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
Cranbury, NJ... The initial payment deadline for eligibility to more than 137 stake events at 16 different tracks, headlined by the $1 million Hambletonian at The Meadowlands on August 2 and the $5 million Breeders Crown events at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ, on November 21 and 22, is fast approaching. Because of the federal holiday on Monday, payments for all Hambletonian-Society serviced Stakes must be postmarked by midnight on Tuesday, February 18, per USTA rule 12, section 4. A host of new stakes in Ohio will be administered by the Hambletonian Society, including the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park for three-year-old colt pacers, and a pair of open events for both gaits at Miami Valley Gaming & Racing and Hollywood at Dayton Raceway. The inaugural $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands is new on the stakes calendar this year and the four Historic races for sophomores are moving to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Yonkers Raceway has guaranteed purses of $500,000 each for their Triple Crown events of the Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and the Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old colt trotters. The Hambletonian Society services 137 of harness racing's richest and most prestigious events and provides one-stop shopping for your staking needs. The web site, Hambletonian.org, contains all the tools and information necessary to stake your horse yourself. Race conditions, payment forms and much more information is now available online. For more information call the Society offices at 609-371-2211. Races with February 15 payments due: • Delvin Miller Adios and Adioo Volo Filly • Arden Downs • Ben Franklin Free For All • Breeders Crown • Cane Pace and Shady Daisy • Carl Erskine for 3-year-old trotters (was Oliver Trot) • Centaur Trotting Classic FFA (was Pride in Progress) • Circle City 3-year-olds • Cleveland Classic and Courageous Lady • Currier & Ives Trot and Filly Trot • Dexter Cup and Lady Suffolk Trot • Earl Beal Jr Memorial Trot • Hambletonian & Hambletonian Oaks • Hambletonian Maturity • Max Hempt Memorial & James M. Lynch Filly Division • Historic Series • Hoosier Park Pacing Derby (was Indiana Pacing Derby) • The Horseman • Kentuckiana Stallion Management Pace for 2YO Fillies • Kentuckiana Stallion Management Trot for 2YO Fillies • Keystone Classics 3-year-olds • Landmark Stakes • Matron Series 3-year-olds • Messenger Stake & Lady Maud • Miami Valley Distaff Pace for Mares • Miami Valley Distaff Trot for Mares • Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old colt pacers • Monument Circle 3-year-olds • PA All Stars 3-year-olds • Progress Pace • W. N. Reynolds Memorial Stakes • Art Rooney Pace & Lismore Filly Pace • John Simpson Memorial Colt & Filly Stakes • Tompkins Memorial & Geers Stake • Yonkers Trot & Lady Suffolk Filly Trot by Moira Fanning for Hambletonian Society
A “brute” usually brings to mind a bully, a scuffler, a fighter – and one who is quite boisterous, outspoken, while going about what he or she perceives as his or her business. Never, then, was a harness racing horse less-aptly-named than the Credit Winner trotter Calchips Brute. He is a harness racing millionaire, but his steady march to seven-figure status has been among the quietest-such ascendancies in recent times. And both trainer Trond Smedshammer and Jerry Giuliani, handling the stud arrangements for the horse as he now tries a stallion/racehorse double career for the 2014 racing season, say that while he is all business on the racetrack, he is a very nice horse to be around, well-mannered. Credit Winner’s success story need not be retold; however, it can also be noted that his second dam, Grassbred, also produced Me Maggie, a $700,000+ winner. Where Calchips Brute gets his versatility, tractability, and tenacity, though, may find its key in his second dam – Petite Evander. Petite Evander’s story is a lot like Cardigan Bay’s – a star in her native New Zealand, brought over to the United States, and able to go with the best of her peers, male or female, for several years. Where “Petite” goes “Cardy” one better, though, was that she was also invited to race in Europe, where she won the Elitlopp Consolation in 1978, a year where she also was second in Cold Comfort’s Roosevelt International win – at the age of eight. She raced until she was 11, and earned $800,000+ worldwide. The quietest million-dollar winner may have been the quietest half-million dollar season winner too, when in 2009 Calchips Brute finished 3-3 in the Empire Breeders Classic (despite post 9 in the elim and 6 in the final), 3-3 in the Hambletonian (5 of 7 in the elim and 6 in the final), and 2-3 in the Yonkers Trot (7 in the elim and 6 in the final over the half-mile track; and the writer must defer credit to Mr. Giuliani for remembering/reliving-with-a-sigh that post rundown). With his $182,438 check for his third in the Hambo (the two in front of him that day you may have heard of: Muscle Hill and Explosive Matter) and other high stakes finishes (including a second in the Matron Final), plus six on the board (2w-2p-2s) finishes in NYSS competition, his sophomore bankroll was $552,573. Calchips Brute has not been fazed by anything thrown at him: bouncing back from time off; outside posts over the half-mile track, which were often his starting vantage in Open handicaps at Yonkers; or track size: he took his seasonal mark at The Meadowlands twice, Yonkers twice, and Tioga once. “He’s a good-looking, athletic horse,” states Smedshammer. “He is good-gaited, 100% safe, and has never made a break in his life. His trotting technique is very good. “Giuliani also noted that the horse has never lapsed from gait, then added, “He gives his best race 100% of the time. “We’re going to try racing him every other week and also do some stud duty this year,” Giuliani said, “I think he’ll be an outstanding sire. I have broodmares with other partners, and some of them have commitments to other stallions this year, but every trotting broodmare I own outright I’m breeding to Calchips Brute.” If you want to follow Jerry Giuliani’s lead and “get back in on the new ground floor of the New Jersey Sire Stakes,” Calchips Brute is standing for $3,500 ($3,000 for multiple mares) at Walnridge Farm, and Giuliani can be reached at 215-837-4629. Aside from his abilities at the post pill shake, it seems like Calchips Brute has a good chance as a stallion (a Brute as a lover – interesting), while also adding further to that $1,000,000+ bankroll. By Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com
YONKERS, NY, Monday, February 3, 2014--So, there was driver Ron Pierce, going back home to New Jersey after a very successful and profitable Yonkers Raceway weekend...as in a pair of wins Friday night and a happy half-dozen Saturday. "I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said, 'Do you realize you made more money in the last two nights than in the last month at the Meadowlands?' " Right there, Pierce decided on a change of venue. "I'm going to drive Yonkers Fridays and Saturdays until the beginning of the Grand Circuit season," he said. "I know the Meadowlands isn't going to like it, but I have to go where I can get more live drives. "I did very well there, and that was mainly with pick-up drives," Pierce said. "If I can starting having choices, I think I can do even better." For his Hall of Fame credentials--more than 9,000 wins and nearly $204 million in purses--the 57-year-old Pierce has never been a Yonkers Raceway regular. In fact, before the weekend, he hadn't paid a visit since March of 2013. That is not to say he hasn't enjoyed his share of Yonkers success (a pair of Yonkers Trots, two Messenger Stakes a final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, among his highlights). Ironically, his original impetus for the weekend Yonkers trip paid just a few dividends. "With the Meadowlands closed, owner Martin Scharf asked me to come over and two of his horses, and I figured, why not? The trotter, Harbor Point, didn't even get in (Friday) and the pacer (Dovuto Hanover) didn't get over the track at all (third in Saturday's Open)." "I just want owners and trainers to know I'm committed to driving there, and being aggressive," Pierce said. "If I wanted to sit, I'd sit at home." by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway
January 25, 2014 -- The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association banquet on Sunday, January 26, 2013 at the Columbus Marriott Northwest (Dublin). The Ohio Chapter has voted Brian Brown as the recipient of the Winner’s Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; named Joseph Essig as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award as the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; elected Eddie Wheeler into the Immortal Hall of Fame; selected Missouri Time into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and will honor David Carr as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades. 2013 was Brian Brown’s best year in terms of earnings ($1.5 million) and training wins (65), establishing a UTRS of .385. The native of Upper Sandusky, Ohio conditioned Limelight Beach (p,2,1:49.4 - $210,192), winner of the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes, Color’s A Virgin (p,2,1:53.2s - $2111,700) and Beach Memories (p,3,1:48.3f - $429,739). Joseph Essig is the 21 year-old son of the 1986 Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner, Joe Essig, Jr. The younger Essig recorded 18 wins in 2013 and earned $97,106 in purse earnings, racing mainly at Hoosier Park and Lebanon Raceway. He is expected to be one of the top reinsmen at the new Miami Valley Raceway. Wheeler, a native of Troy, Ohio, was a highly respected by his peers as a horseman and driver. He trained and drove the great trotter Duke Rodney, winner of the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity, two of the Triple Crown legs in 1961. He later served as a second trainer for prominent horsemen such as Stanley Dancer, Tom Haughton and others. Missouri Time was one of the toughest distaffers ever to compete in the state of Ohio. The daughter of Race Time was bred by Billy Colson and campaigned by Dominic Staffery during her seven year career. She finished on the board in 90 of her 138 career starts and competed against the best mares in the country, including Silk Stockings, Handle With Care and Tarport Hap. She retired from racing in 1979 with $328,423 in earnings and a lifetime mark of 1:56.3f. Carr is a 30 plus year employee of the United States Trotting Association is the manager of the Information & Research Department for the USTA. Carr is an unsung hero to the publicists, writers and sales’ companies and was awarded the LeeAnne Pooler Memorial Award by the national U.S.H.W.A. in 2008. by Jay Wolf for Ohio Chapter USHWA
I went a disappointing three for ten last week, some of my favorite horses got beat, which is bound to happen every now and then. I actually lost $10 (based on $2 win bet each race). We are still in the minus earning column at -$34.80 going into this weekend and we will try once again to bring that number down more. We start off the weekend at Maywood Park in Chicago Friday for the Windy City Pace and Galt Stakes, then take a break on Saturday and come back Sunday with the eight Matron Stakes finals at Dover Downs. Should be some great racing. $110,000 Galt Stakes 3YO Colt Trot 7th race Friday, Maywood Park – Very tough call here. Lindy’s True Grit is coming off a big score in his last start and Yonkers Trot winner Dewycolorintheline shows he can win on a half mile track but I am going with a mild long shot here. King Mufasa has had an incredible season with $233,000 bankrolled and 14 wins in 17 starts, all in the midwest. He broke two starts back at Maywood and still rallied for second. I can see him going to the front and not being caught. $176,000 the Windy City Pace 3YO Colts 9th race Friday, Maywood Park – No question that Lucan Hanover is the horse to beat in here. Three starts back he won a division of the Messenger at Yonkers in 1:52.3 and a repeat effort like that should enable him to lead from start to finish for Casie Coleman Stable. $164,250 Matron Stakes Final 3YO Filly Trot 1st race Sunday, Dover Downs – After returning to her winning ways last week with an easy 1:54 triumph in the Matron Preview, Ma Chere Hall should have little trouble beating this same group again. She has a better inside post and should wire the field with ease. $154,575 Matron Stakes Final 2YO Colt Pace 2nd race Sunday, Dover Downs – Very well matched race here. Can make a case for half the starters having a shot in winning. McWicked may have been second last week to All Bets Off, but the winner drew the outside post so I see McWicked turning the tables in his favor for the big money. $166,650 Matron Stakes Final 2YO Colt Trot 3rd race Sunday, Dover Downs – Last week Nuncio won his elimination division in 1:55.2, just as Well Built did, but he just looked so much stronger and faster despite identical times. Has the gate speed to leave right on and either cut the mile or get great cover to score from again. $132,525 Matron Stakes Final 2YO Filly Pace 5th race Sunday, Dover Downs – Once again another well matched field that is making it tough to pick a winner. Decided to go with Ali Blue despite her outside post. She may have won in a photo last week but did show true grit in holding on to the lead down the stretch. $140,100 Matron Stakes Final 2YO Filly Trot 9th race Sunday, Dover Downs – We may just be watching the leading contender to be the freshman filly trotter of the year. Shake It Cerry was hot earlier this season and has now returned with a flury. She wired the field with ease last week, is going for her fourth straight win and looks to be the chalk play of the night. $160,388 Matron Stakes Final 3YO Colt Pace 10th race Sunday, Dover Downs – After a much needed rest, Vegas Vacation should be primed for a big effort in here. And with Sunshine Beach having to start outside of him, I think that Vegas Vacation can return to his winning ways from back in September. $130,650 Matron Stakes Final 3YO Filly Pace 11th race Sunday, Dover Downs – Now a winner in 10 of her 17 starts this year, Shebestingin gave notice last week that she was primed and in tip top shape with her 1:51.2 victory. Provided she minds her manner behind the starting gate she should have no trouble beating this group again. $153,225 Matron Stakes Final 3YO Colt Trot 13th race Sunday, Dover Downs – It was great to see Smilin Eli back to winning form last week with his 1:53.1 victory in the Matron Preview. He draws the same post three again and I expect he will just go right out to the lead like last week and wire the field.
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, October 15, 2013--Quick Deal (George Brennan) dipped his hooves in ink and rewrote Yonkers Raceway's record book Tuesday night, becoming the fastest trotter in local history. Returning to Westchester for the first time since early this season, Quick Deal's big deal blew away the gang in the $19,000, sixth-race trot. Leaving from post position No. 5 as the 35-cents-on-the-dollar favorite, he made the lead around Political Desire (Mark MacDonald) right at the :27.3 opening quarter-mile. From there, a 57-second intermission and 1:25 three-quarters gave Quick Deal 8½ lengths turning for home. The final margin--over Cash Poor (Austin Siegelman)--was 11½ lengths in 1:53.3, with Political Desire third. The effort displaced a quartet of trotters--Blacktuxwhitesocks (Brennan), 2012 Yonkers Trot winner Archangel (Jim Morrill Jr.), Super Manning (MacDonald) and Tall Cotton (Dan Dube)--whose previous 1:54.1 efforts adorned the archives. According to USTA records, Quick Deal also eclipsed Scorpion Moon's (1:54) aged gelding/half-mile oval world record, taken at Saratoga in 2010. For Quick Deal, a 5-year-old Revenue S gelding trained by Ron Burke for co-owners Our Horse Cents Stable and Rossie Smith, he returned $2.70 for his fifth win in 17 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21, with the triple returning $59.50. "I know he didn't have a whole lot of half-mile experience (a break the last he was here), and they just said to watch out with him going into the first turn," Brennan said. "Once I made the lead, the rest was simple. I've won a ton of Opens here, but obviously never that fast. "A sub-1:54 mile for a trotter here, that's something, but he felt very strong." Quick Deal's effort came within Tuesday's Pick 5, where a $13,000-plus double carryover and a $25,000 guaranteed pool spurred $37,306 of new money. The gimmick wager was hit (winning numbers 4-5-2-4-3 paid $1,648 for a 50-cent wager). 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 around the NYRA schedule. Frank Drucker
CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — During the winter of 2010-11 long time Boston Bruins fans Joe MacIsaac was watching his team play the Toronto Maple Leafs while thinking up names for the latest foal from partner Carolyn Williston’s broodmare Chelemark Gizmo. As the Boston faithful chanted ‘Thank You Kessel’ — referencing the 2009 trade deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Leafs in exchange for draft picks that would become Boston stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton — MacIsaac thought, ‘Why not?’ and weeks later the name Thankyoukessel was approved by Standardbred Canada. Thankyoukessel made his racing debut in the summer of 2012 and over the past two years has amassed a consistent record of seven wins, two seconds and three thirds in 19 starts for earnings of $212,445. Competing at the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Series level this season the gelding has posted two wins, two thirds and one fifth, ranking him second in the point standings heading into Saturday night’s $200,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack. “He started off the year good with a win down in London and he really, really didn’t give us a bad race all year,” says Moffat resident MacIsaac. “He doesn’t do a whole lot wrong; he’s a pretty nice boy.” In addition to his successes in the Gold Series, Thankyoukessel also captured the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 20 in a personal best 1:54.2 and his sophomore debut in a May 2 overnight event at Woodbine Racetrack. The Ken Warkentin gelding has surpassed the standard set by his full-sister Witch Way, who was a Gold Final winner and earned $170,833 in her career. “The best thing about that mare, all her foals have been good gaited,” says MacIsaac, who raced a two-year-old Federal Flex half-brother to Thankyoukessel this summer and will start training a yearling Federal Flex brother this fall. “That makes it a lot easier to get them to the races.” Thankyoukessel and driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville will make their run at the OSS division title from Post 3 in Saturday’s seventh race and MacIsaac is expecting another exciting show from the talented Ontario-sired colts. Point leader Buddy Hally will start from Post 4, Goodtimes and Mid-Summer Challenge winner Flanagan Memory gets Post 7, and Yonkers Trot Elimination winner and reigning Super Final champion Creampuff Macdaddy will start from Post 9. “I don’t know how it will end up shaping up,” notes the trainer, “But Flanagan Memory looks like the horse to beat.” Thankyoukessel finished third to Flanagan Memory in the Sept. 20 Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack, a mile timed in 1:53.3, and MacIsaac is not sure the gelding can alter that result on Saturday. However, whether Thankyoukessel finishes off his sophomore stakes campaign with a win or a loss, MacIsaac and Williston will head home just as happy with the trotter’s efforts as Boston fans have been with the Kessel trade. “We’re just looking forward to tomorrow (Saturday). I hope things work out for him and he gets a piece of it, but regardless, it’s been a great year for us,” MacIsaac explains. “Anything he gets will be a bonus for us right now. We’re going to enjoy it any way.” Post time for Mohawk Racetrack’s Saturday, Sept, 28 program is 7:25 pm, with the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals featured in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10. For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0928mohsn.dat Ontario Sires Stakes
Stakes racing-wise, we're around the halfway point of the 2013 harness racing season. We've also just transitioned from the "Meadowlands season" to the "post-Meadowlands season." Here's one man's assessment of where the various trotting divisions stand. Where cited, speed marks, starts, 1-2-3 finishes and earnings are for this year only. Rankings are strictly for 3-year-olds and older. We'll let the frosh guys and gals sort themselves out some more before ranking them. They're still in diapers this time of year! Okay, with the Hambletonian still fresh in everyone's mind, we'll start with the 3-year-old trotting colts ... Three-Year-Old Trotting Colts (and geldings) Royalty For Life 3, Q1:51.3 ($694,850); 7 starts, 4 wins, one second, no thirds Finally, the 3-year-old trotting colts have a pro tem leader. Ross, Campbell Jr. & Fontaine's Royalty For Life, by virtue of impressive wins in his elimination, and the $1 million final, of the Aug. 3 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, moves to the head of this class. There are other good colts here, including the Corky, who won the rich Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs in June, the two other Hambo elimination winners, Spider Blue Chip and Creatine, the early season standout Smilin' Eli, and Yonkers Trot winner Dewycolorintheline. But it's Royalty For Life, who also won last month's Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands, who currently rules the roost. In all honesty, last year, the "leaderless" situation going into the Hambletonian was similar. Eventual division champ Market Share, who similarly won the Hambo, went into the big race as a contender, but wasn't yet the star he became with his very successful second half of the season. In fact, Market Share wasn't the betting favorite in the 2012 Hambo (that was Uncle Peter), nor even the second-choice (Knows Nothing). In keeping with the 3-year-old trotters, here is the top female ... 3-Year-old Trotting Fillies Bee A Magician 3, 1:51 ($845,956); 10 starts, 10 wins What can't she do? Bee A Magician, owned by Hartman, Liverman & McDuffee, may well be the best 3-year-old trotter in all the land, of either sex. But her connections, to this point, have elected not to take on the colts. She won the Hambletonian Oaks two Saturdays ago, and is still undefeated this year, though she just narrowly won this past Saturday's Ontario Sire Stake event at Mohawk. Maybe she was racing with a post-Oaks hangover? Those colts mentioned earlier, with the exception of Royalty For Life, who has a 1:51.3 qualifying record this year and a 1:52 race record, all seem to have a "speed limit" of 1:52 and change, or even 1:53 (the Hambo final was clocked in a pedestrian 1:52.1). Bee A Magician, on the other hand (or hoof), won the Oaks in 1:51.4, and also won last month's Del Miller Memorial at the Meadowlands in an even faster 1:51. So she seems to be about five lengths faster, in theory anyway, than the colts. Does that mean she's better, and can beat them? We'd sure like to find out, but it appears we'll just have to speculate right now, and see how the rest of the year plays out. And for the older, free-for-all trotters ... Older Trotting Horses (and geldings) Sevruga 1:50.3 ($410,275); 16 starts, 9-4-2 Going into the Aug. 3 John Cashman Jr. Memorial, raced on the Hambo Day undercard, tops in this division seemed to the the streaking 2012 Hambletonan winner, Market Share. He's come back well this year, entered the Cashman (a race formerly known as the Nat Ray) 3-for 3 in '13, and was fresh off a win in the rich Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk in Toronto. But the odds-on Market Share uncharacteristically finished fifth in the Cashman, and we lean, for now at least, in the direction of Sevruga, who won the Cashman in 1:50.4, and who also shows a win in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial in May. Sevruga is owned by Howard Schneidler's KDM Stable Corp. Head-to-head, Sevruga and Market Share have raced each other twice, and have each one once. Yet a third top FFA trotter in the picture is Wishing Stone, who won the rich Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia in May. Uncle Peter (yes, last year's Hambo favorite) and Guccio (second in last year's Hambo), are also in the picture. So is Mister Herbie, last year's Maple Leaf winner and second in the Cashman. Finally, in the trotting category, are the FFA mares ... Older Trotting Mares Maven 1:52 ($203,370); 7 starts, 5-1-0 There isn't much out there exclusively for older trotting mares to race for, but the biggest prize offered in this division thus far in 2013, the Armbro Flight (Memorial? All these races we've been mentioning seem to be named for famous deceased horsemen. Well, Armbro Flight is deceased, too), raced at Mohawk in June. She's owned by William Donovan. Maven, last year's Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly trot champ, has lost but twice this season, and they do happen to be her last two starts, but she's won twice as much money as any other older trotting mare, so far. She was upset by her own barn mate, D'Orsay, in the Ima Lula (might as well call it Memorial, too) on Hambletonian Day, as the crowd's favorite. Last year's champion 3-year-old filly, Check It Out, is racing, but has yet to win this season. Another nice mare in this division is 2012's Hambletonian Oaks winner, Personal Style. All in all, it looks like a good year for the trotters in all their various divisions, although if pressed for a Horse of the Year right now, it would be the pacer Captaintreacherous. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. The Captain, as well as the other top pacers, will be covered separately. By Pete Lawrence
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 27, 2013--"If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, what's more, you'll be a man, my son." Rudyard Kipling, as performed by Ray Schnittker. Schnittker and Dewycolorintheline prevailed Saturday night. winning the Yonkers Trot, edition 59. Yonkers Raceway's first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown--worth $450,000--turned out not to be a revival for the squeamish. As if a harbinger, Boffin came up lame a few races before the Trot, and was scratched. Then, just as the reduced field of seven 3-year-olds--six colts and one gelding--bid adieu to the starters, 7-10 favorite Don'tyouyforgetit (Brian Sears) immediately broke. He quickly regained his balance while pole-sitting Fico (George Brennan) took early control. Second-choice Creampuff Macdaddy (Jason Bartlett) was in hot pursuit, with Dewycolorintheline--leaving from post position No. 2--away third. However, the "Creampuff" jumped if off coming out the first turn. Schnittker, wanting no part of a two-hole, grabbed the baton from Fico right at a pokey, 29-second opening-quarter. Creampuff Macdaddy was back trotting, but taking some of the freshest night air Westchester had to offer. More drama in the second bend, as Celebrity Stimulus (Tom Jackson) misbehaved, nearly going to his knees. Wrong place, wrong time for Don'tyouforgetit, who was bothered like he was as the receiving end of a telemarketer at dinner time. Other back markers were also hindered, including lone gelding Lauderdale (Brent Holland). Creampuff Macdaddy recovered to fall into a three-hole at the :57.4 intermission, with Lauderdale fourth and Don’tyouforgetit sixth, more than 23 lengths in arrears. The gang closed ranks coming toward the 1:27.2 three-quarters, with Creampuff Macdaddy pulling from third. However, he could not sustain that bid. Cantab Abs (Trond Smedshammer) was about to be passed by a Don'tyourforget, who angled wide around a spent "Creampuff." All the while, Dewycolorintheline owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. He was never seriously threatened, whipping Fico by a couple of lengths in 1:57.3...second-slowest Trot (On the Tab-1:58.4 in 2010) since the Raceway reclaimed the event in 2006 (shipped out two seasons to allow construction in preparation for the "Empire City" era). Lauderdale was third, with Don'tyouforgetit--making up 19 lengths in the back half--fourth, beaten 4½ lengths. Cantab Abs earned the last check, ahead of Creampuff Macdaddy (“He was just too hot,” Bartlett said. “I gave one tiny tap early and I lost him.”) and Celebrity Stimulus. For Dewycolorintheline, a $110,000 (Lexington) son Deweycheatumnhowe ('08 Trotter of Year) co-owned (along with Deweycolorintheline Stable) by his trainer/driver, he returned $16.20 (fourth choice) for his first win in six seasonal starts (2-for-13 lifetime, with career cash now $326,457). The exacta paid $66.50, with the triple returning $521. “You really don’t know what’s going on behind you,” Schnittker said after winning his initial Yonkers Trot. “I knew George (Brennan) was on a longshot and probably wanted to follow me. My horse is better from off the pace and I know a couple of my owners may have had a stroke when I pulled but it all worked out. “He fractured a knee last year,” Schnittker said. “We had to put a screw in his knee and he has come back so good. I have to thank Dr. Mike Ross who did the surgery. He did a great job and now this horse is one hundred percent." ...and he kept his wits about him, too. 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 around the NYRA schedule. Frank Drucker
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 23, 2013--Elimination winners Don'tyouforgetit and Creampuff Macdaddy drew post positions Nos. 4 and 6, respectively, for Yonkers Raceway's 59th Yonkers Trot. The $450,000 first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown goes as Saturday night's seventh race, with post time at approximately 9:20 PM. Eight 3-year-olds--seven colts and one gelding--earned their berths after last week's pair of eliminations. First post for the baker's dozen buffet is the usual 7:10 PM. Don'tyouforgetit, a Cantab Hall colt, held off Fico by nose (1:57.2) in the second elim. He looks to give Jimmy Takter a fourth Trot training win in the last five editions. For the season, Don'tyouforgetit has four wins, a second and pair of thirds in seven tries ($195,732) and his $533,569 career bankroll (10-for-17 lifetime) makes him by far the wealthiest of the octet. Takter, who drove the Solveig's Racing Partners homebred last week, has enlisted Brian Sears for the final. Creampuff Macdaddy made a successful out-of-Ontario debut last week, winning the first elimination in a sharp 1:56.3. The son of Ken Warkentin whipped Dewycolorintheline by a length-and-a-half. Brad Maxwell trains for co-owners Howard Taylor, Ted Gewertz, Edwin Gold and Judith Taylor. The Trot elim was his first "official" win in three seasonal starts (one north of the border disqualification is under appeal). "Creampuff," a provincial standout at 2, has baked in excess of $302,000 in his career. Jason Bartlett, as of this writing, is double-listed behind Creampuff Macdaddy and pole-sitting Fico. The draw for Yonkers Trot 59, with declared drivers (please note driver changes and morning line shall be added Wednesday) 1-Fico (Jason Bartlett) 2-Dewycolorintheline (Ray Schnittker) 3-Celebrity Stimulus (Tom Jackson) 4-Don'tyouforgetit (Brian Sears) 5-Boffin (Charlie Norris) 6-Creampuff Macdaddy (Bartlett also listed) 7-Lauderdale (George Brennan) 8-Cantab Abs (Trond Smedshammer) Lauderdale is the lone gelding, while Denver and Explosive Action are the two also-eligibles, in that order. by Frank Drucker (photos-Mike Lizzi-accompany)
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 20, 2013--Canadian import Creampuff Macdaddy (Jason Bartlett, $4.90) and favored Dontyouforgetit (Jimmy Takter, $3.60) won their respective $40,000 eliminations Saturday night for Yonkers Raceway's 59th Yonkers Trot. A total of 15 3-year-olds--11 colts and four geldings--went at it in two elims for berths in next Saturday night’s $450,000 final in the first jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown. Pole-sitting "Creampuff," as the second choice, played leapfrog on the lead with 9-10 choice Dewycolorintheline (Ray Schnittker). The former released the latter after a :28.2 opening quarter-mile. then retook in Turn 2. After a :58.4 intermission, Lauderdale (Mark MacDonald) moved from fourth. Creampuff Macdaddy dismissed that one right around a 1:28 three-quarters, taking a two-length lead into the lane. "Dewy" tested the "Creampuff" from the pocket, but couldn’t get closer than a length-and-a-half in 1:56.3. Third went to Lauderdale, with Cantab Abs (Trond Smedshammer) a ground-saving fourth. That quartet earned berths in next Saturday's $450,000 final, while Denver (Jordan Stratton), Broadway Prince (Eric Goodell) and Kegler Hanover( (Marcus Johansson) left with lovely parting gifts. For Creampuff Macdaddy, a son of Ken Warkentin trained by Brad Maxwell for co-owners Howard Taylor, Ted Gewertz, Edwin Gold and Judith Taylor, it was his first win in three seasonal starts (one north of the border disqualification is under appeal). The exacta paid $7.50, with the triple returning $63. "It was his first start here, and he left the gate trotting," Bartlett said. "Once I retook, we were able to get some cheap fractions, but when I asked for speed late, he gave it to me." As for Dontyouforgetit, he showed some moxie from post position No. 6. Settling in fourth early, he watched as Detour Hanover (Dan Dube)—he of the record $825,000 yearling price tag—lead through early intervals of :28.4 and :58.4. The people’s preference then began his second move, grinding toward the leader at the 1:27.3 three-quarters. Detour Hanover remained two lengths to the good…then, he went bad, jumping it off going into the final turn. That left Dontyouforgetit with the baton, which he used to hold off a determined Fico (Bartlett) by a nose in 1:57.2. Boffin (Charlie Norris) and 75-1 rank outsider Celebrity Stimulus (Tom Jackson) were third and fourth, respectively, grabbing invites to the final. Explosive Action (MacDonald), Twisted Pretzel (Brent Holland) and Theraputic (Stratton)—who also broke—comprised the rear. "To be honest, he had some trouble with his footing. which we're going to have to take care of," Takter said. "He was moving, but he wasn't really going anywhere. "I know that Detour Hanover is a very fast horse, and even though we had to chase him. I was trying to put the squeeze on him and not to let him get too far in front. "When he broke, we sort of became the target, but this colt loves to races and always tries.” For Dontyouforgetit, a homebred Cantab Hall colt trained by Takter for Solveig's Racing Partners, it was his fourth win in seven '13 tries (10-for-17 lifetime). The exacta paid $18, with the triple returning $91. The open draw for the final takes place Tuesday night in the winner's circle, between the four and fifth races on that evening's racing program. Frank Drucker
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, July 16, 2013--Fifteen 3-year-olds--11 horses and four geldings--were entered Tuesday for Yonkers Trot, edition 59. Yonkers Raceway's premier trotting event offers a total purse of $530,000, beginning with a pair of $40,000 eliminations this Saturday night. The first four finishers in each elim return for the $450,000 final, set for Saturday night, July 27. The eliminations go as races 4 and 6 on the 13-race card, divided as such with "early" drivers... First elim--1-Creampuff Macdaddy (Driver TBA), 2-Cantab Abs (Driver TBA), 3-Deweycolorintheline (Ray Schnittker), 4-Denver (Jeff Gregory), 5-Broadway Prince,g (Eric Goodell), 6- Lauderdale,g (Mark MacDonald), 7-Kegler Hanover (Driver TBA). Second elim--1-Twisted Pretzel,g (Driver TBA). 2-Explosive Action (Jason Bartlett), 3-Boffin (Charlie Norris), 4-Detour Hanover (Dan Dube), 5-Fico (Bartlett also listed), 6-Dontyouforgetit (Jimmy Takter), 7-Celebrity Stimulus (Tom Jackson), 8-Theraputic,g (Jeff Gregory). Driver changes and morning-line odds shall be added Wednesday. This Saturday's soiree also includes the $111,250 final of Lawrence B. Sheppard (5th race) for 2-year-old colts and geldings. 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 around the NYRA schedule (note that Saratoga opens Friday). by Frank Drucker
Yonkers Racetrack management has increased the appeal of its most important harness racing stakes beginning in 2013 by guaranteeing final purses in the open divisions, slashing entrance fees for colt and filly races by more than half, and reducing the sustaining payments by 50% to these events.
Archangel (Jim Morrill Jr.) may have lost the draw Tuesday night, but he won everything that mattered Saturday night, wiring Yonkers Raceway's 58th Yonkers Trot for 3-year-olds in a harness racing world-record performance.