stages of the mile, but his :30.1 closing panel propelled him to the top and he drew clear to win by 1-1/4 lengths over race favourite Smokin Bear in 1:58.1. Thats The Life finished third. Mike Rogers trains the seven-year-old son of Rambaran-Rockton Road for owner/breeder Gregory Rogers of Auburn Hills, Michigan. It was the second win of the season and the 25th lifetime tally for the career winner of $283,766. Monday’s card also featured a set of $7,000 Preferred 3 events, with My Man Charley and Winzel taking home weekly bragging rights in their respective assignments. Alfie Carroll manufactured the winning trip My Man Charley in his tilt, and in doing so the pacer cracked the goose egg that had been residing in his 2014 win column. After going 0-for-3 to start the year, the six-year-old son of Mach Three-Break Of Day survived a first-over trip to win today’s effort by 2-1/2 lengths over Stoney Durkin in 1:57.4. Judge Jon took home the show dough. The 19-time winner, who hangs his harness bag in the barn of trainer Victor Puddy, is owned by Susan Strongman, Jerome Voldock and Limco Inc. His share of the loot lifted his lifetime earnings to $274,040. Winzel demolished the trotting foes he faced in his $7,000 test. Nick Steward sat third with the Todd Kennedy trainee for the first half of the mile before brushing to the lead in the third quarter. The gelding eventually drew clear to win by 7-1/2 lengths in a time of 2:00.3. Sonny Vale was next best, with Elmo Rockbottom taking home third prize. It was the first win of the year for the nine-year-old son of Royal Strength-Worthy Outlaw, who is now a 34-time winner to date. Janet Fairall, Britt Kennedy and Nancy & Jack Holmes share ownership on the career winner of $217,007. To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – The Raceway at Western Fair District. Reprinted with permission by

Fort Washington, MD --- A continued increase in purses, a new bonus system for Maryland horses and a new post time will be on tap for Rosecroft’s 27-night Winter-Spring meet which opens Saturday (March 8). “We expect a minimum 10 percent increase in purses when we start back this meet and could be looking at additional increases during the meet,” said Peter Hanley, returning to his second meet as Racing Secretary at Rosecroft. Average daily purses at Rosecroft were approximately $67,000 at the conclusion of the 2013 Fall-Winter meet. In addition, a new bonus program will be in effect for horses and horsemen meeting the Maryland preferred criteria. All Maryland owned horses, horses bred or sired in Maryland or Maryland resident trainers will earn an additional 15 percent bonus on top of any purse earnings. “We ended up last meet with over 80 percent of our horses meeting the Maryland preference,” said Hanley, “and this change should give even more inventive for Maryland horses and horsemen to compete at Rosecroft.” “The Maryland horsemen are very excited about the upcoming Spring meet at Rosecroft, said Thomas Cooke, President of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association. “We are grateful for Penn National’s commitment to the Maryland Standardbred industry and the new Maryland preferred bonus system added with the 100 percent Maryland preferred entry preference is of significant benefit as we rebuild the Maryland Standardbred industry.” Dan Myer, President of the Maryland Standardbred Breeders Association, added, “The key to building a strong breeding industry in Maryland is the continued operation of Rosecroft Raceway. This year we have seen a tremendous growth in breeders and owners wishing to participate in our Maryland Sires Stakes program. We appreciate our partner, Penn National, helping us add value to breeding in Maryland.” Racing applications for the new meet are now posted online at Draws will be held Wednesdays (for Saturdays) and Thursdays (for Tuesdays) with the box opening at 8 a.m. each day. Two qualifying dates have been set: Saturday (Feb. 22) and Saturday (March 1) at 11 a.m. each day. “Given the tough winter these two qualifying dates should help get our available horse population ready for the upcoming meet,” said Hanley. A new 6:40 p.m. post time will be in place for the new meet. Live racing will be conducted every Tuesday and Saturday night through June 7. Harness and Thoroughbred simulcasts are available day and night, seven days a week. Admission and parking are always free. Submitted by Rosecroft Raceway

Portland, ME --- The Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association will be holding their annual awards banquet on Saturday (Feb. 15) at the Italian Heritage Center located at 40 Westland Avenue in Portland. The day starts off at 2:30 p.m. with the business meeting where old and new business is discussed and the election of officers will take place. The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a social hour that will run in unison with the silent stallion auction. Many top breeders in the state donate the services of their stallions with the proceeds of the silent stallion auction benefitting the MSBOA Scholarship Fund. There will also be an additional auction of harness racing related items that will take place shortly before the awards banquet kicks off at 6 p.m. The awards banquet will recognize those who have excelled in the state’s sire stakes racing program in 2013. There are various awards based on age, gait, sire and broodmare that will receive acknowledgement for success in their respective categories. Awards will also be presented to the people of the sport who have contributed and succeeded in the Maine breeders program that represents many jobs and open land opportunities in the Pine Tree State. One such recipient is Mike Andrews of Gorham who will be receiving the top breeder in the trotting category as his 3-year-old trotting colt Obrigado went undefeated in his 2013 racing campaign as he notched 13 victories with earnings of more than $100,000. MSBOA president James Kelly will speak and introduce a trio of owners who have found success in harness racing’s ultimate trotting prize. Chip Campbell, Al Ross and Paul Fontaine co-own the 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life. This 3-year-old colt is trained by George Ducharme, who has been voted the Good Guy Award by the United States Harness Writers' Association. Ducharme, along with Campbell, Ross and Fontaine are New England residents with strong ties in Massachusetts harness racing as well as racing on the national scene. The story of Royalty For Life is one where Chip Campbell owned the stallion (RC Royalty) and Al Ross owned the mare (Bourbon N Grits). The connection of the two brought about a trotter that to date has earned more than $1.6 million in just two years of racing. The night will also raffles and door prizes. More information may be obtained from the following: and by Bill Ellis, for the MSBOA

Standardbred Canada has announced the winners of the 2013 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event, the annual Black Tie Gala was held in Charlottetown, PEI, at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel and PEI Convention Centre. The awards are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. O’Brien was born in Alberton, PEI. Bee A Magician who was perfect in her 2013 season, was the unanimous choice in the Three-Year -Old Trotting Filly division and was also voted Canada’s Horse of The Year. Bee A Magician won all 17 of her races last season and earned in excess of $1.57 million for a perfect sophomore campaign. The daughter of Hall of Fame sire Kadabra took a mark of 1:51 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The invincible filly’s stakes victories included the SBOA elimination and final, the Casual Breeze, the Elegantimage elimination and final, three Ontario Sires Stakes events including the Super Final, the Delvin Miller, Hambletonian Oaks elimination and final, the Simcoe, Breeders Crown elimination and final, American National and Moni Maker. Sylvain Filion successfully defended his Driver of The Year title. In 2013 he led all reinsmen in the nation in terms of purse earnings, as his mounts banked $6,111,736. Filion finished as the leading money-winning driver on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit with over $5 million to his credit between Mohawk Racetrack and Woodbine Racetrack. The resident of Milton, Ont. earned the Lampman Cup for the second straight year, as he topped the Ontario Sires Stakes standings for drivers. Filion celebrated his richest win of the season while steering Boomboom Ballykeel to a 10-1 upset victory in the $683,000 Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. Richard Moreau was voted Trainer of The Year following an impressive season that saw his stable win 279 races and earn $3,623,805 in purses. The resident of Puslinch, Ont. earned training titles across Ontario at Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District and Woodbine Racetrack. Moreau topped the Canadian trainer standings with $3.5 million in earnings and 270 wins. He celebrated the biggest win of his career this past season when Boomboom Ballykeel captured the Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack. The 2013 season marked the 14th consecutive year that his stable has surpassed the $1-million mark in purse earnings. Alberta’s Kelly Hoerdt won the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship. Hoerdt is a successful driver/trainer who is annually near the top of the training and driving charts in Alberta. The 2013 season was another productive year for Hoerdt, as he trained 82 winners and horses to $623,000, and drove 66 winners and horses that earned over $490,000. Hoerdt was the leading trainer in terms of earnings at Alberta Downs. His stable was led by sophomore pacing colt Premium Attaction, a multiple stakes winner that rattled off six wins in 11 races and over $111,000 Precocious Beauty was honoured as Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of The Year. Precocious Beauty won seven of 11 races, $462,912 in purses and took a mark of 1:50.1 which tied a world record for a one-mile track. Her richest payday was a victory in the Shes A Great Lady at Mohawk. The two-year-old pacing colt title went to Arthur Blue Chip, who scored six wins in 11 starts and bankrolled $400,120 for his connections. The son of Shadow Play took a mark of 1:51.2 in his Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk before being scratched ‘sick’ from the final. His most lucrative payday was a runner-up finish in the Governor’s Cup. He also won a handful of Ontario Sires Stakes races, an elimination of the Battle of Waterloo and a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes. I Luv The Nitelife returned as a seasoned sophomore in 2013 and added another O’Brien (Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of The Year) to her trophy case. The talented filly boasted a record of 13-1-1 in 15 races and $1.2 million in earnings. She took a mark of 1:48.4 in the Valley Forge at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. She also set a two-heat world record of 3:42.2 in the Jugette. She swept the Fan Hanover, the Lynch, the Mistletoe Shalee and closed the season as strongly as she began with a win in the Breeders Crown and runner up finish in the American National. Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation took the hardware home as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of The Year. Vegas Vacation gave his connections the ride of a lifetime in 2013. Conditioned by Casie Coleman, the son of Bettors Delight put together a sophomore record reading 10-4-1 from 20 starts while banking $976,037 in purses. He wheeled off victories in his first four races which included the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and an elimination of the Pepsi North America Cup. On September 19 he captured the Little Brown Jug in straight heats – both timed in 1:50. ‘Vegas’ finished his sophomore season with a win in the Matron Stakes to put his bankroll at just over $976,000. Anndrovette continued to dominate the pacing mare ranks in 2013, and, for the third consecutive year, was crowned Canada’s Older Pacing Mare of The Year. The daughter of Riverboat King was on the board in all but three of her 21 races. Some of her major wins included three legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway along with the Roses Are Red and Breeders Crown eliminations. On July 20 at Mohawk Racetrack she captured the Roses Are Red final in a career best 1:48. The talented mare now has 35 lifetime wins and a career bankroll of almost $2.6 million. The $6 million horse, Foiled Again was voted Canada’s Older Pacing Horse of The Year. Foiled Again didn’t show any signs of slowing down in his nine-year-old season, as he won 11 of his 29 starts, including three Levy divisions, the Ben Franklin elimination and final, as well as the Breeders Crown elimination and final for his third straight million-dollar campaign. He entered the year within reach of the all-time earnings record for pacers, and he managed to obliterate that mark by adding $1.4 million to his bank account while visiting 11 different racetracks along the way. He closed the season by sweeping the elimination and final of the TVG Free For All Pace at the Meadowlands. Riveting Rosie was the winner in the two-year-old filly trotting category. Riveting Rosie closed out her rookie campaign with six wins in eight starts and earnings of $468,613. Her major victories included the Peaceful Way Final, her Ontario Stakes Super Final and a division of the Champlain Stakes. In the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, it was Father Patrick who took the O’Brien trophy. He topped the earnings chart in his division and was flawless in 10 stakes starts with his only blemish coming in an early season two-year-old race where he was beaten by just a head. Father Patrick amassed $752,395 in earnings with major wins in the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, William Wellwood Memorial Trot, Champlain Stakes and Bluegrass Series. Flanagan Memory was voted Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year after a productive season which saw him win seven of 11 races and $408,798 in earnings. He clocked a season’s best 1:53 effort in winning his Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk. He also scored victories in the Goodtimes and several OSS events. Maven was voted Canada’s Older Trotting Mare of The Year. Since winning the 2012 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack, Maven has been one of the most consistent trotters in North America. She added wins in the Miss Versatility Trotting Series, an elimination and final of the Armbro Flight, and the Allerage. She showed just how good she was by claiming a second Breeders Crown title. At season’s end Maven had won 10 of 14 races, and added $513,485 to her bankroll. For the second consecutive year, Mister Herbie captured the title as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse of The Year. Although Mister Herbie only won one race in 2013, he was a strong contender in many of the major stakes and scored six runner-up finishes in stakes competition, including the Maple Leaf Trot, Allerage, John Cashman Memorial and Breeders Crown, finishing the season with $492,067 in purses. Seelster Farms, of Lucan, Ont. was honoured as the Armstrong Breeder of The Year. In 2013, Seelster-bred horses scored 248 wins and $2.1 million in earnings. In the Future Star category, the winner of this first-time award was trainer/driver Travis Cullen. The 21-year-old Alberta-based horseman closed out Alberta Downs' 2013 meet with five wins on the final card of the meet while securing both the Lacombe track's driving and training titles. Amidst a career-best year, the Edmonton horseman concluded the Alberta meet with a chart-topping 64 training victories and 86 driving wins. The complete list of winners follows. 2013 O’BRIEN AWARD WINNERS PACERS Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer - Precocious Beauty owned by James L Avritt Sr., Lebanon, KY Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer - Arthur Blue Chip owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Guelph, ON – R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB – Serge Savard, Saint-Bruno, QC Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer - I Luv The Nitelife owned by Richard P. Young, Boca Raton- Joanne Young, Coconut Creek, FL Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer - Vegas Vacation owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge- Adriano Sorella, Milton – Anthony B Beaton, Waterdown – Phyllis M Saunders, Hamilton, ON Older Pacing Mare - Anndrovette owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ Older Pacing Horse - Foiled Again owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown – Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA – JJK Stables LLC, Fort Lauderdale, FL TROTTERS Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter - Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter - Father Patrick owned by Father Patrick Stable, East Windsor, NJ Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter - Bee A Magician owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON – Herb Liverman, Miami Beach – David H McDuffee, Delray Beach, FL Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter - Flanagan Memory owned by Liette Flanagan, Repentigny-Rene Dion, Saint-Lazare, QC Older Trotting Mare - Maven owned by William J. Donovan, Ft Lauderdale, FL Older Trotting Horse - Mister Herbie owned by Jeffrey R Gillis, Hillsburgh – Mac T Nichol, Burlington, ON- Gerald T Stay, Buffalo, NY PEOPLE AWARDS O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Kelly Hoerdt, Beaumont, AB Armstrong Breeder of The Year Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON Driver of The Year Sylvain Filion, Milton, ON Trainer of The Year Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Future Star Award Travis Cullen, Edmonton, AB STANDARDBRED CANADA MEDIA EXCELLENCE AWARDS The Media Excellence Awards program, established by Standardbred Canada in 2008, is aimed at honouring exceptional work that covers Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal. Outstanding Written Work Paul Delean ’Reaching Improbable Heights’ 'Reaching Improbable Heights', written by Paul Delean, was published in the December, 2012 issue of Trot Magazine. It tells the story of trotter Intimidate’s incredible journey from obscurity to harness racing’s biggest stage and the ride of a lifetime that two smalltime owners from Quebec are still pinching themselves over. Outstanding Broadcast Woodbine Entertainment Group North America Cup HD Broadcast Woodbine Entertainment Group’s North America Cup broadcast aired across Canada on The Score television network on Saturday, June 26, 2013. The one-hour special of the $1-million North America Cup was the first live high definition broadcast of a standardbred race in Canada. The show featured live race coverage of the main event, a feature on Marvin Katz (co-owner of eventual winner Captaintreacherous) and a profile of a very special racing fan – Sydney Weaver. The broadcast was a production of WEG’s broadcast department, produced by Rob Platts and directed by Kris Platts. Outstanding Photography Clive Cohen Clive Cohen captured the sunset behind trainer Rene Dion warming up Ocean Mist Beauty on September 19, 2013 at Mohawk Racetrack. The image was published on WEG’s Facebook page later that night. Reprinted with permission by

West Australian-bred star David Hercules warmed up for the $48,000 interdominion championship qualifying heat at Gloucester Park next Saturday night in superb style with an effortless victory in the $21,000 Nine News Pace on Friday night. Ace reinsman Morgan Woodley enthusiastically declared that the seven-year-old possessed all the qualities to run a mighty race in the $750,000 interdominion championship final at Menangle on March 2, provided he qualified for a start. It was little more than am training run for David Hercules when he started at 25/1 on and was untroubled to set the pace from barrier three and coast to victory by nine lengths over Our Major Mark, rating 1.54.8 over the 2130m. Woodley had a tight hold on David Hercules as he was timed at 29.8sec. and 29.3sec. over the first two 400m sections of the final mile before he sped over the final quarters in 27.9sec. and 28sec. “Short of falling out (of the sulky), that was the only thing I could’ve done tonight to stuff things up,” an admiring Woodley said. “He has done that like trackwork and it was pretty impressive to reel off that sort of time in second gear and under a hold. It’s really a positive sign, heading towards where we’re heading in the next couple of weeks. “He is a tremendous horse, so tractable. His manners are fantastic and he allows me to do anything I like. I can go back off the gate, go forward, take him around to the breeze or sit him back in the run. He’s definitely a true professional and in the big races you need that.” David Hercules, trained at Byford by David Thompson for owners David Botha and Jeneen Johnson, has amassed $781,304 from 28 wins and 29 placings from 83 starts. By Ken Casellas

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