Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 17

Through all the glory and fun times throughout his career, this season means the most to harness racing owner and trainer George Teague, Jr., not just because of the caliber of horses he has, but it's because this involves his family.   The number one thing he wants fans to know is "I am a family guy first and foremost". The harness racing world is abuzz by the magnificent triumphs of Wiggle It Jiggle It and there's every reason in the book why Wiggle It Jiggleit should receive such praise. Driven by Montrell Teague, George's son, life couldn't be any sweeter after Wiggle It Jiggleit won the Meadowlands Pace in 1:47.4 for his seventh straight win this year. What's added sugar to the dessert is that George also owns the mom and dad of Wiggle It Jiggleit. "I raced both of them and I liked them enough to keep them around and that is the extra bonus of it. I am having a ball of a time," he says. "I have two wonderful daughters, Shanika and Shamika, that nobody speaks of and Montrell who everyone knows because he drives." George continues, "Shanika and Shamika are just as involved as he is". Trainer Clyde Francis has worked with George for "15 or 17 years" and George listed him down as trainer because "he's a hard working guy and he is having just as much fun as we are. There were only two spots to list him, either owner or trainer and I didn't want to change the owner's name," George says with a chuckle. When asked why he didn't want to be listed as trainer, George admits ''it's more enjoyable to be an owner." George notes that Clyde is like a brother to him, trainer together through the rough times and the good times. "Believe it or not as an owner I am having has much fun as I possibly can.... He's always been a great friend, like a brother. I feel happier that he is down as trainer with his name in the program, I wouldn't have it any other way." George adds, "I'm happy Clyde is getting recognized for all his hard work." Before 2015, George admits there have been obstacles, like any other horseman. "If you have talent and work hard as well as give yourself a chance, you will make it," he said. "I gave myself a chance; I invested into myself with horses," George explained. "It's a big gamble being an owner and the obstacle is and will always be financial, as for any other obstacles that you usually see, I don't experience it very often." George continues, "One thing I can say about harness racing is that it is very forgiving. You work hard enough; people don't look at (color)." George admits there is still racism in the world, but not so in harness racing. "People in harness racing," George Said, "Some never looked at me and my sister as color. I think Montrell has less of a hurdle than I do because people do not see him that way." "I've been blessed," George explained. "This is one business where you work hard enough you have a chance. The moral is" he states, "If you don't invest in yourself, you're not going to get someone else to invest in you." Save your money is George's advice, this way you have more to invest in you. "Ownership is the most fun aspect to this game." George said. "I've had great partners and we had a lot of fun together. However nothing replaces the fun I am having with this horse (Wiggle It Jiggleit) now." "I have my son driving with no rules on how he is going to drive," George said, "We talk and communicate strategy with Clyde, it's all great!" With family coming first, racing finishing a strong second, George's next passion is cheering on RG3 and the Washington Redskins. "If Griffin can get back to the way he was 2 or 3 years ago," George hopes, "He can do something special." by Roderick Balgobin, for  

It’s summer time! There’s nothing better than BBQs, spending time with good people sharing laughs and ff you’re looking for something to do that can involve everyone, I highly recommend going to Georgian Downs. Georgian Downs is located on the west side of the 400 highway in Innisfil, Ontario. Approximately 45 minutes north of Toronto. With cottage season in full effect, the drive may be an hour and a half, but still worth it for the experience and great atmosphere. Visiting Georgian Downs is quite different to watching the races at Woodbine. At Woodbine one would be watching the pacers and trotters from a mile away, whereas Georgian offers fans the chance to stand at the fence, about 10-20 feet away from the thundering action. Saturday night racing offers fans a chance to have a full dinner buffet. Be sure to make a reservation! My greatest experience when visiting is how down to earth everyone is. Not just the horsemen and women, but the servers, tellers and even the bartenders. It’s a fun time and everyone is welcomed. Unlike bigger venues, at Georgian you’re one of the regular folk whether you are betting $2 or $200. When hanging out outside between races, fans can easily look into the paddocks facing south.  You are still about 40 feet away, but one can easily appreciate all the hard work that goes on. Plus, fans can always shout out to the favorite driver and if they’re not busy, they would be happy come over for a picture and/or sign an autograph. So always keep your program with you! One delight I treasure is sitting at the bar enjoying a refreshing beverage and seeing many drivers and trainers coming into venue once they’re done racing. It’s great listening to their stories from past races. When chatting, even the most basic and common race they are discussing ends up sounding like they are talking about the Molson Pace or North America Cup. It’s awesome! There is no way you can leave without a smile. A big thank you to Bob McClure, Alfie Carroll, Scott Young and trainer Craig Gilmour for taking the time to chat. Georgian Downs is a summer track racing Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays. One thing I can say for Georgian Downs is it’s about quality time, the type of time you can treasure. Of course it wouldn’t be proper if I did not recommend a food choice and I highly recommend the chicken wings.  They are plump and have a nice batter coating that comes in a variety of flavors which are not over powering. Happy racing my friends! By Roderick Balgobin, for

For most, winning close to $12 million in harness racing purses would be a historic accomplishment.   However when you're one of the elite drivers in the world this is not status quo especially when Tim Tetrick set the record of $19.73 million in purse winnings back in 2008, breaking his previous record of $18.35 million in 2007. For Tim Tetrick, bigger and better results not only matter to him but to his trainers, owners and especially his fans. With 14 Breeders Crown titles under his belt and leading total purses won by a driver in North America for 7 straight years from 2007 through 2013, Tim was set to make this the eighth year in a row. 2014 was not as flattering for Tim but nevertheless he remains upbeat and focused for the 2015 season. "I didn't have the power" says Tim on his results for 2014. "I finished second in money earned and almost $12 million earned.... I thought with what I had and what I got done, it was a very good season." "Sometimes there are disappointments" Tim reflects, "When you and the horse don't perform to expectations, it's tough." Tim doesn't give himself enough credit, in my opinion. Maybe it is just his nature and his respect for others to not be boastful but this goes to show why he is a world class driver and person. "I was hoping for bigger things but I got to win a Breeders Crown which is always special and a Meadowlands Pace. I had a lot of wins and some special wins which is always good." Ti Tim won the 2014 2YO Filly Pace Breeders Crown with JK She'salady, who was named Horse of the Year for 2014. "It was a great surprise" says Tim about driving JK She'salady or as he likes to call her, JK She'sagreatlady. Tim also created a website where fans can be more interactive with him. There are contests through the Facebook page and there are many pages on the website where fans can read and learn about Tim, the horses he made history with and his family. "That's my best way for interacting with fans." One special moment that sticks out for Tim in 2014 was meeting a super fan in the winner's circle after a race at the Meadowlands. "Last year Sydney Weaver came down from Canada and met me in the winner's circle for a picture. That was pretty cool," Tim admits. For his stellar accomplishments in 2014, it is easy to forget that Tim had his second hip replacement surgery a year ago. It truly is remarkable on what a year he had based on the fact he’s driving regularly and at such a high level.  "Health wise I'm good to go. I'm happy to be driving three nights a week as there's not as much racing during the winter." Tim notes. For 2015 Tim is excited with what's to come. It's too early to speak to any of the 2-year-olds but some of the returning horses have extremely bright futures! "Tony Alagna has a lot of good looking horses he bought at sales. I'm not sure if I am going to be driving any of them but I would love to be a part." he explains. Tim is still looking for his first Little Brown Jug win and that's something he would love to check off his to do list in 2015. When I mentioned Tim as a Hall of Famer, his humbleness started to shine once again. "I don't think I'm a Hall of Famer. I just want to go out and compete and get as many wins as I can and I really enjoy driving really good horses." Outside of harness racing, Tim is looking forward to the upcoming Super Bowl. His pick was Peyton Manning and the Broncos, however since being trounced out; Tim's choice is the Packers. "Seattle is the best team with a really good defense. If the Packers don't win, it will be the Seahawks who win the Super Bowl over the Patriots. Defense always wins." What team is Tim Tetrick's pick to win the NBA Finals? Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. "They're the best team in the NBA." by Roderick Balgobin, for  

As a harness racing fan, I often wondered who designed a driver's helmet. Are these helmets customized or are there stock designs you could easily purchase? After doing some research, I was able to touch base with Montreal Canadians fan, Duane LeBlanc, who is located in Truro, Nova Scotia and designs helmets for the Standardbred community as well as hockey masks. Duane LeBlanc designed his first harness racing helmet for his father, Billy LeBlanc, at a very young age. "I was a kid who went to town with a paint brush" laughs Duane. "I came by it honestly; I was always at the track or barn.... I saw what was involved in becoming a driver and it didn't appeal to me." Duane explains. "I also worked as a runner for the pari-mutuals at the track." "I was always drawing as a kid and in Junior High I decided to design a helmet for my dad. You just pick away at stuff when you're younger; you're sure what you want to do and it progressed from there." Duane's dad never urged him to get into harness racing, even when Billy had his own stable back in the 80's and 90's. When Billy turned more to full time training in the 90's it was the same time Duane was in high school. Duane admits if he was a little older maybe he would have gone the driving route. When it was time to pick a college to expand his skills in graphic design, Duane chose Nova Scotia Community College. "There was only one good computer in the class" he recalls, "I still had to buy a pencil set. Now everything is computerized" "It's so different now. It seems so antiquated now, but at the time you're looking at a computer wondering what it was. We ended up playing DOOM on it for the longest time." Over the last six years, business has picked up for Duane where he's designing more for drivers with more and more individualized paint jobs including the likes of Travis Henry, Corey Callahan and Marc Campbell. One memorable design Duane created was for Rick Zeron roughly ten years ago. An artist can be their own worst critic, so it was a shock to Duane when Rick gave him a shout out on National television from the winner's circle. (This was the good old days when the WEG circuit was televised nationally on Monday nights). Marcus Miller is another driver who has a custom LeBlanc design. "I looked him up after he sent in a request" says Duane. "I saw he was a Metallica fan and kind of made it look like an old school helmet, but more with tribal designs and horses." "Todd Trite, his helmet is one of the earlier one I created that has laurels and banners to an extent. I used more designs of horses and horses in the bike to make it different." A custom helmet takes an average of two weeks for Duane to produce. One driver he would love to create a helmet for is Jody Jamieson. "Especially because he's from here" adds Duane. "That would be a cool one. I met him a few times in passing over at the Driver's Championship in late August 2014." When he is not working away, Duane kicks back in his man cave with his high school sweet heart and wife of 14 years Renee and their Shelties; Wookie, Enzo and Lycan. by Roderick Balgobin, for      

What are two things harness racing fans cannot see in a race program? Who is Bob McClure's number one fan and Bob's down to earth nature. Every race Bob wins he always waves to his mom Jennifer McClure, his number one fan, from the winner's circle. "After every win, when I get to the paddock there is a text from my mom congratulating me" says Bob. 2014 has been a good year, especially the second half where Bob McClure who surpassed 500 career wins. The 500th win for Bob was at Flamboro Downs. "I personally don't keep track of my wins" Bob says. "I saw them coming out with a sign but the thought didn't cross my mind." "I've never seen a driver being acknowledged for 500 wins. Normally it's at the 1,000 mark." Bob continues, "It was really nice. I didn't expect it at all, when I saw them coming out with the sign I wasn't sure what it was for." "I wasn't tracking how many lifetime wins I actually had." Bob says. "It was really nice of Flamboro Downs to do." Who do we owe for this thoughtfulness? Was it the race secretary at Flamboro Downs or even the Racetrack manager? Whoever it is, Bob is very grateful. 2014 has also seen Bob surpass the $1,000,000 plateau. For all the accomplishments, Bob makes it clear that without the support of his owners and trainers such a goal would have been difficult to reach. "It's the people who were supporting me before the million dollar season that I have to thank" says Bob. "Without them I would be stuck on the sidelines. To be able to be in a position to prove yourself, you need to be given an opportunity. They didn't have to give me the opportunity and I am very grateful to them." Having horses that are more competitive in races has changed Bob's perspective during races. "I started driving more aggressively and that is mostly because I was driving more power" Bob notes. "When you're driving better horses you need to drive them more aggressively. If you're driving favorites, you have to put them in the race. That's your job." Bob explains about his recent success. To further elaborate on Bob's down to earth nature, just as he is open about success, Bob is equally open about his mistakes he's made in races. "I make a mistake every time I drive a horse. I've made a lot of mistakes.... I don't think it is a problem so long as you learn from your mistakes." Bob continues, "I've driven horses too aggressively and some not aggressive enough. You turn the page and move on to the next race. You correct your mistakes along the way." Reflecting on the 2014 season, Bob says 80% of his success came during the second half. With the recent success, this has enabled Bob to move to bigger and better projects away from the racetrack. One new project for Bob is working on a farm he bought which he has plans to renovate, sell and continue to grow. "I need to renovate to the entire place, so it's a lot of work and a lot of time" Bob admits. "A lot of money too!" A year ago, Bob supplemented his time working on construction sites, now he's his own boss. Going into 2015, Bob wants to keep the ball rolling! "I'm driving some really good horses right now. On my off nights from Flamboro Downs I would like to drive more at Woodbine but I know that doesn't come easy." Bob admits. For the 2015 summer season, Bob's goal is to drive more stake horses in the grassroots series. "Either the stake horses will come or not, that's out of my hands" states Bob. By Roderick Balgobin, for    

Whether you're a horseman from Canada or the USA, one major sport the harness racing community enjoys is the National Hockey League. With the NHL All Star game roughly 7 weeks away, I thought it would be interesting to find out some opinions on who will win the Stanley Cup and who will win the Hart Trophy. One thing is for certain, if a horseman's favorite team loses, he will be razzed, that's for sure! PJ Fraley who hails from Michigan has a soft spot for the Detroit Red Wings. That being said, PJ is a massive Rangers fan and believes Rick Nash will win the Hart. There are many horsemen who are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs... ''for better or worse'' says Greg Blanchard who hasn't lost faith in his Buds but think Stamkos has a good chance at the Hart Trophy. You can add Doug McNair, Bob McClure, Taylor Spitzig, Bruce Richardson and Carmen Auciello as fans of the Maple Leafs. Carmen Auciello adds, "I bleed blue!! This is the Leafs' year! Phil Kessel will be the MVP". Carmen isn't alone in his belief that Kessel earns the Hart Trophy, Doug McNair agrees! Everyone knows the Maple Leafs haven't won since 1967, Leafs fans are constantly reminded by those who favor recent winners or those who simply enjoy taunting fans of the Maple Leafs for fun. Enter Anthony Haughan and Bern Lavigne! Bern is a diehard Ottawa Senators fan and thinks Erik Karlsson will be league MVP and is enjoying the play of the Nashville Predators as his Senators are not looking too good. Bern adds, "I think the Leafs are the weakest team in the NHL!!!" "I'm not a big hockey fan" says Anthony Haughan, "but I still like to torture the rest of the poor Leafs fans around here." Anthony Haughan continues, "I guess I like the Blackhawks and they seem to be tough every year. I think Toews is the best player in the league." Bob McClure agrees with Anthony that Toews will win the Hart Trophy. Sugar Doyle is also impressed with the Blackhawks play and Sugar adds his favorite player is Bryan Bicknell. "I'll be sticking with them come playoff time for a Stanley Cup run." Sugar's favorite team growing up was the NY Islanders and they are looking good. When it comes to league MVP, Sugar agrees it's tough to go against Crosby however he believes Tyler Seguin and Filip Forsberg could be long shot entries. Duane LeBlanc, a Montreal Canadiens supporter, favors the Blackhawks to win as well. Duane adds, "It's tough to say for the MVP so early but I would go with Crosby." There are quite a few horsemen who believe Crosby has a good chance at holding the Hart Trophy for the 2014-15 season. James MacDonald, a diehard Penguins fan is "very confident" Sid the Kid will win it all! You can count Michael Burke and Harnesslink's Steve Wolf in on that sentiment too, though Steve still loves his NJ Devils, though he has not forgiven the Devils management for trading away Martin Brodeur. Travis Henry thinks it will be either Crosby or Ryan Getzlaf who wins the Hart Trophy. Though Travis's favorite team is the Washington Capitals, he likes either the St Louis Blues or the Anaheim Ducks to raise Lord Stanley's Cup. Anthony Macdonald, Scott Young and Bob McClure share the same thought that the Boston Bruins will be skating around the rink hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2015. Anthony Macdonald sees the big Z, Zdeno Chara raising the Hart Trophy eight feet into the air by season's end. I can't wait for the playoffs to start, though every week in the NHL is a rush in itself. Just like going to the races. We're coming up to the half mile marker and anything can happen! By Roderick Balgobin, for

Harness racing, like any industry is a business. Bills need to be paid, food needs to be put on the table and we are responsible for our families. An excellent showing of the importance of family took flight on Thursday October 16th when trainer Kyle Reibeling was notified through social media that one of his past horses was set to be put down. "A friend of mine, Jackie Panko alerted me that a friend of hers noticed some Standardbreds in a meat pen in Ottawa, ON waiting to go to slaughter" says Kyle. "One of the tattoo numbers matched a mare I bred and raised." "I raced her for a year before she was purchased by another party" explains Kyle. This didn't sit well for Kyle; it left a sinking feeling within that this would be her demise. "My heart sank." Kyle describes. "I know we can't control what happens to our horses after they leave our care, but when (a situation like this) is presented, you have to do something about." That's exactly what Kyle did. Did Kyle think it was possible to save Pocketfulasunshine? He did not know to be honest, but instead of wondering Kyle took action to save her. His first thought was 'I cannot let this happen'. "This was happening in the Ottawa (Ontario) area" explains Kyle. "I didn't know how to go about, we got the contact information we needed and luckily I have a good friend and a gentleman I train for down in Ottawa who really stepped up to the plate." Enter Bern Lavigne and Rick Sullivan who came through with back to back home runs. "They went down the next day and purchased her for me and took her to their place." Kyle notes, "They picked the burrs out of her and gave her a good bath. She was real skinny." Kyle is proud to say she has a great life now. Pocketfulasunshine is done racing, however Kyle admits he does enjoy taking her out for a jog and Pocketfulasunshine is responding well. And she's eating well; Kyle adds she finishes every meal. His daughters have fallen in love with Pocketfulasunshine too. "This is something we had to do." Kyle continues, "We are not looking for praise and I don't think this is anything out of the ordinary. Nobody wants to see anything bad happen to one of their horses they took care of and loved like family." A few years ago while riding in his tractor Kyle recalls wondering what to name her, "I remember thinking 'what am going to name this foal?' and a Natasha Bedingfield song came on that was full of spunk and Pocketfulasunshine it was." The song: Pocketful of Sunshine 'Take me away, to a secret place...' are the first few words that catch me when I listened to the song that inspired the name. At the time, who would have known how deep this would mean? More powerful were these next set of lyrics written by Natasha which took this story to an entire new level of meaning. 'Take me away to better days... take me away to a sweet escape.... In the darkness there is light and nobody cries.... Take me away to better days... the sun is on my side... I smile up to the sky and know I will be alright.' Roderick Balgobin Supernova Sports Club          

Harness racing trainer Casie Coleman is a new person in many ways. One exception is Casie is still training top flight winners and going for her unprecedented third win in a row at the 69th Jug. Casie lost 74 pounds and she admits there's still more to lose. Funny, normally the word 'lose' is rarely associated with Casie but in this scenario, losing means she's winning. What caused Casie to do a 180 degree change? "I was running three stables; one in Ontario, one in Florida and one in New Jersey. There were a lot of owners and staff." Casie says. Even though Casie was stacking up the win column, so was the pressure and ultimately the stress. "I used to be tired all the time" admits Casie. "I was known to be a b**** and very hard to get along with. I admit I was always real tense and stressed with the amount of big races I had on the go. There was staff, owners and a lot to handle and I would let stuff pile up on me." Casie acknowledges she wasn't so pleasant to work and given that she's a perfectionist, if the smallest thing wasn't right, it could get rough. "I would snap", says Casie. "I was always on edge." After cutting down to 33 horses, where at one time Casie had as many as 120 horses under her care and having fewer owners to handle, she is happier. Much happier! "I got to the point where I didn't even enjoy training the horses anymore. I even thought about getting out a few times." Casie continues, "I had some great horses and some people would die to have the stable I had, yet I wanted to get out and not (train) anymore." "The bigger my stable got, the bigger I got!" laughs Casie. Now, daily gym visits is what Casie uses to let out her frustration. Instead of lashing out, she burns calories. If it's been a rough day, this means Casie will endure a harder workout, benefiting her health. "I much more professional now, calmer in how I handle situations" Casie says. "I am a very happy person now and my owners have said I am a whole lot easier to deal with now." Casie states, "Even my staff has said that. I can't remember the last time I got mad at someone, whereas before it was happening many times throughout the day." In the past Casie was not a morning person and she admits she had a difficult time waking up. Since changing her life around Casie is up bright and early and ready to go. Now Casie jogs all her horses, no longer is she stuck in the office at a desk solely returning calls and entering horses. "Before I was tired all the time, now I have so much energy, it's unbelievable." Casie continues, "In the past I would be eating steak and pasta after the races, I was too dumb to know that was bad for me. I wasn't eating breakfast and I would have my first meal around 2pm." "I hired a personal trainer who taught me how to eat properly and how to count calories." Casie openly admits that stress caused her to gain a lot of weight. "Now I'm a whole lot happier doing my job." People walk past Casie now not realizing who she is. "Some people have a hard time believing it's me." Casie says with a laugh. "I was 205 pounds last year.... Now I'm at the Jug looking at pictures from last year and I'm like 'holy crap, I can't believe that's me. How did I do that to myself?' I was a size 16 before I started working out and now I am a size 2. It's been a big change that's for sure." Casie will keep working with her personal trainer even though she's in better shape, there's more to lose for her to win. She'll continue to jog all her horses and train opposed to being a manager. For the Jug, Casie has McWicked primed to go from the 1 spot and Casie praises one of her employees, Jeffrey Kemp for doing a standout job with McWicked. "He's been awesome" says Casie about Jeffrey's work with McWicked. Throughout the years and all the changes, Casie is grateful to her parents Phil and Linda Coleman as well as her assistant trainers (Andrew Harris, Mike Stewart and Anthony Beaton) who helped run her barns while she was away and for their hard work in all the success. By: Roderick Balgobin, for          

Anthony Haughan, an Ireland native, has a sure fire trifecta in his life; family, harness racing and Liverpool soccer. Whatever you do, never mention that you're a fan of Manchester United to Anthony! If you do, get ready for some good natured ribbing! In the late 90's, Anthony decided to leave Ireland before the winter season to try his hand in harness racing in Canada. "In Ireland, there is no racing during the winter time so I had to come to Canada to get my racing fix" admits Anthony. Shortly thereafter, Anthony went back home to Ireland however Canada must have had a special place in Anthony's heart as he returned to Canada in 2000. What was supposed to be a stay of only a few months turned out to be Anthony staying for good. Good turned to become great as Anthony met Meg (who trains as well), his partner. Anthony and Meg have a young son named Cian, (pronounced: Cane), who enjoys going to the race track to watch his dad in action. "Cian likes going to the barn and watching the horses. He likes coming to the races, though a little too often" says Anthony. "During the summer, Cian plays soccer so I do what I can to make sure I can watch him play." Anthony says. "Meg and I, we both go and watch him." Looking back over the years since coming to Canada, Anthony feels blessed to have made this transition for his career. "Making a living here doing what I love has been great." Anthony continues, "Not many people get to do a job they love, I'm very fortunate." "To come here, coming from Dublin and to have as many wins that I have, it's special." Anthony says, "I am grateful to everyone who has given me an opportunity." Aside from racing, training and family, Anthony is a director for the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA). "Guys come to me for help with Judge's infractions" says Anthony. "I will go and talk to the judges on their behalf or go in with them when they speak to the judge to support them. I like being involved." "I'm a horseman, so I don't look out for just myself. I look out for all the horsemen". Anthony states. Anthony is very honest about how he's handled his role with OHHA. "The older I've gotten, the better I am with handling situations. I think in the past I may have gone about it in the wrong way" Anthony continues, "As you get older and do a little more, you realize there's better ways to go about it." How did Anthony get involved with OHHA? "I was approached and asked if I would be interested in becoming a director, which I was. I was voted in by the directors" Anthony says. "You have to be available as much as you can" says Anthony. The biggest take away is Anthony does his best to help fellow horsemen; he takes pride in being there for others, offering advice or helping in any way possible. At any workplace whether it be an office, factory or paddock, the essential part of enjoying what you do is having a light atmosphere with good personalities. So when it comes to having a laugh on race night, Anthony is game. "Sometimes we try to have fun with a guy if he is having a rough night. You spend so much time with drivers; it's like being on a football or hockey team." Anthony adds, "A lot of times you travel together and are in the locker room together yet we compete against one another. There's a fine line but I am friendly with everyone." Knowing if a problem arises and you need help, it's good to know you're not alone. People like Anthony help reassure fellow horsemen that this is a team sport. A family. by Roderick Balgobin, for 

Harness racing trainer Taylor Spitzig, 23, is a dedicated and hard working individual with a bubbly and bright spirit. Taylor says she was 'bred' into horse racing. Being around horses from a young age, Taylor knew she was destined to be horsewoman. "My parents are divorced and I spent a great deal of time with my mom (Barb). The only time I would be at the barn or the track was when I spent a weekend with my dad (Rusty)." Taylor continues, "Going into the 7th grade, I moved out to my dad's house and that's when I got more involved with (the horses)." After high school, Taylor went to Fanshawe College for Fashion Merchandising. After working in the fashion field for a couple of companies, Taylor came to understand that working with horses is what she truly wanted to do. Taylor obtained her trainer's license last December and in March Taylor tallied her first training victory at Western Fair (London, ON)! Looking back at her first win, Taylor was not sure her horse even won. "Where we stand at Western Fair, you can't really tell" says Taylor. "I was watching the TV, and then back at the track, then back to the TV. I was like 'Aww he got beat'. Looking at the win photo it was so close; the other horse could have got him in the next stride." "Then I heard (starter) Brad yell 'Test #3' and that was me so I was all excited and went to the winner's circle." That win photo is framed and on the fridge at the stables' office. "It was my first win and it was the first win for the stable this year, so we started a tradition that every win we have goes on the fridge" Taylor explains. "The office is really my dad's man cave and that's where we throw all of our parties." What came to mind was Taylor decorating it, floor to ceiling with win photos throughout the entire room. When posed with the question what will happen when she gets to 500 wins? Taylor opted to think about that scenario when the time comes. "It was hard to get your first" Taylor admits with a laugh, "and it's harder to get your second." Through the summer, Taylor has been racing her horses at Dresden Raceway, Hiawatha Horse Park (Sarnia, ON) and Clinton Raceway. Once Leamington Raceway kicks off in September, you will see Taylor there cheering on her horses. When it comes to travelling, Taylor is all for it, though it can be tiring as Taylor works the night shift for a trucking company where she handles the customs paperwork. "I work Wednesday through Saturday from 9pm to 730am" Taylor confirms. "I make sure all my transports can cross through customs without any problems. I deal with trucks crossing in British Columbia, Alberta, Windsor and Quebec. Working with customs isn't always easy." "Sunday mornings when I get back from work, we are kind of rushed as its two hours from Sarnia to Clinton." Taylor continues, "I'm pretty tired.... Sometimes I don't go out the barn and my dad will get on me saying I should be in the barn. After working 40 hours night shift, it's hard to get to the barn. Driving home you're dead tired and it's like I don't want to fall asleep jogging horses." Working night shift is a tough adjustment. Some people think it's easier than a day job, but for anyone who has worked night shifts; it's physically and mentally draining. Plus working night shifts makes one feel segregated from society at times. Looking forward, Taylor has a two-year-old named Casimir Ozzy, who she is hoping to get on the track soon. "I think he'll be really good, maybe not a preferred but pretty good." Taylor states. With Taylor learning more and more, she believes in time she will be getting higher into the claiming game. Taylor admits, if she has questions that can help her learn, she is not afraid to ask. "You have to work from the bottom to make your way up" says Taylor. "You need to work with 3 claimers to learn and understand. When you have a good horse, of course it's easier." Flat out, Taylor acknowledges she gets along better with Colts and Geldings opposed to Mares. "It could be a Mare thing where our attitudes might clash. I think it might be a 'who wants to be the boss' situation" laughs Taylor. "Colts and Geldings are much more laid back." Down the road, Taylor has full intentions of owning more horses and becoming a regular name in the racing program. Don't be surprised if you see her at the sales, stocking up! Taylor will be heading out to Hoosier Park in Indiana this weekend to watch her friends' horses race. Two years ago Taylor went to the Little Brown Jug and she has plans on going again this year. Taylor may be a spectator this year at the Jug but it won't be long until she is the trainer of horses competing in such races. If anyone has a 'can do' attitude, it is Taylor. Despite working 40 hours at a night shift job and working at the barn, she's always smiling and outgoing. Taylor sincerely thanks her friends and family who have helped and supported her. As well, Taylor thanks her dad for everything he has taught her about horses and it's because of him that she's training horses. Keep smiling! By Roderick Balgobin, for                

Harness racing driver Scott Young aka 'The Answer' was kind enough to take a few moments to chat between races at Georgian Downs, (Innisfil, ON). Driving horses at Grand River Raceway and Georgian Downs, Scott acknowledges that a lot of strategy comes in to play when racing at the two tracks. Georgian Downs is a 5/8 mile track while Grand River Raceway is a ½ mile track. "This track, Georgian Downs, is known as a speed track" says Scott. "If you lead with your horse from the start off the gate, you're better for it. It's really hard to make up ground on this track if they don't go any fractions up front. You really try to get yourself well positioned here." Scott confirms the same type of strategy works well at Grand River Raceway. One thing Scott enjoys about driving at Georgian Downs is getting the opportunity to drive better horses. "I find there are better horses and the trainers you drive for are a lot of Mohawk Raceway trainers and they're bringing young horses here.... You get a chance to drive for some class stables and some decent horses." Scott has driven some horses for his dad, Bob Young. Scott admits his dad's horses make him look good! "He gives me a shot to win every time." Scott says. "My dad has a really nice filly named Wicked Speed and she's 3 for 3 this year with 2 Grass Roots (Ontario Sire Stakes)." Scott continues, "I drive a horse for my dad named Mitt Jagger and he's a pretty nice horse." When he isn't racing, Scott works for trainer Tony O'Sullivan. Well, why not his dad 'Bob Knowledge'? "We are the same person" Scott confirms, "I can work for him for about three weeks. We are too much alike. We always want to change stuff all the time... so I drive for him at night and this way when I see him, I am just driving." With that being said, Scott knows his dad is his biggest fan and Bob always does his best to watch all of Scott's drives. So what does Scott and his fellow horsemen do when they are in between races and have a few minutes? Play practical jokes of course. Scott speaks about times where he has found his gloves stuffed with candy wrappers or even stones. It seems to always take place when he's trying to rush onto the track. "There I am looking for my gloves with one minute before the post parade" says Scott. "And I am trying to empty them out. Or I will find my gloves pulled inside out." "Sometimes someone will switch whips with you. They'll leave you with a broken whip and they go and take your good one." Scott says with a laugh. "There's always something going on." Pranksters being called out are J Harris, Bob McClure and James MacDonald! It's safe to say Scott doesn't play any pranks as he admits the favor will be returned twice as harsh. "I try and stay clear of that" Scott says. Coming to the track is a delight for Scott, "I am friends with everybody and there's nothing like doing what you love with your friends." As mentioned before, 'The Answer' is a big Bruins fans and he's ready for the NHL season to kick off. In the mean time, Scotty is enjoying cheering on the Blue Jays as they fight for a wild card ticket to the post season. "The last five games I've been to the Blue Jays won each time" says Scott. If that's the case, I say we make sure Scott goes to every remaining home game! Third baseman Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays is Scott's favorite player. "My dad says we are a lot alike. When something goes bad for Brett, he has a little freak out." Scott explains. "When I was younger and I got beat with a favorite, I would throw a fit and my dad would say 'Easy Brett, easy'..."   by Roderick Balgobin,    

Harness racing owner Adriano Sorella is a happy guy and he admits being in this sport is a bit of a roller coaster ride at times.                 So, how does Adriano handle the ups and downs? Just like everyone else. “My horses won some races I didn’t expect them to win, so yes that has me content and happy.” Adriano says. “I’m a happy camper when I’m winning races and to be able to have these horses.”                 The beginning of the year didn’t blossom quite as Adriano and his connections had expected. “Things started to turn around at the beginning of June. Prior to that it wasn’t all roses, that’s for sure” explains Adriano.                 With Adriano and his connections having already committed a lot of money towards Stake races for their babies, it was time to see if their investment would pay off.                 “The babies aren’t racing yet, Vegas Vacation is on the shelf for 2014 plus I have another horse coming off an injury and some aren’t racing well.” Adriano continues, “There are fourteen mouths to feed, train, stabling bills, vet bills and with Stakes fees on top of that and no money coming in, you’re scratching your head wondering what you are going to do.”                “You know one of the worst things you can do is sit there and bleed (money)”, says Adriano. “It’s a tough decision to make but sometimes you need to invest more money into it. It’s like having three restaurants and two aren’t doing well and the third is making money trying to support the other two. You’re figuring out what you need to change.”        Before June rolled around Adriano was perplexed but his faith never wavered. Adriano would receive text messages informing him the babies were coming along well even though they hadn’t raced to date.                 One thing with Adriano is he’ll ask questions but if you’re teamed with him, it’s for a strong reason.           “All of a sudden June rolls around and the babies come to the plate… I’m so glad I bought these Sportswriter babies!” Adriano exclaims. “I’ll admit I was a little scared at first. I see Casie with the horses and how she checks them out and I said ‘let’s do it’. You haven’t seen my best ones yet because they haven’t raced.”                    “I’m pretty sure you’ll see Sportswriter babies on the grand circuit. Just give it time, watch.” Adriano admits, “I wish I owned that Stud. I’m really happy for Casie and Steve.”                 The summer continues to look bright for Adriano and his connections. “I have my filly set to race in the Empire elims this weekend, Major Dancer. She’s a very nice looking horse. We held on to her even though she had an injury before she was two. She was lightly raced at two and she’s looking really good… she’s definitely one to look for and she has been sharp.”                 Adriano considers Major Dancer to vie for the Jugette this September. (FYI: Tickets are still available for the Jug).       Another horse of Adriano’s is 2-year-old American Legend. Adriano has high expectations for American Legend. “He’s good enough for the Grand Circuit. Hopefully we see him in the Metro elims and hopefully the finals.”                 On August 4th, Adriano has Bob Ben and John set to race in the Battle of Waterloo finals at Grand River Raceway. Bob Ben and John drew the 3 spot and what’s very interesting is 5 of the 9 horses slated to race are Sportswriter babies, including Bob Ben and John.                 “We didn’t pay much for Bob Ben and John” says Adriano. “Ever since he started training over here, he’s been a different horse.”                 There are actually 13 Sportswriter babies scheduled to race throughout Monday’s card at Grand River Raceway plus one Also Eligible.              One thing harness fans should know is Adriano enjoys interacting with fans and having a laugh or two. Even if you need advice on how to stay positive through difficult times in your life, you can count on Adriano for that too.         For all of Adriano’s success, he remembers his roots and where he came from. It wasn’t too long ago Adriano was struggling as a single father. With perseverance and a positive attitude, anything can happen. by Roderick Balgobin, for

Premier Turf Club, a betting provider for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing proudly proclaims it is racing's 'Best Kept Secret' as part of its logo. Is it? It does seem that way as Premier Turf Club focuses more on customer service compared to off-shore betting sites, where their only focus is their bottom line. Premier Turf Club is an Oregon based pari-mutuel wagering provider operated and regulated in the state of Oregon by the Oregon Racing Commission. Rich Nilsen, the Director of Player Services, took time to break down why Premier Turf Club offers more to customers compared to faceless betting sites located, well, who knows where. "The vision was to create an account wagering service that benefited the players who supported the industry." Rich explains, "The idea was to give the players back real cash on their wagers, which would lead to more wagering and help keep players solvent. Unlike other sites at the time, we would not charge wagering fees or nickel-and-dime our players to death." Rich adds, "We also wanted to provide a customized and personal experience for the players. In general, horseplayers don't want bells and whistles. They want a solid, streamlined wagering platform that they can rely on." Unlike other sites, customers can genuinely get to know who operates Premier Turf Club. Rich joined the BetPTC group in 2011 and Rich is a graduate from the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. "I started a racing stable which I managed for 10 years." Rich explains, "I have been handicapping for about 30 years and am a regular on the tournament scene. I was introduced to the harness races as a youngster on Long Island and attended the old Roosevelt Raceway. But my love and expertise is in Thoroughbred racing." Knowing Rich has roots as a fan in horse racing, better allows Premier Turf Club to empathize with their customers when it comes to stringent measures put in place by the IRS. "When a customer places a wager with BetPTC from the comfort of their home or on the road, it's no different than wagering at their local track or OTB. All the wagers go directly into the pools and support the Thoroughbred, Greyhound and Standardbred racing industries." Rich says. "We are certainly hopefully that legislation in Washington will change regarding how 'winnings' are viewed by the IRS. It's ludicrous that a player has to report the cashing of a $605 ticket, for example, without taking into account what it cost to place that wager." BetPTC strives to reward their customers immediately, allowing customers to cash in their rewards almost instantly which are very unique. "BetPTC has actually been a pioneer in innovative horse racing applications and services" Rich notes. "We were the first site to offer conditional wagering, where a player could set minimum odds requirements for their bets." Rich adds, "We are now the first and only company to offer same-day instant cash rewards. Minutes after a race or wager is declared official, the rewards are immediately placed in the players' accounts. There are no points to figure out and no waiting." Premier Turf Club is always looking to expand and broaden what customers can access. Such as adding NYRA, Woodbine/Mohawk (Canada's elite tracks), as well as racing from Japan and Australia. "BetPTC also has one of the most experienced simulcast directors in the industry, Kay Webb, who negotiates with the racetracks and works to obtain new signals." Rich states. With the legislation the way it is right now, Premier Turf Club can only offer service to select customers in certain states. However, BetPTC General Manager Todd Bowker is continuously looking to expand coverage. Rich wants customers to know they are the #1 priority at all times. "We treat customers like the real people they are." Rich confirms. "BetPTC is a small company and we have one-on-one personal relationships with our client base. As a result we have one of the highest retention rates in the account wagering business. Secondly, we provide our players with the best cash-back rewards in the industry, based on their level of play." "We invite anyone who is new to 'Racing's Best Kept Secret' to come try out this summer. We recently upped our new member bonus to $150, so it's a great time to join and experience the difference." by Roderick Balgobin, for

An icon for close to 150 years, the harness racing track Truro Raceway (Truro, Nova Scotia) has been a pillar of the Maritimes for many generations. Truro Raceway opened in 1865 and since then there have been countless memories that fans near and wide can share. In 2013, Truro Raceway appeared set to shut its doors for good due to a lack of funding. There are varying opinions both within the racing community and outside as to who was at fault for this turmoil. Politics? Ignorance? Inability to change? Perhaps it was all three and everyone was to blame. Regardless of the finger pointing, a group of volunteers came together in a united force to keep this long standing pillar thriving. Robyn Crowe, Christina Gillis, Penny Wesley, and Cindy Christie all shared a deep passion for harness racing. All four have deep roots within the province and in horse racing. Horse racing was not just a day event at Truro Raceway, it was tradition, family, memories, and life. Three words in my opinion that best describe their passion: Past... Present... Future. With the passion of all four united to see Truro thrive, Robyn, Christina, Penny and Cindy set out to bring the old fans back to the track as well as draw in a new generation of fans. "One thing that our group is focusing on is bringing new people to the races." Robyn says. "During Atlantic Grand Circuit Week last year we had over 150 people we brought in though targeting businesses to bring in their staff for a night out. This year, we are offering the same promotion, and are reaching out to anyone to bring a group of new people to the races." Robyn explains. "I also think that if we can get back to having bigger races and draw more outside horses and people, we could help the tourism industry and local businesses as well" says Robyn. Robyn is married to horseman Darren Crowe. Robyn notes "I also looked at Darren and how it would impact him. Harness racing is his full time job, however it is much more than that. It truly is his passion. It never once crossed my mind about him not having a business because Darren is a hard worker and capable of doing anything. But it certainly crossed my mind about how he would feel when what he has worked hard at for 20 years is gone. So that is why I stepped up to help in any way I could, and why I continue to do so. As for how many hours we put in....basically it is a second full time job. The members of our committee and those who offer to help us out when they can truly have dedication to this and want to see things move in the right direction." Cindy Christie works full time as a hair stylist and runs her own salon. Her late father was a dedicated owner and trained his own horses. Cindy's father instilled his love for harness racing in his three girls who he raised practically on his own as their mother passed away. Cindy has been a long time volunteer and is always willing to step up and help out. Penny Wesley works fulltime as a Parole Officer and owns horses. Penny's reason for volunteering, " number one passion is harness racing. My great grandfather, (Bill Greene) had horses and it has filtered down through (the family). The people you meet in this sport are the most generous people you will ever meet. Although gambling has moved to other venues such as casinos and VLT's I still believe if promoted in the right way, we can draw people back to the tracks." Penny continues, "The one thing I am looking to get out of this is to be able to show people the overall experience of being at the racetrack, from the behind the scenes work, to the betting window and the race on the track, as going to a racetrack can be a family event or a night out after a long work week. It is one place where you will meet any type of individual with something in common with each other and that is a love for horses." Christina Gillis, an early childhood educator, adds the same level of passion and history to her reason to volunteer. "Basically, I feel as though volunteering at Truro Raceway is important because the track has always been a big role in my life. I do not recall ever not having a race horse." "Harness racing is a big staple on both sides of my family and it is something that we enjoy doing together." Christina explains, "Everyone at our track is somehow like family to me, and I know how important this lifestyle is to people. My sister and I have both been around the horses since we could walk and I feel as though we learned a lot of life's lessons there. If the track had of closed last year like it was supposed to, it would really leave a hole in our lives, as it would to so many of our family friends." "The closure notice we received last summer was a big eye opener and we all banded together and we made a difference." Christina states. "This reflects back on everyone's attitude. I personally found that the atmosphere has changed immensely the past year. It's gone from negative to more upbeat and positive. Of course there will always be fine tuning and work for improvement but to see us as a track and track family still racing every week makes me happy. To know that I have helped in making (Truro Raceway) turn around makes me proud. The other three girls and I work our butts off but at the end of the day, without everyone's help as a whole, we wouldn't be able to do what we do." These volunteers demonstrate to any and everyone, if there's a will, there is a way. In life there will always be obstacles, but if you love something and cherish it, that obstacle will only become a hurdle. By: Roderick Balgobin  

And they're off!!! That's right, Friday night racing is about to kick off at Truro Raceway with a 6pm post time this Friday, June 6th. Fans are welcome to enjoy a cold brew at the beer garden and while at the beer garden fans will be able to wager on their favorite horses! The beer garden will be an awesome spot to watch all the action up close as the horses thunder by on their way to the finish! The Friday, June 6th race card will also feature a Maritimes faceoff between the drivers of Truro Raceway and the drivers of Red Shores Charlottetown. The top two drivers and two amateur drivers from each colony will square off over four races that evening. On Friday, June 20th, the top driver challenge will conclude with the second and final leg of the series. On this night, after four more races, the winning driver will be celebrated and the broadcast team from 'Race Night Live' Red Shores Charlottetown will be broadcasting live. The driver's challenge is proudly sponsored by Wayne's Saddlery and D.R. Polley Auto Sales. There will be live music on Friday's between races to keep the Raceway crowd entertained! Both Friday race cards will offer a free program and betting voucher to new fans, giving fans a chance to win for free. Truro Raceway is excited to host all groups, including corporate, birthdays, anniversaries, wedding parties and non-profit. All group bookings will include a fun night of racing which includes programs, reserved seating, a chance to win betting vouchers in the 'Own a Horse for a Race' contest, behind-the-scenes tours with the opportunity to meet drivers, trainers and their horses. Please contact Robyn Crowe at 902-893-9222 to book your group or if you have any other questions. By Roderick Balgobin, for Truro Raceway

With classy harness racing analyst Mike Hamilton set to put down the microphone at Mohawk Racetrack in a couple of weeks, there is another classy person set to take his place. Enter Greg Gangle, a West Lorne, Ontario native. Greg is a true people person, someone who is ready to engage with patrons and horsemen alike and is always enjoying a laugh. Sounds like Mike! "A lot of people don't know Mike's such a smart man in terms of business sense." Greg says. "There's times after work where him and I will sit down and I ask him numerous questions and not just about racing. He's an intelligent guy and over the last three years I've learned a lot from him and Ken Middleton." Greg states a valuable piece of advice, "when you're around good people, you learn quickly and good things are bound to happen." The vacancy has opened a wonderful opportunity for both Greg and Chad Rozema to rotate as on-air hosts. "Mike Hamilton has such a great reputation" says Greg. "Following in his footsteps would be appealing to anyone, not just myself. Chad Rozema who has worked with Woodbine in the past, is coming aboard as well." "The Horse Player's Journal will need some assistance as well because that gig also became available." Greg explains, "What the broadcast team has done is, they brought Chad and I aboard to do the nightly simulcast show along with doing the Horse Player's Journal, which is the handicapping and writing throughout the week." "One week I am going to be doing Mike Hamilton's job and the next week I will be doing the Horse Player's Journal. Chad and I will be (rotating) back and forth." Greg says. With Greg having worked for the Woodbine Racetrack media department these past couple of years, Greg is more than familiar with the horses and handicapping. Looking at both opportunities, does Greg have a preference? No sir, Greg's excited at the prospect of exceeding at both, while having a good time and delivering insight to fans. Greg admits he doesn't have a 'style' or approach. What Greg is focused on is being himself; simple and honest. "I follow quite a few on-air hosts, not just in harness racing." Greg notes, "Don Cherry and Ron MacLean at the CBC do a fantastic job. I've read their biographies and news clips and they've always said, especially Don Cherry and that is 'to always be yourself, do not try and be someone you're not'. When I express my opinion about a horse, it's not fake it is what I truly believe... whether I like a horse or dislike a horse." "As for having my own signature approach, I don't think so, but who knows down the road I might be doing something I didn't even know I was doing." Greg says. There have been a few people within the industry that have influenced Greg to help him work his way to where he is now. "When I was 19 or 20 I worked for a magazine, at the time it was called the Harness Edge" says Greg. "There I was working for publisher and editor Harold Howe and Heather MacKay Roberts who was the assistant (editor) at the time." Both Heather and Harold were role models for Greg and they took Greg under their wing to help show him the ropes. "I was going to all the yearling sales and major races and it was really exciting" says Greg about his experience with the Harness Edge. "From there we started developing video interviews for the website and they still do it now. That's where I got my feet wet... learning to conduct interviews, editing, uploading it to the website and making it presentable to the public." "Three years later an opportunity came up to work at Woodbine and they were excited that I knew how to do all that and they wanted me to continue doing that. It snowballed from there." Greg says. Greg's former boss at Woodbine, John Siscos is another person Greg is grateful to have met. "I have to thank John a great deal." Greg states. "He's the type of person who gives you the reins of things. He really respects your opinion on what you want to do on a weekly or daily basis. He threw the ball in my court and let me do what it was I wanted to do and it grew from there." A major aspect Greg enjoyed during his time working for the media department is the amount of time Greg got to work up close and personal with everyone including drivers and trainers. "You're right with the who is who of racing, especially in Canada... that was really exciting." Greg says. If you haven't met Greg, he considers himself a very competitive person who likes to play hockey and try his best in anything he does including work, he's always swinging for the fences! "I put a lot of pressure on myself" says Greg. "Replacing Mike Hamilton, both Chad Rozema and myself, it's not something easy to do. I know, on behalf of Chad and myself, we are both looking forward to the challenge." If you're at Mohawk and you see Greg, I highly recommend you go and meet him. Fans can never go wrong meeting a classy person in any industry! Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin or Twitter: ScSupernova

1 to 16 of 17