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Cranbury, NJ...With the February 15 payment deadline approaching for many stake events, the Breeders Crown, which is administered by the Hambletonian Society has important changes. Because of the federal holiday on Monday, payments for all Hambletonian-Society serviced stakes must be postmarked by midnight on Tuesday, February 18, per USTA rule 12, section 4. The $5 million Breeders Crown series will celebrate its 30-year anniversary over two nights - Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. The $500,000 Breeders Crown Trot and Pace for 3-year-old fillies, and a pair of $250,000 Crowns for Mare pacers and trotters will be raced on Friday night. All four $500,000 Two-Year-Old events, the $500,000 sophomore colt pace and trot and the $400,000 Crown Pace and $500,000 Crown Trot will be raced on Saturday night. Breeders Crown purses are derived from stallion nominations, yearling nomination fees, eligibility and sustaining payments and supplemental fees. For multiple reasons, including across the board reduction of stud fees, the contraction important breeding markets like Ontario and New Jersey, a restriction on 4-year-olds going to stud and generally fewer mares being bred, the Breeders Crown stallion fund has dropped drastically over the past two years. Though contributory fees from breeding farms that stand stallions with stud fees of $10,000 or more were raised for the breeding season of 2014, payment schedule and purses for some of the 12 traditional Breeders Crown divisions of age, gender and gait had to be altered as well. The four two-year-old races will continue to race for $500,000 and will have no payment increase except in the two-year-old future eligibility fee to remain eligible to race at three, which was raised from $350 to $500 and is due March 15. No changes were made to the three-year-old purse schedule or payment fees and no changes were made to the payment schedule for mares to remain eligible to the open mare trot and pace. Eligible horses to the Breeders Crown open races for horses and geldings now require a $1,500 payment on April 15 in addition to the February and March 15 payments of the same amount. The starting fee was lowered to $8,000 in line with the purse. Stallion nomination remains the key to eligibility for all Crown races, but in the rare case that horses by nominated stallions have not been kept eligible by yearling or supplemental payments along the way, those horses will now pay a supplemental fee of $500 on February 15 to access eligibility to the program. Mares can pay a $250 supplemental fee. Lastly, the yearling nomination fee due May 15, 2014 was increased from $100 to $150. "The Breeders Crown committee of the Hambletonian Society looked long and hard at how to make these changes equitable for breeders and owners, " said Tom Charters, the Society president. "We are very sensitive to the cost of breeding and staking horses. The Breeders Crown 30-year brand remains one of the richest and most prestigious in harness racing and we felt it important to maintain the series in the ever-shifting landscape that is current day stakes racing. Our purses remain among the highest in all divisions, but winning a Breeder Crown is about much more than money," continued Charters. The Hambletonian Society services 137 stakes and complete race conditions, payment forms and much more information is available online at www.Hambletonian.org. For more information call the Society offices at 609-371-2211. by Moira Fanning for the Breeders Crown  

Reminder that sustaining forms and possible payment are due Feb. 15, 2014 for the new 4 & 5 year old Open Maryland Sire Stakes for trotters and pacers (foals of 2009 & 2010).   Three Year Old payments (foals of 2011) are due to the Maryland Standardbred Fund and the Maryland Sire Stakes on Feb. 15, 2014.   All stallion pedigree's, staking forms, and stake dates are now available online including a printable calendar! Please use our website http://www.msrfonline.com/ for all your current MSRF info and any updates as they become available.   We recommend that all payments be sent by certified mail. Please remember to check and make sure you use this address for the Maryland Standardbred Race Fund, P.O. Box 540, Union Bridge, MD 21791.   As per regulation: If the due date for a payment falls on a weekend or a holiday observed in this State, the payment shall be timely if: Mailed bearing a postmark which is not later than the next business day. Since we have both a weekend & holiday a postmark of Feb. 18, 2014 will be accepted.   Regulations can be found on our website at http://www.msrfonline.com/ or you may call 410-775-0152 (o) or my cell at 240-285-0326.   By Cheri Stambaugh

Despite his liking for the wide open spaces of the Pinjarra track, which gave Tom Buchanan wins in a heat and final of Garrards Junior Concession Driver Challenge Two, he failed by three points to catch Harley Matthew who won the $500 Garrards Voucher on offer for the winner of the series.   Buchanan also collected $500 worth of vouchers for Challenge Series Two courtesy of his two winning drives.   Winners of each heat and final of each series earn a $250 Garrards voucher with a $500 voucher for the winner of each series.   After the running of Series Three in May 2014 the points from each series will be added together and the driver with the most points will be declared the winner of the Garrard's Junior Concession Driver Challenge.   The winner of the Garrard's Challenge receive $2,000 cash from Garrards and will be Western Australia's representative at the 2014 New South Wales Rising Stars Series.   After the running of the second series there is a logjam at the top of the leader board with Kristy Sheehy and Stuart McDonald tied on 43 points, one ahead of Tom Buchanan with 42 and Series One winner Kiara Davies on 41 points. Davies had limited driving opportunities in Series Two due to a stable accident putting her on the sidelines.   Series Three of the Garrards Junior Concession Driver Challenge will be run in May 2014.   Full details of Challenge Series Two and the overall points tally follows;   Challenge Series Two 25/01/2014 26/01/2014 27/01/2014 3/02/2014  Points Matthew, H J (Harley) 26 Buchanan, T B (Thomas) 23 Sheehy, K S (Kristy)  22 Miller, D B (Dean)  22 McDonald, S A (Stuart)  21 Egerton-Green, D (Dylan) 19 Ferguson, M B (Micheal) 18 Wallrodt, C L (Cody) 14 Dunne, B (Brian) 13 Hayter, K M (Kaiden) 9 Edwards, L R (Luke) 7  Justins, J R (Jack)  7 Davies, K A (Kiara)  6   Challenge Series Leader Series One Series Two Total Sheehy, K S (Kristy)  43 McDonald, S A (Stuart)  43 Buchanan, T B (Thomas) 42 Davies, K A (Kiara)  41 Egerton-Green, D (Dylan) 34 Matthew, H J (Harley) 33 Miller, D B (Dean)  31 Wallrodt, C L (Cody) 29 Justins, J R (Jack)  27 Hayter, K M (Kaiden)  25 Edwards, L R (Luke) 16 Ferguson, M B (Micheal)  20 Dunne, B (Brian)  13   Alan Parker   Assistant Manager - Harness Racing                  

The 2014 Breeders Crown at The Meadowlands will be raced over two nights in November, with the year-end championships divided into a four-race block of distaff races on Friday, Nov. 21 and the remaining eight championship races held Saturday, Nov. 22. The $500,000 Breeders Crown Trot and Pace for 3-year-old fillies, and a pair of $250,000 Crowns for Mare pacers and trotters will be raced on Friday night. All four $500,000 Two-Year-Old events, the $500,000 sophomore colt pace and trot and the $400,000 Crown Pace and $500,000 Crown Trot will be raced on Saturday night. "We are very proud to bring The Breeders Crown back to The Meadowlands," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "Expanding the event to two nights is something I am very excited about. It creates a weekend of championship racing and gives us an opportunity to be very innovative with new kinds of wagers, promotions and an opportunity to make the Breeders Crown experience even better for our customers. "The new facility at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment offers excellent dining options including Pink, featuring the highest quality of food and Trotters, an Owners Club, where owners of horses racing in the Breeders Crown can enjoy elegant dining in a wonderful atmosphere while watching their horses compete." continued Gural. "Many will take advantage of our luxurious sky box suites to watch the races. In addition, fans will be able to enjoy The Breeders Crown in high-definition at The Meadowlands and can watch the Championship races on massive 12 by 20 foot high-definition screens in Victory Sports Bar. This will be a Breeders Crown experience unlike any other." Tom Charters, president of The Hambletonian Society, which owns and administrates the Breeders Crown series, is familiar with the demands of staging the event at rotating host tracks, as well as the Society's flexibility in presenting the event. "The Breeders Crown has been conducted in just about every format - single races, blocks of races, all 12 races on one night - and we try always to be sensitive to host track parameters while still getting the most "bang" out of the event in regard to publicity, TV and promotions," said Charters. "The Meadowlands Racetrack has been home to many of harness racing's most important events over the past 30 years," continued Charters. "We look forward to the return of the Breeders Crown under Jeff Gural's management and especially look forward to the new facility. The horsemen of New Jersey and the SBOA of NJ realize the importance of stakes racing in maintaining the profile of the New Meadowlands and have always been supportive of our efforts." The one-mile oval in East Rutherford, New Jersey, has hosted 67 Breeders Crown races - more than any other racetrack and in 2014 will celebrate 30 years of Breeders Crown history. The Breeders Crown series has crowned champions in every division for trotters and pacers and has been the deciding factor in Horse of the Year honors since 1984. More than $164 million in purse money has been disbursed over 346 events. by Moira Fanning for the Breeders Crown

Since Monticello Raceway has added Presidents Day, Monday, February 17th to it live racing schedule the track is looking to feature a race for drivers who have presidential surnames. According to David Carr of the United States Trotting Association, there are at least 70 drivers who are possible entrants and that doesn't include trainers who have licenses but don't drive regularly," noted Eric Warner the Mighty M's director of racing. "Actually the first driver that comes to mind with a presidential name is Hall of Famer, Ron Pierce, but it might be a task getting Ron to come that day. "But we have two local drivers, Cedric Washington and his brother Dennis Washington who fit the criteria, but even so, that still leaves us a long way from a full field." Possible entrants who wouldn't have too far to travel to Monticello could be; Tom Jackson, Mark Ford, Allan Johnson, Freddie Grant, Howard Taylor, Scott Taylor and George Polk, Jr. to mention a few. "Don't forget Saratoga Raceway racing secretary, Don Hoover," Warner added. "He still drives occasionally." Any driver who fits the criteria of having a presidential surname and would like to have more information, or possibly enter in the "Not Quite Presidential" Pace on Monday, February 17, (Presidents Day), is urged to contact Warner in the race office by calling 845.794.4100ext.557; or they can contact the tracks publicity office at ext. 455. by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway  

DOVER, Del. ---- More than 300 horsemen, legislators and friends of harness racing turned out for the 17th annual Delaware Standardbred Owners Association (DSOA) Awards Dinner at Modern Maturity in Dover, Del. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. The annual DSOA meeting at mid-day preceded the awards-dinner and its early evening cocktail hour. As usual, the popular Heather Vitale served as Mistress of Ceremony and presented videos of award winning horses plus colorful, fun-filled videos of high spots of her weekly "Post Parade" programs on WBOC TV. The highlights of the 2013 racing seasons featured top horses of the Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway meets. A silent auction to benefit Horse Lovers United, Inc., a Not-for Profit organization which provides a residence and care for retired horses, was held in conjunction with the banquet. In addition to leading horsemen and friends in attendance at the banquet were many of Delaware's top legislative executives. The list included Congressman John Carney; State Senators Dave Lawsom and Gary Simpson and State Legislative Representatives; Michael Barbieri, Don Blakey (who gave the pre-meal blessing), Gerald Brady, William Carson, Ronald Gray, John Kowalko, Bobby Outten, Michael Ramone, Danny Short, Jeff Spiegelman and Dave Wilson and former State Senator Nancy Cook, a longtime strong supporter of racing in the First State. Among those in attendance were Delaware Harness Racing Commission representatives, Beth Steele (Chair) and commission members Stephanie Liguori, Patricia Wagner and interim administrator, Mike Davis. Also present were USTA District Directors, Jim Boese, Russell MacKinnon and Dr. William Moffett, Introduced were the DSOA board of directors - President Andy Markano, Brenda Bramble, 1st vice president, Dr. William Moffett, 2nd vice president, Dr. William Moffett,, treasurer, Frank Diliberti, secretary, Frannie West and Sal DiMario, executive director and his staff, Denise Rothermel and Lisa Pearson. Other directors include, Frank Deliberti, George Dennis, Russell McKinnon, George Teague, Max Walton, Valerie Warnick, and directors emeritus, Dan Camac and Ralph Holloway. Also among the dignitaries were members of the media. DSOA 2013 award winners: The 3rd annual James T. Case Jr. DSOA Horizon Award (to a horseman making outstanding progress during year) was presented to harness driver Allan Davis, one of the sport's rising stars. Davis drove winners of around $600,000 in purses in 2012 and that figure mounted to $3,2-million in 2013. The James T. Case Jr. 1,000 Scholarship in memory of the longtime DSOA President was presented to Erica Brittingham, attending Del. Tech &U Community College majoring in Physical Education. Again this year, the DSOA gave out a total of $6,000 in Scholarship awards. The recipients of awards are Brent Ashley, Virginia Tech majoring in Dairy Animal Science; Amber Callahan, De. Tech & Community College major in Agriculture Business Management;; Brooke Gannon, a Nursing major at Wesley College; Kierston Gray, Wor-Wic Community College Major/Secondary Education/Counseling; Morgan Jewel, Wesley College, Education Major and Wade Z. Marsh, Duke University, major in Religious Studies & Divinity.. DSOA Horses Honored 2-Year-Olds: Trotters - (colt) Whichwayrightrleft (filly); Kelsey's Command; Pacers - (colt) Casino Bags Carlo, (filly) Seboomook Fool Yah 3-Year-Olds: Trotters - (colt) Triple Command, (filly) Starlit Eyes Pacers - (colt) Hot Roddy, (filly) Bags Of Stars DSOA Horses of the Meet - Dover Downs Horse of the Meet - Nova Artist Trotter of the Meet - Awsome Valley Claimer of the Meet - Lislea Miles Harrington Raceway Horse of the Year - People Are Crazy Trotter of the Year- Can Do Claimer of the Year - Lislea Miles The DSOA Special Appreciation Award was presented to Delaware representative Danny Short, a member of the Delaware Firefighters Hall of Fame, and Heroic Fireman of the Year Award A highly successful silent auction of harness memorabilia to benefit Horse Lovers United under the supervision of its founder, Lorraine Truitt, was supported for the care for horses whose racing careers had ended. A number of door prizes were also handed out. Marv Bachrad  

Pompano Beach, FL...January 5, 2014...Arodasi, back in business after a two month layoff, took top honors in the $10,000 Open Pace for mares on Sunday, scoring a handy win for Joe Pavia, Jr. in 1:52.1.   The five year-old daughter of Western Terror, owned by the consortium of Peter Shank, Joseph Barbera, AGC Stables and the Joe Pavia, Jr. Stables, used a bold first over backside bid from third into the lead around the final turn and went on to score by two lengths over De Vins Girl (Rick Plano), who led through opening panels of :28 and :56.2. Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) finished third while Fashion Ruffles and Southwind Trini earned the final awards in the field of seven.   Driver Joe Pavia, Jr., in a post race interview, said, "...she really doesn't like to go first up--she likes a cover trip better--but she qualified so well and she's fresh so I decided to give it a go and she responded with a very sharp performance. She must've paced her final half in :55 and change (actually :55.1), so I am very pleased with her performance."   As second choice in the wagering pool, Arodasi paid $7.00 to win and pushed her lifetime bounty to $175,311 in the process.   The Open 2 Pace for the mares went to Bombilla Hanover with Bruce Ranger handling the mare's lines for trainer, Peter Blood.   Bombilla, a six year-old daughter of The Panderosa co-owned by Blood along with Rick Berks and Lew Whitaker, paced her final 3/4s in 1:24.3 coming from last in her field to take the lead a few steps into the stretch and then hold off the furious late challenge of Loretta (Ricky Macomber, Jr.,) to score by a nose in 1:53.1. Oceans Motion (Dave Ingraham) finished third while Sabriana Lane and Windows Online also earned checks in the field of seven.   For Bombilla Hanover, it was her 22nd lifetime success, sending her career bounty to $166,613.   The thunder and lightning expected later in the area arrived on the racetrack a bit early in the second leg of the Chucaro Ahijuna Late Closer when the Burke Racing Stable/Weaver Bruscemi team struck with Call Me Star handled by Ricky Macomber, Jr.   With the tote-board odds number "only" going up to "99," the four year-old daughter of Keep It A Secret, under the training care of Jamie Rucker here in Florida, swept up on a "double-bubble" move heading into the far turn, collared the leader, Frenchmen, in mid-dtretch and held off the furious late surge of Surclasser (Stephane Lareau) to win by a scant nostril in 1:57.2, lighting up the tote with a $316.00 win mutuel.   Soxy's Kid (Ed Hensley) was a fast closing third. Ulay Boko finished fourth, less than a length away, with Frenchmen only able to salvage the nickel in the field of nine.   The mare came into the event as the highest money winner for 2013 in her field but made a miscue in her last start and finished far back.   Trainer Jamie Rucker went to work "from the ground up" to regroup with the mare and her diligence paid off as her manners were "impeccable," according to driver Ricky Macomber, Jr.   Finally, in the Florida Amateur Driving Club Trot, Pacific Cyclone, trained by Ted Rau for owner Robert Walsh, eked out a narrow victory over Peaceful Prince (Teddy Bowman) in the final stride for the win--noteworthy because the victory was the first for driver Jeff Schaefer since May 2, 1998, when he drove Sportsman's Dream to a photo finish victory at Pompano Park, as well.   Schaefer, a farrier at the track, started driving again in amateur events back in 2012 after a 14 year hiatus from the bike. The victory was his 70th lifetime.   John Berry        

HAMBURG, NY --- It may be early January in Western New York but things will be heating up at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday, January 8th as the 99-day 2014 harness racing season opens up at the half-mile oval, located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg. Buffalo Raceway has reaped the benefits of early-season racing in recent years and Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said the track needs to take advantage of it once again. "We've had such good success the past few seasons with racing in January, February and March," Mango said. "We are one of the few tracks who are still willing to race then...it gives us great exposure and brings in some good drivers and horses." Mango pointed out that Buffalo Raceway's export signal attracted $10.3 million in handle in 2011 and $15.3 million in 2013. "That's a 50 percent growth since 2011," Mango said. "Part of the success goes to the relationship we have with our guest sites, and getting us national outlets like Twin Spires and TVG." Mango went on to say, "The winter racing is well received by the horsemen and it gives drivers from the East some opportunities. We have had a pretty good driver's colony here the first few months the past few seasons and I don't see any reason that won't happen again this year. There should be some fierce competition." Buffalo Raceway will race on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights in January. Post time is 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6:40 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. In February and March, Thursdays will be added with 5 p.m start time. "We've had reasonable success on Thursdays but we are starting it in February this year and hope to take advantage of a lull in racing across the country," Mango said. "The 5 p.m. post time...there's not much competition and we are trying to take advantage of it, and there seems to be plenty of horses to race." Mango went on to say, "Mickey Mantle will never hit another home run again and we know we'll never attract the crowds like we did back in the 1960s. It's just the reality. Horse racing is all simulcast-based now and we have to realize it." While Mango admits wagering on-line continues to grow, Buffalo Raceway will do some promotions to bring fans in. "We got sports giveaways this year...hockey pucks, baseballs, basketballs, footballs with our logo on it. We are trying to add a little fun for those coming out." The track continues to improve its backstretch and something that Mango is very extremely proud of. "There's not anyone that isn't impressed with our barns or state-of-the-art paddock. I will argue with anyone that we have the best backstretch in the country, thoroughbred or harness racing." "We've honored our commitment to New York State as a race track and gaming facility," Mango said. "A lot of tracks across the country have ignored the stable area. We thought it a necessary improvement. I hear from horsemen daily who say they can't wait to get back to Buffalo because of the back side." Buffalo Raceway has filled the more than 400 stalls on the grounds for 2014 and as Mango put it, "We could have easily filled over 600. That's why we race as much in the winter as we have a lot of people who want to compete." Besides the impressive barns and paddock, the track has improved its track lighting this season which will only help the simulcast signal. With new graphics and cameras installed last season, Buffalo Raceway is ready to compete with the best in the country in distributing the best signal possible. Mango added that the track is better than ever with more material put down and turns are properly banked. "It is a daunting task to keep the track in racing shape during the winter months in Western New York. I think that our track crew does a pretty good job." The fans will also notice a change in the race calls. Michael Carter takes over the announcer's booth as previous caller Gabe Prewitt is now at Pompano Park in Florida. Ray Fisher Jr. will return to defending his 2013 driving title at Buffalo Raceway. He was named "Driver of the Year" in Western New York after his second place finish in the standings at the recently completed Batavia Downs meet. Drivers coming in for the first few months aren't known yet, but it is expected that drivers from Saratoga and Vernon will once again compete. Mango said nothing is definite but has heard Shawn Gray may also "pop in on weekends" to race. Also back will be perennial leading drivers Dave McNeight III, Kevin Cummings, Jack Flanigen, Ron Beback Jr. and Jim McNeight. Expect the trainer's battle to a good one as well with J.D. Perrin the reigning champion at Buffalo Raceway. John Mungillo took the title at Batavia Downs and should arrive with a powerful stable once again. Jim Graham and David McNeight Jr. are also top conditioners expected to arrive with strong stables. On the wagering side, the highlight once again will be the $5,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 every Wednesday starting in the fifth race. The guaranteed pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program. It is also co-sponsored by Buffalo Raceway and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association. Mango said in closing, "I think the past few years our racing product and competition has improved. People have seen what we've had to offer and it's helped us." Buffalo Raceway is located on The Fairgrounds in Hamburg, New York. Admission and parking are always free to the Raceway, for all ages. Reservations for live racing nights can be made by calling 716-649-1280 ext 300. Seasonal harness racing takes place January through July Wednesday at 5:00 pm, Friday and Saturday at 6:40 pm. Simulcast wagering from across North America is available year round Wednesday through Sunday. For more information visit www.buffaloraceway.com or call (716) 649-1280. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway        

Pompano Beach, FL...December 30, 2013...Small Bills returned handsome dividends to both his owner and those who plunked $2 on his nose in the $19,150 final of the Tweedle Dum Late Closer at Pompano Park on Sunday night.   The five year-old son of Cash Hall, owned and trained by Dennis Whittemore and driven by his son, Jimmy, conquered a solid field and a broken head pole to score in a lifetime best clocking of 1:55, returning the lion's share of the purse to, of course, his owner and $46.00 to his followers at the wagering windows.   Small BIlls' winning margin was 1 1/2 lengths over the 3 to 5 tote board favorite, ER Mr T, who was handled by Simon Allard. Increditable and Rick Plano closed fastest of all in the field to garner third while Merited Victory and Celebrity Legacy earned the final awards in the field of seven.   Small Bills won for the seventh time this year in 39 starts and this biggest of paydays sent his seasonal bounty to $33,009 and a shade over $120,000 lifetime.   In a post race interview, driver Whittemore said, "...you know, he didn't race all that bad in the first two legs. Last week we got shuffled a bit but he was trotting strong to the wire and, the week before, he trotted his final half around :57. I kinda thought that they'd be going some going for$19,000 so I thought I had a decent chance from the rail if I could stay out of trouble. That head pole flapping didn't seem to bother him...he kept his mind on the business at hand and those hot fractions helped. When I tipped him, he trotted his usual strong final quarter but was helped as that hot speed came back to the field a bit." He'd never been in (1):55 before so that was something!"   The 22 to 1 win not only keyed a $4,456.60 trifecta but played a huge roll in creating two carryovers for Monday's 7:05 p.m. program, including a healthy $4,631 carryover the the Pick 4. Director of Racing John Yinger sees a Monday night pool in excess of $10,000.   In the $10,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares. Wildfire Osborne, driven by John Cummings, Jr., swept past the entire field to score a sharp 1:52.4 win for her 35th lifetime victory--eighth this year.   The seven year-old long striding daughter of On The Attack, also owned and trained by Cummings, used different tactics this time around to score by 1 1/4 lengths over the late charging Woman of Terror (Ed Hensley). Favored De Vins Girl (Rick Plano) was shuffled a bit on the backside bit closed stoutly late to get third while Southwind Trini and Ocean's Motion finished next in the septet.   After the race, Cummings said, "...you know, I put her on the lead in her last two and those miles were just a bit too fast for her to last. Tonight, I didn't have much of a choice with the outside post and the others leaving inside. This post might just have been a blessing...forcing me to take back. She sure is a long striding mare!"   Also on the card, the first leg of the Chucaro Ajihuna Late Closer was held in two divisions and Surclasser and Mr Party Man emerged victorious.   Surclasser, handled by Jason Dillander, stormed from dead last turning for home and, on the strength of a :28.4 finale, scored by 1 1/2 lengths over Frenchmen (Simon Allard) with Soxy's Kid (Ed Hensley) third in the field of six. Libra Vita and Dreamnwillie were next while the 4 to 5 choice, Up Tempo, never fired this night and finished last.   Owned by Casandra and Rebecca Uppal going into the event, Surclasser won for the 31st time in his career and was promptly claimed by the J P House Stables.   A similar situation occurred in the second division as Mr Party Man, driven by Tom Sells, made a sharp quarter move to the top and led the rest of the way to score a narrow decision of the pair of "heaters"--Ulay Boko (Rick Plano) and Bank President (Simon Allard). Bar's Gold Medal and JJ Rock finished next in the six horse field.   Timed in 1:57.3, Mr Party Man won for the very first time this year for owners Laurie Poulin and Mike Deters and was claimed by Simon Allard.   Finally, the Florida Amateur Driving Club, that have donated over $125,000 to charitable causes since their inception, made yet another on Sunday Night, this one to the Peaceful Ridge Rescue Mission, an organization that has saved countless horses from neglect, abuse and slaughter.   by John Berry for Isle Pompano Park          

Anvil Raider N ended his career with another win at Northfield Park on Saturday (December 28) winning the evening's tenth race. The win represents his 23 win this year. His win tally ranks Anvil Raider N as the winning horse in North America for 2013. Despite leading the continent in wins, this year will mark the final racing season for Anvil Raider N. The 14 year-old faces mandatory retirement on December 31 per the rules of the United States Trotting Association. Anvil Raider N (In The Pocket-Motu Sweet-Great Mann) is owned and trained by Will Johnson of Monroe, Michigan. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was in the sulky for the winning drive. Anvil Raider N leaves the racing scene with 95 career victories in 281 starts and has earned a bankroll of $340,812 with a lifetime mark of 1:51 as an eight year-old at Mohawk Racetrack. Northfield Park Adds $15,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 Total Pool To Sunday’s Card Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $15,000 Pick-4 total pool guarantee to Sunday’s (December 29) program.  Beginning in Race 8, the $15,000 Pick-4 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $2,438.01. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.     Sunday’s post time is 5:30 p.m. Ayers Ratliff      

Harness Racing Communications, on behalf of the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA), will announce year-end award winners on the following schedule: Thursday, Dec. 19, finalists for Dan Patch Awards. Monday, Dec. 23, Driver of the Year and Trainer of the Year. Thursday, Dec. 26, Owner of the Year, Bergstein-Proximity Award, Haughton Good Guy, Rising Star, Barasch Breakthrough, and Pooler Unsung Hero. Announcements will be sent at 1 p.m. Eastern on the above dates. by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications    

With the completion of the final two preliminary legs of this year's North American Amateur Drivers Association's Charity Trotting Series held at Yonkers Raceway on December 12th, the field of drivers is now set for the $12,000 finale to be raced at Yonkers Raceway on December 19. Last night (Dec. 12) previous leg winners, Paul Minore and Dr. John Kokinos, each emerged victorious, Kokinos for the fourth time and Minore for the second. Kokinos, with Jennifer Lappe's Impressive Earl, trotted to the front in their $6,000 split and rebuffed all challenges en route to a 1:59.4 victory over Ipo Blue Chip and driver Steve Oldford. Third place went to Bob Davis up behind Ilari. For Doctor John, a veterinarian by trade, his victory added another 11 points to his totals and he finishes with 59 points and the points championship in the seven- leg, three-track trotting series which began on October 17 at Monticello Raceway. Freehold Raceway was also a participant in the series. In his $6,000 split Paul Minore, a retired high school coach who's most famous pupil was Carl Lewis, took no prisoners and went down the road to score a 1:59.3 victory with his own Wygant Prince. Monica Banca with Leave Your Mark finished a length behind the winner in second place while Bob Hechkoff got Tremendous Hit home for third money. As a results of those races the top eight in series points earned a berth in the $12,000 Final. Behind Kokinos and eligible to start if they choose to enter are; Paul Minore (40 points), Monica Banca (34), Bob Davis (24), Dave Offenberg (23), Bob Krivelin , Bob Hechkoff, and Dave Yarock, each with 21 points. If any of the aforementioned don't enter it opens up for those next in line in points totals which includes; Tony Verruso (18), Gerry Fielding (17), Steve Oldford, ( 13), Kelly Walker 12 and Alan Schwartz (11). When the series finale is completed, Joe Faraldo, the president of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, will again make a substantial donation from the organization to a worthwhile charity soon to be announced. By John Manzi  

On April 19, 2014 the top horseplayers in North America will compete for over $60,000 in prize money* in the 2014 World Harness Handicapping Championship, at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford, NJ. The WHHC qualifiers at the newly opened Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment are set for January 11, February 22 and March 15. The Meadowlands January 11 qualifier has a $200 total fee ($100 entry plus a $100 real-money bankroll). The format requires players to bet a minimum of $10 ($100 maximum) on 10 Meadowlands races. Complete rules and entry form are available at PlayMeadowlands.com. The top two finishers will earn spots in the WHHC with prize money to be paid out to the Top 10 finishers. The World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC) is the partnership between Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and the United States Trotting Association formed to create the industry's ultimate tournament experience. Standardbred Canada supports the project by facilitating the participation of Canadian racing and wagering outlets. The WHHC is a one-day tournament, with a welcome reception the evening prior. Players may earn a seat in the WHHC through a qualifying event at a partner wagering outlet or through direct buy-in ($800). In addition to the Meadowlands, the United States Trotting Association, The Meadows and Buffalo are conducting WHHC qualifiers. A complete list of participating outlets and qualifier dates can be found at PlayMeadowlands.com or by clicking here. For more information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact Rachel Ryan, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (raryan@newmracing.com) or Kathy Wade Vlaar, Standardbred Canada (kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca). *estimated final prize pool, based on 120 entries        

In harness racing, provisional drivers aren't supposed to get first call to drive the best horses on the grounds. Provisional drivers don't repeatedly drive horses to track records and absolutely under no circumstance do they ever win more often than their peers. But all of that changed Saturday at Batavia Downs where 23-year-old provisional driver Shawn McDonough concluded the meet at the Western New York track by becoming the first "P" driver in harness racing history to win a track's dash title. And in the end, it wasn't even close. McDonough took the lead atop the driver standings over the summer and entered the final week of the meet holding a 93 to 84 win advantage over the next closest driver, Ray Fisher. In the final three days of the meet, McDonough won three races Wednesday, another three on Friday, and for just good measure scored a grand slam on the meet's final night putting him over the 100 win mark. A strong Buffalo meet in the first half of the year that saw McDonough win 71 times from 591 starts gave the young driver a wave of momentum heading into the new meet at Batavia. There, a number of factors played a role in McDonough's record breaking success. McDonough said, "John Cummings left here and that opened spots up. A couple drivers got hurt (Ray Fisher and Jack Flanigen nearing the end of at Buffalo), and that opened up opportunities. I did well for a number of the trainers and they kept with me." McDonough credits the Empowered Racing Stable and Resilient Racing Stable as a large part of his success at Batavia. I was working for Empowered Racing Stable with Carl Smith and they put me on the right foot with some power to drive. My own owners, the Resilient Stable, they gave me a great opportunity to train horses and I've done well. In regards to Empowered, "You know, they have great horses and spend a lot of money on horses and bring them to these tracks. I broke the track trotting record this year with their mare Mystical Escapade," said McDonough. In addition to the smashing record setting performance by Mystical Escapade who would go onto be named Trotter of the Year at Batavia, McDonough also broke a track record with the pacing mare Xenia Hanover by virtue of a blowout eight length win in 1:53. Other horses of note from McDonough are Cactus Jack and Resilient Stable's millionaire trotter, Self Professed. McDonough said that his best of claim of the year was Debs Girloffortune. "I claimed her for $4,000 and she made almost $16,000 just at Batavia for me. I think she missed one check in about twenty starts." Even with the breakout success at Buffalo, it was hard for McDonough to envision just how much of that would carry over into the Batavia season. "Heading into the meet someone had asked me how many wins I'd get, and I thought maybe 75 or so. I can't explain it but for some reason every year I have better luck at Batavia than I do at Buffalo. Being a provisional driver I didn't know what the opportunities would be like, but a lot of my buddies are good trainers and they all helped to put me on the map pretty good." McDonough continued, "I never thought realistically I would hit the 100 mark; it was just a great year. I'm thankful for my owners, all my family and friends. I've got a good helper too with my girlfriend Ashley Holiday who helps out a lot. We've got a really great team here and everything clicked." In becoming the first provisional driver to ever win a track dash title, it does beg the question: Why is McDonough still a provisional driver in the first place? By the very definition of what a provisional license essentially is, it's almost inexplicable that McDonough remains under that classification. Ultimately, it is only the state appointed judges presiding at Buffalo/Batavia that can grant McDonough to a full "A" driver status. But despite the subjective nature at which that determination is made, McDonough has laughably outpaced what the standard minimum requirements are, pursuant to the United States Trotting Association 2014 Bylaws. There are a number of different ways that minimum requirements can be met, but generally speaking what's required while holding a 'P' license is one year driving experience, plus 25 satisfactory pari-mutuel starts and a win requirement of 5 wins. McDonough has held a 'P' license now for 4 years and in just this single year alone, he has won 174 times with earnings in excess of $900,000. Searching for an answer, McDonough said "I asked at the beginning of the Batavia meet why I can't yet have an 'A' license and didn't really get an answer, so I told myself that I'm going to have to go out there and try to win a title to show the judges. I'm not sure how it makes them look having a 'P' driver go out there and win a title, but you can't argue with them." He continued, "They're actually the ones that told me towards the end of the meet that I was going to be the first 'P' driver to win a dash title and break history, I didn't even know that." McDonough added, "I had an opportunity to go to the Meadowlands and drive for Empowered Racing. They asked me to go with them but I wasn't able to (because of the 'P' status). All I can do is be patient and keep it going. Just this year I've had close to 180 wins; I'm not dangerous and haven't caused any accidents - nothing." The next time we'll see McDonough in action is when Buffalo starts their new season on January 8. Until then, he's giving his horses time off for a little break. As for plans later down the road McDonough says "I'm just being patient. If I have a good year again maybe we'll look at trying Pocono. If I get a couple of my guys to go and get owners like Empowered and Resilient to move their stock we'll see what happens." In the meanwhile, McDonough will enter 2014 seeking his second consecutive track title in Western New York. Unheard of for a 'provisional' driver. by, Brett Sturman for The Racing Beard

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement on the terms of a new three year contract. The new agreement will cover the conduct of racing at Yonkers Raceway for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 racing seasons. The previous expired contract had been extended until December 31, 2013 by mutual agreement.   The 2014 meet at Yonkers will cover 236 racing dates and is scheduled to begin Monday, January 6. A full 2014 racing calendar will be released shortly.   "We are very pleased to have fostered a relationship that would allow us to complete negotiations in such a quick fashion," said Yonkers Raceway Chief Operating Officer Bob Galterio. "I believe each side knew the issues of importance for the other and acted accordingly." The schedule tentatively calls for some matinee programs on Tuesday afternoons in the Fall, as Yonkers looks to develop more international outlets for their high quality racing product.   The SOA Committee and Yonkers management only had to meet two times to iron out the agreement.   "The negotiations were seamless," said SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo. "Horsemen can know there is stability for the next several years with 236 racing dates scheduled each season."   During the talks, the SOA of NY was represented by SOA President Joe Farlado, SOA Trustee Chris Wittstruck and SOA Executive Director Alex Dadoyan.   As part of the agreement, the SOA of NY agreed to remove the $100 payment for horses finishing sixth through eighth. That money will go into the purse account for distribution in the traditional form of purse money for horses finishing first through fifth. It was further agreed that the $10 per start fee will be automatically deducted from the purse account rather than burdening the owners with the accounting each week. That deduction will not be applicable in the NYSS events for which there will be a separate fee that will be the owners' direct responsibility.   The SOA of NY will also receive slightly higher revenue for its new insurance program "We will continue to maintain the non-contributory retirement program for qualified industry participants which is a great benefit to those horsemen that reach retirement age with enough service credit," said SOA of NY Trustees Chairman Peter Venaglia.

Goshen, NY -- Looking for something different for your business, corporate giving or a friend or relative who loves horses? The answer is in the Harness Racing Museum's latest gift shop catalog.   It's brimming with great gift ideas for the holiday season, as well as a host of brand new items in their apparel and jewelry lines. Prices are reasonable and most important of all, orders made within the next week will arrive in time for Christmas.   The full color catalogs are at the printer and will be mailed next week, however, digital versions are available now. Just Email a request to: hrmhof@gmail.com. Catalogs can also be obtained by calling the museum's gift shop at (845) 294-6330. Merchandise can be ordered online by clicking here.   All proceeds from sales support the museum's mission, to protect the great history of the Standardbred horse and encourage interest in the sport of harness racing. Born in America, trotting was the nation's first pastime. Celebrated by Currier & Ives (nearly one out of 10 of their famous lithographs were of trotting horses), they were a popular icon in the mid-19th century. Today interior decorators continue to include the well known trotting horse image in their designs.   Merchandise both online and in the hardcopy catalog include: books for all ages, jewelry, ladies and mens clothing (all sporting the great harness racing motif), children's toys and clothing, games, and housewares. Global shipments are welcomed.   The museum is just 60 minutes north of Manhattan in the colonial village of Goshen, New York. Open seven days a week, its three theaters, numerous hands-on exhibits and computerized presentations, a talking horse, a children's activity area, and other innovative experiences, including the world's only 3-D harness racing simulator and bountiful gift shop, make it a worthwhile place to visit; especially now that admission is free!   The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, NY, is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. There is no charge for regular admission, thanks to the members of the U.S. Trotting Association. For further information on The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, its services to the sport and the local community, please call (845) 294-6330 or visit www.HarnessMuseum.com   December 7, 2013 - by the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame      

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