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Hightstown, NJ — Thisbigdogwilfight did not enjoy practice, but when it was game time, he lived up to his name. The Illinois-bred harness racing pacer won 56 races during his nine-year career, earned nearly a million dollars, and was inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame in 2013. A 17-year-old gelding, Thisbigdogwilfight died last week at the farm of longtime caretaker Sondra Brown and her husband, Mike. “For us, small-time people, he was the horse of a lifetime,” said Jim Eaton, who trained Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career. “He was a character. That’s what made it so much fun. And he did enjoy racing. I don’t think you can win almost 60 races and not enjoy it.” Thisbigdogwilfight, a son of The Big Dog out of Vicky Varius who was known simply as Dog around Eaton’s stable, was a $6,000 yearling purchase by Phil Langley, who later partnered on the horse with Mike McNeely. Langley, a former president of the U.S. Trotting Association and racetrack executive, died in April. Thisbigdogwilfight was sold to Robert Silberberg in 2011 and raced for him the remainder of his career. “It was all Phil’s doing,” Eaton said about Dog’s purchase as a yearling. “When I looked at him as a baby, he was a nice-looking horse, but he was by The Big Dog, who had not been a very good sire. Phil bought him anyway. I can’t take much credit. “Phil always liked to have partners and he couldn’t find anyone to be partners with him. He kept asking me, but I already was partners with five other horses. That’s one of the many mistakes I’ve made in this business. If I remember right, Dog made more in a few weeks than those other five put together made in their lives.” Thisbigdogwilfight showed little interest in training but became a different horse as soon as he got behind the starting gate in a qualifier. One of Eaton’s favorite memories with the horse was winning an invitational at The Meadowlands in 2009. “When he was training down before he started racing, he was awful,” Eaton said. “He didn’t want to go. He didn’t care about training. Phil would watch and say we’ll keep him eligible to the fairs, maybe we can make some money out there with him. The first time we qualified, it was like turning on a light switch.” Eaton added with a laugh, “He’s probably cost me some money over the years because I’ve hung on to horses that are like him training down and you think they’re going to turn on a light switch and they never do. They don’t know where that switch is, I guess.” Once Thisbigdogwilfight flipped his switch, he became a consistent performer, primarily on the Illinois circuit. He set a world record at Maywood Park at age 4 in 2007 and in 2010 became only the third pacer in history at that time to win races with sub-1:50 miles in five consecutive years. “He still didn’t like to train, like he knew it was practice,” Eaton said. “But he had heart. I can’t tell you how many races he won first over. He’d win in (1):49 first over, when (1):49 wasn’t an everyday common thing like it is now. “Phil used to comment about it, there were so many races where it looked like he was going to be second, third, fourth and just those last few steps he would end up catching them. He never won very many races by open lengths. It was always very close. Dave Magee was the perfect driver for him. He would kind of let him do his thing and urge him right at the wire and he always seemed to find a way to get there.” Thisbigdogwilfight never won a race with a six-figure purse but was a force in the free-for-all and invitational ranks as well as state-bred stakes. Jim Eaton trained the pacer Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career One of Eaton’s favorite memories with the horse was winning an invitational at The Meadowlands in 2009. “There are not many Illinois-breds that have won free-for-alls at the Meadowlands,” said Eaton, who was inducted into the Illinois Hall of Fame in 2011. “Probably one of the main reasons I ended up in the Hall of Fame was because of him.” Sondra Brown took care of Thisbigdogwilfight throughout his career, except for trips to the East Coast. After several weeks away, Dog would begin to pout. But upon his return home, he would know immediately when Brown arrived at the barn. “She would wear flip flops and then change shoes when she got there,” Eaton said. “He would hear those flip flops and go running to the front of his stall and start nickering. He knew that she was there. “He had a great personality and was pretty happy all the time. He really did nothing wrong. He had some races where maybe he wasn’t up to par, like any horse, but for the most part he was always ready to go. “I won’t have another one like him.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

One of the elite pacers for harness racing trainer Tom Harmer in the early years of this century, He Wants It All raced until the age of 11 for his owner Michael Polansky of Loudonville, NY, earning over $1 million while winning 50-plus races. As a 3-year-old in 2003 the son of The Big Dog out of the broodmare Traci Miss captured the $94,044 Junior Trendsetter Final and swept the Matt Scoot Series at The Meadowlands before being sold to Polansky and joining the Tom Harmer Stable. He Wants It All only raced 8 times as a 4-year-old because of health issues but bounced back with a vengeance in 2005 as a 5-year-old. The horse captured the first of two consecutive Pompano Park Isle Of Capri Finals with Tony Morgan at his lines in late February and went on to win 15 more races that year, including a half-dozen Free For All events at Balmoral, four more Maywood Park Free For All paces, and both the Carey elimination and its $101,000 Final at Hawthorne Race Course in August of 2005. After one of his Maywood Park Free For All triumphs driver Tony Morgan said this in a post-race interview: "This is a ‘real’ horse. Once he gets to the top he just drops the lines and totally relaxes. He's a beautifully-going horse with a huge gear and he's very fleet-footed. His connections (owner Michael Polansky) paid six figures for him when Tom (trainer Harmer) got Mr. Polansky's horses to train. “At one point he was thought to have been finished--racing wise. But Tom gave him a lot of time off and he got him sound again. This past winter he had a breathing problem which Tom solved and got cleared up and now this horse is just a monster." He Wants It All earned just short of $300,000 in 2005 and paced a track record mile for an aged gelding of 1:49.1 at Balmoral with Morgan. The following year he again won the Isle Of Capri Final at Pompano, this time with Dave Magee. His season mark of 1:49.3 came with Dave in a Balmoral Park FFA in late May, a few weeks before his second place finish in Hawthorne’s Carey Memorial Final. As a 6-year-old he campaigned against the likes Holborn Hanover, Lis Mara, Ponder, Stonebridge Regal and Maltese Artist when he added another $240,015 to his card. He Wants It All ended his career finishing third or better in 90 of 139 starts, winning 51 of them and making $1,016,187, To view Archived Notes and Quotes click here By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

The Christchurch earthquakes and rebuild have thrown up a lot of characters in the last few years and none are any bigger than the owner of Southern Demolition, Alan Edge. This larger than life character, who has earned a reputation for being brusque and tough talking in the teak tough demolition game, is one of the major players in the massive demolition industry that has sprung up since the Christchurch earthquakes. The Edge name has also been around in Canterbury harness racing circles since the involvement of Alan's father Noel nearly fifty years ago. Today Alan's brother Neil trains a handy team from Maddisons Road in Weedons just south of Christchurch and its here that Alan has honed his driving skills in recent years on members of Neil's team. Always highly competitive throughout a very successful sporting career, Alan has become a regular in the amateur driving events. At last Sunday's Oamaru meeting Alan took the drive behind the well tried Edge stable runner Alta Capone. Drawn wide at nine, Alan dropped Alta Capone out to last early in the 2600 meters  mobile event and thats where he stayed until joining the three wide train at the 1100 meters mark. Getting a lovely drag into the race from there, Alta Capone finished stoutly in the straight to just get his nose in front at the right time. This was the fifth win lifetime for the son of The Big Dog who is owned by Alan and Neil and took his stake earnings to $28,973. Alta Capone paced the 2600 meters in 3:19.6, a mile rate of 2:03.5 with closing sectionals of 58.2 and 29 in the bitter winter conditions. This was Alan's third win in an Amateur drivers race along with seven placings from just 25 drives. If Sundays inch perfect drive is anything to go by, it certainly wont be Alans last winning drive. Hrnesslink Media

Sometimes a name fits a horse’s personality and that was the case with Thisbigdogwilfight, who has been retired from racing at the age of 10 after being one of the premier Illinois-conceived-and foaled pacers of this century. “It was time,” said his long-time trainer Jim Eaton. “He wasn’t able to overcome his problems anymore. These last couple of years the horse has had a lot of trouble with his front ankles and I think the arthritis just got so bad it was time to quit with him.” Thisbigdogwilfight is turned out to pasture with 56 career victories, the vast majority of them coming in the circuit’s highest level overnight events and ICF stakes, purse earnings of $978,789 and has a former world record holder. “If he wasn’t so close to earning a million dollars (only $21,215 shy) I might have not tried to come back with him a couple of months ago. I thought he deserved the chance to reach it. But it just didn’t work out.”Sometimes a name fits a horse’s personality and that was the case with Thisbigdogwilfight, who has been retired from racing at the age of 10 after being one of the premier Illinois-conceived-and foaled pacers of this century. “It was time,” said his long-time trainer Jim Eaton. “He wasn’t able to overcome his problems anymore. These last couple of years the horse has had a lot of trouble with his front ankles and I think the arthritis just got so bad it was time to quit with him.” Thisbigdogwilfight is turned out to pasture with 56 career victories, the vast majority of them coming in the circuit’s highest level overnight events and ICF stakes, purse earnings of $978,789 and has a former world record holder. “If he wasn’t so close to earning a million dollars (only $21,215 shy) I might have not tried to come back with him a couple of months ago. I thought he deserved the chance to reach it. But it just didn’t work out.” Originally a $6,000 yearling purchase by Redbud Stable, of Frankfort, and Michael McNeely, of Normal, the son of The Big Dog was sold to Michigan owner Bob Silberberg in April of 2011. Thisbigdogwilfight got it done year after year on any size track showing grit and determination that made him one of most popular horses on the Chicagoland circuit for almost a decade. He’s one of only a handful of pacers in the country that ever won a race under 1 minute and 50 seconds five consecutive years, from 2006 through 2010. The gelding also holds the record for the most appearances on Super Night at Balmoral Park with eight and seven of those came in championships. Of Thisbigdogwilfight 56 lifetime victories, 38 came in a Free For All, Invitational, a stake elimination or a final. The horse came close to banking $1 million despite never winning a six-figure race. His 2007 victory in the $90,000 Carey at Hawthorne was the highest purse he ever won. Thisbigdogwilfight’s beginning didn’t start out on a promising note. “He was an orphan growing up,” said Eaton. “His mother actually killed one of her babies so he was taken away from her soon after he was born and given to a surrogate mare who nursed him.” Before he made his first 2-year-old start in late June of 2005, did Eaton see any indications from the bay horse that he might go on to be a star pacer? “Not my any stretch of the imagination,” replied the 56-year-old trainer who was inducted into the Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. “When he was in training he never showed any signs of being a good horse. In fact he didn’t show what’s so ever that he was going to be a horse who would even try. “I had another yearling that time. A horse called Third Day who went on to make $600,000. Every time they trained together he whipped “Dog.” He did it dozens of time. “Dog” had no interest in beating him or any other horse. “I remember when (owner) Phil Langley (Redbud Stable) came out one morning to watch the horse train. He came off the track shaking his head and telling me: ‘Well maybe we can make some money with him at the fairs.’ That’s how poorly he trained early on as a 2-year-old. “When it was time to qualify him I had Dave (Magee) up to drive. He was listed in the same race on another horse that was highly regarded by his trainer and Dave asked me if ‘does this Dog horse have any stock.’ I told him no and to go ahead and drive that other horse. “Pat Berry drove him that morning and left with him and ‘Dog” won his qualifier in 1:57 which surprised me. I didn’t think he could pace a quarter in 28 seconds.” When did Eaton think his ‘Dog’ might go on to have his day as a top-notch pacer? “He did have some decent races in his first season but it wasn’t until his last start that year that I thought he could end-up being a real good horse. He was in an Illinois-bred stake at Maywood and he drew off and won it in 1:53.1, a fast mile for a 2-year-old on a half. “Later on as a 6-year-old in 2007 he paced in 50 and 3 at Maywood, a world record for an aged gelding on a half-mile track that stood until last year.” Thisbigdogwilfight has always been a horse that preferred to be home in Illinois where he has had a special bond with his long-time caretaker Sondra Brown. “When the horse was out east for a couple of winter to compete he didn’t always do well,” said Eaton. “I think part of it was he missed Sondra and also his familiar surroundings. Each time he came back home he got real good again. “However the horse did have one of my very favorite races at The Meadowlands. It was back in 2009 when he won an ($35,000) Invitational there and did it going from last to first in 50 and 2. He beat some very good horses in it like Western Shore and Shark Gesture.” There’s is a happy ending for Thisbigdogwilfight. “Sondra and her husband (trainer) Mike Brown have a 10 acre place in Momence (IL) and they are going to take ‘Dog’ there to live out the rest of his life. They even have a broodmare there to keep him company.” This “Dog” deserves it, along with a future induction into the Illinois Harness Hall of Fame. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

He likely didn't think about it at the time and maybe only just began to process the thought within the last seven days, but harness racing trainer Scott Di Domenico certainly received one heck of a Christmas present when Holdingallthecards walked off the trailer.

Hard working Whittlesea harness racing trainer Mark Peace enjoyed a rewarding night at Lord's Raceway Bendigo on Thursday, chalking up a stable double with a pair of ex-New Zealanders - Master Metallica in the Worlds Best Hoof Oil Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2150 metres and Fusion in the Anniversary Cup 3rd November Pace for C0 class over the same journey.

Odds On Equuleus' name derives from a constellation, which might be appropriate because he is one of the harness racing stars in Saturday's $1 million Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack.

Horses from the Western District dominated at the Horsham harness racing fixture held on Wednesday July 25, with five winners in the eight race program.

One of the world's most prolific exporters of standardbreds to the United States - Frank Ranaldi - has come to the aid of one of Western Australia's finest young harness racing trainers.

The Albion Park Harness Racing Club will conduct a strong eight event harness racing card this Saturday night at the Breakfast Creek complex. Race one, which is The Garrards Horse and Hound Pace is set down for decision at 6.10pm.

Jason Ricco would love to go 'all out' down the stretch at any big harness racing track and beat George Brennan right on the wire by a nose. 'That would be a dream come true,' the 33-year-old told Harnesslink.

Monday harness racing was conducted at Shepparton and 2005 Inter Dominion winner Elsu who has been a revelation at stud, sired the winner of the Saddleworld Pace for C0 class over 2190 metres in Elsu Storm.

The widow of one of New Zealand's greatest ever harness racing pedigree analysts is getting a bit desperate. When Kevin Coutts passed away on January 16 he left his wife Pam a Tight Connection mare named Tight's Sight. Now Pam has been forced to virtually give the 15-year-old mare away.

Veteran harness racing pacer Bondy was this time last year preparing to pull-off the biggest win of his lengthy racing career when winning the $400,000 Hunter Cup. But it's surprising what a difference twelve months can make in the life of an ageing open class horse competing at the top level against the best pacers throughout Australasia.

Veteran harness racing pacer Bondy was this time last year preparing to pull-off the biggest win of his lengthy racing career when winning the $400,000 Hunter Cup. But it's surprising what a difference twelve months can make in the life of an ageing open class horse competing at the top level against the best pacers throughout Australasia.

The second day (Tuesday) of the Westport Trotting Club's meeting was dominated by Woodend harness racing trainers Greg and Nina Hope. Long-time supporters of the Christmas Coast circuit the Hopes bagged themselves a hat-trick of wins on day two including a double by super-sire Mach Three.

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