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A rare Monday card (Sept. 28) from Harrah's Philly featured two divisions of The Liberty Bell for 3-year-old filly pacers and a pair of upper-conditioned level events on the pace as well. Linda Toscano trainee Better Said (S. Zeron) took the first division of The Liberty Bell. The daughter of Well Said was leading the compact field of five when top contender Well Hello There (Gingras) broke at the quarter pole. Better Said led every step of the way in 1:53.1. It was her fifth victory of the year, her first since a mid July overnight win here at Harrah's Philly. She is owned by Brittany Farms. Steve Elliott charge Bodacious (S. Allard) continued her winning ways in division two. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere took off the early pace, settling in fifth from post one. She was able to grind into striking position, holding off the upset minded Deli Beach (Geo. Napolitano Jr.) to win by a head in 1:52.2. She is owned by Conrad Zurich and Hauser Bros. Racing. In other news, aged pacer Sky Is The Limit (S. Allard) was game in victory in a non-winners of $20,000 in the last 5 starts or non-winners of 9 races or $90,000. The 5-year-old son of Western Ideal drafted behind cover until three-quarters, edging wide to defeat pace-setter Bettors Glass in 1:51.3. It was career win 16 for the Shaun Vallee trainee, starting for the ninetieth time. Owned by Darius Oshidar, he paid $7.00 to win. Richard and Dale Julich's Badix Hanover won his third straight on Monday. The 3-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal led at every quarter, completing the mile in a lifetime's best 1:50.3. The race was for non-winners of $15,000 in their last 5 or non-winners of 7 races or $70,000 lifetime. The Kevin Mc Dermott trainee was heavily favored in the event. Michael Bozich

Conon Bridge defeated Cyclone Chief by a metre to claim Group 1 glory in the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Trotters Final at Melton’s Super Sunday program. The Paul Nairn-trained son of Raffaello Ambrosio/Diedre’s Girl survived a protest from the second horse, with the winner veering inwards in the home straight. However, stewards couldn’t be satisfied that the interference cost Cyclone Chief the race and the first horse over the line held his position, much to the relief of the favourite punters. Bob Butt drove the winner and Todd MacFarlane was aboard the second horse. Conon Bridge started $1.40 and led throughout from the pole, his winning mile rate 2:03.9. Cruisin Around ran a mighty race for trainer Michael Hughes and driver Greg Sugars to finish third, while Sundons Courage was fourth from three back along the pegs, running on well after a slow early pace up front. Reina Danzante goes all the way in fillies' final Reina Danzante won her second Group 1 for trainer Nicole Molander and driver Chris Alford with an all-the-way triumph in today’s IMV Technologies Breeders Cown Final for 3YO trotting fillies. The daughter of Armbro Invasion out of champion mare La Coocaracha led from barrier four to score by a neck in a mile rate of 2:00.9, Glenferrie Burn running on for second and My Arya finishing third. “Nicole and Dean (Molander) have done a super job,” Alford said. “Two Group 1s has been great and she should only get better too.” Once in front Reina Danzante posted a 31.4secs first quarter before a 29.4 second split. Reina Danzante got home in 58.7secs. Reina Danzante won the Vicbred Super Series earlier this season. by Cody Winnell

August 26, 2015 - Today’s featured Gr. II Orix Guy le Gonidec (purse €120,000, 2700 meters, 15 starters) went to the Eric Raffin driven Billie de Montfort (4f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort) easily by four lengths timed in 1.13.1kr. Sebastien Guarato trains this Philippe Dauphin owned mare that was off as the 4/5 favorite. 21/1 Bahia Quesnot (4f Scipion du Goutier-Queen Ines) was second for reinsman Mathieu Abrivard with third to 16/1 Balva Montaval (4f Magnificent Rodney-Primavera de Lou) driven by Gabriel Gelormini. Also on the afternoon card was the Prix des Cyclamens (€33,000 purse, 2175 meters, 10 two year-old starters) and it was won by 5.1/1 odds Dista Love (2f Royal Dream-Usita Love) driven by Jean-Pierre Dubois, also owner, and trained by Yves Boireau. The 9/10 favorite Deep Purple (2f Prodigious-Ornella Rainbow) was second driven by Jos. Verbeeck for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Mme. G. Poulsen-Allaire. 33,000 purse, 2175 meters, 10 two year-old starters) and it was won by 5.1/1 odds Dista Love (2f Royal Dream-Usita Love) driven by Jean-Pierre Dubois, also owner, and trained by Yves Boireau. The 9/10 favorite Deep Purple (2f Prodigious-Ornella Rainbow) was second driven by Jos. Verbeeck for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Mme. G. Poulsen-Allaire. 36/1 Dame du Campdos (2f Uaukir-La Conseillante) was third in the contest clocked in 1.18.1kr. The winner’s dam is a daughter of Goetmals Wood-Carmensite-Florestan. Carmensita, from 12 foals, has produced three winners of $100,000 or more including Marlene 1:58.5 ($296,318) by Goetmals Wood, Tensita Love 1:58.1 ($114,664) by Love You and Amensito 2:00.3 ($104,702) also by Love You. Thomas H. Hicks  

Charlottetown, PE - Thunderaway, with harness racing driver Jason Hughes in the bike, established a new track record for aged trotters stopping the timer in 1:57.3 Saturday at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The mare, owned by Foxyhall Racing, Summerside, PE, lowered the track record for aged mares from the 1:58.1 mark set by Real Housewife in the final of Erwin Andrew Memorial back on Gold Cup night in 2013. Pleasure Girls (Ron Gass) were charted six and half lengths back for second with Howmacs Pride (Kenny Arsenault) third. The Hughes, Foxyhall Racing partnership also went on to win the Red Shores feature when Si Semalu rolled from gate to wire in 1:56.3. It was the second win in a row for the son of Modern Art. Waterside Light (Kenny Arsenault) came flying late to grab second with Artners In Crime completing the triactor. Eagle Jolt and Marc Campbell joined family members trackside when they won the Maurice Murphy 75th birthday pace while guests with Riviere & Smith wedding pace draped the winning cooler over Starcastic for driver Ron Matheson, Trainer Jackie Matheson and owners Bobbi Jo Gaudet, Charlottetown and Billy MacKenzie, Stratford. Team Matheson also celebrated with Balanchine when the pacer notched his 60th lifetime victory on the program. In other action, Ramblinglily won the mares open by a neck over General Luckypercy in 1:56.2. Walter Cheverie guided the mare to her fifth victory of the year for trainer Allan Jones and his co-owner Norman Leger, Shediac, NB. Newcomer Weskey, under the command of Harold Shepherd, won their open trot challenge in 1:59.3. Matheson, Hughes and Gary Chappell recorded driving doubles on the 13 dash program. For complete results go to By Lee Drake

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, May 21, 2015 - Yonkers Raceway Thursday night hosted its first harness racing New York Stakes crowd of the season, the $163,375 Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Three divisions, worth $54,125, $55,125 and $54,125, respectively, comprised the event, which honored the memory of the long-time popular horse owner (with family in attendance for winner's circle presentations). There's no way to sugar coat this...chalk players were accorded the chalk outline, as all three odds-on entities failed to deliver on their puny parimutuel promises. The opening event saw last season's frosh statebred champion, Crazy Wow (Yannick Gingras)-at 1-20-jump it off in the second turn after making the lead. When the stone dust settled, it was 26-1 Royal Deceptor (Mickey McGivern, $55.50), pocketed from post position No. 3, nipping Mythology Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) by a nose in a life-best 1:58 (:29.1, :59.2, 1:28.3). Insomniac (Mark MacDonald) cut the mile and faded to third, beaten a neck. Crazy Wow finished fourth. For third choice Royal Deceptor, a son of RC Royalty trained by Cheryl McGivern for co-owners Charles Foster, Michael James and Michael Sentiwany Jr., it was his fourth win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $150, with the triple returned $614. "He was very good early last season, but they sort of caught up to him," Mickey McGivern said. "He's just a lunch pail sort of horse, keeps trying and keeps working." The second sire stakes grouping found 3-5 choice Habitat (Gingras), with a NYSS and Dexter Cup win already on his resume, also do the dance of the damned. His malfeasance occurred entering the first turn. That left Military Blue (Mike Simons) leading the gang (:28.3, :58.2, 1:27.3) before his night was over. Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) took over from first-over, only to get snapped on the money by 31-1 proposition Workout Wonder (Dan Dube, $65.50). Leaving from post No. 4, the margin-another nose-was in 1:56.3, far and away a career-best effort. Wings of Royalty (Brian Sears) was third, with Apostle's Creed (Brett Miller) fourth. Habitat was last among the seven. For fifth choice Workout Wonder, a Conway Hall colt co-owned by All Laid Out Stable and trained by Ake Svanstedt, it was his first win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $234.50, the triple returned $743 and the superfecta paid $4,789. The evening's final NYSS event found 3-10 Maestro Blue Chip (Smedshammer) carrying the water for the rank and file. He disposed of Royal Becca J (Jack Parker Jr.) after the one's early lead (:29.2, :58.2), then widened after a 1:28.2 three-quarters. "Maestro" had three lengths in and out of the final turn, only to get that run-down feeling from The Physician (George Brennan, $15.20). The latter, from post No. 5, whipped the former by a neck in a life-best 1:58.1, with Royal Lad (Simons) third. For The Physician, a Credit Winner gelding trained by Anette Lorentzon for co-owners Acl Stuteri Ab and Kjell Johansson, he's now 2-for-3 this season. The exacta paid $33.80, with the triple returning $107. With longshots ruling the night in the sire stakes-comprising 60 percent of the Pick 5 races, no one took down the pool. Thus, Friday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $4,675.35 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday nights (post times 7:10 PM), with Saturday offering a pair of $40,000 eliminations of the Art Rooney Pace. After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM, finals of both Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series division), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs (no live racing/evening simulcasting June 3-12, inclusive). Afternoon simulcasting is available daily, including June 6 Belmont Stakes Frank Drucker

Daylesford's It Is Billy looks bound for bigger fish after Friday night's Pegasus Melton Pacing Cup win. Trained and driven by husband and wife Michael Barby and Anne-Maree Conroy, the win was It Is Billy's fourth harness racing triumph from six runs this time in. It Is Billy (by It Is I out of Glenlyon Glad) worked around to the breeze before the mile mark in tonight's 2760m stand-start race and would sit parked for the remainder of the event, as leader Comply Or Die paced opening quarters of 31 and 31.6 before they upped the ante down the back with a 29.3 third split. When Comply Or Die was put under pressure at the corner It Is Billy was clearly travelling within himself and upon straightening in-the-run players must have had him unbackable favourite. It Is Billy’s fourth quarter was 27.4 for a 2:01.8 mile rate. Bettor Rock On showed his true colours tonight, closing gamely down the outside to finish second. > Re-live It Is Billy's Melton Pacing Cup win Champion reinsman Greg Sugars took driving honours tonight with a winning double via punter’s friend Illawong Helios, who just keeps winning for trainer Ross Sugars, and improved trotting mare Heavenly Sister for horseman Ross Graham. Heavenly Sister, a daughter of Majestic Son out of US bred mare Heavens Above, took 11 goes to break her maiden status but tonight’s victory in the Garrards Trot over 1720m made it two on the trot. The Majestic was bold in second, he and Heavenly Sister engaged in a two-horse war throughout the bulk of the final lap, the winner finishing with a 2.3m winning margin in a mile rate of 1:59.4. Illawong Helios, by Majestic Son out of Shining Sun, has now won nine of her last 10 starts and 12 out of 20 all up after taking out the second heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Metropolitan Trot over 2240m. From the pole Greg Sugars held the front and the four-year-old mare travelled well throughout to score by 5.5m over Desert Spur in a mile rate of 2:02.0. Skippy Rascal kicked off proceedings for the night with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 2240m, the Julie Douglas-trained, Glenn Douglas-driven five-year-old gelding by Live Or Die out of Royal Rascal following leader Ideal Majority in the run before using the sprint lane to win by 1.6m, Ideal Majority holding on for second from Washmepockets and Lark Rise. An upset in the Renown Silverware Trot Final certainly added value to the early quaddie, Katelin Brooke taking it out for Grenville’s Gregory Moss and reinswoman Debra Wicks-Moss. Katelin Brooke finished powerfully at odds of $32 to beat Savannah Jay Jay, whose run was enormous coming from last, with Lazy Sunday hitting the line nicely for third. Katelin Brooke is an eight-year-old daughter of Earl out of Kanuka Lass. New South Wales trainer Blake Fitzpatrick was victorious in the first heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Trot. Five-year-old Earl/Pinevale Ellason mare Duchess Ella led easily from gate two before holding off Bellmac Kody and Star Gun for a neck win in a rate of 2:00.8 over 22400m. The first three horses over the line came right away from the others. The hot run of form being enjoyed by Terang’s Marg Lee continued with four-year-old Art Major/Deltas Dream gelding Keayang Active returning to the track with an impressive victory in the Rising Stars Pace (first heat). Keayang Active came clear late to win by 2.3m over McRita and Upanatom. And finally Hotasel (Elsu/Hotgossip) on debut for trainer/driver John Justice finished too well in the last race, the second heat of the Rising Stars, to win from Hollywood Sign, who led, and Macho Comacho in third just ahead of Fernco Bobby G. Hotasel rated 1:59.5. - HRV Media

One of the early super stars of harness racing was the pacer Good Time, a horse small in stature but large in heart. He was the dominate pacer some 65 years ago and he made his presence felt in Illinois from competing from the bottom of our state to near the top of it. Trained and driven by Frank Ervin. Good Time was the first to be named Harness Horse of the Year, taking the title in 1949 as a 3-year-old in 1952 as a 6-year-old. Nicknamed “The Little Giant” he won major races on the Chicago circuit at Maywood Park, Sportsman’s Park, in southern Illinois at Fairmont Park and Du Quoin and in the middle of our state at Springfield. A bay son of Hal Dale and the Volomite mare, On Time, he stood barely fourteen hands high. When Good Time retired from racing in 1952, he was the richest Standardbred ever up to that time, with earnings of $318,793 As a sire his fastest offspring were Columbia George, 1:56 and Best of All, 1:56.2. He was the sire of eighty-three 2:00-minute performers at the time of his death at Castleton Farms in 1977. In a 1953 article in Hoofbeats, written by Jim Harrison, Frank Ervin had this to say about Good Time: “I have had many great horses and other trainers will have other great ones in days to come. There will be horses that will win more money, both in their lifetime and in a single year. And there will be horses that will go faster. "But there was only one Good Time and there can only be one. When I asked for more, he always had it. Where the short-legged little guy got it, I'll never know. But it was always there and as far as I'm concerned there'll never he another like him." In a 3-year-old start at Springfield in 1949, Ervin drove N. D. Hal and had Ken Cartnal pilot Good Time who had drawn 16th post. When the field straightened away for the stretch drive Good Time was four deep and way back but the little horse flew home to win in 2.04. At Du Quoin that year in the McMahon Memorial, Good Time started in the back tier and got in a jam leaving. Nevertheless, he came on from 13th and last to post a 2:03.3 victory. His driver (Ervin) timed him in 2.01. At  Fairmount Park he breezed in its Matron Stake. Also in 1949 Good Time came to Maywood Park for its $10,000 Maywood Pacing Derby on September 27 when the temperature a record low of 36 degrees. The chilly weather didn’t bother Good Time as he won handily. At Sportsman’s Park a huge crowd turned out to see Good Time take on the best 3-year-old pacers in the country in the $12,425 Trotting Club take, a prelude to the American National, and watched “The Little Giant” prove best when the Cicero, Illinois track was a half-miler. In 1952 at the age of six, Good Time made two more starts at Maywood Park that June. He was the odds-on favorite in both and didn’t disappoint his supports with convincing victories. Good Time Career Record Year  Sts   1ST    2ND   3RD   Earnings 1948  17   12   3    2    $46,433   1949  18    15   2    1     $58,766   1950  20    14   1    3     $52,705   1951  22    14   5    2     $50,589   1952  33    23   4    2     $110,299             110  78  15   10 $318,792 Mike Paradise

The cheers from the Harness racing fraternity in Southwestern Ontario will be loud and long this Saturday when Madefromlucky heads postward in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.   The talented three-year-old thoroughbred colt trained by noted conditioner, Todd Pletcher for Erin, Ontario horseman, Mac Nichol, and Everett Dobson, one of the owners of the Oklahoma Thunder of the NBA, will be trying for his third consecutive victory in the 1- 1/16 mile test, which is a stepping stone on the road to the famed Kentucky Derby on May 2nd. So, why all of the cheers from the harness community for this handsome bay thoroughbred speedster? Well, Madefromlucky, is a member, and the only thoroughbred member of 'the Stable That God Loves', and, one per cent of his purse earnings in 2015 will go to Chaplain Ken Carter's homeless Standardbred Chaplaincy of Canada that is dedicated to providing for the emotional, physical, spiritual and human needs of the horse racing work force in southwestern Ontario. To date a total of 26 horses are committed to this innovative program, which is designed to raise much needed operating funds for the tireless work of the Chaplaincy, and also to put a good face on horse racing. The program hit mainstream media last week (March 5th) with an excellent two-page spread in the Toronto Sun, penned by Steve Buffery. Mac Nichol is the first owner from the "thoroughbred" community to support the Stable That God Loves, which so far includes many prominent standardbred owners, including John Fielding, John Craig, Harry Rutherford, Mark Hyatt, Dustin Jones, Norm Clements, Dr. Roly Armitage, Doug Millard and Tom Rankin, to name a few" " I figured I'll mix it up a bit on this thoroughbred and maybe it will open some more doors for support (for the chaplaincy)" said Mac. Mac Nichol is the owner of Ideal Training Centre, a 50-acre showplace with accommodation for 123 horses and excellent 5/8 mile training track in Erin. He has won plenty of major races in harness racing, either as a majority owner or partner, including the Little Brown Jug and the North America Cup in 2007 with Tell All, the 2011 Breeders Crown three-year-old filly Pace with Monkey On My Wheel and the Confederation Cup with American Ideal, among others. He has an interest in about 25 standardbreds and his trainers include Casie Coleman, Colin Johnson, Jeff Gillis and Tony Alagna. Madefromlucky was a $150,000 purchase as a two-year-old in training last year. His sire, Lookin At Lucky, won the 2010 edition of the Rebel. Madefromlucky will face six formidable opponents in this 55th running of the Rebel. He will break from post 2 with jockey John Velasquez aboard. Post time for the Rebel Stakes is 6:06 pm Central time. G O  -  M A D E F R O M L U C K Y For additional information: Bill Galvin . . 647-280-7640  

Brittany Farms has added world champion Shebestingin, whose 1:47 victory in a $122,500 Glen Garnsey Memorial division in 2013 at The Red Mile is the fastest mile ever by a female pacer, to its broodmare band. Brittany has purchased the interest in the mare owned by L & L DeVisser and Ted Gewertz. Val d'Or Farms retains its ownership position in the mare. Shebestingin is by Bettor's Delight and is out of the Abercrombie mare Armbro Tussle. She will be bred to Captaintreacherous this spring. "This gives Brittany the fastest 3-year-old filly of all time and the former fastest 2-year-old filly of all time in American Jewel," said Brittany manager Art Zubrod in making the announcement. "Lee DeVisser told me he was thrilled that Shebestingin is going to Brittany because she will be given the best opportunity as a broodmare. Also, we've been partners with Val d'Or Farms for more than 20 years, so this is a great partnership." It was announced earlier in the week that Shebestingin had been retired from racing. Trained by Joe Holloway, the 5-year-old mare had finished second in an overnight on Friday, March 6, at the Meadowlands. She completes her racing career with 18 wins in 36 starts and $759,522 in earnings. Steven Wolf Director of North American and European Operations      

The Harness Racing Museum thanks all donors and bidders for a successful auction. If you have not already booked your mares the following breedings are still available and interested parties are urged to contact the Museum as soon as possible at 845-294-6330 or email Joanne Young at The complete list by state and gait (trotters in italics): OHIO Trotters: Break The Bank K, Cash Hall, Stormin Normand, Valley Victor Pacers: Charley Barley, Cheyenne Rei, Panspacificflight, Running Book, Woodstock, Yankee Cruiser   PENNSYLVANIA Trotters: Donato Hanover, Winning Mister Pacers: Pass The Deck   NEW YORK Trotters: Conway Court, Deweycheatumnhowe, Manningly, Muscles Yankee Pacers: Heston Blue Chip, Lislea   ONTARIO Trotters: Angus Hall, Glidemaster, Holiday Road   MARYLAND Trotters: Charlie DeVie, Four Starz Robro, Groton Hall, Holy Guacamolie Pacers: The Fraternity Pan, Totally Western, Up Front Charlie   INDIANA Pacers: Proper Respect   DELAWARE Trotters: CR Commando Pacer: Dream Away   NEW JERSEY Pacer: If I Can Dream   MICHIGAN Trotters: Colie's Pacer: Manhardt   ILLINOIS Pacers: Corner Blitz, Yankee Skyscaper For additional information on the available breedings or to donate breedings please contact Joanne Young at (845) 294-6330, All bids are confidential. Some breedings have minimum bids that must be honored and may require approval of mares. Please contact Joanne for details.

February 11, 2015 - Tuesday at Vincennes the Prix de Chateau-Gontier (€54,000 purse, European males, 18 starters, 2100 meters autostart, Quinte+ with €5.5 million jackpot) went to the Thierry Duvaldestin pupil Uno Dancer (7g Offshore Dream - Laura Dancer) with Franck Nivard up. The winner was off at 2.7/1 odds, and clocked in 1.13.3kr, as he defeated Italy’s Orient Horse (7m Abano As - Irma del Rio) at 15/1 for Gabriele Gelormini and third finishing Tsunami (8g Defi d’Aunou - Lais de la Duchec) at 8.5/1 for Eric Raffin and trainer Sebastien Guarato.  Rapports (pour 2€) Tirelire 5.500.000 € - Numéro plus : 0931   Ordre :       3.378,20€   Désordre :       59,80€   Bonus 4 :       10,20€   Bonus 4sur5 :       5,10€   Bonus 3 :       3,40€   Replay: On the same card the Prix de Bercy (€46,000 purse, European males, 17 starters, 2700 meters) went to rallying 14/1 longshot Valmayor (6g Le Retour - Korinaga), clocked in 1.14.1kr for reinsman Jos Verbeeck and conditioner Vincent Viel. Italy’s 22/1 Platone GSO (6m L’as de Boussieres - Egida Play) was second for Roberto Andreghetti and trainer Heikei Korpi with 5.5/1 Virtuel Haufor (6g Diamant Gede - Kelle Haufor) third for trainer/driver Christian Bigeon. Thomas H. Hicks

A $34,889 Jackpot 6 carryover awaits Friday night Cal Expo harness racing players, with that bet being one of four wagers on the program that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate. The other wagers with the lower takeout are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. The Jackpot 6 finds 70% of the net pool paying out to tickets with the most winners and with 30% of the net pool designated for the carryover. If there is one unique ticket selecting six winners, the entire net pool and the carryover is paid to the holder of the ticket. If that should happen Friday night, they would receive the entire net pool and a cool $34,889 as a bonus. By the way, the 50-cent Pick 5 on last Sunday’s program returned a healthy $6,975 for a 50-cent investment. The reduced takeout resulted in each ticket being worth $748 more than the $6,227 it would have paid with the regular takeout rate. If you’re looking to turn a small investment into a nice payday, be sure to check out these reduced takeout wagers that are sprinkled throughout the program. El Azteca gets top billing in featured Trot El Azteca, who has been having some great battles with Its Not Over at the head of the class this season, gets away from that rival Friday and looms strictly the one to beat in the $5,000 Open II Handicap Trot. A 10-race card is on tap Friday night with a first post of 6:40 p.m. The headliner will go as the third race on the program with a companion $5,000 Open II Handicap Pace occupying the fourth-race slot on the evening. In an attempt to level out the playing field for the Trot, racing secretary Robin Schadt has assigned El Azteca the No. 10 post position, while breaking from the inside four slots are Winsom Kelly, Flight of the Kiwi, A Crown for Lindy and Silence Son. El Azteca is a 6-year-old son of Panama Hanover out of the Jonathan Lobell mare Jonathan’s Girl who is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios with James Kennedy in his usual spot in the sulky. He comes into this assignment with $140,000 in his bank account and a 1:54 3/5 mark that was set last year at Hoosier Park. He captured half of his 18 trips to the post last season and is perfect in four appearances this year. Leaving from the assigned No. 10 post position for the second straight time in his most recent outing, El Azteca settled last of the six for the opening half-mile. He was out and moving on the final bend, ignited when the question was asked with a :27 2/5 final quarter and showed the way home by a half-length over his arch-rival Its Not Over. Looking ahead to Saturday’s program, there will be a $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts headed by Hi Ho’s Little Rev and Uringoodhands and an Open I Pace that has lured Windsong Jack, A real Miracle, China King, J C Onthebeach and St Lads Lotto.  By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Last time New South Wales’ leading harness racing trainer Shane Tritton trekked south to Victoria in search of Group One glory he found it via Marty Monkhouser. Driven by partner Lauren Panella, the Tritton-trained Marty Monkhouser completed a stylish win in the Breeders Crown Final. The Tritton/Panella combo has dominated the local scene this season, with Panella the leading with 86 wins from 232 drives and Tritton on top of the trainers’ ladder with 93 wins from 352. The pair also leads the metropolitan premiership tables – Panella with 18 winners from 90 starts and Tritton with 18 triumphs from 133 starts. On Saturday night the power pair return to Tabcorp Park Melton in search of more top-level success when Easy On The Eye contests the A G Hunter Cup and Artistic Flite takes his place in the Victoria Derby. Easy On The Eye is fresh from his Goulburn Cup success in 1:57.2, covering the last half 56.9. The son of Christian Cullen hasn’t been in top form since joining Team Tritton, securing a berth in last year’s Miracle Mile after running third in the Group 1 Coca-Cola Amatil Sprint behind Beautide and Guaranteed. “We’re really happy with him,” Tritton said. “He was running at Grand Circuit level and performing quite well in New Zealand and is building up a nice reputation in Australia. We’re pretty optimistic.” Easy On The Eye is a long-shot with the TAB $41 after drawing wide in eight. Artistic Flite burst into Derby calculations with an astonishing mid-week 63.4-metre Newcastle win two starts back. Although the son of Artistic Fella could only run fourth in his Derby heat last weekend, Tritton stated the colt is “worth another chance”. “He was probably asked to do a bit too much that night,” Tritton said. “It was a windy night and not a lot of horses in the chair went real well. “The plan will be to come out quick and get to the pegs first. That gives you a chance.” Artistic Flite has drawn better in gate four as opposed to his inside the back row position last week. Tritton and Panella will also combine with Yayas Hotspot in the Four-Year-Old Bonanza and Chance, which is emergency for the Harness Breeders Victoria Ladyship Cup. HRV Media

Bargains are not limited to the Boxing Day Sales, with Australian harness racing breeders able to bag a bargain between now and 31 January 2015. The bargain hunting is thanks to stallion owners and studs offering heavily discounted service fees and special offers on 24 stallions. This is the second year the incentive has been offered, and although the foal figures from the 2013 Festive Season Programme are not yet finalised, the feedback has been very encouraging. Statistics reveal a continued decline in the number of live foals born in 2013/14 (4148) - some 320 less live foals than the previous season - so, as an initiative to encourage mares to be bred until the end of January, discounted service fees on selected stallions in the post-Christmas period is another strategy designed to address the progressive decline in the number of standardbred foals bred in Australia. An interesting statistical review of foal dates shows no evidence an early foal has an advantage over late foals (defined as born between December and February).  The comparative statistics for early versus late foals make interesting reading, particularly when acknowledging most foals are bred for personal use and not commercial sale: 2013/14 season: 2yo born Sept - Nov average starts per starter = 5.08 2yo born Dec - Feb average starts per starter = 5.53 3yo born Sept - Nov average starts per starter =  9.13 3yo born Dec - Feb average starts per starter = 8.74   2yo born Sept - Nov % winners to starters = 33.79% 2yo born Dec - Feb % winners to starters = 28.14% 3yo born Sept - Nov % winners to starters = 47.01% 3yo born Dec - Feb % winners to starters = 45.61% 2012/13 season: 2yo born Sept - Nov average starts per starter = 5.17 2yo born Dec - Feb average starts per starter = 5.00 3yo born Sept - Nov average starts per starter = 9.13 3yo born Dec - Feb average starts per starter =  8.72   2yo born Sept - Nov % winners to starters = 31.34% 2yo born Dec - Feb % winners to starters = 32.93% 3yo born Sept - Nov % winners to starters = 46.53% 3yo born Dec - Feb % winners to starters = 44.58% The full list of stallions being offered via the 'Festive Season Stallion Service Specials' promotion and participating Studs contact details are available here. HRA Media

19 December. This is a totally new concept for the harness racing industry. Harness 5000 is a race limited to the progeny of sire’s who stood at an advertised fee of $5,000 or less (see guideline list below of eligible Pacing Sires). Eligibility is for those 3YO pacers who were nominated for the NZ Sires’ Stakes #31 as foals or the NZ Yearling Sales Series #23. Where any horse was not nominated, if their sire was nominated for Sires’ Stakes a late entry fee of $1,000 plus GST may be payable. If the sire wasn’t nominated either the late entry fee is $2,000 plus GST. Artificial insemination and transport of chilled semen allow our leading Sires to serve large books of mares. While this is great for them commercially it makes it harder for others to break into that domain. This race is about an opportunity for the progeny of those other stallions. We are greatly indebted to The Met, HRNZ and the NZ Sires’ Stakes Board for seeing the need and jointly funding this new initiative. Stallions (Sires’ Stakes eligible) Artiscape                           Major In Art Attorney General             Ohoka Arizona Auckland Reactor           Pacific Fella Badlands Hanover          Panpacificflight Changeover                     P Forty Seven Charles Bronson             Pay Me Christian Christian Fire                    Red River Hanover Elsu                                    Righteous Hanover Extreme Three                  Riverboat King Flashing Red                    Royal Mattjesty Four Starzzz Shark          Safari Gotta Go Cullect               Sands A Flyin Gotta Go Cullen               Santanna Blue Chip Holmes Hanover             Shadow Play Julius Caesar                   Stonebridge Regal Justa Tiger Klondike Kid Washington VC Live Or Die Bruce Barlass                              Ged Mooar PGG Wrightson                            Addington

Not only did Maven beat her nine harness racing male rivals in winning the $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for older horses. Not only did she do it having to start from the far outside in post ten. Not only did she make her second start for a new trainer a winning effort. But she also did it having to close from sixth place around the final turn. Quick Deal (Corey Callahan) was first to show with Wheeling N Dealin (Rick Zeron) sitting the pocket trip and Sevruga (Andy Miller) stuck first-over to the quarter in :27.2 with Arch Madness (Brian Sears) second over. Maven and Yannick Gingras was just getting into gear third over following Archangle (Brian Sears) on the outside. Then after the half mile in :56, Quick Deal went off-stride and Callahan sharply took him inside as to not hinder the field. Sevruga was able to take the lead, Arch Madness then came first-over and they went to the three-quarters in 1:24.2. Turning for home Sevruga began to fade as Arch Madness came on but then there was Maven and Gingras pouring it on to take the lead and following them with a ton of speed was Your So Vain and Ake Svantedt. Your So Vain kept gaining ground but it was too late as Maven held on to win by a half-length in 1:52.2. “She really showed me in the post parade she was going to be good,” said Yannick Gingras. “She was parked out with cover the whole, it was an OK trip, not the worst.  It was about as good as it was going to get. She is such a great horse. She didn’t have the best of weeks from the sale and being able to race on the outside the whole mile and still dug in she showed what a great horse she is.” Your So Vain was second with Flanagan Memory (Brett Miller) third. Also making it to the final next week were Archangle in fifth and Arch Madness in sixth. Maven paid $6.60 to win. A five-year-old mare by Glidemaster, she is now trained by Jimmy Takter as she was purchased at the Harrisburg sale for $750,000 earlier this month by Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL. By Steve Wolf, for

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