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There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun

TORONTO, April 7 - Woodbine Entertainment Group today announced that per harness racing handle for the 2014-15 Woodbine Standardbred Fall-Winter meet, which concluded on Monday, April 6, was up in comparison to the same period during 2013-14. A total of 94 race cards were held at Woodbine between October 16, 2014 and April 6, 2015, 22 more race dates than the same period over the 2013-14 racing season. The 2014-15 Woodbine Standardbred Fall-Winter meet recorded an "all-sources" betting total of $138,154,596.15. The average per race handle for the meet was $136,922.30, a 7.2% increase over the same period a year prior. A handle of $4,696,209 on Saturday, April 4 was the largest handle of the Fall-Winter meet. The significant handle was powered by a record-setting Jackpot Hi-5 pool of $2,581,505 wagered into a carryover pool of $847,458 for a total of $3,428,963. More than $3 million was paid out to horseplayers who had the winning Jackpot Hi-5 combination. The single-race handle on the Jackpot Hi-5 dash on the April 4 card of $2,966,808 set a new industry record for largest single-race handle, while the Jackpot Hi-5 pool set a record as the largest total for a single-pool. Sylvain Filion finished the Winter-Fall meet as the leading driver with 119 wins. The veteran reinsman finished the meet as the only driver to top $2 million in earnings. On the training side, Richard Moreau led all conditioners with 87 wins and earnings of more than $1.1 million. The 118-date Mohawk Racetrack Spring-Summer meet kicks off Thursday, April 9. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 28 - Sophomore pacing colts took centre-stage Saturday night at Woodbine for the first leg of the Youthful series. A solid harness racing group of 21 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $15,000 divisions for the opening round of the three-week series event. Fresh off his win in the WEGZ series last Saturday, Dialamara kept the momentum rolling with a 1:52.3 victory in the first division. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Dialamara got away early in fifth and would jump into the outer flow down the backstretch. American Rock, the 9/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter. Around the final turn, Dialamara got right up along side the favourite to set up a stretch battle. In the lane, Dialamara was able to forge past American Rock in deep stretch to win by a head. Team Captain finished third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. A three-year-old son of Lis Mara, Dialamara now has four wins from seven starts this season for trainer Patrick Fletcher. The first leg triumph increases the sophomore's career bankroll to over $92,000 for owner John Lamers. The 1:52.3 clocking lowers Dialamara's career-mark by more than a second. He returned $8.40 to win. In the second division, Legion Of Boom dug deep in the stretch to hold off his rivals and score a 1:55.1 victory. Driven and co-owned by Doug McNair, Legion Of Boom was put right on the front immediately by McNair. After cutting out fractions of :28.1 and :57.1, Legion Of Boom was confronted first up by Pantheon Hanover. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3, Legion Of Boom squared off with Pantheon Hanover in the stretch and would show plenty of grit to hold off his rival and get the job done. Giovanni took the place spot, while fourth went to Nobettorplacetobe. A three-year-old son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is trained by Gregg McNair for his son Doug, who co-owns with Equus Standardbreds Inc. The sophomore pacer now has three wins from six starts in his first season of racing. The winner's share of the purse increases his bankroll to over $41,000. Legion Of Boom's victory was one of four winning steers for driver Doug McNair on the card. The McNair trainee returned $4.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The second round of the Youthful series will take place next Saturday (April 4). For full results from tonight's card click here. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, February 28 - Sylvain Filion closed out the month of February in style with a five-win performance Saturday night at Woodbine. The veteran reinsman scored his first victory of the night in the first of ten-races on the card with pacer Hit And Giggle A. Filion would then get on a roll by winning three-races in a row. Spark Marky in the fifth, Power Move in the sixth and Nickle Bag in the seventh-race gave Filion a grand slam on the evening. Filion's fourth victory of the night with Nickle Bag in the Preferred pace came from a disqualification to the original winner Avatartist. The Milton, Ontario resident would record his fifth victory of the evening in the ninth race with pacer Urbana Bayama. Filion's last drive of the night would finish out of the money. Filion was not the only driver to have a solid night at the office, as Simon Allard completed a three-win night by capturing the last race in upset fashion with Push Back at 30/1. The five-win night for Filion gives him 43 this season at Woodbine and extends his lead in the driver's standings to nine wins ahead of Trevor Henry. Filion will be back in action with five drives on Monday night's card. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

TORONTO, February 21 - Ontario sired four-year-olds were the main attraction Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack in a pair of harness racing winter series finals. The $45,000 Ontario Boys final for four-year-old pacers and the 44,600 Ontario Girls final for four-year-old pacing mares were co-main events on Saturday night's 11-race card. All eyes were on heavy favourite Nirvana Seelster in the Ontario Boys final, as he went for the series sweep. Driven by Phil Hudon, Nirvana Seelster sprinted out quickly to the front to grab his usual spot on the lead and would cruise along in control cutting out fractions of :27, :56 and 1:24.4 In the stretch, Nirvana Seelster continued to pace strong and was never in any danger of surrendering his lead. He posted a final-quarter of :27.4 to score a length and a quarter victory in 1:52.3. Ideal Jet got up to finish second, while Kindofabigdeal took the show spot. A son of Camluck, Nirvana Seelster is trained by Bill Budd for owner Bruce Davy. The four-year-old pacer swept the Ontario Boys series by winning each leg on the front-end. Nirvana Seelster now has three wins from seven starts this year and ten career victories overall. The winner's share of the purse pushes his career bankroll over $145,000. Nirvana Seelster returned $2.80 to win. Nirvana Seelster In the Ontario Girls final, Artistic Fusion was sent off as the heavy 2/5 favourite and did not disappoint winning in 1:53.4. A first-half battle saw a parked out Regally Ready finally clear to the front before the half ahead of Performing Art. However, Jack Moiseyev wasted no time charging Bet Ya up from fourth to overtake the lead from Regally Ready at the half in :55. Meanwhile, Artistic Fusion and driver Sylvain Filion paced along fourth and made a first-over move on the way to the final turn. Artistic Fusion and Bet Ya would slug it out past the three-quarter pole in 1:23.4 to bring the field into the lane. In the stretch, Artistic Fusion powered by Bet Ya and paced on to the win the Ontario Girls final by a length and a half. A hard-closing Jakardez got up for second, while Bet Ya finished third. A daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion captured the first leg of the series, but then saw her four-race win streak snapped in last week's second leg by Bet Ya. The series finale victory improves her record to five wins from six starts in 2015. Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino for owner Mike Foote and now has an Ontario Girls title to go along her Blizzard series triumph a month ago. Artistic Fusion now has 11 career victories and earnings of over $142,000. She paid $2.90 to win. Artistic Fusion In order to be eligible to the Ontario Boys and Girls series, the Ontario sired four-year-olds had to be non-winners of $100,000 lifetime or $50,000 in 2014 as of October 31, 2014. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, February 13 - The frigid temperatures continued Friday night at Woodbine, but the harness racing action was hot in the second legs of The Count B and Ontario Girls series. Round two of The Count B for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings drew 13 horses split into two $17,000 divisions, while the Ontario Girls for four-year-old pacing mares second leg featured a field of ten in a lone $18,000 division. In the first division of The Count B, the talk of the tote-board was the undefeated Camvicted, but a final turn and stretch battle took just enough out of him to suffer his first career defeat. Driven by Trevor Henry, Camvicted got away second early, but was quickly right lined to the front around the first turn. It appeared the favourite was going to get to call all the shots, but Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair came first up around the final turn to confront the leader. After a third-quarter of :28.1, Camvicted came into the stretch with Legion Of Boom breathing down his neck. The two geldings went toe-to-toe down the lane, but would be picked off late by the hard-charging His Boy Elroy and Jody Jamieson. Situated fifth and more than five-lengths off the front at the three-quarter pole, His Boy Elroy unleashed a late rally of :27.4 down the centre of the track to score the victory by a length in a career best 1:55.1. Camvicted had to settle for third, as Legion Of Boom edged by him late to finish second. A three-year-old son of Jeremes Jet, His Boy Elroy finished fourth in an opening leg division. He is trained by Jean Guy Belliveau for owner Dan Mac Rae. Friday's second leg victory was His Boy Elroy's first win of 2015 and his second career tally. He now has over $31,000 banked from 15 career starts. His Boy Elroy returned $13 to win. His Boy Elroy The second division of The Count B saw plenty of action down the backstretch, but once Conversation Boy and Sylvain Filion found the front it was game over. Conversation Boy got away in fourth, as Newbie sprinted out to the lead. The lead was short lived, as immediately down the backstretch Nobettorplacetobe moved from second to first. However, leg one winner Dialamara followed from third and circled around to become the third leader by the mid-way point. Filion kept the chain going and rushed Coversation Boy from fourth to first before the final turn and that would be the winning move. Conversation Boy reached the three-quarter pole in 1:26.1 and then paced comfortably down the lane holding off Dialamara to win by three-quarters of a length in a career best 1:54.1. Nobettorplacetobe finished third, while Newbie took fourth. A son of Tell All, Conversation Boy was able to turn the tables on Dialamara, as he had finished second to his counterpart in a first leg division. Conversation Boy is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Robert Key and now has two wins from six starts this season. The second leg victory now gives him four career wins and pushes his career earnings over $47,000. A $2 win ticket on Conversation Boy returned $4.70. Conversation Boy Later on in the evening, it was the ladies turn to shine in the Ontario Girls series. Bet Ya and trainer-driver Jack Moiseyev got to the wire just in time to score the leg two victory. A four-year-old daughter of Jeremes Jet, Bet Ya got away in fifth and made a first-over move down the backstretch. She would eventually clear by the favourite Regally Ready before the final turn and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1. In the stretch, Bet Ya and Moiseyev were able to create some separation on their rivals and appeared to be on their way to victory, but Artistic Fusion made a late rally to make things very tight at the wire and put the photo-finish camera to use. In the photo, Bet Ya prevailed by a nose over Artistic Fusion in 1:54 for her first win in two starts this year and seventh of her career. Jakardez got up to finish third. Bet Ya is owned by Joanne Colville and Nancy Macnevin. Friday night's victory pushes her bankroll over the $100,000 mark to $108,430. The clocking of 1:54 is also a new lifetime best for the Ontario sired mare. Bet Ya paid $7.30 to win. Bet Ya Both series will conclude next week with their respective fianls. The $43,800 final of The Count B will take place next Friday (February 20). The $44,600 Ontario Girls final will take place the next evening (Febraury 21) to go along with the $45,000 Ontario Boys final. The second leg of the Ontario Boys is scheduled for Saturday night. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

TORONTO, Februrary 6 - The eleven-race program Friday night at Woodbine was dominated by a pair of harness racing drivers and a conditioner. Driver Trevor Henry was on fire Friday night, as the reinsman won five of his nine drives on the card. Henry kicked off the night by winning his first three drives on the card. Henry guided Dialamara and Camvicted to victories in The Count B Series in races one and three. He then completed the hat-trick in the fifth race behind trotter Hie Benny. The Arthur, Ontario resident would score his fourth victory in the seventh race behind trotter O Narutac Perfetto and then completed the high-five by winning the eighth race with pacer Rubis Prescott. While Henry had the biggest night of all on Friday, driver Sylvain Filion also had a solid night at the office. Filion won three races from ten drives on the card. His first victory came in the second race behind trotter Exemplar. The Milton, Ontario resident picked up his second victory of the evening in race six, the first leg of the Ontario Girls Series, with pacer Artistic Fusion. Filion completed his own hat-trick in the ninth race behind trotter Grande Diablo. The success for Henry and Filion also benefited trainer Richard Moreau, as WEG's leading trainer won three races from his eight starters on the card. Filion guided two of Moreau's winner, Exemplar and Grande Diablo, while Henry drove the other winner, Camvicted. Henry, who is first in the WEG driver's standings, now has 28 wins on the season, three more than Filion. Meanwhile, Moreau's training triple gives him 20 wins this season and extends his lead in the trainer's standings to six over Joe Cirasuola. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred

TORONTO, February 6 - A pair of winter harness racing series got underway Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Count B Series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings saw two $17,000 divisions contested, while the Ontario Girls Series for four-year-old pacing mares needed just one $18,000 division for the first leg of the three-week event. A field of seven battled in an eventful first division to get Count B action underway. Conversation Boy, the 4/5 favourite, got away early in fifth, but made a break as the field turned into the backstretch. The miscue was quickly resolved and driver Sylvain Filion elected to roll the favourite to the front, eventually clearing in front of the leader Newbie just after the midway point. Conversation Boy would lead the field around the final turn, but was confronted first up by Dialamara and driver Trevor Henry. Meanwhile, Legion Of Boom, the 5/2 second choice, was pacing along fourth, but made a break just before the three-quarter pole taking himself out of contention. In the stretch, Conversation Boy and Dialamara would slug it out, while Newbie came off the rail to the outside to make it a close three-horse finish. At the wire, Dialamara came away with a three-quarters of a length victory over Conversation Boy in 1:54.3. Newbie finished third. Legion Of Boom recovered from the final turn break to finish fourth, but was placed back to sixth for interference while on a break. A three-year-old son of Lis Mara, Dialamara was making his first start of 2015. The sophomore now has three career wins from nine starts for trainer Patrick Fletcher and owner John Lamers. Friday night's victory pushes his bankroll over $40,000 and the clocking of 1:54.1 lowers his lifetime mark by more than three-seconds. Dialamara returned $10.70 to win. In the second division, Camvicted went gate-to-wire to remain undefeated in three starts. Driven by Trevor Henry, Camvicted sprinted out to the lead ahead of his five other rivals and was able to call the shots without any challengers through the first three-quarters of the mile. Camvicted posted fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:26.4 and faced his first challenge when His Boy Elroy came first up from fourth around the final turn to draw within half a length of the leader as they turned into the stretch. In the stretch, Camvicted and Henry were able to fight off His Boy Elroy and Shippen Out on the far outside, while also keeping Nobettorplacetobe locked in the pocket to win in 1:56. Shippen Out finished second by a length, while Nobettorplacetobe finished third just ahead of His Boy Elroy. A three-year-old son of Camluck, Camvicted has now won the first three starts of his career in 2015 for owners Doug & Dennis Belan and Brian Fitzgerald. The sophomore pacer is trained by Richard Moreau and now has a bankroll of $22,500. A $2 win ticket on Camvicted returned $3.20. In order to be eligible to The Count B Series, the three-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. Artistic Fusion carried the momentum from her Blizzard Series sweep into round one of the Ontario Girls. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Artistic Fusion left from post nine and was parked past the opening-quarter before eventually clearing to the front in the first turn. Filion was able to tap the breaks in the second-quarter and reach the half in :58. Around the final turn, Mea Lilley Mark came first up to challenge the leader and the mares past the three-quarter pole in 1:26.2. In the stretch, Artistic Fusion put away Mea Lilley Mark, but had to deal with Performing Art, who got a two-hole trip, coming at her on the inside. Artistic Fusion was able to hold off Performing Art to reach the wire first and win by a head in 1:56.1. Jakardez got up for third, while Bet Ya finished fourth. Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino and has now won four consecutive starts to remain undefeated in 2015. Friday night's win was the tenth of her career and pushes her career earnings over $115,000 for owner Mike Foote. Artistic Fusion returned $3.90 to win, In order to be eligible to the Ontario Girls, the four-year-old pacing mares had to be non-winners of $100,000 lifetime or $50,000 last year as of October 31, 2014. The second leg of both The Count B and the Ontario Girls will take place next Friday (February 13). Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 26 - Not even the cold temperatures could cool off the red-hot harness racing trainer Richard Moreau Monday night at Woodbine. Moreau's stable sent out seven starters in six races over the course of Monday's 10-race card and visited the winner's circle an impressive five times. Driver Sylvain Filion teamed up with Moreau to drive four of the five winners. The Moreau barn didn't waste anytime winning races, as they swept the first three races of the night. Trotter Big Package, a first time starter for the Moreau stable, won the opener with Filion in the bike in 1:57.1. In the second race, three-year-old pacer Camvicted also won in his Moreau barn debut to remain unbeaten in two career starts. Trevor Henry piloted the sophomore to victory in 1:54.1. Trotter Tymal Colossus kept the barn's hot streak going by easily winning the third race with Filion in 1:57. Moreau didn't send out his next starter until the sixth race, but he picked up right where he left off. Pacer Arrived Late and Filion turned in a big last-quarter to track down and defeat the favourite Velocity Headlight in 1:56. Moreau would next send out a pair of trotters in the top-level conditioned trot and score his fifth victory in upset fashion. Filion was able to get the veteran trotter Watkins to the wire first for a 13-1 upset in 1:55.2. The other Moreau starter, Cracker Zack, finished fourth. Moreau's final starter on the evening, Gonna Rock N Roll, finished out of the money in the final race of the night. The five win evening for Moreau catapults him ahead of Joe Cirasuola for top spot in the WEG trainer's standings. Moreau has won 15 races from 74 starters in 2015 at Woodbine. The veteran conditioner is a finalist for the O'Brien Award as Canada'a top trainer in 2014. The O'Brien Awards will take place on Saturday, February 7. Moreau will look to keep the hot streak going when he sends out three starters Thursday night at Woodbine. Richard Moreau's five winners Race 1 - Big Package Race 2 - Camvicted Race 3 - Tymal Colossus Race 6 - Arrived Late Race 9 - Watkins Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 23 - The first two stake finals of 2015 took place Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack and it was the Sylvain Filion show. The veteran harness racing reinsman could be poised for another big year, as he took home both the $45,000 Snowshoe Series and $40,000 Blizzard Series finales. The Snowshoe Series final appeared to be wide-open on paper, as seven different horses won divisions during the first two legs. Kindofabigdeal and Filion came into Friday's final as the most consistent horse in the ten-horse field and left with another big effort. The Richard Moreau trainee got the cue to leave hard from Filion and sprinted out to the quick lead, but was quickly challenged for the front by A Boy Named Suuzz. Filion allowed the outside challenger to clear and got a perfect two-hole trip for Kindofabigdeal. Kindofabigdeal sat patiently in the pocket until Filion made his move at the top of the lane. In the stretch, Kindofabigdeal overtook the lead by the eighth-pole and paced away to win in 1:53.3. Bad Bug came on late to make it close and finish second by half a length, while A Boy Named Suuzz held on to hit the board in third. A four-year-old son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal has been on a roll over the last few months at Woodbine, but has recently been unable to come through in series finals. The Moreau trainee won a leg of the Autumn Series, but finished second in the November final. Last month, Kindofabigdeal won the opening two legs of the Valedictory, but finished third as the favourite in the Boxing Day finale. The series final victory Friday gives the pacer seven career wins from 13 starts and pushes his bankroll over $88,000 for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. Kindofabigdeal paid $5.70. Kindofabigdeal In the Blizzard Series final, heavy favourite Artistic Fusion completed the series sweep with a 1:54.4 victory. Trained by Joe Agostino, Artistic Fusion and Filion got away in fourth and came first up down the backstretch to challenge the leader A Fearless Affair. Those two mares would battle side-by-side past the three-quarter pole in 1:25.2, but Artistic Fusion was too much to handle for A Fearless Affair in the lane. Artistic Fusion wasted no time leaving her rivals behind and cruised home to win by 2 ¾ lengths. Badlands Love got up for second, while A Fearless Affair dug in to finish third. A four-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion has been firing on all cylinders over the last few months in series action. The Agostino trainee won the Autumn Series final in November, finished second in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day and has now swept the Blizzard Series. Artistic Fusion surpassed the $100,000 mark in career earnings with her eighth career win Friday night for owner Mike Foote. She returned $2.60 to win. Artistic Fusion Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 15 - Favourites struggled early, but Artistic Fusion turned the tide and made another bold statement in the Blizzard Series Thursday night at Woodbine. Just like round one, three $16,000 divisions of the three-week series for three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares were contested. In the first division, Bettim Jenny got up at 22-1 to pull off the upset in 1:56.3. Driven by Roger Mayotte, Bettim Jenny got away fifth and would pace along in that position for the majority of the mile. Mappos Moenhay, a leg one division winner, left hard to get the lead, but would duel with Tango Bayama to the half-mile before finally clearing to the front. Bettim Jenny got into the outer flow just after the midway point and was situated second over behind the favourite Wildcat Magic around the final turn. In the stretch, Wildcat Magic took the lead at the top of the lane, but Mappos Moenhay battled back on the inside. However, Bettim Jenny would surge by the top two in the final eighth of the mile to score the upset win by three-quarters of a length. Mappos Moenhay took the place spot, while Wildcat Magic had to settle for third. Bettim Jenny is trained by Jeffrey Lilley, who shares ownership with Rodney McGrath, and was coming off a fifth place finish in last week's opening leg. The four-year-old daughter of Largo won four of 24 starts last season, racing primarily in the Maritimes. Thursday night's victory is her fifth career win and pushes her bankroll over $32,000. The clocking of 1:56.3 is also a new career speed badge for Bettim Jenny. She paid $46.10 to win. Deuces For Charity was all heart to win the second division in 1:55.3. Driven by Paul Macdonell, Deuces For Charity flashed good early speed to grab the front and posted an opening quarter of :28. MacDonell decided to drive on in the second quarter and did not allow Sweet Princess, who was at the leaders saddle pad, to clear to the front and posted a half of :56.2. After putting away Sweet Princess, Deuces For Charity hung up a three-quarter time of 1:25.1 to bring the field into the lane. In the stretch, P L Hurricane, was first over around the final turn, paced up along side Deuces For Charity and took a neck advantage at the eighth-pole. However, Deuces For Charity dug in along the rail and fought back to retake the lead and defeat P L Hurricane by half a length. Onyourmarknatava, the slight 8/5 favourite over P L Hurricane, got up for third. Deuces For Charity is owned and trained by Kelly Goodwin and was coming off a second place finish in a division of the opening leg. The four-year-old daughter of Armbro Deuce won three of 15 starts last year and is now one for two in 2015. The leg two victory gives Deuces For Charity four career wins and more than $30,000 in career earnings. The mile of 1:55.3 lowered her career mark by close to two seconds. She returned $14.90 to win. In the final division, Artistic Fusion went off at 2/5 and turned in another easy-looking victory to set herself up for a chance at a Blizzard Series sweep. Artistic Fusion came in Thursday's second leg off a close to eight length victory in the first round a week prior. However, another first leg winner, A Fearless Affair, took a bit of support away from the heavy favourite, but ultimately was no match. Artistic Fusion and driver Sylvain Filion got away in fourth, but quickly surged to the front in the second-quarter and never looked back. After posting fractions of :57.4 and 1:26.3, Artistic Fusion accelerated away from rivals Badlands Love, who was first up, and A Fearless Affair, who got a two-hole trip, to win by 2¾ lengths in 1:55.2. A Fearless Affair ended up finishing second, while Badlands Love took the show spot. A four-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino for owner Mike Foote and is now two for two this year after winning five of 19 starts last season. Artistic Fusion now has eight career victories and earnings of over $86,000. The final of the Blizzard Series will take place next Friday (January 23) along with the final of the Snowshoe Series. Round two of the Snowshoe Series is set for Friday night with three divisions on the card. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

TORONTO, January 9 - Round one of the Snowshoe Series continued winter series action Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Four $16,000 divisions of the series for three and four-year-old pacers that were non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014 were contested Friday evening. In the first division, Vegas Rich went gate to wire to pick up the victory as the second choice on the board. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Vegas Rich cut the mile and set fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:27, before pacing home in :28.3 to score a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:55.3. P L Heavenly, the heavy 3/5 favourite, was first up around the final turn, but had to settle for second. Dragon Seelster finished third. A four-year-old son of Million Dollar Cam, Vegas Rich is trained by David Gibson, who shares ownership with David Goodrow Stable and Glenn Traver, and is now one for one this year. Vegas Rich now has three career victories and pushes his bankroll to over $40,000 with the victory Friday night. He returned $6.40 to win. Kindofabigdeal did not disappoint as the 1/5 favourite and won the second division in 1:56. Also driven by Filion, Kindofabigdeal picked up second over cover around the final turn and capitalized off that trip to pace by his rivals and score a three-quarters of a length victory over Ramblingamblinman. Newbie finished in the show spot. A four-year-old son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc and is now one for one in 2015. Last season, Kindofabigdeal won five of 10 starts and banked more than $53,000. Friday night's victory pushes his career earnings over the $60,000 mark. Kindofabigdeal paid $2.70 to win. Another favourite delivered a victory in the third division, as Whistle Jimmy K picked up his fourth win in his last five starts. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Whistle Jimmy K got a two-hole trip and followed closely behind American Island until just before the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, American Island tried to hold off Whistle Jimmy K, but the favourite eventually pushed his way by in the final eighth to prevail over American Island by a length and a half in 1:55.4. Mittcent Van Gogh finished third. A four-year-old son of Mach Three, Whistle Jimmy K is trained by Ben Wallace and had won his final three starts of 2014 before finishing second last week in his 2015 debut. Whistle Jimmy K now has four career victories and earnings of over $26,000 for owners Brad Grant and Wallacestandardbreds Inc. A $2 win ticket returned $3.70. In the final division, Decisive Destiny and Trevor Henry scored an impressive victory in 1:55.2. A four-year-old son of American Ideal, Decisive Destiny got away sixth and was able to get in the outer flow on the way to the half. Around the final turn, Decisive Destiny was third-over and just a little more than three lengths off the lead. In the stretch, Henry showed Decisive Destiny a clear path and he paced right by his rivals to record a 3 ½ length victory. A Boy Named Suuzz finished second, while Bad Bug got up for third. Decisive Destiny is trained by Shawn Robinson for Robert Hamather and was making his second start of 2015. Last year, the son of American Ideal won three of 20 starts for earnings of just under $40,000. Friday night's victory was his fourth career triumph and pushes his career bankroll over $47,000. Decisive Destiny paid $8.70 to win. The second leg of the Snowshoe Series will take place next Friday (January 16). Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications

TORONTO, January 8 - It may have been a very frosty evening, but that didn't get in the way of some impressive fillies and mares in round one of the Blizzard Series Thursday night at Woodbine. A total of 24 three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares were split into three $16,000 divisions in the first leg of the three-week series for non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. The windchill throughout Thursday night's card made the conditions feel below -20 Celsius, while the Ontario Racing Commission judges allowed a two-second variant. In the opening division, Artistic Fusion lived up to her 1/9 billing, cruising to a 1:56.1 victory. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Artistic Fusion sprinted out quickly to grab the early lead, but would have to take back to second in the first turn, as a pesky Spiritina drove on to overtake the lead through an opening quarter of :27.2. However, Filion wasted no time removing Artistic Fusion and quickly took back the front with the four-year-old mare. After posting fractions of :58 and 1:27, Artistic Fusion put her rivals in the rearview mirror and opening up a massive advantage in the stretch and jogged to a 7 ¾ lengths victory in 1:56.1. Deuces For Charity, who was first up in the third-quarter, finished second, while Docs Hollywood finished third. Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino and has been on a roll over the last few months. The daughter of Artistic Fella won the Autumn Series final back on November 28 and finished second in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day. She is now one for one to start 2015 after scoring five victories from 19 starts last year for owner Mike Foote. Artistic Fusion's career earnings now exceed $78,000. She paid $2.30 to win. The second division was a battle from start to finish between the two favourites with A Fearless Affair coming out on top. Badlands Love and Sylvain Filion, the slight even-money favourite, grabbed the early lead, while A Fearless Affair and Simon Allard, the second choice at 6/5, got in the two-hole right behind the leader. Badlands Love set fractions of :27.3, :57.2 and 1:27, but as she reached the three-quarter pole Allard popped the pocket with A Fearless Affair to take their best shot at the leader. In the stretch, A Fearless Affair took a slight advantage early in the lane, but put Badlands Love to bed in the final-eighth of the mile to score a 3 ¼ lengths victory in 1:55.4. Badlands Love held on for second, while Onyourmarknatava got up to take the show spot. A Fearless Affair is trained by Shawn Robinson for owner Robert Hamather and is coming off a three for 15 season last year. The four-year-old daughter of Western Ideal is now one for one this year and now has four career victories and earnings of over $50,000. She returned $4.50 to win. In the third and final division, Mappos Moenhay went to the front and never looked back winning in 1:57.3. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Mappos Moenhay cleared to the front as the field hit the opening quarter in :28.3. The four-year-old daughter of Real Desire would go on to hang up fractions of :59.2 and 1:28.3, before pacing a final-quarter of :29 to hold off her rivals. All The Ladies turned in a strong final-quarter to finish second over P L Hurricane in third. Mappos Moenhay is trained by Jean Guy Belliveau for owners Carol and Hailee Campbell and is coming off a six victory season last year from 26 starts. The leg one victory is her eighth career victory and pushes her bankroll to over $42,000. The clocking of 1:57.3 equaled her lifetime mark. Mappos Moenhay returned $5.10 to win. Winter series action continues Friday night at Woodbine with the first leg of the Snowshoe Series for three and four-year-old pacers. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications

TORONTO, December 19 - A long shot and a repeat winner prevailed in round two action of the Valedictory Series Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $15,000 divisions of eight starters were contested in the second leg of the three-week series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. In the first division, Verbalize and Roger Mayotte pulled off a 66-1 shocker in 1:53.1. American Island sprinted to the lead, but a parked out Major Deagan would over take him for the front at the opening quarter in :26.3. American Island wasted no time going right back to the lead in the second quarter and would carry the lead into the stretch after posting fractions of :54.3 and 1:23.1. In the stretch, the outer flow around the final turn would close in on American Island and Verbalize, who was seventh and third over at the three-quarter pole, had the most speed to sprint by them all to score a two length victory. Ransom Demand took the place spot, while Mittcent Van Gogh finished third. A son of Tell All, Verbalize is trained by Edward Galinski for owner Ronald Dale Randall of Berlin Center, Ohio. Verbalize now has four career victories and four wins in 21 starts this season. The winner's share of the purse boosts his career earnings to over $23,000. Sent off as the longest shot on the board, Verbalize returned $134.40 to win. The second division featured a matchup between the two leg one winners Kindofabigdeal and Company Man. A showdown between the two never materialized, as Kindofabigdeal went straight to the front and never looked back. A son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal was put on the front by driver Sylvain Filion, while Company Man got away last and over 14 lengths from the lead. Kindofabigdeal posted fractions of :26.4, :55.3 and 1:24, before sprinting home in :28.2 to score a two length victory over Rural Art in 1:52.2. Company Man got into the outer flow down the backstretch and was third over around the final turn. The son of American Ideal paced a strong last quarter of :27.2 to finish third. Kindofabigdeal is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. of Hudson, Quebec. The three-year-old has now won five of nine starts this year in his first season racing. His bankroll currently sits at just under $50,000. Kindofabigdeal paid $4.50 to win. The top ten money earners from the first two legs to enter the final will contest the $35,000 Valedictory Series finale next Friday afternoon (December 26) at Woodbine. Post time for the Boxing Day card is 1 p.m. Live racing continues Saturday night with an 11-race card beginning at 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG

TORONTO, December 12 - Three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were in the spotlight Friday night for the first leg of the Valedictory Series at Woodbine Racetrack. 19 sophomore colts and geldings were split into two $15,000 divisions for the opening leg of the three-week series. In the first division, Kindofabigdeal, the heavy favourite, lived up to his billing with a three length victory in 1:52. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Kindofabigdeal was second at the opening quarter, but quickly scooted to the lead in the second quarter and never looked back. The son of No Pan Intended set honest fractions of :55.4 and 1:24, before rolling home in :28 to score the opening leg victory. Mittcent Van Gogh took the place spot, while Ideal Shadow finished third. Kindofabigdeal is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Hudson Standardbred Stb Inc. The three-year-old has now won four of eight starts in his first season of racing for earnings of over $42,000. He paid $3.60 to win. Kindofabigdeal In the second division, Company Man pulled off an 18-1 upset with James MacDonald in the bike. Rural Art, the even-money favourite, was first up around the final turn pressing at the leader So Bad Im Good. Meanwhile, Company Man was third over following closely behind Ransom Demand. In the stretch, Rural Art could not get by So Bad Im Good, but Ransom Demand and Company Man swept by the top two on the far outside. At the wire, Company Man got the best of Ransom Demand to score a two length victory in 1:52.2. So Bad Im Good held off Rural Art to round out the top three. A son of American Ideal, Company Man is trained by Allen Tomlinson for owner Daniel Mitchell. Company Man, who had been racing south of the border over the last few months, has now won three times from 16 starts this year and now has earnings of over $45,000 in career earnings. The clocking of 1:52.2 is a new career mark for Company Man. He paid $39 to win. Company Man In order to be eligible to the Valedictory Series, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $50,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. The second leg of the Valedictory will take place next Friday (December 19). Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications 

TORONTO, November 28 - It was a frosty night Friday at Woodbine, but Mario Baillargeon and Sylvain Filion were both on fire in the Autumn Series finals for three-year-olds. The three-week series for Ontario sired three-year-olds came to a close with a finale for each division. In the first final of the evening, Meadowview Vicky completed the Autumn Series sweep with a 1:57.2 victory in the three-year-old filly trot. The daughter of Muscle Mass was sent off as the 4/5 favourite and got away in second for driver Mario Baillargeon behind Serendipitious and Chris Christoforou. In the second quarter, Baillargeon appeared to be pulling the pocket, but Christoforou asked Serendipitious to pick up the tempo forcing Meadowview Vicky to continue trotting along in the two-hole. After fractions of :58.2 and 1:27.1, the fillies reached the top of the stretch and Meadowview Vicky came off the rail and trotted by Serendipitious to win the Autumn Series final by a length. Superflex got up for third, while Osprey Impact finished fourth. By sweeping the Autumn Series, Meadowview Vicky has now won three starts in a row and seven of 14 this season. Trained by Mark Etsell for owner Meadowview Farms Inc, Meadowview Vicky has now earned over $70,000 in her first season of racing. She returned $3.80 to win. Meadowview Vicky In the $38,600 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings final, Baillargeon would find himself back in the winner's circle after guiding Rural Art to a 1:52 victory. The son of Major In Art was second over around the final turn following The Optomist, while Kindofabigdeal called the shots through the opening three-quarters. In the stretch, Rural Art popped off his cover and would track down Kindofabigdeal to score a half length victory with a :27.4 last quarter. Bugger Bruiser took the show spot, while V I P Bayama was fourth. Trained by John MacMillian, Rural Art finished second in the opening leg, but opted to skip round two and instead won an overnight event at Rideau on November 23. Rural Art has now won eight of 20 starts this season, nine of 24 in his career and banked more than $60,000 for owners 2099551 Ontario Inc and MacMillian. The clocking of 1:52 was a new lifetime best for the three-year-old gelding. He returned $6.20 to win. Rural Art While Baillargeon swept the opening two finals, it was now Sylvain Filion's turn in the spotlight. In the $40,000 three-year-old trotting colts and geldings final, Filion and Dontcheatonmenow held on to prevail in a win photo. Dontcheatonmenow was three-wide around the first turn and would duel with stablemate Warrawee Prince in the second quarter. Filion and Dontcheatonmenow would finally clear before the final turn and would post a three-quarter time of 1:27.1 to lead the field into the lane. In the stretch, Deweykeepumnwhy, who was second over on the final turn, would close ground on Dontcheatonmenow and the two trotters were almost inseparable as they hit the wire in 1:57. In the photo, Dontcheatonmenow was declared the winner by nose leaving Deweykeepumnwhy in the place spot. Stonebridge Rich and Tequila Haze finished third and fourth respectively. A son of Deweycheatumnhowe, Dontcheatonmenow is now trained by Richard Moreau for owner Rolling Hills Racing Stables and has now won three of 16 starts this season for earnings of over $46,000. Dontcheatonmenow won a division of the first Autumn Series leg, but skipped the second leg. In his career, Dontcheatonmenow has now visited the winner's circle five times and banked over $120,000. He paid $7.20 to win. Dontcheatonmenow Filion would return to the winner's circle in the $40,400 three-year-old pacing fillies final with Artistic Fusion. The daughter of Artistic Fella got away in fourth, but after a couple lead changes on the front, Filion sent the filly towards the front and would clear to the lead in the third quarter. After posting a three-quarter time of 1:23.3, Artistic Fusion would open a solid lead in the stretch en route to a career-best 1:52.4 victory by a length and a quarter over Double Joy. Mach Some Noise, the heavy favourite, finished third, while Performing Art was fourth. Trained by Joe Agostino for owner Mike Foote, Artistic Fusion won an opening round leg of the Autumn Series and then finished second in the second round. Artistic Fusion has now won five of 16 starts this season and six in her career. The Agostino trainee has now banked over $56,000 in two seasons on the track. She paid $21.50 to win. Artistic Fusion Along with winning a pair of Autumn Series finals, Filion also won two other races on the 11-race card for a grand slam. In order to be eligble for the Autumn Series, three-year-olds had to be Ontario sired and non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 in 2014 as of September 30. Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine with an 11-race card. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie

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