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London, ON, May 16, 2017 - As the 2017 edition of the Molson Pace quickly quickly approaches, harness racing owner-trainer Dale Decker says he has been anticipating this year's rich classic for a long time. The Michigan-based conditioner was here once before and is eager to redeem himself following a sixth place finish in the 2015 Molson Pace with returning star, Night Pro. Night Pro, a son of Pro Bono Best, has won 46 of 82 career starts and has banked more than $730,000 in his career. "I was really hoping to get the invite and when the phone came in, I couldn't have been happier," Decker said of the Molson which comes up next Friday, May 26. "This race has been marked on my calendar since my horse came back last season and this is the first big race of the year for me." Widely known as king of the mid-west, the seven year old has finished worse than second just once in 29 starts over the past two seasons while racing manly at Hoosier Park, Northfield Park and Miami Valley. Back for a second time in this year's Molson, Decker says he hopes to use his past experience to his advantage in this year's race. "He didn't handle himself the best on the turns and had an injury that was starting to appear," he said. "He's been perfect thus far this season and couldn't be coming into the race any better. We all need luck in big races and I'm happy to be a part of the night." Decker, who resides in Temperance, Michigan, will trek roughly three hours to The Raceway and his approach will be different this year. "When I was there in 2015, I shipped him in early and he kind of washed out in the paddock because I got there around noon that day," he said. "I'll bring him in normal time and he should benefit from that." Decker, who is a home builder by trade, has campaigned Night Pro in all of his 82 career starts. "He has provided me with all kinds of thrills and I couldn't be more fortunate," he said. "A horse like him doesn't come along very often and I certainly don't take him for granted. He's so professional considering he's a stud and has a wonderful demeanour along with excellent manners. "My family will be in attendance that night which will make it extra special. It's a wonderful atmosphere and a great night for racing," Decker added. Six starters have been confirmed so far for the Molson with the final two spots to be filled out this week. The star-studded pacers joining Night Pro includes Rockin Ron, Soto, Bit Of A Legend, Sunfire Blue Chip and defending champion Evenin Of Pleasure. The powerful Molson Pace undercard will feature the first leg of the Ontario Sires Stakes for sophomore pacing colts and geldings along with a quartet of City of London finals. Total purses for the night will be in excess of $500,000. Two-time Molson Pace champion Foiled Again will also be competing on the night's undercard in what could be one of his final career races on Canadian soil. The 13-year-old is the richest pacer of all-time with earnings in excess of $7.5 million and he currently sits with 94 career wins to his credit. For complete details and a closer look at this year's Molson Pace field, visit www.molsonpace.com. Greg Blanchard

LONDON, May 3, 2017 -- The field for this year's Molson Pace is beginning to take shape and there are a few harness racing new faces expected for this year's $150,000 Invitational Pace slated for Friday, May 26 at The Raceway in London, Ontario. One of the confirmed starters is down under import Bit Of A Legend who last season captured the $609,000 Levy Final at Yonkers Raceway in a career-best clocking of 1:51. The eight-year-old son of Bettor's Delight, trained by Peter Tritton, is a career winner of more than $1.5 million and is coming off a closing fourth-place finish in this year's Levy final. Soto is a fellow regular at Yonkers Raceway where he was a solid competitor in this year's edition of the Levy. The five-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven won twice in the $50,000 preliminary legs before rallying from last to fifth in the $529,000 final. The Eric Ell trainee, who has earned more than $400,000 lifetime, will be making his Canadian debut in the Molson. The pair of New York invaders will be joined by fellow American invaders Rockin Ron and Night Pro. Rockin Ron, trained by Ron Burke, is no stranger to success on Canadian soil. The son of Real Desire was victorious in both the Confederation Cup and Prix D'Ete last season. Recently, the 23-time winner captured a division of the Levy and has missed the board only twice this season. The X-factor horse in this year's edition could be Night Pro. Arguably the best free-for-all pacer in the mid-west, the son of Pro Bono Best has crafted an impressive record of 15-11-0 from 27 starts over the past two seasons while racing primarily in Ohio and Indiana. Dale Decker owns and trains the 45-time winner who will make his second appearance in the Molson Pace. Back to defend his title is the local horse Evenin Of Pleasure. The Richard Moreau pupil established a new track record last season of 1:50.3 with a thrilling performance at odds of 36-1. The son of Dragon Again will be making his third start of the season this Saturday at Mohawk. Horses confirmed in alphabetical order include: Bit Of A Legend N Evenin Of Pleasure Night Pro Rockin Ron Soto There are three remaining spots still to be filled for this year's rich classic. The management team at The Raceway will announce more confirmed starters next week. The powerful Molson Pace undercard will feature the first leg of the Ontario Sires Stakes for sophomore pacing colts and geldings along with a quartet of City of London finals. Total purses for the night will be in excess of $500,000. Two-time Molson Pace champion Foiled Again will also be competing on the night's undercard in what could be one of his final career races on Canadian soil. The 13-year-old is the richest pacer of all-time with earnings in excess of $7.5 million and he currently sits with 94 career wins to his credit. As always, there will be lots happening on track that night, including the Party On The Patio with BX-93, Scratch and Win program prizes as well as contest giveaways and swag tosses, the OSS 'Be A Winner Contest, food specials and more. Complete details will be announced in the coming days. The wagering menu has been bolstered to include a $5,000 guaranteed early Pick-3, $10,000 guaranteed early Pick-4, $15,000 guaranteed late Pick-4 and the addition of a third Super Hi-5 - all low 15 per cent takeout wagers. For more information, visit www.MolsonPace.com.  

London, April 25, 2017 -- The staff at The Raceway at Western Fair District are busy gearing up for what promises to be a busy and exciting month of May with a couple of new harness racing initiatives thrown in for good measure. Beginning on Monday, May 1st, the London oval will be contesting two races daily - races 6 and 10 - at the distance of 1-1/16 miles. The designated races are the Super Hi-5 races which feature 9-horse fields and an added trailer in the second tier. The added distance races will be conducted as a trial for the month of May to evaluate how it affects the style of racing and what impact is has on wagering and payoffs. "We decided to give this a try after consulting with fans and horse people," said Director of Racing Greg Blanchard. "The hope is that it adds another dimension to those races and makes the handicapping puzzle more intriguing while at the same time giving horses and drivers a longer distance to the first turn and a better opportunity to get good early position. The added 330 feet should also benefit horses racing from off the pace." The Super Hi-5 has become a very popular wager at The Raceway with .20 cent payoffs averaging more than $1,000 for most of the season. For the first time in several years, The Raceway will also feature live racing on Mother's Day which lands on Sunday, May 14. First post for the afternoon program is 1:15 p.m. and seating is going fast for the Mother's Day brunch that day. To make reservations, contact 519-438-7203 (ext. 252) or email topofthefair@westernfairdistrict.com. The Raceway's Annual Wall of Fame Night will take place on Friday, May 12. This year's inductee is long-time owner, breeder and track man Mac Lilley who operates Mac Lilley Farms in nearby Dutton. Lilley will be honoured during a trackside ceremony on a night that also features the Wall of Fame Pace and a special Mini Horse contest. As always, the season will end on a high note when the track hosts its signature event, The Molson Pace, on Friday, May 26. Many of North America's best older pacers will square off in the $150,000 contest and the powerful undercard will feature Ontario Sires Stakes Gold divisions for three-year-old colt pacers along with a quartet of City of London Series Finals. "This is the night we look forward to each year," said Blanchard. "One of the strengths of our venue is that fans are in very close proximity to the horses. When you combine world-class horses, music, good food, contests and giveaways and great wagering opportunities, it really does make for a fun and exciting atmosphere. "Our new tarmac area in front of the grandstand is still a work in progress but will be open and functioning that evening and will give us an added outdoor viewing area that we have not had before. We are proud of how this night has evolved and look forward to another great night this year." For more details on the Molson Pace and everything happening at The Raceway, visit www.westernfairdistrict.com. Greg Blanchard

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 14 - The Alliance would like to remind harness racing horsepeple that nominations to the 2017 City of London Series, to be contested at The Raceway at Western Fair District, are due Saturday (April 15). Ontario sired four-year-olds and younger, who were non-winners of $10,000 lifetime as of midnight February 28, 2017, are eligible for nomination to the City of London. The dates for each of the four City of London Series are as follows. 1. Pace - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 2. Pace - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 3. Trot - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) 4. Trot - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) Each elimination will be contested for a purse of $7,000, while each City of London final will have $20,000 in added money to the purse. The nomination fee for the City of London Series is $100 CAD or $75 USD. Administration duties for the City of London Series are handled by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). The nomination form for the City of London Series can be viewed by clicking here. Nomination fees can be paid online by clicking here. If sending payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than April 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Mark McKelvie - Ontario Alliance

The live tweeting of harness racing Race Officials' calls began Monday, April 10, as part of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)'s 'Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario' project. Currently a pilot project, the intent of the live tweeting is to provide transparency with regard to calls made by Race Officials during a race. For example, if an inquiry is posted, that information will be communicated in a tweet, followed by the outcome of the inquiry and any resulting placing changes. This ground-breaking pilot will be running for the remainder of the Standardbred race season at The Raceway at Western Fair District on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Post time for all cards is 6:15 p.m.. As part of the pilot, the Race Official's Race Report detailing the events of the evening's card will be posted online by both The Raceway and Standardbred Canada. These may be viewed here  and  here. Following the pilot, the project will be reviewed and a decision made during the summer as to whether to continue or expand this initiative to additional tracks. Once a decision has been made, it will be communicated to the industry. We invite you to follow the Twitter accounts at @AGCO_Racing and @CAJO_Courses. For more information, please contact connect@agco.ca.  

London, March 27, 2017 -- The harness racing horse people of London stepped up in a big way for one of their own recently as long time Raceway paddock employee Bobby Mitz suffered a heart attack and subsequent surgery. The affable Mitz is a well know figure in the paddock on race nights and is always there to greet horse people with a smile as they arrive to race. So, when people found out he was in need, they jumped at the chance to raise money on his behalf. Mitz, who is recuperating well, made a visit to The Raceway on Tuesday evening to visit with colleagues and friends who were happy to see him in his familiar environment. In addition to donations, several drivers graciously gave up a portion of their drivers fees last week to go towards Mitz and his recovery. In all, close to $4,000 was raised once again demonstrating how horse people come together in times of need. Greg Blanchard

London, May 23, 2017 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District has announced that long time harness racing horseman/owner/breeder Mac Lilley will be this year's inductee into its prestigious Wall of Fame. Lilley, who owns and operates his farm just west of London, dove into the business in the early 1970s with the purchase of his first stallion, Zip Tar, and has not looked back. Since then, his farm has stood some 47 stallion including Super Wave, Springfield, Bo Knows Jate, Whosurboy, Rambaran and Warrawee Needy, just to name a few. Lilley was one of the first to offer a version of fractional ownership in the 70s and also leased and operated the Hawkinsville Training Centre in Georgia for 12 years in the late 1980s. Mac and his wife Ann have five sons and a daughter, 17 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, most of whom are involved in the family farm in one way or another. He will be inducted into The Raceway's Wall of Fame during a ceremony at the track on Friday, May 12. That night will also feature the annual Wall of Fame Pace. Greg Blanchard

CAMPBELLVILLE, ON - March 20 - Conditions and dates for the 2017 City of London Series, to be raced at The Raceway at Western Fair District, have been released by the Alliance. Ontario sired four-year-olds and younger, who were non-winners of $10,000 lifetime as of midnight February 28, 2017, are eligible for nomination to the City of London. The dates for each of the four City of London Series are as follows. 1. Pace - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 2. Pace - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Tuesday, May 16 - Final: Friday, May 26) 3. Trot - Horses & Geldings (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) 4. Trot - Fillies & Mares (Eliminations: Friday, May 19 - Final: Friday, May 26) Each elimination will be contested for a purse of $7,000, while each City of London final will have $20,000 in added money to the purse. The nomination fee for the City of London Series is $100 CAD or $75 USD and nominations are due Saturday, April 15. Administration duties for the City of London Series are handled by the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). To view the nomination form, click here. Nomination fees can be paid online by visiting www.woodbineentertainment.com/sbpayments. If sending payments by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than April 15, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie for WEG Communications  

London, March 10, 2017 -- Driver Trevor Henry, one of the nation's leading harness racing drivers and graduate of The Raceway at Western Fair District, is graciously donating his driving commissions from last night's (Thursday) program at Woodbine to long time Western Fair employee Bobby Mitz who continues to recuperate from recent heart surgery. Henry is one of many horse people stepping up to help the affable paddock employee from London. This Monday, several of the Raceway's drivers and trainers will also donate a portion of their commissions from that night's card. A donation box has been set up in The Raceway paddock and donations will be accepted up until the end of Monday's program. Live racing is set for this evening at The Raceway beginning at 7:05 p.m. Customers are reminded that the Annex will be closed due to the Annual Farm Show and in appreciation The Raceway will be offering $1 programs and $1 coffee and tea throughout the evening. Greg Blanchard

London, March 7, 2017 -- Harness racing people in London are once again showing their generosity in support for one of their own. Longtime Raceway paddock employee Bobby Mitz recently underwent surgery after suffering a heart attack and is currently at home and on the mend. Mitz is one of the first faces that horse people see each night when they arrive at the London oval, always there to meet them with a smile and a helping hand as they unload horses that are entered to race that night. A donation box has been set up in The Raceway paddock and will be there all week long for those who wish to donate. In response, several of The Raceway's drivers and trainers have graciously offered to donate a portion of their earnings from next Monday night's program to Mitz. The money raised will assist Mitz as he continues his road to recovery. Greg Blanchard

LONDON, Ontario, February 11, 2017 -- Longtime local horseman Ross Battin and pacing mare Nadia Can Go were the headliners at tonight's awards banquet at The Raceway at Western Fair District which celebrated the best on and off the track over the past harness racing season. Ross Battin has had many honours over the years at the London, Ontario racetrack. He topped the drivers' standings on four occasions, was named horseman of the year in 1992 and was inducted to the track's Wall of Fame in 2010. Ross has won the Lampman Cup, which recognizes the leading driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program a record seven times. Tonight he added another honour as he was presented with the Walltyme award which is given annually by Dave Wall's stable and recognizes outstanding service to the industry. Nadia Can Go was crowned the 2016 Horse of the Year. The now five-year-old daughter of Major In Art put together an impressive winning streak at The Raceway from February 17 to April 20 during which time she was undefeated through eight races. Heather Toll trains Nadia Can Go for owner Brydown Farms of Clinton, Ontario. The other award winners who were revealed this evening were caretaker of the year, which was won by Laurie Hicks, and the Ruth Herbert Horsewoman of the Year which went to Sue McNeight. The complete list of award winners is as follows: Older Pacing Horse - Irvine James Older Pacing Mare - Nadia Can Go Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt - Overthinkenit Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly - Uptown Woman Older Trotting Horse - Raising Richard Older Trotting Mare - Daylon Mermaid Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt - On The Ridge Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly - Shes All Muscle Claiming Pacer - Mighty Mouse Claiming Trotter - Jimoris Tigeress Driver - Alfie Carroll Trainer - Vic Puddy Owner - Keith Cassell Caretaker - Laurie Hicks Walltyme 'Outstanding Service' - Ross Battin Ruth Herbert 'Horsewoman' - Sue McNeight Horse of the Year - Nadia Can Go Greg Blanchard

February 8th, 2017 - LONDON, Ontario: Growing up West Lorne, Ontario, Greg Gangle considered The Raceway at Western Fair District, his harness racing home track so it will be a homecoming of sorts on March 6 he starts his new job as Assistant Racing Manager at the London oval. A marketing graduate of St. Clair College, Greg also attended the University of Arizona's Racetrack Management Program which he left in 2007 to join The Harness Edge and Horse Care magazines where he served as Advertising and New Media Manager. In 2010 Greg joined Woodbine Entertainment Group's Standardbred Media Department. In 2014, he moved to the Broadcast Department as a full time on-air simulcast host. At WEG he worked closely with Greg Blanchard who is now the Director of Racing at The Raceway. The pair will once again work together at Western Fair District. "I'm looking forward to being reunited with Greg Blanchard and to further diversify my resume in this management role," noted Gangle. "I grew up in the London area and Western Fair District was a home track for many years. It feels like homecoming in a sense and I'm very grateful for the opportunity. I can't wait to begin my new role and be part of a wonderful team." "We are happy to have someone with Greg's knowledge and passion for the game join our team. Those qualities, along with a diverse skill set, will make him a strong asset to the organization," noted Blanchard. "Greg has had a chance to flourish during his time with WEG and it has prepared him well for this next step into a management role. I know he is one of those people that wants to make an impact and I am confident he will do well." "It was a very difficult decision leaving Woodbine as I consider it a privilege to work there. I'm very thankful to the organization and they have fully supported my decision," Gangle added. "I'm very lucky to also have such a terrific personal support system, including my long-time girlfriend, Anna, and our daughter, Taylor." Skye Nicholson-Smith

London, January 30, 2017 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District has announced its five finalists for harness racing 2016 Caretaker Of The Year. They will be recognized at the annual awards night on Saturday, February 11th. Horse people were asked to submit nominations throughout the month of January and the five finalists chosen will now be voted on by horse people this week at The Raceway. A ballot box will be set up in the paddock and voting will take place during the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday programs. The five deserving finalists are Laurie Hicks, Dawn Walker, Krystel Simard, Tyler Benson and Evelyn Harms. All five will be invited to attend the awards celebration with winner taking home the Caretaker Of The Year trophy. Tickets for the awards night are still available at the race office or by contacting Amy O'Toole at aotoole@westernfairdistrict.com. Tickets are $40 per person or $45 at the door and the evening includes a cocktail reception, dinner, awards ceremony and D.J. and dance to follow.

London, January 22, 2017 -- Fuelled by a carryover of almost $3,500, The Raceway will offer an instant guaranteed pool of $15,000 on Monday night's early Super Hi-5 harness racing wager. The early Super Hi-5 will be offered on race 6 Monday night and features a competitive field of nine going post ward in the conditioned contest. The Super Hi-5 also offers a low 15% takeout. Monday's free program can be accessed www.westernfairdistrict.com. Monday is also Pub Night at the Top Of The Fair restaurant. First post for the 10-race program is 6:15 p.m.   Greg Blanchard

London, ON - January 4, 2017 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District has announced its 2016 award winners to be honoured during the annual awards dinner on Saturday, February 11th at the Carousel Room of The Raceway. Irvine James, who captured a City of London Series Final in May, and Nadia Can Go, who compiled an impressive nine-race win streak at London last Spring, are the winners of the Older Pacing Horse and Older Pacing Mare honours respectively. Driver Alfie Carroll and trainer Vic Puddy captured their second consecutive Western Fair titles. Many of their wins came for owner Keith Cassell who is the 2016 top owner at the London oval. The horse awards are based on the highest money winners with a minimum of six starts at The Raceway during the season while the claiming awards are based on the highest number of wins in claiming races at The Raceway during the year. Award winners were announced in 13 categories with another four to be announced the night of the event - they include the Caretaker of the Year, Walltyme 'Outstanding Service' Award, Ruth Herbert 'Horsewoman' of the Year and the overall Horse of the Year. To nominate someone for 'Caretaker' of the year, people are asked to email their nominee along with a written description of or before January 27th. Five finalists will be selected from the nominees and horse people will then have a chance to vote for their choice. The winner will be announced on February 11th. Tickets for the awards night go on sale next week at The Raceway's Race Office and are available for $40 per person or $45 at the door - a table of eight can be purchased for $280. The evening will include a cocktail reception, dinner, awards ceremony and D.J. and dance to follow. For more information, or to nominate someone for Caretaker of the Year, email Amy O'Toole at aotoole@westernfairdistrict.com. Here is a complete list of the 2016 award winners: Older Pacing Horse - Irvine James Older Pacing Mare - Nadia Can Go 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt - Overthinkenit 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly - Uptown Woman Older Trotting Horse - Raising Richard Older Trotting Mare - Daylon Mermaid 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt - On The Ridge 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly - Shes All Muscle Claiming Pacer - Mighty Mouse Claiming Trotter - Jimoris Tigeress Driver - Alfie Carroll Trainer - Vic Puddy Owner - Keith Cassell Caretaker - TBA Walltyme 'Outstanding Service' - TBA Ruth Herbert 'Horsewoman' - TBA Horse of the Year - TBA by Greg Blanchard, for The Raceway

January 3, 2016 -- Now both Monday and Tuesday's (tonight's) live race programs at The Raceway at Western Fair District has been cancelled due to deteriorating track conditions. Unseasonably warm and sunny weather in London, along with a forecast of rain later in the day, took its toll on the oval and prompted officials to make the decision. Live racing is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) at The Raceway at 6:15 p.m. The mild temperatures are forecasted for tomorrow as well and a decision regarding the status of that program will be made Wednesday morning. by Greg Blanchard, for The Raceway                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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