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Seaford, DE --- One of the first people Roger Huston met when he arrived at the new harness racing Shenandoah Downs last week was 8-year-old Morgan Marston. “She looked up at me and said ‘I want to be an announcer too,’” he said. Little did she know Huston would make it happen -- the very next day. On Saturday (Oct. 1), Marston, with Huston’s help, announced her very first race, a qualifier at Shenandoah Downs. “For a first effort from an 8-year-old I thought it was unbelievable,” Huston said this week. Huston, who was a guest announcer at Shenandoah Downs this past weekend, was introduced to Marston by longtime trainer Betsy Brown. For roughly 20 years Brown has been training horses for owner Terry Kibler, who has a farm in Woodstock. Young Marston is Kibler’s cousin and has shown a strong interest in horses for years. “Morgan comes after school every day to help with the horses,” Brown said. “She is very hands-on. She jogs and trains on my lap.” Marston was eager to meet the legendary Huston and jumped at the chance to call a qualifier under his guidance. She showed up at the track Saturday with the qualifying list in hand. Huston gave her some initial pointers, advising her to say “they’re off and racing” because it was a mixed field of trotters and pacers, and handed her the microphone. Marston was nervous, and Huston fed her the horses’ names throughout the race. She announced the entire mile, however, even throwing in some phrases of her own toward the end. What impressed Huston the most was the fact that the echo of the P.A. system didn’t faze Marston. “I’ve never met anybody that didn’t have problems hearing themselves on the P.A. system,” he said. “They get that echo effect. Most people will hear themselves and stop talking. She went right on.” Huston says Marston is probably the world’s youngest race caller. Prior to her, the youngest person he helped was 14. And that person went on to become announcer at The Meadowlands. “Sam McKee started writing me letters when he was nine,” Huston said. He met him in 1976 and helped him call some qualifiers at The Meadows before connecting him with an announcing job at a fair. “The rest of his career is history,” Huston said. He strongly believes that adults should encourage and support young people who want their help. “You never do anything to put a road block up for them,” he said. “You help them as much as you can. You never know who you’re talking to -- it could be the next John Campbell or Tony Alagna.” As for Marston, Huston says she could have a bright future as an announcer. He’s looking forward to seeing her progress when racing returns to Shenandoah Downs next fall. “There’s no question in my mind she could be an announcer,” he said. by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

The year was 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson was President, the Beach Boys were having Good Vibrations and a 26- year-old native of Xenia, Ohio started calling harness racing at the Delaware County Fair. To celebrate Roger Huston's 50 years at the Delaware County Fair, Little Brown Jug officials have created a limited edition t-shirt that will be available for sale at the three souvenir stands on the fairgrounds for only $15. In 2017, Huston will call his 50th Little Brown Jug. "The Delaware County Fair and the Little Brown Jug have been an important part of my life," noted Huston. "The Jug is like no other race in the world and the fans have given me so much joy over the years." To give back to the fans, Huston will be available for several "meet and greet" sessions at the following dates, times and locations: Sunday, September 18 from 12:45 - 1:15 PM (Grandstand) Sunday, September 18 after the races (next to the Log Cabin) Monday, September 19 from 2:45 - 3:15 PM (Grandstand) Monday, September 19 after the races (next to the Log Cabin) Tuesday, September 20 from 1:00 - 1:30 PM (Grandstand) Tuesday, September 20 after the races (next to the Log Cabin) Wednesday, September 21 after the races (next to the Log Cabin) Thursday, September 22 from 11:00 - 11:30 AM (Grandstand) Thursday, September 22 after the races (next to the Log Cabin)   Jay Wolf  

The Hands on Horses Program has toured South Western Ontario over the past two weekends. This past Sunday many young harness rascing fans appeared at Clinton Raceway for Kids Day and lined up for their chance to sit behind a racehorse. The previous weekend saw the program make stops at Grand River Raceway, Hiawatha Horse Park and Leamington Raceway. At all events patrons were offered the opportunity to take a ride around the racetrack between races. As an added bonus fans at Hiawatha Horse Park had the opportunity to pose and take a picture in between races with our long time program horse Hollywood Ham. Fans lined up for the unique opportunity for a picture with a racehorse. Large crowds were in attendance as legendary race announcer Roger Huston was in the house to announce the evening's races. Driver Mark Williams was thrilled to capture his 5,000th win on the card and have it announced by Roger. After the win Mark took the lines of one of the program horses and gave some happy fans a trip around the track. The following afternoon Roger met up with Mark for a congratulatory photo at Leamington Raceway where he was announcing that tracks card of racing. Roger indicated that Leamington was the 139th racetrack that he has now announced at in his illustrious career. As a special bonus Roger hopped in the jogger and gave Essex Mayor Ron McDermott a thrill as they toured the Leamington Oval together. The weekend finished off with a hockey players challenge race between the Wheatley Omstead Sharks and the Leamington Flyers. The Wannadrive team assisted with outfitting the participants and providing the two seater joggers. Special thanks to all of the trainers that provided the horse power for the event which was won by the Flyers Cale Phibbs in an exciting finish. We look forward to offering this interactive experience to racing fans across the province. For your chance to participate check out the schedule at the website handsonhorsesprogram.com Our next event will be August 27th at Georgian Downs. To see photos of all of the events visit our facebook page here. By Stacey Reinsma

DUBLIN, Ireland – A record number of 180 horses have entered the weekend race card for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway just outside of Dublin. “My brother James and I cannot believe how everyone wants to race this weekend,” said Derek Delaney, head of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee. “For the fourth straight year we keep growing and growing.” A total of 188 horses have been entered for the Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14 two-day meet. That is up 11.12% over prior year. The big race of the weekend is the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) for two-year-old pacers. This is first year that there are both a colt and filly division with 14 youngsters entered in both events. The VDM is a rugged event that requires horses to compete in elimination divisions on Saturday and then come back again Sunday to race in the finals. The inaugural filly division is being sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm of Kentucky, USA. Each of the finals race for a purse of $16,000 euros.  Vincent Delaney was Derek and James younger brother who tragically died in 2011 at the age of 27. The brothers then developed the memorial race series in his honor and it has since grown to become the richest stakes event and weekend in the history of harness racing in Ireland the UK. Additional major stakes events over the weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, the Lee Edwards/PJI Engineering Junior FFA Pace and the Elvin-Delaney French FFA Trot. There is a gala kickoff dinner Friday evening at the Airport Hilton Hotel that is already sold out and Sunday’s VIP Marquee Tent is also sold out with over 300 to attend. Every year the VDM Committee selects a local charity to benefit from the VDM Weekend, especially at the Friday night gala dinner auctions. This year’s charity is the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) of Dublin. The organization, which is comprised 100% of all volunteers, operates a seven-day outreach service across the city, coinciding with their mobile outreach unit. ICHH’s outreach support service operates nightly providing access to beds, sleeping bags, food or case management referrals. ICHH works a 16-hour mobile outreach service, responding to rough sleeper reports within 15 minutes of getting a call. The service also operates seven days a week. The website is at http://www.innercityhelpinghomeless.ie/. It is just grand how all of this has come together,” Derek Delaney said. “And this year we have so many great horsemen and women coming over for Vincent’s weekend. Dexter Dunn from New Zealand, Aaron Merriman from the USA are the special guest drivers, Diamond Creek Farms Adam Bowden, Joe Bellino and his entire crew, Roger Huston, Heather Vitale, Heather Wilder, Murray Brown, John McDermott, Alan Galloway, Sydney Weaver, Joann Looney-King, Susan Looney and a huge group from Australia on tour. "What a great time we will show them all!” Delaney said. "Most everyone is arriving today and tomorrow and we are looking forward to meeting everyone." The guests begin their VIP weekend with carriage ride tours of downtown Dublin plus lunch at the world famous Temple Bar, a bus trip to Oakwood Stud training and breeding facility, the gala kick-off dinner Friday and then the two big VDM race days Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend

Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston, known in the harness racing circles as “the voice” is taking a vacation day from the Meadows to call the matinee races this Saturday (April 9th) at the historic McGhee's Mile Training Center located in Aiken, South Carolina.   Roger will be track-side to call the six scheduled races at the famed training center, that at one time housed some of harness racing's champion horses, including Greyhound, Adios, and Knight Dream.   The event is being hosted by McGhee's Mile owners, Bruce and Janis McGhee, who along with their children, Jessica, Ashley, Bruce, and Matt, manage the 250 stall training center. McGhee's Mile includes three tracks, which are a mile red clay track, a half mile red clay track, and a 7/8 mile sand track.   There will be plenty of food, beer, and entertainment at this year's races. Prior to the start of the races, spectators are invited to talk with the horsemen to learn more about the great sport of harness racing.   Gates Open 9:00AM Carriage Parade will begin at 11AM Post Time 12:00 PM   General Admission $10.00 per person in advance $12.00 at the gate Children 10 & under are free Parking $5.00   Rail Sides tickets are $50. per person   Rain Date: April 10, 2016   For any information and ticket sales, please visit the tracks website at http://www.mcgheesmile.com or contact Janis McGhee at (803)617-8511.   By Fred Hudson

Dublin, Ireland - The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to announce today that North America's leading dash winning driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, is committed to coming to Ireland for the Delaney Memorial Weekend, August 13 and 14, 2016. "I was shocked when I got the invite," Merriman said. "I have read about the race, knew that George Brennan went last year and had a great time and now I am getting to come over this year, what a great honor this is." The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "Our committee board was ecstatic that Aaron agreed without even flinching to come over for the VDM this year." Said Derek Delaney, who along with his brother James, developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial in honor of their younger brother who tragically passed away in 2011. "Aaron is a world-class driver," Delaney added, "And we are sure to show him a great time here both on and off the track. He will be sure to have some good drives at Portmarnock Raceway both on Saturday and Sunday." The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers with elimination divisions on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. For the first time this season there will be a separate filly division, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm in the USA. Also on the program that weekend is the Oakwood Stud Derby, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial, The RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Stable plus other big stakes events. When it comes to his heritage, Aaron says he will fit in just fine. "My father's family is British and my mother is Swedish and Irish," Aaron said. "I think I will fit in perfectly. "I'm VERY eager to experience another continent with harness racing," Aaron said. "I've never left North America before. I've checked out some of the history of this race and have read about the great enthusiasm and real love for our sport that they have and it is so heartwarming. "Harness racing is definitely a sport where people are joined together all around the world," Aaron said. "To be offered this opportunity to represent America and show my patronage to Ireland and the UK horsemen and fans is once in a lifetime and I was not going to pass it by. I'll thoroughly embrace my days there." Merriman is already on a roll in 2016. He has a commanding lead in the driving standings in North America with 214 wins, 54 ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Bartlett. And Merriman has $1.5 million in purses won already with a Universal Driving Rating at an impressive .356, second only to Bartlett. "Missing a week of racing back home is nothing compared to the adventure that awaits me in Ireland," Aaron said. "I can't wait for the second week of August to come. And I will not be homesick because Roger Huston will be there calling the races!" For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial  

Like many people during this election year, Phil Dott has a sign in his front yard. However, his doesn't display the name of his favorite candidate. Instead, Dott's sign proudly announces the arrival of the latest member of his family...a four-legged Standardbred member named Clavius.   Dott, 61, is a Standardbred owner and breeder from McMurray, Pennsylvania that first got hooked on harness racing in the 1970s. "I came to The Meadows and heard Roger Huston calling a race. That was it, I was hooked," he says. "There was no turning back from there."   He spent most of his life as just a fan, but five years ago decided to take the next step and become an owner. He met trainer Tim Twaddle and claimed a Real Artist mare named Hard Shoe Hannah. A lifetime winner of more than $280,000, Hard Shoe Hannah was a good racehorse, and Dott hoped that she would make a great broodmare prospect as well. "We turned her into a pet," he says. "She didn't race as well as we wanted to, so we sent her to Dennis and Gina Hoffman at Lindwood Farms to start a new career."   Hard Shoe Hannah's first foal was a Shark Gesture filly that was given an unusual name, Jeffrey Hard Shark. "My wife Adele and I named her after my nephew, who died at 12 of a brain tumor. I had told my brother that I would name the horse after his son. We wanted a colt, but it was a filly, and I still kept the name."   Jeffrey Hard Shark, co-owned by Dott and his friend John Valdisera, made a handful of appearances on the track last season before spending the winter in Pinehurst, North Carolina. "Gordon Corey trained her down there this winter. He's a very good trainer. I always liked Pinehurst. I used to play golf there and wanted my horse down there. We just brought her back and Tim (Twaddle) is getting her ready for her three-year-old season. Tim's a good guy and a good trainer."   The second foal, Pjonmyshoulder, by Hypnotic Blue Chip, is a two-year-old this season, and the latest arrival is Clavius, by Western Ideal, foaled this month at Lindwood, as the sign in his yard proudly notes. "Everybody stops by my house and sees the sign out there," he says. "Lindwood Farm also promotes it, and I've had nothing but positive comments. I love racing and The Meadows." That love is evident to anyone following Dott on the highway as well, where stickers with the names of his horses cover the back windows, just like the stick-family decorations on many minivans on the road.   Dott's goal in the sport is the same as most other owners, "Hopefully I can make some money and have really good, winning horses." But for now, he is just happy seeing his Standardbred family grow, and sharing that news with his family and friends. "I've tried not to spoil the horses, but I love them all. They're my babies."   by Jeff Zidek for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association    

LEBANON, OH. - With a whopping total of $188,200 in purses offered on a stellar 14-race harness racing program at Miami Valley Raceway on Saturday (January 30), Hall Of Fame announcer Roger Huston, subbing for the regular voice of Miami Valley Barry Vicroy, had plenty to get excited about. In addition to a $20,000 Open Pace, a pair of lucrative Claim To Fame Series championships went postward for $12,500 claiming pacers of each sex. The 'boys' chased a $29,500 bounty; while the 'girls' competed for a $18,700 purse. In a mild upset, Astreo's Love (LeWayne Miller) topped Mykindachip (Kayne Kauffman), Fancy Creek Elusiv (Chris Page) and favored Thisjetsabookin (Josh Sutton), who was moving up to the top open class after establishing a new track record of 1:50 in a harness racing conditioned event a week earlier. Miller left alertly with Astreo's Love to wrestle the lead away from Thisjetsabookin just before the :26.1 quarter mile marker. Sutton quickly "quarter-moved" back to the front with the notorious front-stepping track record holder. It looked like the winning move when the half was reached in :54.4 and Thisjetsabookin still looked comfortable with an approximate two-length lead at the 1:22 third station. Astreo's Love was bravening up in the pocket throughout and a host of others were intent on closing strong as the thundering herd swung off the final bend, however. Astreo's Love is owned and trained by Don Eash. The six-year-old Make My Day gelding now has 30 career triumphs and just shy of $300,000 in lifetime earnings. The powerful Virgil Morgan Jr. Stable flexed its muscles in the $29,500 championship race for male $12,500 claimers. Entrymates Ally-Con (Josh Sutton) and Wilcox (Dan Noble) finished one-two in a hotly-contested race. Morgan co-owns the winner with Carl Howard, while Howard owns all of the runnerup. They finished a nose apart in the 1:53.4 mile. Sand Summerfield (John DeLong) finished third. Sutton enjoyed an advantageous second-over trip before managing the narrow victory when asked to dig down deep through the stretch. The top four finishers were all within a length and a half at the wire. Ally-Con won two of 24 starts in 2015, but has now copped three out of four in 2016, including two of three since joining the Morgan Jr. Stable through the claim box on opening night of the Miami Valley meet. Ginger Spice N (Randy Tharps) was victorious by a nose in the tandem female event, beating Love Of Liberty (Josh Sutton) in a close photo finish. Allthatjazz De Vie (Tyler Smith) garnered the show dough in the race which had the top six finishers all within two lengths. The winner is owned by Michael Annunziata, who shipped a trailer full of his horses to southwest Ohio for the popular Claim To Fame series events. He entrusted the training once they arrived to A. J. Carlo, who has made the most of the opportunity. For driver Randy Tharps, it was career victory 4991 as he approaches the coveted 5,000 lifetime wins plateau. He followed up by visiting the win circle in the very next race, a $10,000 conditioned event, with He's Got It. Gregg Keidel  

Dublin, Ireland – New Zealander Dexter Dunn made his presence known in Ireland and the UK as the visiting harness racing reinsman won three races at Portmarnock Raceway Saturday. In addition, there were two track records set at Portmarnock Saturday. One in an elimination division of the Vincent Delaney Memorial for two-year-old pacers and the other in an elimination division of the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby. It didn’t take Dexter Dunn long to find the winner’s circle at Portmarnock, it came in the second race on the program, a one and half mile handicap trot with the six-year-old French mare, Valse De Fourches. “She was on the bit,” Dunn said, “and she did all the work.” Getting right to the front, Valse De Fourches led every step of the way, scoring by two lengths in 3:09.5. Sired by Ipson De Mormal, Valse De Fourches is trained and owned by Sean Kane. “It’s so great to be here,” Dunn said. “This first race was so easy as she is a good mare.” New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety put it best. “He has silk hands,” Dalgety said of Dexter Dunn. “Dexter is use to these extra distance races. It looked like he just held the mare together and Dexter put a little extra polish on her.” Dunn then added his second straight win with Carmel Camden in the first of two elimination divisions of the Oakwood Stud eliminations The filly division, going one and one-half miles, saw Dunn and Carmel Camden wire the field with ease in 3:06.7, romping by six open lengths. The daughter of No Pan Intended is trained and co-owned by James Delaney with his brother Derek. “This was the first time that she (Carmel Camden) ever went an extra distance race and Dexter did great with her.” James Delaney said. “If she races like that tomorrow in the final for Dexter we will be in the hunt for sure.” The third win on the day for Dexter Dunn came in the last race, the Fletcher Metals FFA Pace. Dunn once again sent the top pacer Dean’s Alibi to the front and never looked back, wiring the field in 1:56.8. Sitting on his back the entire mile was the grey, Oakwood Outlaw with USA’s George Brennan in the bike but they could not keep up in the stretch as Dean’s Alibi won with ease by four lengths. One of the top three-year-old pacers in Great Britain, Rewrite History, rewrote another track record as he won his division of the Oakwood Stud for colts at one and one-half miles in 3:03.8. Driven by Gordon Gilvear, Rewrite History also wired the field. The son of Sportswriter is trained by John Gilvear and is owned by Steven Gilvear. John and Steven are brothers and Gordon is John's son. The first track record on the day was in the first of three eliminations divisions of the Vincent Delaney Memorial. The colt division saw Miraculous and driver Patrick Kane, Jr. sit patiently in third place as Meadowbranch Titus (John Richardson) cut the mile and Party At The Spa (Alan Haythornthwaite) was in second place. The action picked up at the three-quarter mile marker as Haythornthwaite came first-over with Party At The Spa and Miraculous followed the outside flow, then tipped three-wide on the turn and then was able to collar both horses in the stretch to win by a half-length in 2:00.9. That clocking rewrote the track and stakes record of 2:01.7 set last year by the top colt, Titanium. Miraculous is sired by Arts Conquest and is trained by Sally Teebook and owned by Amie Flower. The second colt division saw the impressive Newtown Rock and driver Alan Wallace, Jr. wire the field by a half-length in 2:01. The filly elimination division was a hotly contested battle between race favorite Gabriela Camden (Hugh Menzies) and Meadowbranch Queen (John Richardson). Gabriella Camden cut most of the mile but in the backstretch the second time, Meadowbranch Queen moved to the lead but broke stride on the final turn for home. Alertly driver John Richardson was able to get his filly back on stride and she went on to win by a half-length in 2:04.9. Meadowbranch Queen is sired by Kikikolt and is trained by Wiliam Flanagan for the Meadowbranch Stable. Track Notes: On a sad note it was reported this afternoon that the top three-year-old pacer, Titanium, was put down this morning. The 2014 winner of the Vincent Delaney Memorial and the all-time fastest three-year-old in the UK, had an emergency colic operation and did not survive.  Saturday attendance was the best in track history with a reported crowd of over 1,500 in attendance. Sunday’s post time for the 12 race program is 2:00 pm and featured will not only be the finals of both the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial and the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby, but the final Inter-Dominion heat to decide who will represent the UK/Ireland in Australia. Visiting guest announcer, Hall of Famer Roger Huston of the USA, will call his 170,000th career race Sunday at Portmarnock. By Steven Wolf

Dublin, Ireland – Tickets are nearly sold out for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial gala dinner on Friday, August 7 at the Hilton Dublin Airport Hotel. This is the kickoff dinner before the big harness racing weekend at Portmarnock Raceway Saturday and Sunday, August 8 & 9. There are only 20 tickets left before the dinner is sold out. Everyone that attends the dinner will get to hear from and meet the USA and New Zealand racing stars who have come over for the weekend. They are USA top reinsman George Brennan, renowned trainer John McDermott and Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston. New Zealander Dexter Dunn, who this year won the World Driving Championship in Australia, New Zealand’s leading trainer Cran Dalgety and USA racing journalists Steve Wolf (Harnesslink) and Heather Vitale (Post Time TV). There is room for just 220 people at this special affair that begins at 7:30 pm. The cost of a ticket is just €40.00 each and it will be a cash bar. “I can’t believe how these tickets are flying out the door,” said race developer and founder, Derek Delaney. “After we announced that George Brennan was coming over from the USA to drive in Vincent’s race, we are nearly sold out. “I may have to talk with the hotel manager and see if we can get a couple of tables in the lobby!” Delaney joked. “If anyone wants to get a ticket they better hurry up.” In order to get tickets to the dinner go to www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com.  By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend

Dublin, Ireland – Harness racing great, driver George Brennan, has announced that he will be heading over to Ireland the first week of August to compete in the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway. The 48-year-old reinsman will be missing Hambletonian Day but that is OK with him. “I really did not have a top three-year-old that I was committed to for the Hambo this year.” Brennan said. “And I have heard so many great things about this weekend of racing in Ireland and met with the organizer, Derek Delaney, and I want to experience this.” Brothers Derek and James Delaney, after the tragic passing of their younger brother Vincent in 2011, developed the race weekend series in their brother’s memory. The race has grown to be the richest series in all of Ireland and the United Kingdom. It’s for two-year-old pacers and features elimination races Saturday, August 8 and the final on Sunday, August 9. There are also additional stakes races on both days. “What a thrill this is to have someone of George’s prominence coming over for our race weekend,” Said Derek Delaney. “We now have two Americans, George Brennan and trainer John McDermott coming over along with Hall of Famer, announcer Roger Huston. We also have Dexter Dunn, the 2015 World Driving Champion from New Zealand and the country’s leading trainer, Cran Dalgety, coming over too. This is all too good to be true!” Brennan is nearing his 9,000th career victory in harness racing and has more than $147 million in purse earnings with the horses he has driven. He has captured nearly every major stakes race in the sports history. In 2011 he was named the Harness Racing Driver of the Year and that season he won both the Hambletonian and the Oaks, only the second driver ever to win both on the same day. And most befitting, George Brennan won this year’s St. Patrick’s Day race at Freehold Raceway, which was sponsored by Derek Delaney and the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. “It was Irish Joe Haney,” explained Brennan, “who got the ball rolling about me coming over to Ireland. Joe asked me to go last year but I could not make it. Then this year I meet with Derek Delaney, I win the St. Patrick’s Day race and after spending some time talking with Irish Joe and Derek, now I am going to Ireland. “I do not know much about my Irish heritage,” Brennan admits, “except that I was always told that we are from County Kilkenny in the south east region of Ireland. Who knows, I might even meet a distant relative. It will also be cool to drive horses in Ireland. I am told it will be an experience to remember and that the people in Ireland have great passion for harness racing.” Brennan, McDermott, Huston, Dunn, Dalgety, along with USA harness racing journalists Steve Wolf and Heather Vitale, will have a busy schedule that weekend according to Derek Delaney. “We’ve scheduled them pretty tight,” Delaney said. “Friday is a trip to Oakwood Stud to see our top training and breeding facility. Then Friday night a sold-out gala dinner to kick off the weekend and so everyone can meet our special guests. “On Saturday it’s race day with the eliminations for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial,” said Derek Delaney, “Then a big party in the track bar/restaurant that night followed Sunday by the race finals and another big bash afterwards. Then if they survive it all we will let them go on their own to tour the city of Dublin come Monday. “We want to invite everyone to come to the Vincent Delaney Weekend,” Derek Delaney said. “We will have great racing, Irish music and dancing, good food and drink, activities for the children, betting with the bookies, a real Irish festival and top racing. It is a wonderful experience in the best of Irish tradition.” For more information about the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Weekend visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Series

For 32 years, harness racing was a staple in the Aiken Triple Crown. The Standardbred Harness Races aren’t a part of the Triple Crown this year, but the event is back in Aiken, South Carolina for the first time since 2003 when gates open Saturday. The races will be held at McGhees’ Mile Track on Banks Mill Road. Gates open at 9 a.m. with a noon post time. There will be eight races during the day. Harness racing features standardbreds pulling two-wheeled carts called sulkies. They race according to how they move, by either a trot or pace. Janis McGhee, who owns and runs the facility along with husband Bruce and their four children, said the response to bringing the event back has been overwhelming. The races were part of the Triple Crown beginning in 1971, and fans are thrilled to see it return. “We didn’t know what the response would be when we decided to bring it back,” McGhee said. “It’s been crazy. We’ve received call after call from people really excited that it’s back.” McGhee said they sold out railside tickets before they even went on sale, and she expects to make more available next year. Enthusiasts have already started reserving spots for next year’s event. An increase in business at the facility prompted the McGhees to consider bringing the races back. She said they could completely fill their stalls by next year, and that more money in horse racing combined with extreme weather in the north are reasons for the shift. What McGhee described as the “icing on the cake” was the announcement that Roger Huston is calling the races. Huston is a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and has called more than 168,000 races, including the Little Brown Jug, since 1968. “I can’t ask for anything better. He’s the best,” McGhee said. “For him to come here, it’s just great.” McGhee said she approached USC Aiken officials about possibly rejoining the Triple Crown but was told it would be too much for officials to handle with Pacers and Polo already filling the third leg. The polo event will also be held Saturday. IF YOU GO WHAT: Standardbred Harness Races WHERE: McGhees’ Mile Track, 620 Banks Mill Road, Aiken WHEN: Gates open at 9 a.m., noon post time TICKETS: General admission: $8 in advance, $10 at gate. Children younger than 10 admitted free. GENERAL PARKING: $5 LEARN MORE: (803) 617-8511 Reprinted with permission of The Augusta Chronicle

It all started with the book Born to Trot written by Marguerite Henry, which was loaned to me by a friend. This book told the beginning of horse racing in North America and the birth of one of the most prized and respected races in North America- the Hambletonian. It is a must read book for every, trainer, owner, driver, caretaker and harness racing enthusiast alike. The drive took us about 8 hours to get to Goshen, New York and where our hotel was, was not too far from the Goshen Historic Track. The entire drive I was doing my best to contain my excitement. Tomorrow I would be at the oldest race track in North America, The Historic Track in Goshen, NY. Racing only takes place at the Historic Track 4 days every year for the New York Sire Stakes and a few weekends of matinee races. The next morning I was so excited. After breakfast we headed straight to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. I was overcome with delight as my parents and I walked up the stone path with each stone bearing the name of a horse, driver or someone else that had a big impact on harness racing from long ago and others more recent that someone wanted to remember; that is when I first got the feeling that I was stepping back in time. As my parents and I walked through the big wooden doors the feeling that I was being transported back in time got even stronger. It was interesting to learn that the museum was once a stable. The dividers between every few stalls had been taken down. In the stalls was a different period of racing and some were even dedicated to a specific person or horse. There was a stall just for Stanley Dancer and stable memorabilia and one for the great trotter Hambletonian, another for the pacing marvel Dan Patch, I was in awe. There were also plaques that explained the artifacts and history that happened in that time period. I made my parents stop at everything so I could read every plague. I did not want to miss a single detail of the museum. Even though there have been renovations at the historic site over the years, looking around you would never know. Beneath your feet is still a cobblestone walkway, the ceilings still tower high above your head. After walking through what felt like decades, we then entered a room with every single race bike ever invented. It was intriguing and amusing to see the innovations that shaped our sport. There was a room just for the Little Brown Jug. The Living Hall of Fame which honors the living legends both human and horses of harness racing, the statues in the living Hall of Fame featured the works of the late Beverly Lopez. There was the Communicators Hall of Fame section with cute portraits and biographies of the top writers, announcers and other journalism greats in our sport. Maybe, just maybe, I could be there one day. There was an interactive section which included a game where you were at the Lexington Sale and you had to under bid on horses, but all the horses were well known horses. Another game was where a clip of a replay was shown and the person watching had to spot the infraction. There were a couple other interactive components but I do not want to spoil all the surprises. After looking at everything there was to see and reading everything there was to read, my parents and I headed to see the track. Just looking at the track, I could feel the history come back to life. I could hear the faint pounding of horses’ hooves hitting the dusty track and see the clouds that formed from the horses whizzing around the turns and the horses racing past me. I hear the cracks of driver’s whips echo in the air and the cheers of pure excitement as the horses drew closer and closer to the wire. With the fall breeze blowing around me, life just seemed peaceful and perfect; I was in a state of true admiration. The tote board did not have a clock, only slots for numbers to slide into and a door for a person to enter through to put the numbers up. The judge’s stand was in the infield and stood high above the track. When I looked at the grandstand I thought of the times of old when men and women wore their very best to take in an afternoon of racing. The track simply took my breath away. I stood in admiration; this is where it all started. This is where the very first records were set and the first rivalries were challenged other than on the dirt road. Without this historic and beautiful track our sport would not be in existence, this is where it all started. I had heard that along with other trainers, Ray Schnittker was stabled at the barns behind the Harness Racing and Hall of Fame and Museum.   Ray Schnittker trained the champion trotting mare Check Me Out. So my parents and I made our way across the track to see if we could meet her. We got to one of his barns and no one was there. So we headed over to the other barn with his name marked in a sign on the front on one of the barn door. On our way to the second barn, we met a farrier and he turned out to be the farrier of Check Me Out. He was kind enough to take my parents and me to see her. She was so sweet, I rubbed her forehead and she snuggled into chest. My dad then turned to me so my mom could get a picture of me and Check Me Out. Then, the next thing I knew Check Me Out was gently tugging on the collar of my colors.   I think she was trying to tell me that I should stay a little bit longer.  While I spent a few more minutes with Check Me Out, my parents and I spoke with the farrier.  Then he said he would be back in a moment. When he returned he brought with him a horseshoe and handed it to me. “It is her shoe.” pointing to Check Me Out. That is something I will always remember and cherish and to this day I have not let my mom wash Check Me Out’s shoe. A week after my visit with Check me out it was announced that she had been retired. I felt really special to have had the opportunity to meet a true champion.  Just like Born to Trot is a book every racing fan, trainer, owner, driver and caretaker should read, the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is one place that every fan, trainer, driver, owner and caretaker in harness racing should visit. Going to the Hall of Fame and Museum was an incredible experience and was one place I hoped to return to as soon as possible and if I was lucky, I would be able to return when the four days of racing were on.   After reflecting for months and months about my memories of going to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to return during one of the four days of racing. After visit the Meadowlands Racetrack on the Friday and Saturday I was going to spend the Sunday at the USHWA (United States Harness Writers Association) meeting in the morning and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that evening, both events took place at the Harness Racing Hall and Museum. It was sure to be the perfect way to end an unforgettable weekend.     Being back felt like the first time. The feeling of history took my breath way, only this time it was more captivating. People were going this way and that anticipating the exciting races to come later in the day. For now people were looking around the museum and gift shop and so was I. One of the many special keepsakes I bought was a copy of the book Old Friends by Barbara Livingston and Ellen Harvey. I was lucky enough to meet Ms Harvey and she was kind enough to sign the book for me. I was then looking at the t-shirts and caps when a voice behind me said “Sydney! You don’t know who I am, but I know who you are!” I turned my head as quick as I could. Standing exactly where I had heard the voice coming from was Roger Huston! My jaw dropped. It was Roger Huston! I was speechless! He was the voice of the Little Brown Jug, and perhaps the most famous announcer in harness racing. And he was right in front of me. That realization made my heart skip a beat. The two of us talked for a few minutes, and then my mom reminded me that I had a Little Brown Jug t-shirt that I was hoping to get Roger Huston to sign. He agreed to sign it and I sent my mom out to our vehicle to get it. After that unbelievable encounter I made my way to my USHWA meeting. I was honored to be a part of meeting which discussed important events that had happened and that were going to happen in the coming months that involved harness racing. It was also an honor to be surrounded by people who share a passion for harness racing and writing as I do. After my meeting, I had opportunity to meet Elbridge Gerry, III, the son of the founder of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum that was a true honor for me. His passion and knowledge for harness racing was inspiring. Then, my parents and I headed outside to see the action.  I was blown away; the scene around me was nothing I had ever expected. The grandstand was packed, but the part that made me smile was how every person cheered as each horse and their driver entered the track for the first race.  Everyone cheered because they loved the sport. All the races on the card were trots and non- pari-mutuel. Another highlight of the day was the ‘Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry, Sr. Memorial Hall of Fame Trot’. This race was unlike another on the day’s card because all of the drivers who drove in it were Hall of Fame drivers and legends in harness racing. Following the race the drivers went to meet and greet fans and I was lucky enough to be one of them.   That evening I had the honor of attending the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  It was an evening full of laughs, new memories and people coming together to celebrate each other’s accomplishments.   A sense of enchantment encompassed the museum. The outside gardens were decorated with lights and everyone was dressed up. The museum had an elegant vibe; everyone in attendance was just having a great time. But like all fun times it eventually had to come to end and when it did I was a little sad, the final piece in my very eventful weekend. I met so many wonderful people and was blessed to be able to spend my final night with them and they made my night even more special. Being able to go back to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame was truly special and I am very grateful that I was able to attend during such a monumental time of the year, and I am very thankful to those whom made it possible. Whether you attend during the Fourth of July weekend or another day of the year if you are an owner, trainer, driver, caretaker, or someone who has a deep passion for harness racing, I hope one day you visit the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum too and it leaves you inspired as it did me when I visited...

Bob Chlebnikow of Fair Lawn, New Jersey is the winner of the "Pick The Jug Winner" contest sponsored by Fazoli's and hosted by 123Racing. As the official contest winner, Mr. Chlebnikow will receive a VIP trip to the 2015 Little Brown Jug compliments of Fazoli's including airfare, hotel, preferred seating and an on-track fan experience including a ride in the starting gate, a visit to the announcer's booth to watch a race with Hall Of Fame race caller Roger Huston, and a meet and greet with top drivers and trainers while touring the paddock and Jug Barn. Chlebnikow correctly selected Limelight Beach as the Little Brown Jug champion and had the highest cumulative bankroll from earlier races ($240.90) among those picking the eventual Jug winner. Linda Kretchner of Salem, Wisconsin was just $13.50 behind the winner and received $100 Fazoli's gift card fro her second place finish. John Williams of Marysville, Washington finished third and received a $50 Fazoli's gift card. The "Pick The Jug Winner" contest had more than 1,657 entries. "Yannick Gingras had a good season at my home track, The Meadowlands, and always does well driving horses trained by Ron Burke which is why I went with Limelight Beach," said Chlebnikow. "I also made sure to pick some longer shots earlier in the day since you need a big bankroll to have a chance to win these contests. Luckily a couple of them won." by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: NZ Election Not What We Need - Last weekend in New Zealand the 2014 general election took place and unfortunately for harness racing nothing much is going to change. 2015 Inter-Dominions - The announcement last week that Perth is the new home of the Inter-Dominions from 2015 has been greeted with a lot of positive comment and why not. Rules are rules, or weak excuse? - Opinions are divided over Gaita Pullicino’s latest clash with Harness Racing Victoria stewards. Open the gates - Is it time for every race track in Australasia to drop their admission fee? After all, race courses are the only ‘casinos’ in the world where patrons have to pay to gamble! Stallion Review – Ponder - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Ponder, 1:49h, 1:48.1 ($1,686,134). Trailers on a half mile 3yo stake? It shouldn’t be! On Little Brown Jug and Jugette Days, there were stakes races for three-year-old trotters, the Oaken Bucket and the Buckette. Both had ten horses going on a half mile track. Two trailers. Kudos to Sam, Dave, Wendy and Roger at the Jug - The broadcast team of Sam Mckee, Dave Bianconi, Wendy Ross and when available, Roger Huston, were superb in last week’s coverage of the Delaware County Fairgrounds and Jug and Jugette Days. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Rules are rules, or weak excuse? - Opinions are divided over Gaita Pullicino’s latest clash with Harness Racing Victoria stewards. Open the gates - Is it time for every race track in Australasia to drop their admission fee? After all, race courses are the only ‘casinos’ in the world where patrons have to pay to gamble! 2015 Inter-Dominions - The announcement last week that Perth is the new home of the Inter-Dominions from 2015 has been greeted with a lot of positive comment and why not. NZ Election Not What We Need - Last weekend in New Zealand the 2014 general election took place and unfortunately for harness racing nothing much is going to change. Stallion Review – Ponder - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Ponder, 1:49h, 1:48.1 ($1,686,134). Trailers on a half mile 3yo stake? It shouldn’t be! On Little Brown Jug and Jugette Days, there were stakes races for three-year-old trotters, the Oaken Bucket and the Buckette. Both had ten horses going on a half mile track. Two trailers. Kudos to Sam, Dave, Wendy and Roger at the Jug - The broadcast team of Sam Mckee, Dave Bianconi, Wendy Ross and when available, Roger Huston, were superb in last week’s coverage of the Delaware County Fairgrounds and Jug and Jugette Days. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

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