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In this week’s edition of Ontario Racing’s ongoing feature The Horse That Changed My Life, learn how three-time Canadian driver of the year Sylvain Filion earned his harness racing driving license by baby racing a future North America Cup winner. It’s a safe bet Sylvain Filion is the only person that earned his driver’s license by baby racing a future North America Cup winner. It’s one of many reasons the three-time — and reigning —Canadian driver of year lists Runnymede Lobell as the horse that changed his life. Filion was 18 in the summer of 1987 when he and the son of Nero out of Racy Heart learned their first racing lessons together in Montreal. Filion said he didn’t know at the time that the colt was something special. “I didn’t really realize then, but I knew he was very easy to drive, so that made it easy for me. You could feel he had a lot of power,” Sylvain said. Runnymede Lobell, owned by Filion’s father, Yves, of Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, QC and Norm Mondoux of Laval, QC, went on to win 31 of 48 career races, over $1.6 million and the 1988 North America Cup with Yves in the sulky and Sylvain as the trainer. It was the first NA Cup victory for a horse owned and trained by Quebecers. “It was just a great night,” Sylvain said of the ’88 NA Cup. “It was at Greenwood back then. We were all there, the family. It was just a great, great time.” Another great night is quickly approaching. In August, Yves Filion will be officially inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Runnymede Lobell not only got Sylvain’s driving career started and earned the family a NA Cup, Sylvain likes to remind his father of one other important fact. “I told him I was the only one that didn’t get beat with him. I won the qualifier,” Sylvain said, laughing. Sylvain, 46, has driven in more than 46,000 races, winning more than 8,000 and in excess of $95 million in purses. Though Runnymede Lobell was the first, he said other horses have had a tremendous impact on his life — most notably Supreme Jade, who gave him his first win in 1987 at Rideau Carleton; millionaire pacing mare Tricky Tooshie and his father’s $1.5 million-winning pacer Goliath Bayama, who was second to The Panderosa in the 1998 NA Cup. Yet, the driver said he is still looking for another great horse to come along. “I hope the horse that will really change my life is the next one,” he said. “I’m still looking for it.” by Dave Briggs

JUNE 16, 2016 - Driver Sylvain Filion, the reigning Lampman Cup title holder, is off to another quick start in the Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing program, padding his early season lead with a pair of Grassroots victories at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening. Filion opened the program, which featured six $18,000 divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, with a sharp 1:51.4 win aboard Spirit Shadow. "I didn't know him at all," said Filion of the first-time OSS starter. "I know the trainer, he's a buddy of mine, Jacques Dupont, and he said he liked him. I just went with my feeling and he left the gate real good, and then we got covered up by the favourite and when I moved him down the lane he just exploded. That was a nice surprise, I didn't really expect that." Leaving from Post 8, Filion rolled Spirit Shadow to the front before the :27 opening quarter, but quickly picked up cover from Vegas Dream who led the field to the :56 half and 1:25 three-quarters. Able to slip out of the pocket in the stretch, Spirit Shadow laid down a :26.2 final quarter to claim the Grassroots trophy. Vegas Dream settled for second, with Chalk Player earning the third-place finisher's share. Unraced at two, the Shadow Play son now has four wins and two thirds in eight sophomore outings for Dupont and owner Denis Goyette of Laval, QC. Filion's second victory came in the third division with Xpert Bayama, who controlled the tempo en route to a 1:51.2 score over last year's Grassroots champion St Lads Moonwalk. Solo Story finished well behind the duelling leaders in third. "I thought he was a little flat last time he raced and Stephane (Larocque) told me he done some vet work on him and he was much better tonight," noted Filion, a three-time OSS driving champion. "I could feel in the post parade he was livelier, and he was way more aggressive, so I just turned him loose and he responded well." Also unraced at two, Xpert Bayama improved his record to three wins and one second in six starts for trainer Stephane Larocque of Carlisle, ON and owner-breeder Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, QC. The Up The Credit son took three full seconds off his personal best with Thursday's effort. Another three-time Lampman Cup winner, Moffat, ON resident Jody Jamieson, also scored a Grassroots driving double at Mohawk on Thursday, guiding Continual Hanover to a win in the second division and Imsporty to victory in the fifth. Jamieson put Continual Hanover on the front just past the sharp :26.3 opening quarter put up by Filion and Azul Pool, but was immediately challenged by Baddestnbestest. Both Jamieson and Filion quickly circled out around the longshot leader, with Continual Hanover grabbing the rail by the :55.3 half. Azul Pool pressed hard through the 1:24.1 three-quarters, but Continual Hanover stayed game to secure the two length victory in 1:52.2. Tango Star sprinted home to be second, leaving Azul Pool to settle for third. "I really couldn't have driven Continual (Hanover) much worse in his first start of the year," admitted Jamieson. "I used him too many times and he still bailed me out with a great performance. I've always thought he is barely a notch lower than the Gold division." Jamieson steers Continual Hanover for owner-trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON and piloted the colt to a Gold Series win and two Grassroots division wins last season. The Bettor's Delight son boosted his lifetime earnings to $117,400 with Thursday's win, his sixth in 13 lifetime starts. Staring from Post 1 with Imsporty in the fifth division, Jamieson settled the Sportswriter son on the rail early and waited until the final turn to take aim on the leaders. On top by just over three lengths at the three-quarter pole, Imsporty stayed game to the wire and earned his first Grassroots trophy with a 1:52.2 effort. Speedling and Daylight Rush completed the top three. "Imsporty is a super little guy," said Jamieson, who steers the gelding for his father, trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, ON, and Thomas Kyron of Toronto. "He's always had lots of talent, but he just hasn't had a lot of luck. Hopefully this win tonight has ended that string of luck and started a new one." The other two Grassroots divisions went to New Talent and Piranha. Guelph, ON resident Paul MacDonell steered New Talent to his first OSS win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and his partners C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, ON. The Mach Three son stopped the teletimer at 1:51.2, besting Derecho and Bad Gamer. Driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON used a come-from-behind strategy to guide Piranha to a 1:52 win for trainer Raymond Farmer and owner-breeder John Turigliatto of Temperance, MI. The Badlands Hanover son reeled in Red Dog Saloon and B Fast Eddie with a :26.3 final quarter. The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will return to Mohawk Racetrack on July 1 for their second Grassroots start. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at the Campbellville oval this week as the three-year-old pacing fillies kick off their Grassroots season on Friday, June 17. The fillies will be featured in Races 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10, with the first race going postward at 7:30 pm. Ontario Racing

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec - It came down to the very last race of the competition with four drivers, John Campbell, Jody Jamieson, Tim Tetrick and Sylvain Filion all able to win the inaugural Hippodrome 3R All-Star Driver's Tournament Sunday with a triumph in the ninth race. And when the dust (mud actually) settled, it was Jody Jamieson's second place finish in the ninth race with Matts Phil that won him the tournament. Also in the tournament were Yannick Gingras, Daniel Dube, Mario Charron and Denis St-Pierre. They all competed in eight championship races with $10,000 in prize money on the line. Jamieson, with his 25 points in the last race, ended with 160 points. John Campbell was second with 135 points and Sylvain Filion third with 128 points. "This victory is just extra special," Jamieson said. "Going against John Campbell and Tim Tetrick, local stars Denis St-Pierre and Mario Charron, Yannick, Daniel and Sylvain, I'm just ecstatic with this trophy. "I drove one really bad earlier," Jamieson said, "or else I would have left nothing to chance, but it all worked out. The track was super despite the rain. It was actually better with the hard rain as it kept the mud down and make racing good. "I had no idea of the scores going into the last race," Jamieson explained. "And maybe that was the best strategy going forward. I went into the last race not know, just trying to win it. "I am so happy to represent racing in Ontario (WEG) and to bring home the trophy!" Jamieson said with a smile. "It means that much more to me. "And what a crowd here today despite the rain." Jamieson added. "I must of signed hundreds of autographs and the management at 3R are top notch. Harness racing has such a great following in Quebec and I hope they really do well this season." The tournament started in the second race with Jamieson taking the early point lead as he gave the maiden trotter, Victor D Morgan ($9.90), a perfect second-over trip and the three-year-old son of Charlie B Morgan came on in the stretch to win by two and one-half lengths in 2:03.4. The third race was won by Charlie Drummond ($9.00) and driver Sylvain Filion, who was winless in 23 prior starts. The fourth race saw John Campbell, who had no points after the first two rounds, put a lifetime mark of 2:01 with the trotter Sexy PC ($15.00). Tim Tetrick made his presences known in the fifth race and he was able to take the early lead away from Force Seelster (Yannick Gingras) and then wire the field with Hard Rock ($3.70) in 1:59.2. "What a super facility this is," Tetrick said. "The turns here are banked perfectly. Even in the rain my horse flew around the turns as if it was a fast track. It is my first time here and I am impressed with this racetrack. The fans get right up on the fence and you can hear them cheering and shouting for you down the stretch and right to the finish." Daniel Dube then got into the tournament with his victory in the sixth race aboard My Lucky Bluejean ($3.40) in 1:58.1. Then in the seventh race, John Campbell surged back into the lead with a strong front-end victory aboard Rainbow Palace ($5.90) in 1:58.1. Jamieson then surged back to the lead in the eight race, taking full advantage of starting from the rail with Fortune Playboy ($3.8), leading from start to finish in 1:58. That put Jamieson on top by just two points over John Campbell, 135 to 133 with the final race still to be contested. Both Tim Tetrick and Sylvain Filion could also come back and take the trophy if they could win the ninth race. It was Daniel Dube in the ninth race with SOS Mach Xtreme ($4.70) who was the victor, but Jamieson, who started from post seven, had left sharply with Matts Phil, then gave away and took the cover from SOS Mach Xtreme. He then waited until the top of the stretch to come after SOS Mach Xtreme, but it was too late. The move though did insure that Jamieson finished second and that gave him the tournament victory. Jamieson was the only driver in the tournament who was able to score points in all eight of the championship races. It was also the second 3R tournament that Jamieson has won. He was victorious in the 2014 fall tournament at 3R. "This has been a fantastic day." Said Vincent Trudel, general manager at 3R. "I never dreamed that these best drivers in North America would come for a tournament at 3R. I believe this is the confirmation that we have a nice facility, a good, fast and quality racetrack and these drivers all raved about how good it was despite the rain. "The people in Trois-Rivieres and the surrounding area are coming here. They proved that today with 4,000 fans braving the bad rains to come for this tournament and to meet and see great drivers in action. "Having these drivers supporting the relaunch of harness racing in Quebec is so great." Trudel added. "We have gone through turmoil in the past and will now show our government that racing could still be a big thing for this jurisdiction. If it was a sunny day this afternoon we might have had twice the crowd we did. "And what a competition it turned out to be." Trudel said. The winner could not be decided until the final race of the tournament. Each race was exciting for the drivers and for the fans and that is what counts." TRACK NOTES: Live harness racing resumes at 3R Tuesday night with the third round of the $120,000 Quebec-Bred Series for four and five-year-old trotters. For a free race program and live video feed of the races, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club    

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec - If there ever was more of an incentive to win Sunday's All-Star Drivers Tournament at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday, Denis St-Pierre should capture the event hands down. The Quebec native is ready to take on fellow horseman Mario Charron and throw in harness racing greats John Campbell, Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick, Daniel Dube, Sylvain Filion and Jody Jamieson and St-Pierre is in awe. "What great talent and ability all of these drivers are bringing to 3R Sunday." St-Pierre said. "That is enough incentive for me to be on my best game, but I guess you can say that I have a special "ace" up my sleeve for tomorrow." Sure, Denis St-Pierre knows all these horses. It's his home track where he was won the driving title the last two years. He has driven some in the past, knows their quirks and knows the ability of the other horses and drivers in the race. It's a fair advantage in his favor. "My special "ace" is coming to see me at the autograph session," St-Pierre says with a smile. "I will get up from my seat when she arrives and walk in front and give her a big hug and kisses and then I will cry." See you, Denis St-Pierre is going to meet his half-sister, Nathalie Cartier, for the very first time at the autograph session. "Six months ago this woman contacts me to be her friend on Facebook," St-Pierre explained. "Then one night she sends me personal message that she has to talk with me. I was tired and did not want to. Then she writes again and again so I call her. "She asks me if I am the professional harness racing driver," St-Pierre explains, "Then she tells me about father and that I am her half-brother. Boy oh boy I nearly fell on the floor. We have since talked and talked and she has met other members of my family, but because of my schedule between Toronto and Montreal, I have not been able to actually meet her yet. That special meeting will take place Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R. "She called me and said that she is coming to meet me at the tournament." St-Pierre said. "And that she is expecting me to win it for her. If that is not enough of an incentive for me to be at my best, then nothing is. "Rain or shine tomorrow, I do not care." St-Pierre added. "I have a new angel in my life and she will be there rooting for me so I will be doing more than my very best on the track." St-Pierre said that after the races the family and newest member will all go out for dinner and catch up on a lifetime. TRACK NOTES: Track announcer Guy Lafontaine and his trademark start of every race, "Hippty Hippty Howe BOOM" will also be calling the races in both French and English. The 3R track commentator, Daniel Delisle will be joined by Harnesslink's Steve Wolf and they will do live interviews after every race also in French and English. Most racetracks, wagering website and OTB's will be carrying the Hippodrome 3R signal. There is a free program available at www.quebecjockeyclub.com along with a link to watch the races live on the internet via Roberts Communications. There are ten races on the Sunday program, the eight drivers will compete in races 2 through 9. The point system is 1st - 50 points, 2nd - 25 points, 3rd - 12 points, 4th - 8 points, 5th - 5 points, 6th - 2 points and 7th and 8th - 0 points. In the event of a scratched horse, that driver will get an average of his seven drives in the tournament. The meet and greet autograph session gets underway in the clubhouse at 12:15 pm and first race post time is 1:30 pm. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec - The most competitive field of world class drivers ever to grace a harness racing oval in the province of Quebec, will be at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday for their inaugural All-Star Drivers Tournament. Hall of Famer John Campbell, American sensation Tim Tetrick, 2015 Driver of the Year in the USA, Yannick Gingras, Yonkers sensation Daniel Dube, 2015 Driver of the Year in Canada, Sylvain Filion, World Driving Champion Jody Jamieson and 3R's leading reinsman from 2015, Denis St-Pierre and Mario Charron are the stars that will be performing. They will battle in eight All-Star races Sunday with $10,000 in prize money on the line. "What a super group of top drivers we have for this first time event," said Vincent Trudel, general manager at the Hippodrome 3R. "Never before has such a tournament like this with many of the best drivers in the world taken place not only in Quebec, but many tracks throughout racing. It will be very exciting for our fans, our horsemen and our staff to see this competition Sunday." The post positions were drawn earlier in the afternoon. All eight of the drivers will each start once from posts 1 through 8 on the afternoon card. The point system is 1st 50 points, 2nd 25 points, 3rd 12 points, 4th 8 points, 5th five points, 6th place two points and those that finish 7th and 8th get no points. If a driver loses a horse due to a scratch, that driver will get an average of his points from their other seven drives that day. For both John Campbell and Tim Tetrick, it will be their first time ever driving at the Hippodrome 3R. "I am very pleased with how the post-position draw came out today," said Trudel. "I want to thank all the trainers and owners who entered their horses today for the tournament on Sunday. "We were hoping to have at least nine races on the program," Trudel added, "and we have ten full fields, which is very encouraging. I also must thank the drivers for taking time from their busy schedules to come to 3R to participate. We feel this is a great event that will help promote the Hippodrome 3R and our strong growing race program in Quebec." TRACK NOTES: Post time is 1:30 pm but race fans will be treated to an autograph session with the eight drivers in the Clubhouse from 12:15 pm to 1:00 pm Sunday, then a special on-track introduction of all the drivers. The competition begins in the second race. Race fans that come to the track will also be able to compete in a special contest to pick the winner of the tournament. All that is needed is to selection the winning driver and deposit the entry form in the drum for that driver. After the tournament, one winning name from the driver that finishes 1st, 2nd and 3rd will be drawn to share in $500 cash. After each race on the program, there will live interviews by 3R's Daniel Delisle and USA's Steve Wolf with the drivers in the tournament. Race fans will be able to watch and wager on the 3R program at most simulcast outlets and online wagering websites. A free race program will be posted and there will be a free video feed of the race card by visiting www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

Evenin Of Pleasure was sent off at odds of 35 to 1 in tonight’s harness racing $150,000 Molson Pace, the signature race of The Raceway at Western Fair District. Luckily the horse didn’t read the tote board. As the race got underway Mark MacDonald and Sunfire Blue Chip and Evenin Of Pleasure with Sylvain Filion up both vied for the early lead. Filion quickly decided to tuck in behind in second which proved the winning move. Sunfire Blue Chip, looking to give MacDonald his first Molson Pace win in 10 tries, rattled off fractions of :26.3, :55.2 and 1:23 but was caught in the stretch by the garden spot sitting Evenin Of Pleasure who hit the wire first in 1:50.3. The time established a new track record, shaving a tick off the previous mark set by MacDonald and Tigerama in 2008. Sunfire Blue Chip held for second after the impressive performance. McWicked claimed the show spot while All Bets Off and P H Supercam took the final two cheques. State Treasurer, vying for his fourth straight Molson title, hit some traffic trouble as the field paced through the backstretch the second time and finished sixth. “When I was able to get the two hole, I was hoping Mark would keep on going, which he did,” explained Filion minutes after the winner’s circle presentation. “My horse felt super good, around the last turn I knew he had a good shot and he gave all he could, he raced really well.  “Last time he raced (a sixth place finish in the Preferred at Mohawk on May 14) he came up real flat, they scoped him after the race and he wasn’t 100 per cent. You have to give credit to Richard (trainer Richard Moreau) he did some work and my God he was good tonight.” When asked if he was worried about race favourites, All Bets Off and State Treasurer, Filion responded: “I was just looking ahead of me and hoping I wouldn’t see them. I really don’t know what happened, all I know is we’re in the winner’s circle right now. It’s nice to see the crowd like this, it’s a great ambiance and I’m looking forward to coming back.” It was the first win in 2016 for Evenin Of Pleasure, a six-year-old son of Dragon Again owned by Gestion JY Blais Inc., of Montreal, Quebec.  Tonight’s effort put his lifetime earnings over the $600,000 mark. He paid $74.30 to win. Molson Pace Undercard Molson Pace night kicked off with four City of London Series finals starting with the $36,200 test for male trotters which saw On The Ridge wear down pacesetter Muscle Bound to win in 2:01.  Muscle Bound held for second while The Big Muscle took third. Trainer Garrett Rooney, who co-owns the three-year-old son of Kadabra with Angela Carroll of Iona, Ontario, also guided the horse to victory. Unraced last year at two, On The Ridge now has six wins in 13 outings this year for $49,000 earned. The $39,000 City Of London final for male pacers saw heavy favourite Irvine James leave hard from post seven for driver Mark Williams and they were in charge well before the opening quarter of :28.4 and never looked back to win in 1:58.1 over Mid Town Mickey and Sly Baran. It was the second straight win for the four-year-old gelding by Mach Three owned, trained and bred by William Kirkpatrick of Amherstburg, Ontario.   The girls were next in the spotlight with the trotting mares’ final worth $37,400 going to Shes All Muscle and The Raceway’s leading driver Alfie Carroll who led at every station and hit the wire first in 2:02.  Angel Assault closed well to take second while Burning Memories was third. Jamie Wilson trains the winner, a three-year-old filly by Muscle Mass for owner Chris Wilson of Dashwood, Ontario. The $40,600 Final for pacing mares saw a great battle between two three-year-old daughters of Mach Three, You Mach Me Crazy and Machioda with the former prevailing in the fastest of the City Of London tests, 1:56.3. Machioda held for second while Stonebridge Medusa took third. Trevor Henry, the leading driver at The Raceway for many years, and now the leading driver on the WEG circuit, orchestrated the win for trainer Andrew McCabe and owner Glenview Livestock of Wallenstein, Ontario. The jam packed race card also featured the two finals of the Alliance Claiming Series. In the first, for pacing horses, Red Leaf Morgan and Jody Jamieson scored in 1:57.1 over Lis Deo and Howdy Partner. James Watt trains the victor, a 12 year-old son of Artist Stena for owner Rebecca Williamson of Blyth, Ontario. The $13,500 Alliance final for mares was taken by Passion Quizrace and James MacDonald who went gate to wire in 1:56.1 to defeat a fast closing Andro Madi. Carsons Cashin was third. It was the fourth win this year for the 10 year-old Blissfull Hall daughter owned by Auciello Stables of Stouffville, Ontario and trained by Carmen Auciello. Tonight also kicked of the 2016 Ontario Sires Stakes season with three $70,000 Gold divisions for three-year-old pacing colts won by Magnum J, Print Media and Sintra. Greg Blanchard

Just a week away from the start of the Ontario Sires Stakes season, three-year-old pacing colt Gerries Sport put his harness racing rivals on notice with a sizzling 1:49.2 performance Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. The Richard Moreau trained colt competed in a non-winners of three-races or $75,000 lifetime event Friday night, which featured three Pepsi North America Cup eligibles, Arsenic, Bettor Memories and Nocturnal Bluechip. Gerries Sport entered Friday's race with two victories in three starts this season. His only defeat was a gritty fourth-place effort in The Diplomat Series final on May 7. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Gerries Sport left from post-five and found a spot in third, while four-year-old Asap Hanover blasted to the front just ahead of Arsenic. There was little movement early on, as Asap Hanover posted solid fractions of :26.3 and :54.2. Approaching the three-quarter pole, Filion pulled on the right line to send Gerries Sport after the leader. The challenger pulled to within less than two-lengths of the lead at the third-marker, as Asap Hanover reached that station in 1:22.1. In the stretch, Gerries Sport powered by Asap Hanover to grab clear command with an eighth of a mile to go. The Moreau trainee cruised home confidently in :26.4 to win by two-lengths in 1:49.2. Asap Hanover finished second, while Arsenic was third in his season debut. Pepsi North America Cup eligibles Bettor Memories and Nocturnal Bluechip finished fifth and seventh, respectively. A son of Mach Three, Gerries Sport competed primarily in the OSS Grassroots as a two-year-old, but appears more than ready to tackle the Gold level this season. Moreau trains the sophomore pacing colt for owner Gerrie Tucker of Montreal, Quebec. Gerries Sport's third win in four starts this season brings his career record to six wins in 16 starts for earnings of $71,453. The son of Mach Three is now North America's fastest three-year-old of 2016. His clocking of 1:49.2 lowered the previous mark of 1:50.2 set by War N Munn in The Diplomat Final on May 7 at Mohawk. Gerries Sport paid $5.90 to win. Live racing continues Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack with a special post time of 6:45 p.m. in place for Fireworks and Family Fun Night. Mark McKelvie

Canada's reigning Horse of the Year made his season debut Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack, but Nickle Bag spoiled the party with the nation's fastest harness racing mile of 2016. A strong field of nine older pacers competed in the $34,000 Preferred Handicap pace. State Treasurer, last year's Canadian Horse of the Year, was making his 2016 debut and started from the outside post-nine. Driven by Chris Christoforou, State Treasurer was able to float out and drop in sixth as the even-money favourite. Nickle Bag, the 8-5 second choice, left hard from post-six for Trevor Henry to grab the front and post an opening-quarter of :26. Nickle Bag kept the pace honest in the second-quarter and reached the half in :54.3. Christoforou started up State Treasurer nearing the half and the Dr. Ian Moore trainee was sent first up entering the final turn. However, cover did develop for State Treasurer rounding the final turn, as stablemate Arthur Blue Chip angled out from third at five-eighths. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:22.3, Nickle Bag brought the field into the lane and waved goodbye. The Bill Robinson trainee finished off his mile with a blazing :26.2 final-quarter to win by 4¾ lengths in a career-best 1:49. State Treasurer came off cover in the stretch, but was unable to gain any spots and finished fourth in his season debut, pacing home in :26.4. Mohawk Warrior came from sixth at the top of the lane to finish second, while The Rev turned his two-hole trip into a third-place effort. A six-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover, Nickle Bag secured his ninth victory of the season Saturday. The Robinson trainee has picked up seven of his nine victories this year in the Preferred. Owned by Linda and Harry Loyens, Nickle Bag surpassed his 2015 earnings total with Saturday's victory. The veteran pacer has banked $167,860 in 15 starts this year, compared to $162,790 in 26 starts last year. Nickle Bag's victory Saturday was his 28th career triumph and it brings his career earnings to $627,490. He paid $5.30 to win. Nickle Bag Although State Treasurer was unsuccessful in his season debut, history shows that may not be a bad thing. The Dr. Moore trainee finished sixth last year in his debut (May 2, 2015 - Preferred Pace) before going onto divisional and Horse of the Year honours. Also on Saturday, the second leg of The Diplomat Series was contested. A group of 13 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $20,000 divisions. War N Munn continued his WEG Series success with a 1:52 victory in the first division. The Carmen Auciello trainee got away fourth in the field of six for driver Jonathan Drury. Mach Power posted an opening-quarter of :28.3, but was quickly passed in the second-quarter by Shocking Image. The new leader reached the half in :57.2 and led the field around the final turn, while War N Munn charged first up to pull to within a length of the lead at the three-quarter pole. Shocking Image reached the third marker in 1:25.3, but quickly surrendered the lead in the lane to War N Munn. The 2-5 favourite rocketed home in :26.1 for a 2 ¼ length victory. Shocking Image was second, while Mach Power finished third. A son of Stonebridge Regal, War N Munn now has five wins in nine starts this season. The sophomore pacing colt has signature victories this season in The Count B and Youthful Series finals. War N Munn now has seven career victories and earnings of $119,261 for owner George Munnuiksma. His mile of 1:52 knocked three-fifths of a second off his previous career mark. The Auciello trainee paid $2.80 to win. War N Munn In the second division, Gerries Sport got his own way in the middle-half and finished up strong for an impressive victory. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Gerries Sport, the even-money favourite, left from post-seven and touched down on the front just after passing the opening-quarter in :26.1. Flaherty, the 7-5 second-choice, got a two-hole trip behind the favourite. Gerries Sport went unchallenged in the middle-half and posted panels of :55.4 and 1:25.1. The soft middle-half was the turning point, as the public's choice left his rivals behind and charged home in :26.4 for a 3½ lengths victory in 1:52. Flaherty maintained his position to finish second, while Worthy Art was third. A son of Mach Three, Gerries Sport is trained by Richard Moreau for Gerrie Tucker. The three-year-old colt is now two for two to start 2016 after posting three wins in 12 starts as a rookie. Just like War N Munn in the first division, Gerries Sport lowered his lifetime mark by three-fifths of a second. The son of Mach Three now sports a career bankroll of $56,845. Gerries Sport paid $4.20 to win. Gerries Sport The first leg of The Diplomat did not fail, therefore the 10 horses that earned money Saturday night have landed spots in next Saturday's $57,600 final. In order to be eligible to The Diplomat, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $100,000 in 2015. Live racing resumes Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 22 - A surprising mid-stretch break by the 1/2 favourite shook things up in the opening leg of the Princess Series Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A compact group of six three-year-old pacing fillies squared off in the $20,000 first round of the Princess. Ken Sucee trainee Shes Lights Out entered Friday's first leg two for two to start 2016 and the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was appropriately made the public's choice. American Curves and driver Sylvain Filion floated out to the lead and posted an opening-quarter of :28.1, while Shes Lights Out paced along in third. Paul MacDonell sent the favourite to the front in the second-quarter and posted a half-mile clocking of :56.2. Shes Lights Out led the field by the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4 and appeared to be well on her way to a third consecutive victory. However, the favourite made a costly break approaching the final-eighth and American Curves inherited the lead and finished the job in 1:53.3. Party In Rome finished a length and a quarter back in second, while Westluckycam edged out Never Any Doubt for third. Shes Lights Out paced across the wire in fifth. A daughter of American Ideal, American Curves was making her second start of the season Friday after a 1:54.3 victory last week. Murray Brethour trains and co-owns the sophomore pacing filly, who made just two starts as a rookie. American Curves increased her career earnings to $17,900 in her fourth career start for owners Brethour, Doug Millard, John and Jim Fielding and Kevin McKinlay. She paid $9.30 to win. In order to be eligible to the Princess, the three-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $100,000 in 2015. The second leg of the Princess will take place next Friday (April 29). Live racing continues Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. by Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

The WEGZ and HPIBET.com series finals highlighted harness racing action Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Just a field of five went postward in the $55,800 WEGZ for four-year-old pacers, while a full field of ten four-year-old pacing mares competed in the $54,400 HPIBET.com. All eyes were on Mohawk Warrior in the WEGZ, as the Richard Moreau trainee aimed for a series sweep and he did not disappoint. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Mohawk Warrior got away third, while Shades Of Bay and Legion Of Boom battled for the early lead. Shades Of Bay posted an opening-quarter of :27, but was quickly overtaken by the heavy favourite. Mohawk Warrior, the 1/5 choice, put up middle-fractions of :55.4 and 1:24.3 to lead the field into the stretch. The Moreau trainee sealed the victory with a :26.3 final-quarter to win by a length and a quarter in 1:51.1. Cajon Lightning finished second, while Shades Of Bay was third. A four-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, Mohawk Warrior has now won five of eight starts in 2016 for 13 career victories. The WEGZ Series sweep pushes his seasonal earnings to over $75,000. Owned by Brad Grant, Mohawk Warrior missed his career-mark by a fifth of a second Saturday, but paced his final-quarter in :27.1 or faster for the fifth consecutive start. His career earnings now sit at $176,461. Mohawk Warrior paid $2.40 to win. Mohawk Warrior Wanda Bayama followed up her leg two victory with a 1:51.4 score in the HPIBET.com final. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Wanda Bayama left hard from post nine and made the front at the opening-quarter in :26.1. The 8/5 second choice, Wanda Bayama continued to call the shots in the middle-half. She posted back-to-back panels of :29 to lead the field into the stretch. Our Hot Majorette, the even-money favourite, paced along fourth and was one of several horses looking to made a stretch bid at the leader. However, Wanda Bayama was clearly the best and paced home in :27.3 to win by a length and a half in 1:51.4. Much Adoo, who won leg one, finished second, while Aniston Seelster and Our Hot Majorette rounded out the top-four. Trained by Stephane Larocque, Wanda Bayama has now won two of three starts in 2016. The four-year-old pacing mare now has nine career victories and over $111,000 in career earnings for owners Bayama Farms Inc. Wanda Bayama equaled her career-mark of 1:51.4 with the victory. She paid $5.40 to win. Wanda Bayama In order to be eligible to the WEGZ and HPIBET.com, the four-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of $100,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Mark McKelvie

Sylvain Filion started his weekend in style with a five-win harness racing performance Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The veteran reinsman closed out Friday's 10-race card with four victories in the final five-races to complete a solid night on the track. Filion got his first victory of the night behind pacing mare I C Anastro in the evening's third-race. Eight-year-old pacing mare Boat House Row gave Filion his second-win in race-six, while he completed the hat-trick in the seventh-race behind trotting mare Missys GaGa. The Milton, Ontario resident scored his fourth victory behind four-year-old trotter Big Rich in the ninth-race. Filion finished off his fantastic night by capturing the tenth-race finale with four-year-old pacing mare Pop Goes Theweasel. Filion, who drove in nine of the 10 races Friday, scored three of his victories with Richard Moreau trainees. The five-win night puts Filion in a tie with Jody Jamieson for second in the 2016 Woodbine driver standings with 48 wins a piece. Trevor Henry, who was kept off the board Friday, leads all drivers with 49 wins. Filion will aim to keep his momentum rolling on Saturday night, as he is scheduled to drive in all 10-races. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Wanda Bayama turned in a career best effort to the win the $20,000 second leg of the HPIBET.com Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A big field of 11 harness racing four-year-old pacing mares squared off Friday, but the clear horse to beat was Rick Zeron trainee Our Hot Majorette. The Zeron trainee captured one of two first leg divisions and with Much Adoo, the other first leg winner, skipping leg two, Friday's second leg looked like Our Hot Majorette's for the taking. Aniston Seelster flashed early speed to grab command, but Zeron pushed the 3/5 favourite off the wings to get away second. After an opening-quarter of :27, Zeron circled around Aniston Seelster to put Our Hot Majorette on top. The public's choice put up solid middle-fractions of :56 and 1:24.2. Meanwhile, Sylvain Filion sent Wanda Bayama first up from fifth around the final turn and pulled to within a couple lengths of the leader turning for home. In the stretch, Our Hot Majorette was all out trying to hold off her rival, but Wanda Bayama showed plenty of grit and surged by to win in 1:51.4. Yes You Can, who paced along third the for the majority of the mile, finished up strong to take second away from the favourite, while Aniston Seelster finished fourth. A daughter of Western Ideal, Wanda Bayama is trained by Stephane Larocque for owners Bayama Farms Inc. The four-year-old old finished second in a round one division last week. Friday's victory gives Wanda Bayama her first win in two starts this year and eight career victories overall. The Larocque trainee increased her earnings to over $87,000 with the win. A $2 win ticket on Wanda Bayama returned $6.50. In order to be eligible to the HPIBET.com, the four-year-old pacing mares had to be non-winners of $100,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. The $54,400 final of the HPIBET.com will take place next Saturday, March 19. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, February 15 - After impressive harness racing victories in last week's first leg, Musical Rhythm and Hillsonator met up in a second round division of the General Brock Series Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A group of 15 three and four-year-old trotters were split into a pair of $18,000 second leg divisions. Last week's first leg winners, Musical Rhythm, a two and a half length winner in 1:56, and Hillsonator, a four-length winner in 1:56.3, crossed paths in the second division. Musical Rhythm blasted out from post three for driver Mario Baillargeon, while Hillsonator left from post seven and got away second for driver Rick Zeron. The public's top choices sat first and second through opening fractions of :27.2 and :57. Musical Rhythm, who was the 1/2 favourite, picked up the tempo around the final turn and posted a three-quarter time of 1:25.3. In the stretch, Musical Rhythm hit top gear and trotted strongly through the lane, while Hillsonator was all out in second. Musical Rhythm stopped the clock in 1:54, 2¼ lengths ahead of Hillsonator. Amityville Lindy finished third, while All B Over was fourth. A four-year-old son of Cantab Hall, Musical Rhythm stretched his current win streak to five with Monday's victory. The Ben Baillargeon trainee is three for three in 2016 and will have a chance at a series sweep in next week's final. Musical Rhythm is owned by Santo and Nunzio Vena, Claude Hamel and Baillargeon. The son of Cantab Hall now has 12 career victories and earnings exceeding $125,000. A $2 win ticket on Musical Rhythm returned $3. Musical Rhythm In the first division, Demand An Answer took full advantage of avoiding the round one winners. The Shane Arsenault trainee went gate-to-wire for driver Sylvain Filion in 1:56.2. A four-year-old son of Angus Hall, Demand An Answer sprinted off the wings of the gate and by the opening-quarter in :26.2. The 4/5 favourite was too much handle for his opponents and cruised to a length and a half victory. Five Below, who trotted along third for the majority of the mile, trotted by Love Hunter in the stretch to finish second. Fleet Bumblebee, who got away eighth, came on late and almost nabbed third away from Love Hunter. Demand An Answer picked up his first win of 2016 with his career-best 1:56.2 mile Monday. The Arsenault trainee now has four career victories and earnings exceeding $62,000. Demand An Answer paid $3.60 to win. Demand An Answer The $50,000 General Brock Final will take place next Monday (February 22). Also on Monday, a field of six older trotters squared off in the $34,000 Preferred Trot. A week after getting beat in the final stride, Fearless Man rebounded strongly for trainer/driver Rick Zeron. The six-year-old son of Elegant Man sprinted to the front and never looked back. Fearless Man posted fractions of :27, :56 and 1:24.2 to lead the field into the stretch. Zeus Lightning came out from second to try and take down the leader, but the Zeron trainee held him off and trotted confidently through the wire in 1:53 for a half-length victory. Windsun Revenge finished third, while Etruscan Hanover was fourth. Fearless Man's clocking of 1:53 is the fastest trotting mile this season at Woodbine. Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Noblock Racing Stable, MurrayGreenfield and Cool Cat Racing Inc., Fearless Man now has two wins from five starts this year, 24 victories overall and career earnings of over $423,000. Fearless Man paid $3.30 to win. Fearless Man Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Racetrack. Post time for the 10-race card is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 15 - A pair of four-year-old pacers will have an opportunity at a Snowshoe Series sweep after returning to the harness racing winner's circle in Friday's second leg at Woodbine Racetrack. A total of 18 horses were split into two $17,000 divisions for Friday's second leg of the Snowshoe Series. Fresh off a 3¼ length victory in round one, Shades Of Bay continued his hot streak Friday with an impressive 1:51.3 victory over a 'Good' track. Driven by Phil Hudon, Shades Of Bay, the 1/9 favourite, got away fourth in the early stages, but moved into third and eventually the lead in the second-quarter. Three Truths, who was leading heading to the half, made a break and Hudon immediately moved Shades Of Bay to the front. After fractions of :55.1 and 1:24, Shades Of Bay kicked into high gear in the stretch and cruised home in :27.3 for a 1¾ length victory. Sabine Pass finished second at 23/1, while Shippen Out was third at 30/1. A four-year-old son of Art Major, Shades Of Bay now has five wins in six starts for trainer Sean Mehlenbacher. Friday was the pacers sixth career triumph and increased his career earnings to over $69,000. Owned by Timothy Kim, Shades Of Bay paid $2.10 to win. Shades Of Bay Rafa delivered another ace with a 1:52.2 victory in the second division. Sent off as the 2/5 favourite, Rafa and driver Sylvain Filion sprinted off the wings of the gate and locked up with Pistopackinpiper for a first-quarter battle. Pistopackinpiper cleared to the lead, but was forced to pace a :25.3 opening-quarter to grab command. Rafa quickly got his cue to go in the second-quarter and circled to the lead. The public's choice posted middle-fractions of :55.1 and 1:24.3 to turn for home with the lead. In the stretch, Tylers Beach Boy came off cover and Tower Of Power continued to pace hard after being first up, but Rafa held them at bay and impressively cruised through the wire first to win by a length. Trained by Richard Moreau, Rafa is now four for four to begin his career. The four-year-old son of Camluck now has a pair of victories this season to go with two wins last season. Owned by Robin Morley, Rafa knocked a fifth of a second off his career mark with Friday's victory and increased his career earnings to $27,500. Rafa paid $2.80 to win. Rafa In order to be eligible to the Snowshoe, the three and four-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Shades Of Bay and Rafa will both be seeking a series sweep in next Friday's (January 22) $47,200 final. The Snowshoe Final will also be joined by the $45,200 Blizzard Series final on next Friday's card. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 8 - Great finishes and impressive harness racing efforts was the story of Friday night's first round of the Snowshoe Series at Woodbine Racetrack. A total of 24 three and four-year-old pacers were split into three $17,000 divisions for the first leg of the three-week series. In the first division, just a head separated the top-five finishers, as St Lads Charger scored a 14/1 upset. After a first-quarter battle, Every Intention led the field down the backstretch and by the half in :55.1. St Lads Charger and driver Trevor Henry came first-up around the final turn from third and sat less than a length from the lead turning for home. In the stretch, St Lads Charger was able to edge by Every Intention in the final-eighth, but a trio of challengers made it a five-across finish. At the wire, St Lads Charger prevailed in 1:54.3 by a nose over Brown Dirt Cowboy and Hickory Terrific. Hp Black Shadow and Every Intention finished fourth and fifth, respectively, by a head. The top-seven finishers were separated by less than two-lengths. A three-year-old son of Sportswriter, St Lads Charger is trained by Victor Puddy for owners Randy Christopher, Limco Inc., and Bill Manes. The sophomore pacing colt won just one of 10 starts as a rookie in 2015. St Lads Charger increased his career earnings to over $20,000 with the victory. The Puddy trainee paid $30.40 to win. St Lads Charger Fresh off a victory in the Valedictory Final, Shades Of Bay scored a three-length victory in the second division at odds of 1/5. Driven by Phil Hudon, Shades Of Bay got away fourth, but made a powerful backside move to the lead and posted a half-mile time of :56.2. After pacing a third-quarter of :29.1, Shades Of Bay cruised home in :27.2 to win in 1:52. Tower Of Power finished second, while Swapportunity was third. A four-year-old son of Art Major, Shades Of Bay is trained by Sean Mehlenbacher for owner Timothy Kim. Last season, Shades Of Bay won four of 11 starts for earnings exceeding $50,000. The four-year-old has now won four of five starts since joining the Mehlenbacher stable in November. Shades Of Bay now has five wins and over $60,000 in career earnings. He paid $2.50 to win. Shades Of Bay In the final division, Richard Moreau trainee Rafa scored a four-length victory at 9/5 in 1:52.3. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Rafa was third around the first turn, while Thoughtyoudlikeit battled with outside challenger Pistopackinpiper. The lead pair continued to battle through a half of :55.4. Around the final turn, Thoughtyoudlikeit put away Pistopackinpiper, but faced a new challenge from Tylers Beach Boy, as Rafa continued to pace along in the pocket. In the stretch, Rafa was able to convert off the inside trip and charged by the leaders to win by open-lengths in 1:52.3. Tylers Beach Boy finished second, while Shippen Out got up for third ahead of Thoughtyoudlikeit. A son of Camluck, Rafa is trained by Moreau for owner Robin Morley. The four-year-old was making just his third career start Friday and is now a perfect three for three after winning both of his starts in 2015. Rafa now sports a career bankroll of $19,000. The Moreau trainee paid $5.90 to win. Rafa In order to be eligible to the Snowshoe, the three and four-year-old pacers had to be non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. The second leg of the Snowshoe will take place next Friday (January 15). Live racing continues Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, January 2 - Fresh off a fantastic 2015 harness racing season, Sylvain Filion and Richard Moreau were recognized Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Filion led all drivers on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit in 2015 with 320 victories and over $6.2 million in earnings. The Milton, Ontario resident finished 101 wins ahead of Doug McNair in second-place. Filion split his 320 wins evenly between Woodbine and Mohawk with 120 at each track. Similar to the driver's category, Richard Moreau was a run-away winner for top trainer. The Puslinch, Ontario resident won 149 races in 2015, 34 more than runner-up Carmen Auciello. Moreau's trainees earned more than $2.6 million. Both Filion and Moreau were honoured in the winner's circle following Saturday's first-race. The Woodbine Entertainment Group was pleased to present both individuals with framed photographs in recognition of their accomplishments. Filion and Moreau have both been named finalists in their respective categories for the 2015 O'Brien Awards. Mark McKelvie  

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