TORONTO, January 23 - The first two stake finals of 2015 took place Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack and it was the Sylvain Filion show. The veteran harness racing reinsman could be poised for another big year, as he took home both the $45,000 Snowshoe Series and $40,000 Blizzard Series finales. The Snowshoe Series final appeared to be wide-open on paper, as seven different horses won divisions during the first two legs. Kindofabigdeal and Filion came into Friday's final as the most consistent horse in the ten-horse field and left with another big effort. The Richard Moreau trainee got the cue to leave hard from Filion and sprinted out to the quick lead, but was quickly challenged for the front by A Boy Named Suuzz. Filion allowed the outside challenger to clear and got a perfect two-hole trip for Kindofabigdeal. Kindofabigdeal sat patiently in the pocket until Filion made his move at the top of the lane. In the stretch, Kindofabigdeal overtook the lead by the eighth-pole and paced away to win in 1:53.3. Bad Bug came on late to make it close and finish second by half a length, while A Boy Named Suuzz held on to hit the board in third. A four-year-old son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal has been on a roll over the last few months at Woodbine, but has recently been unable to come through in series finals. The Moreau trainee won a leg of the Autumn Series, but finished second in the November final. Last month, Kindofabigdeal won the opening two legs of the Valedictory, but finished third as the favourite in the Boxing Day finale. The series final victory Friday gives the pacer seven career wins from 13 starts and pushes his bankroll over $88,000 for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. Kindofabigdeal paid $5.70. Kindofabigdeal In the Blizzard Series final, heavy favourite Artistic Fusion completed the series sweep with a 1:54.4 victory. Trained by Joe Agostino, Artistic Fusion and Filion got away in fourth and came first up down the backstretch to challenge the leader A Fearless Affair. Those two mares would battle side-by-side past the three-quarter pole in 1:25.2, but Artistic Fusion was too much to handle for A Fearless Affair in the lane. Artistic Fusion wasted no time leaving her rivals behind and cruised home to win by 2 ¾ lengths. Badlands Love got up for second, while A Fearless Affair dug in to finish third. A four-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion has been firing on all cylinders over the last few months in series action. The Agostino trainee won the Autumn Series final in November, finished second in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day and has now swept the Blizzard Series. Artistic Fusion surpassed the $100,000 mark in career earnings with her eighth career win Friday night for owner Mike Foote. She returned $2.60 to win. Artistic Fusion Mark McKelvie
Toronto, ON --- The stage is set for the first two stakes finals of 2015 this Friday (Jan. 23) at Woodbine Racetrack. The $45,000 Snowshoe Series and the $40,000 Blizzard Series finals have been carded as races six and nine on Friday’s 11-race harness racing card. The Snowshoe for 3- and 4-year-old pacers featured seven divisions over the opening two legs and saw seven different winners prevail. All seven winners will return to make up a wide-open ten-horse series finale. Four of the seven winners, Ramblingamblinman (post one, Rick Zeron), Kindofabigdeal (post four, Sylvain Filion), A Boy Named Suuzzz (post five, Jonathan Drury) and P L Heavenly (post 10, Anthony MacDonald), also had a second place finish in a separate leg. The other three division winners were Vegas Rich (post two, Paul MacDonell), Decisive Destiny (post three, Trevor Henry) and Whistle Jimmy K (post eight, Doug McNair). The Richard Moreau trainee Kindofabigdeal has been a top performer on the stakes series scene over the last few months. The 4-year-old son of No Pan Intended won a leg and finished second in the final of the Ontario Sired Autumn Series. The gelding followed that up by capturing the first two legs of the Valedictory, but finished third in the final on Boxing Day. The connections of Kindofabigdeal will hope the third time is the charm to capture a series title, but they will have their hands full with a stack of challengers, including the speedy Ramblingamblinman. Trained by Rick Zeron, Ramblingamblinman joined the Zeron barn in late November and turned in an eye-catching career best performance of 1:51.4 in a non-winners of two event on Dec. 15. The 4-year-old son of Lis Mara finished second in the opening Snowshoe leg and followed that up with a 5-1/4 length victory in round two. The second leg victory was the largest margin of victory in the first two rounds of the series. The Snowshoe Series was first staged in 1978 and has been a launching pad for successful older horses, including Modern Legend, last year’s Canadian Pacing Derby champion, who won the series back in 2012. Unlike the Snowshoe, the Blizzard Series for 3- and 4-year-old pacing fillies and mares has been dominated by one horse. Artistic Fusion (post five, Sylvain Filion) has stamped herself as the horse to beat in the ten-horse final, after winning in both of the first two legs, including a more than seven length victory in round one. The Joe Agostino trainee won the Ontario Sired Autumn Series final on Nov. 28 and finished second to Witch Dali in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day. A 4-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion won five of 19 starts last year and will look to improve to three for three in 2015 by sweeping the Blizzard Series for owner Mike Foote. Mappos Moenhay (post three, Mike Saftic), A Fearless Affair (post eight, Simon Allard) and Deuces For Charity (post nine, Paul MacDonell) were all division winners that also finished second in another leg and will be looking to block the broom of Artistic Fusion. The Blizzard Series was first raced in 1980 and has been won by several mares that went on to be Open class competitors, including Art's Secret (1998) and Numeric Hanover (2003). In order to be eligible to both the Snowshoe and Blizzard Series, the 3- and 4-year-olds had to be non-winners of two races or C$30,000 lifetime as of Oct. 31, 2014. Post time for Friday night’s card is 7:25 p.m. Here are the complete fields for Friday’s stakes finals. Race 6: Snowshoe Series Final–Purse: C$45,000 Post-Horse-Driver 1. Ramblingamblinman–Rick Zeron 2. Vegas Rich–Paul MacDonell 3. Decisive Destiny–Trevor Henry 4. Kindofabigdeal–Sylvain Filion 5. A Boy Named Suuzz–Jonathan Drury 6. Bad Bug–James MacDonald 7. American Island–Trevor Henry 8. Whistle Jimmy K–Doug McNair 9. Ys Lotus–Simon Allard 10. P L Heavenly–Anthony MacDonald AE: Newbie–Randy Waples Race 9: Blizzard Series Final–Purse: C$40,000 Post-Horse-Driver 1. P L Hurricane–Chris Christoforou 2. Onyourmarknatava–Rick Zeron 3. Mappos Moenhay–Mike Saftic 4. Badlands Love–Sylvain Filion 5. Artistic Fusion–Sylvain Filion 6. Doc's Hollywood–Phil Hudon 7. Bettim Jenny–Roger Mayotte 8. A Fearless Affair–Simon Allard 9. Deuces For Charity–Paul MacDonell 10. All The Ladies–James MacDonald Woodbine Entertainment Group
Returning to the WEG circuit after racing at Yonkers and The Meadowlands for the majority of the past season, Frankies Dragon prevailed off a pocket trip as the 3-2 favourite in this week's $34,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday night. Riding a three-race win streak, Camaes Fellow (Jonathan Drury) was caught wide leaving from outside his seven rivals, but forged on to take the lead into the first turn with the former Beat The Heat Pacing Series champion Frankies Dragon settling into the pocket from post six for driver Doug McNair. The first quarter was a quick :26.3 during which Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) found himself parked out from the seven-hole. Forced to drive on, Nickle Bag worked up alongside the leader by the :55.3 half-mile mark. To view the rest of this story click here. Seven straight for Pureform Olympia The double-gaited Pureform Olympia continued her trotting win streak on Saturday at Flamboro Downs, wiring her competition in the evening's third race by five lengths. Owned by Shelley Nyuli of Abbotsford, B.C., the pacing mare Pureform Olympia took a liking to the diagonal gait late last year and was shipped to Ontario to compete against other trotters. She has since won seven races in a row at Flamboro Downs. In Saturday's $7,600 event for non-winners of $20,000 (fillies & mares $25,000), the quick-leaving Pureform Olympia (Billy Davis Jr.) left from post seven and led the field through fractions of :29.3, 1:00.1 and 1:29.4 en route to the victory in 2:00 flat over the "good" track rated two seconds off. The 6-5 favourite paid $4.60 to win. Whitebetwntheeyes (Bob McClure) was second-best and I Am Special (J.R. Plante) finished back in third despite making a break in the stretch. To view the rest of this story click here. Last four races at Northlands cancelled Northlands Park has been forced to cancel its final four races on Saturday afternoon due to issues with the starting gate. Races six through nine were cancelled as a result of transmission trouble with the starting gate. To view results from the first five races, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park.
TORONTO, January 15 - Favourites struggled early, but Artistic Fusion turned the tide and made another bold statement in the Blizzard Series Thursday night at Woodbine. Just like round one, three $16,000 divisions of the three-week series for three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares were contested. In the first division, Bettim Jenny got up at 22-1 to pull off the upset in 1:56.3. Driven by Roger Mayotte, Bettim Jenny got away fifth and would pace along in that position for the majority of the mile. Mappos Moenhay, a leg one division winner, left hard to get the lead, but would duel with Tango Bayama to the half-mile before finally clearing to the front. Bettim Jenny got into the outer flow just after the midway point and was situated second over behind the favourite Wildcat Magic around the final turn. In the stretch, Wildcat Magic took the lead at the top of the lane, but Mappos Moenhay battled back on the inside. However, Bettim Jenny would surge by the top two in the final eighth of the mile to score the upset win by three-quarters of a length. Mappos Moenhay took the place spot, while Wildcat Magic had to settle for third. Bettim Jenny is trained by Jeffrey Lilley, who shares ownership with Rodney McGrath, and was coming off a fifth place finish in last week's opening leg. The four-year-old daughter of Largo won four of 24 starts last season, racing primarily in the Maritimes. Thursday night's victory is her fifth career win and pushes her bankroll over $32,000. The clocking of 1:56.3 is also a new career speed badge for Bettim Jenny. She paid $46.10 to win. Deuces For Charity was all heart to win the second division in 1:55.3. Driven by Paul Macdonell, Deuces For Charity flashed good early speed to grab the front and posted an opening quarter of :28. MacDonell decided to drive on in the second quarter and did not allow Sweet Princess, who was at the leaders saddle pad, to clear to the front and posted a half of :56.2. After putting away Sweet Princess, Deuces For Charity hung up a three-quarter time of 1:25.1 to bring the field into the lane. In the stretch, P L Hurricane, was first over around the final turn, paced up along side Deuces For Charity and took a neck advantage at the eighth-pole. However, Deuces For Charity dug in along the rail and fought back to retake the lead and defeat P L Hurricane by half a length. Onyourmarknatava, the slight 8/5 favourite over P L Hurricane, got up for third. Deuces For Charity is owned and trained by Kelly Goodwin and was coming off a second place finish in a division of the opening leg. The four-year-old daughter of Armbro Deuce won three of 15 starts last year and is now one for two in 2015. The leg two victory gives Deuces For Charity four career wins and more than $30,000 in career earnings. The mile of 1:55.3 lowered her career mark by close to two seconds. She returned $14.90 to win. In the final division, Artistic Fusion went off at 2/5 and turned in another easy-looking victory to set herself up for a chance at a Blizzard Series sweep. Artistic Fusion came in Thursday's second leg off a close to eight length victory in the first round a week prior. However, another first leg winner, A Fearless Affair, took a bit of support away from the heavy favourite, but ultimately was no match. Artistic Fusion and driver Sylvain Filion got away in fourth, but quickly surged to the front in the second-quarter and never looked back. After posting fractions of :57.4 and 1:26.3, Artistic Fusion accelerated away from rivals Badlands Love, who was first up, and A Fearless Affair, who got a two-hole trip, to win by 2¾ lengths in 1:55.2. A Fearless Affair ended up finishing second, while Badlands Love took the show spot. A four-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino for owner Mike Foote and is now two for two this year after winning five of 19 starts last season. Artistic Fusion now has eight career victories and earnings of over $86,000. The final of the Blizzard Series will take place next Friday (January 23) along with the final of the Snowshoe Series. Round two of the Snowshoe Series is set for Friday night with three divisions on the card. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment
TORONTO, January 15, 2015 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced that President and CEO, Nick Eaves, will be leaving the company on March 31, 2015. Eaves took on the role of CEO in 2010, with a mandate to establish a new and stable foundation for WEG, its role in the horse racing industry, and its future. With this now in place, this is the right time for the Company to transition to new, long-term leadership. Eaves has worked at WEG for over 20 years, as President since 2006, and CEO since 2010. In that time, he has led the organization through significant change and helped create opportunities for continued development and future growth. This is due, in large part, to the five year Horse Racing Partnership Plan with the Province, under which WEG now leads the Standardbred Alliance and operates all off-track operations across the Province for the benefit of the industry. Additionally, WEG and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) have made significant progress in negotiating a new, long-term partnership, which truly integrates horse racing and gaming at WEG facilities. "As I look back on the last 20 years, I am very proud to have been part of a team that was able to accomplish so many great things for WEG and in our industry," said Eaves. "Looking forward, I have confidence that the organization is pointed in the right direction and know the current leadership team will continue to grow and improve on the model we have developed. I want to thank all of my WEG colleagues for their hard work and collaboration over the years." Following the end of Eaves' term at the end of March 2015, WEG Chairman, Jim Lawson, will lead the company on an interim basis. The Board will consider all options as it determines the best candidate to permanently fill the position. "Nick has been with WEG for over two decades and in that time has been a big part of its evolution and success," said Jim Lawson. "The Board and I want to thank Nick for his dedication, passion, and commitment, and wish him all the best as he embarks on the next stage of his life and career." Lawson continued, "As we look forward, now that we have stability we must work to achieve long-term sustainability for WEG and the horse racing and breeding industry and we will continue to put all of our resources towards that end." by John Siscos, for Woodbine Entertainment
Pulling off a 20-1 upset, Winzel prevailed by a nose over Thundering Ovation in the $11,000 Preferred 2 Handicap Trot on Wednesday evening's harness racing card at The Raceway at the Western Fair District. Driven by Nick Steward, the 10-year-old Royal Strength gelding earned his 40th career win in 2:01.3 while the pacesetting mare had to settle for second-place honours after winning her last two starts at the Preferred 3 level. Thundering Ovation led the field of eight through fractions of :29.2, 1:01 and 1:30.4 over an off track beforeWinzel rallied off the cover of Tornado Tim and got up in the final stride to steal the glory. House Of Cash finished nearly four lengths behind in third. To view the rest of this story click here. Woodbine Super Jackpot at $104,000 With frigid temperatures now the norm, it’s only fitting that Woodbine Racetrack’s Jackpot Hi 5 carryover has ‘snowballed’ to a six-digit figure going into Thursday evening’s card of racing. The precise carryover number is $104,179.14 after multiple winning combinations shared in a portion of the pool during Monday’s 10-race program. Monday’s final race went to the odds-on favourite, #6 Evasive Card Shark, with #2 Shippen Out (50-1), #3 OK Gladiator (8-1), #5 Whos In The Mist (7-1) and #8 Mister Accumulator (12-1) rounding out the top-five finishers. That combination kicked back a return of $4,236.70 for a $1-based wager. For a free, printable program page for Thursday's card of racing, courtesy of TrackIT, click here.
Camaes Fellow was a repeat winner in the $34,000 Preferred Pace at Woodbine Racetrack, going wire-to-wire in the Saturday night feature once again. Driver Jonathan Drury sent the odds-on favourite to the lead from post six and cruised through fractions of :27.2, :57 and 1:25 en route to the three-length victory in 1:53 flat. Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) used his patented late-closing tactics to rally home from third over for the runner-up honours. Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte) was flushed first up from third approaching the final turn and finished third. Camaes Fellow has now won three races in a row and a total of 28 lifetime with earnings climbing to more than $920,000. Trainer Carmen Auciello shares ownership of the seven-year-old Mach Three gelding with Stephen Klunowski of North York, Ont. after claiming him last October for $50,000. He's since earned over $95,000 for his current connections. To view the rest of this story click here. Six for Robert Shepherd at Flamboro Flamboro Downs' defending driving champion Robert Shepherd gave his early season win count a boost, earning victories in half a dozen races during the Saturday night harness racing card. Shepherd began by winning the first four races with maiden-breaker Waiting On No One ($3.60) for trainer Mitch Tierney, the streaking pacer-turned-trotter Pureform Olympia ($3) for Gord Remmen, a 15-3/4 length winner Tomei Seelster ($2.40) for James Stewart and Michael Ellis' 11-year-old mare Premier Elecktrah ($13.50). To view the rest of this story click here. Mach It Big remains perfect in Maritimes Mach It Big has been perfect since his return to racing this winter and on Saturday afternoon he extended his win streak off a pocket trip in the $2,200 Preferred Pace at Charlottetown Driving Park. After working his way into the pocket spot from post six and tracking Forever Paradise through fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:27.3, favourite Mach It Big ($2.90) overtook the pacesetter in the stretch and opened up three lengths before hitting the wire in 1:58 flat over the track listed as "good" with a two second allowance. Machinthesand came from last to show. Mach It Big earned his third straight victory since returning from a layoff in late December and fifth in a row in the Maritimes going back to last May. Marc Campbell drove the seven-year-old son of Mach Three, who is now a 29-time winner, for owner Mikaela Lustic while Jonah Moase handles the training duties. To view the rest of this story click here.
TORONTO, January 9 - Round one of the Snowshoe Series continued winter series action Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Four $16,000 divisions of the series for three and four-year-old pacers that were non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014 were contested Friday evening. In the first division, Vegas Rich went gate to wire to pick up the victory as the second choice on the board. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Vegas Rich cut the mile and set fractions of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:27, before pacing home in :28.3 to score a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:55.3. P L Heavenly, the heavy 3/5 favourite, was first up around the final turn, but had to settle for second. Dragon Seelster finished third. A four-year-old son of Million Dollar Cam, Vegas Rich is trained by David Gibson, who shares ownership with David Goodrow Stable and Glenn Traver, and is now one for one this year. Vegas Rich now has three career victories and pushes his bankroll to over $40,000 with the victory Friday night. He returned $6.40 to win. Kindofabigdeal did not disappoint as the 1/5 favourite and won the second division in 1:56. Also driven by Filion, Kindofabigdeal picked up second over cover around the final turn and capitalized off that trip to pace by his rivals and score a three-quarters of a length victory over Ramblingamblinman. Newbie finished in the show spot. A four-year-old son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal is trained by Richard Moreau for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc and is now one for one in 2015. Last season, Kindofabigdeal won five of 10 starts and banked more than $53,000. Friday night's victory pushes his career earnings over the $60,000 mark. Kindofabigdeal paid $2.70 to win. Another favourite delivered a victory in the third division, as Whistle Jimmy K picked up his fourth win in his last five starts. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Whistle Jimmy K got a two-hole trip and followed closely behind American Island until just before the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, American Island tried to hold off Whistle Jimmy K, but the favourite eventually pushed his way by in the final eighth to prevail over American Island by a length and a half in 1:55.4. Mittcent Van Gogh finished third. A four-year-old son of Mach Three, Whistle Jimmy K is trained by Ben Wallace and had won his final three starts of 2014 before finishing second last week in his 2015 debut. Whistle Jimmy K now has four career victories and earnings of over $26,000 for owners Brad Grant and Wallacestandardbreds Inc. A $2 win ticket returned $3.70. In the final division, Decisive Destiny and Trevor Henry scored an impressive victory in 1:55.2. A four-year-old son of American Ideal, Decisive Destiny got away sixth and was able to get in the outer flow on the way to the half. Around the final turn, Decisive Destiny was third-over and just a little more than three lengths off the lead. In the stretch, Henry showed Decisive Destiny a clear path and he paced right by his rivals to record a 3 Â½ length victory. A Boy Named Suuzz finished second, while Bad Bug got up for third. Decisive Destiny is trained by Shawn Robinson for Robert Hamather and was making his second start of 2015. Last year, the son of American Ideal won three of 20 starts for earnings of just under $40,000. Friday night's victory was his fourth career triumph and pushes his career bankroll over $47,000. Decisive Destiny paid $8.70 to win. The second leg of the Snowshoe Series will take place next Friday (January 16). Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications
TORONTO, January 9 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced the date for the 2015 Pepsi North America Cup and the rest of its $18 million-plus Standardbred stakes schedule. The 32nd edition of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for the finest three-year-old pacers in North America will take place on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk. The eliminations for Canada's richest harness race will be contested a week prior on June 13. The Pepsi North America Cup, WEG's signature stakes event, was first staged in 1984 and throughout its more than 30-year history has been captured by the likes of Precious Bunny, Gallo Blue Chip, Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere. The race will once again feature a stellar undercard of several top stakes events. The $455,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $330,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older pacing mares, the $270,000 Goodtimes Stakes for three-year-old colt and gelding trotters, the $265,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older trotting mares and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup for older pacers round out an impressive stakes card on Pepsi North America Cup night. Returning by popular demand, WEG will once again be offering purse money to all finishers in the Pepsi North America Cup and other major stakes finals. The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50% of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1% of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50%-24%-16%-10% respectively, of the remaining purse. The 2015 stakes calendar is also highlighted by the return of the Breeders Crown to Woodbine. The 12 championship events for each division in harness racing will take place on Saturday, October 24 and will be returning to the Toronto oval for the first time since 2012. Breeders Crown night will be the richest card of harness racing contested anywhere in 2015 with close to $6 million in purse money on the line. WEG has hosted 155 Breeders Crown races since the championships were established in 1984, more than any other host. Mohawk will once again be the battle ground for several of harness racing's most notable Grand Circuit events. The annual Labour Day weekend extravaganza featuring the $665,000 Metro Pace for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings and the $635,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for older pacers and will take place on Saturday, September 5. The 'Pacing Derby' and Metro Card will also feature the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies. The Labour Day weekend card will offer purses of over $2 million. The $685,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-old trotters will take its usual spot in mid-September on Saturday, September 19. Over the last several years, the Maple Leaf Trot had been staged in July, but will now be paired with the 'Trotting Classic' in September for an 'All-Star' trotting card. The 63rd edition of the race carries a purse of $600,000. The Canadian Trotting Classic and Maple Leaf Trot card will also feature the $390,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings and the $385,000 Peaceful Way Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies. Once again in 2015, WEG will continue to handle administrative duties for all Standardbred Alliance track stakes events. Payments to all WEG and Alliance stakes are payable and should be mailed to the Woodbine Entertainment Group or can be made online at www.woodbineentertainment.com/sbpayments The full 2015 Standardbred stakes events booklet is available at http://bit.ly/1zZNTSt by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications
TORONTO, January 8 - It may have been a very frosty evening, but that didn't get in the way of some impressive fillies and mares in round one of the Blizzard Series Thursday night at Woodbine. A total of 24 three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares were split into three $16,000 divisions in the first leg of the three-week series for non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. The windchill throughout Thursday night's card made the conditions feel below -20 Celsius, while the Ontario Racing Commission judges allowed a two-second variant. In the opening division, Artistic Fusion lived up to her 1/9 billing, cruising to a 1:56.1 victory. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Artistic Fusion sprinted out quickly to grab the early lead, but would have to take back to second in the first turn, as a pesky Spiritina drove on to overtake the lead through an opening quarter of :27.2. However, Filion wasted no time removing Artistic Fusion and quickly took back the front with the four-year-old mare. After posting fractions of :58 and 1:27, Artistic Fusion put her rivals in the rearview mirror and opening up a massive advantage in the stretch and jogged to a 7 Â¾ lengths victory in 1:56.1. Deuces For Charity, who was first up in the third-quarter, finished second, while Docs Hollywood finished third. Artistic Fusion is trained by Joe Agostino and has been on a roll over the last few months. The daughter of Artistic Fella won the Autumn Series final back on November 28 and finished second in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day. She is now one for one to start 2015 after scoring five victories from 19 starts last year for owner Mike Foote. Artistic Fusion's career earnings now exceed $78,000. She paid $2.30 to win. The second division was a battle from start to finish between the two favourites with A Fearless Affair coming out on top. Badlands Love and Sylvain Filion, the slight even-money favourite, grabbed the early lead, while A Fearless Affair and Simon Allard, the second choice at 6/5, got in the two-hole right behind the leader. Badlands Love set fractions of :27.3, :57.2 and 1:27, but as she reached the three-quarter pole Allard popped the pocket with A Fearless Affair to take their best shot at the leader. In the stretch, A Fearless Affair took a slight advantage early in the lane, but put Badlands Love to bed in the final-eighth of the mile to score a 3 Â¼ lengths victory in 1:55.4. Badlands Love held on for second, while Onyourmarknatava got up to take the show spot. A Fearless Affair is trained by Shawn Robinson for owner Robert Hamather and is coming off a three for 15 season last year. The four-year-old daughter of Western Ideal is now one for one this year and now has four career victories and earnings of over $50,000. She returned $4.50 to win. In the third and final division, Mappos Moenhay went to the front and never looked back winning in 1:57.3. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Mappos Moenhay cleared to the front as the field hit the opening quarter in :28.3. The four-year-old daughter of Real Desire would go on to hang up fractions of :59.2 and 1:28.3, before pacing a final-quarter of :29 to hold off her rivals. All The Ladies turned in a strong final-quarter to finish second over P L Hurricane in third. Mappos Moenhay is trained by Jean Guy Belliveau for owners Carol and Hailee Campbell and is coming off a six victory season last year from 26 starts. The leg one victory is her eighth career victory and pushes her bankroll to over $42,000. The clocking of 1:57.3 equaled her lifetime mark. Mappos Moenhay returned $5.10 to win. Winter series action continues Friday night at Woodbine with the first leg of the Snowshoe Series for three and four-year-old pacers. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications
TORONTO, January 8 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced that wagering on Woodbine's 2014 Standardbred racing season was up sharply over 2013. Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks hosted a total of 208 race dates in 2014, registering an all-sources betting total of $309,767,299, a 6.05 percent increase over the 2013 figure of $292,088,583 from 195 cards. The per-race handle showed a 3.56 per cent rise in 2014. An average wagering mark of $132,266 from 2,342 races was recorded last year, while $127,716 was bet per dash from 2,287 races contested during 2013. "We had a strong 2014," said Jamie Martin, WEG's Executive Vice-President of Racing. "Our customers saw tremendous value in the product offered at both Woodbine and Mohawk and responded in their wagering and overall interest in the WEG Standardbred racing program." Total purses paid over the entire 2014 year totalled $56,927,842, an increase of 7.4% over the $53,005,732 figure paid over the full 2013 calendar. The daily purses paid in 2014 was $273,691. The largest handle figure in the 51-year history of Mohawk Racetrack, $5,006,896, was recorded on August 30, the night of the Canadian Pacing Derby/Metro Pace. The total was the third highest in the history of the WEG Standardbred racing circuit. The Pepsi North America Cup, won by JK Endofanera, featured the highest handle, $3,437,037, for a 'Cup' card since the race moved to Mohawk in 2007. The Jackpot Hi-5 wager was in the spotlight during the 2014 season. On Saturday, May 17 at Woodbine, over $1.3 million was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool that featured a carryover of more than $656,000, bringing the total pool to over $2 million. That figure would be topped on August 30 at Mohawk, when more than $2 million was wagered into the pool that had a carryover of $647,000. "We've seen an enthusiastic response to our Jackpot Hi-5 bet," Martin said. "Both core and casual racing fans are willing to handicap one race in their own manner for the chance at lucrative payout. It's a legitimate area of wagering growth." WEG kicked off its 2015 221-date campaign this past Saturday evening and will offer four nights of racing all winter on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications
Camaes Fellow persevered by a head over Wazzup Wazzup for the second week in a row to take the $34,000 Preferred Pace while Carmen Auciello had a training triple during the 2015 opening card at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday night. Jonathan Drury sent Auciello and Stephen Klunowski's Camaes Fellow around early leaver Calgary Seelster (Doug McNair) heading to the first turn and reached the quarter pole in :26.4 over the sloppy track. The seven-year-old Mach Three gelding continued to lead the field, which was scratched down to six with Modern Legend out, through middle splits of :56.2 and 1:24.2. As they passed the third quarter mark, Wazzup Wazzup (Randy Waples) launched his attack on the pacesetter and those two took off down the lane in a heated battle to the wire with Camaes Fellow hanging on for the 1:52.1 triumph. Calgary Seelster finished seven and a half lengths behind in third. Machal Jordan (Roger Mayotte) advanced from the back of the pack to finish fourth while 6-5 favourite Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) earned the final paycheque in fifth. To view the rest of the story click here. 2,000th career win for Kelly Sheppard Making his first start of the New Year on Saturday night, Kelly Sheppard steered his own trotter Kdazzle to victory in the seventh race at Flamboro Downs and reached a special career milestone in the process. Sheppard sent favourite Kdazzle ($4.50) on the move near the half and advanced from fourth into the pocket spot behind the pacesetting Empire Strikesback. When the leader broke stride around the final turn, Kdazzle went on to win in 2:04.2 over the sloppy track by two and a half lengths with Audrey Pearl following in second. Sheppard's victory aboard Kdazzle was his 2,000th driving win. The Dundas, Ont. horseman trains and co-owns the five-year-old homebred gelding as part of the Sea Of Green Inc. stable. To view the rest of the story click here. Northlands feature to Blue Star Beauty Blue Star Beauty prevailed from the pocket in Northlands Park's first Open event of the year for distaffers on a frosty -23 degree Saturday afternoon. Driven by Kelly Hoerdt in the $10,000 feature, Blue Star Beauty followed pacesetter Crackers Hot Shot through fractions of :29.1, :59 and 1:29 before overtaking her in the stretch for the 1:59.4 victory over the frozen track. Blue Star Beauty paid $7.20 to win. Favourite American Passion abandoned an early attempt to leave after being caught wide and later closed from last in the compact field of five to edge out Crackers Hot Shot for second-place. Feelin Flush finished fourth and Clearly Best was fifth while Sing Like An Angel was scratched sick. To view the rest of the story click here. Rod Donlevy loses fight with cancer at age 65 Surrounded by his family and friends, former Canadian Trotting Association President and longtime CTA director Rod Donlevy of Saskatoon, Sask. passed away on December 25, 2014 at the age of 65 after a heroic battle with cancer. Rod worked as a charter in the Western provinces during his university days and owned a number of horses through Ballantyne 17 Stable. During his time with the CTA, he helped negotiate the sale of the Evans Avenue offices, and was active in merging CTA and CSHS to become Standardbred Canada. In addition to his time with the CTA, Donlevy also started Central Program Register Ltd. with his father Urban and friend Gerry Cronin in the late 1960s. To view the rest of the story click here.
How did harness racing trainer Richard Moreau spend New Year’s Eve? By watching Team Canada celebrate another win over Team USA in the World Junior Hockey Championship at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. If you’re able to re-watch the game, you can find Richard five rows behind the penalty box cheering on his home country. Continuing with the hockey theme; Richard was named after Hall of Famer and hockey legend Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard. His father was a big hockey fan, “That’s how I got my name but I don’t like it. It makes me sound old; I would have liked Michael better.” Richard says with a laugh. For Moreau, watching winners is a regular thing but winning is something that never gets old. 2014 was another great year for Richard, which saw him finish atop the leader board as top trainer in wins at Grand River Raceway, Hanover Raceway and Woodbine Racetrack. He also scored for most money won by a trainer at Hanover Raceway and Flamboro Downs. For all the success over the years, Moreau confirms its hard work that made him reach the level of success he’s had. “You make your own luck” says Richard on his stables’ success. Since 1988, he has won over $37,000,000 in purses. That’s definitely not luck! In 1276 starts, he finished 2014 with 247 wins and over $2,700,000 in purses. For all the success, one would think you would see Richard in the spotlight but that’s not Richard. He prefers to pass the accolades on to his team. “I’m more of a private person” says Richard. “I do my job and I have good people behind me.” Respect, humbleness and classy are words that define the essence of Richard Moreau. For Christmas, he threw a party for 65 guests and he enjoyed watching everyone having a good time. So much so, Richard didn’t want anyone really knowing that he paid for all of it. “I hired musicians” Richard notes, “and I told them ‘you’re not going to know who I am, but I will pay you before the night is over. Don’t mention my name on the loud speaker and everything will be cool.’ That’s just the way I am, I’ve always been like that. “It’s how you choose to have your name out there,” Richard states. Looking back at the 2013 Metro Pace won by Boomboom Ballykeel who Richard trained, you will not find Richard in any of the win photos. “I told them I was busy warming up my horse for the next race” says Richard with a chuckle. If Richard goes to a nightclub, he can guarantee that he will not dance. If Coldplay or U2 is playing, he may groove along. If country music is on, well, country jams are not Richard’s thing. Though he is a reserved and quiet person, don’t let that fool you to believe he’s a pushover. Not by any means, Richard is just as competitive as everyone else. Instead of being aggressive and on edge,he prefers to laugh and enjoy the moment. “Life is too short” states Richard on his perception of life and getting wrapped up in the small things. For the 2014 Woodbine title as top trainer in wins, he recalls laughing with Carmen Auciello about who will finish with the most wins. “He was on top by ten with a week to go” explains Richard. “On the last (race) day, I won the first race which put us at one apart. He’s a buddy of mine; it was a lot of fun.” I wish I was a fly on the wall to hear that conversation with Carmen Auciello who is a fellow classy trainer and person. Richards New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to continue to be consistent and keep his owners happy. Richard keeps it simple and to the point, not wanting to over complicate matters. For the 2015 season, Richard is also looking to increase his stable size with quality horses. If you’re an owner with interest, email Richard Moreau at email@example.com or reach him at 1-514-703-4235. “It’s easy to do what I do because I love what I do.” Richard continues, “I treat my workers like family.” In one month, he admits he can have as many as 15 horses join his barn and another 15 leave his barn and it is because of his team that all of this is manageable. To unwind from his busy schedule, Richard hits the slopes for some skiing or going to sporting events like NASCAR races, hockey and basketball games. He’s a Toronto Raptors fan! “Sometimes I feel like the conductor of an orchestra” explains Richard. “Sometime you need to disconnect. Every two weeks I go to Montreal to see my son, Gabriel. He’s my pride.” by Rod Balgobin, for Harnesslink.com
We closed out the 2014 season on a losing note so we will start off 2015 on a winning one. Action takes place Saturday night at Woodbine, Meadowlands, Balmoral and Pompano. Good Luck! $22,000 Pace NW 4 or $100,000 Life Woodbine 1st race SATURDAY - Having not seen the rail in quite some time I think that REGAL SON is in a great spot to take this field. He was a game third last time out and with inside post position will get needed cover to score from. Use Bugger Bruiser and Somewhere Fancy in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B-2/B-1 Handicap Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY - Taking a minor shot in here that SHOOTER'S DREAM will be able to handle outside post. Been facing tougher but last time he started from this far out he wired the field at 3-1 and I think he is prime to do it again. Use Al's Hammered and Lindwood Player in exotic plays. $30,000 Pace FFA Handicap Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY - It looks to me that WARRAWEE NEEDY is returning to his winning ways and last week wired the field in 1:49.1 to closed out a dismal 2014 on a winning note. I look for him to handle hike in class and take another. Use Wake Up Peter and Doctor Butch in exotic plays. $13,500 Pace Open Handicap Pompano Park 7th race SATURDAY - Last week Prairie Jaguar surprised me by returning to winning ways on the front end. But I don't look for him to repeat. Better off betting the Peter Pellegrino entry of E Z NOAH/LYONS JOHNNY as despite outside posts they have the ability to get good position to score from and they have done it before. Use Prairie Jaguar and Duc Dorleans in exotic plays. $20,000 Pace B-1 H & G Meadowlands 8th race SATURDAY - This looks to be the most competitive race on the night and thus whomever can pick the winner will get a good price. I am going with TALKING BLUES as I feel he can handle the hike in class off his last mile, a lifetime record 1:49.4. In tough but has speed to get good cover or maybe even cut the mile. Use Odds On Equuleus and Gold Rocks in exotic plays. $15,000 Pace Invitational Handicap Balmoral Park 5th race SATURDAY - With a game 1:50.1 victory to close out 2014, I see no reason why FORT SILKY can't start off the 2015 with a win too. He has won three of his last four starts, both from on and off the pace so he deserves a shot to repeat in here. Use I'm An Athlete and Ice Scraper in exotic plays. $22,000 Pace NW $16,000 last 5 Woodbine 9th race SATURDAY - Half this field is dropping in class and I love to find one that is "dropping and popping" and I think that will be the case for GD AIRLINER. Was nowhere last start but now gets in with a group he should be able to defeat, even from an outside post. Could pay a nice price. Use In Commando and KG Dragonator in exotic plays. $34,000 Pace Preferred Woodbine Racetrack 11th race SATURDAY - They save the best for last on Saturday night. May be a short field but very competitive. I am going with NICKLE BAG as he has been super sharp finishing first or second in last six starts. He has great closing ability and will be right in the hunt at the finish. Use Modern Legend and Camaes Fellow in exotic plays.
TORONTO, December 27 - The 2014 harness racing season concluded Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack and although there was little drama for the WEG driving title, the final card was needed to decide the season's top trainer. Chris Christoforou entered Saturday evening with a comfortable eight win lead over Jody Jamieson in the driver's standings, but Carmen Auciello came into the final card with only a two win lead over Richard Moreau for the training title. Both trainers sent out a plethora of horses Saturday evening, with Auciello's barn sending out eight starters and Moreau's sending out ten. The Moreau trained Ray Hall captured the first race of the evening to get his trainer to within a win of the top spot, but the Auciello trained Camaes Fellow would extend the lead back to two with a victory in the seventh race. Montreal Phil would come through in the tenth race with a victory to get Moreau back to within a win of Auciello with both trainers sending out their final starter in the next race. In the eleventh race, the Moreau trained Naked City left hard to grab the early lead, while the Auciello trained Glammit came first up down the backstretch to battle with the leader. In the stretch, Naked City would relinquish the lead late in the mile to finish third, but Glammit dug in to score the first over victory and secure the training title for Auciello. Auciello finished the 2014 WEG season with 95 victories, while Moreau's two victories Saturday night gave him a total of 93 wins. Auciello, 34, is wrapping up a career best season. The Stouffville resident's starters banked more than $2.6 million this year, with $1.6 million of those earnings coming on the WEG circuit. This is Auciello's first WEG training title. As for the driving title, Christoforou completed his 2014 resurgence with his first WEG driving title since 2003. Christoforou, 43, picked a single victory Saturday night to finish the 2014 season with 226 victories at Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks. Jamieson, who won two races Saturday evening, finished second with 219 wins and Sylvain Filion, the reigning driving title champion, finished third with 201 wins. Filion led all drivers in earnings for 2014 on the WEG circuit with over $5.3 million in earnings, while Christoforou drove winners of over $4.8 million. The 2014 WEG driving title is one of several accomplishments for Christoforou this season, including surpassing 6,000 wins and $100 million in earnings. Christoforou was also recently named a finalist for the O'Brien Award as Canada's Driver of the Year. Live racing resumes next Saturday, January 3rd at Woodbine Racetrack and continues on a four-nights-a-week schedule of Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in 2015. Post time each evening is 7:25 p.m. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications - Standardbred
TORONTO, December 26 - A pair of Christmas presents were handed out a day late in the Valedictory and Niagara Series finals on Friday afternoon's Boxing Day card at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of seven three-year-old pacing fillies went behind the gate in the $34,800 Niagara Series final, while a group of ten three-year-old pacing colts and geldings battled it out in the $35,000 Valedictory Series final. In the Niagara final, Witch Dali completed the dominating series sweep with a 1:51.2 victory. For the third week in a row, Witch Dali's opponents only saw the back of her and driver Jody Jamieson as they went straight to the front and never looked back. Sent off as the 1/9 favourite, Witch Dali posted fractions of :26.4, :55.4 and 1:23.2, before kicking home in :28 to win by 2 Â½ lengths over Artistic Fusion. Double Joy took the show spot, while Saucy B finished fourth. A daughter of Dali, Witch Dali is trained by Tony Alagna and has now won all four of her starts in 2014. Witch Dali did not make her first start of the season until December 5th and has since rattled off four wins in four weeks. She is owned by Alagna Racing LLC. and Brad Grant. Witch Dali now has a career record of seven wins in 14 starts and earnings of $74,220. The clocking of 1:51.2 is a new career mark for Witch Dali and also broke the Niagara Series record by a full second. She returned $2.20 to win. In the Valedictory, Company Man turned in a career best effort to win the series final in 1:51.3. Driven by James MacDonald, Company Man got away in fourth, while the favourite, Kindofabigdeal, made a quick move in the first turn to swing around to the lead from second. Down the backstretch, MacDonald decided not to wait long and sent Company Man hard after the lead and cleared around Kindofabigdeal just after the half of :55. Company Man would continue to keep the tempo honest with a :27.3 third quarter to bring the field into the stretch with Kindofabigdeal following close in behind. In the stretch, Company Man dug in to turn aside Kindofabigdeal, who could only get to his wheel, and held off a late push from So Bad Im Good to win by half a length. So Bad Im Good took the place spot, while Kindofabigdeal and Ransom Demand finished third and fourth respectively. A son of American Ideal, Company Man is trained by Allen Tomlinson for owner Dan Mitchell. Company Man won a first leg division of the Valedictory and followed that up with a third place effort in round two last Friday. Friday's series final victory is his fourth victory from 19 career starts and boosts his career bankroll to over $74,000. The clocking of 1:51.3 is also a new career mark for the three-year-old gelding. Company Man paid $6.50 to win. The final card of the 2014 racing season at Woodbine will take place Saturday night with first post set for 7:25 p.m. Live racing will resume a week later with the first card of 2015 on Saturday, January 3rd. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG