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Panocchio (No Pan Intended) scored his first Open Pace victory since July on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Jimmy Mattison-trained four year old is in the midst of a breakout year and secured his ninth win of the season in just nineteen tries as he outclosed his harness racing rivals in the $17,000 Saturday feature. Gerry Mattison piloted Panocchio and sat patiently with the top pacer as the fractions in the first half were sizzling despite a sloppy track after a day full of rain in Saratoga. The race's favorite Bet On Roulette (Wally Hennessey) came first over after a half in a demanding 55.2 and Panocchio followed third over before reeling in Bet On Roulette in the final furlong. Bet On Roulette was a strong second in the mile paced in 1:53.3 while Code Word (Joe Bongiorno) came on to finish third. Panocchio returned $12.80 to win while the exacta with the even money favorite second came back $34.60. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella  

Ronny Bugatti (Art Major) continued his recent hot streak at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night. The talented four year old prevailed in the $17,000 Open Pace for the second time in his last three tries. On August 9th, Ronny Bugatti recorded his first ever win in the local Open and posted a win time of 1:50.4 which at the time was the second fastest in track history. Following a second place finish in his previous try, the Allan Johnson-trained pacer was the public's 9-5 top choice in the betting on Saturday. In a race that saw all kinds of early action and a couple of lead changes in the first half, Ronny Bugatti and driver Austin Siegelman moved first over approaching the half mile pole and battled rival BJ's Guy (Bruce Aldrich Jr) throughout the second half before wearing him down and winning a photo in what was a blanket finish in the feature. Last week's Open winner Bet On Roulette (Wally Hennessey) came from last to finish second while BJ's Guy held on for third. Ronny Bugatti's win came in 1:52.4. Live racing goes on hiatus at Saratoga for track resurfacing and will resume on Thursday night September 11th with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Harness racing two year old colt and gelding trotters were in town on Thursday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway to take part in the New York Sire Stakes. Three divisions of the $53,500+ stakes races for freshman trotters highlighted the card with Trond Smedshammer's Buen Camino (Cash Hall) leading the way as the fastest among stakes winners. Buen Camino was the favorite in his four horse division of the Sire Stakes after three rivals were scratched. Coming off of a convincing, career best win in 1:58 at Batavia, Buen Camino moved out to the early lead in his local debut and battled major danger Home'n Dry (Wally Hennessey) throughout the final quarter before that one made a break late in the stretch and was subsequently disqualified from second. Buen Camino was the fastest of the three winners in the 'big time' stakes races by almost two seconds. Favored Sugarmakesmecrazy (Crazed) held on to win for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt in 2:02.3 and Andy Ray (Crazed) pulled off an upset for reinsman Steve Smith and trainer Erv Miller with his victory in 2:01 while dismissed at odds of 17-1 in the other two big stakes races on the card. Live racing continues at Saratoga on Friday night with a first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella  

Bet On Roulette (Bettor's Delight) won the Open Pace on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway for the third time this season. Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey piloted the race's 6-5 betting favorite and got a pocket ride for Bet On Roulette behind invader Off Lika Promdress (Austin Siegelman) who cut the mile in his Open debut. Bet On Roulette closed sharply in the passing lane and outpaced his rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:53.4 en route to his fourth win of the season. Off Lika Promdress held second while Mortal Zin (Billy Dobson) toughed out a first over journey to finish third in the $17,000 Open Pace. Bet On Roulette's trainer Paul Kelley also won Friday night's 'Winners Over' trot with Crazy About Pat. Hennessey piloted three winners on the Saturday card. Live racing resumes on Tuesday night at Saratoga with a first post time set for 7:05pm. Mike Sardella  

Keystone Wallace (Yankee Glide) dominated his competitors in the $6,500 featured race on Wednesday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Dan Hennessey-trained trotter won in the same class last month but was a beaten favorite in his prior start before going off as the race's 5-2 second choice on Wednesday. Reinsman Wally Hennessey moved Keystone Wallace first over at the half and overpowered the race's favorite before running off to a double digit length lead and stopping the timer in 1:59.1 over the sloppy Spa oval. Longshot The Duke Of Conway (Bruce Aldrich Jr) closed to finish second while Stirling Accord (Yankee Glide) earned the show spot. Live racing continues on Thursday night with a first post time of 7:05pm. Mike Sardella  

If the weather forecasters were paid by their accuracy most would be pretty much broke as we awoke Sunday morning to sunny skies and a strong breeze when the forecast was for rain all day. It was shaping up to be a picture perfect day for the big races at Portmarnock Trotting Track. After a hearty Irish breakfast we all prepared for the big day of racing and piled into the shuttle for the track. Our gracious host, Derek Delaney and his family were dressed to impress for their special memorial day to their late brother Vincent. Derek took head counts to make sure everyone was accounted for and off we went. And everyone had to have a good look at my specially designed Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial pith helmet hat that my wife Stephanie helped me make for the occasion. It was unique, the only one in the world, and it featured the flags of all the nations that were racing that day, the band around the brim was the logo for the race and atop the hat was a racehorse. Throughout the day everyone had to comment and check out my special hat. I must have taken two dozen photos with people and the children all laughed and wanted to try it on. It was a big hit. As we drove to the track we saw plenty of horse trailers of all shapes and sizes entering the grounds and everyone had great big smiles as it was a special racing day. The race paddock area was jammed with trailers and horsemen and women preparing for the races. There are no “race paddock” like they have in North America for harness racing. Here at Portmarnock, just like most tracks in Ireland and the United Kingdom as many fairs do back home, your trailer is your paddock area. You tie your horse up on the side and harness them, bath them between warmups and throw a “rug” over them and walk them around to cool out. Everyone is prepared and they bring coolers with sandwiches and drinks and make a day of it. After your horse races and is put away then you head over to the main track for the festivities. The bounce house and tenting for the children’s area was already filled with tyke’s ripping off their shoes to have a go and allow their parents a little time to check out their race programs. The bookies were setting up their stands, the bar was already open and I was offered my first Guinness of the day, which I had to refuse…too early and too long an afternoon with work to do for a late breakfast stout to start off the afternoon. But there was plenty of people already in the bar getting prepped for the day’s events. As the crowds come in you get your racetrack fixtures of people just like every track around the world. You have your hard core punters, your average fans, your die hard regulars who immediately head to their favorite spot to lay claim for the day. But today was extra special and with that came the ladies dressed for the Royal Ascot or perhaps the Kentucky Derby of harness racing in Ireland. There was a contest of the best dressed man and women at the races. And there were many women dressed up beautifully along with many of the younger daughters of the horsemen. There was also a special exhibition by world champion Irish Dancers and music throughout the afternoon between the race announcements. The bookies had a field day at the track. Everyone wanted to get a bet in. Here at Portmarnock there is win wagering only, no exactas or trifectas or any gimmick bets, no place or show, just the win bets. But the action was feverish before the start of the first race. It was amazing as the “punters” were known by every “bookie” by first name or a nickname. They would place their wager, the bookie would shout it out to his teller, who wrote it done and then the punter was given a special card with a number on to verify the wager. I placed my bets with Dan Carlin of Belfast, Ireland. He was the main bookie who set the early wagering odds on the races last Monday once the fields were drawn. But what is so unique with bookie wagering at a track like this in Ireland and the UK is that as the wagers are made the odds can change. You can bet way ahead of time on fixed odds but as post time draws near and more wagers are made, the bookies change the odds to reflect the wagering. Sometimes they will shave a fraction of a point just to draw more attention. On Saturday in the second elimination heat of the Delaney Memorial, Carmel Camden had received so many wagers that most of the bookies stopped taking bets on her with two minutes to post. Dan Carlin called me out as “Steve the Yank” when I made my bets, never said how much someone wagered except after he counted the wagered cash and dropped into the cash holder he would say it in some sort of code to his teller to keep the record of it. The bookies would shout out new odds to encourage punters to wager a few more euros and it all added up to a lot of excitement. I figured just from watching a few races that the average bookie at the track, with 1,000 people at Portmarnock this Sunday, handled at least 40 or more wagers per race x 7 bookies x 10 races would be near 200,000 euros ($267,000) in total wagering going back and forth between winners and losers for the day. Dan Carlin would not say how things were going except that everyone was having a good time. Mother Nature cooperated as best it could and it seemed that when the rain clouds came over the skies would open up and it would pour for five minutes and then the sun would come back out and dry everything up. It was raining hard for a few minutes before the start of the feature race and then as if Vincent Delaney himself made it stop before the finish of his memorial race. After the racing was over the track pub was filled to the brim with race fans, owners, trainers, drivers and everyone’s children, all have a grand time. And the Guinness stout and Irish whiskey, mainly Jamieson’s as both are produced right in Dublin, were enjoyed quite a lot, even by this reporter, for the two nights in a row. Between the superb hospitality of everyone I met for my five day venture to Dublin and their deep rooted passion for the sport of harness racing, I can honestly encourage anyone and everyone to make their plans well in advance to come to Portmarnock Trotting Track next year for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series. The Delaney brothers, Derek and James, who were the best of hosts to the visiting guests, Roger Huston, Wally Hennessey, Anthony Butt, Heather Vitale, myself and my wife Stephanie, have already promised that the race weekend will be bigger and better with richer purses for next season and more special events. It’s the Irish version of the Little Brown Jug and they have already gotten a commitment from Roger Huston who said he will be back to call the races once again. It’s a weekend of “grass roots” fair racing that will keep you smiling and having a great time in a country that thrives on friendliness and first-class hospitality from the minute you arrive. Only there is no Little Brown Jug waiting at the finish line at Portmarnock, but there will be a glass of good strong Guinness stout! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Portmarnock, Ireland – For the second straight year, owner/driver Vicky Gill showed why she is the best female driver in all of Ireland as she again drove the winner of the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series Final for two-year-old pacers Sunday at Portmarnock Trotting Track. Last year it was Vickie and John Gill’s Camden Tino winning the final, this year belonged to their colt, Titanium, who on Saturday won his elimination heat in a track record 2:01.2, coming from off the pace and blowing away the field. Today it was complete form reversal as Vicky Gill was not going to race from behind on the track labeled good after some hard rain earlier in the afternoon. USA/Canada’s Wally Hennessey was first on the lead off the starting gate with Carmel Camden, who was one of two fillies in the final and had won her elimination heat the day before. But before the opening quarter mile was reached in :29.8, Vicky Gill had Titanium on the move and in command. Hennessey was content to sit the pocket trip with Carmel Camden. Once Titanium settled in on the lead, Gill backed down the pace and then they were challenged first-over by Coalford Tetrick and driver Stevie Lees to the half mile in a slow 1:03.1. Then Alexander Camden (Mick Lord) got into the battle as he come up on the outside as they reached the three-quarters in 1:34, but it was too little too late as Vicky Gill asked Titanium for more and the colt responded, pacing the last quarter mile in :27.7 and drew off from the field at the finish to win by four open lengths in 2:01.7. Alexander Camden was second with Coalford Tetrick third. “We had raced him once before on the front end,” said Vicky Gill after the race, “But he was not brilliant, he is young and still learning but I always knew once he settled on the front he would get us home and he did.  He has been remarkable since we first started training him. I can’t believe now that I’ve won this race two years in a row.” Sired by Hasty Hall from the mare, Another Mattie, Titanium is owned by Vicky Gill and was a 3,400 euro ($4,500US) yearling purchase. He has now won four of his five lifetime starts. The total purse for the race was 18,000 euros and the winner’s share of the purse was 12,000 euros ($16,000), making it the richest pacing series ever in all of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Titanium was selected at the yearling sales last year by John Gill, Vicky’s father, who trains the stable. Vicky owns Titanium. “I do everything my daughter tells me to do,” said John Gill smiling from ear to ear after the race. “That’s the secret. We have been fortunate to have some good stock. You are nothing unless you have good stock. I picked this colt out at the sales and I knew we had something special the very first time I jogged him. He just braved up and went about his business and I thought ‘could be, could be’ and here we are today. “When you can come home in :58 on a sloppy track, that’s pretty good.” John Gill said. “I’m very proud of Vicky. She drove him right and now she has won this great stake two years in a row.” The Vincent Delaney Memorial was created by Derek and James Delaney of Dublin as a tribute and in memory of their younger brother Vincent, who tragically passed away in 2011 at age 27. He was very active in the family breeding and racing operations at Oakwood Stud. In the 7,000 euro Paul Murtagh Derby for four-year-old pacers going 1.5 miles, a track record was set by Tarawood Messi and driver Noel Ryan as they traveled the course in 3:03.5. Ryan had set patiently as Stamphill (Rocker Laidler) set the early pace fractions and after they went the mile in 2:00.7, came first-over with Tarawood Messi and wore down the pacesetter, then held off a game No Regrets with driver Anthony Butt from New Zealand for the victory. Trained by W. Flanagan and owned by C. Bennett, Tarawood Messi is by Arts Conguest from the mare One Mile Meg. In the very next race, the 5,000 euro Oakwood Stud Derby for three-year-old pacers saw Rhyds Rainbow and driver Richard Haythornwaite set a course record for that age group going 1.5 miles with a 3:04.2 record. Sired by Hasty Hall, Rhyds Rainbow is from the mare Kentucky Sunshine. He is owned and trained by S. Howard. North American driver Wally Hennessey scored his second win on Irish soil in the Delaney Free For All Trot with Caminetto and nearly tied the track record for trotters. Starting from post two, Hennessey sent Caminetto right to the lead and never looked back. They cut fractions of :28.2 to the opening quarter, :58.6 to the half mile and started then to draw away from the field at the three-quarters in 1:28 before cruising home to win by more than eight lengths in 2:00.8. They missed the track mark by two fifths of a second. Owned and trained by John Foy, Caminetto is by Gidde Palema from the mare Shy Lady. “All I had to do was get him off the gate trotting and he really did the rest,” Hennessey said. “He just wanted to trot as fast as he could go and I really had to lean back on him to try and rate the mile. I am sure if I had let him have his head we would have broken the track record.” “This was one of the great weekends of my life,” said Derek Delaney, who promoted the special weekend of racing and arranged for world renowned and Hall of Fame drivers Wally Hennessey and Anthony Butt along with track announcer Roger Huston, to come to Ireland for the race. “Everything and everybody was so great. Words cannot express how wonderful and special this event is to my brother James and myself and our families.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Dublin, Ireland – You could call it the “Little Brown Jug” of Ireland and most everyone at the track would know what you were talking about. There were horsemen, women and children from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales and they all have great passion for harness racing. Portmarnock Trotting Track is just fifteen minutes from the center of Dublin. The passenger train runs past the backstretch every 20 minutes or so, day and night. We started off the afternoon with a meet and greet featuring Hall of Famers Wally Hennessey (USA/Canada), Roger Huston (USA) Anthony Butt (New Zealand) Heather Vitale and myself. The tented area immediately became packed with nearly 200 race fans both young and old in attendance. After the introductions were made Roger Huston took charge and told some great stories that got the crowd in motion and questions to the guest started to fly. People wanted to know why they still used the Australian jog-cart styled long shafted race bikes down under instead of the American version. Fans wanted to know what it was like for Wally Hennessey to drive Moni Maker all over the racing world and which Roger Huston’s favorite Little Brown Jug races was. Then there was a great live auction with the proceeds going to the Pieta House that is country-wide suicide prevention organization with 15 locations throughout Ireland. I was most proud that horsemen from the USA and Canada donated great items, driving colors autographed from Tim Tetrick, Corey Callahan, George Brennan, David Miller, Jody Jamieson and, of course, Wally Hennessey. Anthony Butt brought over a set of his colors and a special Inter dominion jacket were all bid for feverishly. Bobble heads too (Roger Huston, Jody Jamieson and Corey Callahan) and the Meadowlands sent over Hambletonian caps from last week’s race. The biggest item of all was a used UFO race bike used by Foiled Again from the Ron Burke Stable and that alone brought 3,000 euros ($4,000 US). The auction continues Sunday but I overheard that proceeds just for Saturday may have tipped the scales at over 6,000 euros and could surpass 10,000 after Sunday. Then the racing began and the crowds piled in more and more despite on and off rain showers throughout the day. Portmarnock is not that big a track. The infield is used during the day as a golf driving range so racing did not start until 5 pm. Up until 4 pm a tractor was in the centerfield scooping up golf balls. They race four on the gate and four trailers. Roger Huston called the races from the infield on the second floor of glass trailers. He was sitting on a swivel chair so he could swing around the see horses at the raced down the backstretch. But despite the rain the fans came out, maybe 1,000 strong for the races. And what I found to be the most interesting was the wagering on the races. There are no betting windows and pari-mutuel machines, no self-service bill accepting units. They have actual live bookies. Men taking bets, writing down first names and handing back a business card type voucher, shouting out the odds and parlays, checking their competition and if they were willing, raising their odds a fraction to entice others to come wager with them. A fistful of cash in hand to make quick change before the field lined up behind the starting gate. Some bookies had an LCD board and could change odds in a split second typing away on their keyboard. Others had dry erase boards that would smear in the rain so they had to wipe them with their sleeves in order to post the new odds. Some were dressed in nice suits with loud ties, one had a top hat. It just made the races more interesting than I had seen before. It was wagering at its grass roots. Legalized bookies encourage punters to come forward and try their luck. And everyone loved Roger Huston’s race calls. He had them cheering for the field at the half mile and the finish of each race. And the fans applauded the winners and losers after every event. And then once the races were over, the party did not stop. The bar at the track was packed from the start of the first race and was still going strong when I left to come back to the hotel at near midnight. Everyone was having a great time. I just hope some of them remembered to get a little rest because everyone was looking forward to the Sunday card and hoping for Mother Nature to provide them with a sunny, dry afternoon, especially for the final of the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Pace Final. We started out Day 2 in Dublin, Ireland sorta on the wrong foot, perhaps even the wrong side of the bed. As some of us (me) overslept because of our 36-hour first day, I missed the trip to the Guiness Factory, so Stephanie (my wife) and I talked with the lobby desk people and they turned us on to a pleasant surprise. The Village of Malahide. We took a taxi and within 20 minutes was at the entrance to the Malahide Castle and its lavish 1,000 acres grounds. We walked up what seemed to be a half mile tree-laden drive, stopped to watch youngsters playing cricket, just like kids in America playing organized baseball, on the beautifully manicured lawns of the palatial estate. Then we reached the castle and its stunning four-acre walled gardens, all first built in the 12th century. The Talbot Family owned and lived there for almost 800 years. The castle is full furnished and magnificent. We then took a quick walking tour into the Malahide Village with its picturesque streets decorated with flower displays, lovely store fronts and boat marina. Then back to the hotel and to get ready for the harness racing at Portmarnock. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Portmarnock, Ireland – Titanium and driver Vicky Gill rewrote the track record for two-year-old pacers at Portmarnock Trotting Track Saturday in winning their elimination division of the third annual Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series. The race surface, despite overcast skies and rain, was in perfect shape. Gill, along with her father, John Gill of Yorkshire, England, won the Delaney Memorial Final last year with their colt, Camden Tino, and at that time had set the track record with a 2:01.9 victory in the final and have now done it again. Camden Tino has first set the record in his elimination heat the prior day in 2:02.2. Depending on their post position draw on Sunday, Titanium could well be the betting favorite for the final tomorrow as he was very impressive in winning his elimination heat. The purse for the final on Sunday is 18,500 euros ($23,000US). It was Ballyhill Jimmy (Martin Loughran) who went to the early lead over Portmarnock’s half mile over with Lyons Premier (Andrew Cairns) who took the pocket-trip to the opening quarter mile in :29.2. Race favorite Alexander Camden (Mick Lord) was stuck first-over from the start. Past the half mile marker in 1:00.1, Ballyhill Jimmy led the way as Alexander Camden was having trouble being parked out and began to fade by the three-quarters. Then Lyons Premier and Cairns pulled from the pocket and came after Ballyhill Jimmy. Coalford Tetrick came three-wide for driver Stevie Lees and following their cover was Vicky Gill with Titanium. After the three-quarters in 1:30.1, It was Coalford Tetrick taking command and Alexander Camden found a second wind and was back in the hunt, but on the far outside it was Titanium and Vicky Gill flying on the outside to win it all by three and one-half lengths in 2:01.2. Coalford Tetrick was second with Alexander Camden third. Also making it to the final tomorrow were Lyons Premier (4th), Rhyds Gambler (5th) and Ballyhill Jimmy (6th). “I was following live cover and thinking that I actually had a pretty good chance,” said Vicky Gill after the race. “We were not very pleased after the draw and getting barrier seven, but we made the most of it. He raced so well. It would be great to be able to win this race again. It’s going to be tough.” Sired by Hasty Hall from the mare, Another Mattie, Titanium is owned by Vicky Gill and was a 3,400 euro yearling purchase. He has now won three of his four lifetime starts The second elimination heat was for fillies with five starters. Leaving from the rail was the race favorite, Camden Carmel and North America’s Wally Hennessey doing the driving. They cut the mile in the rain to a quick :29.5 opening quarter mile with Meadowbranch Millie (John Richardson) in the two-hole. Then Hennessey backed off the pace as Springhill Nancy came first-over and started to apply pressure as they went to a slow half in 1:03.4 and that convinced John Richardson who popped the pocket and took the lead away with Meadowbranch Millie. Meanwhile, Showtime Big Cigar (Anthony Butt) was second-over behind Springhill Nancy. At the three-quarters in 1:35.4, Hennessey then came back with Carmel Camden and cleared to the lead at the top of the stretch and then held the field at bay to win with ease by two lengths in 2:07. Regal Sensation (Johnathan Dunn) came on for second place to make the final on Sunday. For Wally Hennessey it was his first drive ever in Ireland and he started it off with a victory. “It was a little crazy at the beginning,” Hennessey explained. “We did not hear in the back paddock to come out for the race so we were late getting to the track, then we had a piece of equipment break so my filly never had a chance to warm-up properly. “The track surface was actually pretty good,” Hennessey said, “It has just started  raining hard as the race was ready to go. I figured to get out early and secure good position so when they came at me I was fine letting them go at the half and taking the two-hole spot. “Then we came back at them the filly on the rail gave us a fight,” Hennessey said. “But once we started down the stretch my filly was much the best. We’re going to give it a good shot tomorrow. It will really help that the two fillies in the final get to draw for the inside positions.” "What a great way to start off and in my first drive ever in Ireland," Hennessey said. "Not only my first win in my first drive but to do it with a horse owned by Derek and James made it all the better. They have been such great hosts here in Ireland." Owned by Derek and James Delaney of Oakwood Stud, whose brother Vincent that died in 2011 is whom the race is named in memory of, purchased Carmel Camden as a yearling for 12,000 euros. She is sired by No Pan Intended from the mare Pan Culottes, both of whom were Breeders Crown winners in the United States. Carmel Camden is undefeated in four starts. If Carmel Camden can win the final Sunday she would become the first filly to have won the Delaney Memorial. The fastest mile on the ten-race program Saturday was won by Merrington Motion and driver Rocker Laidler in 1:58.2. There was also a special 1.5 mile Trottrur Francais that was captured by Ritial Brio and driver Billy Roche in 2:10.6, the mile time in 2:07.9. New Zealand’s Anthony Butt, who competed in six races on the program was not able to win any heats but was a close second in the fourth race pace with Rhyds Premier. Camden Kofi and owner/trainer/driver Cathal Kerrigan was the winner in 2:01.9. By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com 

When we first arrived this morning in Dublin, Ireland, it was cloudy and overcast with a misty rain about, but customs was a breeze off we went to drop off our bags at the hotel. That would all change for the better! There would be no rest for the weary on this trip, it was a harness racing trip of a lifetime and we were already going in an extra distance race after an opening quarter mile of :26.1. We (Wally Hennessey, my wife, Stephanie Wolf, and myself) had just finished flying in from Toronto, Canada on the red-eye, leaving at 11 pm Thursday and getting into Dublin Friday morning at 10:30 am. We headed to the hotel and met the rest of the crew. Anthony Butt from New Zealand had arrived Wednesday and had a leg up on us already, Roger Huston and Heather Vitale came in at 8 am Friday, and we got to meet our host, Derek Delaney and his lovey wife Lilian and their cute daughter Lexie. Other special guests that would join us on the trip were David Wilson of Scotland, Bernie (Bernadette) Kelly and the superb equine artist/photographer, Nadina Ironia. Then it was off to Derek and James Delaney’s Oakwood Stud Farm and Training Center in Greenhill Rhode in County Offaly. A beautiful facility that can be best described by the photos in this story. Lunch was at a splendid Irish pub nearby called Killeen and then we were able to head back to the hotel and pass out for a few hours. We capped off the 36-hour day by being part of a special kick-off dinner for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Series weekend with a tribute dinner at the hotel with another 50 new friends. Words cannot describe the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and great time we had so please enjoy these photographs! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

On Wednesday night the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2014 and welcomed its newest members both horses and individuals. Albatross, Dreamfair Eternal and Rocknroll Hanover are the Standardbreds that made up part of the 2014 class. Joining these Standardbreds in the Hall Of Fame are the late Robert Murphy (breeder/owner); Dr. Ted Clarke, in the builder category; trainer/driver Wally Hennessey, and communicator Bill Galvin. Apelia, Cool Mood and Wando are the Thoroughbreds that make up part of the 2014 class. Trainer Horatio Luro, jockey Robert Landry and breeders William ‘Bill’ Graham and Arthur Stollery are also 2014 inductees on the Thoroughbred side. The Induction Ceremony was held at the Mississauga Convention Centre in Ontario. Male Horse Category: Rocknroll Hanover – bred by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc, Hanover, Pennsylvania. Owned by Jeffrey Snyder of New York, New York; Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, Cheltenham, Ontario; and Perretti Racing Stable, LLC, Cream Ridge, New Jersey. RocknRoll Hanover banked more than $3 million during his racing career, for owners Jeffrey Snyder of New York, New York; Lothlorien Equestrian Centre, Cheltenham, Ontario; and Perretti Racing Stable, LLC, Cream Ridge, New Jersey. Career highlights included victories in Canada’s most prestigious races for two and three-year-olds, the Metro Pace for two-year-old pacers and the North America Cup for three-year-olds He then embarked on a second career, becoming one of North America’s most prolific stallions before passing away in 2013. To date, the son of Western Ideal, out of Hall of Fame mare Rich N Elegant, has sired winners of $60.7-million, including eight million-dollar-plus winners. "My job was to bring the best out in my horses and he made it easy, said Sarah Lauren Scott, Rocknroll Hanover's caretaker. "He brought out the best in all of his connections. He was a once in a lifetime horse and his legacy will live on." Female Horse Category: Dreamfair Eternal – bred by Mary and John Lamers, and owned by John Lamers, Ingersoll, Ontario. Dreamfair Eternalretired from racing in 2012 after a seven-year career that included 56 victories, and every major stakes event on the older pacing mare schedule, earnings of over $2.5-million and Horse of the Year honours in Canada in 2010. During that year, she racked up wins in the final of the Masters Series, an elimination of the Roses are Red Stakes, elimination and final of the Milton Stakes, the elimination and final of the Forest City Pace and the Breeders Crown. The daughter of Camluck was bred by John and Mary Lamers and owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ontario. Patrick Fletcher trained her for most of her career. "This is certainly a great honour for myself and my family. 'Eternal' is a large part of our family," said owner John Lamers. "‎I want to thank Pat and Karan Fletcher for the amazing job they've done with Dreamfair Eternal over her racing career. ‎ "‎She's an outstanding race mare and she's equally as good a mother," noting that Lamers has a filly sired by fellow Hall Of Famer Somebeachsomewhere on the ground that might have a "bit better conformation" than her Mom. Lamers hoped that the filly has just as good of a career.‎‎ Veteran Horse Category: Albatross – bred by John E Wilcutts, Aberdeen, North Carolina; Charles A Kenney, Lexington, Kentucky; Elizabeth B Peters, Wilmington Delaware; and Mark Lydon, Abington, Massachusetts. Owned by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc, Hanover, Pennsylvania; George Segal, Versailles, Kentucky; Castleton Farm, Lexington, Kentucky; Hal S Jones, Montgomery, New York. A champion on the track and in the breeding shed,  Albatross was a major influence on the Standardbred breed. He won 59 of 71 starts, including the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes in 1971, and earned in excess of $1.2 million. Two of his major stakes wins in Canada included the Prix d’Ete and Canadian Pacing Derby. He retired as both the fastest and richest horse in the history of the breed. As a sire, Albatross's thousands of sons and daughters have won more than $100 million, including Niatross, who is considered by many to be the greatest pacer of the 20th Century, and Fan Hanover, who is the only filly to ever win the Little Brown Jug. "This is a very distinct honour for me," said Hanover Shoe Farms' Murray Brown, who was around Albatross his entire life‎. Brown considers Albatross "probably the greatest two-year-old of any breed that's ever lived," recalling how he'd have to race against aged horses in his freshman year. "It's unheard of for a two-year-old to race against aged horses. He did it with regularity."‎ Noting that Albatross was the first sire of any breed to sire progeny with more than $100 million in earnings, Brown called Albatross "the perfect horse" and stated that "his name is a fixture in the breed and will continue to be. ‎" Wally Hennessey, 58, born in Prince Edward Island and now a resident of Coconut Grove, Florida, has more than 8,500 victories to his credit and has banked earnings in excess of $57 million. During the early stages of his career, Hennessey re-wrote the record books, setting new standards in both wins and earnings. In the late 1990s, he enjoyed success with the trotter Moni Maker, a winner of $5.5 million and numerous stakes including the Nat Ray in three different years, the Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown. Throughout his career, Hennessey has been remarkably consistent, winning at least 200 races in each of the last 25 years, and driving horses to earnings in excess of $1 million for 24 straight years. In the summer of 2007, Hennessey was inducted into the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. "To be inducted takes hard work and dedication from many," said Hennessey. "I was blessed to grow up with four great brothers and sisters. They were very supportive and competitive and loving. We were all on each other's team. "Not to point out one person, but my brother Dan has been with me my whole career. Without Dan I definitely would not be standing here. I had a father I was so proud of. I never wanted to let him down. He was so talented. I learned my early lessons from my father. My greatest influence could not be here. My mom, I wish she was here, but she could not travel to be here. Without her love and what she taught me, I would not be here. To my wife Barb and daughter Christie -- you're my greatest supporters and Barb you hung in with me and that was hard to do. And my daughter is my inspiration." "It's been a journey one could only dream about and I'm so glad dreams do come true." Dr. Ted Clarke is recognized by his peers as a visionary in the horse racing industry. Clarke’s strong and steady leadership has helped guide Grand River Raceway to be a leader in innovation and growth. Prior to Grand River’s opening, Dr. Clarke led numerous initiatives to put Elmira Raceway on the path to stability, including the inauguration of Industry Day, the Battle of Waterloo and the establishment of the Ontario Teletheatre Network. He was honoured for his innovative thinking and leadership with the Lloyd Chisholm Achievement Award in 1999 from the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association. "‎The fact of the matter is, with the industry being in the state it's in, it's important to remember the things that got us to where we are," said Clarke, imploring the industry to pull from the same end of the rope going forward.  The late Robert Murphy, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, was one of Canada’s most respected horse breeders and owners, and was known by his popular ‘Red Star’ moniker. First introduced to racing at Cloverdale Raceway in 1980, he rapidly became one of Canada’s most prolific owners. He averaged 935 starts as an owner each year between 2005 and 2009. In 2007, at the age of 74, Murphy owned more Standardbreds than anyone else in Canada. Murphy had a great impact on harness racing in BC with both his breeding and training centres, but that impact extended across the continent as his horses raced all over North America. William ‘Bill’ Galvin, a native of Arnprior, Ontario and now a resident of Mississauga, Ontario, made a tremendous impact on horse racing in the country as a Canadian horse racing historian, poet, author, publisher, educator, horseman, humanitarian, publicist and former Thoroughbred racing official. Galvin’s promotions transcended racing. He led a charge to bring harness racing on ice to the Rideau Canal and expose the sport to thousands of potential fans. He started the Race for MS fundraiser to gain exposure for the sport, and ran numerous other high profile campaigns dedicated to the well-being of horse racing during his career. He was also the executive editor of Trot Magazine and a member of the Advisory board for the School of Equine Studies at Toronto's Humber College of Applied Arts. "What a special and memorable occasion this is tonight," said Galvin. "I congratulate you all and thank each and every one responsible for this tremendous honour. "This evening is especially memorable with the presence of Dr. John Findlay, who presented to me. I received my an introduction to horse racing in the standardbred sport as a very young lad in Arnprior, Ontario. Those early days at Madawaska Farms with Dr. John Findlay would define and shape my career.  "Tonight, my life comes full circle from those unforgettable country fairs in the Ottawa Valley, to the glory day of Canadian harness racing in the 1980s, to the pinnacle of my career tonight at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, with the man who introduced me to the sport‎ - Dr. John Findlay." By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com with files from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame  

A total of 15 two-year-old colt and filly pacers have entered the 3rd annual Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial this weekend at Portmarnock Trotting Track in Dublin, Ireland. There will be three five horse field elimination divisions on Saturday, August 9 with the top two official finishers and the fastest two third place finishers to return the very next day, Sunday, August 10, for the finale. Each preliminary round will race for a purse of 750 euros ($1,000 US) and the final will go for a record 18,500 euros ($25,000 US), making it the richest stakes race ever in the history of harness racing in both Ireland and Great Britain and the richest pacing event ever in all of Europe. One of the three divisions will be for fillies and the fillies that advance to the final will then draw for the inside post positions. The draw for post positions will not take place until Saturday afternoon before the start of the race card at Portmarnock, that way all owners, trainers and drivers will be on hand for the draws. The same will take place on Sunday. Currently the 6/4 favourite and leading contender is Alexander Camden, who was the highest priced yearling ever sold in Ireland and the United Kingdom last season, fetching £38,000 sterling ($53,000 US) at the York Standardbred Sale last year. His is sired by Cambest out of Lola making him a full brother to two sub 1:49 pacers Canyon Wind and Paragon. In his short career on the track, Alexander Camden seems to be living up to his purchase price as the good looking youngster is being trained by English maestro Mick Lord for Scottish owner Davy Morton. In his four races so far, the colt has two wins and two seconds with his fastest victory in 2:02.3 at York Raceway, the UKs premier half mile track. However, the fastest of the freshman pacers so far this season is a filly, Carmel Camden, who is owned and trained by Dubliners Derek and James Delaney, who originally developed and sponsored the race back in 2012 in memory of their younger brother Vincent, who tragically past away in 2011 at age 27. Since the inception of the event, the brothers have dearly sought to have a runner in the line-up and last October they acquired Carmel Camden, a £12,000 sterling ($17,000US) daughter of No Pan Intended out of Pan Cullottes, who were both US Breeders Crown winners respectively back in 2003. Carmel Camden is the second choice in the early wagering at odds of 7/4. She has made three starts so far and remains undefeated. Her fastest win was 2:01.7 over Portmarnock’s half mile oval, just a few ticks shy of tying the track record for two-year-old fillies. Another top prospect is Titanium, who was a bargain £3,400 sterling ($5,000 US) yearling purchase and is by super sire Hasty Hall, who has dominated the ranks of the juvenile classic winners in the UK in recent years. Owned and driven by leading lady driver Vicky Gill of Yorkshire and trained by Vicky’s Dad, John Gill, of the Emerald Stables, Titanium has won two of his three starts so far and has a personal best time of 2.02.2. Vicky and dad John won this race just last year with Camden Tino, so the combination know just what it takes to win the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial. Titanium is listed at odds of 7-1. Other contenders include Lyons Premier at 5-1, another son of Hasty Hall, who has two impressive starts so far, a strong win at York Raceway in 2:03.3 for Welsh owner/breeder Geoff Mound. Mound races pacers all over Canada and the USA under the Lyons prefix. Just last week Lyons Premier won a colts division Breeders Crown in the UK by six open lengths in 2:07.2 in defeating It’s My Check with Titanium third over a heavy wet track.; Mikey Camden at 12-1, is by Cambest, who is a £27,000 sterling ($38,000US) yearling purchase, has one win after three starts in 2:03.1 and locally owned Meadowbranch Ideal, an imported son of Western Ideal who has been impressive in three qualifiers so far, but as yet to win at the Dublin venue. He is 7-1. Listed below are the 15 horses entered in the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial Pacing Series for two-year-olds. Morning line odds for the punters are listed next to the name of each horse. 6/4 Alexander Camden 7/4 Carmel Camden (f) 5 Lyons Premier 6 Coalford Tetrick 7 Titanium 7 Its My Check 7 Meadowbranch Ideal 12 Mikey Camden 12 Watch Your Back (f) 16 Rhyds Gambler 16 Ballyhill Jimmy 25 Showtime Big Cigar 25 Meadowbranch Millie (f) 33 Regal Sensation (f) 40 Springhill Nancy (f) (f) denotes a filly Handicapper Thomas Bennett has put the race in summary. “Based on all known form this looks like a straightforward match between Carmel Camden and Alexander Camden,” Bennett said, “with the latter just getting the nod. Top trainer Mick Lord has gradually built up momentum with the colt and is improving rapidly whilst a filly has never won this event going against the chances of Carmel Camden. Titanium could upstage the pair of them and Lyons Premier, Coalford Tetrick and Its My Check boast solid credentials and are more than capable of causing a shock.” In addition to the Delaney Memorial with it eliminations on Saturday and final on Sunday, there are other top race events over the weekend. “We had more than 150 horses entered for this weekend,” said Derek Delaney, “That is a great number for any weekend meet. Looks like everyone wants to be part of the racing action at Portmarnock.” The supporting card over the weekend will feature the Oakwood Stud Three-Year-Old Derby; the Paul Murtagh Senior Memorial 4YO Championship and the Elvin/Delaney FFA Trot. On Saturday starting at 3:00 pm guests at the track are invited to a meet and greet with the three Hall of Famers who have come to Ireland for the event. They are world-class drivers Wally Hennessey from the USA/Canada, New Zealand’s Anthony Butt and calling the major races both days is world-renowned track announcer, Roger Huston. At 3:30 pm will be the drawing of post positions for Saturday’s race card followed by the special charity auction with proceeds going to the Peita House of Ireland, which is a center for the prevention of self-harm or suicide. The top item in the auction is a UFO racing sulky from world famous trainer Ron Burke. This bike was used on many of the Burke Stables top horses, including world champion Foiled Again. There will also be six sets of driver’s autographed colours from some of the top horsemen in harness racing. The racing will get underway Saturday starting at 5:00 pm. In addition, there will be 18 services to stallion at stud here in Ireland and some in the UK. All the donation from these proceeds will be presented to the representatives from the Pieta House during Sunday’s race program. Ladbroke’s, the premier sponsor of the Vincent Delaney Memorial,  is also giving out a 5 euro match play wager to everyone that comes out to track on Sunday. Entertainment for the children each day will include a Playbus, face-painting, balloonist, candy cart, a colouring competition and a free goody bag for all the children. Sunday’s first race post time is 2:00 pm and there will be a competition for the Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Gentleman and the Best Dressed Couple with some wonderful prizes including a Designer Dress Hire, Hotel Break, Pampering Vouchers and much more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com  

TV host for PA Harness Week and her own show, Post Time, Heather Vitale is joining the group of hall of fame drivers, announcer and journalist who are all heading over to Ireland this weekend for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial series at Portmarnock Trotting Track outside of Dublin. Vitale, a third generation horsewoman, first read about the race back in June. “I read about the Vincent Delaney Memorial for the first time on Harnesslink,” Heather said. “It was back in June when they announced that Roger Huston was going over to call the races. “Then, it seemed like every time I turned around there was something else written about this big race weekend,” Heather said, “So I got very curious. “I’m the kind of girl who hates to miss a race that has this much excitement surrounding it.” Heather added, “I live for events where people like Derek and James Delaney have a passion for the sport and they are remembering their brother Vincent in this spectacular way.” Heather said that she has traveled to Europe before but never to Ireland. “I’ve been to England a couple of times,” Heather said, “And to several other countries in Europe, but I’ve never been to Ireland. I am beyond excited about going.” And don’t be fooled by Heather Vitale’s last name! “My late grandfather was a top horse trainer named Elmer Looney,” Heather explained, “I was told as a child that our family on my mother’s side was originally named O’Looney but they dropped the “O” when they came to America from Ireland. “So I’ve already started looking up the name O’Looney in Dublin,’ Heather said, you never know, maybe I’ll run into someone with that last name. Plus, my first name is Heather and that is the native wildflower in Ireland. “I'm Irish and Italian, Heather said, “And I've been to Italy twice so I've seen the country where my dad's family came from. Now I get to travel to the country of my mom's ancestors. “ Heather will arrive in Dublin Friday morning off the red-eye along with Hall of Famers Roger Huston, USA/Canada’s Wally Hennessey, New Zealand’s star Anthony Butt and Harnesslink’s reporter Steve Wolf. There is a full agenda for the working guests with a trip to the breeding farms Friday afternoon and a gala dinner that night. Then a meet and greet at the Portmarnock track early afternoon Saturday followed by the special auction items finale and then the early evening race card that will feature the elimination divisions for the Ladbroke’s Vincent Delaney Memorial. The series is for two-year-olds with elimination races Saturday and the finale on Sunday afternoon plus both days will feature other special trotting and pacing events. Heather Vitale is on a whirlwind tour for harness racing as last month she did the CBS SportsNet Meadowlands Pace broadcast and next month will do the CBS SportsNet live broadcast of the Little Brown Jug from Delaware, Ohio. “On Tuesday morning I fly out of Dublin non-stop to Philadelphia,” Heather said, “Then I go directly to Harrah’s Philadelphia and shoot this week’s edition of PA Harness Week with my co-host Steve Ross. I know that sounds nuts but the flight is only seven hours and non-stop so I’ll sleep on the plane and there’s a Starbuck’s in the Philly airport that I am familiar with! “I am going to shoot lot of video for myself and my show Post Time (which airs in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia on the local CBS affiliates), “Heather explained, “I love doing features on what harness racing is like in different parts of the world. So many people are familiar with racing Down Under, in North America, and even over in Sweden and France, but what about Ireland and England? I don’t know that much about harness racing in Ireland so this is going to be a great education for me and for my TV viewers.” It will also be a special time for Heather as she will be interviewed herself on Irish TV. “It is so great that Heather Vitale is joining the list of special guests coming to Ireland for my brother’s race,” Said Derek Delaney. “When the arrangements were finalized for Heather coming over, one of the Irish TV stations that will be covering the races asked if they could do an interview with her about all she does in covering harness racing in the USA. I think that is more than fitting and will make for a great interview.” “I never get tired of telling people how fantastic our sport is,” Heather said. “Whether it’s on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, meeting race fans at the Hambletonian or doing an interview in Ireland, I’m ready to talk with everyone about harness racing!” Heather’s mother, Joanne Looney-King and her sister Susan Looney were harness racing driving stars during their careers in racing. Mom still owns and trains while her sister Susan is an attorney. Both held long time records at the Meadowlands and Heather had her trainer’s license before switching full time to journalism. So whether it’s being interviewed, doing interviews, learning about Irish harness racing or maybe even finding her “roots” or perhaps even a long lost “O’Looney” family member, Heather Vitale is set for a big weekend in Ireland. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Feature story appeared Sunday in Dublin's Independent Newspaper

Traverse Seelster made his second ever trip to Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Friday night and the talented trotter moved his record to two-for-two in the local Open. The Amber Buter-trained six year old had to contend with post eight for his second try in the Saratoga Open. Leading driver Billy Dobson marched Traverse Seelster (Angus Hall) out early and got away fourth in the $17,000 Open Trot. The 6-5 favorite then moved first over at the half mile pole and battled rival Count Speed (Wally Hennessey) for almost an entire lap before putting him away around the final turn and drawing off to an Open length in 1:55.2. It was the ninth victory of the year for Traverse Seelster who is owned by Keith Pippi of Pittsburgh, PA. Just Make Believe (Stephane Bouchard) was the runner up in the Open for the third consecutive week while Slugfest (Jay Randall) came on to finish third. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with first post time set for 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

Iced Out made her return to the $6,500 conditional pacing level on Thursday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway and she made her way back to the winner's circle. The Laura Mangiardi-trained mare rattled off three consecutive wins in the class in June but could muster up only a couple of third place finishes while up in class lately. Driver Chris Long moved Iced Out (Western Ideal) to the lead but it took getting parked in a first quarter in 28.2 to get to the front. Once she got to the lead, the four year old mare would not look back and recorded a victory in 1:57.2, her sixth of the season. Hathaway Anne (Stephane Bouchard) shook loose late and finished second while Shakin In My Shoes (Bruce Aldrich Jr) settled for third. Live racing continues on Friday night when the track features Wally Hennessey Night, an evening dedicated to the Hall of Fame driver. First post time on Friday is 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

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