Day At The Track
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Trainer Nancy Johansson might keep an eye on the racing in Canada on Saturday night, but her primary focus will be on her own horse at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Johansson's Western Vintage, one of the most highly regarded 3-year-old male pacers in North America, is the 3-5 morning line favorite in his division's $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship at the Big M. Sire Stakes crowns also will be handed out to 3-year-old female pacers, female trotters, and male trotters. If all goes well for Western Vintage, after the sire stakes final he will head to Canada's Mohawk Racetrack for the North America Cup eliminations June 7. The C$1 million North America Cup final is June 14. The final Canadian prep races for the North America Cup, three divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, also are Saturday night. The first division will go to the gate approximately 30 minutes after Western Vintage's race at the Meadowlands. "We'll be watching, but really the most important thing is that my horse does his work," said Johansson, who trains Western Vintage for owners Perry Soderberg and Marvin Katz. "I think I have the best one, so I just need to worry about him and let the others worry about themselves. I can only control what happens with my horse anyway, I can't control anything with the others." A son of stallion Western Ideal out of the mare Major Harmony, Western Vintage was purchased by Soderberg for $7,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. Last season, he won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. Western Vintage started his 2014 season by winning the opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 17. He sat out last weekend's second round, which was won by Doo Wop Hanover. "So far I can't complain about anything with him," Johansson said. "He's sound and happy and doing his work well. We're where we want to be with him at this point." In the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male trotters, Trixton is the 3-5 favorite thanks to winning the Simpson Memorial in a season-best 1:51.2 and exploding in the stretch to win the first sire stakes leg by 4-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 last quarter-mile over a sloppy track. Trixton is trained by Jimmy Takter, who is Johansson's father. Takter also has the 8-5 favorite in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly pacers, Gettingreadytoroll. And he has the 5-2 second choice in the sire stakes final for 3-year-old filly trotters, Moonlight In Miami. Julie Miller-trained Cee Bee Yes is the 2-1 choice. 2nd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Pace 1-Doo Wop Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 8-5 2-Dancin Hill [Rocknroll Hanover], Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 9-2 3-Western Vintage [Western Ideal], Yannick Gingras, Nancy Johansson, 3-5 4-Rock Out [Rocknroll Hanover], Matt Kakaley, Steve Elliott, 15-1 5-Beat The Drum [Tell All], Brett Miller, Staffan Lind, 20-1 3rd Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Colts & Geldings Trot 1-Well Built [Muscle Hill], Jim Meittinis, Chris Ryder, 15-1 2-Skates N Plates [Revenue], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1 3-Trixton [Muscle Hill], Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-5 4-Martiniwithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Yannick Gingras, Joseph King, 12-1 5-Speak The Truth [Muscle Hill], Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 5-1 6-Resolve [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Roman Lopez, 20-1 7-Sumatra [Muscles Yankee], Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 12-1 8-Odds On Amethyst [Muscle Hill], Howard Parker, Chris Ryder, 9-2 9-King City [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Jonas Czernyson, 30-1 10-Lightning Force [Muscle Hill], John Campbell, Randy Beeckman, 20-1 4th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Trot 1-My Inspiration [Chocolatier], Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 6-1 2-Mistresswithmuscle [Muscle Hill], Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman, 30-1 3-Ravine [Muscle Hill], Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart, 30-1 4-Yoga [Muscles Yankee], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 5-Moonlight In Miami [Muscles Yankee], John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 6-Heaven's Door [Muscle Hill], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2 7-Scream And Shout [Muscles Yankee], Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 8-Cee Bee Yes [Muscles Yankee], Marcus Miller, Julie Miller, 2-1 5th Race - $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final - 3yo Fillies Pace 1-Blixtra [Rocknroll Hanover], Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 2-Atasallrite Hanover [Rocknroll Hanover], Brett Miller, Ron Burke, 8-1 3-Sayitall BB [Tell All], Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 4-1 4-Highland Rockstar [Rocknroll Hanover], Mike Lachance, Buzzy Sholty, 20-1 5-Ideal Helen [Western Ideal], Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 30-1 6-Fanticipation [Rocknroll Hanover], John Campbell, Michael Forte, 15-1 7-Act Now [Western Ideal], Tim Tetrick, Nikolas Drennan, 9-5 8-Rockingham Park [Rocknroll Hanover], Howard Parker, Ron Coyne Jr., 12-1 9-Fiyonce [Rocknroll Hanover], Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke, 20-1 10-Gettingreadytoroll [Rocknroll Hanover], Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5 by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Last week I did a column on racetrack management needing to do their homework on allowing harness racing people to compete at their tracks when they have a questionable history. It came about because of situations involving individuals who may or may not have been allowed to compete and to try and shed some light to readers on how tracks make these decisions and why. It’s a tough subject insofar as most tracks hold the key to allowing someone to continue working in our industry. Some say it is not right that tracks make a decision such as this, some say it needs to be done for the majority of horsemen and the betting public that do play by the rules and that many tracks are too easy to let a “bad boy” back in racing. The story created a bit of controversy and I received a lot of emails and calls from track managers, horsemen and even betting fans who gave me their pros and cons on the article. And I appreciate everyone who commented and hope others take the time to voice their opinions. The most interesting of the calls and emails I received was from one of the horsemen who I pointed out in the story was allowed to return to racing after a questionable past. His name is Marc Mosher and he is currently racing at Cal Expo in northern California. Here is his story. Let’s do some background first for the readers on how you came to get involved in harness racing. “I first lived in Maine and was introduced to harness racing by my grandfather, Merle Mosher,” Marc explained. “He was a dairy farmer and as a hobby he always had two or three horses that he trained and drove so I knew about harness racing early on. My brother Gary is nine years old than me and he was already helping on the farm and started with the horses. He developed into a top driver and has nearly 6,000 wins. “When I was in high school and during the summer Gary had a stable at the track and I would help out with the horses,” Marc explained. “After school and most weekends I would be at the track and I knew I wanted to work in racing.” Early in his career Marc became one of the youngest drivers in the sport to reach 1,000 career wins in 1993. When Marc started training and racing on his own in Maine he had some issues and fines with racing officials but attributed that to being young. “I was an immature young man who did not know better,” Marc laughed. “I would show up late to drive a horse, take the breathalyzer test after a couple of races. But I soon learned to settle down and show some respect to the officials. They were doing their job. I never drank or did drugs but I guess you could say I had a chip in my shoulder early on.” Marc then went on to a decent career in racing. He had more than 1,600 wins as a driver. Always had a stable of horse to train and was a sought after catch driver, but then his life in racing came to screeching halt after the events of February 20, 2001 at Monticello Raceway. According to the report from the New York Racing and Wagering Board “ You attempted to influence the outcome of a pari-mutuel race by authorizing, directing and causing a hypodermic injection of a prohibited substance to the horse Too Much Data and removed the horse from the track after it died without the required equine death certificate and written consent of the presiding judge.” I asked Marc to explain the events of that ill-fated day. “I have no reason to lie about anything that happened that day,” Marc said. “We had a horse in to go from my stable at Monticello Raceway. I had asked the veterinarian to give him something for his bleeding. It was not lasix but I told the vet to go ahead and treat him. Then afterwards the horse passed away. “I was going to do the right thing,” Marc said, “And inform the officials what had happened but the vet asked me to not do it. He wanted me to cover it up and get the horse off the grounds. From there it was a nightmare. “The last thing I would never do is abuse an animal,” Marc said. “You would not believe the stories that have come out about how I abused this horse. I wanted to take care of this horse’s bleeding problem but did not want to put him on lasix. I made a stupid mistake that has cost me my career in harness racing. I was not trying to fix a race. I was trying to help the horse so he could continue racing. “In this industry, I guess like all others, stories get changed around,” Marc said. “The rumors being spread about me were outrageous and people did not want to hear it from my side. They wanted to believe what others made up about the events that happened. “I can only blame myself for everything,” Marc added. “I should have never listened to the vet and just taken my lumps for treating the horse on race day and did the right thing. The commission at the time really did not want to hear what I had to say as much as they listened to the vet’s story. It was just a total disaster. A couple of months later the commission finally understood my side of the story. But you can’t change history.” Marc received a two-year suspension and did not return to racing until 2004 where he trained and drove at Rockingham Park and Plainridge Racecourse. He did not even try and get his license back in New York. “New York was not ready yet to give me my trainer/driver license back.” Marc said. “They said they would give me a groom’s license to start with so I went to New England where I could train and drive. Then in 2006 I had another incident when my vet had left medication for another trainer to pick up and the authorities said I was wrong in allowing this to take place and convicted me on a conspiracy charge. I have not and will not name the vets involved and again I told the authorities the truth, but when you have a past record they are very quick not to believe you. “I then just used my groom’s license and did not train or drive from 2006 to 2012,” Marc explained. “My wife was a trainer so the horses were in her name and we ran the stable. The officials knew all of this and they were fine with it. That is why you do not see me have any drives or trains for those years.” Then in 2012 Marc  was able to get a provisional license to train and drive at Harrah’s Philadelphia, but things did not work out after just two weeks. “After the meet opened, I qualified a horse at the track.” Marc explained. “A few days before he raced I treated him with Banamine paste because he had problems with his stomach and ulcers. Then he comes up positive. So then they excluded me. They tried to fine me $1,000 but then after I got a lawyer they dropped it to $500 but still kicked me out because I was on a provisional license.” Marc packed up and was fortunate to have a friend in long time trainer/driver Syl King, Jr., who had one of the biggest stable of horses competing in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Fairs that are run all summer long throughout the state. King hired Marc on to help train and drive in the fairs where King led all trainers in wins and purses won this year. Marc had a great season with more than 20 wins and a universal driving rating of .350. From there Marc applied to the authorities at Cal Expo and they said they would give him a chance to train and drive again. What does the future now hold for Marc Mosher? What is he looking for after this season at Cal Expo? “I want to come back east next spring and drive in the fairs during the summer and help Syl again with his stable,” Marc said. “I want to get back to training a decent stable of horses on the east coast. I would  concentrate on training and not so much on driving. I want to try and just train young trotters. I have always done well with them. Over the years now I have also learned a lot about shoeing and feel I can once again become a good trainer. “I came forward in doing this interview with you,” Marc said, “so I can tell people the truth in what happened years ago. I want to be a productive and active part of this sport again. I have served my time for the infractions I was responsible for and I want to be a positive force in the industry. I just want a chance to prove myself and help this industry to grow.”  I thanked Marc Mosher for coming forward and telling his side of the story for everyone to read. He has admitted to making some major mistakes in his career, explained what took place and also that he paid his dues for years and is now seeking a chance to return. I would guess that if Marc completes the season at Cal Expo without any incidents that he may have a chance to return to pari-mutuel racing on the East Coast in 2014. If he does and there are no further incidents then I will be the first to congratulate him. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com 

The Western New England Harness Horsemen's Association is reaching out to anybody that has a vested interest in the future of harness racing in New Hampshire. They are seeking owners, trainers, drivers and others who would like to see live racing return to Rockingham Park.

The Western New England Harness Horsemen's Association and Rockingham Park came to terms today (Wed. July 14)on a contract that will assist the horsemen's group in its effort to bring about a return of live harness racing and pursue an expanded gambling bill that would benefit the state of New Hampshire, Rockingham Park and call for the preservation of open lands through live racing.

A bill, that if passed into law in New Hampshire would allow as many as 17,000 slot machines and table games at the state's three racetracks (Thouroughbred and Harness) and one upstate resort, passed the State's upper house, 14-10, on Wednesday.

Harness racing suffered another blow after Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H. announced there would be no live harness meeting in 2010. The biggest losers in this scenario are the horsemen and women, many of which came from all parts of the country to race at the summer setting provided by one of America's oldest racing plants.

Rockingham Park, the home of thoroughbred and harness racing in the State of New Hampshire for the past 104 years, will not host a live horse racing meeting in 2010, the Salem landmark announced today (Wednesday March 10).

Harness racing returns to Plainridge Racecourse on Monday, August 31, after being inactive during the summer so has not to conflict with Rockingham Park's meet which closed yesterday (Sunday).The agreement not to run against one another was reached late last year with the hopes all parties would benefit.

Rockingham Park wrapped up the 103-year-old track's 2009 live harness racing meeting on Sunday with overall gains in handle as Earlivic rallied from far off the pace to score the biggest upset in the history of the Joseph Carney Memorial Trot.

Scorpion Moon will try to become the first back-to-back harness racing winner of the $30,000 Joseph Carney Memorial Trot as Rockingham Park wraps up the 2009 live harness meet on Sunday, but Slim Down and five other tough trotters also have designs on the trophy.

Harness racing horsemen Todd O'Dea and Walter Ross, JR. were honored in a winner's circle ceremony at Rockingham Park on Friday for their help in saving the life of a fellow horseman who suffered a serious heart attack last month during the afternoon of racing.

Drew Campbell posted an outstanding effort on Wednesday at Rockingham Park as the harness racing driver visited the winner's circle with horses he drove on four occasions.

Scorpion Moon earned the right to try and become the first back-to-back winner of the Joseph Carney Memorial Trot when he cruised to an easy victory in the first of two $12,500 harness racing eliminations at Rockingham Park on Sunday (8-23), but Slim Down had to fight his way to the winner's circle in the second.

The racetrack ministry at Rockingham Park on Friday rewarded some of the children of the harness racing families who have raced at Rockingham Park this summer with gift bags filled with new supplies as the kids get ready to start the school year.

Defending champion Scorpion Moon returns to Rockingham Park on Sunday as he takes the initial step toward becoming the first harness racing back-to-back winner in the history of the Joseph Carney Memorial Trot, which is held annually to honor the track's late owner and president

Andover America won the featured $9,000 event on Sunday and his fourth race at Rockingham Park this season when he wore down the heavily favored Slim Down in deep stretch to prevail by one-half length.

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