When a trotter is in his or her peak form, getting parked out the mile does not make a difference and that was the case for Zooming at Saratoga Raceway Sunday. As Baby Boy Grin and driver Stephane Bouchard went out to the early lead in the seventh race $17,000 Open Handicap Trot, they comfortably set fractions of :27.3 and :58 with Flex The Muscle (Phil Fluet) sitting the two-hole trip. But before the half mile marker, driver Billy Dobson had race favorite Zooming in high gear and on the move. By the half mile he was second, but Bouchard was not going to let Zooming pass them by and parked them out to the three-quarters in 1:26.2 (a :28.2 quarter) but it was a valiant effort that could not be kept up. Zooming was much the best, took the lead at the three-quarters on the outside, led by one and one-half lengths by the top of the stretch and then held the field at bay as Dobson drove Zooming to a one and three-quarter length triumph in 1:56. Baby Boy Grin held for second place with Pop I (Harry Landy) third. Trained by Amber Buter, Zooming paid $3.80 to win for owners Steve Oldford, Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter. A six-year-old gelding by Classic Photo, it was his 8th win this year and his 31st career win. There was an upset victory in the eighth race $17,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace as Happily Ever After, at odds of 12-1, was given a picture perfect drive by Frank Coppola, Jr. behind pacesetter Godiva Seelster (Wally Hennessey) and won in 1:53.4. Little Santamonica (Shawn Gray) was third. Happily Ever After paid $26.20 to win for trainer Jackie Rousse and the Kellogg Racing Stables, LLC of NY. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
So we had an OK last week of selections but nothing great to brag about. Now we are on to the Grand Circuit at Lexington’s Red Mile with tons of Bluegrass Stakes action today, Saturday and Sunday. Plus Saturday night is the Ohio Sire Stakes Championships at Scioto Downs and we will also venture to Freehold Raceway Saturday for the Lou Babic Memorial. Good Luck! $78,400 Trot Bluegrass Stake 2YO Colts Red Mile 3rd race FRIDAY – Considering that Centurion ATM has nearly three times the purse earnings of anyone else in the field, trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt should be able to take his colt to the front after the opening quarter mile and never look back. $207,000 winner is super good and takes another in here. Use Whataworkout and Mercury Fashion in exotic plays. $78,400 Trot Bluegrass Stake 2YO Colts Red Mile 5th race FRIDAY – Being undefeated in seven starts and owning a record of 1:55.2 in his last starts most certainly makes Billy Flynn the horse to beat in here. Super good trotter will be tested on one mile oval for first time but I think he is up to the task and watch the teletimer in this race. Use Muscle Diamond and Progression in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Lou Babic Memorial Freehold Raceway 9th race SATURDAY – The afternoon delight of harness racing hosts 2yo NJ sired final and it will be an interesting battle between Dealt A Winner and Too Darn Hot. I am going with Dealt A Winner as he has been a winner, winning four of five lifetime starts including some Grand Circuit races. Gets tested on half mile track but shows too much speed to lose in here. Use Too Darn Hot and Rock N’ Roll World in exotic plays. $83,250 Pace Bluegrass Stake 2yo Colts Red Mile 7th race SATURDAY – Top rated colt in the nation gets to strut his stuff on the Red Mile’s clay oval. Artspeak puts his six-race win streak on the line but as long as he has returned from rest break in peak form he should be able to crush this field as he has been doing to others all season long. Use Blood Brother and Traceur Hanover in exotic plays. $92,600 Pace Bluegrass Stake 2yo Colt Pace Red Mile 8th race SATURDAY – This will be a great race with top colts going at it. Giving credit to Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach that he has found his niche and will continue his winning ways against tough competition. Use He’s Watching and Let’s Drink On It in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot OSS Final 3yo Fillies Scioto Downs 10th race SATURDAY – Super strong field of fillies for this final and half the field can be the winner. I am going with Turbochargedroxie as this filly has the front end speed needed to lead all the way as she has done in two of her last three starts, just getting nipped at the wire last week. Use Sandys Victory and Anniesbluejeanbaby in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace OSS Final 3yo Fillies Scioto Downs 11th race SATURDAY – While everyone will be watching Crown Time Keeper from post nine, I think that Paydaze On The Way is the horse to beat. She does not win all the time but is in perfect position to get a dream trip to score from. Burke/Kakaley combo has been super sharp and this one could pay a price. Use Crown The Keeper and Shakin Friskie in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Jim Ewart Memorial Invite Scioto Downs 13th race SATURDAY – Very good field of top pacers from around the nation in this event. I think Sweet Lou needed some rest and should be able to come back to his winning ways and close out the 2014 season with no more losses. Certainly gets tested in here. Use Bigtown Hero and Foiled Again in exotic plays. $86,700 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Fillies Red Mile 5th race SUNDAY – Too tough to even consider going against Jimmy Takter’s Lifetime Pursuit in here. She is so awesome right now and in this short field she can bide her time to make her move to the front and not look back. Use Cooler Schooler and Bikini So Teeny in exotic plays. $94,100 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Colts Red Mile 8th race SUNDAY – With no Father Patrick in this division it becomes Nunzio’s race to win. He has been very good all season long and should be able to trot up a storm in here although you still have to watch out for Datsyuk as he looms a threat whenever he races. Use Datsyuk and Hillustrious in exotic plays. $94,100 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Colts Red Mile 10th race SUNDAY – With the weather forecast calling for sun and warm with no rain all weekend long, the Red Mile’s clay track should be perfect for Father Patrick to put on a trotting clinic in this division. If trainer Jimmy Takter allows Yannick Gingras to cut loose with this exceptional colt the teletimer could explode! Use Auspicious Hanover and Martiniwithmuscle in exotic plays. $86,700 Trot Bluegrass Stakes 3yo Fillies Red Mile 11th race SUNDAY – It won’t be a walk in the park for Shake It Cerry in here but she should still be able to have things her own way. Top filly has had a great season and can cap it off with a world record performance in here. Use Take The Money and Highest Peak in exotic plays.
FULL PHOTO ESSAY TOO!
With smart and calculated drives by Yannick Gingras, Limelight Beach won the prestigious Little Brown Jug at Delaware, Ohio Thursday in straight heats. In order to win the Little Brown Jug a horse must win two heats on one day to be declared the winner. Both Let’s Drink On It and Limelight Beach won their elimination divisions and earned posts two and one respectively in the final and they both made the most of their post positions. Gingras left quickly with Limelight Beach with Let’s Drink On It (Tyler Smith) dropping right in behind him in second place. They went to the half mile marker in an easy :57 and then the action started to begin. Somewhere In L A and driver Brett Miller came first-over and gave outside cover to Beat The Drum but it was McWicked and driver David Miller in sixth place on the outside who had the crowd on their feet as they tried to loop the field three-wide at the three-quarters in 1:23. Then on the final turn for home, Gingras looked behind him, saw Let’s Drink On It right on his helmet and backed his horse up so that when they started down the stretch, Tyler Smith would have no room to get loose with Let’s Drink on it and the tactic worked perfectly. Once starting down the stretch, Gingras urged his horse home and they won by one and one-half lengths in 1:50.4. Let’s Drink On It could find no room and was a strong second with Somewhere In L A third. Oddly, today was the first time this year after 12 starts that Limelight Beach had won a race and then to cap it off winning the Little Brown Jug in straight heats. Sired by Somebeachsomewhere, Limelight Beach is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the M1 Stable and Wingfield Brothers. He paid $4.00 to win. They had purchased Limelight Beach earlier this season and prior owners, Charles Wingfield and his brother, stayed on as co-owners. “We just had too much fun with his last year,” said Charles Wingfield, “And we stayed through this race right here. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it.” “I had two great horses to drive in the Jug today,” Yannick Gingras said. “People asked me who I liked better and I said Lyonssomewhere over Limelight Beach, but this horse came up huge today. He went two big heats today.” “We kinda got lucky in the first heat,” Gingras said, “but in the second heat he was tremendous, he was scary. I was looking at the program and I know there was not a lot of speed in the race and my horse the people had to respect his speed. Tyler’s (Smith) horse got out of the gate better than I thought. I kept my horse moving along. I did not want to go slow and he put in an awesome performance. Let’s Drink On It takes first heat of Jug Harness racing driver and 21-year-old local native, Tyler Smith, took Let’s Drink On It three-wide in the backstretch and was able to grind it out to win the $103,600 first heat of the Little Brown Jug. The race began with Lyonssomewhere (Yannick Gingras) shooting right to the lead from the start of the race with At Press Time (Matt Kakaley) grabbing the pocket seat. They raced that way past the opening quarter in :26.4. Then going to the half mile marker in an easy :54.4, Beat The Drum (Ron Pierce) came first-over to challenge and following his cover on the outside was Let’s Drink On It and Tyler Smith. Once they hit the backstretch, Smith moved three-wide with Let’s Drink On It and after the three-quarters in 1:23, had cleared past Beat The Drum and was coming after pacesetter Lyonssomewhere. Then half way around the final turn, Let’s Drink On It had collared Lyonssomewhere when Gingras’s horse went off-stride and had to be pulled off to the inside as Let’s Drink On It shied to the outside and Matt Kakaley with At Press Time just avoided Lyonssomewhere. Let’s Drink On It was able to regroup right away and Tyler Smith urged him on home to win by one and one-half lengths over At Press Time with Beat The Drum third and also making the final was On Golden Ponder (John Campbell) in fourth place. Let’s Drink On It covered the one mile race in 1:51 and at odds of 3-1 paid $8.80 to win. “He was good today,” Smith said, this horse ain’t got a real lot of gate speed. The way it lined up I figured I would be third or fourth and have to come first-over. But luckily Ron (Pierce) came out first and we were able to get a little cover until the backside. I was able to crossover by the last turn, but Yannick’s (Gringras) horse, I don’t know if I could have beaten him but we were gonna take a good crack at him. “I am happy to win,” Smith said, “and to be in the big race. It would mean the world to me to win this race. I would give back all the races I have won just to win the Jug.” Sired by Art Official, Let’s Drink On It is trained by Joe Seekman and is owned by Tina Seekman, L. Bond, H. Hewitt and V. Boido, Jr. Limelight Beach takes second Jug elimination Limelight Beach picked the perfect spot to win his first race of the 2014 season in 13 tries, capturing the $103,600 second heat of the Little Brown Jug. Given a masterful drive by Yannick Gingras, Limelight Beach was able to sit and draft in second place behind pacesetter and 3/5 favorite McWicked and driver David Miller. They went in Indian-style to the opening quarter in :27 and then easy half mile in :55.2 before the action began to heat up. Somewhere In L A and driver Brett Miller came first-over with He’s Watching (Tim Tetrick) following the outside flow to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then Somewhere In L A and McWicked were ready to lock horses down the stretch but it was Gingras with Limelight Beach, pulling off the rail, sweeping three-wide and looping both horse to win by a half length in 1:51. Somewhere In L A was second with McWicked third and Sometimes Said (John Campbell) fourth and making it to the Jug second heat. Trained by Ron Burke, Limelight Beach is sired by Somebeachsomewhere and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the M1 Stable and Wingfield Brothers. He paid $12.00 to win. “Everyone is supporting trainer Brian Brown this week,” trainer Ron Burke said, “and we are just reaping the rewards from his work as we got this colt from him. Horse was good today. We knew he was better than the other colt we have in. Having the other horse (At Press Time) in the final too is great. Yannick (Gingras) thinks we can get to the lead easy. We have won two Jugette’s and hopefully we can finally win the Jug.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Classic Martine and driver Tim Tetrick faced four other world champions and went right to the lead and never looked back en route to a 1:54.1 triumph in the $121,000 final of the Ms Versatility for older trotting mares. Tetrick made the best use of the rail starting point on a half mile track and shot out to the early lead with Maven (Yannick Gingras) getting the two-hole trip to the opening quarter mile in :27.3. Then to the half mile marker in an easy :57 saw Classic Martine face her first challenge as Ma Chere Hall (David Miller) started up first-over and Bee A Magician (Brian Sears) was able to grab the second-over live cover. They raced down the backstretch and after the three-quarters in 1:25.1, Sears sent Bee A Magician three-wide and make it a three horse fight to the finish down the stretch. Classic Martine would have no part of that as she dug in and held on to win by a half length in 1:54.1. A late closing Charmed Life (Brett Miller) was second with Maven third. It was the ninth win this year for Classic Martine. The four-year-old mare by Classic Photo is trained by Chris Oakes and is owned by Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes, C. Zurich and Edwin Gold. She paid $5.60 to win. “She raced really well,” said trainer Chris Oaks, “She is a very good mare and has a great season. Last week at Chester she had the 8-hole blues, but she bounced back quick. Everyone know my mare can leave like a runner. She real good on her feet and that it would take someone special to beat her out of the gate.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Without ever seeing the “rail” and parked out first-over the entire mile, Sumatra was able to grind it out for driver Brian Sears in capturing the $118,300 Old Oaken Bucket Thursday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. It was a bulky ten-horse field for three-year-old trotters on a half mile track and winning trainer Tom Fanning said this was going to happen. “I don’t like everyone not having their nose on the gate,” Fanning said Wednesday morning. We won’t be able to take back if we don’t leave or else we will be parked out the entire mile. I still think my horse is a contender in here. He has been doing great the last two weeks.” Fanning was right on the mark with that pre-race comment. Uva Hanover (Tim Tetrick) were the first out of the gate and on the early lead with race favorite Datsyuk (Charlie Norris) grabbing the pocket trip. They went to the opening quarter in :28. Then Skates N Plates ( ) came first-over and cleared to the lead with Sumatra and Sears losing their cover and getting parked-out to the half in :56.4. Around the third turn, Skates N Plates was in command with Sumatra gaining ground with every stride. They passed the three-quarters in 1:26 and Sumatra was then able to clear to the lead as Skates N Plates began to fold. Down the stretch Sears urged Sumatra on and they held a two length lead as the field came at them but it was too late as Sumatra held on at the wire to score by a diminishing three-quarters of a length in 1:56.1. Datsyuk was second and Il Sogno Dream (Aaron Merriman) finished third. Sumatra went off at odds of 19-1. “It did work out,” Sears said, “My horse was able to overcome it (first-over). He doesn’t have the handiest speed in the world but he is honest and he tries real hard. I know that horse of Trond’s (Smedshammer) would not hold the lead and my horse got by him on the last turn and that made the race for him. I didn’t put any pressure on him. I let him do it on his own. He’s not real quick but he keeps going and does not get tired and he showed that today.” It was the second win this year for Sumatra. The gelded son of Muscles Yankee other win this year was the Dexter Cup Trot final at Freehold Raceway, once again on a half mile track. Sumatra is owned by Joseph Smith of Vero Beach, FL and paid $41.00 to win. Pinkman takes $59,445 Standardbred Stake Nothing was “breaking bad” for Pinkman in Thursday’s $59,445 Standardbred Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters, as he overcame favorite Crazy Wow in deep stretch for the victory at the Delaware County Fair. Making only his second start, Pinkman and driver Yannick Gingras followed leader Crazy Wow -- who won the New York Sire Stakes championship last Saturday -- for nearly the entire mile before pulling out of the pocket and trotting to the win in 1:57. Crazy Wow finished second, followed by Ralph R and Walter White. The Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman, racing as an entry with Walter White, went off at 5-1 and paid $12 to win. Pinkman and Walter White are named after characters from the television series “Breaking Bad.” Pinkman is a son of Explosive Matter out of the mare Margie Seelster. He was purchased for $77,000 under the name Traffic Jam at the Lexington Selected Sale. His family includes stakes-winner Grassbed, who is the mother of 1990 Dan Patch Award-winner Me Maggie and grandmother of millionaire racehorse and top stallion Credit Winner. In his first start, Pinkman finished second from post eight in a conditioned race at The Red Mile. He has now earned $27,275 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. On Thursday, Pinkman sat behind Crazy Wow through fractions of :29.4, :59.3 and 1:28.4. Walter White made a first-over challenge from fourth place at the half-mile point, but only was able to get within a half-length of overtaking Crazy Wow for the lead. Pinkman found room coming off the final turn and was able to overcome a 1-1/4 length deficit to win by a neck. "He is now a gelding rather than a colt," said Jimmy Takter. "We had some problems that resulted from the castration surgery that took some time for him to recover from so that is why he had a late start. We started him in Lexington last week and I was very happy with him so I decided to put him in here." By Steve Wolf, Ken Weingartner with Kimberly French
Canadian harness racing trainer Mark Austin of Fergus, Ontario, tragically passed away Sunday night in the race paddock at Flamboro Downs. He was only 54. Austin was at Flamboro Downs Sunday night to race his horse, Brocks Fortune, who ended up racing and finishing second in the eighth race. Prior to that race there was major commotion in the race paddock before the start of the fourth race and an ambulance was called to the scene. No details of what took place have been made available. Austin was primarily a trainer, beginning his career in 1980. He had 837 training victories with the horses he raced and purse earnings of more than $9 million. He also drove horses but stopped in 2000. As a driver he had 139 wins and purse earnings of $315,084. Some of his top horses over the years included the top pacer and winner of more than $681,000, Fool Me Once, Go Get Her, Part Shark, XLB Patrick,HeresToPatrick, Sparky Mark, Machleen and many other stakes and raceway horses. Austin is survived by his wife Julie and two girls, Paige and Paula. More details about the incident and funeral arrangements will be posted when announced. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Trainer Tony Alagna confirmed Sunday that Captaintreacherous will not be entered in the $55,000 Winbak Pace on Little Brown Jug Day this Thursday in Delaware, Ohio. The two-time Pacer of the Year and career winner of $3,148,657 was expected to make his only start ever on a half mile track in the Winbak Stake. “He (Captaintreacherous) will not be racing in the Winbak on Little Brown Jug Day,” said trainer Tony Alagna, “We are doing more blood tests on him and after we evaluate the results we will go from there.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
With an ultra-impressive three-wide sweep from seventh place at the three-quarter mile marker, Crazy About Pat and driver Shawn Gray gave racing fans a thrill in capturing the $17,000 Open Trot Sunday. The seventh race feature saw Baby Boy Grin (Stephane Bouchard) leave the grab the lead by the opening quarter mile in :27.4 with Just Make Believe (Frank Coppola, Jr.) grabbing the two-hole spot. By the half mile marker in :57.4, Baby Boy Grin was on the lead but facing a challenge from first-over Slugfest (Jay Randall) who helped push the pacesetter to the three-quarters in 1:27.1 with the Northern Dude (Bruce Aldrich, Jr.) taking up second-over cover. But it was Crazy About Pat and Gray making their big move three-wide and moving into third place by the top of the stretch and then kicking in a :28.3 last quarter mile to win going away by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Baby Boy Grin held for second place with Slugfest third. Trained by Paul Kelley and owned and bred by Patricia Stable, NY, Crazy About Pat is a four-year-old gelding by Crazed and paid $4.50 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
The Committe of Standardbred Horse Racing Ireland (SHRI) are pleased to announce that the contract has been signed with the Fingal Leader Partnership today for the EU Leader grant funding totalling close to €150,000 ($195,000 US) by Mr Mark Flanagan on behalf of the club. This concludes the formal process which has been ongoing since January 2012 and paves the way for the development works to take place over the coming weeks. Funding will cover 75% of the proposed works which includes the following; Track Grader/Conditioner Covered Seated Grandstand Children's Playground area Fully Equipped Commentary/Video Box/Stewards Room Photo Finish Camera CCTV Track Stewarding Camera System Broadcast Video Camera /Streaming Solution Bar Cold Room Office This is a major achievement for the SHRI Club and Portmarnock Raceway and is a vote of confidence for the sport of harness racing in Ireland. “The grant given to Portmarnock has lifted the spirits off all the horse owners and their families here,” said Derek Delaney of Oakwood Stud, “because along with the great racing the venue has staged in the last four week, Portmarnock Trotting Track is now considered the premier track in Ireland.” The committe would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Fingal Leader Partnership also Mr Damien McDonald, Mr Mark Bolger and all the team at Horse Sport Ireland for their support and assistance with this project and Mr Allen McAdam of MCA Consulting. Part of the grant includes that the SHRI Club and Portmarnock Raceway provide 50,000 euros additional funds to complete the project and the club and racetrack will be holding fundraising events in the coming months to raise those funds. “With this grant,” Delaney explained, “it is going to help make the great racing already at the track even better and the improvements will only draw more people to the facility to experience the thrills of harness racing. It will make the track more comfortable, more professional and more fun! “We can’t wait to get started,” Delaney added, “A new grader and track conditioner will help make our racing surface comparable to tracks in the USA. The new infield announcer booth, Stewart’s stand and video setups and camera will all be state of the art equipment and everyone will want to race at Portmarnock. “For the public,” Delaney said, “we will now have a children’s private playground area, a properly covered grandstand and a new office. This is all so great for harness racing at our track. All in all it will bring more luxury and comfort to our venue week in and week out and will make Portmarnock the place to be throughout the race season.” by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Harrah’s Philadelphia harness racing track in Chester, PA was the scene of the $1.2 million Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship finals for three-year-old trotters and pacers Sunday. Four $260,000 finals plus four $50,000 consolation races were featured on the race program. McWicked may have established himself as the early race favorite for Little Brown Jug as he once again defeated a stellar field of three-year-old colt pacers in winning his PASS final. Limelight Beach (Yannick Gingras) was the first on the lead with McWicked and driver David Miller securing the two-hole spot to the opening quarter mile in a quick :26.4. Miller then immediately moved McWicked to the outside and took command. They went untested past the half mile marker in :54.2. It was then that driver Brett Miller came first-over with Somewhere In L A but they were unable to look McWicked in the eye by the three-quarters in 1:22. With the remainder of the stretch to go, Miller kept McWicked in gear and they were able to go on to win by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:48.4. Limelight Beach came on for second place with Somewhere In L A third. Sired by McArdle, it was the ninth win in thirteen starts for McWicked, who is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by the S S G Stables of North Boston, NY. McWicked paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 wagering favorite. With the winner's share of the purse at $130,000, McWicked became harness racing's newest million career winner. Lifetime Pursuit continued her winning ways since capturing the Hambletonian Oaks with her fifth straight win, capturing the $260,000 PASS Championship final for three-year-old trotting fillies in a track record clocking of 1:53.2. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Lifetime Pursuit floated out of the starting gate as Take The Money (Dave Palone) went to the early lead with Cantabs Fortune (Scott Zeron) grabbing the two-hold spot. By the opening quarter mile in :28.4, Gingras moved Lifetime Pursuit to the lead for good. They led to the half in :56.3 as Designed To Be and driver Brian Sears came first-over to challenge but through the backstretch to the three-quarters in 1:25, they were unable to collar Lifetime Pursuit. Then as they straighten out in the stretch, Lifetime Pursuit kicked in another gear and pulled away for a three and one-quarter length triumph. Designed To Be held for second place with Struck By Lindy (David Miller) third. Trained by Jimmy Takter and breeder/owner Brittany Farms, it was the seventh win this year for Lifetime Pursuit, a daughter of Cantab Hall. She paid $2.80 to win. Only two races later did trainer Jimmy Takter get to come back to the winner’s circle again, this time to celebrate as his Father Patrick won the PASS final for three-year-old trotting colts. It was stable mate Nuncio and driver John Campbell the first out of the gate, taking the lead from Don Dorado (Tim Tetrick) as Father Patrick floated on the outside for driver Yannick Gingras. But after the opening quarter in :27, Gingras urged Father Patrick on and they took command of the race for good. Past the half in :55.1 and then the three-quarters in 1:24.3 with just a minor challenge from Wheelsandthelegman (David Miller) who trained a first-over effort in vain. Then in the stretch, Campbell ducked to the inside with Nuncio to try a challenge but they could not gain any ground as Father Patrick and Gingras breezed to a one length triumph in 1:52.4. Nuncio was second with Don Dorado third. Sired by Cantab Hall, it was the eighth win in ten starts this year for Father Patrick. He is owned by the Father Patrick Stable of East Windsor, NJ and paid $2.40 to win. Sandbetweenurtoes saw her eight race unbeaten streak come to an end in the three-year-old filly pace final as she was unable to lead the entire mile, folding up as they came down the stretch and finished seventh. The race was won by 11-1 Weeper and driver Dave Palone, who were able to follow the outside flow third over behind Southwind Silence (Matt Kakaley) who was following first-over Beach Gal (Tim Tetrick) from the half mile marker. Weeper tipped out four-wide on the final turn and was able to gun down the field to win by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:51.1. Also Encouraging (David Miller) was second with Beach Gal third. Sired by Allamerican Native and trained by Kelly O’Donnell, it was the fifth win in ten starts this year for Weeper. She is locally owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable of Paoli, PA and paid $25.40 to win. In the four $50,000 PASS consolation divisions, one for each class, saw the following winners. Somestartsomewhere (Yannick Gingras) won the three-year-old pacing colt consolation for trainer Ron Burke by a head over Kingofthejungle (Tony Morgan) in 1:50.4 and paid $32.20 to win. Ake Svanstedt’s Highest Peak won the filly trot consolation, wiring the field with ease by four open lengths in 1:56.1 for driver Tim Tetrick, paying $5.40 to win. The Linda Toscano trained Uva Hanover captured the trotting colt consolation race with a neck triumph for driver Tim Tetrick over Amped Up Hanover (Yannick Gingras) in 1:54. Katie Said and driver Marcus Miller won the filly pace consolation with game first-over move en route to a two and one-quarter length victory in 1:51. Trained by Julie Miller, Katie Said paid $5.00 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
In response to the Ontario Racing Commission’s (ORC) statement of Thursday, September 4 with their reasoning or rules behind the September 1, 9th race incident at Mohawk Raceway, we felt it best at Harnesslink to just publish for you some of the hundreds of responses that have been seen on different social media venues. These opinions are from racing fans, owners, breeders, trainers, drivers, grooms and bettors not only from North America but throughout the racing world. Of the thousands of people that have viewed the video of the race we were able to find only one person who stated via social media that they thought the ORC Judge’s ruling make sense. We even have comments from people who actually won money yet felt the race should have been declared a “no contest.” Video of the race is with this story. Harnesslink has repeatedly tried to contact any spokesperson at the ORC via numerous phone calls, messages on answering machines and via email, but have yet to hear back from anyone at the ORC office. Thus we decided to print some of the responses from different venues since the ORC seems to be refusing to comment “live” on this incident. Here is what the people who make up our industry had to say. Many of these comments were repeated numerous times by other people. Unfair to people who wagered the race, race should have been declared "no contest" Why didn't the starting gate judge call for a recall and put up his lights when his starting gate was in distress before the start of the race? If the 9th race was OK for three of seven horses then why was the remaining three races on program cancelled due to unsafe conditions? Seems quite obvious there was unsafe conditions for the start of the ninth race. The Judge's did not properly consider all ramifications of not calling the race a "no contest" How can you declare a race as "official" when more than half the field was hindered at the start of the race? Without hurling flaming darts at me - I think their explanation makes some sense. By late scratching four of the seven horses in the race you already returned more than 80% of the money wagered on the race. Why create such dismay by not declaring the race a No Contest? Sometimes you have to throw out the rule book and use common sense but that did not happen here. I am a licensed judge and this was one of the worst calls ever. Should have been an instant no contest ruling. What kind of poor precedent is being set here when the #1 horse, who finished dead last in seventh place, beaten by the four horses that were interfered with at the start, ends up being placed third? The Triactor paid LESS than both the win price and the Exactor! Is this how the judges are protecting the betting public? I have been a horse owner, breeder, and fan for over 40 years. This race I found as self-serving and very selfish for the Judges not to call it a no contest. It was quite clear that there was interference at the start of the race this should have been an automatic recall. This is the worst decision they've ever made. Couldn’t be much worse. I was there...I won something on it ...and I’m still bitching about it.....I had a $3 super 1-2-3-4 and didn’t even get a consolation payoff on that... As a former judge there is no question that the starting gate judge was in error and should have called for a late recall and flash his lights. Situations like this happen and but in this instance the judge’s decision not to declare this race no contest was very wrong. The ORC is supposed to make rulings that are in the best interest of the betting public and the integrity of the game. I had $800 worth of win four wagers all keyed onto #8 in the 9th race... My race 9 key was wiped out by the starting gate before the start and the judges decided that it was in my best interest to give 25% of my money to WEG and the other 75% to players whose horse was not wiped out! Thank you mister ORC for protecting me! How about this idea as a rule of thumb... when more than half the field is interfered with before the start, hit the recall button or rule the race a no-contest! Somebody owes me $800... and an apology wouldn't be out of order. no recall, the starting gate arms where still engaged, fine the starter and give out free programs or betting vouchers as a goodwill gesture, as more bettors head to the slot machines where no human factor is involved just random luck Where is the Ontario Harness Horsemen’s Association or COSA in all of this? Are the three horses getting to split up all the purse money and the other four that were “scratched” getting screwed with none of the purse money? Hopefully we will one day hear back from the ORC about the problems surrounding this race and be able to report back to you. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
“I really feared for my life,” said harness racing trainer Kelvin Harrison, after the truck and trailer he was riding in caught fire and burned to the ground Wednesday afternoon. Luckily, the three horses in the trailer and the equipment were safely removed. The incident happened just 20 miles from Pocono Downs outside of Wilks-Barrie, PA around 4:00 pm. Harrison was traveling with Enrico Robinson, assistant trainer for P J Fraley, using Fraley’s truck and trailer. They had left earlier in the day from Freehold, NJ. Of the three horses going to race at Pocono Downs that evening, one was Fraley’s, one was Harrison’s and one was Mark Kesmodel’s. “I was actually taking a little nap,” Harrison said, “When all of a sudden there was this noise and banging coming from the engine of the truck. Then we saw smoke and Enrico pulled right over. “He was able to find a spot that was sort of a side service road and pulled over,” Harrison explained, “So we were around 40 feet from the main highway. But once we stopped the truck the flames started shooting up and around the hood of the truck. “I told Enrico that we had to get the horses out right away,” Harrison said. “We got the race bike off, opened the trailer and then Andrew McCarthy, a driver who was also going to race at Pocono Downs, pulled over and he came over and helped us and we got the three horses out of the trailer safely. “Then a Good Samaritan whose name I can’t recall pulled over,” Harrison added, “and he said his daughter has a riding horse and he wanted to help so we gave him one of the horses to hold. “Then a fire truck arrived,” Harrison said, “And with their help we were able to get all of the equipment out of the trailer before both the truck and trailer were engulfed in flames and burned to the ground, totally demolished. It was so hot in the equipment room of the trailer that one of coolers was all singed.” Kelvin Harrison said that if the truck was not diesel but a gas truck, it could have been much worse. “I knew we have enough time to at least get the horses out,” Harrison explained,” because it was a diesel truck and it would take a while if it would have blown up. If it had been a gas truck it would have blown right away. We were so lucky. As it was the fuel tank still blew up with a major explosion that nearly spooked the horses so bad they almost got away.” “Andrew McCarthy, the firemen, especially that Good Samaritan who stayed the entire time helping us, nearly an hour and a half,” said Harrison, “they helped bring a happy ending to this event. If not for them it would have been a lot worse than it was.” Harrison said that traffic was tied up for miles and that by the time they got to Pocono Downs, one of the horses was too late to the paddock and was scratched while the other two raced but did not do well after the traumatic experience. “I don’t what could have happened to set that truck on fire,” Harrison said. “I feel sorry for PJ Fraley as he lost a good truck and a nice four-horse trailer. I have never been in a situation like this before and hope to never experience it again. It was very scary.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Late this afternoon the Ontario Race Commission issued a statement in regard to the Judge’s decision on the 9th race at Mohawk Raceway on Monday, September 1, 2014. This was the race where the starting gate was sliding and could not gain traction due to muddy conditions and the outside four horses were hindered right at the start of the race. The Judge’s then declared the race official after “scratching” the four outside horses from the race, leaving just three horses for payoffs. Within minutes the remaining three races on the program were cancelled due to unsafe track conditions. The statement, from the ORC's Manager of Racing Brent Stone, appears below: Thank you for your inquiry regarding the 9th race at Mohawk, September 1, 2014. Please reference the Rules of Standardbred Racing 2012 – Sections 22.32, 22.32.01 and 22.33 Here is a link on the ORC web site. Rules of Standardbred Racing 2012 In their opinion, the ORC Judges at Mohawk determined that the outside horses (4, 5, 7, 8) were prevented from having a fair chance (to quote the rule: “...prevented from having a fair chance to contest a race due to exceptional circumstances, and it is deemed in the public interest to do so, such horse shall be declared a non-contestant...”) However, the Judges also determined that horses 1, 2, 3 were not affected and were able to properly contest this race. That is the lynchpin of their decision – these horses were entitled to contest. Mohawk Racetrack is required to refund bets made on horses that have been declared by ORC officials to be “non-contestants”, as per the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations made pursuant to the Criminal Code. These regulations are administered by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), the federal agency responsible for the supervision of betting. As ORC Racing Officials, the Judges are called upon to apply their considerable experience and knowledge of the Rules of Racing to make decisions that adhere to those Rules. From time to time, some members of the public may disagree with some calls. The public can be assured that the mandate of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is to protect the public interest, maintain the fairness of horse racing and officiate races according to the Rules of Racing. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
On Labor Day Monday at Mohawk Raceway the ninth race had a starting gate malfunction at the beginning of the race and the decision made by the Judges has quite a few harness racing and wagering fans shaking their heads in disbelief? It seems that at the start of the race the starting gate began to slip sideways on the muddy track, then as the starter gave the word “Go” the starting gate did not accelerate. It had no traction on the sloppy surface and hesitated before moving forward. The wings closed but the starting gate could not get out of the path of the four outside horses. Those drivers had to take back and wait until the starting gate regained traction and pulled out of the way. Upon watching the video replay you can clearly see the far outside horse, Romance In Camelot, was trying to leave but driver Doug McNair had to restrain him from running into the starting gate and as a result got away in sixth place. The other three drivers pulled back as well and headed the only place they could, down to the rail. To watch the video click here. As the field reached the quarter pole the inquiry light was already illuminated on the video screen and the track announcer confirmed the inquiry due to the confusion at the start. The race continued without any more problems, at least until the Judges hastily thought it over and came to their decision. The race was surprisingly NOT declared a “no contest” and to add fuel to the fire, the Judges scratched the four outside horses 4, 5, 7, & 8 (the 6 horse was an early vet scratch) declaring them “non-starters” and ordered refunds on all wagers involving them, including those on #7 who had rallied to finish third, but was subsequently scratched. The race including the one, two order of finish plus the horse moved up to third (who had actually finished last) was then declared official. Why was the race not declared a “no contest” when clearly more than half the field was hindered due to the issues with starting gate? Why was there no show wagering on the race yet they paid off on a trifecta? Attempts via email and calls to the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) have gone unanswered as of press time for this article. We were told on one of the calls to the ORC that a statement or findings on the race would be issued to the public after due diligence was completed. We are still waiting for this notice to be sent out. It is wrong to come to any conclusions before hearing what the ORC has to say about the Judges call in this race. But it is more unfair to the betting fans to be subject to such confusion on this race and loss of wagers made on a race that should be been declared a “No Contest.” The fact that it occurred in Ontario; a tightly regulated jurisdiction that often refunds wagers on horses who were deemed to have not been given a fair start; coupled with the fact that the race took place at its flagship Standardbred only racing facility that is known for giving the average bettor more information night in and night out about nearly every aspect of the horses and horsemen in each race than anywhere else in North America, makes the Judge’s ruling that much more questionable. The decision not only affected the betting in that specific race, but everyone who had a live Pick 3 wager (1st, 2nd, or last leg) as well as the Pick 4 (1st & 2nd leg) which we doubt was considered when the decision to declare the four horses that were impeded by the starting gate "non-starters", thereby making them post-race scratches. This then created an incredibly confusing scenario as to which bets were winners in that race (i.e., the aforementioned #7 horse that finished third, but was later scratched because he was one of the four impeded by the starting gate) along with what constituted a live pick 3 or pick 4 wager (3-5 favorite was one of the post-race scratches) going into the remainder of the races which were subsequently cancelled due to unsafe track conditions. Then why was there no show wagering on the ninth race? And more and more and more….Whew…. As Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy…..”I tink you got some splaining to do!” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Lyonssomewhere pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 harness racing season as he led from start to finish in capturing the first jewel of the pacing Triple Crown, the $437,325 60th annual Cane Pace at Tioga Downs on Labor Day Monday. Sent off at odds of 19-1, he paid $40.20 to win. A $35,000 supplement to the Cane Pace paid off for the three-year-old colt by Somebeachsomewhere who will now head out to Delaware, Ohio to go after the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Little Brown Jug, on September 18. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Lyonssomewhere left from post seven and went right to the front with Luck Be Withyou (Ron Pierce) taking the two-hole spot from the rail. They sped to the opening quarter mile in a quick :26 seconds. Lyonssomewhere and Gingras were hot on the lead and took the field to half mile marker in :53.3 as JK Endofanera (Brian Sears) started up first-over with race favorite He’s Watching (Tim Tetrick) second-over. But to the surprise of all, Luck Be Withyou and Pierce came first-over in front of JK Endofanera as they wanted to go first up again Lyonssomewhere to the three-quarters in 1:21.3. It was then that Gingras realized the good position he was in and started to open up his lead by the top of the stretch with Lyonssomewhere as Tetrick has swept three-wide with He’s Watching and started to gain ground with every stride coming down the stretch. But it was too little too late as Gingras kept his colt going strong to win by a half length in a lifetime best clocking of 1:49.4. Doo Wop Hanover (Corey Callahan) was third. Trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound of Brentford, Ontario, it was the fifth win in nine starts this year for Lyonsssomewhere. “Ronnie (Pierce) tried a couple of time to come after us,” said Yannick Gingras, “And he was not one of the horses I wanted to follow. I really did not know what I wanted to do behind the starting gate. I would have followed He’s Watching. My horse is handy enough that I could make my decision once the gate left. “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to hold him off (He’s Watching),” said Gingras, “He’s got an awesome kick. Around the last turn I knew he wasn’t in the top four so I wanted to get some separation between the two of us. It worked.” “We supplemented horse,” Takter said, “And when we got post seven I said to owner Jeff Lyons, Gosh we never get any luck with this horse. He had a great week going into this race. I had a feeling he could do it. I know how good he can be. He is a fantastic horse. “That is why we supplemented him to the Cane Pace,” Takter said, “Because he is so lightly staked we wanted to give him a chance in this race and now we will give him a shot in the Little Brown Jug.” “We are all over the moon and thumbs up after this race,” said owner Jeff Lyons, “We know he is a good horse. This time he got a good trip, a fantastic trainer and driver and so we made it.” The Labor Day card also saw Yannick Gingras triumph in the $25,000 Vernon/Tioga Drivers' Championship, winning the sixth race on the card with Cabrera en route to his title. A pair of wins from Matt Kakaley propelled him into second place, while Ron Pierce finished third. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com