The $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie has drawn an impressive field of eight horses [field summary below] and goes postward this Saturday evening, July 19 as Northfield Park's twelfth race. Approximate post time for this event is 11:00 p.m. The Battle is a contest for North America's top open pacers. Superfecta wagering has been added to Saturday's twelfth race, the Battle feature. Saturday's first race post time is 6:00 p.m. Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the best veteran pacers the sport has to offer. Past Battle Champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip and Maltese Artist. Foiled Again has drawn post 7 in Saturday's feature and has been named the 3-1 slight morning-line favorite by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi. Foiled Again will appear in the Battle an unprecedented six times, and Saturday will reveal if he is successful in becoming the first horse in Northfield Park history to win this event three times. The 10 year-old son of Dragon Again (2000 Battle Champion) won in 2009 and 2011, joining Jaguar Spur (winner in 1988-89), Peruvian Hanover (winner in 2002-03) and Maltese Artist (winner in 2005 and 2007) as the only four horses to win the Battle of Lake Erie twice. Age does not seem to be slowing Foiled Again. He has paced his last four races in under 1:50. Foiled Again is trained by Ronald Burke and has garnered 80 career victories and sports earnings of $6,313,068. Those career earnings rank him as the richest pacer in the history of harness racing. The 2014 $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie Field: #1 - Night Pro enters this race with a six-race win streak, the last four all being paced sub-1:50, and earnings of $308,929. He is the son of Pro Bono Bests (Sire of Bono Bests, 2008 Battle of Lake Erie champion). His dam, Midnight Jewel was a standout race mare at Northfield Park and throughout the Midwest. This four year-old has won 21 of 28 career starts and is 9 of 11 this year. He makes his second local appearance. He won his career debut here in a $2,000 NW1 in 1:57.4 in March of last year. Dale Decker of Temperance, Michigan owns and trains this horse, who has been terrorizing his competition in Michigan and Indiana. He has a career best of 1:49 (HoP 7/8) and Peter Wrenn, who won the Battle with Dare You To in 1991, has been given the driving assignment with a morning line of 4-1. #2 - Beach Memories is one of two sons of Somebeachsomewhere in this year's edition of the Battle of Lake Erie. He has won 11 of 39 career races, taking a 1:48.3 (ScD 5/8) mark and bankrolling $450,214. This four year-old is owned by the partnership of Strollin Stables of Marion, Ohio, AWS Stables of Lima, Ohio, King McNamara of Naples, Florida and Country Club Acres of Findlay, Ohio. Beach Memories is the winner of last year's $260,000 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Final. He is conditioned in Delaware, Ohio by Brian Brown and was victorious in his most recent effort in the Buckeye State in a $20,000 Open at Scioto Downs in June. Brown has enlisted Northfield Park's leading driver, Josh Sutton, to drive this 15-1 morning line contender. #3 - Bolt The Duer sports career earnings of $1,770,095 and is one of three millionaires in this year's Battle of Lake Erie field. He has 54 lifetime starts and 20 career victories. He is a five year-old son of Ponder with a lifetime mark of 1:47.4 (Mea 5/8). Bolt The Duer is owned by All Star Racing, Inc. of Towaco, New Jersey and is trained by Peter Foley. This is the second local appearance for Bolt The Duer, who won the $130,000 Cleveland Classic here is 2012. His richest win came in the $500,000 Adios Final at The Meadows in 2012. He has been assigned a morning line of 7-2 and is scheduled to have the driving services of Canadian Mark Mac Donald. #4 - Clear Vision is one of two starters from the powerful barn of Ron Burke. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and The Panhellenic Stable Corp. of Oyster Bay, New York. He has won 25 and has been on the board in 80 of 151 career races, taking a 1:48.2 (TgDn 5/8) mark and bankrolling $1,912,868. 2014 marks Clear Vision's second Battle of Lake Erie appearance, finishing third in last year's edition. His richest victory was in the $223,500 Bobby Quillen Memorial Harrington Raceway in 2013. Burke has named Ohio-native Brett Miller to drive this 9-2 morning line competitor. #5 - Fool Me Once will start for Canadian owners Mark Austin Stables of Fergus, Ontario and Daniel Smith of London, Ontario. He has 16 career victories in 32 lifetime starts. This four year-old son of Art Major has career earnings of $654,371 and enters this race off of two straight wins at Mohawk, where he took his 1:48.1 lifetime mark. Fool Me Once is last year's New York Sires Stake Champion, winning the $225,000 final at Yonkers Raceway. This 6-1 morning line selection is trained by Mark Austin and is scheduled to be driven by North American leading driver, Aaron Merriman. #6 - Twilight Bonfire is owned by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. This four year-old has 49 career starts, winning 10 races. He has earned a 1:50.1 (Mea 5/8) lifetime mark and has career earnings of $965,140. Twilight Bonfire makes his second local appearance. He started as the favorite, but ended as the runner-up in last year's $126,000 Cleveland Classic. This Richard Gillock trainee's biggest win was at Dover Downs in the $165,975 Matron Stakes in 2012. Buckeye-native Tony Hall has been called upon to drive this 12-1 morning line starter #7 - Foiled Again is attempting to become the first horse to win this even three times and makes his sixth Battle of Lake Erie appearance. He won this event in 2009 and 2011, finished third in the 2010 and was second in this event in 2012. Ron Burke trains foiled Again for owners Burke Racing Stable of Fredricktown, PA, Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, PA and JJK Stables of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Foiled Again has garnered 80 career victories and has been in the money 161 times in 210 career starts, earning a mark of 1:48 (PcD 5/8) and earnings of $6,313,068. Those career earnings rank him as the richest pacer in history. Yannick Gingras is scheduled to pilot this 3-1 slight morning line favorite. #8 - Apprentice Hanover is the 2013 Cleveland Classic Champion and makes his second local appearance. The $126,000 Classic also represents his richest triumph. He has 43 lifetime starts and 17 career victories. He is a four year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere with a lifetime mark of 149.4 (Mea 5/8) and career earnings of $824,675. Apprentice Hanover is owned by Bradley Grant of Milton, Ontario, Canada and is trained by Benjamin Wallace. He has been assigned a morning line of 10-1 and is scheduled to have the driving services of Dan Noble. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
Every year some of North America's best three-year-old harness racing pacers come together and compete for one race; The Pepsi North America Cup! For on this night; records are broken, victories are celebrated and the price of glory is high! And where the list of champions grows and grows... This night is one of harness racing’s most anticipated events. It’s the event of the year that top trainers, owners, drivers, and fans alike come together to watch history being made! You can feel the atmosphere of the grandstand change as the crowds begin to file in with spectators young and old; first time enthusiasts and experienced pros, as they all wait to catch a glimpse of the harness racing’s superstars. The races are always more intense on this night, and you can feel it as the trumpets blare and the race is called to post. The horses don’t know that it’s a bigger night; all that they know is that they are here to win! And the driver’s feel the pressure; because they know what glory lies beyond the finish line. The horse’s line up behind the gate, all of them ready to take one of the many champion titles to on the card. The gate lets the horses (and drivers) go, my heart begins to pound in time with the horse’s hooves hitting the dusty track. I undo my seatbelt, getting ready to stand up when they turn for home! I don’t want to miss a second of the action. But for now I’m on the edge of my seat. I watch the horses race past me, I’m in awe. I tune everything else out. At the same time, I’m also watching the fractions go up on the toteboard. As they come off the turn I know the time has come! I grip the rail, the blood rushing through my body. I look to my mom, and she knows that means I’m going to be standing up. I stand up as my eyes are locked on the stretch. I fight the urge to sit; my legs begin to shake, but I tell myself I’m not going to sit until they cross the wire. I grip the rail tighter. I begin to scream louder than I have all of the race as they draw near. My lungs begin to feel dry because I’m screaming so loud. The horses make a final graceful dash for the wire; all of them wanting to be number one; with one trying to outstretch the other. My concentration only breaks when I hear the announcer say with great excitement “...and that’s a new track record! After the winner returns to the Winner’s Circle. I watch attentively as the blanket is draped over him like the cape of a king. I watch as the winning connections hold the trophy high with pride and joy, as the cameras click and flash away! No matter how many North America Cups I attend, the same magic, wonder, and awe still exists; it never gets old and never will! Each year the horses get faster and faster, but the fierce competition remands the same. I have actually had the honor of being in the 2011 North America Cup Winner’s Circle. It was such an amazing experience, and one of which I will never forget. It all started a week before at the eliminations. I was along the rail when a gentleman came up to me and said “Sydney, if my horse wins next week, you can come out and have your picture taken.” I was so honored and excited. Then a few minutes later another gentlemen came up to me and said “No, no Sydney; if my horse wins next week, you make sure come out and get your picture taken with my horse!” Now I was even more excited! Now I wanted to know who was going to win the final! Was I going to have the honor of being in the Winner’s Circle? All of these questions would be answered next week. But next week seemed so far away. As I sat along the rail dreaming of next week, another gentleman named Carl Jamieson came up to me and said “ Sydney, don’t listen to those two” (referring to the gentlemen I had just been speaking to.) “When my horse wins next week make sure you come out for your picture!” So now I had three invites to the Winner’s Circle! Now I was really looking forward to the final! I could hardly wait to see who would be crowned the 2011 champion! A week later the final of the 2011 North America Cup was here! It was a beautiful summer evening and there was a warm breeze blowing through; and the air was buzzing with excitement. As everyone pondered the same thought, who will win the 2011 North America Cup? The entire night I was looking forward to that one race- The North America Cup! Would I have the honor of being in the Winner’s Circle? If so who would it be with? These were all the questions floating through my mind. But before I could find out any of the answers, someone had to win the North America Cup! The race was making my heart pound faster than it ever had before! The anticipation and excitement was growing with every turn they passed. I was also cheering for three horses at the same time; which as I learned that day is easier said than done. I had my seat belt undone, ready to stand when the horses rounded the final turn. As they turned for home I was practically jumping up and down. One of the horses I could go to the Winner’s Circle with was going to win! Up The Credit would be crowned the 2011 winner of the North America Cup! I quickly sat back down in my chair, buckled my seat belt the fastest I ever have, and my dad and I ran to the gate of Winner’s Circle waiting for Jody Jamieson to turn Up The Credit into the Winner’s Circle! Once there I met Carl Jamieson, I wished him a big congratulations on his win and gave him a hug! And then we all packed into the Winner’s Circle; all overjoyed with the evenings events! After the majority of pictures had been taken, Carl Jamieson came over to me and said “Sydney! Here hold it, and we’ll take a picture!” I replied “No, but thank you!” I was so nervous and I did not want to drop the North America Cup! So Carl (Jamieson) held it on my lap, and we had our picture taken holding the North America Cup! It was a pretty amazing feeling. And to this day that picture hangs on the wall in my living room... After I was back at my spot on the rail, Jody ( Jamieson) was walking back to the paddock signing autographs, as he walked by me I stuck my hand through the bars in the rail and said “ congratulations Mr. Jamieson!” He stopped, shook my hand, and said to the gentleman standing beside my mom and me, “Can I borrow your marker?” The gentleman agreed. My mom turned to grab our program for him to sign. Jody (Jamieson) said “that’s okay! I can do better then that!” He took off his North America Cup baseball cap, signed it, and placed it on my head; and he continued to walk back to the paddock. I was in shock; I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I lowered my head and the tears began to fall, not because I was upset, but because I was so genuinely touched but what Jody Jamieson had done! For the rest of the night I wore that hat with such pride! I will forever treasure that hat. In fact that night I slept with it like a teddy bear! And I kept waking up because I didn’t want to lose it! Today, that baseball cap hangs on a rack above my bed. And every night before I fall asleep, I look up at that very special baseball cap. And it brings me to that very special night and all the lasting memories that were created... This story is a collection of only a few of the memories I have from the North America Cup! Each year new memories are created; all of which I will always hold near and dear to my heart! Sydney Weaver is 14 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.
Canadian Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh celebrated his 4,000th training win on an electric Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack as his millionaire homebred pacer Thinking Out Loud slipped up the pylons to take the $30,000 Free For All Handicap Pace in the final strides. Driven by another Hall of Famer, John Campbell, even-money favourite Thinking Out Loud left from the outside post six and settled into a pocket spot behind All Star Legend (Yannick Gingras) through a :26.1 opening panel. All Star Legend led the way to the half in a rated :55.3 with Wake Up Peter (Mike Lachance) moving first over and up to pressure at the 1:23.1 third quarter mark. That left Thinking Out Loud boxed in and searching for room at the pylons down the lane. He eventually squeezed through in deep stretch and prevailed in a three-way photo finish over the quick-closing Ultimate Beachboy (Brett Miller) and All Star Legend. The five-year-old gelding is by the sire Ponder and Camluck mare Los Angeles, all of which McIntosh campaigned. Thinking Out Loud, who was a 1:47.2 winner in The Meadowlands' U.S. Pacing Championship last year, previously provided the Windsor, Ont. conditioner with another major career accomplishment in winning his first Pepsi North America Cup title in 2012. The pacer is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables along with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont., and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio. McIntosh's milestone win came in front of a large crowd estimated to be in excess of 14,000 in attendance as Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment played host to JerseyFest. This year the event included a competition between 17 food trucks competing for prizes and recognition, as well as vendors and artisans from all over the Garden State on-site sampling and selling their wares. The weather finally cooperated with a pleasant, dry evening. The festival began around 5 p.m. Saturday evening and the track apron and outfield park filled quickly. A portion of the crowd crept into the grandstand as the evening wore on with many drawn to the racing by the visual displayed on the high definition infield video screen. The design of the new grandstand nicely integrates the racing with events held outside with the track and horses in close proximity to the fans. An added attraction was the appearance by Victor Espinoza, the jockey set to ride California Chrome in his date with destiny next week in the Belmont Stakes as he tries to be the first winner of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing since 1978. Espinoza greeted fans and signed autographs, joined in a winner's circle ceremony that included WNBC sportscaster Bruce Beck and spoke with Sam McKee about the upcoming race. by Darin Zocalli, for the Meadowlands
London, May 29, 2014 -- A familiar face, and former leading driver at The Raceway at Western Fair District, is coming back to London for the Molson Pace. Mark MacDonald has been one of North America's top pilots for many years, but this is one race he has yet to win. "I've been in The Pace with some very nice horses," he said. "Tigerama set the track record there (1:50.4 in 2008) in his elimination, but he drew the outside post in the Final and things didn't work out." "I finished second with Dr No to Our Lucky Killean (2006) and I've been there with Sand Olls Dexter (2004) and others... Having lived in London and driven there lots - it's just one of those marquee events that a guy like me would love to win." There's a 'tank' of a horse from south of the border that goes by the name of Bandolito, co-owned, trained and driven, for the most part, by Daryl Bier. He's a son of Ponder and MacDonald has yet to sit behind this 'tank', but he's very familiar with the Ponder family. "I know them well," he stated. "I've driven Ponder and I've driven his stakes champ son's Thinking Out Loud and Bolt The Duer - they're both world class and I think Bandolito is ready for his coming out party too. He hasn't beaten the big boys yet, but The Pace would be a nice spot to start." Bandolito is a lightly raced 4-year-old with just 19 career starts, but he has 13 wins, a mark of 1:48 F and he's banked over $250,000. Charles Dombeck, Dave Bier and brother Daryl all share in ownership and they've recruited MacDonald to pilot this speed demon is this year's edition of the $150,000 Molson Pace taking place Friday, May 30. "I was at Yonkers watching a race from Dover Downs, in April, and I was like 'Who is this pacing out of his harness?'" Turns out it was Bandolito, with Daryl Bier in the bike, cruising to a gate-to-wire 1:48.2 win - his 3rd quarter in 26.2 and final quarter in 25.4 - that's a final half in 52.1 after cutting it! So it is evident that Bandolito has tremendous speed over the five-eighths ovals, but how will he respond to his first test over the half-miler? "He's a very slick pacer and he doesn't wear a boot," said MacDonald. "His speed is just crazy... The half mile track should be just fine for this guy." Some say Bandolito rolls along on the lead like the late Riyadh. A front-end, half-mile track specialist who took on the best there was back in the early to mid 90's. "We'll see how he draws and go from there," added MacDonald. "I know he'll be a serious contender... I know he's ready for the big boys in London... They'll need their 'A+ Game' to beat him!" A confident Mark MacDonald will join London track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle on Friday's Molson Pace pre-game show to discuss his return to the London oval and offer more insights into this year's Molson 'Dark Horse'. First post on Friday night is 7:05 p.m. and fans will receive a commemorative Foiled Again post card with program purchase. There will also be contests, giveaways, the Molson 'Party on the Patio' and much more happening throughout the night. Full-card coverage will be available on HPItv. On the Wagering side, the early Super Hi-5 will offer an 'Instant Guarantee' of $15,000 while the late Super Hi-5 (Molson Pace) has a $10,000 guaranteed pool. Both Pick-4 wagers offer guaranteed pools - the early at $7,500 and late at $10,000. For more information, including free programs and live streaming video, visit www.westernfairdistrict.com. by Greg Blanchard, for The Raceway
Delaware, OH---The crowd was large and they stayed until the very end hoping to snag a horse to race this summer. Monday (May 12) was the second-strongest Blooded Horse Spring Sale in 15 years. Burke Racing Stable LLC brought a nice consignment of raceway horses that contained the saletopper, PL Fighter. A competitive conditioned pacer at Harrah's Philadelphia, the Jereme’s Jet gelding was purchased by Rene Allard for $23,000. Allard was also the consignor of the classy Yonkers trotter MMs Lucky Boy that was purchased by Shirley Halas of Michigan for $19,000. The 4-year-old NW4 pacer KRs Power Surge excited the crowd, with Les Givens of Delaware getting the final bid at $22,000. The Village Jolt son was consigned by Karen Fread. Another consistent pacing gelding that got a lot of attention was Camarrow, a fast son of Ponder that leaves Krista Harmon of Michigan on a $19,000 bid from Tony Schadel of Pennsylvania. Two Notch, a fancy NW1 Cam's Card Shark filly from the Baron Racing Stable dispersal was purchased by Candy O’Brien, also from Pennsylvania, for $16,000. In addition to the saletopper the Burke Racing Stable consignment produced several other appealing horses including the winning Northfield Park $8,000 claiming trotter Mr. Jesse that sold for $14,000 to Jim Sisk to race in New York. Also, in that consignment was the $10,000 Pennsylvania claiming pacer Ulshootureyeoutkid that went to Wayne Givens of Delaware for $12,000. The next Blooded Horse Sale is August 25 and 26 and will feature black-type yearlings in addition to racehorses and breeding stock. For more information, visit www.bloodedhorse.com.
Artic Byrd produced a very impressive victory in a speedy time of 1:50.2 in the $8,000 feature race at Vernon Downs on Thursday night. The win was the second straight for Artic Byrd, owned by Donn Lewandrowski and Gail Farrell of Poland, New York. Artic Byrd had picked up a win on May 1 over a sloppy track, but the fast going on Thursday night also appealed to the roan mare. Trainer-Driver Truman Gale was very patient through the first three-quarters of a mile, sitting in behind the pace-setter, Elleofnxample. Elleofnxample set strong fractions in front, covering a quarter in 26.1, a half in 54.3, and three-quarters in 1:22.3. It appeared that Elleofnxample was going to go all the way to victory, but those fast fractions might have cost her in the stretch as she drifted away from the inside of the track into the two-path. This allowed Gale to send Artic Byrd right through on the inside and up in time for a victory by a length. The remainder of the finishers in the Thursday feature were Market Dynamics, Day To Ponder, and Steuben Ruthless in finishing order. Three drivers shared top honors on the Thursday night program with two winners. Aaron Byron, John Macdonald, and Jimmy Whittemore all had two victories on the evening. Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs with a nine-race program on Friday night, May 9, at 7:15pm. by Michael Chamberlain, for Vernon Downs
Bandolito might not be the biggest of horses, but Daryl Bier expects him to stand tall when he takes on some of the best older pacers in the world in Saturday night's $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The 4-year-old sensation, who owns the fastest mile of any pacer so far this season, faces eight rivals in the third edition of the Van Rose Memorial. Bandolito's foes include 2013 Van Rose winner Golden Receiver, who has earned $2.13 million during his career, as well as Sweet Lou, Dynamic Youth, and Warrawee Needy. Unraced at age 2, Bandolito has won 13 of 17 career races and $241,315. Last year, he captured the $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, but it was earlier this month that he really turned heads thanks to a 1:48 win at Dover Downs. His time equaled the fastest mile ever by a horse of any age at five-eighths-mile Dover Downs and is the fastest mile of this year. He followed that victory with a 1:48.2 triumph on April 10 at Dover Downs in which he covered the final half-mile in :52.1, with a :25.4 last quarter. On Saturday at Pocono Downs, he raced first over to win the preferred handicap by a neck over Dynamic Youth in 1:50.2. "I think he will be better than he was last week," said Bier, who trains and drives Bandolito. "He was coming off a 16-day layoff and I thought he might be a little short. I was thrilled with his race. I think the field last week was a step up from what he had been facing. I expect him to race very well (in the Van Rose)." Bier, who won the inaugural Van Rose in 2012 with Special T Rocks in a world-record-equaling performance, owns Bandolito with his brother Tommy and Charles Dombeck. Tommy Bier was listed as the sole owner when the horse was purchased privately from breeder/trainer Warren Harp last May after the colt won a qualifier in 1:56 at Spring Garden Ranch. With Daryl Bier handling the training and most of the driving, Bandolito won nine of 11 races last season. He was given time off following his Kentucky Sire Stakes victory in September and returned to action in December, but Bier thought the horse was not himself in three starts that culminated with a third-place finish in an open for 5-year-olds and younger on Jan. 9 at Dover Downs. Bier discovered Bandolito was suffering from a foot abscess, which kept the horse out of action until late March. "He's been awesome since he came back," Bier said. "I've never had a horse like him. He can go a quarter in 26 (seconds) and still have another gear. He's got gears I've never seen." Bandolito is a son of the stallion Ponder out of the mare Sody's Home Brew. Bier has been impressed particularly with two Ponder offspring - millionaires Bolt The Duer and Thinking Out Loud - which contributed to his interest in Bandolito. "I really like Ponder; I bought (Bandolito) because he was a Ponder," Bier said. "He was kind of small, but I really like when a horse doesn't race at (age) 2. I think they make better racehorses; I think there's a lot more left in there." Bandolito will start the Van Rose from post six in a race that should offer no shortage of speed, or talent. Warrawee Needy won in 1:46.4 last year, which equaled the fastest race mile in harness racing history. Golden Receiver, Sweet Lou, Dynamic Youth, and Dovuto Hanover all are open stakes winners. "Everything is going to be a test," Bier said. "These are the best horses in the world. But I don't think we're in a bad spot. I'm excited about it. I'm thrilled with him, no matter what. I just hope I can get a clear shot. I don't know how fast he can go." The field in post order for the Van Rose Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Golden Receiver, George Napolitano Jr., Mark Harder; 2. Dancin Yankee, Ron Pierce, Josh Green; 3. Dovuto Hanover, Ron Pierce, Darran Cassar; 4. Dynamic Youth, Andrew McCarthy, Carl Cito Jr.; 5. Abelard Hanover, Jonathan Roberts, Donald Billings; 6. Bandolito, Daryl Bier, Daryl Bier; 7. Emeritus Maximus, Ron Pierce, Tom Cancelliere; 8. Sweet Lou, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 9. Warrawee Needy, Mark MacDonald, Mark Ford. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York (April 28, 2014) - The first responders of the March 28th barn fire at Saratoga Casino and Raceway were honored during yesterday's race card. The ceremony recognized the heroism of the casino employees as well as local police and fire departments that arrived first on the scene and saved the lives of 30 horses. On March 28th around 6am, Mark Harrington, Security Manager at Saratoga Casino and Raceway smelled smoke coming from somewhere in the backstretch of the property. He was approached by Earl Bean, a trainer at the harness track, who alerted Harrington to a fire that had started in barn number 15. Harrington, along with groom Mickey Block, began to evacuate the horses that were still inside the burning barn. The Saratoga Police and Fire Departments were alerted as soon as security at the casino detected the fire, and arrived within minutes. They immediately began assisting with rescuing the remaining horses still trapped in the barn. A total of 30 horses were successfully saved and unharmed as a result of their rapid response. The fire was completely extinguished by 6:30AM. Saratoga Springs Fire Department Captain, Tom Knight and his squad were the first to arrive on the scene. "When we entered the barn the smoke was extremely black and very thick," said Knight. "We crawled along the ground and actually crawled into barns to feel around for horses. The horsemen and firemen worked very well together to get halters on the horses and get them out of harm's way. We got really lucky." "This could have been a lot worse had it not been for the heroic efforts of the first responders," said Jamie Hartman, General Manager of Saratoga Casino and Raceway. "We truly cannot thank them enough for their incredible act of bravery." The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental and was believed to be started by an oat cooker that was left on inside the barn. Inspections of the structures located at the facility are conducted regularly by local fire officials, most recently in May 2013. Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen was on hand Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino and Raceway to present a plaque honoring the heroic efforts of horsemen and members of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department. Saratoga Casino and Raceway's backstretch includes 34 horse barns with 1,040 stalls. There are currently 600 horses housed at the facility. All horses that were displaced by the fire have been relocated to another stall on the property. From Saratoga Raceway
OK, you’re driver Daryl Bier, known from Cal Expo to Dover and Pocono, from Pompano to The Meadowlands. You’ve had experience with really good horses before, as you currently guide the top FFA trotter Modern Family, and have had former world champion Special T Rocks, $900,000+ winner Higher And Higher, and others. You’re sitting behind a four-year-old who only has six months of actual racing experience and you are in the $36,000 Open Handicap feature race at Dover on closing day, April 10, but you know he’s a very fast horse who’s getting better. Your even-money main opposition broke early, so you decided to go to the point with the 6-5 second choice, and you rate the half in 56.1. Then it gets fun. You open him a notch to get away from your remaining rivals, and he responds instantly – he’s not a big horse, but he’s quick as can be. You whiz past the ¾ (“I didn’t think to look at the time; I was thinking about my $18,000 winners share); then, early on the final turn, you kick the earplugs out on your horse, test him a little more. He visibly downshifts on the TV monitors, and Daryl feels it in the bike – we’re going FAST! Through the lane, Bier takes him in hand, but he still destroys his field that has collective earnings of $1.9 million lifetime, by six (or more) lengths. Daryl gets to look at the timer past the finish – it says 1:48.2. Quick math tells him that’s a last half, on a five-eighth-mile track, in 56-degree temperatures, with nobody around him, for a horse in his 16th career start, in 52.1. He gets a chance to look at the ¾ time – it was 1:22.3, which means he paced in 26.2 down the back, and then when he downshifted, his horse came the last quarter (on a 5/8-mile track) in 25.4! Daryl returns to the Dover winners circle with a big smile. His brother Sean, a veteran of the racetrack game, is jumping and hollering – “DID YOU SEE THAT?” (probably not intended at Daryl, who of course did see that). The Dover paddock is abuzz after the race. Oh, did we mention that in his previous start, coming from behind wicked fractions, he had tied the all-time Dover record of 1:48, first set by his year’s 3YO champion, Heston Blue Chip? Meet Bandolito. Unraced at two in 2012, the son of Ponder-Sody’s Home Brew was brought to the races by veteran Florida horseman Warren Harp, and Daryl got a call from an agent he had worked with, Gary Brown. The horse fit a pattern Daryl has used with much success – buy promising horses who didn’t race or didn't race much at two: Modern Family didn’t start as a freshman, and Special T Rocks only raced twice at 2 – and the price was right. So he was brought into the Bier stable, with Daryl’s brother David making the initial purchase while agreeing that if the horse was good enough to make the Kentucky Sire Stakes in the summer, Daryl and longtime stable patron Charles Dombeck would join the ownership. Bandolito came north, where he came under the care of Team Bier, which includes caretaker Brad Sawyer (“He has Modern Family, too, so he’s a top man”) and horseshoer Chuck Crissman Jr., the father-in-law of Daryl’s brother Sean (Crissman comes more into the story later, and then again right at the very end). Third in his first northern start, the unheralded sophomore then rips off six straight between Harrah’s and Pocono, including a 1:51.3f-27 triumph (in his fourth lifetime start). Off to Kentucky under the new Bandolito partnership. The Ponder colt wins his two prelims with ease at the famous Red Mile, both with sub-27 last quarters, and Bandolito is 1-10* in the final. “I decided to use Tim Tetrick that night,” Daryl said, “because Tim obviously knows good horses, and I wanted to see what he thought of the horse, whether he was for real.” 1:49.4 later (26.2 on the end), Tetrick turns to Bier and says, “I like him. He’s a real good horse.” And thus basically ended Bandolito’s first campaign. Oh, the calendar will say he started back in December 2013, but this was really round two for Bandolito. And he didn’t come out of his corner strongly. A hard-closing fifth in a 1:51 mile at Dover just six days before Christmas was a good start, but then Bandolito caused some concern – while winning a race. “He was second-over, but won by only a head in 1:52.3, and I was worried,” Bier recalled – his people were considering nominating him for the Levy Series around then, but that kind of mile wouldn’t do. “And then he quarter-moved in his next race, for $18,000, and was caught and beaten almost two lengths.” The answer came quickly. Bandolito was dead lame the next day, one foot obviously distressing him. “But Chuck (Crissman) saved us right then and there. He figured out the foot problem, got him straightened away. He didn’t walk for three weeks after the lameness,” but things progressed well for Bier/Crissman/Sawyer and the other owners, so well that with their careful nurturing Bandolito qualified on March 19. Two weeks later he equaled the all-time Dover record of 1:48 on April 3 – his 15th lifetime start. Came home in 52.1-25.4 a week later – start #16. “We were more excited about that race, because nobody was pushing us and because of the sheer speed.” What’s next for Bandolito? Good question. Perhaps the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial on Kentucky Derby Day (a race in which Bier and Special T Rocks equaled a 1:48.2 world record two years ago) at Pocono, where Bier recently re-established his base, maybe after an overnight start this weekend if Daryl can get one for him. Afterwards? … But they are fun question marks to have! Daryl: “We got a copy of the race, and I watched it with Chuck on his big screen TV. And you can see things pretty good on it, and the eighth, just into the turn, from when I kicked the earplugs, we timed him in 12 seconds. We both timed that, and did it a couple of times. A 12-second eighth … that’s a 24-second quarter…” How good IS Bandolito? By Jerry Connors, for Harnesslink.com
DOVER, Del.---- Casino Bags Carlo swept to victory in the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) Three-Year-Old Male pace, the last of four $100,000 DSBF finals this week on the closing day of the 45th harness racing season at Dover Downs, Thursday, April 10 at Dover Downs. Bandolito romps in 1:48 winning $36,000 Preferred pace and Just A Jolt takes $33,000 Delaware Special. When front-pacing favorite Elite Awards suddenly broke stride on the final turn, Vince Copeland, sitting second with Casino Bags Carlo, shot into the lead and rushed home a 1:52.4 winner of the final DSBF three-year-old championships. The win was the third straight victory of an unbeaten campaign for Cavalli Pazzi Stables,. Copeland has trained and driven the Roddy's Bags Again-Casino Bus gelding now a winner of eight of 12 races and only once farther back that third while winning $70,000 this year and $168,911 lifetime. West Star Director (Ben Stafford Jr.) finished second for the third consecutive start. Forced Passage (Ross Wolfenden) was third. Driver George Dennis said he and Elite Awards saw a lose horseshoe shining brightly on the track along a pylon and the pacer was startled and broke stride, finishing out of the money for the first time in 12 races with 10 of them easy wins. Bandolito, a 1:48 winner last week, currently the fastest time of 2014, won even more impressively this week stepping up to the $36,000 Preferred Handicap. Trainer-driver Daryl Bier, co-owner with Charley Dombeck and David Bier, the Ponder-Sody's Home Brew brown four-year-old was never trouble chalking up his third win in four starts this year while winning $48,977 and $228,815 in his 16 race career. Tarpon Hanover (David Miller) ended a two-race win streak finishing second with Take It Back Terry (Ross Wolfenden) the show horse. When Nova Artist (Allan Davis) became involved in trouble in front of the grandstand when he received a broke race wheel, the $33,000 Delaware Special Handicap became a toss up. Feel Like a Fool (Dennis) took over the lead and led into the stretch when Tim Tetrick steered Just A Jolt to the front nearing the wire for a 1:50.2 triumph. Feel Like A Fool and Full Of Sand (Corey Callahan) were second and third respectively. Nova Artist pulled up before the clubhouse turn. Corey Callahan drove Joan Hamstead's homebred Lewiebyalength scooted to a 1:53.2 success in the $20,000 DSBF consolation. A 13-1 shot Three Day Forecast (Jonathan Roberts) was second with By Noggin (Tony Morgan) third. Callahan also guided Gateway Racing's Lollipop Kid to a 1:49.1 conquest in an $18,000 Male Winners-Over pace. The Dylan Davis-trainee is an altered son of Shady Character-Saly Pansen and won for the third time in 10 outings this year. Manhattan Rusty N (Ron Pierce) finished a strong second with Poker Hat (Tetrick) finishing third. In the $17,500 3,4&5-Year-Old Male Winners-Over pace, Troy and Todd Tribbett's Alittleaintenough notched his fourth win of the season with Ron Pierce driving, a 1:51 lifetime mark. The Artiscape-Mayland Beauty gelding trained by Joe Hunterpfund was followed home by Chesapeake Bay (David Miller) and Totally Kissed (Montrell Teague), the only sophomore in the field, who was third. Bret Brittingham drove the other $17,500 division winner, Leslie Betts' Teresa's Beach. The Somebeachsomewhere-GE's Jen four-year-old is trained by Johnny Waite and won #4 this year in 11 starts. Sea Harrier (Tetrick) accepted his first loss after two wins. Varsity Hanover (Kim Vincent) closed strongly to finish third. In between races ceremonies, Corey Callahan was presented the Leading Driver award. Dylan Davis won the Leading Trainer title, while Nova Artist, for the second time in three seasons, won Horse of the Meet honors. Dover Downs says 'so long' to its 45th season and thanks all who participating in making the 2013-14 meet successful. Thanks for being an important part of the banner season. Racing will resume next Fall. In the meantime, harness racing resumes on Monday, April 21 at Harrington Raceway. There is no charge for parking or admission when visiting Dover Downs. Leading harness and thoroughbred simulcasts are featured from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight daily in the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs
DOVER, Del.---- Bandolito scored the fastest mile of the year on any size track while equaling the all-track record of 1:48 set in 2012 by Heston Blue Chip, while Casino Bags Carlo was the fastest of three Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) $20,000 2nd leg Pace preliminaries and in the $33,000 Delaware Special, Nova Artist won again on a strong Thursday, April 3 program at Dover Downs. Daryl Bier moved Bandolito up on the outside as Lollipop Kid (Corey Callahan) and Fancyfreeshark (Jonathan Roberts) continued to battle on the front end. Bandolito took the lead on the final turn and breezed home in track record equaling and track four-year-old record time of 1:48. Bier trains and co-owns the Ponder-Sody's Home Brew brown horse with Charles Dombeck and David Bier. It was his second win of the year and 11th lifetime and now has won purses of 210,815. Manhattan Rusty N (Ron Pierce) showed late speed to finish second in front of Lollipop Kid, third. . Casino Bags Carlo turned in the fastest of the three DSBF prelims, a 1:53.4 wire-to-wire performance for trainer, driver Vince Copeland and owner Cavalli Pazzi Stables. The Roddy's Bags Again-Casino Bus gelding won his second in two starts in 2014 and seventh, with two second and a third in his 11 career races banking $118,911. Forced Passage (Ross Wolfenden) was runner-up with Lewiebyalength (Corey Callahan) the show horse. In the second $20,000 DSBF pace, Elite Awards came from off-the-pace for driver George Dennis to take the lead from West Star Director (Ben Stafford Jr.) and then led his six rivals home for a 1:54.3 victory, his Third Straight this years and 10th in 11 starts lifetime earning $124,225. David Rearic conditions the Powerful Toy-Silk Slip gelding for owner Karen Walls. The third DSBF division was even more competitive. Tim Tetrick drove Art Retreat to a come-from-behind 1:54 decision. Go Big Spinder (Ron Pierce) closed well to take second while Hawker (David Miller), who vied for the early lead was the show finisher. Vern Cannon and trainer Jeff Clark owned the Artzina-Wild Retreat gelding who won for the first time in 13 starts which include five seconds and two thirds. Nova Artist in his customary style closed from fifth at the half to notch a 1:50.2 triumph in the $33,000 Delaware Special. Allan Davis was at the controls of the seven-year-old son of Real Artist-Avon Lady who recorded his fourth win of the year to go with two seconds and two thirds for owners trainer Eddy and Kathy Davis. The almost black pacer, who was the track's Horse of The Meet two seasons back, has won $85.350 this year and $849,917 in his career. Just A Jolt (Tim Tetrick) also rallied from off-the-pace to finish second in front of Feel Like A Fool (Dennis). Jet Blue Miracle came on strong in one of two $18,000 4&5-Year-Old Winners-Over paces to rack up a 1:52.1 win. Ross Wolfenden teamed with trainer Les Givens to make owners Ed Maas, Arlene Paisley and Nanticoke Racing happy with their fourth win of the year. Major Bucks (Toby Lynch) finished second with Shiretown Pitbull (Sean Bier) third. In the other $18,000 event, Tim Tetrick roared down the lane driving Sea Harrier, a Jereme's Jet-Ingrid Bergrin gelding, to his sixth win of the meet in nine races for Paton Racing and trainer Jim King. Jolt Of Fire (Dennis) and Spinfiniti (Pierce) were second and third respectively. Frank Chick's So Much To Say, driven by Dennis for trainer Kevin Lare, posted a 1:52 victory in a $15,500 4&5-Year-Old pace. Art Of Escape (Pierce) was second followed by Heart Breaking (Davis), third. Morgan and Jeanne McInnis rejuvenated Cams Art in 1:51.2 won a close 1:51.2 decision at 12-1 odds in a $15,000 Male pace with Bret Brittingham driving. SB Mike's Hot Beach (Mike Rossi), off at 71-1, cut out the mile and finished second. Just Bettor (Pierce) came on from far back for third money. George Dennis had three wins while Allan Davis, Tim Tetrick and Bret Brittingham had doubles. A $20,000-$25,000 Claiming pace is the top race on Sunday when racing resumes. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs There is no charge for parking or admission when visiting Dover Downs. Leading harness and thoroughbred simulcasts are featured from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight daily in the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book.
LEBANON, OH. - The 'girls' pretty much had their way with the 'boys' in Sunday night's $8000 championship final of the month-long Madness in March tournament at Miami Valley Raceway. A field of 64 $4.000 claiming horses began the Madness in March elimination tournament with the field reduced to 32 after week one, 16 after week two and the Elite 8 after week three. While the 'brackets' for the first three weeks were divided by gender, the final pitted the top four surviving geldings versus the top four surviving mares in a "Battle of the Sexes." When the dust settled, Rock Ann Rolling was crowned Tournament Queen following a track-record 1:53.4 performance, the fastest clocking ever by a female over the age of four at Miami Valley to date. A pair of other mares raced creditably against their male counterparts with Taylors Artist (Josh Sutton) finishing third and C L Life Road (Dan Noble) fourth across the finish line. Rock Ann Rolling is owned by driver Jason Brewer and conditioned by his father Jeff Brewer. It was the 13th career win for the six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare. The best any of the four geldings could do in the championship was a runnerup finish by Communicator (Pat Berry) who fell just three-quarters of length short for the P T Stable, who claimed him in the first week of the tournament. Olive Loaf (Kyle Ater) garnered the final paycheck for his fifth place effort. A pair of co-featured Fillies and Mares Open paces were also highlights of the program. Rev Me Up (Dan Noble) captured the $9500 Open I for the second straight week in 1:54, which stood for one race as the track record for older distaffers until Rock Ann Rolling bested it. Despite the eight-hole, Rev Me Up fired when the wings opened and went gate to wire, holding off Whisty's Paradise (Pat Berry) and Canary Island (Chris Page) in a thrilling photo finish. Patrons who backed the repeat winner were rewarded with a $22.80 mutuel payoff on the Kathy Millman trainee who is leased by Merl P'Pool. The $7,500 Open II went to favored Ohmybelle (Tyler Smith) with a narrow victory over Everymileamemory (Pat Berry) and Bazooka Terror (Randy Tharps). The speedy 1:53.3 clocking established a new standard for four-year-old mares who have raced at Miami Valley during the track's initial two months in business. Janet Banks owns the daughter of Ponder who is trained by Tyler's father, Jeff Smith. From Miami Valley Raceway Publicity Department
TORONTO, March 27 - An elite group of 70 horses remain eligible to the 31st edition of the Pepsi North America Cup, one of harness racing's most prestigious events and Canada's richest harness race with a $1 million final. The one mile pace for three-year-olds at Mohawk Racetrack, is scheduled for Saturday, June 14. Headlining this year's group of nominees is the Dan Patch Award winner and undefeated He's Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary. The son of American Ideal boasts a 1:50 speed badge along with $291,722 in earnings. O'Brien Award winner Arthur Blue Chip, who banked $400,120 last season, also remains a top contender for this year's prize. The son of first-crop sire Shadow Play amassed a 6-2-1 record from 11 starts last season. He capped off his year as the richest two-year-old colt pacer. Luck Be Withyou, the 2013 Breeders Crown champion, is also on the list and one of the early favourites for the race. National Debt, who remains undefeated in his career after capturing the Buddy Gilmour Memorial at The Meadowlands, is also on the list of nominees. The Pepsi North America Cup eliminations are set for Saturday, June 7. Sustaining payments will be due on April 15 and May 15. The list of nominees follows: AGADIR HANOVER ALWAYS B MIKI ARI ALLSTAR ARTHUR BLUE CHIP AVALANCHE HANOVER BEAT THE DRUM BONDI HANOVER BOOMBOOM BALLYKEEL BRODYS SCRAPPER BUGGER BRUISER CABANA BOY HANOVER CAPITAL ACCOUNT CARRACCI HANOVER CRAFTY MASTER DANCIN HILL DOO WOP HANOVER EWALD HANOVER FOR A BETTOR TIME FORT KNOX GOLD ROCKS HERE COMES WILLIAM HE'S WATCHING IDEAL COWBOY IDEAL MAGIC IDEAL SHADOW IDEALBEACH HANOVER IM DRINKIN DOUBLES JACK ATTACK JET AIRWAY JIGGLE IT JK ENDOFANERA JOURNEYMAN LETS DRINK ON IT LIMELIGHT BEACH LUCK BE WITHYOU LUCKY KING LYONSSOMEWHERE MAJOR DEAGAN MAJOR TRICK MCWICKED MELMERBY BEACH MOLIERE HANOVER NAKED CITY NATIONAL DEBT ODDS ON RHODONITE ON GOLDEN Ponder P L HELLCAT PARNU HANOVER PLAY IT AGAIN SAM SILVERHILL SHADOW SMACK TALK SOME MAJOR BEACH SOMESTARSOMEWHERE SOMETIMES SAID SOMEWHERE FANCY SURPRISE HANOVER SWEET BEACH SWEET TALKIN CLYDE TELLITLIKEITIS THATS MY OPINION THREE OF CLUBS UNLOCKED WACO BRUISER WEATHER HANOVER WELL WRITTEN WESTERN VINTAGE WHISKEY N PIE WHISTLE JIMMY K WICKED BUSINESS WINDS OF CHANGE Total Horses after the following payments. February 15 - 77 Qualifiers moved to Saturday Due to mild and wet temperatures scheduled for this Friday, Woodbine Racetrack will shift its qualifying sessions to Saturday. Seven qualifying sessions till take place, beginning at 4 p.m. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
BOWDEN ALSO BUYS SHARES IN FATHER PATRICK...WILL STAND HIM AT DIAMOND CREEK FARM
By Bill Liblick, re-printed with permission by www.sullivancountypost.com 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.
TORONTO, CA March 5 - An impressive group of 77 sophomore including rookie standouts Hes Watching, Arthur Blue Chip and Luck Be Withyou have been nominated to the 31st edition of the Pepsi North America Cup. One of harness racing's most prestigious events, the $1 million race is set for Saturday, June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack. Headlining this year's group of nominees is the Dan Patch Award winner and undefeated Hes Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer and co-owner David Menary. The son of American Ideal boasts a 1:50 speed badge along with $291,722 in earnings. Arthur Blue Chip, who banked $400,120 last season along with an O'Brien Award, was the richest rookie-pacing colt of 2013. The son of first-crop sire Shadow Play amassed a 6-2-1 record from 11 starts last season. Luck Be Withyou, the 2013 Breeders Crown champion, is also on the list and one of the early favourites for the race. The Pepsi North America Cup eliminations are set for Saturday, June 7. Sustaining payments will be due on March 15, April 15 and May 15. The complete list of this year's Pepsi NA Cup eligibles are listed below: AGADIR HANOVER ALWAYS B MIKI ARI ALLSTAR ARTHUR BLUE CHIP AVALANCHE HANOVER BEAT THE DRUM BEST OF THE BUNCH BONDI HANOVER BOOM BOOM BALLYKEEL BRODYS SCRAPPER BUGGER BRUISER BUSHWACKER CABANA BOY HANOVER CAPITAL ACCOUNT CARRACCI HANOVER CRAFTY MASTER DANCIN HILL DEVIL'S ARCADE DOO WOP HANOVER EARTHSHAKER EWALD HANOVER FOR A BETTOR TIME FORT KNOX GOLD ROCKS HERE COMES WILLIAM HES WATCHING IDEAL COWBOY IDEAL MAGIC IDEAL SHADOW IDEALBEACH HANOVER IM DRINKIN DOUBLES JACKATTACK JET AIRWAY JK ENDOFANERA JIGGLE IT JOURNEYMAN LET'S DRINK ON IT LIMELIGHT BEACH LUCK BE WITH YOU LUCKY KING LYONS SOMEWHERE MAJOR DEAGAN MAJOR TRICK MARCO DE VIE MCWICKED MELMERBY BEACH MOLIERE HANOVER NAKED CITY NATIONAL DEBT ODDS ON RHODONITE ON GOLDEN Ponder PLAY IT AGAIN SAM P L HELLCAT PARNU HANOVER SHADIOS SILVERHILL SHADOW SMACK TALK SOME MAJOR BEACH SOMESTARSOMEWHERE SOMETIMES SAID SOMEWHERE FANCY SURPRISE HANOVER SWEET BEACH SWEET TALKIN CLYDE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT TELLITLIKEITIS THAT'S MY OPINION THREE OF CLUBS UNLOCKED WACO BRUISER WEATHER HANOVER WELL WRITTEN WESTERN VINTAGE WHISKEY N PIE WHISTLE JIMMY K WICKED BUSINESS WINDS OF CHANGE by Greg Gangle, for WEG