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A total of $10,000 in purses were up for grabs Sunday, September 22 at Leamington Raceway, and the large crowd at the half-mile track wagered more than $23,000 on the 10-race card. “We’ve shown we can put the racing card on here in Leamington and that we’ll be going ahead with our next three races and we’re going to be back asking for 20 or 30 days next year,” Essex County Warden and Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain has said. Bain, who is also part of the executive of the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, was among the robust crowd that welcomed live harness racing back to Essex County on Sunday. “We’ve shown that we can do it,” said Bain, whose comments have come in an article by The Windsor Star. “The Ontario Racing Commission gave us the four days so they could have a look how we do it and if could we pull it off and I think we’re proving that,” Bain said. The Lakeshore Horse Racing Association is looking to eventually build a not-for-profit harness racetrack in Lakeshore. If Sunday was any indication, the fans are eager to get back watching and supporting the live product. “Going forward, we have to put on the next three Sundays, and I feel very confident we can do that, and then we approach next year” said Bain. He later went on to say, “we’ll move forward, looking towards a much bigger meet next year.” “It’s tremendous to be able to have a local track here where it is going to help the economy so much, and it’s great to be able to have that knowledge that you can work with young horses and have a place locally where you can train them, get them ready to race them, hopefully, in the big time. To view the harness racing results for Sunday at Leamington, click the following link: Sunday Results – Leamington Raceway. Reprinted with permission from the Windsor Star

It was a case of miss understanding and failure to correct existing race conditions. Richard Young, owner of 2013 Jugette winner, I Luv The Nitelife, now understands that the purses won by I Luv The Nitelife in her two-heat victory last Wednesday are the correct amount, but that the Little Brown Jug Society had failed to change the conditions of the race to reflect those changes that were made two years ago. “I figured out the intention of the people responsible for the rules and conditions of the Jugette,” Young explained. “The original intent was for a colt or filly to win 2 heats to decide the winner. However, since they didn't know if there would be a third heat , they deducted 20 % of the total purse and set it aside. “This money set aside would became the purse for the third heat,” Young added, “If however a third heat wasn't required as a horse won in straight heats, the 20 % was given to the winner as a bonus for winning in two heats. This apparently ended in 2011 for the Jugette. No 20% of the purse set aside was required as they knew there would not be a third heat. All the monies were put into the purse money of the two races. “If one was to compute the difference between winning two heats at 45 % for the winner,” Young explained, “or winning 45% at a lower purse and an additional 20%, the actual difference would be 11 % more.  Although the rules for 2013 state I am entitled to the money, I will not pursue this because I now realize their actual intentions." By Steve Wolf for

For years the race conditions for two of harness racing’s top stakes events, the Little Brown Jug and the Jugette, have stated that 20% of the total purse is set aside and paid to the winner of the race(s). There are set formats, depending on the number of heats, for the paying out of purses. It is all listed in the race conditions that are posted on the United States Trotting Association website. But such is not the case for this year’s 2013 Jugette winner, I Luv The Nitelife, according to owner Richard Young of Coconut Creek, Florida. The 2013 conditions for the Jug and Jugette clearly states from the United States Trotting Association website ( as follows: Racing Conditions for the Jug and Jugette: Race Sponsor shall determine the number of horses that will start in each division not to exceed 10. If one division the event will be raced two heats of one mile. If separate heat winners, the heat winners will return to race the third and final heat. The winner must win two heats. Twenty percent will be set aside for the winner, eighty percent divided equally between the first two heats. Forty percent to the elimination heats and 60 percent to the final. Purse will be divided 45-25-15-10-5% each heat with the exception of the third heat if necessary. The track retains the right to conduct either or both events in a single dash with 20 percent going to the race winner in addition to the 45-25-15-10-5% pay off. The 2014 conditions for the Jugette do not mention anything about the 20% being set aside for the winner. “It was one of the deciding factors in racing our filly in the Jugette,” Said Richard Young, “We knew that the purse distribution was different than other stakes races because the Jugette is actually a Fair Stake, but it clearly says that 20% is to be set aside for the winner. That comes out to just over $50,000 and now the officials at the Little Brown Jug are saying we are not due this money. “Vegas Vacation also won the Jug in straight heats on Thursday just like we did on Wednesday,” Young stated, “And their owners are getting paid the additional 20%. Something is not right here.” “I knew before the race that the Jugette was going to be changed so that there would not be three heats,” Young said. “I actually thought that would not happen until next year. I found out a few days before the race that this year’s Jugette winner would be the filly that won the second heat but it was never mentioned not paying the 20%. There was never any official notification that the 20% of the purse withheld for the winner would not be paid if it was two or three heats.” Attempts were made to contact race officials at the Little Brown Jug Society for an explanation of the conditions and the 20% payout but no calls were returned. “After I made a few calls on Saturday I was finally put in touch with Tom Wright on Sunday,” Young explained. “He is the president of the Little Brown Jug Society and the Director of Racing. He told me that they (Little Brown Jug Society) changed the payout procedures for the Jugette because the race would no longer require a filly to have to race three heats in one day like the colts. “He said this was publicly announced but I have never heard of this,” Young said. “I never received notification as an owner making the stakes payments and never read anything about this change for 2013. I have read the conditions and see the changes made for 2014 but nothing was ever changed in the conditions for 2013. It’s still the same as it had been for years. “We only want what is rightfully ours,” Young said. “If Vegas Vacation’s owners got paid the 20%, we deserve it too. We entered I Luv The Nitelife in the Jugette in good faith according to the conditions posted by the Little Brown Jug Society and won both heats the same as Vegas Vacation did.” By Steve Wolf for

Trainer of undefeated He's Watching

Seven three-year-old pacing fillies will contest a division of the Nova Scotia Stake Series tomorrow afternoon at Truro Raceway. This Stake was developed by the Nova Scotia Harness Racing Industry Association to promote and foster the breeding of standardbreds in our province. In addition to the province’s tracks and horsemen’s associations, sponsors include the province of Nova Scotia and Pictonian Farms. Post-time for the 12-dash card is 1:30 p.m. with qualifiers scheduled for noon. The first ‘So You Think You Can Drive Team Challenge” is on the card with four of Truro’s young guns teaming up with four of Truro’s top drivers in a three-race contest. Based on a point system for designated races, Ben Hollingsworth, Paul Langille, Mark Whidden and Dale Spence will each be paired with up one of Truro’s top winning drivers – Robert Laffin, Ernie Laffin, Danny Romo and Bernard ‘Pooker’ McCallum. Truro’s leading driver, Ryan Ellis, is still unavailable for catch drives due to back issues while popular teamster Darren Crowe is also missing from the challenge as he was booked to compete in Stake Races in Prince Edward Island this weekend. **** The return of the popular Pick 5 and the introduction of Harness Racing Bingo created a buzz last Sunday with fans. Since neither pot was on, they will be carried over to this week. The Pick 5 pot is $1, 377.24 and Bingo $132. **** Several hot horse/driver combinations are currently on a roll at the track. Ernie Laffin and Kenny Greene’s St. Lads Dagwood have two consecutive wins along with Dave Carey and Fluid Motion and Dale Spence and equine partner Michelle’s Romance. **** Grassroots Truro horseman Blair Laffin, who not only trains a string of horses at Truro Raceway but also works as Grounds Supervisor, has been sidelined by a health issue this past week and unable to work. Therefore, tomorrow’s 50/50 proceeds are being earmarked for Blair. **** Sport Pugwash will be hosting their annual Fall Matinee of harness racing this afternoon with a 2 p.m. post time. Several local horsemen including Scott Daniels, Nick White, Terry Oulton and Steve Morton will be supporting and participating in the event co-ordinated by Clayton Stevens and Elaine Shortliffe.  Truro race-goers will recognize several horses including  Michelles Romance, Lakers Vett, Scotian Lass, Pasta Vera, Kendal Courageous, Phighten Philly and Nukamotion.  A rain date is lined up for Sept. 28. **** Thirty-four yearlings consigned to the 10th edition of the NSPE Select Yearling Sale has brought together the  support and involvement of Atlantic Canada’s most prominent breeders including William McNeil, consignor of last year’s high-priced filly Saulsbrook Alana. Breeder Donald Porter has also consigned two colts for next month’s sale. Porter is currently campaigning two-year-old pacer Deep River Cruise out of the Bernard McCallum Stable, which is showing three wins out of its last four starts, a lifetime best of 1:58.2 and career earnings of $12,840. The complete list of yearlings is available on the Truro Raceway website  **** Racing action today at Truro Raceway kicks off with simulcast programming from Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, N.B. at 1 p.m. The entertainment continues throughout the day and into the evening with live televising of both harness and thoroughbred  racing from some of the finest tracks in North America including Freehold, Belmont, Woodbine, Churchill, Charlottetown Red Shores, Pocono, Mohawk and more. by Diane Daniels for Turo Raceway 

CAMPBELLVILLE, September 14 – After a victory and a pair of second-place finishes in his last three starts, Punxsutawney is certainly rounding into form heading into the $686,000 Canadian Trotting Classic, Saturday at Mohawk. The talented son of Glidemaster finished second in his elimination, beaten only a neck, to Master Of Law in 1:53.4 at odds of 10-1. Prior to last week, Punxsutawney finished second in the $75,000 Zweig Memorial Consolation before winning his division of the $100,000 Colonial Trot. “He raced very well in his elimination. His first quarter was :27.3 and his final quarter was :27.3, you can’t ask for much more,” said trainer John Butenschoen. “He’s had a very good week. We left him in Canada at Ideal Training Center and he’s coming into the race as good as we can expect.” Punxsutawney will leave post two with morning line odds at 12-1 for driver Corey Callahan. Things didn’t go as planned earlier this season for Butenschoen and Punxsutawney. “He started off the year so good,” said the veteran conditioner. “He won his first two races then he started making breaks and we didn’t know why. We tried everything to figure it out and later we found out it was his front feet. He played around with him, tried different shoeing and we settled on putting glue-on aluminums on, which seems to help, along with swimming him. We then put trotting hobbles on him too. That was more psychological than anything because he was so accustomed to making breaks.” When Punxsutawney wasn’t putting his best foot forward on the racetrack, Butenschoen always had the confidence from owner Jerry Graham “Jerry had a lot faith in the horse and was very patient, which is sometimes hard to do in this game,” Butenschoen said. “He’s been in the game for many years and trained so he knows what it’s all about. We didn’t feel the pressure or be under the gun to figure this horse out, which was a blessing because he always knew this horse had what it takes.” The lightly-raced youngster will look for his biggest victory of his career in the 38th edition of the classic. The bay has a 3-2-0 record from nine starts along with $113,639 earned this season. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out and how much speed there is up front. Wheeling N Dealin raced a lot better last week and I expect him to be even better. Royalty For Life is a horse you can’t overlook as well as both elimination winners. There may not be a (1):50 (1) :51 trotter, but there are a lot of nice horses in this field. It seems like a fairly wide-open race and we don’t mind being a longshot.” Butenschoen admires the qualities of his young trotter. “He’s a good, happy horse. His attitude is great and he always tries. As a trainer, that’s one thing that you have to admire. He’s got a lot of talent with a ton of speed, so hopefully that continues to show up. Obviously we thought enough of him this season because we staked him heavily. He started off the year so well, so hopefully we can end it the same way.” Beginning from post position two is something the veteran conditioner isn’t going to argue about. “I’m not complaining,” Butenschoen said with a laugh. "That’s just fine with me. Corey (Callahan) has done a great job with this horse and they seem to be a good match together. Corey can race him anyway he wants, which gives him options.“ Both elimination winners Master Of Law and Your So Vain were allowed to pick there post positions. Master Of Law picked post two with Your So Vain beginning from post three, respectively. In his career Punxsutawney has banked $252,104 with a 5-4-0 record from 18 career starts. The $16,000 yearling purchase was bred by Audray Farm of Punxsutawney, Pa.   by Greg Gangle for WEG  

Delaware, OH -- I Luv The Nitelife, the number 3 ranked standardbred in North America, is the heavy favorite in the $257,750 Jugette three-year-old filly pace on Wedensday, September 18th at the Delaware County Fair.   The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover has won 10 of 11 seasonal starts and has banked more than $1.5 million in career earnings. I Luv The Nitelife will leave from post #3 and will have the services of Tim Tetrick. She is owned by Richard and Joanne Young of Florida and is conditioned by Chris Ryder.   Shebestingin and Jerseylicious should provide the main competition to I Luv The Nitelife. Shebestingin has 10 career wins in 16 starts and owns a lifetime mark of 1:49. Joe Holloway trains the daughter of Bettor's Delight for Val D'or Farms, Ted Gewertz and L&L Devisser who will leave from post 7.   Jerseylicious drew the second strating poistion. She has shown consistancy this season with 15 top three finishes in 18 seasonal starts. Corey Callahan will drive Jerseylicious for the Legacy Stable of Delaware and Pamela M. Curran.   A pair of Jugette entries, Carol's Desire and Novascotia Hanover, will be racing tonight in the Pennsylvania Sire Stake Final at the Meadows.   All ten horses will advance to the second heat. The winner of the second heat will be declared the Jugette champion. The first heat will be raced for $103,100 and the second heat will carry a purse of $154,650.   The complete Jugette field and announced drivers:   1. Social Scene (Brian Sears) 2. Jerseylicious (Corey Callahan) 3. I Luv The Nitelife (Tim Tetrick) 4. UF Dragon's Queen (Dave Palone) 5. Carol's Desire (Matt Kakaley) 6. Macharoundtheclock (Brian Sears) 7. Shebestingin (David Miller) 8. Belle Boyd (Jody Jamieson) 9. Novascotia Hanover (David Miller) 10. Parlee Beach (Brett Miller)   by Jay Wolf for The Little Brown Jug

Quite An Avenger (4g Quite Easy-Nobes Hanover-Prakas), with trainer Markku Nieminen driving, held off Venice (4f Quite Easy-Vivace-Express Ride), handled by Mika Forss, to win today's 221,000 euro, 2600 meter, Suuri Suomalainen Derby test for four year-olds at Vermo Racecourse (Helsinki, Finland). The winner, a son of young and successful sire Quite Easy, was timed in 1.13.73kr in the victory, his sixth in nine 2013 appearances. Quite Easy (Andover Hall-Marita's Victory-Valley Victory) was a $125,000 yearling at 2005 Harrisburg Sale and winner, at age two, of the Champlain and the International Stallion Stake. Cherry Chapstick (4f Orlando Vici-Summer Sisu-Victor Victor) took the third spot in the twelve horse field with Pearls For Girls (4f Striking Sahbra-Ussania Boko-SJs Photo) landing fourth. Brad de Veluve won the 2012 edition of the Derby which began in 1970. Thomas H. Hicks  

WILKES-BARRE PA – The freshman pacing filly Weeper posted the fastest winning time in the history of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series Championships Friday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when she stormed home in 55.2 to record a 1:51.4 victory on a Championship night devoted to two-year-olds. The victory by the daughter of Allamerican Native was certainly no surprise – she had posted the exact same clocking in her last start when, after all but clinching a berth in the Stallion final with two wins and a second in early prelims, trainer Kelly O’Donnell decided to try her against the Sire Stakes “big girls” – and she posted the fastest time in the three divisions of that event’s final leg. On Friday Weeper ran her record to four wins and three seconds in seven starts as driver Dave Palone settled her in an early spot, then rushed her uncovered into the second turn to quickly gain the point. Sub-28 pacing in the last two quarters kept her in control of the race, though Lucy’s Pearl made a fine stretch move to narrow in for second, with four for four prelim winner McVita Bella having to settle for fourth behind stablemate Mayabelle after hard early usage from post eight on the far outside. Weeper was victorious for the home state ownership of Bay Pond Racing Stable while also shattering the 1:53.1 Stallion Championship divisional record of Want Answers. The old all-time Stallion Final standard of 1:52.1 had been held by four horses, all male pacers – 2YO’s Eddie Sweat (who will be in Saturday’s 3PC Stallion final) and EZPass Hanover, and 3YOs Take It Back Terry and Sectionline Blast. That quartet’s joint record was almost equaled just an hour before Weeper broke it, as sire Allamerican Native accounted for both sidewheeling events when Jack Attack won the colt contest in 1:52.2. Driver George Napolitano Jr., who visited Victory Lane five times in all Friday night, quarter-moved with his gelding, rated a 57.1 half, and seemed to be in control as favored pocketsitter So Surreal struggled a bit in a 27.1 backside. But So Surreal just kept on coming in the last eighth, and the wire came just at the right time for Napolitano and Jack Attack, who like Weeper had earlier won a Sire Stakes division, for trainer P.J. Fraley and owner Bamond Racing LLC. The trotting filly Nitro Nittany emulated Weeper by setting a Stallion Championship divisional record, winning in 1:56 to reduce the old mark of Tattoo You by 2 1/5 seconds, with her sire Expensive Matter emulating Allamerican Native by fathering both winners on their respective natural gaits. Driver Howard Parker had Nitro Nittany perfectly placed behind two-moving favorite Tweet Me for most of the last half, then got by that game rival late for trainer Jim Raymer and the Harbor Racing Stable LLC ownership, who just missed having a Stallion “sweeper” after Nitro Nittany posted wins in the first three prelims, but had to settle for second behind Outsourced Hanover (who finished third tonight) in the last preliminary. Trainer Jim Campbell, who has already enjoyed some success at Pocono this year with baby trotters (does the name Cooler Schooner ring a bell?), added another freshman victory when Who Wants Soup cooked up a 1:56.3 triumph in his event for his third straight victory. Tyler Buter rushed the gelding wide at the ¾ to contention and made the lead in early stretch, but Who Wants Soup had to be brave to nip Pocono Pike flyer Faust while equaling the stakes mark set last year by Smoother Ride, while Monkey Man, also stuck with post eight while looking for the Stallion “sweep,” holding on OK for third. Runthetable Stables are the owners of the promising youngster, who also get credit for the Campbell-“Soup” pairing. In another feature of national importance, Drop The Ball, who in her last start, at Pocono on August 17, set a 1:48.2f world record for older pacing mares, did not let that brief layoff not the outside post seven deter her at all as she won a $30,000 mares handicap pace in 1:50. Driver Joe Pavia Jr. worked out a fine second-over trip for Drop The Ball, and the Western Terror mare took it from there, swinging wide entering the stretch and keeping safe Pocono Piker Feeling You by a neck, with the always-game Anndrovette, stung by a 26.2 opener before setting the pace, just a half-length off the winner at the finish. Drop The Ball is trained by Ross Croghan for Let It Ride Stables Inc, Dana Parham, and Robert Cooper Stables LLC. FINISHING LINES – The three-year-olds will contest their Stallion Series Championships on Saturday, and with the promise of good weather the recordbooks could again take a beating … Drivers Napolitano, Buter, and Parker posted their first-ever Stallion Series Championships wins, while Palone’s victory ties him with Ron Pierce for the all-time lead at four, in a series that as of this writing is only 32 races old … The aforementioned Smoother Ride, who made his Sire Stakes Championship this year, is to date the only horse to post five wins (four prelims and the final) in one year of Stallion Series competition. by Jerry Connors

The Deauville Arqana-Trot Day 2 was devoted to offspring of proven stallions and the results were consistent with last year. Gross sales were 2,069,000 euro, down slightly from last year's 2,080.000 euro. Average was up at 14,025 euro in the session versus 13,733 euro in 2012. 69% of offered horses sold compared to 72% last year. The sale topper on the second day was hip 312 Cahal des Ricults (male 2/22/12 by Password-Plesse des Rioults-Coktail Jet) for 60,000 euro, presented by Scea Haras des Rioults. On September 6 the final session features horses by young stallions, some of which have their first crops racing in 2013. by Thomas H. Hicks  

Hippodrome 3R Two-year-old pacing filly Alevala Hanover celebrated her first career win in a big way on Sunday afternoon at Hippodrome 3R for her local connections as she prevailed in the $31,600 Lucien Bombardier Stakes, which is co-sponsored by Standardbred Canada and the Quebec Jockey Club. Owned by driver Marc Belanger and trainer Stephane Beaudoin, both of Trois-Rivieres, Que., Alevala Hanover overcame early interference from post eight and made up her double-digit deficit by the half-mile mark. She then held off race favourite Champagne Shower (Dennis St. Pierre), who was a riding a three-race win streak in Quebecoise Series action, to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:59.3. Third-place finisher C L Infinite (David Pilon) followed nearly 10 lengths behind. The Allamerican Native-Armbro Odessa filly now sports a career record reading 1-2-2 in six starts with earnings soaring to more than $20,000. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Hippodrome 3R. Inverness Raceway Junebugs Baby closed out Sunday afternoon's harness racing card at Inverness Raceway with a victory in the featured $1,500 Frank MacInnis Memorial Pace. Junebugs Baby watched as favourite J B Bolt and Macnamarra battled on top through fractions of :28.3, :57.2 and 1:29.4 in the ninth race before flying by in the stretch to win in 2:01.4. Art I Special came on for second, finishing three-quarters of a length behind, while J B Bolt and Macnamarra settled for third and fourth respectively. The homebred son of Western Paradise was driven by Dominion, N.S. horseman Fraser Turnbull, who shares ownership with John Turnbull Jr. of Glace Bay, N.S. The Atlantic Sires Stakes graduate earned the second win of his four-year-old campaign and 16th lifetime. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Inverness Raceway. Holland Fair Outlaw I See Red wired a field of Open pacers in the $2,200 Murray Cumberland Memorial featured at Holland Fair on Sunday afternoon. Driver Ron Cullen steered Outlaw I See Red ($8.90) to the 2:02.3 two and three-quarter length victory with Playboy Killean (Dean Rey) and Outlaw Spider (Don Howlett) finishing second and third, respectively. Jodie Cullen trains the five-year-old Brandons Cowboy gelding for owners Derek and Fred Gilbert of Brandon, MB. The race was named in honour of horseman Murray Cumberland, who passed away in July 2012. The winning connections swept the late Daily Double with eight-year-old pacing mare Judges Discretion ($6.80), driven by Greg Manning, taking the finale. The Cullen combination paid $12.60. The Manitoba Great Western Fair circuit wraps up next weekend back in Miami with Saturday and Sunday live harness racing beginning at 1:30 p.m. each day. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Holland Fair. Fraser Downs Open pacing mare Prairie Illusion returned to racing action on Sunday after four months off and found herself right back where she left the Fraser Downs winner's circle. The four-year-old Mach Three mare won the $10,500 Fillies & Mares Open back on May 3 in a career-best 1:52.4 and matched that mark in Sunday's feature event with another dominating score. Jim Marino, who won four races on the card, sent the favourite to the lead from post five and never looked back through fractions of :27.4, :56.4 and 1:25.2 en route to the six and three-quarter length victory. The winning time was just two-fifths of a second off Furious Five's track record for aged pacing mares. Early trailers Phone Terror (Serge Masse) and Jans Rich Girl (Scott Knight) finished second and third. Prairie Illusion has now won all three of her starts since being claimed by trainer William Young in mid-April for $30,000. She is now six-for-12 this season and has yet to miss a paycheque throughout her four-year-old campaign. While Prairie Illusion missed the track record for her age and sex, the Fraser debuting Need You So Bad established one for two-year-old geldings with a 1:56.2 three length romp for trainer/driver Bill Davis. The son of American Ideal was two-fifths of a second faster than the former record-holder Nobody Can. The J J J Stables owns the Horizon Pace champion who is undefeated in three pari-mutuel starts. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Fraser Downs. Reprinted with permission by  

Monday 19th August 2013 is a day that young trainer Tiarn McElhinney will never forget. Tiarn is the daughter of prominent driver Glenn McElhinney and trained the first winner of her short career when Vintage Cullen won race five at Tabcorp Park Menangle with her father in the sulky. "It was a big thrill, it is something I will never forget and when Vintage Cullen hit the line I was screaming like I had just won a Gr. 1 race not a race at Menangle on a Monday," Tiarn said. "I have only had about four or five starters so far in my career but it was great to get a winner so early on and what made it even more special was that Dad drove the horse because he has been such a big part of my life in the sport." Tiarn began studying about two years ago to become a licensed trainer and admits to wanting to be part of the industry on a full-time basis. "I did the Wagga TAFE course by correspondence a couple of years ago but I have always been around horses and actually had one in the backyard until I was five, I've done a couple of other courses so I have something to fall back on as well but I would love to be training full-time with a really supportive group of owners." "I really have been bitten by the harness bug, I have just got my trial drivers' licence as well and once the new season starts I hope to get a few drives and then hopefully from there I will progress to the races, I just really enjoy it." Monday's victory was made even more special because of the family connection in the ownership of Vintage Cullen. "Our family has got Vintage Cullen on lease, it's great because I get help at the stable from my dad, cousins and uncles, it really is a family thing and we all enjoy getting in and having a go." "My favourite horse Major Bad died recently and it hasn't been easy but Vintage Cullen is a horse that I will remember forever." Nancy O'Grady || Harness Racing New South Wales |  

CLINTON, ON — Legends Day at Clinton Raceway always features a group of harness racing’s most revered drivers and trainers, but fans attending this year’s edition on Sunday, Aug. 18 may also catch a glimpse of several former stars from the National Hockey League. Brothers Dave, Dale and Mark Hunter, best known for their careers with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues, respectively, will be on hand to watch two-year-old trotting colt Strike It Big battle in the Grassroots event featured on the Legends Day program. And while Strike It Big has shown some promise in the early stages of his career, the novice trotter was not solely responsible for the gathering of the Hunter clan. “My grand-daughter is getting married on Saturday, Carol’s daughter,” explains Richard “Dick” Hunter, who, along with son Dale and neighbour Randy Clark, comprise Chasin The Dream Stable of Petrolia and share ownership of Strike It Big with Alvinston resident Rick Podolinsky and Dave Hudson of Dallas, TX. Having the colt racing the day after the wedding was a stroke of luck Hunter was willing to take advantage of, however, and the family has arranged a bus to pick them up at their Oil Springs homestead Sunday morning and deliver them to Clinton for the trotter’s fifth lifetime start. “It just hit perfect, didn’t it,” says Hunter, noting that the bus will hold 40. “We’ll see how we do.” Strike It Big will battle for a share of the $18,000 Grassroots purse from Post 8 in the seventh race on Sunday. The Striking Sahbra son started his season at the Gold Series level, but after failing to hit the board in two attempts trainer Dan Creighton opted to drop the youngster down to the Grassroots level. The strategy paid off as Strike It Big recorded his first win in his Grassroots debut at Georgian Downs on July 30. In the Aug. 8 test at Mohawk Racetrack the trotter finished fifth, closing hard after getting away at the back of the 10-horse field. 'He’s a very nice colt. Like others, he’s had his struggles, but he’s learning,” says Strathroy resident Creighton. “We have hopes for him to be a nice horse. He’s definitely shown some ability.” A $21,000 purchase out of the Forest City Yearling Sale last fall, Strike It Big initially caught Dick Hunter’s eye because of his conformation, but it was the colt’s number in the sale that sealed the deal. “I was going by his stall and the owner was there, and another guy who was helping him. I got talking to the owner and he said, ‘This is quite a colt’,” recalls Hunter. “’He said, ‘This is quite a colt,’ and I looked up and I said, ‘That’s number 99, well I hope he’s as good as Wayne Gretzky was.” Should Strike It Big find success at Clinton on Sunday, it would cap off an exceptional week for the Hunter family. In addition to the much anticipated wedding, last weekend Dale and Mark Hunter returned to London from the Czech Republic sporting gold medals from the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament where Dale served as the national team’s head coach and Mark as the general manager, the same roles they perform with the OHL’s London Knights. “How he gets around Clinton, we don’t know, but hopefully he makes a good account of himself,” says trainer Creighton of Strike It Big’s prospects. “Hopefully there will be a big crowd of Hunters up there. I know that Dick, he enjoys the horses because it does get the family together.” No matter how the young trotter performs, or how many family members are on hand to cheer him home, Hunter is confident the busload from Oil Springs will enjoy Clinton Raceway’s biennial Legends Day celebration. “Ian (Fleming) does a heck of a job up there,” says the longtime owner. In addition to the five Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts (Races 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8), Clinton Raceway General Manager Ian Fleming and his staff have a full slate of Legends Day activities planned for fans, including an opportunity to meet 12 of harness racing’s legendary reinsmen. The event gets under way at 1:30 pm and full details are available at For complete entries please go to by Sandra Snyder  

Wet, sloppy conditions kept the crowd small but didn’t prevent very competitive racing at last Wednesday’s Bathurst meeting. Ash Siejka’s training double, and an exceptional debut by Think It Through, were the highlights. On debut in a 2YO Fillies class but a very short-priced favourite on the strength of a 2:00 trial win at Young, Think It Through managed the potentially tricky inside draw then sped away in front to open up a gap of at least 50 metres  during the middle stages of the race. Halfway through the second lap, trainer-driver John Vautin started to shake her up as the huge gap narrowed somewhat, and many in the stand were beginning to wonder if this Vo Rogue-like performance would end in an upset. They needn’t have worried. Though getting very weary after highballing in front in very slushy conditions, she held on by a mere 19 metres to post the first of what will surely be numerous career victories.  Our Lissome NZ and Most Admired gave Steve Turnbull the minor placings. The sectional times make interesting reading. After a slow lead time as she found her footing out of the gate, she dashed through the middle 1200 metres in 1:30.0 flat, leaving all her rivals off the bit and gasping for oxygen, before a telling 33.6 final quarter, for a mile rate of 2:03.2 . A  strapping type very reminiscent of her sire Ponder, the half-sister to Ultimate Art was purchased by  Lester and Linda Hewitt from the Micallef draft  at the 2012 Gold Crown Sale for $8,000 , the day after that year’s Crown winner had easily defeated their runner in a Crown heat . To paraphrase a familiar expression, they reckoned “ if you can’t beat ‘em,  get one of ‘em. “ John Vautin hasn’t seen much of Bathurst this season, since basing himself at Cowra. Lester Hewitt is an accomplished trainer in his own right, a clear leader of the UDR Trainers Premiership at Bathurst this season, but he’s supported his former stable driver with this filly, the undoubted star of Toby Vautin’s small team. For all of them, there’s much to look forward to. In My Life NZ, the first leg of Ashlee Siejka’s training double, set the pattern for the evening by making a fast move mid-race to the death, and then outstaying favourite Two Striking and the sweet-seating Im No Lady. The last half took 60.4, with the mile rate of 2:04.8 for the 2130 metres  C O event. Recent Rising Stars placegetter Kylie Barnes handled the driving duties for Siejka’s second winner Nickys Passion NZ, in a C2-C3 sprint class, sitting outside the lead and proving too strong for Miners Lane, which had enjoyed the one-one trail, and  stablemate Stirling William, which had led. The mile rate of 2:02 was very good in the conditions, and the last half was run in a minute flat. Abercrombie Alice  (Graham Betts for Leon Bennetts) maintained her excellent recent form with another all-the-way win, in a 3CO-3C1 sprint event. Courtesy of a neat piece of driving, and some good fortune, she found the lead around the first bend after coming from barrier 9. Hallycould held on in the death seat for second, with the original occupant of that spot and then trailer, Master Macca, getting the minor placing. Twenty Three Penny’s winning effort , in a C1 sprint class, was more conventional, with John O’Shea spearing the short-priced favourite straight to the front and controlling the race throughout. She zipped up the back in 28.7 , the night’s fastest quarter, putting the result beyond doubt, and cruised home in 31.0 to defeat  Positive Thinking and Runs On Love, which had followed her on the pegs throughout. The mile rate was 2:04. It was the seventh lifetime win for the Blissfull Hall mare, which will join the nice broodmare band put together by keen Carcoar-based breeders Ray and Peter Connolly. Long Cool Woman brought up win 191 and 189 respectively for her driver and trainer, Amanda and Steve Turnbull, in a 3C O sprint event. She worked to the death seat mid-race and outstayed Aunty Olive,which raced wide for the last lap, and favourite Gabrielle Solis NZ, three-back in the running line . The mile rate was only 2:04.6, but the last half of 59.8 was good on the night. Franco Talon NZ (Amy Day for Garrett Newton) made up for the pair’s second in the opening race by taking out an R2-R3 middle-distance class. Last early before coming three-wide from the bell, the favourite  had a bit in hand to defeat the death-seater Rowan Royal and Ihitthegroundrunning NZ, from the one-one.The overall rate was just 2:05.8, with the last half in 60.1 . Western Burner found the by-now coveted spot outside the leader in the final race, an R0-R1 over 2130 metres, and naturally he won, for Scott Hewitt and trainer-father David. Happy Camper came three-wide from the bell for second, with Jerula’s Mate which had the one –one trail, holding on for third. The times were moderate but the winning margin of 17 metres suggests a repeat win can be expected.

Columbus, OH --- The United States Trotting Association's Support Our Standardbreds Program has helped its 100th horse, it was announced today. The 23-year-old trotting mare, Youngs Filly, who was seized by the St. Albans (West Virginia) Animal Control department on Aug. 2 and is being cared for by the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue in Shoals, W.Va., is the 100th horse helped by SOS. The mare, who raced three times as a 2-year-old, has allegedly been in the custody of the individuals from whom she was removed for approximately 19 years. Along with an Arabian gelding, the mare was in a field with, "No grass, a lot of mud," according to Tinia Creamer of Heart of Phoenix. "She's covered with open wounds, including a large one on her cheek." Creamer estimates her Body Condition Score at three (five is ideal) and also reported that the mare's feet and teeth are in poor condition, but not to the point of impeding her ability to eat. "She has a good appetite and seems tired and weary of life, really." According to Creamer, the owners of the mare will be prosecuted and the next hearing is set for September. The USTA's donation will help cover initial costs to bring the mare to full health, including farrier, dental and veterinary care. When recovered, Youngs Filly will be offered for adoption. She is reportedly broken to ride. The program, started in 2010, was developed to provide financial assistance to registered charitable programs and government agencies caring for registered Standardbreds whose care has fallen to a criminal level. Horses that have been legally seized, abandoned or surrendered in lieu of prosecution are eligible for assistance. Horses from 19 different states, from California to Maine and south to Florida, have been helped by SOS. For more information about SOS, click here or contact Ellen Harvey at 732.780.3700 or by Ellen Harvey  

Sunday the 28th July will see the Goulburn Harness Racing Club host this season’s Breeders Challenge Regional Finals for 2yo, 3yo and 4yo pacers of both sexes.  With six $20,000 races, the best available young pacers will be in action and the club is leaving no stone unturned to make the day a great success. The racing will be supported by an afternoon of entertainment for all the family and features the last of the very popular Shannon Noll concerts.  The musical support will be enhanced by local Goulburn singer Kerri O’Keefe whilst Shoalhaven mini trots will compete between races. For children, the club has organised a jumping castle, face painting, free show bags and street theatre by the Lieder Youth Theatre. “We’re hoping the weather is kind, but irrespective, with the racing and entertainment on offer the day should be a great Sunday outing, “said club secretary Mark Croatto. The club is also opening its sponsor’s marquee to the public and entry can be purchased by contacting Dennis Day on 0412525935.  The entry of $50 includes gourmet finger food, beer, wine, soft drinks and tea and coffee. Harness fans attending on the day will not only enjoy a program of top class juvenile racing and on-course entertainment, but will also see the progress of works on the multi-use centre commissioned by Goulburn Mulwaree Council. With the refurbishment of the 1040m circuit in November 2011 making it one of the best tracks in New South Wales, the construction of the centre will provide racing fans with a much needed multi-million dollar viewing area. Spanning a distance of 67.5 metres between the greyhound and harness winning posts, the viewing area is raised well above ground level and is housed behind a covered balcony and full glass front.  Within air conditioned comfort, it will provide patrons with all the necessary facilities including full TAB and Bookmaker services, a commercial kitchen and dining area, function room, ample seating and most importantly, an outstanding view of the racing which previously was never possible. Work on the project commenced earlier this year, but following a few delays, it is now on schedule to be opened in December prior to the Goulburn Harness Racing Club hosting the majority of this seasons’ racing.  “Council is very supportive of racing in Goulburn and the multi-use centre will provide harness and greyhound fans a modern and very comfortable, fully enclosed grandstand.  It can get quite cold, and hot, in Goulburn, so this facility will be very much appreciated and will make an outing to the trots at Goulburn all the better,” said President Dennis Day. Completion of the project continues the transition of the Goulburn Paceway into a modern racing precinct with further key projects including a significant upgrade of race day stalls and the development of a training centre on industry owned land adjoining the Goulburn Paceway.  Croatto said the club is always working at improving the Goulburn Paceway for both participants and fans. “It’s a strong harness area, ideally placed with easy access to Menangle and south western tracks such as Canberra, Young and Wagga, so this latest development by Council is a wonderful addition to what we can offer as a club,” he said. A ‘fly through’ of the building can be accessed via the following website Courtesy of Harness Racing NSW  

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