After looking back at the results from last month’s Yearling Sales, it’s not surprising to see that Mark Purdon and Robert Dunn are the country’s leading trainers. Purdon, along with his formidable band of owners, purchased approximately 22 yearlings for costs of around $1,066,000 at the New Zealand Sales, while Dunn and clients acquired roughly 12 yearlings spending around $500,000. Purdon and Dalgety were also active at the Australian APG Sales. Which raises the question, how can the small compete? Don’t get me wrong, Purdon, Dunn, and all of their brilliant owners are great for this industry and deserve and earn all the success that they get. But in a few years is it going to be Purdon, Dunn, and Dalgety racing each other? Now that is something that wouldn’t be good for the industry at all. Mark Jones, who is in no way, shape, or form, a “small trainer” says that if he wasn’t a ‘seller’ he would struggle to survive, which makes you think. How does everyone else fear? “I don’t have the numbers of Purdon or Dunn so I survive by selling, but I am worried that the majority of the people in the game won’t be able to survive as it is simply getting too tough,” said Jones. “I’m one of the lucky ones, but it’s becoming increasingly hard for young and small trainers to compete and unless stakes go up their chances of staying in this industry are very grim which is very bad for the future of the sport.” “I believe it is up to clubs, especially Addington, to up stakes as owners need to race for more money.” Jones also believes that HRNZ could cut a lot of costs and direct that money into the stakes. “And we need more races for the poorer horses, so they have a chance to earn,” he added. “I also think we need training centres to give young enthusiast somewhere to start from as no young trainer can afford their own property,” Jones suggested. “It’s very hard for young people to get backers, as owners are a dying breed, especially in the Auckland region.” “The way things are going it won’t be long before the big stables are racing each other,” he concluded. So, “How can the small compete?” – It’s something worth pondering over anyway. Perhaps it could be ‘The Big Question’ on The Box Seat? Or would that mean that they were just trying to ‘Keep Up With The Joneses’? By Mitchell Robertson
On Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack, a racing rarity took place when a dead-heat for win happened. Even more rare is that both horses are homebreds, and owned by their trainers. In the evening's sixth race, a conditioned race for Ontario-sired three and four-year-olds, So Bad Im Good (Joe Hudon) tried to cut all the fractions but couldn't hold off the backfield heading into the stretch. Kuchar (Jody Jamieson) and Sanattle Slew (Billy Davis, Jr.) were both poised to pounce on the pacesetter from the outer flow and both powered past, hitting the wire simultaneously. To read entire story click here.
Westfield, IN --- The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is seeking qualified trainers to condition its stable of Trottingbreds in preparation for the organization's 2014 summer program schedule. Volunteer trainers are expected to jog or exercise the horse on a daily basis to build stamina, but no actual training miles are required. Trainer is responsible for all care, feed, hay, bedding and shoeing. Upon request, gifts-in-kind receipts for services can be issued. Horses will be delivered on or about April 15 and picked up in late June. Each horse comes with its own harness (and hopples if needed). For more information, contact HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor at 317.867.5877 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.
In an exciting announcement for the Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star, it has been revealed that star US reinsman Corey Callahan will be in Australia for the International extravaganza on March 22. In just its second year, the $400,000 Pryde's EasiFeed Great Southern Star trotting series held across one sensational night at Tabcorp Park Melton has attracted some massive names and it continues with Callahan adding his name to the list of visitors for the richest squaregaiting event in the southern hemisphere. Having only started his career at the age of 27, eight years later he has quickly become one of the leading drivers in North America. Growing up under the tutelage of his father Nick, Corey decided to turn his hand to college ambitions before returning to harness racing where he has driven thousands of winners. In fact since 2010 he has never driven less than 500 winners in a season, an extraordinary statistic that proves just how prolific the talented driver has been. He is also currently leads the United States Trotting Association Drivers' Premiership, 29 ahead of Ron Pierce . And it's not just his consistency that has him on top, he has also mixed it at the top level, taking out the $500,000 Hoosier Cup with Mr Wiggles in 2009 and competed in the World Driving Championship, representing the US. But it was 2013 which was the year that put the 35-year-old on the world stage as he raked in over $9.7 million in stakes earnings, placing him in the upper-Echelon in North America. He drove standout winners like Golden Receiver, D'Orsay and Drop The Ball. But, Australian trots fans will know him for his association with Ma Chere Hall, owned by Australian interests, however his win with Allstar Partner in the $260,000 PA Sires Stakes Championship was the highlight of his season. Callahan has been a fixture of some of the best tracks in America, racking up over 100 wins at The Meadowlands last season. Callahan will be involved during the week of the Great Southern Star and will compete in the Drivers Invitational on the all-squaregaiting night. Callahan arrives in Australia on March 18 and is available for drives. Interested trainers should call the Racing Office on (03) 8378 0200. For media enquiries contact Brett Boyd on (03) 8378 0250. BLAKE REDDEN COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER [Harness Racing Victoria]
TROIS-RIVIERES , February 20, 2014 - Daniel Dube, a native son of Trois-Rivieres and now competing in the New York area as a professional harness racing driver, can't wait to come to his hometown and Hippodrome 3R this summer. "It is a pleasure for me each time I return to the Hippodrome 3R to race," Dube said. "This is where I started my career. I never missed the opportunity to go there when we visit my family and my wife's family. And the revival of Prix d'Ete will surely be another opportunity to return. " In the racing world, Dube needs no introduction In both Canada and the United States, he won multiple championship's and many of the most prestigious races in the sport such as the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug. Last summer, he paid a visit to the Trois-Rivieres racetrack and he won in 1:52.4 with the horse Duc Dorleans , the fastest mile in the history of Hippodrome 3R. "The track at Trois-Rivieres is fast, there is no doubt," Dube said. "It compares favorably with the best tracks in North America. The Prix d'Ete should draw the attention of the best four-year-old pacers in America, because it will be a great event. Several trainers, including the accomplished Ron Burke, who has raced some horses in Charlottetown in the Gold Cup & Saucer, will be interested by a purse of $200,000 in the new Prix d'Dete. If I get an opportunity to have a drive, I will certainly be there. " A reminder that Sunday, September 21, 2014 is a date to put on the agenda for all harness racing fans who want to see the best drivers and the best four-year-old pacers in North America at the Hippodrome 3R. Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the $200,000 Prix D'Ete and the $50,000 consolation race, must be postmarked by Saturday, March 15, 2014. For more information about the race, nomination forms and conditions please go to www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Hippodrome 3R
This weekends three series finales at Cal Expo honor the memory and contributions of Alan Kirschenbaum, Richard Staley and Marvin Shapiro. The Alan Kirschenbaum Series is named for the longtime owner and breeder and past president of the California Harness Horsemens Association, who died in October 2012. Kirschenbaum was a major factor in California as an owner, breeder and amateur driver for many years. With his stallions Little Steven and British Sterling standing at Cherry Tree Farm in Wilton, he helped support the industry in California. In the past, he had even waived his stallion fees to help the California horsemen breed their mares to help the horse population survive in the Golden State. He was also a huge supporter of the California Sire Stakes and amateur races. Richard Staley, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 66, was one of the top owners to ever campaign trotters and pacers in California. He was involved in the sport for more than 25 years and during that entire period had only one trainer, Hall of Famer Doug Ackerman. Over the years Staley and Ackerman would regularly go to the major sales to select and purchase the regally-bred years that became the bulwark of the Staley Stable and provided California harness racing with many of his classiest performers. Marvin Shapiro was the son of L.K. Shapiro, who owned the Hall of Fame thoroughbred and California-bred champion Native Diver. He was the president of Western Harness Racing Inc. in the 1960s and spearheaded legislation that sanctioned night racing in California. He died in 2003 at the age of 83. Marvin Shapiro Finale, Open Pace in spotlight A contentious $7,350 finale of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series and an Open Pace headed by One And Only are the main events on Saturday nights Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. Itsabouttonight and Plum Crazy Baby captured the two divisions of the first leg of the Shapiro, while last week saw one division and it was Majestic Lass who come rolling late to post a $47 upset. An 8-year-old daughter of Art Major, Majestic Lass is owned by Kimberly Andres, is conditioned by Salvador Wenceslao and will have Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. No threat in the first leg of the Shapiro, she came back last week to be up by a head over another longshot in Pips Jenny G., with the $1 exacta returning a cool $515 in that affair. Itsabouttonight will represent owner/trainer Gretchen Smith with Tim Maier at the helm. The Illinois-bred mare dominated her division of the opening leg over a sloppy track, then was a close third last weekend after opening up a large lead at the head of the stretch that evening. Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old Relentless Yankee mare who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi with Dario Solares training and Dave Siegel doing the honors. She was a very convincing victress in the first leg, then was first over in her most recent appearance and had to settle for the fourth as the 8-5 favorite behind Majestic Lass. Completing the field are Red Star Gilda with Williams Hernandez; No Mo Parking for Mike Jarvis; Curvacious with Luke Plano in the sulky; Pips Jeeny G, Patrick Galbraith; and Little Schoolgirl, who leaves from the outside slot with James Kennedy at the helm. One And Only gets top billing in the Open Pace for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and driver Luke Plano. The son of Bettors Delight rattled off five straight wins between December 21 and February 1 before having the streak broken at most recent asking after doing his work from the demanding No. 10 post position. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness
There is a “grass roots” movement currently going on in harness racing, which is being led by two prominent horse owners, Richard and Joanne Young of South Florida. They have been owners in the Standardbred industry for 20 plus years. Joanne has been riding and showing Arabian horses for 30 years. Over the years they have had the pleasure of owning not one, but two world champion performers, Put On A Show (31 wins in 50 starts with earnings of $2.4 million) and I Luv The Nitelife (17 wins in 25 stars with earnings of $1.9 million) in addition to other stakes winners over the years. I Luv The Nitelife was recently announced as the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year for 2013. They travel throughout the country to watch their horse’s race and are big supporters of the industry. Now the Young’s are on a different mission, one that has been involved in a series of hotly debated discussions for years but solutions have been far from being solved. The Young’s want every track and state racing commission that has harness racing to put a stop to drivers who over use the whip in races and take their feet and touch or kick their horse during a race. This all came about because someone did a blog on the internet last Fall, regarding the non compliance with the rules regarding kicking and whipping that woke Joanne Young up. The Young’s took the initiative and started asking and inquiring about the rules and regulations of various states. They sent letters and emails to major race and industry officials throughout the country and learned quite a bit. “I couldn’t tell you how many emails, letters and calls we made,” Joanne said. “ We got back some calls and about a half dozen emails and some of them were so encouraging. Most states have rules but track management and the judges need to enforce them and in some cases increase the fines and suspensions significantly so drivers will not abuse the horses as many do.” “Tracks and judges make their own rules and maybe give a fine after a couple of offenses.” Young said. “It’s like a slap on the wrist and some drivers may say it’s worth the fine to win the race because of the purse. Personally I don’t see why either method is used. These horses are bred to race and I don’t believe that a whip or a “kick” does anything to make the horse perform better. To those people that say the “kick” is nothing and does not hurt the horse, I say all you have to do is watch what happens to the driver’s leg when he comes into contact with the hock. The leg is forcefully pushed back and looks like kicking. So whatever you want to call it, it looks horrible and the public perceives it as abuse. For that reason alone it needs to be banned.” According The United States Trotting Association’s penalties that are suggestions as guidelines to pari-mutuel state gaming commission and racetracks are: “The penalty for kicking as defined herein shall not be less than 9 days suspension.” For excessive whipping the suggestion is, “The mandatory minimum penalty for a whipping violation shall be a fine in the amount of $100 and a 3 day suspension from driving for the first offense and for each subsequent violation the mandatory minimum penalty shall increase in the amount of $100 and 3 days (e.g. $200 and 6 days for the 2nd offense, $300 and 9 days for the 3rd offense, etc.)” “These rules are a joke and everyone in the harness racing business knows it, because either they are not enforced or the penalty is too lenient.” Joanne Young said. “ We want to see a cohesive rule that states that the right hand remain on the right line and the left hand remain on the left line during the race and that the feet must have no contact with the horse. “The penalty for not following these rules will be suspension for 2 months and a $5,000 fine,” Young continued, “or placement of the horse. We need to make the punishment harsh enough to stop the actions. Of course an easier fix is just to ban both practices immediately. Other countries have rules in place and no kicking or one handing whipping is allowed or tolerated. If the owners/drivers/trainers lose money you can bet that the drivers will stop immediately. We need to bring some credibility back to this sport.” Jeff Gural, the prominent owner and CEO of three racetracks, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, wrote back and also talked with the Young’s about their quest and encouraged them with this scenario. “I met with the drivers before the start of the meet,” Gural said, “and told them anyone kicking a horse would not be allowed to drive at our tracks, period. No one complained. The whipping is tricky because to change the rule in NJ you need public hearings, etc. The drivers are opposed to this but we have implemented a temporary rule which has cut it way down, but I will back any effort to make the rules stricter.” Joanne has been in touch with the Ohio and Kentucky Racing Commission in regards to their recent rule changes. She is also in the midst of trying to get a rule change on the agenda with the New Jersey Racing Commission. The Young’s also have had encouraging conversations with prominent owners, drivers and trainers who are on board with rule changes and harsher penalties. Not everyone though wants to publicly share his or her personal views. According to Joanne, this is due to the fact that the “old school” of racing sees nothing wrong with the status quo and some fear repercussions. “We had one judge,” Richard Young said, “Who actually said he had no problem with a driver touching the hock or flank of a horse when racing and that as long as a driver did not slash a horse with a whip, it was okay. He said horses are tough and can take it. That just infuriated us to no end. How can anyone, especially, a racing judge, say something like that? “We want this movement to be in a positive light,” Joanne Young explained. “There is a public perception of abuse and we can and should stop it. It is an easy fix for the harness racing commissions to all agree to a cohesive and enforceable rule. I also believe the drivers would like the same rule for all the harness tracks making their job easier. The USTA is going to be meeting this March. If you a proponent of banning the kicking and one handed whipping please voice your opinion with them or contact me. All we need is for the racing commissions to agree, and we can finally put this controversial subject to rest.” By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com
This week’s ring-around is smaller than usual as many trainers and drivers have been busy during the week with the sales. However, I am sure the ring-around will, like always, throw out a few winners. Andrew Armour: Believes Macardo is a good bet in the third race at Wyndham on Saturday. Craig Thornley: Thinks Franco Harrington, who was desperately unlucky at Waikouaiti, can make amends in the ninth race at Methven on Sunday. David Butt: Expects Lothario to be hard to beat in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates Vincennes as a good each-way chance in the fifth race at Methven on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Timaru, race one. John Dunn: Expects Lovemetwotimes to be tough to toss in the sixth race at Timaru on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Simply Susational is a good each-way chance from his ace alley in seventh race at Timaru on Sunday. Scott Phelan: Is bullish about the chances of Rocknroll Lass in the sixth race at Manawatu tonight. Stephen McNally: Has opted for the talented Trouble Rieu as his bet of the week. He competes in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has been impressed by No Doctor Needed at the trials. He makes his debut in the last race at Wyndham on Saturday. Simon Lawson: Will wait until Monday for his best bet – Bute Mach – Avondale, race ten. Tim Williams: Thinks smart last start winner Come On Jaccka can repeat the dose on Saturday – Wyndham, race ten. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best bet – Franco Harrington –Methven, race nine. Each-way – Lovemetwotimes – Timaru, race six. Each-way - Tazzy's Devil - Alexandra Park, race eight. Value – Eyre I Come – Timaru, race three.
If you attended the SBOA banquet February 15, 2014 you might have missed the quiet young couple sitting at the back of the room. They were unique in this crowd of veteran breeders. Dave and Helen Friesen were there to bid on a stud’s service fee for their first horse, a Standardbred broodmare, named Roxanna Hanover. While others these days are selling their stock and leaving the business, this young pair are jumping in with a passion. Dave and Helen live in South Woodslee, a little town east of Windsor, Ontario. Dave works in a manufacturing plant near their home, while Helen stays home and looks after their four children (all under the age of six). Their next door neighbours, Tom and Liz Knight, were the ones that peaked their interest in the sport of horse racing. After joining the Knights on a trip to Dresden and getting their pictures taken in the winner’s circle, they wanted to learn more about the sport. Dave and Helen loaded their four children and their parents in the SUV and headed off to Leamington for the race days in September and October 2013. Caleb, their youngest son had just been born, so they would park close to the track’s outside fence and leave Mom and son in the car to watch. The other three kids, with Dave and grandparents in tow, visited the pony rides, got their faces painted, petted the animals in the mini zoo and clapped at the fence as they watched the horses race by. It was the family atmosphere at the track that convinced the Friesens that this was something their whole family could enjoy. Tom and Liz Knight helped them pick out, Roxanna Hanover, a daughter of Real Artist out of a Matt Scooter mare with a mark of 1.53.2 and earnings of over $160,000 Jack McIntosh, father of the famous horse trainers Robert and Doug McIntosh, often said” When everyone walks you run, and when everyone runs, you walk.” This young couple may be walking when everyone else is running. Who knows maybe they will be the owners of future champions in this great sport of harness racing. Good luck Dave and Helen, we will look for you in the winner’s circle. By Ruleen Lilley, for SBOA (Ontario)
Back at Alberta's Northlands Park after collecting his O'Brien Award trophy last weekend in P.E.I., Travis Cullen returned to his winning ways scoring four times on Friday's card. Canada's first Future Star Award winner swept the late Daily Double with a pair of streaking mares, Feelin Flush ($2.40) and Sing Like An Angel ($3.30). Both mares earned their fourth consecutive victories with Feelin Flush competing in the top Mares Open class. Her latest was a four and a quarter-length score in 1:56.1 for Cullen and co-owner Ken Hanson. Cullen's other winners were Roof Daddy ($2.50) and the repeating Artxzipit ($3.20). With Friday's four wins, Cullen now has 31 on the year to lead all trainers in Canada. To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Northlands Park. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca
An unexpected plus from the revitalization of harness racing in the state of Ohio: sharp Buckeye-based trainers, realizing that there is now money to be made, start advertising, looking for new owners – thereby giving the coffers of the trade press a little extra jingle! Dee Hotton, who is based at the Wooster OH fairgrounds, recently advertised that she is looking for new owners for whom to train their horses for campaigning in the state – but she has always been a bit “ahead of the curve,” though. (How many trainers do you know who have had their own website for years, and who use the word “behooves” – and before noon, no less?) Hotton was born on Long Island (or “Lon Gisland,” as the natives pronounce it) to a father who was a rabid fan of the trotters and pacers at Roosevelt and Yonkers. When her father was transferred by his business to Ohio when Dee was two, the family went along, and in the newly-adopted state the father undoubtedly found plenty of choices to scratch his harness racing itch – while his daughter “had decided by junior high that she was going to work with horses for her livelihood.” Graduating early from high school and from the Wooster branch campus of Ohio State University’s program for learning all ends of standardbred care, Hotton went into the care of the sulky set at a young age. Dee was a harness “natural” across the board, too, driving in matinees at 15 and fair purse races at 16, and she carries a lifetime .292 UDR despite fewer than 500 career trips behind the gate! And August 9 of this year will mark the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of Dee last losing a purse race while in the sulky – OK, be a spoilsport and point out that she’s only driven once since 8-9-04. “And I wasn’t even supposed to drive that one,” Hotton recalled with a chuckle. “Don McKirgan had been driving my horse for me, but he decided he had a chance to make more money with the horses he was listed on at another fair, and mine didn’t look like much, so I decided I’d just drive him myself.” 6-1 in a 3-horse field, Hotton sent her charge right to the top and held on by ¾ of a length in her first drive in eight years. (Note: Any good story about Ohio fair racing is 50-50 to have McKirgan somewhere in it.) Despite this sulky success, Hotton is now devoting herself strictly to the training side, though she says, “I’m glad I did do some driving, because now I know exactly the sort of things to tell my drivers, and I might also have a little more credibility to them, having been a driver myself.” There is no doubting Hotton’s credibility on the training side, with a career UTR of .322 (she’s been over .300 in 14 of the last 17 years), and many talented horses benefitting from her tutelage. One star, however, might have taught Hotton, now the master conditioner, more about training than anyone else. Magnificent Mel, a 1976 son of Little Brown Jug winner Melvin’s Woe, raced when he was two, and was still on the track when he was 14, accumulating 81 wins and over $200,000 in earnings. If you know of Melvin’s Woe, you know how hard the Joe O’Brien stable had to work to keep the big-hearted racehorse something close to racehorse sound, and he passed on this last-named trait – plus his speed and huge heart -- to his son. “With Magnificent Mel, we had to do a little of almost everything over the course of his career – I worked him back from bowed tendons, had him stand in ice boots, used all kinds of therapy, and even used interval training back what it was an innovation,” Hotton remembers. “Working with that horse was the best education I could have, and he was a great horse – he went a 2:00 mile at Northfield in 1988, when he was 12, the first time a horse that old had broken 2:00 there.” Focusing on the Ohio Sire Stakes program in recent years, Hotton’s best horses have been a duo who were nice horses that unfortunately raced in a two-year period where there was a dominant OhSS performer in their class: “Glory Bound always had to go up against Dunkster, and Buckeye Man was in the same year as Sing Jesse Sing.” Seeing as Dunkster and Sing Jesse Sing won about $1.400,000 between them, Hotton did some good schoolin’ to have horses who were second to the others’ caliber. “I’m looking for owners who want to race in Ohio, because I think with the slots money it’s a very good time to maximize the possible upside of horse ownership,” Dee continue. “I’ve been partners with owners on horses, and if I had a new owner who would have a little more confidence if the trainer owned a part of the horse, I’d certainly consider that option depending on the situation. “I’ve raced overnight horses, but right now I’m focusing on stakes horses, two- and three-year-olds, with the improvement in money that is coming to the Ohio Sire Stakes,” she added, and indeed Hotton was contacted for this piece in her winter training headquarters of Pinehurst NC, preparing, she hopes, some of 2014’s Ohio stakes stars. If Dee Hotton’s abilities and focus sound right for you and your horses, visit her website at www.deehottonstable.com. by Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com
In the earlier harnesslink.com article on Canadian horseman Trevor Henry, we mentioned his vehicle used for racing and the mileage on it, showing that travel was an important – and difficult – part of the top horseman’s life that many people don’t think about. This article is the second of an occasional series to be run in the next few weeks, talking to other top 2013 dashwinners, how they get between tracks and the mileage they are accumulating, along with topics of current interest. Today we profile Yannick Gingras. Yannick does not use a truck traveling between tracks because he is a catch-driver, as opposed to Henry, whose family also trains horses and thus making him a horsehauler as well, needing the bigger vehicle. Gingras currently drives an Audi, himself, in his dashes to the various raceways fairly close to home, and he estimates he puts “about 45,000 miles” on his vehicle. “Then, of course, we fly out-of-town for the other stakes races.” Yannick, who went past the $100 million mark in career earnings at the tail end of 2013, has of course come out smokin’ hot at The Meadowlands this year, before the "traveling season" has begun, and we asked him if, since Tim Tetrick had a late start to 2013 because of hip surgery, whether he thinks he can break Tetrick’s streak of seven consecutive moneywinning titles. “So much of that sort of thing depends on what horses you get to drive, whether you have luck on key nights like the Breeders Crown,” he replied. “Also, I am not going to push myself hard just to win a title – what good is it to say at 50, ‘Well, I won the money title in such-and-such a year, but I had to spend a lot of time away from my family in order to do so.’ The quality of my life is the most important thing to me.” For a man who spends much time thinking of grounding principles, as expressed above, Gingras was excited about the revival of the Prix D’Ete at the Hippodrome 3R track in Quebec, a track (then known as Trois Rivieres) that was one of his racing “homes” in his formative years. “I was a pretty regular driver there when I started out, about 2000 or so, and last year I went back for a day of racing and was lucky enough to win six races on that card. “You know, just before I left Quebec and came to Yonkers, two of my best friends were Mario Charron, who’s a top driver up there, and Serge Turenne. I left just about a month before Serge had his accident,” a fatal one when horses stacked up just before the half at Trois Rivieres in 2001. “Serge was a good guy, and a good horseman, well-respected.” (In the overall scope of harness racing and safety improvement, it is noted that there has been only one racing fatality since Turenne’s death in 2001 – that of Hal Belote at Harrington in 2006.) Gingras concluded, “I look forward to going back this year if one of my trainers and owners can come up with a good, competitive horse. I also like the fact that it is a race just for 4-year-olds, so they don’t have to battle the top free-for all, older horses.” Driver Total Wins Tracks Wins Yannick Gingras 537 Philadelphia* 257 Meadowlands* 141 Pocono* 28 Yonkers* 28 Mohawk* 14 Lexington* 13 Tioga 10 Hoosier* 6 Meadows* 6 Trois Rivieres 6 Balmoral* 5 Delaware* 5 Vernon* 5 Monticello 4 Saratoga 3 Freehold 2 Dover 1 Harrington 1 London 1 Woodbine 1 * - won $100,000 race at this track by Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com
Canadian Trevor Henry has driven more than 5000 winners in his career that has spanned twenty years and is set to drive at Leeton's meeting on Friday afternoon. Henry struck up a good friendship with Goulburn trainer Neil Day when the two represented their respective countries in the World Driving Championships in France last year and when Day knew Henry would be holidaying in Australia he offered him the chance to drive at a couple of meetings. "Trevor, David Butcher and I spent a lot of time with one another in France last year and I knew he was coming out to Australia with his family for a holiday so I thought it would be good to let him have a drive at some of the Australian tracks," Day said. "When I found out the dates that he would be finished his tour that he was doing here in Australia, I looked at the calendar and saw that the meeting which was closest for us on Friday was Leeton and asked him if he was still keen to come on a four hour drive each way and he said sure." Day was full of praise for the Canadian star and is hoping he can assist him pick up some drives at Goulburn on Sunday afternoon. "He passed 5000 winning drives recently, has driven more winners than any other Canadian driver, has had nearly 27,000 drives, and won $13 million dollars in stakes which is a good effort considering he only took out his licence in 1994." "I was going to try and get him a drive at Menangle on Saturday night but seeing it is such a big night I thought we might just go and watch the two Inter Dominion heats at the track instead but he will be at Goulburn on Sunday too so I'm hoping he can pick up a few drives there as well." Day confirmed that Henry had enjoyed his Australian experience so far. "Yeah they're enjoying the trip for sure, there is even some talk of them coming back again in the future, hopefully one of my horses can do the right thing by him on Friday at Leeton." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
We are visiting today with Floridian veteran trainer and horseman Michael Deters. Michael Deters is currently having incredible success with the best pacing colt he has ever trained and owned in Prairie Jaguar. During his current streak, Prairie Jaguar has posted four winning miles in 1:50 or faster at Pompano Park, the most ever by any Standardbred in the track's fifty year history. Michael ranks annually in the top five trainers at Pompano Park in wins and UDRS training ratings. The lightly raced Prairie Jaguar will be shipping up north soon to take on the some best pacers in harness racing. His first test will be the Whata Baron stakes at the Meadowlands beginning on April 5th. One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy HLINK: Congratulations on having Prairie Jaguar being named Horse of the Month by the USTA for the month of January. He has won his last 7 starts including a pair of Pompano Park Open victories in January. How is he holding up? MD: It is the first time this has ever happened for me and I am pretty tickled. It would be better if he got a chance to race more often. For a horse to be real sharp they need to race every week. He is racing every other week. He has been good every start. Prairie is real sharp now. Since he came back from Canada every race has been great. HLINK: You have now won seven races in a row including four races under 1:50 or less. Last summer Prairie Jaguar was racing in Canada for non-winners of $1,000 in last three starts. That is quite an improvement. What happened to improve his form so drastically? MD: When I had the horse a couple of years ago he went in 1:51.2 at Pompano. He came home in :27.1. It was only his sixth or seven lifetime start. They wanted me to race in the Open Pace. I didn't think he was ready with only a handful of starts to race in the Open Pace. We sent him to Canada to Laurie Poulin's brother. He just didn't have any luck racing with the horse. I don't know what to tell you as to what happened to the horse. There is no big secret with this horse. He is really good. In all the races in Canada he was never involved in the race. Since he has been back he has really stepped up. Jason Dillander has done a tremendous job driving the horse. We have fattened him up and made him a happy horse again. A horse has to be happy or they don't want to go. If a horse is happy they will perform for you. HLINK: Prairie Jaguar has been handicapped with the eight post in the Open Pace. Has Pompano Park limited you to the amount of times you can race and whether you can continue to race in the Open Pace? MD: I certainly hope I can race twice a month. They have led me to believe I can race twice a month for the time being. HLINK: A couple of races back Prairie Jaguar won in dominating fashion from the 8 post, near the finish line the track announcer screamed "how good is this horse". Please tell us how good is Prairie Jaguar? MD: I think he is an uncapped talent. He has not been challenged yet. I am sure when I get up north he will be tested. As of now, we have not found the bottom. I would be surprised if he can't pace in 1:48. If I could race him two weeks in a row at Pompano, he would go in 1:48 and change. I believe the track record is 1:48.4. If we paced him two weeks in a row, we would own the track record! HLINK: I understand you are planning to ship the horse up north soon. Are you going to put him in Levy Series at Yonkers, or do you have other plans? MD: He raced up north last year on a 1/2 mile track and didn't have a lot of success. He is not going to race on a 1/2 mile track unless I go with him. I would hate to put him in against the best horses in North American until he can get his feet wet. The plan right now is to go in a new series at the Meadowlands called the Whata Baron. It is a series for non-winners of $100,000 lifetime. HLINK: You will be going up against Wake Up Peter and some other quality pacers. What do you think of his chances? MD: My horse is a proven winner. He has won seven in a row and has the ability to do well. We will find out when he puts his nose up against the starting gate against the better horses. He has just been tremendous since he came back from Canada. Every race has been great. HLINK: What are you plans after the Whata Baron? MD: Hopefully he can race against the upper echelon. When you are in the northeast there are plenty of places to race. In Florida there is only one place to race. As far as other stake races, I really don't know yet. To be in the higher up stake races you have to dominate right away. If he is that good, we will educate him this year and next year go in the big stakes. He has minimum starts for a six-year-old horse. The sky is the limit for him. The horses are going so fast as two or three-year-olds that they don't hold up. HLINK: Are you going north with Prairie Jaguar or do you plan to put him with another trainer? MD: That is very much up in the air at the moment. If I don't go now I will be up later to race him in the northeast circuit. HLINK: You seem to have an attraction to horses sired by Spy Hard. Your partner Laurie Poulin had Spy Hard as a stallion in Florida. Spy Hard is a full brother to the great Riyadh. Do you think that is where Prairie Jaguar gets his speed? MD: He only sired a handful of horses. I had two of them. I had a Spy Hard filly named Prairie Lee. She made over $45,000 in the Florida Sire Stakes at three. She won twice at Tioga in 1:51. I sold her as she did not get around Pompano that well. Prairie Jaguar is a full brother to Riyadh. I think that helps a lot. The key to a good horse is a good mare. The mother is an unraced Auturo horse named Cat Lady. She only had one other foal named Three Putt Again. He was a Florida Champion and won in 1:51 as a three-year-old. HLINK: You have an outstanding mare in Winbak Heavenly. Unfortunately you had to chase Summertime Lea all summer. She was able to win close to $150,000 last year racing in the New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old fillies. MD: She is not too far off from racing this year. I trained her in 2:18 the other day. She should be racing at Pompano by March for a short time. I will look to send her up to race at Yonkers. HLINK: Have you given up the driving part of the business? MD: I am old and fat (laughter). I usually only drive the problem children. I will qualify the ones who have trouble getting around. I leave the driving for the skinny guys who can go fast. HLINK: Tell us about your partnership with Laurie Poulin. MD: We have had horses together for about five years. She has a small breeding farm. The last two years we have done well. We had a few shaky years. The horses have raced well. We have had a couple of nice colts. It is a descent partnership. HLINK: Do you have any future stars coming up in your stable? MD: I have a two-year-old brother to Prairie Lee and a two-year-old sister to Prairie Jaguar. I like them both a lot. They seem like real nice babies. They are both Florida bred's and are doing everything right. I have two-year-old trotting colt by Conway Hall that has been in 2:18. I am looking to race him in the New York Sire Stakes. HLINK: How did you get your start in the business? Your dad was in the business. MD: My dad raced at Pompano Park in the late sixties and early seventies. I went to high school and college in Michigan. When my father died I decided I could starve better in warm weather than cold weather. My dad had thirty head at Hillcrest Farm in Florida. When my dad died I went to work there. I never had another job other than the horses. HLINK: You seem to have a lot of great help working for you. One of your caretakers, Tracey O'Leary, was recently honored by the Florida Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association as "Caretaker of the Month". MD: Tracey has been with me for about twenty-five-years. He does an outstanding job along with Bernie Germain. My wife Shelly is the nuts and bolts of the operation. My son Michael is my biggest supporter and helps out also. HLINK: You were the President of the Florida Breeders Association around the time Pompano Park got the slots. What happened that they never got any of the slot revenue? MD: We were assured twelve million dollars a year. That didn't happen for one year. The first year we got ten million. Since then it has gone backward. The Florida Horsemen got the royal shaft. They got the goldmine and we got the shaft. Hopefully something positive will happen with this next legislation session. If it doesn't the future of harness racing in Florida will be in jeopardy. We were told for years it was going to happen. We were on the bill to be included in the slot revenue. Then all of a sudden we were not on the bill. All of the rest of the racing entities in horse racing in Florida were included and get a percentage of the slot revenue. I am not actively involved any more. Hopefully things will go our way in Tallahassee starting in March. HLINK: Regardless of the situation developing in Tallahassee, Mike Deters has an exciting future awaiting him every time that Prairie Jaguar steps on the racetrack. By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com
Minister for Racing, George Souris, has welcomed the appointment of new members to the boards of the State's harness and greyhound racing bodies to replace outgoing members. Mr Souris said Mr Rex Horne has been appointed to the board of Harness Racing NSW for a period of two years, and Mr Peter Davis and Ms Megan Lavender have been appointed to the board of Greyhound Racing NSW for four years. The appointments have been made due to the expiry of the terms of office of outgoing members Mr Graeme Campbell from Harness Racing NSW and Mrs Joyce Alamango and Mr Murray Nicol from Greyhound Racing NSW. Mr Souris said the Board appointments were recommended by an independent panel. "Harness Racing NSW and Greyhound Racing NSW are the independent bodies that carry the important responsibility of controlling, supervising and regulating the harness racing and greyhound racing industries respectively," Mr Souris said. "Congratulations to Mr Horne, Mr Davis and Ms Lavender on their board appointments and I thank them in advance for their future contributions. "I have no doubt that both boards will be well served by the appointment of these three directors following a public expression of interest process to attract suitably qualified candidates, followed by an independent panel selection and probity process. "I also thank outgoing board members, Mr Graeme Campbell, Mrs Joyce Alamango, and Mr Murray Nicol, for their time and professional efforts in supporting harness and greyhound racing in our State." Mr Souris said Mr Horne, who had served as a member of Harness Racing NSW from 2006 to 2012, has been re-appointed for another two years, replacing outgoing member and chairman Mr Graeme Campbell. "Mr Horne has extensive industry experience not only as a former board member but, also as the current chairman of the Harness Racing NSW Infrastructure Development Group, as a former chair and deputy chair of the NSW Harness Racing Club Ltd, a former president of the harness racing industry's NSW TAB Clubs' Association, an Alternate Director of Racingcorp Pty Ltd and as a Member of the Inter Dominion Steering Committee," Mr Souris said. Mr Souris said Mr Davis and Ms Lavender replace two outgoing members of the Greyhound Racing NSW board, Mrs Joyce Alamango and Mr Murray Nicol. "Ms Lavender is a management consultant and a former CEO of Australian Lawyers Alliance, a former CFO of SFX Sports Group Australia, and former national head of corporate affairs of Tianda Group Australia," Mr Souris said. "Ms Lavender is also a director of the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, Friends of First Government House Site, has held various positions on a number of boards, and is currently a committee member of the Bankstown Harness Racing Club. "Mr Davis has been involved in the greyhound racing industry for some 40 years. He is a regional racing editor for Fairfax Media based at the Illawarra Mercury, and a member of the Topgun (greyhound racing series) Selection Panel, NSW Greyhound of the Year Panel and the Australian Greyhound of the Year Panel. "Mr Davis also co-hosts Sky Racing's television program 'The Catching Pen' and hosts Sky Racing Radio's 'Going Greyhounds'." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |
There was a twist to this week's edition of Announcer Idol at Flamboro Downs as driver Anthony MacDonald filled in as a last minute replacement due to a late scratch sick. MacDonald subbed in for CHCH TV's Jason Portuondo, who was the next scheduled local broadcast media personality to participate in the contest for charity. With Scott Coulter in the bike, Theabilityofreason battled with pacesetter Rammy Girl, driven by MacDonald's brother James, for the final half-mile in the third race. "They're going to square off into the stretch...Down to the wire, two of them, heads apart," announced MacDonald, eventually making the close call at the wire. "On the outside it looks like it may have been Theabilityofreason!" Theabilityofreason prevailed by a neck over Rammy Girl in 2:00.2 over the 'good' track for Dutton, Ont. owner/trainer Gerald Lilley, who earned back-to-back wins on the card. MacDonald has previous practice calling a race as a participant in Grand River Raceway's From Bike To Mic contest for drivers and trainers. Announcer Idol continues through March 23 with a different, local broadcast media personality taking the mic for one race every Sunday night. At the end of March, fans and patrons will vote for their favourite race call on the Flamboro Downs website and the winning announcer will receive a donation to the local charity of their choice, compliments of Flamboro Downs and Great Canadian Gaming. Ted Yates, from the Morning Show on Oldies 1150 CKOC, is the next scheduled guest announcer and will take the mic for race three on Sunday, Feb. 16. One race prior to the Announcer Idol contest, Nothingbutmach went wire-to-wire in 1:57.3 to win the featured $11,000 Preferred 2 Pace. Driven by Ph il Hudon, the eight-year-old Mach Three gelding won by a length and a half over Web Cam, with Hidden Potential finsihing third. Nothingbutmach is trained by Corey Johnson and owned by Debbie Element of Waterdown, Ont. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Flamboro Downs. Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca