With horse racing on the horizon in New Brunswick this year, one thing stands out on the race calendar. To date, there are no Atlantic Sires Stakes events scheduled for any of the three racetracks including Fredericton, Saint John and Woodstock. I have passed on an idea of getting a sponsor for 2014 for at least a stake race that would be held in the province at some point this season. My thoughts would be to have a sponsor back the stake with money for the purse, and it be made into a paid in event for owners. There would be many options that could include either two or three-year-olds and that the sponsors name of course to be included in all media releases, race day promotions, etc. With the lack of funding this season, it makes sense to think outside the box and seek such sponsorships for such an event and keep the stake races alive. Horse Racing New Brunswick is unable to commit this year due to lack of funding and to take money from the overnight horses. I am hoping that someone will reach out to the industry in New Brunswick to keep stake races viable not only this year, but a short-term support investment that would benefit both the sponsor and the industry in New Brunswick. I welcome your thoughts which I can assure can be passed on to the operators of Horse Racing New Brunswick. Please note this is not a plea for support on their part, but to hopefully, just maybe, get someone on board to help the ailing industry and stakes program in New Brunswick. By Scott Waddell, for New Brunswick Horse Racing. Contact Scott at email@example.com
Standardbred Canada are once again looking for regional qualifying rounds for the National Driving Championship in Canada and I will take a look at the local region here in New Brunswick. Who ultimately will get the chance to compete? Let's take a look. We have a number of talented and capable drivers in our province so to narrow it down is harder than one might think. I will give it a whirl and welcome comments. If there are eight challengers, here are the top-four I think will be quite easy in selecting. Gilles Barrieau, who will race out of P.E.I but is still a resident of New Brunswick is the first logical choice. Gilles has represented Canada at the worlds previously and is a automatic selection. Next, Todd Trites would be the second selection. He continues to post impressive numbers in Saint John and Fredericton, and is a popular catch-driver right through the Maritime driving circuit. My third choice is Mark Haig. Year after year the quiet and talented teamster who makes harness racing driving a weekend job, is always in the top five in standings at both tracks in N.B. For the fourth spot, I will say Stephen Trites, the elder brother of Todd and a more than capable driver. In fifth spot, I will put in Gordon Hennessey, the Moncton native and brother to Wally and Jody Hennessey and a very good option for catch-driving assignments in the province. For positions six through eight, its gets a little tougher. There are a number of capable drivers that could fill the last three spots and its a tough call. In no particular order, my picks for the final three regional competitors are Lonny Stokes, Dale Spence and Chris Davies. Like I said, a tough call and there are a few more who could easily make the grade but these are my picks for the eight representatives who will compete to represent N.B in the Atlantic Regional Final later this year in P.E.I. by Scott Waddell, for Horse Racing New Brunswick. Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the opening of the 2014 racing is fast approaching, we again learned that the province will be losing it's premier driver. horseman, and ambassador of racing for the season. Like last year, perennial driving champion, O'Brien award winner Gilles Barrieau will call Prince Edward Island home this season starting in early April. Barrieau will first set-up shop at Red Shores Summerside in the ship-in stable. With race dates reduced to approx. 23 dates, commencing tentatively on the May holiday weekend at Fredericton. Once again the loss of Barrieau, a fan favourite and drawing card, will hurt the live racing product in New Brunswick. Some may question that statement but in my many years in racing, when Gilles is absent, there's a difference. I would make the analogy of taking your best player in a professional league and having him move to another location. What is a good thing is that fans have the opportunity to wager on the hometown driver through simulcasting from Red Shores. It is not known at this time if this move will be a permanent one, we certainly hope not and remain optimistic the industry will somehow find it's way back to sustainability in the province. Best of luck to Gilles, his owners, and hope that he returns to N.B after the season is over. By Scott Waddell, for New Brunswick Horse Racing. Contact Scott at email@example.com
I recently penned a piece in the Atlantic Post Calls, the premier Maritime racing paper on looking ahead to the 2014 and looking for positives for racing in New Brunswick. While it was a challenge in compiling positive information without a one thing to focus on, one thing became clear. New Brunswick horse racing, and some involved, feel the only hope is a change in government in 2014. This fall, the New Brunswick electorate will have the chance to choose four more years of the Alward Tories, or take a change on a new young politician in Brian Gallant to lead the province. While there are three other options in N.B when it comes to official parties, I would be shocked to see anything but a Red/ Blue party again leading the province. So where does that leave harness racing? From everyone I have contacted, it seems to be a growing agreement that a change to a Liberal government is the only hope. As many are aware, the gov't opted out of the five-year deadline to support racing any further. It was the Shawn Graham led Liberals, who then had Mike Murphy in cabinet who is a horse owner and breeder that struck the deal when in power. Graham was turfed out after only one term and then it was up to the industry to keep things flowing with the Tories led by Alward and Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, a rookie cabinet choice with experience with the Irving Empire. It was no secret when the Tories took over that the province was in a dismal state of finance and it was up to Higgs and the new caucus to reign in spending, and horse racing was one area that was cut. There was even talk of a lawsuit by Horse Racing New Brunswick against the gov't for a breach of contract and a feasibility study was done, reportedly just to pacify the industry. Many insiders say the study was never going to amount to anything and was nothing more than a stall tactic. Also, there has been talk that gov't is not interested in dealing with H.R.N.B the way it is set-up now. So, it appears that the industry leaders in the province will do all they can to keep racing going this spring with approx. 23-24 dates in total. They will wait and see how the election of 2014 turns out and take it from there. Politics- they play a part in just about everything, including harness racing. Let's hope something can be done to keep the tradition of N.B racing alive but it may rest, as I mentioned, all up to politics. Scary. By Scott Waddell, for New Brunswick Horse Racing. Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Although morale took a nose dive recently with the announcement that an A.L.C study ruled out the viability of a racing facility in Saint John, 2013 was one for the ages. What a memorable year for young driver Dale Spence Jr. who now owns the two major track records at Exhibition Park Raceway. It was a combination of youth and speed that saw owner Jonah Moases' Big League and Dirt Track Momma set new speed standards and had the Maritime racing fraternity in a frenzy. Big League set an all-new pacing standard by winning in 1:53.4 during exhibition week. That bested Sandy Hanover and Woodmere Topcats previous best of 1:54.3. Many thought that the pacing standard for aged horses at E.P.R was one of the safest track records in the region. As they say, "you couldn't write a better script". Here you had one of the up and rising stars in Spence, and owner Moase who is well-known for investing in the sport. On a Saturday afternoon in October, the tandem once again teamed up for a track record, this time with pacing mare Dirt Track Momma in an eye-popping, jaw dropping 1:55.3 to set the new mark. It was destiny for the team of Spence/ Moase in 2013 at Exhibition Park Raceway and it was simply meant to be. Media latched on to the story of Big League and what it meant for New Brunswick. They say every record is meant to be broken but its going to take another storybook to take these well deserved records away from these young stars of Maritime racing. With 2013 in the book for another year, one can only hope that 2014 is just as exciting as 2013 but that's going to be tough. by Scott Waddell for HRNB
New Brunswick harness racing driver Gilles Barrieau is on his way once again to winning the title of Canada's percentage driver for 2013. Statistics released this week show Barrieau with a very comfortable lead with only the month of December to go. He has a seasonal driving average of .416 on the year and that gives him a large lead on other drivers in Canada. Barrieau in a national award winner as he captured the prestigious O'Brien award of horsemanship in 2005. He also has won the Maritime driving title on more than ten occasions. by Scott Waddell for HRNB
Mark Haig, one of the top-catch drivers in the Maritimers was on fire at E.P.R this afternoon guiding three winners to the winners circle. The "Haigler" started out the day with two wins in the first two races of the day and completed a great day with Joseph Michael in 1:57.2. Mark has been a top catch-driver at E.P.R for years and enjoyed a banner day, topping it off with the top-class win. You can view the latest at hrnb.ca by Scott Waddell for HRNB
Week four proved to be another tough week of selecting winners in the November handicapping challenge presented by Horse Racing New Brunswick. With one week left to go this Saturday, some of the leaders are starting to struggle and we have some late bloomers. Wednesday, H.R.N.B will provide a total of all competitors with our weekly preview but for now, here are the leaders of this past Saturday's card. Ray Coholan, an avid and loyal fan in Saint John topped all handicappers in week four as he registered 36-points. Geraldine Hubbard, after an off week last week bounced back to finish second with 34-points. We had three individuals tie for third place with 32-points each and they are Roy Flowers, Joe Moore, and Kevin Warner. Horse Racing New Brunswick would like to thank all on-track participants and those who have entered each week on-line. It's going to be an exciting finish this Saturday, and be sure to watch for Wednesday's Saturday race preview that will also include a list of the overall leaders. by Scott Waddell for HRNB
Here are the standings after week one in the November H.R.N.B Handicapping Contest. Geraldine Hubbard is the leader after one week. Overall, Geraldine leads the group going into this Monday's card with 46 of a possible 50 points gathered from this past Saturday's card. In second place are the on-line entry of Ray and Lila MacDonald at 42-points. There is a four-way-way tie for third at 36-points as Dale Spence Sr., Kayden Buchanan, Brent Briggs and Joe Moore all are deadlocked in third place. This week H.R.N.B will stage the second leg of the contest with fans picking the winners of races three to seven. More info available at http://www.hrnb.ca by Scott Waddell for HRNB
Horse Racing New Brunswick is pleased to announce an upcoming handicapping contest for the month of November! This exciting handicapping challenge will run over the entire full live racing schedule in November with cards scheduled for: November 2nd November 9th November 16th November 23rd November 30th Five races per day will be selected in the official race program, and points will be awarded as follows: 1st- 10 Points 2nd- 6 Points 3rd- 4 Points There will be updates available each week with the top-ten posted weekly on the Horse Racing New Brunswick website. At the end of the contest, there will be three top prizes awarded and presented on the first card of December, 2013. Staff and immediate family of Horse Racing New Brunswick are not eligible for the contest. In the event that your selection is scratched, you will be represented by the post-time favorite. If he is the one scratched, you will get points based on the second favorite, and so on. Let’s have some fun and friendly competition in Horse Racing New Brunswick’s November Handicapping Challenge! Weekly prizes will be doled out to weekly winners with the top-three in the championship being awarded prizes. We will also offer on-line entrants, due by post-time of each race card to the following e-mail address. For those playing on-line, we invite you to enter under the e-mail and you will be included in the weekly and overall draw. email@example.com by Scott Waddell for HRNB
With temperatures and track conditions ideal at E.P.R on Saturday, young Dale Spence Jr. set yet another track record. On Saturday, Dirt Track Momma set a new pacing standard at the track for mares with a sizzling 1:55.3 trip for owner Jonah Moase. That gives the Spence/ Moase dynamic duo both aged pacing records at the Saint John track. Big League made headlines in late summer after an eye-popping 1:53.4 mile. Meanwhile, Saint John based Gilles Barrieau won two Maritime Breeders eliminations on Saturday in P.E.I with Tobins Fusion and Settlement Request. by Scott Waddell for Exhibition Park Raceway
Holiday racing at E.P.R, presented by Horse Racing New Brunswick saw Cecils Express record the fastest trip of the afternoon for driver Gilles Barrieau. It was just another day at the office for the track's leading driver as he scored four-wins on the nine-dash program,. Barrieau's other wins came with P H D ( 2:03.3 ), R O F Samurai ( 2:00.3 ) and Ultimate Spirit ( 2:02 ). Cecils Express led at every mark in the top-class victory and tossed in a last half in :59 flat in 1:59.3. He is owned by Nova Scotia's Wayne MacRae. Ideal Ticket got up for the deuce while Putnams Glory rounded out the top-three. by Scott Waddell for Exhibition Park Raceway
Ten-year-old Dance Hanover, owned by the Ultimate Stable will seek his fourth straight victory at E.P.R on Saturday highlighting a solid ten-dash card of racing. Stephen Trites, who comes off a four-win performance this past Saturday in Fredericton, will again handle the driving chores. He will certainly have his work cut out for him as he leaves from the outside post eight. Cecils Express, with the tracks leading driver Gilles Barrieau has drawn the rail position. Other starters in order of post position are Magical Alex, Putnams Glory, Manraysonjo, American Captain, Hello America and Ideal Ticket. As previously announced, the new track record sign sporting Big Leagues epic mile of 1:53.4 will be unveiled Saturday by Horse Racing New Brunswick. Post time for the excellent card of racing is 1:00 P.M. by Scott Waddell for EPR
Racing will continue this Saturday in Fredericton and in one race, two-year-old stakes winners J Ps Warrior, Absolootly Hot and Elm Grove Icecream will meet head to head. J Ps Warrior, fresh off a second place finish in the Island Breeders stake has been listed as the 5-2 choice in race two of the afternoon. Scott Hubbard, who co-owns Absolootly Hot will be looking for her fourth win in nine starts. On the inside post will be Steve Mason in race two with Elm Grove Icecream, who has a "B" stakes win to his credit as a freshman pacer for the Downey Stables. All three pacers are stabled at Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John and will make the trek to Fredericton for matinee card on Saturday which kicks off at 1:00 P.M. There are a total of ten dashes for race fans. Wagering is available at all N.B teletheatre locations, and locally in the Sulky Room Lounge in Saint John. For racing info in N.B, please visit http://www.hrnb.ca by Scott Waddell
There's a tie among the top drivers at Fredericton Raceway but not for long. Gilles Barrieau who is plying his trade on P.E.I this summer, is tied with Todd Trites. Both teamsters have twelve wins each.
Fredericton Raceway played host to a twelve dash card of racing on Saturday afternoon and had the perfect weather for the exciting race card presented by Horse Racing New Brunswick.