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Licensed harness racing owner Mitchell Robertson has been fined $950.00 by the JCA for directing both insulting and abusive words towards Racing Secretary Richard Bromley. Robertson noticed his horses Gunpowder and Ain't Nothing Bettor had been placed on the ballot at the Waimate meeting on 25 March 2018, instead of gaining automatic starts. This upset Mr Robertson as he believed the horses had the necessary credentials to gain a start and were entitled to be drawn into the field and he began a series of abusive phone calls and texts to Mr Bromley. The JCA thought a fine of $1,300 to be the appropriate starting point in this case, but imposed a fine rounded down to the sum of $950 for mitigating factors which are detailed in the JCA report below. The Committee was satisfied that a fine of $950 will suffice to satisfy the general purposes of sentencing which are well-established – to hold the offender accountable for his actions, to promote in the offender a sense of responsibility, to denounce the conduct of the offender and to deter the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence. The Committee has also had regard, as always, to the important consideration of the need to maintain integrity and public confidence in Harness Racing. Full details below:   BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing IN THE MATTER of Information No. A10226 BETWEEN N M YDGREN, Chief Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit Informant AND MITCHELL JOHN ROBERTSON, Owner Respondent Judicial Committee: Mr R G McKenzie, Chair - Mr S C Ching, Committee Member Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch Present: Mr N M Ydgren, the Informant Mr M J Robertson, the Respondent Mr S P Renault, Stipendiary Steward (Registrar) Date of Hearing: 26 April 2018 Date of Decision: 3 May 2018 RESERVED PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE The Charge [1] Information No. A10226 alleges that Mr Robertson “wrote and directed insulting and abusive words towards Racing Secretary Richard Bromley” in breach of Rule 1001(1) (v) (ii) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. The Rules [2] Rule 1001 of the Rules of Harness Racing provides as follows: (1) Every person commits a serious racing offence within the meaning of these Rules, who, in New Zealand or in any other country:- (v) either by himself or in conjunction with any person: (ii) at any time writes or causes to be written, publishes or causes to be published, or utters or causes to be uttered, any insulting or abusive words with reference to a Judicial Committee, Appeals Tribunal, an official of HRNZ, the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, the Board, a paid official, or any person engaged by a Club or by HRNZ in a professional capacity and/or as an independent contractor. [3] The penalty Rule is Rule 1001 (2) which provides as follows: (1) Every person who commits a serious racing offence shall be liable to the following penalties: (a) a fine not exceeding $30,000.00; and/or (b) suspension from holding or obtaining a licence, for any specific period or for life; and/or (c) disqualification for a specific or for life. [4] Mr Ydgren presented a letter signed by Mr M R Godber, General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit, pursuant to Rule 1108 (2) authorising the filing of the information. The Plea [5] Mr Robertson had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the information form indicating that he admitted the breach. He was present at the hearing of the information. The charge and relevant Rules were read to him, after which he confirmed that he admitted the breach. [6] The charge was found proved. Summary of Facts [7] Mr Ydgren presented the following written submissions to the hearing: “Mitchell Robertson is a licensed owner with HRNZ and as such is captured by Rule 102 (1) (d). (Rule 102 provides: (1) These Rules shall apply to all Races and Race Meetings and shall apply to and be binding on: (d) all Owners and all persons entering or nominating any horses for any race whether such Owners, trainers or persons in charge be resident in New Zealand or otherwise) He currently has an interest in 17 registered horses. He assists in training responsibilities with his father Peter Robertson who trains in Templeton. Mr Robertson also acts as a bloodstock agent. On the 14th of March 2018, Mr Mitchell Robertson nominated the horses AIN’T NOTHING BETTOR and CALENDAR GIRLZ for the Waimate TC meeting which was to be held on the 25th. This was done via the HRNZ computer login. On the 19th of March, he further nominated TOM RULE and GUNPOWDER for that same meeting. Again, this was done via the HRNZ login. This was done as a job that Mitchell regularly undertook on behalf of his father. The fields were assembled by the Waimate Racing committee on the 21st of March. This committee comprised of Richard Bromley, Gareth Murfitt, Lex Williams and the handicapper Andrew Morris. Soon after the fields were released, Mitchell Robertson noticed his horses GUNPOWDER and AIN’T NOTHING BETTOR had not gained starts but had instead been placed on the ballot. This upset Mr Robertson as he believed the horses had the necessary credentials to gain a start and were entitled to be drawn into the field. Mr Robertson immediately contacted Richard Bromley by cell phone to voice his displeasure. This phone call was made at approximately 1.40pm. The conversation contained comments from Mr Robertson such as “this is f...... bullshit”. Mr Bromley was returning from Waimate at the time of the call and was troubled by poor reception and resultantly the phone call was disconnected. Immediately Mr Robertson reconnected the call and continued to question Mr Bromley on the non-selection of their horses. This call was again disrupted by reception issues and was also disconnected. At 1.47pm Mr Robertson began a series of text messages. The first read “You c.... have no f...... idea no wonder the industry falling apart (sic)” The second, which was sent at 1.48pm, one minute later said, “Don’t f...... hang up”. (Mr Ydgren produced a screen shot of Mr Bromley’s phone confirming those text messages). Mr Bromley did not respond to these messages.” Informant’s Penalty Submissions [8] Mr Ydgren presented the following written penalty submissions to the hearing: “Richard Bromley was serving in his first year as Racing Secretary for the Waimate Trotting Club. He has 12 years’ experience working for other clubs in this role, primarily NZMTC, and enjoys an outstanding reputation as a thorough and efficient staff member within the industry who is extremely well thought of. Stewards’ inquiries have confirmed that Mr Bromley and his colleagues were only employing standard practices that have been used for a number of years. When assessing this incident the Committee should be mindful that no person should be subjected to this kind of treatment when undertaking their formal duties. A person of Mr Bromley’s standing in the industry should reasonably expect that he can go to work and fulfil such duties without receiving such abuse. The direction of such language towards any official is intolerable. Rule 1001 (v) (ii) is a serious racing offence. The maximum penalties in relation to a breach of a serious racing offence are as follows, • A fine not exceeding $30,000 • Suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for life • Disqualification for life Mr Robertson has not appeared before the Stewards in regards to a breach of this or any similar rule. As a young man attempting to forge a career in Harness Racing he finds himself in a less than ideal position on that path. Mr Robertson should be aware of the importance of conducting himself in a professional manner and maintaining integrity in racing. He has admitted the breach at the earliest opportunity and conducted himself in a professional manner throughout the inquiry at all times. Mr Robertson has shown remorse and accepted that his comments were not acceptable. To date, however, he has not apologised. That the comments were in written form does show a degree of premeditation. Along with the language used and the personal nature of them this is an aggravating factor. On this occasion he has made a serious error and the penalty imposed should reflect the nature of that. It should also act as a strong deterrent to any other individual who may feel that addressing any person in a similar manner is acceptable. Other penalties which may assist this Committee are attached. They are that of; • RIU v T Vince 2014 Rule 1001(v)(ii) – Mr Vince fined $1000. • HRNZ v S Dickson 2017 Rule 303(2) Misconduct – Mr Dickson fined $850. The following is a list of misconduct charges which may also assist the Committee. • S LETHABY (12.10.2010) – HR Open Horseman - swearing in the Stewards room and failed to remain when ordered to do so. $650 fine (guideline starting point $500) • R NYHAN (21.07.2009) – HR Open Horseman - insulting language to a Steward. $400 fine • A PYERS (12.03.2013) – HR Open Horseman - offensive and abusive text messages and phone calls to Racecourse Inspector. $850 fine • G VILE (25.06.2014) – TR trainer - abusing a NZTR Handicapper during a telephone conversation. $350 fine • M WALKER (28.03.2009) – Jockey - used insulting and threatening language to another jockey in the weighing area post inquiry. $2,000 fine. A breach of this Rule brings with it a penalty starting point of $1,500 in the JCA guide. Stewards say the appropriate penalty is that of a monetary fine and that the level of that fine should be in the vicinity of $750”. Respondent’s Submissions [9] Mr Robertson confirmed that he accepted the accuracy of the Summary of Facts presented by Mr Ydgren. [10] Mr Robertson said that he was apologetic for his actions and explained that he had acted “in the heat of the moment”. In reply to a question from the Committee, he said that had not made a personal apology to Mr Bromley. He went on to say that he felt angry that the horses had not gained starts as he felt they were each deserving of a start. GUNPOWDER was the highest rated horse in the field. Mr Bromley had explained to him that the selection committee had given preference to horses that had not started in the last week. The Emergency 1 horse was also racing for the second time in a week and it was a one-win horse with approximately $14,000 stakes won and a lower rating, whereas GUNPOWDER, at the time, was a five-win horse with earnings around the $90,000 mark and a better-credentialed horse to have gained a start, Mr Robertson said. [11] Mr Robertson said that he had spoken to Stipendiary Steward, Mr Scott Wallis, the day before the fields came out enquiring as to whether he could leave GUNPOWDER in the nominations for the Wairio TC at Winton on 24 March as a contingency of not getting into the Waimate field. He was advised by Mr Wallis that to do so would involve a breach of the Scratching Penalties Regulation. On the basis that there was no chance that GUNPOWDER would not get a start at Waimate, he withdrew the horse from Wairio. The horses were based at Oamaru, all four (including AIN’T NOTHING BETTOR and CALENDAR GIRLZ) having raced at Forbury Park on 22nd March [12] Mr Ydgren explained that the Waimate selection committee had used discretion to ensure that a wider pool of horses was given the opportunity to race that week. Obviously, Mr Robertson did not agree with that policy but the policy has been in force for some time and in areas such as Canterbury where there is a large horse pool. Mr Robertson’s horses had been accepted at another meeting that week so it was the committee’s decision to place Mr Robertson’s horses on the ballot and horses that had not started elsewhere would thereby be given the opportunity to race. [13] Mr Robertson replied that that did not explain why the first ballot horse, which was also “backing up”, was given preference over GUNPOWDER when the latter had better credentials. [14] In relation to penalty, Mr Robertson told the Committee that they had arranged accommodation in anticipation of the horses racing at the Waimate meeting. This resulted in a “monetary loss”, he said. He had phoned Mr Bromley seeking an explanation on behalf of one of GUNPOWDER’s owners who had phoned him when the fields were published. [15] The conversation with Mr Bromley could have “gone a lot smoother” had it not been for the “reception issues” which created tension when neither he nor Mr Bromley could make himself understood, Mr Robertson said. Mr Bromley had declined to give an explanation, he said. [16] In reply to a question from this Committee, Mr Robertson acknowledged that he was aware of the policy of some Clubs to give preference to horses having their first run for the week but was not aware, at the time, that the Waimate Club was observing that policy. He did not agree that the policy was a fair one. [17] Finally, Mr Robertson said that it was his intention to make a personal apology to Mr Bromley, not for the policy adopted by the Club but for his conduct. The reason that he had not done so before now, he explained, was that he thought it might prejudice this hearing. Reasons for Penalty [18] This charge came about as a result of two horses, TOM RULE and GUNPOWDER, nominated by Mr Robertson for the Waimate TC meeting to be held on 25 March 2018 being denied starts by the fields’ selection committee of the Club. Mr Robertson was particularly upset that one of those horses, GUNPOWDER, had been balloted out with second right of re-entry. [19] Mr Robertson told the Committee and in no uncertain terms that, in his view, GUNPOWDER was deserving of a start based on its compelling “credentials” and, in particular credentials superior to those of the first emergency. The fields for the meeting were posted on the HRNZ website on the Wednesday prior to the Sunday meeting. He noticed that GUNPOWDER was the second emergency in its race. [20] Mr Robertson then acted very precipitously and contacted Mr Bromley, the Secretary of the Club, by cellphone. Mr Bromley was in his car returning to Christchurch. The precise details of the telephone conversation are not before us but Mr Robertson admitted that he used the expression “this is f...... bullshit” during the initial conversation. Reception difficulties were experienced during the telephone conversation. Mr Robertson thought that Mr Bromley had hung up on him. [21] Not wishing to leave the matter there, Mr Robertson then sent following text messages to Mr Bromley’s phone. The relevant text messages, one minute apart, are set out in the Summary of Facts (above). [22] Mr Robertson has now, quite properly in the Committee’s view, admitted the charge of using insulting or abusive words to Mr Bromley, Secretary of the Waimate TC, in breach of Rule 1011 (v) (ii) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. [23] The Committee accepts that Mr Robertson believed, rightly or wrongly, that he had legitimate grounds to be upset at the exclusion of GUNPOWDER. We refer to that horse specifically because the exclusion of that horse, in particular, seemed to have been the catalyst for Mr Robertson’s behaviour. Whether that is correct or not is not strictly relevant. In any event, his subsequent behaviour towards Mr Bromley was completely unacceptable and cannot be condoned. While Mr Robertson may have felt aggrieved, there were no doubt more acceptable options by way of questioning the committee’s decision. [24] Mr Bromley is, the Committee was told, a well-respected Club official of many years standing who was simply performing his duties, we accept, in good faith and to the best of his ability. We have not lost sight of the fact that Mr Bromley was only one of a committee of four on this occasion, but he has been the one who was subjected to Mr Robertson’s abuse. He should not be expected, and neither should any other official in a similar position be expected, to be subjected to such a barrage of insult and abuse from a disaffected owner. [25] Mitigating factors to take account of in considering penalty in this case are Mr Robertson’s early admission of the breach, his cooperation throughout the course of the investigation and his previous good record. The Informant, in his penalty submissions, said that Mr Robertson had shown remorse for his conduct. The Committee is not satisfied that such remorse is total, supported by the fact that, by his own admission, Mr Robertson had not made a personal apology to Mr Bromley in the more than one month between the date of the offence and the hearing of this charge. We believe that, had his remorse been total, he would have made such an apology in that time. The Committee does not give Mr Robertson credit for showing remorse. [26] We do not identify any particular aggravating factors – they are mainly elements of the offence itself and we have touched upon these earlier in this decision. [27] Mr Ydgren referred the Committee to a number of previous cases in both the harness racing and thoroughbred codes. These are of only limited assistance to us as the fact situations are very different, which will nearly always be so and, furthermore, nearly all of those cases preceded the introduction of the Penalty Guide starting point. [28] The Committee is more inclined to consider the facts of this particular case in the light of the Penalty Guide starting point and the particular aggravating and mitigating factors that have been referred to. [29] The Penalty Guide starting point is a $1,500 fine. That starting point was only included for the first time in the Penalty Guide effective from which renders the cases referred to us by Mr Ydgren of limited assistance. That is the starting point for a mid-range breach of the Rule which. We believe, the present case is in the low-to-mid range. [30] Accordingly, to reflect that, we take a fine of $1,300 to be the appropriate starting point in this case. Applying the mitigating factors to which we have referred, we have come to the conclusion that those factors warrant a discount of 25 per cent from the starting point that we have adopted. Therefore, the Committee imposes a fine rounded down to the sum of $950. [31] The Committee is satisfied that a fine of $950 will suffice to satisfy the general purposes of sentencing which are well-established – to hold the offender accountable for his actions, to promote in the offender a sense of responsibility, to denounce the conduct of the offender and to deter the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence. The Committee has also had regard, as always, to the important consideration of the need to maintain integrity and public confidence in Harness Racing. Penalty [32] Mr Robertson is fined the sum of $950. Costs [33] No order for costs was sought by the Informant and, since the hearing of the information took place on a raceday, there will be no order for costs in favour of the JCA. R G McKenzie (Chair)   Harnesslink Media  

Columbus, OH --- Applications for harness racing driver's and trainer's licenses can now be completed and submitted online through a USTA Online Account. After logging into the My Account Services page and selecting the license, then Driver/Trainer options, all of the necessary tools to apply for a license online are available. In addition, My Account allows the applicant to see the status of the licensing process, including whether references have been completed and exam grades, at any time. Typically, through the paper application method, it takes between two and six months for applications to be processed and written and practical exams to be successfully completed. However, the online application process, by utilizing referencing through My Account, can potentially reduce the processing time by weeks, if not months. As in the paper application, an applicant is required to provide at least six references, of which four who must indicate a positive response when their reference form is submitted. References must have a current USTA Membership/License in good standing and for drivers must hold an "A" Full Driver License, for trainers, an "A" Full Driver License or a "G" General Trainer License. The online process begins with an acceptance of terms and instructions prior to completing an application questionnaire and the submission of references, who will each receive an email notification or a form that will need to be returned to the USTA. Once the referencing requirement is met, the applicant is contacted by the USTA with a list of test administrators for the written exam. Once a passing grade on the written test is achieved, the USTA will send the practical exam, which also must be passed, and any other requirements, i.e. a vision exam, necessary to obtain a license. Upon completion of all licensing requirements, My Account will indicate the newly issued license with immediate access to the USTA Online Entry system for those who have obtained a trainer's license. To watch an instructional video on the license application process, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager

The first classic of Auckland Cup week was over almost before it began. Hot favourite Elle Mac led home an All Stars-trained quinella in the $125,000 Pascoes Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park last night, jumping straight to the lead and never getting out of third gear. While the Alexandra Park specialist probably would have won regardless, she was all but gifted the race when second favourite and arch-rival Bettor Joy's winning chances were extinguished early. She was checked by a galloping rival in front of her, effectively knocked out of winning contention, and did a remarkable job to recover into fourth. Elle Mac had all the ingredients for an Oaks winner, being by super sire Bettors Delight, trained by the All Stars and owned by huge sales spender Jean Feiss.   But it wasn't all plain sailing for All Stars hotshots in the three-year-old features last night as the Woodlands Northern Derby market was turned on its head when Chase Auckland tasted defeat for the first time in the Derby prelude. He was forced to sit parked and couldn't grab stablemate Sicario, who was having his first start since last winter. The result suggested Monday's barrier draw will play a bigger role than expected in who wins next Friday's Derby. The other stars of the night were the Michelle Walls-Bernie Hackett training team, who won both early trots including the Northern Breeders Stakes with Majestic Ali paying $13.90.   Michael Guerin    

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 28, 2017 -- Ned "The Insurance Man" Hodkinson urged Sunset Girl to the front at the quarter, and the pair moved strongly through the slop to capture Saturday's $10,000 leg of the CKG Billings Amateur Trot at The Meadows. Once on the point, Sunset Girl faced a determined uncovered bid from "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello and Drift Away, but Sunset Girl had Hodkinson on her side, and that policy was plenty. The duo defeated Mitchell "Sky" Walker and Stemilt Touch by 3/4 lengths in 2:00.3, while Zuccarello and Drift Away earned show. Early leaders David "Linemaster" Ehrenberg and United Bi completed the superfecta. Kris Hite trains Sunset Girl, a 4-year-old daughter of Swan For All-Swing Wing Hanover who won for the fourth time in her last six starts, for Wendy Ross. Elsewhere on Saturday's card, Sam Hill, the gallant 11-year-old Artsplace-Apple Of My Eye gelding, took the featured $13,000 conditioned pace on the front end in 1:53.4 for Dave Palone, trainer John Sullivan and owner Don Tiger. Sam Hill has a combined 13 wins at 10 and 11 and boasts a lifetime bankroll of $578,697. Palone collected four victories and Tony Hall three in the 11 non-Billings events.  THE MEADOWS DOUBLES MONDAY PICK 4 GUARANTEE TO $10K WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 29, 2017 — The Meadows Racetrack & Casino has doubled — to $10,000 — the total-pool guarantee for its Monday, Oct. 30 Pick 4 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. While $5,000 Pick 4 guarantees are offered each card, The Meadows upped the ante when Saturday’s Pick 4 was uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $2,387.32. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post Monday is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Vernon, NY -- Two nights ago the Billings Amateur Driver Series was at Batavia Downs and tonight, Saturday Sept. 23 ,seven members of the granddaddy of all amateur harness racing organizations were in Vernon NY for an eastern region trot over the swift oval at Vernon Downs. Taking advantage of the pole position Dein "the Dream" Spriggs hustled Garlandandpearls away quickly to avoid the confusion caused by breaking horses at the start of the race and they led the way by the first quarter and they had three lengths on their competitors as the timer flashed :28.2. With the field in 'Indian file' (order) behind him Spriggs was able to give his trotter a breather and they passed the halfway point in a relatively soft :59.3. But from there the pace quickened and Garlandandpearls seemed easily in command as he led Toss Cartwright and driver Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans by the third stanza in 1:29. Around the final turn Spriggs trotter braced for a challenge from Kleinhan's charge but Garlandandpearls was up to the task,kept Toss Cartwright at bay and went on to a length victory in a 1:57.3 clocking. Third place, some eight lengths behind the winner, was "Buffalo Bob" Davis with Jelectric, who was stymied at the beginning of the race. (By the way one of Davis' other horses, Sand Bellini, won the first race on the card with professional driver Chris Lems at the controls.) Sent off as second choice in the wagering Garlandandpeals paid $8.30 for win. The veteran 6-year-old Futile Qwest gelding is trained by Patti Harmon. Spriggs was National Amateur Driver of the Year twice (2004 & 2005),and seems the be in the hunt for that title again this year as he currently sports a .501UDR with 14 wins in 33 seasonal drives. Next up in Billings action will be Midwest region trot at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky.on September 28. By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Deak's Cici Barr (Armbro Barron) set a new lifetime mark in Thursday's feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel in what was a big day for harness racing driver Jimmy Devaux. Devaux has been red hot of late and chose Deak's Cici Barr over another one of the major dangers in the $9,300 feature for New York sired trotters. The choice proved to be the correct one as the seven year old mare who has been on top of her game since coming to Saratoga late last month continued her own hot streak. The George Deak-trained trotter put in her best career performance in her local debut in June scoring in 1:57.3 while upsetting at odds of 30-1. Following a second place finish last week, Deak's Cici Barr was the 6-5 public choice on Thursday as she scored an impressive victory in 1:56.4. The win was one of five on the card for Devaux who currently sits in fifth in the local driver standings. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. Mike Sardella

Two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, blew away her competition in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (June 1) when she guided Hidden Identity to an oh-so-easy gate to wire harness racing victory over six others in a 2:00.2 clocking Unfazed by starting on the far outside from post seven, Miller hustled her charge to the front as the wings of the mobile starting gate folded and they had command even before the first turn. "He's a real nice horse to drive and I didn't have to do much other than just give him his head and we were on top almost immediately" Hannah said After a :29.2 first stanza Hidden Identity seemed to be on cruise control as the 10 year old altered son of Angus Hall had the field lined-up behind him and none of the trailing horses were game enough to take a shot at the leader in a 1:00.3 first half. As the field headed up the backside for the second time Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso had Sam's Honeybee tight on Hannah's back and they raced one-two by the third stanza in 1:30.4. But after that it was Katie bar the door as Hidden Identity began to open daylight on the field. At the top of the lane Hannah had two lengths on the rest of the field which her trotter effortlessly opened to five at the wire.in a 2:00.2 clocked mile "Even though he was so strong throughout the mile when we headed for home I still pulled the (ear) plugs but I really didn't have to. We were easily home free" Ms. Miller said. Sam's Honeybee held on for second money while Wygant Prince , driven by "Coach Paul" Minore kept Woody and "Yankee Joe" Lee at bay for the show dough. Hidden Identity is owned and trained by Tom Milici , Sent off as the odds-on favorite he paid $2.80 for win. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Ten members of the Western Region of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series convened at Northfield Park on Wednesday evening, May 24, for a trotting contest and when it was declared official, "Tiny Tim" Miller walked off with the harness racing trophy after he reined Song in My Heart to a solid 3-1/4 length victory over Heza Rube and driver Bob "Lumberman" Troyer in a 2:01.3 clocking. Miller made short work of his triumph when he gunned the 6-year-old Cantab Hall for the lead from the four hole and took command on the first turn and in doing so they circled co-favorite Star Chip driven by Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel. As the field headed to the half way point Keep The Cash and Pat " the Write Stuff" Miller were hung on the limb from the start and looking for a spot down along the pylons. But no one wouldn't allow her any space so she was relegated to a fresh-air trip. As the field headed to the third station Song In My Heart couldn't shake off the parked-out Keep The Cash and they raced one-two as the timer flashed 1:31.1. However from there it was all Song In My Heart as the veteran trotter began to shrug off Keep The Cash and then open daylight on the field. At the wire Miller's charge was a 3-1/4-length winner over Bob Troyer's Heza Rube in a 2:01.1 clocking. And even after being parked the entire mile Keep the Cash finished third just four lengths behind the winner. Song In My Heart is owned by Bert Hershberger and trained by JD Wengerd. He returned a $4.60 win mutuel. For "Tiny Tim" it was his fourth seasonal driving victory and the 40th of his amateur driving career. Billings action continues tomorrow (May 25) with an Eastern region trot at Yonkers Raceway. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Tony "the Capo" Verruso took charge in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (May 18) and went right on down the road with Flirting Duezy and made every pole a winning one en route to a 1:58.1 harness racing triumph. "We had the pole and I wanted her to be on the muscle so I scored her down hard," the Billings president said in the paddock after his driving victory. "But I didn't expect her to be on the bit as strong as she was and when we got behind the (mobile starting) gate I had all I could do to hold her." Flirting Duezy zipped to the lead and took the field by the first stanza in :28.3. "I tried backing her off but she had a mind of her own at that point. So I left her cruise right along and we passed the half in :58.3 and got by the three quarters in 1:27 and 2," Verruso added. At that point Flirting Duezy was two lengths in front of Avivas Winner, who was being driven by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli. But Avivas Winner could get no closer and he chased the eventual winner to the wire still two lengths in the rears as the photo finish camera snapped. Third place went to the betting favorite, AJ's Destiny, who was handled by "Buffalo Bob" Davis. Flirting Duezy, is owned by Carl Gillespie and Betsy Phillips and trained by Gillespie. It was the third seasonal victory for the 8-year-old daughter of Victory Sam and the first victory of the year for Verruso who has driven 66 winners in his amateur driving career. However, the day was not over for the Billings president. After the Monticello race he headed to Yonkers Raceway where he's slated to drive his own Sam's Honeybee in the $15,000 Final of the North American Amateur Drivers Associations Spring trotting series. John Manzi

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Freehold Raceway on Saturday afternoon (April 22) where a seven-horse field went to post and when the judges hung the official sign Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin emerged victorious with his own Permanent Joy in a 2:01:1 clocking. In a race marred by breaking horses on the first turn "Hurricane Hannah" Miller cleared the confusion with Winwood Scout from the seven- hole but had to sizzle to a :28.4 first quarter which arguably took its toll later in the race. She did get her trotter a breather but "Buffalo Bob" Davis kept the pressure on with Mr. Butterworth. However, the eventual winner, Permanent Joy wasn't quite as lucky in clearing the breaking horses . "Permanent Joy is handy little horse so I was able to avoid the confusion On the first turn but by then I was 10 lengths back of two leaders," Krivelin related via email. As the field headed up the backside the final time around Winwood Scout was joined by Permanent Joy and from there a battle ensued. "Once I caught the field I felt I had a shot (to win). Coming around the final turn I thought I would go right by Hannah (with Winwood Scout) but she did a great job keeping her horse alive and we battled till the (finish) line. Fortunately I came out on top." The margin of victory had to be determined by the photo-finish camera and when the judges developed the print Permanent Joy won by a head. Third place went to Windsong Illusion driven by "Slate Hill Allen" Sisco. The crowd sent the winner off at odds of over 7-1 and Permanent Joy returned $16.80 to those who backed him. Krivelin owns and trains the veteran 9-year-old Permanent Vocation gelding who years ago was the State of Maine's 3 year old trotting champion. For Permanent Joy it was the trotter's second seasonal victory and for Krivelin, a three-time National Amateur Driving Champion, it was his fifth win in just nine seasonal starts. By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Known by his Billings nickname of "Buffalo Bob" Robert Davis scored a brilliant upset victory in the granddaddy of all amateur harness racing series when he guided Savage Cinderella to a 1:56.3 victory over "Hurricane Hannah" Miller's Panana Republic last night (April 14) at the Meadowlands. "It was such a great stretch duel with my trotter and Hannah's each putting their heads in front at various stages right up to the wire where my mare was a head better in the tight photo," Davis related with great enthusiasm. "We went back and forth all the way from the three -quarter pole; first my mare was in front then Hannah's was the leader. Such a great battle that to me was reminiscent of the Alydar- Affirmed stretch duel of thoroughbred racing lore." After moving down a starting position (to post two) due to a late scratch Davis hustled Savage Cinderella to the lead and was somewhat taken aback when the first quarter timer flashed :27.4. "We Ieft the gate in a hurry and when the field settled I realized I needed to give my mare a breather so I tapped the breaks and we got by the half in 57 and a piece," Davis explained. It was at that point that Hannah Miller sent the races betting favorite, Panana Republic, toward the front and therein the battle ensued. The two leaders opened daylight between themselves and the rest of the field and the racing fans were the recipients of a great horse race right to the finish line. Third place went to BL Class Act driven by "Slate Hill Allen" Sisco. Owner Robert Rigobello of nearby Brooklyn was happy that his Savage Cinderella got a chance to race at the Meadowlands and happier still that she won the race. He was joined by trainer Diane Peterson fort the winners circle ceremonies. It was the third seasonal victory for the Saratoga Raceway-based 9-year-old daughter of Keystone Savage and 44th of her career. Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of nearly 30-1 Savage Cinderella paqid $61.20 for win. For "Buffalo Bob" Davis it was his second seasonal driving victory and the 30th of his amateur career. John Manzi

When the 36th season of racing in the C.K.G Billings Series kicked off at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday, March 30 two precedents were set. It was the first time in a Billings Series opener that a horse got placed first because of a racing infraction; and it was also the first time in her career that "Hurricane Hannah" Miller won a race by default. "I guess a win is a win no matter how it happens," said the talented miss, who is no stranger to the winners circle. "My horse (Winwood Scout) had a second-over cover trip but when David Glasser's horse (Celebrity Stimulus) was cited for a change of direction the stretch and despite being the first under the wire the judges disqualified him and placed him fourth." It was the second consecutive victory for Miller and Winwood Scout having won a NAADA trot at Yonkers last week when they teamed-up for a 2:00.1 victory. However, Celebrity Stimulus' driver, David "Poppa" Glasser, was philosophical about the whole ordeal. "I learned a good lesson tonight, and a rather costly one at that. It was a $2200 pain in my wallet," he said with a laugh. "I was on the front-end from the start but in the deep stretch I was so concerned about beating the outside horse (Wygant Prince) that I let my trotter drift down into the passing lane which was a violation. I'll be careful to never let that happen again." The 6-horse field went to post prior to the first race on the betting card. When the starting judge said 'go' Glasser sent Celebrity Stimulus to the lead from the pole position. They cut fractions of :28.4; :58.3 and they were still fairly comfortable as they passed the third stanza in 1:29.1 But in the lane they had company. At the wire Winwood Scout was a neck behind the winner and was placed first. Third under the wire was "Coach Paul" Minore's Wygant Prince who ended-up it the place money and The Franchise and driver Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff ,was placed third. The race winner, Winwood Scout notched his third consecutive victory. He is trained by Chris Marino for Howard Jacobs. And for "Hurricane Hannah" Mille, two time National Amateur Driver of the Year, it was her third seasonal victory. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Nigel McGrath is prepared to take a bit of the blame for the first up performance of Classie Brigade during Cup Week.   The promising four-year-old was a, at first glance, disappointing fifth behind Chase The Dream, but his Weedon’s trainer was keen to sweep it under the rug and move on.   “I’ll take a bit of the blame for that, he was probably a little under done,” McGrath said.   “We went there with only one trial and they ran a super quick time and he was just left short a bit.   “But he has trained on super since, and that run has really tidied him up.”   That bodes well for Saturday when McGrath chucks the entire on the truck and treks south to Geraldine for the $18,500 Geraldine Cup on the grass track at Orari.   One of only a few horses last season who was capable of getting close to a rampant Lazarus, the now four-year-old has been earmarked for big things this season but does face a strong line up today.   “His form from last season looks pretty good now,” McGrath said.   “He will get better with racing under his belt too, and you would think if we can get back to where we were six months ago that he should be in for a good summer.   “What he does next will depend a lot on what he does this weekend, the Green Mile and the Ashburton Cup are both on the radar but there is a chance of going to Auckland, I’m going to wait until he’s raced before we make the decision.”   The son of Bettor’s Delight and great mare Trigirl Brigade has previous form on grass tracks having won at Methven early on in his career so the green top of the Orari course should provide no problems.   Jimmy Curtin will step up to take the drive on the stallion with regular driver, Ricky May electing to stick with the Greg and Nina Hope trained, Mossdale Conner. Curtin has the task of getting Classie Brigade to step away from behind the barrier strand for the first time in his career.   “He’s had a bit of practice at home but nothing at workouts or trials.   “I think he will be ok though, he’s a pretty sensible horse, so I wouldn’t think it will worry him too much.”   McGrath also has Maverick in the race but concedes it will be hard for him off the back mark.   “He’s crying out for some relief from the handicapper, we are on the same mark as Mossdale Conner.   “At the moment he is really well, but we just need a bit of a let up to make us really competitive.”   The Geraldine Cup has drawn a cracking field with Brilliant Strike, Mossdale Conner and Quick As A Trick all coming out of Cup Week Group One features.   One who might slip under the guard is noted grass track performer, Johnny Eyre.   Fourth in the Methven Cup behind Smolda, the Mike Brown trained pacer looks tailormade for an assignment like this.   Super Selector - Matt Markham Race 1: Trouble Giero, Chevron Express, Prince George, Time For Diamonds Race 2: Beach Skipper, Franco Tmick, Dream To Reality, Bettor To Be Tricky Race 3: Augusta, Handsome Hero, Run Boy Run, Likely Jereme Race 4: Franco Texas, Buster Brady, Superfecta, Torrid Bromac Race 5: Young Stranger, Everybody Knows, All Star Angus, Gershwin Race 6: Myidealson, Magical Mitch, Rozzano, Honour The Bet Race 7: Ready To Fire, Alta Teresa, Le Vado, My Blue Heaven Race 8: Ruakapuka Ruler, Christopher Banner, Ariadne Lavra, Crackabella Race 9: Johnny Eyre, Mossdale Conner, Classie Brigade, Quick As A Trick Race 10: Amaretto Sun, Harrysul, Valmagne, Belle’s Son Race 11: Rocknroll Legend, Real Torque, Mrs Browns Boys. Mysistersastar   Best Bet: Augusta (Race 3) Value: Johnny Eyre (Race 9)

The Mr Cantab gelding Homicide Hunter smashed the world record for harness racing four-year-old trotting geldings with a 1:50.1 victory in the $50,000 Sebastian K Invitational Trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In fact, the only divisional world standard for 5/8-mile track that’s faster is the 1:49 all-time record, set in the older stallion division – by Sebastian K.   The most potent teaming at Pocono – driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes – were the sponsorship behind Homicide Hunter, who spotted third as Wings Of Royalty took the field to the lead in 26.3, then brushed to the top and reached the half after a slight breather in 55.3. After that, it was the rest of the field that was left gasping, as Homicide Hunter went to the ¾ in 1:22.4 and stayed strong to the finish, winning by four lengths while lowering the former divisional standard, co-held by 2015 divisional champ JL Cruze and Wind Of The North, both here at Pocono. Il Sogno Dream rallied for second up the inside to hit the wire a neck ahead of strong-closing Rose Run Parker behind Homicide Hunter, who also posted the fastest trotting mile of 2016 on all sizes of tracks, 1/5 faster than Resolve posted in a Meadowlands victory.   Homicide Hunter, who dominated the Indiana landscape in 2015 while winning 16 of 18 races and over $475,000, was purchased on July 1 by Crawford Farms Racing, and that purchase looks very astute right now, as Homicide Hunter boosted his bankroll to $655,999, with the prospects of more to come. (Hmmmm … Indiana … Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete … Homicide Hunter?)   PHHA / Pocono

When Omaha Set Hut (Credit Winner) came to Saratoga Casino Hotel to compete last week, the harness racing three year old battled top New York Sire Stakes colts. The Tyler Freese-trained trotter was overmatched in the $88,350 stake as he ran into a track record performance by Dayson who trotted in 1:54.2. On Tuesday night, Omaha Set Hut returned to the Spa to compete in the $9,950 feature for New York Sired trotters and had Bruce Aldrich Jr. in the sulky. Bet down to be the race's 3-5 favorite, Omaha Set Hut cruised out to the early lead and never had an anxious moment as he coasted to an open length victory in the race for winners of two but not more than four races lifetime. The win came in 1:56.4 which served as a new career best for the sophomore trotter. Aldrich went on to sweep the early pick three en route to a driver's hat trick. Driver Jimmy Devaux also piloted three winners on the Tuesday card. Live racing continues on Wednesday night at Saratoga with a 7:05pm first post. Mike Sardella

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - All The Time went first over for the final seven-sixteenths of a mile and had little trouble prevailing by 1½ lengths over Dog Gone Lucky in a matchup of top harness racing 3-year-olds in the $17,500 featured conditioned trot at the Meadowlands Friday night. All The Time, a sophomore filly trained by Jimmy Takter, won despite being away from the races for four weeks. When last seen, she was being upset as the 1-5 public choice in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Final. Dog Gone Lucky, a Hambletonian-eligible colt conditioned by Mike Stoltzfus, rallied well for the place spot in his 2016 debut. Possessed Fashion was third. As the 4-5 favorite, All The Time returned $3.60 to win for driver Yannick Gingras and owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld and trotted the mile in a lifetime-best 1:52.3. WHAT A MUDDER: Of the six New Jersey Sire Stakes events on the program, none of the winners were more dominant than Ariana G, a 2-year-old trotting filly by Muscle Hill trained by Takter and driven by Gingras. Coming back after bad weather caused a delay, Ariana G romped in the slop by 4¼ lengths and completed the mile in 1:58.2. ALMOST 30 GRAND: The 5th race 20 cent Jackpot Super High Five did not have a single-ticket winner, upping the carryover for the next program to $29,364.87. ... Racing resumes at the Big M Saturday with a special early post time of 6:30 p.m. At the conclusion of the card, there will be a fabulous fireworks show. by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

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