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Among the busy hallways of Woodbine Racetrack, filled with people going this way and that, there is a room, steep in history; and in this room some of the greatest moments in Canadian horse racing are kept. On the walls are plaques of heroes of our sport both past and present; from the great Secretariat to the great Keith Waples.  It’s a place where Thoroughbreds, Standardbred, drivers, jockeys, and people who devoted their lives to this sport come together to celebrate their accomplishments. Each year some of racing’s best and most honorable join this elite club. This is the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame! As you walk through you can feel the energy, you can hear the horse’s hooves thundering home, the crack of a driver’s whip as he hits the shaft of his bike trying to urge his horse to go. Or the muffled voice of a commentator, maybe even the clicking of keys on the typewriter or now a days a computer laptop. Or you can imagine the screams of fans because of builders who built our sport from the ground up, turning hopes into dreams; and nothing into something. You feel as though you have been brought back in time and are walking through history. Seeing milestones crossed, champions beaten and records broke. Last year I had the honor of attending the Canadian Hall of Fame induction dinner. This dinner is where the year’s inductees and inductees of the past come together to congratulate each other on their success, honor and accomplishments, and it gives them a chance to connect and share stories and their memories with one another.  I had the honor of being there when my dear friend Carl Jamieson was inducted in the Standardbred Trainer/Driver category. While I was there I met many people; but I had the pleasure of meeting two people in particular that I never thought I’d meet. They were; Chris Tweedy, the son of the lady who changed the sport forever- Penny Tweedy, with the idea to syndicate her horse Secretariat, who today is still one of the greatest horses our sport has ever seen. The other person I met was someone who I never thought I would meet in my entire life; he was none other than the one and only Ron Turcotte. We talked for several minutes. We talked about Secretariat, his success as a jockey, me and my adventures in horse racing, and my hopes and dreams. I told him about Pinky and shared our story. Sitting and talking with him was a true honor. He is so inspirational, the passion he has for the sport whether its Standardbred or Thoroughbred is extremely memorable; and I felt so privileged to have been able to meet such a person. The class of 2014 is an incredible group of inductees. Their impact on the sport will forever be imbedded in our history, now and long after they’re gone, their memory will continue to live on. With great pleasure and honor I now introduce to you the 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductees;    In Thoroughbred racing: Apelia – Female Thoroughbred Inductee A filly owned and bred by Steve Stavro, of Knob Hill Farm was the filly trained by the Hall of Fame trainer Phil England.  She always impressed her connections; in her 24 career starts she hit the board  a total of 18 times, with 12 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds and a bankroll of $621,708 CND. The filly was unraced at the age of two, however she was undeniably one of Canada’s dominate female sprinter, a recognition and name she earned by taking on some of the world’s best fellow sprinters, against both colts and fillies. Because of her impressive record she has a stakes race named in her honor. This race is run annually at Woodbine Racetrack, which is fascinating because Apelia won her maiden start at Greenwood in 1993 by seven lengths. Also joining Apelia in the Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014 is Wando: Wando- Thoroughbred Inductee A multiple stakes winner throughout his career, Wando won Canada’s Triple Crown in 2003 at the age of two, all of which he did with in open length fashion. He was only the seventh one to win Canadian Triple Crown since 1959. Wando was retired at age four due to a slight tear in the suspensory ligament of his hind left leg. He retired with a lifetime earnings of $2,566,060 CND, and a successful racing career that saw 23 starts and included 11 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds.   He passed away on January 22, 2014 at the age of 14. Along with the boys there is also a filly going in: Cool Mood- Female Thoroughbred Inductee Cool Mood won the 1969 Canadian Oaks. She only had 8 wins in 41 starts but that didn’t matter because her success as broodmare was *quite * the record, and here is a sampling her foals success; With Approval captured the 1989 Canadian Triple Crown and Izvestia took the 1990 Canadian Triple Crown, along with Touch Gold who won the 1997 Belmont Stakes. Her daughters also made good broodmares too! Five of her nine daughters also produced twelve stakes winners. The final the Thoroughbred being inducted is a legend of the sport of the sport, meet Archworth: Archworth- Legend Horse In 1938 Archworth was considered Canada’s top two year as he had wins in a variety of stakes races   In 1939 Archworth won the Queen’s Plate but, he along with connections he also had a brush with royalty. As it was the first time in Queen’s Plate history that a ruling monarch had been present.   On this day Archworch also galloped to a 10 length victory.   Archworth was retired at the age of five, and stood stud a William H. Wright’s farm in Barrie Ontario. The same place as where he was foaled in 1937.  At the end of his career he had 47 starts, and hit board in 31 of those, including 15 wins and finished second or third in 16 other races, with career earnings of $31,234. There is also a remarkable group of Standardbred horses going into the Hall of Fame this year: Albatross- Male Horse Inductee: At two the colt had 14 wins in 17 starts, and impressive earnings of $183,540 and a mark of 157.4.   In the early beginning of his three season he was syndicated for 1.25 million which in 1971 was a record for a horse at that time. Then Stanley Dancer took over, Albatross won 25 out 28 starts, making $558,009. His success continued into his four year old season where he collected 20 wins in 26 starts and made earnings of $459,921. In 1972 he was retired and re-syndicated for 2.5million.  He held records of both fastest horse, with a mark of 1:53.4 and the richest in history for his breed. He stood at Hanover Shoe Farms and sired more than 2,640 foals. Fan Hanover was one of them; who even today is the only filly to win the coveted Little Brown Jug. Albatross died at Hanover Shoe at in 1998, the age of 30, due to complications from heart failure and colic. During his lifetime he was also named U.S Horse of the Year in 1971 and 1972, and was buried in the cemetery at Hanover Shoe Farms. This year at the induction dinner I had the pleasure of talking to Murray Brown who worked at Hanover Shoe Farms, and got to work with Albatross on a daily basis, here is what he had to say about Albatross: “He was perfect horse! He was kind gentle and had no bad manners; he was just an absolute great horse,” Mr. Brown said, “He was handsome and great gaited. He could have the post 8 on a half mile [track] and still win! I was lucky to have been able to meet such a great horse! He continues. “When Stanley Dancer approached Hanover Shoe Farms about buying Albatross and the legal ownership (of even a percentage) Stanley Dancer said ‘all that mattered was the size of his testicles.” Murray Brown recalled with a chuckle. Some racehorses hit the track and you know that they are going to be remembered forever, and that’s exactly what our next inductee did: Rocknroll Hanover- 2014 inductee Rocknroll Hanover is the only horse in history to win the Metro Pace, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown. In 26 career starts Rocknroll Hanover had 15 wins, 5 seconds and 5 thirds.  At age 11 his stud career was cut short when he had to say goodbye in March of 2013 to the sport loved, and a sport that loved him back after he suffered complications from gastric impaction.  He will always be remembered as the horse who always wanted more. His memory and legacy will always live on through his successful children and grandchildren. Our next inductee is one that I remember watching race, her grace and elegance was eye catching and her name is...          Dreamfair Eternal-Female Standardbred Inductee Dreamfair Eternal, The filly by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer father Camluck out of J Cs Nathalie who is a United States Harness racing Hall of Fame inductee and now she herself has continues that legacy.     On the track Dreamfair Eternal was quite the champion, she had multiple stakes wins to her name including, the Breeders Crown for older pacing mare in 2010, and wins in the Roses are Red in both 2009 and 2011; as well as a number of other stakes races in 2010 and 2011, and the Artiscape in 2011 and 2012. Along the way she also set four records along the way including a world record on a half mile track; which she took at Flamboro Downs which was 1:51.4. Her career best was 1:49 at Tioga Downs it came on her eighth and final year on the track. Her career also saw 140 trips behind the gate, 56 of those resulting in trips to the Winner’s Circle, 18 seconds, and 13 thirds.   But as a youngster she was quite the handful. She made dirty breaks, and top drivers didn’t really want to steer her.  But that didn’t deter her owner and breeder. He knew that she was special. But at the age of four John Lamers made the tough decision to put her in a mixed sale with a reserved bid of $85,000, when that price was not met he brought his mare back home and that resulted in the Dreamfair Eternal we know today. The wonderful horses that we have already mentioned would not have gotten where they are today if it wasn’t for the humans that trained, drove or rode them. So meet the 2014 Hall of Fame trainer, driver and jockey inductees: Horatio Luro- Thoroughbred Trainer Horatio Luro, moved to the United States in 1937 from Argentina, with him he brought four race thoroughbred horses which he later grew into a stable. He was a good horsemen, he was fair with his exercise riders, jockeys and other people he worked with, and always took their opinions into consideration when training his horses. Luro was a three time Queen’s Plate winner; he was also the first to ship a horse from United States to Canada to compete in the Long Branch Championship; which today is known as the Canadian Championship. That is when his connection for Canadian racing began.  He trained the great Northern Dancer. Luro also trained both of Northern Dancer’s parents, and this colt took him on the trip of a lifetime, when he won the Kentucky Derby in record time, followed by a win in the Preakness and finishing third in the Belmont. Horatio Luro died in 1991 but among the many things he will be remembered for, he will always be remembered as a trainer that believed in his horses and a true gentlemen. Robert Landry-2014 Jockey Robert Landry was one of Canada’s top riders he had career that spanned 30 years. He captured his first lifetime win at the age of 19 aboard Hammy Hubert at Fort Erie Racetrack on June 21st 1981. That would be the first of many trips to Winner’s Circle for Landry, the first of 2,045 trips to the Winner’s Circle to be exact With 167 of those wins being stakes races; he first stakes win came in 1982 when he rode La Salle Park in the Fair Play Stakes.  His career exploded in 1992 when he won 102 races; this would also be the first of seven years that he would win 100 or more races. His best years were in 1993 where he won 176 races; and 1994 where he won 178 races. And because of those two very impressive years he was also a Sovereign Awards in both years.    It wasn’t easy getting those mounts; it took lot patience, dedication, and determination, but Landry had plenty of all three and he was strong-willed and wanted to succeed.  Along the way he suffered from serious injuries including breaking his back on two separate occasions. He made the decision to retire in 2011. His last stakes win which would also be his last career came on August 8th, 2014 aboard Rahys Attorney in the Approval stakes. Even though he might have retired from riding, he is still doing what loves, and that is working with horses as Chiefswood Stables General Manager. I had a chance to sit down with Robert Landry and reflect on his career with him; here is what he had to say: “Being inducted was the ultimate! I have been lucky enough to do what I love to do. I have had the opportunity to ride so many great horses and win so many great races.” Then I asked him, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” He smiled, thought about and then said “My greatest accomplishment would have to be being so fortunate and always trying my best and being able to promote the sport as much I as I been able to. Wally Hennessy- Trainer/ Driver Wally Hennessy was born and raised on Prince Edward Island and saw most of his success come in the United States. His career is quite impressive; he has 8,500 wins and has $58,000 000 (million) in purse earnings. Each year for the past 25 he has won more than 200 races and banked more 1, 000,000 in purses; he has had the opportunity to drive in major races all across the globe. In 2005 he drove Driven To Win in the 46th edition of the coveted Gold Cup and Saucer. I have actually had the opportunity to meet Wally Hennessey in person. It was at Legend’s Day at Clinton Raceway in 2011. On that afternoon I talked to him and he signed my keepsake poster along with the other legends who had signed it. My parents and I were watching the races, and after the featured ‘Legend’s Day Invitational Trot’ they called all of the drivers for a group photo, and Hennessy was walking back from doing an interview when he heard the announcement. He stopped in front of us on the opposite side of the fence. He said hello and we exchanged pleasantries; then he placed his helmet and gloves on the ground and asked if we could watch his belongings while he went for the picture. I agreed delightedly (after all it was Wally Hennessy) so when he returned to collect his possessions we continued chatting and then he took his gloves out of his helmet and passed them to me. “Here you go.” I was in a state of pure amazement as he passed me his royal blue driving gloves. “Thank you” is all I could say. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. He winked and said “you’re welcome.” And I knew my mom had a sharpie marker in our bag we had brought, and so before he walked away. I said “Mr. Hennessy before you go can you please sign these before you go? As I had handed him back the gloves he had just given me. He nodded and smiled and he pasted the gloves back to me, and then he was off. I wore the gloves for the rest of the day and I wore them with such pride. When I slipped them on, they felt like they were magical, they gave my hands this tingly sensation, this aura of honor, the things their previous owner had accomplished were only dreams of mine.  When I got home I put them in my mom’s china cabinet so they wouldn’t get damaged or lost. I sat down with Wally Hennessy at the induction ceremony and chatted with him and reminisce about his career and here is what we talked about: “Mr. Hennessy is there one horse that you have driven that you will always remember that special horse to you?” He smiled and said “as a matter of fact there is.” The horse that I will always remember would have to be Moni Maker. It defined my career as a driver, and she sent me on a ride of a lifetime! You just can’t compare something like her to anything else. “ “What does being inducted to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame mean to you?” “Being inducted to the Hall of Fame means everything to me. It is overwhelming and very humbling. I didn’t get to where I was by myself, I am very grateful for the support my family has given me. I am very fortunate for the longevity and consistency of my career and I am very lucky that I have not had setbacks in the sport that have hindered me from doing what I love - driving” Our sport wouldn’t be without the fans and enthusiasts, and if it wasn’t for our builders we would not have a facility to race at or a place where fans can come to watch the races. And without our communicators those fans would never have known about the sport of horse racing so without a further ado I would like to introduce you to the 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame builders and communicators: Dr. Ted Clark- Standardbred Builder: A veterinarian by profession Dr. Clark is now the General Manager of the racetrack he helped to build. He gave up his practice in 2002 in order to devote his life to the sport of standardbred.  He has a deep passion for what he does. He’s dedicated and wants his costumers and horsemen to both be happy while at Grand River Raceway. During the construction process he taught himself how to read blueprints so he would know what the contractors were talking about. One night at Grand River I had the humbling opportunity to sit one on one with Dr. Clark and I asked him about his induction, here is what he had to say: “Being inducted is a surprise, and it’s not just me that made things possible for me do the things I am being recognized for milestones many people made possible. I have fortunate to have able to apart of many great times in racing, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been apart and I appreciate all of them because they have helped me get to where I am today.” Grand River is a family affair for Dr. Clark and his daughter Carrie who also works there as the equipment judge and I asked her about what her dad’s induction meant to her and her family, here is what she had to say: “It was a once in a lifetime thing, and it was so great to see him be recognized for all the things he has done and continues to do he helped both our track and our industry rebuild and find a way to survive: to reinvent the Industry. So by definition and practice, he has been, and continues to be a builder. Builders are survivors. he just keeps going. It means so much that his work has not gone unnoticed. As a family, we are very proud of him.” Without Dr. Clark racing for me personally because during the summer I race my horse Sydney “Pinky” Seelster at Grand River Raceway, it is such a nice place to race. It is perfectly set up for both the patrons and horsemen.  Robert Murphy- Standardbred Builder            An O’Brien Award nominee in 2006 for Canada’s Breeder of the Year, built and owned a Serta mattress manufacturing plant along with a couple other businesses and manufacturing plants. Over more than 30 years Robert Murphy owned more 400 horses, either in part with other owners or by himself and together they made other $100 million. In 2007 Robert Murphy owned more Standardbred horses than anyone in Canada. He said goodbye to the sport he helped build and strengthen in February 2010 when he died at the age of 77. William “Bill” D. Graham- Thoroughbred Builder William “Bill” Graham is the owner of Windhaven Farms in Caledon Ontario. He also helped to build Woodbine Racetrack’s E.P Taylor Turf Course. The horses he bred, were bred to be champions. The fillies that were bred at Windhaven were no less than impressive. In last 40 years there has rarely been a race for fillies or mares that hasn’t been won by a Windhaven bred.  They also have multiple Sovereign Award winning fillies to their credit. Graham himself is a Sovereign Award winner. In 2012 he was a Sovereign Award as a Canadian Outstanding Breeder.  He is also a member of the Brampton (Ontario, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame, Vice- President of (H.B.P.A), director of (C.T.H.S), a steward of the Jockey Club of Canada, a commissioner of the Ontario Racing Commission (O.R.C), a member of Woodbine Racetrack’s Board of Directors and now a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Arthur (Art) W. Stollery - Thoroughbred Builder Arthur W. Stollery served in World War II as a flying officer; after returning home ran Angus Glen Farm.  He took developed broodmares from Canada, the United States, and South America and bred them to top Canadian stallions. His successful ran for more than two decades. It included many multiple stakes winners, and a few were even award winners. He died in 1994 at the age of 80. E. King Dodds - Standardbred Legend and Communicator Edmund King Dodds, who went by E., founded the Canadian Sportsman, a magazine that covered everything sports (including horse racing) and later the publication switched its focus to strictly horse racing. The Canadian Sportsmen was published for 143 years, and recently stopped publication, so his induction came at the perfect time.     He lost his sight completely and still managed to write for his publication for 5 years and was fully able to publish a book on horse racing. His book included his experiences that he witnessed through the years and even included stories as early as the 1840’s and at the time it was published it was welcomed and praised as “one of the first and best serious attempts to record sports history.”     Our next and final inductee is a gentleman I had the pleasure of keeping in contact with since his induction. We have met at the races a few times and shared a countless amount of stories. It is with true pleasure and honor I introduce to my good friend Bill Galvin; William (Bill) Galvin - Standardbred Communicator Bill Galvin has seen and done pretty much everything thing there is to see in harness racing. He is a lifelong enthusiast of the sport and has devoted his life. He always had a love for horses. He groomed horses as a teenager, then he went to University of Detroit for English, and there he began tell people about harness racing.   He brought the sport of Racing Under Saddle (R.U.S) to Canada, and applied to have it has a wagering event and was turned down back in the 80’s. He organized a day of ice racing on the Rideau* Connell in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada); an event where Standardbred horses raced over the frozen Connell. On this day 4,000 spectators gathered to witness this event, including the Prime Minister of Canada; on this momentous occasion a very large storm came about as Galvin recalled. The list accomplishments and things this remarkable gentleman has done are endless. He has worked with the Horseman’s Chaplaincy at Woodbine for many years, and was recently appointed to the Standardbred Chaplaincy Board of Directors; and now he can add a 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee When I asked him what his greatest accomplishment was he paused and thought about it for a moment and said; “My greatest accomplishment would have to be the fundraiser I started for the Race Against M.S. I have been so fortunate to do what I love”, he added with a smile.” Here you have it, your 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductees! If you want to learn more about them or more about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame or want to learn about this year’s inductees, or inductees of the past; please visit: http://www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com/ Thank you to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for giving me this opportunity, thank you for letting me use your resources. Thank you to all the people who have helped me make this story possible, from my fellow writers who gave me expert advice when I needed it, to the inductees who took the time to sit down and answer my questions, to my editor for all of his patience, I really appreciate it.   And to Linda Rainy and Andrea Magee, and everyone else at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame thank you for letting me be a part of your special event, and creating so many memories that I will never forget!  Sydney Weaver is 14 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

Panocchio continued his dominant stretch in the Open Pace on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The Jimmy Mattison-trained four year old is enjoying a breakout harness racing campaign and won for the twelfth time of the year in Saturday's $17,000 feature.  Driver Gerry Mattison dropped Panocchio (No Pan Intended) into the pocket behind the race's favorite Mystician (Wally Hennessey) who was making his local debut. Panocchio closed up the passing lane before winning a photo with JK Panache (Billy Dobson) in a mile paced in 1:51.4. It was the seventh Open win this year for Panocchio boosting his seasonal earnings to over the $100,000 mark. JK Panache was the runner up for the second straight week in the feature while longshot BJ's Guy (Bruce Aldrich Jr) closed for third. It may be the final time we see Panocchio compete at Saratoga for the year as he will be headed back down to Pompano Park in the near future. The pacing star is co-owned by his trainer Jimmy Mattison and Emile Johnson Jr. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga beginning at 12:15pm. Mike Sardella  

Bondi Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere) prevailed in Thursday's $7,000 featured race at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Wally Hennessey piloted the three year old pacer for trainer Margaret Spagnola and moved the race's favorite to the early lead. One week removed from a second place finish as the public's odds-on choice in the wagering, Bondi Hanover would not be denied on Thursday night. It was the fifth victory on the season for the three year old pacer who has now earned better than $78,000 in sixteen 2014 starts. Live racing continues on Friday night at Saratoga with a first post set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella    

Bet On Roulette (Bettor's Delight) had been the runner up in the Open Pace for four consecutive weeks at Saratoga Casino and Raceway coming in to his try in the $17,000 feature on Saturday night. The Paul Kelley-trained pacer was the race's favorite this week as he once again moved out to the early lead and had to endure some fast early fractions over the sloppy track. Hall of Famer (and birthday boy) Wally Hennessey asked Bet On Roulette for all he had heading to three quarters as he was confronted by Vernon Downs invader JK Panache (Billy Dobson). Those pacers went back and forth in the final quarter of a mile and were joined by Ronny Bugatti (Austin Siegelman) and three time defending Open winner Panocchio in the stretch in what wound up being a blanket finish. Bet On Roulette had enough to hold off his rivals in the final strides en route to a 1:53.3 score while JK Panache came up second best and Ronny Bugatti had to settle for third. The defending Aged Pacer of the Year at the Spa, Bet On Roulette won the Open for the fourth time in the 2014 campaign. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

The four-year-old pacer Dobson (Christian Cullen) scored the biggest win of his young career on Thursday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Kevin Verdon owns and trains Dobson who was moving up in class to compete in the featured Winners of 2 but not more than 4 pace on Thursday. Drawing the rail in the $7,490 pace, Dobson moved aggressively to the early lead with driver Jay Randall in the sulky. Dismissed at odds of 10-1, Dobson was up to the task scoring a career best victory in 1:54.3 surviving a photo with the race's favorite Bondi Hanover (Wally Hennessey). The win for Dobson was his fourth in eleven starts this season. Bondi Hanover came up second best while Rock N Joe (Billy Dobson) finished third. Live racing continues on Friday night with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

When a trotter is in his or her peak form, getting parked out the mile does not make a difference and that was the case for Zooming at Saratoga Raceway Sunday. As Baby Boy Grin and driver Stephane Bouchard went out to the early lead in the seventh race $17,000 Open Handicap Trot, they comfortably set fractions of :27.3 and :58 with Flex The Muscle (Phil Fluet) sitting the two-hole trip. But before the half mile marker, driver Billy Dobson had race favorite Zooming in high gear and on the move. By the half mile he was second, but Bouchard was not going to let Zooming pass them by and parked them out to the three-quarters in 1:26.2 (a :28.2 quarter) but it was a valiant effort that could not be kept up. Zooming was much the best, took the lead at the three-quarters on the outside, led by one and one-half lengths by the top of the stretch and then held the field at bay as Dobson drove Zooming to a one and three-quarter length triumph in 1:56. Baby Boy Grin held for second place with Pop I (Harry Landy) third. Trained by Amber Buter, Zooming paid $3.80 to win for owners Steve Oldford, Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter. A six-year-old gelding by Classic Photo, it was his 8th win this year and his 31st career win. There was an upset victory in the eighth race $17,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace as Happily Ever After, at odds of 12-1, was given a picture perfect drive by Frank Coppola, Jr. behind pacesetter Godiva Seelster (Wally Hennessey) and won in 1:53.4. Little Santamonica (Shawn Gray) was third. Happily Ever After paid $26.20 to win for trainer Jackie Rousse and the Kellogg Racing Stables, LLC of NY. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Panocchio (No Pan Intended) continued his recent dominance of the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night. After scoring victories in the previous two Opens, Panocchio was assigned the outside post in Saturday's $17,000 feature and was dismissed at odds of 6-1. Getting away last, Panocchio sat patiently before following the cover of the race's favorite Ronny Bugatti (Austin Siegelman) as he came after pacesetting Bet On Roulette (Wally Hennessey). In a third quarter contested in 27.2, Bet On Roulette and Ronny Bugatti battled stride for stride while Panocchio waited to make his move, doing so in the final eighth of a mile before getting up to win in 1:51.3. It was the Third Straight victory in the Open for Panocchio and sixth win amongst the track's top pacers this season for the Jimmy Mattison-trained four year old. Panocchio, who was piloted by his regular driver Gerry Mattison, returned $14.80 to win. Bet On Roulette was the Open's runner up for the fourth straight week while Ronny Bugatti earned the show spot. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee beginning at 12:15pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Hallin Cash (Cash Hall) scored a wire to wire win in the $8,000 trotting feature on Friday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The six-year-old trotter prevailed last Friday night behind a first over journey and despite stepping up in class was the race's 8-5 favorite while looking to repeat in the conditional trotting race. The Frank Fiero-trained trotter moved right out to the early lead for reinsman Frank Coppola Jr.and never faced an anxious moment before wiring the field in 1:58.1 on a chilly but pleasant night in Saratoga. Mr Jesse (Brian Cross) followed the winner every step of the way before finishing second while Goldstar Classic (Wally Hennessey) earned the show spot in a race that wasn't very kind to the closers. For Hallin Cash it was the fourth win of the season. Live racing continues on Saturday night at the Spa with a first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

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

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