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TORONTO, May 26 - Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf offered free and rare access to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city, including Woodbine, this past weekend.   In honour of this summer's Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games, this year's Doors Open theme - Sports, Recreation and Leisure - showcased private and public recreational sites ranging from aquatic centres to athletics stadiums.   At Woodbine, guided bus tours of the private stable area, grandstand, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as well as other key spots on the racetrack's 680 acres were offered to fans.   Nearly 2,000 people signed up for Woodbine tours over the two-day extravaganza.   "Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to acknowledge the great outpouring of support by the Rexdale community and those across Toronto who came to visit Woodbine and all the other venues during Doors Open Toronto weekend," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). "We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support of all that happens at Woodbine.   "I'm extremely proud of our employees and staff at Woodbine who went the extra step to show how great the racetrack really is," Mr. Lawson said. "We also have to commend the efforts of the Doors Open Toronto organizers, who put on a terrific spectacle that displayed the city at its best."   WEG is the largest horse racing operator in Canada offering world class horse racing at both Woodbine (Toronto) and Mohawk (Milton) racetracks. WEG also operates off-track wagering through its Champions teletheatre network throughout Ontario, which includes WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan, Turf Lounge in the heart of Toronto's financial district and Greenwood in the Beach area of Toronto. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HPIbet (formerly HorsePlayer Interactive), the company's telephone, internet and mobile account wagering service. WEG operates HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada.   A "Caring Company" since 1997, Woodbine Entertainment Group is a member of Imagine Canada, a national program that promotes public and corporate giving, volunteerism and support to the community.   John Siscos

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Visit the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and Woodbine Racetrack as they take part in Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf.  This is your opportunity and to learn about the history and heritage of Canadian horse racing from historians and docents including Hall of Fame Founder/Director Emeritus, Lou Cauz; author and Hall of Fame Member Bill Galvin; and harness racing ambassador, owner and super fan, Sydney Weaver.  See rare memorabilia and photos of iconic Canadian horses Northern Dancer and Cam Fella, test your trivia knowledge for the chance to win great CHRHF merchandise, and take your picture as a harness driver or jockey in the photo area. Woodbine activities include backstretch bus tours starting at 10am each day, with behind the scenes tours beginning at noon, and don’t forget there is a full card of Thoroughbred racing action beginning at 1pm both Saturday and Sunday.  Hall of Fame driver Ron Waples and Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley are also scheduled to make appearances. Events takes place this Saturday May 23rd & Sunday May 24th from 10am until 5pm.  The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, founded in 1976, offers visitors a one of a kind look into 250 years of rich history and heritage of both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse racing industry in Canada.  For further information on the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame visit canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com & join the conversation via Facebook and Twitter! Facebook:  Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Twitter:  @cdn_halloffame @woodbineracing @Doors_OpenTO and using the event hashtag #DOT15 Linda Rainey Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

TORONTO, May 14 - The highly popular Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf, which offers free and rare access to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city, presents a unique opportunity to see Woodbine Racetrack as never before on May 23 and May 24.   In honour of this summer's Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games, this year's Doors Open theme - Sports, Recreation and Leisure - showcases private and public recreational sites ranging from aquatic centres to athletics stadiums.   "Woodbine is honoured to be part of this great event," said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. "Doors Open Toronto offers a tremendous opportunity for people to experience the many diverse and celebrated sites across our great city. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our historic venue."   Guided bus tours of Woodbine's private stable area, beginning at 10 am, will be offered. Visitors will have the opportunity to see where more than 2,000 horses live and train, hear from experienced caretakers and racing personnel, tour the paddock, and walk through the Thoroughbred starting gate.   Visitors will also have a chance to participate in a guided walking tour of Woodbine's Grandstand, beginning at noon. , including the Hall of Fame, showcasing WEG's rich racing history, the state-of-the-art in-house broadcast studios, press box, the Thoroughbred paddock, and the Winner's Circle.   There will also be an opportunity to meet Woodbine's jockeys and drivers.   Those attending can take in the sights and sounds of live racing action on both days. Post time for Saturday and Sunday is 1 pm.   Parking is available at Gate 10 for easy access to the tour registration area. Accessible drop-off and tour sign up is located at Gate 11.   Tours are on a first come, first serve basis and are scheduled once on the site. Accessible tours are available upon request.   And, don't forget to bring a camera or video camera. Interior photography and filming is permitted, including tripod.   WEG is the largest horse racing operator in Canada offering world class horse racing at both Woodbine (Toronto) and Mohawk (Milton) racetracks. WEG also operates off-track wagering through its Champions teletheatre network throughout Ontario, which includes WEGZ Stadium Bar in Vaughan, Turf Lounge in the heart of Toronto's financial district and Greenwood in the Beach area of Toronto. Remote wagering is also available to customers through HPIbet (formerly HorsePlayer Interactive), the company's telephone, internet and mobile account wagering service. WEG operates HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts its racing product into homes across Canada.   A "Caring Company" since 1997, Woodbine Entertainment Group is a member of Imagine Canada, a national program that promotes public and corporate giving, volunteerism and support to the community. ​ For more information about WEG's CSR agenda and its performance outcomes, www.wegcares.ca   Social Media:   Join the conversation by following @woodbineracing @Doors_OpenTO on Twitter and using the event hashtags #DOT15 #WEGcares   John Siscos

There are some athletes, who are to their sport — like jam is to peanut butter. They come together like eggs to bacon. They blend. They become one, an osmosis in the world of sweat — like Jordan and basketball; a puck and Gretzky, baseball with The Babe. One without the other is intellectually indigestible. So, it is, that harness racing has always had its Filion and a Waples. Or two. Jody Jamieson is a multiple O’Brien Award winner and John Campbell is regarded with a reverence rarely heard this side of a Gordie Howe conversation. Some, such as Sylvain Filion, who leads the drivers’ standings with Canada’s top harness circuit moving to Mohawk Thursday from Woodbine, continue to hold the standard high for the old world order. But, look close enough, and it is evident that standardbred racing is also coming into a new age. The twitter generation is making its move. A younger, perhaps bolder more aggressive, and evidently a talented wave of young drivers has taken a foothold in the industry. Perhaps never before has so much young blood lined up horses behind a starting gate. “I think it has changed quite a bit,” says Doug McNair, who at age 25, sits second in the driver’s standings behind only Filion. “Even if you go back just a few years, most guys had to be in their 30s before they could race (on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit) full-time. Me, Jon Drury, and a couple others, all came in about the same time and I think it’s good for the sport. “When you have the younger drivers well, they tend to hang out with a younger crowd and I think it might get more younger people ... a new generation of people coming out to the track.” There is certainly a new generation taking over on the track. With the switch-over to Mohawk, three of the five top drivers have yet to see a 30th candle lit on their birthday cake. Drury, from Rockwood, Ont., is fifth with 37 wins. McNair, has 62 wins in 332 starts, just six behind Filion. James MacDonald, who at age 28 recorded his 1,000th lifetime win last season, sits in third spot with 44 wins. “I think I’ve got a lot of good years ahead. Most of the better, older drivers didn’t get to their best until their mid-30s,” said MacDonald, who grew up in a racing family in Prince Edward Island. “A younger group is starting to break through ... a few of us have gotten noticed.” Noticed is a modest way of putting it. McNair surpassed the 2,000-win mark last year and ranked as the top Ontario Sires Stakes driver. In 2008, at age 18, he became the youngest driver in harness-racing history to win a $300,000 purse in the Battle of Waterloo. Horses, he has always realized, would be his life. His father Gregg, one of Canada’s top conditioners with over $31 million in career earnings, got him started in the sport. “I was only five or six years old maybe when it happened, but there’s a picture in my bedroom of me sitting on a bike in the winner’s circle after (Filion) won a race with one of my dad’s horses. Now I’m 25 and I’m getting a chance to go out there every night with some of these guys. How great is that. Sure, I have my bad days sometimes and I’m not happy when I leave the track — but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” said Doug, “lots of four- and five-year-old kids dream of going to the NHL. I always dreamt of going to the track and racing.” Like McNair, Drury and MacDonald both grew up in racing families. Unlike McNair, Drury and MacDonald had to find, or rediscover, their passion for racing after some alternative adolescent diversions. “I played hockey, I played baseball. You name it, I played it,” said MacDonald, who enjoyed his job at the track canteen in Charlottetown, but rarely hung out at the family or track barns. Both his parents worked at the local track, the family was into the breeding business and his brothers Mark and Anthony were already on track to successful careers as drivers. “My brothers were always obsessed with the horses. I wasn’t,” said MacDonald. After graduating Grade 12, he worked a summer in Campbellville for his brother Anthony but, “I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest” and he returned to college in P.E.I. Everything changed the following summer when he went back to Campbellville and his brother put him on a bike. “I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I was older. Maybe it was just I knew people and had more friends but I loved it.” And, the game, it turned out, loved him back. Last year, he drove Muscle Babe to a stakes-record performance in the $178,287 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association final for three-year-old filly trotters in an impressive 1:54. His purse earnings this season already top $800,000. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if I’m having a bad night and I go to the gate I still believe I’ve got the best job in the world.” Drury could be building racetracks rather than racing on them. While he also grew up in a racing family — his father Barry worked at Mohawk, still trains horses and once worked for the legendary Ron Waples as an assistant trainer at the old Meadowlands — he toyed with the idea of becoming an architect. “I really enjoyed it, and woodworking in high school. I thought about going to university but I ended up finishing high school and ... well, racing kind of took over. I guess it was just in my blood.” He started at a small track in Woodstock, his father gave him a leg up with a few horses. “Mostly it’s about opportunity. You have to get a chance to drive some decent horses ... when people see you winning at the smaller places they start to be more willing to let you go to the big tracks,” said Drury. A move to Kawartha Downs a few years later and teaming up with top trainers Corey Johnson and Carmen Auciello was the birth of his “Made It” moment. “I was a regular driver there (Kawartha Downs) and they started using me and we developed a relationship and it just snowballed from there,” said Drury, who also raced at Pocono for Auciello. “It was a great experience. I think it really helped me to be to where I am at today. It’s a different style of racing (at the Poconos), it taught me a lot and I think its made me a better driver now.” Since then he has become an integral part in the development of O’Brien Award winner Vegas Vacation, guiding the colt to victory in his first lifetime start at Mohawk Racetrack. Ultimate goals: For MacDonald? “You try not to look at the standings but you do ... It would be to win a drivers title at WEG,” he said. “To me the biggest thrill is still to have a full card against the best drivers that I grew up idolizing. We’re young ... at this age you’re eager to prove (yourself). We want to win and be like the guys who’ve been in this sport a long time.” Thursday, McNair has six races on the opening card at Mohawk in a season in which he is off to his best career start, and one he hopes will culminate with his ultimate dream: The O’Brien Trophy (awarded annually to Canadian harness-racing’s best and brightest) and a driving championship. “I picked up some good horses to start the year and it just seems to have snowballed from there,” said McNair. “In 2013 I got nominated, along with Filion, for driver of the year. He was always one of the guys I idolized when I was a kid. When that happened I felt like I belonged.” They have taken different paths to get to where they belong, but standardbred’s young guns are arriving at the finish line together. Said Drury: “When you’re racing at Woodbine and Mohawk you’re obviously doing something right. Just knowing I’m racing with the best is kind of a special feeling ... In the past, owners have always gone with the experienced guys. It’s nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot, with good horses, because I do think it’s good for the sport. By Bill Lankhof for the Toronto Sun Reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Sun

Racetrack magnate Jeff Gural hates dishonesty. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand why the man who spent more than $100 million to build a new grandstand at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey said he was “really angry” with Standardbred trainer Corey Johnson. Both horses Johnson raced in the Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands in November of 2014 — including Traceur Hanover, the winner of the 2-year-old colt pace — later tested positive for cobalt. The lab in Hong Kong Gural personally employed to do the testing reported each horse had five times the threshold level of cobalt typically found in a horse’s system. Gural, 72, also was irked that the New Jersey Racing Commission had allowed Johnson to race in the Breeders Crown in the first place. The Ontario Racing Commission suspended the trainer on the Monday before the Crown finals after another horse he trained received a positive test for elevated total carbon dioxide (TC02) levels at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. “The guy embarrassed the sport,” said Gural, who maintains a sizeable list of trainers banned from racing at the Meadowlands as well as the two smaller harness tracks he also owns in upstate New York — Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Yet, Gural couldn’t bar Johnson’s Crown entries because the Breeders Crown is operated by the Hambletonian Society, which defers to the sport’s state and provincial regulators to determine a participant’s eligibility. The New Jersey Racing Commission allowed Johnson to race because the trainer had not had a hearing in Ontario prior to the Crown finals. After the cobalt positive, Gural not only banned Johnson from racing at his tracks, he also banned entries from Quebec-based owner Richard Berthiaume, the owner of both of Johnson’s Breeders Crown entries. “We’ve now made changes to our rules so that can never happen again,” Gural said, explaining the language in those rules is so broad that the track will now be able to reject entries for all stakes races at his tracks, even those operated by outside groups. The Breeders Crown will return to the Meadowlands in 2016. Gural is puzzled why people in horse racing call him a polarizing figure. To read the extensive full article written by Dave Briggs click here. Dave Briggs is the co-editor of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine and a freelance horse racing columnist and features writer. For 18 years, he was the editor of the harness racing trade publication The Canadian Sportsman.

On Saturday night, the gambling industry witnessed the perfect storm when the harness racing meet at Woodbine offered a one race wager that captivated the gambling world.   A combination of huge carryover, takeout reduced by more than 40 per cent to create the huge carryover, a twenty cent minimum and a mandatory payout gave the players a large advantage statistically resulting in a wager that paid out significantly more money than it took in.   The incredible value of the High Five would bring sports bettors, thoroughbred bettors, poker players and gamblers from around the world to invest in the greatest of wagering opportunities, resulting in a Woodbine High Five pool that would break all North American records.   The Saturday High Five wagers totaled a record $2,581,505. The carryover of $847,458 brought the total pool to $3,428,963, another North American record for harness racing. After the takeout of $387,225, the net pool was $3,041,738 creating a surplus to the winners of $460,232, a fact that was not lost on those investors that knew their mathematics.   The Hugh Five was raced and the result was the second most logical of all from a statistical point of view. The 4-5 favorite Camaes Fellow was victorious followed by the 4-1 second favorite,the7-1 third favorite, the 12-1 fifth favorite and the 11-1 fourth favorite. This fairly predictable finish resulted in 3,522 twenty cent winners. When the results were posted, even the most optimistic players in the game could not believe the payoff they were seeing. The payout was incredibly generous. We will make things easier by converting all race 11 wagers to a one dollar payout. The exacta paid $7.59, the trifecta paid $36.10 and the super paid $211.90. The High Five paid $4,317.55 for a buck. In other words, the High Five paid over twenty times the superfecta by simply adding the next favorite in the betting. The twenty cent price was $863.51. This unbelievable payout rewarded the players handsomely for successfully putting a winning ticket together on a bet that was from a pure numerical standpoint one of the greatest wagering opportunities ever offered. Thank you to all horseplayers for your hugesupport of low takeout wagers, making more of them possible. Handle for the eleven race card was a season high $4,696,209. It was extremely encouraging to see the tracks that were still racing, The Meadowlands, Balmoral and Cal Expo showing the Woodbine High Five race on their signal highlighting the most important race of the night. This is the type of cooperation that I hope we will see later this year for The North America Cup, The Meadowlands Pace, The International Trot, The Breeders Crown and others. Congratulations to Woodbine for an extraordinary job. Best wishes to Mohawk as they open up their expanded meeting with a ten race card on Thursday. Michael Antoniades  -  Chicago Racing Analyst  

TORONTO, April 7 - Woodbine Entertainment Group today announced that per harness racing handle for the 2014-15 Woodbine Standardbred Fall-Winter meet, which concluded on Monday, April 6, was up in comparison to the same period during 2013-14. A total of 94 race cards were held at Woodbine between October 16, 2014 and April 6, 2015, 22 more race dates than the same period over the 2013-14 racing season. The 2014-15 Woodbine Standardbred Fall-Winter meet recorded an "all-sources" betting total of $138,154,596.15. The average per race handle for the meet was $136,922.30, a 7.2% increase over the same period a year prior. A handle of $4,696,209 on Saturday, April 4 was the largest handle of the Fall-Winter meet. The significant handle was powered by a record-setting Jackpot Hi-5 pool of $2,581,505 wagered into a carryover pool of $847,458 for a total of $3,428,963. More than $3 million was paid out to horseplayers who had the winning Jackpot Hi-5 combination. The single-race handle on the Jackpot Hi-5 dash on the April 4 card of $2,966,808 set a new industry record for largest single-race handle, while the Jackpot Hi-5 pool set a record as the largest total for a single-pool. Sylvain Filion finished the Winter-Fall meet as the leading driver with 119 wins. The veteran reinsman finished the meet as the only driver to top $2 million in earnings. On the training side, Richard Moreau led all conditioners with 87 wins and earnings of more than $1.1 million. The 118-date Mohawk Racetrack Spring-Summer meet kicks off Thursday, April 9. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, April 6 - A pair of harness racing  sophomore pacing fillies continued their dominance Monday night in the second leg of the Blossom Series at Woodbine. Two $15,000 second leg divisions of the series event for three-year-old pacing fillies were contested Monday evening. First round winners Cast No Shadow and Maplelea returned to score victories once again and set up a potential showdown in the series final. In the first division, Cast No Shadow improved her record to five for five in 2015 with a sharp 1:52.2 victory. Driven by Mike Saftic, Cast No Shadow, the 1/5 favourite, sat off the pace early on and would get into the outer flow heading towards the final turn. A fading first up challenger would force Cast No Shadow and her cover to go three-wide, but that wouldn't faze the public's choice. Cast No Shadow would explode off her cover in the stretch and charge by leader Moonlit Dance to prevail by a length and three-quarters. High Fashion Mel and Nippy W Hanover finished third and fourth, respectively. A daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow paced home in :26.4 to remain undefeated in 2015. She is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams and now has over $40,000 in career earnings. The clocking of 1:52.2 knocked more than two-seconds off Cast No Shadow's previous career-mark. She paid $2.50 to win. Cast No Shadow Maplelea, the HPI Series winner, scored her fifth consecutive victory with a 1:56 triumph in the second division. Sent off as the 1/2 favourite, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron got away sixth and last in the early stages of the race. Little pace was offered in the second-quarter and the field got to the half in just 1:00.1. Maplelea started up on the outside down the backstretch and was situated second-over coming off the final turn. In the stretch, Maplelea powered by her rivals to score a length and three-quarters victory. Her individual final-quarter was a dazzling :26.1. Doctor Terror finished second, while Beyonces Rockn took third. A daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won seven of nine starts this season for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her career bankroll now sits at over $82,000. Maplelea returned $3 to win. Maplelea Both Cast No Shadow and Maplelea will now have a chance at the Blossom Series sweep in next Monday's $36,200 final at Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie WEG Communications

An action-packed second leg of the harness racing Youthful series was the Doug McNair show Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A pair of seven-horse $15,000 divisions took place in the second and final preliminary leg of the Youthful series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The first division of the evening featured a matchup between round one winners Dialamara and Legion Of Boom. The public put their support behind Dialamara, as the Patrick Fletcher trainee was sent off as the 1/2 favourite, while Legion Of Boom was the second-choice at 5/2. Driver Sylvain Filion wasted no time putting Dialamara on the front-end and the pair were able to control the tempo down to the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1. Legion Of Boom and driver Doug McNair were situated second-over around the final turn, but still several lengths off the leader as they turned for home. In the stretch, Legion Of Boom blasted down the centre of the racetrack and would pace by an all-out Dialamara to win by half a length in 1:53.4. Giovanni finished third, while Pantheon Hanover rounded out the Superfecta. A son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is co-owned by driver Doug McNair and is trained by his father, Gregg. Equus Standardbreds Inc. rounds out the ownership of the gelding pacer. Legion Of Boom now has a record of four wins from seven starts in his first season on the track. The leg two victory pushes his bankroll over $49,000 and his clocking of 1:53.4 knocks a full-second off his previous career-mark. A $2 win ticket on Legion Of Boom returned $7.10 to win. Legion Of Boom The second leg of the Youthful took place five-races later on the card and by that time snowy conditions had taken over the Toronto oval. American Rock and McNair would take the second division at 2/1 to give the reinsman a round two sweep. A son of Rocknroll Hanover, American Rock came first up in the second-quarter and overtook the lead just past the mid-way point from Nobettorplacetobe. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.1, American Rock and McNair would hold off their rivals in the lane to score the victory by a length over Nobettorplacetobe in 1:54.1. Team Captain came off second-over cover to finish third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. American Rock is trained by Ben Wallace for owner Brad Grant and now has four wins from seven starts in 2015. The sophomore pacer was purchased by his connections during the Meadowlands Mixed Sale in January. American Rock, who finished second in last week's opening leg, now has earnings of over $38,000. He paid $6.30 to win. American Rock In order to be eligible to the Youthful Series, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The $37,000 Youthful final will take place next Saturday (April 11) at Mohawk Racetrack. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, April 4 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group offered a mandatory payout on the harness racing Jackpot Hi-5 wager Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Jackpot Hi-5 wager requires a horseplayer to select the top five finishers in order. If there are multiple winning tickets, 50% of the evening's pool is paid out to the winning tickets, while the other half is carried over to the following card. The last single winner to take home the entire 'Jackpot' was on December 8, 2014. As a result, a record carryover of $847,458.26 had accumulated over the past several months and was offered in a mandatory payout on Saturday's card. Scheduled as the last race on the 11-race program, the Jackpot Hi-5 had $2,581,505 (before takeout) of new money wagered Saturday night, bringing the total pool size to $3,041,738. The result was a payout of $4,317.55 on a $1 wager ($863.51 on a $0.20 wager) after the son of Mach Three, Camaes Fellow and driver Jonathan Drury came away with the victory at odds of 4/5. Camaes Fellow The top five finishers are as follows: 1. #4 Camaes Fellow - 4/5 2. #2 Bilbo Hanover - 4/1 3. #8 Cougar Hall - 7/1 4. #12 Regal Son - 12/1 5. #6 The Rev - 11/1 The Jackpot Hi-5 wager, which was added to the WEG betting menu in October 2013, has a $0.20 minimum bet and a takeout rate of 15 per cent. The Jackpot Hi-5 will now start from scratch on Monday evening's card at Woodbine.McNair doubles up in Youthful. Mark McKelvie  

The sport of harness racing will break through another major barrier Saturday night with one of the greatest wagering opportunities ever offered. It is the culmination of gambling vision, a reduced takeout for the players and a very popular new wager. The combination of all those things and a mandatory payout will give harness racing their entrance to gambling High Society on Saturday with a deal that nobody can match.   April kicks off with a spectacular Final Four Saturday , offering a plethora of big events to wager on. Highlighting the afternoon will be three $1,000,000 preps for the Kentucky Derby .The Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Bluegrass from Keeneland on their new surface will make the Derby picture a little clearer. Some of the biggest pools of the year will be offered, but the biggest and most popular wager will not be on a million dollar thoroughbred race in the afternoon. It will be on a $35,000 harness race in Toronto Saturday night.   This is not opinion. It's a fact. I realize that for most people in racing, what I just stated makes absolutely no sense. That is completely understandable. My opinion is based on knowing that the investment opportunity that Woodbine is offering is far superior. If you look at the wagering dynamics of the Woodbine bet, I think you will agree. Based on an estimated pool of $3,000,000, that means that $2,152,542 in new money will be combined with the carryover of $847,458 to reach the $3 million mark. Those numbers would easily establish this bet as the biggest harness racing pool in North American history. By reducing the takeout by more than 40% for the duration of the bet, Woodbine has created the rarest of bets, one that pays out more than it will take in on Saturday night, At the levels established above, the takeout on the new money would be $332,881.30. That leaves us with a Saturday net pool of $1,819,660. Now we add the carryover of $847,458 to get a final pool of $2,667,118. In other words the Saturday winning High Five wagers of $2,152,542 will be rewarded with winnings of $2,667,118, a surplus of $514,576. Based on a $3,000,000 pool, for every winning dollar Woodbine is going to pay you almost $1.24.   While the three million dollar preps offer field sizes of six, seven and eight , Woodbine has assembled a twelve horse field to make the race more appealing to the masses. A twenty cent minimum assures that players of every size bankroll can participate. You can box five horses for $24 or you can key one on top of four others for the tidy sum of $4.80. Others will be spending thousands to try and hit the High Five multiple times because of the extraordinary return. The USTA and Canada along with some forward thinking track operators have been working diligently and are listening to horseplayers to make the gambling side of the game better. They are succeeding in creating a new frontier and should take a bow Saturday for a moment in time that five years ago was unthinkable. The deluxe program page is available courtesy of Track Master and the USTA Strategic Wagering platform at www.ustrotting.com. More than thirty years ago, Niatross gave harness racing its Roger Bannister moment when he broke the 1:50 barrier in Lexington. Saturday the gambling side of the business will have their Neil Armstrong moment. It's one small step but for one shining moment this bet will vault harness racing into the gambling mainstream for the simple reason that everyone that gambles knows what a good bet is when they see one. Let's not waste this marvelous opportunity.   By Michael Antoniades  

Louisville, KY --- He is not quite sure how all these harness racing agents tracked down his number, but Andrew Moore’s cell phone began to ring incessantly on Jan. 9. Nearly 90 days later, people still have not received the message as Moore and his girlfriend, Dr. Tiffany Richards of Russell Equine in Ontario, have no intention of selling their stable star Maplelea. “I guess you should never say never,” said the 35-year-old Prince Edward Island native. “But it would have to be a partnership and it would have to be the perfect situation. Believe me, my girlfriend picked her out and she said she is not going anywhere. Somehow or another, the woman always wins.” The 3-year-old daughter of Sportswriter and the Run The Table mare Maple Lady is one the hottest horses in harness racing and will seek to make it five wins in a row when she competes in the second leg of the Blossom Series at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday (April 6). She will commence her mile from post six, with regular reinsman Rick Zeron in charge, as the 4-5 morning line favorite after a facile triumph in 1:57 in the first leg of the series on March 30. A $7,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, Maplelea’s seasonal record now stands at a sparkling 8-6-2-0 with just under $60,000 in the bank and a mark of 1:53.4s in a dominating performance in the second leg of the Horseplayer Interactive Series on March 13. The filly took those first two legs by a total margin of 14-1/4 lengths before cruising home in the final by 4-1/4 lengths in 1:55.3. As a 2-year-old, however, she only made it to the gate on three occasions, hit the board once and earned a mere $979. So how did Maplelea come home fourth at Rideau Carleton in a $3,870 non-winners race on Dec. 28 and pace to a maiden-breaking triumph in an $11,900 non-winners contest at Woodbine on Jan. 8? Well, it’s pretty simple really. It involved a little bit of luck, a lot of class in the family tree and Zeron grabbing the lines. “To tell you the truth I was looking at her pedigree at the sale and her mother was a nice mare that made more than $260,000 going up against the best,” said Moore, who is a schoolteacher by day. “Meanwhile Tiffany was looking her over and she was slightly off in one knee, as well as being on the small side, but not many people would notice the knee. Tiffany really wanted her, especially after her mother and brother went through the ring and the price was right, so we took her home. “She was easy to break and then right around the first week of December, before I could even put hobbles on her, we found her face down in her stall with one of her back feet stuck in the stall bars,” Moore said. “Thank God we were able to get her shoes off and get her out of there. “She was sore in her back and hind end, but I was not sure what kind of racehorse she would ever be after that or if she did something that would not allow her to ever be a racehorse. So I just gave her time and did not even jog her for months after that. “Last year was just about giving her an education and she was racing against colts, as well as older mares. Also, I took care of her while I was driving. I just wanted her to learn what she was supposed to do and then was ever so fortunate she did not hurt herself too badly. We had a chiropractor work on her and now I always put a mat up in her stall. She goes nowhere without it because she’s a good-feeling horse and does like to bounce around in there.” Although her sire was certainly no slouch, Maplelea does hail from a high quality female line. All four of her siblings have made it to the races and collected purse money, with Storm The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere, p,4,1:50.2, $169,909) the most prolific to date. Her dam is a half-sister to College Student (Beach Towel, p,3,1:54, $117,563), Rusty’s For Real (Real Artist, p,3,1:50f, $429,747), Takemewithyou (Artiscape, p,1:51.2f, $158,206) and Winbak Carl (Royal Mattjesty, p,1:51f, $101,948). Her second dam, the Cam Fella mare Cams Exotic, also amassed $618,585 on the racetrack and at the astonishing age of 27 has a 2-year-old Dragon Again colt in Cloud Speed. Her last two foals have both broken the $100,000 barrier in purse money. Also, Maplelea’s third dam, Armbro Exotic, although nowhere near as superb on the racetrack as Maple Lady and Cams Exotic, or in the breeding shed, did produce a full brother to Cams Exotic in Exotic Earl p,4,1:50.2 ($412,165) and is by Niatross. “I did train a couple Run The Tables and one thing I noticed about them was they had a lot of longevity,” Moore said. “Also, I was very attracted to her third dam and that pedigree. “Maple is just such a pleasure to be around; words cannot express it. She has great manners, is two fingers to drive and we are just lucky she did not hurt herself badly in her stall. To this day, we have no idea how she managed to do that, but we just know we don’t want it to ever happen again and are so very thankful.” As far as what awaits Maplelea after her participation in the Blossom Series, Moore and Richards will allow her to tell them. They are, however, pointing towards a prestigious race her dam was ninth in. “Because of that injury, I did not pay her into very much as I just did not know if she was going to come back from it,” he said. “I did pay her into another series after this one and she is paid into the Fan Hanover. I know those are the very best fillies and we will see if she can go with them, but you will never know if you don’t try. “Let’s just say I don’t think she could ever really disappoint us and she is just a very special filly.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

TORONTO, April 1 - The hype and anticipation has been building for more than three months and it will all come down to the final race this Saturday night at Woodbine. The harness racing Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, will finally be paid out this Saturday night, as a mandatory payout is in effect. On a regular evening, the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool is only paid out if there is a single winning ticket. If multiple winning tickets hit the 'Hi-5', half of the wagering pool is carried over to the next card, while the other half is distributed in consolation payouts. The traditional rules are not in effect this Saturday, as instead the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool will be paid out and split among all the winning tickets. A mandatory payout is familiar ground for this wager on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit, but the carryover of $847,458.26 is the largest carryover into a mandatory payout in track history. Since the Jackpot Hi-5 was integrated into the WEG betting menu in October of 2013, two large 'mandatory payout' programs have taken place. The first to draw major interest was on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine. A carryover of $656,383 was brought into that evening and helped generate a total pool of $2,002,026. The Jackpot Hi-5 race that night featured a field of 11 pacers and was won by Drain Daddy and Jody Jamieson from post position three at odds of 4-1. The winning trip saw Drain Daddy get away fifth and make a first up move down the backstretch, clearing to the front in the third-quarter and never looking back. The favourite in that contest finished out of the top-five helping return a $0.20 payout of $8,759.15. The next mandatory payout on a large carryover took place at Mohawk on Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace night, August 30, 2014. The stakes filled card and the substantial interest in the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover of $647,331 would lead to a record-setting evening for Mohawk. An additional $2,026,548 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 to bring the total pool for the mandatory payout to $2,673,879. The Jackpot Hi-5 dash was scheduled to feature a field of 11 pacers; however a scratch reduced the race to a field of ten with one trailer. Resistance Futile, the 9/5 favourite, and driver Corey Callahan came away with the victory from post position two. The winning duo moved out from fourth in the second-quarter following cover and would clear to the front as they entered the final turn. The public's choice would pace away from his rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory. The second and third choices on the board finished third and fourth, playing a large factor into a $0.20 payout of $1,347.36. The Jackpot Hi-5 helped propel the handle for that August evening to a new Mohawk Racetrack record of $5,006,896. If the healthy pools from the past two sizable mandatory payout nights are any indication, this Saturday's Jackpot Hi-5 race has a chance to generate a large pool exceeding well over any previous mandatory payout pools. The nearing Jackpot Hi-5 race will also feature a different twist, as a field of 12 horses will contest the mandatory payout dash. Each starter in the field will receive money and the class level itself will receive a purse increase. The Jackpot Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum bet. A horseplayer could spend $19,008 by boxing all 12 horses in the field. Boxing five horses would cost a fan $24. The combinations appear to be endless, but ultimately if a horseplayer is able to map out a ticket with the top-five finishers, certainly a portion of a hefty Jackpot Hi-5 pool is there to be collected. Mark McKelvie  

TORONTO, March 30 - Maplelea and Cast No Shadow scored first leg victories in the harness racing Blossom Series Monday night at Woodbine. A group of 15 three-year-old pacing fillies were split into two $15,000 divisions for the first round of the Blossom Series. The first division saw a familiar horse to series action continue her recent run of dominance. Fresh off a sweep of the HPI Series, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron picked up right where they left off with a 1:57 victory. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, Zeron elected to take Maplelea to the back of the pack and paced along seventh around the first turn. Down the backstretch, Maplelea moved off the pylons and would pick up cover to be perfectly placed second-over as the field turned for home. In the stretch, Maplelea cruised by her rivals and paced home in :27.2 to win by two-lengths. Doctor Terror finished up well to take second, while Much Adoo finished third. A three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won four-consecutive starts for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her 2015 record now sits at an impressive six wins from eight starts for earnings of over $73,000. Maplelea paid $3.20 to win. In the second division, Cast No Shadow and Chris Christoforou scored an impressive open-length victory at 5/1. Beyonces Rockn, the 3/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter, while Cast No Shadow paced along in fourth. Christoforou would get his charge out in moving and came first up around the final turn to challenge the favourite at the three-quarter pole in 1:27.1. In the stretch, Cast No Shadow blew by Beyonces Rockn and stormed home strongly in :27 to win by 5 ¾ lengths. Moonlit Dance just got up for second, while Beyonces Rockn had to settle for third. A three-year-old daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams. After failing to win a race in four starts last season, Cast No Shadow is a now a perfect four-for-four in 2015 and has banked $31,500. Her clocking of 1:54.1 knocked almost two-seconds off her previous career-mark. Cast No Shadow returned $12.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom Series, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Blossom will take place next Monday (April 6). Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 28 - Sophomore pacing colts took centre-stage Saturday night at Woodbine for the first leg of the Youthful series. A solid harness racing group of 21 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings were split into two $15,000 divisions for the opening round of the three-week series event. Fresh off his win in the WEGZ series last Saturday, Dialamara kept the momentum rolling with a 1:52.3 victory in the first division. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Dialamara got away early in fifth and would jump into the outer flow down the backstretch. American Rock, the 9/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter. Around the final turn, Dialamara got right up along side the favourite to set up a stretch battle. In the lane, Dialamara was able to forge past American Rock in deep stretch to win by a head. Team Captain finished third, while Vegas Rocks took fourth. A three-year-old son of Lis Mara, Dialamara now has four wins from seven starts this season for trainer Patrick Fletcher. The first leg triumph increases the sophomore's career bankroll to over $92,000 for owner John Lamers. The 1:52.3 clocking lowers Dialamara's career-mark by more than a second. He returned $8.40 to win. In the second division, Legion Of Boom dug deep in the stretch to hold off his rivals and score a 1:55.1 victory. Driven and co-owned by Doug McNair, Legion Of Boom was put right on the front immediately by McNair. After cutting out fractions of :28.1 and :57.1, Legion Of Boom was confronted first up by Pantheon Hanover. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3, Legion Of Boom squared off with Pantheon Hanover in the stretch and would show plenty of grit to hold off his rival and get the job done. Giovanni took the place spot, while fourth went to Nobettorplacetobe. A three-year-old son of Artistic Fella, Legion Of Boom is trained by Gregg McNair for his son Doug, who co-owns with Equus Standardbreds Inc. The sophomore pacer now has three wins from six starts in his first season of racing. The winner's share of the purse increases his bankroll to over $41,000. Legion Of Boom's victory was one of four winning steers for driver Doug McNair on the card. The McNair trainee returned $4.80 to win. In order to be eligible to the Youthful, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2014. The second round of the Youthful series will take place next Saturday (April 4). For full results from tonight's card click here. Mark McKelvie

TORONTO, March 26 - Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) today announced that the mandatory payout for the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 is set for Saturday, April 4, the second-to-last card of the Woodbine harness racing meet. Harness racing moves to Mohawk for 118 dates, beginning Thursday, April 9. In preparation for the event, the final opportunity to wager on the Jackpot Hi-5 before the mandatory payout date will be Monday, March 30. The carryover will continue to build through that date, provided there is not a single winner. The wager will then be suspended for the Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 cards of racing, allowing customers to prepare for the mandatory payout prize. The Jackpot Hi 5, which currently boasts a carryover of $726,120.53, requires horseplayers to select the first five finishers in exact order on the last race of the card. The Jackpot proviso means that the entire pool pays out only when there is one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order. The Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, has become a popular part of the WEG wagering profile since it launched in 2013. WEG has offered mandatory payout events, with carryover, with much success. On August 30, 2014, the Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 at Mohawk generated a total pool of $2,522,851. Each 20-cent payout returned $1,347.36 that evening. The 'Hi-5' on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine also generated a large total pool of $2,002,026. That night, the $0.20 cent payout was worth $8,759.15. On a card where there is not a mandatory payout, and not just one winning ticket, half of the wagering pool is carried over and offered on the next racing card. The other half is paid out in consolation payouts to those Jackpot Hi 5 tickets which have the correct order of finish. If there are no winners of the wager, the entire pool, minus takeout, carries over. The Jackpot Hi 5, which offers a 20-cent minimum and a low takeout of 15%, has proven to be popular among core and new racing fans. This past Monday night, $56,794 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi 5 pool. For fans and horseplayers wanting further details on WEG's Jackpot Hi 5, including details, strategy and carryover info visit www.WoodbineEntertainment.com/JackpotHi5. Mark McKelvie

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