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Age is but a number to Celtic Merchant. The harness racing 13-year-old trotter is always ready to go. And he wants to go fast. Celtic Merchant, who has overcome three ligament injuries during his career, has won three of six races this year, all at Pompano Park in Florida. His most recent victory was Tuesday (Feb. 16) in an "Over the Hill Gang" event for trotters ages 9 and up. He triumphed by a head in 1:56.4. For owner Steve Oldford, watching and driving the old-timer never gets old. Oldford, who is training Celtic Merchant while the horse is in Florida, is best known for his amateur driving exploits --- and Celtic Merchant has been at the forefront of Oldford's success. In 2010, Oldford won the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series championship, the Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup, with Celtic Merchant at The Meadows. Three years later, Oldford was named the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Amateur Driver of the Year, and five of his victories that season came with Celtic Merchant. Among those wins was a division of the Hambletonian Amateur Drivers event at the Meadowlands. "He's been quite an asset," said Oldford, who also has captured five Billings points titles and multiple Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year awards. "He's a great big horse with a big heart. He's great to drive. You can put him on any track. There have been lots of highlights with him. He's been a great anchor for my amateur horse stable." Oldford acquired Celtic Merchant in July 2009, when his trainer, Allen Sisco, spotted the trotter in a claiming race at Georgian Downs. After making one start for his new connections, Celtic Merchant was sidelined by a ligament injury, which was the second of his career. But he returned to action seven months later and produced 28 wins until being sidelined again last spring. Once again, Celtic Merchant bounced back and resumed adding victories to his total. "We thought the most recent injury was it and he was going to live on the farm," Oldford said. "We turned him out. After a while, we'd take a horse out on the track and he was just running the field with them so we decided to try to bring him back. "He's not sore, he's healed. To trot as fast as he's trotting, he's as good as he's been in a long time. I say that knocking on wood. He's just a tremendous horse. If he stays at it and stays healthy he's going to be right back in the Billings races this summer. That's what I'm hoping for." Celtic Merchant is a son of stallion Angus Hall out of the mare Jewelry Store. He has won 45 of 213 career races and earned $354,606. He is a half-brother to stakes-winning lady Jewels Galore, who is the dam of last year's New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old filly champion Jewels In Hock. Oldford has driven Celtic Merchant to 14 wins during his career. Rick Plano has guided the gelding to his most recent victories at Pompano Park. "He's not the easiest horse to manage in the post parade," said Oldford, who has 112 wins as a driver. "He gets fired up and he'll drag you all over the place. He just loves to go. But you put him in a race and he'll sit a hole real nice. I wouldn't say he's two fingers to drive, but he's pretty darn easy to drive compared to the post parade. "He just wants to go right now. If you jog him more than three miles, your arms are going to be a couple inches longer by the time you're done. That's just the way he is. He always wants to be turned loose and go faster. He just loves to race and he loves to win." And that never gets old, either. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, August 20, 2015--Summer has flown by in typical fashion and parents and students are gearing up for the beginning of the school year. For most, that means new clothes, shoes, and lots of school supplies. But for many, getting the school supplies their children need to start the year off right can be a financial burden. According to statistics provided by the National Retail Federation, the average parent spends hundreds of dollars on back-to-school items, including $101.18 on school supplies, $355.76 on clothing and shoes and $212.35 on electronics. To help families and students in need, the City of Yonkers is hosting its fourth annual "Backpack to School" drive to collect school supplies for elementary students who need them. That initiative just received a huge boost with the donation of 300 new backpacks from Empire City Casino. That's not the only boost New York State schools and teachers receive from Empire City, the Yonkers casino and raceway generates nearly $300 million annually for state education. In the past 8 years operating as a casino, the property has generated over $2.3 billion that has gone directly to fund education in New York. "Families with children returning to school have a heavy financial burden at this time of year, and it's important that the community lend a helping hand," said Empire City's president, Tim Rooney. "We're proud of the funds we generate each year to support teachers and students across the state and encourage all who are able to do what they can to support the Backpack to School Drive." For more information on the "Backpack to School" program and drop off locations, visit www.cityofyonkers.com/government/mayor-s-office/initiatives/backpack-to-school-drive. Frank Drucker

MEADVILLE PA - The wettest June in Pennsylvania recorded history claimed two more victims this weekend - the Saturday and Sunday cards scheduled under the Meadville Sertoma banner at the Crawford County Fairgrounds in this northwestern PA city.   Of the three weekends of racing on the calendar so far, Wattsburg got in 3YO racing but not 2YOs, Bloomsburg 2YOs but not 3YOs, and now Meadville got to race neither of its cards.   The next stop on the PA fair circuit is in Butler this Thursday (2YOs) and Friday (3YOs). (Don't worry about the forecasts calling for the possibility of p.m. thunderstorms both days - post time both days is 10 a.m.).   PA Fair Harness Horsemen's Association's publicity office

For the second year the Greene County Agricultural Fair will host the Downstate Classic for harness racing three year olds.  The Downstate Classic is a stake race for two and three year old harness horses.  The three year old trotters and pacers will go to post on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 pm at the Greene County Agricultural Fairgrounds in Carrollton, Illinois.  Each division (colt pace, colt trot, filly pace, filly trot) will each race for an estimated $16,000.00.  There will also be an Illinois Department of Agriculture four year old and up pace for a purse of $7,000.00.   These races make this racing card the premier racing event at the Illinois County Fairs in 2015. The Downstate Classic would not be possible at the Greene County Fair if it were not for the support of the family of the late Al Jeffers.  The Jeffers family has, for the second year, made a significant donation in the memory of the noted Southern Illinois horseman. With this donation, and the support of the Greene County Fairboard, the Fair was able to win a two year bid with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Downstate Classic, Inc. to host the series of races.   The 162nd Greene County Agricultural Fair will run from June 20th, 2015, to June 27th, 2015.  The daily schedule shall be as follows: Saturday - Volleyball/Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, Monday  - Queen Pageant, Tuesday - Harness Racing, Wednesday - Harness Racing, Thursday  - Tractor/Truck Pulls, Friday  - Mud Drags/Doug Strahan & the Good Neighbors, Saturday - Demo Derby/Lick Creek.   All are welcome. 

Some of harness racing's best older female trotters are getting ready to return to action and there should be no shortage of speed once they get going. Five-year-old Classic Martine, who received the 2014 Dan Patch Award for best trotting mare, on Thursday won a qualifier at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as she prepares for her seasonal debut on April 24 in The Meadows Maturity Trot. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, and last season's Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry are among the horses entered to qualify Saturday at the Meadowlands. Last year, those three ladies trotted some of the fastest miles in history. The trotting mares as a group in 2014 posted eight of the 12 fastest times in their division's history, with Classic Martine responsible for three of the efforts. Bee A Magician had one, as did Victory Is Coming, Mistery Woman, Perfect Alliance, and Frau Blucher. Shake It Cerry, who was a 3-year-old in 2014 and moves into the trotting mare division this season, posted a winning time last year that equaled the fourth fastest in history by a 3-year-old filly. "Those mares can put on a show," said Tim Hauser, who is among the owners of Classic Martine. "We're looking forward to defending the (division) title, but really you just cherish the moments when you get a horse this good. It's an honor to have a mare like her." Classic Martine won nine of 18 races last year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance. Bred by Todd and Christine Schadel, Classic Martine is a daughter of Classic Photo out of the mare Drinking Days and her family includes two-time Horse of the Year Mack Lobell. She is owned by Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold. Classic Martine has won three qualifiers, two at Pompano Park and one at Pocono, as she gets ready to begin this year's campaign. After her seasonal debut at The Meadows, she is expected to compete in the Miami Valley Distaff on May 3 and the first round of the Miss Versatility Series on May 18 at Mohawk. "She qualified real good," Oakes said. "It's a long grind, so that's why we qualified her easy three times. "I'm more apt to keep her away from the boys this year, unless she's really sharp and there's a gap in her schedule," he added. "But usually I like to keep them racing against their own kind." Classic Martine, who was trained and driven by Todd Schadel until June of her 3-year-old season, has won 21 of 45 career races and $981,386 in purses. "Horses like her don't come every day," Oakes said. "You hope you can get another one, but most of the time it doesn't happen that way. "It was a real special thing (to get the Dan Patch Award). You're so worried about racing week to week that you don't think about it at the time, but when things quiet down you look back and realize what you've done. It really sinks in then." Bee A Magician, now age 5, won four of 17 races last year and earned $421,314 for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. Her top win came in the Breeders Crown Mare Trot, where she beat Classic Martine by a head in a stakes-record effort. In 2013, Bee A Magician was unbeaten in 17 races on her way to Horse of the Year honors. Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races last year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig's Racing Partners ownership group. The Jimmy Takter-trained filly finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown with a stakes-record performance and also set or equaled stakes records in the Matron, American-National, and Elegantimage. "It's a very solid group," Oakes said about the division. "We'll see how it unfolds this year, but now you add Shake It Cerry to the mix. Sometimes 4-year-olds have trouble making the transition against older horses, but she looked so good that she'll probably fit in with no problem." by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

DOVER, Del---- Unlike the 2011-2012 season which was a meet with good weather from start to finish, the 46th harness racing season was one of chilly and cold weather particularly starting Jan. 1, 2015. Many of the top horses and horsemen again campaigned at Dover Downs during its 46th drsdon. ------------------------------------------------- For the sixth straight meet, Corey Callahan finished with the Leading Driver title winning races. As last meet, Dylan Davis was Leading Trainer coming from behind to beat Doug Lewis and Wayne Givens for first place haltering wins. The Horse of the Meet balloting by Delaware Valley chapter U.S. Harness Writers Association went to the fast Bandolito who edged trotter Tough Mac and Joebswesternshark. ------------------------------------------------ Tony Morgan became the third North American driver and fourth in the world to reach 15,000 wins with a victory on the opening card at Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester, Pa. Morgan was a longtime driving champion in Illinois prior to coming to Dover Downs where he made an immediate impact winning a track one-meet record of 447 in 2005-06 and more than 1-thousand wins in one season. Morgan won his 11,000th and later his 13,000th wins at the track. He also has been a standout at Harrington Raceway as well. Only all-time leader, Dave Palone, approaching 17-thousand wins, German driver Heinz Wevering and Herve Filion, both with more than 15-thousand wins are ahead of Morgan. ------------------------------------------- Bandolito and Jebswesternshark became the first sjub-150 pacers of the meet on the Thursday (3/26) card. Bandolito, who equaled the track record of 1:48 in 2014, first set by Heston Blue Chip in 2012, came within one-fifth of a second duplicating the feat. One race later, Jebswesternshark, who started the meet as a $15,000 Claimer, before ascending to top class pacers, scored wire-to-wire, in 1:49.1. The 10-year-old won two $26,000 Delaware Specials After three consecutive wins in the claiming ranks. ----------------------------------------- A 2014 Matron Stakes resume: heavy rain just before the first raced forced a half-hour delay, but it did not deter a giant night of racing when all eight Matron Stakes were featured on the Nov. 6 card. Yannick Gingras won the night's first three Matrons for the 2-year-old trotters and pacers. Gingras won both ends of the daily double piloting world champion Wild Honey, 1-9, to win the $203,800 frosh filly trot and then Habitat, now 7 for 11, from off the pace, to win the $237,500 2-year-old colt trot. In The Arsenal fired early for Brian Sears and never looked back to win the $193,200 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51 and Sassa Hanover led a sweep of the top three spots for trainer Ron Burke in the $199,600 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers. Starting from post 8, Sassa Hanover and driver Gingras rushed to the front in :26.2 and then cruised to a ninth victory in 11 starts. Weeper flew to the front in 25.4 and then closed from fourth with Ron Pierce driving for a 1:50 victory in the three-year-old filly pace. In the glamor trots, Nuncio, who won the freshman Matron a year before, pulled a mild surprise in the big trot, leaving from post 8 and waltzing to an easy victory when stablemate $2.2-million winner Father Patrick broke stride after the start. The sensations Shake It Cerry was an easy winner of her 14th in 16 starts in the $179,200 filly trot. And, in the $186,550 three-year-old colt pace, Big Boy Dreams made a three-wide move around the final turn on the way to a 24-1 upset victory. ------------------------------------------------------ Breeders Crown winner McWicked, swept the 2014 Progress Pace, winning the Prevue and Final with similar 1:48.4 victories, two of the fastest clockings at the track. To race in the Progress Pace, McWicked had to be supplemented with a paid fee of $25,000. It was worth it winning the $301,560 Progress Pace Final. ----------------------------------------------- The Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) three-year-old stakes dominated meet-closing week festivities. The top eight point-getters after two preliminaries legs in each of the four divisions qualified for $100,000 finals. Callmema (Call-Me- Miz- A) won the $100,000 filly trot after favorite I Love Punk broke stride before the start. Political Foe breezed through the $100,000 male trot. DSBF preliminary two $20,000 legs winners were I Got Spunk, Dancing Shirley and Penny Paratrooper and Callmemza, in a dead-heat, in filly trots. Political Foe and Go Byem were male trot winners. The filly pace winners were Rusty's For Real and Purrfect Bags while Smoking Joey and Sonofa Sizzle won the two colt and gelding paces. ------------------------------------------- The 2014 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) two-year-old program is considered one of the best in its history. With $20,000 preliminaries and $100,000 finals, competition was keen. A gelding, Remember Me VK, 1:51.4, and Totally Rusty, 1:52, turned in the fastest win times taking the male and female paces. Three geldings shared the former record of 1:52.4, Valerin K in 2004, Western Ace and Quick Trim in 2005. The former filly record was 1:53.4 set by Double Flip in 2006. Egosnattitude and Penny Paratrooper won the male and female trotting finals. -------------------------------------------- During the Dover Downs meet, Corey Callahan was in the midst of a battle for first place in North America winning drivers. Callahan and Aaron Merriman battled for most wins in 2015.Twice-defending champion Ronnie Wrenn Jr., was a close third in the standings. Among trainers, Ron Burke, again was the far-away leading trainer, in wins and money won. Dylan Davis was fifth and Jim King, 10th, in early 2015 top trainer standings in North America. ----------------------------------------------------- Corey Callahan upped his meet-leading win total to 284 winning drives. Allan Davis finished second with 143. Vic Kirby moved into third-place with 138 winners. Tony Morgan was fourth with 116 wins. Ross Wolfenden, fifth, with 105 winners. ------------------------------------------------ From Monday-Thursday (2/16-2/19), Corey Callahan won 24 races. The track's leading driver since the 2009-10 meet racked up 204 wins through the first 72 racing days. His UDRS (similar to a batting average) was an outstanding .415. After winning seven races on Tuesday (2/17), Callahan followed with an eight-win night, one fewer than the track record of nine wins (2/ 27/11) by Tim Tetrick. Callahan, the track's leading driver for the past seven seasons, had already wrapped up the 2014-15 title. ---------------------------------------------- Ross Wolfenden had a banner week in early December. Along with driving Penny Paratrooper to victory in the $100,000 DSBF frosh filly final, Wolfenden then became a member of the 6,000-win club on Tuesday, Dec.2, a three-win day. ----------------------------------------------- Callahan reached a milestone (1/6) recording his 4,000th career winning drive. The 36-year-old Callahan, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, became a driver at a rather older age, in his late-20s. He comes from a dual harness family. Both his father's and mother's families have rich standardbred backgrounds. In 2013, Callahan represented the U.S.A. in the World Driver Tournament. During the 2014 North American campaign, he was a top 10 finisher in both wins and money won. ----------------------------------------------- During 2014-2015, Callahan has the highest UDRS (equivalent to a batting average) at .412.Ron Pierce is second at .400. Tim Tetrick is third with a .350 rating, Vic Kirby is fourth at .288 and Ross Wolfenden, fifth, .261. -------------------------------------------------------- Defending champion Dylan Davis continued a late-meet surge in training wins and held on to win the title for the second-straight meet. Davis secured first place with 64 wins. Doug Lewis was second with 60 winners. Jim King with 57 victories finished third place. Wayne Givens completes the top 5 with 54 wins. --------------------------------------------- In trainer statistics, Amanda Payson has the highest 'batting average.' She has started 36 horses this meet with 16 winners in 42 starts for a standout .508 percentage. Vic Kirby has haltered 19 wins from 73 starters, good for a .400 rating and third in the standings. Eric Ell is next with a .419 UTRS winning 34 races form 134 starts. Dylan Davis is the only other conditioned over .408. He has won 64 races in 231 starts for a .404 percentage. ------------------------------------------ Two popular harness drivers, Ross Wolfenden and Tim Tetrick, were among the missing in late February. Wolfenden vacationed until mid -March with his family in New Zealand. Tetrick is also Down Under, competing in the World Driver Championship in Australia starting this weekend, Tetrick represents the U.S.A. against the best in Europe and Australasia in the week's competition. There was a changing of the guard in March. Ross Wolfenden returned from a month-long family vacation in New Zealand, Meanwhile, Ron Pierce was sidelined to undergo several laser surgeries on his neck and back. Meanwhile, popular driver Trace Tetrick, who spent most of the last two season racing at Dover Downs, returned to Indiana and Hoosier Park's where he is leading driver. His replacement at Dover, was brother, former track driving champion, Tim Tetrick. ------------------------------------------- Stories of interest: Al "Rusty" Carter has raced horses in Delaware for more than a decade. Along with breeding and owning horses, plus coaching young boy and girl athletes in theWilminton, Del area, and now driving racing cars has become another pastime. In recent years, Carter has competed in a number of popular automobile races and in January, his racing team won at Dayton and finished a close fourth at Sebring in April . His Carter Racing Stable bred and owns Totally Rusty, the only foal of his stallion, Rusty's For Real, from his mare, Rusty's Joy, scored an all-time fastest 1:52 clocking in the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) program for two-year-old filly pacers. The former record was 1:53.4 set by Double Flip (Tony Morgan) in 2006. Totally Rusty came back in April to score a 1:52.3 over a 'sloppy' track, one fifth of a second off the track record for a DSBF sophomore filly. ------------------------------------------------------ On Feb. 2, track race-caller Jack Gallagher observed his birthday. In 2015, Gallagher has called races for 37 years with the last 31 seasons (through 2015) at Delaware tracks, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway. Gallagher began his racing career announcing the one-time New Jersey Summer stakes at various farms throughout the Garden State in the 1970s. He later worked at Brandywine Raceway and at Garden State Park when the old burned-out track was rebuilt in the mid-1980s before arriving in Delaware ever since. Only Roger Huston at the Meadows has been behind the microphone longer than Gallagher. ------------------------------ Ken Wood continues his humanitarian effort of bringing fresh water to Western Africa. Wood returned from his 35th trip to Africa on Feb. 1. The Dover Downs horseman is a well-digger by trade and usually four times each year, Wood takes a three-weeks long, 20,000 mile round-trip digging wells for the needy in Ghana and 2,000 miles away, Tanzania. Digging wells in West Africa, has been Wood's on-going personal campaign to provide water first to Ghana, and now expanded to the nation of Tanzania. Wood's acclaimed, 'Wells for Ghana' drilling provides water to inhabitants who previously had to walk five miles to find water deemed unsafe for human conception. Over the years, Wood has built more than 1,300 wells in Ghana including nearly 300 new Tanzania wells. These wells built by Wood serve more than 2-million native Africans, who until now never have had fresh water. Woods' humanitarian undertaking is underwritten by purse monies won by horses Wood races. --------------------------------------- Two longtime contributors to the Delaware Standardbred industry passed away during the Dover Downs season. Ruth Bower Davis, 89, and Harold Snyder, 91. Mrs. Davis, wife of the late well-known horseman Olin Davis, formerly of Harrington, Del. is a University of Delaware graduate. She drove horses as a hobby and was one of the early women to secure a USTA driver's license. She was renown during the mid-20th century for helping to develop the famed stakes winner Quick Lady. Mrs. Davis served as Clerk of Course and Program Director at Harrington, Georgetown, Brandywine, Rosecroft and Laurel on-and-off for 40 years and was a Director of the Delaware Standardbred Development Fund until it ended. ------------------------------------------------------- Snyder was founder of International Sound Co., headquartered in Pikesville, Md. a leading provider of video and sound at many racetrack in America and a company which enjoyed an enviable reputation for integrity, died (1/ 26).For nearly 60 years, he providing video and audio at a large number of harness and Thoroughbred racetracks in America, In addition to Delaware tracks (Dover Downs, Harrington and Delaware Park), the International Sound product was featured at all three Triple Crown tracks plus more than 75 others. ---------------------------- Heather Vitale was a 2014-season double winner at the U.S.Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) Dan Patch Awards-Dinner, in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, where the top honors are passed out to top horses and individuals. I n the broadcasting category, Ms. Vitale's feature on top trainer Casey Coleman on CBS Sports Network and the other, a feature on harness racing in Ireland shown on her Post Time show on WBOC-TV were winners. . ----------------------------------------------------- Thomas Hundertpfund, 19, from Magnolia, Del., is one of six Harness Tracks of America (HTA) Scholarship Fund winners. Hundertpfund is a freshman majoring in Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. ------------------------------------------------------------- Trainer Jeanmarie Kurowski likes to keep busy. After rising to feed and train her two horses which include Osceola Gold, a 10-year-old pacer who has won 11 races under her care. In addition, Ms. Kurowski teaches school in the morning and later in the day works as a server at Dover Downs. By the way, she also takes care of her two young grandchildren. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ideal Revue was one of the the longest shot winners of the meet (12/14). George Dennis drove the 70-1 outsider to a 1:56.3 upset in a $14,000 3,4&5-Year-Old Winners-Over trot (12/17). The gelding's fifth win of the season paid $143.60 for a $2-dollar ticket. ------------------------------------------------------------ In late 2014, Mustang Art has turned into an iron horse. Thursday (12/18) was his 41st start in 2014 and 82nd including 2013 two seasons. He won eight races in 2014, boosting his seasonal earnings to $127,985 and $533,622 for 191 lifetime starts. ----------------------------------------------------------- Trotter Prayer Session was unbeaten winning his first five races to close out 2014. Pacer Drive By Night won six of his last seven taking a $15,000 Claimer (12/14) and Star Recruit made it five winners in Claiming rank but the streak ended on 1/1/15. -------------------------------------------- The long eight-race win-streak of Willow Mill Faith came to a close on Monday (12/1), in a Delaware $7,500-$10,000 Claiming Handicap. Quick Pulse Daisy moved past on the backstretch on the way to a 1:55 victory. ------------------------------------------------- A trainer 'Bib' Roberts and son, driver Jonathan, Roberts family homebred, Egosnattidues pulled a mild surprise winning the $100,000 DSBF Colt Final. "This is the first time that [Egosnattitudes] ever put it all together," said Jonathan. "Last month (in October) he set a track record at Harrington (in a DSBF prelim) but he came up with some issues after that, so this is a pleasant surprise." -------------------------------------------- For four decades on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, led by 85-year-old former Dover Downs horseman, Moses Asia, and his fellow winners of the prestigious Purple Heart awarded for exceptional bravery in battle, presented an engraved blanket to race winner, Stirling Breeze, trained by Kerry King and driven by Jason Thompson. This year, the Military Order of the Purple Heart honored one of their own, the late Charles Williams, who served with 83rd Infantry division in the European Theater in World War II. He was twice wounded and awarded two Purple Hearts and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star and V Devise and Combat Badge for his military service. Marv Bachrad

Three racetracks in the state of New York have formed what they describe as a "unique and unprecedented" alliance to help better promote their harness racing products. The three racetracks - Empire City Casino, Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Batavia Downs - will launch an online handicapping contest through their eBet Technologies-powered advance deposit wagering sites EmpireCityBets, SaratogaBets and BataviaBets. Throughout April, the sites will offer over $4,000 in prizes through contests that will be held every Friday night, featuring New York harness racing, with two separate contests to be conducted on alternate Saturdays, featuring Aqueduct and Keeneland racing content. Players from each site will pay into the same contest pool, marking the first time such a collaborative game has been launched by the trio. Alongside the regularly scheduled contests, syndicated handicapping content will be made available across each of the three ADW sites, with daily selections and analysis provided by pundits. The three racetracks praised the New York State Gaming Commission for supporting and assisting in launching the initiative. “Traditionally, racing entities have focused on brick and mortar outlets to host handicapping competitions, but we see tremendous potential in the online component,” Saratoga Casino and Raceway director of racing operations John Matarazzo said. “This alliance was forged to reach this expanding demographic and help re-define that segment of this industry.” Michael Kane, president and CEO of Batavia owners Western Region OTB added: “Working collectively with our partners in the New York racing industry is now more important than ever. “I would like to thank the New York State Gaming Commission for its approval of this concept, and we look forward to additional synergies amongst New York's racing stakeholders in the coming months.” Empire City Casino general manager Robert Galterio said that it was “imperative” that the racetracks continue such collective efforts to secure the future of horse racing in New York. Gaming Intelligence

The sport of harness racing will break through another major barrier Saturday night with one of the greatest wagering opportunities ever offered. It is the culmination of gambling vision, a reduced takeout for the players and a very popular new wager. The combination of all those things and a mandatory payout will give harness racing their entrance to gambling High Society on Saturday with a deal that nobody can match.   April kicks off with a spectacular Final Four Saturday , offering a plethora of big events to wager on. Highlighting the afternoon will be three $1,000,000 preps for the Kentucky Derby .The Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Bluegrass from Keeneland on their new surface will make the Derby picture a little clearer. Some of the biggest pools of the year will be offered, but the biggest and most popular wager will not be on a million dollar thoroughbred race in the afternoon. It will be on a $35,000 harness race in Toronto Saturday night.   This is not opinion. It's a fact. I realize that for most people in racing, what I just stated makes absolutely no sense. That is completely understandable. My opinion is based on knowing that the investment opportunity that Woodbine is offering is far superior. If you look at the wagering dynamics of the Woodbine bet, I think you will agree. Based on an estimated pool of $3,000,000, that means that $2,152,542 in new money will be combined with the carryover of $847,458 to reach the $3 million mark. Those numbers would easily establish this bet as the biggest harness racing pool in North American history. By reducing the takeout by more than 40% for the duration of the bet, Woodbine has created the rarest of bets, one that pays out more than it will take in on Saturday night, At the levels established above, the takeout on the new money would be $332,881.30. That leaves us with a Saturday net pool of $1,819,660. Now we add the carryover of $847,458 to get a final pool of $2,667,118. In other words the Saturday winning High Five wagers of $2,152,542 will be rewarded with winnings of $2,667,118, a surplus of $514,576. Based on a $3,000,000 pool, for every winning dollar Woodbine is going to pay you almost $1.24.   While the three million dollar preps offer field sizes of six, seven and eight , Woodbine has assembled a twelve horse field to make the race more appealing to the masses. A twenty cent minimum assures that players of every size bankroll can participate. You can box five horses for $24 or you can key one on top of four others for the tidy sum of $4.80. Others will be spending thousands to try and hit the High Five multiple times because of the extraordinary return. The USTA and Canada along with some forward thinking track operators have been working diligently and are listening to horseplayers to make the gambling side of the game better. They are succeeding in creating a new frontier and should take a bow Saturday for a moment in time that five years ago was unthinkable. The deluxe program page is available courtesy of Track Master and the USTA Strategic Wagering platform at www.ustrotting.com. More than thirty years ago, Niatross gave harness racing its Roger Bannister moment when he broke the 1:50 barrier in Lexington. Saturday the gambling side of the business will have their Neil Armstrong moment. It's one small step but for one shining moment this bet will vault harness racing into the gambling mainstream for the simple reason that everyone that gambles knows what a good bet is when they see one. Let's not waste this marvelous opportunity.   By Michael Antoniades  

Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the spring/summer late closing series held at Tioga and Vernon Downs must be postmarked by Wednesday, April 1.   Vernon Downs offers a pair of spring series--one each for pacers and trotters--for non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 (fillies are allowed one additional pari-mutuel win; winners of $50,000 are ineligible) through Tuesday, March 31. These series culminate in a pair of $10,000 added finals on Sunday, May 10.   Tioga Downs offers a quartet of summer series separated by gait and sex, all of which are for three-, four-, and five-year-olds which have not won five pari-mutuel races or $60,000 (winners of $100,000 are ineligible) through Tuesday, March 31. They end with $40,000 estimated finals held in the last two weeks of June.   Nomination blanks are available through the following links:   Vernon Downs: http://www.vernondowns.com/media/racing/lcad.pdf   Tioga Downs: http://www.tiogadowns.com/media/racing/lcad.pdf   by James Witherite

Fox Valley Devious was one of the premier ICF pacers at the beginning of this century when the Illinois bred harness racing program was still going story. The talented Tom Harmer trainee was regularly driven by Tony Morgan. After a modest freshman campaign where the son of Sportsmaster out of the Ideal Fresh mare won 4 of 11 starts and banked a little over $20,000, Fox Valley Devious flourished with back-to-back seasons where he chalked up 11 wins in each and raked in over $160,000 as a 3 and 4-year-old for owners Ciara Stable (IL), Michael Polansky (NY) and Neil Silverman (FL). In his sophomore campaign, Fox Valley Devious captured the Complex Series Consolation at the Meadowlands that January before shipping back to his home state at the end of March. The gelding was the 2002 Maywood Pacing Series champion, taking both the Associates and Egyptian Stakes championships. Earlier that year he posted a 1:52.4 victory in the $100,000 Maywood Pace (Maywood Park Photo). Fox Valley Devious was a terror Maywood Park, his home base track, triumphant in six consecutive races there, all ICF stakes or Opens. As a 4-year-old Fox Valley Devious continued to dominate the competition at Maywood Park, at one time winning another six straight on the half-mile oval. After successfully defending his Egyptian Stake title, the pacer knocked off more tough competition in five consecutive ICF Opens there. Fox Valley Devious streak at Maywood would end in the Associates stake in late November of 2003 when the horse was hung out for most of the mile leaving from the six-slot and ended up third behind Parklane Power and Constant Change, the one-two finishers. Health issues limited Fox Valley Devious to only six starts in 2004 as a 5-year-old. In 2005 he won at Open and a leg of the Isle of Capri stake winner at Pompano Park with Morgan. After a 15 month absence from to Maywood he returned there in April of 2005 as a 6-year-old and was third in an ICF Open won by Constant Change. Fox Valley Devious would go on to race until the age of 12 into 2011 season. The popular Chicago circuit pacer ended up with 43 career victories, purse earnings of $569,716 and a mark of 12:50 flat, taken as a 3-year-old in his Springfield Colt Stake Elimination. By Mike Paradise

Millstone Twp., NJ - The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) has a few new harness racing breedings for sale. Chapter Seven, Lucky Chucky, Big Jim, Western Vintage, Art Official, Shark Gesture, and Nuclear Breeze. Several others are also available for sale. The sale, and donations of breedings are gratefully appreciated to assist SRF, the only Standardbred charity with nearly 200 horses in need of homes under its full care, 121 of which are retired for life due to age or injury. SRF's sale of breedings makes a substantial difference. To purchase a breeding, as well as to donate a breeding please contact Tammy Hollock at 732-446-4422 or email admin@srfmail.com. SRF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, gifts to SRF are tax-deductible. VISIT OUR WEBSITE Standardbred Retirement Foundation | 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101 | Millstone Twp. | NJ | 08535

Lloyd Arnold and Stan Bergstein, two legendary figures in harness racing, have races named in their honor this weekend at Cal Expo. The Lloyd Arnold Pace is set for Saturday night and the Stan Bergstein Trot is the feature on Sunday. Lloyd Arnold was an owner and track operator of the highest caliber. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 83. Originally the owner of Arnold Cattle Co. in Iowa, Mr. Arnold raced hundreds of horses in Illinois and across the Midwest throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. During that era, Mr. Arnold raced horses like Warm Breeze, who earned more than $250,000 in two seasons of racing in the mid-1970s, and Dancing David, who earned more than $200,000 in the 1960s. Warm Breeze took Mr. Arnold to racings pinnacle for the first time when he set the all-age world record at over this track, then known as Golden Bear Raceway. His top horses in later years included the pacing mare Sanabelle Island, who earned $1.6 million lifetime and won 57 of 110 starts. Also of note was Bagel Beach Boy, who won the 2001 Messenger and Matron stakes. In August 2003, Mr. Arnold bought Chevie Duramax, who then went on to set world records for 2-year-old pacing geldings on both mile and half-mile tracks. The fastest 3-year-old pacer in North America in 2004 belonged to Mr. Arnold as Quik Pulse Mindale won in 1:48 at Balmoral. In addition to being a prominent standardbred owner, Mr. Arnold operated this track during those Golden Bear Raceway years and also bought Los Alamitos in the late 1980s, eventually selling the track to his partner, Ed Allred. Mr. Arnold was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in April of 2008. He also enjoyed personal honors in 2001 when he was feted by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters at their annual awards dinner and received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers' Association. Chris Bardis said, Harness Racing was one of Lloyd's great passions. He accomplished so much for the sport not only in California, but nationwide. He was Mr. Harness Racing. He conducted race meetings at Cal Expo, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar, Pomona, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. I know of no one else who has had a greater impact on the harness world. Sundays Stan Bergstein Trot is named for the legendary figure in harness racing who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. Mr. Bergstein was a harness-racing titan who advocated for cooperation between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries to solve the sports' common problems. He stepped down in 2011 after 50 years as the executive vice president of Harness Tracks of America, the Standardbred industry's trade association. He was immediately appointed as the organization's first executive emeritus, and continued to advise the association and write guest columns for the Daily Racing Form until the weeks before his death. The only person to ever be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and its Communicators Hall of Fame, Mr. Bergstein worked in a wide variety of roles at racetracks, auction houses, announcer's booths, and racing publications, and he maintained extensive collections of harness-racing books and artwork. He was widely respected not only in the harness industry, but also in the Thoroughbred industry, and he served as a mentor to generations of young racing professionals through a close association with the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, located in Tucson, for the past 40 years. Mr. Bergstein was a forceful proponent of forging closer ties between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries, most notably in tackling medication abuse and problems with drug-testing. In dozens of commentaries, Bergstein maintained that the Standardbred industry's problems were, or would be those of the Thoroughbred industry, and that neglect of a problem in one sport would damage the other. Bergstein borrowed from the Thoroughbred industry early in his career, incorporating claiming races as a racing secretary while working at the Chicago tracks in the 1950's. At the time, the harness racing industry did not run claiming races, and they are now as commonplace in Standardbred racing as they are in Thoroughbred racing Bergstein also spearheaded the creation of Standardbred Investigative Services, a security agency modeled on the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. A native of Illinois, Bergstein attended harness races as a young man and received a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He was the former executive editor of Hoof Beats magazine, and the former vice president of publicity and public relations for the United States Trotting Association. Cal Expo trackman/program director Marty Bridges credits Stan Bergstein with bringing him into harness racing as a profession. After college and two years in the Army, I was employed by the small business association. At night, after work, I was a regular patron at Sportsmans Park and Maywood in Chicago. My supervisor, a former sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News, knew of my interest and called Stan to set up a meeting. Surprisingly, I was to meet him at Du Quoin on Hambletonian Day. Watching Stan call the races from a slightly elevated booth on the infield adjacent to the finish line was thrilling and between races we talked about racing, horses, drivers and trainers. His knowledge of the sport was amazing and I had never met anyone like him, and still havent. He introduced me to John Tinsley, the program director for all the Chicago tracks and John hired me on the spot. Its been a great ride, doing something I love. Gene Vallandingham first met Stan Bergstein in 1959 when he was working for the legendary Joe OBrien. Stan came to Joes farm every spring for the annual Camptown racing weekend, when all of Shafter would be there for a day of racing. Stan was the true voice of harness racing, he was liked by all and I miss him. Chris Schick said, "Stan was foremost a kind and compassionate person. He was a true visionary in the harness racing industry. In 1979 well before simulcasting, he so rightly stated the future of the industry was in how well we brought the product to the public. He was also very vocal of the industry for being reluctant to embrace change. Our industry lost a giant when he passed. Arnold Pace, Sire Stakes, Jackpot 6 spotlighted The $10,000 Lloyd Arnold Free-for-all Pace, a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and a $48,130 carryover in the Jackpot 6 are among the main attractions Saturday night at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. The others are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. Looking at the Arnold Pace, China King is fresh from a 22-1 upset in last weeks Open when he hung a narrow decision on heavily-favored Pancetta in a 1:52 1/5 mile He drew the outside post in the field of seven. A 7-year-old American Ideal gelding who carries the banner of Gary and Jen Sabot with Gene Vallandingham training and Steve Wiseman in the sulky, he went-to-coast to capture the January 17 Open at 19-1, then came back last time to score from a tracking position at another nice price. Taking him are Pointsman, who gives the Vallandingham barn two looks at the outcome; Rusty Skipp and J C Onthebeach for conditioner Ray Burt; Alligator Falls from the Sal Wenceslao shedrow; the Junior Wilkinson-trained A Real Miracle; and Love Live Laugh for trainer Denise Maier. Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev have dominated the sophomore pacing colts Sire Stakes to this point and get another chance to settle the score on Saturday, while Placer gets top billing in the stakes gathering for the 4-year-old trotters. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness                            

Pompano Beach, FL...February 26, 2015...It's not often that a $4,000 claimer takes the top headline over any Open event but that was the scenario at Pompano Park on Wednesday night (Feb. 25) as Acton Onelasttime took the $11.500 final of the "Optimist" Late Closing Final for $4,000 claiming pacers in the astounding time of 1:51.3.   The six year-old son of Rambaran, claimed just one week ago by Kevin Wallis, let American Gold and W F N battle for supremacy through a :26.4 opener and then made a sharp quarter move to the top and recorded panels of :54.3 and 1:22.4 en route to a :28.4 finale to score by 8 1/4 lengths over W F N (Mickey Mc Nichol). Allamerican Extra (Aaron Byron) was third with American Gold and Elkhorn Damien annexing the final two awards in the field of nine.   The victory was the 26th in 89 lifetime starts for Acton Onelasttime and proved to be his richest career payday. The time of 1:51.3 also annihilated his former mark of 1:54.   Mused Kevin Wallis after the race, "Gee, he won himself out in one week--1:51.3! He had been off for some time" (since last July) "and was just getting back. He won two starts back in a '4' (claimer) in 1:54.3 so I decided to take a chance and claim him in his next start. The early pace was hot so I thought there might be a breather during the second quarter so that's when I sent him. When he got started, he forgot to stop...pretty amazing!"   Acton Onelasttime pushed his 2015 scorecard to 4-2-1-0 with the win, good for earnings of $8,950 and $82,118 lifetime.   As the 3 to 5 choice on the tote-board, Acton Onelasttime paid $3.20 to win.   In the $12,500 Open Trot, Bloodstockshalltab, deftly handled by Ed Hensley, took top honors for the second week in a row with a 1:54.4 win measuring three-quarters of a length over the fast closing Its Payday Friday (Dan Clements).   This five year-old son of Cantab Hall left "half-heartedly" letting Holy Halibut rush to the top early before going into full throttle around the initial turn to secure the lead prior to the :28 opener. A :30 second quarter breather actually sealed the deal as Hensley sent his charge grinding through a final half of :56.4 for the repeat.   Nothinbutanallstar (Mark O'Mara) finished third after trying to apply a tourniquet on the leader around the final turn. Holy Halibut did finish fourth in his first start back in four months. Coco Lindy picked up the nickel in the sextet.   After the race, driver Ed Hensley said, "When I was able to grab a hold of him once we got to the top, that helped a lot. When a trotter of his caliber gets to the half soft like that (:58), it's usually a good sign...for the leader, that is! He was getting stronger and stronger all the way home."   A recent purchase by Hensley, Bloodstockshalltab now is 5-3-1-0 for the new owner, good for $20,842. The win also pushed his lifetime earnings over the $200,000 mark--$201,587 to be exact.   Bloodstockshalltab paid $3.40 to his many faithful.   The co-featured $10,000 trot went to Winemaster Hanover, with Dave Ingraham, pulling off gate-to-wire upset at 16 to 1.   The five year-old son of Donato Hanover had a clear lead throughout much of the journey--the winning margin a half length over the late surging And Heez Perfect (Bruce Ranger) in 1:55.   My Revenuer (Tom Sells) was a fast closing third while Buddy Hally rallied form a miscue early to finish fourth. Majestic Won finished fifth in the octet after a backstretch brush that left him two lengths back of the Winemaster around the final turn.   Trained by Randy Bickmore for owner Kevin Gee, Winemaster Hanover now has $16,012 on his card after his third win in six starts this year. He has banked $86,268 lifetime.   Winemaster Hanover paid $35.40 to win.   by John Berry

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 26, 2015 -- On Friday, Feb. 27, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $5,000-guaranteed total pool for its Pick 5 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the "instant" guarantee after Wednesday's Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $1,324.70. Minimum wager for the Pick 5 (Races 8-12) 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 for Friday's program is 6:55 PM. THE MEADOWS TO STAGE $2,500 ‘LIVE BANKROLL’ HANDICAPPING CONTEST. On Friday, Feb. 27, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will stage its first “live bankroll” handicapping contest, set for the track’s racebook, with an estimated $2,500 prize pool. While The Meadows has conducted many handicapping contests in the past, entrants played in those events with virtual bankrolls. In Friday’s contest, players must provide $50 for their opening bankrolls, and they will keep their earnings. Entry fee is $100, with half underwriting the player’s initial bankroll and half allocated to the prize pool. The contestants with the top five bankrolls will share in the $2,500 prize pool (based on 50 players), with 50 percent awarded for the highest bankroll. Players will enjoy a free buffet dinner sponsored by the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. Contestants must wager a minimum of $10, win/place only, on at least five races of their choice on The Meadows’ 12-race Friday card. Registration begins at 5:00 PM in the racebook, with first post at 6:55 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

LEBANON, OH. - Astronomer (Chris Page), the lukewarm favorite, held off Skyway Titan (Ken Holliday) in a close photo finish to capture the $10,000 championship leg of the 'Rootbeer Slammer' series at Miami Valley Raceway on Wednesday night. Using a quarter-move at the :27.3 first quarter station to make the front, Astromomer lead every step the rest of the way through fractions of :56.3, 1:25.2 and stopped the teletimer in 1:54.3 The nine-year-old gelded son of Astreos, owned by Pamela Loomis and trained by Terry Deters, now has two wins plus a second and third place finish in six seasonal starts. Rootbeer Slammer was one of the hardest hitting war horses in southwest Ohio in the late 80's and early 90's winning 44 races. He was trained and co-owned by Diane Williams throughout his illustrious career and she also drove him in 151 of his 159 starts. In addition to a pair of Ohio Sires Stakes wins, Rootbeer Slammer won numerous open races at Lebanon Raceway in addition to Invitational scores at Northfield Park, Scioto Downs, Louisville Downs and The Red Mile. Sent off at 2-1 odds, Astromomer paid $6.20 to his $2 win backers. Coupled with Skyway Titan the exacta returned a healthy $51.60. Gregg Keidel

Chicago's leading harness driver for the past 30-plus years, Dave Magee, is retiring after his drives this Saturday night (Feb. 28) at Balmoral Park. Magee is a Hall of Famer and has been one of the classiest individuals the sport of harness racing has ever known. He has almost 12,000 career victories and more than $101 million in career earnings during his illustrious career. He is one of only 18 drivers in the history of the sport to eclipse that $100 million mark in earnings and is the only Illinois based driver to go over $100 million in earnings. Magee has had 10 seasons with $2 million-plus in earnings, 13 more seasons with $3 million in earnings and a trio of $4 million seasons. He won a whopping 630 races in 1994, which led all drivers in North America. Dave also proved victorious in the 1995 World Driving Championship, defeating drivers from Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy and other European stops. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. On the local scene Dave has been dominant throughout his career, winning driving titles at every Illinois racetrack. His 12 Maywood Park driving titles and 11 Sportsman's Park titles are both records. He is also the leader in Super Night victories among drivers. He has also posted an amazing 36 straight seasons with more than $1 million in earnings and 38 straight seasons of 100 wins or more. The 61-year-old Magee is a resident of Big Rock, Ill. He will be moving on to a new career as a State Steward (Judge) at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind. "I'm happy that Dave has found a new challenge for his life," said Balmoral Park racing director and USTA President Phil Langley. "With his experience, integrity and plain old smarts he might well become the best judge ever. The Illinois laws prevented us from hiring him two years ago so Indiana gains him. "On the other hand it was almost with much sadness that I received an e-mail from him telling me of his decision. I was so choked up telling my wife that she thought something bad had happened. We will always be great friends and I wish the best to Dave and Cathy." by Tom Kelley

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