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A monstrous :25.4 closing quarter propelled William J. Donovan's Ashley's Husband ($14.60) to the fore in the closing strides of Saturday (Feb. 6) evening's featured $17,000 harness racing top-level conditioned pace at The Meadowlands. Brett Miller settled well off the pace with the 6-year-old Henry Clay gelding, second from last through a :55.1 half with a contested pace in front of him.  Just after 8-5 favorite Kingofthejungle (John Campbell) wrested command from Jet Airway (Marcus Miller) upon reaching the backstretch, Ashley's Husband slid second-over to follow the cover of Rockeyed Optimist (Tim Tetrick) en route to the far turn.  Ashley's Husband would ultimately be carried to the five-path, as Jet Airway and Class Six (Joe Bongiorno) were produced from just off the pacesetter after a :28.2 third split. Despite Class Six making a three-wide push to the lead at the eighth pole, Ashley's Husband descended late, vaulting past the gaining Rockeyed Optimist and Jet Airway for a 1:50.3 score. Pacesetter Kingofthejungle was engulfed in upper stretch, fading to finish seventh of the octet. Kyle Spagnola trains Ashley's Husband, now a 24-time winner.  For Miller, the win was the middle of a natural hat trick, as he also partnered with Shooter's Dream ($17.40, 1:50) and All Week ($17.20, 1:50.4) in the preceding and following races. The evening's sub-featured event, a $15,000 trot for non-winners of six races or $100,000, saw Magenta Man ($8.20) handle a significant class hike with aplomb, holding sway from Hot Summer Knight to prevail in 1:55. Early breaks from Axios and Its Huw You Know enabled the 4-year-old Muscles Yankee Gelding to set a leisurely and uncontested pace before edging to a 1-3/4 length pillar-to-post victory in rein to Andy Miller. Julie Miller trains Magenta Man, now a winner of four straight, for Little E, LLC and RBH Ventures, Inc. Total handle for the 14-race card was $3,162,502, marking a fourth consecutive program at The Meadowlands with at least $3 million wagered. Neither 20¢ Jackpot High 5 was taken down by a single punter, so next Friday's (Feb. 12) program will see carryovers of $22,115 and $92,662 in the seventh and final races respectively. First post for the Friday card is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Eastern time. by James Witherite, Meadowlands media relations

A week before Valentine's Day, "Shana" and "Dan" were the popular harness racing couple, winning Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Saturday night co-featured Open Handicaps. "Shana," as in Crazshana (Jason Bartlett, $6.70) prevailed from the pocket in the week's featured trot. Leaving from post position No. 4, he tailed a three-wide-early Red Hot Herbie (Brian Sears) through that's one journey (:28.1, :57.4, 1:26.4). "Herbie," as the 9-10 favorite, put away a second move from Not Afraid (Dan Dube), taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, he couldn't close the sale, surrounded from both sides. Crazshana edged out and went by, whipping a cone-skimming Money Maven (George Brennan) by a length in 1:55.2. Red Hot Herbie, lone lass Tweet Me (Pat Lachance) and Headsaregonna Turn (Tyler Buter) completed the cashers. For second choice Crazshana, a 4-year-old statebred Crazed gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was his first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $25.40, with the triple returning $77.50. The weekly marquee pace saw odds-on Atta Boy Dan (Brennan, $3) prevail from post No. 5 in a two-move effort. After he and Polak A (Sears) were put in play early (:28.3 opening quarter-mile), Melmerby Beach (Bartlett)--who was throwing his head around early--made a big move, from fifth to the lead before a :57.3 intermission. Melmerby Beach maintained his place in and out of a 1:24.4 three-quarters, with a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. He was then ganged up on by a trio of "outsiders," with Atta Boy Dan edging from the pocket and beating a wider Polak A by a neck in 1:53. A rallying Hugh Hefner N (Jordan Stratton), Rock Icon (Matt Kakaley) and a tiring Melmerby Beach rounded out the payees. For Atta Boy Dan, a 7-year-old Western Terror gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, he's 1-for-3 this season. The exacta paid $9.40, with the triple returning $38.60. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night with a dozen races, a $10,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool and a first post of 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 6, 2016 -- Buried at the pylons entering the stretch, Rockin Ron exploited a suddenly vacant Lightning Lane and scored an 8-1 harness racing upset in Saturday's $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. A newcomer to The Meadows who'd been off since Nov. 8, Rockin Ron figured to get no more than a minor award when he was shuffled to fifth. But when Capital Account pulled the pocket for the drive, the 4-year-old Real Desire-Im All A Roan gelding charged through the Lightning Lane for Dave Palone and triumphed in 1:52.2, 1-3/4 lengths better than early leader Mattamerican. Bestinthebusiness rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Rockin Ron, who extended his career bankroll to $136,168, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. It was one of five wins for Palone on the 15-race card, including a pair each for Burke and trainer Jack Smith. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Diamond Cowboy put in a gem of a harness racing effort on Saturday night (Feb. 6) to prevail in Buffalo Raceway's featured $10,000 Open Pace by beating a stubborn Beach Hero by 3/4 lengths in 1:55.4.   After finishing a disappointing sixth as the heavy favorite in last week's Open, Diamond Cowboy rebounded nicely for driver/trainer Shawn Gray to score the $14.40 mild upset victory. It was his second Open Pace win in three attempts this season.   It was a battle for the lead to the half mile marker as Beach Hero parked out Lucky Nadotremblay. A 57.1 opening circuit took the starch out of Lucky Nadotremblay but Beach Hero continued to roll.   Things started to develop on the backstretch the final time. Diamond Cowboy, who was assigned the outside eight post, made a three-wide brush to the three-quarter pole to pull on even terms with Beach Hero (Truman Gale). In the battle down the lane, the pair were stride-for-stride until Diamond Cowboy managed to nudge ahead late. Beach Hero had to settle for a tough luck second place while Youwillwishyouhad (David McNeight III) took third.   Owned by William Emmons, Diamond Cowboy (Six Of Diamonds-Money For Munchkin) is a 7-year-old gelding with $10,000 in earnings in 2016 and $404,915 lifetime.   In the opening round of the Niatross Knockout Claiming Series, Aberarder Smitty and Flashy Trick shared the fastest times in the five divisions with a 1:58.3 clockings. Other winners were Midas Blue Chip (1:59.1), First Of Fun (1:58.4) and Mach It Paid (1:59.3).   Jim McNeight, Jack Flanigen, David McNeight III and Gray each scored two victories on the night while David McNeight Jr. and Russell Bratt had training doubles.   Racing will resume Wednesday night at Buffalo Raceway with a 12-race program slated for 5 p.m.   For more information including upcoming promotions, the latest news, results and race replays, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Dein Spriggs has, literally, won the right to represent the Florida Amateur Driving Club and the U.S.A. as Pompano Park gets set to host the harness racing Isle International Amateur Series on March 12 and 13 at the South Florida five-eighths mile oval. Spriggs will join Johann Preining, Jr. (Austria), Ivan Serik (Russia), Nils Olav Holm (Norway), Andrea Fazekas (Hungary), Enrico Columbo (Italy), Jauma Bassa (Spain), Tapio Hoikka (Finland), Michael Holmer (Denmark), Michael Gutsche (Germany) and Danny Blakemore (New Zealand) in the extravaganza with a trio of races each night featuring 11 horse fields. Spriggs, who has 412 career driving victories, has been involved in harness racing for some 40 years and enjoyed his best year ever as a driver in 2015, earning a career high $94,480 in purses on the strength of 27 wins in 82 starts and a "batting average" of .469. He earned the right to represent the Florida Amateur Driving Club during a lengthy competition among members of the F.A.D.C. Upon learning of his selection, Spriggs said, "This is one of the greatest honors of my life in this sport, representing our club. "I am sure the competition will be spirited and the great thing about this is that many charities will benefit as we get to showcase our great sport throughout the world." Indeed, the Florida Amateur Driving Club will be donating over $7,000 to charities on behalf of the visiting drivers. Since their inception, the Club has donated over $150,000 to worthwhile charities and causes. Adding spice to the International event is the news that the voice of harness racing, Roger Huston, will be providing the race calls for the two day extravaganza. Huston, who was Pompano Park's track announcer from 1967 to 1975, has called races at 134 venues, including tracks in Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Wales. by John Berry          

Last Monday (2/1) Bushwacker recorded his third win at the meet winning, the $30,000 Preferred pace in 1:50.2.On the same harness racing program, It seemed like a second-straight de de ja' vu as Mustang Art won the $27,500 Delaware Special the same way he won the previous week, leaving fast and coming on in the stretch for a 1:50.2 victory. Something will have to give this Monday when they square-off in the $30,000 feature. -------------- Brioni, a 5-year-old claimed the week before, won for new owner won his sixth consecutive victory, the longest current win streak at the track. Brioni put his long win streak on the line on Monday in a $20,000 Male Claiming pace. Trotter Bull Investor, a winner of three-in- row will be tested on the Wednesday card. ----------------------------------------------- Doctor McSwing, the richest maiden pacer racing at the track, is back trying for his first lifetime win on Monday. The well-bred five-year-old gelding leaves from post 6 in the 3rd race. Doctor McSwing in 0 for 65 races, but he has 15 seconds and 9 third-place finishes while earning $58,576 in purses . ------------------------------------------------ Saturday, Feb. 13, Canada showcases its stars of 2015 in its O'Brien Awards Black Tie Banquet in Mississauga, Ont. Wakazashi Hanover, trained by Jo Ann King of Harrington, winner of last summer's $1-milllion North America Cup, is one of the horses up for consideration as sophomore pacer of 2015. . --------------------------------------------- Driver Corey Callahan continues on a roll in the Leading Dash Win driver category as he seeks a seventh-straight title, Callahan has a big lead winning 113 races so far this meet. Allan Davis is runner-up with 84 wins. Ross Wolfenden, holds third with 72 winners. Tony Morgan is in fourth place with 71 winners. George Dennis rounds out the Top 5 with 64 wins. ----------------------------------------- Dylan Davis, looking for a third consecutive Leading Trainer award has haltered 44 winners already. Jim King is second with 31. Wayne Givens, in third place, has 27, Kevin Lare has moved into fourth place with 22 wins while Josh Green and Doug Lewis are tied for fifth with 20 wins apiece. ----------------------------- For the rest of this month, Sunday is now a race day in February. Sunday post timer is 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; the regular weekday post time is 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday are 'dark' days. ------------------------------------------------- For those who enjoy dining while watching the races, here's a tip, the popular Winners Circle Harness Buffet is a treat. Reservations are suggested; call 302-674-4000. Marv Bachrad

STICKNEY, IL - Friday night at Hawthorne had the final two series finals for the winter harness racing meet as the females were featured in the Pretty Direct and Ohyouprettything Pacing Series. Race seven was the Pretty Direct Pacing Series final as a field of eight lined up. The favorite was Whiskersonkittens as she had driver Robert Smolin had won each of the first two legs of the series. At the start of the Pretty Direct final it was Pacifire that tried to leave for the lead but had to work a bit to clear Fox Valley Brooke. Lovethewayoulook made an early move on the backstretch to take over into the far turn. After a half in :57.3, Lovethewayoutlook was challenged by If I Didn't Dream while Whiskersonkittens circled five wide. In the stretch, the momentum of Whiskersonkittens carried her to the victory as the 7-5 choice in 1:55.1. Fox Valley Gypsy finished a half-length back in second while If I Didn't Dream was third. Whiskersonkittens swept all three races in the series for owner Ronald Knupp. She is trained by Kimberly Roth. The following race was the final of the Ohyouprettything Pacing Series as a field of ten lined up. The heavy favorite was Mystical Nectar as she looked to sweep the series. Early on, there were numerous lead changes as eventually second choice Fox Valley Bailey led the field into the turn. While favorite Mystical Nectar was starting to move from far back, Lollipop and Todd Warren got the jump and grabbed the lead into the stretch. The 38-1 shot Lollipop was able to hold off the late move of 55-1 shot Girls Girls Girls for the victory. Mystical Nectar finished third. Lollipop is owned by James Reynolds and Combs Investments, Inc. and trainer by Ronnie Roberts. Jim Miller

LEBANON, OH. - Randy Tharps became the 103rd harness racing driver in North American history to reach 5,000 career victories on Friday night (February 5) at Miami Valley Raceway. The winningest African-American driver in history, by a wide margin, 52-year-old Tharps scored a hat trick to reach the coveted plateau. Jessie's Field got Randy's string of successes going with a 1:57.4 score in a $10,000 conditioned trot. Alibi Seelster captured a $12,000 mares condition pace in 1:54.3 to put Tharps one win away; and then Boy Meets Girl K trotted to a 1:55.4 tally in the very next race, another $10,000 condition trot. Randy Tharps hails from a harness racing family with deep roots in Lebanon, Ohio. His father Thomas, who passed away three years ago, and mother Carol began racing harness horses shortly after moving to Lebanon from Tennessee and Tom was introduced to the sport by friends Omar Hiteman and George Williams. Tom was a leading driver at both Lebanon and Latonia in the 1960's and 70's, competing with the likes of Herb Coven Jr. and Ray Paver Sr. The Tharps's raised five sons and two daughters with all five boys taking an active interest in racing. Since there have been a number of grandchildren who have followed in the family hoofprints as well, including five of Randy's nephews who are currently active as provisional drivers or second trainers. Randy is undoubtedly the family standardbearer in terms of accomplishments and statistical achievements. Cleaning the family's stalls since he was old enough to pick up a pitchfork, and jogging their horses since big enough to sit upright in the cart, Randy always had his sights set on being a top driver. After graduating from Lebanon High School, where he studied in the Career Center to become an electrician, Tharps began devoting full-time to the horses and his illustrious career took off before he ever made a nickel with his electrical knowledge. His dad always had 20-30 horses in his stable, but Randy eventually accepted work in the Chet Dewbre Stable and began picking up drives slowly but surely. "Back then I let it be known I would drive ANY horse for anybody, anytime and anywhere," laughed Randy. "I wasn't exactly an overnight success, but I did see a promising future and I have no regrets. Racing has provided a good life. But I'm not done...Good Lord willing I plan to do this as long as I possible can!" Tharps won just four races in his inaugural 1982 season, but did sport a .444 UDRS. He spent another three years toiling at the fairs and picking up occasional commercial track mounts at Lebanon or Latonia. In 1986 things began to click and by 1990 he was ready to move his tack to Northfield Park in Cleveland. Following a successful stint there, he relocated to The Meadows to begin a very satisfying decade-long run. From 1989 to 2008, Tharps had over 100 wins in 19 out of 20 seasons, including three 300-plus wins campaigns. When VLT legislation passed in Ohio, Randy returned to his roots in Lebanon, Ohio, where he continues to compete on the highest level. Randy credits Western Ace for giving him his biggest thrill, winning the Jug Preview at Scioto Downs in 1:50.2 for trainer George Teague Jr. in 2006. "As far as a favorite horse?," Tharps quickly answers, "Marty's Charm at The Meadows. I won races every year from 2008 to 2013 with (trainer) Paul Corey's great horse. He had to have time off occasionally, but when he could race, he was fantastic." A check of the records reinforces Tharps' enthusiasm for Marty's Charm. He won 27 races with Tharps in the sulky during that span, 21 of them in Preferred company. Although Tharps never purposely fashioned himself after any other driver, some have said he reminds them of the late, great Lew Williams the way he sits in the sulky. Williams is believed to be the second winningest African-American driver of all time with 2,023 wins, followed by Cedric Washington with 1,832. Tharps has three children and two granddaughters (a third grandchild on the way). A son Ryan works for local trainer Kayne Kauffman, his daughter Randi ("Peaches") has been an outstanding caretaker since graduating from Trinity High School in Pennsylvania, and daughter Amanda also lives nearby, although she isn't actively interested in horses. Matriarch Carol Tharps joined Randy in the jubilant winner's circle following her son's 5000th win. Gregg Keidel                                                                                                                

Regil Elektra and harness racing driver Jason Bartlett won the draw, the hearts and minds of the electorate and the race Friday night, annexing Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. From the pole, Regil Elektra saw Inittowinafortune (Jordan Stratton) take the first ballot. The people's preference then reclaimed the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, it was very simple (:57.2, 1:25.4, 1:54), with Massive Attack A (George Brennan) trying it weak first-over. The end result was a handy, three-length victory. Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald) was a three-hole second, with Inittowinafortune, Elisaveta N (Eric Carlson) and Bazooka Terror (Tyler Buter) rounding out the payees. For Regil Elektra, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Monteleone and trained by Keith Armer, she's now 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $25.20. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night, with a dozen races and a first post of 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It sure turned out to be a head scratcher in Buffalo Raceway's $10,000 Open Trot on Friday night (Feb. 5). Cold Certified, who won this event last week as the even money favorite in 1:59.1, was dismissed by the harness racing public at 6-1 this time around and made them pay for the oversight by scoring a gutsy neck victory over Lutetium in 1:59.4 over the good track.   David McNeight III shared the Friday spotlight with Cold Certified as he registered a six-bagger in the sulky and also produced a training win.   In the feature, after playing the give-and-go with Lutetium (Truman Gale), Cold Certified ($14.00) set the tempo with fractions of 29.0, 58.1, and 1:28.4. It appeared that those fractions might have taken its toll as Winkys Pride was first over and took a slight advantage turning for home..   But that was all Winkys Pride was able to muster. Cold Certified, who appeared to have thrown in the towel, was revitalized by driver Shawn McDonough midway down the lane and roared back for the neck win while Lutetium (Truman Gale) skimmed the pylons for second and Im The Cash Man (Drew Monti) rallied for third.   It was the second straight decision for Cold Certified (Kadabra-I Like Stephanie). The 7-year-old gelding is owned by Paul and Ronald Louis Viele and trained by Alex Giuliani. The win upped Cold Certified's seasonal winnings to $12,330 and $443,337 lifetime.   McNeight III had victories aboard Lucky Millionaire ($8.00), Goldstar Thumper ($2.60), Maple Leaf Matt ($4.70), Release The Terror ($22.80), Sailin Metro ($6.20) and Pictorian Pride ($42.00).   McDonough had a good night driving as well as he posted a triple while Ray Fisher Jr. had two victories. For the trainers, David McNeight Jr. and John Mungillo had two wins apiece.   Racing will resumes at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday night at 6 p.m. with a 12-race card. The feature is the $10,000 Open Pace along with the opening round of the Niatross Knockout Claiming Series.   For more information including the latest news, results, race replays and upcoming promotions, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Goshen, NY - The Dan Patch Horse of the Year trophies will be presented on Sunday, March 6, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are still available, but the deadline for advertising in the souvenir journal is Wed., Feb. 10.   In addition to equine divisional honors, a host of the industry's biggest and brightest will be feted at the annual awards ceremony, including this year's inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, Charles Keller III & Bruce Nickells; and Communicators Hall of Fame, David Carr and Jerry Connors.   The U. S. Harness Writers list of human awards also includes the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner, James Simpson, as well as the Owner, Trainer, Driver, and Breeder of the Year, Rising Star, Breakthrough, Good Guy and a host of others, which are listed below and available on the website.   Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are now available can be reserved via telephone or Email by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Email: Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or Email:   Savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the luxury resort of Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six. A special rate can be reserved by calling 888-421-1442 BEFORE February 11, and mentioning code: DAN PATCH or by clicking this link: The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Wednesday, February 10. To advertise in the Souvenir Journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845.807.7538 or Email: All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed via internet link:   Dan Patch Horse Awards – 2015 Champions   E. Roland Harriman Harness Horse of theYear: Wiggle It Jiggleit Trotter of theYear: Pinkman Pacer of theYear: Wiggle It Jiggleit 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter: Southwind Frank 2-Year-Old Filly Trotter: Broadway Donna 3-Year-Old Colt Trotter: Pinkman 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter: Mission Brief Trotting Horse: J L Cruze Trotting Mare: Bee A Magician 2-Year-Old Colt Pacer: Boston Red Rocks 2-Year-Old Filly Pacer: Pure Country 3-Year-Old Colt Pacer: Wiggle It Jiggleit 3-Year-Old Filly Pacer: Divine Caroline Pacing Horse: State Treasurer Pacing Mare: Venus Delight   United States Harness Writers Association – Awards and Honorees United States Harness Writers Association Awards Harness Racing Hall of Fame: Charles Keller III Harness Racing Hall of Fame: Bruce Nickells Communicators Hall of Fame: David Carr Communicators Hall of Fame: Jerry Connors Stan Bergstein–Proximity Award: James W. Simpson Norman Woolworth Owner: George Teague Jr. Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year: Jimmy Takter Driver of the Year: David Miller Breeder of the Year: Hanover Shoe Farms Lew Barasch Breakthrough: Gabe Prewitt Rising Star: Montrell Teague President’s Award: Breana Carsey President’s Award: Michelle & Albert Crawford W. R. Haughton Good Guy: Jo Ann Looney-King USHWAn of the Year: Ellen Taylor Lee Anne Pooler Unsung Hero: Joanne Young January Davies Humanitarian Award: Marvin Chantler Amateur Driver of the Year: Hannah Miller Caretaker of the Year: Mike Taylor Trotting Broodmare of the Year: Margie Seelster Pacing Broodmare of the Year: Mozzi Hanover Hervey Awards - Writing: Feature: Kimberly French; Writing: News & Commentary: Dave Briggs Broadcasting: CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley Smallsreed Photography Awards - Feature:  Frances Lund; Racing:  Clive Cohen Grand Circuit – Driver: Yannick Gingras; Trainer: Ron Burke; Owner: Burke Racing US Trotting & US Harness Writers Railbird Recognition Awards - Horse Person: Joe Bellino; Racing Moment: Wiggle It Jiggleit’s Jug US Trotting & US Harness Writers Dash Winning Driver: Aaron Merriman Harness Horse Youth Foundation Service to Youth Award: Callie Davies-Gooch   Chris Tully    

Harrisburg—The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission today reminded Standardbred horse owners that 2016 Sire Stakes payments for two-year-old and three-year-old horses are due by March 15.    The first payments due for two-year-old horses are $150 for the Pari-mutuel Division and $25 for the Fair Division. This payment must be made for the horse to qualify for future opportunities in the PA Sire.   The final payment of $500 for the Pari-mutual Division for three-year-olds is also due by March 15.    The Sire Stakes Sustaining Payment forms are available at Search “sire stakes.” Individuals can also contact Pennie Dodson at to obtain payment forms.   Stephanie A. Pavlik I Executive Assistant I PA State Harness Racing Commission

STICKNEY, IL - Thursday night at Hawthorne featured the final in the Dygert Trotting Series. The series was for harness racing colts, horses, and geldings that were non-winners of three pari-mutuel races or $15,000 lifetime as of December 1, 2015. The first two legs of the series were dominated by Topville Avatar as he won both legs by daylight. The final would be no different. From the outside, Riet's Kid left early and rushed to the front. Second choice Maple Grove Joe had settled in fourth while the 1-5 favorite, Topville Avatar sat sixth early on. Coming off the turn, Maple Grove Joe tipped three wide to rally up to the lead while Topville Avatar and driver Dale Hiteman quickly moved behind that one. In the final sixteenth, Topville Avatar took command and went on to win in a lifetime best 1:57.2. Maple Grove Joe finished second, All About Cowboys was third. Topville Avatar is owned by Paula Smith and James Runyan and trained by Joel Smith. Jim Miller  

DOVER, Del. --- Shellysblockbuster, a 7-1 shot, and Four Staces won the two-halves of the Thursday, Feb. 4 harness racing feature over a 'good' track at Dover Downs. Corey Callahan drives three winners. Both winners left from post 2 and won in similar style in a driving finish. Vince Copeland steered Shellysblockbuster in a 2-hole trip to catch Summer Camp (Corey Callahan) at the wire in 1:52 with Star Messenger (Vic Kirby) taking third. Don Reed and trainer George Wagner own Shellyblockbuster, a nine-year-old Bettor's Delight-Love's Talk gelding who racked up his 20th win of his career. Two races later, Callahan picked up his third win of the day piloting Four Staces home in 1:53.3 with most of the field in the win photo. The Rocknroll Hanover-Miss Stacee gelding won his first of 2016. Mike Casalino owns the winner with trainer Dylan Davis. Pinerosa (Tony Morgan) was runner-up with Allstar Preview (George Dennis) third after being parked-out the entire mile. Corey Callahan and Montrell Teague, who won the first three of four races, had driving triples. Vince Copeland and owner-trainer Dylan Davis had a double. Dover Downs is dark on Friday, Saturday and this week only, on Super Bowl Sunday. Monday through Thursday racing begins at p.m. 4:30 p.m. When at the track, watch the live races and enjoy dining in the Winners Circle Restaurant's acclaimed Harness Racing Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs where there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad    

Billie Schwartz, who lost her husband Michael after his untimely death in 1999 after 35 years of marriage, has continued to carry on as a proud California harness racing owner and breeder and also recently returned to a seat on the California Harness Horsemen's Association board. "Michael and I met at Monticello Raceway in upstate New York," Billie related. "We both had a love for harness racing even then, but only as fans." The couple eventually moved to California, and as Michael became more successful in his professional life, they decided to become more involved in harness racing. They chose Ross Croghan to be their trainer, which right there was a very good move. "We attended our first yearling auction in 1981 and purchased our first yearling, Best of Dani, for $3,500," Billie recalled. "He was a late foal, a big strapping beautiful horse, and didn't race until he was a 3-year-old." Best of Dani went on to become the California Horse of the Year in 1983 under Croghan's direction, banking a then very cool $110,000. "I remember thinking "My, how easy is this?' We should have lots of horses. That's when the love affair with the horses really was born. "I can't tell you the excitement that occurred whenever Dani raced. He came from behind and could go first over, like no other horse I have ever owned. In those days, there was really tough competition, which made his wins even more exciting. "The winner's circle was thrilling, filled with friends and well wishers. Even today, Dani holds the world record for winning a mile and five-eighths marathon over some highly competitive peers." Best of Dani's groom was Nicole Kraft, who would go on to become editor of Hoofbeats magazine. When the horse was retired, Michael and Billie gave the pacer to his faithful and loving groom. "Every time the magazine needed a generic picture of a horse, she used a picture of Dani, because he was such a beautiful looking animal," Billie noted. Over the years, the Schwartz stable campaigned hundreds of horses. When Croghan decided to go East, Michael chose James Wilkinson Jr. to be their trainer. "It was a wise choice," Billie said. Due to Michael Schwartz' success in business, he was able to retire at a young age. This gave him time to become involved in the California Harness Horse Association, where he dedicated himself to helping horsemen and furthering the promotion of the sport in California. He served as President of the CHHA for a number of years, and during that time mastered the art of the deal, including several positive interactions with Los Alamitos owner Ed Allred," Billie noted. "Michael negotiated the harness lease at Los Alamitos and the game was thriving in the state." Billie's passion for the sport has continued after Michael's untimely passing, having bred and raced numerous California Horses of the Year in partnership with Wilkinson. "Jim and I have weathered the many challenges that California harness racing has incurred and continues to face," she noted. "We continue to try to keep our ship afloat over these very turbulent waters. We have remained loyal to California and cannot understand why this state, the richest in the nation, cannot support harness racing, a sport that has been woven into its very fabric for over 100 years. "We have bought horses at auctions and at times have had to import semen to impregnate our mares because of the diminishing returns from the California Sire Stakes program. California must remain competitive with other states as well as being innovative in delivering its product to a new generation. "We need to look at successful venues and see what works and implement these policies here in California. We need to be aggressive in promoting the excitement of the sport." Billie recalled two decades ago when she used to assist fellow California owner Eileen Brodbar in running the "Clocker's Corner" program at Los Alamitos. Fans were invited to hear owners, trainers, drivers and handicappers and were given free programs along with free donuts and coffee. "I recall that the most valuable freebie was when we had a drawing for a ride that evening in the starting car and a picture in the winner's circle. It created excitement and from that we had people who wanted the experience of owning their own horse. "We need to bring that magic back again," Billie said. Sire Stakes, pair of Open Paces spotlighted Uringoodhands, who dominated his peers last season, looks to pick up another added-money score in Saturday night's $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacing males. There will also be a pair of co-featured $6,000 Open Paces, with Bettormeboy and Party Hangover Two getting top billing in those events, respectively. The Sire Stakes will be the opener on the 13-race program with first post set for 6:15 p.m. There will be no live racing Super Bowl Sunday, with a return to the regular Saturday/Sunday schedule next week. Uringoodhands is a son of Kent's On Nuke out of the Surmo Hanover mare Sparks Will Fly who is owned and was co-bred by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and as usual has James Kennedy in the sulky. The dark-hued performer comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following eight of his 11 lifetime trips to the post. He closed out his 2015 campaign with a facile Sire Stakes score back in April and has continued his winning ways in a pair of conditioned victories this season. Uringoodhands has made every pole a winning one in both of those scores with Kennedy at the controls, including a sizzling 1:53 1/5 tour last week over a track labeled "good" He is strictly the one to beat this weekend. Taking him on are Musician, Laissezmopicoler, Hi Ho Houdini, Sounion, Ladi Machette Man, Hi Ho's Little Rev. *********** And a reminder there are two wagers that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which this season features a 25 percent minor pool payout; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which on Saturday comes with an increased $40,000-guaranteed gross pool. By Mark Ratzky  

Meredith Noble had attended harness racing at the Greene County Fairgrounds in her hometown of Xenia, Ohio, for years, but can never recall a sound at the racetrack there like she heard on Aug. 5, 2015. It was the roar of the crowd. And it was loud. And it was for her. The 28-year-old Noble, driving in the third race of her newly-started career, was on her way to a 4-1/4 length win with Reckoning Day in an Ohio Ladies Pace Series event at the fairgrounds. The race was contested over a track named after her late father, Sam "Chip" Noble III, a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame who had passed away in January 2014, and Meredith was wearing her father's helmet and colors. In addition, Reckoning Day was trained by her older brother, Dan, for local owner Christi Pokornowski. "When I'm on the track I'm so zoned into what I'm doing and what's going on in that moment I don't hear anybody else," Meredith said. "But when I came down that stretch and I got right before the grandstand, I could hear that entire crowd cheering. I've never heard a crowd cheer like that. I don't know if it was because it was a ladies race or if it was because it was my dad's home track and I was wearing his colors, but I can't even begin to describe how good of a feeling that was. It was just absolutely amazing. "That was also very emotional; definitely bittersweet. But it was a wonderful win. Coming here and being at my home track where I spent so much time, whether I was just watching dad or helping out, I can't explain how much that meant to me." Noble finished last year with four wins in eight drives, all in the Ohio Ladies Pace Series. She got her first career driving triumph three days prior to her win at Xenia, guiding April Roach's Monibags Bluegrass to victory at the Preble County Fair in Eaton. Then a week ago she added to her resume by getting her first win as a trainer, as brother Dan drove Addys Way to victory in the Fillies & Mares Open at Miami Valley Raceway. "I do it for the love of it, honestly," said Noble, who works as a dental assistant Mondays through Thursdays and spends much of her remaining free time working with her brother and a stable of 18 horses. "It's a little bit of a transition since dad only messed with 2- and 3-year-olds. Dan's given me the chance to mess with some of the older horses as well. I do like seeing the horses develop, and then once they're developed I like helping them reach their potential, make them the best they can be. Even with some of the older horses there are still things inside of them that you can bring out that maybe somebody else hasn't yet." Noble was always around harness racing growing up, helping out here and there, but her focus through her teenage years was on riding and show horses. About four years ago, she began helping her father more and more and soon she was helping train horses with her father and brother. "I did that before we found out dad had cancer," Noble said. "I had a lot of fun. I decided I wanted to give this a try. I always wanted to have a race with him and Dan, but we weren't fortunate enough for that. I did training miles with the two of them. I will always have that memory. I will always have the memory of just the smile on my dad's face of pure joy with the three of us being out there together on the track. I carry that with me." Following the passing of her father, Noble received encouraging words from Dan --- who himself has driven more than 4,200 winners and was the national dash champion in 2011 --- about continuing on a path to becoming a licensed driver and trainer. "Dan came to me and said I'd worked really hard and I needed to do this," Noble said. "He said that he saw it and dad saw it, that I had the talent to do this. He said he would keep working with me. "I've been working with him on my days off. He keeps reminding me of things. It's nice to have that relationship and we can reminisce and keep dad alive. He can teach me things that I didn't get to learn from dad that he got to learn. I'm just really glad that I have him. It's given us the opportunity to get closer as brother and sister." Noble has two horses racing Friday night at Miami Valley, Addys Way in the Fillies & Mares Open Handicap and E Ticket Ride in a condition/claimer. Dan Noble, who is fifth in wins at Miami Valley but only three victories behind co-leaders Trace Tetrick and Tyler Smith, will drive both horses and owns E Ticket Ride. Addys Way is owned by Perkins Racing Stable. Although Noble is fully enjoying her time with the horses, she is not ready to make training and driving a fulltime career. She plans to continue working as a dental assistant for the foreseeable future. "I work with some great people and for some great people," Noble said. "It's truly a team effort. I get to see something different every day. It's kind of like coming in and working with the horses. I definitely have a passion for both. "I'm pleased with how the horses are doing. I have no complaints. As long as they stay sound and everybody stays safe, I'm happy. I love the business, I love the horses, and I loved having that opportunity to learn from my dad." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

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