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For quite a period now, the future of harness racing in North America has been closely aligned with the Casino Industry. To overcome restrictions on setting up stand alone Casinos, a lot of operators have set up Casinos at thoroughbred and harness racing venues. State governments have required the Casino Operators to support and promote the racing product due to the racing industry being so job intensive which affects everybody's bottom line if they were to fold due to the competition from the Casinos. To get around these restrictions, some Casino Operators have come up with some clever race programming to kill off the racing side of their business. Devise a program schedule that is light on money and very prescriptive as to the race conditions and you make it impossible for racing to survive long term. It is an outcome that some casino operators are trying to achieve. The video below summed up the overall position very nicely. Harnesslink Media  

On Thursday (August 14) 10 local charities participated in the 2nd Annual OHHA and Scioto Downs Harness Racing Charity Night at the races.   Scioto Downs and The OHHA invited 10 local charities to participate in a charity race where the charities would draw for horses in the 7th race on the program.   The 10 charities included the ALS Association, The Alzheimers Association, The American Cancer Society, The American Red Cross, The Arthritis Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Central Ohio Parkinson Society, The Ronald McDonald House, The 4-H Youth Development Organization and Children's Hunger Alliance.   Each charity had the opportunity to earn the purse distribution on the selected race. The winner would receive $5,000, second would receive $2,500, third would receive $1,200, fourth would receive $800.00, fifth place would receive $500.00 and the remaining sixth through tenth finishers receive $500.00.   Scioto Downs had a faux draw to assign the charities post positions and horses that would race for their charity. The post positions were as follows:   1. Darth Quaider- Central Ohio Parkinson Society   2. Pow Chicka Pow Pow- The Ronald McDonald House   3. Cyclops- The American Cancer Society   4. CC Big Boy Sam- The Arthritis Foundation   5. Milliron Pete- American Red Cross   6. Phantom Flasher- Big Brothers/Big Sisters   7. He's Got It- Children's Hunger Alliance   8. Giddy Up Binks- Alzheimers Association   9. Forever Kissed- 4-H Youth Development Organization   10. Raz Ma Taz- ALS Association   Forever Kissed and Kayne Kauffman crossed the wire first in a career best, 1:54 to earn $5,000 for the 4-H Youth Development Organization. CC Big Boy Sam was second, Cyclops and Greg Grismore rallied for third, Giddy Up Binks was fourth and He's Got It came on late for fifth.   All charities received a $500.00 bonus donation on behalf of Scioto Downs, giving each charity at least, a total donation of $1,000.00.   Racing resumes Friday (August 15) post time is 6:30 p.m. From Scioto Downs Racino  

Harrington, DE --- Harrington Raceway’s 68th season of live harness racing will get underway Monday night (April 21) with a 15-race program scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. There will be a hat giveaway (while supplies last) at 5 p.m. on the lower level of the grandstand, as well as $1 hot dogs and $1 live racing programs throughout the evening. Most of the track regulars are back in action including 2013 leading trainer Joe Hundertpfund, Jr. and leading drivers Ross Wolfenden and George Dennis, who finished in a deadlock last season. There is also a new face on the opening day program, as one of the leading drivers on the Yonkers Raceway circuit, Eric Goodell, will be in town competing in nine races. The featured $17,000 Open is carded sixth on the program and will wrap up the Pick-4 wager (races three-six). Cataway Racing Stable’s Lollipop Kid (2-1, Victor Kirby), who was claimed on February 27 at Dover Downs for $25,000, was installed as the morning line favorite on the heels of a lifetime best win in 1:49.1 at Dover. The wagering format will appear similar in years past to the Harrington faithful, as superfecta wagering will be available in all races but race three, the first leg of the Pick-4. Harrington’s signature race, the Bobby Quillen Memorial, will be held on Sept. 8 (eliminations if necessary) and Sept. 15 (final). Last year‘s event featured a stirring stretch duel from Clear Vision and Foiled Again with the former prevailing in a track record 1:49.2. Harrington will race on a Sunday through Wednesday schedule with the exception of closing night for the spring/summer season on July 3. There will be a hiatus until the annual Governor’s Night at the Races program on July 25, before the meet resumes on a Monday through Thursday schedule on August 18. Customers wishing to make clubhouse reservations are encouraged to do so by calling 302.398.5920. by Matt Sparacino, for Harrington Raceway

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

Gregg Keidel, a native of Ohio and someone who has contributed much to Buckeye State harness racing in various capacities over the last 35 years, is “returning home” as the race secretary at both of the new Dayton-area racinos that will be filling the traditional racing spot formerly held by venerable Lebanon Raceway: Miami Valley Raceway, a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Delaware North which will soon open the 2014 racing season in southern Ohio, and Dayton Raceway, a “Hollywood Slots”/Penn National venture which will follow Scioto Downs’ traditional summer meet in what is envisaged as an almost year-round circuit. Most of Keidel’s experience, as those familiar with him know, was picked up in the northeastern part of the state, at what was known then (and still is by many) as Northfield Park in Cleveland. Following his selling a chain of weekly newspapers which he had managed to success at an early age, Keidel got into harness racing as an owner, but it wasn’t long before he was training and driving his own horses, racing at Northfield, Windsor in Ontario, and the county fairs. Gregg had two early successes in his stable’s black and green colors: the pacer Blastabaroness, a top two-year-old Ohio filly of 1984 who gave Keidel 12 of his 14 victories very early in his sulky career; and a caretaker plucked out of waiterdom from the Northfield clubhouse who would go on to be known to many fans over 6000 victories later, Jim Pantaleano. Keidel’s newspaper experience led him to supplement his stable’s income by serving as a part time publicist for the track, and when a position in the racing office as assistant to Dennis Haskell opened, Gregg saw a more “stable” life for himself and his family and decamped there fulltime, shortly becoming Northfield racing secretary, a post he would hold for over 20 years as Northfield built itself into one of the hardest-working successes in the sport. During most of this time, Keidel “kept himself in the stirrups” on the Billings amateur circuit, being named Amateur Driver of the Year in North America in 2001. “I’ve had some of the best experiences in my life from amateur driving,” Gregg states. “I’ve been blessed to make six overseas trips as part of a visiting team of amateurs taking on the host countries, and they certainly have provided quite a few good memories. I’m also proud I notched my 100th win during Jug week in Delaware,” in 2007. When Running Aces Harness Park opened north of Minneapolis in 2008, Keidel took on the challenge as race office boss during the summer meet, getting a midseason leave of absence from the Cleveland oval, and he combined the two jobs until deciding to focus on Running Aces in 2010, with Florida judging his other source of income (though he also handled the last meet at Toledo Raceway Park last year – mainly from Running Aces!). One of the great aspects for Keidel in his new jobs is that the spring meet at Miami Valley and the fall meet at Dayton Raceway bookend the summer action in Minnesota beautifully. “I think these new opportunities in Ohio are exciting,” Gregg opines. “The parent companies all come from a racing base, and they understand that you have to promote both the racing and the casino play, whereas elsewhere many of the owners come from straight from the casino world, and the racing is often given a very secondary status.” The new 5/8-mile track at Miami Valley, nine miles from Lebanon Raceway, will accommodate nine-horse behind the starting gate – and Keidel would be very happy to have some full gates as MVR opens on February 7. “I am being realistic about how many horses we will attract at first,” he said. “There is no barn area here – we had a lot of inquiries from horsemen about stabling, but there just aren’t that many stalls available in the area right now, although some county fairs are talking about refurbishing their barn areas and staying open as training centers all year. Also, we have had some of the most miserable weather in the last few weeks around here (Gregg, it hasn’t been just around you – ed.), and a lot of horsemen are behind schedule in bringing horses back.” Indeed, the day this story was written, qualifying standards of 2:10 for pacers and 2:12 for trotters within 45 days were announced as a temporary measure until trainers get back on their schedules. If the horses may need a start or two to hit top stride, the same cannot be said about the driving colony. The last three North American driving champions – Ron Wrenn Jr. (2013), Dave Palone (2012), and Dan Noble (2011) – have committed to racing at Miami Valley during opening weekend, and interest in regular racing has been indicated by five other drivers with 3000+ wins: Greg Grismore, Randy Tharps, Tony Hall, Pat Berry ,… …and remember that Northfield waiter who got his start with the Keidel barn? Yes, count Jim Pantaleano, now 6,150 wins ahead of his former boss, among those likely to be checking out Miami Valley. For the opening two cards, Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8, Miami Valley will draw on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Gregg Keidel and the rest of the Miami Valley team will be hoping for some luck rubbing off on that date – because that day it will have been exactly 50 years since Pompano Park staged its first-ever card. It will be much warmer in Florida than it will be in southwest Ohio, but Pompano certainly has had its share of magic over the years – and Gregg Keidel has been in the horse game long enough to take magic, luck, or anything else that will aid his cause and that of his management. By Jerry Connors for

Columbus, OH --- Scioto Downs will once again host Grand Circuit racing during the 2014 summer racing season. The Laverne Hill Memorial Pace will be the first Grand Circuit race to be held at the Columbus five-eighths-mile oval in 2014 on May 17, Preakness Day. The 4-year-old and up mare pace will be raced as an overnight with no nominating fee and will go for $50,000 (guaranteed). The top 10 lifetime money earners entered will race, with no more than two horses eligible to race per stable. Three weeks later on Belmont Day (June 7), Scioto will host the Charlie Hill Memorial Trot for $200,000 (guaranteed). This late closing event is for 4-year-old and up trotters and horses must be nominated by April 15 for $500. The top 10 lifetime money earners that enter (with not more than two horses racing per stable) will race; if more than 10 horses enter, the nomination fee will be refunded to those that entered but do not race. On closing night, Sept. 27, Scioto will host the second annual Jim Ewart Memorial Pace. This $200,000 (guaranteed) invitational pace will have no nominating fee and be open to those horses that are 4-year-olds and up by invitation only. It has been more than seven years since Scioto has hosted Grand Circuit events, when the track hosted the Tompkins-Geers events for 3-year-olds in 2006. The purse account has greatly benefited since the infusion of VLT money when the first machines opened in June 2012. “We are excited to be able to host Grand Circuit races at Scioto,” said Scioto’s General Manager of Racing Operations Stacy Cahill. “We look forward to once again being a part of one of the oldest traditions in harness racing and bringing some of the best horses in the country to Columbus.” Scioto’s 2014 racing season starts on Thursday (May 8) and runs through Saturday (Sept. 27), racing Tuesday-Saturday in May, June and July and Wednesday-Saturday in August and September. Post time will be at 6:30 p.m. except for special 1 p.m. holiday cards on Memorial Day, the July 4 and Labor Day. More information on the 2014 racing season will be posted as it becomes available. Submitted by Scioto Downs Racino

After more than a century of harness racing, there is speculation Saint John’s Exhibition Park may have hosted its last race. The final race card of the season was cancelled and a recent study found that the facility is not a suitable location for a racino. Gilles Barrieau has been working around the barns and race track at Exhibition Park since he was 15 years old, but now he’s uncertain about his future as an accomplished harness racer. “There’s absolutely nobody left and it’s gotten so bad that I just don’t know how this place is going to get revived again, actually,” says Barrieau. In past years, hundreds of horses filled the barns at the Exhibition Park Raceway, but today many of the barns sit empty. Some horseman have moved to other communities while others have left the industry altogether. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation looked at the possibility of locating a racino at Exhibition Park, but found no viable business case. “Unless there is some plan that I haven’t seen, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a matter of time and harness racing will no longer be in the City of Saint John,” says Tory MLA Glen Tait. Tait has been a long-time supporter of the industry, but says neither government nor business has the money needed to keep harness racing going. “It would take a huge amount of investment to bring it up to where it should be, to attract people, because it’s not going to attract anybody the way it is today, and I don’t know any business or anybody that’s going to invest that kind of money,” he says. Tait says hope for a racino in Saint John was quashed when a decision was made to build a casino in Moncton. Barrieau says he is considering joining local horseman who have moved to Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, or Maine to make a living. “If I was a betting man, I would think things are not going to happen here again,” he says. “I hope they do, but I’m keeping my options open for the spring.” Click here to see the TV news story about this by Mike Cameron, reprinted with permission from    

"NYS Assembly Committee on Racing Delves Into Economic Impacts of harness Racing"   Commentary delivered by Joe Faraldo, Alex Dadoyan of the SOA of NY and Betty Holt of Harness Horse Breeders.   Testimony Submitted by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York to the NYS Assembly Committee on Racing & Wagering December 2013   Thank you Chairman Pretlow for the opportunity to present testimony on behalf of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance and harness horsemen from across New York regarding the incredibly positive economic impacts generated by our harness racing and agricultural industries across the state.   I thought I’d begin by reading a brief excerpt from a fact sheet submitted to state legislators in the spring of 2003 by harness horsemen detailing what we anticipated would be the positive future impacts of a New York video lottery terminal (VLT) initiative that was just about to come on-line.   We predicted:   “…if revenues from the VLTs are distributed equitably to horsemen, purses and breeders funds, then this new program will not only generate a major new revenue stream for education, but also will trigger a renaissance for the entire horse racing industry in the state. These funds will bring more high-quality horses to New York tracks and make breeding a more lucrative industry in the state. As more breeders come to New York and owners and trainers expand the number of horses in their stables, numerous related industries will benefit indirectly. Clearly, one of the major benefactors of the addition of VLT’s at racetracks will be the agriculture industry.”   Fast forward a decade later and virtually every one of those harness racing predictions – higher purses, expanded agriculture, thriving breeding farms, and tens of thousands of racing related jobs across New York State – has come true.   As the Assembly noted in its own notice for this hearing, a 2011 economic impact study commissioned by New York’s racing and agriculture stakeholders concluded that our industry generated an overall $4.2 billion economic impact statewide and was responsible for 33,000 jobs.   So, not only have VLTs generated hundreds of millions of dollars in critical funding for education across the state, but New York’s harness industry has returned to its rightful place as a national leader and the promise of a New York racing renaissance has become a reality.   WHY THIS HISTORY IS IMPORTANT AND THE REASON HORSEMEN ARE NOW SERIOUSLY CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE   As New York State prepares to undergo major changes to our gaming environment in the wake of the recently-approved casino gaming amendment, it is critically important to fully understand the significant economic gains that have taken place in the NY harness industry as a direct result of the existing VLT initiative and, more significantly, to recognize the potential impacts that the amendment’s enacting language could have on racing and agriculture.   For example, as you are aware, this enacting language includes a provision that mandates certain racing industry payments (derived from casino gaming) be maintained at 2013 levels (with a small cost of living adjustment based on the federal consumer price index).   And while this provision – which specifically relates to existing racinos that may receive a full casino gaming license and morph into a casino – has been characterized as a “floor” (ensuring that payments for purse support and breeding do not fall below 2013 levels), the fact is that the language, as written, also acts as an absolute “ceiling,” capping these payments at a virtually static 2013 level and not allowing for any future growth.   While we are obviously grateful for the creation of a hold harmless provision to ensure that agriculture and racing jobs are not immediately negatively impacted, our concern is that this hard cap on payments to agriculture and racing from casinos will essentially serve as a hard cap on any future, additional growth in racing and agriculture.   The message that this will send to potential investors – who, as you will see from my testimony below, have absolutely flocked to our state in record numbers in recent years – is that New York may be doing well now, but is closed for future business and has no horse breeding or racing investment opportunities available to them moving forward.   Other competing racing states have recognized that racing and breeding should grow right along with casino gaming and the very real fear now resonating throughout farms, training facilities and racetracks across New York is that we’ll not only fall behind in future growth, but that New York will eventually start to lose some of the hard-fought gains we’ve already achieved.   And to see exactly what is at risk, one need only look at recent statistics and real life case studies from the industry.   RACING AND AGRICULTURE-RELATED ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF VLTs IN NEW YORK STATE   The thoughtful, dual purpose VLT initiative implemented by New York State – charged with funding education and supporting a horse racing industry that is a major job-generator across virtually every region of the state – has increased purses and attracted investment into our breeding and agriculture sectors like never before.   New farms and training facilities are opening in regions across the state and our high-quality New York Standardbred horses are commanding the highest prices by far at auction.   While my full submitted testimony has a wide range of statistics for your review, let me just summarize by pointing out that virtually every indicator – the number of mares in New York, stud fees, sales prices, etc. – has increased exponentially since 2001.   REAL LIFE CASE STUDIES DEMONSTRATE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ECONOMIC IMPACTS   The economic multiplier effects of this purse money on various sectors of the New York’s economy are really quite amazing. Again, my full written testimony includes a number of very real, very concrete, very significant case studies that demonstrate how VLT-generated purse money is filtering throughout our local economies and is attracting even more investment across New York State.   Needless to say, these cases – from the $9 million in capital investments at Blue Chip Farms to Mark Ford’s new $8 million dollar training center in Middletown – are proof positive that purse money is being directly invested back into the New York State economy. Clearly, this isn’t just economic theory, conjecture or even predictions from a decade ago.   These are proven, on-the-ground economic gains in communities throughout New York State that are taking place thanks to our harness racing industry.   HOW CAN WE ENSURE FUTURE JOB CREATION AND GROWTH?   In light of all of these clear and positive economic gains, it should come as no surprise that horsemen, breeders, farmers and tens of thousands of others who are dependent on racing for their livelihoods are deeply concerned about how the coming expansion of casino gaming in New York State will impact these important economic benefits.   As noted earlier, other competing racing states have recognized that racing and breeding should grow right along with casino gaming, so one must ask why horsemen or breeders would invest additional resources – or even keep their existing horses already here in New York – when they can anticipate greater additional growth in nearby states?   With 33,000 New York State equine jobs at stake, it obviously makes complete sense to have a “hold harmless” provision to ensure that agriculture and breeding don’t get hurt by the expansion of full casino gaming.   However, what is less clear is the economic or policy rationale for capping racing industry support payments at 2013 levels for racinos that become full casinos and not allowing the opportunity for any future growth or investment in a critically important, proven, job-creating New York industry.   Recent record sales numbers by New York-bred horses at national sales demonstrate that breeding gains are continuing apace and there is no doubt that significant opportunities for additional growth in our agricultural sector exist across the state.   Within this clear and compelling economic context, the SOA of New York and harness horsemen from across the state are asking the New York State Legislature to reevaluate and reconsider the specific provision included in the casino enacting legislation that mandates a cap on racing industry support levels at the 2013 level.    While eliminating this cap would obviously require the creation of a new formula for determining reasonable and appropriate levels of industry support payments from full casino gaming (including both slots and table games), we are committed to working collaboratively with both legislators and gaming industry stakeholders to develop a workable solution.   Our experience with the existing VLT initiative has shown that it is possible to create win-win-win scenarios, and we look forward to working with you and your colleagues to continue to support and grow equine industry jobs in the great state of New York. Thank you.   CONTACTS:   Joe Faraldo, Standardbred Owners Association of NY 718-544- 6800   Joni Yoswein, Yoswein New York (representing the SOA of NY) 212-233-5700

Delaware, OH --- All roads led to Ohio as owners and trainers from 29 states, Canada, and Europe flocked to the Delaware County Fairgrounds for the 66th annual Fall Blooded Horse Sale.  Opening day featured nearly 25% of Ohio’s total yearling crop, along with over 100 Indiana-breds and a large number of Pennsylvania, Ontario, and New York breds. The strong catalogue of slots enhanced sire stakes eligibles drove prices to a record high. The next three days contained 198 2-year-olds, 297 3-year-olds, 87 weanlings and hundreds of raceway horses and broodmares.       The top priced yearling and ultimate sale topper was an Always A Virgin sister to Indiana champion Color’s A Virgin. Brown Color was purchased from the Emerald Highlands consignment by Dan Shetler for $43,000.   Next in line was an Ohio-bred Feelin Friskie colt from the Midland Acres consignment purchased by Burke Racing Stable LLC for $42,000.  Spring Haven Farm sold a Total Truth brother to top Indiana colt Totally Kissed for $37,000 and Walnut Hall Ltd sold an Ontario bred Deweycheatumnhowe filly for $32,000. Broodmares were led by the young Andover Hall prospect, Ladyfinger 3,1:59.2f, that was purchased by Black Creek Farm in Indiana for $28,000 from Marty Wollam. Hoosier Standardbred Farm stepped up at $15,000 for Sexpot Hall in foal to Deweycheatunmhowe from the Walnut Hall Ltd consignment.  That farm also provided the top weanlings, a Conway Hall filly from the family of two $1 million earners and a Groton Hall half-brother to two 1:54 trotters, that each brought $20,000. Competitive racehorses are always in demand and five of them shared the spotlight at $20,000 each.  Nidaros, a Muscle Yankee non-winners of two consigned by Kjell Magne Andersen, was purchased by Jeff Clark of Maryland. Indiana Sires competitor, Fancy Colt, left Emerald Highlands Farm on a bid from Red Shaw in Ohio. Competitive $20,000 claimer Darth Quaider was purchased by Steve Richard of Massachusetts. The rugged raceway mare Athleticlyinclined, with $278,575 lifetime earnings, was picked up by John Mungillo of New York from Burke Racing Stable LLC. And Dan Kennedy added the Open pacer Lost Jewels to his racehorses in preparation for the December opening of Hard Rock Racino Northfield Park. Complete sale results are available at  The Blooded Horse Sale Company holds quarterly mixed sales at the home of the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio The next sale is February 10-11, 2014.  Entries close around January 10. by Dot Morgan for Blooded Horse Sale

“The jury is still out on this one,” said Joe Faraldo, attorney for Standardbred Breeders Association of New York in pertaining to the passage of the casino gaming legislation in New York after yesterday’s elections. “It’s sort of like a wet kiss in the night,” Faraldo explained. “The legislation has been passed but no one has really seen this legislation and not enough people paid attention to the details.” “I am very pleased for us at Tioga and for Monticello and Saratoga that the legislation passed.” Said Jeff Gural, president and CEO of Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands. “It bodes well for the sport and obviously we are happy. It should give us a leg up on the competition for the future.” I was also pleased with the election results,” Gural added. “You never know how the people will turn out for an election. But the issue in New York was strong for more public jobs that the casinos will bring and it was not a moral issue about gambling.” Faraldo explained that the new legislation at best will allow Saratoga Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Tioga Downs the opportunity to have full-fledged casinos (slots and live table games). But Batavia Downs, Buffalo Raceway and Vernon Downs are excluded from any chance because they are too close to already established Indian casinos. Yonkers Raceway, as part of the legislation, is excluded from any consideration for live table games for seven years. It was also pointed out by Faraldo and Todd Haight, the General Manager of racing at Batavia Downs, that any revenue from live table games in New York, is treated the same as in Pennsylvania, and does not share a percentage with the tracks for purses or for the New York Sire Stakes program. “The legislation is wordy about a cap of agricultural and racing business,” Faraldo added. “There is a freeze at 2013 consumer pricing for purse levels and growth of the industry. Currently 25% net win sets what purse money is allotted to tracks and to the breeding program (NYSS). So when a Racino turns into a Casino and gets live table games, the cap is on 2013 levels. “This can mean that racing can get less revenue if more money is spent on live games than the slot machines,” Farado explained. “Most of the Racinos now have electronic table games for craps, roulette and some have blackjack but when those games are replaced by live games, then racing will lose out on revenue.” When might Tioga Downs, Saratoga Raceway and Monticello Raceway see their Racinos turn into Casinos? “It will take some time for the selection committees to come up with the rules and regulations,” Gural said. “At least a year or more from now and they won’t get started on it until it becomes law on January 1, 2014. I feel this will be great for us because the table games will bring a younger demographic to the casino and for racing. We still have a bidding process to go through for the three tracks but I am hopeful it will all work out in our favor.” “There is a lot of permitting and new rules that have to be developed,” Faraldo explained. “It could be one year, one and half years, even two years before the first full gaming casino comes about. That is a tough call. “I think the three racinos that could turn into full casino will most certainly benefit from it.” Faraldo added. “It may not be a home run for them but more like hitting ground balls, which is still good.” By Steve Wolf for

Plans for a slot parlor in Plainville got a boost from voters Tuesday, while residents in West Springfield rejected a casino proposal for their town. Plainville residents voted in favor of Penn National’s plans for a slots parlor, with 76 percent approving a host agreement with the gambling company. With a 37 percent turnout, 1,582 Plainville residents supported having a slots parlor in their community, while just 502 opposed, according to results read by Town Clerk Ellen Robertson. Separately, West Springfield voters on Tuesday defeated a casino proposal by Hard Rock, by a vote of 4,165 to 3,413. That leaves only MGM in Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer the remaining alternatives in Western Massachusetts. In Plainville, if Penn wins the state’s sole slot parlor license and is also permitted to continue harness racing, the company would acquire the 89-acre racetrack property in town at Interstate 495 and Route 1, about 5 miles south of Gillette Stadium. The track would be renovated and expanded to fit as many as 1,250 slot machines and other amenities. In Plainville, the results were read at the Beatrice Wood School, the town’s lone polling location to a loud cheer from about 25 townspeople, many of whom said the promise of more than $4 million a year in taxes, and a strong desire to keep harness racing alive in the state swayed public opinion. “We got our votes out, this town needs this,” said Dale Bergvine , a lifelong Plainville resident and member of the pro-slots group People for Plainville. Plainridge track spokesman Bill Ryan said the vote reflects a tremendous amount of confidence in the project. “It’s not bad considering we were dead three weeks ago,” he said, grinning, referring to the company’s losing effort to persuade Tewksbury to back a slots parlor. Mary-Ann Greanier, a member of No Plainville Racino said her group is considering it’s next move, which could include a lawsuit. “The process isn’t working,” she said. “The safeguards we were told to expect are not taking place.” Tuesday night, a spokesman for Penn described the next steps in the process, from the company’s standpoint. “We’re grateful for the overwhelming support expressed today for expanded gaming at Plainridge Race Course. We’re excited to continue to work with the community, and to build upon the great work that has been done thus far here in Plainville. Our next step will be to file our harness racing application on October 1, followed by our formal submission to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on October 4 for a category two gaming license,’’ Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming said in a prepared statement. By Ellen Ishkanian (reprinted with permission by

Columbus, OH --- Virgil Morgan Jr. became the first trainer to reach 5,000 career wins this past Saturday night (Sep. 7). The USTA has only been keeping trainer's statistics since 1991. Morgan had his first training win when Count Jazz won a $3,000 claimer on Sept. 22, 1992, at The Meadows Racetrack. Training win no. 5,000 came Saturday at Hoosier Park when Tyler Smith piloted Rose Run Oriana to a win in the fourth leg of the Indiana Sire Stakes silver series trot. Morgan started on his way to his next milestone less than two hours later when Pet Rock and Dan Noble set a new world record on a five-eighths-mile track of 1:47.2 at Scioto Downs Racino. Morgan starting winning 100-plus races in a single year starting in 1995 when he trained winners of 114 races in only 417 starts, earning a UTR of .393. Since then he has had as many as 409 wins in a year and his horses have earned more than $41.8 million. “I didn’t know (I was near 5,000) until someone brought it to my attention,” Morgan said.  “Hopefully, I’ll be fortunate enough to win a few more races. “I prefer to let the horses do the talking,” he continued, adding with a laugh, “It’s one of those things that make you feel a little bit older than you thought you were. You look back and that’s a lot of racing. A lot of people helped me achieve that. Many thanks to all the drivers and owners and all of my help. Submitted by Scioto Downs Racino

Eight $150,000 Ohio Sire Stakes championships were held at Scioto Downs Racino Saturday evening.  Feelin Lika Winner lived up to his name when he won the coveted 3-year-old colt pacing championship in 1:52.2. The Scott Mogan trainee sat in the pocket most of the way behind race favorite, That Friske Feelin and Tony Hall, after parking the latter to an opening quarter of 26.3. "We wanted to follow Burke’s horse (That Friske Feelin), as close as we could get to him,” said driver Kayne Kauffman.  “We got out of the gate good and I kind of pushed him through the first turn and tried to sting him a little bit.” That opening quarter didn’t take much out of the eventual winner as he powered home in 28.3 to win by four and three-quarter lengths. “That was a very tough call (to pull going around the last turn instead of waiting for the passing lane) but my horse felt strong,” continued Kauffman.  “Tony’s plugs were out down the backside so we went ahead and made the move and it worked out.” Feelin Lika Winner is owned by Mogan, Diamond Chip Stables (Judy Weber), AWS Stables (Allen & Carol Marie Schmidthorst) and Charlie Guiler.  The gelding by Feelin Friskie out of the Live Love Laugh mare Naughty Sunflower now has $212,235 in lifetime earnings and took a mark earlier this year of 1:51.4 here at Scioto. Other OSS winners on the evening included: 2yo Filly Trot - In the Grippers (Steven One - Over Baked) in 1:58 for driver Chris Page, trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr and owner Herres Stables LLC (Natilie Herres). 2yo Colt Trot - Rompaway Galaxy (Rompaway Wally - Rompaway Wynona) in 1:57.4 for driver Mike Micallef, trainer Krista Williams and owner Rompaway Farms LLC (Thomas Smith) 2yo Filly Pace - Shakin Friskie (Feelin Friskie - Shakeurcancancress) in 1:56.1 for driver Dan Noble, trainer Mark Winters, Sr and owners Bret Schwartz, William Bean and Stephen Montemarano. 2yo Colt Pace - Chance I MIght (Stand Forever - Nature’s Course) in 1:55.3 for driver Brad Hanners, trainer Jim Dailey and owner Rebecca Dwyer. 3yo Filly Trot - Contessa Leigh (Full Count - Howl) in 1:57.1 for driver Sam “Chip” Noble, trainer Marty Wollam and owners G And B Racing (Bradley & George Berlin) and Marty Wollam. 3yo Colt Trot - Final Breath (Victory Sam - First Breath) in 1:56.1 for trainer/driver Hugh “Sandy” Beatty and owner Duane Lowe. 3yo Filly Pace - Igottafeelinfran (Feelin Friskie - Fran Anna) in 1:53.3 for driver Dan Noble, trainer Jim Dailey and owners Jerry Zosel, Kathy Ratcliff and Kimberly Dailey. Racing will continue for one more week, Wednesday thru Saturday, with a post of 6:30 p.m. each day.  Saturday (September 14) is closing night at Scioto for the 2013 racing season. Submitted by Scioto Downs Racino

In just three days, Saturday, September 7, Scioto Downs Racino will host one of the most exciting race nights in recent history at the Columbus oval.  The best 2 and 3-year-old horses in the state will duke it out for top honors in the Ohio Sire Stakes Finals and some of the best horses from across the country will make up the 134 horses vying for nearly $1.5-million in purses.  The 16 race card has a first post time of 6:30 p.m. "Last year our Super Night card went for just over $900,000 after the VLT facility was open for three months," said Scioto’s General Manager of Racing Operations Stacy Cahill.  "Now, another year later, we have been able to boost our purses, and help our horsemen, even more.  We've had a great racing season so far and expect Saturday's card to be be another exciting event for our fans." There will be a couple different wagering opportunities that are not available on any other race night at Scioto.  A $7,500 guaranteed Pick-8 bet for the eight OSS finals is available for a minimum 20-cent bet; those finals are set as races 4-11.  There will also be a $5,000 guaranteed Pick-4 for races 9-12.  The four races that are included for that bet are the last 3 OSS finals for 3-year-old pacing fillies, trotting colts and pacing colts, as well as the $125,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational Pace. Before the races, there will be beanie and trucker-style hat give-a-ways.  After winner’s circle pictures are taken and interviews conducted with the winning connections, t-shirts will be thrown to the crowd.  There will also be drawings for Jug tickets, Ohio State cornhole boards, wagering and food vouchers. As Ohio Super Night at Scioto Downs draws closer, stay tuned for more in depth previews for some of the night's feature races.  For more information about live harness racing at Scioto Downs Racino, visit  Racing will be held Wed-Sat this week and next, with closing day for the 2013 season on Saturday, September 14. Scioto Downs Racino

HARRINGTON, Del. - Regis The Horse has a long way to go to catch his namesake in airtime but the 2-year-old pacer is well on his way. Named after long time TV personality Regis Philbin, Regis The Horse will make his second start in front of millions of viewers Thursday at Harrington Raceway as the race will air live on Fox Sports 1's "Crowd Goes Wild," an hour-long show that airs Monday through Friday featuring a vibrant and contemporary look at the latest buzz in the world of sports. Regis The Horse was a significant part of the show's first episode on August 19, when his race was broadcast live via Roberts Communications Network's satellite feed. Viewers witnessed a thrilling victory for Regis The Horse as the crew at "Crowd Goes Wild" celebrated Philbin's birthday. "That was sensational. Way to go Regis!" Philbin said at the race's conclusion as he and his on-air cohorts Georgie Thompson, Jason Gay, Trevor Pryce and Michael Kosta rooted Regis The Horse to cross the finish line first. The horse was a surprise gift to Philbin for his 82nd birthday from his colleagues on the show and was shown in an earlier segment prior to the race which can be viewed by clicking here. Trained by George Teague Jr., Regis The Horse, will start from post two with Montrell Teague as his driver. Estimated post time for the race is 5:35 p.m. "It's a great opportunity for all of us in the industry," said Harrington Raceway COO of Racing, Jim Boese. "We've been privileged to work with the USTA in partnering with Fox Sports 1 and Roberts Communications in making this possible." by Matt Sparacino  

The leading trainer in the country and the leading trainer at Scioto Downs Racino have their go-to drivers for their horses when they race at the Columbus, Ohio 5/8 mile track. Friday evening each trainer took a different $20,000 Open race to keep securing their foothold as the top trainers in the top class races.  In the Open Trot, Ronnie Wrenn Jr drove Virgil Morgan Jr.s Undercover Strike to victory in 1:55. Parked the last half mile, the 5-year-old gelded son of Striking Sahbra won handily for owner Frank Bellino. Trotslikethewind (Kayne Kauffman) was second and Chilitodayhotamale (Tony Hall) held on for third after cutting the mile. Undercover Strike raced earlier this year at The Meadowlands and Mohawk, where he took his fastest mark of 1:52.3 in 2012. The win Friday marked his second in a row in the Open Trot at Scioto and he has now earned $313,994 lifetime. Tony Hall turned the tables on Wrenn when he took the Fillies & Mares Open Pace with Darena Hanover for Ron Burke in 1:51.3. Leaving from assigned post position nine, the 4-year-old daughter of Yankee Cruiser sat back in the five hole while Wrenn sent Princess Cruiser to the front in 26.1. The pair lead all the way to the top of the stretch and finished three-quarters of a length behind Darena Hanover. She’s Shocking (Ray Paver) posted a 27.1 last quarter to get third. Darena Hanover, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, has now surpassed $620,000 in lifetime earnings. In 2012 she won both the Jugette and Matron finals and took a mark of 1:50.2 at Pocono Downs. Racing continues Saturday at Scioto with a first post of 6:30 p.m. Scioto Downs Racino  

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