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Grove City, Ohio - Action Uncle, the Ohio harness racing 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year has been named the 2020 Ohio Horse of the Year. Action Uncle, the son of Uncle Peter out of Action Broadway, won nine out of ten races in 2020 earning $351,960 for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and owners Carl Howard, Joyce McClelland, and Larry Wills. In 2020, Action Uncle set a world record, winning the Ohio Breeders Championship at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 1:52.4. The victory completed the Ohio Triple Crown for Action Uncle as he won the Ohio Sires Stakes and the Ohio Fair Stake earlier in the year. Morgan said Action Uncle is a classy horse. "He just loves to do his work. I knew from an early point as a two-year-old that he had extreme talent. I knew he was something special, but I am a little biased because I trained his mother." Action Broadway, Action Uncle's dam, was a Dan Patch winner earning $1.2 million. The 2020 season ended in disappointment for Action Uncle. Morgan says the plan was to race Action Uncle in the Breeders Crown. "He raced at Hoosier Park the week before the Breeders Crown and came out of the race sore," said Morgan. X-rays showed a broken wing tip of the coffin bone forcing the change of plans. "We felt he deserved to race on the national scene and were very disappointed that we couldn't take an Ohio-bred to the Breeders Crown," said Morgan. Morgan said they are going to do the right thing and write off the 2021 season. "The injury will heal. He is doing extremely well," said Morgan. "We are going to give him more than enough time off. He will be back." In 16 career starts, Action Uncle has 12 wins, three second place finishes and one third place with earnings of $577,535. Action Uncle was honored during the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's virtual award show on January 16. Frank Fraas

Grove City, Ohio - Street Gossip was a model of consistency in 2020, hitting the board in all eight of his starts earning him 2020 harness racing Ohio 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year honors. Street Gossip, the son of Cash Hall out of the Yankee Glide mare The Young Princess won four out of his eight races and collected a pair of second- and third-place finishes for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and owner Carl Howard and the Jesmeral Stables, earning $171,761. Street Gossip was purchased in July by Howard and Jesmeral Stable after a third-place finish in a leg of the Ohio Sires Stakes. "I saw him racing in his first sire stakes race at Northfield Park. He was very competitive," Morgan said. "I was elated once we got him. To see how good gaited he was and that we really had something to work with." Morgan credits the horse's consistency as the reason he was named the 2-Year-Old trotting colt of the year. "He was a model of consistency. His body of work throughout the year was the difference. He was ultra-consistent." Street Gossip will be honored during the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's virtual award show on January 16, 2021. The awards show is scheduled to air on the OHHA YouTube channel at 7:00 PM. Frank Fraas ffraas@ohha.com 614-221-3650

Grove City, Ohio - For the second year in a row, Sectionline Bigry has been named the top aged harness racing pacer in the state of Ohio. Sectionline Bigry, the son of Pet Rock out of Aquatic Yankee, won eight of 19 races for owner Harold Lee Bauder and trainer Steve Bauder earning $181,000 in 2020. The highlights of the year were winning the Ohio Sires Stakes Aged Pacing Championship at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway and the Gene Riegle Memorial Open Pace at the Great Darke County Fair. Sectionline Bigry was bred by Bauder of Delaware, Ohio, Michael Dixon of Hilliard, Ohio, and Harold L. Bauder of Delaware, Ohio. "It's a privilege to win this award two years in a row," said Bauder. "It puts Bigry in the company of Dancin Yankee a three-time winner. He has big shoes to fill to try and win three in a row." Sectionline Bigry will be honored during the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's virtual award show on January 16, 2021.  The awards show is scheduled to air on the OHHA YouTube channel at 7:00 PM. Frank Fraas ffraas@ohha.com 614-221-3650

Grove City, Ohio - Guinevere Hall rolled off eight straight wins to start her 2020 harness racing campaign on the way to being named Ohio's 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. Guinevere Hall, the daughter of Cash Hall out of Garbo Lane by Lindy Lane, finished the year with eight wins in 13 starts, earning $356,972 for owners M T Pocket Stables and David McDuffie. The filly was trained by Melanie Wrenn and bred by Alan Leavitt. For the second year in a row, a daughter of Cash Hall was named the top 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter in Ohio. The biggest win of 2020 for Guinevere Hall was the $300,000 Ohio Sires Stakes at Eldorado Scioto Downs, where she charged down the stretch to win by three lengths. "When she got to the races, she was game on," Wrenn said. "She doesn't like people in general and just assume bite you or kick you which was part of her grit that got her to the winner's circle." Guinevere Hall will be honored during the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's virtual award show on January 16, 2021. The awards show is scheduled to air on the OHHA YouTube channel at 7:00 PM. Frank Fraas ffraas@ohha.com 614-221-3650

Grove City, Ohio - Tessa Koran of Stow, Ohio has been named the 2020 Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Outstanding Groom for 2020. Koran works for trainer Kent Sherman and was nominated by Matt Watson, the owner of Sherman trainee Lucky King. Watson said Koran brings a positive energy to the track every day. "It doesn't matter if your horse is a $5,000 claimer or an Open horse, you can rest assured that when Tessa is taking care of it, it is in great hands and is being taken care of as if it was her own child." Koran's interest in horses began at an early age. Her grandfather owned horses with Sherman. "It's been a never-ending love affair with the horses. I started helping and learning everything about the horses when I was seven years old," Koran said. Koran also said she has had other career opportunities but loves working with the horses. "I left the business, but never totally left. I never dread going to work." She said the best part of her job is the one-on-one time with the horses. Due to Covid-19, the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association will not host an annual banquet but instead will feature all award winners during a virtual awards show on Saturday, January 16, 2021. The virtual awards show will air on the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's YouTube channel at 7:00 PM. Frank Fraas

Graeme Hando for Harness Racing is nominated for his Long Service and Dedication. The Parkes Shire Council recently announced the nominees for the 2021 Parkes Shire Australia Day Sport Awards, ahead of Australia Day on Tuesday 26 January 2021. Parkes Shire Mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM was full of praise for all the nominees in what has been a difficult year. "This year it is particularly important to recognise the outstanding people and groups in our community who have positively contributed to the local culture, community and environment during the current pandemic," said Cr Keith. "These awards give us the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and reward the marvellous contributions these citizens and groups make at a local level and encourage others to follow their lead. "Congratulations to all the nominees - information regarding the annual celebrations will be available in the coming weeks, as the Parkes Shire Australia Day committee review the NSW Health COVID-19 event restrictions," Cr Keith added.   The Sportsperson of the Year is set to be a tough one to pick once again, with two Australian hockey representatives, two NRL players, a New Holland Cup star and a local golfing stalwart. Junior Sportsperson of the Year will be an even tighter race, highlighting Parkes' proud history of producing talented athletes across a range of sports. Cricket, hockey and rugby league feature heavily across the nominations; a testament to the wonderful work of coaches, officials, volunteers and players to create elite environments in a country town. Full list of nominations: Sportsperson of the Year: Luke Bevan (Rugby Union), Mariah Williams (Hockey), Kurt Lovett (Hockey), John Green (Golf), Billy Burns (Rugby League), Darby Medlyn (Rugby League) Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Jack Milne (All Sports), Harry Yelland (Cricket), Maddie Spence (Cricket), Matty Price (Swimming), Abigail Simpson (Hockey, Cricket), Jorja Simpson (Rugby League, League Tag), Bayden Moran (Rugby League), Lockie Miller (Squash), Henry Kross (Squash), Koby Johnstone (Hockey) Team of the Year: Parkes Boars First Grade Rugby Union, Parkes First XI Cricket, Parkes High School Girls Tennis, Parkes High School Girls Cricket, Parkes Panthers AFL Senior Sportsperson or Team: Nil Referee, Umpire or Official of the Year: Jay Kross (Squash), Glenn Pepper (Cricket) Coach, Trainer or Manager of the Year: Jodie Turner (Swimming), Josh Miles (Rugby Union), Meghan Kempson (Soccer) Administrator of the Year: Jay Kross (Squash), David Cooper (Touch), Andrew Thomas (Junior Rugby League), Denise Gersbach (Senior Hockey), Dan Wilson (Hockey), Wayne Osbourne (Soccer), Adam Parker (Soccer) Long Service and Dedication: Alan Ryan (Rugby), Graeme Hando (Harness Racing) Good luck to all involved! By Kristy Williams Reprinted with permission of Parkes Champion Post

January 1, 2020 - Happy New Year 2021. The harness racing year at Paris-Vincennes began with a nice card highlighted by the Prix du Croise Laroche (purse 56,000€, 2850 meters) and 9/1 odds Diplomate d’Am (8g Love You-Kalmie Melody) scored in 1.13.8kr. Theo Duvaldestin was the winning pilot for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin as the victorious trotteur won for the 16th time in his career that has yielded 242,675€ in earnings. 2.7/1 Dorado Bello (8g Pas d’Urzy) took second for Eric Raffin in a tight finish. 12/1 Comte des Tithais (9g Neoh Jiel) took third with Yoann Lebourgeois up, Diplomate d’Am In the Prix d’Angouleme (purse 59,000€, 2100 meters autostart) the 3.8/1 odds Free Man (6m Ready Cash-Olly Star) was a quick 1.11.6kr timed winner with Alexandre Abrivard up. L.Cl. Abrivard trains this 12-time career winner of 246,570€ that Jean Pierre Barjon owns, he the LeTrot President. The 11/1 odds Marcello Web (6G Raja Mirchi-Astoria Amour) was second for reinsman Christophe Martens with third to 58/1 Alcide Roc (5m Daguet Rapide) with trainer Matthieu Abrivard at the lines. Free Man The 2020 Awards were announced in France with leading dash-winning driver title going to Eric Raffin in 254 victories. His total including monte was 310 wins. The leading monte jockey was Mathieu Mottier with 72 victories. The leading trainer category saw Jean Michel Bazire the winner with 207 victories. Ecurie des Charmes was named leading owner and breeder with 80 wins (1,914,235€) as owner and 111 as breeder. Among the apprentices, Enzo Lelievre won the attele crown with 20 wins while Gaelle Godard captured the monte honors with 29 victories. In the active amateur ranks Dimitri Crespel won 21 times as the attele champion and Barbara Grenet took the monte title with four victories. Awards video: Thomas H. Hicks

Bathurst Harness Racing Club's best of the best for the 2019-20 season were celebrated recently as the year came to a close, with Bernie Hewitt and Amanda Turnbull taking home the top trainer and driver awards respectively. Hewitt finished his season with 66 wins at the Bathurst track while Turnbull once again took out the driver's award with 60 victories, despite missing the back end of the season while in Victoria. Chris Frisby's Aphorism was the Horse of the Year winner thanks to his seven successes at home while the ever dominant Art Major was the top sire of the season with 31 Bathurst victors. "We're very happy to have won that award. Chris and Anthony have done a fantastic job along with all of their staff at home," Aphorism's owner Ben Settree said. "Fran Hausfeld bred the horse and she's still involved with the horse and for her to win that is a big thrill too. We're delighted to have that honour." Aphorism went on a hot streak at Bathurst across May and June where he claimed four wins in the space of five races. In the strike rate awards Frisby came out as the top trainer with one winner every four races while Turnbull claimed the same honours in the driver's battle with a winning effort every 3.9 drives. Amy Rees claimed her first award at the club as her 20 wins for 2019-20 saw her named the Junior Driver of the Year. Rees was surprised by the honour but was quick to play down her efforts, believing the COVID-19 affected season favoured her statistically. "I wasn't really paying too much attention to the numbers, to be honest, but I felt at the time that I was having a pretty good season," she said. "With COVID it meant we were pretty much racing at Bathurst for a lot of the time and I still had my claim while a lot of other junior drivers couldn't travel. Ash [Grives] was also pregnant so I was driving for her team as well, which was helpful because I got a few winners with her too. "I feel that if we had continued counting into the extended season [until the end of December] then Justin Reynolds definitely would have caught me because he was having a great end to the year. I'd say he'll be a top candidate for grabbing that award this season." Alexander Grant Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate    

MILTON, December 31, 2020 - The recently concluded 2020 Woodbine Standardbred meet saw no changing of the guard, as the harness racing titles of leading owner, trainer and driver remained with their previous holders. Brad Grant, Richard Moreau and Sylvain Filion led their respective categories once again in 2020, adding to their already impressive collection of Woodbine titles. Richard Moreau won his fifth consecutive and ninth overall Woodbine training title. The Puslinch, Ontario resident posted 156 wins in 2020, 36 more than runner-up Carmen Auciello. Moreau, who also led all trainers in earnings with $3 million, won his first Woodbine training title in 2010 and has won the title in every year since, except for 2011 and 2014. Sylvain Filion won his sixth Woodbine driving title with a runaway total of 245 wins. Bob McClure finished second with 208 wins, while Doug McNair was third with 206. McClure led all drivers in earnings with $6 million. A resident of Milton, Ontario, Filion has now won the Woodbine driving title in back-to-back years. He first won the title in 2012, sharing it with Jody Jamieson, and then was a solo winner in 2013, 2015 and 2016 prior to this recent double. Brad Grant led all owners at Woodbine in 2020 with 58 wins to collect his fifth consecutive leading owner title. The Milton, Ontario resident, who was again prominent on the Grand Circuit scene, has won the leading owner award in each year since Woodbine revived the award in 2016. Millar Farms finished runner-up with 37 wins, while Determination led all owners in earnings with $2.1 million and scored 36 wins. The Woodbine Standardbred season for 2020 concluded on December 23 due to the current province lockdown imposed by the Government of Ontario. The start of the 2021 Standardbred season is to be determined. Mark McKelvie        

Inter Dominion champion Ultimate Sniper has been named Horse of the Year at the NZB Standardbred Harness Racing Awards.  The classy son of Bettor’s Delight took out the top gong by the narrowest of margins, winning 11 votes to Amazing Dream’s 10.   Undefeated in the Inter Dominion heats and final, Ultimate Sniper won six races during the season, accruing $349,100 in stakes.  At a ceremony limited to 100 people at Addington Raceway because of COVID-19 restrictions Amazing Dream had earlier won the 3YO Pacing Filly of the Year for a season that netted eight wins from nine starts, including the 2020 Northern Derby. Beating  Copy That and One Change she was the first filly to win the Northern Derby since Ripper’s Delight in 1975.  Winterfell was the night’s big winner in the trotting ranks, voted Trotter of the Year after his win, among others, in the Inter Dominion Grand final. Of the other trotting awards it was father versus son in the 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding  category. And the voters couldn’t separate Ultimate Stride trained by Phil Williamson and Cracker Hill trained by his son Brad. They got 11 votes each.  Ultimate Stride won five from five for the season (three of them in Australia) while Cracker Hill won six from eight, including the Hambletonian Three-Year-Old classic at Ashburton.   Blair Orange, who won the New Zealand Cup with 5YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year Cruz Bromac, won his third drivers’ premiership in a row. He had 219 wins for the season, despite the COVID-19 interruption.   While the All Stars (Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen) trained the star individuals of the season – Ultimate Sniper, Amazing Dream and Winterfell -  the Trainer of the Year was Robert Dunn. It is his first premiership after a season that saw him train 95 wins, 14 ahead of the All Stars.  Ricky May’s return to the racetrack was judged the People’s Choice Best Moment of the Season. In January he collapsed to the track while driving A G’s White Socks in the Omakau Cup and had to be revived. He was at tonight’s ceremony and received his trophy to a generous round of applause.  For a full list of winners can be viewed here   Harness Racing New Zealand

HARRISBURG PA - Roger Huston, the Communicators Hall of Fame member who ended a 44-year announcing career at The Meadows racetrack last November but continues harness racing involvement in his native state of Ohio, has been voted the highest honor annually given by the Keystone Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the Mary Lib Miller Award, named for the lifelong helpmate of "Mr. Harness Racing," Delvin Miller, founder of The Meadows - a couple Roger knew quite well. Huston got his start in broadcasting at a radio station in his native Xenia OH; his uncle Don was the announcer at Lebanon Raceway and some nearby fairs, which became Roger's introduction to going behind the microphone in the sport. Besides announcing at The Meadows, Roger will in 2020 calling at Delaware OH at the Little Brown Jug for the 53rd straight year, and he has been the announcer at several western Pennsylvania fairs. Besides his new role as "brand ambassador" for the Ohio horsemen's association, Huston continues to serve as a Director of USHWA for the Keystone Chapter (for whom he served as founding president), and he was the Director with the most years of USHWA membership (52) at the association's Florida annual meetings in February. About the only harness racing "force" that has been going longer than Roger is Hanover Shoe Farms, which again was voted Pennsylvania Breeder of the Year. The Shoe Farms has been the sport's leading breeder every year since records started to be kept in 1948, and while recording their 72nd straight win they established a single-season high for the winnings of their produce, $34.0M. Another repeat winner is George Napolitano Jr., who was voted his second straight Pennsylvania Driver of the Year award and fourth in the twelve years the award has been given. Napolitano, who recorded his 10,000th career victory at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on October 12, won 638 Pennsylvania races between The Downs (337), where he was the top sulkywinner for the eighth straight year, and Harrah's Philadelphia (301). "George Nap" was third in all of North America last year with 651 driving wins. Kim Hankins, the longtime executive director of the Meadows Standardbred Association and one of the most well-rounded and well-respected individuals in harness racing, was named a Friend of Pennsylvania Harness Racing for his leadership of his horsemen's group in such diverse areas as racetrack negotiations, marketing, and intrastate partnerships and communications. A longtime top horseman in Illinois for many years, Hankins is currently 1st Vice President of Harness Horsemen International, and served for many years on the board of directors of the U.S. Trotting Association. Two smaller stables raised their profiles in 2019 to a degree that they were voted awards by Keystone USHWA. Longtime Meadows horseman Bill Bercury, campaigning a five-horse stable most of the year, saw his barn earn over $590,000 for the sixth straight year (with only 123 starts), and he posted the #1 trainers percentage in North America for those with fewer than 300 starts, a .580 "batting average." The constant sharpness and success shown by his stable earned Bercury Pennsylvania Trainer of the Year honors. Bob Rougeaux III campaigns the horses of the Brocious Racing Stable of the late Harold "Lefty" Brocious, and the "Rocky Top" stable, as they style themselves, sent out four of the eight blanketwinners at the Pennsylvania Fair Banquet for having amassed the most points in their respective divisions during the twenty-stop fair season in the Keystone state. As with Bercury, "quality" trumped "quality" here, and the Rougeaux/Brocious "team" were named the Small Stable of the Year in Pennsylvania. Missy Rothfuss, the outrider at The Meadows, is this year's recipient of the Keystone Unsung Hero Award. Rothfuss started her career while a senior in high school and has been at The Meadows 24 years. She is the first responder when accidents happen on the racetrack, often anticipating problems and arriving before anyone else at the site of trouble, and because of her record is well-respected by Meadows horsemen. Between races Missy is meeting fans, letting them pet her equine partner, and educating them about harness racing. She has ridden in Breeders Crown events and also is the head outrider at The Little Brown Jug in Delaware, OH. And after many years toiling in semi-anonymity, Missy is not only receiving this award but was also recently featured in Vicki Howard's "Superstar Females of Harness Racing" column in the online journal Harness Racing Update. The now-11-year-old pacer Atta Boy Dan started his season in the western part of the state, but the record he put up while operating at Pocono was the major contributor to his being named Pennsylvania Horse of the Year, for horses making over half their starts within the borders of Pennsylvania. The winner of over $900,000 lifetime won 19 times (earning over $200,000) during 2019, the most victories of any horse in the United States, and he set an unofficial record by being claimed in fourteen consecutive starts. The state writers initiated a Keystone Chapter Member of the Year this past season to recognize outstanding efforts made by those within their ranks, and in this inaugural season a recognition will be given to a member in both the western and the eastern parts of the state. Chris Gooden, who has been a Smallsreed Photo awardwinner in the national competition for the last two years, was selected as the top Keystoner from the west; on the eastern side, the honors went to Jennifer Starr, the multitalented and tireless Racing Marketing Manager at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Ordinarily, the Keystone USHWA awardwinners would have had a moment in the spotlight as they received their awards in a trackside ceremony. But with the coronavirus throwing unprecedented uncertainty into everyone's schedules, it was thought to send the recipients their trophies through delivery, before the shine of their 2019 accomplishments became too faded by time. Jerry Connors

Mayville, WI — Derek Bromac N, the 20-year-old retired harness racing Standardbred, took some time to spread some Easter cheer to the residents and staff of Prairie Ridge Assisted Living and Cornerstone Nursing and Rehab Centers, both of Mayville, Wis., on Sunday morning (April 12). The residents were all smiles as they sat at their windows waiting for the gelding to patiently make his rounds to visit each and every one of them. Decked out in a colorful Easter egg necklace and a saddle with an Easter bunny aboard, Derek Bromac N enjoyed all the attention as he pressed his nose to the windows and even paid a personal visit to a resident in a wheelchair as he placed his head on her lap and she burst out in laughter. The New Zealand bred is a regular face in the promotion of Standardbreds and harness racing in Southern Wisconsin. He was recently awarded the prestigious Equine of the Year Award (District 3), the first Standardbred to ever win. He was also featured in a story in the February issue of Hoof Beats magazine and made a public appearance at the Winter Day at Spring brook in Burnett, Wis., also in early February. Derek Bromac N is owned by Sawyer’s Stables of Burnett, Wis.   April 13, 2020, by Amber Sawyer, for the Wisconsin Harness Horse Association

An Oshawa native is being honoured for his career in harness racing. Paul MacDonell is joining the list of this year’s Class of 2020 inductees into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (CHRHF). “It feels great, it really does,” says MacDonell of the recognition. “There’s a very small amount of people in the hall of fame and to be a part of it, it’s really, really something.” Founded in 1976, the CHRHF inducts 10 people and horses from categories, including Builders, Jockeys, Trainers, Drivers, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. MacDonell joins the roster as a Standardbred Driver. MacDonell’s driving career is highlighted by both consistency and superstars, with earnings surpassing $1 million for 33 consecutive years, due in part to piloting such horses as Hall of Fame Honoured Members Somebeachsomewhere, Admirals Express, and Invitro. “I raced a horse called Somebeachsomewhere who will probably go down in history as one of the best race horses of all time, and that includes the world,” says MacDonell. “He was a dynamic horse that everyone followed back in 2008, and he was just one of those super heroes, like Secretariat from the Thoroughbred side, or Northern Dancer,” he continues. “Somebeachsomewhere was, in our business of harness racing, Standardbred side, one of the best of all time.” Macdonell has also been the primary pilot for millionaires Village Jiffy, Village Connection, Elusive Desire, Bigtime Ball and Laddie. The Oshawa native’s major stakes victories include three Metro Paces, five Confederation Cups, and eight Breeders Crowns, as well as a record 16 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals to his credit. MacDonell was also awarded an O’Brien Award as the 2008 Canadian Driver of the Year, and to date, has chalked up more than 15,000 top three finishes, 5,623 wins, and has driven horses to in excess of $122 million in purse earnings. MacDonell attributes his successful career to his love for horses, which started at a young age. “My dad had a few horses in the Oshawa area. He worked at General Motors and did it part time. After school I would go to the barn with my dad,” he says, adding that he was around 10 or 11 years old at this time. “I fell into looking after the horses with him and helping him out, which then graduated into a career of harness racing,” says MacDonell. MacDonell explains you start with getting your trainer’s licence and then you graduate to become a driver. He started his driving career at Kawartha Downs when he was 18, about 38 years ago, and remains active in the business today. The now Guelph resident continues to race, and mostly works in training the horses for competition. “I think most of it is just my love of the horses, I love being around the animals, and then of course getting them ready to compete. And as MacDonell reflects on his accomplishments throughout his career, his advice for up-and-comers in the industry is simple. “It’s just like any career. It doesn’t happen overnight,” says MacDonell. “You have to really invest in it. It’s hard work. It’s not easy. Just like any professional that’s made it to a high level, you have to invest and you have to really, really work at it.” By Courtney Bachar Reprinted with permission of /The Oshawa Express

Three of the most respected horsemen in Canadian harness racing — Jack Darling, Paul MacDonell and Ben Wallace — took part in an interview to discuss their careers on Wednesday (April 8). The interview with the three Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame nominees and pair of inductees was streamed on COSA TV’s Facebook Page and conducted by Greg Blacnhard. The trio of horsemen, who have known each other for decades, revisited memorable moments throughout their spectacular careers, answered questions from fans and filled the audience in on how they are keeping busy while harness racing across North America continues to take a hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Both MacDonell and Wallace were ecstatic about their inductions into the Hall Of Fame. “I was overwhelmed by the news. It was hard to believe and it still is now,” MacDonell said of the news. “You work all your life and you don’t even think about Hall Of Fame status as you’re going but here we are all these years later.” The induction for Wallace posed as a time to reflect on the years composing his career. “The horses you always remember, the races you won and the horses that you dealt with are etched in your mind. I was just awash with memories of 50 years of racing horses for a living. The people that you conjure up in your mind that you remember from years ago that either worked for you or worked alongside you and stories of the fun times and tough times…it was all that type of stuff that really took over me. I had a tough time sleeping because I kept revisiting various evenings and situations that popped up. “We always remember the good times of our horses and we struggle through some of the bad ones, the memories of the horses are prevalent whether I am a Hall Of Famer or not,” noted Wallace. “But, the Hall Of Fame brings out this other memory void for everybody.” Although Darling’s name was not on the winning ballot, the lifelong horseman was still very grateful for the honour. “It’s funny when something like this happens, you really go into the memory banks. It really is an honour to be considered for something like that. I’m really happy for both of these guys, they’re both good friends and both very well deserving of their inductions.” Between the trio of horsemen is a list of great racehorses they have all been associated with over the years. While that list is near endless, there are always a few that standout the most. For MacDonell, a memorable horse and perhaps one of the greatest horses he has driven in his career — arguably one of the greatest racehorses in history — would be none other than Somebeachsomewhere. Blanchard revisited Somebeachsomewhere’s first Ontario start at Grand River Raceway. “I was probably expecting more from him than most would have because I had the opportunity to train him at Mohawk in between his qualifier and his race at Grand River,” recalled MacDonell. “The first time I sat on him, you could tell there was something very special about him. He was just a powerful horse and it was hard to believe that he was just a two-year-old. I did have a little bit of insight on him and I remember driving to the track this night feeling some excitement to see what he was going to be all about. He still went way above my expectations. “[In his first career start] I felt so much power in him, I was just making sure that he was going to be okay on a half-mile track. I had a ton of horse and I was just waiting on him to do his thing. He did that :54 mile with so much ease it was scary.” A memorable performer for now Hall Of Famer Ben Wallace would be a Hall Of Famer he conditioned, Blissfull Hall. “He was a ridgling which was concerning to some, but I’ve had ridglings before and it didn’t bother me. He was such a powerfully-built colt, he looked like early speed would be in his repertoire but what happened was the testicle was bothering him. He made well over a hundred thousand as a two-year-old and was locked on a line the entire time. I remember saying to Daniel [Plouffe] who owned him that if he doesn’t come off the line, we’re going to have to go in and remove it. We opted not to take it out and I took him and Armbro Rosebud, who was an O’Brien Award winner, to The Meadowlands coming into their three-year-old seasons — I figured that surface would be perfect to bring them up on. I remember jogging Blissfull in the middle of February or so and as I was jogging him it appeared to be that the other testicle had come down and sure enough it did. “From that day on he was just an exceptionally fast horse and a gentleman horse at that. His speed got him out of any trouble that he may or may not have gotten himself into. He opened many doors all over for me again.” Darling, who is prominently known for developing young horses into champions, has a near infinite list of memorable horses who have walked through his stable including 1997 North America Cup winner Gothic Dream. Perhaps one who is more memorable would be Northern Luck — a horse who certainly overcame tough ‘luck’ throughout his career. “In his three-year-old year, I had two horses in the North America Cup. Gothic Dream won his elimination and Northern Luck won his elimination as well. Gothic Dream was a big name at the time and Northern Luck was just starting to come up. Trevor Ritchie drove Northern Luck and said to me ‘I hope you’re not going to be disappointed if Northern Luck beats Gothic Dream next week.’ On the way home from the races that night he [Northern Luck] took some kind of a claustrophobic fit in the trailer and he almost took his entire hind foot off. You would have never dreamed he would have ever been able to walk again let alone race. So he missed the final of the North America Cup and he was off for about three months, but he came back strong after that. He was a very aggressive horse that always wanted to go forward.” Northern Luck passed on his desire to go forward to many of his offspring, some of which were conditioned in their early years by Darling such as Silent Swing and Jr Mint. Great memories were shared among the horsemen who have become lifelong friends over the years and insightful information on developing younger horses and choosing future champions was shared with the audience. The feature can be viewed below. Central Ontario Standardbred Association  

The Living Horse Hall of Fame committee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame has announced the selections for the 2020 broodmare inductees into the Harness Racing Living Horse Hall of Fame. Danae 3,1:54.2 ($529,099) and Precious Beauty p,2,1:53.3 ($112,842) were elected. Danae's offspring include 2019 Swedish Horse of the Year Propulsion 1:52.1 ($3,572,969), 2017 Matron Stakes winner Dream Together 1:51.3 ($801,782) and world champion D'Orsay 1:51.4 ($445,732). Precious Beauty's offspring include 2009 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year and 2010 North America Cup winner, world champion Sportswriter p,3,1:48.3 ($1,566,460); 2013 Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year and She's A Great Lady winner, world champion Precocious Beauty p,1:50.1 ($838,004) and 2018 Three Diamonds winner Prescient Beauty p,2,1:50.4 ($464,250). Danae and Precious Beauty will be inducted on Hall of Fame Day which is tentatively planned for Sunday, July 5, 2020. The ceremonies honoring these extraordinary Standardbred broodmares will take place during the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame's annual dinner. For information on the Hall of Fame weekend and other festivities surrounding this important occasion visit www.harnessmuseum.com from April 2020 onward or call or write the Museum at 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924. Phone: 845-294-6330. Standardbred broodmares are eligible for nomination to harness racing's highest accolade only if they comply with the following strict criteria: Annually on March 1st, a list of living broodmares that have produced two Dan Patch winners, OR two millionaires, OR one Dan Patch winner and one millionaire are assembled for the Living Horse Hall of Fame Committee to review. Committee members can also nominate a broodmare that does not meet those criteria. Each of the committee members votes for his or her top 5 broodmares, voting results are tabulated and the top two vote getters are elected to the Living Horse Hall of Fame. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, New York. For information on the Museum, membership, special events, gift shop services and educational programs the Museum offers, please call (845) 294-6330 or visit www.harnessmuseum.com. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame

For the third time in a row, Bilibili and harness racing jockey Alexandre Abrivard won the Prix de l’Ile de France, a Group I under saddle race, at Vincennes Sunday afternoon (Feb. 2) and was timed in a new world record 1.52.3 (mile rate). A 9-year old French trotter, Bilibili is under saddle specialist. In fact, all his lifetime earnings of more than $2 million were won in under saddle races. Bilibili was the 1-5 favorite to win this 1/5-16 mile event which has a standing start. A victory also added 100,000 Euro to as a bonus for Bilibili winning the three biggest under saddle races during the winter meeting. Although he won, Bilibili had to fight for the victory, as outsider Etonnant, with Eric Raffin in the saddle, was hard to get by. Etonnant was in command from start and with half-mile to go, it seemed that Bilibili would have a very tough task to catch him. But going down the stretch Etonnant started to fade and Bilibili was now flying. Bilibili trotted the last fraction in :27.3 and and won by a length. Bilibili is sired by Niky and his grandson is Viking’s Way, the grandsire of Ready Cash. He is owned by Jean-Pierre Barjon, recently elected chairman of the French Le Trot-organization, and is trained by Laurent-Claude Abrivard, the father of the his rider. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent

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