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London, April 15, 2014 -- The Raceway at Western Fair District wishes to advise horse people that the track will be closed from 6:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., beginning Monday, April 21 through Thursday, April 24. This is to allow construction crews access to the track infield during the day as demolition will begin on the infield tote board and performing stage. The track will be closed for training during this period on Wednesday, April 23. The infield tote board has been taken out of operation and a temporary solution will be in place for next week at The Raceway. Management and staff apologize for the inconvenience. by Greg Blanchard, for the Raceway                      

Twin B Wrangler went to the front and didn’t look back en route to a narrow triumph in Monday’s $11,000 Preferred 2 for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District. Alfie Carroll hustled Twin B Wrangler through fractions of :27.4, :57 and 1:25.3 before using a :30.2 closing quarter to prevail by a neck over race favourite Leafs And Wings in 1:56. Ja El Pocketrocket was third. Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, Ontario owns and Victor Puddy trains the five-year-old son of Mach Three-Stryper. To date, the pacer has managed to stash away career earnings of $120,290. Monday’s card also featured a set of Preferred-3 events – one for trotters and one for pacers. To read the rest of the story click here.

London, April 14, 2014 -- Time is quickly running out to nominate to this year's City of London Series at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London. The deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, for the event which is open to four-year-old and younger Ontario Sired trotters and pacers. The nomination fee is $200 and there will be no starting fees. Nomination forms are available here For those mailing cheques, you are reminded that they must be postmarked no later than April 15, 2014. The City of London gets underway on Tuesday May 20 and will consist of eliminations and a final. All four finals will be raced as part of the Molson Pace program on Friday, May 30. by Greg Blanchard, for the Raceway                                                

Growing up in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Patrick's dream was to train harness racing horses. Patrick is working hard to make good on his dream, currently having 22 horses in his care after moving to Ontario just over 3 years ago, the biggest province for harness racing. "I wanted to be a driver when I first came here (to Ontario). I wasn't real successful at it and didn't set the world on fire by any means." Patrick says. "I was driving the long shots and driving my own horses... some horses were really nice and some weren't. That's why I decided I was only going to train horses." When Patrick decided to focus only on training that's when results started to roll in, going from training 2 horses to 22 in a relative short time frame. Speaking with Patrick, it's quite surprising to find out he's only 21. The way Patrick carries himself; you would think he's 30 or 35. To the point, he's very mature for his age. "I want to do things successfully" says Patrick. "I try really hard all the time and my goal is to win. I want to win. I will drive 5 hours to Rideau Carlton, (Ottawa, ON), to win a horse race.... I want to bring owners in." There can be so much said for what Patrick aims for and the biggest element is Patrick being able to bring in more owners, this is how the sport will grow end over end. In a way it reminds me of compound interest, earnings will be made on prior earnings. What is most gratifying to Patrick is seeing one of his horses win, more so knowing the time and work he put into working with that horse and seeing the fruits of his labor pay off. Patrick expresses how much he enjoys working with each horse, tinkering with the small things that other trainers may not notice. Back in PEI, Patrick trained horses with his father, Harold. "He taught me a lot" says Patrick. "I owe him pretty much everything. He had a full time job and I went to school and there was a time we had ten horses and we did them after work and after school, being at the barn until 11:30 at night. Then going home and doing school work. We trained horses and I was (listed) as the trainer of them. He helped me, but if I wanted to change something, he would always say, 'You're the trainer'. My dad is the one who helped me out the most, taught me how to change shoeing; he's the main man behind it all." "There were times when I did change stuff (with the horses) and it back fired. Then he would give me advice that I should have done it this way or that way. That is what helped me out a lot." Patrick explains. Listening to Patrick, his dad taught him that mistakes will be made, but what you learn from those mistakes is what matters most. We all make mistakes at one point or another, but do we take the time to learn from our mistakes? "I have a business now with help from my family, my dad, my mom and my brother Robert who pretty much got me set up here in Ontario. (Robert) got me here, he bought me a car, and he's the one who put a roof over my head. He's been good." Back in PEI, working with his dad, Patrick found working with horses to be fun despite the long hours. Patrick admits it became tougher for him once he moved to Ontario. Here in Ontario the competition is steep and fierce. Woodbine and Mohawk race tracks are the two premier tracks in the province of Ontario, however the competition at any one of the other tracks is just as fierce. "You go to Flamboro Downs and you're driving against Jody Jamison, there's Doug McNair in London (The Raceway at Western Fair)... you're always going against the top drivers anywhere. Then when I started training, I was training against the best trainers, like Richard Moreau. It was my dream to train horses and that was the hard part, facing trainers like Richard Moreau and Victor Puddy, guys that put up really big numbers." Being humble, Patrick knows he is not as established as trainers like Casie Coleman, Richard Moreau and Anthony Montini but he is willing to put in the work to reach that level of success. "I won't lie, when I first got here I thought I was a rock star" admits Patrick. "I drove in with the nice shoes and tried to live the 'life'." "I was working hard, but not putting money away. When you look at the bank account and I am walking around with nice shoes on, nice training suit... and a car my brother bought me. I paid him back as we went along but I could have paid him back (quicker). It was time to get my head on straight and let's get it going. If I am going to do it, I am going to do it now." There would be times when Patrick would be at the shopping mall and he's on his phone talking to his mom or grandmother and they want to know why he wasn't saving his money. Patrick said his grandmother gave him a great piece of advice, 'it doesn't matter how much money you have so long as your bills are paid.' That's a motto Patrick is trying to live by, day in and day out. "It's night and day" Patrick explains. "I am a different person than I was. I'm the person who was working hard in PEI with my dad. I'm not the guy who came here and thought I could just live the life. You get a reality check when you come here cause everybody else here is trying to be successful. They're trying, doing everything they can and I had to pull myself to that level." "That's the stuff I'm thankful for. My family might be in PEI but I can always talk to them. They help me get my head around, even when I am having a bad day at the track." Patrick says "...they always keep me on the straight and narrow. That's what keeps me motivated." Robert Shepherd, who is Patrick's oldest brother is someone Patrick fondly looks to for advice, whether it was back when Patrick was still in school in PEI or to present day. "When Robert was in Alberta and I was still at home in PEI, he'd always be there for me to talk to or to give me advice." Patrick says, "I have another brother Stephen, but me and Robert are close. I could always pick up the phone and call him... He's been a big brother that put me on the map." Back when Patrick was in school, instead of hanging out at the bars with friends on Saturday nights, he was at the farm working, tending to the horses. "I worked, lived and did everything at the barn" is how Patrick describes his life back then. "My mom always kept my (busy) growing up, playing hockey or curling, but I stopped all that early... because I was getting more and more into the horses. I didn't care if all my friends were going to a beach party; I was going to the races. If I was not at the races, I was in bed and sick." "There's probably one thing I missed out on and that was my prom and graduation." Patrick goes on to say, "I wish I was there for my prom and my graduation. I had everything ordered and I was supposed to be there but... I finished high school early. I had all my credits and I moved here to Ontario with half a year to go. I got here, started driving, working to get some money going." "Ya I missed my prom and graduation, but I still graduated. My mom wanted me to come back, but at the time I wanted no part of that. I wanted to stay here." Since arriving to Ontario, Patrick admits he's been quite fortunate to have owners who are willing to invest in him. Especially given the timing of his move to Ontario and what has transpired with the provincial Government and now the long term uncertainty of what lies ahead for the industry. However, this doesn't seem to faze Patrick, and it's his confidence in his abilities to persevere is what I believe draws owners to him. Owners who are willing to buy more and more horses and equipment such jog carts to ensure he has all the tools to be successful. Patrick notes that any interaction is all about respect. It doesn't matter that he is 21, all that matters is he's fully committed and handles himself and all his affairs professionally. Sure he could go out on Saturday nights with friends, but knowing that he has horses racing the next day at Flamboro Downs (Hamilton, On), Patrick has come to learn what is a priority and what can wait. Patrick will see you at Flamboro Downs. Fellow trainer Richard Moreau is someone Patrick looks to as a role model when it comes to training horses. "He does his own thing. You don't hear Richard yelling and screaming or anything like that. He's a very quiet guy, very loyal guy. I want to be like Richard and win races and win the O'Brien awards." Patrick's plan for the 2014 peak summer season is simple. It is to win, but not just win; Patrick wants to put up massive numbers. "I want things to be on the up right and keep winning, I have 22 horses now but I'd like to have 42 horses." Patrick says. There is no reason to believe Patrick can't have a stable of 50 or more and I wouldn't be shocked that one day soon Patrick will have a stable of horses numbering in the triple digits. With his mind set and desire to succeed, the sky is the limit for Patrick yet my inclination is Patrick is striving for the stars and beyond. There are plenty of reasons why I can see Patrick's name amongst the stars of the game in the near future. By: Roderick Balgobin   Twitter: ScSupernova

Assigned the outside post position for the second week in a row, the streaking Thundering Ovation tried it first over this time out with a host of trotters leaving the gate, but couldn't catch the front-striding Heres The Magic in the featured $11,000 Preferred 2 Handicap on Wednesday at Western Fair Raceway. Leaving from post three with Alfie Carroll aboard, Heres The Magic carved out fractions of :27.4, :58.3 and 1:27.2 with the favoured mare advancing from fifth to second into the stretch. But Heres The Magic rebuffed that rival to take a new season's mark of 1:58.1. Trained by Victor Puddy for Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, Ont., the victory was Heres The Magic's fourth in 11 starts this year. Sent postward as the 5-2 third choice in the field of seven, the five-year-old Kadabra gelding paid $7.20 to win. Aisling followed from the pocket to place, one and a half lengths behind. Finishing third through fifth, Cimeronken, CIS Buckeye and Thundering Ovation earned the final paycheques in the race. To read the rest of the story click here.

Twilight Seelster set most of the speed in Tuesday’s $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and she held on for a narrow tally in the featured tilt. With Phil Hudon at the controls, Twilight Seelster was parked third on the outside at the quarter pole before brushing to the top before the half. She lead the groups through middle splits of :56.4 and 1:25.2 before kicking home in :29.3 to win by half a length over race favourite Farmers Tuition in 1:55. Set Me Up took home the show dough. Brad Wilson of Lambton Shores, Ontario owns the four-year-old daughter of Modern Art-Titania Seelster, who hangs her harness bag in the barn of trainer Jim Ainsworth. It was a new lifetime mark for the 12-time winner who now boasts career earnings in excess of $100,000. To read the rest of the story click here.

Lorne House put the pedal to the metal with Kendal Gustav in Monday’s $11,000 Preferred 2 Handicap for pacers at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and the gelding wired up his foes en route to pulling off a startling upset at odds of 29-1. Kendal Gustav, who started from the rail in the seven-horse affair, shot to the top and successfully sliced out splits of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:26.4 before using a :29.3 closing quarter to win by two lengths in 1:56.2. Amazon Art tagged along to finish second, with the show dough going to Leafs And Wings. Trainer Scott McNiven co-owns the five-year-old son of Life Sign-City Of Dreams with Tom Brodhurst of London and Shirley Griffin of St. Thomas, Ontario. It was his fourth win of the year and the 21st of his career. The $5,500 payday lifted his overall earnings to $142,612. To read the rest of the story click here.

Within in minutes, I learned something special, this harness racing facility has a very unique approach in its desire to attract fans and future fans. There is something for everybody! Social media is very important at Western Fair Raceway, it's a great way for people like track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle and Racing Manager Greg Blanchard to reach out to new and old fans alike, keeping fans in the loop instantly. "I make myself approachable to everybody" says Sugar Doyle, "whether it is a fan in Chicago, California or Toronto or wherever, if they are letting you know they are playing your track, you got to get back to them and say thanks and wish them luck. Let's make it interesting for them, have them win something through a contest. Let's have fun! We can communicate through twitter and it doesn't cost them a thing." Saying this, Sugar had just finished packaging a prize to be shipped to a lucky contestant in Toronto. Speaking with track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle was great. Sugar is all passion, and that passion is fueled by harness racing. How come Shannon Doyle is called 'Sugar'? Well, back in his home province of Prince Edward Island, (he's a Summerside chap), Shannon was the coach of a novice A hockey team and all the kids on the team had nicknames. The kids wanted to call him 'Candy man' since he always had a lollipop or some type of candy in his mouth. Well, that name didn't really jive and then one of the hockey mom's coined him 'Sugar' instead and since that day he says "I've been rolling with Sugar ever since." Sugar is extremely stoked for the upcoming Molson Pace (Friday May 30th with a 7:05pm post time), and if Foiled Again were to show up to the Molson Pace, Sugar says "this was worth the move from Edmonton just to call this race." Prior to joining the Western Fair team in the summer of 2013, Sugar was the track announcer at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred races. "I'll admit this is closer for me to get back to PEI in the summer. I can drive there opposed to flying across the country." Sugar notes. In high school yearbooks, when students put down their "last will and testament" as Sugar describes it, his message was "One day I will be involved in horse racing". Truer words have never been written. When Sugar is calling a race he really feeds off the fans, and when he sees fans going wild, yelling and cheering their horses on, Sugar gets amped up even more! In 2002 due to a blood clot in his lungs, Sugar's dad passed away abruptly. "A lot of the reason I'm doing what I am doing, I am living my dream here calling races. I left work at the tax centre in Summerside to call horse races. A big part of that is my father passed away right after retirement, he had some dreams but didn't get to fulfill them." Sugar explains. Two years ago, Sugar had his plans set to co-host the O'Brien awards. The day before Sugar was set to fly out to attend the awards, he passed out on the roof of Northlands Park. "I thought I was a little bit nervous about the flight I was going to take the next day to Toronto to go to the O'Brien awards." Sugar notes. "I chalked it up to a bit of anxiety and I come back from the O'Brien's and I was in emergency about a month later and had a blood clot in my lungs. So I am just lucky to be here." Sugar's dad had to of been looking out for him From Above as a guardian angel. "To suffer one of those, I know how quick it could have been over. I was there the morning my dad dropped to the floor and how quick it was over. To have that happen and be on an airplane the next day, and to survive the flight back with a blood clot... my dad must have been looking out for me. The angels have been with me ever since." It's been a full year since Sugar has been given a clean bill of health and he's is still living his dream, enjoying every race, every day, wire to wire. Meeting with Greg Blanchard, the Racing Manager of Western Fair was a true delight. If you haven't met Greg, he's quite genuine and down to earth. As the night progressed, Greg was pulled aside for various reasons and with each interaction; Greg was always calm and classy. There was no 'show' to put on, the philosophy I observed was all about enjoying what you do, and if anything extra arises, there is a team behind you for support. Fans of horse racing may remember Greg from his on-air days with Woodbine Entertainment. "We are focused on having the best product out on the track... bringing more fans to the stands" Greg says. "You can't ignore technology and advancements, we have embraced that and it is a part of our growth strategy going forward but we are not losing sight of the live race fan and we are going to make coming to the races here in London a fantastic live experience." Greg joined the Western Fair team in the fall of 2010 as assistant racing manager and announcer. This is Greg's first season as Racing Manager and it's easy to understand what a difficult time he must have had with the transition given the outlook of the industry last fall. However Greg doesn't see it that way. Instead Greg sees opportunity for growth and expansion at every turn, asking how we can do more for the fans opposed to remain content with current success. One thing you quickly learn about Greg is he always looks at any approach from a team stand point, even if it means more work for himself. "It was a new role for me at a time where racing in Ontario faced its biggest challenge ever." Greg admits. "Going into next season, I think it will make it easier without all the external forces. Facility upgrades and improvements will help enhance the fan experience going into next season." Greg mentions they are planning on redoing the inner tack including the infield stage followed by improvements to the grandstands. "For the whole family, we make Family day a big event along with boxing day and several other days. We try and make it more fan friendly for the younger kids." Greg caught the 'bug' from an early age spending time at the races with his dad. Greg says, "We can't lose sight of that, I was a kid once and that's how I first got exposed (to harness racing). For me it was hanging out with my father, running around with the other kids just oblivious to racing but enjoying ourselves, having races amongst us." To cover all the amazing people who make up the Western Fair would take a couple of weeks, but what was so warm and welcoming was walking into the paddock and having talented drivers like J Bradley Harris walk up and shake your hand. Drivers, trainers and grooms came and went and everyone was either laughing or joking. If not, they were intensely focused on their horses. The bond horsemen have amongst themselves is unique, refreshing and pure. Truth be told, the only way to understand the experience is to see it for oneself and the team at Western Fair offers that opportunity to fans through open house events on qualifying days. Fans can get up close with the drivers and horses they cheer on, get an autograph or two as well as have their picture taken with one of the horses. Meeting Angie Carroll was a warming interaction, such a sweet person whose brother is Alfie Carroll, one of the leading drivers at Western Fair Raceway. Angie won the award of Caretaker of the year in 2013 as the Best Groom at Western Fair by an overwhelming vote. Every time I saw Angie, she was always beside her horse, the bond between the two being clearly strong and mutual. If Angie had to choose anything other than working with horses for a career, Angie would like to be an interior designer. As Sugar and I progressed through the paddock, we met many wonderful horsemen and women. Trainer John Blancher was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time while taking care of Sure As Shooting. "I started out in 1973 with my first race horse when the Sired Stakes first started" John says. You wouldn't know it but John is 70 going on 45! "My family had been involved with work horses growing up on the farm and I've done it up til now." John as he says, "laid himself off" or retired from work three months ago. John admits he has much more time to devout to his horses without having to work fulltime. When you hear what some people contend with willingly because they truly love the animals they work with is inspirational. To the horsemen and women it's not work at all. It really makes one think and contemplate what truly matters in the world, work hard play hard and enjoy the fruits of life is the motto I am left with. There's something John told me that I will carry for the rest of my life; "The outside of the horse is good for the inside of a man." As John spoke those words, I happened to be staring into the eyes of Sure As Shooting and I couldn't look away. The soul combined with the energy and power these majestic animals possess has no relation. Western Fair Raceway is a part of the Western Fair District which is comprised of a sporting complex which hosts four ice rinks, three of which are set to NHL size standards and the fourth set to Olympic size standards. A great deal for anyone wanting to have a fun and thrilling night out is to go to the Western Fair Raceway on Friday nights. For an awesome price of $40 per person, you are treated to a buffet dinner at the Top of the Fair restaurant starting at 6pm followed by live harness racing which kicks off at 7:10pm. Aside from the competitive racing, patrons can dine on delicious dishes such as chipotle pork which has just enough kick to the taste buds that will leave you wanting another bite. The jerk chicken is spiced so well, all you need is some reggae music to make you feel you were dining on the beaches of Jamaica. The fajita bar and taco pasta salad are must haves as well, and all the servers are very polite and attentive. You can follow all the live action from any vantage point with TVs at every dining table and larger screens along the top so if you're grabbing another bite or two, you can still take hold of all the action. Truly neat is how the Top of the Fair restaurant lays out the selection of dishes. Instead of the traditional mesh hall line up for selecting food, is the great idea of having selections spread throughout the length of the top floor so if you are coming up for seconds, you are not stuck waiting in the traditional long line seen at most buffets. Once you're a fully satisfied of food and competitive racing, your $40 also includes a 10:30pm comedy show at Yuk Yuk's which is only a short walk away, while remaining indoors. Not to forget Western Fair will also include $15 in casino play. Another facet to the Western Fair District, which was formed in 1867, is its agriculture aspect, hosting Artisan and Farmer markets which are second to none. The true beauty of the Western Fair District is it is a not for profit agriculture association that continuously reinvests revenue into the District and community itself, boasting a proud and proper slogan of 'Our Roots Run Deep'. By: Roderick Balgobin Twitter: ScSupernova

London, April 1, 2014 -- Live race dates for April and May have now been finalized for The Raceway at Western Fair District in London, as part of Ontario’s new Standardbred Racing Alliance. Wednesday programs have been added to the weekly schedule, meaning there will be racing four days a week for the final two months of the Spring Meet. In addition, post times have been changed to 6:15 p.m. (ET) for all programs, with the exception of Friday nights which remain at 7:05 p.m. (ET). There are several major events coming up at The Raceway, including Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 3rd, where one lucky patron will walk away with an exclusive VIP Prize Pack to this year’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine. On Friday, May 9, The Raceway will host the Ontario Regional Driving Championship for the second time. Eight of the province’s top drivers will be in London looking to qualify for the National Championship later this summer in Charlottetown. The Molson Pace Prep is slated for Friday, May 23rd and will once again be a ‘win and you’re in’ event with the winner receiving an automatic invite to the Molson Pace one week later. That same night, The Raceway will host the Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Series as well as a special Wall of Fame Induction ceremony with this year’s recipient to be announced soon. The Meet wraps up on Friday, May 30, with the track’s signature event, the Molson Pace. The sport’s richest pacer, and two-time champion Foiled Again, is expected to be back as the headliner for the 2014 edition. This year’s Molson Pace will once again be conducted as an Invitational event. That same night, The Raceway will host four City of London Finals. The nomination forms are now available at The deadline to nominate is Tuesday, April 15. From The Raceway at Western Fair

It was no April Fools' Day prank as today the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) announced its decision in regard to the race-date applications for the nine Standardbred racetracks in the province. The ORC has announced the approved race dates for Woodbine Racetrack, Mohawk Racetrack, The Raceway at Western Fair District, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Rideau Carleton Raceway, Clinton Raceway and Hanover Raceway. On Monday, March 31, the ORC released the proposed race dates for the period: April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, for almost all of the province’s racetracks. To view a list of the proposed race dates, click here. The ORC's release regarding approved dates explains that the live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized. The ORC release appears below. ORC approves Ontario Race Dates for 2014 and beyond Notice of Director’s decision regarding 2014 Race Dates The Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) today announced the decision regarding the schedule of live race dates for 2014 for certain racetracks. Following the successful conclusion of agreements, the following racetracks were in a position to commit to their race date schedule for the remainder of 2014: Woodbine Mohawk Western Fair Flamboro Downs Georgian Downs Grand River Rideau Carleton Clinton Hanover The live race date schedules for other racetracks will be announced as their agreements are finalized. Agreements were possible due to government’s commitment to provide funds to horse racing to support the industry`s efforts to grow its business. This five-year commitment has allowed for the negotiation of long term agreements which secure this schedule of race dates for each of the next five years. The Director confirms and approves the schedule of race dates for the 2014 as follows: APPLICANT – 1st quarter (prior approved) – Remaining dates – Total dates Woodbine Racetrack Standardbred (Premier) – 37 – 71 – 108 Thoroughbred (Premier) – 0 – 133 – 133 Mohawk Racetrack Standardbred (Premier) – 0 – 102 – 102 Western Fair Standardbred (Signature) – 38 – 87 – 125 Flamboro Downs Standardbred (Signature) – 52 – 94 – 146 Georgian Downs Standardbred (Signature) - 0 – 40 – 40 Grand River Raceway Standardbred (Signature) - 0 – 48 – 48 Rideau Carleton Raceway Standardbred (Signature) - 14 – 78 – 92 Clinton Raceway Standardbred (Grassroots) - 0 – 15 – 15 Hanover Raceway Standardbred (Grassroots) - 0 – 16 – 16 In accordance with Policy Directive 3-2007, all other race date calendars are approved, but are subject to change where a racetrack operator or other interested party makes an application to vary the approved dates, which will be considered based on the strengths of the business plans submitted and the industry funding available. The Director has been moving forward to implement the components of the five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP), as approved by the Ontario government. Announcements have been made awarding Woodbine Entertainment Group as the single teletheatre operator under a procurement process that is now complete. Revenue earned from the teletheatre network will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks, which include Woodbine, Mohawk, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Western Fair, Grand River, Clinton, Hanover and Ajax Downs. Additionally announcements have been made designating WEG as the single telephone account betting operator, where revenue earned will be used for the benefit of the Centralized Racetracks. Operation of regional racetracks and the related purses will be funded through a mix of on-track wagering and Horse Racing Partnership Funding Program funds. Please be advised that you or any other aggrieved party have the right to appeal the Director’s decision to the Commission. From Steve Lehman, Executive Director for the Ontario Racing Commission

London - March 28, 2014 -- Tonight's live program at The Raceway at Western Fair District has been cancelled due to deteriorating track conditions caused by heavy rains overnight and steady rains throughout today. Live racing is set to resume this Monday afternoon with a first post at 4:05 p.m. From the Raceway at Western Fair    

A five-win performance during Tuesday’s 12-race card at The Raceway at Western Fair District helped driver Alfie Carroll open up a few lengths on the competition in the quest for the Canadian dash title. Recently feted for notching his 1,000th win, Carroll kicked off the card winning with Traumatized in 2:00.4. He returned to victory lane in Race 3 with Aberarder Smitty in 2:01.4 and tacked on triumphs with Forever La Night (2:00.2) in Race 6, Vegas Strip Three (1:59.1) in Race 8 and Cat Four (1:58.1) in Race 12. The resident of Iona Station, Ontario pushed this year’s win total to 90 while lifting his seasonal earnings to $421,513. Trevor Henry holds down second spot in the Canadian standings with 77wins, while James MacDonald finds himself sitting third with 73 scores. To read the rest of the story click here.

Moving up in class with ease, the Victor Puddy-trained Twin B Wrangler cruised gate-to-wire in the featured $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace on Monday at The Raceway at the Western Fair District. A winner in the Preferred 3 last Monday night, Twin B Wrangler ($10) and driver Alfie Carroll left from post one in this evening's ninth race feature and carved out fractions of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:25.3 en route to the one and a half length victory in 1:55.3. Mach It Big and Robert Shepherd followed in second while Leafs And Wings (Scott Wray) rounded out the top three finishers. The five-year-old Mach Three gelding now has two wins in four London starts this year for owner Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, Ont. The win was his 10th lifetime and bumped his bankroll to $113,910. To read rest of story click here.

Taylor Spitzig, 23, of Courtright, Ont., celebrated her first ever career win, as a trainer, this past Tuesday at The Raceway at Western Fair District, In London, Ont.. Taylor is the owner and trainer of Windwood Nick who would roll gate-to-wire at 11/1 for driver Lorne House in 2:00 flat.   When asked about her background in racing, she says she’s been involved her whole life. “My dad (Rusty) has always had horses and back before harness racing was popular he was racing ponies in Sarnia and in Indiana, Michagan and Ohio,” shes says. “As a young child I’d bring my colouring books to the track - while my dad drove or looked after the horses we had racing that night. I was ten when I picked up my groom’s license just so I could actually be in the paddock with my dad.” “Dad has been my biggest influence, but I also look at trainer Casie Coleman and the success she has had in the business,” continued Spitzig. “Not only is she the top female trainer, but she’s a top trainer in a male dominated industry.” Together with her dad, the Spitzigs look after sixteen horses  - a mixture of race horses, two-year-olds, yearlings, broodmares and retired horses. “I have a two-year-old of my own that I’m getting ready for O.S.S. action this year - Casimir Ozzy aka Ozzy - and then I’m training two Dontgetinmyway two-year-olds to go back to Indiana for their sire stakes this summer,” she explains. “Some other ‘project’ horses I have are my two three-year-olds and my old trotter Twin B Rawley. I’m hoping to have those three qualified by mid-April.” Going into Tuesday’s race with Winwood Nick, Taylor said there was no need to be any more confident about her chances of winning. “Whenever I am confident it seems to backfire on me... All I said to Lorne (House), before the race, was - I hope ‘Woody’ has his game face on... I figured I was good enough for a cheque but not the win. Being in against my dad’s horse (Birkdale) and my pet, I was just hoping they could both finish in the money - which they did!” When asked if she had purchased a win ticket on Winwood Nick, for that first training win, Taylor was quick to admit that she’s very superstitious. “No I didn’t have a ticket on him,” she says. “I won’t bet my horses... I won’t Tweet about them or go on Facebook to talk about them until after they race. I feel like I jinx them when I do any of that,” she continued. “You may just see me in the same jeans, tank, sweater and sneakers next time ‘Woody’ is in to race because that’s how superstitious I am!” Here’s Taylor describing the feeling of watching and winning her first race... “When they got past the half and ‘Woody’ was still on top – the excitement started to kick in... I was yelling at the top of my lungs from the fence hoping he would keep going. I don’t even remember seeing the finish I was just way too excited. And then I questioned myself thinking he may have got nipped at the wire - because it was close - but then I heard Brad in the starting car say ‘test the winner #3’ and I started walking to the winner's circle with probably the biggest, goofiest, smile on my face ever. All the guys going out to warm up horses kept congratulating me... It felt amazing! All I could think was 'I finally won my first race!’ and that smile hasn’t left my face yet... My dad keeps teasing me - asking how many copies of the win photo I'm going to have made.” by Shannon "Sugar" Doyle, for the Raceway

Firstclassflight was treated to a second-over trip in Tuesday’s $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and a result the former claimer was able to win the featured tilt in going away fashion for trainer Dave Menary. Doug McNair mapped out the winning trip for Firstclassflight, who now boasts a 2-2-0 record in her first four starts since being claimed for $10,000 on February 3. Sent off as the 6-5 favourite, Firstclassflight got away fifth before grabbing the cover of first-over attacker Cards That Count going to the mid-way point. Firstclassflight made a three-wide charge in the backstretch and then used a :30.3 closing panel to win by 2-1/4 lengths over Cards That Count in 1:57.2. Black Magic Eyes took home the show dough. Taylor Spitzig celebrated her first training win on Tuesday night as her own pacer Winwood Nick wired the fourth race field at Western Fair Raceway Driven by Lorne House, 11-1 longshot Winwood Nick ($24) established the lead early in the $5,000 claiming event and held off second choice Royal Sir for the half-length victory in a two minute mile. Favourite My Perfect Heart finished three and a half lengths behind in third. To read the rest of the story click here.

The beauty of being able to write about any sport is the joy of meeting great people. Getting to know the true person fans don't generally get to see. For all the hype in harenss racing, most fans tend to recognize names of those who frequent the Winner's Circle. Regardless of how many times a horsemen gets to the Winner's Circle, what can fans really say they know about him or her in terms of who they are as a person? Between driving from Flamboro Raceway, (Hamilton, ON) to Western Fair Raceway, (London, ON) in the winter season and driving to and from numerous tracks in the summer season Scott Coulter has put more clicks on his truck than you can imagine, around 380,000 kilometers (236,000 miles). Scott got into harness racing because his family was racing horses as long as he can remember. "We've had horses as far back as I can remember. My dad has over 1,000 wins and I followed him along, so here I am today." For a brief moment it seemed as though Scott may have ventured away from the horse racing industry. "I went to school and studied Business Purchasing. I took a job in a factory for a short while and I realized very quickly that after working with horses outside I was very lucky" Scott says. "As soon as they locked me up inside the factory, I just wasn't the same person." Only a couple of days before this article, Scott and his girlfriend got some wonderful news! "I had a 3D ultrasound to go to and found out we were having a girl." The happiness in Scott's voice was inspiring. "I'm really excited! I am 43 years old and never really thought I was going to have children given my type of schedule.... I couldn't be happier." With a baby on the way, Scott took time to reflect what matters most to him. With the direction the industry is headed and with so many unknown factors everything slowed down for Scott. "It made me take a look at things." Scott acknowledges, "When you're a harness driver, you can sacrifice the idea of family. I think I was going to do that and bypass the idea of family just to be a busy harness driver. When the rug got pulled out from under us (in reference to the Ontario government cancelling the promised slot/casino revenue), I was able to rethink (the idea of a family) and all of a sudden it didn't make sense not to have kids. So we went ahead." Scott fondly recalls one horse in particular that he enjoyed driving in 2005, a three year old filly named Lady Dillinger. "She allowed me to make moves I normally couldn't." Scott explains. As for his favorite horse? Back in 1995 when Scott started out, he had a trotter named The Rogue, "he wasn't a superstar but when you're a young kid starting, he was a really nice trotter and he was great gaited. While I was learning he made me look pretty smart." During the intensity of a race, Scott expresses it's always about positioning the horse to succeed. In some ways you can compare the horse racing industry to NASCAR or Formula One. The horse is the car/engine and the driver and trainer pretty much conduct themselves in a similar manner as they would in horse racing. What gets Scott going? He says "why I love driving horses is trying to have the horse I'm driving in the right spot so it can do what it does best." "It's very much a team effort." Scott says in reference to the NASCAR analogy. "If you have a horse with a smaller engine than the horse beside you, chance is you are not going to win that race. The horses are the driving engines behind your thinking. Use their tools as best as possible." Scott credits his easy going demeanor for allowing him to be a part of the harness industry for so long. "I'm not judge mental and I take everything with a grain of salt." Scott says. The horse racing industry has brought some turbulent waters towards Scott. "It demands a lot of your time, not just at the tracks but traveling to and from tracks. I'm always on the road. When most people are on holidays having Thanksgiving dinner we are working. Your family gets together and you can't be there because you are working. It's something that I am just used to after so many years." Such a demanding lifestyle played a major role in Scott separating from his wife. When she had time-off, Scott was caught in the peak of the racing season. However the present and future is much brighter for Scott and his girlfriend Danielle Shannon. Danielle is a realtor in Stoney Creek, Ontario and even though both their careers keep them busy, they have found a way to make it work. Both recognize the demands of the job for one another and this mutual respect has allowed their relationship to blossom. "If (Danielle) is not with me while I am racing, she is almost always watching on her lap top. She'll try and keep in touch with me through text and email.... If she's at work she can watch a couple of my starts on her computer and when we get home we can talk about that." Scott appreciates that "she loves the fact that I have horses in my life and she's proud of that." Scott never really followed hockey, but since meeting his girlfriend, (who is a Montreal Canadiens fan) he's been following the sport a bit more. When Scott was 38, he purchased a motor cross bike. He enjoyed getting out with his buddies, but the summer time is peak racing season and it was tough to continue on with. However, he hasn't given it up, it's just on hiatus. Scott's ideal vacation would be to take an African Safari or even travel and camp in the Amazon rainforest. Something I find refreshing is Scott's passion for music. Not in terms of what he listens to, but the fact that he plays and sings! Scott explains, "I was 19 and I have a twin brother Steven, and when karaoke first hit the scene, we started singing back then. It's something we got good at, the pair of us and we've done it ever since." "In the last couple years I've taken up the guitar, I am taking lessons at 43 years old, but I love every minute of it." You can definitely hear the enjoyment in Scott's voice. "Lots have heard me sing in the racing industry and my brother." Scott says with a chuckle. Scott's admiration for music blossomed at an early age when he would ride along in his father's pickup. "There was an 8 track in the truck and something was always playing, Conway Twitty, George Jones, George Strait and Merle Haggard, all those guys." Scott reminisces. Don't be surprised the next time you see Scott in the Winner's Circle and he's belting out a tune, that is if his voice isn't to hoarse. Currently Scott is in the middle of renovating his home and he has the perfect spot for his man cave. "It's going to be rustic wood on the walls, a pool table and a dart board on the wall. I am going to have a large screen television and in the corner I'm going to have all my recording and guitar stuff, so slash music room. If I do it right, there will be a pretty nice wet bar or Tiki bar." By Roderick Balgobin Twitter: ScSupernova

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