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It's been 35 years since fans at the Delaware County Fair have seen a horse capture the Pacing Triple Crown with a win in the Little Brown Jug. True, three horses have won the Pacing Triple Crown since Ralph Hanover in 1983, but because the sequence of Crown races often change, none of those horses completed their quests in Delaware, Ohio. In fact, of the 10 Pacing Triple Crown winners to date, only Ralph Hanover and Adios Butler in 1959 finished their feats in the Little Brown Jug. Stay Hungry will try to join them on Thursday. He will become the sixth horse to compete in the Jug with the chance to win the Pacing Triple Crown and first since 1993 when Riyadh finished second. Western Hanover in 1992 and Albatross in 1971 also finished second in their bids. The most recent Pacing Triple Crown winner was No Pan Intended, who in 2003 won the Cane Pace first followed by the Little Brown Jug and the Messenger Stakes. To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the last Pacing Triple Crown coronation at the Little Brown Jug, Ralph Hanover's driver and co-owner Ron Waples recounted his memories of the experience and the horse. "I'd have said it then and I'd say the same thing now, it's probably one of the biggest thrills of my life," Waples said about winning the Pacing Triple Crown. "Going into the Jug, the horse was very sharp and very good. He'd taken on all comers. I think back on it now, and I think I would have been more disappointed if he'd gotten beat than anything. I was just so hyped up about it, so confident that he was going to do well." Ralph Hanover, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986 and died in 2008, was a son of Meadow Skipper out of Ravina Hanover. He was purchased for $58,000 by trainer Stew Firlotte and Waples, who had decided to partner on the yearling rather than bid against each other. The colt proved to be lazy throughout his career, but knew when it was show time. "He was hard to get to go at all until we got him in with horses," Waples said. "Once he got behind the gate and started to race he woke right up. Even at his best, he was always very, very lazy." Ralph Hanover won seven of 15 races at age 2 before etching his name in history at age 3. In 1983, Ralph Hanover won 20 of 25 races and earned a then-record $1.71 million in purses. He won the Messenger Stakes in June, the Meadowlands Pace and Queen City Pace (later replaced by the North America Cup) in July and three double-heat races -- the Adios, Cane Pace and Prix d'Ete -- in August. He also competed in the double-heat Oliver Wendell Holmes in August, finishing second by a nose. After some time off to freshen up, Ralph Hanover won the Simcoe Stakes before claiming the Little Brown Jug in straight heats on a chilly 50-degree day in Ohio. "He was a lazy colt, but I think that's why he lasted so long," Waples said. "You could leave out of the gate and have him on high gear and two steps later he would be going at a slow walk if you let him. Or you could come first up and he would just relax out there. It made no difference to him. "His manners and his gait were his two large pluses. I was just a minor part." Prior to the Little Brown Jug, Waples called Firlotte to find out how preparations for the race were going. "I watched three other ones train here and they all trained somewhere between 2:05 and two minutes," Firlotte told him. "And how was Ralph?" Waples asked. "I think he trained pretty good," Firlotte responded. "He went a mile in 2:35." "It was funny," Waples said. "That just shows how lazy he was. But once you got him behind the gate and asked him to go, he responded very well." Ralph Hanover won the Little Brown Jug and Pacing Triple Crown in front of a crowd of 46,087. "The Jug is a pretty cool place no matter what you're going to do," said the 74-year-old Waples, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986 and U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1994. "It's just unbelievable. It's quite a thrill. "Time goes by really fast. It doesn't seem that long ago. But it is." The Pacing Triple Crown began in 1956. Following is a list of the 10 horses to win the three races in the series: The Cane Pace, Messenger Stakes, and Little Brown Jug. Year-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1959-Adios Butler-Clint Hodgins-Paige West 1965-Bret Hanover-Frank Ervin-Frank Ervin 1966-Romeo Hanover-William Myer, George Sholty-Jerry Silverman 1968-Rum Customer-Billy Haughton-Billy Haughton 1970-Most Happy Fella-Stanley Dancer-Stanley Dancer 1980-Niatross-Clint Galbraith-Clint Galbraith 1983-Ralph Hanover-Ron Waples-Stew Firlotte 1997-Western Dreamer-Mike Lachance-Bill Robinson 1999-Blissfull Hall-Ron Pierce-Ben Wallace 2003-No Pan Intended-David Miller-Ivan Sugg Here is the video when Ralph Hanover won the Triple Crown at the Little Brown Jug https://youtu.be/Qf1rgX3UTRo.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA Media 

SEPT. 27, 2015 - Adding trotting hopples to Devils Advocate's equipment bag paid immediate dividends for harness racing trainer Jack Darling and driver Ron Waples as the filly rocketed around Flamboro Downs to a track and Ontario Sires Stakes record during the Dundas oval's OSS Celebration on Sunday. In spite of a recall that delayed the start of the first $105,000 Gold division, Devils Advocate kept her mind on her job and led the field of two-year-old trotting fillies through fractions of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:28 on her way to the record setting 1:57.4 result. Magical Wonder finished three lengths behind Devils Advocate in second and One Too Many was six more lengths back in third. "The funny thing is, she really wasn't very relaxed warming up, she was kind of back to her old self, but we snugged up the hopples a little bit and she was fine," said Cambridge, ON resident Darling, who also owns the filly. "It's all really a testament to Ron Waples. He's been working for me for a while and that's his baby. He just knows her inside and out, trains her and drives her, and it's all working out pretty good." Darling said Guelph, ON resident Waples kept Devils Advocate calm during the delay by walking her around on the grass in the centre of the racetrack, but as soon as the starter called the fillies back to the gate she was raring to go. "He had her on the grass there trying to keep her calm, walking around, and she was fine, and then they called her to the gate again and geez she goes right up in the air a couple times just like 'Hi-Ho Silver'," said the trainer. "She got behind the gate and then she was fine the rest of the way." The impressive mile obliterated the Ontario Sires Stakes record of 1:59.2 set by Miss Aultsville at Grand River Raceway in 2013 and the Flamboro Downs record of 1:59.3 set by Birminghim in 2005 and matched by Charmed Life in 2012. Through eight freshman starts Devils Advocate now boasts two Gold Series wins and three seconds for earnings of $135,625. Sunday's win moved her into a tie for top spot in the two-year-old trotting filly division standings with 175 points. The Manofmanymissions daughter will make her next start in the Oct. 10 Super Final and, if she continues to behave, also has the Breeders Crown on her calendar. "I think it's about two weeks to the Super Final, so that works out good, and then after that, if all goes well, we've still got the Breeders Crown," said Darling. "The best fillies this year are Ontario Sired, the best in North America, and I just think she's one of them, so hopefully we get a chance to find out." Like Devils Advocate, Levitator made her debut with trotting hopples at Flamboro on Sunday and, like Devils Advocate, she emerged victorious from the second $105,000 Gold division. Starting from Post 4, Levitator was eased off the starting gate by driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON and watched from third as High Heels led the field to a :29 opening quarter and :59.3 half. Heading for the 1:29.4 three-quarters Henry sent Levitator up the outer lane and the filly sailed home to a one and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. Las Vegas Seelster trotted into second and High Heels was eight and three-quarter lengths back in third. The win was the first in four starts for Levitator, who is trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL and Little E LLC of New York, NY. The daughter of Kadabra and Shesa Priority is a full-sister to $870,153 winner Prestidigitator and was a $120,000 purchase from the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. With one win and one second in Gold Series action, Levitator accumulated 75 points, good enough for eighth spot in the division standings and a berth in the Oct. 10 Super Final at Woodbine Racetrack. Flamboro Downs wraps up its 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Thursday evening with the last Gold Series events for the two-year-old pacing colts and three-year-old pacing fillies. Ontario Horse Racing

JULY 23, 2015 – Ron Waples piloted two-year-old trotting filly Devils Advocate to a Gold Series win at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening, but the Hall of Fame horseman says his assignment to the Jack Darling trainee’s race bike could be a temporary one. “Well when we were training her down, and I’d just started working for Jack, we were just talking one day and I said, ‘I hope that whoever drives her just backs her off the gate a couple times to get her used to it, so she don’t get stupid,’” recalled Waples, who turned 71 on Tuesday. “And Jack says, ‘Well you’re gonna go with her.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t be out there anymore, we’ll put somebody up that’s gonna be out there oftener than me.’ And he said, ‘No, I want you to go with her.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what the deal is, I’ll go with her ‘til I screw up and then we’re firing me.’ “So far I’m still employed I think,” he added with a chuckle. Starting from Post 4, Waples sent Devils Advocate to the front and never had to glance over his shoulder. The Manofmanymissions daughter rolled through fractions of :28.2, :59.2, and 1:28.1, then pulled away from the field to a four and one-half length victory in 1:57. Its All About Sam and fan favourite Sky Angel finished second and third. “She’s a bit jittery you know, like she’s a kind of a nervous thing — not that she’s a puller or anything like that — but we’ve been really careful with her and it’s paying off, she’s just getting a little better all the time,” said Waples, who last appeared in the Mohawk winner’s circle on May 28, 2010. “She’s just a super gaited little thing, and you’ve always gotta pull her up at the end of her mile. She’s not a horse or a filly that just pulls itself up; you’ve got to always pull her up, which is a good sign, good wind to her.” Cambridge, ON resident Darling acquired the half-sister to $175,699 winner Unabating from last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $47,000.So far Waples, who makes his home in Guelph, ON, has piloted Devils Advocate through three qualifiers, a June 28 overnight event at Georgian Downs where she made a break, and the July 12 Gold Series season opener at Georgian Downs where she finished second. When Waples and Darling met in the winner’s circle on Thursday they pulled the race bike off Devils Advocate and held the Ontario Sires Stakes blanket up behind the jittery youngster for the trophy presentation and photograph. “I didn’t want to have the bike on her up there in the winner’s circle and her flip herself over backwards and bust the bike or something, so I said we’ll take it off and get her picture taken that way,” Waples explained. “She’s getting better, like I said, but she’s not foolproof yet. “But I think she’s worth working on, or waiting on,” he added. Devils Advocate The other two Gold Series trophies went home with first-time winner Magical Wonder and division leader Caprice Hill. Magical Wonder and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON opened the evening with a sprint to the wire that saw them snatch a neck victory away from Powerful Glare, Caprice Hill’s stablemate in the Tony Alagna barn. Northern Sweetie finished third in the 1:58.2 mile. Like Devils Advocate, Magical Wonder had started in one overnight event, logging a second-place result at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 2, and the Gold Series season opener, where she was third. The Kadabra daughter is trained by John MacMillan for owner-breeder Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. of Lakefield Gore, QC. Magical Wonder A winner in the season opener, Caprice Hill cruised to another easy victory in the third division. The Kadabra daughter and driver Yannick Gingras — who made the trip up from his Allentown, NJ home expressly to drive Caprice Hill — sat fourth through the early going, stepped into the outer land heading for the half and had taken control by the three-quarters, pulling away in the stretch to a three and three-quarter length victory in 1:56. Danish Darby and High Heels completed the top three. Manalapan, NJ resident Tony Alagna trains Caprice Hill for Tom Hill of Lancashire, GB. The half-sister to $278,868 winner Bramalea Hanover was a $55,000 purchase from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. With 100 points through two events, the talented youngster has a firm hold on top spot in the division point race. Caprice Hill The two-year-old trotting fillies will also make their third Gold Series start at Mohawk Racetrack, returning to the Campbellville oval on August 4. On Friday evening Mohawk hosts five Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old pacing fillies, with the Grassroots contests going postward as Races 1, 6, 7, 8, and 11 on the 7:25 pm program. Ontario Horse Racing

Ron Waples will join the field for the Hall of Fame harness racing drivers race at Goshen Historic Track, the annual $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Memorial Trot, to be held Sunday (July 5). Post time is 1 p.m. Waples drove Park Avenue Joe in the 1989 Hambletonian dead heat race-off with Probe and driver Bill Fahy. He's also won nearly 7,000 races, including two Little Brown Jugs (Ralph Hanover-1983 and Fake Left-1992) along with $74.2 million in purse earnings. The slate for that race brings together a "Who's Who" of harness racing talent. John Campbell, David Miller, Bill O'Donnell, Dick Stillings, Jimmy Takter and Wally Hennessey will all compete that day. Ron Pierce, recovering from neck and back surgery this spring, is a possibility as he is nearing the end of his rehabilitation. His participation will be confirmed as the date draws closer. Collectively, the confirmed participants have won 13 Little Brown Jugs and 11 Hambletonians as trainers or drivers, along with nearly 52,000 races and $875 million in purse earnings. The race honors the memory of Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry; their sons Elbridge and Peter will be on hand to present the trophy. After the race, the drivers will meet fans and autograph photos. Goshen Historic Track is located at 44 Park Place in Goshen; admission is $5 for adults (includes program) and children are free. For more information, go to www.goshenhistorictrack.com or call 845.294.5333. The hashtag for this year's events is #harnessgoshen. By Ellen Harvey Harness Racing Communications USTA  

Tickets are going fast for the tribute night for Keith and Ron Waples, which is a fundraiser for the educational funds for Paige and Paula Austin, daughters of trainer Mark Austin, who passed away suddenly last month. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 29, at Mohawk Racetrack with doors opening at 5 p.m., buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. with the tribute portion to follow dinner. Tickets are $50 each with tables of eight available for $400. To order tickets, or donate an item to the auction or the fundraiser, please contact Jack Darling (jackdarling@rogers.com - 519-653-2698), Ian Fleming (ifleming@clintonraceway.com - 519-482-5270) or Bill O’Donnell (billodonnell01@aol.com - 905-854-2672). An online and onsite silent auction will be held. The online auction will begin on Monday, October 20 at noon and close the following Monday, October 27 at 7 p.m. All funds raised will go to the education fund. Some of the notable auction items received to date are a breeding to red hot sire Sportswriter from Tara Hills Stud, a breeding to Big Jim donated by Darlene Carr, box seats for eight for a Toronto Raptors game from Brad Grant, a Brodeur jogger donated by Jack Darling and Larry Ainsworth, an autographed Bobby Orr jersey from Michelle and Scott McEneny and a month’s training from McNair stables. A full list of items available for bid will be released next week. Longest shot on the board comes in at Fraser Sent off as the longest shot on the toteboard in Thursday’s $10,500 Fillies & Mares Open for pacers at Fraser Downs, Real Pretty got up in the closing strides to prevail in 1:54 for driver Serge Masse. The Justin Currie-trained Real Pretty got away fourth and held that position throughout the first half of the contest. Keep The Dream and Call Me Up took turns on the lead through panels of :26.4, :56.1 and 1:25, but it was Real Pretty who commenced a first-over rally going to the three-quarter pole before eventually posting the win by three-quarters of a length over Gracie Montana in 1:54. Call Me Up weakened late and settled for third. Sent off at odds of 7-1, the four-year-old daughter of Real Desire-Prettytrickynicki improved her 2014 record to 4-4-7 from 18 starts with the win for owners Alice and Derek Gilbert of Brandon, Manitoba. The 10-time winner has banked more than $42,000 in her career. To view the rest of this story click here. Equity pays off at Flamboro Equity went to the front and kept on trucking for driver Paul MacKenzie en route to a front-stepping score in the $11,000 Preferred 2 for trotters Thursday evening at Flamboro Downs. The eight-year-old son of Kadabra-Earl Of My Dreams shot to the top from Post 2 and sliced out panels of :28., :57.2 and 1:26.4 before using a :30.4 closing quarter to win by a quarter of a length over Lexis D J in 1:57.3. Third prize was earned by Cimeronken. Sandra Houghton trains Equity for the partnership of Charalambos Christoforou and Banjo Farms. The homebred won for just the third time this season and for the 29th time in his career. The classy campaigner has banked $824,460 to date. To view the rest of this story click here.   

Grand River Raceway hosted its sixth annual backstretch Open House on May 25/14. Attendance was higher than ever. Nearly 300 people of all ages attended for a rare glimpse of horse racing behind-the-scenes. Donations at the door topped $200 for the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. A full tour of the Open House stations included: a tour of the judges' stand and announcer's booth with track announcer Gary Guy; the basics of breeding, owning, training, driving and caring for racehorses; a tour of the paddock, testing areas, starting car and track maintenance vehicles; and the unique opportunity to drive a racehorse. Grand River Raceway extends its sincere appreciation to the horsepeople who graciously volunteered their time, and horses, to help with this event: staff of the Hands On Horses Program (Stacey Reinsma, Natalie Elliott, Ken Ellis), Brian Tropea of the Ontario Harness Horse Association, Chris Munroe, Murray Small, Marit Valstad, Anna Glide, Kristen Cobb, Paula McGuire, Ken Middleton, John Braid, John Newell, Gary Guy, Jim Ellis, Justin Herod, Chris Polifroni, Ron Waples, Julie Walker, Jane Belore, Ron O'Neill, Debi O'Brien Moran and Hannah Beckett from Trot 4 Kids. To view photos from the Grand River Raceway Open House: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.712109232183792.1073741840.127947220599999&type=1&l=d6ea5c8a6d To view the CTV coverage of the event: http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/eight-race-tracks-form-alliance-to-streamline-horse-racing-and-fill-seats-1.1837705 Grand River Raceway's 2014 live racing season kicks off on June 2 at 6:30. by Kelly Spencer, for Grand River Raceway

TRAINER TALKS ABOUT LOVING HORSE RACING

If anyone knows Jonathan Dury, aside from always being busy, they know he is truly a student of harness racing. From his time working with his father, Barry Drury, at Mohawk Racetrack, (Campbellville, ON), during the summer to picking up on slight nuisances' at all possible moments is what has driven Jonathan to the level of achievement he is currently earning as one of the top drivers at Woodbine Racetrack. Jonathan would help his dad anytime he was not in school. When Jonathan was very young, his ideal dream job would have been to drive big trucks. Moving several years down the line, when Jonathan was in high school, he contemplated having a career in architecture but due to his on-track success, that venture has been put on hold. If what we have seen of Jonathan the past few years is any indication of what lies ahead, there's a strong feeling he may put a permanent hold on entering the field of architectural design. Jonathan's dad still trains horses and Jonathan noted his dad used to work for harness racing legend Ron Waples back at the old Meadowlands as an assistant trainer. Jonathan started out at Woodstock Raceway and the first horse he drove was "a trotter for Chris Christoforou Sr. "It was my first time start and it was with a trotter" says Jonathan. "I like driving both pacers and trotters and I have had success driving trotters. A lot of trotters are trickier to drive than pacers but I still love driving trotters a lot." Away from the track earlier in his career, Jonathan enjoyed playing golf in the summer and hockey during the winter. "I was playing hockey for a few years for fun, then I broke my arm and called it quits for that..." says Jonathan with a laugh. Jonathan worked for several high caliber stables, such as Anthony Macdonald who had a lot of trotters. "I really learned a lot about how to handle a trotter" says Jonathan. Anthony Montini and Casie Coleman are two other elite trainers Jonathan worked for. "You see different ways of doing things." Jonathan explains. "Anthony Montini is a really nice guy; he even let me drive Primetime Bobcat in one of his last career starts. I can't say I learned one thing from anybody, its things you pick up and expand on when you work for someone else." It's about growing and learning while remaining humble and approachable that can you a long way in every aspect of life. As he progressed Jonathan moved on to drive at Kawartha Downs, (located in Fraserville, ON), "I really dug Kawartha Downs, I love driving on the 5/8th mile track. I spent time last summer driving at one at Pocono Downs. Kawartha was a great experience because I got to drive a lot of the better horses that went down there." Jonathan explains. "I was driving all of Corey Johnson's horses at one point and I was driving a lot of Tommy Riley's horses plus I was driving whatever Casie (Coleman) brought down there." Jonathan notes he learned a lot from driving horses for top notch trainers. How did Jonathan get to the point of driving all of Corey Johnson's horses? Well, Jonathan says he didn't know Corey at first but kept seeing his name listed to drive Corey's horses. "I was having a lot of luck down there and I was one of the top guys there driving for Tommy Riley... then the entries came out one day and I was listed to drive on three of Corey's horses and it was all trotters and I won with all three of them." Take off indeed, what was set in motion at Kawartha Downs truly snowballed for Jonathan, to the point that he was able to make a seamless transition to Canada's biggest racetracks, Woodbine and Mohawk. Winning with Vegas Vacation was special to Jonathan. "I actually spent a lot of time training him when I was working for Casie. I got to qualify him and I won with him on his first lifetime start." It holds a special spot in Jonathan's heart, especially given what Vegas Vacation has accomplished. "Vegas is a wicked horse with a ton of potential, I think he is going to get bigger, stronger and better" according to Jonathan and it is safe to say everyone would agree with his opinion. I certainly do! Jonathan admits it can difficult to get good drives and yes, if it was that easy everyone would be number one on the leader board. "I just try to work hard to get me to where I am" says Jonathan. "Carmen Auciello gave me the opportunity to go down to the Poconos to drive his horses down there and it was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It's a different style of racing down (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I am able to use that to my advantage now." "I love the Poconos and the track; it's a beautiful facility and a fast track that also gets a lot of good horses down there." I hear the architecture aficionado in Jonathan's voice when he's describing the facility at Pocono Downs. Jonathan was at the Meadowlands for the past three weekends driving Corey Johnson's trotter Hldontghttoyurdrms in the Horse and Groom series and expresses how much the new facility at the Meadowlands has improved. Jonathan's focus is to keep driving and learning more and more so he can better not only himself, but also better the results for the trainers and owners. His approach is to zone in on a team goal, not as an individual. "That's the best thing you can do is know as much as you can" Jonathan says when it comes to learning about other horses. "Knowing your horse, and knowing the rest of the horses, you can find ways to beat them with what you know about them." Jonathan enjoys watching elite drivers like Tim Tetrick and Brian Sears, "they can get so much out of their horse, put them in all the right places." Jonathan says. "I try to learn things from everybody to better myself." "I am very content racing horses; it's something I love doing so how can I complain about something I love?" Jonathan admits. "Horse racing has been a big part of my life, and now it is my life." "I like aggressive horses racing wise, I feel I can keep them calm" says Jonathan. When he's not driving, Jonathan will go out to his dad's barn to give him a hand or in the summers past he would help with Casie Coleman's stable. "If I have time off, I take it easy for the most part; maybe play some golf in the summer. Really I try to get some rest so I am ready to go." Jonathan explains. "I haven't raced since I was at the Meadowlands on Saturday. I had Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off and I was bored out of my mind having so many days off." In his time off, what keeps Jonathan mentally busy is music. "I'm a huge country music fan and also a huge Eminem fan. My favorite country group is Florida Georgia Line. I like all kinds of music depending on the mood I am in, but generally I listen to country." Jonathan says. As any avid music listener, Jonathan has his list of favorite concerts he has attended. The Jay Z and Eminem Home and Home tour concert, which took place in Detroit, is at the top of the list. A close second would be the concert he saw earlier this year that featured Jason Alden and Florida Georgia Line. This August, Jonathan will be rocking out to Linkin Park at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. A group he's been wanting to see live for quite some time. I posed the question to Jonathan, that if he could record a song with anyone or any group, he chose Florida Georgia Line. "Only because they look like they have a wicked time in their music videos." Jonathan says. A twist to his music curiosity is if Jonathan had the opportunity to sit down and talk with any music artist about their career, hands down it would be famed rapper, Eminem. "I've actually sat down and read through the meanings of all the lyrics to a bunch of his songs." Jonathan explains. "He's lived a very different life and gives you the courage not to give up.... He's come from a pretty rough family and battled against everything to get to where he is today. I read a documentary on him and he has boxes of papers with little groups of words scribbled on them that he just randomly has pop in his head." "And (Eminem) kept them in case he could ever use them in a song. It's really amazing what he can do with words and how each song has a meaning deep down inside the lyrics that you may not understand just listening to it." When it comes to interacting with fans, Jonathan truly enjoys the experience He's more than willing to sign autographs or give his whip away. One time at the Meadowlands, Jonathan was set to drive a couple of races and ended up giving away his whip to a fan without realizing he didn't have any more whips, as he only brought one with him to the track. Luckily Scott Zeron was there to help him out. So if you see Jonathan, don't be afraid to ask for an autograph as he is more than willing to oblige. "I wasn't expecting anyone to ask for my whip because at Woodbine the fans are so far away, you don't see them. It was shocking to see the fans up so close at different tracks. Once over a three night period at the Meadowlands, I won one race each night and gave away my whip after each race I won." How many sports can you account where the athletes and players involved give away game used items? Maybe baseball if you catch a foul ball, once in a blue moon an NFL football or a hockey puck, but in no other sport is this possible, only in harness racing where a fan can meet the people they cheer on and get an autograph on a nightly basis. by, Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova      

Ever since I have had a passion for harness racing I had always wondered what is was like to sit behind a racehorse and jog it on a track. What was it like to feel the horses hooves hit the ground so close to my feet? What was it like to be in the “zone” when jogging a racehorse? I have always known having Cerebral Palsy; things would be different for me. But that never stopped me from dreaming. My parents said I should never let my disability limit my dreams. In May 2012, my dream came true! My first time of ever jogging a racehorse would be an experience I would never forget, and not only because my dream was coming true, but who I went with that made it even better. Bill “Magic Man” O’Donnell contacted my dad. Yes, the harness racing legend and Hall of Famer Bill O’Donnell. He said that another harness racing legend and Hall of Famer, Ron Waples, had a modified seat that he had made for Holly Dapp that fit on a jogger, and asked would I like to jog one day. Knowing that my dream was to jog a horse, my dad quickly agreed to the idea and we set up a date a week later just to meet with Ron Waples to discuss the details. He also wanted to meet me and see what my capabilities were. He was asking me questions to see how much I understood. He explained that he would sit on the jog cart beside me. He was asking me questions to see how much I knew and to make sure I understood what was happening! He asked me one question that I will never forget; he said “now Sydney, what do you do if I fall off dead?” That’s when I kind of panicked and began second guessing myself. I replied “grab the lines.” He chuckled “but Sydney, you already have the lines.”  That’s when I was lost for words; I was actually going to jog a racehorse! He told me “Sydney don’t worry, just stay in the middle of the track, and the horse will do the rest. Just keep going around.” A week later my mom, my dad and I met up with Ron Waples, his wife Liz, Bill O’Donnell, and his friend Cathy. The horse that I was going to be jogging was named Learn The Lingo; he was a retired Standardbred gelding. After we found a helmet to fit me and put me in the jogger, the time had come, my dream was coming true! As we jog Ron tells me about some of his fondest memories of being a trainer/driver. All of the horses he drove, some of which I recognized. It was starting to sink in, not only was I jogging, but I was jogging with a harness racing icon. Don’t ask me how many laps, I got lost in the moment, I was on cloud nine.  I didn’t want to stop, I wanted to keep going.  So after the final lap we stopped and my dad hopped on the jogger with me and Mr. Waples. After, Mr. Waples said Learn the Lingo was ready for a break. We headed back to the barn, and I told everyone about my grand adventure! We go in the barn, we get me back into my wheelchair and I watch Mr. Waples give Learn The Lingo a bath.  Then after he was all dried off, Mr. Waples tossed me a bag of licorice and said “feed this to him, it’s his favorite!” It was a treat well earned. I sat there in front of Learn The Lingo, staring in amazement, trying to wrap my head around that afternoon’s events. I couldn’t believe that my dream of jogging a racehorse had come true. They say Disney World is the happiest and most magical place on Earth, but on that May afternoon, the backstretch of Mohawk Racetrack was, and I had just gotten off the ride of my life. I have been so lucky and blessed in my 13 years to have dreams come true. I can hardly wait to see what the future has in store for Sydney Weaver is 13 years old and resides in Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disablity hold her back from achieving her goals.

The Staff of Harnesslink is proud to announce that Canada’s darling of harness racing, Sydney Weaver, will be a regular columnist for the website starting today! Sydney, 13, from Acton, Ontario, has Cerebral Palsy, but that has not stopped her from already obtaining her grooms license (at age 10) and jogging horses. Due to the generosity of people in the industry, Sydney has her own special jog cart and is a co-owner of the pacing mare, Sydney Seelster, whom we have all read about their exploits as of late. She is no rookie when it comes to writing. Sydney, at age 11, was the winning entrant in the 2011 O’Brien awards VIP package for her entry on why she loves Canadian harness racing and in 2012 won the 12-and-under category in the USTA’s 2012 Marie Hill Youth Writing contest. Sydney will be writing her columns on her experiences in harness racing. Her first column is below and we welcome her to our staff! On The Rail with Sydney Weaver It’s a warm May night and the sun is getting ready to set. The sound of hooves thundering by, heading for home and the crowds are cheering! What a great night to be on the rail. As the trainer walks by I wish him congratulations on his win. The horse and driver meet their trainer in the Winner’s Circle. I glance over to see the steam blowing off the horse’s back, fading with the setting sun. On his way back to the paddock, it has become a tradition that I always congratulate the driver on his win, we have a quick chat, and I wish him the best of luck for the rest of the night.  I take a look at the program for the next race and pick whom I will cheer for. I hear a song that I know playing in the background and I start dancing in my seat! After the song ends, the trumpets blare, signalling for the horses to come and parade. I look on in wonder and awe at their beauty and grace, and wonder how a creature could be so powerful yet elegant at the same time.   As the horses take up their positions behind the gate, and the pace car begins to pick up speed, my heart begins to beat faster and faster, the race is on... I take a deep breath and think, what a great night to be on the rail... Sydney’s column will appear regularly on Harnesslink.

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