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TORONTO, March 30 - Maplelea and Cast No Shadow scored first leg victories in the harness racing Blossom Series Monday night at Woodbine. A group of 15 three-year-old pacing fillies were split into two $15,000 divisions for the first round of the Blossom Series. The first division saw a familiar horse to series action continue her recent run of dominance. Fresh off a sweep of the HPI Series, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron picked up right where they left off with a 1:57 victory. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, Zeron elected to take Maplelea to the back of the pack and paced along seventh around the first turn. Down the backstretch, Maplelea moved off the pylons and would pick up cover to be perfectly placed second-over as the field turned for home. In the stretch, Maplelea cruised by her rivals and paced home in :27.2 to win by two-lengths. Doctor Terror finished up well to take second, while Much Adoo finished third. A three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won four-consecutive starts for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her 2015 record now sits at an impressive six wins from eight starts for earnings of over $73,000. Maplelea paid $3.20 to win. In the second division, Cast No Shadow and Chris Christoforou scored an impressive open-length victory at 5/1. Beyonces Rockn, the 3/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter, while Cast No Shadow paced along in fourth. Christoforou would get his charge out in moving and came first up around the final turn to challenge the favourite at the three-quarter pole in 1:27.1. In the stretch, Cast No Shadow blew by Beyonces Rockn and stormed home strongly in :27 to win by 5 ¾ lengths. Moonlit Dance just got up for second, while Beyonces Rockn had to settle for third. A three-year-old daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams. After failing to win a race in four starts last season, Cast No Shadow is a now a perfect four-for-four in 2015 and has banked $31,500. Her clocking of 1:54.1 knocked almost two-seconds off her previous career-mark. Cast No Shadow returned $12.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom Series, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Blossom will take place next Monday (April 6). Mark McKelvie

Life has been tough for astute harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco in recent times, but he has every reason to smile at the moment. Battling depression, Dimarco returned to the industry last year and has enjoyed a sensational rate of success. Leading the charge is boom youngster Shadow Runner, which is unbeaten from four starts, including the Bathurst Gold Crown. Driven by Michael Formosa, Shadow Runner worked hard from his second row draw before scoring by a short half-head from Karloo Damajor. In a ‘blanket finish’, Sams The Master was a half-head away third. “It got tight at the finish, but he got there, which is the main thing,” Dimarco said. “I’m rapt, couldn’t be happier. “That’s my first Group One win and to share it with my daughter Marissa, who owns Shadow Runner is amazing.” Covering the last half in 57.2 seconds, Shadow Runner rated a brilliant 1:55.7 for the 1730-metre trip, smashing the race record set by Jaccka Taurus in 1999 by 2.4 seconds. To be given a brief let-up, the gelded son of Shadow Play will then be set for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge. “He is already bucking around in the paddock and ready to go again,” Dimarco said. “You wouldn’t even know he’d raced on the weekend. “I will give him an easy week, then get ready for the Breeders’ Challenge.” PAUL COURTS

Shadow Runner has certainly created quite the impression in his short harness racing career to date. A winner on debut by over 50 metres, the son of Shadow Play then won in 1:56 at his second start. On Saturday night he could not have been any more impressive when winning the fifth heat of the Bathurst Gold Crown in 1:55.7 – the fastest time of the night. After starting from the outside of the front line, Shadow Runner was taken back by driver Michael Formosa and settled last. Coming home three and four wide, Shadow Runner hit the front half way down the home straight and went on to win comfortably by 11 metres. The Sam Dimarco trainee’s three starts have now resulted in three wins by a combined margin of 71 metres! Bred by K & A Hipkins, Shadow Runner is the third foal of the Astreos mare Ayabacana. He comes from the second Southern Hemisphere crop of the Little Brown Jug winner Shadow Play 1:47.8 - $1,559,822. Harnesslink Media

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the newly-announced official name of the northeast Pennsylvania oval known in the industry as Pocono Downs, kicked off its 50th anniversary year of harness racing on Saturday night, with three $15,000 divisions of the Bobby Weiss Series for developing male pacers all going against the form as far as the race winners.   The biggest upset was produced in the first division, with Shadow Margeaux (Larry Stalbaum), who had three third-place finishes in this series last year, benefitting from an overcooked pace over the "good" surface to rally from last at the stretch call and tally in 1:52.4. The Shadow Play gelding, trained by many-time Downs champion Steve Salerno for himself, Bruce Potter, and Edward Bardowski, paid $77.00 to win as the longest shot on the board - with second-longest shot Kolt Power second and third-longest shot Red Pine third.   The second Weiss cut saw the second choice win, but it was a $15.60 second choice, as the Well Said gelding Mojito Hanover (Marcus Miller) was a pocket rocket in a 1:53.1 tally, with the 2-5 Burke Stable entry settling for a 3-5 finish. Jim Campbell harnesses "Mojito" for Fred and Shirley Schwartz, Onda Racing Stable LLC, and Shore Thing Stables LLC.   A two-ply Burke force got some measure of revenge in the third division, but Victory At Last (Matt Kakaley), who held off the first-over YS Lotus in 1:52.4, was in an entry that was not the favorite - he paid $4.00 to win, while YS Lotus was 3-5. Victory At Last, an altered son of Quik Pulse Mindale, is owned by the leading combine in the sport, Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.   The Weiss Series will feature pacing females and trotting males in first division action on Tuesday, while trotting fillies will be in the spotlight Wednesday, as Pocono opens on a three-night-a-week schedule. The top competitors after four preliminary legs come back for a $30,000 divisional Championship.   The feature for overnight horses, a $22,000 pace, rang true to form as the Cambest gelding Blatantly Best (Jim Morrill Jr., $3.80) rallied from second-over to be clear late in 1:51.3. Larry Remmen trains the winner for owner Bradley Grant.   However, Shadow Margeaux was the first of many longshots to report home first on Saturday - races 11-13 consecutively saw One More Miracle ($41.40), Salevster Stallion ($34.40) and Feels Like Magic N ($48.40) handsomely reward their scattered backers.   George Napolitano Jr., going for his fourth straight dash driving title and record ninth local crown, guided home four winners on the opener, with Matt Kakaley, the last horseman other than "George Nap" to be on top here (2011), had three. Two-time defending North American dash champion Ron Wrenn Jr., in his first-ever night of racing at Pocono, had a respectable 10-1-3-1-.300 sulky tally, despite being named on only one horse at the time of the draw.   Jerry Connors

DOVER, Del. --- Tony Morgan picked up three-wins and now needs only 10 more winning drives to reach 15,000 in his career, on Monday, March 16 at Dover Downs. Corey Callahan won four races. Morgan drove 9-1 shot, Yanklet Hanover, to victory in the first of two $15,500 3,4&5-Year-Old Filly and Mare Winners-Over paces. He moved Yanklet Hanover three wide to get the lead heading to the final turn and led the way down the lane for a 1:52.3 triumph, her second in her last three starts. Dave McCaffrey trains the Western Ideal-Yankee Scramble four-year-old for Z Tam Stables .It was her third win this year in eight starts and 12th lifetime for the $59,952 career winner. Fashion Showdown (Corey Callahan) roared down the lane to finish second with Hit By Lightning (Vic Kirby) third. Early leader Spin Vision finished off the board ending a five-race wins streak. In a second $15,500 4&5-Year-Old co-feature, George Dennis made it to the winner's circle for a third time driving owner-trainer Jeff Clark's second winner, Annabeth, sitting second and capturing the passing lane for a 1:54.1 success, A daughter of Shadow Play-Get Out Ammanda, the win was her first of 2015 and eighth lifetime winning $ 59,340. Morgan's 14,990th win came guiding. Bob Bailey's Maby Bonkey to victory in 1:55 in one of two 3,4&5-Year-Old female paces. Morgan found room along the inside to send the Voracious Hanover-Elegant Artist mare, trained by Ryan Bailey, to her second win this year in eight races. A Wild Money Maker (Kirby) was next with Trindle Hanover (Jonathan Roberts) third. Springforth took the shortest route to the finish line giving George Dennis his second of three wins, all via the passing lane, a 1:53 decision in a $14,000 female pace. Jeremes Sweetheart (Kirby) led until the final strides and finished second. Embassy Seelster (Callahan) was the show horse. Brees Creek puts a two-race win streak on the line in the $20,000-$25,000 Claiming Handicap Tuesday feature race. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. There is no Friday, Saturday and Sunday racing. Parking and admission to Dover Downs is free. A 'Two-for-One Entre' is feature on Thursdays until closing day, April 9, in the Winners Circle Restaurant. Reservations are suggested. Call 302-674-4600. Simulcasting of leading harness and thoroughbred racing is located in the Dover Downs Race & Sports Book. Marv Bachrad

When people look at the harness racing sires list in North America you would think that they all race under the one flag but of course we know that is not the truth. Canada is fiercely independent and standardbred breeders in Canada are no different so we thought we would do a review of the performance of Canadian based stallions and their influence on harness racing in Canada and beyond.  The leading sire on the all age pacing sires list in 2014 that stands in Canada was Matt's Scooter son, Mach Three who headed off the perenial top dog in Canada in Camluck. This two were head and shoulders above the competition as the siring chart below shows. Canadian all age pacing sires list for 2014 Stallion Name                     Money won                                               Wins                                             MACH THREE                     $11,458,141                                             1181 CAMLUCK                            $7,159,237                                                 964 JEREMES JET                     $4,232,278                                                 453 BADLANDS HANOVER     $3,484,110                                                 423 SHADOW PLAY                   $3,055,528                                                 230 NO PAN INTENDED           $2,808,131                                                  331 MILLION DOLLAR CAM     $2,616,398                                                 335 SPORTSWRITER                $2,475,204                                                    78 STONEBRIDGE REGAL     $2,379,050                                                 344 MODERN ART                     $2,323,643                                                  274 The overall record of both Camluck who is now 28 years old and Mach Three who is 16 are outstanding and would hold their own anywhere in the world. Camluck   -    Winners   -     $100,000 Winners   -     Millionaires   -     Sub 1:50         Total Stakes                             1596                      592                                  28                       62                $217,969,096   Mach Three  - Winners   -  100,000 Winners   -  Millionaires   -  Sub 1:50         Total Stakes                                619                      211                        2                        21               $106,923,082                                                                                                                              (Worldwide)                                                                                                                                                  So it looks at the moment as if Mach Three and Camluck have a jump on the competition but two young sires are lining up to challenge them in Shadow Play and Sportswriter. Shadow Play finished fifth on the list even though he only had two and three year olds to represent him while Sportswriter finished eighth with just his two year olds to represent him. If they can maintain that early momentum from their initial crops then they have every chance of toppling the leading duo in the next two or three years The table above does have a very "Australasian" look about it with eight of the ten sires on the list having stood down under at some point of their career. The trotting sires list is again dominated by a couple of well estalished elite level sires in Kadabra and Angus Hall. The emergence of Muscle Mass as a leading sire will be bitter sweet for Canadian breeders as he has since relocated to Blue Chip Farms in New York.  Canadian all age trotting sires list for 2014 Stallion Name                                 Money                                        Wins   KADABRA                                     $7,239,806                                   542 ANGUS HALL                              $5,582,473                                    613 MUSCLE MASS                           $3,885,863                                   285 MAJESTIC SON                           $2,773,259                                   184 KEN WARKENTIN                       $1,930,438                                   252 DEWEYCHEATUMNHOWE      $1,907,078                                     85 STRIKING SAHBRA                    $1,814,017                                   207 AMIGO HALL                               $1,648,308                                    178 FEDERAL FLEX                             $947,671                                      92 DUKE OF YORK                             $914,302                                    133 The overall records of both Kadabra who is 16 years old and Angus Hall who is 19 years old are both outstanding as the figures show. Kadabra    -    Winners    -    $100,000 Winners    -    Millionaires    -    Sub 1:53    -    Total Stakes                              399                         141                                3                             15                 $51,015,193    Angus Hall  -  Winners    -    $100,000 Winners    -    Millionaires    -    Sub 1:53    -    Total Stakes                               746                        231                                6                              14                $87,008,509   With Muscle Mass no longer standing in Canada, the two established siring greats don't have any real challengers on the horizon which is never healthy long term. The 2015 season has started well for the Canadian based sires in the first nine weeks of the season with Mach Three leading the all aged sires list in North America with Camluck holding down seventh spot while on the trotting sires list for North America, Kadabra and Angus Hall are first and second at the moment. However the Canadian breeding industry really needs one of the new boys on the scene to step up big time in the next twelve months because the old guard can't go on forever. All in all the Canadian breeding industry continues to have a major impact on harness racing around the globe but it is in need of some renewal or that influence will start to wane. Harnesslink Media 

A pair of promising two-year-olds are proving the ideal tonic for astute harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco. Battling a few minor health problems, Dimarco’s spirits have been lifted thanks to Gotta Go Gold and Shadow Runner. Gotta Go Gold is unbeaten from two starts, while Shadow Runner scored upon debut at Newcastle yesterday. After working to the lead from two, Shadow Runner embarrassed his rivals as he cruised to a soft 53-and-a-half metre win from Milias Ideal, with Bontastic 12-and-a-half metres away third. With the final 800 metres run in 58.7 seconds, the son of Shadow Play covered the mile in 1:57.6. “I couldn’t be happier with both of them,” Dimarco declared. “Gotta Go Gold made his debut at Newcastle last month and went 1:57.2. “Shadow Runner is a big overgrown fella, but is still just a natural racehorse. He is so well gaited and races truly, which is a plus for any two-year-old, let alone one that’s so overgrown. “I’ve only got these two in work and having a couple of horses to train has really helped.” Dimarco has aimed the pair at the popular Bathurst Gold Crown series, with both to be sent for a spell following the futurity. “I’ll look at giving Shadow Runner one more run before Bathurst,” Dimarco said. “After that they will both have a bit of time off and hopefully come back well enough for the Breeders’ Challenge. “Then they will head back to the paddock for a nice long spell. “Shadow Runner will really benefit from a break as it will give him time to fill out and I expect he will come back as a nice three-year-old.” Gotta Go Gold and Shadow Runner are owned by Dimarco’s daughter, Marissa. PAUL COURTS

One of the first things you quickly learn in the harness racing industry is never put a stallion up on a pedestal too soon and don't hasten to pull him down in a hurry either. So many factors can affect the productive life of a stallion that it always pays to take a long term view with regards to any pronouncements with regards to their worth or lack of. One stallion that has had hugely different results from his first two crops is the son of The Panderosa in Shadow Play.  A standout performer at two, three and four on the track where he took a record of 1:47.4 and earned $1,559,882, Shadow Play was syndicated by Blue Chip Farms on his retirement from the track and stood his first year at Winbak Farms in Ontario in 2010. Shadow Play served a large book of 163 mares which resulted in an initial foal crop of 111 foals which hit the track in Canada in 2013. To say they took the racing scene by storm would be an understatement with the Shadow Plays dominating the Ontario Sires Stakes programme that season. The flagbearer was undoubtedly the very smart Arthur Blue Chip 2 1:51.2 ($400,120) who won a division of the Nassagaweya on his way to the Metro Pace. He then won his heat of the Metro in 1:51.2 in impressive fashion and was made the pre post favourite for the $683,000 final before having to be scratched due to sickness. He came back to win a $105,000 final of the Ontario Sires Stakes Series before being beaten a head in the final of the $534,500 Governors Cup at the Meadowlands. Arthur Blue Chip was proof that Shadow Play could sire grand circuit horses horses and along with several other smart performers  sired by Shadow Play propelled him to fifth on the North American Sires List and he was the second leading first season sire. The world looked his oyster and in the next breeding season Shadow Play served 162 mares in North America and 385 mares in Australasia on the back of the performance  of his first crop. That first crop would carry on at three in North America and he had another great year finishing eighth on the North American Sires List but he was badly handicapped by Arthur Blue Chip missing the whole year. Plenty of others stepped up such as Lady Shadow 1:49.2 ($477,679)  Skippin By 1:50.2 ($409,970) and Play It Again Sam 1:52 ($316,394) but there is no doubt that a fit Arthur Blue Chip would have had him a lot further up the list. At the same time as this was going on, the second crop of Shadow Play were hitting the tracks and they were very disappointing to put it mildly. The second crop numbered 75 foals and earned just $227,942 as two year olds in the 2014 season which was a big letdown after the heroics of his first crop. No Shadow Play earned over $30,000 from the second crop and only three went under 1:55 which is poor in 2014. So here you have a sire whose first two crops are like chalk and cheese and it is hard to know which one to judge him by. Shadow Play did get a great book of mares in his initial season which was diluted bigtime in season two by the arrival of Sportswriter on the stud scene in Ontario so that would have had an effect. Shadow Play's first Australasian crops hit the tracks last season and were ok without looking anything special. In Australia, Shadow Play had a first crop of 91 foals which finished 13th on the two year old sires list last season but he currently sits eighth on the three year old sires list and still has his best two year old from last year in Morior Invictus ($40,807) yet to start at three so he could finish a lot higher by season's end. In New Zealand the first crop of Shadow Play numbers just 19 foals but has produced the very talented Brilliant Strike who has won four of his eight starts to date and looks a legitimate Derby chance in the autumn. Overview Shadow Play is one of those stallions that polarizes people and you either really like him or really dislike him. Supporters can point to his first crop to support their view while detractors can point to his second crop to support theirs. We fall somewhere in the middle.  We know he can produce that elite performer like Arthur Blue Chip and Brilliant Strike but he has yet to strike that consistentcy needed at the top level. How Shadow Play ends up as a sire is still many years away from being resolved in our view and until then any final conclusions either way are premature and likely to be wrong. Harnesslink Media  

A night with his teeth chattering as he endured the return to a wintery climate was worth the inconvenience according to popular harness racing trainer Steve Cleave. With the highly-anticipated arrival of stable favourite Maximum Joy’s foal taking place just after 2am, Cleave spent the remainder of the morning watching over “mum and bubs”. Named after Cleave’s late parents, ‘Max’imum ‘Joy’, delivered a colt by prominent sire Shadow Play. “It was absolutely freezing, but I was staying out there to make sure all was well no matter what the weather threw at me,” Cleave said. “Thankfully mum and bubs are both in top order.” Admitting the cold and lack of sleep were getting to him, Cleave jokingly suggested he saw ‘Wally’ make and appearance in the paddock. “I have to say, it may have been the cold messing with my mind, but I even think Wally turned up,” Cleave joked. “It’s funny how you mind wonders when you’re just sitting there, but I was certainly keeping an eye for him!” Given the stable name Max, the youngster has a yearling half-brother by Village Jasper, which is about to begin his education. “He is a sporty looking colt, with his shape giving you the impression he will hit the ground running,” Cleave declared. “I reckon he will make an early two-year-old. “He’s due to be broken in next month, which I’m looking forward to.” Working a team of seven, consisting mainly of two-year-olds, Cleave is ready to expand his operation following the construction of several yards. As such, Cleave is looking to attract horse to be pre-trained. “I recently built new yards to allow more room to increase the numbers in pre-training,” Cleave said. “I’ve got seven in work, five of them are two-year-olds, but I’ve got room to pre-train a few more now.” PAUL COURTS

There was no denying Skippin By her harness racing title as Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final champion in tonight’s $250,000 three-year-old pacing filly final at Mohawk. Skippin By, with Randy Waples at the lines as usual, blasted by the opening quarter in :26.1 and the half in :54.1. Lady Shadow got hung out on the outside when she was unsuccessful in her try for the top as Skippin By was not about to give it up. She hit the three-quarters in 1:22.2 and was home comfortably in 1:51.3. Brescia Seelster was second with Sectionline Aqua taking third. Corey Johnson took over the filly’s training at the beginning of August. “She had quite a few starts under her belt. They told me she was a nice filly but had just been having some difficulties. She surprised us all, she’s wonderful, I can’t say enough about her,” he said. With respect to the trip he noted he didn’t think she’d have to do that much work so early to hold off Lady Shadow. “Lady Shadow’s had a huge year, she’s a wonderful filly as well. I think it was our race to lose. My one concern was not to overdo it, and see how things panned out. Randy did a wonderful job, I can’t say enough.” As to what makes the filly so good, he praised: “She’s got a wonderful attitude. She’s all about her job, she loves to win. There’s no end to her.” Owned by Wall Bros. Stable and Bruce Soulsby of Ohio, Skippin By’s earnings for the season climbed over $373,000 with tonight’s effort. Soulsby indicated that the owners are seriously considering supplementing her to the Breeders Crown as she wasn’t kept eligible. Bred by the respected bloodstock expert, the late Bart Glass, Skippin By, a daughter of Shadow Play, sold for a mere $5,000 at the Lexington Select Sale as a yearling. The full results from tonight’s race card at Mohawk may be viewed Mohawk Results – October 11. Ontario Sire Stakes

The fields for the harness racing meeting at Addington tomorrow night are full of horses in the lower grades who are embarking on new campaigns. One who has caught our eye is the Shadow Play colt Brilliant Strike who resumes from the dreaded barrier nine in race 10 tomorrow night over 1950 metres. A winner at Winton over 2400 metres as a 2 year old, Brilliant Strike has been to the fore at recent trials with a slashing second to Have Faith In Me at the Addington trials ten days ago his most recent effort. Co-trainer Paul Court is expecting a big run from his charge tomorrow night. " I think he will go really well on Friday night but he will definitely improve with the run "He is as good as he can be without having had a race" he said The stable has always had a high opinion of the colt and long term they are looking to test him against the best come Derby time. "The 1950 metres tomorrow is probably a bit short for him but will still go a big race" Paul said when talking to Harnesslink this afternoon. "We are really looking forward to the Derbies later in the season over the longer trips where we think he will really excell as he is such a tough stayer" "He is such a pleasure to do anything with and Ricky really likes him so thats always a good sign" he said From the first crop of a son of The Panderosa in Shadow Play, Brilliant Strike is not the only horse by the sire that the stable has in work. Paul has a lot of time for the Shadow Plays. "We have a filly by him that we qualified as a 2 year old called Beyond Belief who is off to the trials next Tuesday and we think a bit of her. "Dad and I both bred a couple of mares to Shadow Play last year on the back of how much we liked these two and we got some of the stable clients to go to him as well" he said An interesting aside is that both of the Shadow Play's at the Court barn are from mares by Christian Cullen. With only has 19 foals from his first crop, Shadow Play has had a low profile to date but Brilliant Strike looks capable of changing that in the next few months. Harnesslink Media

The breeders involved in harness racing in Australasia have access in 2014 to the leading sires in the world but just three North American sires continue to dominate our breeding scene at the moment and they are Art Major, Bettor's Delight and Mach Three. Australia Art Major stands in Australia and is completely dominant on the stakes money charts in that country due in no small part to the large numerical advantage he holds over his two main opponents. The charts below show quite clearly the advantage he has.  Art Major   4 year olds - 167                   3 year olds - 129                   2 year olds - 153  Bettors Delight                    4 year olds - 56                    3 year olds - 84                    2 year olds - 74 Mach Three                    4 year olds - 53                    3 year olds - 33                    2 year olds - 49 As you can see Art Major has a huge advantage and thats what you see every time you go to the track. You see Art Majors everywhere and that reinforces the message that he is on top. But the big numbers are only important if the stallion can deliver elite level racehorses and Art Major can do that in spades as he has shown over many years. New Zealand Skip across the Tasman to the home of both Bettors Delight and Mach Three and you get a completely different picture, again entirely due to foal numbers. Bettors Delight is completely dominant there on the stake money won list due in the main to huge books which have given him huge foal numbers most years. He is extremely fertile and has the added bonus of being a great filly sire as well The charts below show that huge advantage Bettors Delight has numbers wise over Art Major and Mach Three. Bettors Delight                   4 year olds - 117                   3 year olds - 234                   2 year olds - 220 Art Major                   4 years old - 98                   3 year olds - 87                   2 year olds - 49 Mach Three                   4 year olds - 160                   3 year olds - 77                   2 year olds - 94 Last years three year old season in New Zealand was different from normal in so much as Mach Three had more foals than either Bettors Delight or Art Major for the first time in living memory. The result was that Mach Three won the 3 year olds stake money list  quite comfortably from Bettors Delight and Art Major which proves once again that foal numbers do matter when it comes to winning sire premierships Now plenty of sires are trying to break the dominance of the big three and the latest is Sportswriter. He met the first requirement for all new stallions trying to dislodge the top three in that he had the largest crop of 2 year olds with 155 of any sire in Australia last season and he did leave 33 winners from his first crop. But when it came to the big money races, the Art Majors and Bettors Delights scooped up most of the money. So a good start for Sportswriter but not up with the big boys yet. Another stallion who has been given a big chance to join the big boys in Australia is Shadow Play who served a huge book of 295 mares last season in Australia and a further 80 in New Zealand on the back of a great first season in North America. His first crop of two year olds in Australasia were good last season without being brilliant so the jury is still out as to weather he can challenge the big three. Rock N Roll Heaven served a book of 215 mares in his first year at stud in Australia and a further 52 in New Zealand so his first crop which are two year olds in the current season will be watched with great interest. His North American results in the super tough New York Sires Stakes have been very good so the signs so far are positive. Auckland Reactor is another stallion who has been handed an opportunity to join the big three serving 212 mares in New Zealand and 182 in Australia in his first season at stud. With that number of mares, Auckland Reactor needs to make a big slash right from the start or else he will be discarded quickly. As it stands the big three continue to dominate but one thing is very clear. To compete with the Art Majors, Bettors Delights and Mach Threes is never going to be easy as they are world class sires who perform in both hemispheres. For any new sire to challenge the dominance of the three established top sires, he needs a book of mares of a comparable size and quality to what they regularly serve or he is really going to struggle. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing three-year-olds of both sexes and gaits set the fields for their $50,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series Finals with eight $20,000 Semifinals Saturday (September 20) at Mohawk Racetrack. The top five horses in each Semifinal moved on to next week’s Finals. Pacing Males High Flier (J. Harris) left out fast from his post nine starting spot in the first Semifinal, and he had the lead at the :26.1 opening quarter. Shadow Place (Trevor Henry) was in second at that point, but he moved to the outside and took control before the :55.1 half. Regal Son (Randy Waples) then rolled the dice first-over out of fourth, and he would match strides with Shadow Place at the 1:23.2 three-quarters. Regal Son forged his way around Shadow Place in the lane, but High Flier got a lane up the inside, and he took advantage, getting up to win by a head in 1:52.1. Shadowbriand (Mike Saftic) turned a second-over trip into the runner-up spot and Regal Son finished third. Some Major Beach (Doug McNair) came in fourth, followed by V I P Bayama (Sylvain Filion). Trainer David Taff of Waterdown, Ontario, shares ownership of High Flier, a Shadow Play colt, with Christopher Nicol of West Yorkshire, England. High Flier, who won at the Grassroots level on June 13 at Mohawk, has won five times from 11 attempts in 2014, and he has six career tallies. He has earned $43,436 this year and $47,386 in his life. Atomic Million AM (Rick Zeron) shot through from the pole position to take the field of ten to the :27.1 first quarter in the second Semifinal, but favoured Titus Seelster (Sylvain Filion) vacated the pocket past that marker, and he became the new front-stepper before the :56.3 half. Titus Seelster still had command at the 1:24.4 three-quarters while he felt some first-over pressure from Regal Babe (Doug McNair). Titus Seelster continued to hold Regal Babe off as they raced through the lane, but a number of horses began to close in on the leaders inside the final sixteenth, and it would be 50-1 shot Nirvana Seelster (Phil Hudon) charging up on the far outside to win the race in 1:53.4. Atomic Million AM, who lacked room for much of the stretch drive, was the runner-up and Regal Babe checked in third. Titus Seelster faded to fourth and Little Ben (Luc Ouellette) rallied to get fifth. Nirvana Seelster is a Camluck gelding trained by Bill Budd for owner Bruce Davy of Brockville, Ont. Nirvana Seelster, who was unraced at two, now has a trio of wins from 19 efforts and has put away $52,296. He was bred by Seelster Farms. Trotting Males Warrawee Promesse (Wayne Henry), who was starting from post ten and gunning for his eighth consecutive victory, took the lead away from 80-1 shot Hetties Commander (Paul MacKenzie) just after the :27.4 first quarter in the Semifinal opener for this bunch. Warrawee Promesse would go on to reach the half in :57.2 and the three-quarters in 1:27, never facing a serious challenge along the way. At the top of the lane Henry asked Warrawee Promesse to kick away, but inside the final sixteenth he was overhauled by several challengers, including Kremlin (Sylvain Filion), who rallied from next-to-last at three-quarters to the win by a quarter of a length in 1:57.1. Hetties Commander shook loose from the pocket and wound up second with Tyrone Haji (Randy Waples) nabbed third. Warrawee Promesse had to settle for fourth and Massive Pockets (Jody Jamieson) survived a tough outside journey to finish fifth. Richard Moreau trains Kremlin, a Kadabra gelding, for owner Mike Wassilyn of Rockwood, Ontario. Kremlin, a winner in Grassroots competition on June 9 at Mohawk, scored his fifth triumph from 15 efforts this season and his seventh career victory. Bred by Overseas Farms Ltd., Kremlin has put away $45,472 on the campaign and $55,352 lifetime. It looked like Totally Ripped (Steve Byron) was going to the lead in the other Semifinal, but then he went off-stride, leaving Jack Litten (Doug McNair) in first at the :27.3 opening quarter. Justcallmeronald (Jody Jamieson) then popped out of the pocket, and he would take the lead before the 58 second half-mile marker. Justcallmeronald would go on to click off three-quarters in 1:27.4, but McNair angled Jack Litten back out of the two-hole in the lane, and he would out-trot Justcallmeronald late in the mile to prevail by just over a length in 1:57.4. Justcallmeronald, Ramas Last Son (Steve Condren), Crowningcrest (James MacDonald) and Taurus Seelster (Randy Waples) rounded out the top-five finishers. Jack Litten is a Muscle Mass gelding trained by Gregg McNair for owner Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, Michigan. Jack Litten, who did not compete as a two-year-old, has three wins from 12 starts in 2014, and he has put away $48,962. Jack Litten, who was bred by Tony Holmes and Walter Zent, also won in Grassroots competition on June 26 and September 2 at Mohawk. Pacing Fillies 70-1 shot Stellllllla (Jody Jamieson) held the lead at the :27.2 first quarter in the Semifinal opener, but Murrayfield (Sylvain Filion) would take over the front prior to the :56.1 half. Murrayfield then came under siege from first-over challenger Regally Ready (Doug McNair), and Murrayfield and Regally Ready were head-and-head at the 1:25.2 three-quarters. In the stretch Regally Ready put away Murrayfield, but then Bet Ya (Paul MacDonell) came from off cover to duel with the new leader. Meanwhile, 3-5 favourite Dana Dearest (Chris Christoforou), who had been fourth-over at three-quarters, began to close in as well. Regally Ready managed to fight off Bet Ya, but Dana Dearest was unrelenting with her brush, and she got up to win by about a neck in 1:53.3. Regally Ready came in second and Bet Ya was third. Mea Lilley Mark (Mike Saftic) checked in fourth and Double Joy (Mario Baillargeon) finished fifth. Dana Dearest, a daughter of Jeremes Jet, is trained by Casie Coleman for owner/breeder Charalambos Christoforou of Campbellville, Ontario. Dana Dearest was winless in four starts last year, but she’s turned it around in her sophomore campaign, going eight-for-15. She has season’s earnings of $77,820 and a career bankroll of $82,048. Dana Dearest has only been defeated once in five Grassroots starts in 2014. Her Own Land (James MacDonald), the public’s 4-5 choice, led through fractions of :26.4, :56.1, and 1:24 on her way to a 1:54 decision in the second Semifinal. She beat runner-up Shadows Wonder (Chris Christoforou) by about two lengths with Artful Impulse (Randy Waples) back in third. Fourth went to Born To Dream and Royal Mama (Steve Condren) collected fifth. Dave Menary trains Her Own Land, a filly by Blissfull Hall, for owner Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania. Her Own Land now has five wins in Grassroots company and six wins from 14 starts overall this year. Now a seven-time winner in her career, Her Own Land has earned $77,490 in 2014 and $87,050 lifetime. Trotting Fillies In the first Semifinal for this group it would be Serendipitious (Chris Christoforou) who took the field of ten through fractions of :27.4, :58.3, and 1:28. Flexible Woman (Steve Byron) attacked the pace-setter from first-over on the final bend, and that gave a second-over tow to public choice Mystical Wishes (Doug McNair). Serendiptious put away Flexible Woman turning for home, but Mystical Wishes was sent into three-wide territory for McNair, and she would trot past the pace-setter on her way to a 1:56.4 victory. Serendiptious held second, beaten a length by the winner, and Diamonds For Life (Sylvain Filion) took third. Also securing positions in next week’s final were fourth-place finisher Missys Ga Ga (John Campbell) and fifth-place filly Chelseas Chance (Randy Waples). Tony Alagna trains the winner, a daughter of Muscle Mass, for co-owner/breeder Mystical Marker Farms LLC. of Dyer and co-owner Peggy Hood of Valparaiso, Indiana. Mystical Wishes is eight-for-13 in the win column this year after going winless in four tries as a rookie. Mystical Wishes has earned $63,990 in 2014 and $67,740 lifetime. This was Mystical Wishes’s fourth OSS win of the year, joining her successes on August 12 at Mohawk, September 2 at Mohawk, and September 11 at Flamboro Downs. Quadrophenia (James MacDonald) blasted out from post ten to take the second Semifinal field to the opening quarter in 28 seconds, but 3-5 favourite and point standings leader Torches Star (Steve Condren) trotted her way to the top before the :57.1 half. Torches Star was still the boss at the 1:27.2 three-quarters, but she didn’t have her best game on this night, and she was overtaken by first-over challenger Doweypuffandhow (Steve Byron) with an eighth of a mile to go. A host of closers were coming after the new leader, though, and trotting fastest of all was Lenny Mac (Randy Waples), who surged from third-over at the top of the lane to win in 1:57.3. Wonderland Snow (Trevor Henry) split horses to get second and Quadrophenia was third. Nickange Two (Mike Saftic) got fourth at 60-1 and Northern Secret (Mario Baillargeon) nailed down the last spot in the final. Trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor, Ontario, also co-owns Lenny Mac, a filly by Kadabra, with partner Earl Hill Jr. of Ohsweken, Ontario. McIntosh also bred Lenny Mac with C S X Stables and Michael Kohler. Lenny Mac has four triumphs from 14 trips behind the gate this year, and this was her seventh career trip to the winner’s circle. She has banked $57,759 this season and $97,099 in her life. This was Lenny Mac’s third Grassroots win of the season, matching her total from her freshman campaign. Mohawk Racetrack will roll out the red carpet again next Saturday night with eight $50,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Finals for two- and three-year-olds. For full results of this Saturday night’s races at Mohawk, please visit - http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0920mohsn.dat. OSS News

The Little Brown Jug for three-year-old pacing colts and its filly companion race, the Jugette, are highly coveted races to win and this year Guelph, Ontario-based harness racing trainer Gregg McNair has a shot in each. Both of his Ontario-sired horses are regulars on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit. His filly, Lady Shadow, is the favourite in the first of three divisions of the Jugette, worth a total of $298,100, to be raced Wednesday afternoon at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. The daughter of Shadow Play, owned by Lindsey and Connie Rankin of Lexington, Michigan, has won five races and finished second in two others in 10 starts so far this year. She comes into Wednesday’s race riding a two race winning streak, both in OSS Gold events. McNair’s son Doug, her regular driver, will once again be at the lines behind the winner of $454,000 so far in her career. The other Ontario-sired filly in the Jugette is the Major In Art daughter Sectionline Aqua who has post eight in the second elimination. She’ll have hometown support as all three of her owners are from Ohio. Sectionline Aqua finished second to Lady Shadow in her last two OSS Gold outings. The Jugette and Little Brown Jug are both heat races. The top three fillies from each elimination on Wednesday will return for a second heat, the winner of which will be crowned Jugette champion. Gregg McNair, the leading trainer in the OSS program so far in 2014, has yet to win either the Jug or Jugette so far in his impressive career, but he has come close. In 2011 his filly Swinging Beauty captured her first heat of the Jugette and finished third to Idyllic in the final. In 2000 he started George Scooter in the Little Brown Jug. The Matts Scooter son was third in the first heat and came back to win the second heat but finished third in the race off to Astreos. McNair’s 2014 Jug hopeful is the Mach Three colt Three Of Clubs. McNair co-owns the colt with Tony Lawrence of Hanover, Ontario, and harness racing legend Keith Waples of Durham, Ontario. One of the most respected harness drivers in history, and a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Waples won the 1972 Little Brown Jug with Strike Out. The horse’s owner, the late John Hayes, famously said prior to the race: “I’d rather win the Little Brown Jug than go to heaven.” That victory was the first time a Canadian-owned horse won the Jug and now the 91 year-old Waples has another chance to capture the famed event with Three Of Clubs on Thursday afternoon, but it will be a big undertaking given the talent of the 16 colts entered. Three Of Clubs has drawn post three in the $103,600 first heat alongside On Golden Ponder trained by Bob McIntosh of Windsor, Ontario, who sits second to McNair in the OSS trainers’ standings. There are two colts entered in the second heat which also have Ontario trainers, Casie Coleman’s McWicked (post one) and Dave Menary’s Hes Watching (post six). The first four finishers will advance to the $310,800 second heat. A race-off, if required, will be worth $129,500. Other Ontario-sired performers racing at Delaware Wednesday include the Majestic Son daughter Yanks Ball Girl in the Standardbred Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies. The second division finds OSS regular Gee OKeeffe who has two OSS wins to her credit this year. She’s owned by trainer Chris Beaver and Wilbur Lang, both of Ohio. Little Brown Jug day also finds one of the greatest mares to ever race in the OSS, Bee A Magician, competing. The four-year-old daughter of Kadabra, who has drawn post six in the 17th race of the day, the $121,000 Miss Versatility Final. Horse of the Year in both Canada and the US last year, Bee A Magician has earned $2.5 million to date in her career. Starting alongside in post seven is another top OSS graduate, $592,000 winner Charmed Life. For more information on the Little Brown Jug and Jugette, please visit their website Little Brown Jug website. By OSS News

Although he is still relatively new as an owner, Lindsey Rankin understands how rare it is to find a top racehorse. So he is trying to enjoy the ride with Lady Shadow to the fullest. Lady Shadow is among 22 horses in Wednesday's $298,100 Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. The field was divided into three eliminations, from which the top three in each will advance to the same-day final. The winner of 10 of 18 career races, Lady Shadow competes in the first elimination. She drew post No. 2 for the son-and-father team of driver Doug McNair and trainer Gregg McNair and is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Beach Gal, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, is the 5-2 favorite in the second elimination. She starts from post four for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Dave Menary. Gettingreadytoroll, who has won three in a row including the Simcoe Stakes and Miss New Jersey, is the 5-2 choice in the third division. She will start from post two with Yannick Gingras at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. Lady Shadow has earned $426,753 in her career, racing to this point only in Ontario. "We've only been in it for five years, but I think she's probably our once-in-a-lifetime horse," said Rankin, a Michigan resident who owns Lady Shadow with his wife, Connie. "So we're going to try to enjoy it. It would be nice to make the final. We have family and friends coming to see her. "She's got a lot of ability. She's a really nice filly. She's got a big heart. It's been a lot of fun." Lady Shadow won five of eight races last year, including the Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway, and finished second by a neck in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. So far this season, Lady Shadow has won five of 10 starts, including the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final and two preliminary divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series. She won her elimination for the Canadian Breeders Championship by more than eight lengths in a career-best 1:49.2 on July 12 at Mohawk, but went off stride at the start of the final on a sloppy track and finished sixth. But even with the miscue, which left her trailing the early leaders by 27 lengths after the first quarter and 21 lengths at the halfway point, she missed by just 1-3/4 lengths. "We're not really sure what happened," Rankin said. "Doug said she was fumbly gaited and just started to run. Once he set her, she was fine, but he wasn't real sure what that was all about. She did that once earlier this year too. She's kind of a hot head sometimes. She's settled down as the season has gone on, but at the beginning of the year she was a lot to handle. "She's got a lot of speed, but sometimes she's hard to rate. She likes to be put up in the front, in contention, from the get-go." Rankin owned horses for three years beginning in 1979, but got out of the sport because of the demands of running a business that supplies graphic design equipment. Five years ago, he asked his then 11-year-old daughter Abby if she wanted to get a horse, and when the young girl's eyes lit up, he was back in the game. "Now we're kind of hooked back into it," said the now-retired Rankin, who owns six horses. He bought Lady Shadow for $19,000 at the Forest City Sale in Ontario. The filly is a daughter of 2008 Little Brown Jug winner Shadow Play out of the mare Lady Camella. The dam's family includes 1962 Little Brown Jug winner Lehigh Hanover as well as famed trotter Peter Volo. "I liked a lot about her; her conformation," Rankin said. "She's always been high strung. We had a lot of issues with her when she was a yearling. She was always trying to do something stupid, but we got through it all. "We've been real happy with her this year. She paces a half-mile track just as well as she does a big track, so we think she deserves a shot." Below are the elimination fields for the Jugette in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds. Elim One: 1. Shell Bell, Kurt Sugg, Kurt Sugg, 12-1; 2. Lady Shadow, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair, 5-2; 3. Color's A Virgin, Trace Tetrick, Brian Brown, 4-1; 4. Southwind Silence, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 6-1; 5. Ali Blue, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-1; 6. Beach Body, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 10-1; 7. Also Encouraging, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 7-2. Elim Two: 1. Uffizi Hanover, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 4-1; 2. Allstar Rating, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2; 3. Somethinincredible, Ron Pierce, Bob McIntosh, 8-1; 4. Beach Gal, Tim Tetrick, Dave Menary, 5-2; 5. Fits Well, Scott Zeron, Brian Brown, 12-1; 6. Gallie Bythe Beach, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 10-1; 7. A La Notte Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 8-1; 8. Sectionline Aqua, Brett Miller, Steve Bauder, 5-1. Elim Three: 1. Cut A Deal, Jim Pantaleano, Nick Surick, 12-1; 2. Gettingreadytoroll, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 3. Beautiful Lady, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 5-1; 4. Someislandsomwhere, Ron Pierce, Casie Coleman, 6-1; 5. Candy's A Virgin, Trace Tetrick, Brian Brown, 4-1; 6. Sandbetweenurtoes, Brett Miller, Larry Remmen, 7-2; 7. Beach Story, David Miller, Kelvin Harrison, 8-1. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Make plans to attend the Canadian Yearling Sale Preview Day Saturday at Flamboro Downs. All yearlings set for auction on Sunday will be ready for viewing. The sale is set to start at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14. Complete sale information is available on theCanadian Yearling Sale page. Offspring from Ontario’s top stallions will be offered at the Canadian Yearling Sale, such as trotters sired by Angus Hall, Kadabra, Majestic Son and Muscle Mass, and pacers sired by Camluck, Mach Three, Shadow Play and Sportswriter. First crop Ontario-eligible stallions with yearlings available include pacers Big Jim, Bettors Delight, Up The Credit and Vintage Master, and trotter Manofmanymissions. To view the online catalogue, click the following link: Canadian Yearling Sale Online Catalogue From the Canadian Yearling Sales Company

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