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WASHINGTON, PA, March 4, 2015 -- After Wednesday's harness racing program at The Meadows, it's hard to say which of the trotters Lou Goans owns and trains, Laurie Lin and Linborghini, he prefers. In a rarity, the full sisters -- daughters of Linbo - Bacon Hill Bonnie -- each won a $12,000 opening-round division of the Mary Wohlmuth Memorial Trot for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. Perhaps most gratifying for Goans -- the siblings were a combined 0-33 entering the series. The 3-year-old Laurie Lin got the family off to a good start when she crossed the wire second but was placed the winner when Watch Her Dangle was disqualified for a lapped-on break. Talking Scandal finished third. Laurie Lin scored in 2:03.2 over a sloppy surface for Tony Hall. Later in the card, the 4-year-old Linborghini followed cover nicely, then brushed wide through the lane to triumph in 2:04.3 for Brian Zendt. Miss E Claire was second, 3/4 lengths back, while Icy Sprite earned show. Andrew Markano bred both Laurie Lin and Linborghini. Wu Long took the other series split for Dave Palone, one of his four wins on the 14-race card. The series honors the late Mary Wohlmuth, longtime manager of The Meadows' 2:00 Club. In the $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, Dew N Doughnuts avoided the breaking leader, snaked between horses late and prevailed for Mike Wilder in 1:54.1, a neck better than Royal Heart. I'm Banksy rallied for show. Norm Parker conditions Dew N Doughnuts, a 5-year-old son of Real Desire - Artbitration who soared over $200,000 in career earnings, for Tom Klosky, Jr. Evan Pattak

Right from the very start of harness racing in Australasia, breeders have looked to North America for stallions and breeding stock to lift the local breed. The influence of those imported mare's has always been pronounced and continues to this day to produce some of our best  racehorses. Last season's outstanding two year old Follow The Stars 1:53.8 ($504,167) is a product of the imported daughter of Cam's Card Shark in Smyrna Duruisseau and this season has unearthed another potential star from an imported mare. The horse in question is Ideal for Real and his win in the heat of the New South Wales Derby on Saturday night was that of a horse headed to the top. A son of American Ideal, Ideal For Real is the first foal from the Real Desire mare Tamara Hall who was imported to Australia in 2010. Tamara Hall is a daughter of the talented No Nukes mare in Tabloid 1:53.3 ($321,604) who is a former Canadian two year old of the year Tamara Hall was purchased as a yearling but injured a tendon and never raced Her dam Tabloid has left eight winners, 6 in 1:53 with five of those winners earning over $100,000 The best of these winners were the very smart trio of B J's Whirlwind 1:49.1 ($ 954,463)  The Globe 1:50.3 ($772,462) and B J's Breeze 1:51.2 ($506,556) while a daughter in Cambloid 1:58.8 ($28,760) has left four $100,000 winners including That's Ideal 1:51.3 ($283,742) and Upfront Countryboy 1:51.1 ($208,667) Tabloid was one of fifteen winners from Next Chapter with those winners including the full sister to Tabloid in Positive Reaction 1:53.4 ($153,217)  Half sisters to Tabloid include: * Little Black Book 1:54 ($288,457) who is the dam of five $100,000 winners including Sioux Dawn 1:50.2 ($348,926) and Catch A Wish 1:52.2 ($260,829) *Saucy Britches 1:57.1 ($84,553) who is the dam of four $100,000 winners including Armbro Cayenne 1:51.3 ($523,432) and Swashbuckler 1:51.1 ($352,298) *Book Smart 1:57.3 ($27,654) who is the dam of Fourth Page 1:52.2 ($255,828) Tabloid is closely related to the former outstanding three year old in Hot Hitter 1:54 ($963,574). Tamara Hall has had three more foals since Ideal For Real including the two year old Rocknroll Hanover filly in Rockin Tammy, a yearling full brother to Rockin Tammy and a weanling full brother to Ideal For Real. It is a family that has consistently churned out high class racehorses and reading that pedigree it is not hard to see why Ideal For Real is the talented three year old he is. The importation of North American mares has been happening for over 100 years but has  really taken off in the last few years and with the continuing success of their offspring at the highest level in Australasia it is a trend that is likely to continue. Harnesslink Media

The beautiful five year old Somebeachsomewhere broodmare prospect, Antigua Hanover, topped the Blooded Horse Winter Mixed Sale held in Delaware, Ohio, February 9-10. Consigned by Buter Racing Inc., the $230,353 winner with a record of p,3,1:50.4f was purchased by Merlie A Schwartz of Indiana. Burke Racing Stable LLC brought a powerful consignment that contained another exceptionally nice Somebeachsomewhere, Chaxiraxi Hanover.  The maiden half-sister to Little Brown Jug winner P-Forty-Seven was purchased by Bill Rice of Michigan for 23,000.  Mark Ford signed the tickets on a couple of solid condition horses from that consignment, Tex p,4,1:52.4f for $31,000 and Dream Rocker 3,1:56.2f for $26,000. Other featured entries from Burke Racing Stable LLC were Mayela Hanover, a NW 2 Dragon Again filly purchased by Frank Chick for $26,000 and Megawatt Blue Chip, a three-year-old Art Major half-sister to One More Laugh p,3,1:47.4 $2,633,318, purchased by Kenneth Slabach of Indiana for $18,000. Owner and trainer Tim Lancaster of New Jersey added Passionate Kisser to his stable on a $30,000 bid.  The lightly raced son of Real Desire was consigned by Spring Haven Farm, agent. Josh Green was pleased to sign the ticket on the Ontario Sires Stakes winning trotter Tyrone Haji for $25,000 for owner Keith Pippi of Pennsylvania. “It was the strongest winter sale we’ve had in ten years,” said Blooded Horse Sale President Jerry Haws. “The number of mares bred fell dramatically during the last decade and now, better purses are driving demand for both breeding and racing stock.” The highly popular Spring Blooded Horse Sale is May 11 where competitive racehorses and racing prospects are sure to bring a premium.  Entries close in mid-April.  Visit bloodedhorse.com for more information. Dot Morgan Executive Director                                                       

The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) has numerous breedings for harness racing stallions standing in various states. These breedings are being sold and not auctioned to protect the value of the stallions. Some stallions are Yankee Cruiser, So Sureal, Shark Gesture, Rocknroll Dance, Rock N Roll Heaven, McArdle, Lucky Chucky, Jurgen Hanover, Big Stick Lindy, Real Desire and many more. This is SRF's most important and consistent source of funding, which comes from yearly and lifetime breeding sales and donations. The revenue generated helps provide for the care, boarding, feeding, veterinary, farrier, dental, worming, rehabilitation and re-training of 198+ Standardbreds, 125 of which are permanently retired due to age and/or injury. This is SRF's 26th year as the only organization solely dedicated to the Standardbred breed, the only one of its kind also providing full care for horses when adoption is not possible, and following their welfare in every home diligently for life. SRF has served thousands of Standardbreds, and helped hundreds of children through its award winning programs. Breeding donations, and SRF's sale of such gifts make a substantial difference. To donate or purchase a breeding please contact Tammy Hollock at 732-446-4422 or email accounting@srfmail.com. SRF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and gifts to SRF are tax-deductible. Tammy Hollock

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 28, 2015 -- Dew N Doughnuts kicked by the leader, Visible Gold, in the sloppy Lightning Lane to capture Wednesday's harness racing $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life / Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dew N Doughnuts had a chance last week to upset Visible Gold in the Lightning Lane but fell a nose short. On Wednesday, the 5-year-old son of Real Desire-Artbitration moved determinedly for Mike Wilder and nailed the 1-1 favorite by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:55.3. The first-over Desperation raced well for show. Norm Parker trains Dew N Doughnuts, who extended his career bankroll to $181,895, for owner/breeder Thomas Klosky, Jr. Brady Brown and Mike Wilder each piloted a pair of winners on the 14-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Kenny Fowler doesnt mind if you call him a backseat driver. In fact, hes downright proud of the fact. Fowler is plying the trade of harness starter for the first time in his career at this meeting, making sure the trotters and pacers get off to a clean and fair start to their one-mile journey. Even though Kenny was born in Sacramento some 53 years ago, it wasnt until he was in college that he truly got exposed to harness racing and realized its what he wanted to do with his life. I was going to Sierra College and I went to work during the summer for my brother Donnie, who owned the Winners Circle cafeteria at the track, Kenny related. I found I really liked the horses, and eventually I left college and started learning about the sport from the ground up. Originally it was Al Sleva and Dick DeSantis who took a young Fowler to Lodi and gave him the chance to get hands-on experience with the standardbreds. He eventually went to work for Chip Lackey and had the chance to go to Canada and win some races under that stables banner. From there, Kenny went to work for the late Bob Gordon and had the chance to be around some very nice performers. He even had some thoughts about becoming a driver, but then fate intervened and he found himself on a different path. It turned out they needed someone to drive the starting car, and the qualifications were you had to speak English and have a drivers license, Fowler recalled. Bobby heard about it and told me I should try it. Kenny got the job, and recalls in only his second night on the job he was guiding around the car for a stakes race at Los Alamitos. He drove for Larry Jones, John Wilson and Todd Nixon before Bill Vallandingham became the starter in 1994 and held that position for 20 years before health issues forced him to take his leave this fall. Vallandingham recently underwent successful lung transplant surgery and is doing very well, and with Fowler moving to the starters position, Larry Dana is filling in his old spot as the driver. As part of his job and continuing a proud California harness tradition, Fowler was the fellow in the tuxedo leading the winner into the charmed enclosure for a picture following each race. It took a little while to get used to the tuxedo, but then I got to like it, Kenny said. I owe everything to Billy, he continued. I miss him being here so much. Hes been a like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything thats involved. Billy and I have been pretty much joined at the hip for the last 20 years. It was about three years ago that I started working with schoolers and then last summer I passed the USTA starters test, meaning I could be the starter at any track in the country. A Real Miracle heads main event A Real Miracle, who has spent the majority of the meeting in the shadow of St Lads Lotto and China King, gets the top billing in Saturday evenings $5,000 featured Pace. The headliner goes as the third event on a 10-race program that will get underway at 6:40 p.m. A reminder that through January, the guarantee on the 16% takeout Pick 4 has been raised to $30,000. The Pick 5, Jackpot 6 and Hi-5 are also come with that reduced 16% takeout. Racing is being conducted this week under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Next week will find Friday and Saturday action, with no racing on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1. Looking at Saturdays feature, A Real Miracle should have more than his share of backers. The 5-year-old son of Real Desire races for Junior Wilkinson, Billie Schwartz and Ivan Axelrod with Wilkinson training and Luke Plano once again at the controls. While A Real Miracle has had to settle for most minor awards while squaring off against a couple of very tough customers in St Lads Lotto and China King in the Open Pace, but gets away from those foes for the second time in the last three weeks. On January 10 in a conditioned affair, the Wilkinson trainee proved a punctual 1-2 favorite as he made every pole a winning one and prevailed by a neck in a 1:53 tour. He came back last weekend to finish fifth in the Open Pace behind the top performers on the grounds after being well back in the early stages. Taking him on Saturday are Announcement and Bubs Desire, who are both hail from the Ray Burt shedrow; Enee Weene And Me for Tim Brown and the James Kennedy reined-and-trained Allamerican Solo. By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 16, 2015-Spirit of Desire and harness racing driver Jason Bartlett outfought Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald) in a good, old-fashioned match race Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In play early from post position No. 5, Spirit of Desire worked around Palm Patrol just at a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. After a :57.2 intermission, Momma Rock (Brian Sears) tried it first-up from fourth. However, that bid was weak at best as Spirit of Desire found a 1:25.4 three-quarters. She and her "stalker" then had the race to themselves through the lane. Palm Patrol appeared to grab a short lead, but the aptly-named Spirit of Desire stuck her tongue out on the money in 1:55. Momma Rock wound up a best-of-the-rest third, beaten more than seven lengths. Last week's victress-and this week's slight 5-2 choice-Set Me Up (George Brennan) and Cooking the Books (Eric Carlson) rounded out the payees. For fourth choice Spirit of Desire, a 5-year-old daughter of Real Desire trained by Tim Lancaster for co-owners Bill Lancaster, Neal Rosenberg and Margaret Ames, it was her second win in as many seasonal starts The exacta paid $52.50, with the triple returning $272. The Raceway's live season continues night Saturday (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note the next Sunday matinee is Feb. 22. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

Bubs Desire made it two wins from his last four appearances with an impressive conditioned score last weekend and he appears to have found a nice winter home for trainer Ray Burt. “I’ve got 11 horses out here for Matias Ruiz,” Burt related when asked about Bubs Desire. The 6-year-old son of Real Desire carries the banner of Roslyn Delgaudio and has been guided in all his Cal Expo outings by Luke Plano. “Matias claimed him for $25,000 and he’s gone :49 and a piece a few times,” Burt said. “He told me that he can have kind of a funny attitude, but if I keep him happy he’s a real good one. I give him a lot of time outside in the pen, and he really seems to like that.” Bubs Desire, who sports a 1:50 2/5 mark at Pocono Downs, has made five starts since switching his base to California and seems to be getting the hang of things. “He needed his first start here, then in the second one he raced on the lead and tired and Luke told me he just wanted no part of the front end,” Ray explained. The pacer put it all together in his third local outing, rattling off a 1:52 3/5 score, had some issues at next asking and then returned to his winning ways at most recent asking after doing the track and attack to perfection for Plano. “Luke said he was vicious in the pocket and absolutely loved being on the helmet in that first win,” his trainer noted. “Let’s just say that he had some dietary issues in his next start and draw a line through the race, and then last time he showed what he can really do. “The plan with these horses is to find the best spots for them and win as many races as possible before they go back East in the spring.” Hoboken Hanover, Pick 4 guarantee increase highlighted Hoboken Hanover, a sharp first-over victor last week for Tim Maier, gets the top billing in Friday night’s featured pace. He will do his work from the outside post in the field of nine.  A 10-race card is on tap with first post at 6:40 p.m. and racing is now being conducted under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. A reminder that through the month of January, the guarantee on the low-takeout Pick 4 has been raised to $30,000. The Pick 4 is one of four wagers offered each night with the reduced 16% takeout rate, the others being the Pick 5; Jackpot 6 and Hi 5 on the nitecap. Hoboken Hanover is an 8-year-old son of Cam’s Card Shark who comes into Friday’s headliner with $282,000 in his bank account and a 1:50 4/5 mark. He was reserved early in last week’s score, made a bold first-over move to the stretch and won going away by a length and three-quarters. Looking ahead to Saturday and Sunday, Sire Stakes action will dominate the programs. On Saturday, the 4-year-old pacing males will do battle with Laissez Moi Passer, Rikybrnthegaragdown and King Of The Crop getting a rematch after coming to the wire noses apart in that order in the most recent big-money clash two weeks ago. Saturday evening will also find the 3-year-old pacing colts and 3-year-old trotters getting their initial chance at added-money and it will be interesting to see how those divisions will be shaping up this season. On Sunday, the 4-year-old pacing mares and 4-year-old trotters square off in Sire Stakes events. J’s Littlerockstar and Brewski are among the major players in the pacing contest, while Bank Of Lodi and Placer figure to get their share of attention in the trotting event. Sunday’s card will also find the initial added-money races for the 3-year-old By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 9, 2014 — Dismissed at 32-1, Americangirlfriend stayed calm when her cover broke stride and pulled off the upset in Tuesday’s $15,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred Pace at The Meadows. Americangirlfriend and Jim Pantaleano were following Miss Kilo when that one jumped it off entering the final turn. Unperturbed, Americangirlfriend persevered and scored in a career-best 1:52.2, 1-1/4 lengths better than the rallying Tremor Hanover. Early leader R Marie Hanover saved show. J.C. Miller, Jr. trains the 3-year-old daughter of Real Desire-Movealittlecloser, who soared over $100,000 in lifetime earnings, for Randy Ringer. Mike Wilder drove four winners on the 15-race card while Tony Hall, Aaron Merriman and trainer Mark Goldberg each fashioned a triple. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 8, 2014 -- Dew N Doughnuts powered to the lead at the quarter and rolled to a comfortable victory in Monday's $15,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Pace at The Meadows. Hammered down to 4-5, Dew N Doughnuts justified the heavy support as he made the decisive move from third for Mike Wilder and scored in 1:52. Nitro Seelster rallied for second, 1-1/4 lengths back, while I'm Feelin Good closed well for show. Norm Parker trains Dew N Doughnuts, a 4-year-old son of Real Desire-Artbitration who now boasts $158,295 in career earnings, for Tom Klosky, Jr. Tony Hall piloted four winners and Dave Palone three on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Goshen, NY... Ballots for the 2015 inductees to the Living Horse Hall of Fame are in the mail. There is less than a month in which to vote - ballots must be postmarked by December 26, 2014. All members in good standing of the Harness Racing Museum are eligible to vote for TWO horses they feel exemplify greatness. The slate of eligible horses selected by the Living Horse Hall of Fame Nominating Committee follows. If members have not received their ballot by December 15 please contact Joanne Young at development@harnessmuseum.com or by phone at 845-294-6330 and one will be immediately sent to you. Only Museum members in good standing are eligible to vote for this prestigious award. The winners will be announced in January and inducted July 5, 2015. THE NOMINEES ARE: Deweycheatumnhowe (Nominated as Racehorse) 2,1:54.2; 3,1:50.4 ($3,155,178) Bay Horse, 2005 (Muscles Yankee - Trolley Square - Speedy Somolli) FOOL'S GOAL (Nominated as Racehorse) 3,1:53.4; 7,1:51.3 ($3,057,070) Bay Gelding, 1995 (Armbro Goal - Contestique - Tuneful Contest) Mr Muscleman (Nominated as Racehorse) 2,1:59; 3,1:53.3; 5,1:51.1s ($3,582,823) Bay Gelding, 2000 (Muscles Yankee - Meadowbranch Irene - Meadow Road) Real Desire (Nominated as Racehorse) p,2,1:50.4; 3,1:49; 4,1:48.2 ($3,159,814) Bay Horse, 1998 (Life Sign - Deadly Desire - Troublemaker) Somebeachsomewhere (Nominated as Racehorse) p,2,1:49.3; 3,1:46.4 ($3,221,299) Bay Horse, 2005 (Mach Three - Wheres The Beach - Beach Towel) THE LIVING HORSE HALL OF FAME CRITERIA AS A RACEHORSE: Must have won 75% of its lifetime starts OR gone undefeated in a single season campaign of 12 or more races OR the winner of $3 million lifetime OR named Harness Horse of the Year (U.S. and/or Canada). AS A STALLION: Must rank among the 10 all-time leading moneywinning sires at his gait OR have sired at least 100 $200,000 winners OR the leading money-winning sire at his gait in three or more seasons AS A BROODMARE: Must have produced a $1 million winner and two other winners of $500,000 OR produced a Harness Horse of the Year (U.S. and/or Canada) and another $500,000 winner. Broodmares meeting the "broodmare category" criteria are automatically elected members of the Harness Racing Living Horse Hall of Fame. If you are not a current member and would like to vote, call or email Joanne Young at development@harnessmuseum.com for a membership application, or obtain one online at http://www.harnessmuseum.com/pages/membership/membership.htm. Mail completed membership applications to The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924, or renew by calling 845-294-6330. You may also fax the form to 845-294-3463 or email it to Joanne. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 240 Main St. in Goshen, NY and is open daily from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. Thanks to U.S. Trotting Association support, free admission is currently offered for walk-in visitors and $4.00/person for docent-guided group tours. Please feel free to contact us at 845-294-6330 or visit our website at www.harnessmuseum.com. by Paul Wilder, for the Harness Racing Museum

One of the best races of the meet could be for the driving crown, with Luke Plano, Steve Wiseman and James Kennedy staking a claim for the title through the first six weeks of this stand. Plano came into this week atop the standings with 20 trips to the charmed enclosure, bringing his lifetime total to 2,644 with $9.5 million in earnings. Luke is following in the footsteps of his father Rick, who was a leading driver and trainer in California for many years. There are some new horsemen here and that adds to the competitiveness of the racing, Plano said. Ill have a few horses in my barn, but I prefer to concentrate on the driving. Steve Wiseman is currently second with 18 victories to his credit at the meet, while leading the trainer stands with 15 of his representatives returning to have their picture taken. His total driving wins now stands at 2,136 with $8.2 million in earnings. Being the leading driver and trainer was the goal coming into the meet, Steve explained. Ive never won a training title before, so that would be nice, and Ive got a great crew to help me. James Kennedy is also off to a good start here with 13 snapshots and figures to be right in the hunt through the close of business in early May. Kennedy, who recorded a number of driving and training victories with the popular mare Haggin Oaks, currently sits with 866 sulky scores on his resume. (use as a reverse box) A reminder there are four wagers offered here every night with a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6; the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap. Featured Pace brings out A Real Miracle A Real Miracle, victorious in three of his five appearances at the meet, looks to keep the momentum going when he heads the cast for Saturday nights $6,000 Open Pace at Cal Expo. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There is now Saturday and Sunday racing under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. Beginning December 26, Friday action will be added to the mix. A Real Miracle is a 4-year-old son of Real Desire who is owned by Junior Wilkinson, Billie Schwartz and Ivan Axelrod, is conditioned by Wilkinson and is guided by Luke Plano. He established his 1:52 1/5 career standard this summer over the seven-eighths Hoosier Park oval. The Wilkinson trainee has clicked three times from five stats at this meet, including a dominating victory in the main event on opening week. After tiring in his next two tries, he returned to his winning ways last week as he made what proved to be the winning move for Plano on the backside and went on to a length score. In the most recent clash at the top of the class, A Real Miracle was dispatched as the 3-5 favorite and did not disappoint the chalkplayers. Plano buzzed the bay performer right to the front, moderated the pace and then held safe by a neck over the pocket-sitting longshot Mar Dream. The latter put a score into the favorite last week, as he sat the pocket journey and missed by only a neck while two and a half-lengths clear of the rest of the field A 6-year-old son of Cambest, Mar Dream is owned by David Neumeister, is trained by Bob John and will again have Mooney Svendsen at the controls. He has a 1:50 2/5 mark and over $171,000 in his account. Rounding out the field from the rail out are Cenalta Power for Ryan Grundy; Lifetime Louie with Dave Siegel; Ideal Smile, Steve Wiseman; and Pointsman, who will have the services of Chip Lackey. The headliner goes as the fourth race on the program. A reminder that there are four wagers offered here every night with a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6; the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

Last Saturday night was a good one for harness racing pilot and co-owner Dave Siegel, as he guided Lifetime Louie to victory in the Open III Pace and finished second with the mare Country Jewel in the Open II Pace. Both horses are conditioned by George Reider. Siegel partners with Brev Creech, Greg Robinson and Bob Thronson on Country Jewel and with Reider and Dave and Rob Haness with Lifetime Louie. Country Jewel is a diamond,no pun intended, that I found for the Reider barn while scouring the country for a horse that I thought would fit in Minnesota and California and that would fare well in George's barn. Her being Minnesota sired is preferable given the Running Aces allowance program and our DHA program. That said, I expected her to be a mid-level claimer and George and her day-to-day groom Kim Hines have done wonders with her as she has become an open-level mare. They both have a way of getting sometimes difficult horses to relax and not that she was that way, but they did that with Axle last year, and Silence Son this year. I wanted to help George get some nice horses that I could drive, and Jewel has become just that, the Jewel of the barn. Lifetime Louie did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection last weekend to pick up his first score of the meeting. Lifetime Louie was a horse we claimed last year that we knew had some feet problems, which is another area of George's strengths. We correctly thought he could improve the horse and he is another that has surpassed expectations. Kim does an exceptional job with Louie too, which I have come to expect from all of the horses in her care. He is a delight to drive and very handy. He has a huge heart and he is one I get along with very well. Co-features honor Joe Lighthill, Robert Staats The Joe Lighthill Trot, the Robert Staats Pace and an Open II Pace share the spotlight on Saturday nights 13-race program at Cal Expo. Racing is now being conducted under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Saturday and Sunday nights, expanding to three nights a week on December 26 when Friday racing is added to the mix. First post Saturday is 5:40 p.m. with a 4:45 p.m. start on Sunday. The Joe Lighthill and Robert Staats are named for the late driver/trainer and late owner/breeder who were so important to California harness racing. The Lighthill goes as the sixth event on the card, the Open II Pace occupies the 11th-race slot and the Staats has been designated as the penultimate race of the evening. The Open II Pace is headed by A Real Miracle, a 4-year-old son of Real Desire who is owned by Junior Wlkinson, Billie Schwartz and Ivan Axelrod, is conditioned by Wilkinson and is guided by Luke Plano. He established his 1:52 1/5 career standard this summer over the seven-eighths Hoosier Park oval. The Wilkinson trainee has clicked twice from four stats at this meet, including a dominating victory in the main event on opening week. After tiring in his next two tries, he returned to his winning ways last week as he made what proved to be the winning move for Plano on the backside and went on to a length score over favored Country Jewel. Lining up against A Real Miracle are Del Rio Seelster, who hails from the Gordie Graham barn; the George Reider-trained Lifetime Louie; Mar Dream from the Bob Johnson shedrow; and Cowboy Cold, who calls the Tim Brown barn home and leaves from the cozy rail slot. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness                    

New Zealand pacer Lets Elope will make his debut for Victorian-based harness racing trainer Brent Lilley on Sunday. Sent to Lilley to take advantage of the local handicapping system, Lets Elope is engaged in the St Arnaud Cup. Despite the gelding’s 20-metre handicap, Lilley is confident Lets Elope can begin his Australian career on a winning note. “He has settled in really well and I’m looking forward to starting him on Sunday,” Lilley said. “He was open class in New Zealand, but over here he is still an M1, so his owners gave me a call and asked to send him over. “Sunday’s Cup is the ideal race to start him off in and he’s the one to beat.” Following his provincial engagement, Lets Elope is likely to follow the country cup circuit this campaign, with Lilley positive the son of Real Desire can become a strong feature race contender. “Down the track I reckon he can be competitive in the better races,” Lilley said. “For now, I will just pick races as they come along and let him work through the grades. “He is pretty reliable from the stand and is good from the mobile, so there are plenty of options. “I’ll certainly be looking at the country cups with him.” From Alta Vista, the six-year-old is a half-brother to top performer Five Star Anvil, which is no stranger to country cup glory, having captured the 2013 Mildura Cup. PAUL COURTS

As he crossed the line at Geelong yesterday, Jason Fino had arguably the most vocal cheer squad in the history of harness racing. With the cheers blanketing the race broadcaster, the happy group was expected to be in the dozens. As it turned out, Fino’s fans club was a party of three – his children, Nathan, Mitchell and Hayley. “I couldn’t believe how loud they were,” Fino declared. “You’d think there was at least a dozen of them. “After the line, Greg (Sugars) even said ‘that’s some cheer squad’ as everyone could hear them.” While he likes to believe they were barracking for their father, Fino has a sneaky suspicion the cheers were for Chestervale Jet, which they kids have shares in! Clearly a family favourite, Chestervale Jet enjoyed the perfect one-one trip before scoring by a head from Machncheese, with Giant Steps a half-neck away third. Covering the last half in 58 seconds, the son of Real Desire rated 2:01.3 for the 2100 metres to break his maiden at his 30th start. “He has run a number of placings and I always felt it was only a matter of time before he won,” Fino said. “He’s no star, and as he showed today, he just had to wait his turn. “Hopefully this will get the ball rolling and he can pick up a few more wins along the way. “The kids all pitch in around the stables, but Mitch and Hayley have other interests, whereas Nathan will eat, live and breathe horses. “I’ll never forget the day we found him with the dog tied to the float and he was trying to put the harness on it..we couldn’t stop laughing.” As for Fino’s three-member cheer squad, they only exist after one of his obligatory trips to Moonee Valley during the 1990s led to him meeting to his future wife, Rachael Pace. “I was just starting out with horses, learning the ropes, when I made my usual voyage to the Valley with a few of the junior drivers I knew,” Fino said. “It was a standard operation to be there on a Saturday night to hang out with the boys before hitting the town, then one night I met Rachael. “As soon as I saw her I knew I was going to marry her.” Fino’s introduction into the industry began years earlier via his grandfather, the late Joe Abela. Abela prepared several handy types throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s, with Romantic Joanne the best of the crew. It was a former school teacher, however, who prompted Fino into pursuing a career with horses. “I was around horses from a young age as my grandfather was a trainer, but he passed away before I was really old enough to have anything serious to do with them,” Fino said. “Then as I was a little older in High School, a lady who worked there as a guidance counsellor recommended I worked in a stable for work experience. “So I did a stint with John Thompson and haven’t stopped being around horses since. “My Aunty’s husband is the jockey Alan Cooper, so I also spent a bit of time around the gallopers, but it soon became obvious I was going to be too tall to be a jockey. “After that I migrated back to harness racing and have been loving ever since.” PAUL COURTS

Thirteen-win pacer Lets Elope has ended his New Zealand career on a triumphant note. The winner of $324,978 is scheduled to leave for Australia either Wednesday (October 22) or next week. Co-owner/trainer Frank Cooney said he was left with no option but to send the 6-year-old Real desire gelding abroad. He said he made the decision well before Friday’s win in the $14,000 Smart Choice Mobile for the C3-C9 pacers at Alexandra Park. “There’s just nothing for him up here now until possibly Christmas and the New Year. He’s not quite good enough to compete against the (NZ) Cup horses and he would be handicapped out of it if he stayed up here. “Australia was the obvious option because he will be a M1 pacer there,” Cooney said. Let’s Elope was quoted at $151 to win the New Zealand Cup. He will now head to Victoria and race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park in the Brent Lilley colours. “He may come back one day because he’s owned here in New Zealand but to be honest I think he will win more over there and that’s where he will stay,” said Cooney, whose wife Anne co-owns Lets Elope with Peter Haslam and Warren Outrim. Haslam pointed out that lets Elope had never been beaten once he got to the front in his races. That trend continued in Friday’s 2200m mobile. Brilliant anticipation from driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) saw Lets Elope sprint hard to the lead when hot favourite Hughie Green broke wildly at the 600m. The 3-year-old galloped for 200m yet still managed to finish a huge third – half a length and 7-3/4 lengths behind Lets Elope and Norvic Nightowl. Imajollywally was later promoted to third. Lets Elope stopped the clock in 2:41.8 (mile rate: 1:58.3) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 56.1 and 26.6. Co-trainer Tate Hopkins said it was very difficult for any horse to make up ground from the back when the good horses were coming home in 56 and 26. “That’s why he’s not going to the (NZ) Cup Carnival. It’s just too hard for a horse like him to make up ground on the top horses when they are going that fast. “And they are likely to go faster in the Junior and Senior Free-For-All down south. Those were the two races he probably would have started in,” Hopkins said. “It’s sad to see him go but Frank has made the best decision for both the horse and owners,” he added. Cooney said Lets Elope was the equal best horse he had trained – alongside eight-win ($101,050) mid-1980s pacer, Kurahaupo Eden. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

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