A blockbuster weekend of racing is fast approaching at Mohawk Racetrack, and while all eyes will be on Saturday’s trio of eliminations for the Pepsi North America Cup – they won’t be the only races worth watching. A stakes-filled weekend will see many of the sport’s brightest stars also be in action in eliminations for the Armbro Flight, Goodtimes, Fan Hanover and the Roses Are Red Stakes. Those elimination will take place on the Friday and Saturday cards at Mohawk Racetrack, and we’ve previewed those elims below: Friday – Armbro Flight Elim #1 – Race 2 Perfect Alliance, who was last seen establishing a world record for four-year-old trotting mares when she blazed to a 1:51.2 victory in her division of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine Racetrack, headlines her $35,000 assignment for trainer Julie Miller. The daughter of Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover, who is a perfect 10-for-10 this season, will be handled from Post 7 by Yannick Gingras. Friday – Armbro Flight Elim #2 – Race 3 The multiple award-winning Bee A Magician will take on five other foes in the second elimination for the tandem of driver Brian Sears and trainer Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman. The four-year-old daughter of Kadabra-Beehive finished second to Perfect Alliance in her world record performance in the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine Racetrack on May 19. That was the first start of the season for the 27-time winner who starts from Post 1. One of her biggest challengers figures to be Classic Martine - a recent divisional winner in the Miss Versatility Series. To read the rest of the story click here.
Trainer Dustin Jones' homebred Fan Hanover eligible Nat A Virgin set a new Canadian season's record for three-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:50.3 triumph on Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack. After breaking stride in her first two starts of the year, Nat A Virgin put the pieces together on Friday and lowered the 2014 national division record by more than one full second in an $18,000 conditioned pace. The time also matched the fastest mile by any female pacer this season, which nine-year-old Voelz Hanover set in a top class Preferred event on May 9 at Woodbine Racetrack. Nat A Virgin, with driver Rick Zeron aboard, was the first to get a call in the evening's fifth race as she sprinted across the track from post seven and cleared to command before the first turn. She race by the quarter pole in :27.1 before 2-5 favourite Major Dancer swept up from fourth to take over during the second panel. The new leader cleared at the half in :55.3 and continued to lead past three-quarters in 1:23.3, but Nat A Virgin blew by in the stretch, kicking home in :26.3. To read the rest of the story click here.
With classy harness racing analyst Mike Hamilton set to put down the microphone at Mohawk Racetrack in a couple of weeks, there is another classy person set to take his place. Enter Greg Gangle, a West Lorne, Ontario native. Greg is a true people person, someone who is ready to engage with patrons and horsemen alike and is always enjoying a laugh. Sounds like Mike! "A lot of people don't know Mike's such a smart man in terms of business sense." Greg says. "There's times after work where him and I will sit down and I ask him numerous questions and not just about racing. He's an intelligent guy and over the last three years I've learned a lot from him and Ken Middleton." Greg states a valuable piece of advice, "when you're around good people, you learn quickly and good things are bound to happen." The vacancy has opened a wonderful opportunity for both Greg and Chad Rozema to rotate as on-air hosts. "Mike Hamilton has such a great reputation" says Greg. "Following in his footsteps would be appealing to anyone, not just myself. Chad Rozema who has worked with Woodbine in the past, is coming aboard as well." "The Horse Player's Journal will need some assistance as well because that gig also became available." Greg explains, "What the broadcast team has done is, they brought Chad and I aboard to do the nightly simulcast show along with doing the Horse Player's Journal, which is the handicapping and writing throughout the week." "One week I am going to be doing Mike Hamilton's job and the next week I will be doing the Horse Player's Journal. Chad and I will be (rotating) back and forth." Greg says. With Greg having worked for the Woodbine Racetrack media department these past couple of years, Greg is more than familiar with the horses and handicapping. Looking at both opportunities, does Greg have a preference? No sir, Greg's excited at the prospect of exceeding at both, while having a good time and delivering insight to fans. Greg admits he doesn't have a 'style' or approach. What Greg is focused on is being himself; simple and honest. "I follow quite a few on-air hosts, not just in harness racing." Greg notes, "Don Cherry and Ron MacLean at the CBC do a fantastic job. I've read their biographies and news clips and they've always said, especially Don Cherry and that is 'to always be yourself, do not try and be someone you're not'. When I express my opinion about a horse, it's not fake it is what I truly believe... whether I like a horse or dislike a horse." "As for having my own signature approach, I don't think so, but who knows down the road I might be doing something I didn't even know I was doing." Greg says. There have been a few people within the industry that have influenced Greg to help him work his way to where he is now. "When I was 19 or 20 I worked for a magazine, at the time it was called the Harness Edge" says Greg. "There I was working for publisher and editor Harold Howe and Heather MacKay Roberts who was the assistant (editor) at the time." Both Heather and Harold were role models for Greg and they took Greg under their wing to help show him the ropes. "I was going to all the yearling sales and major races and it was really exciting" says Greg about his experience with the Harness Edge. "From there we started developing video interviews for the website and they still do it now. That's where I got my feet wet... learning to conduct interviews, editing, uploading it to the website and making it presentable to the public." "Three years later an opportunity came up to work at Woodbine and they were excited that I knew how to do all that and they wanted me to continue doing that. It snowballed from there." Greg says. Greg's former boss at Woodbine, John Siscos is another person Greg is grateful to have met. "I have to thank John a great deal." Greg states. "He's the type of person who gives you the reins of things. He really respects your opinion on what you want to do on a weekly or daily basis. He threw the ball in my court and let me do what it was I wanted to do and it grew from there." A major aspect Greg enjoyed during his time working for the media department is the amount of time Greg got to work up close and personal with everyone including drivers and trainers. "You're right with the who is who of racing, especially in Canada... that was really exciting." Greg says. If you haven't met Greg, he considers himself a very competitive person who likes to play hockey and try his best in anything he does including work, he's always swinging for the fences! "I put a lot of pressure on myself" says Greg. "Replacing Mike Hamilton, both Chad Rozema and myself, it's not something easy to do. I know, on behalf of Chad and myself, we are both looking forward to the challenge." If you're at Mohawk and you see Greg, I highly recommend you go and meet him. Fans can never go wrong meeting a classy person in any industry! Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova
Low takeout 20 cent wager with $600,000 carryover will break all records. The harness racing gamblers across North America have been talking about this scenario for a month. What if the Jackpot Hi 5 wager at Woodbine does not get hit until the mandatory payout? If you are one of those players, your dreams have been answered. One of the greatest wagering and investment opportunities is going to happen Saturday night in Canada and the entire gambling world is waiting to play into the largest pool in harness racing history. An unprecedented Hi 5 carryover of $656,356 and an estimated record pool of $2,500,000 with a mandatory payout is what will make this wager so compelling to so many people Saturday evening. The Saturday Hi 5 is on the twelfth and final race from Woodbine tonight and players will know whether they have won in less than two minutes. For those of you that are looking for an investment opportunity, there is nothing the gaming industry can offer that beats the Hi 5 risk and reward model on Saturday. I can say it is almost a certainty that with the enormous carryover, the Hi 5 pays out more money to the winners than the amount wagered on Saturday. The low takeout of 15% makes this dream scenario possible. TOTAL POOL NEW MONEY RETURNED TO WINNERS PLAYER ADVANTAGE 2,000,000 1,343,644 1,798,453 33% 2,500,000 1,843,644 2,223,453 20% 3,000,000 2,343,644 2,648,453 13% 3,500,000 2,843,644 3,073,452 8% 4,000,000 3,343,644 3,498,453 4% The Saturday Hi 5 at Woodbine is scheduled to go at 11:05 eastern on Race 12 with a field of eleven. I salute Woodbine for having the initiative of adding an extra horse to the Hi 5 race. The eleven horse field makes the race more unpredictable and will definitely make the payoff larger. In my opinion, the eleventh horse will grow the Race 12 handle by more than $250,000. The Woodbine Hi 5 minimum bet is 20 cents, making this wagering opportunity affordable to everyone. To the people at Woodbine, take a bow. This is your moment. The harness racing world is tapping their hockey sticks in unison, saluting you for a job well done. Chicago, Illinois by Michael Antoniades – Chicago Racing Analyst
At the age of ten, harness racing driver Scott Young knew he wanted to be a catch driver. As a ten-year-old, Scott helped his dad, Bob, jogging and training horses. "I always knew I wanted to be a catch driver" says Scott. "It was always a dream to win the big races and my favorite race was the Little Brown Jug. I always wanted win that race as well as the Breeders Crown, North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace." When Scott, now 22, graduated from high school he was 17 and his dad wanted Scott to continue on with furthering his education as Bob felt Scott was too young to be out of school. "He made me enroll in a college," says Scott. "I ended up going to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and I studied two years of Broadcast Journalism. Once I graduated from there I was 19 and already driving horses. My dad said at least 'you have an education to fall back on just in case'. I am happy he made me go, because it's always going to be there in case I need it." Scott sees himself racing in Ontario for the next five years. If the opportunity arose where he could drive for a strong stable in the USA, Scott would consider making the move. "That's what you need to become a top driver; you need a barn and one good horse that will get your name out there. If I ever had a barn from the States that would put me down to drive everything, I would consider that for sure." If Scott had to pick any trainer to drive for, hands down it would be his dad! "I love winning races for other people, I love winning in general but when I win for my dad it's something special." Scott says. "I have a lot of respect for my dad." Since Scott started driving, he's grown and matured. Scott can reflect on races he's driven where he recognizes mistakes he's made and knows how he can learn from it. Not many young adults can do this, so that is a testament to his character. Secret Weapon, (trained by Wayne Prescator) is a horse that helped Scott make his name. "I owe a lot of my career to Secret Weapon." Scott states. "He was my first ever track record holder. I set the track record at Hanover Raceway with him. I was lucky enough to race him at Woodbine Racetrack in the winter. He won a Preferred and an Open Pace at Woodbine. That was my first ever Open Pace and Preferred and I drove him in the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations in 2012 and we won the Consolation." When it comes to interacting with fellow drivers, Scott considers himself a social butterfly of the drivers' room. "I'm buddies with everyone whether it's the Woodbine drivers' room or the Flamboro drivers' room" says Scott. "Ryan Holiday is somebody who I consider one my best friends but I'm friends with everyone. Billy Davis and James MacDonald are close friends too." With Scott's dad being in the industry for over thirty five years, he's known fellow drivers Scott Zeron and Jonathon Drury since he was ten. "I knew Chris Christoforou and Sylvain Filion since I was five years old" Scott explains. "I grew up around them." In the mornings Scott works for Tony O'Sullivan. "I jog and train with him. Tony has a forty horse barn" says Scott. When he's finished, Scott heads some to clean up his colors, grab a nap and then it's off to the races. "I always have a full day." Scott's nickname is 'the Answer' and it was given to him by veteran drivers Chris Christoforou and Jody Jamieson and Woodbine analyst Ken Middleton. The nickname stemmed from Scott's dad because Bob Young was known as Bob Knowledge. "Everyone would say Bob knows everything" explains Scott. "People would say I have an answer for everything anytime I was asked something. I got the nickname during my second year of driving." "It took off after other announcers starting using it and I even put (the nickname) on my race bike." Scott says. Driver's having nicknames is awesome; it's something fans can gravitate towards just like fans do with baseball, hockey, football and basketball players. Tim Tetrick is known as the Bionic Man, Brian Sears is the White Knight, George Brennan is the Minister of Speed, Andy Miller is the Orange Crush, David Miller is the Buckeye and John Campbell is JC for Jesus Christ. Away from the track Scott goes golfing when he can but admits he'd rather not have any time off during the peak season so he can drive as much as possible. Scott also plays baseball and during the winter months he plays in a men's hockey league. "Being so young, I might as well keep doing as much as I can while I can still do it" says Scott. Scott is a Toronto Blue Jays fan and hopes the Blue Jays can make the playoff this season, the first time since 1993. Scott is a diehard Boston Bruins fan! Scott is confident the Bruins will win game seven against the Montreal Canadiens and the Stanley Cup. A side note is Scott hates the Toronto Maple Leafs. Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova
CUTLER MEMORIAL TROT, LAVERNE HILL PACE & MORE!
In Ontario harness racing as with every sport, there are people who are responsible for ensuring fair play and sound judgment. Most sports refer to these folks as referees however in horse racing, the dedicated individuals responsible for vital decision making are known as Judges. The Judges work for the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), which governs horse racing industry throughout the province, which includes all three breeds of race horses; Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. Having the opportunity to speak with the Judges brought a lot of insight into the steps taken each and every race night to ensure the public and horsemen are all treated with respect, integrity and fairness. At Woodbine Racetrack, (Toronto, ON) there are 3 judges located in the grandstand for harness racing, as well as an official located in the paddock. The Judges arrive at the tracks' back office two and half hours prior to post time and this is standard for all race tracks including Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. The three Judges that were kind enough to take time out to go over their routine were Craig Walker (11 years with the ORC) who is the Senior Judge or Presiding judge on site, Tom Miller (19 years with the ORC) and David Stewart Jr. (6 years with the ORC). All three judges have history as horsemen, from driving, training and owning or from past experience such as working in race offices. Their experience and insight is what enables them to know what to anticipate in every situation. The Judges of the ORC rotate from track to track and the teams are constantly changing to keep things fresh. Also the judges switch from Standardbreds to Thoroughbreds to Quarter horses routinely so their knowledge of rules and regulations for each breed stays up to speed. "Our first order of business is to go over the program, the changes, driver changes, scratches and any other pertinent information such as equipment changes" explains Craig. "We go through all of the horses' lines to ensure everything is okay in terms of eligibility." Prior to the start of the first race, there are times where the Judges may call in a driver if there is an infraction to be discussed from a previous date. If a horseman is called in due to a horses' positive test result, the horseman is entitled to bring in legal representation to discuss the matter. The Judges base their decisions on as much information possible; this way everyone has their fair chance to explain their circumstance prior to any fines or suspension being issued. "They have a right to appeal any decision made by the Judges." explains Craig. "Their right is to appeal that decision to the Ontario Racing Commission itself and in that case we would be witnesses for the administration." Were you aware Judges are not allowed to have any ownership in a race horse? Nor can their spouse and if by chance a Judge knows someone who does own a race horse, that Judge must excuse themselves from taking any part in a race that horse is involved in. By the Judge excusing him or herself from being an active participant in such a race, this negates any potential bias and maintains that each and every race is ruled free of prejudice. The same judge must fill out a conflict of interest form in advance of the race to create transparency and openness. These forms are kept on file with the ORC. An ORC Judge or their spouse cannot bet on any races in Ontario, regardless if it is at another race track. They cannot bet on any race simulcast into the province, it doesn't matter if that race is in another province, country or continent. The job can be stressful at times, considering that decisions made can have an impact on purse winnings and countless people. Can you imagine having to make a decision involving a half million dollar race such as the Breeders Crown? What if the winning driver of the Breeders Crown made an infraction causing an inquiry and it was a decision you had to make to place the winning driver second or third based on that infraction? That's a quarter million dollar decision affecting the connections involved not to mention the betting public. That is why the Judges always stick to the rule book and do not allow emotions to cloud their judgment. "You have nights where everything goes smoothly, there are no inquiries and some nights can be what you call stressful" says David. Such nights do happen but the Judges do enjoy their jobs, like watching competitive races. "It doesn't have to be a Stake race, we had a race here last night where there were five or six horses right across the wire and we all made a comment 'what a good race' that was." Tom says. "There were a couple last night" Dave adds. "It's a good finish and it is good for the crowd. We can hear people outside yelling, screaming and cheering their horse on. That's always a good thing." Once the race commences, each Judge has a separate task up in the grandstand. One Judge is in communication with the starter and one Judge is focused on the mutuals ensuring the finishing order posted is correct on the tote board. The third Judge is communication with the paddock in the event the Judges need to speak with a driver. In the Judges' room in the grandstand, there is a massive screen which has the feeds from five different camera angles. In the event of an inquiry or objection, the Judges can rewind and look at the race from these feeds to determine the outcome. As the starting car pulls away from the field and the horses charge forward, the Judges are intensely watching the race, calling out a horse's number when they see a horse break stride. As the field comes down the stretch each Judge is also writing down the order of finish, confirming with one another to ensure they are all on the same page. "We all write down the numbers as we think they crossed the finish line." Craig says. "If it's really tight, the only way we are going to verify is with the photo finish (screen). It's instantaneous and as they cross it's recorded and we see it here on screen." There are two employees in a separate room who oversee the video feeds and the photo finish. The employee in charge of the video communicates via phone and the employee who mans the photo finish communicates via intercom. "If there is a malfunction with the feeds, our decision is final." Craig says. This is according to the ORC rule book. "After the race if there is no inquiry, the routine is always the same. We comeback and we are going to watch replays of the stretch numerous times." Craig continues, "We are making sure everyone is staying in a straight line or trying to stay in a straight line. Another thing we are looking for is the use of the whip, making sure everyone is complying with the rules of the whip. (The driver's) feet must be in the stirrups." Once the finishing order is confirmed, the Judge in charge of mutuals informs an official in another room of the top four and that official then calls to have those numbers posted on the tote board. The same Judge in charge of mutuals calls the tote department to confirm the order of finish and the tote department then posts the payouts. (The same official who is in charge of calling in the numbers to be posted on the tote board is also in charge of calling to have the inquiry sign posted if the Judges determine an inquiry is needed). "After the race is official, then we do the official run down of the order of finish." Craig says. In this case, the Judges are confirming the order one through ten. If a horse broke stride at any point, this is noted in the race line by one of the Judges and this is what you will see in the program the next time the same horse races. You will see where the Judges noted with an 'X' where the horse broke stride in the race. If a horse broke stride in two consecutive races, the Judges will inform the connections for that horse that they will need to put that horse in a qualifying race to show the horse is able to race at full stride. Only then will that horse be able to race competitively again. While all of this is going on, one of the Judges is calling down to have two horses tested. Usually it is the winner and one other horse, for example it could be a horse that either did way better than anticipated or didn't compete as well as expected. Especially if it is a 1-5 favorite who finished sluggishly, which means there was a lot of public backing and the officials want to maintain nothing out of the ordinary is going on. "The rules don't say we have to test the winner" explains Tom. "I feel the patrons would want to know the integrity of that winner, we tested that winner and the integrity of that mile is there. We know the horse didn't have any drugs in its system." The two biggest takeaways I have is that communication is vital for the Judges and following the routine is what ensures transparency. If a horse is required to be at the paddock by a certain time and it is a minute late, it's scratched. Sure the Judges can understand traffic can be an issue, but if one rule is not enforced at any point, the result will be a can of worms being opened. Everyone gets treated the same, no ifs ands or buts. It's tough, but sound. "We do not take any pride or pleasure is scratching horses" states Tom. "The more the merrier but sometimes with situations of being a few minutes late, it's tough to do our job but we have to be consistent with everybody. The horsemen want to know we are always going to do it the same so they know what to expect. This way when the same situation happens they are aware of what the result will be." Roderick Balgobin's column will appear weekly on Harnesslink. You can contact him at rod.balgobin @supernovasportsclub.com or Twitter: ScSupernova
TORONTO, May 10 - Woodbine Racetrack played host to a pair of stakes events on Saturday evening featuring sophomore pacers. After handing National Debt his first career loss last week, Somewhere In L A proved that effort was no fluke as he captured Saturday's $59,800 final of The Diplomat Series. A pair of Hall of Famers, Steve Condren and Bob McIntosh, teamed up with the pacer to capture the event in 1:51.4. Condren guided the son of Somebeachsomewhere to command before the opening station in :26.1 with Silverhill Shadow (Jody Jamieson) In The Pocket. Heading towards the half, Silverhill Shadow pocket-pulled and cleared to lead past the half in :54.4 and three-quarters in 1:23. Heavily-favoured National Debt, who was rough-gaited and made a break in the early stages, was the first-over attacker around the final turn. Turning for home, Silverhill Shadow put away National Debt, but couldn't fend off a late rally from pocket-sitter Somewhere In L A. Big Surf (Jonathan Drury) finished third. National Debt faded to seventh. Trained and co-owned by McIntosh along with C S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings, Somewhere In L A celebrated his biggest payday as his bankroll now sits at $115,792. The bay has crafted a 2-0-1 record from three starts this season.He paid $8.60 as the third choice. The Diplomat Series was for three-year-olds, who were non-winners of $100,000 in 2013. Rock N Roll Xample, driven by James MacDonald, redeemed herself after faltering last week with a 1:51.4 performance to take the $59,200 Princess Series final. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover sat In The Pocket throughout the mile as Bahama Blue (Jody Jamieson) laid down panels of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24. Turning for home, Rock N Roll Xample angled to the outside and marched past the tempo-setter en route to victory. Take That Hanover (Mike Saftic) came on for second, over Bahama Blue. Trained by Shawn Robinson for owner/breeder Robert Hamather, Rock N Roll Xample celebrated her ninth win of the season as her lifetime earnings increased to $128,690. The talented lass has amassed a 9-3-1 record from 15 starts this season. She paid $5.00 to win. The Princess Series was for three-year-old fillies, who were non-winners of $100,000 in 2013. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
TRAINER TALKS ABOUT LOVING HORSE RACING
Making her 2014 debut, millionairess Voelz Hanover established a new Canadian season's record for distaffers with a 1:50.3 victory in a $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred on Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Leaving from post two as the heavy 1-2 favourite, the Randy Waples-driven Voelz Hanover ($3) led her five foes through fractions of :27.1, :56.2 and 1:23.3. Meanwhile, last year's New York Sire Stakes champion Social Scene (Jonathan Drury) advanced first over from fourth in her own season's debut, but leveled off in the stretch. Voelz Hanover then held off a pocket-pulling D Gs Pesquero and Sylvain Filion by a half-length as they sprinted to the wire. Its No Secret and Phil Hudon finished over four lengths behind in third. To read the rest of the story click here.
TORONTO, May 5 - The timing couldn't have been more perfect for So Not Cool on Monday evening at Woodbine. The trotting son of Muscles Yankee posted the minor 6-1 upset in this year's $35,800 Tie Silk final, and in doing so the youngster celebrated his first career win. At the hands of driver Mario Baillargeon, So Not Cool laid off the speed in the early stages as The Muscler (Dustin Jones) took command past the quarter in :26.4. Entranced (Mike Saftic), the 1/5 favourite, made a quick brush to the lead before the half in :56.4 and continued to lead at three-quarters in 1:25.4. Turning for home, first-over attacker Justcallmeronald (Jody Jamieson) was stalking on the outside and continued to battle down the stretch with So Not Cool on his helmet. In deep stretch, Entranced was collared by Justcallmeronald, but So Not Cool had the most momentum as he found the wire first in 1:55.3. Justcallmeronald finished second over Entranced. Trained by Ben Baillargeon for owner Awesome Acres Stbds, So Not Cool celebrated his biggest payday as is bankroll now sits at $23,650. He paid $15.60 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
For Release: Greg Gangle - WEG Communications Magic Feeling is magical in Celias Counsel final TORONTO, May 1 - Magic Feeling, driven by Mike Saftic, parlayed a two-hole trip into a winning effort in this year's edition of the $34,400 Celias Counsel final at Woodbine Racetrack. After capturing last week's second leg at odds of 50-1, the daughter of Kadabra remains unbeaten in two starts this season for trainer and co-owner Frank O'Reilly. Flexible Woman (Steve Byron) was quickly on the march in the early stages as she led her nine rivals past the opening quarters in :27.4. Magic Feeling was sitting In The Pocket with K D Bella (Randy Waples) sitting third. Flexible Woman would continue to lead past the half in :57.1 and three-quarters in 1:27. Race favourite Tosca (Per Henriksen) would venture first-over around the final turn, giving cover to Just Call Me Lady (Trevor Ritchie), who had been parked the mile. Turning for home, Flexible Woman was still in command, but Tosca, Magic Feeling and K D Bella were within striking range. In deep stretch, K D Bella appeared to have the most momentum on the outside, but Saftic was able to split between horses with Magic Feeling and find a seam in the final stages to score the victory in 1:57.3. K D Bella finished second with Tosca third. Flexible Woman completed the superfecta. A $30,000 yearling purchase, Magic Feeling increased her bankroll to $24,700 for co-owners John Fielding and Isidoro Russo. She paid $7 to win. -30- Greg Gangle WEG Communications - Standardbred (416) 675-7223) x4209 @GGangle_WOMoh P Please consider the environment before printing this email. - Proud Member of Imagine Canada, achieving Caring Company Status - Recycling Council of Ontario's Platinum Waste Minimization Award - Quality ERA Gold Award winner for continuous improvements This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail, delete this e-mail and destroy any copies. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient is unauthorized and may be illegal.
Harness racing driver James MacDonald comes from quite the racing family. His mom, Gale is the track photographer in Charlottetown, PEI and his dad, Fred, owns broodmares. His brothers Mark MacDonald races in the USA and Anthony is a Woodbine and Mohawk circuit veteran. There's Curtis who designs simulcasting graphics for various horse tracks throughout North America. "Curtis is a sharp cookie" says James. "Curtis learned a lot of that from my other brother Lloyd." Lloyd is in the same line of work as Curtis and there is Bobby who is a blacksmith in PEI. With his family deeply involved with horses, James 28 didn't take to horses until he came to Ontario to work for his brother Anthony ten years ago. James feels no pressure as the younger brother of successful drivers; instead James will make his own footprints in harness racing one step at a time. "You just need to work hard and respect the horse" says James. "Drive every horse accordingly depending on the race and what the situation is. There are lots to think about and I don't expect big things, I think if you work hard and people like your driving then you can catch on." "When you watch the top drivers in the world, the Tim Tetricks, the John Campbells (and Mark MacDonalds), you have to drive every kind of horse." James adds, "There are three very different styles, there is the front end, first up and off the pace... You need to be good with them all, if you end up in a spot where you are first up you need to be able to keep the horse going. You need to be able to race any horse off the pace and I think that's what all good drivers do very well." "I try to not have a style and drive the horse as the race comes to me" says James. Speaking with James, I get the feel he is the 'visionary' type of person who can anticipate what goes on during a race ahead of time. "It doesn't matter how much you study the program or how much you know the horses, anything can happen when the gates open." James says. Anthony Macdonald considers James a lot like Mark MacDonald when it comes to driving horses. It's very natural and appears effortless. "Horses will let you know what they are comfortable with" says James. "It's getting a feel for the horse and the more you drive competitive horses you can feel out what a horse is like. You might tell someone a horse doesn't like the front and then it will go out and win on the front. So it's not always full proof that's for sure." James doesn't train horses but he does have some babies along with a couple of race horses at the barn. "My wife, (Jenna) and I along with Johnny McKinnon have five babies here right now and some race horses.... We break in the babies, Johnny and Jenna do the brunt of the work and I come in and jog them and help them out." James credits his brother Anthony and Jamie Smith for helping him out when he first arrived in Ontario. "They showed me the ropes and what the do's and don'ts are when training horses" says James. "I actually trained a few for a couple of years. Mark and Anthony are equally helpful, if I do something on the track they think is wrong, they're very helpful. They won't scream or shout, they will show me the right way to do it." "Also a lot of people, who don't know me, will put me down to drive because they have had good luck with Mark or they had good luck with Anthony." James notes. A good point James brings up is there are so many good trainers and drivers in the harness racing industry sports fans never get to hear about. People within the horse industry can attest to countless people who deserve praise for their work as trainers or drivers. Unfortunately because they haven't had that break out horse to add a spotlight to their efforts, they go unseen by the general public and that's disappointing. "This is all I want to do" says James. "I love horses, I love racing horses and I love driving horses. There are so many good drivers... it's a tough game." What's good for the game is promotion of the sport and James agrees that what Jeff Gural at the Meadowlands is doing can only result in positives for the industry. "I think he's great for the sport. Clearly he's helped out the Meadowlands and built a beautiful new facility, whatever he's doing is working and he's trying. He's putting in the effort that is for sure." "I think this is a great sport and it deserves a lot of praise." James says. "Jody Jamieson can walk anywhere in Ontario and people won't have a clue who he is. Any top 20 driver in Ontario walking in Prince Edward Island or the Maritimes and everybody knows who you are because it's huge out there (in the Maritimes). The money isn't great but they love the sport down there." Harness racing offers so much in terms of fan appeal with opportunities to meet drivers and trainers, getting autographs and even going for tours of the paddocks at some race tracks. In what sport does the average fan have the opportunity to go behind the scenes to see how it really is? To date James has driven in some big races such as the Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot and many Super Finals. "The experience has been great driving against guys like Tetrick and Sears. I haven't been able to win a big one yet. They are all intense and that's when you got to shine." James explains. When it comes to being on the track with other top drivers, James is keenly observing everything they're doing with their horse. James doesn't choose to pick their brain as a professional courtesy. "They're here to drive and do a job. I would but it's out of respect." On May 9th at the Raceway at Western Fair, (London, ON) James along with fellow drivers, Alfie Carroll, Jody Jamieson, Scott Coulter, Billy Davis Jr., Trevor Henry, Doug McNair and JR Plante will square off in the 2014 Ontario Regional Driving Championship. The top two drivers of the eight race competition will compete against the top two drivers from the three other regional's taking place in Canada for the National Driving Championship. The National Champion will represent Canada in the World Driving Competition taking place in Australia. "The top eight (drivers) in wins, in Ontario were selected and I actually ended up 11th because I missed a several of months with a broken leg. I was off three months and was set back because I was having a good start to the year." James explains. "There were three drivers that opted out, because it is time consuming" explains James. "It's tough to book off drives and you had to be willing to commit and book off time if you won. Since three guys turned it down I was selected." James broke his leg during a race at Woodbine racetrack. His horse made a break and fell resulting in James' broken leg. Throughout the recovery time James remained positive with the help of his family and friends. "It's such a great industry, I had people pop by the entire time and my friends were always over to see me and my wife was always there." One thing is for sure, horsemen and women always stand firmly behind one another during difficult times, such as coping with various injuries. Whether or not you're related, if you are a part of the harness racing industry, you are considered family. By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.comTwitter: ScSupernova
TORONTO, April 28 - A familiar face was found back in the winner's circle at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday evening as a pair of $15,000 divisions took place in the second round of the Tie Silk Series. Entranced, driven by Mike Saftic, will aim for the series sweep after turning back all rivals in a 1:56.4 victory. The talented son of Kadabra led from gate-to-wire through panels of :27, :58 and 1:28.3, before kicking home with a :28.4 final quarter to seal the victory in 1:56.4. Musical Spell (Jack Moiseyev) finished second, with Verdi (Paul Macdonell) third. Trained and co-owned by Garth Gordon along with Gary Green and Bernard Tobin, Entranced enjoyed his second victory in three starts this season. . The bay gelding increased his bankroll to $36,000, while paying $3.50 to win. After capturing his division in the opening round of the series, Entranced will look for the series sweep on Monday, May 5 in the rich $25,000 (added) final The Muscler, owned, trained and driven by Dustin Jones, took the other division in the opening dash on the 11-race program with a 1:56 victory. Jones guided the gelded son of Cantab Hall gate-to-wire through panels of :26.1, :56.3, 1:26.3, before fending off Tyrone Haji (Randy Waples) in deep stretch to win by a length. Alerthemedia (Eddie Green) finished third. The Muscler earned his third career tally from six starts this season and increased his bankroll to $20,940. He paid $7.70 to win. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
TORONTO, April 25 - Fresh off her sweep of the Blossom Series, Rock N Roll Xample extended his win streak as she took the lone $20,000 division in the opening round of the Princess Series on Friday evening at Woodbine. With the win, the talented daughter of Rocknroll Hanover has crafted four straight tallies along with an impressive 8-2-1 record from 13 starts this season. Driver James MacDonald was in no hurry off the start with the heavily-favoured Rock N Roll Xample as Itsa Surprise Tome (Anthony Macdonald) quicky established command, but released Take That Hanover (Mike Saftic) to the front past the opening quarter in :27.2. Rock N Roll Xample then got her cue from MacDonald as the 10-time winner angled out from fourth and marched to the front at the half in :57. From there, MacDonald and Rock N Roll Xample cruised past three-quarters in 1:26.3, before dashing away from her 10 rivals to win by a comfortable five lengths in 1:55.1. Take That Hanover finished second with Windsong Khloe (Chris Christoforou) finishing third. The track was listed as 'Good' with a two second variant. Trained by Shawn Robinson for owner/breeder Robert Hamather, Rock N Roll Xample increased her career earnings to $94,090. She paid $3.00 to win. The Princess Series is for three-year-old pacing fillies, who are non-winners of $100,000 lifetime in 2013. The second leg of the series is scheduled for Friday, May 2 with the $50,000 (estimated) final on Saturday, May 10. by Greg Gangle, for WEG
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - The 2014 meet kicks off Saturday evening at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at The Charlottetown Driving Park with a 6 pm first race post time. Lyons Horace will look to open up the season as he is favored in race 1 for driver Mark Bradley, trainer Bo Ford and owner Evan Ford of Charlottetown. The eight-year-old son of Astreos will be making his first attempt as a free-legged pacer after he ditched the hopples before his impressive 2:02 qualifying victory by a seven-length winning margin last Saturday in Charlottetown. Lyons Horace has post 2 in the six-horse field for a purse of $1,000. The 10-dash card is headlined by the race 9 feature for a purse of $2,000. Tempo Seelster will leave from post 4 as the morning line favorite for trainer-driver-owner Vince Poulton of Charlottetown. The four-year-old Santanna Blue Chip gelding was impressive in qualifying action earlier this week, with a 1:59.4 victory capped off with a 28.2 final quarter. It will not be a cakewalk as the pacer starts his aged career against two of the top horses last winter in Charlottetown, Cambest Kisser (Jason Hughes) and Miracle Matts (Corey MacPherson). Miracle Matts has post 6 in the seven horse field, after racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale, Ont., after Charlottetown closed for its winter break. Cambest Kisser is shouldered with post 7 in the event that also includes General Simba (Brodie MacPhee), Every Day (Brian Andrew), Blu Meadow Willie (Bob MacInnis) and Blue Star Outlaw (Kenny Arsenault). The $1,550 Open Trot lines up in race 4 with newcomer Pleasure Girls going up against Charlottetown's 2013 trotter-of-the-year, Abundaspin. Wayne Dunn will driver Pleasure Girls for owner Shelley Gass and trainer Ron Gass, who has three entries in the six-horse field. The nine-year-old mare has had a nearly six-year hiatus from racing but looked large is qualifying action with a monstrous 28.3 final quarter to defeat Abundaspin in the final strides. Pleasure Girls has post 5 while Abundaspin (Harold Shepherd) has post 4. Other entries include Honeymoonisover (Mark Bradley), JK Queen (Walter Cheverie), Caliban Hanover (Ron Gass) and Buckling Banbury (Corey MacPherson). The back-up pace will go in the race 10 finale with Paphos (Marc Campbell) favored from post 2 for owner-trainer Don Milligan. Eight horses will compete in that event for a purse of $1,600. by Nicholas Oakes, for Red Shores