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The two major Standardbred Yearling Sales in the UK and Ireland will take place in October and buyers will be pleased to know that their purchases will be racing for the richest stakes purses ever in 2017. Depending on what stakes races each yearling has been nominated to or will be eligible for nomination, racing opportunities for two-year-old’s next season will be on the rise. The first sale takes place at York Harness Raceway on Saturday, October 8 and the Camden Stud Sale will feature mainly yearlings and some older horses going under the hammer starting at 11:00 am. There will also be a race meet at York that afternoon. The sale includes yearlings by notable sires which include Bettors Delight, Mypanmar, Hasty Hall, and the first crop from the exciting prospect Art Professor.  A number of Trotteur Francais are also available, eligible for both the British and Irish Le Trot Series’. Sale catalogues can be purchased from Sarah Thomas in person at Tir Prince Raceway (Saturday 24th September), Corbiewood Stadium (Sunday 25th September), York Harness Raceway (Saturday 1st October), or from Sue Young at Almeley (Sunday 25th September).  Alternatively, catalogues can be posted to residents within the UK and also Ireland. The second sale is the Brightwells Standardbred Sale taking place on Monday, October 24. This sale will feature not just yearlings, but also broodmares and horses in and out of training. There is still time for late entries (October 19) to be made. The Brightwells Sale has featured the highest priced yearlings in the history of Ireland and the UK the last two years. This year’s sale is headed by yearlings sired by world champion stallions Art Major, Bettors Delight, McArdle, Share The Delight, Rock N Roll Heaven, Hasty Hall, Sportswriter, Western Ideal, Roll With Joe and many more. For more information click here.   All yearlings would be eligible to the Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM), which is the richest stakes event in all of Ireland and the UK. This past year was the first time that the VDM featured both a colt and filly division. With new sponsor Hanover Shoe Farms for the colts and Diamond Creek Farm sponsoring the filly division for the second straight year, those two finals will each go for €20,000 in 2017 and each elimination division will race for €2,000. Also the Alabar-Oakwood 3YO Derby has also increased and for the first time, with sponsorship from Alabar Stud down under, will now feature separate finals for both colts and filly’s. Foals will also be eligible for the Irish Sire Stakes, which is being sponsored again by Brian Doyle Air Cargo for the third straight year, the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland, which president David Wilson said will also see increased purses in 2017 in all divisions, the British Harness Racing Club Sire Stakes and other special stakes events throughout the UK. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Harness racing's latest edition of Harnesslink's email feature 'Insider Access' is out. In this edition, we look at: Bettor’s Delight, top stallion in North America and Down Under Bettor's Delight has bred 29 millionaires to date world-wide. Four of those have earnings of over $2 million. He has bred nearly 7,000 mares and the results of his progeny are outstanding. Three Cheers to Gordon Banks on his letter This letter to the editor was submitted by prominent owner and breeder, Gordon Banks, and the staff at Harnesslink agrees 100% with what he says. We applaud Mr. Banks for taking the time to “tell it like it is” and we encourage everyone to please read his letter and act on it before it is too late. Harnesslink’s Steve Wolf elected to Hall of Fame The staff and management at Harnesslink are pleased to no end that our Director of Operations for North America and Europe, Steve Wolf, has been elected to harness racing’s Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. To read the latest edition of INSIDER ACCESS click here to sign up!   Sign up to "Insider Access" Full Name Email Subscribe  

HARRISBURG PA - Brian Sears, a "youthful veteran" of the sport of harness racing who stands fifth on the all-time list of moneywinning drivers and has driven some of the sport's greatest horses of the last 15 years to victories in championship races, has been elected to the sport's highest honor, the Hall of Fame, in balloting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the trade organization of harness journalists. In addition, Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf, two veteran harness publicists and writers whose careers share many similar highlights and awards though they never worked together directly, have been elected to the sport's Communicators Hall of Fame. Sears was named USHWA's Rising Star of the Year in 1991 and hasn't looked back. Sears, a 48-year-old native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who now resides in Secaucus, N.J., was at the top rungs of the driving colony of Vernon Downs, Pompano, Pocono, and The Meadows before moving eastward to the metro New York area a dozen years ago. He has continued to dominate on the toughest circuits in harness racing, winning multiple driving championships at the Meadowlands and also topping the charts at Yonkers Raceway. Sears entered Monday with 9,670 career wins, good for 14th place among all drivers in North American history. Among the horses that have helped boost his career driving earnings to $174 million all-time are three winners of the Horse of the Year title: Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009, and Bee A Magician in 2013. Sears is the only driver to twice win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, accomplishing the feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013. He also won the Hambletonian in 2015 with Pinkman in his only drive behind the horse that season. The sport's Driver of the Year in 2009, Sears has won 26 Breeders Crown titles, good for No. 4 on the all-time wins list in the series. Horses driven by Sears have earned more than $10 million in the series, which is among the top five in history. Waterstone was for many years the publicist for Hazel Park in Detroit, also working at other area racetracks, before becoming associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World, which was a magazine when Waterstone started and for whom he wrote two John Hervey Award-winning stories, before becoming a multimedia enterprise in recent years. Wolf was a publicist for several tracks in the immediate area of his native New Jersey (Freehold Raceway 13 years, Brandywine Raceway and Liberty Bell Park) and for the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey before "shipping south" to Pompano Park in Florida, rising through the ranks to become senior director of racing operations, until starting his own consulting agency. He also served on the Board, including as president, of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. The parallels in the careers of Wolf and Waterstone are striking. Both first entered the communications end of the industry in 1979. Both have been president of USHWA and both have won that organization's Member of the Year (Wolf twice, the first to earn that distinction); both currently serve as their USHWA chapter's president. Both have won the Harness Publicists Association's Allen J. Finkelson Golden Pen Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in promoting harness racing, and both have won the Clyde Hirt Media Award from Harness Horsemen's International. Both have chaired several important USHWA committees, and are teaming again for the 2017 USHWA annual convention and Dan Patch Award Banquet: Waterstone on the Location Committee and on-site planner/negotiator, and Wolf on the Dinner Committee, which he has chaired 15 times. That USHWA event, to be held at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas on February 25-26 of next year, will be the first introduction of Sears, Waterstone, and Wolf as the newest members of the Halls of Fame. The formal induction ceremony will be held at the Hall of Fame dinner at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., on Sunday, July 2, 2017. Hall of Fame voting is conducted among eligible USHWAns and members of the Hall of Fame; Communicators Hall of Famers are voted on by all members of the Harness Writers Association. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

It was just over five months ago that the tragic barn fire took place at the South Florida Trotting Center in Lake Worth. Of the 23 Standardbred horses in Barn 9 that evening, only five have survived and now one of those harness racing horses that were rescued, a trotter named Celebrity Lover, has made it to the winner's circle. Sunday night at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania, Celebrity Lover, trained and driven by Sam Stathis, who owns the South Florida Trotting Center, won the seventh race trot by a neck in 1:59. The homebred stallion, owned and bred by Stathis's Celebrity Farms, was rescued from the barn fire that frightful night on March 15. The four-year-old son of Andover Hall from the Yankee Glide mare, Celebrity Feeling, suffered 3rd degree burns over his back from the burning roof above his stall. Within days of the fire, Stathis set up a special therapy barn at the South Florida Trotting Center to help aid the recovery for the surviving horses from the fire. "There is no doubt that our therapy barn aided in the recovery and return to racing for Celebrity Lover," Sam Stathis said. "And the outpouring of support and love from people all over the world were a big factor too. "We enclosed Barn 1 in fly netting," Stathis explained, "We brought in or were donated everything we could get to help these horses. The latest in laser equipment to promote healing, special nebulizing equipment to treat the horses burned lungs from the heat and smoke of the fire, an electro-equiscope, heart monitoring equipment, a theraplate unit, an equine weight scale, the best floor matting available to help prevent hoof problems and more to aid with their recovery." "FarmVet.com donated an entire pallet of burn cream that was used up within months and then donated another pallet." Stathis explained. "We had to hand walk these horses before dawn and after sundown as their burns could not be exposed to sunlight. "Each morning we bathed the burns, then reapplied the creams, did treatments and then repeated it all over again in the afternoon. I want to give credit to caretaker Lyne Morneau and trainer Alex Spano who worked day and night for months caring for them and to Dr. Michael Carinda and Dr. Paul Caputo for their work. We argued tooth and nail over how to treat these horse but in the long run it worked. Most veterinarians never had burn victims like this to treat." The results were shown on the racetrack Sunday as Celebrity Lover raced parked out first-over from the half mile and Stathis rated the mare perfectly, clearing to the lead in the stretch and holding off Coogan in the final strides to win in a photo finish. Unraced at age two, Celebrity Lover made just five starts at age 3 with a qualifying win in 2:05.4. He just qualified at Pocono Downs August 10, was third in a pari-mutuel race, timed in 1:58.3 on August 19 and is now a winner. "I literally cried with joy after "Lover" dug in and held off Ake Svanstedt with Coogan for the win," Stathis said. "It was just five months that he (Celebrity Lover) was fighting for his life from the smoke inhalation and burns." Celebrity Lover is the first of fire victims to return to the races and win. Stathis said that the other three of his horses that were in the fire, Celebrity Tsipras, Celebrity Lambo and Celebrity Artemis, are coming back strong. Celebrity Tsipras just qualified and raced for the first time August 14 and hopefully the other two will be racing before the end of the year. Celebrity Lover is a full brother to the mare Celebrity Artemis. It should be noted that the fifth horse that survived from Barn 9 fire, Grateful Pride, a two-year-old colt by Bettors Delight, has also been racing for trainer Linda Toscano since late June, but has yet to win. "God didn't want these horses yet for a reason," Stathis said. "The trainers and grooms that helped saved them from the fire and risked their lives for these animals are the real heroes. And what a feel good way to celebrate with having them not just recover from their burns and internal injuries but to race and win. You could not script a movie any better than this. "And we will be adding more therapy equipment this year to Barn 1 at the South Florida Trotting Center," Stathis added. "I'm still trying to get an equine hyperbaric chamber if possible. Whatever it takes to help care for the horses. This fall the therapy barn will be available for all horses of every breed that need help." For more information, visit www.southfloridatrottingcenter.com. By Steve Wolf for the South Florida Trotting Center    

Two of the sports biggest breeding operations in all of harness racing, Hanover Shoe Farms in North America and Alabar Stud in Australia/New Zealand, have both signed on as new sponsors for the 6th annual Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (VDM) in Ireland for 2017. In addition, Diamond Creek Farm and Joe Bellino Racing Stable in the USA, PJI Engineering and Oakwood Stud in Ireland, have all “re-upped” their race sponsorships for the big race weekend. The Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend is the creation of Derek and James Delaney of Offlay, Ireland, who is 2012, a year after the tragic death of their younger brother Vincent, decided to have a memorial race in his honor. Little did they know that their weekend honoring their lost brother would develop into the richest harness racing stakes event in all of Ireland and the UK. “My brother James and I look back at what we’ve done with our brothers race in just four years,” said Derek Delaney. “And it blows us away. We have a VDM Committee who is the backbone of our big weekend and now we hire some outside agency’s to help us. It’s amazing. We know that Vincent is very proud of what we have done in his memory.” Hanover Shoe Farms is the leading money earning breeding farm in racing and they are now the title sponsor of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Colt Pace for two-year-olds. The icing on the cake for Hanover Shoe Farms management may have been after Tyrion Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, won the VDM colt division on August 14. He was purchased at Hanover’s Harrisburg Sale at a yearling and flown back to the UK. “Murray (Brown) came back with great enthusiasm about the weekend in Ireland.” Jim Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms. “He told me how they are in it for the love of Horse Racing...not the money. The sponsorship was available so we took it. We sponsor races in Lexington, Meadowlands, The Hambletonian, The Little Brown Jug, Chester, The Meadows, Pocono Downs, UK and Germany.  So why not Ireland?” Simpson said that he is already planning on coming to Ireland next year for the VDM Weekend. The Diamond Creek Farm VDM filly division is being sponsored for the second straight year by Diamond Creek Farm and the Adam Bowden Family. “It was an easy decision.” Bowden said. “After going to Ireland for the 2016 edition of the VDM Memorial we were blown away by the hospitality of the Irish people as well as the Delaney family. “Joining a grassroots movement is addicting, Bowden explained, “and being part of something great is what we are all about. Diamond Creek Farm wants to be involved in events that showcase the greatness of Standardbred racing both at home in the US as well as abroad. Derek Delaney, single-handedly has energized the sport in that region and we could not be more excited about the what the future will bring. “How could you not be entirely blown away over there?” Bowden said. “You can see the event in pictures or follow Heather Vitale's live Facebook posts, but being there in person is an out of this world experience. My wife and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity and the generosity shown by everyone we came in contact with. “I grew up going to the races in Maine (especially the Cumberland Fair in my hometown),” Bowden added, “and being at Portmarnock Raceway was like being transported back in time to 1985 when I was a little kid and reliving my first harness racing experiences where everything was novel and new. It was grassroots racing at its finest.” The VDM is the world’s most rugged race for two-year-olds, requiring the young horses to race Saturday in elimination divisions and then return Sunday for their respective finals in the one-mile race. “We even have sponsors now for the VDM elimination races,” Derek Delaney added. “Clive and Anne Dalton from Australia have signed on and are guaranteeing that each elimination division for both the colts and fillies will race for €2,000 each.”    Alabar Stud, the largest breeding operation down under with 28 stallions in Australia and New Zealand, is now co-sponsoring the Alabar-Oakwood Derby for three-year-old pacers. This race calls for the same format as the VDM, eliminations Saturday (if necessary) and the finals on Sunday. The race is also at a one-mile distance.   And, with the Alabar sponsorship, there will also be a filly division for the 3YO Derby in 2017. Alan Galloway, owner and director of Alabar Stud, was in Ireland for the VDM Weekend this past August and was infatuated with everything he saw. “It was my first time in Ireland for the VDM,” said Galloway, “And what a show they put on. Just a fantastic race weekend. So much excitement. So much passion for the sport that I knew Alabar had to get involved again. “We actually were sponsors when the first Breeders Crown UK & Ireland came about over ten years ago.” Galloway said. “We were invited to come over and help them and the Ireland improve racing. I met and worked with its president, David Wilson, when he first developed the Breeders Crown series. We bred over 100 mares back then,” Galloway said. “We sent over Village Jasper, Armbro Operative and Safely Kept. It was very difficult getting all the approvals from the government but we got it done. Many of the horses racing there now are from their offspring’s. “I was really taken back this year,” Galloway said. “The Irish are such lovely people. Everything that Derek Delaney and his brother have done to promote this weekend is fantastic. Their story is very moving, so emotional, it’s what we at Alabar want to be part of.” Another major sponsor, smitten by coming to the VDM this year, was Joe Bellino and his family, all eight of them. The Bellino Racing Stable in the USA had agreed to sponsor the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace this year and was so enthralled with the entire Ireland experience, Joe re-upped for 2017 even before he came home. “It was the way the people in racing there embraced my family,” Joe Bellino said. “And their deep love for the sport that convinced me to want to sponsor the race again. The way they celebrated a win with cheering and excitement. It’s just the same way I am whether racing for $100 purse or $500,000. It was also great to see and feel it firsthand. “In some way in North America we have lost our way with that sort of enthusiasm.” Bellino explained. “It’s almost like the people who win are used to winning and have come to expect it. That’s why I really appreciated the Hambo this year as it was great to see and feel the passion for our sport just as they do in Ireland.” PJI Engineering of England, one of the largest metal fabricators in all of the UK and Ireland, has come back on board as the sponsor of the Junior FFA Pace. “I first met Derek and James in 2015,” explained Paul Johnson, owner of PJI Engineering in England, “and he was telling me the story on Vincent and the passion the two of them have for the sport is unbelievable. “These two are trying there utmost to take this sport to the next level,” Johnson said, “and the VDM has done so. This is an event that everyone looks forward to every year now, and it gets better every year. Let's not forget the charity's they give to as well. We look forward to be a part of the VDM for many years to come!” With new and renewed sponsorship support coming from around the world, Derek and James Delaney are putting the money right back into their big race weekend. “Because of the great growth of sponsors for the VDM Weekend,” Derek Delaney said, “we will be able in 2017 to also expand the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds to both a horse and mare divisions with Yirribee Stud in Australia taking on as sponsor of the mare division and there will be an increase in purse for the Elvin-Delaney Invitation Le Trot race. This is all so grand! “We now have many of the world’s leading harness racing breeders, owners, trainer, drivers, announcers and journalists coming to Ireland for the VDM.” Delaney added, “It’s hard to imagine that just five years ago we raced for €20,000 ($25,000US) in total purses that first year and now in 2017 the weekend will feature more than €100,000 ($127,000US) in purses. “The VDM has become a major success story to have the biggest breeding farms in the world sponsoring our brothers memorial weekend” Delaney added, “and it's also a major step in the right direction for our breeders, owners, trainers and drivers that they can now breed and sell, train or own horses that has real earning potential in juvenile racing and more! “When you have Alan Galloway and Alabar Farms, Joe Bellino and his Bellino Racing Stables, Jim Simpson & Murray Brown of Hanover shoe Farms, Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farms, Rod Woodhouse of Yirribee Stud Australia, all willing to advise and sponsor us and help improve the breeding in Ireland and the UK.” Said Delaney. “We all know this can only mean a very strong future for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend and a very bright future for our Oakwood Stud.” Delaney added, “We have been a major factor in the racing and breeding in Ireland and the UK and I believe our Standardbreds will become world class in the future. Ireland has a history for producing the best gallopers in the world, so why can't we in Ireland and UK not be the best producers of Standardbreds in the world or at least one of the best! “We are also working with Sire Stakes Ireland and the Breeders Crown UK and Ireland, bricking and building stronger with devoted people like my brother James Delaney, Bernie Kelly, Dave Wilson, Jackie Mann, Thomas Bennett and others. It's all going to complement our events and others stakes. It’s going to be something special how our racing will be growing in the next two to three years’ time, getting stronger year on year. “Maybe most important about all of this,” Delaney said, “is the great new friends we have made over the years that will last a lifetime.” For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. The dates for the 2017 Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend are Saturday and Sunday, August 12 and 13. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend   

DUBLIN, Ireland - Two track records, one major upset and a grand time for the thousands of people in attendance headlined the final day of the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway Sunday. By the end of the weekend if they had had a key to the racetrack at Portmarnock they would have given it to the World Driving Champion, New Zealand's Dexter Dunn, as he stole the show over the two-day meet. Dunn, who wowed the crowds last year in his debut at the VDM, showed the fans his universal driving abilities, scoring four winners during the meeting, capping it off with a stunning upset in the very last race of the day Sunday. It was the final of the inaugural VDM Final for two-year-old filly pacers, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm and the Adam Bowden Family of Kentucky. Dunn, who had qualified two horses for the final on Saturday, made the right choice in selecting IB Coyote to drive in the final. The 13th race saw the overwhelming favorite, Rhyds Mystique and driver Vicky Gill, who has won two of the last three VDM finals, find early clearance starting from the second tier in post eight, and work their way to the lead before the opening quarter in :29.3. Rhyds Mystique, who had rattled off five straight wins, including a 2:02.1 triumph Saturday in her elimination race, had Jennifer Camden (Aaron Merriman) right on their backs and then was faced with Dexter Dunn coming first-over with IB Coyote. They went to the half mile marker in :59.6 and then Gill backed off the pace to the three-quarters in 1:31.5, preparing for a sprint home to the finish. But that was not in the cards for them today. With Dunn's IB Coyote looking to begin to fade on the final turn, driver Mick Lord sent Greenhill Debatable three-wide to nearly loop the race leaders and that move seemed to wake IB Coyote up as Dunn kept her alive despite being parked out for most of the one-mile race. Then in a dramatic stretch drive, IB Coyote dug down deep and Dunn kept her going through the finish to win by a half-length in 2:02.8 over Greenhill Debatable with Jennifer Camden a close third. Rhyds Mystique faded to sixth place. "I wanted to give chase early," Dunn explained, "and get her up close to the action but it didn't work out that way and we ended up getting parked. But boy was she handy today. By the final turn I did not think she would make do, but she came back super strong to win it." Sent off at odds of 5-1, it was the second straight win, a lifetime mark and the third victory on the season for IB Coyote. The daughter of Share The Delight is trained by Tadhg Murphy and co-owned by Bill Donocan and the IB Stables. In the VDM Final for the colts, it was the American-bred son of Somebeachsomewhere, Tyrion Hanover, who went off as the wagering favorite and did not disappoint the fans but gave them a bit of a scare in winning the 11th race. Dragons Den (John Richardson) started off the show and then gave way to Rhyds Rival (Billy Roche) to the opening quarter mile in :29.4. Benny Camden (Alan Richardson) was first-over and pressured the leader to a half mile in a quick :57.6 with Tyrion Hanover and driver Richard Haythornthwaite coming up into second-over position. With momentum at their advantage, Haythornthwaite allowed Tyroin Hanover to keep going and sent him three-wide by the three-quarters in 1:29.5 and despite being parked out, Tyroin Hanover kept eating up ground and once they started down the stretch he not only collared the leaders but passed them by to win with ease by one and one-half lengths in 2:01.5. Dragons Den was able to come back for second place with Harrison Camden (Martin Loughran) closing for third place. "I didn't want to rush him too much," Haythornthwaite said, "but I had to make sure I kept him on the move. He was making up ground with that big move on the final turn and he still had a little left for the finish." "He's pretty good to train and easy tempered to work with," said trainer Samboy Howard of Tyroin Hanover. "I guess we're partying tonight for sure." A $14,000 yearling purchase last year at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania by John James Howard, Sr. (Samboy's father), it was the second straight win and a lifetime mark for Tyroin Hanover. The track records at Portmarnock began to fall starting in the eighth race as driver Alan Wallace and Coalford Tetrick were able to wire the field in the 1.5 mile Paul Murtagh, Sr. 4YO Derby Pace in 2:58.5, winning with ease by three lengths. The pocket-sitting JMS Hallstar (Gavin Murdoch) was second with Evenwood Sonofagun (William Laidler) third. Sired by Rouge Hall, Coalford Tetrick is owned and trained by Stephan Jones. Then in the Oakwood Stud 3YO Derby Pace, the sensation son of Arts Conquest, Miraculous, winner of the 2015 VMD, set the track record for colts at 1.5 miles, also wiring the field by two lengths for driver Patrick Kane, Jr. in 2:59.7. Rival Newtown Rock (Dexter Dunn) was second with Arts Pace Hill (Andrew Cairns) third. It was the sixth straight win for Miraculous, who is trained by Sally Teeboon for owner S. Arnie Flower. The sixth race, the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American Cup FFA Pace, sponsored by the Bellino Racing Stable with Joe Bellino and his family, eight in all, coming over for the big race weekend saw Porterstown Road and driver Aaron Merriman first on the lead. They could have stopped the race right then as Merriman and Porterstown Road never looked back, strolling to the wire to win by four open lengths in 1:57 over Bath Lane (John Richardson) with Deans Alibi (Dexter Dunn) third. "What a super weekend this has been," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee that organizes the entire weekend. "Each year this race weekend gets bigger and bigger with racing fans, owners, breeders, trainers and drivers from around the world coming here to Ireland. It is just fantastic." Derek and his brother, James Delaney, developed the race weekend in 2012 in memory of their young brother Vincent, who tragically died in 2011. It has become the biggest and richest race weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend      

DUBLIN, Ireland – A record number of 180 horses have entered the weekend race card for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway just outside of Dublin. “My brother James and I cannot believe how everyone wants to race this weekend,” said Derek Delaney, head of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee. “For the fourth straight year we keep growing and growing.” A total of 188 horses have been entered for the Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14 two-day meet. That is up 11.12% over prior year. The big race of the weekend is the 5th annual Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) for two-year-old pacers. This is first year that there are both a colt and filly division with 14 youngsters entered in both events. The VDM is a rugged event that requires horses to compete in elimination divisions on Saturday and then come back again Sunday to race in the finals. The inaugural filly division is being sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm of Kentucky, USA. Each of the finals race for a purse of $16,000 euros.  Vincent Delaney was Derek and James younger brother who tragically died in 2011 at the age of 27. The brothers then developed the memorial race series in his honor and it has since grown to become the richest stakes event and weekend in the history of harness racing in Ireland the UK. Additional major stakes events over the weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds at 1.5 miles, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, the Lee Edwards/PJI Engineering Junior FFA Pace and the Elvin-Delaney French FFA Trot. There is a gala kickoff dinner Friday evening at the Airport Hilton Hotel that is already sold out and Sunday’s VIP Marquee Tent is also sold out with over 300 to attend. Every year the VDM Committee selects a local charity to benefit from the VDM Weekend, especially at the Friday night gala dinner auctions. This year’s charity is the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) of Dublin. The organization, which is comprised 100% of all volunteers, operates a seven-day outreach service across the city, coinciding with their mobile outreach unit. ICHH’s outreach support service operates nightly providing access to beds, sleeping bags, food or case management referrals. ICHH works a 16-hour mobile outreach service, responding to rough sleeper reports within 15 minutes of getting a call. The service also operates seven days a week. The website is at http://www.innercityhelpinghomeless.ie/. It is just grand how all of this has come together,” Derek Delaney said. “And this year we have so many great horsemen and women coming over for Vincent’s weekend. Dexter Dunn from New Zealand, Aaron Merriman from the USA are the special guest drivers, Diamond Creek Farms Adam Bowden, Joe Bellino and his entire crew, Roger Huston, Heather Vitale, Heather Wilder, Murray Brown, John McDermott, Alan Galloway, Sydney Weaver, Joann Looney-King, Susan Looney and a huge group from Australia on tour. "What a great time we will show them all!” Delaney said. "Most everyone is arriving today and tomorrow and we are looking forward to meeting everyone." The guests begin their VIP weekend with carriage ride tours of downtown Dublin plus lunch at the world famous Temple Bar, a bus trip to Oakwood Stud training and breeding facility, the gala kick-off dinner Friday and then the two big VDM race days Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend

On Tuesday, August 2 at Tir Prince Raceway in Wales, UK, the fastest dirt track in all the UK & Ireland will play host to the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland. Featured on the race card will be many of the best two, three and four-year-old pacing fillies, mares and horses bred in both the UK and Ireland and it will also be the tenth anniversary of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland. Tir Prince is one of the premier half mile, night time hard tracks in all of the UK and Ireland. But who is the man behind the organization that has setup and run the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland since its inception? That honor goes to none other than Dave Wilson of West Linton, Scotland. Wilson, who has been involved in harness racing for more than 60 years, owns www.davewilsonharness.com,  which is the premier on-line harness and horse supply tack shop throughout the UK and Ireland and also sells worldwide. Before venturing into the tack shop business in 1979, Dave Wilson got his training in harness racing as a youngster. “I first got into it when I was a child around 1952.” Wilson explained, “Mucked out stalls, groomed and walked and jogged horses for a year at a local track called Stenhouse Stadium in Edinburgh, before I was allowed to drive in a race. I think I was about 11 or 12 when I first drove in a race and went on to win a lot of races up until 1965. “My father, a self-made man,” Wilson explained. “started out as a horse dealer and later ended up with three quarries, a transport business and a fleet of vehicles. His grandfather was a horse dealer and my grandfather on my mother’s side were horse dealers, so it was inevitable I would end up doing something with horses. I learned a lot at Stenhouse Stadium by watching the old professionals like Jim Young whose brother Rab Young was a famous driver in New Zealand. “My grandmothers brother was the top trainer of trotting and pacing horses,” Wilson said. “He also raced horses guideless (tacked up with overcheck and turned and let loose to race against other horses round the track) and his name was Baker Waldie, this would be in the mid-1800s. So when did Dave Wilson end up with Dave Wilson Harness/Tack business?” “Around 1979, after I first got back in to harness racing after a long break.” Wilson said. “I quit racing horses in 1965 after winning a heat and the final of the famous Musselburgh Trot on an imported German stallion called Calif by Scotland’s Comet (USA). I had quit to concentrate on the family business. Over the years Dave Wilson has owned, bred and raced a goodly amount of horses. “You can say I've owned a lot, bred a lot, and raced a lot.” Wilson explained. “When I got back into it in 1979, I bought three yearlings in the USA which were bred in Pennsylvania by the Amish man Levi Stoltzfus at Conestoga Farms right next to Hanover Shoe Farm. “They were sent to Hawkensville to get broken in.” Wilson said. “We brought the three back to Scotland but only one made it to the races. He was called Battle Cry by Battleground (Meadow Skipper oo Belle Acton). Out of a very consistent mare who raced until she was 12. The filly was Conestoga Starlite (changed to Meadow Starlite) and she was big and beautiful but her legs let her down. She did breed some good winners for us including Meadow Reba, who won a heat and final of the Dave Finlayson Memorial at Musselburgh as a 3-year-old. “This was in 1986,” Wilson added, “and we still have her here, she is now 33 and looking good! I've also had a few stallions here, namely Skippers Subject, who is bred by Meadow Skipper oo Timely Subject, and he produced some good offspring in USA and here, also Fame (Albatross oo Passing Glance), who won half million as a 2-year-old but flipped a palate in the Woodrow Wilson or would have won over a million at age 2. He too bred some good ones and we still have a few retired here who won some great races for us.” How did Dave Wilson get from racing horses to harness and tack shop owner, to president of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland? “After coming back from this long absence from racing I felt a bit ashamed knowing I could have made a better effort in promoting, breeding and racing the sport in the UK,” Wilson said. “Noel Simpson made a big impression on me in the early '60s when he opened Prestayn Raceway with the help of Roosevelt Raceway’s George Morton Levy, along with some other New Zealand and Australian investors. “Apart from the raceway, Simpson used Prestayne as a quarantine country for stallions coming from the USA and going to AU and NZ.” Wilson explained. “These were all stallions with records which were used in the UK while in quarantine and they had a big impact on breeding of Standardbreds in UK. The progeny of these stallions in later years were exported to Canada and the USA. “That was an industry created overnight.” Wilson said. “Years later after the quarantine regulations were eased, the UK went back into breeding unraced imported stallions, although reasonably well-bred, they produced very little, with the odd minor stallion proving himself worthwhile. It was then in 1980 at a BHRC meeting, I suggested horses of better quality should be bred and proven stallions should be used. “This fell upon deaf ears, Wilson explained, “and only one committee member acknowledged the merit in it. I later drew up papers for a proposed Sire Stakes and Arthur Slack a well-known breeder of Standardbreds, submitted on my behalf, which initiated the British Harness Racing Club’s Sire Stakes program. For various reasons this was never the success I wanted it to be. After drawing up the papers I had no further input into the Sire Stakes other than entering horses. “Now fast forward to 26 years later,” Wilson said, “and I had some mares I hadn't bred for years as the stallions here were not attractive enough to me. Then low and behold out of the blue along came Alabar Stud with frozen semen from some top stallions. I took the opportunity to breed three mares using the frozen semen from Safely Kept, and Village Jasper. “I wanted to enter them in the Sire Stakes program, but was refused,” Wilson added, “and that is how the Breeders Crown UK and Ireland came about. I looked at the Sire Stakes program and could see why it was on the wane and not flourishing like it should have. “I took this refusal as a negative view for breeding going forward,” Wilson said, “and consequently got in touch with Alabar, who got me started by entering all of their stallions so the foals would be eligible to race in the BC, which moved from track to track and got people and breeders interested who had not really raced 2-year-olds before. The BC has never looked back since and gets more popular each year with prize money increasing along with numbers of horses entering. The Breeders Crown UK & Ireland’s motto is to promote, to support and to improve the quality of breeding and harness racing throughout Great Britain and Ireland. “We strive to encourage and expand the positive image of harness racing through media and marketing.” Wilson added. “We support current owners and those interested in harness racing by providing comprehensive information about our series and how people can get involved in breeding, owning and racing horses. And we strongly advocate the use of only proven stallions and mares in our breeding in order to continually improve the quality of our horses.” Wilson is supported by a lot of suppliers who either give products to raise funds or sponsor us, or from people who also believe in what I am doing. Without them the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland would not exist. "I also have to say," Wilson added, "that I have a right hand man (woman), who has been with me for many years and is a superb help in both departments and keeps me on the straight and narrow. Jacqui Mann is the General Manager of Dave Wilson Harness and she is secretary for the Breeders Crown and she is a major help in making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible." Just a year ago Wilson commissioned a professional graphic artists and a webmaster to re-create and polish off their website, www.breederscrownuk&ireland.com with great success. “We are very proud of our website,” Wilson said. “It’s top notch, easy to navigate, super photos and all the information and contacts everyone needs to stay abreast of what is happening.” “David Wilson is a pleasure to work with his experience in harness racing is second to none,” said Eric Witherspoon, Director of Racing at Tir Prince. “He is committed to taking the sport forward in the UK. The Breeders Crown is a truly top juvenile event and we are delighted to be holding it at Tir Prince for the next three years.” So what is Dave Wilson excited the most about for this year’s Breeders Crown night? “I would say getting the news that New Zealand driving star, Dexter Dunn, will be driving at Tir Prince on Breeders Crown night.” Wilson beamed. “Having Dexter coming to drive is just fabulous. He showed everyone at Portmarnock (Ireland) last year of his great ability to drive a horse and I know his services will be in much demand from trainers and owners alike. “I’m also excited that we are able to add the inaugural All American-bred Filly Pace for two-year-olds this year,” Wilson added, “plus a bumper crop of horses eligible for the Breeders Crown. And we have a large tour group from Australia, Harness Racing TravelWorld, engineered by a long term friend of mine, Bill Hutchison, which will not only take in the Breeders Crown in Wales but also the Edinburgh Festival and the Vincent Delaney Memorial in Dublin Ireland. “It’s all top notch great news,” Wilson smiled. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec – HP Sissy and driver Mario Baillargeon set a Breeders Cup Series stakes record for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:56.1 triumph at the Hippodrome 3R Sunday. There were four opening round divisions of the $450,000 Breeders Crown Series for three-year-old colt and filly pacers. In the eleventh race second division for pacing fillies, the overwhelming 1/9 entry of HP Sissy and HP Pandora did not disappoint the racing fans. Mario Baillargeon sent HP Sissy to the lead before the opening quarter mile in a speedy :27.4. Then they backed it down to the half mile in :59.1 as stablemate HP Pandora (Louis-Philippe Roy) came first-over to challenge and then settle in second place. By the three-quarters in 1:27.2, HP Sissy was in complete control and then pulled away from everyone in the field, strolling down the stretch for a nine and one-half length romp. Stablemate HP Pandora was a distance second with Star Speed (Stephane Gendron) third. It was the second win this season for HP Sissy, a daughter of Up The Credit, trained by Jean Tourigny and co-owned by the breeder, Claude Hamel with Michael Damphousse of Louisville, QC and paid just $2.30 to win. Her time of 1:56.1 surpassed the prior stakes record for her age and gait of 1:56.4 that was set by Racey Miss in 2013. There are four weeks of preliminary round action in the Breeders Cup with the top eight point earners returning on Sunday, September 4 for the $65,000 finals in each division. Establishing himself early on as the “horse to beat” in the series was HP Patriote and driver Guy Gagnon in the third race first division for pacing colts. Starting from post six, Gagnon and HP Patriote had road trouble at the start and was forced to take back to last after the start of race. Sagawi (Jocelyn Gendron) had the early lead but had to give way to last year’s series champion, Mr Mach Jimmy and driver Pascal Berube by the opening quarter mile in :28. Then by the half mile marker in :57.4, Mr Mach Jimmy was still in control with D G’s Ninja (Jonathan Lachance) coming first-over and HP Patriote second-over after catching up with the field. Then in the backstretch, Gagnon moved HP Patriote three-wide and with an amazing brush of speed, shot right by Mr Mach Jimmy before the three-quarters in 1:27.2. From there HP Patriote cruised home, pulling away from the field for a five and one-half length triumph in 1:56. Mr Mach Jimmy held for second place with D G’s Ninja third. It was the fifth win in six starts this year for HP Patriote. The son of Vintage Master is trained by Gerald Demers and co-owned by Les Ecuries GLD, Inc. of St-Andre-Avelin with breeder Claude Hamel of Ayer’s Cliff, QC. He paid $3.20 to win. It was the second win on the day for Hamel, who also co-owns HP Sissy. The sixth race second colt division saw lots of early action as Power Fun (Stephane Brosseau) took the early lead, then gave way to Shanghai Warrior (Sylvain Lacaille) in a slow :30.1 first quarter. All the while the race favorite, Sports Authority (Mario Charron) was in last place. Dance With Joe (Mario Baillargeon) was quick on the move to try and take the lead, but Lacaille played a little hardball to the half mile marker in :59 before giving way. Then Charron came charging up with Sports Authority and was able to get a tuck in second place at the three-quarters in 1:27.4. On the final turn, Baillargeon asked Dance With Joe for more and the colt scooted away from the field in the stretch to win with ease by four and one-half lengths in a mild clocking of 1:58.2. Power Fun nosed out Sports Authority for second place. Sired by Roll With Joe, it was the first win in seven starts this year for Dance With Joe. He is trained by Jacque Dupont for owners Gestion Levesque and Les Ecuries Dorleans of QC. He paid $6.60 to win. The fillies got underway in the eighth race with last year’s return champion, Miss Babe Delight and Pascal Berube, toying with the field. Sent off as the 2/5 wagering favorite, Berube sent Miss Babe Delight to the front from post six, overtaking Clodam Bayama (Yves Filion) before the opening quarter mile in :29.3. Berube then backed off to the half mile in 1:00.2 before flushing Imagine Speed (Stephane Gendron) to come first-over. Then past the three-quarters in 1:29.1, the race was all but over as Miss Babe Delight held the field at bay, winning by one and one-half lengths over Wild River Swan (Louis-Philippe Roy) with Clodam Bayama third in 1:58.2. It was the first win in six starts this year for Miss Babe Delight. The daughter of Bettor's Delight is trained by Dany Fontaine for Ecurie Gaetan Bono, Inc. of Montreal, QC and paid $2.80 to win. Track Notes: The three-year-old pacing filly, Jimbelina ($2.10), remained unbeaten with her fourth straight victory at 3R this season, winning the fourth race in 1:58.2. She is the winningest horse at 3R this meet. Live racing resumes Tuesday night at 3R with the opening round of the Breeders Cup Series for three-year-old trotting colts and fillies. Post time is 7:00 pm. For a free race program and video feed of the live racing go to www.quebecjockeyclub.com.  Steven Wolf

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the United States Harness Writers Association announced Monday (June 27) that Centaur Gaming-owned Hoosier Park will be the lead title sponsor of next year's Dan Patch Awards banquet in Las Vegas. The event, to be held at Planet Hollywood on Feb. 26, will be named "The 2017 Dan Patch Awards presented by Hoosier Park." The Dan Patch Awards are for top equine and human performers, Harness Horse of the Year honors, as well as the first introduction of the newest member(s) to the Hall of Fame. The spotlight will shine on Hoosier Park in the fall of 2017 when the Breeders Crown makes its first visit to the Indiana racetrack. But several months prior to that big event, Hoosier Park will help direct the limelight toward harness racing's equine and human stars thanks to a new partnership with another of the sport's premier festivities. The awards, first presented in 1947, are named in honor of one of the great stars of the early 20th century --- in any sport --- the Indiana-born pacer Dan Patch. Born in 1896 in Oxford, Ind., Dan Patch attracted huge crowds wherever he traveled and set numerous world records. His mark of1:55-1/4 set at age 9 in 1905 stood for more than three decades and his name and image endorsed products from breakfast cereals to washing machines. Indiana-sired horses have also garnered national attention more recently, with the most notable examples including 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and Breeders Crown champions Always B Miki, Color's A Virgin, and Freaky Feet Pete, all hailing from the Hoosier State. "Hoosier Park and Centaur could not be more honored to serve as the first title sponsor for these prestigious awards," said Jim Brown, president and COO of Centaur Gaming. "Considering Dan Patch was an Indiana-bred made the opportunity feel even more appropriate. "Indiana harness racing is being recognized nationally, with some of the top horses and racing in the country, and sponsoring the 2017 USHWA awards and hosting the 2017 Breeders Crown races should both contribute to making this a year to remember for Indiana racing." The 2017 Dan Patch Awards will honor this season's top performers, including divisional champions plus Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year. "This is a great opportunity for USHWA to team up with an outstanding racing organization like Hoosier Park to present our 2017 Dan Patch Awards banquet," said Tim Bojarski, president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. "We believe the synergy of this partnership will better enhance the promotion of harness racing and its stars throughout the upcoming year and hope it will lead the way for other entities of the sport to work together for the same reason. "I can promise everyone a night to remember at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Feb. 26, 2017." For more information on the Dan Patch Awards presented by Hoosier Park, log onto www.ushwa.org, where all the latest news and announcements will be available throughout the year. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

Dublin, Ireland - Through the generous support and sponsorship of the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee in Ireland and SSG Gloves in Canada, Sydney Weaver and her parents, Lisa and Don, will be going to Ireland in early August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. "We have invited Sydney to be our special guest speaker at our gala kickoff dinner Friday, August 12," said Derek Delaney, head of the VDM Committee. "I have been friends with her on Facebook and she is just wonderful. Her writing on harness racing and what she has achieved and done for our industry for a young woman is fantastic and she and her parents will be our honored guests at the races that weekend." The VDM weekend is the biggest harness racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The VDM is named after Derek and James Delaney's younger brother Vincent, who worked with the horses at their Oakwood Stud training and breeding center. Vincent tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011 at the age of 27 and the brothers came up with the VDM weekend as a tribute to their lost brother. The race weekend now features elimination races Saturday, August 13 for the VDM, which is for two-year-old pacers. A record number have entered and with the sponsorship support of Diamond Creek Farm and Adam Bowden, for the first time there will be a separate filly division too. The finals take place Sunday, August 14. Other top stakes that weekend include the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial for four-year-olds, the RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA that is sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Racing Stable, LeTrot races plus other stakes events. Other sponsors from down under include Yirribee Stud and Pro-Dosa Boost feed suppliments.  "The VDM committee agreed to sponsor Sydney and her family for their hotel stay, dinner tickets and racetrack VIP access," Delaney added, "And they will be part of our tours to Oakwood Stud and carriage ride through downtown Dublin and have lunch in Temple Bar. They are going to have a super time in Ireland." Then steps in Ed James, owner of SSG Gloves. Ed is a big Sydney Weaver fan and when he heard about her being invited to come to Ireland, he set up SSG Gloves to sponsor the airfare for Sydney and her parents to go to Ireland. "I called up and talked to Sydney and told her the news." Ed James said. "And she was so excited. I also have sent her a few pairs of gloves to use when she goes jogging and to bring with her to Ireland. I know she will have a fantastic time." And what did Sydney have to say about all of this? "Unbelievable news, so fantastic and I can't believe this is all happening." Sydney said. "This is a dream trip come true. What great stories I am going to write about the people I meet, the places I see, the big dinner and the bigger race weekend. I have a lot of Facebook friends from Ireland and the UK and I hope to get to meet them in person now. "When I phoned and thanked Mr. James for the sponsorship," Sydney added, "I said I would proudly display an SSG Gloves patch on my racing colors that I will bring over, and Derek Delaney is getting me a Vincent Delaney Memorial patch too that will go on my colors once I get there. "I also got a very nice check from Hall of Famer and dear friend Bill Galvin, Sydney said. I still have to pinch myself that this is all for real." Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad are not the only ones who will be traveling to Ireland for the VDM weekend. Joining the Weavers will be Heather Vitale and her mom (JoAnn Looney-King) and sister (Susan Looney), the 2015 Dan Patch Driver of the Year, Aaron Merriman, New Zealand's top driver Dexter Dunn is returning along with Hall of Fame announcer, Roger Huston, who will be calling the races at Portmarnock Raceway for his third straight year. Michael Gallenti and Bill Hutchison of Harness Racing Travel is bringing a group of 40 from New Zealand and Australia, making the total nearly 70 that are coming to Ireland from down under. Their website is www.harnessracingtravel.com.au. Dublin, Ireland will be the place to be August 12 to 14 for the VDM and more announcements of top Standardbred visitors from the USA will be made soon. For more information, visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee

Pompano Beach, FL --- Steven Wolf, president of the Florida chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association, has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2016 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or equine related studies. On average there have been up to $3,000 awarded annually in scholarship money. Applicants must be a resident of the state of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.8 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than July 29, 2016, for consideration of a September 2016 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33068. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, contact via e-mail to Thomas H. Hicks at renparlc@gate.net or Steven Wolf at stevenwolf1956@gmail.com. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA Allen J. Finkelson photo by Dan Gawlas   Steven Wolf Steven Wolf Consulting (954) 654-3757 stevenwolf1956@gmail.com        

Amidst the current controversy concerning the use of the word “God” in a race horse’s name, I have taken pen in hand to explain the mistake I have made concerning the Harnesslink “Name Pinky’s Foal Contest” of the past few days. I was the one who came up with the idea for the contest, procured the prizes and set up the promotion. It was never intended to have this outcome. I should have called Standardbred Canada and checked with Registrar Linda Bedard on the eligibility of the names of the six finalists before Sunday’s announcement at Flamboro Downs. I did not do that and I am wrong for not doing so. It might have saved all this commotion from happening. Then again, it may not have. That being said, I still feel adamant that both organizations, whom have stated that not permitting the use of the word “God” or a religious statement in a horse’s name has been “unofficially” instrumented for years, is still wrong. The USTA posted a story yesterday saying I was irresponsible and misleading and that was not the case. I was told by SC to check the names with the USTA and I did that. We did talk a lot and there was confusion as per the horse being bred by a USA stallion but foaled in Canada. The issues here are not as much where the foal must be registered and whom can approve names and whom cannot, but the fact that both organizations stated that they do not want the word God used in a horse’s name and that they do not state that in their official rules. A simple one-line statement in the rules of both organizations explaining this should have been placed in the official rules once the respective boards came up with this concept. It may well happen in the very near future. If not for this occurrence, I would never have known in a thousand years that the word God cannot be used in a horse’s name, as have many other people. It was explained to me that in prior years the word God was allowed and even through both organizations try their best, some improper names still slip by. Improper names, I consider, include Domedomedome, Porno Queen and Nickel Bag as these are totally either sexually explicit or are a pure illegal drug reference. There are many other cases like this in pretty much all breeds of horses that have official registered names. It happens. Many get a good laugh out of them, many are offended by them and have issues when they bring their children to the races and have to hear the announcer shout them out. But when I can look up and see a foal of 2016 (USTA) officially registered with the name, Bythegraceofgod, then I think to myself, what did Sydney Weaver do that is so wrong to not have her Only God Knows Why name rejected? Heck, there is even a very popular stable registered in Canada called "The Stable That God Loves". I apologized to Sydney Weaver and her mom and dad for not doing my due diligence in calling Standardbred Canada or the USTA to get the six finalist names approved before the announcement. While the Weaver’s say I did not do anything wrong, and are still dumfounded that both Standardbred Canada and the USTA would not accept the name because it has the word “God” in it, I still did not do right by them in insuring that the contest would run smoothly as possible. That being said, and with Standardbred Canada saying that God cannot be used in a horse’s name, then can someone explain to me how they could support and have this article/video produced for Standardbred Canada that was up for a major award in 2015? http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/news/3-2-16/so-god-made-racehorse-honoured.html There are two petitions online currently asking Standardbred Canada to allow the name to be used. I have signed both of them, even though one of them incorrectly states the USTA instead of Standardbred Canada. The Weavers have stated they will not end this battle for the name of the foal. I can’t blame them. I just wish people and organizations could get over this problem of being so “politically” correct in trying not to offend everyone that they forget common sense. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Below this article is the harness racing story about the naming of Sydney Weaver’s foal that took place at Flamboro Downs Sunday night. The story had been held up due to the refusal by Standardbred Canada (SC) to allow the name that Sydney Weaver chose to be used. The United States Trotting Association (USTA) also supports Standardbred Canada’s decision. This is because the winning name has the word God in it. Live on the air Sunday, the name Only God Knows Why was announced as the winner of the contest run by Harnesslink. Standardbred Canada’s Manager & Registrar, Linda Bedard, wrote to Harnesslink Monday morning and stated, “It has been brought to my attention that the winning name for "name Pinky's foal contest" is Only God Knows Why. The word "GOD" is not to be used in a horse name. Names for any contest should always be verified by the USTA or SC prior to releasing the winner.” The Weaver’s and Harnesslink gleaned through the rules and regulations and saw nowhere does it mention that God or religious names cannot be used. “There have been names of horses both in Canada and the USTA and in other countries that have God in it.” Said Lisa Weaver, Sydney’s mom. “There is God Only Knows, God Bless America, God Bless The USA, Goddess, Godspeed, Jesus Loves Me and many more God names. This is not right. “I understand that SC and the USTA have a job to do,” Weaver add, “they have to sort through so many names but why isn’t it listed in the rules that the word God or any religious references are not allowed or may be not accepted? We read these rules from top to bottom and it never mentions this. “Yes, they said they have final approval on all names and that we should have called them to check on the finalist’s names,” Weaver said, “but we never dreamed they stopped allowing the word God to be used and they have never updated it in the rules.” Harnesslink went back to SC and the USTA to try again and ask that the name be allowed. The answer from Linda Bedard was, “The rules states "...cannot be obscene or offensive, or endorse any form of hate or hate group". The word GOD can be offensive for some people, personally, I would be offended if a horse would be named "Only Allah Knows Why".  Words or references excluded in name are not listed as the list could be very long and can also change from time to time. There is a 39 year old horse named Terrorist, I remember in late September 2001 someone wanted to call their foal Terrorist and because of the timing the name was rejected. Nowadays, we do have to be very careful regarding religious references and for this reason the name Only God Knows Why will not be approved. While Standardbred Canada continues to work in co-operation with the United States Trotting Association to reserve horse names and reject those names that may be considered offensive or vulgar, the system is not foolproof and from time-to-time certain names do get passed us that are not within the guidelines of our rules, once found and the horse has not yet raced, the name is recalled and the horse is not allowed to race or breed until a new name is submitted. Most of USTA and SC members who are applying for horse names are familiar with the rules of naming horses which are published on both the USTA and SC websites and still hundreds of names are refused every year. Part of the process of naming a foal is to have the name verified and approved, which was not done in your case.” “I see names of horses racing that are offensive to myself and many others,” Lisa Weaver responded, “Names including Domedomedome, Nickle Bag and Porno Queen. Do you think we should allow our children to hear track announcers promoting those types of names at the races? You want to compare those names to using the word God? “When something wonderful happens to Sydney,” said Lisa Weaver, “and there has been times wonderful people cross our paths and we wonder why, and we believe everything happens for a reason -  Only God Knows Why is in the Cambridge Dictionary - dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/god-knows and states:  used to emphasize that you do not understand something at all or have no knowledge of something at all.” “Why is this name so special to Sydney and our family,” Lisa Weaver said, “Is because Sydney has Cerebral Palsy, and all her life when she should ask why did I get this disease, the majority of time the answer she would get was “Only God Knows Why” and that is why this name is so special to her. “You can say that myself and Don are the most upset about all of this,” Weaver said. “Sydney is so great, she never complains, but she was very disappointed when they said she can’t have that name for her foal. I am not looking for anything special because this is Sydney. It’s just not right to not have the word God or any religious names or meanings in a horse’s name listed in the rules.” The Weaver’s said they will now wait and see what other courses of action they may take. Harnesslink has officially named the winner and second place finisher in the contest and will award them their prizes accordingly, regardless of what Sydney Weaver’s foal is named in the future.   Sydney Weaver’s foal now has a name After months of anticipation, owner Sydney Weaver of Acton, Ontario, now has a name for her special mare’s foal, and its Only God Knows Why. Sydney “Pinky” Seelster gave birth to a beautiful filly by Pet Rock on April 11 and Weaver teamed up with Harnesslink to have a contest to allow race fans to name the filly. Top prize for the winning name was a free breeding to two-time world champion pacer, He’s Watching, and the second place finisher would win $500 in free wagers on WatchandWager.com. Flamboro Downs management graciously agreed to host the naming ceremony Sunday night and track announcer Gary Guy cleverly took Weaver’s top six choices for the filly and wove it into a race call.   The six finalist names were Just Pink It, Only God Knows Why, Pinky Promise, Seeled With A Kiss, Tickle Me Pink and When Dreams Are Real. Guy weaved all of the horses into the race and as they came down the stretch in the fictious race, it was Only God Knows Why winning with Seeled With A Kiss second and Tickle Me Pink third. “Tonight was an amazing night,” Sydney Weaver said. “There were so many great names that were submitted and I had a lot of fun going through them all. It was tough to pick just one name. Only God Knows Why was the name I kept coming back to every time I went over the list.” And the winner of the breeding to world champion He’s Watching is John Turnbull of Nova Scotia, Canada. He was the only one who entered the name God Only Knows Why. Turnbull works for Boilermaker Local 73 in Turo and has a small stable of horses with his father. “I knew about the announcement taking place Sunday night at Flamboro,” said John Turnbull, “But I was sound asleep after having just arrived back home after working for days in Fort McMurray in Alberta with the fires. “When I woke up the next morning there was a message from a friend of mine who was watching the races at Flamboro and he sent me a photo showing my name had won. Then there were all these emails and Facebook messages congratulating me. “I first saw the story about the contest to name Sydney’s foal,” Turnbull said. “And I started thinking of different names and remembered that was one of the names for a filly we had foaled last year but did not use it. So I figured I would enter that one. “Wow, it just blew me away that my name was selected by Sydney.” Turnbull added, “Then Sydney called me and congratulated me. That was great to speak with her.” John Turnbull has been involved in harness racing all his life. His father, Frazer Turnbull, has owned, bred and trained and drove horses since the late 1960’s. “I do the training and dad does the driving,” Turnbull said. Can John and his father make good use of the first place He’s Watching free breeding. “Oh yes,” Turnbull said. “My father and I had a decent race mare that we bred, Carol’s June Bug and her first foal is Junebugs Baby, who has made over $85,000 and has a record of 1:55.1. Dad was tickled pink when I told him we won the breeding to He’s Watching. It is perfect timing for the mare too!” The second place prize of $500 in wagering credit from WatchandWager.com went to Brenda Doherty of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Brenda was a former groom and owner who helped break Nononsensewoman as a yearling. She was also an under saddle jockey with Standardbreds. “This is so great,” Doherty said. “I was hoping that Sydney liked the name and I am so pleased even finishing second. I have not been working in harness racing for the last 17 years but still follow the sport and love it. I most certainly will have some fun with the $500 in free bets and thank you Harnesslink and WatchandWager!” “Thank you John Turnbull for submitting the name.” Sydney Weaver added, “Congratulations and hopefully you can come by and see her one of these days, or better yet, come in the winner’s circle when she wins her first race!” The breeding was generously donated by Muscara Racing Trust, Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero. I want to thank everyone who submitted a name for the contest,” Weaver said. “You are all so wonderful. And I must thank Steve Wolf and Harnesslink for doing the contest, and Muscara Racing, Dave Menary, Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero for donating the breeding to He’s Watch. Also thank you Flamboro Downs for hosting the name drawing and to WatchandWager for putting up the $500 second place prize. Everyone made this such a special night and fun contest.” Sydney Weaver is 15 years old and resides in Acton, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom’s horses, jogs them on the track, owns the Standardbred Sydney Seelster, a Thoroughbred racehorse, has already won major youth writing awards and does public speaking. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

DUNDAS, ONT - This Sunday night, Mother's Day at Flamboro Downs, is when Sydney "Pinky" Seelster's newborn foal, a filly, will be officially named after a month long contest held by Harnesslink.com. Pinky's owner, 15-year-old Sydney Weaver of Acton, has narrowed the list of nearly 500 names submitted from around the world to just six finalists and after the eighth race on Sunday at Flamboro Downs, the official name will be announced. The top prize winner will receive a breeding to two-time world champion pacer, He's Watching, who stands at both Tara Hills Farm in Port Perry and at Alabar Bloodstock in New Zealand. He's Watching's stud fee for the 2016 season is at $5,000. The breeding was generously donated by Muscara Racing Trust, Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero. There is also a second place prize of $500 in free wagers on WatchandWager.com. That prize winner will also be announced after the eighth race. "This was so hard and also so much fun," said Sydney Weaver. "There were too many great names that people came up with. I feel sad that only one of the names will be used. "I want to thank everyone that took the time to enter a name," Weaver added, "and especially say thank you to my friend and editor, Steve Wolf at Harnesslink, who set up the whole contest. Now I just have to be patient until Sunday night and then my little filly will have a name." Of the names submitted, 44.7% came from Canada, 39.9% from the USA, 7.8% from Australia and New Zealand and the remaining 7.6% from Ireland, UK and Europe. After the eighth race Sunday, Flamboro Downs track announcer Gary Guy will be joined in the Grandstand by Sydney Weaver and her parents, Lisa and Don, for the special live and unique naming ceremony. "I also must say thank you again to Joe Bellino, who donated the breeding to Pet Rock for Pinky," Sydney Weaver said, "and to the owners of He's Watching for their generosity in offering the first place prize and to WatchandWager for the second place prize and to Flamboro Downs for allowing the naming to take place at the track on Sunday. Everyone has been so super throughout the contest." Sydney Weaver is 15 years old and resides in Acton, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, owns the Standardbred Sydney "Pinky" Seelster, a Thoroughbred racehorse, has already won major youth writing awards and does public speaking. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink    

Dublin, Ireland - They may only be a little crazy by name, but the Looney Family from Delaware, USA, Jo Ann Looney-King, Susan Looney and Heather Looney Vitale, are all set to invade Ireland come this August for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Raceway. The baby of the Looney family, Heather, has spearheaded this adventure and in her third straight year of going to Ireland for the Vincent Delaney (August 13th and 14th), is bringing her mom and her sister to share the adventure. "When I tell people how incredible the Delaney Memorial weekend is," explained Heather Vitale, "I just have a hard time explaining it. I tell everyone about how much fun the atmosphere is and how friendly and enthusiastic the Irish are, but words don't give it justice. "You have to be there to really be able to understand how truly special it is!" Vitale said, "I talked about the weekend so much and how much fun it was and my mom and sister knew they had to experience it for themselves." Over the past four years, brothers Derek and James Delaney have developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend (named after their younger brother who tragically died of a massive heart attack in 2011), the biggest racing weekend in all of Ireland and the UK. The Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers and is the richest stakes race in Ireland and the UK. This year, for the first time, there is a filly division sponsored by Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farm. Eliminations take place Saturday and the final is on Sunday. In addition to the Delaney Memorial, there are other major stakes events including the Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-olds, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial Championship for four-year-olds, the Rocknroll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA Pace, sponsored by the Bellino Stable and LeTrot Series events. "I'm so happy we are taking this girls road trip," Vitale said. "The last time the three of us went on a trip together, it was 15 years ago! We are long overdue for some quality time like this and this race weekend is perfect. The Delaney brothers are so welcoming and the horsemen and women are so passionate and the fans are so much fun." "We love having Heather here the past two years," Derek Delaney said with a grin and a smile. "But I don't know if Ireland is ready for the whole family. It will be our pleasure to have Heather's mom and sister with us too. They are great horse people and we will show them a super time." Jo Ann Looney-King is no stranger to harness racing. She was the first woman driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands and this past year was the 2015 Billy Haughton Good Guy Award winner at the USHWA Dan Patch Dinner. This past year she trained the top three-year-old pacer, Wakizashi Hanover and currently has the undefeated trotter Maestro Blue Chip in perfect form. "After hearing Heather talk about her trips to Ireland," Looney-King said, "I knew I had to get over there and see it for myself. I've never been to Ireland before so this is going to be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to the racing over there and meeting the horsemen and women who love this sport. The entire adventure should be wonderful from the trip to Oakwood Farm to walking around Dublin. "I'll be 70 this month (May 14)," Looney-King admits, "and I can't think of a better way to celebrate a milestone year than enjoying Ireland with my daughters." And older daughter Susan Looney, is no stranger to harness racing. She was the youngster driver ever to win a race at the Meadowlands at age 16 in 1983 and then went on to become the first woman driver ever to win at Garden State Park. She now has her Doctorate in law and education and is presently the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the Reading Area Community College. "I am so excited about joining my sister and my mother in Ireland." Susan Looney said. "After watching the videos my sister took while she was there the past two years, I couldn't resist joining her this summer. I am so looking forward to seeing the beautiful country and the inspiring harness racing in Ireland." It will not be all play and little work for Heather Looney Vitale while in Ireland. She will be doing live Facebook broadcasts from Portmarnock Raceway during the week along with added features from her trip for her show, Post Time, in the USA. Vitale, in addition to producing her Post Time show in the USA, also has co-hosted the CBS Sports Net Little Brown Jug broadcast in 2014 and 2015. For more information about the Labrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee  

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