Over the past few weeks one of harness racing’s top young performers, Artspeak, has seemed to have fallen apart to a degree. The two-year-old son of Western Ideal had been enjoying a perfect season, was unbeaten in seven starts and everyone in the industry was talking about him becoming the second “Captaintreacherous” for trainer Tony Alagna. Then came the second week in Lexington. Artspeak made his big move in the backstretch, cleared to the lead after the half mile marker and as they started down the stretch he did something he never did before. He made a break. He went off-stride for driver Scott Zeron, was able to regroup but it was too late as In The Arsenal won the race and Cartoon Daddy was second and Artspeak had to settle for third place. OK, Artspeak is not a machine, he is flesh and blood and he is still a somewhat green young horse that can have a “bad day” so you don’t look back and move forward to the next race. Remember this is the colt that romped in the Metro Final. That next race was the following week, the eliminations at Woodbine Racecourse for the prestigious Governors Cup. Drawing the outside post eight, Zeron gets away in fourth place with Artspeak, can’t seem to follow any cover, then gets rough gaited and makes a break before the three-quarter pole. But once again he regroups for Zeron and finishes third to make this Saturday’s $565,000 final. But what is going on with Artspeak? Why is he breaking? What happened to this unbeaten colt that was all the talk of harness racing? Since Artspeak isn’t speaking to anyone about what happened we went to the next best source, trainer Tony Alagna. “The day he raced at Lexington,” Alagna said, “We chalked that up to the way the track was that day. A few horses made breaks that normally don’t make breaks. We took him home and he was fine. Trained great and then we race him again and he breaks again. “We were really taken by surprise when he broke again,” Alagna said. “I was just happy that he was able to come back and finish third and make the final. We are not really sure why he did it again. I came up early to Canada and trained him today and all systems are good for the weekend.” Artspeak drew post six in the 7th race Governors Cup final. He will be facing nine rivals, most of whom he had handily beaten in the past. “He is still green in many ways,” Alagna explained. “Even when we baby raced him he showed some tendencies to want to make a break on the final turn, but once he started racing that was a thing of the past. He has matured over the summer and he was a good this morning as he has been all season and we are going into the race this weekend in top form. “When you look at his lines,” Alagna said,” in both races where he made the breaks, he still was able to come back and pace his last quarters in :27 and change to finish third. Horses usually don’t come back from breaks and do that. Even with his bobble last week he still paced as fast as the other elimination winner.” Provided that Tony Alagna is correct and Artspeak is back to form, then the rest of the field had better watch out. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
This Week: Messenger Stakes, Yonkers Trot, International Trot Preview, Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Fall Four Stakes, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Dayton Pacing Derby and Dayton Trotting Derby, Hollywood Dayton Raceway, Dayton, Ohio; Circle City and Madison County, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; and John Simpson Stakes, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action this week will get underway on Friday (Oct. 24) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway with the $160,000 Dayton Trotting Derby for older trotters and the $122,000 Dayton Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on Friday, Hoosier Park will offer Circle City races for 3-year-old trotters and pacers, There will be three divisions in the $90,000 3-year-old colt pace, three divisions in the $82,200 3-year-old filly trot, two divisions in the $74,300 3-year-old colt trot and two divisions in the $71,000 3-year-old filly pace. On Saturday (Oct. 25), Hoosier will race Madison County events for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Each of the four divisions carries an estimated purse of $75,000. Rounding out the busy Friday of Grand Circuit racing, Vernon Downs will contest the John Simpson Stakes for freshman pacers and trotters. There will be three divisions in the $31,005 2-year-old colt trot, two divisions in the $26,816 2-year-old filly trot and single divisions in the $26,503 2-year-old colt pace and $25,616 2-year-old filly pace. Yonkers Raceway will offer five Grand Circuit stakes on Saturday night led by two Triple Crown events, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger for 3-year-old pacers. Also on tap will be the $250,000 International Trot Preview for older trotters, the $150,854 Lady Maud for 3-year-old pacing fillies and the $124,590 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Woodbine will offer the Fall Four Stakes on Saturday featuring the C$565,000 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old colt pacers, the C$521,000 Valley Victory for 2-year-old colt trotters, the C$464,000 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, and the C$424,000 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Woodbine entries can be seen at this link. Last time: The Windy City Pace at Maywood Park was the featured event this past weekend on the extensive Grand Circuit schedule. Big Boy Dreams and Tim Tetrick won the Windy City Pace. Big Boy Dreams won the $180,000 Windy City Pace on Oct. 17 in wire-to-wire fashion for driver Tim Tetrick in 1:51. The Ron Burke trainee and New York Sire Stakes competitor notched his fourth win of the year in 10 starts. Big Boy Dreams took the field to a brutal :25.4 first quarter and a :54.1 half, with Let's Drink On It challenging the leader going to the 1:22.2 three-quarters. But Big Boy Dreams just continued to draw away in the stretch to win by 2-1/2 lengths. He now has $168,495 in seasonal earnings for owner Dominic Rosato. It was "Elimination Saturday," on Oct. 18, with Yonkers Raceway hosting elims for three stakes events. Fifteen 3-year-old colts and geldings turned into eight for Yonkers Trot No. 60, as standouts Nuncio (John Campbell) and Gural Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) were comfy winners in the pair of $40,000 eliminations. Nuncio, in play early from post position No. 5, waited his turn before finally making the lead. He parked Skates N Plates, then strode home by 3-1/2 lengths through fractions of :28.4, :58, 1:26.4 and 1:56.2. Don Dorado was second, with Journey and Expressive Action third and fourth, respectively. Gural Hanover, New York Sire Stakes champion and the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into this season's Trot, won the draw in the second elim. He retook from a breaking-soon-after Flyhawk El Durado before finishing his four turns though panels of :28.4, 58.1, 1:27.2 and 1:56.3, a length faster than Resolve. Third went to King City, with Datsyuk getting the final place at the table. The $40,000 elim for the 59th Messenger -- nine sophomore colts/geldings to end up with eight -- was won by a pocket-sitting Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick). From post No. 2, he whipped a cone-skimming Forty Five Red by a neck in 1:53 with McWicked a belated third. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 1,890; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,002; 3. David Miller - 869.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 625.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 523. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,957.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,519; 3. Erv Miller - 396.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 349; 5. Tony Alagna - 312. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 431.4; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 386.4; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 277; 4. Brittany Farms - 254.45; 5. Robert Key - 232. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Hoosier Park and Vernon Downs. Hoosier will feature the Carl Erskine Trot for 3-year-olds, the Monument Circle for 3-year-old male pacers, the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby for older pacers, the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers and the Moni Maker for 3-year-old filly trotters. Vernon will offer the Artiscape for older pacing mares, the Muscle Hill for older trotting mares, and a pair of Kindergarten finals for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
TORONTO, October 21 - The finest two-year-olds in harness racing will take centre stage this Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack, as the Fall Four Stakes highlight a $2.1 million card. The $565,000 Governors Cup, the $521,000 Valley Victory, the $464,000 Goldsmith Maid and the $424,000 Three Diamonds make up the Fall Four Stakes, which star the best youngsters in the sport. The Fall Four Stakes were established during the mid to late 1980's at Garden State Park in New Jersey. This Saturday will be the sixth time that the Woodbine Entertainment Group plays host to the Fall Four. Multiple World Champions and divisional leaders will be on display in the four rich finals this Saturday evening. The Governors Cup for two-year-old pacers was established in 1985 and over the years many of the sport's greats have won the prestigious event, including Artsplace, Western Hanover and Life Sign. This year's edition of the Governors Cup is headlined by Metro Pace winner Artspeak. The son of Western Ideal made a break on the final turn in his elimination, but recovered to make up ground in the stretch and finish third. Artspeak (PP6), who will be driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Tony Alagna, is a seven-time winner from nine starts and has earned $523,227 in his rookie season. Lyons Again (PP3) and Pierce Hanover (PP2) were both upset winners in last Saturday's eliminations. Lyons Again broke his maiden with his 14-1 upset victory, while Pierce Hanover was a 13-1 surprise winner in his split. A son of Dragon Again, Lyons Again will be driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke. Despite having only one victory on his resume, Lyons Again has a bankroll of over $174,000 from eight starts this season. Pierce Hanover is a four-time winner from ten starts for career earnings of $62,688. The son of Cams Card Shark will be driven by Jody Jamieson for trainer Ken Sucee, who shares ownership with his brother, Ralph. The Governors Cup will take place as Race 7 Saturday night. The Goldsmith Maid for two-year-old trotting fillies was first contested in 1990. CR Kay Suzie, Peaceful Way and Passionate Glide are just some of the top trotters to have captured the event. Looking to add her name to the impressive list of champions is World Champion Mission Brief (PP4) The Burke trainee captured her elimination last Friday in 1:54.4 and was making her first start since becoming the fastest two-year-old trotter of all-time when she won at The Red Mile in 1:50.3 on October 2. The daughter of Muscle Hill will be driven by Gingras, who was happy with her performance in the elimination. "She was very good, wrapped up and had plenty of trot left," said Gingras. "She had been off a few weeks, so I think next week will be even better and she will be at her best." Mission Brief has won seven of 10 starts for earnings of $327,400. Gingras and Burke also teamed up in the other elimination to win with Gatka Hanover. A daughter of Muscle Massive, Gatka Hanover (PP3) turned in arguably her best performance to date in her elimination and impressed her driver. "She beat a great filly in Jolene Jolene rather easily so I was impressed with her." Gatka Hanover has won five of 11 starts for earnings of $160,068. The Goldsmith Maid has been carded as Race 3 Saturday evening. Established in 1990, the Valley Victory for two-year-old trotters has been captured by top trotters Donerail, Lindy Lane and Deweycheatumnhowe. The team of Gingras and Burke will once again team up in the Valley Victory, this time with William Wellwood Memorial winner Habitat. A son of Conway Hall, Habitat (PP4) won his third consecutive race in last Saturday's elimination by almost three lengths. Habitat has won six of nine starts for career earnings of just under $350,000. The other elimination winner, Whataworkout (PP3), is also the most lightly raced trotter in the field. A son of Muscle Hill, Whataworkout will be making only his fifth career start this Saturday. The Frank Antonacci trainee has two wins in four starts for earnings of over $27,000. Scott Zeron will be at the controls of Whataworkout. The Valley Victory will take place as Race 5. The Three Diamonds for two-year-old pacing fillies was first held in 1989 and has been won by top fillies such as Miss Easy, Immortality and Worldly Beauty. Arguably the top two-year-old in all of harness racing, Jk Shesalady, headlines the field of ten for the Three Diamonds. A daughter of Art Major, Jk Shesalady won her elimination last Friday to improve her career record to a perfect nine for nine. Trained by Nancy Johansson and driven by Gingras, Jk Shesalady's biggest victory of the season came in the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady final at Mohawk on August 30. The undefeated filly has banked $457,350 this season. Looking to hand Jk Shesalady her first defeat is the other elimination winner, The Show Returns. Trained by Chris Ryder and driven by Zeron, The Show Returns won her elimination last week for her fourth win in nine starts this season. A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, The Show Returns biggest victory of the season was in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk on September 6. The Show Returns has earned just over $106,000 this season. The Three Diamonds has been carded as Race 9 Saturday evening. Post time for the 13-race card Saturday evening is 7:25 p.m. Here are the full fields for Saturday night's Fall Four Stakes finals. PP/Horse/Driver Race 3 - Goldsmith Maid - Purse: $464,000 1. Jolene Jolene - Brian Sears 2. Demons N Diamonds - Scott Zeron 3. Gatka Hanover - Yannick Gingras 4. Mission Brief - Yannick Gingras 5. Flirting Filly - Ron Pierce 6. Smexi - Corey Callahan 7. Stubborn Belle - Paul Macdonell 8. Juanitas Fury - Paul Macdonell 9. Tymal Illbthere - Trevor Henry 10. Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson AE: Lilu Hanover - Scott Zeron Race 5 - Valley Victory - Purse: $521,000 1. Pinkman - Sylvain Filion 2. Uncle Lasse - Ron Pierce 3. Whataworkout - Scott Zeron 4. Habitat - Yannick Gingras 5. Aldebaran Eagle - Corey Callahan 6. Jetpedia - Mike Saftic 7. The Bank - Jimmy Takter 8. Walter White - Brian Sears 9. Big Rich - Randy Waples 10. Iron - Brian Sears AE: Lookslikeachpndale - Sylvain Filion Race 7 - Governors Cup - Purse: $565,000 1. Lancaster Park - James MacDonald 2. Pierce Hanover - Jody Jamieson 3. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 4. Arque Hanover - Steve Condren 5. Lost For Words - Doug McNair 6. Artspeak - Scott Zeron 7. Go Daddy Go - Corey Callahan 8. Migrate Blue Chip - Rick Zeron 9. Blood Brother - Sylvain Filion 10. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples AE: Lyons Levi Lewis - Sylvain Filion Race 9 - Three Diamonds - Purse: $424,000 1. Happy Becky - Chris Christoforou 2. The Show Returns - Scott Zeron 3. Jk Shesalady - Yannick Gingras 4. Float On By - James MacDonald 5. Solar Sister - Scott Zeron 6. Ideal Nuggets - Sylvain Filion 7. Rock Her World - James MacDonald 8. Band Of Angels - Yannick Gingras 9. Zip Code Envy - Ron Pierce 10. Shakai Hanover - Jody Jamieson AE: Storm Point - Ron Pierce by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
After guiding Lyons Again to his first career win in his Governor's Cup elimination at Woodbine last weekend, driver Yannick Gingras believes it is just the start for the 2-year-old male pacer. Gingras arrived at Woodbine last Friday and Saturday with plenty of firepower for the Fall Four Stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters, and it all fired. He drove horses in all eight Fall Four eliminations, posting five wins, two second-place finishes and one fourth. In addition to winning with Lyons Again, Gingras picked up victories in both eliminations for the Goldsmith Maid, with female trotters Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover, a win in the Three Diamonds with female pacer JK She'salady, and a triumph in the Valley Victory with male trotter Habitat. He finished second with Three Diamonds contender Band Of Angels and runner-up with Governor's Cup hopeful Blood Brother. His fourth-place finish was with Pinkman in the Valley Victory elims. The Fall Four Stakes finals, worth a total of nearly C$2 million, are Saturday at Woodbine. Lyons Again was the longest shot driven by Gingras, at 14-1, but his Governor's Cup elimination win from post nine by three-quarters of a length over Traceur Hanover in 1:52.4 was not a complete surprise. "He was a longshot for everybody (else) but I've really, really liked this colt," Gingras said. "He's really been a bridesmaid, always finishing second or third, but he ran into a really sharp horse in Artspeak early in the year. There's no shame in finishing second to him, as sharp as he was." A son of Dragon Again-A Filly To Fear owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Lyons Again has one win, four seconds and two thirds in eight starts. Three times he hit the board in races won by Artspeak, with two runner-up finishes, and once he finished second to Yankee Bounty. Artspeak and Yankee Bounty are harness racing's two richest 2-year-old male pacers and have combined to win 15 of 18 races. Lyons Again, who finished third in the Metro Pace and has earned $161,687 this year, was not eligible to the Grand Circuit races at The Red Mile in Lexington, so the colt enjoyed a six-week layoff following his second-place finish in a division of the Champlain Stakes on Sept. 6 at Mohawk. "It's not very often that you'll have a horse at that level getting a six-week break in the middle of the summer when they're healthy," Gingras said. "I think it's going to help him. I think this week he should be even tighter; it will be his second start off the layoff." Lyons Again, trained by Ron Burke, will start the C$565,000 Governor's Cup from post three. Pierce Hanover, who won the other elimination, leaves from post two with Jody Jamieson at the lines for trainer Ken Sucee. Artspeak, who finished third after going off stride in his elim, won by Pierce Hanover, is in post six for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna. "After this we move onto the Breeders Crown," Gingras said. "I think (Lyons Again) could have a big fall. He's a big, strong horse and I think he's going to keep getting better." In addition to speaking about Lyons Again, Gingras provided some insights regarding the seven remaining horses he drove in the Fall Four Stakes elims. Blood Brother: Trained by Jimmy Takter, he finished one length behind Pierce Hanover last weekend. He will start the Governor's Cup final from post nine with Sylvain Filion listed to drive. A son of Somebeachsomewhere-Blood Diamond, his family includes millionaires If I Can Dream, Western Terror, Delinquent Account and Artiscape. He has one win in eight starts and $68,731 for owners Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables. "He's a nice little horse," Gingras said. "He always fusses with his head. The day he decides that he's going to pay attention to racing and forget about all the other stuff he'll be an even better horse. He's got a lot of ability, but his mind is not always on racing. "Last week he raced really good. I used him a little bit early and then had to come out around the last turn because the horse in front of me didn't carry me as far as I'd have liked. He gave (Pierce Hanover) a good run in the stretch; it was a horserace. He'd been off for a few weeks, so I think he'll be even better. But he didn't draw very good, so that's going to be a little harder for him." Mission Brief: Trained by Ron Burke, she won her Goldsmith Maid elimination by 1-1/4 lengths over Danielle Hall in 1:54.4. She starts the C$464,000 final from post four. She is the fastest 2-year-old trotter in harness racing history, with a mark of 1:50.3, and winner of seven of 10 races for $324,440. She went off stride in all three losses. The filly is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. "She was really good last week," Gingras said. "She might have been the most relaxed she's ever been. She was two fingers to drive, maybe a little bit on the lazy side if anything. I think she's getting to understand what we're trying to do with her. Obviously, she had plenty left. I came the last quarter in 28 and change and the earplugs were still in her and I never asked her. She was wrapped up. "She's her own worst enemy. If she's going to get beat, it's because she's going to go back to her bad habits. But knock on wood, she was solid last week and should be good again this week." Gatka Hanover: Trained by Burke, she won her Goldsmith Maid elim by 4-1/2 lengths over Jolene Jolene in 1:55.4. She starts the final from post three. A daughter of Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough, Gatka Hanover has won five of 11 races and $158,693. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents, Tracy Hendler, and Weaver Bruscemi. "She proved game last week," Gingras said. "She was a little bit too grabby; I went to the half fairly quickly (:56.4) and it was more her than me that was making that happen. But then when Jolene Jolene came at her, she still was strong. "I think she's second best in this race. Mission Brief is going to have to beat her to win, but I don't think they're quite in the same league." Habitat: Trained by Burke, he won his Valley Victory elimination by 2-3/4 lengths over Jetpedia in 1:55.4 and starts the C$521,000 final from post four. Habitat made breaks in his first two starts, but has won six of seven races since then, including the William Wellwood Memorial. He has earned $323,078. The son of Conway Hall-Habit's Best is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents, and Weaver Bruscemi. "Early in the year he had a couple little glitches behind the gate, but ever since he got over that stuff, he's been absolutely perfect," Gingras said. "He does everything you ask of him, and more. He's got perfect manners and is beautiful to drive. He makes my job really easy. "He's been racing on the front quite a bit, but he really doesn't need to. When he baby raced, he did it from the back and just stormed home, going by a lot of horses. He's very handy; you can do whatever you want with him. He showed that he's got a lot of speed and he's game, so he's got all the qualities that you're really looking for in a racehorse. He's very complete." Pinkman: Trained by Takter, he finished fourth in his Valley Victory elimination, which was won by Frank Antonacci's Whataworkout, snapping a three-race win streak. Pinkman, named after a character from the television series "Breaking Bad," starts the final from post one, with Filion listed to drive. A son of Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster, Pinkman has won three of five races and $72,615 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "He's a very nice horse too," Gingras said. "He got locked in last week, otherwise I think he would have won too. I never had daylight. I tried to go up the inside, but there was no room there. "He's done nothing wrong. He's a little bit of a late-bloomer, but I've raced him his last four starts and he's won three of them, and he beat good horses doing it. He's a little bit on the lazy side, but once you get him to go, he can go a long way and he doesn't seem to get tired. He'll give you a hundred percent. "No doubt, he's one of the horses to beat. This race, there are five or six horses that can win. Whoever can trip out the best will be the winner." JK She'salady: Trained by Nancy Johansson, she won her Three Diamonds elimination by one length over Solar Sister in 1:53.3. She will start the C$424,000 final from post three. Undefeated in nine starts and ranked No. 3 in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10 poll, behind trotters Sebastian K and Father Patrick, JK She'salady has earned $432,150 for owner 3 Brothers Stables. She is a homebred daughter of Art Major-Presidential Lady and her mark of 1:50.1 is tied for the fastest in history by a 2-year-old female pacer. "She hasn't done anything wrong," Gingras said. "She's got a crazy brush in her. I don't think she necessarily has to race (from off the pace) but why change something that's working? We'll see how this week plays out. Maybe we'll put her in play a little bit earlier than we have been. In an ideal world, they'll mix it up a little bit up front and I get to race her again first or second over and I think she'll get the job done from there." Band Of Angels: Trained by Burke, she finished second by a neck to The Show Returns in her Three Diamonds elimination. She starts the final from post eight. A daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Time N Again, and half-sister to millionaire Romantic Moment, Band Of Angels has won six of nine races and $177,487 for owner Bill Donovan. "I think she might have been a little bit short last week," Gingras said. "She felt really good turning for home and got outpaced in the last little bit. Not by much, but a little bit. She hadn't raced in a few weeks; I think she needed the start. I think she'll be even better this week, so there's no doubt in my mind that if I'm going to win (with JK She'salady) she's one of the major contenders I'm going to have to beat." Gingras is North America's leading driver in purses, with $13.42 million, and No. 1 in the Grand Circuit standings. He has won 29 races worth at least $100,000, with 14 coming with horses trained by Burke and 13 by Takter. Burke leads all trainers with a record $22.88 million in purses this year while Takter is second with a career-best $10.19 million. "It's been a great year, no doubt, but I'm only as good as the trainers I'm driving for," Gingras said. "Ronnie and Jimmy getting along and letting me do my thing and pick the best horse definitely helps tremendously. They really have been understanding. "It's definitely the hardest part of my job to tell one of them that I'm not driving their horse. But I've been honest with both of them. If I say to one of them I'm going with theirs, I'm going with theirs. I think they're both appreciative of that, that I'm up front. All three of us, nobody is playing games. They respect each other, and I think that makes it a lot easier. Hopefully there's more success to come for all of us." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
TORONTO, October 20 - On Monday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, harness racing driver Mike Saftic recorded his 5,000 career driving victory behind trotter Magic Shelley. Saftic, 52, entered the evening only one win shy of the career milestone. In the evening's third race, Saftic worked out the perfect trip with Magic Shelley to not only record his 5,000 victory, but also captured a division of the first leg of the Autumn Series. Saftic began his driving career in 1981 at his hometown track, Sudbury Downs, before moving to the Woodbine Entertainment circuit a few years later. Since joining the circuit, Saftic has consistently put up solid numbers each season and has driven top horses such as, Hall of Fame pacing mare Ellamony, Armbro Cruiser, Luck Of Michelle and 2002 Metro Pace champion Sir Luck. A resident of Milton, Saftic has earned more than $1 million in each season since 1989 and has career earnings of more than $93 million. This season, the veteran reinsman has recorded 96 victories and earnings of just under $2 million. The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to congratulate Mike on his accomplishment and wish him continued success throughout his career. The Autumn Series for Ontario sired two-year-old fillies of both gaits got underway Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $14,000 divisions of the opening leg were contested for both pacers and trotters. In order to be eligible to the Autumn Series, two-year-olds must be Ontario sired and be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of September 30, 2014. In the opening division for the filly trotters, Mischief Smile moved from second to first in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:58.4. Trained by Paul Reid and driven by Trevor Henry, the daughter of Majestic Son broke her maiden with the victory and has now earned over $46,000 in nine career starts. Battle Mage finished second, while Mets Life and Cum Laude Hall finished third and fourth respectively. Mischief Smile returned $6.20 to win. In the second division, another Reid trainee was first to the wire to give the conditioner a sweep of round one action. Magic Shelley grinded her way first up and trotted away from her rivals in the stretch for a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:57.4. The victory was extra special for driver Mike Saftic, as it was his 5,000th career driving victory. The leg one triumph was a maiden breaking score for the daughter of Majestic Son. Magic Shelley has now earned over $13,000 in eight career starts. Meadow Seelster took the place spot, while Tymal Fireitup and Mass Rail rounded out the Superfecta. Magic Shelley paid $11.50 to win. The first division for the two-year-old pacing fillies saw another filly break her maiden. Little Miss Sporty, who was last at the three-quarter pole, was shown racetrack in the stretch by driver Steve Condren and blew by her rivals with ease for a 1 ¼ length victory in 1:55.1. Trained and co-owned by Stacey Reinsma, Little Miss Sporty had a pair of second place efforts in four starts heading into Monday evening, including a second place finish in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg. A daughter of Sportswriter, Little Miss Sporty now has career earnings of $36,250 for owners Reinsma and John Patterson. Caviart Cari Ann finished second, while Dublin Rose took the show spot. Amazing Control rounded out the Superfecta. Little Miss Sporty paid $35.90 to win. In the final division, Tessa Seelster went gate to wire for a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:55.4. A daughter of Shadow Play, Tessa Seelster was blasted to the lead by driver Mario Baillargeon and never looked back to pick her up second victory in five career starts. Trained by Ben Baillargeon, Tessa Seelster has now earned $15,760 in her young career for owner Richard Berthiaume. Southwind Luna finished second over Maralika, while Lady Jen finished fourth. Tessa Seelster returned $7.00 to win. The second round of the Autumn Series for two-year-old fillies will take place next Monday night (October 27). Autumn Series action continues Thursday evening with the opening round for two-year-old colts and geldings of both gaits. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
If her recent results are any indication, The Show Returns has arrived. But harness racing owner Richard Young says the reason the filly was slow to find the spotlight had more to do with unfortunate luck than lack of performance. The Show Returns heads into Saturday's $424,000 Three Diamonds Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers at Woodbine off a neck win over Band Of Angels in 1:53.1 in their elimination division, giving the Chris Ryder-trainee three victories in a row. She will start the Three Diamonds from post No. 2, with Scott Zeron listed to drive. A daughter of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of Stienam's Place, The Show Returns is a full sister to previous Young female pacing star Put On A Show, who earned $2.4 million in her career and was the 2010 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old female pacer. The Show Returns, who was purchased for $180,000 under the name Hey There Delilah, at last year's Lexington Selected Sale, has won four of nine races and earned $98,738 for Richard and Joanne Young. "We thought she was quite good from the get-go, so to speak, but she just had unfortunate situations," Richard Young said. "People are saying she kind of tailed off in the middle (of the year) but she didn't really tail off. Some things happened. It wasn't that she got bad; if she had gotten bad, I'd have turned her out." The Show Returns finished second by a half-length to Stacia Hanover in her debut in a preliminary round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, then finished a troubled-trip fifth in the final. She bounced back to win a round of the Whenuwishuponastar Series at Mohawk Racetrack, then finished fifth-placed-fourth in the final. After the race, The Show Returns was diagnosed with synchronous diaphragmatic flutter; spasms of the diaphragm in synchronization with the heartbeat more commonly called "the thumps." The Show Returns was off-the-board in her next two races, but has been unbeaten since. Among her wins were the She's A Great Lady Consolation and a division of the Champlain Stakes, both in 1:52. "She's a nice filly," said Young, who in addition to Put On A Show owned I Luv The Nitelife, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old filly pacer. "I don't know if she'll ever be as good as the other two; I think that's asking a lot. But she's competitive and she has good speed. "Anytime you have speed, you can get position. And when you get position, something (good) can happen. I like her." The Show Returns is Young's only racehorse at the current time. "If you look at her on the track, she's a peanut," Young said, laughing. "I don't generally buy peanuts, I like the bigger horse. But she was a June foal, so I thought she might grow. I don't think she's grown an inch. But she has speed, she has an ability to get position, and it looks like she will fight. I can always hope." The Show Returns will face - for the first time - undefeated JK She'salady in the Three Diamonds. JK She'salady won her elimination on Saturday by one length over Solar Sister in 1:53.3 for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Nancy Johansson. The filly, who in August won the She's A Great Lady Stakes by four lengths in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1, is 9-for-9 this year. "I've been touting 'Lady' for Pacer of the Year, and I think if she stays undefeated, she should be," Young said. "I don't know if very many people are going along with me, but the fact is she does have the best record out there. She's undefeated and she's won them all easily. "Of course, I want to beat her and prove me wrong. I wouldn't bet my horse with your money, but that doesn't mean I can't hope that we beat her. I think she's untouchable right now, but I'm hoping that she's not. "I'm a little spoiled. In the last six years or so, I had the horse that was supposed to win. I have to get used to not being the best one. But she could in fact be the second-best one. That's OK, too." The Show Returns in her Three Diamonds Elimination The full field in post order for the Three Diamonds is 1 Happy Becky 2 The Show Returns 3 JK She'salady 4 Float On By 5 Solar Sister 6 Ideal Nuggets 7 Rock Her World 8 Band Of Angels 9 Zip Code Envy 10 Shakai Hanover. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications
TORONTO, October 18 - The Fall Four Stakes eliminations were completed Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $25,000 eliminations were contested for the Governors Cup for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings and the Valley Victory for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings. The top five finishers from both eliminations advanced to next Saturday's finals. Lyons Again and Yannick Gingras pulled off a 14-1 upset in the first elimination of the Governors Cup. Leaving from post nine, Lyons Again showed good early speed to grab the lead past the opening quarter in :26.3, but quickly took to the two-hole and allowed Lyons Levi Lewis to clear to the front. Lyons Levi Lewis carved out fractions of :56.1 and 1:23.3 to bring the field to the top of the stretch, while Lyons Again sat patiently In The Pocket and Rufo challenged first up with the favourite, Lost For Words, second over. In the stretch, Rufo could not sustain his pressure and faded back allowing Lyons Again to come off the rail and over take the lead from Lyons Levi Lewis. Lyons Again would hold off Traceur Hanover and Lost For Words to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4. Go Daddy Go finished fourth, while Migrate Blue Chip got up for fifth to advance to the $565,000 final. The Governors Cup elimination victory was a maiden breaking score for Lyons Again, who is trained by Ron Burke for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. The son of Dragon Again finished third in the $667,000 Metro Pace on August 30 at Mohawk and had only missed the board once in seven career starts heading into his elimination. Lyons Again has now earned of over $174,000 in eight career starts. He returned $30.50 to win. Lyons Again In the second elimination, Pierce Hanover scored a 13-1 upset victory in 1:52.1. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Pierce Hanover sat third entering the final turn and edged to the outside to come first up, allowing the heavy favourite, Artspeak, to pick up second over cover. However, Artspeak would make a quick break on the turn and lost enough ground to take him out of contention. Pierce Hanover would capitalize on the break by the favourite and paced by the three-quarter pole leader, Arque Hanover, in the stretch and would go on to win by a length in 1:52.1. Blood Brother, who got a two-hole trip, finished second, while Artspeak regrouped and rallied to finish third. Arque Hanover held on to finish fourth and advanced to the final, along with fifth place finisher Lancaster Park. A son of Cams Card Shark, Pierce Hanover is trained by Ken Sucee, who shares ownership with Ralph Sucee. Pierce Hanover has now won four times in ten career starts and carries a bankroll of over $62,000. He returned $28.10 to win. Pierce Hanover In the first elimination of the Valley Victory, Whataworkout and Scott Zeron got up in the final stride to defeat seven other rivals in 1:56.3. Trained by Frank Antonacci, Whataworkout angled out from fourth on the final turn and was first up to challenge the leader Uncle Lasse, as the field reached the three-quarter pole in 1:26.4. In the stretch, Whataworkout grinded away at the leader and got up in the final steps to pull off a 21-1 upset. Uncle Lasse finished second by a neck, while Big Rich took the show spot. A son of Muscle Hill, Whataworkout is owned by Lindy Farms of Connecticut and has now won twice in four career starts for earnings of over $27,000. The clocking of 1:56.3 is a new lifetime best for the Antonacci trainee. Pinkman finished fourth, while The Bank finished fifth to lock up a spot in next week's final. Whataworkout paid $44.20 to win. Whataworkout There was no upset in the second elimination, as Habitat, the 1/5 favourite, did not disappoint. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Habitat was parked to the opening quarter in :27.3, before touching down on the lead. The son of Conway Hall would set fractions of :58 and 1:26.4 to lead the field into the stretch, where he cruised home under a Gingras hand drive to win by 2 Â¾ lengths in 1:55.4. Jetpedia, who was second over on the last turn, got up for second, while Aldebaran Eagle prevailed in a show photograph over Walter White. Trained by Ron Burke, Habitat has now won six of nine career starts, including the $390,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk on September 13. Habitat has now earned over $349,000 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. He returned $2.90 to win. Iron finished fifth to punch the last ticket into next week's $521,000 final. Habitat Following the eliminations, the post positions for the finals were drawn. Elimination winners earned the right to select their post. Here is how they will lineup next Saturday night. PP/Horse/Driver $521,000 Valley Victory Final 1. Pinkman - Yannick Gingras 2. Uncle Lasse - Ron Pierce 3. Whataworkout - Scott Zeron 4. Habitat - Yannick Gingras 5. Aldebaran Eagle - Corey Callahan 6. Jetpedia - Mike Saftic 7. The Bank - Jimmy Takter 8. Walter White - Scott Zeron 9. Big Rich - Randy Waples 10. Iron - Brian Sears AE: Lookslikeachpndale - Sylvain Filion $565,000 Governors Cup Final 1. Lancaster Park - James MacDonald 2. Pierce Hanover - Jody Jamieson 3. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 4. Arque Hanover - Steve Condren 5. Lost For Words - Doug McNair 6. Artspeak - Scott Zeron 7. Go Daddy Go - Corey Callahan 8. Migrate Blue Chip - Rick Zeron 9. Blood Brother - Sylvain Filion 10. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples AE: Lyons Levi Lewis - Sylvain Filion The Fall Four Stakes finals will take place next Saturday, October 25 at Woodbine Racetrack. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
TORONTO, October 17 - Two-year-old fillies were in the spotlight Friday night for their Fall Four Stakes eliminations at Woodbine Racetrack. A pair of $25,000 eliminations were contested for both the Goldsmith Maid for two-year-old trotting fillies and the Three Diamonds for two-year-old pacing fillies. The top five finishers from each elimination advanced to next week's finals. In the first elimination of the Three Diamonds, JK She'salady improved to a perfect nine for nine to start her career with a 1:53.3. victory. The daughter of Art Major got away in third as Happy Becky set a soft opening half of :58.3. In the third quarter, JK She'salady made a first over bid and would take over the lead as they reached the third station in 1:26.3. In the stretch, JK She'salady would cruise home under a confident drive from Yannick Gingras to win by a length. Solar Sister finished second, while Happy Becky took the show spot. Trained by Nancy Johansson, JK She'salady's biggest victory to date was in the $480,000 She's A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk on August 30. She is owned by the 3 Brothers Stable of New York, New York and has now earned over $456,000 in her young career. Float On By and Shakai Hanover finished fourth and fifth to earn the last two spots in next week's final. Jk Shesalady paid $2.10 to win. JK She'salady In the second elimination, The Show Returns converted off a two-hole trip to win in a tight three-horse photo. Driven by Scott Zeron, The Show Returns took a seat in second as Band Of Angels and Yannick grabbed the early lead. Band Of Angels carved out fractions of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:25 to bring the field into the stretch without any challenge. In the stretch, The Show Returns came off the rail and battled with Band Of Angels to the wire, as Ideal Nuggets made a bid on the outside to make it a tight three-horse finish. At the wire, The Show Returns prevailed by a head over Band Of Angels and a neck over Ideal Nuggets in 1:53.1. Rock Her World and Zip Code Envy secured the final two spots in the final by finishing fourth and fifth. A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, The Show Returns is trained by Chris Ryder for owners Richard and Joanne Young. The Show Returns The Three Diamonds elimination victory was her fourth win in nine starts and boosts her career earnings to over $100,000. She returned $5.40 to win. The first elimination of the Goldsmith Maid saw Gatka Hanover pull off a 6-1 upset over the 1/5 favourite Jolene Jolene. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Gatka Hanover was parked past the first quarter in :27.4 and cleared to the front as the field entered the backstretch. Trotting along in fourth, Sylvain Filion sent Jolene Jolene first up as the field was approaching the half. Gatka Hanover posted fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.1 to bring the field into the stretch, with Jolene Jolene edging closer to the leader. In the stretch, Gatka Hanover responded to urging from Gingras and turned aside Jolene Jolene to win by 4 Â½ lengths in 1:55.4. Jolene Jolene held on to finish second, while Juanitas Fury finished third. Smexi and Flirting Filly finished fourth and fifth respectively to advance to the final. A daughter of Muscle Massive, Gatka Hanover is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, Tracy Hendler and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The elimination victory was Gatka Hanover's fifth win in 11 starts and boosts her earnings to over $160,000. She paid $14.00 to win. Gatka Hanover In the second elimination, Gingras and Burke teamed up once again, this time with World Champion Mission Brief. Sent off as the 2/5 favourite, Mission Brief cleared to the front after an opening quarter of :27.3. After setting fractions of :57.2 and 1:26.1, the daughter of Muscle Hill fought off an inside challenge from Danielle Hall to win by length and a quarter in 1:54.4. Tymal Illbthere finished third, while Stubborn Belle and Demons N Diamonds grab the last two spots in the final. Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, J and T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Mission Brief was making her first start since setting a World Record of 1:50.3 at The Red Mile on October 2. Mission Brief has now won seven of ten career starts and carries a bankroll of over $327,000. She returned $2.80 to win. Mission Brief The $464,000 Goldsmith Maid final and the $424,000 Three Diamonds final will be contest next Saturday, October 25 as part of the Fall Four Stakes Night. The post positions for both finals were drawn after the eliminations. Elimination winners were able to select their post for the final. Here is how they will lineup next week. PP/Horse/Driver Three Diamonds Final 1. Happy Becky - Chris Christoforou 2. The Show Returns - Scott Zeron 3. JK She'salady - Yannick Gingras 4. Float On By - James MacDonald 5. Solar Sister - Scott Zeron 6. Ideal Nuggets - Sylvain Filion 7. Rock Her World - James MacDonald 8. Band Of Angels - Yannick Gingras 9. Zip Code Envy - Ron Pierce 10. Shakai Hanover - Jody Jamieson AE: Storm Point - Ron Pierce Goldsmith Maid Final 1. Jolene Jolene - Sylvain Filion 2. Demons N Diamonds - Sylvain Filion 3. Gatka Hanover - Yannick Gingras 4. Mission Brief - Yannick Gingras 5. Flirting Filly - Ron Pierce 6. Smexi - Jimmy Takter 7. Stubborn Belle - Paul Macdonell 8. Juanitas Fury - Paul Macdonell 9. Tymal Illbthere - Trevor Henry 10. Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson AE: Lilu Hanover - Scott Zeron The eliminations for the Governors Cup and Valley Victory will take place tomorrow evening. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie,for WEG
Trainer Brian Brown has no problem articulating his feelings about Lost For Words. "As a racehorse, he just does everything the way you want it done," said Brown, who is preparing the 2-year-old male pacer for the Governor's Cup eliminations at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday. "He's just a nice little horse that never disappoints you. "Those kinds are nice to have, but hard to get." Lost For Words brings a three-race win streak to his Governor's Cup elim. He competes in the first of the two divisions, starting from post six with driver Doug McNair. The elim also includes stakes-winners Lyons Levi Lewis, Go Daddy Go, and Traceur Hanover. Another Brown trainee, Talking Points, is in the second elim, where the spotlight will be on Metro Pace champion Artspeak. Talking Points is winless in nine races, but has earned $72,811. Woodbine also hosts two eliminations for the Valley Victory Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters on Saturday. The top five finishers in all the elims advance to the finals of the Fall Four Stakes on Oct. 25. For the year, Lost For Words has won five of nine starts and earned $186,337 for owners Country Club Acres, William Robinson, Richard Lombardo, and Strollin Stable. His most recent three races were victories in the Standardbred Stakes and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. "That little guy has raced good almost every start, he just had a couple tough trips here and there," Brown said. "Otherwise that colt has raced perfect every week." Lost For Words has finished off the board only twice. The first time came in his debut, from post eight at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The second also was at Pocono Downs, when he was stuck on the outside the entire mile from post seven in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He has not lost since. "I think it says a lot about the horse's courage and his desire to be a racehorse, to get roughed up and come right back and race as good as he can," Brown said. "And he wasn't all out in any of those (most recent) races. He just has a great attitude. You can do whatever you want with him." Lost For Words is a son of stallion Well Said out of the stakes-winning mare Thou Shalt Not. He was purchased for $50,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale and his family includes 1998 Breeders Crown champion Juliet's Fate. "I generally look at every Pennsylvania horse in the book and pick out the ones I want to look at," Brown said. "His pedigree looked fine and when I went and looked at him, I just fell in love with him. He wasn't a tall horse, but he had an extra little bit of length to him. At that time, when he was a yearling, he was a nice, thick, stout horse. He's just a good looking horse with a good pedigree. "The best thing about him is that he's either improved as the year went on, or he hasn't lost anything where some of the others are starting to tail off. But he's been great the last month. He still feels good, he's still out there playing when he jogs. I trained him (Tuesday) and he was great. I expect him to be OK." Talking Points finished third in the Standardbred Stakes and earned checks in divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. Another son of Well Said, out of the mare Bikini Bottom, he is owned by Country Club Acres, AWS Stables, William Robinson and Milton Leeman. "He's banged around and gotten checks in most of his starts," Brown said. "He's just a nice horse. He's getting to be a little bit of a bully. He probably needs to be a gelding. He gets a little too grabby and a little hard to handle, so he does wind up on the front some. "We're going to try to rig him so they can handle him and come from behind hopefully. Get him to calm down a little bit." Lost For Words and Talking Points both are eligible to the Breeders Crown in November. "As long as Lost races well, he will go," Brown said. "Talking Points would probably have to be really good the next two weeks for him to go." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communciations
Last week we came up short on the win bets at $-2.90 for the weekend but more than made up for it in some decent exotic scores that totaled more than $350.00. This week there are tons of racing action Friday and Saturday with the Windy City Pace Friday at Maywood Park, the Indiana Sire Stakes finals at Hoosier Park Saturday, Woodbine is back in action with the elims Friday and Saturday for the top freshman stakes, Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds & Goldsmith Maid, Yonkers has the eliminations for the Messenger Pace and Yonkers Trot and we even stop at Batavia Downs for the Robert Kane Memorial Pace. Good Luck! $25,000 Pace Three Diamonds 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 1st race FRIDAY - She is the "little darling" of harness racing. Unbeaten JK She'salady is a perfect 8 for 8 going into her elimination division. She has beaten everyone in this field already this season and continues her domination of the freshman pacing filly ranks. Use Happy Becky and Solar Sister in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Goldsmith Maid 2yo Filly elim Woodbine 3rd race FRIDAY - World record holder Mission Brief either wires the field or runs like a deer. Temperamental filly is super-fast and should be able to win in here. Use Danielle Hall and Stubborn Belle in exotic plays. $37,600 Pace Cinderella Stake 3yo Fillies Maywood Park 8th race FRIDAY - Last week this filly was gutted trying to get to the front and never making it. Lady Shadow has been great for most of the season and has the speed and ability to get the jump on the field and return to winning ways. Use Major Dancer and Kayla Grace in exotic plays. $180,000 Windy City Pace 3yo Colts Maywood Park 9th race FRIDAY - Top stakes race has drawn a very competitive field. After last week's great closing effort in American-National from post 10, I have to go with Somewhere In L A. He is never out of the money and from good inside post he is due to get some great cover to score from. Use Big Boy Dreams and Let's Drink On It in exotic plays. $40,000 Pace Messenger Stake 3yo Colts elim Yonkers 2nd race SATURDAY - This is the prelude to next week's finale as only one will be eliminated from this race. I think the Ron Burke entry of All Bets Off/Forty Five Red will be very tough to beat. All Bets Off has been awesome all season with ten wins. He draws inside and is on a five-race win streak. Use McWicked and National Debt in exotic plays. $25,000 Trot Valley Victory 3yo Colt elim Woodbine 3rd race SATURDAY - Having won five of his last six starts makes Habitat the big favorite in here and rightly so. Has beaten almost everyone he has faced this year on the front end and can overcome outside post to do it again. Use Whom Shall I Fear and Noble Power in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 4th race SATURDAY - Being the class of the field does not hurt Nuncio's chances in here, but having only once qualified on a half mile track (won in 1:58.4) at age two makes this a tough start. Draws into easier of two divisions but questionable if can take the turns but Jimmy Takter would not have entered him if he can't handle it. Use Way Outta Here and Don Dorado in exotic plays. $40,000 Yonkers Trot 3yo colt elim Yonkers Raceway 5th race SATURDAY - The Ron Burke entry of Gural Hanover/Hillustrious looms very tough in here with their 1-2 post positions. Well matched field has to be dwindled down to just four to advance to the final so the action will be fast and furious. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Datsyuk in exotic plays. $200,000 Trot Indiana Sire Stakes 2yo Colt Final Hoosier Park 7th race SATURDAY - This race should belong to Airman Batten as he has won ten of his twelve starts this year and had beaten everyone in the field this season and has done it from on and off the pace. Use Steal N Gas and Homicide Hunter in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace Robert Kane Memorial Invit Batavia Downs 7th race SATURDAY - Changed my mind a couple of times on this race which only shows how competitive the field is. I decided to go with Aracache Hanover off his two straight wins at Yonkers, wiring the field in extra distance races. Use Easy Again and Apprentice Hanover in exotic plays. $25,000 Pace Governors Cup 2yo Colt elim Woodbine 8th race SATURDAY - We Will See tonight if the break by Artspeak was a fluke two weeks ago or if he is getting tired from the tough season. Outside post not much help but with a week's rest if he is fit he will work his magic, get to the front and return to winning ways. Use Dudes The Man and Pierce Hanover in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Fillies Hoosier 11th race SATURDAY - Winner of the Jugette has not missed a beat since her impressive victories in Delaware. Color's A Virgin has won 10 of 14 starts this year and is on a four-race win streak that she should be able to add another triumph to. Use Candy's A Virgin and Always Wearable in exotic plays. $200,000 Pace Indiana Sire Stakes Final 3yo Colts Hoosier 13th race SATURDAY - Having ruled in the Indiana Sire Stakes this season, Always B Miki returns for the rich final for Joe Holloway Stable. Has won five of last six starts, rested a week and should be primed to lay over this field. Use Bluehourpower and If I Lose in exotic plays.
TORONTO, October 15 - The Mohawk summer meet has come to a close and fall has officially arrived as live harness racing returns to Woodbine this Thursday, October 16. The Fall/Winter meet will feature four-nights-a-week of racing, Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Broadcast upgrades and the return of a state-of-the-art tracking tool will change the way fans and horseplayers watch the races from Woodbine. Beginning with Thursday's opening card, the Woodbine Standardbred simulcast feed will be produced in High Definition (HD) in a production control room on the fourth floor of the Woodbine grandstand. Customers on site will be able to view the races in HD (1080p; 16:9 aspect ratio). Fans south of the border will be able to view the races in HD as TVG, the premier horse racing TV channel in the United States, will be carrying the Woodbine 1080p HD signal. As for the product on the track, driver Jody Jamieson believes the track dimensions at Woodbine allow for more upsets. "A lot of the time the best horse wins at Mohawk, but at Woodbine the turns are different, a little smaller then that big last turn at Mohawk that allows horses to get into the race," said Jamieson, "At Woodbine, the best horse can be kind of marred in traffic and get himself beat a little more often then at Mohawk." Jamieson is also a big fan of the track surface at Woodbine, which will offer purses of approximately $200,000 a night, and the speed it offers. "I love racing at Woodbine...I think the track is a faster track and maybe one of the fastest tracks in the world to race good horses on." As for an adjustment period between switching from Mohawk to Woodbine, Jamieson said it doesn't take long. "I adapt to it right away and I think most guys adapt right away to the racing style and hopefully the bettors appreciate it." While not installed for opening night, fans will also soon enjoy the return of Trakus to the Woodbine Standardbred broadcast. Trakus, the automated racehorse tracking system, is being relaunched to provide Standardbred horseplayers with the best data around. The reintroduction of Trakus to Standardbred racing will offer horseplayers the most accurate charts and information in harness racing. Trakus compiles information on each horse at every point of the race through wireless communication to a tag placed inside the saddle pad. Horesplayers will now know exactly where each horse is during the race, through the Trakus technology incorporated into the live simulcast feed. The opening weekend at Woodbine will feature the return of the Fall Four Stakes. Last contested at Woodbine in 2010, the Fall Four Stakes brings the top two-year-olds in harness racing to Toronto to contest the Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds and Goldsmith Maid. Eliminations for the events will take place this Friday and Saturday and the finals will take place as part of a $2 million card on Saturday, October 25. Post-time for each night of live racing is 7:25 p.m. except on two special occasions. Post-time on Saturday, November 1 will be 7:55 p.m., while the special afternoon Boxing Day card on Friday, December 26 will feature a post-time of 1 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
TORONTO, October 14 - The top rookie pacers and trotters in harness racing are converging on Woodbine Racetrack this weekend for the eliminations of the Fall Four Stakes. Made up of the Governors Cup, Valley Victory, Three Diamonds and Goldsmith Maid Stakes, the Fall Four Stakes is an annual showcase of the best two-year-olds harness racing has to offer. This Friday and Saturday evening, Woodbine will play host to a pair of eliminations for all four events. On Friday night, 13 two-year-old trotting fillies have been split into two $25,000 eliminations of the Goldsmith Maid. Headlining the group of trotting fillies is the fastest two-year-old trotter in the history of harness racing. Mission Brief has drawn post four in the second elimination for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The daughter of Muscle Hill most recently won a division of the International Stallion Stake at the Red Mile in a jaw-dropping World Record time of 1:50.3. The World Record clocking erased the all-time record for a two-year-old trotter by a full second. The Burke trainee has won six of nine starts heading into her elimination. The two Goldsmith Maid splits will be contested as Races 2 and 3. Another World Champion will also be in action on Friday night. Leading the group of 12 fillies split into two $25,000 elims is JK She'salady. A daughter of Art Major, JK She'salady is undefeated in eight career starts for trainer Nancy Johansson, with her biggest triumph coming in the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady Final at Mohawk on August 30 in a World Record equaling time of 1:50.1. JK She'salady most recently won a division of the International Stallion Stake at Lexington on October 3rd. She will start from post position three in the first elimination on Friday night with regular driver Gingras. The Three Diamonds eliminations will be contested as Races 1 and 6. Saturday night will be the boys turn in the spotlight. A total of 19 two-year-old pacing colts and geldings will battle in a pair of $25,000 eliminations for the Governors Cup. Artspeak, this year's Metro Pace winner, will make his return to Canadian soil in the second elimination. A son of Western Ideal, Artspeak has drawn post nine in a field of nine for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Scott Zeron. Artspeak, who leads all two-year-olds in earnings with $520,227, most recently suffered the first defeat of his career when he made a break in the stretch of the International Stallion Stake at the Red Mile on October 4. The freshmen standout will be looking to rebound on Saturday evening and is one of three starters Alagna will send out in the Governors Cup elims. The Governors Cup eliminations are carded as Races 6 and 8. An even group of 18 freshman trotting colts and geldings have been separated into two $25,000 eliminations of the Valley Victory. Billy Flynn, the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion, will make his Canadian debut in the first preliminary. A son of Cantab Hall, Billy Flynn started his career a perfect eight for eight, but most recently suffered his first defeat in a division of the International Stallion Stake at the Red Mile on October 3. Trained by Staffan Lind, Billy Flynn, who will start from post seven, will have a chance to redeem himself as the colt who defeated him, Pinkman, will lineup three spots over in post position four. Lind has not yet listed a driver for Billy Flynn on Saturday evening. The Valley Victory eliminations will take place as Races 2 and 3 on Saturday's 13-race card. The top five finishers from all the eliminations will advance to next Saturday's rich finals. Elimination winners will earn the right to select their posts for the final. The purses for all four finals have been set. The Governors Cup will go for $565,000, the Valley Victory will be contested for $521,000, the Goldsmith Maid goes for $464,000 and the Three Diamonds will be raced for $424,000. Post time for each card of live racing is 7:25 p.m. Here are the fields for this weekend's eliminations. PP/Horse/Driver Friday, October 17 Three Diamonds Race 1 - 1st $25,000 Elimination 1. Happy Becky - Chris Christoforou 2. Shakai Hanover - Jody Jamieson 3. JK She'salady - Yannick Gingras 4. Float On By - James MacDonald 5. Solar Sister - Jody Jamieson 6. Storm Point - Ron Pierce Race 6 - 2nd $25,000 Elimination 1. The Show Returns - Scott Zeron 2. Ideal Nuggets - Sylvain Filion 3. Wicked Little Minx - Steve Condren 4. Band Of Angels - Yannick Gingras 5. Rock Her World - Scott Zeron 6. Zip Code Envy - Scott Zeron Goldsmith Maid Race 2 - 1st $25,000 Elimination 1. Jolene Jolene - Sylvain Filion 2. Flirting Filly - Ron Pierce 3. Smexi - Ron Pierce 4. Juanitas Fury - Paul Macdonell 5. Amoureuse Hanover - Randy Waples 6. Gatka Hanover - Sylvain Filion Race 3 - 2nd $25,000 Elimination 1. Tymal Illbethere - Trevor Henry 2. Stubborn Belle - Paul Macdonell 3. Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson 4. Mission Brief - Yannick Gingras 5. Demons N Diamonds - Yannick Gingras 6. Southwind Champane - Steve Byron 7. Lilu Hanover - Scott Zeron Saturday, October 18 Governors Cup Race 6 - 1st $25,000 Elimination 1. Lyons Levi Lewis - Sylvain Filion 2. Rufo - Ron Pierce 3. Asap Hanover - Brian Sears 4. If You Want Fire - Chris Christoforou 5. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples 6. Lost For Words - Ron Pierce 7. Dreams Beachboy - Scott Zeron 8. Migrate Blue Chip - Rick Zeron 9. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 10. Go Daddy Go - TBA Race 8 - 2nd $25,000 Elimination 1. Lancaster Park - Jody Jamieson 2. Arque Hanover - Steve Condren 3. Pierce Hanover - Jody Jamieson 4. Talking Points - Ron Pierce 5. Penji Hanover - Scott Zeron 6. Blood Brother - Yannick Gingras 7. Dudes The Man - Corey Callahan 8. Lyons Geoffjnr - Yannick Gingras 9. Artspeak - Scott Zeron Valley Victory Race 2 - 1st $25,000 Elimination 1. Code Bon - Chris Christoforou 2. Guess Whos Back - Brian Sears 3. Uncle Lasse - Ron Pierce 4. Pinkman - Yannick Gingras 5. The Bank - Jimmy Takter 6. Big Rich - Randy Waples 7. Billy Flynn - TBA 8. Whataworkout - Scott Zeron 9. Lookslikeachpndale - Sylvain Filion Race 3 - 2nd $25,000 Elimination 1. Iron - Tim Tetrick 2. Walter White - Scott Zeron 3. Aldebaran Eagle - Corey Callahan 4. Jetpedia - Mike Saftic 5. Whom Shall I Fear - Ron Pierce 6. Southwind Stryker - Steve Condren 7. Stonebridge Force - Steve Condren 8. Habitat - Yannick Gingras 9. Noble Power - Chris Christoforou by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
CAMPBELLVILLE, September 23 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to remind horsepeople that nominations for this year's Ontario Sired Autumn Series are due next Wednesday, October 1. The series will be offered to two and three-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. The series will take place at Woodbine Racetrack. Ontario Sired two-year-olds that are non-winners of $30,000 lifetime, as of midnight, September 30, 2014 will be eligible to the series. As for the Ontario Sired three-year-olds, non-winners of $50,000 lifetime or $30,000 in 2014 as of midnight, September 30, 2014 will meet the conditions for the series. Each series will consist of two preliminary legs and a final. The nomination fee for each category is $200 and is due by Wednesday, October 1, 2014. To view the nomination form, please click here. To pay the $200 nomination fee online, please click here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than October 1, 2014 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
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