Saturday's 89th edition of the $1 million Hambletonian Trot at The Meadowlands has drawn a field of eleven 3-year-old trotters going a mile in harness racing's most prestigious race. The Hambletonian is the opening leg of the Trotting Triple Crown which also includes the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. Leading the field are Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton, all trained by Jimmy Takter, who is a two-time Hambletonian winner with Malabar Man (1997) and Muscle Massive (2010). Takter is looking to become the first trainer to sweep first, second and third in the modern era of the Hambletonian. Father Patrick is the 4-5 morning line favorite and will be driven by Yannick Gingras from post 10. Trixton is 7-2 and will start from post 7 with Takter driving and Nuncio is 9-2 with Hall of Fame driver John Campbell leaving from post 5. "At this point, I have three really good horses and they're racing scary good," Takter said. "I've got to keep them fresh and make sure nothing goes wrong. I have the three best horses, and I would be extremely disappointed if I don't win the Hambletonian this year. My goal is to win the Hambletonian. It's fun. The Hambletonian is the biggest race in our sport and something you work hard to win." Father Patrick, the 2013 Dan Patch award winning champion 2-year-old colt trotter, and is perfect this year in six starts for $510,931 in earnings and is ranked second in the current Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Top Ten Poll. "He's the best horse I've ever developed," Takter said. "He's just different. He has all the things I like in a horse. He's a good sound horse. You can't find any fault with him. You can do anything you want with him. He's so handy. Patrick, to me, is the perfect horse." Owned by the Father Patrick Stable, the colt has wins this season in the Earl Beal Jr. at Pocono Downs and the Stanley Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands. He has won 15 straight starts since losing to Nuncio in his second career effort. Overall, Father Patrick has banked $1,254,988 with 16 wins in 17 starts. Co-owned by the trainer's wife Christina, Trixton has six wins this year in eight starts for $283,855 in earnings. He was third to Father Patrick in the Dancer Memorial and is coming off a victory in a division of the Reynolds Memorial at The Meadowlands. Trixton, sixth in the harness poll, has career earnings of $337,542 with 10 wins in 16 starts. "He's the kind of horse with a big future as a 4-year-old. He's improving, getting more professional and very confident." the trainer/driver noted. Nuncio, owned by Stall TZ Inc., finished second to his stablemate in both the Earl Beal Jr. and Stanley Dancer Memorial, his only losses this year in seven starts. "I'm very happy with the way he's been coming along," Campbell said. "Jimmy trained him from behind all winter and we've qualified him that way, and raced him that way, and he's started to figure it out. Nuncio, 10th in this week's poll, has earned $342,003 in 2014 and has 10 wins and seven seconds from 17 lifetime starts for $803,077. John Campbell has won the Hambletonian a record six times with the most recent victory coming with Glidemaster in 2006. The supporting events include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for trotting fillies; the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings; the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old trotting fillies; the $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial Free-For-All trot; the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship; the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic for state bred 3-year-old pacers and the $177,750 Lady Liberty featuring Free-For-All pacing mares. The Hambletonian card has attracted international media interest, including live television coverage on the CBS Sports Network from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. Here is the Hambletonian field in post position order: Note that Don Dorado starts from post 11, which is in the second tier. 1. Resolve, Corey Callahan, 20-1 2. JJ Alex, Francisco Del Cid, 50-1 3. Doncango, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 4. Datsyuk, Charlie Norris, 12-1 5. Nuncio, John Campbell, 9-2 6. Royal Ice, Ron Pierce, 20-1 7. Trixton, Jimmy Takter, 7-2 8. Il Sogno Dream, Aaron Merriman, 50-1 9. Harper Blue Chip, Brian Sears, 12-1 10. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, 4-5 11. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, 20-1. The 89th Hambletonian has an approximate post time Saturday of 5:11 p.m. ET. (With files from the Meadowlands & UPI)
Arch Madness wasn't ill, but a victory in a conditioned handicap at Harrah's Philadelphia last week might have been just what the doctor ordered. Now the 10-year-old gelding is returning to competition against the continent's best older trotters as he heads to Saturday's eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. Among the entrants are world champion Sebastian K, Maple Leaf Trot winner Intimidate, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, and 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. Arch Madness, who skipped the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario, enters his Cashman elim with one win in eight starts this season. Lifetime, he has won 35 of 115 races and earned $4.22 million, good for sixth place among all trotters in history and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. "It's always nice to get an easy win in a horse," Trond Smedshammer said about Arch Madness' three-length victory in 1:52.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia on July 16. "That's the best medicine for a horse, winning. I was very happy about that decision [not to go to the Maple Leaf Trot]. It worked out good. "You can't ask him to go everywhere; he's 10 years old. Canada was an easy decision to leave out." Arch Madness (a son of Balanced Image-Armbro Archer) was winless in two races at age 2, but won at least one race worth more than $170,000 in six of the next seven years. His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot. He finished second in the Elitlopp in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011. "Arch is pretty much the same as he's been previous years," said Smedshammer, who trains the horse for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. "It doesn't seem like he's lost much, it's just the competition is tougher. It's been brutally tough, especially [Sebastian K]. "I haven't been too worried about it because later in the year when the others seem to be getting tired, he usually gets better," Smedshammer added. Arch Madness will start from post seven in the second of the two Cashman eliminations. To his inside from the rail are Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, and Appomattox. To his outside is Creatine. The first division, from post one, is Market Share, Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Intimidate, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. They have five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
CAMPBELLVILLE, July 15 - A stellar 13-race card featuring the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been assembled for Saturday night (July 19) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49), highlights the field of ten for the 63rd edition of Canada's most storied trotting event, the Maple Leaf Trot (Race 9). The eight-year-old "Scandinavian Powerhouse" won his elimination last Friday (July 11) for trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt in 1:52.2. Upon earning the right to select his post position for the final, Svandstedt selected the rail as the starting spot for his prized trotter. Svandstedt, a top horseman in his native Sweden for many years, relocated his stable to North America this season and is in the midst of a successful campaign, thanks in large part to Sebastian K who is a perfect five for five on North American soil. The high point of the season thus far for Sebastian K was a seven-length victory in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs on June 28, in which he became the fastest trotter in the history of harness racing with a jaw-dropping mile time of 1:49. Before coming to North America, Sebastian K had victories in top events such as the 2013 Oslo Grand Prix, a heat of the 2013 Elitlopp and the 2012 UET Trotting Masters. The nine rivals who will look to knock Sebastian K off the top of the mountain, include the last two Maple Leaf Trot winners, Mister Herbie ('12) and Market Share ('13). Market Share won the second elimination last week in 1:53 with a last quarter of :26.4 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Linda Toscano. His connections selected post position two for the final. The five-year-son of Revenue - Classical Flirt is the richest horse in the field with over $3.2 million in career earnings. Market Share followed up his Maple Leaf Trot victory last year with a triumph in the Breeders Crown. His career highlights also include two million-dollar race victories in 2012 in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk. Leading the charge for the local horses will be Mister Herbie, who finished runner-up to Market Share in not only his elimination last week, but also in last year's final. The Jeff Gillis trainee won the 2012 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4 and was last year's O'Brien Award winner as top older trotter in Canada. Mister Herbie will start from post six and will be driven by Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image. The seven other challengers in the field are a group of well accomplished standardbreds. Intimidate, a past Breeders Crown and O'Brien Award winner, will start from post three for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais. Ron Burke, North America's leading trainer, will send out two starters. Archangel, post four, was the 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, while Wishing Stone, post five, has had success in both North America and Europe with victories in the 2012 Copenhagen Cup in Denmark and the 2013 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia. Creatine, last year's Kentucky Futurity winner, will start from post seven for the duo of Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance and trotting conditioner Bob Stewart. Undercover Strike will leave from post eight and is a Preferred winner at both Mohawk and the Meadows. He is sent out by trainer Tony O'Sullivan and will be driven by Doug McNair. Flanagan Memory, who won last year's Goodtimes, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and an O'Brien Award, starts from post nine for trainer Rene Dion and Woodbine/Mohawk's leading driver Chris Christoforou. Modern Family, a multiple stakes winner, will start from post ten for trainer Daryl Bier and will have Ron Pierce, a two-time Maple Leaf Trot winner, in the sulky. The field of ten for the Maple Leaf Trot has combined for 188 career victories and career earnings of $13,837,506. The Maple Leaf Trot undercard will feature four Canadian Breeders Championships (Races 2,3,7,10) for three-year-olds. Trevor Ritchie, a three-time Maple Leaf Trot winning driver ('03 Rotation, '06 Peaceful Way, '07 Equinox Bi), recently announced his retirement from driving. Ritchie will be on hand Saturday night to present the trophy to this year's winner and will be a special guest on Mohawk Racing Live's pre-game show beginning at 6:45 p.m. Post time for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot card is 7:25 p.m, with the Maple Leaf Trot expected to go behind the gate at 10:05 p.m. Here is the field for the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot. Race 9 - Maple Leaf Trot - Purse: $603,000 PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer/Morning Line 1. Sebastian K - Ake Svandstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 2/5 2. Market Share - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano - 6-1 3. Intimidate - Sylvain Filion - Luc Blais - 12-1 4. Archangel - Jody Jamieson - Ron Burke - 10-1 5. Wishing Stone - Randall Waples - Ron Burke - 20-1 6. Mister Herbie - Steve Condren - Jeff Gillis - 15-1 7. Creatine - Mike Lachance - Bob Stewart - 15-1 8. Undercover Strike - Doug McNair - Tony O'Sullivan - 25-1 9. Flanagan Memory - Chris Christoforou - Rene Dion - 25-1 10. Modern Family - Ron Pierce - Daryl Bier - 20-1 AE: Wheeling N Dealin - Jody Jamieson - Luc Blais - N/A by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 11, 2014--Yonkers Raceway's Friday night $44,000 co-featured Open Handicaps--for distaff pacers and all-allowed trotters--were won by millionairess Monkey on My Wheel (Jason Bartlett, $3.10) and Fort Valley As (Bartlett again, $13.40). Odds-on choice Monkey on My Wheel, working from a rather-generous post position No. 5 starting venue, gave nothing else a chance. She strolled around pole-assigned invader Icommandmyspirit (Larry Stalbaum), then set down fractions of :27.3 and :56.1. Summertime Lea (George Brennan), who found an early tuck, moved again going toward the 1:24 three-quarters. However, "Lea" couldn't threaten as Monkey on My Wheel opened 2Â½ lengths entering the lane. The final margin was a length-and-a-half in 1:52...matching a season's-best. Last week's victress, Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton), closed for second, with Summertime Lea, Virgin Mary (Eric Goodell) and Icommandmyspirit rounding out the payees. For "Monkey," a 6-year-old homebred daughter of Mach Three owned by Mac Nichol and trained by Casie Coleman, it was her eighth win in 18 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.80, with the triple returning $68.50. The week's marquee trot saw Fort Valley As--in of three leavers, he from post No. 5--wind up pocketed. Lorenzo Dream (Brennan) made the lead from his outside seven-hole (in one notch after a defection), while Amigo Ranger (Dan Dube) broke. "Lorenzo" found a :27.4 opening quarter-mile, at which returning 2013 Yonkers Trot champ Dewycolorintheline (Stratton), as the 6-5 fave, tried to move from third before sitting back down. A :57.3 intermission and 1:26.3 three-quarters saw the "Lorenzo" and "Fort Valley" have the race to themselves, with the former a length-and-a-half turning for home. However, the latter quickly closed ranks, then edged away. Fort Valley As won by a length-and-a-quarter in a season's-best 1:55.2. Lorenzo Dream was a safe second, with Dewycolorintheline third, beaten four lengths. Ima Que T (Eric Carlson) and Itzaziam (Pat Berry) settled for the remainder. For fourth choice Lorenzo Dream, a 6-year-old Tom Ridge gelding owned and trained by Jennifer Sabot, it was his third win in 11 '14 starts. The exacta paid $70.50, the triple returned $259.50 and the superfecta paid $1,019. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
It’s another great weekend of super star racing at Pocono Downs. Four major stakes finals, two $100,000 Invitations plus two big purse consolation races. Let’s just hope the weather is perfect like last week. So the majority of the handicapping this weekend is all at Pocono Downs. We also go to the Meadowlands on Friday night for their $22,500 overnight trot, seems that it’s the debut of world champion Wishing Stone and the debut of $1 million winner last year, Spider Blue Chip and the return of Mistery Woman, the lone mare in the field against nine male rivals. It’s not everyday you have such top quality horses racing in an overnight event AND also in the field are top notch trotters Undercover Strike, Yonkers Trot winner Deweycolorinthelines Il Mago and more. Good Luck! $22,500 Trot B-2/B-1/A-2 Handicap The Meadowlands 6th race FRIDAY – Excellent overnight race with real top class trotters. I think Spider Blue Chip should be in prime shape to cut loose in his debut for trainer Chuck Sylvester and pay a price. He was so good, ten wins last year, going against some very good trotters. Use Mistery Woman and Wishing Stone in exotic plays. $50,000 Pace James Lynch 3Y0 Filly Consolation Pocono Downs 5th race SATURDAY – Despite finishing fourth last week to Weeper in her big mile, Someislandsomewhere looks to stand out again this field. Two starts back she was on a three-race winning streak and now looks ready to win again. Use Tyra and Allstar Rating in exotic plays. $75,000 Pace Max Hempt 3Y0 Colt Consolation Pocono Downs 6th race SATURDAY – Another foal of Somebeachsomewhere heads this consolation race. Somestartsomewhere has not returned to form of last year but now draws into a race where he should be able to dominate like he did back in May when he won a PASS division. He should be primed to dominate in here. Use Some Playa and Doo Wop Hanover in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Invitational Pocono Downs 7th race SATURDAY – Well matched field here will provide plenty of racing action. I think Dancin Yankee, even for new barn and driver, can lay over this field despite outside post having won four of his last five starts. Use Clear Vision and Meirs Hanover in exotic plays. $100,000 Trot Invitational Pocono Downs 8th race SATURDAY – After last week amazing performance I am convinced that Sebastian K is the second coming of Greyhound. Have not seen a horse with such fire and desire to win he seems to be daring the others to even consider coming after him. Despite being handicapped with post seven, the “Barefoot Wonder” should rewrite Market Share’s world record on a five-eighths mile oval of 1:50.2. Use Modern Family and Market Share in exotic plays. $300,000 Pace James Lynch 3YO Filly Final Pocono Downs 9th race SATURDAY – Although beaten last week as betting favorite, I look for Uffizi Hanover to come back stronger today from the rail. She is the class of the field and does her best racing from off the pace, which she will have to come from in this strong final. Use Weeper and Fancy Desire in exotic plays. $500,000 Pace Max Hempt 3YO Colt Final Pocono Downs 10th race SATURDAY – They will be flying in this final as everyone wants the winners share of the rich purse. I see McWicked making his big move after the opening quarter like he did last week and rolling on the rest of the mile. Use All Bets Off and At Press Time in exotic plays. $500,000 Pace Ben Franklin Final FFA Pocono Downs 11th race SATURDAY – Beaten by the passing lane last week, I know that Captaintreacherous will come back with a vengeance in here despite having to start from post eight. Figure on him leaving and then getting two-hole trip behind Sweet Lou, which will make for a classic matchup in here. Use Sweet Lou and Foiled Again in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Earl Beal, Jr. 3YO Colt Final Pocono Downs 12th race SATURDAY – This is will be a great showdown between Jimmy Takter’s two top trotters. I have to give the edge to Father Patrick despite his outside post as he is the reigning champion and undefeated this season just as his stablemate Nuncio. Only difference is that Father Patrick has yet to be really tested, which could be tonight and when pushed he should score with ease. Use Nuncio and Datsyuk in exotic plays.
Market Share has visited six different states and the Canadian province of Ontario during his award-winning harness racing career, but has never been to Ohio. That will change this weekend. Coming off a world-record performance 10 days ago, Market Share heads to Scioto Downs for Saturday's $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial for older trotters. Market Share drew post four in a field of 10 and will be driven by Jeff Gregory for trainer Linda Toscano. The Charlie Hill Memorial field also features Arch Madness, Archangel, Creatine, Undercover Strike, Modern Family, Fusion Man, Major Athens, Rompaway Beau, and DW's NY Yank. Toscano said she was "on the fence" whether to go to the race, particularly because Market Share's regular driver, Tim Tetrick, would be unavailable due to commitments in Canada, but made the decision after talking with owner Richard Gutnick. "We sat down yesterday and talked about it," Toscano said. "We made a 'pro' and 'con' list and the only thing on the 'con' list was we're not going to have our driver. But we're very fortunate to have Jeff Gregory in the barn and there's a break from Yonkers and the New York Sire Stakes this week, so he can go and drive the horse. "Our next main goal is to have him as good as we can for the Maple Leaf Trot (in mid-July). I think this race fits his schedule nicely and he seems good. I understand the track is great out there, so we're going to take a shot." Gregory drove Market Share to a 5-for-5 season as a 2-year-old in 2011. For his career, the 5-year-old Market Share has won 23 of 42 races and earned $3.26 million. He was named the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter and the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter. He is owned by Gutnick, TLP Stable, and Bill Augustine. Market Share's victories include the 2012 Hambletonian Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, the 2013 Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot, and this year's Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational. In winning the Maxie Lee on May 25 at Harrah's Philadelphia, Market Share trotted history's fastest mile on a five-eighths track, sto "He came out of the Maxie Lee really, really well," Toscano said. "He had a nice easy week last week and should be ready to go." Market Share is not the only star in the Charlie Hill Memorial. Ten-year-old Arch Madness is one of just nine trotters to earn more than $4 million in career purses. He has won 34 of 111 lifetime races, including the 2007 Breeders Crown, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, and 2011 Oslo Grand Prix. He is a two-time runner-up in the international invitational Elitlopp in Sweden. Archangel and Creatine both won Trotting Triple Crown races at age 3; Archangel capturing the 2012 Yonkers Trot and Creatine the 2013 Kentucky Futurity. Modern Family is coming into the Charlie Hill off a second-place finish in the Cutler Memorial on May 17 and has finished no worse than third in 11 starts this year. He has won five times. DW's NY Yank leads the field in earnings this year, with $171,600, and has exceled on smaller tracks. He has won nine of his last 14 starts around five-eighths-mile ovals and failed to hit the board only once. "It's going to be a good race," Toscano said. "It all goes to promoting the horse and promoting the industry. That's the beauty of the older horses. I think we're going to find that the older horses really develop a following. People really like watching quality horses race. "Years ago, the horse was the star. I'm all about making the horse the star. I believe in it. I love that." Racing in Ohio has enjoyed a resurgence since the introduction of video lottery terminals in 2012 and has attracted some of the sport's best horses for Grand Circuit events. "It's nice to see Ohio is getting back on the map again," Toscano said. "They've always been good fans. Probably the single-biggest turnout every year is the Little Brown Jug, so Ohio has been very good to Standardbred racing. It's kind of fun to be able to pay back a little bit and go out there and race." Here is the field in post order for the Charlie Hill Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Arch Madness, Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Trond Smedshammer; 2. Archangel, Chris Page, Ron Burke; 3. Creatine, Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart; 4. Market Share, Jeff Gregory, Linda Toscano; 5. Undercover Strike, Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Tony O'Sullivan; 6. Modern Family, Dave Palone, Daryl Bier; 7. Fusion Man, Dan Noble, Jeff Smith; 8. Major Athens, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock; 9. Rompaway Beau, Don Harmon, Krista Harmon; 10. DW's NY Yank, Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Ron Burke. DW's NY Yank will start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
June 2, 2014 – Prior to this week, Brandon Valvo had a tenuous lead in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Gaming, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs as two handicappers were within $50 of him. What a difference a week makes. Thanks to Valvo’s week-leading profit of $1,103.50 (overall lead of $1,983.50), he has a solid lead of $1,310.50 over his nearest competitor over this past week’s three-leg stretch of the contest; his most successful leg of the weekend being the Molson Pace at Western Fair District. While Valvo may have been nervous with State Treasurer’s rocky start in the race, he was rewarded on a $100 win ticket paying $245, a $30 exacta key ticket good for $117.50, and a $120 trifecta ticket grossing $741. While not as impressive Valvo also had winning days on Saturday’s Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk, and Sunday’s Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs. Another performance of note was Mark McKelvie’s, whose $362.50 weekly net profit moved him from 5th place to 2nd, just $62.50 in front of Bob Zanakis. Some other big hits from the handicappers this weekend were on the Molson Pace; Garnet Barnsdale’s $250 place bet on State Treasurer which paid $400; Ray Garnett’s $20 exacta box ($120 total) paid $235; Sally Hinckley’s $2 trifecta box ($48) paid $148.20; Mark Mckelvie’s $50 win and place ticket ($100) paid $202.50; Dennis O’Hara’s $30 exacta box ($60) paid $352.50; Anne Stepien’s $5 trifecta box ticket ($120) paid $370.50 and $1 superfecta box ($24) paid $251.70. On Saturday, Mark McKelvie scored a $372 trifecta with a $20 partial wheel ticket ($160) on the 1st division of the Somebeachsomewhere and a $385 payoff on a $50 straight exacta on the Yonkers Trot. Gordon Waterstone scored a $204 payoff with a $120 win ticket on the second division of the Somebeachsomewhere. On Sunday’s Roll With Joe, Rusty Nash scored a $219 profit on a $15 partial trifecta wheel ($45). Standings as of June 1, 2010 - Leg 10 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Brandon Valvo $1,103.50 $1,983.50 2nd Mark McKelvie $362.50 $673.00 $1,310.50 3rd Bob Zanakis ($222.25) $610.50 $1,373.00 4th Earl Paulson $45.50 $390.50 $1,593.00 5th Derick Giwner ($575.00) $267.20 $1,716.30 6th Brian McEvoy ($117.50) $80.00 $1,903.50 7th Josi Verlingieri ($249.75) $18.05 $1,965.45 8th Sally Hinckley ($219.40) ($311.30) $2,294.80 9th Garnet Barnsdale ($350.00) ($398.00) $2,381.50 10th Gordon Waterstone ($309.50) ($629.50) $2,613.00 11th Rusty Nash ($160.20) ($805.20) $2,788.70 12th Ann Stepien $61.10 ($815.10) $2,798.60 13th Ray Garnett ($261.00) ($1,298.20) $3,281.70 14th Dennis O'Hara ($78.90) ($1,511.20) $3,494.70 15th Ray Cotolo ($548.00) ($1,761.00) $3,744.50 This week, it is a Saturday night contest night with a return trip to Scioto Downs for the $200,000 (Est.) Charlie Hill for older trotters. The following week features racing at the Meadowlands (Friday) and Mohawk Racetrack for North American Cup Night (Saturday) where the handicapper’s bankroll is increased from $250 to $400 (all days with 5 or more stakes races will trigger the higher bankroll). by Allan Schott, for HANA
YONKERS, NY, Friday, May 30, 2014-Yonkers Raceway's pair of Friday night $38,000 Open Handicaps-for distaff pacers and any trotter with the street cred--were won by a pair of wagering favorites in millionairess Monkey on My Wheel (Brian Sears) and 2012 Yonkers Trot champ Archangel (George Brennan). Ordered outside her seven rivals, Monkey on My Wheel-as the just-above-even-money favorite-settled in third as 32-1 rank outsider Fast and Feisty (Brent Holland) and Classy Lane Rose (Eric Goodell) played leapfrog on the lead. After a :27.4 opening quarter-mile and :57.1 intermission, Monkey on My Wheel was back on the case. She took out after Classy Lane Rose in out of a 1:25 three-quarters, tackling that one through the final turn. Monkey on My Wheel finally gained the upper hoof, then held off a passing lane Fast and Feisty by a scant nose in 1:53.4. Hula's Z Tam (Pat Lachance) was third, with Fashion Mystery (Eric Carlson) and Classy Lane Rose settling for the small change. For "Monkey," a 6-year-old homebred daughter of Mach Three owned by Mac Nichol and trained by Casie Coleman, she returned $4.10 for her fifth win in 13 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $64.50, with the triple returning $281.50. The week's marquee trot was strictly a two-speed number as 11-10 choice favorite Archangel-starting from post position No. 5-work around Tober (Holland). The mare Frau Blucher (Sears) settled third in her local debut. Early intervals of :27.1 and :56 left several gaps among the rest of the gang. Archangel held sway through a 1:24.3 three-quarters, taking a couple of lengths into the lane. He held Tober at bay, winning by a length in 1:54.3...matching the fastest local trot mile of the season. Lorenzo Dream (Dan Dube) rallied well to grab third-beaten 5Â¼ lengths--with Awesome Valley (Carlson) and Frau Blucher rounding out the payees. For Archangel, a 5-year-old (unraced last season) statebred son of Credit Winner co-owned by Clare Semer and Legendary Standard Farm and trained by Ron Burke, he returned $4.30 for his first win in four '14 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $11.60, the triple returned $133.50 and the superfecta paid $460.50. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule--along with evening simulcasting--goes on hiatus after Saturday's card, which includes the $300,000 final of the Art Rooney Pace (3-eyar-old colts/geldings) and $124,744 Lismore Pace (3-year-old fillies). Afternoon simulcasting remains available daily. Live racing/evening simulcasting returns Friday, June 13th. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
Harness racing fans could witness the first sub-1:50 trotting race on a mile track Saturday at the Meadowlands, but if not then, it is probably just a matter of time. Saturday's $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters features a speedy group of 10 horses, including newly minted world champion Sebastian K. The former Swedish star won his Cutler elimination last week, which was his North American debut, in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1. But the field also includes two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, who captured his Cutler elimination in 1:50.3, and Arch Madness, who holds the world record of 1:50.2 for an older gelding trotter on a mile oval. All totaled, the Cutler Memorial features six trotters to win in 1:51 or less at some point in their careers. Sevruga has a lifetime-best mark of 1:50.3, which he accomplished on a five-eighths-mile track while setting a world record. Intimidate and Modern Family each has a career-best time of 1:51. "It's going to be a good race," said Tim Tetrick, who drives Market Share for trainer Linda Toscano. "If it sets up right, someone could set the world record. There's got to be some speed up front; I don't think one horse can do it by himself. It will be a chess match in the middle of the race, but people will be putting horses in play. "These horses are fresh and happy and sprinting home good. There are five or six that can trot a quarter in 26 (seconds) on the end of it. Who knows how fast we can go." Elimination winners Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, and Market Share have attracted much of the pre-race attention and were essentially made co-favorites for the Cutler. Market Share is 8-5 on the morning line; Sebastian K is 9-5. But any number of horses is capable of winning the Cutler. Sevruga won last year's race and Arch Madness, a 10-year-old who has earned $4.15 million in his career, captured the 2010 edition. Intimidate has a Breeders Crown triumph to his credit, Archangel won the 2012 Yonkers Trot, and Modern Family won last year's Meadowlands Maturity. "Everybody makes it seem like it's a two-horse race, but I think it's far from a two-horse race," said Yannick Gingras, who drives Archangel for trainer Ron Burke. "You have a lot of depth in this field. Sebastian K is definitely very fast, but the trip did set up for him (in his elimination). We Will See what he can do this week. "They have to go fast, but (Sebastian K and Market Share) might hook up, too. There are 10 horses in the race and I think they can do 1:51 or better. A lot of these horses are super sharp and my horse is only going to keep improving. We need a little luck at this point, but I don't think it's impossible." The top five finishers in Sebastian K's Cutler elim all trotted 1:51 or less, marking the second time in history that five trotters went that fast in the same race. The other occurrence came in Arch Madness' 1:50.2 win at Lexington's Red Mile in September. "If the fractions are right (they could go faster than 1:50)," said Bernie Noren, the assistant to Sebastian K's trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. "Of course it's a harder competition; you've got 10 good horses. It's all about the fractions; somebody has to put up the fractions to the half. "With this group (of older trotters) I'm a hundred percent sure we're going to see not one, but maybe a couple, under (1):50 this year." John Campbell, who drives Possessed Fashion for trainer Tom Fanning, was not surprised by the 8-year-old Sebastian K's performance in his debut. "I knew going in to the race that he was an excellent horse," said Campbell, who won the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden with Mack Lobell in 1988. "When you have a horse that races at that top level over in Europe like he has for the last couple years, they're excellent horses. I wasn't that surprised that he won or was that impressive because I have so much respect for what those top free-for-allers do over in Europe and how grueling it is over there. "(Sebastian K) is definitely the horse to beat, but he's going to have to be at his best or somebody will beat him. At this level, if you're not at your very best, you're not going to win. "I think we're going to see someone trot under 1:50 in the very near future, whether it's Saturday or shortly after that. I think it will happen this year, and I think there's a good chance it will happen more than once." Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-5; 2. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 8-5; 3. Sevruga, Ron Pierce, Julie Miller, 8-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 15-1; 5. Intimidate, Vincent Ginsburg, Luc Blais, 10-1; 6. Undercover Strike, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 30-1; 7. Arch Madness, George Brennan, Trond Smedshammer, 8-1; 8. Possessed Fashion, John Campbell, Tom Fanning, 50-1; 9. Modern Family, David Miller, Daryl Bier, 6-1; 10. DW's NY Yank, Mike Lachance, Ron Burke, 30-1. by Ken Weingardner, for Harness Racing Communications
Delaware, OH---The crowd was large and they stayed until the very end hoping to snag a horse to race this summer. Monday (May 12) was the second-strongest Blooded Horse Spring Sale in 15 years. Burke Racing Stable LLC brought a nice consignment of raceway horses that contained the saletopper, PL Fighter. A competitive conditioned pacer at Harrah's Philadelphia, the Jereme’s Jet gelding was purchased by Rene Allard for $23,000. Allard was also the consignor of the classy Yonkers trotter MMs Lucky Boy that was purchased by Shirley Halas of Michigan for $19,000. The 4-year-old NW4 pacer KRs Power Surge excited the crowd, with Les Givens of Delaware getting the final bid at $22,000. The Village Jolt son was consigned by Karen Fread. Another consistent pacing gelding that got a lot of attention was Camarrow, a fast son of Ponder that leaves Krista Harmon of Michigan on a $19,000 bid from Tony Schadel of Pennsylvania. Two Notch, a fancy NW1 Cam's Card Shark filly from the Baron Racing Stable dispersal was purchased by Candy O’Brien, also from Pennsylvania, for $16,000. In addition to the saletopper the Burke Racing Stable consignment produced several other appealing horses including the winning Northfield Park $8,000 claiming trotter Mr. Jesse that sold for $14,000 to Jim Sisk to race in New York. Also, in that consignment was the $10,000 Pennsylvania claiming pacer Ulshootureyeoutkid that went to Wayne Givens of Delaware for $12,000. The next Blooded Horse Sale is August 25 and 26 and will feature black-type yearlings in addition to racehorses and breeding stock. For more information, visit www.bloodedhorse.com.
Richard Gutnick looked at the field for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack and reached a conclusion that might be bad for an owner, but good for a harness racing fan. Gutnick, fortunately, is both. "It's not going to be an easy race, but it's going to be a good race," said Gutnick, who co-owns two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share. "It's like a who's who of harness racing. To me, these are the (races) you're waiting for. Races like this where you're racing against the best, you can't take anything for granted. "I'm excited about the year. There are a lot of tough horses out there, especially when you add in the 4-year-olds that are coming back, and it's going to be a tough year. But that's what racing is all about. I like when we go against the best. It's how you find out how good you are." Market Share was among 15 horses entered in the Cutler, so two $40,000 eliminations will be held Saturday night at the Big M. The top five finishers from each division will return for the $180,000 estimated final on May 17. The first elim in post order is Sebastian K, Sweet Justice, DW's NY Yank, Intimidate, Archangel, Modern Family, Americash Express, and Upfront Billy. The second elim in post order is Sevruga, Market Share, Daylon Magician, Possessed Fashion, Quick Deal, Undercover Strike, and Arch Madness. Market Share, a 5-year-old who has won 21 of 39 career races and $3.11 million, is making his 2014 debut. Trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, Market Share's top wins include the 2012 Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic and the 2013 Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, and TVG Free For All Series Championship. He received the 2012 Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter and the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter. Market Share prepped for the Cutler with two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the second on May 3 in 1:52.4 with a :54.4 final half-mile. "I was very happy with his qualifiers," said Gutnick, who owns Market Share with TLP Stable and Bill Augustine. "Last week he did the second half under a hold, at least toward the end he was not being asked (to go). It's nice when you have a horse that can leave fast and close fast. He can do both." Sebastian K, an 8-year-old, will be making his North American debut with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, has won 26 of 63 career races and the equivalent of $2.29 million in U.S. dollars. He finished last season by winning the Group 1 Aby Stora Pris for the second consecutive year. Intimidate won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and has captured 21 of 30 career starts and $605,293. Archangel was the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner and spent 2013 in the stallion shed. He has won 14 of 32 races and $906,579 lifetime. Modern Family and Sweet Justice are among three trotters sharing this season's fastest mile to date, 1:51.1. Sevruga is the defending Cutler champion and has won 28 of 64 races and $913,566 in his career. Arch Madness, who won the Cutler in 2010, has won 34 of 108 starts and $4.14 million lifetime. Other top wins for Arch Madness include the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old males, the 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, and 2011 Oslo Grand Prix. Saturday's card also features the opening round of the TVG Free For All Series for older male pacers. The field in post order is Modern Legend, Thinking Out Loud, Foiled Again, Word Power, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Warrawee Needy, Dovuto Hanover, Bettor's Edge, and Golden Receiver. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Saturday morning qualifiers were held under sunny skies with a stiff wind from the west (into their faces in the homestretch) and featured the return to the races of several stakes types. Archangel, winner of the 2012 Yonkers Trot in world record time, returned to the track after spending last season in the stud barn at Blue Chip Farms. He now resides in the Ron Burke barn and looked like he hadn't missed a day with a handy 1:56.3 win from off the pace for Yannick Gingras in the blustery conditions. Four year old Ma Chere Hall was second in her return for Jonas Czernyson's stable, who also sent out Mistery Woman in her seasonal debut. Jonas sent out his powerful pair of aged mares, Maven and D'Orsay, in the next race and both went well in their debut. They finished second and third respectively behind Jimmy Takter's million dollar winning world record holder Uncle Peter who tripped the timer in 1:56.1 from off cover, the last quarter was 29.1 into a wind that had a field of green pacers coming home in 32- the very next race. Shebestingin came back for a second trial and was a 1:54.3 winner after her 1:52.2 breeze last week. She took over from Brownsville Bomber past the quarter and set the rest of the fractions for Dave Miller and trainer Joe Holloway. Holloway came right back with another winner in the Indiana sired sophomore Always B Miki, sired by Joe's classics winner Always A Virgin. Tim Tetrick picked up the drive when Yannick Gingras went with Rockin Amadeus for Takter (who broke before the start) and steered him to the 1:54.1/28.1 win. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands
Saturday's Kincsem Park featured Ezerjo DIJ went to the five year-old Love You mare Principessa Ovi with Mitja Slavic at the lines in Budapest, Hungary. She scored in 1.17kr over 1900 meters autostart on a rain soaked raceway. The Slovakia owned winner has been recently racing well in Italy where she was first and second in her two appearanced before the Kincsem Park victory. This one is from Goldy LB (11f Self Possessed-Rialba LB-Speedy Crown), the maternal family of Tarport Lady Ann, a daughter of legendary Lady Ann Reed. The Hungarian bred Orangyal (a daughter of Wall Street Banker) nosed out US import Andorra Gold, a Andover Hall daughter of Olympics, as this pair took second and third in hotly contested stretch battle. March 15, 2014 Kincsem Park, Ezerjo DIJ, 500,000Huf purse, 1900 meters autostart, 1.17kr 1st Principessa Ovi (5f Love Youi-Goldy LB), Mitja Slavic trainer/driver, Slavic I. owner (Slovakia) 2nd Orangyal (6f Wall Street Banker-Derengo), Pal Vicen up 3rd Andorra Gold (6f Andover Hall-Olympics),Csaba Lakatos trainer/driver aboard 4th Orifiamma Jet (6f Supergill-Ticket To Ride), Tibor Hajnal trainer/driver for Napsugar i. owner Prior weeks' Kincsem Park top trotting events went to Magic Diamond Way, Orinoco, Zavita Meerswal, Pretty Paper (by Credit Winner) and veteran Kiskarcsi. Kincsem Park, with its new French pari-mutuel partners, recently introduced its Pick Five Plus that is patterned after the Quinte+. The jackpot has now reached in excess of £30,000. Feature trotting results from February 22-March 8 are profiled below. March 8, 2014 Kincsem Park, Tavaszi Handicap, 1,100,000Huf, 1960 meters, 8 starters; time 1.18.5kr 1st Magic Diamond Way (8m Francis Diamond-Erika), Laszlo Kolozsi driver/trainer, Gazza Kft owner 2nd Orient Boy (6m Wall Street Banker-Golden Lady), Sandor Varga 3rd Ors (6m Pickaflick-Celia), A. Denes March 8, 2014 Kincsem Park, Varga Henriett Emlekverseny, 500,000Huf, 1800 meters autostart,9 starters; time 1.16.5kr 1st Orinoco (6f P.S. Dimo-Uxor), L Veres trainer/driver, Rikko Flash Kft owner 2nd Jogging (11g Valley Guardian-Sportlady), Sandor Varga 3rd Noraville (7f Tony Oaks-Izaville), Istvan Papp aboard March 1, 2014 Kincsem Park, Margaret Glass DIJ, 500,000Huf, 1960 meters distance handicap; 1.17kr 1st Zavita Meerswal (8f Good As Gold-Davidia Storm), Dora Kovacs trainer/driver, Drimwind 2011 Kft owner 2nd No Fear (7m Crown Sweep-Naughty Lobell), B. Juhasz 3rd Rosamundi (6f Chipmate-Kama Sutra), Cs. Lakatos trainer/driver February 22, 2014 Kincsem Park, SennyeyGeza Emlekverseny, 1.5 million Huf, 1800 meters autostart, 11 starters; race time 1.15.6kr 1st Pretty Paper (6f Credit Winner-Anticipation), A. Szucs, trainer Csaba Lakatos, owner Drimwind 2011 Kft 2nd Ollyan Nincs (6g Pickaflick-C'est la Guerre), Imre Fazekas trainer/driver 3rd Night Lady (7f Tony Oaks-Vas Lady), Tibor Hajnal February 22, 2014 Kincsem Park, Globus DIJ, 500,000Huf, 1900 meters autostart, 8 starters; 1.16.2kr 1st Kiskarcsi (10g Castelton Magic-Best Love), Istvan Papp up for Joseph Rutkai trainer, Prolongo Kft owner 2nd Zappadeo (7g Fast Photo-Chingola), H. Honemann (Austria) 3rd Nobody (7m Tony Oaks-Gunnel Diadem), Emil Csordas At Farjestad (Sweden) on Saturday March 15, the Scuderia Bolgheri (Jean-Pierre Dubois) bred Ne Me Quitte Pas won for reinsman Carl Johan Jepson. The seven year-old lightly raced son of Daguet Rapide scored his ninth career win in 32 starts. He's from Continental Victory (US) 1993; 1:52.1a; $ 1,611,170; 29 19-3-1. At 2, Continental Victory was winner of Johnston Memorial, Kentucky Standardbred Sale Company, American-National, International Stallion Stake/Lexington Filly Stakes, Breeders' Crown, second in Goldsmith Maid, New Jersey Sire Stake. At 3, she won the World Trotting Derby, Hambletonian, American-National, Yonkers Trot, New Jersey Sire Stake, third in Stanley Dancer Trot. She sold at Kentucky Standardbred Sale 1994 for 100,000 USD and produced several high-priced yearlings. 1999 Continentalman (US) 1:54.4a $ 595,349 h, by Malabar Man (US) - Continentalvictory (US) Sold at Tattersalls Select Yearling Sale 2000 for 450,000 USD; 3,q1:57 in US 2000 Ball Field (US) h, by Pine Chip (US) - Continentalvictory (US) Sold at Tattersalls Select Yearling Sale 2001 for 300,000 USD; 3, 1:55.3s $46,066 in US 2003 Continental Dream (US) - m, by Garland Lobell (US) - Continentalvictory (US) 2005 l'Arpege (IT) 1:56.4a $ 19,011 h, by Daguet Rapide (IT) - Continentalvictory (US) 2005 Larpege (US) h, by Daguet Rapide (IT) - Continentalvictory (US) At 2, third in Champlain Stakes Open.; 2, 1:58.2 $22,108 in North America 2006 Maradria (IT) $ 0 m, by Love You (FR) - Continentalvictory (US) 2007 Ne Me Quitte Pas (IT) 115 0.74 2:00.5v 1:57.4a $ 57,406 24 7- 3- 3 (p) h, by Daguet Rapide (IT) - Continentalvictory (US) 2009 Universal Success (US) m, by Andover Hall (US) - Continentalvictory (US) 3, 1:58.3f $4,650 in US 2011 Continental Divide (US) h, by Muscle Hill (US) - Continentalvictory (US) Continental Victory also has a 2012 colt foal by Donato Hanover named Little Round Top. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com
Cranbury, NJ... March sustaining and nominating payments for Hambletonian Society stake events are due Saturday, March 15 and per USTA Rule 12 section 4, must be postmarked by midnight on Monday, March 17. Changes to the March 15 payment schedule include an increase in the Breeders Crown future eligibility payment from $350 to $500 and the first of three payments for a pair of $100,000 (est.) open events for both gaits at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. The Hambletonian Society services 137 of harness racing's richest and most prestigious events and provides one-stop shopping for your staking needs. The website Hambletonian.org contains all the tools and information necessary to stake your horse yourself. All forms are available on the web site and are PDF fillable. Race conditions, payment forms and much more information are now available online, as well as eligibility lists for races that had a final payment on Feb. 15, 2014. For additional information call the Society offices at 609-371-2211. Listed below are the stakes with payments for all ages due March 15. Delvin Miller Adios (and Adioo Volo Filly Division) Arden Downs Stakes Ben Franklin Breeders Crown Cane Pace (and Shady Daisy) Carl Erskine (was Oliver Trot) 3-year-olds Centaur Trotting Classic FFA (was Pride in Progress) Circle City 3-year-olds Cleveland Classic (and Courageous Lady) Currier & Ives Trot (and Filly Trot) Dayton Derby 4 & Older Dexter Cup (and Lady Suffolk Trot) Earl Beal Jr Memorial Trot The Elevation 2-year-old Pacing Colts Fox Stake Hambletonian (and Hambletonian Oaks) Max Hempt Memorial (and James M. Lynch Filly Division) Historic Series Hoosier Park Pacing Derby FFA ( was Indiana Pacing) Hoosier Stakes The Horseman Ralph Wilfong (for 2YO Trotters) Kentuckiana Stallion Mgt. Filly Pace & Trot (for 2YO Fillies) Keystone Classics 2-year-olds Keystone Classics 3-year-olds Landmark Stakes Madison County 2-year-olds (was Circle City) Matron Series (3YOs) Matron Series (2YOs) Messenger Stake (and Lady Maud) Carl Milstein Memorial 3-year-olds Miami Valley Distaff 4 & Older Monument Circle 3-year-olds PA All Stars 2 & 3-year-olds Progress Pace W. N. Reynolds Memorial Stakes Art Rooney Pace (and Lismore Filly Division) John Simpson Memorial Colt & Filly Stakes Tompkins Memorial & Geers Stakes Yonkers Trot Yonkers Trot by Moira Fanning, for the Hambletonian Society
When I was first elected as a United States Trotting Association (USTA) membership director in 1998, I thought that it was important to advance the interests of harness racing horsemen in every way possible. Electronic Eligibility was just the first of many helpful programs we were able to achieve. Yet, believe it or not, something as obviously essential as going paperless was met with much criticism and resistance. From that initial experience, I learned that very little USTA. business gets accomplished quickly; and rarely in unanimous fashion. As with any large, industry-wide association, there are competing interests. 2/3s of our Board is made up of membership, or horsemen, directors, and 1/3 are track directors. Even within these groupings, on many issues there are smaller factions that see things differently than others. Of course, the voicing of varied opinions is a good thing. When a different viewpoint on a subject is expressed, it allows for directors to pause and think about a matter in a light that they might not have previously considered. Unfortunately though, much never gets to the pause and think stage with 61 directors, because many decisions affecting members are being made at an executive level. Rather than the product of full and open deliberation, these pronouncements are decided behind closed doors by a handful of individuals who often look at things in lockstep fashion. Worse still, their edicts are often completely inconsistent, and smack of an attitude of pure track bias. For those of you who may not be aware, your Association executives in Columbus, Ohio have recently denied the membership application of a veteran horseman who maintains racing licenses in multiple U.S. jurisdictions, as well as in Canada. The reason for the denial? Well, you’ll just have to guess, because his refusal notice doesn’t even state why he was refused. Strangely for me, if numerous Racing Commissions deem him to have the requisite character and fitness to compete in pari-mutuel harness racing, why would our USTA exclude him? One could only guess that he violated some rule of our Association. Or is it really our Association? And what was the rule violation? Compare this to the longstanding state of affairs with a track member, Saratoga Raceway, who was in open and notorious violation of USTA rules. Those rules that we voted on and passed mandate that tracks maintain minimum medical insurance for drivers equal to the average daily purse account raced for during the previous calendar year. At Saratoga, the minimum medical coverage should have been in the six-figure range. Yet, for several years, Saratoga had maintained only a paltry $5,000 coverage for its drivers; a blatant violation of the U.S.T.A own rules. Despite being out of compliance for several years, the USTA. would not revoke the track’s membership. Because the USTA refused to act against the track member who was in violation of the USTA rule, the horsemen were forced to make concessions to the track to up that insurance Nice deal for a track, but a lousy one for horsemen members who found themselves left in the lurch because the USTA would not enforce a rule against a track member. Some directors rightly call the USTA the United States Track Association. So, while denying membership to horsemen for no explicit reason, the executives in Columbus flatly refused to revoke the track membership of Saratoga Raceway, despite its clear and undeniable violation of an important Association rule. This type of prejudice towards horsemen and favoritism towards racetracks is not simply unjust; it’s downright dangerous. Think about the tragic incident involving Anthony Coletta last November. Think about the drivers injured as a result of the starting gate skid at Freehold Raceway in January. Medical insurance isn’t important until, of course, you desperately need it. I am damn mad about the dual treatment of a clearly wrongdoing track member of the USTA and the risk to horsemen racing there, while the USTA turned its back on such violation for years but continues to penalize horsemen who have licenses in many states. Is the USTA carrying water for track operators who want the industry to think that they have integrity at their place and no one else does, while their "proof”, or the lack of it, is not sufficient for a state to suspend a horsemen's credential in that state? What additional exposure does the USTA have when, God forbid, a horrible accident befalls a horseman at a track with less than the minimum insurance because the USTA has not enforced its own rule? It may be an increase in your dues that pays for this failure when their lawyers come seeking recourse. This ‘tale of two cities’ has to stop. As a horsemen’s director, along with others, our top priority right now is to change how the decision making process at the U.S.T.A. works. When a state licenses a member, unless the state suspends him he/ she should have full membership in the USTA. When he violates a state rule he should suffer a loss of our USTA credential. The USTA is wasting a lot of time, effort and money in an area that clearly belongs to state licensing agencies. Enough is enough. Let's stop having track operators use their influence at the USTA to make villains out of licensed horsemen. Respectfully, JOHN BRENNAN John Brennan is chairman of USTA District 12. A native of Rockaway Beach, N.Y., Brennan finished school in 1968 and worked as a steamfitter for four years before he began his career in harness racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He has been training horses for more than 30 years, racing stables in New York and New Jersey. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle with Missy Will Do It. Was previously part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian. He has been on the board of the SBOA of NY for more than 20 years, an HHI delegate for more than 15 years, and a USTA director for 13 years. He is currently the horsemen's representative at Yonkers Raceway. To discuss further go to harnessracingforum or leave a comment below. Editor's Note: HARNESSLINK website is pleased to present appropriate viewpoints and opinions from around the Harness Racing industry. The views contained in these “op-ed” pieces are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of HARNESSLINK.
YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 14, 2014--Ron Pierce, as quoted by Teddy Roosevelt..."Speak softly and carry a big stick." The 57-year-old Pierce has maintained that mantra throughout a Hall of Fame career, which, through the beginning of this week, included more than 9,000 wins and $204 million in purses. However, for all of his success, he's never had anything more than a Yonkers Raceway's visitor's pass. Until recently. After a trial run a couple of weekends ago--which resulted in eight wins--Pierce decided he enjoyed it so much, he'd fire up the EZ-Pass and become a Friday-Saturday regular. With four more victories this past Saturday night, Pierce is winning at better than a 31 percent clip (14-for-44), and started the week already ranked eighth in the driver standings. "We're extremely happy to have Ron driving here Fridays and Saturdays," Raceway president Tim Rooney said. "While others may think he's on the tail end of his career, driving here can do nothing but keep it ascending." "Ron Pierce has jettisoned himself into Yonkers Raceway's deep driving colony," Standardbred Owners Association of New York president Joe Faraldo said. "We wish him well and know that his presence only adds to the high quality of talented drivers sitting behind the best horses currently racing in North America." Pierce's previously-mentioned "visitor's pass" has included a pair of Yonkers Trot wins, two in the Messenger Stakes and another deuce in the final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. "Physically, I feel better than I have in 15 years," he said. "It's worked out very well so far." The Raceway's live schedule resumes Saturday night, with the five-night-per-week docket continuing-Mother Nature permitting--every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway