It was announced today by Derek and James Delaney of Oakwood Stud that New Zealands top harness racing driver Dexter Dunn and one of New Zealands leading trainers in Cran Dalgety are both committed to coming to Ireland August 7-9 for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend. Dexter Dunn is the 2015 World Driving Champion, which says it all for his ability on the racetrack and he drives for trainer Cran Dalgety’s Kentuckiana Lodge which is one of the leading stables in New Zealand. “What great news to get,” said Derek Delaney, “Last year we had Anthony Butt come over and drive and because he is in Australia now, he could not make it over again this year, so he contacted Dexter Dunn and Cran Dalgety and they jumped at the opportunity to come to Ireland.” The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is the richest stakes race in all of Ireland and the UK. It takes place at Portmarnock Raceway just on the outskirts of Dublin. The Delaney’s have developed the race into a three-day weekend event honoring the memory of their younger brother, Vincent, who tragically passed away in 2011. The weekend gets underway Friday, August 7 with a nearly sold out seminar and gala dinner dance, then Saturday’s card features the elimination races for Delaney Memorial for two-year-old pacers and Sunday’s card has major stakes races headed by the final of the Delaney Memorial and its consolation race. “In my family on my father’s side the Dunn’s are Scottish,” Dexter Dunn said, “but my Nana is a Fitzgerald and they are of Irish decent. “I've never been to Ireland, the UK or Europe before,” Dunn said. “I am looking forward to getting over there and experiencing what Ireland has to offer. The first time I really got a good understanding of racing in Ireland was when Michael O'Mahony came over from Ireland and worked for my father Robert. I heard about the Delaney Memorial weekend when Anthony Butt when over there to drive in it last year and told me what a brilliant time it was.” “My family hails from Scotland,” Cran Dalgety said. “My brother-in-law is Anthony Butt, who came to Dublin last year and thought it was amazing. He recommended I come over and share the experience this year. I have never been to Ireland before. “I know it will be a great experience,” Cran said, “I am sure I won’t be there to train or drive and thus will be able to fully enjoy the experience. I will have my eyes and ears wide open and always looking for bigger and better ideas because we simply never stop learning.” For more information about the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend, go to their website at www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf https://youtu.be/_qumqeXTlkM - Vincent Delaney Memorial Promo
Pompano Beach, FL - Steven Wolf, president of the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Racing Writers Association (USHWA), has announced that the chapter is now accepting applications for its 2015 Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Awards. The scholarship fund was established in memory of Allen J. Finkelson, the former Vice President of Public Relations at Pompano Park and longtime Chairman of the Board of the national USHWA organization. Preference for these scholarship awards will be given to a student majoring in journalism, communications or equine related studies. On average there have been up to $3,000 awarded annually in scholarship money. Applicants must be a resident of the State of Florida and currently accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited college or university in the United States. Criteria for selection include community service, academic achievement, and leadership. Applicants must have demonstrated scholastic ability with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.8 and show evidence of community service and leadership through certificates, awards and/or letters of commendation. Fully completed applications must be postmarked no later than July 15, 2015, for consideration of a September 2015 award. Recipients may reapply annually for a maximum of four years. Applications should be submitted/addressed to the Florida Chapter USHWA, Scholarship Committee, 3508 Sahara Springs Blvd, Pompano Beach, FL 33068. For more information or to receive an application on the internet, contact Steven Wolf via email at email@example.com or Thomas H. Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. From the Florida Chapter USHWA
Offaly, Ireland – Oakwood Stud management has announced that they have purchased the racehorse/stallion Foreclosure N in the United States and will stand him for the remainder of the 2015 season in Ireland. A selling price was not disclosed. “While on our recent tour of the USA last week,” said Derek Delaney of Oakwood Stud, “I met with Mark Weaver at the Meadows and went out and saw the stallion on the farm and thought he would be perfect for us in Ireland. Within a week we struck a deal.” Forclosure N has just about traveled around the world. The stallion by Rocknroll Hanover is from the Australian-bred Fake Left mare Pleasing Package A, who had a great record at the races of 1:50.2 ($324,710). At two he won five times, including victories in the NJSS Championship - where he paced Freehold's half-mile track in 1:54.3h - and his Breeders Crown elimination where he set his freshman mark of 1:52.1f. At three he finished third in his North America Cup elimination and second in his Meadowlands Pace elimination... in both finals he drew PP #10 yet still managed to finish fourth both times, beaten less than three lengths in each. Foreclosure N was a six-time winner as an older horse and his record mile and biggest win of his career came in the $182,000 American National at Balmoral Park in 2012. There he romped by six and one-half lengths in 1:48.4 in defeating Foiled Again, Golden Receiver, Aracahe Hanover and Razzle Dazzle. In that race he took the field to the three-quarters in 1:19. With a final record of 1:48.4 and career earnings of $807,000, Foreclosure N had a promising career until age 5 when an injury sidelined him to stallion duty for the rest of his career. He was owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi and the JJK Stables. Foreclosure N stood his first season in Ohio and now has 19 yearlings from his first crop. “My brother James, who runs Oakwood Stud, says this is a perfect stallion for us to stand,” Derek Delaney said. “The quarantine will go fast and we hope to breed at least 40 or more mares this first season. We have not yet set a stud fee price.” The stuff fee on Foreclosure N will be €700 and interested parties can contact James Delaney at +0851105010 or email email@example.com. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Brittany Farms has added world champion Shebestingin, whose 1:47 victory in a $122,500 Glen Garnsey Memorial division in 2013 at The Red Mile is the fastest mile ever by a female pacer, to its broodmare band. Brittany has purchased the interest in the mare owned by L & L DeVisser and Ted Gewertz. Val d'Or Farms retains its ownership position in the mare. Shebestingin is by Bettor's Delight and is out of the Abercrombie mare Armbro Tussle. She will be bred to Captaintreacherous this spring. "This gives Brittany the fastest 3-year-old filly of all time and the former fastest 2-year-old filly of all time in American Jewel," said Brittany manager Art Zubrod in making the announcement. "Lee DeVisser told me he was thrilled that Shebestingin is going to Brittany because she will be given the best opportunity as a broodmare. Also, we've been partners with Val d'Or Farms for more than 20 years, so this is a great partnership." It was announced earlier in the week that Shebestingin had been retired from racing. Trained by Joe Holloway, the 5-year-old mare had finished second in an overnight on Friday, March 6, at the Meadowlands. She completes her racing career with 18 wins in 36 starts and $759,522 in earnings. Steven Wolf Director of North American and European Operations
Some of the sports top bred two and three-year-olds are wintering at Sunshine Meadows Equesrian Village in Delray Beach, Florida. The following is Part 1 of the list of Standardbreds in training. Due to nearly 400 horses on the farm, the list will be published in sections. BOB BENCAL STABLE Manager – Monica Reschke 2-Year-Olds Catherine Hall – t f by Conway Hall - Charmer Hall Conway Cloud – t c by Conway Hal - Headintheclouds Splashed – t c by Crazed - Take The Plunge Cecada Rhythm – t c by Crazed - Cecada 3-Year-Olds Janie G – t f by Conway Hall - Lady Marian Love Tale – t f by Andover Hall - Always A Starlet Morcredit Blue Chip – t f by Credit Winner - Queen Of The Moor Last One In – t c by Cantab Hall - Dirty Martini Magenta Man – t c by Muscles Yankee - Magenta Hall FRED GRANT STABLE Assistant Trainer Ernie Neiman, III 2-Year-Olds Battle Rhythm – t f by Muscle Massive – Race Judicata Rum Spring A – t f by Cantab Hall – Fun At Parties Legerette – t f by Donato Hanover – Widder Shins Must Be The Love – t f by Donato Hanover – Ideal Harbor DC’s Suzie Q – t f by Groton Hall – Renta Week Noble Manner – t c by Donato Hanover – Con Dolcezza Perhapser – t c by Donato Hanover – Ornellix Shoutycraquers – t c by Explosive Matter – Craquelure Ginger Or Maryann – p f by American Ideal – Boca Babe Unnamed Filly by Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future Me And My Rocksy p f by Rocknroll Hanover – Me And My Baby Tee Dee – p c by Third Straight – Jus Chillin 3-Year-Olds Gematria – t f by Explosive Matter - Ginevre Product Placement – t f by Andover Hall – Con Dolcezza Eleuthera – t f by Cantab Hall - Widdershins Bistrobistro Taj – t f by Pilgrim’s Taj – Freda Hall Jane Eyre – t f by Groton Hall – Truth And Justice First Best – p f by Cambest – Hi Ho Molly Quaint Irene – p f by Dragon Again - Foljambe Guantanamo Bay – p c by Somebeachsomewhere – Up Front Gal Older Horses It’s Complicated – 5 g by SJs Caviar - Before The Rain PAUL KELLEY STABLE Second trainer Kevin Constantine Two-Year-Olds Alliomi - t f by Muscle Massive - Allianna Monarchs Sequel t f by RC Royalty - Armbro Monarch One Way To Win t f by Conway Hall - Winners Only Royal Treason t f by RC Royalty - Art Of Deception Straight A Student t f by Credit Winner - Smarter Than Smart Agincourt Hall t g by Credit Winner - Angela Hall Getin Get Out t c by Muscle Hill - Sierra Marvel Just For Today t g by Credit Winner - Brandnewgirlfriend Bettor Than Silk p f by Bettor's Delight - Silky Skip Jive p c by Rocknroll Heaven - Dancinwiththestarz Three-Year-Olds My Twisted Sister t f by Lucky Chucky - Pretzel Hanover Tootsie Bi t f by Conway Hall - Woodshopper Abir Hanover t c by Credit Winner - Are You Ready Insomniac t c by Crazed - Catch Some Z's Penji Hanover p c by Art Major - Platinum Hanover Older Horses Zoey De Vie t 4yo g by Conway Hall - Pauls Wink Crazy About Pat t 5yo g by Crazed - Dibrizzi Obrigado t 5yo g by Boy Band - Malimony LINDY FARMS STABLE Frank Antonacci - trainer 2-Year-Olds Born Lindy - t f by Cantab Hall – Birthright Gin And Lindy - t f by Lucky Chucky – Rum Boogie Lindy Lohan - t f by Crazed – True Diva Moni Girl - t f by Cantab Hall – Touch Of Moni Strong Legacy – t f by Muscles Yankee – Cordelia Blue Chip Cantab Connection – t c by Cantab Hall – Be My Baby Don Lindy – t c by Crazed – Lindy’s Madona Who Got Lindy – t c by Lucky Chucky – Let’s Do The Lindy Elysium Lindy – t c by Cantab Hall – Olympic Lindy Lindy Possessed – t c by Donato Hanover – Possessed by Lindy Unico – t c by Donato Hanover – Moni Maker Lindy’s Nightmare - p f by Western Terror – Lindy’s Bandita Lindy Beach – p c by Somebeachsomewhere – Real Appealing Unnamed – p c by Somebeachsomewhere – Swift N Shout 3-Year-Olds About To Bee – t f by Explosive Matter – Beehive Lindy Land – t f by Crazed – Nana’s Best Lindy On The Rocks – t f by Lucky Chucky – Rum Boogie Moni From Heaven – t f by Cantab Hall – Moni Maker Ready To Ignite – t f by Cantab Hall – Fireworks Hanover Chucknlindy – t c by Lucky Chucky – True Diva Hercu Lindy – t c by Crazed – Lindy’s Heiress Iron – t c by Cantab Hall – Ivory Lindy Mesmerized – t c by Cantab Hall – Gift Card Paging Doctor Lindy – t c by Cantab Hall – Lindy’s RN Sonic – t c by Muscle Hill – Spice On Ice Whataworkout – t c by Muscle Hill – Southwind Sofia Lindy’s Old Lady – p f by Rocknroll Hanover – Lindy’s Bandita Luck Be A Lindy – p f by Bettor’s Delight – Real Appealing Imagine Dragon – p f by Dragon Again – Town Pro Miss Roulette Lindy – p c by Bettor’s Delight – Antoinette Hanover Older Horses Coco Lindy – 8 t g by Cantab Hall – Nutty Butty Mr Lindy – 4 t h by Cantab Hall – Lindy’s Leading Lady Mambo Lindy – 4 t h by Donato Hanover – Rum Boogie From Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village
Pompano Beach, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Associations held their 24th annual Hall of Fame awards banquet Friday evening with a crowd of nearly 200 present at the Pompano Beach Elks Club. Elected to the chapter’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years and who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry, were owner, breeder, trainer, Tom Audley of Bell, owner/breeders Anthony Amante & Christine Garrity of Amante Standardbreds of Delray Beach and owner/trainer Lou Rapone of Pompano Beach. Also being inducted on the equine side into the Hall of Fame was Amante Standardbred’s great Florida-sired pacer, Hearty Fellow. He raced only at Pompano Park his entire career, nine straight years with 50 wins and earnings of over $380,000. The evening featured a superb job by national Hall of Fame Communicator, John Berry, who the crowds interest with his witty introduction of all the award winners and he also was the auctioneer for the live auction where all of the money was donated to the Florida USHWA Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship Fund, the The Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund and the Lester & Eunice Vance Scholarship Fund. Other awards presented by the Florida USHWA Chapter included the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport, went to former harness racing driving great Lucien Fontaine of Margate. The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, went to trainer Lou Ginesi of Deerfield Beach and the co-presenter of the award was Stanley’s wife, Jody Dancer. The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers went to trainer Mike Deters of Coconut Creek and there to help present the award was none other than Bill “Hollywood” Popfinger. The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport, went to Carol Macomber of Fort Lauderdale. The winner of the Allen J. Finkelson Award recognizing an individual in the sport who has contributed to the positive promotion of the Standardbred industry and being honored this year was Victoria Howard of Boca Raton. Winner of the R.D. Ricketts Award, presented to an owner whose contributions to Florida racing have been outstanding, went to Laurie Poulin of Okeechobee and the winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2014 was presented to Kim and Jay Sears of Osteen. The Peter Haughton Award for the best newcomer to Pompano Park went to Canadian Aaron Byron of Canada who is now one of the leading drivers at Pompano this season. The Dan Gawlas Good Guy Award, presented annually to an outstanding individual who has always contributed positively to the sport, went to Dr. Marah Lee of Lauderdale By-The-Sea. The Florida USHWA Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to longtime owner Heddy Nelson of Tamarac. The annual Caretaker of the Year Award, which is presented to one of the 12 monthly Caretakers selected during the race season in 2014 went to Donna Richards. The award goes to an outstanding individual who, over his or her career, has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for. In addition to the Florida USHWA chapter’s awards, presentations were made by the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association to the owners of the top 2, 3 and older state-bred trotters and pacers from the 2014 season. The annual FSBOA Breeder of the Year Award went for the fifth time to Kim and Jay Sears and the Florida Amateur Driving Club also present their year-end Driver of the Year award which went to Ted “Touchdown” Bowman. The divisions FSBOA Crystal Awards went to the following horses: 2YO Pacing Filly – Gold Star Dynasty 2YO Trotting Filly – Brandy 2YO Pacing Colt – Owosso Flash 2YO Trotting Colt – Railee Workable 3YO Pacing Filly – Limelight 3YO Trotting Filly – Markie 3YO Pacing Colt – Gold Star Kenny P 3YO Trotting Colt – Showing Off Older Pacing Mare – Don’t Spank Me Older Trotting Mare – Tyree’s Teasure Older Pacing Horse – Prairie Jaguar Older Trotting Horse - Lugar By Steve Wolf, for the Florida Chapter USHWA
Ireland – Hundreds of fellow horsemen and women, friends, neighbors and family members attended the funeral Wednesday for John “Red John” O’Donovan at the St Mary’s Parish Church Leap in Cork. The harness racing community, of which John O’Donovan was an active member and participant as an owner, trainer, driver and jockey, came out in full force with a “Guard of Honour” at the funeral. Dressed in their racing colours, the horsemen and women escorted the coach that carried the deceased to the cemetery for his final resting place. Close friends of John O’Donovan spoke of what a great young man Red John was and how his passion towards his career in harness racing was deep within him. The Irish Harness Racing Club (IHRC) and the Irish Trotting and Harness Racing Federation (ITHRF) both paid tribute to him and expressed their shock over the tragedy. "John was a role model for his own generation, a true gentleman in every sense and who lived the dream of all (horse) trotting people," an IHRC tribute declared. O'Donovan (27) drowned in a flooded stream not far from his home at Leap in West Cork. His body was recovered later Sunday after he had been reported missing early Sunday morning after he failed to return home as planned. The death is not suspicious and is being treated as a tragic accident. Mr. O'Donovan, a carpenter by profession, was hailed as "one of life's gentlemen" for his commitment to his community and his love of harness racing. He trained and owned a number of top horses and was best known by his nickname, 'Red John', because of his racing colours. Mr. O'Donovan's horse, 'Blazing Bad Zulu', won the Irish Mare of the Year title at the ITHRF awards in 2014. With this story is a photo collage of Red John O'Donovan. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Delray Beach, FL - Amidst the serenity of hundreds of horses training at Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Center, the countless number of world class Dressage, Jumpers, Show, Pleasure and Standardbred Trotters and Pacers, there lurks a unique individual, a celebrity of sorts, and his name is Henry. Henry is not a horse, nor an owner, trainer or caretaker at Sunshine Meadows. He's a goat. But not your average, everyday, run of the mill goat. Henry is a celebrity! What makes Henry a celebrity? Well, first and foremost, Henry loves Doritos chips. Most goats do as most goats will eat just about anything. But how many goats can handle an agility course with near perfection? How many goats do you know that will sit on command, stand up on his hind legs, come when you call him and can also do a litany of other tricks? And how many goats do you know who nearly had his television commercial on the upcoming Super Bowl? Henry almost did. Owned by Kim Schmidt at Sunshine Meadows, Henry and the stable are doing what celebrities do, being snowbirds in beautiful south Florida for the winter months. Kim is an equestrian trainer and has her Grayson Farm Stable at Sunshine Meadows. She hails from Scottsville, Virginia where she has a farm that she trains and shows from. She is a registered nurse by trade, a dressage trainer, rider and is a breeder of warm blood horses. She teaches riding lessons, trains for owners and buys and sells horses. "Henry is just a one year old," Kim explained. "He is a dwarf Nigerian goat. I got him when he was one month old and have trained him to do an agility course. I have trained dogs for obedience and agility, so why not Henry too. "He was very easy to train," Kim said. "He has learned so much faster than my dogs. Goats love food and goats love to play. So by enticing Henry with food, and boy goats love to eat, he soon learned to jump through the tire, walk up and down the teeter totter, jump over a small fence, climb stairs and even go inside the little tunnel. "Henry loved it so much," Kim said, "that within two weeks he could do the entire course and he wasn't even two months old yet. "Then when I saw that Doritos was seeking commercials for their annual Doritos Crash The Super Bowl contest," Kim explained, "I thought that Henry was so good that we would make a commercial and enter it. "When children come to the farm, Henry loves to do tricks for them," Kim said. "He stands, can walk backwards on his hind legs, he will bow, push a skateboard and some cute other tricks too. "He is very dog-like and follows me everywhere," Kim said. "He is leash trained, and he will come when I call or whistle for him. He has been such a delightful pet to have." OK....Henry is totally awesome, but what about the Doritos Crash The Super Bowl commercial? Every year Doritos runs a world-wide contest for the best television commercials and hundreds are submitted, many done by professionals, but most are from amateur people like Kim Schmidt. The four top commercials selected get aired during the Super Bowl. Each winner gets two tickets to the Super Bowl and a check for $25,000. You can view Henry's commercial "How To Train A Goat" by clicking on this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz8N6szSDmE "It was great to hear from Doritos that they got the commercial and it was in the running," Kim said. "But we just heard back from them that we were not one of the four winners. This was our first time, I know we could have done much better and we will just start putting our thinking caps on now for next year!" Henry also has his own Facebook page at 'Henry The Goat' and people love it. Every time a new photo is posted, he gets more and more likes. Kim had first started putting up photos of Henry on her Facebook page but he became so popular she recently made up his own page. If anyone would like to come out to Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village in Delray Beach and meet Henry, you can contact Kim Schmidt at 434-962-8012. Her website is http://www.graysonfarm.net/ and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. "Henry loves children and adults," Kim said, "and he is so tame and he loves for people to come out and play with him. Everyone is invited to come out to see Henry or talk with me about learning to ride, we just ask that you contact me first to set up an appointment so I can have Henry ready to receive guests." By Steve Wolf, for Sunshine Meadows
We closed out the 2014 season on a losing note so we will start off 2015 on a winning one. Action takes place Saturday night at Woodbine, Meadowlands, Balmoral and Pompano. Good Luck! $22,000 Pace NW 4 or $100,000 Life Woodbine 1st race SATURDAY - Having not seen the rail in quite some time I think that REGAL SON is in a great spot to take this field. He was a game third last time out and with inside post position will get needed cover to score from. Use Bugger Bruiser and Somewhere Fancy in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B-2/B-1 Handicap Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY - Taking a minor shot in here that SHOOTER'S DREAM will be able to handle outside post. Been facing tougher but last time he started from this far out he wired the field at 3-1 and I think he is prime to do it again. Use Al's Hammered and Lindwood Player in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY - It looks to me that WARRAWEE NEEDY is returning to his winning ways and last week wired the field in 1:49.1 to closed out a dismal 2014 on a winning note. I look for him to handle hike in class and take another. Use Wake Up Peter and Doctor Butch in exotic plays. $13,500 Pace Open Handicap Pompano Park 7th race SATURDAY - Last week Prairie Jaguar surprised me by returning to winning ways on the front end. But I don't look for him to repeat. Better off betting the Peter Pellegrino entry of E Z NOAH/LYONS JOHNNY as despite outside posts they have the ability to get good position to score from and they have done it before. Use Prairie Jaguar and Duc Dorleans in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B-1 H & G Meadowlands 8th race SATURDAY - This looks to be the most competitive race on the night and thus whomever can pick the winner will get a good price. I am going with TALKING BLUES as I feel he can handle the hike in class off his last mile, a lifetime record 1:49.4. In tough but has speed to get good cover or maybe even cut the mile. Use Odds On Equuleus and Gold Rocks in exotic plays. $15,000 Pace Invitational Handicap Balmoral Park 5th race SATURDAY - With a game 1:50.1 victory to close out 2014, I see no reason why FORT SILKY can't start off the 2015 with a win too. He has won three of his last four starts, both from on and off the pace so he deserves a shot to repeat in here. Use I'm An Athlete and Ice Scraper in exotic plays. $22,000 Pace NW $16,000 last 5 Woodbine 9th race SATURDAY - Half this field is dropping in class and I love to find one that is "dropping and popping" and I think that will be the case for GD AIRLINER. Was nowhere last start but now gets in with a group he should be able to defeat, even from an outside post. Could pay a nice price. Use In Commando and KG Dragonator in exotic plays. $34,000 Pace Preferred Woodbine Racetrack 11th race SATURDAY - They save the best for last on Saturday night. May be a short field but very competitive. I am going with NICKLE BAG as he has been super sharp finishing first or second in last six starts. He has great closing ability and will be right in the hunt at the finish. Use Modern Legend and Camaes Fellow in exotic plays.
Talk about a battle right to the wire, harness drivers Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Aaron Merriman went at it neck and neck right down to the last of 16 races at Northfield Park Monday, but Wrenn emerged one win ahead of Merriman for the National Harness Racing Driving Title once the program was finished. Going into Monday’s card, Merriman held the national lead by one win, 834 to 833 over Wrenn. But Wrenn drew first blood and then some as he won three straight races, the 3rd, 4th and 5th races and then the tenth race to score a four-bagger on the night. Merriman still had some gas in the tank for the later races as he answered back with a driving double, winning the 13th and 15th races to close the margin to just one win in favor of Wrenn. Merriman had five second place finishes on the night to just one for Wrenn. Wrenn now has 837 victories to Merriman's 836 wins. Now the action resumes at Northfield Park on Tuesday night as both drivers will compete in all 16 races on the program. But it does not end there as Wrenn and Merriman will take it right down to the wire as both drivers will compete on the New Year’s Eve card at Sports Creek Raceway in Michigan with first post at 7 pm. The biggest winner on the card Monday at Northfield Park was Greg Grismore, who led all drivers with five winners. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
The year 2014, just like every season in the history of harness racing, was jammed packed with special events, major stakes races and other points of interest that made the year super exciting and quite a bit controversial. We have highlighted the “Year In Review” as best possible with the top events and races that took place each month. We apology for any news items that were missed. 2014 got off to a terrible start when on January 10 the starting gate at Freehold Raceway went into a spin after the start of a race and came down upon the field and took out most everyone in the race. While all horses miraculously escaped without major injuries, five drivers, Catello Manzi, Debra Rucker, Vincent Ginsburg, Chris Scicluna and Jim Pantaleano were taken to the hospital to be checked out. The worst injured were Manzi and Rucker. The new Miami Valley Racetrack in Lebanon, Ohio tried opening up for live racing on Friday, February 9 but the lights failed to work and thus had to wait until the next night to officially get underway. Sydney Weaver was the at the epicenter of the most potent demonstration of social media as a positive force in harness racing in early February when her beloved mare Sydney Seelster was taken from her in a claiming race at Flamboro Downs. Trainer Guy Gagnon was pilloried on Facebook and Twitter for making the claim and soon cried uncle, agreeing to allow Sydney to claim her mare back. On March 28, two harness racing horses died on impact at Flamboro Downs after they collided head on in a tragic accident. The incident resulted in all tracks in Ontario having to install a siren alarm system by Jan. 1, 2015. April saw horseman Jack Darling take command when he heard that there was no funding to promote some of the sport’s biggest races on television and within a short time and through his own blog, helped raise over $100,000 and thus the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug were able to be televised. In June a major tiff between harness driver Brian Sears and Meadowlands, Tioga, Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural ended up with Sears being barred from competing in qualifying and overnight race events. After less than a week, Gural rescinded the ban. On June 28, harness racing fans saw the fastest trotting mile ever in history as the amazing European star, Sebastian K, win at Pocono Downs in 1:49, shattering the former record that was set on a larger track. With trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt, Sebastian K took harness racing in North America by storm with his amazing speed and racing barefoot with no horse shoes. On July 13, He’s Watching tied the world record on a mile track in winning the Meadowlands Pace in an amazing clocking of 1:46.4. With Father Patrick making a costly break at the start of the race, stable mate Trixton and trainer/driver Jimmy Takter grabbed all the glory in winning the early August Hambletonian Trot. At the Little Brown Jug it was Limelight Beach in straight heats and the same for Color’s A Virgin in the Jugette. Wild Honey became the fastest two-year-old trotter ever on a half mile track with a 1:55.2 triumph. The Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, revived the great Prix D’Ete stakes race with a purse of $200,000 and saw Sunfire Blue Chip and driver Yannick Gingras lower the all-age track record by two seconds with a 1:50.3. October started off with a bang as Mission Brief became the fastest two-year-old trotter in history with her 1:50.3 clocking at the Red Mile for driver Yannick Gingras. On October 4, Dayton Raceway in Dayton, Ohio opened its doors for harness racing with a full house as thousands came out to check the new racetrack. Nuncio and driver John Campbell captured a one-heat $435,000 Kentucky Futurity in 1:51.3, beating stable mate Father Patrick and then went to Yonkers Raceway to take the Yonkers Trot, winning two of the three Triple Crown of Trotting races. Natural Herbie, at odds of 9-1, posted his fourth straight win with a world record performance at Yonkers Raceway Saturday, Oct. 25 in beating many of the best trotters in the world in the $250,000 International Preview. On Halloween, October 31, harness racing’s great second trainer, Quebec’s Ami Choquette, who worked for Delvin Miller for over 50 years, turned 100 years old. Maven brought $750,000 at the Harrisburg sale and became the highest priced racehorse trotting mare sold at public auction in November. She was purchased by Herb Liverman. Yonkers Raceway and the SOANY broke the simulcasting barrier overseas and began simulcasting five races to France/Europe early Sunday mornings with great success and millions wagered on the USA product. The simulcasts will continue in 2015. Harness driver Dave Palone did the unthinkable years ago and caught Germany’s Heinz Wewering to become the sports winningest driver ever as he recorded his 16,754th career victory. This took place at his home track, The Meadows, on Friday, November 14. Palone has now increased his lead, has no plans of an early retirement and his lead may never be bettered. The Breeders Crown helped seal up a number of Dan Patch divisional awards in late November but perhaps the most impressive was that of world champion Commander Crowe coming over to the USA and stealing the limelight with his stakes record 1:51 triumph. He surpassed the $5 million mark in career earnings at age 11 and gave North American fans a thrill to see this world class performer in action. In late November, early December, just one week after Harnesslink exposed to the harness racing social media fans about the abuse that trainer Monica Thors was inflicting on horses in her stable, all seven horses and one goat was taken away by the NJ SPCA. More than 14,000 people “liked” the Stop Monica Thors” page on Facebook and were relentless in going after state officials to do something. They are also raised money and services to care for the horses once they were taken away. In December Hall of Fame driver David Miller paid a $750 fine for dropping his foot and allowed McWicked to hit it numerous times around the final turn of the $301,000 Progress Pace final at Dover Downs. When asked about the penalty, Miller said he would do it again in trying to win the race. His comments set up major controversy in the harness racing social media venues and prompted Jeff Gural to issue a “no tolerance” rule at the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs against any driver who drops their foot other than to pop ear plugs. When Appomattox crossed the wire first in the Free For All Handicap Trot on December 12 at the Meadowlands, harness horse trainer Ron Burke's season earnings moved to $28,118,465, surpassing the mark set by Thoroughbred trainer Todd Pletcher seven years ago. By the end of the year, JK She’salady was sensational with her undefeated season and capped it becoming the first two-year-old pacing filly to ever be name Harness Horse of the Year. But her triumph was unique as top older pacer Sweet Lou was voted the Pacer of the Year by one vote over JK She’salady, but the tables were turned in the final voting for Harness Horse of the Year as the filly beat out Sweet Lou by five votes! Both occurrences have never happened in the history of voting. The year sorta ended on a sour note as Balmoral Racing Club, Inc. and Maywood Park Trotting Association, Inc., two of the oldest horse racing venues in the country and the only harness racing tracks in Illinois, announced Christmas Eve that each has voluntarily commenced Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization cases in Chicago. Let’s hope for a bigger and better racing season in 2015. Happy New Year to everyone! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
After bragging two weeks ago about a winning weekend, we took quite an unenjoyable bath last week with just three wins in nine races so our goal this Saturday will be to rebound with some profits! Good Luck! $12,500 Pace Open Handicap Pompano Park 1st race SATURDAY - Trying to trip handicap in here is difficult this week as Prairie Jaguar did not go to the front last week and was no factor in the race. Thus I am sure he will be gunning for the top this week and am going with THAT'LL BE THE REI to also leave a bit and get the two-hole trip that he can win off of. Will be a good race and whoever wins should pay a decent price. Use Duc Dorleans and the entry of Fancyfeeshark/E Z Noah in exotic plays. $34,000 Trot Preferred Woodbine Racetrack 2nd race SATURDAY - There is no way you cannot go with CHARMED LIFE in here. She has shown her heels to her male rivals in this class the last two weeks as wagering favorite and has been awesome with her powerful late kick for the Menary/Jamieson combo and should do it again. Use Fearless Man and Daylon Magician in exotic plays. $11,000 Trot WO $30,000 Balmoral Park 3 race SATURDAY - Despite being handicapped most of the time with outside posts, FOX VALLEY VETO has been able to overcome them and has won three of his last four starts and the loss last week was just by a head. Not a cakewalk by any means but his late kick ability should aid him in winning again. Use Justice Jet and Surclasser in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap The Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY - With three wins in his last five starts in this class WAKE UP PETER has been sharp for the Remmen Barn and I think he can once again overcome outside post with or without live cover for driver Brett Miller. This one can grind it out with the best right now. Use Golden Receiver and Handsome Henry K in exotic plays. $27,000 Pace NW $28,000 Woodbine Racetrack 7th race SATURDAY - Lots of movement both up and down in class for this race. I like the fact that MACHAL JORDAN is dropping in class and draws the rail. He was a decent fourth in top class last week so the theory of him dropping and popping in here should come true. Two starts back he was a strong winner in 1:51. Use Avatartist and Camaes Fellow in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B1 The Meadowlands 7th SATURDAY - It seems that WARRAWEE NEEDY is going to close out the 2014 season with a flourish after a very dismal season. Million dollar career winner has come back to life versus less and after game neck loss last week he should still be able to handle hike in class and take this group for the Mark Ford Stable. Use Rockin Wizard and Fool Me Once in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B1 The Meadowlands 9th race SATURDAY - Being the only one in this field that is moving up in class, K-LEES SHAKENBAKE should be able to handle the hike in class coming off two straight wins. Last week he was able to close from eighth place on the final turn to nail down a lifetime mark in 1:49.3 and looks to end 2014 on a winning note. Use Sweet Rock and National Debt in exotic plays. $11,000 Pace F&M WO $30,000 Balmoral Park 7th race SATURDAY - Very well matched field of mare will do battle in here and I am going with JUST BY DESIGN. Has Hall of Fame Dave Magee in the bike, has been sharp in last two starts and with the action up front looking to be tough I like the fact that this mare is in perfect spot to get great cover to score from again. Use Ryleigh's Lilly and Party Hangover in exotic plays.
Last weekend ended up on a winning note with a $1 profit on the nine races selected. It's never a bad weekend when you can show a profit. We will try to do it again this Saturday night. Good Luck! $14,000 Pace Open Handicap Pompano Park 1st race SATURDAY - The Peter Pellegrino entry of LYONS JOHNNY/E Z NOAH looms too tough against this short field. Poor Prairie Jaguar keeps cutting mean miles for someone else to win from, losing last three starts by a nose and neck. Both Lyons Johnny and E Z Noah have won their last starts and one of them is likely to get the dream trip behind Prairie Jaguar to win off of. Use Prairie Jaguar and Cadillac Phil in exotic plays. $10,000 Pace NW last 5 Pompano Park 3rd race SATURDAY - With a drop in class from the Open Pace, RAJI'S BLUE LINE may just be able to make the most of once again drawing a good inside post. Last week he could do nothing from the rail and gets a driver change to Ed Hensley, who has been the hottest driver at Pompano this meet. Prior lines show he should be able to win in here. Use Rage N Ryan and That'll Be The Rei in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap The Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY - This is going to be a great race. Top performers going head and head for a good purse. I am taking a shot in here that ODDS ON EQUULEUS, despite being off for two months is ready to pop in first starts back. He was decent in qualifying race and was very sharp when given a good rest but faces some formidable foes in here. Use Wake Up Peter and Handsome Henry K in exotic plays. $27,000 Trot NW $27,000 last 5 starts Woodbine 6th race SATURDAY - Whomever this marewins this close match-up will pay a good price, even the favorite. I am going with INTENSE AMERICA as this mare, one of only two taking on male rivals, is on a roll with two straight wins and thus I feel she can handle the hike in class. She has shown in her last two starts that she can win from either on or off the pace and get a slim call. Use Nowucit Nowudon't and Zeus Lightning in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B-1 Horses & Geldings The Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY - Another well matched group in here. I like return winners and thus am going with ROCKIN WIZARD. He has won his last two starts with impressive scores at both the Meadowlands and Yonkers, coming from off the pace and also wiring the field. And with him drawing the rail he should be game right to the finish wire again. Use Tye Seelster and Dedi's Dragon in exotic plays. $34,000 Pace Preferred Handicap Woodbine 7th race SATURDAY - I kept reviewing this race, trying to find a reason to not pick MODERN LEGEND. Despite being the class of the field and having drawn the far outside post ten I am worried about his time off from racing and if he could be sharp enough in here to overcome outside post. Looking at the rest of the field I really could not find someone who would beat Modern Legend provided he is back in shape and sharp from his last outing, which was not great. But I couldn't find anyone I felt can beat him. Use Machal Jordan and Nickle Bad in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace 3YO Handicap The Meadowlands 8th race SATURDAY - With a two month rest and some strong qualifying wins coming into this race I really like WINDS OF CHANGE. Hails from the Linda Toscano Stable and looks to be ready for a strong effort despite going against some strong competition. This horse is fresh and should be strong to the wire. Use National Debt and Gold Rocks in exotic plays.
Pompano Beach, FL - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Associations president, Steven Wolf, has announced the award winners for the 2014 harness racing season. They will be honored at the association’s 24th annual Hall of Fame Awards Dinner on Friday, January 30, 2015 at the Elks Lodge in Pompano Beach. Elected to the chapter’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years and who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry, are owner, breeder, trainer, Tom Audley of Bell, owner/breeders Anthony Amante & Christine Garrity of Amante Standardbreds of Delray Beach and owner/trainer Lou Rapone of Pompano Beach. Also being inducted on the equine side into the Hall of Fame is Amante Standardbred’s great Florida-sired pacer, Hearty Fellow. He raced only at Pompano Park his entire career, nine straight years with 50 career victories and earnings of over $380,000. Winner of the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport, goes to former harness racing driver Lucien Fontaine of Margate. The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, goes for the second time to trainer Lou Ginesi of Deerfield Beach. The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers goes to trainer Mike Deters of Coconut Creek. The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport, goes to Carol Macomber of Fort Lauderdale. The winner of the Allen J. Finkelson Award recognizes an individual in the sport who has contributed to the positive promotion of the Standardbred industry and being honored this year is Victoria Howard of Boca Raton. Winner of the R.D. Ricketts Award, presented to an owner whose contributions to Florida racing have been outstanding, is Laurie Poulin of Okeechobee. The winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2014 are Kim and Jay Sears of Osteen. The Peter Haughton Award for the best newcomer to Pompano Park goes to Aaron Byron of Canada who is now one of the leading drivers at Pompano this season. The Dan Gawlas Good Guy Award, presented annually to an outstanding individual who has always contributed positively to the sport, goes to Dr. Marah Lee of Lauderdale By-The-Sea. The Florida USHWA Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to longtime owner Heddy Nelson of Tamarac. The annual Caretaker of the Year Award will be presented to an outstanding individual who, over his or her career, has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for. This year’s honoree will be announced shortly. In addition to the Florida USHWA chapter’s awards, presentations will also be made by the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association to the owners of the top 2 and 3-year-old state-bred trotters and pacers from the 2014 season and the annual Breeder of the Year Award. The Florida Amateur Driving Club will also present their year-end awards. Tickets are $65 per person for the full course dinner that begins at 6:00 pm with a one-hour open bar with appetizers. Tables of ten are available. For more information, to purchase tickets, or place a congratulatory ad in the program book, please contact Rosie Huff at the Florida Standardbred Breeders Office at 954-972.5400, email@example.com, or Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757, firstname.lastname@example.org. From the Florida Chapter USHWA
We did not fare that well last weekend with my selections but we shall move forward. First time since back in April that there are no stakes races in our handicapping column. Will just make my job a little harder but hopefully financially rewarding. Good Luck! $34,000 Trot Preferred Woodbine Racetrack 2nd race SATURDAY - Thought I had it nailed down last week but Daylon Magician folded late in the stretch. So this week I am going to go with CHARMED LIFE. He made a terrific three-wide move and closed well in the stretch to beat this group and I think he can do it again. Use Daylon Magician and Charlie Is A Joker in exotic plays. $35,000 Pace Open Handicap Yonkers Raceway 6th race SATURDAY - Despite burning up a lot of win tickets in his last two starts, I still like BEACH MEMORIES in here. I think with a good inside post and showing good gate speed he can work out a perfect cover trip and with that will win against this field. Use BJ's Guy and P H Supercam in exotic plays. $26,000 Pace WO $25,000 last 6 Yonkers Raceway 8th race SATURDAY - While he may have finished off the board in his last two outings, MICKEY HANOVER drops and should be able to pop from the rail. Something wasn't right last week and hopefully they got him good to go in here at a price. Use Orillia Joe and Santanna One in exotic plays. $12,000 Pace Open Handicap Pompano Park 7th race SATURDAY - Lately it has been PRAIRIE JAGUAR cutting the mile for someone else to win off of. But each week he is game to the wire, losing both in photo finishes. I think that Wrenn can rate him better in here and hold on all the way. Use Cadillac Phil and Duc Dorleans in exotic plays. $27,000 Pace NW $28,000 last 5 Woodbine Racetrack 10th race SATURDAY - Four return winners and three others hit the board last week. Makes for a very competitive race so as long as you can pick the winner you will get a nice return. I am going with CAMAES FELLOW. Won last week with ease and is actually dropping down in class for this race. Loves the front end and has won three of last five starts that way. Use Nickle Bag and Calgary Seelster in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap The Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY - Having won and lost here the last two starts by a head and nose, I have to come back with SPEED AGAIN. Shows he can do first-over or on the front end and can work his way up front so outside post should not hinder his efforts. He missed by a head last week from farer out than he is in here. Use Wake Up Peter and Shooter's Dream in exotic plays. $46,000 Trot Open Handicap 1¼ Mile Yonkers Raceway 1st race SUNDAY - Great way to start off the morning with 12-horse extra distance trot. The action is always interesting with a different winner every week. This week I am going with DW's NY YANK. He is the class of the field having won the one mile Open last week and has won in extra distance mile earlier. Tough enough to grind it out if necessary. Use Sevruga and Crazy About Pat in exotic plays. $28,000 Trot NW $25,000 last 6 1¼ Mile Yonkers Raceway 3rd race SUNDAY - Pick the winner in here and you will make money for sure. Tough field going extra distance is tough to handicap. I ended up going with HOORAYFORVACATION. Having the rail is good and with his front end speed he can take a shot at wiring the field or getting great cover. He was no factor from post 11 last week and prior he had won two of his three starts. Use Stir Me Up and Bentley Karan in exotic plays.
Whether you're a horseman from Canada or the USA, one major sport the harness racing community enjoys is the National Hockey League. With the NHL All Star game roughly 7 weeks away, I thought it would be interesting to find out some opinions on who will win the Stanley Cup and who will win the Hart Trophy. One thing is for certain, if a horseman's favorite team loses, he will be razzed, that's for sure! PJ Fraley who hails from Michigan has a soft spot for the Detroit Red Wings. That being said, PJ is a massive Rangers fan and believes Rick Nash will win the Hart. There are many horsemen who are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs... ''for better or worse'' says Greg Blanchard who hasn't lost faith in his Buds but think Stamkos has a good chance at the Hart Trophy. You can add Doug McNair, Bob McClure, Taylor Spitzig, Bruce Richardson and Carmen Auciello as fans of the Maple Leafs. Carmen Auciello adds, "I bleed blue!! This is the Leafs' year! Phil Kessel will be the MVP". Carmen isn't alone in his belief that Kessel earns the Hart Trophy, Doug McNair agrees! Everyone knows the Maple Leafs haven't won since 1967, Leafs fans are constantly reminded by those who favor recent winners or those who simply enjoy taunting fans of the Maple Leafs for fun. Enter Anthony Haughan and Bern Lavigne! Bern is a diehard Ottawa Senators fan and thinks Erik Karlsson will be league MVP and is enjoying the play of the Nashville Predators as his Senators are not looking too good. Bern adds, "I think the Leafs are the weakest team in the NHL!!!" "I'm not a big hockey fan" says Anthony Haughan, "but I still like to torture the rest of the poor Leafs fans around here." Anthony Haughan continues, "I guess I like the Blackhawks and they seem to be tough every year. I think Toews is the best player in the league." Bob McClure agrees with Anthony that Toews will win the Hart Trophy. Sugar Doyle is also impressed with the Blackhawks play and Sugar adds his favorite player is Bryan Bicknell. "I'll be sticking with them come playoff time for a Stanley Cup run." Sugar's favorite team growing up was the NY Islanders and they are looking good. When it comes to league MVP, Sugar agrees it's tough to go against Crosby however he believes Tyler Seguin and Filip Forsberg could be long shot entries. Duane LeBlanc, a Montreal Canadiens supporter, favors the Blackhawks to win as well. Duane adds, "It's tough to say for the MVP so early but I would go with Crosby." There are quite a few horsemen who believe Crosby has a good chance at holding the Hart Trophy for the 2014-15 season. James MacDonald, a diehard Penguins fan is "very confident" Sid the Kid will win it all! You can count Michael Burke and Harnesslink's Steve Wolf in on that sentiment too, though Steve still loves his NJ Devils, though he has not forgiven the Devils management for trading away Martin Brodeur. Travis Henry thinks it will be either Crosby or Ryan Getzlaf who wins the Hart Trophy. Though Travis's favorite team is the Washington Capitals, he likes either the St Louis Blues or the Anaheim Ducks to raise Lord Stanley's Cup. Anthony Macdonald, Scott Young and Bob McClure share the same thought that the Boston Bruins will be skating around the rink hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2015. Anthony Macdonald sees the big Z, Zdeno Chara raising the Hart Trophy eight feet into the air by season's end. I can't wait for the playoffs to start, though every week in the NHL is a rush in itself. Just like going to the races. We're coming up to the half mile marker and anything can happen! By Roderick Balgobin, for Harnesslink.com