Day At The Track
Australian Harness Racing Council

Stallion TAX casualty

Trotting stallion Volstead is the first victim of the proposed ‘Stallion TAX’ Harness Racing Australia announced on April 16. Haras des Trotteurs Principal Pat Driscoll felt coerced to not shuttle the American-bred European-winning stallion back Down Under after having close to 90 services this last breeding season. The Stallion TAX will see a 15 per cent charge on the advertised service fee of shuttle and internationally domiciled stallions (transported and frozen semen) and is anticipated to generate in excess of $2million annually. “It just does not make any sense to bring Volstead back down here with this crazy tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you like,” said Driscoll about the only trotting stallion shuttled to Australia in the 2020/21 breeding season. “I had to make the call by the end of April and I have had to say no. “It is a shame. We worked hard to find a nice stallion and we bred him to our good mares to give him a great start and through all the expenses of bringing him down, we didn’t cover costs in year one, no money was returned to the US (United States) and it will probably be that way in year two when we finish working the numbers. “Even this year if we brought him down we probably would have broke even but then apply this TAX, it just doesn’t make it worth while. “Through Volstead we sponsored the Redwood Classic for the past two years and now that won’t be happening. “These are some of the flow on affects of this new tax/levy/financial imposter that have not been thought about.” Following such positive results from the recent Nutrien Standardbred Yearling Sale in Victoria plus the latest news that breeding numbers were up 10.3 per cent nationally for the first time in more than a decade, Driscoll believes this Stallion TAX is a backwards step. “It is easily the worst decision I’ve seen in the years since I’ve been involved,” stated Driscoll. “There is no other place in the world that there is a tax/levy/financial imposter that subsides racing. “You have the sires’ stakes-type races but that money generally goes back into the same pool . . . this doesn’t. “There isn’t a river of gold at studs as some may perceive. “I can only speak of Haras des Trotteurs but I’ve been operating at a loss since I started. “There are transport costs, advertising, futurity payments, stallion collection and quarantine costs, administration fees and so on. “It’s not this golden goose that people think it is, it is a labour of love for many including Haras des Trotteurs. “We’ve just come off a successful sale where for the first time in history the trotters average was higher than the pacers. “Then, we received some great news that breeding numbers are on the way back up. “We are on an upward trajectory and then they do this. “I didn’t think too many things would derail the growth of trotting in Victoria but this will. “This will severely impact the breeding of trotters in Victoria as the cost of breeding will increase, people will breed less and it could also severely compromise the quality of trotters bred. “We sent out a survey to our stakeholders, a big cross-section of the industry from those that spend who spend $1925 for Used To Me to a service fee of $11,000 for Love You, and 85 per cent are not in favour of this new levy and 80 per cent said they would breed less mares.” The HRA Executive, a ‘membership limited to the State Controlling Body in each of the six states of Australia as well as the six Principal Clubs’ has proposed the immediate introduction of this Stallion TAX to raise funds for the harness racing industry in Australia.  The way in which these funds will be distributed has not been decided yet. The HRA Executive has anticipated this TAX will generate in excess of $2million annually and will be responsible for the invoicing, collection and distribution of the TAX. This has Driscoll and others perplexed. As documented on the HRA website the AHRC (Australian Harness Racing Council and changed to HRA in 2008) was initially created to administer the Australian Trotting Stud Book, to maintain a Central Register of Name, to keep records and to control and enforce the Rules relating thereto. It is the forum and co-ordination point between the State Controlling Bodies for uniformity of rules and reciprocity of horsemen’s licences, registration of horses and suspensions and disqualifications. In addition, HRA acts as the national body in international harness racing affairs and is a member of the International Trotting Association. As a joint member of the Event Committee set up in 2008 with Harness Racing New Zealand, HRA is involved in supervising the Australasian Inter Dominion series (formerly under the auspices of the Inter Dominion Harness Racing Council Inc). “How did we get this far?” asked Driscoll. “If you read HRA’s legislations they are keepers of the studbooks, rules and regulations and each state runs their own racing. “It’s gone from that to wanting to put a tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you may, on stallions. “I feel as though Victoria has been sold, as most of this money will be raised here. “I’m staggered that Harness Racing Victoria have let this happen to their own state. “Add to the fact that roughly 90 per cent of trotting mares bred are bred/reside in Victoria and assuming a very large number of pacing mares are bred and also located in Victoria, it’s not difficult to see that most of the tax/levy/financial impost, call it what you like, raised, would be in Victoria and go where and to what?” Going by this past breeding season’s numbers, if all the same shuttle/frozen semen stallions were to remain, this levy will affect 52 stallions (28 trotting and 24 pacing) in Australia and New Zealand. A breakdown of those numbers show that 28 of those stallions are with Victoria, nine in Queensland, eight stallions in NZ, five in New South Wales and two in Western Australia. “I just can’t come up with a logical answer. “I’m all for improving the sport, I’ve invested a lot of my own money trying to do so with sponsorship and breeding. “If people want to have a $1million race, ask those seeking to have the race sponsor it!” To read HRA’s entire media release regarding the ‘Stallion Levy’ and propositions for these funds, click here. By Amanda Rando for Harnesslink

HRA - stop TAXING us to death

Andrew Kelly, HRA - stop TAXING us to death

The new ‘Stallion Levy’ proposed by Harness Racing Australia is a move that has created more questions than answers as Australasia’s biggest breeders know it will have a negative ripple effect on the industry at all levels.  What is wrong with Harness Racing Australia and Andrew Kelly? With Andrew Kelly producing FAKE NEWS with ridiculous numbers today of $18 million spent on “International Sires” it is hard to understand how HRA can justify his salary. With no experience and no investment in the Stallion business he is out of control. He has been in this position for 12 years and far too long! Andrew Kelly is not the only person responsible for this proposed TAX though. Below this letter, we have listed all State members that have been a part of this TAX proposal. This is what the majority of breeders have to say today about this unbelievable TAX that HRA is trying to get in place; Dear Mr. Kelly & the HRA Executive With regards to your recent announcement of a proposed 15% levy on all shuttle and frozen semen non-resident stallions, we would like to formally express our opposition to this Proposal. It is extremely disappointing that there was no industry consultation or discussion in advance of this Proposal. Stud farms, stallion owners and breeders’ organisations were not notified of this Proposal prior to the posting of a general press release on the HRA website. This press release creates far more questions than answers. Based on the breeding data available on HarnessWeb as of April 19th, there were 5,118 total mares bred in Australia to 166 registered stallions in the 2020/21 season. Pacing stallions served a total of 4,331 Australian mares with Australian domiciled stallions serving the majority of mares – 2,662 (61%). The remaining 39% of pacing mares bred (1,669) were served with semen from shuttle and frozen semen stallions. Australian-based shuttle stallions served 700 pacing mares, NZ-based shuttle stallions served 531 Australian pacing mares and North American frozen semen was used to serve 438 pacing mares. A total of 787 trotting mares were bred in Australia. Australian domiciled stallions served 292 trotting mares (37%). The remaining 63% of trotting mares (495) were served with semen from U.S. shuttle stallions, frozen semen from U.S. and European stallions and NZ domiciled stallions. Australian-based shuttle stallions served 62 trotting mares, NZ-based shuttle stallions covered 29 trotting mares, NZ domiciled stallions 109 mares and non-resident frozen semen was used to serve 295 trotting mares. Pacing and trotting stallions who permanently reside in Australia accounted for 58% of all mares bred last season. It should be noted that 114 Australian domiciled stallions will not be assessed this levy and therefore will not be contributing any funds to HRA’s 15% Proposal. Contrary to the opinions of a few self-interested parties who have created a huge misconception within the industry, there is far less money being paid to North American breeding syndicates for the use of their stallions than rumored. In addition, a large percentage of breeding rights for several of the most prominent shuttle stallions are owned by Australian/New Zealand studs or investors with the bulk of collected service fees remaining in Australasia as a return on investment. Also, many stallions are under long-term lease agreements contracted when a 15% levy was not included in the configuration of expenses.  Breeding farms have been relied on to help support the industry by offering discounts as high as 25% to breeders to assist them with rising costs and to provide complimentary breeding’s to clubs and breeders organisations throughout the country as well as various sponsorships within the industry. Now it is proposed that stud owners fund prize money increases to the Inter Dominion, Derbys and Oaks for benefit of a select few. We are not in agreement that breeding should be funding racing. Most of the studs who stand shuttle or offer frozen semen stallions have made significant contributions to the Australian agricultural and general economy. We have made substantial investments in property, buildings, equipment and livestock, we employ staff, purchase hay, feed and other farm supplies as well as support many local businesses (printers, office supplies, petrol, etc.). If this levy were to be adopted by HRA, there would most definitely be a ripple effect felt throughout the entire industry. HRA is attempting to change the way studs conduct their business which we feel would result in a dramatic change to the established culture of breeding. Breeders should be afforded the option of selecting the best stallions available for their mares without being penalized by a 15% levy. Below are just some of the major impacts we believe this 15% levy would have on Australian breeding. It has been a long-standing practice within the industry for studs to offer breeders a discount on the advertised service fee – whether it be for early payment, bookings for multiple mares or farm loyalty discounts. Over the last 25 years, very few breeders, if any, have ever paid the full advertised service fee. This proposed 15% levy on the advertised service fee will certainly see the elimination or reduction of service fee discounts for both shuttle and frozen semen stallions. This levy is extremely discriminatory as it provides Australian domiciled stallions a 15% price advantage as they are not subject to this levy. Many studs offer clients the opportunity to pay the service fee on a live foal basis. HRA has stated the proposed 15% levy will be imposed following a 42-day positive pregnancy test which may lead to the elimination of these pay on live foal options. With regards to the proposed 15% levy being invoiced on a 42-day positive pregnancy test, does this levy carry a live foal guarantee or a refund to the stud farm if the mare fails to deliver a live foal and when would this be repaid? Is the levy applicable to free returns? Complimentary breeding’s? Donations? Ultimately it appears that studs will have little or no choice but to pass this proposed levy on to breeders. Studs cannot be expected to absorb this additional cost on top of an already expense laden business. As breeders’ costs rise due to this levy, breeding numbers, live foals and race starters will undoubtedly decrease. This levy is an HRA attempt to push breeders towards supporting Australian/Colonial stallions who are not subjected to this levy. The most popular and successful commercial stallions available to breeders in Australia are shuttle or frozen semen stallions.  Commercial breeders are less likely to experience the same returns at the yearling sales that they currently enjoy if they are forced to breed to “Colonial” stallions due to this levy.  The considerable number of horses exported overseas by Australian owners will also be affected as Colonial-sired horses will not be as recognizable and may not be in great demand by mainstream North American or European buyers.  Stallion choices in the future will be limited as fewer shuttle/frozen semen stallions will be available due to this proposed levy. This levy, added to the mounting costs of shuttling to the southern hemisphere, will question the economical feasibility of bringing the best-bred and performed stallions to Australasia.  Faced with both 10% GST and this 15% levy, most international stallion owners will be discouraged from considering Australia in the future. If fewer mares are bred to shuttle/frozen semen stallions due to this levy, the Australasian gene pool will be negatively affected in the future. This 15% levy will negatively impact industry sponsorships. Studs have played a critical role in race and club sponsorships over the years, but this levy will certainly affect monies available for these sponsorships. If studs are being asked to fund racing prize money as suggested in your Proposal, how can they be asked to continue to sponsor tracks, clubs and smaller industry events as well? As an example, International Racehorse Transport has stepped up its sponsorship of the Standardbred industry in the last several years, but if fewer stallions are flying back and forth from North America or Europe, how can IRT be expected to support an industry that no longer supports their business model? We would like to request a meeting with the HRA Executive to further discuss our concerns regarding this proposed 15% levy. It is evident that HRA has not considered this Proposal from the point of view of the Studs. We would welcome the opportunity to educate the Executive on the realities of the breeding industry and assist in seeking alternative proposals to benefit the ENTIRE Standardbred community. Faithfully yours, Pat Driscoll, Haras des Trotteurs/Yabby Dam Farm Alan Galloway, Alabar Farms Mark Hughes, Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd David James, Empire Stallions Corp Dr. Kath McIntosh, Northern Rivers Equine Vet Clinic Kody Charles, KTC Bloodstock Belinda McCarthy, Cobbity Equine Farm Ged Mooar, Nevele R Stud Peter O’Rourke, Stallions Australasia Anthony Perkins, Trump Bloodstock Darren Reay, Medowie Lodge .................................................... Here are the people that are complicit in proposing this TAX. One of the main promoters of this TAX is one of those members Bob Fowler who has a vested interest in Colonial stallions. Feel free to lobby these ill informed officials below.   HRA Office Bearers, National Body, Corporate & Service Providers     Office Bearers for 2020/2021 Effective Date of Implementation:   30 October 2020 Executive Members                             Graeme Campbell OAM Independent Chair         Ken Brown AM Deputy Chairman (NSW-HRNSW)     Dale Montieth Treasurer (Vic-HRV)                             Executive Members                         Margaret Reynolds (Qld-Racing Queensland)   Joel Wallace (Tas-Tasracing Pty Ltd)     George Fiacchi  (SA-HRSA)     Bob Fowler (WA-RWWA)                           HRA National Body       Andrew Kelly   Chief Executive            Chief Executive: Andrew Kelly   Head of Finance and Strategy: Cameron Brown   Equine Health & Welfare Co-ordinator: Kathleen Mullan   DNA Co-ordinator, Registration, Naming, Clearances: Laraine Rischitelli   HRA Website & Database Administrator, Reports: Kathy Gebert   Clearances, Administration Services: Kerry Macaloney   General Email: hra@hra.com.au   Naming Enquiries: naming@hra.com.au   Phone: 61 3 9227 3000   Fax: 61 3 9227 3030     Mail: Level 1, 400 Epsom Road, Flemington Vic  3031  Australia

Fifth Cent Piece, harness racing

Trotters on display at Aby

The Aby harness racing card in Sweden on Sunday was a great show featuring four top races and some well-regarded winners. The Lovely Godivas (250,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart) saw 2/1 Allegra Gifont (5f Maharajah - Realm of Fancy - Ginger Somolli) triumph in 1.13.2kr for Mika Forss and trainer Alessandro Gocciadoro. This was her 17th career win in 30 starts for 2,082,760SEK earned. 10/1 Mellby Harissa (5f Maharajah - Merger Blue Chip - Cantab Hall) was second for Robert Bergh. In the Gr. I King Gustaf Pokal (1,000,000SEK first money, 2140 meters autostart), Onas Prince (4m Chocolatier -Sobra - Pine Chip) scored in 1.13kr for trainer/driver Per Nordstrom at 1.6/1 odds. Onas Prince is unbeaten in four 2021 starts and has 12 career victories in 17 appearances now for 2,762,200SEK earned. Rome Pays Off (4m Muscle Hill - Order by Wish) was second for Robert Bergh. Onas Prince In the Queen Silvias Pokal (1,000,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart, mares) the 4.3/1 Fifty Cent Piece (4f Muscle Hill - Thatsnotmyname - Windsongs Legacy - Graceful Touch) scored for Robert Bergh timed in 1.12.6kr. This one secured her seventh career triumph in 20 starts now for 2,429,854SEK. This day she bested Honey Mearas (4f Readly Express - Khao Manee - Muscles Yankee) with Orjan Kihlstrom up. The card also included the Lyon GP (250,000SEK to the winner, 2140 meters autostart) and 12/1 Rotate (5g Scarlet Knight - Hermit Lady - Express Ride) won in 1.13.8kr for Bjorn Goop. He defeated 1.1/1 favorite Hail Mary (5m Googoo Gaagaa - Dreams) for Robert Bergh and Upset Face (5m Joke Face - Iona LB - Supergill) was third for Adrian Kolgjini. The Elitloppet invites as now listed below: Hickothepooh Dorgos de Guez Don Fanucci Zet Ecurie D Vivid Wise As Aetos Kronos ATG, Aby. Elitloppet files/photos by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

Rollwithpapajoe, harness racing

Rollwithpapajoe rolls to Open win

Rollwithpapajoe was solid on the engine as he went wire-to-wire in the Monday night $37,000 harness racing Open Trot at Yonkers Raceway after trailing throughout in the start prior.   Joe Bongiorno moved decisively as the gate left this week and sent the son of Roll With Joe to the lead out of the three-hole. There was no opposition from his seven rivals as Rollwithpapajoe put up :28.1, :57.1, and 1:24.2 splits. Pocket-sitter Escapetothebeach (Jason Bartlett) gained nothing on the leader in the stretch, and Rollwithpapajoe withstood a charge from Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) to score in 1:52.   Ostro Hanover was a length back in second, and Escapetothebeach mustered the show spot. The winner paid $4.30.   ROLLWITHPAPAJOE REPLAY     Rollwithpapajoe is now a 17-time winner with earnings greater than $350,000 in 49 starts. Jennifer Bongiorno trains for owners Barbara Bongiorno Stable LLC of Monroe, Bill Kambos of Astoria, and Dionisios Liberatos of Manhasset Hills.   Yonkers Raceway races again on Tuesday, May 11. There are 10 contests scheduled and a first post of 7:15 p.m. EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Disgraced harness racing trainer Jesse Alford has been disqualified for period of seven years after he was caught injecting two horses with a prohibited substance. Details below: BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003 IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing SIMON ANDREW IRVING, Racing Investigator for Racing Integrity Unit (“RIU”) Informant JESSE JAMES ALFORD, Licensed Trainer Respondent Information Nos: A14131 – A14133 Judicial Committee: Mr A Harper, Chairman - Mr R McKenzie, Member Counsel: Mr M Hodge, for Informant                Mr K Cook, for Respondent In Attendance: Mr J Alford, Respondent                         Mr N Grimstone, Manager Integrity Assurance for RIU                         Mr S Irving, Registrar  RESERVED PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 10 MAY 2021  Background 1. On 25 February 2021, the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club conducted a meeting at Addington Raceway. 2. The Respondent, Jesse James Alford is a Licensed Public Trainer and a Junior Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (“Rules”). He has been a Harness Trainer for two seasons. 3. The Respondent had three horses engaged for that race meeting. They were: (a) Race 1 – Jimmy Cannon; (b) Race 5 – Johnny Nevits; and (c) Race 5 – Motor Mouth. 4. As a result of information which had been received, the RIU conducted a surveillance operation of the Respondent’s stable during the day of the race meeting. 5. As a result of that surveillance operation, all three horses were scratched from their engagements that evening, and three Informations were filed against the Respondent. In addition all three horses were ordered to be transported to Addington Raceway for the purposes of swabbing. 6. By letter dated 11 March 2021, the General Manager of the RIU authorised the lodging of these Informations pursuant to Rule 1108(2) of the Rule of Harness Racing New Zealand. 7. Counsel for the Respondent has indicated all three Informations are admitted. Informations 1. Information Number A14131 alleges: “That on 25 February 2021 at Woodend Beach, North Canterbury…did administer to Jimmy Cannon which was entered in race 5 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs Meeting at Addington that evening, a prohibited substance by way of hypodermic syringe, in breach of the New Zealand Harness Racing Rule 1004(l) and subject to the penalties pursuant to Rule 1001(2)”. 2. Information Number A14132 alleges: “That on 25 February 2021 at Woodend Beach, North Canterbury…did administer to Johnny Nevits which was entered in race 5 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs Meeting at Addington that evening, a prohibited substance by way of hypodermic syringe, in breach of the New Zealand Harness Racing Rule 1004(I) and subject to the penalties pursuant to Rule 1001(2)”. 3. Information Number A14133 alleges: “That on 25 February 2021 at Woodend Beach, North Canterbury…did attempt to administer to Johnny Nevits which was entered in race 5 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Clubs Meeting at Addington that evening, a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube in breach of the New Zealand Harness Racing Rule 1004(I) and subject to the penalties pursuant to Rule 1001(2)”. Summary of Facts 1. As a result of information which had been received, the RIU conducted a surveillance operation of the Respondent’s training premises at Woodend Beach, North Canterbury. This was on the day the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club was conducting a meeting at Addington Raceway. The date was 25 February 2021. 2. At 3.10pm on that day, the Respondent arrived at his stables and all three horses were brought into the tie up area of the stables. 3. At 3.21pm the Respondent was observed coming out of the feed room with a syringe. While another person held the horse Jimmy Cannon by its headcollar, the Respondent injected the horse in the neck with 10mls of “Formalin”. 4. The Respondent then returned to the feed room and placed the empty syringe in a rubbish bin. 5. The Respondent then emerged from the feed room shaking a plastic container containing bicarbonate of soda and water mix. This is more commonly referred to as “milkshake”. 6. On removing tubing gear from the feed room, the Respondent blew out the tube and applied a twitch to Johnny Nevits. Another party held the twitch. 7. The Respondent attempted to insert the nasal tube at which point Johnny Nevits became fractious. The tubing was abandoned and the gear was taken back into the feed room. 8. On returning from the feed room with a syringe in his hand, and while holding Johnny Nevits with his left hand, the Respondent injected the horse in the neck with Formalin. 9. The cap was replaced on the syringe and returned to the feed room. 10. Investigators entered the property and spoke to both the Respondent and the other party who was present. 11. They located in the feed room a plastic bucket containing tubing gear, including a rubber hose and plastic funnel, several empty syringes in a wheelie bin and a 2 litre plastic container containing Formalin. The labelling on the plastic container had been removed. 12. There was also located in a closed drawer in the feed room, a third syringe loaded with Formalin. 13. All horses were scratched from their engagements at Addington Raceway that night and were transported for the purposes of swabbing and blood testing. 14. Betting analysis indicated there had been a number of unusual bets placed on the day prior to race day. Analysis confirmed fixed odds for Motor Mouth opened at $9 and reduced to $2.80. 15. Tubing is the process of inserting a rubber or plastic tube through a horse’s nose into its oesophagus for the purposes of administering a liquid substance. A funnel is usually attached to the tube and the liquid poured into the funnel by using gravity. This forces the liquid into the horse’s stomach. 16. Needling or to needle is the process of injecting intravenously into the neck of the horse. 17. Formalin is a ready to use solution for fixation of histological samples and may also be used for treating footrot and scald in animals. Its active ingredient is 10% formaldehyde. The side effects from injecting a concentrated solution of Formalin into the vein can affect the cardiovascular system thus making it a prohibited substance under the Rules when administered in this manner. 18. The concentrated Formalin is very corrosive to live tissue. No studies have been conducted as to the effects of intravenous Formalin as no Ethics Committee in the world would approve a trial on welfare grounds. Respondent’s Statement 1. On questioning, the Respondent made a statement to investigators. Comments made in the statement included: (a) He admitted to injecting Jimmy Cannon with a “bleeder shot” and attempting to tube Johnny Nevits with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and water. (b) He denied injecting Johnny Nevits stating that he went to inject the horse, but then his conscience got the better of him and he did not proceed. (c) He initially confirmed the injection consisted of 2mls vodka and 10mls of sodium chloride, but later acknowledged it was Formalin. (d) These admissions were forthcoming only when he became aware his actions had been observed, or when challenged. (e) When loading his horses to transport to Addington Raceway for swabbing, the Respondent stated “what made you guys come out here today, was it the betting that…. It must have been the betting”. Informant Penalty Submissions 1. The Informant makes reference to two recent decisions in this jurisdiction being an Appeal Tribunal Decision in RIU v Lawson and also the decision in RIU v Kerr. 2. It is the position of the Informant these two cases, together with consideration of animal welfare issues, should guide the Committee when determining penalty. 3. It is submitted the penalty must be a period of disqualification given there are three serious racing offences. 4. The JCA Penalty Guide suggests a starting point of 18 months disqualification for a first administration offence, followed by periods of 3 years and 5 years disqualification for second and third offences respectively. 5. The RIU maintains the starting point must be significantly higher given: (a) Prohibited substances were successfully administered to two horses within a period of hours before they were due to race. (b) The Respondent may well have also administered a prohibited substance to a third horse being Motor Mouth if investigators had not arrived when they did. (c) The Respondent also attempted to administer a second prohibited substance to Johnny Nevits, and was only prevented from doing so due to the horse’s distress and becoming fractious. (d) Investigators located a number of empty syringes which may be seen as demonstrating a pattern of this type of offending. (e) There are serious animal welfare consequences of the offending. (f) Another party was involved, although the Respondent was clearly the primary offender. (g) This offending has caused significant reputational damage to the Industry. 6. Reference was also made to the recent case of RIU v McGrath. 7. Mr McGrath attempted to administer a prohibited substance by way of nasal gastric tube. However, it was noted: (a) Mr McGrath’s only intention could have been to enhance the horse’s performance and therefore the motivation for the offending must have been financial. (b) Another Licence Holder was involved, although that is not the case in this instance. (c) The most likely substance to be administered was an alkalising agent designed to improve the horse’s performance. (d) The conduct had a significant impact on the Racing Industry’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. 8. In the McGrath case a starting point of 10 years disqualification was adopted. Having regard to some mitigating factors, the Committee ultimately determined a penalty of 8 years disqualification. 9. RIU submissions suggest: (a) The Respondent’s offending is more serious than Mr McGrath given there were two and potentially three horses involved and two successful and one attempt at administration of prohibited substances. (b) There is direct evidence of the substance which has been administered and this gives rise to very serious animal welfare concerns. The substance which was likely to have been administered by Mr McGrath carries less severe welfare consequences. (c) The prohibited substance is Formalin and the dose administered is an aggravating factor. (d) The motivation can only have been financial as evidenced by the Respondent making reference to betting. (e) Weight has to be given to the impact on not only the owners of the horses, but also the Racing Community as a whole. (f) A serious impact on animal welfare concerns given the very high standards which are now demanded by not only the public at large, but also the Industry. 10. The Informant therefore submits a starting point of 12 years disqualification as appropriate, but having regard to mitigating factors being: (a) An admission of guilt quickly; and (b) His cooperation with Authorities; and (c) It is his first breach; Then a final disqualification of 8.5 – 9 years is sought. Respondent’s Submissions on Penalty 1. The Respondent has admitted his guilt to the three Informations and understands a condign response is necessary. He acknowledges a period of disqualification is inevitable, but submits a disqualification that is “sufficient but no more than is necessary to achieve its purpose” is called for. It is submitted a penalty must be “proportionate”. The reference is RIU v Lawson. 2. The issue therefore becomes what is an appropriate period of disqualification. 3. The Respondent submits the penalty which the Informant seeks is manifestly excessive. It is unjustified when having regard to the JCA Penalty Guide. 4. The Respondent submits a starting point in the range of three years disqualification is appropriate. 5. We were referred to a recent Court of Appeal decision Zhang v R (2019) NZCA 507 when referencing Penalty Guidelines. The underlying principle and justification for guidelines is to promote consistency and to ensure like cases are treated in a like manner. 6. However, the case also confirms that consistency is not an absolute determinant. “The Guidelines judgements are just that, “guidelines” and must not be applied in a mechanistic way”. 7. Reference was also made to the recent Appeals Tribunal decision in Orange v RIU where it was stated: “The Guide does stress the need for consistency, but recognises the need to retain the Judicial Committees discretion to be exercised within readily ascertainable and transparent parameters”. 8. Mr Cook on behalf of the Respondent then deals with the starting point, having regard to the Penalty Guidelines. He submits a three-year disqualification is an appropriate starting point 9. It is accepted that given the Respondent has pleaded guilty to three Informations an uplift from the suggested starting point of a first offence being 18 months disqualification is appropriate. 10. There is a further submission that as the three offences are of a similar kind and are connected in time, they should be treated as concurrent offences. 11. Mr Cook has set out in some detail the personal circumstances of the Respondent. He has a partner and together they have one child with another child due later this year. The Respondent has been the primary income earner, but since the interim suspension of his trainer’s licence, he has found it difficult to earn an income. 12. There has been adverse media publicity which has impacted the Respondent. Any disqualification will have a significant impact on the Respondent both during the period of disqualification and subsequent to that. 13. There are also clear indicators the Respondent is extremely embarrassed and remorseful. 14. Concern is expressed by the Respondent to submissions by the Informant that we should be attracted to a starting point which had been adopted in the McGrath case. It is suggested the uplift in starting point was not adopted by the Committee because of the administering offence, but due to subsequent behaviours of Mr McGrath. 15. We were referred to a 2015 decision of RIU v Lynch. This case involved three charges of administration on three different dates. This is as opposed to the situation with the Respondent where there are three charges in respect of offences which took place on the same day and within minutes of each other. 16. In the RIU v Lynch case the Committee applied a separate penalty in respect of each charge. The RIU sought a penalty of five years disqualification, but in that instance the Committee determined a four-year disqualification in respect of one charge and that penalty was to be served concurrently with the other two. 17. Mitigating factors submitted on behalf of the Respondent include: (a) An early guilty plea; (b) His very clear embarrassment and remorse; (c) His previous good record; (d) The harm which he will suffer both during the period of disqualification and subsequent; and (e) His previous good character. 18. A discount is therefore sought in the range of 30% from the initial starting point as being appropriate. Penalty Decision 1. Both parties are agreed the appropriate penalty is one of disqualification. Under Rule 1001(2) the penalty provisions for a person who commits a serious racing offence are: (a) A fine not exceeding $30,000.00; and/or (b) Suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for any specific period or for life; and/or (c) Disqualification for a specific period or for life. 2. The issue for this Committee is therefore what is an appropriate term of disqualification. 3. Compelling submissions as to penalty were filed on behalf of both parties. 4. Mr Hodge on behalf of the Informant maintained the offences were at the top end of offending under Harness Racing New Zealand Rules and were extremely damaging to the Industry and public confidence. 5. Mr Cook on behalf of the Respondent submitted we should be guided by the JCA Penalty Guide. We can deliver a stern response, but the penalty should be no more than necessary. 6. There is an obvious gulf between the parties as to the appropriate level of disqualification. That is the matter currently in front of the Committee to determine. 7. We noted the Appeals Tribunal decision in RIU v Habraken where it was stated: “The lifeblood of racing depends upon millions of dollars wagered in New Zealand. Loss of confidence with punters and the community and the integrity of the sport/industry, inevitably carries grave risk to its wellbeing.” 8. There are a number of aggravating issues we have considered. These are: (a) There are two admitted charges of administration and one admitted charge of attempted administration. Parties all agree the attempt was so close to the administration they should all be treated in like manner. (b) The Respondent involved another party who although not a licence holder, may well have been exposed to charges as well. (c) The offences occurred on the same day as a Race Meeting where the horses were engaged and therefore the only motivation could have been financial. (d) There are serious animal welfare issues arising from the administration of Formalin. This has a significant impact on the Racing Industry’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare. The Industry cannot maintain its social licence in order to continue to operate without maintaining a high standard of animal welfare. (e) The actions have brought the whole Industry into disrepute and challenges the integrity of the sport which could potentially have a devastating effect from any lack of confidence from the wagering public. 9. Matters of mitigation include: (a) Although initially in a denial the Respondent quickly admitted the inevitable. (b) A guilty plea was entered early on, although again having regard to the circumstances of the surveillance, a finding of guilt was inevitable. (c) An agreed summary of facts was put before the Committee. (d) The Respondent is remorseful for his actions, even though this remorse came after apprehension. However, the manner in which the Respondent spoke to the Committee both during the hearing and at the conclusion, leads us to believe there is now genuine remorse. (e) A clear record within the Industry, even though he has been licenced for only a relatively short period of time. (f) A number of favourable character references. 10. Sentencing principles were detailed in the Appeals Tribunal decision in RIU v Lawson: “Proceedings under the Rules are designed not simply to punish the transgressor, but crucially are to protect the profession/public/industry and those who are to deal with the profession… The Harness and Thoroughbred Racing Industry is a profession where key participants are required to be licenced in order to practice in various ways within that sphere. Comprehensive Rules of practice behaviour procedure and the like are set down in extensive detail in the Rules which govern the codes and behaviour. As with most professions a careful internal disciplinary and regulatory process is set up. Those who practice within the professions…are subject to sanctions for breaches of standards of conduct or rules designed to protect members of profession as well as the public. Such sanctions can be at the highest end, include removal from a profession for serious breaches of professional rules and standards involving dishonest or immoral conduct. Such behaviour if unchecked may greatly harm the reputation of the profession and bring it into disrepute – that is the public loses confidence in it”. 11. Given the aggravating features to the offending, together with the very serious concerns on matters of animal welfare, the interests of the Industry and Profession must take a higher priority than the personal interests of the Respondent. 12. In RIU v Lynch which was referred to by Mr Cook, there was a penalty of four years disqualification imposed. This was in response to three administrations, but over a period of time rather than simultaneously as we have on this occasion. 13. However, that decision was in 2015 and since that time there has been a significant shift in attitudes in matters of animal welfare. On that basis alone, we see comparisons with Lynch not compelling. 14. Equally we do not see the Penalty Guide as being any more than a guide only in these circumstances. The penalties referred to in the Guide even with the uplift suggested by Mr Cook would clearly result in our view, in a manifestly inadequate penalty. 15. We have considered RIU v McGrath. In that case a starting point of ten years was adopted. There was one administration charge and two other charges which were not matters of administration. The Committee in the McGrath case did however state the starting point of ten years disqualification included a small uplift for previous breaches of the Rules and further offending in 2020. From those comments we assume the starting point would have been slightly less than ten years disqualification, but for these other matters. 16. There are some difficulties in directly comparing the McGrath case and this present one. These include: (a) A case of one administration and second offence in respect of Mr McGrath. (b) Two administrations and one attempted administration, but no previous breaches in the case of Mr Alford. 17. Even aside from those differences when looking at a totality by means of comparison, we have determined an appropriate starting point to be nine years disqualification. 18. We will give an allowance for the mitigating factors which we have referred to, although the allowance cannot be to the extent sought by Mr Cook. 19. Having regard to the mitigating factors we reduce the period of disqualification to a period of seven years and that penalty is to be concurrent in respect of all three charges. In assessing this penalty, we do take into account the fact Mr Alford had his Licence suspended from 25 February 2021. The disqualification will take effect from the date of this decision that is from 10 May 2021 to 9 May 2028. Costs 1. Mr Hodge at the hearing advised the Committee the Informant would not seek costs. That is a generous position to take but in recognition of the early guilty plea and the acceptance of an agreed summary of facts. 2. The JCA is entitled to costs. We fix those at $2,000.00. This is significantly less than the actual costs actually incurred.   Alan Harper Chairman

Yonkers Raceway is pleased to announce that the four major Grand Circuit harness racing stakes scheduled for Friday, July 2 will all see substantial purse increases over the originally advertised amounts. The MGM Yonkers Trot and MGM Grand Messenger Pace will see a purse boost from $300,000 to $500,000. The marquee races are scheduled as the first legs of the Triple Crown for 3-year-old trotters and pacers, respectively. The Pacing Triple Crown also includes the Cane Pace (Meadowlands) and Little Brown Jug (Delaware County Fair). After the Yonkers Trot, the Trotting Triple Crown continues with the Hambletonian (Meadowlands) and Kentucky Futurity (Red Mile). The filly companion races will also get a nice purse boost. The Park MGM Pace and New York-New York Mile Trot will both bump up to $150,000 from $125,000. "When we put the stakes schedule together back in November there was a great deal of uncertainty about 2021, so we took a very conservative approach to purse levels," said Yonkers Director of Racing Alex Dadoyan. "Now that we have seen significant reopening steps in New York, we were able to make these increases." Elimination races for all four finals are scheduled for Friday, June 25. Currently 44 trotting colts are eligible for the Yonkers Trot and 38 pacing colts have paid into the Messenger. For horses that haven't previously nominated, supplemental entries are accepted for both Triple Crown races at a cost of $30,000. The filly events offer a $15,000 late-entrance option. Yonkers Raceway continues its Monday to Friday live racing schedule (post time 7:15 PM) through May 27. The track will then take a 10-day break and return to the normal five weeknights of racing on Monday, June 7. From Yonkers Raceway Media    

Keith Waples, one of the greatest horsemen in the history of harness racing, has passed away at the age of 97. Waples was born December 8, 1923 in Victoria Harbour, Ontario. In 1959, Waples became the first driver to record a sub two-minute mile in Canada and the first to win a $100,000 race in Canada. In 1962, Keith Waples drove Tie Silk to victory in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway, and in 1972 with the colt Strike Out, he won the Little Brown Jug, the Adios Pace and Prix d'Été. Keith Waples was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1973, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1978, and the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2008, Waples was an inductee (Athlete category) of the Midland (Ontario) Sports Hall of Fame.  He will be sadly missed by Eileen, his loving wife of almost 75 years, and his four children, Barbara Lennox, Donna Galbraith (Mac), Karen Hauver (Maurice) and Gord (Denise), as well as his 9 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Keith was the son of the late Jack and Bertha Waples and was predeceased by sisters, Jean Swan and Annabelle Caffry, and by his grandson Jason (Jay) Waples. He is survived by sisters Dorothy Rumney of Wasaga Beach, Peggi Diebel of Squamish, B.C. and Mary Jane Burnett of Orangeville, and brother Murray of Barrie. As per his wishes, his body has been cremated and a small private funeral will be held at the Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home in Guelph, Ont., Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. The service will be live streamed and a link is available on the funeral home website. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. As an expression of sympathy, donations to the Guelph General Hospital would be appreciated by the family in recognition of the excellent care that he and Eileen have received there over the years. Donations/online condolences can be made through the Funeral Home at gilbertmacintyreandson.com. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Davidson du Pont (8m Pacha du Pont - Laguna du Pont) rallied late in the lane to capture today’s Gr. II Prix Kerjacques (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters, International) clocked in 1.11.9kr at Paris-Vincennes for reinsman Nicolas Bazire, breeder/owner Albert Rayon and trainer Jean Michel Bazire. Off at 8.3/1 odds, Davidson recorded his 15th victory now for 1,654,010€ earned. 23/1 Detroit Castelets (8m Neoh Jiel) was second and 44/1 Carat Williams (9m Prodigious) took third ahead of Chica de Joudes and 2/10 favorite Dorgos de Guez. Davidson du Pont On the undercard 13/1 Gout Baroque (5m Offshore Dream - Joie Baroque) took the Gr. II Sulky Summer Series Third Qualifier for five year olds (purse 100,000€, 2850 meters) clocked in 1.12.7kr after a powerful closing burst. Eric Raffin teamed this Thierry Raffegeau trainee to his ninth career win now for 234,700€ earned. The 1.9/1 favorite Green Grass (5f Bold Eagle - Tootsie Smiling) held second for Mathieu Mottier and 4.1/1 Genay de Banville (5m Jasmin de Flore) took third for Jean Michel Bazire. Giant Chief and Grand Art completed the top five.Gout Baroque Heliade du Goutier (4f Prodigious - Voltige du Goutier) captured the Gr. III Prix du Vaueluse (purse 70,000€, 2850 meters, European four year olds) timed in 1.13.7kr. Heliade won for the third time in her career for 163,050€ earned. Gabriele Gelormini teamed the Sebastien Guarato trainee for Ecurie Saint Martin. This 8/10 favorite bested 2.1/1 Haziella d’Amour (4f Un Amour d’Haufor) with Alexandre Abrivard up. Third was 12/1 Beautiful Colibri (4f Ready Cash)-Gilly LB) for Francois Lagadeuc. Heliade du Goutier The Gr. III Prix de L’Aube (purse 70,000€, 2850 meters, European four year olds) went to 17/1 Hades de Vandel (4m Ganymede - Silene de Vandel) for Robin Bakker timed in 1.14.7kr. Paul Hagoort trains this one for Stable Why Not as Hades won his fourth, now for 134,550€ earned. 2.1/1 odds Harvest de Buliere (4m Charly du Noyer) was second and 4.4/1 Bolero Gar (4m Varenne) took third for Leo Abrivard. Hades de Vandel The Gr. II monte Prix Jean Gauvreau (monte qualifier one for five year old monte performers, purse 100,000€, 2175 meters) went to 7/10 favorite Gef de Play (5m Gazouillis - Paradise Island) with Yoann Lebourgeois the jockey for Franck Leblanc. Race time was 1.10.9kr as Gef won his fifth, now for 235,770€ in life earnings. The 14/1 Granvillaise Blue (5f Jag de Bellouet) took second for Camille Levesque and 15/1 Gloria du Gers (5f Ready Cash) was next for J.Y. Ricard in the irons. Gef de Play Last on this power packed card was the Prix du Rouergue (purse 67,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European 7-10 year olds) and 2.1/1 Calle Crown (7m Great Challenger - Hillary Crown) scored in 1.11.4kr for David Thomain, trainer Tomas Malmqvist and Easy KB. Calle won for the fifth time in France and now posts earnings of 430,014 for his career. The 5.8/1 Equinoxe Jiel (7m Rancho Gede) was second for Matthieu Abrivard and 5/2 Decoloration (8f Prince d’Espace) was third for Tony Le Beller. Dexter Chatho and Wild Love completed the first five. Calle Crown This was a superb racing day at Vincennes. Many more ahead this summer. LeTrot, PMU files/photos by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

THE PAULICK REPORT reports that trainer Bob Baffert announced Sunday morning that Medina Spirit, winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, has tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid, and faces a possible disqualification from the race – the first medication DQ since Dancer's Image lost his Derby victory in 1968 after a disputed positive test for the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone. If the drug is confirmed in a split sample it would be Baffert's fifth medication violation since May 2020. Speaking from his barn at Churchill Downs, Baffert said his assistant, Jimmy Barnes called Baffert yesterday while he was en route to the airport in California for a flight to Kentucky, notifying him that he had been served by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after the post-race sample came back positive for 21 picograms of the medication. Baffert insisted Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone. “I don't know what's going on, but there's something that is not right,” Baffert said. To read the rest of the story, click here.

Delia du Pommereux (8f Niky-Noune du Pommereux-Halimede) rallied to win today’s Paralympiatravet (purse 279,095€, 2140 meters autostart, 10 entrants) clocked in 1.10.9kr for harness racing reinsman Eric Raffin, trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. Delia won for the 15th time in 71 career starts now for 1,545,048€ in life earnings. She was off at 2.3/1 and benefitted from a vicious early speed duel between Who’s Who and Ecurie D. The first 500 meters was clocked in 1.06.7kr. Delia followed Aetos Kronos third over in tier two, and then rocketed past in the lane. 8.9/1 Very Kronos (7m Ready Cash-Glide About-Yankee Glide) was up for second handled by Erik Adielsson for trainer Svante Bath and third was 6.1/1 Aetos Kronos (5m Bold Eagle-Will Of A Woman-Muscles Yankee) for Johan Untersteiner and trainer Jerry Riordan. 6.4/1 Gelati Cut (5m Coktail Jet) and 105/1 Ble du Gers (10g Quinoa du Gers) completed the top five. Who’s Who ended sixth and Ecurie D staggered home last. DELIA DU POMMEREUX REPLAY   Delia du Pommereux PMU, ATG, Aby files/photos. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

A determined Ab'sattitudexpress held off Sorella, Canada's 2020 female three-year-old harness racing trotter of the year, to take the second of two $30,000 divisions of the Miss Versatility Series first leg on Saturday night at The Meadowlands.   Tim Tetrick gave Ab'sattitudexpress her marching orders from post six, and they reached the front at the quarter in :27.3. The four-year-old mare continued on to hit the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4. Sorella (Yannick Gingras) loomed in the pocket turning for home and angled out as the two entered the straight.   Sorella chipped away at the leader's advantage in the stretch and found another gear in the final yards, but Ab'sattitudexpress was a nose too good and found the line in time for a 1:52.3 victory. Sorella settled for second, and Miss McKee (Mark Macdonald) was third in the seven-mare field. The winner paid $3.40.   AB'SATTITUDEXPRESS REPLAY     Ab'sattitudexpress has won nine of her 18 career starts, and she surpassed the $300,000 mark in career earnings with Saturday's win. Lucas Wallin oversees the homebred four-year-old Trixton mare for owner Stop The Jade Farm LLC of Pemberton.   Next Level Stuff shone in a star-studded first division field of seven and gave Tetrick the stakes double.   The mare dropped in fourth leaving the gate and Tetrick was content with that spot though the opening splits of :27.4 and :56.3. Tetrick fished out the cover of When Dovescry (Dave Miller) at five-eights and assumed second-over position before completing three quarters in 1:24.4.   When Dovescry had no trouble dispatching the leader, but her problem arose when Next Level Stuff barreled up in the final 1/16th. Next Level Stuff was brimming with trot and rolled past When Dovescry for a 1:52.2 score. The latter was second, and Felitiyshagwell S (Ake Svanstedt) battled for show.   NEXT LEVEL STUFF REPLAY     Next Level Stuff is a four-year-old Sebastian K mare with 14 wins and more than $665,000 in bankroll across 24 career tries. Jim Campbell trains her for owner/breeder Runthetable Stables of Montvale. The horse paid $3.40 to win.   The Big M also hosted a $30,000 Preferred Handicap in which Wheels On Fire caught a spark late and shot past the leader to prevail in a mild upset.   Wheels On Fire grabbed front-end control from the five-hole going into the first turn for driver Yannick Gingras but was soon relegated to the pocket as Nicholas Beach (Joe Bongiorno) drove on to the lead. The latter maintained the top spot through :26:4, :54.2, and 1:21.3 splits and attempted to kick away as the field of 10 angled for the lane.   Nicholas Beach was flat out in the final eighth, but Wheels On Fire pulled out mid-stretch with a surplus of pace and bore down on him. Nicholas Beach laboured late and surrendered several yards short of the wire to Wheels On Fire, who won by half a length in 1:48.1.   Nicholas Beach was second, and Angers Bayama (Andrew McCarthy) easily took show. A correct $2 win ticket returned $17.40.   WHEELS ON FIRE REPLAY     Wheels On Fire is now 26-for-75 lifetime with more than $450,000 in earnings. Ron Burke conditions the six-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding for Brad Grant of Milton.   McCarthy was the most successful driver of the evening, piloting a quartet to victory lane: Abuckabett Hanover (1:49.1) in the first, Keep Rockin A (1:51.1) four races later, American History in 1:48, the quickest mile on the card, and Western Redhot (1:53.3) in the getaway pace.   The second leg of the Miss Versatility is set for Saturday, May 29. The Meadowlands will return on Friday, May 14 with a 6:20 p.m. EDT first post.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink    

Greats of the sport Peter Manning and Geoff Webster reminded that trotting genius never fades, with the pair clutching Group 1 wins on Aldebaran Park Vicbred Home Grown Classic finals night at harness racing's Tabcorp Park Melton. Manning captured his first Group 1 in 11 years and Webster broke through for his first in almost six as gelding Plymouth Chubb and filly Aldebaran Misty won their respective $50,000 two-year-old trotting finals. Fittingly, it was Kerryn Manning who steered the winner for her dad, the pair’s first father-and-daughter Group 1 win since Leilani Lombo won her Australian Pacing Gold final in 2010. However, despite the drought-breaker, Kerryn told Trots Vision champagne was unlikely to flow. “We might have a Coke. Strong one, full strength, Dad doesn’t drink anything (else), he likes Coke,” she said. “(Mum Barbara’s) very pleased, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, so it’s a good present for her.” Plymouth Chubb Plymouth Chubb had won three of his four starts for owner-breeders Gary Benson and Steven Hegyi, who pared their mare Pocket Fantasy with Majestic Son to produce the filly. The dam had already been lucrative, producing both My Skypocket ($131,168) and Edge Hill ($110,161) as well as winning five starts herself. They included Kerryn’s 2132nd career win in 2005, which saw her pass German reinswoman Rita Drees and become the winningest female driver in history. “I remember driving (grand dam) Kims Fantasy and Pocket Fantasy, it seems like such a long time, and then you see how many foals they’ve had, time flies,” Manning said. “They’ve just been such a good breed.” And they appear to have produced another ripper in Plymouth Chubb, who overcame breaking gait early in tonight’s 1720-metre trot to mow down the leader and favourite Kyvalley Pierro. “(Plymouth Chubb) came out quite good and then a gap opened up behind (Chris Alford on Kyvalley Pierro),” Manning said. “Obviously you are going to have a good run (from leader’s back), but if (Kyvalley Pierro) goes slow will he outsprint you? “I just made my mind up that I’d go there and just as I pulled him down he put in a roughie, so he went off stride. I managed to get him down reasonably fast, but had to make the ground back up and he didn’t steer great after that – he wanted to hang in all the way.” Off a 31.1s second quarter the job looked well in hand for Alford, but Plymouth Chubb picked up over the last half and stormed home to win by 18 metres. “I was in a bit of trouble at the 800 and once I got him in the middle of the track by himself he made ground,” Manning said. “I was a bit worried, but the horse is pretty good and goes very well. “You see him out there and he’s sweating white and he’s still very fat, so he’s got a lot of fitness to go too. There should be good improvement in him. He’s got the big ticker in there. It doesn’t really matter what you look like, but he’s certainly got strength about him that’s for sure.” A big future also looks to lay in the path of Geoff Webster’s two-year-old filly Aldebaran Misty, who’s been another plum find from the horseman’s partnership with Duncan McPherson’s Aldebaran Park. Aldebaran Misty's by Skyvalley out of Mason Magic, who’s in turn out of Sumthingaboutmaori ($461,499). “I’ve had a little connection with Duncan over the last two or three years,” Webster told Trots Vision. “I’ve been going up and picking out a weanling from their paddocks, I picked out Aldebaran Dianna first year, this was the second one that I picked out 18 months ago now. I have another yearling that I’ve done the same thing with. I’ve only got the two or three with Duncan, but it’s a great association.” That certainly proved the case tonight with Aldebaran Misty leading from gate two and holding sway throughout. Off of even quarters, the primary challenger looked to be Stingofawasp, who loomed from leader’s back for Mick Bellman and threatened in the straight. But she was unable to make ground on the leader and, while Andy and Kate Gath’s Thunder Wing hit the line strongly from three back on the pegs to nab second, Webster and Aldebaran Misty were largely unchallenged in winning by 4.5 metres. “She’s really quirky at home,” Webster said. “She’s a real handful, but when she’s in the kart ... her manners are foolproof, she galloped at her first start, but she panicked when horses got along side her after the start. From the mobile she’s got good manners, good gate speed and is an all-round nice horse.” Connections of Aldebaran Misty Also tonight, Sparkling Success produced his first win since March with an all-the-way victory in the DNR Logistics Vulcan Trotters Free For All for trainer John Meade and driver Jackie Barker. Sparkling Success gained the ascendancy from the widest front row gate and, while favourite Tornado Valley had a great run in transit from the one-one, Andy Gath’s champion was unable to make ground late and grab the win that would make him the ninth Australasian trotter to become a millionaire. He would finish third, pocketing $2400 and taking his career winnings to $996,797, with Mick Blackmore’s Jackson Square splitting the pair in running second. On a night where no trainer nor driver produced a winning double, there were also highlights for trainer Amanda Grieve and stable addition Hezacrocwatcher, who won the Nutrien Equine Country Clubs Championship with reinsman Zac Phillips to make it three from three in Australia for the four-year-old former Kiwi. There were also big smiles in the Sonny Weaver camp, with the four-year-old crashing the line to win the Del-Re National Food Group Pace for Russell Jack and Leigh Sutton, swooping to another eye-catching win after favourite and leader Honolua Bay failed to fire.   HRV - Michael Howard

After his younger brother Andy McCarthy won four races at The Meadowlands in the United States on Friday night, top harness racing driver Luke McCarthy stepped it up a notch landing five winners at Menangle, Sydney Australia, tonight. “I had to keep up with Andy,” McCarthy said. “It was a super night.” McCarthy won two of the main feature races on the program but the success started when he guided Kingmaker to victory for his wife, trainer Belinda McCarthy. Leading most of the way, Kingmaker remained unbeaten in his five Australian starts since arriving from New Zealand. A race later, McCarthy was back in the winners’ circle with another pacer trained by his wife in La Bella Vita. Another New Zealand import for the stable, La Bella Vita has won three races in-a-row and tonight clocked a personal best 1:52.7. McCarthy then went into feature race attack mode, taking out the Bulli Cup with noted Menangle speedstar Cash N Flow. Working to the front from the outside barrier, Cash N Flow found the top and remained there to win effortlessly in 1:51.3. Cash N Flow has now won 21 of his 34 victories at Menangle. “It’s nice to have Cash back to his best,” McCarthy said. Watch Cash N Flow's win below: A race later McCarthy combined forces with Victorian horseman Brent Lilly to take out the Group 2 NSW Trotters Derby with Kyvalley Hotspur. Once again McCarthy found the front and dictated terms letting Kyvalley Hotspur roll through the quarters evenly in 30, 30.5, 29.4 and 29 seconds. The colt crossed the line untouched, spacing his rivals by 14m in a mile rate of 1:58.6. Watch the replay below: Kyvalley Hotspur is by Muscle Hill, which McCarthy drove to victory in the 2009 $504,000 World Trotting Derby at Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois. With rain delaying the meeting by six hours, driver Brian Sears could not make the commitment and McCarthy was asked that day by trainer Greg Peck if he could drive Muscle Hill. Jumping at the opportunity of a lifetime, McCarthy made the four-and-half hour trip (295 miles) to the track to drive the champion trotter, and the rest is history. McCarthy’s fifth winner tonight was on the Lisa McDonald-trained Master Catch. He now has a clear lead in State and Metropolitan Drivers’ Premierships in New South Wales. At the age of 38, McCarthy has driven 2745 winners in Australia. Kyvalley Hotspur winning tonight's NSW Trotters Derby at Menangle. By Amanda Rando for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing driver Andy McCarthy was on fire at The Meadowlands Friday night, guiding four winners on the card, including Machnhope to a second consecutive win in the weekly $30,000 pacing feature for fillies and mares. One week after scoring as the fifth choice in the betting in the Winners Over/Preferred Handicap, the wagering public sent Machnhope, a Noel Daley trainee, to the gate as the second choice this time around, and once again she brought her "A" game. Away quickly from post seven in the seven-horse field, the 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Hope For Life was intent on making the front in search of a second straight speed score, and hit the quarter in a quick :26.1. McCarthy was able to rate the second fraction in :28.4, which left enough in the tank for later on. "There were some high-quality mares in there," said McCarthy, "and I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. I figured I might as well put her in play. We got a pretty good break down the backside." The pace picked up some heading to three-quarters, as JK First Lady started to roll while uncovered and was at the leader's throat at three-quarters (1:22.4). At mid-stretch, JK First Lady was right alongside Machnhope as the two went at it nose-to-nose, but in the final 50 yards, Machnhope paced clear to win by a length to break the 1:50 barrier for the first time in her career, stopping the clock in 1:49.1. JK First Lady, the 8-5 favorite making her seasonal debut for Nancy Takter, was a length back in second, with Lyons Sentinel finishing third. "I had to be careful with her on the turn," said McCarthy, "but once she straightened up, she paced home strong. She's been terrific lately. 1:49.1 is pretty special for her."   MACHNHOPE REPLAY   The winner of the Blue Chip Matchmaker, Machnhope has now won three straight and six of her last eight for owners Deo Volente Farms & T. Pontone, A. Express Stables and Noel Daley. Lifetime, she's been victorious 32 times from 106 starts and earned $551,394. She paid $8.40 to win after going off at 3-1. McCarthy's other winners on the card were Staycation Hanover ($3.00 to win) in the fifth race, Deltasun A ($22.40) in the 10th and Lovely Donna ($3.40) in the 11th. THE STREAK LIVES: The Big M's handle streak of wagering at least $3 million increased to 11 as a total of $3,318,763 was put in play on the 13 races. The 50-cent Pick-4 continued to be a hot ticket, as the Early P4 saw $122,687 in action and the Late P4 took in $107,211. Fourteen of the last 16 Pick-4s have seen pools of over $100,000. A LITTLE MORE: James MacDonald, who got his first-ever win at The Big M last Friday with Majestic Virgin, won again with the Carmen Auciello trainee in the ninth race as the 2-1 favorite. ... Andrew Harris trained a pair of winners on the card. Both were driven by McCarthy. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

American Courage, who started his harness racing career seven-for-seven before an out-of-character seventh-place finish in the New York Sire Stakes final last September, began his 3-year-old campaign in style with an authoritative 1:52 victory in one of four W.N. Reynolds Memorial divisions for sophomore pacers of both sexes that took place on Friday night (May 7) at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Matt Kakaley in the $23,750 event, American Courage gunned out from post six and was able to clear 1-5 choice I'll Drink To That (Dexter Dunn) before the 27.1 opening quarter. American Courage remained the boss through the 56.1 half and the 1:24.3 three-quarters, then paced home in 27.2 to defeat I'll Drink To That by a length and three-quarters. Shakespeare (Todd McCarthy) followed along in third throughout and ended up finishing in that spot.   AMERICAN COURAGE REPLAY The victorious American Ideal colt is trained by Travis Alexander for owner/breeder Fiddler's Creek Stables LLC. American Courage has put away $192,133 in his eight wins, half of which have come at Yonkers, and he returned $9.40 to win as a 7-2 shot. The exacta was $16.80, and the trifecta paid $34.80. In the other $23,250 split for the colts and geldings, Coalition Hanover (Kakaley) made front from post five and had command through fractions of 28, 56.3, and 1:24.4, but 1-5 favorite Whichwaytothebeach (McCarthy), who bided his time in the third position, wore the pace-setter down from first-up on the final turn and then pulled away to prevail by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:53. Coalition Hanover held second over He's A Snob (Mark MacDonald).   WHICHWAYTOTHEBEACH REPLAY A Somebeachsomewhere gelding, Whichwaytothebeach is trained by Brett Pelling for owners Alan Johnston and John Craig. Whichwaytothebeach now has a record of 6-2-2 from ten starts, and he pushed his earnings to $135,733. Whichwaytothebeach paid $2.40 to win and led a $4.20 exacta and a $12.80 trifecta. As far as the fillies, the first of their flights, worth $28,500, went to 1-5 choice Heart Of Mine (Scott Zeron) in 1:55. The runner-up in the New York Sire Stakes final a year ago, Heart Of Mine lined up her foes in post position order and then stepped off panels of 28.2, 58.1, and 1:26.4 on her way to a two length decision. Pocket-sitter Shania Blue Chip (McCarthy) was next, followed by Natchez Belle (Tyler Buter).   HEART OF MINE REPLAY Linda Toscano trains Heart Of Mine, a daughter of Roll With Joe, for owners The Bay's Stable LLC., Radio Racing Stable, Fred Wallace, and Camelot Stable Inc. Heart Of Mine is now a three-time winner from 13 efforts, and she has pocketed $152,655. She returned $2.50 to win and was atop a $16.20 exacta and a $45.00 trifecta. Easy To Please (Jordan Stratton) trailed through stations of 27.2, 56.4, and 1:25.2 in the second $29,000 tilt for the ladies, but she went widest from fourth-over on the final bend and then powered home strongly to get up in time to prevail by a neck in a 1:55.1 mile. Carrington (MacDonald) was the runner-up from second-over, and DC Batgirl (George Brennan), who wore down leader Podium Girl (Dunn) from first-over through the stretch, got third.   EASY TO PLEASE REPLAY Trainer Michael Hall also co-owns Easy To Please, another Roll With Joe filly, with partners Our Three Sons Stable LLC., Brad Grant, and Howard Taylor. Easy To Please has five victories from 11 lifetime appearances, and she has now banked $64,150. Easy To Please paid $38.00 to win, the exacta kicked back $172.00, and the trifecta was worth $628.00. On the undercard, 4-5 favorite Melady's Monet (Stratton) picked up his fifth straight win overall and continued to close in on $1.8 million in lifetime earnings, as the 12-year-old took the $37,000 Open Handicap Trot from the pocket in 1:55.3 for trainer Hermann Heitmann and owner Melady Enterprises LLC. There was also a $24,000 Preferred Trot that went to 5-2 second choice New Heaven (Jim Marohn Jr.) after he found room between foes from the two-hole in the lane and scored in 1:55.3 for trainer Eric Abbatiello and owner Allister Stables LLC. Live racing resumes at Yonkers Raceway on Monday night (May 10). For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

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Columbus, MN - Running Aces is set to kick off its fourteenth season of live harness racing this weekend when the action gets underway at 6:05 pm (CDT) on Sunday (May 16). There are some exciting new changes for fans both on and off track- including the new 20 cent Place Pick-All Wager which will start in race one each night- the bet offers players lots of action for a low minimum base, and the entire pool will be paid out each night, with no carryover provision. The best ticket or tickets of the night will take or split the pool. Players select horses in each race to finish first or second, up to a maximum of ten races. If there are more than 10 races on the card, the Place Pick-All will cover just the first 10 races of the night. This is a very rare wager in the marketplace, particularly in harness racing, and we are excited to see how fans will like this unique wager. Steve Carpenito- the new Racing Director at Running Aces, said "To my Knowledge, we are the only Harness Track in North America to offer this wager." Steve went on to say "The wager will begin in the first race every evening and due to tote limitations will be maxed out at 10 Races." In addition to the Place Pick-All, there are two other changes in the wagering lineup at Aces this season: 50 cent Trifecta wagering will be offered for the first time and the lower base amount will be available on all Trifecta races. Carpenito spoke about the lower minimums also, saying "Most of the players I know love lower minimums, and the added value of getting more combinations for your money." This season will also welcome back 10 cent wagering in the Running Aces Superfecta wagers. These lower minimum base amounts will allow players to spread more and increase their chances of winning/cashing more tickets and churning more dollars into the exotic pools throughout the night. The new racing schedule offers Live action on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights with a new first post of 6:05 pm (CDT). There are exciting changes for on track fans as well, with the addition of an expanded outdoor "Racing Patio" experience that includes the recently added "Finish Line Plaza" - which will offer on track guests a covered viewing area near the finish line, as well as wagering and food and beverage options. The Finish Line Plaza area will debut on opening weekend, and will continue to expand and evolve in the future to offer guests more convenience and more options while attending the races. The current COVID-19 protocols in place for the start of the racing season include a capacity limit of 500 guests, a number that is expected to be expanded at the end of this month when state and local officials are expected to ease restrictions further. Live Racing guests must go to the Running Aces website (www.RunAces.com) to get their FREE TICKETS. Racing fans and horsemen are reminded that you can find a multitude of Racing information on the Running Aces website, including links for entries and results, Live Racing replays, Trackmaster statistics, and handicapping information including expert selections. In addition, you can find full coverage of Running Aces on NahuPicks.com and on Harness Racing Symposium 101 on Facebook. The popular Facebook show "Giddy-Up...Aces Edition" will be produced weekly throughout the season- with special guests interviews of Aces drivers and trainers, as well as handicapping, trivia, and other ways to win prizes. The show goes out live on the Harness Racing Symposium 101 Facebook page. The first installment of the show will air Live this Saturday (May 15) at 6:00 pm (CDT). By Darin Gagne', for Running Aces
STICKNEY, IL - Following the conclusion of the spring thoroughbred season at Hawthorne Race Course, the track crew embarked once again on the surface conversion. As the only pari-mutuel track left in the United States to convert from a dirt thoroughbred surface to a limestone harness track, crews worked tirelessly stripping off dirt, removing rails, clearing barns and prepping the new surface, all in 96 hours, to prepare for the start of the summer harness racing season. Everything was prepped in time for horsemen to arrive on Saturday, May 1 as the summer harness season kicked off on Friday, May 7. When racing commenced on opening night, driver Kyle Wilfong was ready to pounce. Wilfong kicked off the racing season winning the meet opener behind Surreal Art (1:53.0) for trainer Perry Smith. That victory started a string of four straight trips to the winner's circle for Wilfong as he drove home Nora Tova (1:55.3), Wildcat Delight (1:55.1) and Castle Flight (1:52.0) to wins in races two through four. SURREAL ART REPLAY   Wilfong made it five victories on the opening night card as RSVP trotted home in 1:58.2 for trainer Nicole Agosti to take race eight. The weekend saw the return of some of the top Illinois-breds to the track as they did not disappoint. A pair of Illinois-bred champs faced off in Saturday's open pace as Fox Valley Gemini (1:50.4) just caught a very game He'zzz A Wise Sky, who battled every step of the way. Owned by Jim Ballinger, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 41st time from 62 career starts, surpassing half a million in career earnings. Casey and Terry Leonard teamed up later on the card as Cracklin Rosie (1:57.0) won race nine. FOX VALLEY GEMINI REPLAY   Todd Warren won a pair of races on Saturday, grabbing the filly and mare open pace with Maggie Rhee (1:54.1), a mare he also trains, as well as driving trotter Lucky Valerie (2:00.0) to her first career win for trainer Gerald Hansen. Kyle Wilfong grabbed his sixth victory of the racing weekend as rambunctious Crankin' It Up (pictured) made it two weekend wins for trainer Nicole Agosti, pacing home in the Saturday evening slop in 1:56.2. On Sunday some of the top Illinois-bred trotters made their season debut. Kicking off the evening trainer Steve Searle had a pair face off as Lousraptor (1:57.1) got the best of Louscardamon for driver Juan Franco, winning by a length and a half. Later in the evening driver Kyle Husted reunited with Louzotic as they took race seven in 1:58.3, the second training victory on the card for Searle. Driving doubles on the Sunday card came from Todd Warren, Ridge Warren, Atlee Bender and Kyle Wilfong. Wilfong's pair of winners boosted him to eight for opening weekend. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, races three meets in 2021. The spring thoroughbred meet concluded on April 25. The summer Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meet began on Friday, May 7 and races every Friday-Sunday through September 26. The fall thoroughbred meet opens October 1 and races through December 26. First post nightly for harness is 7:10 PM. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit the website www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com. For full race results, click here. by Jim MIller, for Hawthorne Race Course
Grove City, Ohio - Experience the thrill of owning a racehorse for free. The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's Racing Fantasy League is back in 2021. Fantasy stable owners will compete for over $5,000 in prizes and a share of a real harness racing Standardbred withl a share in a fractional ownership stable. Stable owners create a fantasy roster of six horses, four of which can be any age but must be picked from a pre-determined list supplied by the OHHA. The remaining two horses must be Ohio sired two-year-olds. The winning stable will be determined by total earnings between June 1st and Breeders Crown Day October 30th, 2021. The winning stable will receive the grand prize of $2,500 cash and one share in a fractional ownership stable. Second place through fifth place will receive cash prizes. Second place will receive $1,000, third will win $750 cash, fourth receives $500 and fifth place wins $250. Additional monthly and wildcard prizes will be awarded using the same scoring system. Standings will be updated on the OHHA website and via social media outlets. The league is open to those who have not owned a racing Standardbred within the last two years. Fractional ownerships less than 5% do not count for this contest. Current Standardbred owners are encouraged to participate by inviting their friends and family to participate in the Fantasy Racing League. For each referral noted at the time of registration, the horseman will get one entry into a drawing to win two tickets to this year's Little Brown Jug Hospitality Tent. This winner will be announced after all entries have been received in May. Entries are due May 17th, 2021 by 11:59pm. Visit ohha.com/fantasystable to see complete contest rules, horse lists, and entry forms. by Ashley Dailey, for the OHHA  
Rollwithpapajoe was solid on the engine as he went wire-to-wire in the Monday night $37,000 harness racing Open Trot at Yonkers Raceway after trailing throughout in the start prior.   Joe Bongiorno moved decisively as the gate left this week and sent the son of Roll With Joe to the lead out of the three-hole. There was no opposition from his seven rivals as Rollwithpapajoe put up :28.1, :57.1, and 1:24.2 splits. Pocket-sitter Escapetothebeach (Jason Bartlett) gained nothing on the leader in the stretch, and Rollwithpapajoe withstood a charge from Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) to score in 1:52.   Ostro Hanover was a length back in second, and Escapetothebeach mustered the show spot. The winner paid $4.30.   ROLLWITHPAPAJOE REPLAY     Rollwithpapajoe is now a 17-time winner with earnings greater than $350,000 in 49 starts. Jennifer Bongiorno trains for owners Barbara Bongiorno Stable LLC of Monroe, Bill Kambos of Astoria, and Dionisios Liberatos of Manhasset Hills.   Yonkers Raceway races again on Tuesday, May 11. There are 10 contests scheduled and a first post of 7:15 p.m. EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink
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