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Our first glimpse of 2-year-olds took place at the Tuesday morning qualifiers at Balmoral Park and 8 of the 11 harness racing freshman that went postward were out of trainer Bob Phillips’ barn. The first four finishes in the first two qualifiers all were Phillips trainees. The 1:59.2 first freshman victor in the opening qualifier was My Man Red, a son of Sportsmaster who sold for $9,000 under the name of Fox Valley Lance to Blackfoot Farms of Chicago and Phillips. John De Long guided the ICF colt and also was behind the second race freshman filly winner Shakeitformegear (Geartogear) who paced a 1:58.2 mile with a 27.1 last quarter. Cutting the fractions in the second qualifier was the filly Fox Valley Tiramisu, a highly regarded daughter of Sportsmaster owned by Phillips and John Carver, a $50,000 yearling purchase. Fox Valley Tiramisu is out of the broodmare Theladysappealstome, making her a full sister to 2008 Breeders Crown 2-year-old champion Fox Valley Topaz. “Tiramisu” paced a 27.3 last quarter when she finished one length behind her Indiana bred stable-mate. The fastest of the six qualifiers conducted belonged to 3-year-old colt Mystical Jet, who drew off by six lengths in 1:57.2 for driver Casey Leonard and trainer Jill Arnold. Mike Paradise

Seaford, DE --- “Dead-mouthed runaway” is not a phrase the average person wants to hear describe a horse they’re about to get on. Nevertheless, caretaker Nicky Ratledge knew just what she was doing when she decided to ride Courser Hanover, one of her charges in the Delaware stable of harness racing trainer Tim Crissman. She’d asked him to let her try it time and again, but knowing the gelding’s nearly notorious tendency to pull, Crissman advised her against it. She kept asking though, and in April, she finally got on him. Ten minutes later they were off on a trail ride. “He loved every minute of it,” Ratledge said. Proof of that is in the horse’s recent performance on the racetrack. Less than a week after his first trail ride, Courser Hanover made it to the winner’s circle at Harrington Raceway after taking a new seasonal mark of 1:53.1. In the weeks since he’s won twice more. “He’s got a little more confidence now,” Crissman said. Crissman is just happy to see the horse racing. The day he claimed the son of Astreos-Cindy B for $15,000 at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 2013, the then-7-year-old broke a pastern bone. “They said he’d never race again,” Crissman recalled. He didn’t want to give up on the horse though. Eight months after the injury, Courser Hanover -- a $180,000 yearling in 2007 -- made it back to the track. In 2014, he won five races and earned just under $19,000 for Crissman. The trainer says it was dealing with the horse’s behavior that made the return to racing difficult. “He’s his own worst enemy,” Crissman said. He said that in spite of his age and past injury, Courser Hanover wants to go fast -- all the time. “I’ve never sat behind a horse that can pull as hard as him,” Crissman said. “He’s a dead-mouthed runaway.” Numerous bridle changes suggested by Tony Morgan, the pacer’s regular driver, and various training regimens have resulted in minor improvements in Courser Hanover’s behavior during the past two years, but the horse is still known to get out of control on occasion. Not too long ago, one of Crissman’s grooms tore ligaments in his leg as he was sitting on the jog cart, straining against the stirrups in an effort to maintain control of the horse. “You go to hook him up and he turns into a Tasmanian devil,” Crissman said. That’s why he didn’t want Ratledge riding the pacer. He was sure she’d get hurt. “I would have never got on him,” he said, adding that Courser Hanover gets agitated and starts kicking when you put the harness on him. Ratledge knew she had the right idea though when she put the saddle on the pacer and he didn’t move an inch. She says he enjoys being out on the trail -- he doesn’t pull -- and in turn is a happier horse all around. “He’s found himself,” said Ratledge, who rides Courser Hanover a few times a week now. “He went from being sour to being a lovable horse.” Crissman agrees that the pacer’s experiences under saddle have increased his composure. “He’s got more confidence in his ability,” Crissman said. “Before he just wanted to go around the track as fast as he could and he’d stop. He’s gotten to the point now where he’s trying.” From 15 starts this year, Courser Hanover has racked up six wins, four seconds and three thirds. He won a $7,500 claiming event at Harrington Raceway just last night (May 21) in 1:55.1 on a sloppy track. “He’s better now,” Crissman said. “I hope he stays that way. He’s a little easier to put up with when he’s making money.” by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

East Rutherford, NJ - The second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes (NJSS) for three-year-old harness racing pacers fields one $25,000 division each of fillies and colts at The Meadowlands on Saturday night. The top ten from the two elimination legs will race in the $100,000 finals on Saturday, May 30.   Race five is a field of ten pacing fillies with the 2014 freshman filly final winner Stacia Hanover the one to beat. The Western Ideal lass swept through both legs and the final last season, the highlights of her abbreviated five race campaign. After a few conditioning starts this season against older, "Stacia" rallied from well back to be second behind Happiness in last week's first NJSS leg, pacing her final quarter in a flat 26 seconds for the second consecutive race. Driver Scott Zeron has employed the "off-the-pace" style exclusively with Stacia Hanover and will have to fashion a trip from post nine on Saturday. Steve Elliott trains the filly for owners David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio.   The colts come up in the very next race with a field of eleven set to compete. Hurrikane Ali will draw the favorite's role with defending NJSS champ and co-leg one winner Artspeak taking the week off. Hurrikane Ali reduced his record to 1:50 over a deteriorating surface last week with driver Yannick Gingras never having to ask him for pace. Lightly raced at two, the Rocknroll Hanover colt has won both starts this season for trainers McDermott, John Sr & Jr and owners Kuhen Racing, Jonathan Klee, Dr. Ken Rucker and Robert Pucila.   There is a carryover of $124,509 in the race five Jackpot Super High 5 and $96,746 in the last race Jackpot Super High 5 as the live racing weekend begins on Friday night.   Belmont Stakes Trip Giveaway   With the eyes of the racing world fixed upon American Pharoah and his quest for thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, the Meadowlands is going to give one of its fans a trip of a lifetime. Fans visiting the Meadowlands during live racing can enter to win a VIP trip to the Belmont Stakes. The prize package includes clubhouse seating for four, dining in the Marquee Tent, and a parking pass. The winner will be drawn May 29. Fans must be present to win the grand prize.   The thirteen race Saturday card begins at 7:15pm.   Meadowlands Media Relations

May 22, 2015 - We often complain that today’s racetracks, many now owned and managed by casino companies, ignore harness racing altogether. They appear to view racing as simply the ticket to alternative gaming, the price of admission. Recently we were in the audience at a card of live harness racing at Florida’s Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. The place was packed with enthusiastic racing fans outside, on a balmy South Florida evening, and inside in simulcasting and gaming areas. The track seemingly understands the dynamic, and is willing to say so. See below examples of permanent and live racing night signage on the property and via billboards on heavily trafficked I95. Also of note to me is the use of the word “Horse” to describe the action. Absent thankfully is the word harness, for after all we race live horses, not harnesses (perhaps electrical) or sulkies. Whether standardbred, thoroughbred, quarter horse, French trotteur, Russian Orlov or Norwegian coldbloods it’s the horse that makes the sport go, it’s the horse that we breed, raise, develop, generate revenue with and honor for their accomplishments. It’s the horse that earns whatever media coverage exists and the best of them set the standard that all involved seek to duplicate and/or advance. Harnesslink Media  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, May 21, 2015 - Yonkers Raceway Thursday night hosted its first harness racing New York Stakes crowd of the season, the $163,375 Michael Sorentino Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Three divisions, worth $54,125, $55,125 and $54,125, respectively, comprised the event, which honored the memory of the long-time popular horse owner (with family in attendance for winner's circle presentations). There's no way to sugar coat this...chalk players were accorded the chalk outline, as all three odds-on entities failed to deliver on their puny parimutuel promises. The opening event saw last season's frosh statebred champion, Crazy Wow (Yannick Gingras)-at 1-20-jump it off in the second turn after making the lead. When the stone dust settled, it was 26-1 Royal Deceptor (Mickey McGivern, $55.50), pocketed from post position No. 3, nipping Mythology Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) by a nose in a life-best 1:58 (:29.1, :59.2, 1:28.3). Insomniac (Mark MacDonald) cut the mile and faded to third, beaten a neck. Crazy Wow finished fourth. For third choice Royal Deceptor, a son of RC Royalty trained by Cheryl McGivern for co-owners Charles Foster, Michael James and Michael Sentiwany Jr., it was his fourth win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $150, with the triple returned $614. "He was very good early last season, but they sort of caught up to him," Mickey McGivern said. "He's just a lunch pail sort of horse, keeps trying and keeps working." The second sire stakes grouping found 3-5 choice Habitat (Gingras), with a NYSS and Dexter Cup win already on his resume, also do the dance of the damned. His malfeasance occurred entering the first turn. That left Military Blue (Mike Simons) leading the gang (:28.3, :58.2, 1:27.3) before his night was over. Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) took over from first-over, only to get snapped on the money by 31-1 proposition Workout Wonder (Dan Dube, $65.50). Leaving from post No. 4, the margin-another nose-was in 1:56.3, far and away a career-best effort. Wings of Royalty (Brian Sears) was third, with Apostle's Creed (Brett Miller) fourth. Habitat was last among the seven. For fifth choice Workout Wonder, a Conway Hall colt co-owned by All Laid Out Stable and trained by Ake Svanstedt, it was his first win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $234.50, the triple returned $743 and the superfecta paid $4,789. The evening's final NYSS event found 3-10 Maestro Blue Chip (Smedshammer) carrying the water for the rank and file. He disposed of Royal Becca J (Jack Parker Jr.) after the one's early lead (:29.2, :58.2), then widened after a 1:28.2 three-quarters. "Maestro" had three lengths in and out of the final turn, only to get that run-down feeling from The Physician (George Brennan, $15.20). The latter, from post No. 5, whipped the former by a neck in a life-best 1:58.1, with Royal Lad (Simons) third. For The Physician, a Credit Winner gelding trained by Anette Lorentzon for co-owners Acl Stuteri Ab and Kjell Johansson, he's now 2-for-3 this season. The exacta paid $33.80, with the triple returning $107. With longshots ruling the night in the sire stakes-comprising 60 percent of the Pick 5 races, no one took down the pool. Thus, Friday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $4,675.35 (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). The Raceway's live season continues Friday and Saturday nights (post times 7:10 PM), with Saturday offering a pair of $40,000 eliminations of the Art Rooney Pace. After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM, finals of both Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series division), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs (no live racing/evening simulcasting June 3-12, inclusive). Afternoon simulcasting is available daily, including June 6 Belmont Stakes Frank Drucker

At the May 19 Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) meeting, discussion continued regarding a new study concerning the effects of cobalt on Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses. Dr. James Robertson, consulting veterinarian, updated the OSRC on the progress of the OSRC/The Ohio State University (OSU) and Ohio Department of Agriculture's Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL)'s comprehensive cobalt research study, which focuses on what cobalt does to a horse's system and its potential effect on racehorses. Dr. Robertson said the most recent meeting of the cobalt research committee was held May 12, 2015 at The Ohio State University to discuss the study parameters. Dr. Beverly Byrum, Director of Laboratories for ATL, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) and the Consumer Protection Lab, spoke in detail about the ATL, the official equine drug testing lab for the Ohio State Racing Commission. Dr. Byrum said the ATL currently tests post-race samples of equine urine and blood from all seven of Ohio's pari-mutuel racetracks and the 65 county fairs that conduct pari-mutuel wagering on harness racing, and that the ATL's objective is to protect horses through the detection of prohibitive substances and report their findings in a timely manner to the OSRC. "ATL is one of the premiere equine drug testing labs in the United States and is a Racing Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) accredited lab," she declared. "ATL has one of the highest standards of technical competency in the US, and is one of only five labs in the United States to be approved by the RMTC." In 2014, Dr. Byrum explained, ATL partnered with The Ohio State University and initiated a post-doctorate degree for students to gain experience in laboratory testing, and added that the ATL regularly does interval, double-blind studies that speak to the quality management of ATL. "ATL is one of the few laboratories in the United States that has the equipment which is able to detect cobalt in both the blood and urine of equines," Dr. Byrum acknowledged. Of 15 equine testing laboratories nationwide, only five have the ability to test for cobalt. Soobeng Tan, ATL Director, submitted the 2014 ATL annual report to the OSRC, discussing testing procedures and results from 2014. Last year, Tan said, 6,764 equine urine samples, 9,222 equine blood samples and 5,163 TCO2 tests were performed, for a total of 21,149 total tests. As a result of these tests, 112 positives, including those taken at Ohio's county fairs, resulted (52 Thoroughbreds & 60 Standardbreds). In addition, 62 human urine samples were submitted to the lab, of which ten (16.1%) were positive (the most common drug being marijuana). In the equine sector, 71% of the 112 positives were either flunixin (Banamine) or phenylbutazone (Bute), a trend that had continued from 2013 of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications being the most dominant pharmacological group of drugs detected, with a total of 79 positives. In 2014 TCO2 testing was re-initiated by the ATL, resulting in seven TCO2 positives from 5,163 blood samples drawn. From 2007 through December 2013, TCO2 testing had been performed at each of Ohio's seven tracks prior to each race. The next OSRC monthly meeting will take place on June 23 at 10 am, 77 South High Street, 31st floor, Columbus, Ohio. The meeting is open to the public and horsemen are encouraged to attend. Kimberly A. Rinker The following is from  Cobalt Use In Racehorses February 11, 2015 RACING Drugs, horse health, Horse Welfare, horseracing In the horseracing world trainers are always looking for the magic bullet; something to give their horses an edge over competitors.  Cobalt appears be an addition to a long list of pharmaceuticals and nutriceuticals being used on racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Cobalt occurs naturally in horses in very minute amounts.  The dietary requirement for cobalt is less than 0.05 ppm.  Cobalt is a component of Vitamin B-12.  B-12 is produced in the horse’s cecum and colon by microorganisms.  The amount of cobalt required by horses is easily reached through typical horse feeds. There have been no known cases of a deficiency of cobalt in horses or a deficiency of vitamin B-12.  There shouldn’t be any need to supplement a horse with cobalt for reasons of preventing a deficiency. Horse trainers are supplementing their horses with cobalt thinking it will increase the production of red blood cells making it another form of blood doping.  Whether it works or not is not known although veterinarians studying cobalt use don’t think it’s effective.  One of the big concerns is the negative side effects of overdosing horses with the mineral.  Heavy metals like cobalt can’t be broken down by the body and can accumulate to toxic amounts over time.  In humans overdoses produced organ damage, impaired thyroid activity, goiter formation and death. Another concern should be that trainers giving horses cobalt with the intent to enhance their performance are acting criminally.  Even if it the cobalt doesn’t enhance performance, it tells me there are trainers who will put just about anything into their horse’s bodies if there’s a chance it will enhance performance even when they don’t know what negative effects there could be to the horse’s health. Countries worldwide are testing for cobalt use in racehorse.  It is said that supplementing racehorses with cobalt has been around for the past couple of years.  Australia has reported cobalt showing up in horses above the 200 microgram threshold set by the Australian Racing Board.  Some states in the United States have been testing for cobalt since last year but there has been a problem setting a threshold.  The Emirates Racing Authority says it has been testing for cobalt since January 2014 and doesn’t feel there is a problem in the United Arab Emirates. In the United States, the New York Gaming Commission recently passed an amendment to the Thoroughbred out-of-competition testing rules that adds cobalt to the list of blood doping agents they are testing for.  Under its rules for harness racing the Gaming Commission already has a heavy penalty for testing above the current 25 ppb threshold.  Indiana has a ruling that penalizes trainers with horses testing over 25 ppb with up to a one year suspension. Some horsemen are worried that the 25 ppb threshold may cause them to be penalized for giving basic supplements that contain cobalt.  Dr. Rick Arthur , Equine Medical Director for the California Racing Board, determined the 25 ppb threshold was reasonable after doing a study on California Thoroughbreds where the average cobalt level was 1.8 ppb and the highest was 8.2 ppb.  Around the same time Dr. Arthur was studying horses to get a baseline for cobalt, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) collected samples, to retest for cobalt, from racing jurisdictions all over the country and in every jurisdiction there were horses that tested above 50 ppb.  Dr. Arthur said you couldn’t get those results without giving horses high levels of cobalt. Dr. Mary Scollay, the Equine Medical Director for Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, in her research on cobalt, said high doses caused profuse sweating, muscle trembling, aimless circling, horses dropping to their knees or collapsing.  Also, she noted changes in the blood she collected from the horses.  The blood in the samples didn’t clot like it should.  Dr. Scollay said that the test she had done on Kentucky racehorses showed a normal range for cobalt to be between 1 and 7 ppb even when given supplements with trace levels of cobalt. The Unites States Trotting Association disagrees with the 25 ppb threshold after doing its own study and says it should be 70 ppb.  The RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee hasn’t been able come to a consensus on a threshold for cobalt as yet. It’s concerned about penalizing a training for giving routine supplements and vitamins that may contain cobalt.  It’s hoped the committee will meet in March and by that time maybe it will be able to make a decision. Dr. Scollay said Kentucky is waiting for the RMTC to come up with a threshold before the State announces penalties for horses testing beyond the threshold.  California requires that Standardbreds testing above the 25 ppb be put on the vet’s list until cobalt is cleared from the horse’s system.  This can take time because the half-life for cobalt is one week.  Dr. Arthur plans to recommend the same rule apply to Thoroughbreds. I certainly hope all racing jurisdictions will set a threshold for cobalt not to exceed 25 ppb.  From what I have read even 25 ppb seems high.  I don’t think anyone knows the effect, on a horse’s health, that long-term ingestion of large doses of cobalt would have.   Related Articles: Cobalt, the Latest in Performances Enhancers?; 10 Year Suspensions for Cobalt Violations; More on Cobalt Use in Racehorses

Harness racing drivers Hannah Miller and Bob Hechkoff each won their respective divisions in two NAADA Trotting events at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, May 21. Hannah scored behind Pembroke Snapshot in 2:00.4 while Hechkoff was victorious with Saint Patty's Doll in a 2:01.4 clocking. In their split hot-handed Hannah gunned Pembroke Snapshot for the lead from the eight-hole but had to settle in the cat-bird seat behind Dave Yarock who got away quicker with Nautilus De Vie. When they passed the first stanza Nautilus De Vie tripped the timer at :28.4 and from there Yarock and Miller raced one- two until they headed for home. In the stretch Pembroke Snapshot proved to be the stronger horse and he trotted on to a one- length triumph over Nautilus De Vie. Peter Gerry finished third with Candid Man. "When we rounded the final turn I was ready to use the passing lane but my horse drifted out so I let him and when we straightened for home I was confident that we would be the best," Miller said. As the trotters navigated through the lane Miller sat calmly as Pembroke Snapshot overtook the leader to scored his third seasonal triumph. Asked why she sat relatively still in the sulky Miller quickly replied;" He (Pembroke Snapshot) doesn't like to be hit with the whip and he gives all he has without it." Owned by the Nick Surick Stable and the JL Benson Stable, the winner returned a $3.40 win mutuel. In the other division Hechkoff used the front end route to notch a head victory with Saint Patty's Doll holding off a hard charging Samswinner, driven by Joseph Lee, for a neck triumph. Confronted by road trouble throughout the mile Hannah Miller finished third with Rev It Now. In a rare occasion in an amateur race the winner was claimed for $18,000 by the Rob Harmon Stable. However, Hechkoff remained philosophical after losing his mare. "I was looking for a trotter to race in the amateur races and bought her at Pompano Park a few weeks ago," he said. "I hated to lose her so quickly but that's the game. You know there's a lot of guys buying horses for the amateur races and we help fill races on the betting cards of the tracks at which we race." Hechkoff's RHB Ventures was the owner of record and Kyle Spagnola was the mare's trainer. She paid $4.40 for win. An amateur race from the Catskill Amateur Club also graced the Mighty M's Thursday racing card. Hannah Miller and Rise Above It were the easy winners but a driving infraction caused them to be placed out of the money. Minnesota Hanover, driven by Matt Zuccarello, ended- up with first money in that pacing contest. John Manzi for NAADA

Bruce Aldrich Jr. was the star of the Thursday harness racing program at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Aldrich scored six wins on the twilight race card highlighted by the third consecutive victory for pacer Romeo Lover (Western Paradise). Trainer Don Sherman acquired the four year old three weeks ago and has now gone three-for-three with him. Romeo Lover, the race's 1-9 favorite on Thursday, wound up getting parked the mile but withstood the wide journey to prevail in 1:57.2. Aldrich completed his grand slam early in the card by scoring wins in three consecutive races before going on to win from post eight with claiming trotter Princess Crown (Elegant Man) and with pacer Whata Bizness (Sportsmaster) in the finale. Aldrich vaulted into second in the driver standings after beginning the day four back of Billy Dobson as they chase leading driver Frank Coppola Jr. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Friday night with a first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella  

Graceful Beauty captured the $17,500 final of the harness racing Wallflower Series on Thursday (May 21) at Northfield Park. She is owned and trained by Adam Short of Archbold, Ohio. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was in the sulky. The five year-old pacing mare had competed in three legs of the Wallflower Series leading up to Thursday's final. She proved herself to be a true force for her competition by posting two victories and a third place finish in those legs. Graceful Beauty (Rocknroll Hanover-Mango Hanover-Big Towner) started from post two. She led her competition at every call through fractions of :27.2, :56.4, 1:27.3 and 1:57.1, besting her competition by 1 ¾-lengths. Completing the race were Winemen Dine Me, Yourplaceormine, APP Panda, Feelin Outragous, Lucky L and Dream Roll. Thursday's win was the fourth victory this year in seven starts. That quintuplet of wins this season also represents her career. Her lifetime earnings now stand at $34,432. She was heavily favored and returned $2.80 to win. Ayers Ratliff

Three jockeys have won the Belmont twice in the new Millennium - John Velazquez, Edgar Prado and Mike Smith.   102 years between FILLIES winning the Belmont 1905 Tanya, 2007 Rags To Riches.   5 - Five Straight Belmonts for Woody Stephens-1982-1986 NONE before NONE after.   678 horses have lined up and started in the Kentucky Derby SINCE Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978.   1997-2009 "Sidewalks Of New York" the Theme song.   2010 "Empire State Of Mind.   2011-2015 "New York New York".   70-1 was the price on Sarava who ended Bob Bafferts's LAST Triple Crown bid-2002-with War Emblem.   Three-time eclipse winning jockey Braulio Baeza's hat trick - he won the Belmont three times on three DIFFERENT Surfaces. 1961 and 1969 at Belmont the second time on a revamped track-1963 at Aquedect.   Mike Tabor is the ONLY owner since 1986 to win the Belmont TWICE!  2007 Rags To Riches, 1995 Thunder Gulch.   6 of the last 7 Triple Crown winners were also the defending 2 YO CHAMPION - (Assault the only one who wasn't).   6 of the last 7 Triple Crown winners in harness racing - were NOT the 2 YO CHAMPION (Niatross the only one who was).   42 YEARS since the record of 2:24 set - Secretariat. His stablemate Riva Ridge also won the Belmont - the year before in 1972 - in 2:28 flat.   Count Fleet owns the SECOND Highest Belmont Margin of 25 lengths (Secretariat's 31 lengths in 1973 the standard).   May 16, 1979, 11 months AFTER Affirmed won the last Triple Crown, Gary Stevens won his FIRST ever race-for his father who trained.   The Highest ever BEYER NUMBER for a Belmont winner went to Easy Goer -1 22 in 1989 (Beyer established in 1987).   The Belmont was held at AQUEDUCT from 1963-1967 while the track was under restoration and renovation.   FIVE of the ELEVEN Triple Crown winners were chestnuts-including Affirmed and Secretariat.   1931 was the year the order was established for the Triple Crown.   120,139 came to see Smarty Jones in 2004 just miss in his attempt for the Triple Crown. It was to be his final career race - he wound up 8 for 9 with a second. All nine of his races were competed at DIFFERENT Distances.   37 and 25 - the two largest GAPS between Triple Crown winners. 1978-2015 ???? and 1948-1973.   Many would argue that Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont by 31 lengths in a time that STILL stands as a North America Dirt record and the margin that STILL stands as the largest Grade One effort ever-you'd have thought THAT would be the cover of Sports Illustrated,THAT WEEK Right? WRONG! The cover featured George Foreman - who - by the way - did NOT fight that week or even in the last six months. Secretariat only made pages 9-13. Think somebody missed the boat here? (Don't anyone even THINK to say he'd been on the cover just recently - Jeremy Lin made it two STRAIGHT weeks a couple of years ago for the Knicks).   In 1977 - Jean Cruguet was an astounding 9 for 14 during the week at Belmont - but would not even chance riding on Thursday or Friday while awaiting Seattle Slews Belmont on Saturday - and his own Triple Crown try. SLEW would win it - and remains the only horse ever to make it through the Triple Crown UNDEFEATED! Seattle Slew is also the only one of the eleven Triple Crown winners to have sold at public auction - $17.500 - 90 seconds in the ring and into the record books.   Triple Crown wins - total 11 - Bob Baffert  12 - Jimmy Takter  14 D Wayne Lukas (Note that Jimmy Takter AND D Wayne Lukas have each won the Triple Crown -with two DIFFERENT horses - Takter last year and Lukas in 1995).   The Belmont Stakes was NOT held in 1911 and 1912.   Conquistador Cielo won the 1982 Belmont - the first of five in a ROW for Woody Stephens - on 4 DAYS REST! (METROPOLITAN MILE winner at Belmont on Memorial Day).   IF 10 or more enter and go to the gate for the 2015 Belmont - it marks the first time EVER that for seven STRAIGHT years, there has been a DOUBLE - digit sized field for the Belmont.   Chrysler offered their $5 Million bonus from 1988-1995 NO WINNERS; Visa then the same from 1996 - 2005 NO WINNERS.   It's been 35 YEARS since Harness Racing had a Triple Crown winner (Niatross) who was also the 2 YO champ; 37 years for thoroughbred racing (Affirmed 1978).   Bill Shoemaker won the Belmont 4 times in an 11 year span. 1957, 1969, 1962, 1967 (Also won it in 1975).   If the restriction to hold the crowd to 90,000 does hold this year, then the Belmont cannot have it's SIXTH 100,000 plus crowd in its history.   ***************** NEVER has a horse finished the Triple Crown - the Belmont-with larger than an 8 horse field!! ************************   Here are the field sizes for the Eleven Triple Crown winners: (Chronologically backwards) 5-8-5-8-7-3-4-8-5-4-3.   Affirmed and Secretariat each won in a five horse field.   The average sized field for the ELEVEN Triple Crown winners is 5.5 horses.   BUT - since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978, the average BELMONT FIELD SIZE has been 10.2 Horses!   The COMBINED 3 YO earnings of the 11 other Triple Crown winners in history is $4,708,701   Times Have changed dept? In 2008 Big Brown fell short in the Belmont and finished 6-7 career and never raced again. Smarty Jones got beat in the Belmont of 2004 for a career slate of 9 8-1-0 and he too never competed again. In 2012 - I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and scratched from the Belmont never to race again.   BUT - in 1941 - Whirlaway won the Triple Crown - raced 89 TIMES CAREER!, won the Kentucky Derby PREVIEW in addition to the Derby, and - get this - won an allowance race IN BETWEEN the Preakness and the Belmont - thus wrapping up the Triple Crown.   Let's hope there's some action in the Belmont this year - remember the Kentucky Derby had the top three finishers go 1-2-3 all the way - in an 18 horse field, none of the top three finishers was worse than third at any point! How rare was that? The LAST time that had happened was in 1915, when Regret won  -in a 16 horse field. 100 YEARS to be exact!   Robert Heyden

There were three divisions of The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon (May 21) each going for a purse of just over $71,000. In the first division, it was Miller's Stable's Somewhere Sweet (Dave Miller) scoring an impressive five length victory. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere rolled right to the front, tripping the quarter beam in :27.1. After a rated second quarter of :29.1 (:56.2 half), the Brian Brown trainee began to draw away, getting the back half in :56.2, completing the mile in an in-hand 1:52.4. It was her fourth career win of eleven starts, and her third in the last four. Better Said (Tim Tetrick) was making her 2015 debut after going two for five in the win column as a two-year-old. She rallied on for second, while Moma's Got A Gun (Brett Miller) finished third. The winner paid $6.60. The track was downgraded to good for the second division, in which trainer Brian Brown continued his winning ways with Serious Filly (Tim Tetrick). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was taken off the early pace, but shifted into gear shy of the half. She mounted a persistent first-over bid, and was able to grind past pace-setter Aria Hanover (Brett Miller) to win by a little more than a length, stopping the clock in 1:53.3. Imagine Dragon (Scott Zeron) shook loose late to close for second, while Doll Fins (Yannick Gingras) finished third. Owned by Emerald Highlands Farm, Serious Filly remains undefeated in 2015, a perfect four for four. The winner paid $14.40. Trainer Brian Brown was looking for the sweep in Division three, as he sent out the heavy favorite Triple V Hanover (Dave Miller). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was taken off the early pace, but brushed hard towards the top after the quarter (:28), not clearing until the half (:56.2). The tough trip took its toll in the stretch, as Art's Jem (Tim Tetrick) closed fast up the inside to win, stopping the clock in 1:54.2. Southwind Roulette (Yannick Gingras) finished second while Deli Beach (John Campbell) finished third. It was the third seasonal win in five starts for the daughter of Art Official, who is owned by CC Racing. The Joann Looney-King trainee paid $19.60 to win. Michael Bozich

Howard Taylor has enjoyed many memorable moments in harness racing, but nothing in his past might compare to the emotions he will feel this weekend. On Sunday, Harrah's Philadelphia will present the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older pacers, an event named in honor of Taylor's late father. Jerome "Jerry" Taylor, a Philadelphia-based attorney who participated in harness racing for more than four decades, passed away in October 2013 at the age of 82. "This is probably my biggest honor in harness racing," said Taylor, who in addition to being an attorney himself has owned, trained and driven harness racing horses for more than 35 years. "Horses mean a lot to me, but they meant even more to him. He never, ever missed a race. He would go everywhere and he absolutely loved them. "I remember friends of his would get mad at him because he would never make plans to go anywhere until after the draw came out. You couldn't call him up to see what he was doing next weekend because he wanted to see if his horse got in to race. He knew what he was doing if the horse got in." Taylor developed his own passion for harness racing through his father, who bought his first horse in 1972. Jerry Taylor got into owning horses through a client who was a trainer and owned a number of successful horses over the years. Among the most notable was New Jersey Sire Stakes and Grand Circuit champion Devil's Adversary. He renamed a number of his horses to include "Devil" in the name because of the success of Handsome Devil a year prior to the arrival of Devil's Adversary in 1983. "That was his first really good horse," Taylor said about Handsome Devil. "He thought that was lucky, so the next year he named all his horses 'Devil.' He changed the names of all of them." Jerry Taylor, who raced at Liberty Bell and Brandywine Raceway for years, was known for his sense of humor. "He was a bit of a cutup," Taylor said. "He had more one-liners and things to make people laugh than anybody." The Jerry Taylor Invitational features an eight-horse field that includes Levy Memorial Pacing Series champion Domethatagain, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite, as well as 2014 Canadian Pacing Derby winner Modern Legend and millionaires Clear Vision and Dancin Yankee. "My father and I were very close," said Taylor, who is probably best known for owning three-time Dan Patch Award-winning female trotter Buck I St Pat. "I worked with him my whole life because when I worked with the horses when I was younger they were his horses. When I became a lawyer, I went to work for him and then I became a partner in the firm. I spent more time with my father than anybody. "I miss him terribly. It's going to be an emotional day, but I'm looking forward to it. I was touched when I found out they decided to name the race after him. No one loved racing more than my father." by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Louisville, KY --- He might not receive as much press as the sport’s top rated horse Bee A Magician or Elitloppet bound Wind Of The North, but Obrigado’s harness racing connections feel he possesses the ability and class to be one of the top older trotters of 2015. “He’s staked up to everything and is such an intelligent horse,” said Paul Kelley, who co-owns and conditions the 5-year-old gelding. “He never does anything wrong and is a cool horse to be around.” After an extended winter vacation, Obrigado will be making his third start of the season on Saturday (May 23) at Yonkers Raceway in a $42,000 Open Handicap. He will commence his journey from post position seven with Mark MacDonald at the lines in the fifth race on the card and is the 5-2 choice on the morning line. “He’s done very well at Yonkers and always gives a good account of himself,” Kelley said. “We are really looking forward to this season with him.” A Maine champion at age 2 and 3, Obrigado was bred by Mike Andrew of Gorham, Maine, and is a son of Boy Band and the Malabar Man mare Malimony. He is a full brother to Kanalla Bella 3,2:01h ($81,025), A Cappella Bella 3,2:01.4h ($85,060) and Iza Bella 4,1:58.3h ($232,295) and was purchased by Kelley, Linwood Higgins, Bill Weaver and Stable 45 at the 2013 Standardbred Mixed Sale for $53,000. The gelding is a very handsome horse and that is initially what caught Kelley’s eye. The fact that he reeled off 21 consecutive victories after finishing fourth and third in his first two starts certainly did not impair the acquisition either. Kelley always thought Obrigado would be a very nice addition to his barn, but was overjoyed by how well the gelding performed last year. He compiled a record of 21-9-7-1, set a track record of 1:52.3f at Tioga Downs and doubled his bankroll by earning $173,742. In his last race of 2014, the former Ivan Davies trainee illustrated he was a force to be reckoned with as he came home fourth behind Natural Herbie, Commander Crowe and Bee A Magician in the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational on Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway. “We were tickled to death to receive the last invitation and were anxious to see how he would perform against some of the top horses in the sport,” Kelley said. “He did much more than show he could hold his own and that race gave us notice that he belonged with those horses. Being from Maine, you never knew how he was going to measure up and when we bought him it was with the intention of having a nice horse for the upstate New York circuit. He is just so much more than that and everyone that comes in contact with him ends up becoming a fan. He is that kind of horse.” The gelding qualified twice this year on April 23 and April 30 before finishing second on May 9 in an Open Handicap at Yonkers. He was second again in the same class at the Hilltop on May 16. A triumph this weekend would bring his resume to an extremely consistent 47-31-9-2 and bring him closer to the $400,000 mark in career purse money (he is currently at $363,164). “We started off this year with some changes, as I am now stabled at Mark Ford’s training center,” Kelley said. “It is absolutely tremendous here and we made a great choice. Also, Mark MacDonald is at the barn every morning. He will be the one driving Obrigado now as he has done plenty of work with him and really likes the horse. I think he is an excellent fit and has definitely earned the drive by all the time he has spent with us. He also provides great feedback on how the horse is doing.” Although it is not yet June, Kelley is very excited to see exactly what Obrigado will accomplish. “Everyone always asks how he is doing and where he will be going,” Kelley said. “But we will just let him tell us how to proceed all year. It’s all up to him, but I have confidence in him. He could never let us down as he is so smart and gives more than 100 percent every time you lead him over. You never know what can happen from year to year, but we think he can improve upon last year and we hope to have a lot more fun with him this year.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Augusta, ME --- The Maine Harness racing industry and the Portland Sea Dogs (Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) hosted the second annual Harness at Hadlock event to a crowd of more than 6,000 spectators on Wednesday (May 20). The event was a collaboration of efforts from the Maine Harness Racing Promotion Board, Scarborough Downs, Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway, Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association and Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of Maine. The first pitch was scheduled for 6 p.m. and the doors opened at 4:30 p.m., where fans entering the ball park were greeted by current racehorses Zoe Blue Chip and Northern Regent from the Mike and Charlene Cushing Stable of Farmington. Fans young and old alike were able to interact with all members from this classy stable by petting the horses and feeding them carrots. There was also a stationary sulky set up for anyone who wanted a chance to “get in the bike.” Festivities were then brought to the field where retired racehorse and current pleasure horse show champion CC Bag A Luck, owned by Katie Flaherty of Standish, led an on-field parade of Maine drivers in their racing colors out front of the cheering fans. “CC Bag A Luck, Katie, and her husband Kevin can come back to the ball park at any time; they have an open invite,” said John Kameisha, Senior Vice President of the Sea Dogs. A short three-minute video production, created by H. Jay Burns, was shown on the stadium jumbotron to the captive audience where Jay asked some drivers on a qualifying day at Scarborough Downs, “How do you keep your colors clean?” The video can be seen here. Winny, the Promotion Board Mascot, entered the field on an ATV with the Sea Dogs Mascot, Slugger. Winny mingled with the crowd, handed out promotional items, and took pictures with excited fans. Members of the Maine driving colony stayed on the field to participate in the first pitch opening ceremony, where each driver had the opportunity to throw a pitch from the mound to home plate. Drivers Eric Davis, W. Drew Campbell, Charlene Cushing, Aaron Hall, Mitchell Cushing, David Ingraham and Kelly Case took to the concourse to meet and greet fans, conduct fan giveaways, and autograph driver cards. “With another successful Harness at Hadlock under our belts, we will surely be back to Hadlock Field next year,” said Dr. Timothy Powers, President of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association. The Maine Harness Horsemen's Association

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (May 20, 2015) - Most harness racing trainers would be happy if their prized pupil started their three-year-old season with an impressive win, but Nik Drennan continues to describe Guess Who's Back as a work in progress. "He was good and I was happy, just not 100-percent happy," said Drennan in describing his colt's win in last week's opening leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands. "He put in a few steps around the first turn so we're just trying to work some things out. He has to get over his issues. We need to get him on a regular routine of racing so that we can build his confidence and get him stronger both mentally and physically." Guess Who's Back has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, co-feature on the Meadowlands 12-race Friday program. Brian Sears will drive the Muscles Yankee colt. The other opening leg winner, French Laundry, was given the week off by trainer Jimmy Takter. Guess Who's Back sold for $90,000 as a yearling at the Harrisburg Sale. His dam is a half-sister to the millionaire Breeders Crown champion Poof She's Gone. He is owned by Joseph Davino in partnership with Brad Shackman, TLP Stable and J&T Silva Stables. Drennan said he has never had a horse as good as Guess Who's Back, yet he is far from a finished product. He flashed major talent last year, winning the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, but also frustrated Drennan by going off-stride in four starts. "He was pretty big," explained Drennan. "Last year he looked like a four-year-old and was racing against horses that were half his size. Now he probably looks like a five-year-old. He had to get over some aches and pains last year. It's more mental than anything with him now. The next couple of starts will tell with him." Friday's card also includes the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies and an Open Handicap for pacing mares that serves as the seasonal debut of stakes-winning four-year-olds Sandbetweenurtoes and Act Now. There is a carryover of $124,509 in the race five Jackpot Super High 5 and $96,746 in the last race Jackpot Super High 5. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Belmont Stakes Trip Giveaway With the eyes of the racing world fixed upon American Pharoah and his quest for thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, the Meadowlands is going to give one of its fans a trip of a lifetime. Fans visiting the Meadowlands during live racing can enter to win a VIP trip to the Belmont Stakes. The prize package includes clubhouse seating for four, dining in the Marquee Tent, and a parking pass. The winner will be drawn May 29. Fans must be present to win the grand prize. Justin Horowitz

Right on the heels of having hosted a group of amateur drivers from France the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) is readying for a contingent ofharness racing  amateur drivers from Spain on Sunday, May 31. According to NAADA president Joe Faraldo the team of Spaniards which they will be hosting are from Mallorca and many are world class amateur drivers. And even before the Spaniards have arrived they have plans to return the favor and entertain a group from NAADA in late September. "We have planned the races in Mallorca in September the weekend of 26 & 27" noted Augustin Mascaro-Pou, one of the amateurs who'll be driving in the Friendship Competition. "Sept 26 we will have races in the small track of Manacor and Sept. 27 in Son Pardo where also will be the biggest international race that we have in Spain where will come eight top trotters from France, which is part of the European Tour of French trotters." Although NAADA will field different teams at each venue the Spanish team slated to be making the trip to America for this International Friendship Competition include the following drivers: Jaume Bassa-Riera -- - Partner in Sport Trot company of horse products - Winner of the Spanish Breeders Crown; Represented Spain in 2001 in European Apprentices Championship Augustin Mascaro-Pou.---. Police Officer. General Secretary of European Amateur Drivers Federation (FEGAT). Winner of Spanish Amateur Championship in 2006 and Spanish reprresentative in 2007 European amateur championship. Miquel Vich-Capo-- Breeder and Livestock dealer. Winner of Spanish Amateur championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Spanish Amateur Champion in 2012 .. Spanish rep in World Amateur Cup in 2014. Bernardo Jaume-Cirer--A partner in kitchen manufacturer's company and winner of many races on the European continent. At least one of the Spanish competitors is fairly well known by NAADA's Joe Faraldo. "I have raced with Jaume (Bassa-Riera) in Taranto, Italy several times and finished behind him every time. Maybe this time an American team can turn the tables on my good friend," Faraldo said. "Jaume has gone to the World Cup events more than anyone else appearing as far away from home as New Zealand. He was also the translator for the exceptional Spanish reinsman who competed in the World Cup for Professional Drivers which concluded at Yonkers Raceway where the Spanish guy finished third to Jodie Jameson and Corey Callahan." The Spanish contingent is expected to arrive at JFK International Airport on May 31. After a day of touring New York City and enjoying outstanding sights and excellent cuisine the driving competition will begin Tuesday, June 2 at Yonkers Raceway. On Wednesday (June 3) the competition moves to Monticello Raceway and after the races the group will head to Goshen for a tour of the Hall of Fame and Historic Track. An entertaining trip on the World Yacht with dinner and dancing will take place on Thursday. Then Friday (June5) after a tour of the Mark Ford Farm in Goshen the contingent will be off to Tioga Downs for a race there. On Saturday (June 6) a 6am departure from Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY will get the Spaniards to south Florida where they will drive in the two races at Pompano Park that evening. The following day the Spanish contingent will head back home to Mallorca. John Manzi for NAADA

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