Columbus, OH --- Four Massachusetts Sire Stakes finals for 3-year-olds were contested on Monday (Oct. 28) at Plainridge Racecourse. In the $18,240 final for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, Christine Catabia's Master Of Puppets took over the lead at the three-quarter pole and went on to a three length victory in a time of 1:57.1. Jim Hardy was in the bike for trainer David Crochere as the son of Ashlee's Big Guy-Happy Chelsea defeated Everybody Lies with Murphy's Cyclone third. The $17,600 final for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters went to Glenn Harris' CBF Dart in 2:00, with a final quarter in :28.3. Trainer Ralph Andersen steered the RC Royalty-Tiaragenic gelding to a 2-3/4 length score over Race To Royalty. Welker picked up the show dough. In the $17,600 final for 3-year-old pacing fillies, KDK Standardbreds and Nelson Malin III's Lordy Miss Scarlet took advantage of a pocket trip to cross the wire first in a time of 1:56.4. Shane Taggart did the driving for trainer Kevin Switzer as the Shady Character-Movie Legend miss passed her stablemate Morrigan in the stretch for a one length victory. Snookie wound up third. The $16,960 3-year-old filly trot final was captured by Peter Goldberg and Michael Seidman's Mergatroid in a wire-to-wire, 2:00.4 score. Trainer Donna Marshall handed the lines to Jim Marshall III and he steered the Infinitif-Ornellaia lass to a 4-1/2 length triumph over Royalty Free with Eyes On Royalty third. Repritned with permission from www.ustrotting.com
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Gaming Commission was supposed to take up the mechanics of fusing old racing statutes with new gambling rules at a forum this week. But nervous horse breeders and racetrack officials wouldn't stay on track. Assembled in Hynes Convention Center Wednesday, they wanted to talk about a more basic issue: the uncertain future of horse racing in Massachusetts. "This year is so terrible because none of us know what's going to happen," said Anthony Spadea, president of the New England Horsemen's Association. "Most of our people don't have another place to go race." With applications in for the state's lone slot parlor, the commission, which will decide the winner, hosted a horse racing forum Wednesday to discuss matters such as distribution of purse accounts, tax withholding, congressional involvement in the industry and what would happen to purse money if horse racing founders in Massachusetts. But the uncertainty of whether Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville or another track would get the slot parlor go-ahead kept dominating the conversation, illustrating how the decision about a racino is seen as a life or death issue for racing in the state. "Most racing seasons are like a roller coaster ride," said panelist Steve O'Toole, the general manager of Plainridge. "There are ups and downs. This year has been one of those. Today, operating a racetrack is a gamble." O'Toole said Plainridge runs at least a million-dollar deficit each year operating races. Key to the track's survival could be the offer from the gambling corporation Penn National Gaming to buy the struggling harness racecourse if it wins the state's only slot parlor license. Without the license, the track would have difficulty staying in business. In the track's best years, about 125 horses were purchased (claimed), O'Toole said. "Last year, we had just half a dozen horses claimed," he said. As the conversation about the declining business dominated the forum, commission Chairman Steve Crosby kept trying to turn the subject back to the original intent of the forum, getting out "the information that would build a strategy that would sustain a horse racing industry in Massachusetts for a long, long time." But many panelists said that until they knew whether they would be racing next year, they couldn't discuss the future. "It looks like we're going to lose another breeding season in 2013," said George Brown, president of the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association. "It's a big investment - raising a foal for two years. We don't even know if we're going to be racing." Breeding has steadily declined in Massachusetts since early 2000, the horsemen said. Mike Tanner, CEO of the United States Trotting Association, said he believed lack of racino legislation, in which slot machines would help subsidize horse racing, was responsible for the drop in breeding numbers. "These are numbers that would affect our level of business," he said. "Indiana racino legislation passed in 2007, and their breeding numbers went up 50 percent after it passed. The numbers continue to trend in a positive direction." Plainridge officials have sought other forums to make their point. Last week, they posted a video on YouTube that extolled the positive impact expanded gaming and racino legislation would have on the Plainville track. The video featured Jolene Andrews, a trainer and driver from North Attleboro, who explained how her livelihood could be saved. "Year-by-year, the purses get lower and lower, and with Penn National coming, it gives us hope," she said in the video. The video narration also mentioned "hundreds of family farms and thousands of acres of open space," that would be saved if Plainridge was granted racino status. The video's message echoed the testimony of the nervous stakeholders at the commission meeting, despite efforts by commissioners to confine the conversation to issues of regulation. Jennifer Durenburger, the commission's director of racing, reminded panelists of the "gypsy lifestyle" they had chosen by working in the industry. "You're always looking three months ahead," she said. "We can all tolerate a certain amount of risk, or we wouldn't be in this industry." With forum members still focused on the uncertainty of racing, Crosby put an end to the meeting almost an hour ahead of schedule. "This is just not the time for all of us to be able to sit down and work out a macro fix to the horse racing legislation," he said. "We appreciate the way you feel about your industry. We'll be doing what we can to pitch in." BY LOREN SAVINI FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE reprinted with permission by www.sunchronicle.com
The C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series saw action in both regions this past weekend with Kelly "Sky" Walker prevailing in the midwest at Raceway Park on Sunday September 1 and the following day Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin winning at Plainridge Racecourse in the east. Both sportsmen are previous Amateur Drivers of the Year; Walker in 2011 and Krivelin, 2012 and 2001. Walker's victory came at the expense of five others when he guided Love ignites to a come-from-behind neck victory in a time of 2:00.1 while a patient pocket-trip enabled Krivlein to prevail over seven others in 1:59. At Raceway Park, Walker, with Love Ignites, started along the pylons and played hardball parking both "Lawbook Larry Farley's and "Trader Bud" Hatfield's trotters by the quarter in :29. But neither Farley, with Rewrite the Rules and "Trader Bud" with Wolf's Jan, cleared and they remained two and three wide heading toward the halfway point which was timed in :58.4. After everyone settled in along the pylons, when the field headed up the backside "Marvelous Marv" Raber and Tabulator rallied from fifth position to the lead at the third stanza in 1:28.2 with Walker and Love Ignites in hot pursuit. In the lane, Love ignites was the strong horse and the 4 year old Sand Vic gelding collared Tabulator at the wire for a head victory in a time of 2:00.1. Dolea Delight and Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford took home the show dough in that one. Love Ignites , owned and trained by Walker, paid $4.80 for win. Walker, off to his best start in his relatively short amateur driving career, notched win number 11 to go along with 17 seconds thus far this year. And it was Walker's 83 winning drive in just 485 career starts. On Labor Day at Plainridge Racecourse, Bobby Krivelin had a picture perfect trip behind pace-setter Famous image and driver "Mike " I Ain't Finished" Eaton and in the lane he came calling. Eaton hustled Famous Image to the lead from the three-hole and once on top he kept the pedal to the metal and they trotted by the quarter in :28 and the half in:57.4. Krivlein, comfortable in the two-hole with Budlightning , was probably licking his chops as he followed the leader and waited patiently for the long homestretch to appear but once it did Famous Image didn't come back to Krivelin as much as he had hoped. Still Krivelin was able to strongly urge Budlightning through the stretch and the two-hole covered trip paid off as the veteran Sierra Kosmos gelding got up in the final strides to photo-out Famous Image in a 1:59 clocking. Budlightning, owned and trained by Diane Hellen, paid $7.00 for win. For Krivelin, it was seventh winning drive of the season and the 148th of his amateur career. by John Manzi
Royalty For Life is among the favorites for this weekend’s Hambletonian Stakes, harness racing’s most prominent race, and the entire Massachusetts standardbred industry should be cheering for him. Not simply because Royalty For Life is a locally bred, locally raised, locally owned and locally trained horse, with connections throughout the state. Not just because the colt’s principal owner Al Ross has helped to keep the Massachusetts harness racing industry alive for more than a decade through his role as a principal investor at Plainridge Racecourse, the states’ only harness track. The reason is actually much more basic than that; for Royalty For Life can be seen as a metaphor, a single horse whose story ultimately represents a much larger narrative which symbolizes the current state of harness racing in Massachusetts. So many of the elements of the Royalty For Life narrative – commitment and perseverance, hard work and overcoming adversity, the hope for national prominence - are common to both the colt’s experience and Plainridge Racecourse’s seemingly interminable attempt to achieve the expanded gaming which is a necessity to keep harness racing alive in the 21st century. Consider traits such as commitment and perseverance. Al Ross has been part of the Massachusetts racing industry since 1956. To put that in its proper historical perspective, one should realize that Al Ross entered the sport a few months after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on that bus, and a few months before the Boston Celtics won the first of their seventeen NBA championships. He has invested in Plainridge Racecourse for fifteen years, and purchased Royalty For Life’s dam nearly a decade ago even as the harness racing industry in Massachusetts was cratering. Ross, along with partners Chip Campbell and Paul Fontaine, hung in there during the bleak times, continuing to participate in a sire stake program whose purses are paltry compared to other states. Their commitment and perseverance mirrors that of the overnight horsemen at Plainridge who hang in there on annual basis, racing for fewer purse dollars year after year. George Ducharme, Royalty For Life’s hard working trainer, is a local kid who has finally made good, after years of virtual obscurity on a small training center in Plainville, Massachusetts. A 35 year veteran of the industry, Ducharme represents the dreams and aspirations of all those Bay State horsemen and horsewomen who toil 365 days a year at a vocation they love, hoping against hope to some day have that one, special horse. Just as Al Ross put his trust in a trainer to prep his horse who would ultimately end up in the sport’s most high profile race, he has also put his faith in a management team at his racetrack in the hope that it too would achieve the ultimate prize. Then, when it appeared that Royalty For Life and his connections were finally on the cusp of something big they were dealt a bad hand. After Ducharme moved his stable to Vernon Downs for a summer campaign which was supposed to be full of promise, an outbreak of a extremely contagious disease quarantined the barn area. The trainer and his star pupil were essentially prisoners, their barn surrounded by yellow caution tape, prevented from doing their respective jobs. After Royalty For Life was finally freed from his shackles, shipped to the Meadowlands, and won the Dancer Memorial, Ducharme told the media “all the colt wanted to do was race.” That is how most of the Massachusetts horsemen feel today, as they tread water waiting for the license process to unfold, as the days pass since gaming was authorized there is an emotional battle every day for the Massachusetts harness horsemen who see the December deadline, when the slot parlor license is issued, as the beginning of a much brighter future or the end of their industry, their dreams, their livelihood. Like Royalty For Life, those associated with Plainridge merely want to be freed from their shackles and do their respective jobs, whether on the pari-mutuel line or on the backside. Win or lose in the Hambletonian, Royalty For Life has already achieved national prominence. That is a distinction that still eludes Plainridge Racecourse, though it remains a stated goal. A visit to the track’s website, where the company lays out a path for the future Plainridge Park, says as much. The three week wait between the Dancer Memorial and the Hambletonian has probably seemed like forever for Al Ross and Georege Ducharme, for Paul Fontaine and Chip Campbell. But just imagine what the wait until December 15th is like for all those associated with Plainridge Racecourse. The entire Massachusetts standardbred industry should embrace Royalty For Life, for his story is our story. by Robert Lieberman
As Royalty For Life chases Hambletonian glory, he carries with him the hopes of the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from South Dartmouth to Belchertown, from the Cape to the Berkshires. More important, he is also validating the vision of the state legislature. A dozen years ago, at the dawn of a new century, the Massachusetts Sire Stake program was moribund. Twice in a span of eleven years the track at Foxboro, which was the only racing venue in the state, had closed its doors. In both cases it was several years before racing resumed in the commonwealth. In 1999, Plainridge Racecourse rose from the ashes of that rubble, offering the local horsemen a racing venue for a hundred days a year.Stables that are structured around overnight horses can live three or four days at a time – no matter how inconvenient it might be there is always a draw taking place somewhere. But breeders, the backbone of the harness racing industry,the element which literally, as well as figuratively, pumps new blood into iton an annual basis and perpetuates its growth must take a longer view. Those investors can't live condition sheet to condition sheet. In 2001, with three seasons in the book at the new track,the Massachusetts legislature crafted an omnibus racing bill. Recognizing the commitment of Plainridge and its horsemen, the lawmakers sought to strengthen the state’s Standardbred breeding program, an initial step on the path towards stability for the harness racing industry. Focusing on mares rather than stallions, the new regulation allowed harness breeders access to any stallion, any where - with the caveat that the mare had to foal in Massachusetts,thus offering that traditional support for the state’s agricultural industry.This change allowed owners of mares to breed to the highest quality stallions,if they chose to, and at least in theory to increase the quality of the local breeding program's product. In essence, what had been a sire stake program became a futurity, and the focus on mares allowed more people to participate, returning harness racing to its more democratic roots. Within two years, a product of the restructured program,RC Royalty, made appearances in the Breeders Crown, as both a two and a three year old. Bred by Chip Campbell of Belchertown, the son of Credit Winner raced in the Massachusetts program, but is much better known for his appearances in events such as the Hambletonian. Now, his son Royalty For Life, repeats his father's story.While he was sired in New York, he is a product of the Massachusetts breeding program, bred by Al Ross of South Dartmouth, along with Chip Campbell and Paul Fontaine, and is considered among the pre-race favorites in the Hambletonian. It only seems appropriate that a horse bred in a state known for its “City of Champions,”competes in the “Super Bowl of trotting.” Might there be more Royalty For Life’s in the years tocome? Perhaps. With expanded gaming on the horizon in Massachusetts, the breeding program in the state has caught they eye of at least a couple of other successful owners whoare no strangers to the sport’s limelight. During the past couple of breeding seasons the powerful Lindy Farms, owner of such notable horses as Hambletonian competitor Crazed, has sent mares to the Bay State. There have even been inklings that the farm, located in nearby Enfield,Connecticut, might eventually build a wing in a Massachusetts locale. Bill Varney, who has demonstrated success in sire stake programs in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maine and Canada has also sent mares to Massachusetts during the past two seasons,with an eye toward the future. “It looked like an opportunity close to home,”said Varney, who hails from Bangor, Maine, noting that the monies he pays to farms, veterinarians and blacksmiths all contribute to the Bay State’s economy. A little over a decade ago a proactive legislature tookthat first step, and the local sire stake program has grown. Still, the Massachusetts harness racing industry remains at a crossroads. While that expanded gaming seen on the horizon potentially gets a bit closer everyday, how much of that revenue willfind its way to the industry is an open question. The answer to that questionwill decide if Royalty For Life – a Massachusetts eligible racing in the sport’s premier event - is merely an exception, or if in the future, locally bred horses of that caliber in events such as the Hambletonian might become the rule. by Robert Lieberman
Marlborough, Ma. --Plainridge trotter A Megabuck is making his presence felt at the 'Ridge.' After three mediocre starts in open company, he responded Tuesday with his stylish come from behind stretch burst to defeat his six rivals in a $3,000 event. Owned and driven by Donald Gaudette and trained by Nancy Gaudette of Winchester, N.H.,their trotter now has son six of his last eight starts and banked more than $150,000 during his career. Plaintalk: Ater this month (July), the August racing schedule programs will be run on Monday, Tuesday snd Saturdays. Post time will be 4 p.m. (Est.). The first Saturday race card will be run August 3. By Jack Ginnetti dona
Plainridge Racecourse became on Monday the fourth casino applicant to complete negotiations with its host community, reaching a deal for a slot machine parlor that would pay the town of Plainville more than $4 million the first year the facility is open, according to a statement from the track.
Driver Kevin Switzer and members of the Harness Racing community present Dr. Lynn M. Bak of Make A Wish Maine, a check for $6,165.40, the total amount raised for "The King Drives for The Kids" fundraiser.
It wasn't an easy trip and at several points in the mile, Bob" the Headhunter" Hechkoff thought his venerable trotter, Tremendous Hit was going to get beat but when they crossed the finish line a neck ahead of Current Crisis and driver Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin all thoughts were unfounded as Tremendous Hit hung tough and won the harness racing Billings Trot at Plainridge Racecourse in a time of 1:59.2 , June 24th.
Don Guidette Jr.'s trotter A Megabuck is climbing the harness racing trotting charts at Plainridge Race course.
Silverton Casino, a Las Vegas gambling company, has joined a slot parlor proposal at Plainridge Racecourse, a harness racing facility in Plainville, MA, as a design and operational consultant, track management at Plainridge Racecourse said today.
Harness racing driver- trainer John Sears made the local history books Memorial Day, guiding Premium Bliss, at odds of 280-1 to the winners circle at Plainridge Racecourse.
The young and racing's elder stateman put on an offensive driving skills Thursday at Plainridge Racecourse.
The chase is on at Plainridge Racecourse as the top five drivers are just a whisker apart at the meets early stage.
For the third time in just four starts, John Hogan's Panamanian wired the field Monday at Plainridge Racecourse.
It didn't take long for the New England Amateur Harness Racing Drivers Club and Plainridge to do their share with a contribution to Boston's One fund.