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“I really never saw myself broadcasting,” says Michigan native Jessica Otten. “When I was younger I always wanted to be a teacher… Why? I have no idea…” Now 23 and living in Hightstown, New Jersey, this third-generation horse person has gone from living on a farm to living in a town - which she says has been a big adjustment, but she does live close to quite a few training centers which helps. “I’ve always loved the horses,” she says. “They’ve been such a huge part of my life ever since I was a baby. When I got my driver’s license I was more excited to be shipping horses to the track, by myself, than I was going to pick up my friends… I honestly spent more time with the horses - than I did hanging out with my friends… I guess I just enjoyed being in the barn or going with my dad (Peter Otten) to the races more than anything else.” “In high school I backed away a little bit, with the horses, when my dad moved to Canada to race - so we didn’t have any horses on our farm. I became more involved with school functions and was on the Student Council. I know a lot of people who didn’t care much for high school, but I’d go back in heartbeat. There was nothing better than a home football game, at Roundhouse Stadium, with my friends and a bonfire to follow on a Friday night… I come from a small town so everybody knew everybody and we just always had fun. This year marks me being out of high school for five years now and if you would have told be back then - that I’d be working at The Meadowlands - I’d have laughed in your face and said ‘Yeah right!’” “Racing has always been a huge passion of mine… Bringing my friends and teachers to the track and showing them how cool my dad’s job was - that was my favourite thing to do,” says Otten. “I always enjoyed helping out at the tracks, in Michigan, if there were large groups of people for paddock tours, starting car rides, winner’s circle pictures and stuff like that. A lot of people in my life - outside of the horse business - never fully understood what my family did… When I’d say we had horses - they always assumed we had riding horses. Or if I said I take care of horses, they assumed I just brushed horses.” Social media has come a long way in recent years… The Facebook and Twitter platforms have become a great tool for marketing the sport. “When Facebook introduced the ‘Facebook Live’ feature - I did a series on Facebook of my entire night at the track,” explains Otten. “It was like taking my Facebook friends along with me while I paddocked a horse from start to finish and so many people were intrigued. And many didn’t even know what harness racing was and that honestly shocked me. From there I went on to interviewing people, at the track, to highlight the different roles people had in the business. And then I teamed up with Northville Downs and did some ‘Facebook Live’ segments on their page and even started posting on their Twitter account as well. I’d reach out to horsemen and get their thoughts on their horses racing that night and that all went over really well.” It’d be December 1, 2015, when Jessica would debut on The Raceway’s pregame show - talking horses and making selections - possibly a stepping stone for what may have been waiting in the wings… “I was at the Little Brown Jug, in 2016, and Mike Carter (Post Time with Mike & Mike) would call me to ask if I’d like to join them for the Breeders Crown at The Meadowlands… I remember it like yesterday and I remember agreeing to go - even before I knew the details,” she said laughing. “It was a bit nerve racking, but I really enjoyed doing all the winner’s circle and paddock interviews that weekend - interacting with the big names in the business - I had a blast! And when I got back to school, the following Monday, I ended up changing my major to marketing and the rest is history…” she says. “After that broadcast, with Post Time with Mike & Mike, I travelled with them full-time, for the next two years, covering events like the Molson Pace/Camluck Classic, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and other major racing events. I am so appreciative of everything Mike and Mike have taught me and have done for me.” Things can happen quickly in this business and sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time… “In 2018 I was in Lexington, taking care of horses, when Jason Settlemoir contacted me about doing TV at The Meadowlands - I remember reading the message and I was like ‘Is this real life?’… And before I knew it I was working at The Meadowlands, on the weekend, doing paddock interviews. I don’t know why, but being on camera made me so nervous,” she says. “I got to work with experienced and knowledgeable guys like Dave Brower, Dave Little and Ken Warkentin - who were so welcoming when I first started - they helped so much…” Jessica’s newest job title, within The Meadowlands, is Marketing Coordinator… ”So in addition, to doing TV, I work alongside Rachel Ryan and help out with the big events. We run the social media platforms together - posting about our events, our dining, menus, promos and the races. I spend a lot of time on the computer and my phone - scheduling posts, seeing what horses are racing, noting milestones - anything that’s of interest, about our sport, goes on social media, because let’s face it - that’s where people spend a lot of their time now and not everybody can make it out to the track. I think it’s even more important now, than ever, with tracks having to race without crowds. Whether it’s a video of a horse warming up, a picture of them in the paddock, a fun fact, anything really - the more people see - the better - in my opinion…” So what may the future hold for this young broadcaster? “I don’t have a degree in marketing or broadcasting yet, but I am a big hockey fan and yes I’ll admit I’m a Red Wings fan too… I guess if I absolutely could not do something in harness racing - then maybe I’d try to do something with hockey. I do enjoy football too, but my dad and sister both played hockey - so I grew up watching a lot of it… But it’s the horses I love - so I’d rather just stay within harness racing if I could.” With some harness tracks opening up and many more to do so in early June - The Meadowlands may not be too far behind. “Right now I’m home, in Michigan, spending time with my family and helping out in the barn - so I’m keeping busy,” says Otten. “But once we get the OK to race, I’ll head back to New Jersey and hope to pick up where I left off.”  Shannon Doyle

“There’s a chance the time off may not be as kind to the horses that were sharp before this break,” says Lou Sorella aka #LouKnows - a harness racing owner and guest handicapper at The Raceway. “The horses that were in need of some time off certainly got a well-deserved rest, but I think when we come back - it’ll be a pretty level playing field for everyone… Here’s hoping everyone follows the guidelines that will keep us safe and racing for the remainder of this 2020 season and beyond.” Sorella teamed up with Chatham’s Don MacLellan and Rockwood’s Katie Miller to claim Casimir Rumrunner for a $15,000 tag back on March 7 at Flambro. “Don actually scouted him out,” says Sorella. “He liked the horse and wanted to partner with Katie and I so we said sure. We’ve got a great partnership and we’re happy to have our trainer, Kyle Fellows, looking after things. He lists the driver and finds the races… We tried him on the big track at Mohawk and he just missed in his first start for us - finishing second. Then we bumped him up to the $20,000 claimer and he held his own against that group - finishing third… And then racing shut down. Now we wait to see where he fits as racing returns.” Co-owner Miller is fairly high on Casimir Rumrunner as well. “He’s an angel and does nothing wrong,” says the Cape Breton native. “He’s got a very nice way of going and literally only wears tendon boots. We love him!” Casimir Rumrunner Casimir Rumrunner had been with us at The Raceway, during the latter portion of 2019, for trainer/driver Paul MacKenzie. He’s always been a very slick-gaited free-legged pacer and now it appears he’s taken a liking to the big track surface at Woodbine Mohawk Park. We’ll look forward to seeing him back in action soon! Shadow Place Back On Canadian Soil A former top class pacer in Ontario - Shadow Place - has returned from south of the border… After seeing limited action, over the last two racing seasons, the nine-year-old son of Shadow Play is now back on Canadian soil and is with Katie Miller. “He’s been my boy since day one,” says Miller, “He’s the typical horse a girl falls in love with… A big, shiny black, beautiful animal!” Shadow Place “My cousin, Carl Stafford - whom I’m very close with, owned him with Kyle (Fellows) when he first came in the barn four years ago. He was Kyle’s first sub-1:50 win (1:49.1 at Mohawk - June 25, 2016)… I still remember that night and I still remember how nervous I got every time he raced… And obviously growing up on the east coast the Gold Cup and Saucer is the holy grail - so to take him there and let alone win it - was beyond anything I can ever describe… I actually thought I was going to pass out walking back to the winners circle that night. He stood there for 20 minutes, like an angel, while people took very muddy photos with him… And he hardly does anything like an angel. He is actually a major pain,” she laughed. “ And then Kyle got the call from someone interested in buying Shadow. He was racing in the WEG Preferred at the time and they were interested in him for Yonkers. My heart was broken and I couldn’t even go to the barn once I knew he was sold. I truly didn’t go, back to the barn, until he left. I watched every race… My family - my partner Lou - we all followed him… And Kyle always promised me we could keep him, as a pet, when he was done racing. So now - he’s found his way back to me… I own him.” So what’s next for Shadow Place? “He’s in training at the moment,” mentions Miller. “If he makes it back as a race horse, an amateur horse, or any sort of race horse - at all - that would be great. If not - he’s going to get fatter - than he already is and maybe get broke to saddle. Shadow is my pride and joy… His best interest is my only concern… I look forward to getting to the barn and jogging him and I love how much he loves his job - even though he may be reaching ‘Grandpa’ territory.” Shadow Place winning the 2017 Gold Cup and Saucer Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District  

A little trivia here… What free-legged pacer once had the nickname ‘Recall Hanover’ - among harness racing people - around the B-tracks of Ontario? Keep reading along for the answer… I spotted a beautiful photo of a veteran racehorse, on Facebook, this past week and then reached out to his owner Jansen Sweet to talk about this former Ontario pacer - now getting set for his 13-year-old racing season in Prince Edward Island. Shiftyn Georgie (Rambaran-Paradigm Shift-Camluck) was bred by Ailsa Craig’s Rick Heamen and he’d make his first career start back on July 18, 2010 at Clinton Raceway - where he’d try to go all the way, but just miss by a head - finishing second with Alfie Carroll aboard in 2:00.2… It’d be one year later when Shiftyn Georgie would pace to his lifetime best of 1:56.1 over Woodstock (July 15, 2011), circling them 3-wide, with Billy Davis Jr. in the bike… Now this horse must have a thing for the warm month of July, because last year - at the age of 12 - this old campaigner would roll gate-to-wire over the Summerside, P.E.I. half-miler (July 9, 2019) to match his lifetime best - winning easily in 1:56.1 - with Marc Campbell driving. “That was a big trip,” says co-owner Jansen Sweet. “And he’s much better behaved now than he used to be… He’s a little more relaxed, than when he first came to us, that’s for sure. He jogs with no gear on - getting lead along behind another horse and jog cart - he’ll follow along nice and easy for around for 4 ½ miles…” The Charles F. Willis Memorial Raceway, in O’Leary, P.E.I., is where Georgie now calls home. I know the track well. It opens for matinee (non-betting) harness racing through the summer months and it happens to be both the spot where I drove in my first amateur race and where I began calling races too… “They used to call him ‘Recall Hanover’ because he’d cause recalls at the summer tracks, in Ontario, but he’s been good here,” says Sweet. “He’s well-mannered all around - very easy going around the barn, when he’s jogging and when he gets turned out, but when we put the bridle on him - he gets his game-face on and he knows it’s time to go to work. He turns it around then.” Sweet’s brother, Jaycob (18), does the conditioning and he was able to pick up his first career training win with Georgie just one year ago (May 20, 2019) at Summerside. “Jaycob had a great rookie season picking up the top trainer title at Summerside’s Red Shores track. He works hard and puts a lot of time into it,” says Sweet. “If he’s not working with our horses, he’s usually training someone else’s or he could be out there dragging the track. I believe he’ll be aiming for his harness driver’s license late this year.” For Georgie there’s been no regular pilot, in the sulky, since moving east. I’ve counted 11 different drivers on board for his 40 Maritime starts. “He’s almost better if we switch it up,” mentions Sweet. “Jason Hughes has always driven most of our horses. Marc Campbell matched his life mark. And then Dale Spence won 3 in a row with him last Fall,” continues Sweet. “He’s not a real tough horse to drive. He can leave really good - that’s usually the game plan and if they don’t get to him around the three-quarters - he’s usually good to go.” A mid-summer purchase for ‘about’ $3,500 in 2018 - Georgie would take to his new P.E.I. surroundings right away… “We originally bought him for the $5,000 Claiming Series at Old Home Week,” he says. “We raced him in Summerside and he won his first start for us in 1:58.1 and then we thought - maybe we shouldn’t have put him in that claiming series - we liked him that much… Well he was already in to go 4 days later in Charlottetown - so off we went… He did end up getting claimed off of us, during that series, but we’d take him back in the final and he’s been with us ever since.” The ownership crew of Jansen, Allison Sweet, Brody Ellis and Susan Thompson also own another former Ontario pacer in Rising Fella - once campaigned by trainer Bob McIntosh. “He’s done well for us too. We keep a small barn, but we have a lot of fun racing here on our island tracks.” Earning $8,500 is a good season for any race horse down east as the costs aren’t as great… “We had a pretty good year all around,” offers Sweet. “Georgie made the most, last season, so he earned the number one stall, in the barn, with a window view… He doesn’t need the vet much and he gets turned outs lots too - I know he got lots of turn-out time in Ontario, but I think he’s taken to the P.E.I. air - they say it can turn them around…” So what’s the game plan for Georgie’s upcoming season? “We’ll race him a few times and see where he fits… He’s got the age and the ugly ankle factor - so that keeps him pretty safe around the $4,000 claiming level. We’ll see how he comes back to the races, but he has trained down well - better than Rising Fella actually.” There’s a pretty good chance you’ll see Shiftyn Georgie in action on the opening weekend for P.E.I.’s return to racing in early June. “He’ll be ready,” confirms Sweet. “We’ll qualify the end of May and hopefully we’ll get him in to race when Charlottetown opens up.” Shiftyn Georgie was able to go over $100K in career earnings, last Fall, for his P.E.I. connections. - His richest career win would come in a $9,000 purse event (NW $30,000 Lifetime), at The Raceway, in October of 2012. Racing for trainer Murray Preszcator, at the time, driver JR Plante would guide him to a 1:56.2 victory over a track rated 2 seconds off - winning over General Manager (Trevor Henry) and Southwind Whiski (Alfie Carroll). - His final Ontario start took place at Hanover Raceway on July 21, 2018. It would be a sixth-place finish in a $7,000 claiming event, for trainer Natalie Baumlisberger, with Bruce Richardson aboard. - Stats: Life - 226 -23-33-32 ($102,377) P4 1:56.1 Woodstock - Stats: 2019 - 26-6-4-5 ($8,565) P12 1:56.1 Summerside Shiftyn Georgie’s 1:56.1 win in 2019 Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

“Harness racing has a short window to reinvent itself and become relevant again - in a way that hasn’t been seen for many decades. The status quo will not be sufficient to capture this opportunity when racing returns,” says horse owner/game designer Ryan Clements. “I think there’s a lot we can do. There is going to be many eyes on our sport if we do come back soon. And when we do get that brief moment, with no other major sports in play, we’ll have a chance to build a new fan base and we may never get this chance again. I believe we have to make the most of it - when we do come back… We have to look professional… We have to act professional… And when we do open - we have to open big. Let’s get those HD (high-definition) racing signals out there. Show our very best product. Now is the time to be investing in our future.” A resident of London with his business operation - The Farm Games - based in the forest city, Clements comments that he is not being biased in saying that he’d like to see London race during the summer months… “If there’s anything that can be done to see racing happen, this summer, maybe now is the best chance for a track like The Raceway… If any track is willing to make a serious run at racing, with a nice HD signal and have everything in place to put on a great show - including a top notch broadcast - then I’m all for it… For any big on-track crowds - it looks as though it may not happen this summer, in Ontario, but I’m going to be optimistic and hold out hope that spectators will be allowed back - at some point in 2020.” Talking horses now with Clements and he is very excited about the upcoming season for his stable… “Our four horses will be stabled at Dorchester Fairgrounds,” he says. “There’s P L Nikita - a 3YO trot filly and a winner of an O.S.S. Gold last season and P L Olivia - a 2YO trot filly. Both are home-breds for Prince Lee Acres… She Started It - a 3YO trot filly and she’s been our heart-breaker. It looked like she’d win a few O.S.S. Golds last season, but she broke very late (in the mile) in both starts, but we’ve got some high hopes for her again this summer. She grew lots over the winter and has been nursed along this Spring - she is definitely O.S.S. Gold talent.” Owned by Bright Future Racing (which includes about 25 owners) - Ryan is proud to mention there’s plenty of support, for the filly, that comes by way of Strokers Billiards in London. “They’ve got a nice photo of her - hanging on their wall. Some of the staff and customers are owners, within Bright Future Racing, so it’s great to see them getting behind her like that. And finally there’s St Lads Yeah Yeah - a 2YO colt pacer we picked up on day two of the London sale - he’s the first horse that sold that day. He was small, but his mom (Sand Song) won 39 races and he’s from the first State Treasurer crop. Over the winter he grew lots and he’s going to be a great size now… He’s another one for Bright Future Racing.” The Farm Games: “We make mobile games!” Off And Pacing, Catch Driver and Turf Dynasty are very popular mobile games within the horse racing community. While many businesses have struggled, with the ongoing pandemic, The Farm Games has actually seen an increase, in demand, for their products. “We saw about a 30% increase in play, for April, between both new users and regular players,” says Clements. “It’s interesting, to note, that we actually saw the first increase, for Catch Driver, come from Italy and we all know that they got hit first with the virus - so we did notice a surge, there, when this pandemic began.” Clements on his company’s games… Off And Pacing - “There’s well-known driver Yannick Gingras and he loves it! He gets to have his own stable of champion horses… That game has gotten us to where we are now!” Catch Driver - “There’s well-known harness racing owner Mark Weaver who gets to be a driver in championship races… It’s becoming quite popular for lots of people!” Turf Dynasty - “It’s an evolution of Off And Pacing, but for thoroughbreds… It’s starting to gain some traction!” Catch Driver VR Arcade - “The delivery date for this arcade unit was the end of this May. It’s more than VR (Virtual reality) - you’re physically racing… It will soon be ready to go!” Many have seen the ‘virtual Kentucky Derby race’ that was held recently. The race consisted of past triple crown winners - with well-known horse race announcer Larry Colmuss describing the action… “It looked great,“ states Clements. “And that’s exciting for me… Virtual races, like that, are not out of reach for our company.” Kentucky Derby 2020 - And I agree - the race did look great and it likely cost a lot of money to produce, too, but I believe it was money well spent - especially during this difficult time… I think we all knew, beforehand though, who was going to win the race - right? From the Twitter page of Ryan Clements… ‘Things everyone can learn from horse people.’ 1. Get out of bed early. 2. Work hard. 3. Enjoy an afternoon nap. 4. Make mistakes, but never give up. 5. Be real - show your emotions. 6. Be passionate - care about people and animals. 7. Enjoy good times and keep going through the bad.   Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

Born and raised into the business, horse owner Amber Guse began her work in harness racing some 25 years ago… “Both my parents, Patti McGillivary and Bill Windsor, owned and trained,” she says. “I began working alongside Mom at the age of 7… I can still remember, back in the day, carrying the pales and blankets down the long path to the old paddock at Western Fair. It was around that time that I just fell in love with the horses.” On her first career win as a horse owner… “That came about 10 years ago, at Flamboro, with Hope Tobea Star and she was parked out most of the mile… She was far from a star, for me, but on that day she was the biggest star. There’s nothing better than meeting your own horse back in the winner circle!”  A top notch caretaker, for trainer Steve Bossence, Amber has worked for the Bossence barn over the last decade… “It all started when I moved my mare over to the training center where Steve was stabled. I then began helping out with his horses and the rest is history…” she says. “I’m very thankful for all the nice horses I’ve looked after, over the years, for Steve and his owner Stephen Palermo… They’ve certainly helped in making some of my dreams come true!”  Speaking of dreams - a top performer for Amber, at The Raceway, comes to mind… “My fave girl to race was always Distinctiv Dreamer,” she states. “She won me quite a few races there in London… My most favourite win, ever, was our first together… I bought her for just $1,500 (February 2013) and I really wasn’t expecting much, from her, in her first start - to be honest I was only hoping for a cheque… Well she had other plans and drew off, on the field, to win by 17 lengths and at that moment I knew we had something special. That girl was always game and just loved to win… She was the horse that made all my dreams come true!” Amber has also owned and raced (at The Raceway in recent years) Total Knockout, Stonebridge Loyal and her newest acquisition Golden Leader. Some special moments and memories from horses, that Amber has looked after, over the years… “I had the pleasure of looking after Ms Goliath while working for Jason Libby (2008). She got me my first O.S.S. Gold win and raced against some classy fillies that year - she was a special one! Strike a Light is also an extremely special guy. I have driven across the country to bring this boy home multiple times. We had many wins together and also took home awards in back-to-back seasons. He’s a super special guy - now enjoying his retirement life. And Nebraska Jack - he’s my heart horse… He’s the classiest, sassiest horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of looking after… I just love him!” Favourite wins, this past season, as a caretaker… “I would have to say our Preferred wins with Nebraska Jack (Aged Trotter of the Year at The Raceway 2019)… After claiming him for $12,000 and then watching him turn into this solid top class trotter - it’s been simply amazing! And Raising Royalty (3YO Trotting Colt of the Year at The Raceway 2019) winning the City of London Final was a pretty special moment for the whole team as well.”  On being the runner-up for an O’Brien Award for Caretaker of the Year 2019… “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that phone call… I just burst into tears… All I know is horses and I’ve worked so hard to get to where I’m at now. It was such an overwhelming feeling and at the same time - a feeling of accomplishment… There are so many amazing caretakers, in this business, that it was honestly just an honour to be noticed!”  A few weeks following the O’Brien Awards - the Annual Raceway Awards Banquet took place and Amber was recognized as a Caretaker of the Year nominee… “Being my second time to be recognized, for this award, was truly an honour… I was up against some wonderful caretakers that also put so much time and work into their horses… It was a great feeling to be a nominee!”  The Bossence barn happenings right now… “We have two babies in training currently. Publicity Seeker is going amazing - he has a great attitude and is loving his work thus far - we’re really excited to see what he grows into… We also have a gorgeous red filly - Royal Gossip - that has had a little time off due to being a big growthy filly. She’s just starting back again and so far is looking pretty good out there… And finally - our racehorses are pretty much good to go. We just need some races for them…” On this current downtime from racing… “There’s no such thing as downtime in my world,” she laughs. “I have 3 children - Emma (13), Brody (10) and Adelynn (4) - life can sometimes get crazy busy between working, racing and then raising a family… Thus far I think I’ve done a pretty great job juggling it all. I have some pretty talented, smart and caring kids - along with some happy horses - life is good!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District  

Ontario horseman Mark Horner has remained busy during this downtime from harness racing… A past chair of Standardbred Canada - he says there’s still lots to do around the farm. “Maintaining the track at home here - that work never stops… Plus I’ve got 9 babies training and the race horses have been getting their work in too…” Horner mentions that he’s looking forward to the sophomore season of Quick Tour… “He’s coming along nice and he’s paid up to the NA Cup. He didn’t draw all that well last year, but he stilled earned $70,000 and won in 51. I actually had him ready to go last month - just as London shut down…” A $7,000 yearling purchase, at Harrisburg, Quick Tour now has a two-year-old Hes Watching brother in the Horner barn… “We bought him (Hes Touring) for $21,000 at Harrisburg and he’s been coming along well.” Horner’s raced some real nice horses - indeed some fan favourites - over the years in London - let’s touch on a few… The Joy Luck Club - “She’s in New Jersey right now and bred to Captain Crunch - it’s a great cross and we’re hoping to hit a home run… He won so easy at Dover in 1:47.3 last November. He’s just a great horse - he’s big, strong and long-gaited and so is Joy. She wore a 63-inch hopple and was always a sweetheart. When things got off on the right foot, for her in a race, things would normally go okay.” Pinky Tuscadero - “She’s here, with us, bred to Jimmy Freight - we’re just waiting to see if she’s in foal or not… That’ll be her first.” Button Up - “You’d be hard pressed to find another racehorse that started as a two-year-old and remained in the same barn, throughout his career, to earn $824,000 racing on the B-tracks of Ontario - he was a special, special animal on the track! Near the end of his racing career - he was losing muscle-mass in his back end - so we took him up to Guelph and they diagnosed him with leukemia… That was 4 years ago now, but he’s still with us and remains the boss here - living out his retirement.” The Masters - “He was a real nice homebred I raced for Ray Webb - my Button Up before Button Up, but I owned Button Up.” The Masters was before my time in London, but I do remember him in that one particular race back on November 19, 2001… I recently wrote about Firms Phantom, aka ‘The Beast from the East’, making his Ontario debut after winning 28 consecutive races in the Maritimes. ‘Race Night on The Score’ may have began early that night, to show the race, there was so much hype… “I remember my horse was real good at the time - a great half-miler,” says Horner. “And you had to admire the new horse, but at the same time - we’re not going to allow him to come in and just take the money.” The Masters left hard, with his rail advantage, to be the pacesetter and Firms Phantom would make a break going into the first turn… The end result - Voo Doo Vine (1st) The Masters (2nd) Just Bert (3rd) and Firms Phantom (7th). Switching things up now with Horner on the COSA trailer wraps and TV shows… “The wraps were an idea Jack Darling and I had thrown around,” he says. “They’ve become quite popular now. It’s a great marketing initiative for our sport and it’s sure beats paying rent on a stationary billboard - these billboards are always moving up and down the road - they’re great! And Greg Blanchard and Curtis MacDonald have been doing a great job with the COSA TV shows - these shows are certainly filling a void right now. The latest COSA TV show with Casie Coleman, Linda Toscano and Nancy Takter featured -… And finally - any thoughts on when we may expect a return to horse racing in Ontario? “My feeling is July 1,” says Horner. “Right now we’re fortunate that we are essential to the care of these horses. We’re still hard at it every day - waiting on a green light to go and when we get it - we’ll be ready!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

When we last raced at The Raceway - we did so without harness racing fans, spectators and horseplayers on track, but they were still with us - cheering, watching and playing - somewhere… Whether it was through HPI, TVG, an OTB or tuning in online for our live video feed - we’ve always appreciated the strong presence of our off-track crowd.  Meet one of our biggest off-track racing fans Andrew Herpy, 53, of Dayton, Ohio… First introduced to thoroughbred racing, as a child, he really enjoyed those majestic animals, but he quickly fell in love with harness racing because those horses raced more frequently and he got to know them better. “After a while, I didn’t even need to look at a program - to know who they were - their characteristics told me who they were… For example their colour, gait, head and just the way they went over the track - I just knew who they were. At the end of the day, though, I have a deep respect for all breeds of horses.” Herpy describes himself as ‘the biggest horse race fan in the world’ and he still remembers when and where it all began… “I was just six years old, at River Downs, near Cincinnati, Ohio… My family had box seats and dad would put me on his shoulders so I could see the stretch runs. Looking back I can still remember a turf race - with the bright colours of the jockey silks - contrasting against the lush green grass - the excitement of the crowd… I was hooked right then and there!” He’s been the fan, the player, the online supporter for horse racing, but he does feel that someday there could be more… “I’ve always wanted to be a part of racing, but I’ve never owned or raced horses… Many times, I’ve thought, that there’s likely more for me in this business - we’ll have to see. I still have a lot of friends that race and I do enjoy giving them my best wishes and cheering them on whenever they’re in to go.” Favourite harness horse(s) past and present? “Artsplace period,” states Herpy. “He was prolific on the racetrack and legendary in the breeding shed. It also helped that he was trained by Gene Reigle - who happened to be from Greenville, Ohio - which was very close to my parents’ house. I used to ride my bike to go see him (Artsplace) when he was there. It wouldn’t have been too many times though - he was a busy horse back then… He was amazing!” And then came simulcast racing… “I gained an interest in Canadian harness racing about twenty years ago through Woodbine and Mohawk,” Herpy explains “When I lived in Ohio, we were likely one of the last places to bring in simulcasting, of other tracks, from across North America. We started going to Hoosier Park for both live racing and simulcasting - this would’ve been when I was first introduced to some of the other tracks in Canada. It opened up a whole new racing world for me.” Favourites at The Raceway, for Herpy, past and present… “My favourite horse is easy - it’s Blue Moose all the way - he’s so honest… And for drivers it’s Trevor Henry - before he moved on, to the big track, he dominated Western Fair. He’s aggressive, but has a great sense of pace. I knew he’d make his way to Woodbine and he’s done great there too. I’ve loved all the aspects of racing at Western Fair.” As a horseplayer Herpy enjoys chasing after the PICK 4 plays in London… “I had a great run with them last year, cashing eight in a row - some were big and some were small… I remember playing a PICK 4 ticket, there, six years ago and getting back almost $2,000 with a 19/1 single to complete it. The ticket cost just $3.60 - so that’d be my best score ever in London.” Trevor Henry With there being zero harness racing action, currently in North America, what’s been keeping this die-hard racing enthusiast occupied? “Over the past five years, or so, I’ve really been interested in bloodlines,” says Herpy. “So I’ve now been dragging out my sales/auction books every day and reviewing every page. That definitely keeps me busy. You can likely tell, by now, that I have a great passion for the sport. I’ve always wanted to be more involved somehow and maybe I’ll get that chance to bring it to another level at some point - I would really like to be an advocate for the sport on any level. Time will tell and I have lots of it!” And now it appears we’re running out of time and track for this ‘big race fan’ - final words Andrew… “I would just like to extend my best wishes to all horsemen and women, across the world, during this tough time… One of my best friends, Jeremy Day from Daydream Racing, has a two-year-old trotter in training - Muscles Frankee - a well-bred Southwind Frank colt… I’ll wish him and all the connections good luck. Here’s hoping we get to see that colt and all the other harness horses in action soon!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle The Raceway at Western Fair District

There was a time in the 1980s and early nineties that the name of William (Bud) Fritz was synonymous with harness racing in Ontario. The Fritz stable came as close to dominating the province’s sires stakes program as any single operation ever has. - The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame. Enter granddaughter Monica Fritz of Walkerton, Ontario. She’s a 22-year-old student getting set to graduate from the University of Guelph with a degree in Animal Biology. She says her next step in education is ‘hopefully’ vet school. “That’s what I’m aiming for,” states Fritz. “I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with the Milton Equine Clinic, working under Dr. Marc Desjardins, in May.” Like her grandpa Bud and like her father Dale - Monica, too, has raced horses and won with them here in Ontario. “My Dad got Jamigo to the races back in 2010,” she says. “He was always a good trotter around Hanover and London, but then he got claimed away from us in the Spring of 2013. That summer we’d get North Leigh to the races and he’d win for us at Hanover, in his second lifetime start, but his career ended suddenly after just five races.” Sounds like it would be a tough blow to any seasoned veteran of the game, let alone a teenager, but Monica stayed with it. “I love the horses - I’ve been around them my whole life and I do get really attached to them, but this losing a horse to a claim or anything else - well I learned very quickly that it’s sometimes just part of the business.” Jamigo never did make it to the winner’s circle, following that particular claim, until he made it back to the Fritz barn that Fall. “I was able to get him back privately from horseman Dennis Morrissey,” she says. “We picked him up after not finding anything at the yearling sale, that year, in London and right off the bat he was racing good for us again.” Jamigo would spend the next few years racing for Team Fritz, trotting to a mark of 1:59.3 and racing plenty of Preferred action as well. In November, of 2015, Jamigo got claimed again and since then he’s been racing mainly up around Rideau and Three Rivers. “He’s in Ottawa now and I still enjoy following him and his races.” Like so many others, involved in the industry, Monica’s racing roots run deep… “Our family goes back a long ways in this business and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of it… I’m very proud to be my Dad’s biggest fan. I’ve always wanted to be there for him and we’re still close - watching old replays and stuff now and then. I just feel very lucky to be a part of this family that is so passionate about horses.” The earliest memories for Fritz, around The Raceway, involve the pacer Back To Back Jack. “My dad bought him as a yearling in London (2004) when I was six and we’ve had him ever since. He’s always been one of my best friends for sure. Everything about him is just special and he’s got that forever home with our family.” Hall of Famer Bud Fritz is on the ownership line for the good pacer Im Not Bad who’s raced in London plenty of times. “My Grandma (the late Ethel Fritz) loved him at the yearling sale (2014) and picked him out for Grandpa… He was dark and had some nice markings - a real looker! I can remember him winning his first start at The Raceway in 2017… Uncle Terry (Fritz) races him.” Reflecting on her Grandparents… “Bud has always been a man of a few words. A great all-around horseman who could do anything with any racehorse. He instilled his hard work ethic in all of us and our family has a lot of great memories of his time in racing… Grandma, no longer with us, was my best friend. I really looked up to her - raising nine children - plus she helped Grandpa lots too. She looked after all of us and was the backbone of our family for sure.”  And going forward… “I’ve been doing everything for school online and helping out at the barn with my fiancé, Jake Roberts, who works for trainer Rob Fellows. My job in Milton will be starting soon - so I’m really looking forward to that.” And what about a return to harness racing for Monica? “I’ve always known that I wanted to be in this industry, but I wanted to be something, maybe, unique to the business within our family. I’m sure I’ll be involved in one way or another.” And finally - any words of encouragement to share with your fellow horse people during this downtime from racing? “Try to stay busy - try to keep motivated and look forward to better days ahead.” SHANNON DOYLE​ TRACK ANNOUNCER

Harness racing people stabled at Dorchester Downs Training Center, just outside of London, were the recipients of a tremendous act of generosity this month. Joe and Judy Elliott, along with their son Sam, are the owners and operators of the training center, located on the Eaton Road, in Dorchester and recently Joe held an on-site meeting for those that are stabled there - to go over some of the new ‘ground rules’ that coincide with the ongoing coronavirus. “Joe went around to everyone and he wanted us all to be at this meeting,” says lifelong horseman Laurie Bako. “And of course we followed along with the social distancing rules for this meeting… So we’re sitting around and Joe is now discussing who would be allowed on the grounds going forward and he’d go over a few other things with us and then at the end of it he says… ‘We’ve talked it over and to try to help everyone out (who’s stabled here) we’re going to wave the April stall rent.’ Well we didn’t expect that at all,” says Bako. “You know we wanted to get up and shake this man’s hand, but of course we can’t do that right now.” And right now the daily routine continues as there’s still plenty of work to do with these racehorses - even though the races are currently on hold… “We’re keeping busy, but we’re still kind of waiting on word from government and following along with the info provided by our industry leaders,” continued Bako. “The Elliott’s certainly lightened the load on us that’s for sure. There’s likely 100 horses stabled here and at $200 per stall each month - well that was just a super act of kindness on their part.” The Elliott’s took over the training center, a few years ago, making many improvements along the way. “From the barns, to the paddocks, to the track - everything has always been top notch,” notes Bako. “Joe and Judy live here on site too and they’re both really hard working people - it shows. All year long they just treat us great - it’s a real family-type atmosphere here and we love it!” Known to be a ‘trot man’ Bako says the Dorchester track is one of the best around… “It’s so good to get a two-year-old ready for the races here - especially the young trotters… With the big turns and a great surface - this track is really kind to the horses. It’s likely one of the best tracks around to train down a young trotter or pacer!” Dorchester features a ⅝ mile training track with regular maintenance throughout the year. There are 2 large barns with a total of 100 stalls; 5 bathing stations with hot water + a washer and dryer; a six-horse covered exerciser is available as well. There are also several small and large grass paddocks + 2 fields are available. The operators also offer hay, straw, shavings and pellets on site - for an additional cost to all boarders.   Being within a 15 or 20 minute drive to The Raceway - the training center has been recommended to those that have shipped in to race London’s signature event - formerly the Molson Pace and now the Camluck Classic. “It’s a great facility for sure,” says Raceway racing manager Greg Gangle. “Joe and his family have a great reputation and are very good people to deal with. The Tritton’s brought Bit Of A Legend N up here twice (2017 - 2018) and that’s where they were stabled. Killer Martini, for Ricky Bucci, was also there. Many of our Raceway regulars race out of Dorchester as well… There’s the Wray’s, Dennis Morrissey, Gord McKnight, John Pentland, Larry Fitzsimmons and Steve Bossence - just to name a few.” “Everyone knows Joe’s reputation,” says Gangle. “He’s always been a fair man to deal with and this kind gesture by the Elliott’s - though it may have come out of the blue for some - it may not have come as a complete surprise to the many that know them.”   Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Announcer - The Raceway    

She may just be 15, but Gracie Mae Barr has always had a thing for the horses. This young Thamesford, Ontario miss grew up watching both of her parents, Scott and Bethany, work in the business of harness racing. “There is no chance that I wasn’t going to be into the horses,” states Barr. “My parents are into harness racing - my Dad trained full time and my Mom works the London Selected Yearling Sale… The day I was born (March 8, 2005) my Dad raced two horses, Coyote Sam and Future Honey, at Western Fair Raceway and they both won! For me - I think it’s just meant to be… ” Though it’s been a lifetime of horses, for Barr, it’s only been over the last few seasons that she’s been attending the races in London. “My first actual memory of the Raceway was when my Dad took me in to see a ‘mini pony race’. We went to watch and cheer on our friend Travis Moore who was racing his pony Wally,” she says. “And now I enjoy watching and cheering on many who race in London… Sue McNeight and the Horner Stable, Lorne House, Paul Chapman, Brent Belore, the Reibeling’s and there’s lots more - pretty much anyone than can get me to the track on race days - I’ll cheer them on too…” So being this young lady, relatively new to the backstretch, we asked if there was a horsewoman that Barr has noticed and now looks up to on race nights… “It’s Teesha Symes - no question,” she says. “From watching her I can tell she’s a hard worker and I can see that she cares a lot for her horses too… She’s always smiling so she must love what she does and her horses always look great when they walk into the race paddock - everything just looks so professional…” Barr’s favourite racehorse, this meet in London, has been Hidden Potential - a former top class pacer who found his form with the ‘seniors pace’ events. “He’s a really nice horse, to be around, except in the winner’s circle,” notes Barr. “He has knocked me over, in there, but other than that - as long as he has his chew chain and carrots - he’s a happy boy.” Another Raceway fave for Barr, this racing season, would be her victory with Family First. “He was my first win, paddocking by myself, for trainer John Pentland,” she says “John is a family friend that we’ve known for years. I started going to his barn with my Dad on the weekends and now, with school shut down, I’ve been busy working at his stable… My parents are OK with it as long as my grades don’t suffer.” And in her spare time Gracie Mae - like so many others in the business - has a retired racehorse to ride…”His racing name was Nospeednofeed, but I call him ‘Buddy’. My Dad used to race his mother Tenacious Dream.” Another connection for Barr and Pentland has been the impressive filly Lauras Love - they share ownership on this lightly raced daughter of Betterthancheddar. “She didn’t race as a two-year-old, because she was a little on the immature side and John wanted to take things slow with her,” she explains. “That way she could maybe have a strong three-year-old season and so far she has.”  Indeed she has… Lauras Love would debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park, on January 23 of this year - finishing sixth, but her strong 26.3 final quarter would indicate that she may be good to go next time out. And just one week later - that she was… “When she won that night - as she crossed the finish line - there may have been a few tears, not only because it was my first win as an owner, but because it was our first win together. I’ll also never forget Ken Middleton giving me the shout-out in the winners circle - it was just a real special night!”  Now a winner of 4 from 5 career starts - Lauras Love gets some down time to freshen up as Ontario - and the rest of North America - awaits the return of harness racing. “I’m just beyond proud of what she has accomplished,” says Barr. “I knew last year that she had some talent, but I had no idea she would go out and win four in a row. She’s the first horse that I’ve officially owned and there’s no other horse I’d rather own than her. She’s super goofy - with a lot of personality, but she’s just meant for me…” And the future plans for Lauras Love - is there any chance that we’ll see her at The Raceway going forward? “I’m not sure where else she’ll race - other than at Woodbine Mohawk Park,” reports Barr. “It’s completely up to her trainer to decide… And I’ll trust that he’ll do what’s best for her - he’s been right so far!” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway  

Michigan’s David Omicioli, owner of the good harness racing mare Turbo Diva, reached out to us recently after reading up on some people stories at The Raceway. “We’re also on lockdown,” reports Omicioli. “Hopefully we see a vaccine developed soon for this coronavirus… I miss my horses and I miss hanging out at the racetracks…” Turbo Diva raced in London for trainer Tim Myers and now finds herself stabled in Hamburg, New York. “She was able to race one time at Buffalo Raceway (a fourth-best finish on March 11) before that track closed,” says Omicioli. “My cousin (Frank Mahiques) is now training her there. She’s enjoying her life in Buffalo… There’s a pool, a walker and a ten-acre paddock at the farm - plus she also has a new best friend in Mya - my cousin’s nine-year-old granddaughter… Buffalo is scheduled to re-open May 2, but I think that could be just a mark on the wall.”   Omicioli has raced pacers Qarma Blue Chip and Surf Report (both trained by Myers) at The Raceway, over the last few seasons, and he’s also enjoyed watching and cheering on Reel - a Preferred class pacer conditioned by Myers. “I really like that big horse… He rarely seems to get an easy trip, but he’s always a contender whenever he races.” Trainer Myers now co-owns a two-year-old, with Omicioli, that was purchased at the London Selected Yearling Sale last Fall. “There’s a funny story how I bought him,” he chuckles. “My oldest son Nick, Tim and I were at the sale and we weren’t having any luck buying a yearling on that final Sunday, but we liked a few horses that were going to sell late. So getting a bit restless Tim says ‘Let’s go look at those yearlings we picked out.’… Then after looking over those potential stars again - for a third or fourth time - we returned to the sales arena. We chose a spot up high in the bleachers. Tim, Nick and I had just sat down when we saw that a yearling was stuck on a price of $3,000… Now I just knew it was a ‘Control The Moment’ (yearling) and I didn’t even have my catalog open, but Nick did, so I turned to Nick and asked ‘Do you think the horse is worth $4,000?’… Nick replied ‘I think so!’… So I raised my hand and I got the horse for $4,000.” “I was thinking, at the time, even if he didn’t make it as a racehorse - I’d get my $4,000 back… Nick said ‘You should have seen Tim’s face!’… Tim was a little upset, with me, because we didn’t even go look at the horse beforehand and I remember as we walked down the bleacher stairs, to go sign the sales slip, Tim asked me if it was a colt or a filly… I turned to him and said ‘Hell, I don’t even know!’… Nick and I laughed about it all the way back to Michigan…” Trainer Jim Jarvis and his son Dillon had been with the three gentlemen, at the sale, earlier on the weekend. “They were with us, but they had to leave because Dillon had hockey,” says Omicioli. “Dillon told me on the way out that he wanted in, if I bought anything, so now Dillon and Tim are going to be added to the ownership line with me. It should be fun!”  And the yearling sale story doesn’t quite end there… “Nick had suggested a name change to ‘Just Trust Me Tim’, but I’ve come to like his registered name ‘of Thatmomentinlife’… Anyhow the colt is doing well and he paces right along free-legged. We have him paid up for the Ontario Sire Stakes and hopefully we’ll be talking about his sale story and some racing stories - in the years to come!” Thatmomentinlife - most appropriately named considering how the hammer dropped on this hip #251 at the London Selected Yearling Sale of 2019… Good luck guys! Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway

Like so many others, involved in harness racing, horseman Lorne House was born and raised into the business as well… “Indeed I grew up in it,” he says. “My Dad, Mike House, had horses and my Grandfather, Alf Smith, he raced horses too.” It’s now been about 20 years in the business, for House, as a licensed harness trainer and driver in Ontario. His first career training win would come in London, with Fluid Drive, on November 4, 1999… “He was the first horse I ever owned too,” says House. “Don McElroy would have drove him and many others for me back then. I just didn’t have the itch to drive at that time…” That itch would indeed come along, a few years later, when House would get in the majority of his qualifying drives, at The Raceway, during the Spring of 2001. It’d be Sarnia, in September of that year, where he’d guide Tinkers Magic to an off-the-pace win for his first career driving victory. And then it would be Fantastic Lil giving Lorne his first London driving win in early 2003. The pair would double up, next start at Flamboro, before that same mare would get claimed. “The guy that claimed her - well I guess he didn’t like her… He called me to see if I wanted her back, not long after, but I turned him down.” And so it goes - Fanstastic Lil would retire with just two career victories. A few favourite horses, for House, over the years at The Raceway… “Grogan was a nice, nice trotter I trained and drove… I still remember the day he won an O.S.S. Grassroots in London (June 19, 2007)… The track was sloppy and we won by 11 in 2:00 flat! If the track would have been fast, that day, we’d have broke the track record I’m sure,” states House. “He’s retired now and I believe he’s breeding Dutch Warmblood mares in Indiana.” “Kendal Gustav was another great horse to drive,” offers House. “I had lots of thrills aboard him. He was just so consistent and when it was time to go - it’s like he just knew and he’d show up… I could always count on ‘Gus’.   A very interesting question came up, recently, during a COSA TV special featuring driving legends Ron Waples, John Campbell and Bill ODonnell. Broadcast host Greg Blanchard would ask the gentlemen if there was ever a horse they never had a chance to drive, but wish they could have… Well they all quickly agreed on Niatross as that one horse they wished they could have drove in a big race. So I then asked House that same question and his answer may surprise some… “The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) would be the dream horse and an obvious choice for many, I’m sure, but I’ve always liked the hard knocking older horses - the blue-collar types, so Admirals Express would likely be that one horse for me.” Outside of harness racing House says he’s a big Toronto Blue Jays fan and he loves to fish as well. “I do miss seeing the Jays play and my boy (Luc) loves the baseball too, but he’s not a Jays fan just yet though,” he laughs. “The fishing I picked up from my Grandfather years ago - we’d get out lots… And now it’s been Luc and I getting out.” Lorne’s son Luc, at just 8 years of age, would come up big, recently, on the Niagara River around Queenston. “We’d never fished there before, but away we went last Friday (March 27),” says House. “We weren’t there 15 minutes and Luc hooked on to a 12-pound rainbow (trout)… And he wouldn’t need any help, from me, though he was getting tired into the stretch, but he dug in and landed him,” House chuckled. “It was a very proud moment for us both and he was grinning from ear to ear… We’d end up catching 13 that day and he’d catch 8 of them… I always loved fishing with my Dad and Grandpa, so my boy Luc - I guess he gets it honest enough!” “We weren’t there 15 minutes and Luc hooked on to a 12-pound rainbow (trout) And like his Dad - Luc enjoys the horses too… Sitting alongside Lorne, at The Raceway in 2017, Luc would guide Ping to an exhibition pony race victory… “Now that was fun! Just for him alone - he was ecstatic… And we still have Ping too - she looks after the yearlings on the farm.” Final words go to House on this current downtime for horse racing… “We’ve been quite busy training and I look after the track at Dorchester Downs,” he says. “Angela (Clark) has been training Munndutch back under saddle, but we’ll have him back in the bike when racing returns… We’re just hoping to get back to racing soon and preferably in London. There’s no doubt we’ll be ready to race when and where the tracks are open.”    Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Track Announcer - The Raceway

“We’re still quite busy, with a stable of 15 horses,” says young harness racing owner Cassidy Schneider. “The only thing, that’s really changed, is the fact that we don’t race now… We still jog and train them… We’re still doing our thing week in and week out.” Schneider, at just 18 years of age, can almost remember becoming a racehorse owner back in 2007… “I do know it was Arizona Gem,” she says. “He was the first horse in my name, because (at that time) I wasn’t allowed in the paddock - so my dad bought him and put him in my name… From that point on I could go into any paddock - because I was an owner. I still have a win photo, of that horse, with my dad driving and I was sitting on the race bike in the winner’s circle… So that is what I remember about him.” A midget hockey league player, with the Grand River Mustangs, Schneider has always enjoyed the competition on the ice, but it’s safe to say, now, she’ll pass on any hockey game to race her horses. “I remember when I first signed up for hockey and went to my first practice… My Dad had to race that same night at Grand River and our horse, Count Strike, would end up getting claimed that night… Another time, I missed the races, was when I went to play hockey in Guelph and ended up breaking my arm during the game. Well my Dad raced and came straight to the hospital, to see me, on his way home, but I knew then - after those two experiences - that I’d not be missing any more races for a hockey game.”  Cassidy Schneider At least a fourth-generation harness racer from Arthur, Ontario - Schneider gets her love for the sport honestly… “My Dad (Colonel Schneider Jr.) had a stable long before I came along,” she says. “He was also born and raised into the business. His Dad and my Grandpa (Colonel Schneider) had horses and before that his Dad and my Great Grandpa raced horses too. I can remember jogging my first horse at the age of 8 - it was PL Dangerous and I’ve had this love for the horses ever since.” Looking back to her earliest memory of a race night, at The Raceway, Schneider recalls paddocking Emerald Rihanna with her Dad. “I didn’t know it, at the time, but my Dad had made a deal with Ricky Moffat on a grey horse named Hudd,” she explains. “We stopped on our way home from the races and picked up Hudd… I was asleep, in the passenger seat, so I wasn’t even aware we had stopped and put him on the trailer. When we got home - I helped unload and it was only then that I discovered we had another horse - this big grey horse and we still have him to this day.” Reb The Raider, Maddys Credit, Kinmundys Stryker and their most recent addition, Foxton Road, are just some of the horses that have campaigned, in London, for the Schneider’s in recent years. Cassidy mentions that she does get attached to the horses that come and go from their barn, but when it comes to a favourite she’s very quick to admit that it’s Reb The Raider. “He’s my all-time fave!” she says proudly. “We bought ‘Reb’ almost six years ago. We raced him for a while and then he got claimed, but we claimed him right back for the same price of $5,000 (March of 2015)… It was then that he won 4 in a row - from London to Woodbine to Flamboro to Mohawk - there was even a Preferred win in there too and we’ve had him ever since.” Cassidy Schneider ‘Reb’ would also provide Schneider with a few more memorable victories during his racing career and her favourite driver, for this particular horse, would be aboard for those wins.… “The first time Natasha Day drove, for us, was at Hanover in 2017 and she won - she won with Reb! It had been almost 2 years since he’d won a race - so that was very special for me - Nat would be his driver from then on… She was on ‘Reb’ for my all-time favorite win, at The Raceway, too - a Preferred 3 win (January 29, 2018) - the last time we made it to the winner’s circle with him. He’s just been an all-around nice horse on and off the track - we’re happy to still have him with us!” We saw last week, through horse owner Kelley McNiven, that the standardbreds are pretty keen to go on under saddle and the same deal goes for Schneider… “I have - pretty much - the majority of my race horses broke to ride, but ‘Reb’ has been my favourite for that as well. I wasn’t surprised that he took to it so quickly and enjoyed it - again he’s just an all-around nice horse.”  And Schneider - on this current downtime away from the racing action… “I’ve missed being able to socialize and see my friends at the races. Hopefully we can all get back to doing what we love sooner - rather than later.” Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Announcer – The Raceway  

Foiled Again! He may not have won the 2014 edition of the Molson Pace, at The Raceway, but he would certainly live up to the hype for and in that race - my first harness racing ‘big race’ call in Ontario - after moving from Alberta during the Fall of 2013… This particular race call was going to be a HUGE deal for this small-town guy from P.E.I.! I can remember being very nervous, beforehand, on the day of May 30, 2014. Some big name horses were coming to London - Foiled Again, Apprentice Hanover and State Treasurer - among others… And then the list of drivers, for the big race, was very impressive - Chris Christoforou, Jody Jamieson, Yannick Gingras, Brett Miller, Trevor Henry, Sylvain Filion, Jason Bartlett and Mark MacDonald - most I’d only seen racing via simulcast prior to this day.   When I had heard Foiled Again was with us and in the paddock on this day - long before the crowd began to show up - I made my way there for a face-to-face visit… It was only then when I began to feel my nervous butterflies fly away… The old saying goes “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” - Winston Churchill… Now I’ve always been in a firm believer in this quote and the moment I came face-to-face with Foiled Again - was the moment a calmness came over me. He was so calm and cool - like it was just another day at the races - for one of harness racing’s greatest ever. My meet and greet with this ‘people’s champ’ was just what I needed and from that point on - I’d be good to go! There’s always some prep work involved for calling the horses and sometimes the biggest races may get a little more attention than the others… We can go over a race - dozens of times beforehand and try to guess what ‘may happen’ for pace and trip scenarios, but for the 2014 Molson Pace - nobody could have predicted the start for race favourite State Treasurer and nobody could have imagined that he’d overcome it… The only thing I had ‘scripted’ - for this particular race - would be my ‘salute call’ for Foiled Again as they turned for home… “This is Foiled Again being awesome - it’s awesome being Foiled Again!”… I was lucky to not have any other ‘crib note calls’ at the ready for this one - they’d have been no good to me anyway and likely would have made for a messed up call in the end… In the end - I think the call worked out well - the race itself came out even better! 2014 Molson Pace - Had a chance recently to watch, listen and reminisce about - some great race calls from back in the day on a race callers roundtable… For me Tom Durkin has my favourite race call ever! It’s for the 1989 Breeders Cup with Sunday Silence winning over easy Goer… His adjectives used to describe the action, the rise in his booming voice for the stretch drive and then - when it’s over - you can really appreciate the fact in knowing that he gave it everything he had… A great job by the ‘roundtable’ host Greg Blachard and fun catching up with fellow race caller Ken Middleton. To watch last Wednesday’s COSA TV: ‘Race Callers Roundtable’ click on this link… *I did have a Raceway fan/player lined up for today’s blog feature, but he was busy celebrating the birth of a new grandson - born this past weekend… Congratulations Jim Brewer and Family! Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Announcer - The Raceway

With a very light schedule of harness racing taking place throughout the world, right now, it was easy to catch up with lifelong harness racing fan and bettor Melissa Keith. A recent winner of the 2019 John Hervey Award (for feature writing) at the Annual Dan Patch Awards - Keith, of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, had been a recent addition to the Bettors’ Corner - featured on the Ontario Racing website. Keith’s Friday night in-depth analysis, for The Raceway, was just starting to heat up - when all of a sudden - Ontario harness racing came to a halt due to the corona-virus. “My favourite win of the season was Rubber Knows beating Dan Dar Mal on that final Friday night card (March 13). She was my Ontario Racing ‘Spot Play’ of the night on the Bettors’ Corner and she’d return $50.90 to win!” Keith’s interest in harness racing goes back to the days of Sackville Downs, in Halifax, N.S., attending the races with her Dad and brothers. “I can remember my elementary school class getting a tour of the backstretch, back in the day, as well. I became fascinated by these amazing animals and the unique world of the racetrack.” “Sackville Downs had incredible crowds and handle - up until it closed in the 1980’s, so simply attending the races was enough to cultivate a strong interest in harness racing. There were several stars, at the time, who captured everyone’s imagination: Winners Accolade, Waveore and Angels Shadow were the ‘big three’. When my Dad signed me up for riding lessons, naturally I was paired up with a retired standardbred pacer (Starshot Lobell). I took some heat for occasionally letting him pace fast under saddle on the farm’s training track!” After many years of watching and wagering on the horses around the Maritimes – Keith was bound to find a few favourites along the way… “My favourite racehorses, past & present, is a long list! The first horse that I really followed closely was a pacer who came to Sackville Downs, from Sudbury Downs, in the 1980’s - a good-looking pacing stallion named Syd Grattan. Carl Jamieson trained and drove him - many years later I learned Syd Grattan was the horse Carl credited with really getting his career moving forward. There was also a trotting stallion by the name of Sunbound who was driven and also trained, I believe, by Ken Arsenault (not the Kenny Arsenault still active in P.E.I.). I cheered for him trackside every race and he was the first horse I ever got out for a winner’s circle photo with. They weren’t the winningest or fastest horses, at Sackville Downs, but they were charismatic and exciting to watch. My Dad’s friend Charlie Piper bought a grey gelding by Smog - named Irish Fog and I became a fan of this pacer as well.”  It’s years later now and after learning to play the horses, growing up around Sackville Downs, we asked - when was it that Keith would actually stumble upon The Raceway as a betting option? “My earliest memory of The Raceway is watching and wagering, with my Dad, at the Sackville Superbowl OTB and finding out that it was a tough track to handicap! And then I wasn’t following racing so much, during my university years, because there was no track around and no online wagering yet, but I got drawn back into it immediately in the Moni Maker era. I remember going to Champions OTB on Bloor Street, on a Sunday morning, to watch her in the Prix d’Amerique. She was one of a kind!” “This year is tough - with horses sidelined now - right as the Grand Circuit races were scheduled to start with the MGM Borgata (formerly George Morton Levy) and Blue Chip Matchmakers Series at Yonkers. It was disappointing, but understandable when The Raceway closed as a corona-virus precaution back on March 19… So my favourite ‘active’ horses, right now, are hopefully going to come back strong: Gimpanzee, Shartin N and hopefully Bold Eagle makes it back to North America.”  Looking back on some favourites, at The Raceway, Keith says she really enjoyed the 2014 edition of the Molson Pace. “That race featured such a gutsy effort by State Treasurer. He had a rough start and had to close from last for a three-horse photo finish with Foiled Again and Apprentice Hanover. He got there just in time! Scott Coulter is probably my favourite driver at The Raceway; he seems to get the best from any horse and rates horses so well on the front end. From past Western Fair drivers - Dave Wall & Trevor Ritchie both obviously went on to have great careers with great trotters… I associate them with Goodtimes and Peaceful Way - two of the best trotters I’ve ever seen race.” “Past performers Button Up and Lady Latte were a couple of my Raceway favourites as well. Before the COVID-19 hiatus, I was enjoying the emerging rivalry among Windsong Ophelia, Warrawee Usain and Super T - three talented young trotters who were ready to duke it out again on March 20 - which ended up being cancelled. Talbot Eh Plus has probably been my favourite horse this season. She’s won half her starts, racing respectably at Woodbine Mohawk Park and dominating at the mile distance on a half.” And one last bit from Keith on handicapping The Raceway… “Handicapping The Raceway, for Ontario Racing, has really highlighted the quality winter racing at Western Fair. Wagering is up - which reflects that as well. Favourites often win, but there is value to be found and that last turn is always full of suspense. I’ll be looking forward to another Camluck Classic, but more than that, I’ll be looking forward to the return of the regular London races that keep the sport rolling.”  *To read Melissa’s two-part award-winning story from 2019 - click on the following Harness Racing Update links… Part 1) The tragic and mysterious death of a harness horseman… Part 2) A wanderer with an incredible heart… Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle Announcer - The Raceway

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the harness racing line-up for Thursday morning (Oct. 2) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Jim Lawson, Shannon "Sugar" Doyle, and Dave Brower. The talk of the town over the past week has been the "Mohawk Million" which was highlighted by a pair of $1 million purchases on Tuesday night in Lexington. The pair sat down with Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, to talk about the big race and what went into making the event happen. Lawson also discussed preparations for the 2019 Breeders Crown. The action heats up at The Raceway at Western Fair District and Shannon "Sugar" Doyle joins the program to highlight the happenings of the Ontario facility. He will discuss recent changes put into place to enhance their live product, and what fans can look forward to throughout the meet. Dave Brower highlights the Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile on Thursday as he discusses some of the great stakes coming up this weekend. Following an exciting week one at The Red Mile, the second week is sure to have the entire industry talking. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website or on the archive at by Michael Carter, for Post Time

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