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Lake Worth, FL - In harness racing there are purses and prizes to be won when competing, whether it's going for over $1 million in the Hambletonian Trot, or just a local fair race for $2,500, there is always a prize that awaits the winner. Perhaps for the first time ever in horse racing history there will be races held on Wednesday (April 1) and what does the winner of the race get when they arrive in the winner's circle? You guessed it, a case of 12 rolls of toilet paper. And this is no April 1 Fool's Joke! Olympia of Palm Beach Training Center, formally known as the South Florida Trotting Center, will be holding five qualifying races Wednesday morning. Due to the Coronavirus-19, the public is not allowed to attend, but track management is hopeful to have live video and droning of the trotting races. Sam Stathis owns Olympia of Palm Beach Training Center. He has his Celebrity Farms Stable there and has entered seven of his horses in the qualifying races. "We wanted to have a prize for the winner of each race," Stathis said. "and we wanted to have some fun with it. At first the races were going to be for non-winners of a ham sandwich, but due to the hoarders grabbing up all the toilet paper, we switched the prize from a ham sandwich to a 12-pack of toilet paper. Maybe I'll thrown in a six-pack of Corona beer too!" Usually qualifying races are held to determine if a trotter or pacer can go in a specified time to meet the standards set by racetracks. There are never purses or prizes for qualifying races. "Right now," Stathis explained. "While everyone else is building bunkers and waiting for the world to end from Coronavirus-19, we take this virus very seriously and recommend and practice social distancing. It's ironic in a sport where we want to get fans to attend, this time we want them to stay away for everyone's protection. But in turn, we are trying to keep our horses exercised, keep moral up and show the world that we can have some fun with this incredible sport." Of the 12 horses that are competing in the five qualifying races, there is one unique standout performer. His name is Celebrity Maserati. The oldest horse in the field at age ten, Celebrity Maserati, was a top stake winning trotting colt at age two and three, amassing $198,000 in earnings for Sam Stathis's Celebrity Farms and has a record of 1:53. Over the years he has had some injuries that kept him from racing, but not from breeding horses. Over the years Celebrity Maserati (sired by Andover Hall), has bred numerous mares, enough in fact that he not only has three of his sons and daughters competing in the qualifying races, but in the third race Celebrity Maserati starts from post three with Stathis driving and its daughter, Celebrity Serena, starts alongside him in post three. The other "Celebrity" horses that Celebrity Maserati has sired include recent 1:54.3 winner at Pompano Park, Celebrity Miracle (race two), and Celebrity Bianca, whom also starts in race two. Another Celebrity horse, Celebrity Titan, who is sired by Yankee Glide, starts in the first race. He is a brother to Celebrity Miracle. The fourth and fifth races are for pacers and features $101,000 winner Jimi Wind Ricks in the fourth race against $49,000 winner Sweet Deisel. The fifth race spotlights $77,000 winner Rose Run Slider against $43,000 winner Roll With Angel. Some of the sports top harness racing drivers will be competing in the qualifying races including Scott Zeron, Jim Meittinis, Dan Daley and Fern Paquet, Jr. To get a program proof and to watch the video and droning of the qualifying races that will begin at 11:00 am Wednesday, go to www.olympiapalmbeach.com and look for the special links on the home page. Ann-Mari Daley will also be doing Facebook Live of the races from the starting gate. By Steve Wolf, for Olympia of Palm Beach    

Pompano Beach, FL – A crowd of more than 100 harness racing horsemen and women met outside the race paddock at the Isle Pompano Park Saturday morning and heard the positive news they were hoping for. No eviction from the backstretch for horse people and their horses. “What ever you have heard or read over the past few days is to be forgotten,” Said Joe Pennacchio of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association. “We have nothing but good news today.” Pennacchio then introduced Joe Morris, the new Vice-President of Racing for Eldorado Casinos that owns Pompano Park. Morris, a Standardbred owner and breeder and former trainer, was hired just three weeks ago by Eldorado. He is well known by many of the horsemen at Pompano Park and received a loud applause before he spoke. “There is no eviction notice,” Morris started out stating. “We have to look out for each other. We will not evict any horses or people. We will not be throwing out anyone in the dorms. If we (Eldorado) need to help feed people in the backstretch, we will do it. If a trainer can’t afford feed or hay for their horses, we will help them. If a horseman has the opportunity to ship and race at another track and can’t afford it, we will help them. “We don’t know how long this coronavirus will keep us shut down,” Morris said. “We don’t know if we will be able to race this meet right now, but we are already meeting and planning for the race meet next season. “We are also looking into your health insurance,” Morris added. “We will not allow anyone in the backstretch to go without health insurance at a time like this. In today’s world you have to have health insurance and if need be, we will help fund it. We have to look out after each other. “Things are hard enough nowadays,” Morris explained. “And we do not want you to have to worry about going anywhere until you are ready and we want you all to know that we are here to help you.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Pompano Beach, FL - All trainers, caretakers and their harness racing horses in the backstretch at Eldorado's Isle Pompano Park racetrack have been told that they must vacate the premises by March 31, 2020.   The notices were sent out to the horsemen and women at Pompano Park late Thursday morning. The flyers posted in the backstretch state: "Closure Notice....For the safety and security of all, the backstretch will be closing March 31. All dorms and barns need to be vacated by March 31."   "This is just outrageous, dangerous, and just plane disappointing" said Dein Spriggs, President of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association. "The horse people in the backstretch and their horses at Pompano Park should remain stabled right where they are. The backstretch is the safest place for them right now.   "There is almost no place for the trainers to go with their horses and caretakers. Many caretakers live almost year-round in the dorms. Now they want them to move. Where are they supposed to live? This is just so wrong for Eldorado to do this.   "We would like to work things out," Spriggs explained, "But was told by Troy Buswell the Isle Casino general manager at 10:41 AM that Pompano Park was terminating the race meet."   Currently, there are approximately 50 caretakers that live on the backstretch of the track and approximately 650 horses that are stabled on the grounds.   The racetrack was conducting fan-less live racing on Wednesday and now have canceled live racing indefinitely at Pompano Park while Gulfstream Park is still holding their races without any fans.   "Eldorado's eviction of the horses and horse people from the backstretch, along the ceasing of racing, will cause serious financial hardships to the Industry, as well as the safety and welfare of the horsemen and horses," said Spriggs.   by Steve Wolf, for the FSBOA    

Coral Springs, FL - The 2020 Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Banquet that was scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2020, has been postponed until future notice due to the pandemic over Coronavirus-19. The banquet is run by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. The event was to take place at McDivot's at the Carolina Country Club in Margate, FL. Once a new date for the dinner is establish, all participants and guests that have already ordered tickets, or still wish to attending, will be notified. For additional information contact Florida USHWA Chapter president, Steve Wolf, at email, stevenwolf1956@gmail.com or call at 954-654-3757. From the Florida Chapter of USHWA        

It has been reported that John Brennan, chairman of USTA District 12 and a  native of Rockaway Beach, N.Y, has passed away. He was 69. He was the first reported death in New Jersey from the coronavirus.  He was hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center last Friday, and had conditions that included emphysema, diabetes and hypertension, said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. He suffered a heart attack Monday night and was revived, but died Tuesday morning after a second heart attack, Persichilli said. Brennan had not recently traveled outside the United States, she said. Brennan finished school in 1968 and worked as a steamfitter for four years before he began his career in harness racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Has been training horses for more than 40 years, racing stables in New York and New Jersey. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle with Missy Will Do It. Was previously part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian. He was on the board of the SOA of N.Y. for more than 30 years, an HHI delegate for more than 20 years, and a USTA director for 22 years. He was currently the horsemen’s representative at Yonkers Raceway.  More information on funeral service will be posted when available.  by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

Backstreet Shadow once again showed his dominance at Dover Downs, scoring his fourth straight victory at the Delaware harness racing track on Thursday evening, this time wiring the field in the $50,000 Invitational Handicap Pace and setting a track record in the process.. With driver Tim Tetrick handling the lines, Backstreet Shadow left from the far outside eight post and was parked out to the opening quarter mile in :26.2 by Jesse Duke N (George Napolitano, Jr.) Backstreet Shadow, once on the lead, cut the mile to the half mile in :54.3, then the three-quarters in 1:21.1. Bettor Memories (Andy McCarthy) came first-over and was in second as they started down the stretch before tiring on the final turn as Tetrick let the five-year-old Shadow Play gelding have his head. Backstreet Shadow kicked in a :27 last quarter mile to win by two open lengths in 1:48.1, shaving one fifth of a second from the prior record for aged pacing geldings.    Jesse Duke N, despite running in the stretch after tiring, held for second place with Shnitzledosomethin (Corey Callahan) third. Trained by Ron Burke and co-owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Backstreet Shadow has the four straight wins out of five starts this year. He paid $3.20 to win. Sicily upsets in the $32,500 Blue Hen Open Handicap pace. At the start of the race, three horses left for early race position. Sicily took the lead. Blazing Bobby Sox held rail position in 2nd.  Slick Tony and George Napolitano Jr., the race favorite, dropped in third. Wiggle It Jiggleit and driver Montrell Teague dived in behind Slick Tony in fourth.  Teague was hoping to get a 2nd over trip behind Tony and that strategy became a reality past the half. Sicily cut fractions of 26.1 55.2 1:23.  The third quarter was paced in 27.3 Turning for home, Wiggle It Jiggleit fanned three wide in the lane as Slick Tony weakened.  Wiggle It Jiggleit's bid stalled. Sicily powered home and won by three quarters of a length in 1:50.3.   He was sent off at odds of 6-1. Sicily is by Art Major, and is owned by Legacy Racing of Delaware Inc. and Reginald Hazzard II.  Victor Kirby drove the winner for trainer Wayne Givens. Proper One,  who was last at the top of the stretch, circled the pack to finish 2nd for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Carlo Poliseno. Wiggle It Jiggleit finished 3rd for trainer Clyde Francis.    By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink (with files from Dover Downs)

When you are voted Harness Horse of the Year, there are no easy races, even when you are making your first start of a new harness racing season. Such was the case for 2019 Dan Patch Horse of the Year, Shartin N, who was able to close from last place at the top of the stretch to win in her 2020 debut at Dover Downs Wednesday. The special $50,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace saw Write Me A Song (Yannick Gingras) go out to take early control of the race with Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) getting the two-hole pocket trip to the opening quarter mile in :27.1. There was no movement as the field passed the half mile in :55.1 and then things began to take shape in the backstretch. Bettor Joy N (Victor Kirby) came first-over and that flushed Callahan with Apple Bottom Jeans out of the two-hole as they went by the three-quarters in 1:22.1. Meanwhile, Major Occasion A (Andy McCarthy) was on the outside second tier with Shartin N and driver Tim Tetrick still in last place but fanning out four-wide to mount their challenge. Apple Bottom Jeans was able to wear down Write Me A Song, then take command starting down the stretch. It was then that both Major Occasion A and Shartin N each kicked-in another gear and Shartin N was the fastest of all, winning by a long neck in 1:50. Major Occasion A was second with Apple Bottom Jeans third.   “Last year I sent her to the front a lot,” said Tim Tetrick. “This time I told Jimmy (King) that I was taking her back and coming late and she got the job done tonight. She just showed how truly great she is.” Trained by Jim King, Jr. for owners Richard Polliucci, JoeAnn Looney-King and Tim Tetrick, Shartin N, now age seven, is sired by Tintin In America and paid $2.60 to win as the overwhelming favorite. “I don’t know how it can be any better than this,” King said in reference to Shartin N both winning tonight and winning Horse of the Year honors. “Especially the way she raced tonight. Here we go again, I hope.” Shartin N will next race at Yonkers Raceway in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series. The tenth race $27,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace saw Moments Of Joy and driver Victor Kirby leave like a rockets from post eight to take the early lead with Valuable Art (Corey Callahan) grabbing the two-hole spot to the opening quarter mile in :26.2. Content to race Indian-style past the half mile in :55.3, it was not until the field reached the backstretch that Anytime N and driver Art Stafford, Jr. pulled from third place on the rail and came first-over to challenge Moments Of Joy for control of the lead. Past the three-quarters in 1:22.4, Anytime N started to wear down Moments Of Joy and Stafford got his mare to clear to the lead as they started down the stretch. Then, from last place, fanning four-wide on the final turn was Soho Burning Love A and driver Tim Tetrick. Try as they did, eating up ground in the stretch, they came up a head short to Anytime N, who stopped the teletimer in 1:51. Moments Of Joy was third.   It was a lifetime mark and the fifth win in her last six starts for Anytime N. The six-year-old mare by Bettors Delight is trained by Dylan Davis for owner Kalman Saul Liebowitz of Westlake Village, CA. She paid $10.20 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Coral Springs, FL – The Isle Pompano Park is the place to be this Sunday if you ever wanted to see many of the winningest drivers in the sport go head-to-head in tournament action. Seven of the eight drivers each has more than 10,000 career wins. Dave Palone, with an astonishing 19,114 wins, will be in action on Sunday night, along with Tony Morgan (16,622), David Miller (12,914), Tim Tetrick (11,531), Wally Hennessey (10,461), Kevin Wallis (10,281), Peter Wrenn (10,220), and Bruce Ranger (9,172). It’s a homecoming of sorts for Bruce Ranger, the former winningest driver in the history of Pompano Park. He has not driven at Pompano in nearly five years, only returning to racing in New England just over a year ago. He and Hennessey both have numerous driving titles at Pompano, as do Kevin Wallis and Peter Wrenn. The eight drivers will compete against each other in four tournament races, the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th races. There will be live interviews with the drivers during the race program. Credit is due to Pompano Park Director of Racing Operations, Stacy Cahill, for coming up with the concept and race secretary Joe Zambito for putting together a great card of racing. There is also the Pro-Am Tournament in races 2, 3 and 4 when the pros, Dave Miller and Tim Tetrick go against the South Florida Amateur Driving Club members. Who will win the tournaments on Sunday? Your guess is as good as this reporter as when you have so many world class performers in each race, it can be anyone’s to win. I am leaning towards Wally Hennessey and Bruce Ranger. First race post time is 7:20 pm Sunday. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Howard Taylor's Bo Nach won last week's Open Pace at Dover Downs after getting a perfect two-hole trip. So now he moves up to tackle the best pacers at the track and what does he do, how about wiring the field with ease. Thursday's Preferred-Handicap Pace saw harness racing driver Corey Callahan breeze out to the early lead with Eddard Hanover (Tony Morgan) grabbing the two-hole spot to the opening quarter mile in :27.2. The order stayed the same as the field hit the half mile marker in :55.4. Rock The Nite and driver Dexter Dunn started up from seventh place on the outside and they were able to flush Little Ben and Victor Kirby first up. Past the three-quarters in 1:23.3, the order stayed the same as Bo Mach proved to be much the best, holding on in the stretch to win by one length in 1:51.1. Eddard Hanover was second with Little Ben third. It was the second straight win on the new year for Bo Mach. The five-year-old gelding by Mach Three is trained by Dylan Davis for owner Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, PA. He paid $14.40 to win. Backstreet Shadow, who was making his 2020 debut off two sharp qualifying wins, was the betting favorite, but failed to be able to get into the hunt until late and finished four. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.

Vincennes, France – Following the outside cover of Davidson Du Pont, harness racing driver Bjorn Goop and Face Time Bourbon weaved their way around horses and was able to post a two-length triumph to win the 100th Grand Prix d’Amerique race at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes Sunday. It was the 19th victory in just 22 career starts for Face Time Bourbon. The five-year-old son of two-time Prix d’Amerique winner, Ready Cash, is now harness racing newest international trotting star. The race began with a Calvary charge for control of the early lead with horses racing three-wide for the first half mile of the 1.67-mile race (2,700 meters). Billie De Montfort (Gabriele Gelormini) held the early lead, then Excellent (Alexandre Abrivard) got to the front and Propulsion (Orjan Kihlstrom) was able to drop into the two-hole along the rail. And all the while there was Davidson Du Pont and driver Franck Ouvire parked out first-over and not giving up an inch. Meanwhile, Goop and Face Time Bourbon were following their cover second over. Excellent then went off-stride and that allowed Looking Superb (David Thomain) a brief time on the lead, but as they finally reached the top of the stretch, Davidson Du Pont, parked the mile, was in the lead, but Goop moved down along the rail and passed them by with Face Time Bourbon for the victory in 1’11’50. Davidson Du Pont held for the second place with the mare, Belina Josselyn (Jean-Michel Bazire), last year’s Prix d’Amerique winner, finishing third. Bold Eagle was never in the hunt and finished 10th in the field of 18 starters. Ringostarr Treb, making his final start before going to the stud barn, make a break and finished last. Trained by Sebastien Guarato, Face Time Bourbon is owned by Scuderia Bivans SLR. It was his sixth straight win. He went off at odds of 4.9-1 odds. Before the Prix d’Amerique race, everyone at the track was treated to an unbelievable show on the racetrack celebrating American soldiers coming to help France in World War I. The crowds were so packed that is was impossible to try and get on the track apron to watch the show. Luckily for most, it was broadcast on all three jumbo screens in the infield. It was a presentation that left many speechless, amazed and proud to be part of this special day’s events. On the track were the following: 100 children dressed in driver colors with helmets 100 Horse costume parade and dance 100 Harley-Davidson motorcycles parade, each with an American Flag 100 cheerleaders in USA outfits carrying Prix d’Amerique and American Flags Introduction of the 18 drivers in the Prix d’Amerique race, each driver came through the throngs of crowds, holding the hand of a child dressed in USA colors. Drivers giving Hi-Fives to fans, posing for selfies and then were escorted off the track on two-seater Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Before the Prix d’Amerique race there was an outstanding performance of horsemanship by the French Royal Lancers. They performed precision riding with both lances and sabers while their special band played. There was also a very strong undercard at Vincennes with seven Graded Stakes. Total purses for the day was over 1.6 million euros. Major sponsors of this year’s Prix d’Amerique included Case IH Agriculture, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Lalique, RMC Sports Talk Radio, Gras Savoye, Lenotre Paris, FRM (Medicale), 20 Minutes and Printemps Nation. 100,000€ Prix Harley-Davidson This Groupe II stake was monte (racing under saddle) going 2700 meters (1.67 miles). It was a standing start and once the word go was given, jockey Mathie Mottier came charging from the far outside with Fame Music to take a commanding six length lead. As the field settled down, Flicka De Blary and jockey Camille Levesque went on the outside and had to settle for a pocket trip behind Fame Music as those two held a five-length lead over the field. Then as they came around the final turn, Fame Music went off-stride and was pulled to the inside of the track. That left Flicka De Blary and Levesque all alone in the lead and they held that lead through the stretch to win by six open lengths in 1”14’10. Flicka De Blary is a five-year-old mare by Sam Bourbon. She is trained by Thomas Levesque for the Levesque Stable. Flicka De Blary was the 2-1 favorite. 100,000€ Prix Case This Groupe II stake was another monte event but longer in distance at 2,850 meters (1.77 miles). The race belonged to Emir De Robomard and jockey Julien Raffestin who took the early lead away from Aribo Mix (Guillaume Martin) and then led the field nearly the entire race. As they charged down the stretch, Canan Prior and jockey Aurelien Desmarres kept gaining ground and collared Emir De Robomard at the wire to win by a half-length in 1’13’80. It was the 21st win for the eight-year-old son of Sancho Panca, who is owned and trained by Sylvain Desmarres. He went off at odds of 4-1. 100,000€ Prix RMC Sports Talk Another Grade II stake, only this race went behind the starting gate with 14 starters. Gotland (Eric Raffin) was first to leave the cut the mile until halfway through the race when Green Grass (Mathieu Mottier) came first-over, giving live cover to Gu D’Heripre (Franck Nivard). Then in a classic stretch drive to the wire, Gu D’Heripre was able to hold off a late charge by the race favorite, Gunilla D’Atout (Bjorn Goop), to win by a neck in 1’11’60. For Gu D’Heripre, a four-year-old son of Coktail Jet, it was a lifetime mark for trainer Philippe Billard and the D’Heripre Stable. He was the second choice in the race at odds of 4-1. TRACK NOTES: John Campbell, President and CEO of the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Society has been in Paris this week for the big race and was overheard saying that plans are in the works for Bold Eagle to come back to America and race. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Vincennes, France - With twenty minutes to the first race at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes, the traffic jams outside are two miles long, horse vans are trying to cut through and make it to the race paddock area for Prix d'Amerique Day. Lines stretch out from the track entrance as people are trying to get in before the first race goes off at noon. There is also added security checking all bags that are brought into the track. It's a pleasant madness as everyone is trying to get their place to sit or stand for the biggest days of harness racing in the world. There are four elevators on the main floor and it takes around ten minutes to get inside one, even if you have to go down two floors and then back up to the main level and then hopefully you can get to upper floor. Everyone tries to crowd in and then the buzzer goes off and one or two have to leave before the door will close. But being stuck on the elevator at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes is not such a bad thing as each elevator has a television monitor in it so you can views the races. The languages spoken throughout the plant are intense, French, Swedish, English (USA, Ireland, UK), German, Finnish, Norwegian, Italian and more. Same goes in the race paddock.  The best part is that everyone is happy and looking forward to a great day of racing. It's cloudy and some fog but around 50 so it is not so cold like earlier this week and fortunately no rain. The first race just went off and the day starts with a 14-1 long shot, Feline De Calvi with driver David Thomain coming from off the pace to win going away down the stretch.  More to come! by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

Paris, France – Sunday afternoon the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes will transcend into the biggest day of harness racing around the globe. It’s the 100th anniversary of the classic trotting event, the Grand Prix d’Amerique. There will be 18 world class trotters racing from a standing start, 2,700 meters (1.67 miles), down and up a hill, completing for 900,000€ in prize money. But at Vincennes, it’s more than just a rich race. It’s a tribute week honoring America for its help in fighting World War I. The track is already decorated throughout the entire facility with the Red, White and Blue and Stars and Stripes of America. There will be more than 1.6 million euros in prize money for the afternoon. There are 11 races, 7 of them graded stakes. It is estimated that more than 30 million euros will be wagered on the afternoon to evening race program. The races start at noon (6:00 am in the USA east coast) with six races held. Then the following takes place after the sixth race. Parade of 100 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, 100 young drivers, 100 flag bearers, acrobats, dancers, stilt walkers, surprise birthday party for the 100th Grand Prix d’Amérique The 18 drivers in the Prix d’Amerique will be presented individually on the Vincennes Hippodrome de Paris track. The French Royal Lancers Show on the racetrack arena. The post parade of the 18 horses and drivers in the Prix d’Amerique. Then the Grand Prix d’Amerique race will start at 4:10 pm followed by a victory lap for the fans by the official winner of the race. That will be followed by a major winner’s circle presentation to the winning connections followed by the last four races on the program. For the Prix d’Amerique race itself. Bold Eagle is the class of the field. A career winner of 4,956,617€, Bold Eagle is a son of Ready Cash who will have the top driver Eric Raffin in the sulky. He has won the Prix d’Amerique twice, just as his sire did. If he can finish in the top four positions, he will surpass the great Timoko and become the richest French trotter in history. Back in November he came to Canada and the won the Breeders Crown for Older Trotters. The horse most people are talking about is Face Time Bourbon. Also sired by Ready Cash, Face Time Bourbon is a five-year-old stallion that was a late bloomer, but in the past two years has made just 21 starts, but has won 18 times with two second place finishes. His driver, Bjorn Goop, won the Prix d’Amerique in 2018 with Readly Express. There are six mares in the field and the top one is last year’s Prix d’Amerique winner, Belina Josselyn. This nine-year-old daughter of Love You was sidelined with an injury for the better part of the 2019 season but has made a superb comeback. She was so dominant recently in the Grand Prix de Belgique that she may very well be able to defending her title from last year. She also had the great Jean-Michel Bazire driving. Other horses that cannot be overlooked include Propulsion, Billie De Montfort, Davidson Du Pont, Uza Josselyn and Ringostarr Treb, who will be retired to stud duty as the Prix d’Amerique will be his last start as a racehorse. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Vincennes, France – On the eve of the prestigious Grand Prix d’Amerique, American-born trainer, Jerry Riordan announced that this will be the last race for his top performer, Ringostarr Treb. Sired by Classic Photo, Ringostarr Treb has competed in 95 races with 33 wins and career earnings of 1,648,631€. “He is feeling great,” Riordan said of Ringostarr Treb, but this will be the last race of his career tomorrow. It just happens to be the Prix d’Amerique. The important thing for us is that after tomorrow we will not have him anymore. He is going to be a stallion so it’s a happy ending. “He’s ten years old now,” Riordan added. “It’s time for him to stop racing. I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career then racing in the Prix d’Amerique. With all the thousands of people clapping and cheering for the race, we will just think they are cheering for Ringostarr Treb’s last race.” A winner of the 2018 Elitloppet, Ringostarr Treb will be known for his classic battles with Propulsion in many elite races. It is his second time racing in the Prix d’Amerique. He will be driven by Jean-Philippe Monclin and is owned by E. Vam Racing Trotters. John Campbell, Tom Charters and Moira Fanning of the USA’s Breeders Crown/Hambletonian Society were at Vincennes and they were honored in the second race Saturday. Named the Prix Moni Maker, the trio made the trophy presentation to the winner. “I have been to Vincennes three times,” said Hall of Famer John Campbell. “And I regret that I never drove in a race here. I knew the first time I came here I should have asked to drive in some races. It’s such an amazing track, the racing surface is superb, the fans are so supportive of racing. I made a big mistake. It would have been great to have a drive in the Prix d’Amerique, but I would have been happy to get a drive in any race at this amazing track.” The Hippodrome Pari-Vincennes racetrack is an amazing place. There are three huge jumbo screens to watch the races from outside. New this year is a special running board that features what position each horse is in as the race is going. They also have a camera mounted on wires that catches all the action as the field comes down the stretch, very similar to what is done in professional American football. The paddock area for the horses racing that day is attached to the grandstand so people can go back and forth to see the horses with ease. But I know tomorrow it will be jammed, elbow to elbow. On Saturday there was a crowd of 15,000 fans and it will be hard to imagine that tomorrow there will be close to 40,000 fans. Tomorrow Vincennes will be the Kentucky Derby of Harness Racing. The feature race on Saturday was the 100,000€ Prix du Luxembourg. The winner was 18-1 Anzi Des Liards for driver Romain Derieux, who won by one length in 1’10’9, a lifetime record for the upset winner. He is a 10-year-old son of Look De Star. Track Notes: Harnesslink’s Thomas Hicks reported that the final Arqana-Trot Prix d’Amerique Sale at Paris-Vincennes produced some explosive bidding. Overall the sale saw 161 lots sold from 258 presented with gross proceeds of 3,529,000€, an average of 21,919€. The gross was up 1.6% from last year with the average down nearly 6%. Three young females sold by Jean Pierre Dubois led the sale. The sale topper at 370,000€ was hip 228 High Qualita (3f Ready Cash-Qualita Bourbon) that has recorded a win and two placings in four starts for 15,900€ earned. This is a classic pedigree with the dam Qualita Bourbon being a Gr. I winner of 1,538,050€ and this is the maternal family of Mara Bourbon, Kamera Bourbon, Sam Bourbon and the 2020 Prix d’Amerique starter Face Time Bourbon. The other Dubois presented toppers were hip 238 Haiti Dream (3f Love You-Tahiti Dream) that SRF Stable acquired for 200,000€ and hip 223 Gourgandine (4f Bold Eagle-Udine) that brought 160,000€ from Thomas Bernereau. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Grosbois, France – As one of the top harness racing drivers in all of Europe, Bjorn Goop knows his horses and he says that his horse in Sunday’s 900,000€ Grand Prix d’Amerique, Face Time Bourbon, is in prime shape. The horse heads into the Prix d'Amerique on a five-race winning streak. “The horse is good,” Goop stated. “I think it is I that will need to have a little luck.” Goop was referring to and explaining that the Prix d’Amerique is so different from any other horse race because it is done from a standing start. There is no starting gate used for this world class field of horses. “It is not easy to be ready in a standing start,” Goop explained. “You have to stay in your general area and keep on moving, waiting for the word to start. You need to time it just right and yet you need some luck too. “You do not want to be last at the start,” Goop added, “And you do not want to be in the middle of the pack on the rail and then you are trapped for the race and cannot get out.” There are 18 horses going in the Prix d’Amerique, 18 older trotters, most of whom earned their way into the race by winning other Groupe races. More than half the field have each won over 1 million euros with Bold Eagle leading way. The two-time Prix d’Amerique winner has career earnings of 4,956,617€. A win, second or third place finish will put Bold Eagle over the 5-million-euro mark. Face Time Bourbon is a five-year-old stallion by Ready Cash, the same sire as Bold Eagle, who also won the Prix d’Amerique twice. The 2019 race season was superb for Face Time Bourbon as he started just 11 times with 9 wins and two second place finishes. Every one of his starts was in a Groupe I, II or III races. Face Time Bourbon is trained by Sebastien Giuarato, who has three starters in the Prix d’Amerique, Face Time Bourbon, Valko Jenilat and the mare, Billie de Montfort. Face Time Bourbon is owned by Scuderia Bivans SRL, who also has Vivid Wise AS in the Prix d’Amerique. Bjorn Goop has his choice of whom to drive in the Prix d’Amerique and he choose Face Time Bourbon. “He is such a great horse,” Goop said. “He can race well from behind or can go on the front. I think for this race maybe we sit in the middle and see what happens. He is coming into this race in very good shape.” Goop is no stranger to the Prix d’Amerique. He won the race in 2018 with Readly Express and then raced back with him again in 2019 and was third. This past year Goop scored his 7,000th career win and has over 2,000 wins as a trainer. Track Notes: Of the 18 starters in the Prix d’Amerique, 8 are mares. All 18 horses will be not be wearing shoes in the race, which is not uncommon in European trotting. It was also reported that the Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) have posted a better-than-forecast set of provisional results for 2019, with turnover of €9.56 billion and an operating profit returned to fund racing and trotting of €760 million. That is €13 million ahead of budget and will be welcome news to both the Trotters and Thoroughbreds, both of whom have been forced to tighten their belts in terms of running costs in recent years. Saturday’s race card at Vincennes will feature the Groupe II Prix de Luxembourg with a purse of 100,000€. Thursday first day of the Arqana-Trot Prix d’Amerique Sale saw 152 lots presented with 95 sold (62.5%) for gross proceeds of 1,263,000€. Stallion shares and broodmares highlighted the offering, many of the mares being in foal. Charmeause Mayjc (8f Prince Gede) led the sale at 120,000€ to AM Bloodstock. She was bred to Love You in 2019 and is barren, but her Ganymede first dam Teza Josselyn has produced the million euro plus winner Uza Josselyn that starts in Sunday’s Prix d’Amerique. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Vincennes, France – The maiden visit to the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes was an amazing experience to this first-time visiting American. And I never saw a horse on the track. There was no live racing today because the entire grandstand area was jammed packed with exhibits for the Prix d’Amerique Horse Expo plus outside was the annual ARQANA Trot horse sale. Just about anything you could imagine for your horse was there and so were the people, hundreds of people, visiting the booths, socializing with friends and business acquaintances, making deals for stallion breeding’s. They had just about everything that you could want for your horse and then some. And there was champagne, not just bottles, cases and more. Of the 100 or so exhibits I think 70% of them offered perspective business associates’ champagne. And we all drank some. Well, more than just some. I also saw tons of empty bottles stacked or being tossed out. “When you are in France, you drink champagne,” said Filip Van Hauwermeiren, a top breeder and trainer from Belgium who owns Star Breeding. “It is actually less expensive than bottled water or coke.” Hauwermeiren was promoting his stud farm where he not only has local stallions, but can provide breeders with frozen semen from world champion stallions Father Patrick, Trixton, Southwind Frank, Propulsion and Paster Stephen. There were plenty of stud farms there, along with a huge display from Finn Tack of all the equipment you can imagine from harnesses to jogging and race sulkies. There were horse shoes, feed, track surface materials, even a small backhoe just perfect for the smaller farms. Out of the racetrack, on the apron area you could check out the latest horse vans and trailers. There was even a big display of newest Hippocenter that sells swimming treadmills and water therapy units for horses. They even had the newest portable washing machine called My Groom that is able to clean all horse equipment. Not just a winter blanket that a horse has been rolling in the mud with. But you can even throw in the harness and bridle with the bit and this machine will clean it right up and in many cases all you need is the cleaning soap and a little water. It was just amazing. And, for those of you that are hungry, and we all need some food after drinking all that champagne, then just stop by one of the many concession stands that sold hamburgers and fries or perhaps a two pound lobster, some colossal shrimp, oysters and clams for $100 per person. They had it all there.   Check out the photos as they can tell the story of what this major Expo was all about. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Grosbois, France – Growing up in New Jersey in the USA and getting into the harness racing industry, I was around when they broke ground and built exquisite training facilities at Showplace and Gaitway Farms. But they are not that exquisite when compared to Grosbois, just outside of Paris, France. In fact, there may not be another harness racing training facility in world that could be compared to Grosbois. Upon entering the grounds, the entrance way features wrought-iron 20-foot gates attached to 12-foot walls that encompass the entire facility, which is just over 1,000 acres in size. In the far distance you can see a huge Manor House and green grass and dirt roads, also paths that lead to wooded areas with harness racing trotters galore jogging about. We were greeted at the horsemen’s entrance by Damien Beau, who is with the International Department of LeTROT, that oversees all of trotting in France. He was our guide for the private tour. We first went to the home of renowned Swedish and French trainer Anders Lindqvst, who was so kind to show us his home, his office, and his attached courtyard with maybe 40 stalls filled with trotters. There are no pacers in Europe except for Ireland and England. Linqvist first became interested in harness racing at the age of 14. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Linqvist said. “But someone took me on a jog with a horse and I really liked that. My father wanted me in the family business,” Lindqvist added. “but after I worked with the horses a little, I trained a fast mile and that feeling convinced me to go into harness racing. “My first good horse I got I was age 22,” Lindqvist recalled. “And it was at that point that I said goodbye to working for my father part-time and took up harness racing full time. This horse, which gave me many wins, was at the time, sadly named Mr. Nixon. But despite his name he was my foundation horse. Mr. Nixon raced for me 431 times. That is the all-time record still in Sweden. “Then I was once racing in the Elitloppet in 1985,” Lindqvist said. “And after the race with Viroid (finished 5th) I was contacted by Mr. Lew Barash in the USA, asking me to come and race in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway and then I was hooked on international racing. “From there I was on my own for ten years,” Lindqvist explained. Until the great trainer/driver Jean-Pierre Dubois asked me to work for him in France. It was like being invited to be part of the Dream Team in basketball and I have been here ever since.” Lindqvist has driven in 19 countries, even twice in Russia. “When I won my first race in Russia,” Lindqvist said. “I got towards the winner’s enclosure, they stopped me and said they had to take my whip away. This was some security people and I did not understand why. Then I saw that the trophy was going to be presented to me by President Valdimir Putin and realized security would not let anyone get near him with a whip. That was something very special in my life.” Anders home has four bedrooms in addition to the attached 40 horse stalls and he said he pays around $8,000 per month rent for everything. That might seem a lot, but he also rents his spare bedrooms and most of his stalls to other trainers for their horses. He said it is like that throughout Grosbois, although some of the beautiful homes and barn areas are leased by horse owners, who turn around and rent or trade rooms/stalls for trainers and grooms to take care of their horses. Lindqvist also has a coffee vending machine in his office. Why one might ask and Anders jokingly said because during the winter season he has so many visitors he gives away around 4,000 cups of coffee. There are over five miles of just jogging tracks at Grosbois. It also has two tracks that horses can fast work on, a five-eighths mile track and a 15th/16th mile track, where horses can qualify to race at nearby Vincennes Racetrack. They also have an equine hospital on the grounds that is used by some 15 veterinarians. That many vets are needed for the 1,500 racehorses that call Grosbois home throughout the winter season. There are also numerous blacksmith shops on the grounds. At Grosbois, there are about 60 people that work in track maintenance to keep the large grounds clean and the track surfaces in prime shape. They use three different materials that are used on the jogging tracks and horseman use certain courses depending if they want a deep cushion, harder or softer surfaces for the horse’s hooves. You will also see many trotters being ridden at Grosbois as in France they have many trotting races under saddle. This past weekend the richest monte race (monte means under saddle) in the world took place at the Vincennes track with 15 horses racing for a purse of 650,000 euros. There is also a very nice horseman’s cafeteria and a party room on the grounds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The jogging trails also cut through the massive wooded area of Grosbois where people jogging horses have come across wild boar, reindeer, foxes and many birds of prey. The entire area was purchased and developed into the training facility in 1962 and continues to grow. It is 11 miles from the outskirts of Paris and only six miles away from the Vincennes Racetrack. And what if the weather is raining but you still need to work your horse. Then you just head over to the covered training track or perhaps lunge-line your horse at the indoor arena. It’s all at Grosbois. Coming up on Thursday, it’s back to Grosbois we go, this time to visit the special Manor House that is home to the French Trotting Museum and more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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