Two of the leading harness racing trainers in North America were charged with allowing horses to compete with the Class 2 drug Glaucine in their system. In a development that will send shockwaves through an already reeling industry in North America, Ron Burke and Julie Miller have both had horses under their care return positives for Glaucine from races they competed in at a New York racetrack. Ron Burke has been the dominant trainer on the North American scene for several years now on a money won basis, and these charges have the potential to derail the biggest training operation in harness racing. Harnessracing.com has received correspondence from attorney Howard Taylor, also a Standardbred owner, regarding a report published Thursday on Harnesslink.com regarding alleged positive tests incurred by trainers Ron Burke and Julie Miller in New York. While Taylor did not identify any trainer by name, he said he has been retained by several trainers whose horses recently had positive tests in New York. Authorities in New York have been trying for some time to establish a test for Glaucine and it was only recently that the laboratories successfully established such a test. The Bulgarian pharmaceutical company Sopharma sells glaucine in a tablet form, where a single dose contains 40 mg and the half-life is indicated to be 6–8 hours. When ingested orally Glaucine has been shown to increase airway conductance in humans, and has been investigated as a treatment for asthma. Another one of Glaucine’s chief functions is to regulate the formation of fat tissue in the body. The positives returned today have the potential to be very embarrassing to The New Meadowlands Racetrack where Burke and Miller regularly compete. While Jeff Gural has single-handedly taken on what he refers to as the drug cheats in the industry, Mr Gural has horses in training with Julie Miller. His response to the alleged drug infractions will be watched with interest by industry observers. Here is a link to Wikipedia details on Glaucine Update - Gural issues statement on Claucine Positives Harnesslink Media
WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 8, 2016 -- Mandy's Mattjesty zipped to the front and, with late urging, held on to take Monday's opening-leg split in a series for $20,000 claiming filly and mare pacers at The Meadows. Americangirlfriend pulled off a 16-1 shocker in the other $15,000 division. Although Mandy's Mattjesty enjoyed a comfortable lead over the pocket-sitting My Caroline, Dave Palone felt her tiring in mid-stretch and kept her to her task. The 6-year-old daughter of His Mattjesty-Astra Destiny downed My Caroline by 1/2 length in 1:53.4, with Non Pareil third. Ron Burke trains Mandy's Mattjesty, who soared over $200,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr and Phillip Collura. The program also featured the opening leg of a series for $10,000 claiming filly and mare pacers, with Regil Meg and PC's Vixen each capturing an $8,000 division. In Monday's $22,500 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred/Preferred Handicap Pace, Coffee Addict shot the Lightning Lane to nail Set Me Up and defeat her by a length in 1:53.1 for Jim Pantaleano, trainer Norm Parker and owners James Clarke, Sr. and Andrew Altobelli. The first-over Medusa raced well for show. It was the second straight victory for the 6-year-old daughter of Dragon Again-Kahlua Queen, who boosted her career bankroll to $463,779. Tony Hall piloted four winners and Mike Wilder three on the 15-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 6, 2016 -- Buried at the pylons entering the stretch, Rockin Ron exploited a suddenly vacant Lightning Lane and scored an 8-1 harness racing upset in Saturday's $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. A newcomer to The Meadows who'd been off since Nov. 8, Rockin Ron figured to get no more than a minor award when he was shuffled to fifth. But when Capital Account pulled the pocket for the drive, the 4-year-old Real Desire-Im All A Roan gelding charged through the Lightning Lane for Dave Palone and triumphed in 1:52.2, 1-3/4 lengths better than early leader Mattamerican. Bestinthebusiness rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Rockin Ron, who extended his career bankroll to $136,168, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. It was one of five wins for Palone on the 15-race card, including a pair each for Burke and trainer Jack Smith. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
Elkton, MD - Post Time with Mike and Mike has an action packed show coming up on Thursday at 1:00! Joining the program this week is Ron Burke who has the most money earned by a stable in on year in North America in either Harness or Thoroughbred. In 2015, Burke surpassed trainer Todd Pletcher. Also on Thursday, The "Bionic Man" Tim Tetrick will come on to talk about his 2015 and what he is looking forward too the most in 2016. Brandon Valvo will join the show this week to talk about the dominant performance of Bold Eagle in the Prix D' Amerique. Bold Eagle won the race in a stakes and track record time and did so with ease. Winnie Morgan Nemeth will also be joining us in the second of a four-part series to talk about New Vocations, and how it works. Post Time with Mike and Mike is harness racing's newest podcast co-hosted by track announcers Mike Bozich and Mike Carter. The show's focus is to positively promote harness racing. Every hoof that hits the racetrack, whether a claimer or a stakes horse, has a story to tell, and they plan on telling those stories. Log on to Blogtalkradio.com/ptmikeandmike to listen. If you miss the show live, you can listen on-demand at any time. You can also follow the show on social media. Like them on Facebook at Post Time with Mike and Mike, and follow them on Twitter @ptmikeandmike1. By Michael Carter, for Post Time with Mike and Mike
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 26, 2016 -- Scented Roses captured her fourth straight victory Tuesday at The Meadows when she scored easily in the $22,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot. Scented Roses retook the lead for Dave Palone past the quarter and widened her margin late, prevailing by 1-1/4 lengths over Whata Donato in 1:56.2 on a "good" surface. Boo's Party Girl rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Scented Roses, a 4-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall-Scent Of A Woman who extended her career bankroll to $139,014, for Burke Racing Stable. It was one of six wins on the 15-race card for Palone. Burke, harness racing's leading trainer for many years, enjoyed a rare win in the sulky -- in only his second drive of the year at The Meadows -- when he steered first-time starter Rugged Wear to victory. Burke and his mother, Sylvia, bred and own the 4-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Hip Huggers. Throughout January, The Meadows will offer Standardbred and Thoroughbred handicapping contests, both on track and at its Harmar location, for Racing Player Rewards members. The Meadows Racing Handicapping contest occurs each Wednesday. Entry is free, with the winner at each location earning 40,000 points and the overall winner collecting an additional 20,000 bonus points. The Road to Louisville Thoroughbred handicapping contests each features a Kentucky Derby prep. Featured race Saturday, Jan. 30, is the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. Entry fee is $5. Each location winner receives all entry fees collected plus 20,000 points while the overall winner receives an additional 20,000 bonus points. For more information or to enter, visit the retail counter at either location. Evan Pattak
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 18, 2016 — Set Me Up enjoyed a pocket trip, then poured through the Lightning Lane to capture Monday’s $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Sent off the 6-5 favorite, Set Me Up grabbed the early lead for Dave Palone but released Hidden Land approaching the quarter. The 7-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture-Moccasin Flight was fresher in the lane, downing Hidden Land by 1/2 length in 1:54 over a “good” surface. Spreester rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Set Me Up, who triumphed for the third time in her last five starts and extended her career bankroll to $364,380, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Eric Ledford and Palone each piloted three winners on the 15-race card. THE MEADOWS TUESDAY CARD FEATURES PAIR OF $5K POOL GUARANTEES WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 18, 2016 -- On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the live card at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will feature two total-pool guarantees -- a $5,000 guarantee for the Pick 5 and a $5,000 guarantee for the Pick 4. Both are offered as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. While The Meadows offers a $5,000 Pick 4 guarantee each card, the track added the "instant" Pick 5 guarantee after Monday's Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $1,648.84. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and Pick 5 (races 11-15) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Tuesday's program is 12:55 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
The betting public dispatched the east coast invader Ontario Success off at overwhelming odds of 1 to 5 and the 6-year-old harness racing gelding didn’t disappoint his many backers in Saturday’s $12,500 featured Open Pace at Hawthorne. Nicely driven by veteran Illinois horseman Sam Widger Ontario Success ($2.60) was making his first local start under the care of trainer Roger Welch who was sent the talented pacer by conditioner and part-owner Ron Burke. Widger (pictured) used the one-slot to his advantage and had Ontario Success in the two-hole in the early going behind the 27-1 longshot Jones Beach (Simon Allard) who took the field to a rather leisurely 29 flat first quarter on a sloppy track. Sammy had Ontario Success out of the pocket on the backside and into the lead before the half-mile pole reached in 57 seconds. The winner was given a 29.1 third quarter breather and when the field started to bunch-up at the top of the lane, Widger asked his pacer for a more and Ontario Success responded, by pacing a 27 flat last panel in the rain. Jones Beach was second best, one length behind while Lonewolf Cruiser came on strong in the lane for third. Earlier the venerable ICF pacer Fort Silky followed a two-month layoff with his 58th career victory in the $9,500 sixth race conditioned pace for non-winners of $8,000 in their last five starts. Casey Leonard gave the now 10-year-old gelding a perfect pocket trip behind the even-money favorite Ice Scraper and Fort Silky did the rest, zipping past for a winning 1:56.3 mile on atrack soaked by the continued falling of snow throughout the evening. Fort Silky has now hauled-in just $80 short of $795,000 for owners John Prentice and Neva Kane Ikeeler, both of Paw Paw, Illinois. The $10,000 Open for 3 to 5-year-olds turned out to be no-contest with My Buddy Trickster ($7.60) much the best. Travis Seekman hustled the Bob Phillips trainee out from the outside post and once My Buddy Ninkster cleared to the top he had no trouble going all the way. The 4-5 favorite Feelnlikearockstar was a distant second, beaten five and one-half lengths at the end of a 1:54.3 mile. My Buddy Nnikster is owned by John and Mary Krasnican of Streator, Illinois. Casey Leonard had a driving triple, giving him nine winners on the first two Hawthorne cards. Seekman had a two-bagger Saturday. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 5, 2016 -- Unefoisdansmavie saved ground until the final turn, then swooped the field wide from last to score a 15-1 harness racing upset in Tuesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dave Palone was content to keep Unefoisdansmavie along the cones while others attacked the leader, Mistress Valentine. But when Palone angled the 9-year-old daughter of Revenue S-Peace To The World to the center of the track for clearance, she powered by all five of her rivals to triumph in 1:54.4. Bessie was a length back in second with Whata Donato a rallying third. Ron Burke trains Unefoisdansmavie, who now boasts $551,712 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Jack Piatt III. Palone collected four wins and Eric Goodell three on the 15-race card. Throughout January, The Meadows will offer Standardbred and Thoroughbred handicapping contests, both on track and at its Harmar location, for Racing Player Rewards members. The Meadows Racing Handicapping contest occurs each Wednesday. Entry is free, with the winner at each location earning 40,000 points and the overall winner collecting an additional 20,000 bonus points. The Road to Louisville Thoroughbred handicapping contests, each featuring a Kentucky Derby prep, are set for Saturdays beginning Jan. 9 with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Entry fee is $5. Each location winner receives all entry fees collected plus 20,000 points while the overall winner receives an additional 20,000 bonus points. For more information or to enter, visit the retail counter at either location. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 4, 2016 -- Set Me Up captured Monday's opening-day harness racing feature at The Meadows when she outdueled Hidden Land in the stretch and took the $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. The 2-5 favorite, Set Me Up was on an easy lead with Hidden Land fifth and facing a seemingly futile first-over bid. Indeed, Hidden Land made that move and drew even past the three-quarters. But Set Me Up had just enough to defeat the game challenger for Dave Palone by a head in 1:54.3. Coffee Addict rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Set Me Up, a 7-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture-Moccasin Flight who boosted her career bankroll to $349,380, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Jim Pantaleano and Palone each piloted four winners on the 15-race card while Burke enjoyed a triple. Throughout January, The Meadows will offer Standardbred and Thoroughbred handicapping contests, both on track and at its Harmar location, for Racing Player Rewards members. The Meadows Racing Handicapping contest occurs each Wednesday. Entry is free, with the winner at each location earning 40,000 points and the overall winner collecting an additional 20,000 bonus points. The Road to Louisville Thoroughbred handicapping contests, each featuring a Kentucky Derby prep, are set for Saturdays beginning Jan. 9 with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Entry fee is $5. Each location winner receives all entry fees collected plus 20,000 points while the overall winner receives an additional 20,000 bonus points. For more information or to enter, visit the retail counter at either location. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
Eight of the top 25 trainers on the 2015 money list saw their stables earn less than they had in 2014, including the top two. Ron Burke fell more than $3.4 million short of last year’s record haul, which amounts to a 12% drop. His charges made 217 fewer starts which generated 108 fewer wins. Rules limiting participation by a single trainer in the Levy and Matchmaker at Yonkers, as well as the stakes raced at the Gural tracks would account for some of that. Burke’s UTRS dropped from 0.356 to 0.341. That being said, he was still almost $12 million ahead of second place Jimmy Takter. Takter’s earnings were off 3%, or about $415,000. His horses started 54 fewer times, accounting for nine fewer wins. Burke had 801 more wins than the trot master, but Takter’s six wins on Breeders Crown night, in addition to eleven other checks from his starters, amounted to a record $2.69 million banked on a single card and secured a second consecutive Trainer of the Year award for him. Number three Rene Allard had a remarkable year. 186 more starts led to 114 more wins and $2.2 million more than his barn earned in 2014, when he finished eighth on the list. Allard got 40% of his wins and half his money from Yonkers Raceway, where he won at a remarkable 25.8% clip. Being excluded from the Gural tracks obviously didn’t put a strain on his bottom line. Allard took $3.1 million out of Yonkers; only nine other drivers in North America earned that much overall for the year. His UTRS jumped from 0.340 to 0.393, which is higher than that achieved but all but two trainers in the top 50—with one of them being low volume Clyde Francis. Tony Alagna made a significant jump from number seven to number four, as his barn earned $673,000 more than in 2014. And that’s while winning 14 fewer races on 62 fewer starts. His UTRS remained at a strong 0.336. Bamond Racing grabbed the fifth spot, although Jeff Bamond Jr was the trainer of record, while PJ Fraley filled that role in 2014. Bamond’s horses made 216 fewer starts, accounting for 34 fewer wins, but their bankroll grew by $304,000—up 7%. Like Allard, Bamond thrived at Yonkers, as he accrued 60% of his earnings and 77% of his wins at that track. Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who checked in at number six, up three spots from 2014, was very busy in 2015. His charges made 578 more starts, giving him 70 more wins and more than a million dollars more in purse money. The latter represents a 25% uptick from last year. Like Allard, his name has been permanently expunged from Jeff Gural’s holiday greeting card list, but he’s thriving nonetheless. He races quite a bit in Pennsylvania, but he was number five at Yonkers, the source of 36% of his earnings and 27% of his wins. With all those extra starts his UTRS dipped from 0.361 to 0.318. Julie Miller dropped back one spot to seventh. Her barn earned $375,000 less than last year on 29 fewer wins. Her UTRS dropped from 0.348 to 0.311. Ake Svanstedt, who advanced nine spots to number eight, upped his earnings by $1.1 million, or 34%, on 196 more starts and 34 more wins. There was life after Sebastian. Brian Brown also made a dramatic leap, from number 22 in 2014 to number nine this year. His bankroll grew by 38%--up $1.3 million. Brown won 37 more races on 122 more starts and his UTRS increased from 0.345 to 0.375. Lost For Words couldn’t quite get over the hump in the open class, but he still banked almost $700,000. Virgil Morgan Jr, who is reaping the benefits of the Midwestern revival, remained at number ten. His earnings increased by just about $700,000, or 11%. Erv Miller dropped eight spots to number 11. He had 52 fewer wins on 236 fewer starts and his money was down by a third--$1.5 million less. Miller’s UTRS dropped from 0.387 to 0.287. When the highly regarded Travel Playlist hit the wall in his BC elimination and scratched out of the final it was a major disappointment for Miller. Thanks to the likes of Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist, Steve Elliott saw his earnings jump an impressive 60%--$1.7 million more. The number 12 trainer had 37 more wins on 111 extra starts and saw his UTRS rise from 0.293 to 0.331. Richard Moreau, the winner of the 2014 O’Brien as well as the training dash championship in Canada this year, dropped back one spot to number 13. Although his earnings jumped by almost $403,000—up 14%. Moreau’s horses only made ten more starts, but they won 32 more races, and his UTRS was up to 0.337 from 0.309. Thanks to Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit Clyde Francis, who had no earnings as a trainer in 2014, earned $2.2 million in 2015. 98% of his haul came from Wiggle. Francis averaged seasonal earnings of less than $12,000 the other nine years he trained. He was number 18. The fact that Bee A Magician won six more races and earned $560,000 more this year helped Nifty Norman jump 16 slots to number 19. His stable upped its earnings by $645,000, which amounts to a 31% increase over last year. Number 20 Richard Banca, who is another one not welcome at any of Jeff Gural’s parties, saw his bankroll grow by a startling 77% in 2015. He upped his stake by $1.6 million. The forty-year-old Banca, who acquired 93% of his money at Yonkers, won 119 more races on 539 more starts. The number three trainer at Yonkers, he won at a superb 24.9% rate. It’s been a decade since he last eclipsed the $2 million mark. Casie Coleman, who was number four on last year’s trainer’s money list, falls all the way to number 23 this year. Her earnings are down $2.6 million dollars, or 58%. Dr. Ian Moore, whose State Treasurer just won a Dan Patch, moved up 25 spots to number 24. He realized a $622,000 gain in earnings—34%--and sported a splendid UTRS of 0.440. Chris Beaver, who was successful in the Ohio and Ontario Sire Stakes programs, jumped 16 rungs to number 35. His account grew by $258,000. Jim Campbell, who posted his 1,000 training win in July, saw his earnings go up by 27% this year, as he earned $430,650 more than he did in 2014. And his UTRS rose from 0.282 to 0.337. Tom Fanning added $300,000 to his earnings—up 21% from last year—and landed in slot 39 on the money list. Thanks to Wakizashi Hanover and Purrfect Bags, Jo Ann Looney-King upped her earnings by a million dollars and moved up to slot 41. About a third of the trainers on the top 25 money list were not on it last year. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
DOVER, Del. ---Atta Boy Dan gave Yannick Gingras his 5th win of the night scoring a 1:49.4 harness racing victory in the $30,000 Open/Preferred Handicap Monday, Dec. 28 at Dover Downs. Sweet Rock notched a 1:50.2 success in the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap co-feature. For the 18th time this season, Atta Boy Dan recorded a victory in the $30,000 feature race, the fifth of the night for driver Yannick Gingras and second on the program for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. The Western Terror-Droplikeitshot Gelding had been racing and winner all over the Northeast since the fall winning his second of his last three starts and fifth in his last nine bringing his season record to 18 wins, 6-times second with four thirds making a 33 starts and 28 in-the-money efforts in 2015. Bushwhacker (Corey Callahan) saw a two race win streak end with a second-place finish with Dapper Dude (Vic Kirby) third. Phil Your Boots was scratched. Sweet Rock and Allan Davis made good use of starting from post 1 scoring a 1:50.2 triumph wire-to-wire in the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap. Mustang Art (Brett Miller) was second best with Don't Ya Know (Gingras) third. The win was the second for Davis driving for trainer Wayne Givens and owners G.P.Calloway, R.A. Hazzard and Legacy Racing. In the $18,500 3,4&5-Year-Old Open Handicap, the fastest clocking on the fast 15-race card came when Howard Taylor's Major Uptrend, conditioned by Doug Lewis, negotiated the mile in a lifetime best 1:49.1. It was the Somebeachsomewhere-Tricky Tooshie gelding's 12th win of the year upping his season's bankroll to $147,595 Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta's Adventure Bound with Gingras at the controls never looked back in a 1:50.2 decisive victory take a $12,000 Male pace. Dedi's Dragon (Kirby) was second in front of Fancy Colt (Tony Morgan). The Camluck-Unchained Speed gelding reached three digits for the season with earnings of $100,595 and $525,434 in his career. Driver Gingras, trainer Burke, and owners Burke Racing, and Weaver Bruscemi struck earlier adding owner RTC Stables, as Speed Again (Gingras) rolled home in 1:50.3 to win a $14,500 Male Winners-Over pace. Papa Ray (Davis) was second with Soto (Kirby) third. An altered son of Dragon Again-Sand Speed, the six-year-old won for the fifth time this season lifting his lifetime earnings to $889,535. Blazing Bobby Sox won for the third straight start scoring in 1:51.1 to win a3,4&5-Year-Old male pace for Art Stafford and son trainer-driver Art Stafford Jr. A four-year-old gelding by prolific The Ponderosa-Liamatters, he has won four of his last five starts. Roll Big (Callahan) and BigSecret (Jonathan Roberts) were second and third respectively. $21,000, TWO $15,000 DISTAFFS, ELLIES JET N SEEKS 7TH STRAIGHT Shine N Shimmer, last week’s distaff winner, and veteran Paradise Lost, steps up after a victory, lead the $21,000 Mares Open Handicap pace, the Tuesday, Nov. 15 feature race at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p.m. Invader Ellies Jet N puts six straight North America win streak on the line. Post time 4:30 p.m. Howard Taylor’s Shine N Shimmer trained by Doug Lewis with Corey Callahan driving, trainee has won of her last six starts including a near-miss second is program favorite in the nine female field. Fashion Showdown with Ross Wolfenden, finished second, a head back last week. Bob Bailey’s sharp Duneside Chella, driven by Marcus Miller, was a close third. . Bay Pond Racing’s Hearts N Flowers with Allan Davis has won two of last three races. Bob Winkleman’s hard hitting Paradise Lost raced most of his win a week ago on the outside before getting up for the win. Jim Morand will drive this time. Mike Casalino’s Double Joy, a second-place finisher in her last three starts will be driven by Allan Davis from post 2. CC Racing’s Tyra, with Vic Kirby, leaves from post 9 in the second tier. The other contenders are Randall Bendis and Tom Pollock’s Montenegra, piloted by Brett Miller, Handsoffmycookie, a $1.3-million winner has the rail with Tony Morgan driving. There are pair of $15,000 3,4&5-Year-Old Fillies and Mares paces on the 15-race card. In one, Ellies Jet N (Art Stafford Jr.), unbeaten in her six races since arriving from New Zealand for owners Evans, Spedden, Parker and Nanticoke Racing, and stakes seasoned Girlofyourdreams (Montrell Teague), is fresh from a win last week. These two starters have drawn inside posts. Plyncardswitroddy (G.Dennis) notched a win last week for George & Tina Dennis and Ask W Stable. Lady Beth (Wolfenden) won her second straight last Wednesday for owners Lorie and trainer Paul Davis. In the other $15,000 division, Nick Surick and Engel sables’ Luvniecestopieces (M.Miller), the only filly in the field, makes her first December start while Don Reed, Jim Tessmer and trainer George Wagner (Ty Davis). Stakes seasoned Girlofyourdreams (Montrell Teague), owned by The Wiz Kids Stable, Ava Destruction (B.Miller) racing for Melissa Cabot and Dennis Olsen and the sharp Sweet Bobbie (Callahan) leaves from post 8 for owner-trainer Gary Ewing, lead the eight-horse field. Marv Bachrad
These are a few of the significant events, performances and trends that occurred in the sport of harness racing during 2015. Ron Pierce, the 59-year-old Hall of Fame driver who was third on the money list last year, with almost $11 million and 448 wins, has been absent for most of the season. He drove in 503 races in January, February and the first week of March before shutting it down for neck and back surgery. The problem with his neck was corrected, but his back has never come around, to the point where he raised retirement as a real possibility when interviewed in August. Pierce has won 9,569 races and earned $215 million during his career. But beyond that measurable success, in the straight and narrow public world of harness racing Pierce is one of the few genuine characters; there’s nothing better than a post-race interview with Rockin Ron. He is sorely missed. Let’s hope his health improves to the point where he’s back driving in 2016. Restricted races for four-year-olds early in the season has been a hot topic of late, and with the advent of the Graduate series we’re seeing it come to fruition. However, it’s noteworthy that JL Cruze, who earned only $25,000 at three, won the Graduate final as well as the Hambletonian Maturity, while Doo Wop Hanover, who had some success but was not a major figure as a colt, won the Graduate Pace final. Contributions from the high profile four-year-olds that folks were anxious to keep on the track, on the other hand, have been lacking. Father Patrick started off with a win in the Maxie Lee, but he lost two legs of the Graduate and was sixth behind JL Cruze in the final. And he finished last in the Hambletonian Maturity. His stablemate Nuncio had a very good year—in Europe. Horse of the Year JK She’salady suffered her first loss in her Fan Hanover elimination, and dropped the final to 0 for 4 Wrangler Magic. Dan Patch winner Color’s A Virgin didn’t get going until the fall; Dan Patch winner McWicked never really got going; Pace winner He’s Watching retired in July; Shake It Cerry fell short of expectations…. After a five year run, Harness Racing Update ceased publication with the October 11 issue. The online newsletter which appeared in one’s email box from two to four times a week, depending on the season, had become the primary source of unfiltered information on the sport for many. However, advertisers never came through in sufficient numbers to sustain the operation for publisher Bill Finley and his staff. They didn’t run the formulaic puff pieces that prevail in the sport’s media wing. Shortly before HRU closed shop trainer Ron Burke told Finley that, “HRU was the worst thing that ever happened to harness racing.” Perhaps “If you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say anything at all” should have been their motto? Two years ago this month we lost The Canadian Sportsman after a 143 year run. This is not an encouraging trend. At a USTA Summit in July forty movers and shakers from various sectors of the sport put their heads together and came up with strategic moves that will hopefully expand and improve the sport. The USTA has lost 7,588 members over the past decade, while during that same stretch 7,395 fewer foals were born. It was decided that dedicating a larger slice of the purse pie to younger horses would help address the latter concern. And a series of initiatives, some involving social media, will take flight in 2016, with the aim of adding new owners. Strategies for using some of the slots dollars for marketing purposes were proposed. The need for gamblers, not fans, was raised. Are elimination races, which cause friction between horsemen and bettors, necessary was another topic up for discussion. USTA reps promised to carry the feedback from every sector to those in a position to address those issues. The elevated prices being paid for decent older stock at the sales is one manifestation of the horse shortage in North America. On the pacing side, this situation is being dealt with in part by importing more horses from Down Under. It costs $12,900 to ship a horse here from Australia and $15,600 to bring one from New Zealand. Back in the 70s plane loads of expatriated pacers arrived regularly in Los Angeles and at JFK in New York. The abbreviated program lines that accompanied them confused bettors and fostered some dicey situations for regulators. And nothing has changed in that regard. Joe Bellino and his trainer Tony O’Sullivan and trainer Darran Cassar have been volume players in this market. On the trotting side, we seem to be supplying the Europeans with ready-made high end stock, which is creating the sort of situation we had this year where the NA based aged male trotting class was as soft as whipped butter. Last year Nuncio, Maven and Creatine campaigned all, or most, in Creatine’s case, of the year in Europe. And just this month Oaks winner Wild Honey, Uncle Lasse and French Laundry have been sold to Swedish interests. Cobalt was in the news last year, but interest in its effect on Standardbred race horses has increased in 2015. Kentucky regulators decided to issue a warning for levels 25 ppb and up and a more severe sanction for anything above 50 ppb. The Ohio Racing Commission is conducting a study involving five Standardbreds, while the USTA is funding a study centered on eight healthy, trained Standardbreds. The Ontario Racing Commission approved adding a cobalt test to those performed on any horse routinely targeted for testing. Trainer Aaron Lambert, who was bounced from The Meadowlands due to s cobalt positive in 2014, had another with Dynamic Youth at Pocono Downs in June. And hall of famer Chuck Sylvester was suspended for 15 days and fined $500 at the same track for a positive with the filly Murderer’s Row in June. Much of the controversy over what does and doesn’t constitute an acceptable cobalt level should be stripped away after the data from these studies is reported. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 15, 2015 -- Set Me Up, a newcomer to The Meadows, found the track to her liking Tuesday as she zipped to the lead and scored handily in the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. Set Me Up had been competing at Yonkers, Pocono and Harrah's Philly, where she showed a penchant for the front end. Dave Palone obliged her, giving her a comfortable 56.4 first half. The 6-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture-Moccasin Flight easily held off the late challenge of the pocket-sitting Coffee Addict, defeating her by a length in 1:52.3. Do Me Honor finished third. Ron Burke trains Set Me Up, who extended her career bankroll to $333,180, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Jim Pantaleano, trainer Norm Parker and Palone each enjoyed a three-bagger on the 15-race card. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 11, 2015-- Skippin' By (Matt Kakaley, $7.20) ducked in and went by Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $20,000 high-conditioned filly and mare pacing feature. Skippin' By, a gapping third from post position No. 2, saw 17-10 favorite, pole-sitter Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) two-move to lead around Regil Elektra (Brian Sears). The former footprinted early intervals of :27.3 and :57 before Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) took out of fourth, just in front of Apricot Sour (Dan Dube). Al Raza N engaged Jonsie Jones at the 1:24.4 three-quarters before dismissing her early in the lane. The leader was done, but Regil Elektra then angled outsider of her. That left the pylons for a resurgent Skippin' By, who had closed ranks before edging past. The margin over Regil Elektra was a half-length in 1:52.4. Al Raza N, All About Kisses (Mark MacDonald) and For the Ladies N (Jordan Stratton) rounded out the payees. For second choice Skippin' By, a 4-year-old Shadow Play miss co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Wall Brothers Stable and Bruce Soulsby, it was her sixth win in 27 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $32.80, the triple returned $83 and the superfecta paid $652. Note since no one took down Friday night's Pick 5 wager, Saturday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $3,722.22 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). Also note that with Sunday's matinee concluding the racing season, that Pick 5 shall be paid to those ticket(s) with the highest number of correct winners (no carryover into 2016). Yonkers' 2015 racing season wraps up with programs Saturday evening (first post 7:10 PM) and Sunday late morning (first post 11:15 AM). Frank Drucker
The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association has named its 2015 award winners, as voted on by the organization's harness racing members. Atta Boy Dan, owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, has been named Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Atta Boy Dan won 10 of 13 starts at The Meadows during the season en route to more than $225,000 in earnings. He paced his best mile in 1:49.1, a track record for aged pacers. Ron Burke trains Atta Boy Dan, a 6-year-old son of Western Terror. Trotter of the Year honors went to the horse also named 3YO Colt/Gelding Trotter of the Year, Chef Lee. Owned and trained by Norm Parker, the Cantab Hall gelding was 8-for-12 locally, earning more than $165,000. Two-year-old honors went to Toddler Tantrum, Danika P, Major Matter and Goodtogo Hanover. Toddler Tantrum (Western Terror) was named the top freshman pacer of the year, winning four of seven local starts for owners Don Tiger, Birnam Wood Farms and Seth Rosenfeld. Tim Twaddle trains Toddler Tantrum. Danika P, by Yankee Cruiser, was the 2YO filly pacing champion, winning one of six for the Burke Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and the M1 Stable. Ron Burke trains Danika P, who took a mark of 1:55.4. Major Matter, a gelding by Explosive Matter, who split time between sire stakes and fair stakes, was named the top freshman male trotter for the season. Owned by trainer Rick Beinhauer along with his wife, Regina, Major Matter was 3-for-5 at The Meadows, taking a mark of 1:57.2. The top 2YO filly trotter was Goodtogo Hanover, trained by Bill Zendt. A two-time winner at The Meadows during the summer, the Explosive Matter filly is owned by Zendt in partnership with Gary Saul. Joining Chef Lee as the top sophomores for the year were Royaltyhasarrived, Fashion Rocker, and Manhattan Miss. Royaltyhasarrived (Western Terror) was named the top pacing colt for owners Virginia and Kathy Schoeffel and Mike Munn. A five-time local winner during the year, Royaltyhasarrived is trained by Steve Schoeffel. Fashion Rocker, a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, was named 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year, winning four of 10 starts at The Meadows for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and Bethann Palone. Ron Burke trains. Acadia Farms, Marty Wollam and George Berlin own Manhattan Miss, the top sophomore trotting filly. Wollam trains the daughter of Broadway Hall, who earned five Meadows wins in 2015. Do Me Honor, by Cheyenne Rei, was named the top older pacing mare, retaining the title she also earned in 2015. Owned and trained by Bill Bercury, the 7-year-old won six races for the season and banked over $116,000 locally. Dunn Stable's Classicality, a five-year-old by Classic Photo, was the top older trotting male, winning four races and banking more than $110,000 for trainer Lisa Dunn. The top older trotting mare was Whata Donato, owned by Frank Poerio. Whata Donato, a 5-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover, was a winner of eight races for trainer Doug Snyder. The MSOA congratulates all of this year's divisional champions. Jeff Zidek
One week after being beaten a neck for all the money, Ontario Success did not disappoint those that bet him down to odds on favoritism in the top-level harness racing condition pace for $17,000 on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Released as the even money choice, driver Yannick Gingras took no prisoners, sending his horse to the lead past the opening quarter in 27-seconds. He was able to work out a 57.3 middle half-mile, hitting the half-mile in 55.3 and three-quarters in 1:24.3. On the far turn, he faced a bold challenge from 35-1 longshot Kingofthejungle, who launched a big move and was at the leaders throat latch coming off the far turn. Martini Hanover was tracking from the pylons while Rockin Wizard began to rally off the cover of Kingofthejungle. In the middle of the stretch, Kingofthejungle stumbled and Ontario Success suddenly found himself with a two length lead. Rockin Wizard was closing well down the center of the track, but the wire came just in time for Ontario Success who scored in 1:51.2 over Rockin Wizard. Martini Hanover, last week's winner in this class finished third. The victory was the sixth of the season for Ontario Success for trainer Ron Burke who co-owns the gelding with Weaver Bruscemi L.L.C. The win was one of three on the card for Yannick Gingras. Tim Tetrick also bagged three winners on the Saturday program. Ontario Success Ashley's Husband Returns A Winner Ashley's Husband has taken his seasonal mark each of the last two years at The Meadowlands, his mark this year of 1:50, was a lifetime best effort as well. So it was fitting that he returned off the 10-week layoff at The Meadowlands and it was no surprise that he returned a winner. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Ashley's Husband tracjed a live outer flow throughout the second half of the mile for Joe Bongirono, tipped three-wide into the stretch and paced fastest of all to the wire, to score in a lifetime-best equaling time of 1:50. The win marked his seventh trip to the Meadowlands winner's circle. Ashely's Husband is trained by Kyle Spagnola who made it four consecutive starts resulting in victories at The Meadowlands with this win. He would improve on that record when Our Dragon King won the 10th race as an overwhelming favorite as well. For the meet, Spagnola's record shows 7 wins from 9 starts, following a weekend that saw him go five-for-five. Ashley's Husband is owned by William J. Donovan. This was his 22nd lifetime win and he now has earnings over $164,000. Ashley's Husband Another Takter Two Year Old Trainer Jimmy Takter continues to send out powerful two year old performers at The Meadowlands. On Saturday evening, it was a two year old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, All The Cookies, the latest Takter-trainee to grace the Big M winner's circle. The even money favorite, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky was three-wide early in the first turn, but settled and made a strong brush to the lead as the field straightened away on the backstretch. After a 27.2 first quarter, All The Cookies led the field through fractions of 55.1 and 1:24.2 before turning for home in command. Major In Life rallied well in the stretch, but not enough to threaten the winner, All The Cookies who scored in 1:53. Wegottatruckyea was a sneaky-good third. All The Cookies won for the second time in three starts to begin his career. The Jimmy Takter trainee is owned by Christina Takter, Brixton Medical, L. Camara and J. Sbrocco. All The Cookies Surick Scores with New Acquisition Pistopackinpiper, who established his career in the Midwest, made his first start for new trainer Nick Surick a winning one, when he rallied in deep stretch to win a three-horse photo in 1:52.2 for Marcus Miller. Surick also teamed up to win the $10,000 claiming nightcap with Brioni. Pistopackinpiper had ground to make up on Mullet Blue Chip who led at every point of call, but used every inch of the long Meadowlands stretch to just grab the victory on the wire. App Heaven rallied up the pylons to be third. The winner, conditioned by Nick Surick is owned by Jerry Graham and Engel Stable Of Illinois. Pistopackinpiper Handle for the 13-race Saturday program was $2,519,723. Racing returns on Friday, December 4th, with first post time at 7:00 P.M. Darin Zoccali