Over the past few weeks one of harness racing’s top young performers, Artspeak, has seemed to have fallen apart to a degree. The two-year-old son of Western Ideal had been enjoying a perfect season, was unbeaten in seven starts and everyone in the industry was talking about him becoming the second “Captaintreacherous” for trainer Tony Alagna. Then came the second week in Lexington. Artspeak made his big move in the backstretch, cleared to the lead after the half mile marker and as they started down the stretch he did something he never did before. He made a break. He went off-stride for driver Scott Zeron, was able to regroup but it was too late as In The Arsenal won the race and Cartoon Daddy was second and Artspeak had to settle for third place. OK, Artspeak is not a machine, he is flesh and blood and he is still a somewhat green young horse that can have a “bad day” so you don’t look back and move forward to the next race. Remember this is the colt that romped in the Metro Final. That next race was the following week, the eliminations at Woodbine Racecourse for the prestigious Governors Cup. Drawing the outside post eight, Zeron gets away in fourth place with Artspeak, can’t seem to follow any cover, then gets rough gaited and makes a break before the three-quarter pole. But once again he regroups for Zeron and finishes third to make this Saturday’s $565,000 final. But what is going on with Artspeak? Why is he breaking? What happened to this unbeaten colt that was all the talk of harness racing? Since Artspeak isn’t speaking to anyone about what happened we went to the next best source, trainer Tony Alagna. “The day he raced at Lexington,” Alagna said, “We chalked that up to the way the track was that day. A few horses made breaks that normally don’t make breaks. We took him home and he was fine. Trained great and then we race him again and he breaks again. “We were really taken by surprise when he broke again,” Alagna said. “I was just happy that he was able to come back and finish third and make the final. We are not really sure why he did it again. I came up early to Canada and trained him today and all systems are good for the weekend.” Artspeak drew post six in the 7th race Governors Cup final. He will be facing nine rivals, most of whom he had handily beaten in the past. “He is still green in many ways,” Alagna explained. “Even when we baby raced him he showed some tendencies to want to make a break on the final turn, but once he started racing that was a thing of the past. He has matured over the summer and he was a good this morning as he has been all season and we are going into the race this weekend in top form. “When you look at his lines,” Alagna said,” in both races where he made the breaks, he still was able to come back and pace his last quarters in :27 and change to finish third. Horses usually don’t come back from breaks and do that. Even with his bobble last week he still paced as fast as the other elimination winner.” Provided that Tony Alagna is correct and Artspeak is back to form, then the rest of the field had better watch out. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
On Halloween this year while children and the “young at heart” will be out trick and treating in the neighborhood, an unsung hero in the sport of harness racing will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Unknown to many of the younger generation in our industry, Aime Choquette, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has been a “behind the scenes” great in harness racing and on October 31, Aime will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Born in 1914 in Sherbrooke, Aime returned to his home town four years ago and lives a quiet life in an assisted living center. He is close to his sister, age 94, and has breakfast with her every week. “I don’t get around as much as I use to,” Aime says, “I have to use a walker now but that has only been this past year. But other than that I think I am doing pretty well for almost 100 years old. I smile every day thinking how fortunate I am to have lived this long. I never thought growing up that I would live to see my 100th birthday.” A confirmed bachelor, Choquette, who did not get into the harness racing industry until he was age 38, had spent the next 52 years devoted to the sport. Starting out as a trainer of show jumping horses in Quebec, Canada, it was in 1952 that Choquette first switched over to become a caretaker in the Delvin Miller Stable, a relationship that would last for more than 30 years and see many world and Grand Circuit champion trotters and pacers come from the Miller Stable. “At the time I was maybe one of the best show jumpers in all of Canada,” Aime explained. “One day at a big event in Trois-Rivieres in 1951 at the Warwick Horse Show, I did a jump that no one had ever attempted before. I jumped the great horse Pete Hackley, over four jumps that were set up next to each other. “Delvin Miller happen to be in the area at that time and heard about the jump I had made,” Aime said, “and he was introduced to me and said he was interested in having me work for his stable and learn about harness racing. At the time the show horse business was going downhill and harness racing was moving uphill, so I took up his offer.” Promoted to second trainer in 1959, Choquette would travel throughout North America on the grand circuit with Delvin Miller for most of his life, prepping yearlings at Miller’s famous Meadow Lands Farm in Pennsylvania and wintering at Pompano Park in Florida. One of Choquette’s quotes that has stood the test of time include: “…we educate them, we never break them…” In referring to the early training of young horses. During Choquette’s long career he has shared his horsemanship, wisdom and friendship with many of today’s racing industry leaders, who were grooms under Choquette’s tutelage. They include the late Andy Grant, former president of the Hambletonian Society, and the late Castleton Farms president, John Cashman, Tom Charters, current president of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, Jerry Monahan, Red Mile GM, former USTA Registrar Bob Leuhrman, Jim Moran of Vernon Downs, horsemen Walter Bonafice, Don McKirgan, Lenford “Bucky” Waugh, Bob Yohn, Soren Landin, Tomas Nilsson, Fred Kristofiak, David Seitz and many others. Some would say that Choquette could be a tough taskmaster, but tempered that with his natural talent for teaching that was often reinforced with the reminder that…“You young fellas are here to learn.” And the horses that Choquette worked with reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing greats including Countess Adios, Dancer Hanover, O’Brien Hanover, Speed In Action, Tarport Hap, Meadow Bright, Songflori, Arndon and Delmonica Hanover, just to name a few. And Amie also traveled around the world with Delvin Miller, racing their great stable and winning nearly every major stakes race in harness racing. Amie alone took Delmonica Hanover to France and prepped her for her victory in the prestigious Prix d’Amerique. “I saw those hills at the Vincennes racetrack,” Aime recalled, “and realized that she (Delmonica) would have to race up and down them and never could miss a step so I would train her in short trips every day, up and down until she knew it made no difference and she would trot up and down at full speed with ease. When she beat the boys it was a great day and such a historic event in harness racing.” Even at age 90, trainers would still call upon Aime to come to Pompano Park and the local training centers to watch their horses train a mile and ask him for his opinion on what they were doing right and wrong. They knew that even if Aime could not sit in a sulky anymore, that his eyesight and knowledge were still so keen. In his later years Aime wanted to help those in the business that were less fortunate them himself and with the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, he would funnel money to their sunshine fund. The Chapter then renamed it the Amie Choquette Sunshine Fund and he has donated thousands of dollars that have been given to horsemen in need. This reporter has been a friend of Amie’s for many years and had the opportunity to visit him in Sherbrooke just one month ago. We had breakfast together with racing photographer Ann MacNeill and fellow journalist Melissa Keith and, of course, Aime was full of himself getting to go out with two young women. Aime is still very spry and his memory sharp as a tack. He took out his scrape book to show the ladies photographs from his early years in both show horse and harness racing. He has a great collection of memorabilia dating back older than he is. And he was so pleased to have company who traveled so far just to visit him. And when we left he say goodbye in what was a trademark response that he and Delvin Miller would say to everyone that came to the stable, “We’re glad you got to see us!” Everyone is being encourage to send Amie a birthday card congratulating him on his milestone birthday. His mailing address is Aime Choquette, 2835 Du Manoir, Apt. 220, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1L 2E6. We know he would love to hear from his many friends he has made over the last, let’s say, 100 years! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Monte America will be holding a meeting for the formation of a Florida Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Chapter in the sunshine state Saturday (10/18) at Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village in Delray Beach, FL. The meeting will take place at 1:30 pm in the track kitchen and refreshments will be served. The meeting will be run by Monte America RUS organizer, Pepe Greco. Monte America (www.monteamerica.com) has been created by leaders in harness racing to expose the racing public to Monte trotting, also known as "Racing under Saddle", or "RUS". The United States Trotting Association (USTA) has sanctioned "RUS" monte trotting and provides qualifying standards and qualifying races (through various tracks) for horses and jockeys choosing to participate. Anyone interested in working with this group for the formation of a Florida RUS Chapter, are encouraged to please try and attend this meeting, or can contact Monte America at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monte racing is an exciting part of international Standardbred racing and is conducted daily at most European tracks as part of their regular pari-mutuel wagering programs. Over the past two years there have been Monte RUS series races throughout North America. The Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village entrance is located on the west side of 441/SR 7 south of Atlantic Avenue and north of Clint Moore Road in Delray Beach. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Last week we came up short on the win bets at $-2.90 for the weekend but more than made up for it in some decent exotic scores that totaled more than $350.00. This week there are tons of racing action Friday and Saturday with the Windy City Pace Friday at Maywood Park, the Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Saturday, Woodbine is back in action with the elims Friday and Saturday for the top freshman stakes, Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds & Goldsmith Maid, Yonkers has the eliminations for the Messenger Pace and Yonkers Trot and we even stop at Batavia Downs for the Robert Kane Memorial Pace. Good Luck! $25,000 Pace Three Diamonds 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 1st race FRIDAY - She is the "little darling" of harness racing. Unbeaten JK She'salady is a perfect 8 for 8 going into her elimination division. She has beaten everyone in this field already this season and continues her domination of the freshman pacing filly ranks. Use Happy Becky and Solar Sister in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Goldsmith Maid 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 3rd race FRIDAY - World record holder Mission Brief either wires the field or runs like a deer. Temperamental filly is super-fast and should be able to win in here. Use Danielle Hall and Stubborn Belle in exotic plays. $37,600 Pace Cinderella Stake 3yo Fillies Maywood Park 8th race FRIDAY - Last week this filly was gutted trying to get to the front and never making it. Lady Shadow has been great for most of the season and has the speed and ability to get the jump on the field and return to winning ways. Use Major Dancer and Kayla Grace in exotic plays. $180,000 Windy City Pace 3yo Colts Maywood Park 9th race FRIDAY - Top stakes race has drawn a very competitive field. After last week's great closing effort in American-National from post 10, I have to go with Somewhere In L A. He is never out of the money and from good inside post he is due to get some great cover to score from. Use Big Boy Dreams and Let's Drink On It in exotic plays. $40,000 Pace Messenger Stake 3yo Colts elim Yonkers 2nd race SATURDAY - This is the prelude to next week's finale as only one will be eliminated from this race. I think the Ron Burke entry of All Bets Off/Forty Five Red will be very tough to beat. All Bets Off has been awesome all season with ten wins. He draws inside and is on a five-race win streak. Use McWicked and National Debt in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Valley Victory 3yo Colt elim Woodbine 3rd race SATURDAY - Having won five of his last six starts makes Habitat the big favorite in here and rightly so. Has beaten almost everyone he has faced this year on the front end and can overcome outside post to do it again. Use Whom Shall I Fear and Noble Power in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 4th race SATURDAY - Being the class of the field does not hurt Nuncio's chances in here, but having only once qualified on a half mile track (won in 1:58.4) at age two makes this a tough start. Draws into easier of two divisions but questionable if can take the turns but Jimmy Takter would not have entered him if he can't handle it. Use Way Outta Here and Don Dorado in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 5th race SATURDAY - The Ron Burke entry of Gural Hanover/Hillustrious looms very tough in here with their 1-2 post positions. Well matched field has to be dwindled down to just four to advance to the final so the action will be fast and furious. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Datsyuk in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot Indiana Sire Stakes 2yo Colt Final Hoosier Park 7th race SATURDAY - This race should belong to Airman Batten as he has won ten of his twelve starts this year and had beaten everyone in the field this season and has done it from on and off the pace. Use Steal N Gas and Homicide Hunter in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace Robert Kane Memorial Invit Batavia Downs 7th race SATURDAY - Changed my mind a couple of times on this race which only shows how competitive the field is. I decided to go with Aracache Hanover off his two straight wins at Yonkers, wiring the field in extra distance races. Use Easy Again and Apprentice Hanover in exotic plays. $25,000 Pace Governors Cup 2yo Colt elim Woodbine 8th race SATURDAY - We Will See tonight if the break by Artspeak was a fluke two weeks ago or if he is getting tired from the tough season. Outside post not much help but with a week's rest if he is fit he will work his magic, get to the front and return to winning ways. Use Dudes The Man and Pierce Hanover in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Fillies Hoosier 11th race SATURDAY - Winner of the Jugette has not missed a beat since her impressive victories in Delaware. Color's A Virgin has won 10 of 14 starts this year and is on a four-race win streak that she should be able to add another triumph to. Use Candy's A Virgin and Always Wearable in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Colts Hoosier 13th race SATURDAY - Having ruled in the Indiana Sire Stakes this season, Always B Miki returns for the rich final for Joe Holloway Stable. Has won five of last six starts, rested a week and should be primed to lay over this field. Use Bluehourpower and If I Lose in exotic plays.
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