Day At The Track
Impressive three year old Sir Roman in full flight,Harness racing

Free-legged pacers to the fore

Watching a free-legged pacer in action is one of the most exciting and exhilarating spectacles of our harness racing sport today. And on Wednesday, two horses competing in different States, gave faultless exhibitions to post impressive victories within two hours of each other. South Australian-based youngster Sir Roman is destined for a bright future and made it two wins from two lifetime starts when he trounced his rivals at the Victorian fixture in Mildura. Then evergreen nine-year-old gelding Magic Oats stepped out at Sydney's Menangle venue to take the honors in the Schweppes Claiming Pace. Only a small percentage of pacers are capable of maintaining gait without hopples under race conditions. But it can bring satisfying results for astute trainers with a level of confidence in their horse to make the leap of faith. Adelaide horseman David Harding said he decided to ditch the hopples from his imposing youngster Sir Roman after realizing the horse wasn't happy. "I gave him a couple of trials last season when he was a two-year-old and I had him in a 63 inch hopple length because he's a big boy," Harding said. "But they were flapping about a bit and he just didn't seem comfortable," he said. "I persevered for a while and actually got him qualified with them on, but when I jogged him on the training track, he'd almost immediately just swing into a free-legged pace. One day I just thought I had nothing to lose by trying him without the hopples. We started to push him along and he didn't miss a beat." Harding had to re-trial Sir Roman satisfactorily before stewards after notifying them he was removing the hopples. "He actually had two trials because I wanted to be sure and we drove him out of the gate hard to really put him to the test," he said. Harding, who works a team of eight with his father, highly-respected veteran trainer Les, said he had never previously trained a free-legged pacer. "And I don't think I ever even drove one in a race, either, back in my days when I was a race driving," he said. Sir Roman (Somebeachsomewhere-Morgan Abby (Aces n Sevens) was bred by Benstud Standardbreds and bought at the SA yearling sales by Bill Hartwig and his sons Scott and Chris (former Chairman of HRSA). Harding, said in the early days the horse was "all arms and legs". "He's still like a big baby and can be highly-strung at times. I'd describe him more like a thoroughbred, but he's getting better," he said. "We think he has the makings of a very nice horse. At this stage his next run may be in St Leger series. He's also paid up for the Southern Cross." Sir Roman has been handled in both his runs by Harding's partner, champion driver Dani Hill. In his debut at Globe Derby on November 23, the three year old raced in the death-seat for most of the trip before winning in a decent 1.58-5. At Mildura, it was even better, as they were spotting the leaders 40m at one stage. Hill made her move at the bell and let down with 400m to go, sweeping to the lead. Sir Roman was unextended in winning by 20 metres and getting his Vicbred bonus. He was one of three winners on the program for Hill, a regular visit to Mildura. Watch Sir Roman's barnstorming win here. And while Sir Roman's career is just getting started, the second free-legged pacer to win on Wednesday night was a veteran who's been racing without hopples for the past two years. Magic Oats had won 17 races before he had the hopples taken off as a seven year old - and has gone on to win a further seven races, most recently at Menangle for trainer Paul Russo and driver Anthony Butt. Although it's not common practice, throughout history there have been some speedy free-legged competitors, perhaps the fastest being Zooka who paced a mile in 1.49-3 on July 23, 2007, at Kawartha Downs, Ontario, Canada. Of course, back in the 1930s, Lawn Derby showed fans he was something special from the beginning of his career with then-champion reinsman George Gath (father of Bendigo legend Brian) claiming he was the finest of all pacers he'd ever seen. Lawn Derby went on to make history as the first horse to better two minutes outside America when he paced a mile free legged in 1.59-4. His major wins included NSW Pacers Derby (1934), Easter Cup, Ascot Pacers Cup, Ascot 500 and Presidents Handicap (all in 1937). He set records in five States and NZ. Robalan was labelled the best free-legged pacer seen in NZ since Lawn Derby when he won the 1974 NZ Cup. From 123 starts over seven seasons, he won 40 races (17 at Addington) and gained 39 placings for $190,820. Robalan's sire Lumber Dream, also a free-legged pacer, won 12 of his 30 races. In more recent times, Art Major-sired pacer Avonnova thrilled fans with some breath-taking free-legged performances in NSW and Qld. From mid-2009 to late 2013, the gelding recorded 23 wins. Then Qld horseman Ian Gurney claimed him for a modest sum in a Goulburn race and a rags to riches tale began. Over the next five years, the pair won 32 races. The old warrior finished with 55 wins and 57 placings for $967,000.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Majestic Man,Harness racing

Williamson the tactician is ready

By Garrick Knight    When you talk to Brad Williamson, it quickly becomes apparent that he has an aptitude for race tactics. He’s a student of the game. Does his research. Knows his opponents and what he needs to do to beat them. So, it’s no surprise that he has a clear idea in his head ahead of Saturday night’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Alexandra Park. Williamson drives second-favourite Majestic Man for his father, Phil and they face a rather daunting task trying to beat the even-money pop Winterfell, and Mark Purdon. “Just at the moment, Winterfell appears to be in the zone and I don’t think any trotter could sit outside him and beat him,” Williamson says. With that statement he’s justifying what was a meritorious effort by Majestic Man to run third after sitting parked outside Winterfell in a New Zealand record in the final heat last Friday night. This week is a different kettle of fish though – both horses are drawn well and Williamson fancies his chances of finding the markers first. But it’s not as much of a formality as many might think. “It’s a tricky one because obviously Majestic Man has super gate speed, but Winterfell is also a lot quicker than people realise. “I had trouble crossing him in the Northern Derby and I wasn’t able to get across him when we were drawn side by side in another race. “That being said, Majestic Man is in the zone and the markers are the place to be so I have to get there.” Williamson confirmed his father had given him a clear directive accordingly. “Dad mentioned to me that he does want me to cross and, realistically, looking at the race, that’s the only way I could see us winning.” But the lead isn’t something Williamson wants, either. In fact, he wants the trail. “I don’t think he’ll be able to lead and win in this race.” So, does he hand to Marcoola and put Winterfell three back, or is he expecting Purdon to immediately come out and challenge for the front? Honestly? he doesn’t especially care. “Both Winterfell and Marcoola are stayers and when they find the front won’t be giving it away. “So, we’ll be handing up to which ever is the first of them to come looking. “And I’m 90 percent sure that will be Winterfell.” Williamson is banking on his horse’s sheer speed coming to pass in one last stretch battle. “Majestic Man is as fast as anything in the race over a quarter but I’m picking Mark is not going to leave it to a sharp sprint home. “It’s not going to be a slowly run race, that’s guaranteed being an Inter Dominion Grand Final. “Winterfell broke the New Zealand record under a hold last week and probably had a couple of seconds up his sleeve, too.” Even then, it will be out of Purdon’s hands anyway as a bevvy of decent trotters try and get in to the race from wide or second line draws, primarily Marcoola. “It’s not really going to affect me, what the other horses do, because the markers are the place to be in this race. “But, being a Grand Final, I don’t think everybody is going to be sitting back and not moving.” Outside of the big three, Williamson reckons Temporale, who maps to sit four pegs for most of the race, could be the blowout option. “Looking for an outsider, Temporale has got the best draw of the others outside of Winterfell, in my opinion. “He’s drawn to sit on the markers on a likely record run and all he’ll need is a wee bit of luck of the last 800 metres. “And you’d back Tony Herlihy, out of anyone, to find a path through them. “He knows the track better than anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take advantage of a cold shot at them.” With all the planning and thinking done ahead of time, Williamson was looking forward to getting up to Auckland and just taking it all in. After all, he’s a live chance of joining the greats of the game – Anthony Butt, Mark Purdon, Gavin Lang, Tony Herlihy, Barry Purdon, Doody Townley, David Butt, Peter Jones – as the winning driver in an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final. The annals of harness racing history await the lad from Oamaru. “There is just something about it that I’m really looking forward to. “The Inter Doms are all anyone is talking about at the moment and I’m privileged to be a part of it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Bit Of A Legend, harness racing

Bit Of A Legend N to retire

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 12, 2019— Harness racing trainer Peter Tritton, that fairly competent Down Under imported trainer, was asked about Bit of a Legend N, that fairly competent Down Under imported pacer. “We were coming off after a race one night and Jordan (Stratton) said to me, ‘Every driver should have a chance to sit behind a horse like this.’ ” Bit of a Legend N, who rarely ran out of real estate on the racetrack, has nonetheless run out of daylight as a racehorse. The 10-year-old double-millionaire is set to retire after a Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle send-off Saturday night (Dec. 14th). The son of Bettor’s Delight is off to Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH, to begin a stallion career. “I’m going to have to plan a road trip to go see him,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N and Stratton have gone down the road together, the number of memorable miles too numerous to mention. “He’s my favorite horse. No question,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N came over as advertised, having won Australian Breeders Crowns at ages 3 and 4. “Peter (Tritton) told me he was a getting a pretty nice horse,” Stratton said of the then 7-year-old who the late Harry Von Knoblauch purchased for $103,000. “I went to the farm to see him. He just looked good running in the paddock and in his first qualifier (Yonkers, January of 2016), I knew. “He didn’t go much (third, timed in 1:57.1), but the way he drove, the way he carried himself.” Rising through the overnight ranks with two wins and two seconds in four tries, it was time to wear the big-boy pants and the ’16 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Sweep. Bit of a Legend N won all five of his preliminary legs starts, including a stirring, track-record 1:51.2 dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit. In the $609,000 final a week later, he drew well, took control early and won in a facile 1:51 (see accompanying photo). He was (and remains) the only Free-For-Aller to run the Levy table. The 2016 season saw Bit of a Legend N win 13-of-28 starts (with six seconds and one third), socking away $723,850. Proving he was no one-hit wonder, Bit of a Legend N threw down consecutive half-million-dollar seasons in 2017 and ’18. The 2017 Levy saw Bit of a Legend N win twice (with two seconds) during preliminary-round competition before a no-chance-trip fourth (to Keystone Velocity) in the final. He then hit the road, winning the $109,600 Molson (Western Fair, 1:51.3), $260,000 Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga, 1:50.3…at 15-1) and Quillen Memorial (Harrington, 1:52.1).  The next season saw another standout Levy-leg log (two wins, two seconds, one third) and yet another less-than-no-shot trip in the final. From post position No. 7, Bit of a Legend N charged home for second, again to Keystone Velocity. Bit of a Legend N eventually returned to Londontown, looking to defend his Molson (renamed to Camluck Classic) title. He wound up a flat, never-in-it fifth and “the only time he ever disappointed me,” Stratton said. “He’s had some EPM (parasite) issues throughout his career,” Tritton said. “We’ve been able to stay on top of it, usually, but I think that, and the ship up to Canada, was too much for him. His blood was no good, but he bounced back.” Indeed. A week later at Northfield, it was a first-up, life-best 1:49.4 effort in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie, putting away the same horse—Rockin’ Ron—who had dusted his rivals in the Camluck. “Everyone was excited for him,” Stratton said. “There were people, wherever we went, who said he was their favorite horse.” Bit of a Legend N’s 2019 season was hampered by some poorly-timed quarter cracks, essentially costing him any shot of doing damage in the Levy. “It’s never a good time to get them, but this was a bad time for him, and us,” Tritton said. “It took about six or seven weeks to completely heal and the series doesn’t allow for any time off.”  “It not that he’s even slowed down that much, but the competition is just better,” Stratton said. “Before, you could win a race in 1:52. Now, it’s no better than third.” Stratton offered some of the same platitudes about Bit of a Legend N that were bestowed upon Foiled Again by his primary driver, Yannick Gingras. “He can relax and go a quarter in 30 (seconds), then sprint in :27. He won’t do more than what’s necessary. It’s just his way of taking care of himself. Look at his races. The margins are never that much. He knows what he has to do. That’s why he’s lasted so long.” The plan was for Bit of a Legend N to be racing Saturday nights through the end of the season, but after a second-place finish in late November, Tritton detected a bit of a problem with an ankle (“There was nothing to gain by having him go a couple of more weeks”), so the North American racing career ended with 33 wins in 99 starts and earnings of $1,909,935 (more than $2.5 million including foreign take-home). “I’ve had good horses before,” Tritton said, “but he’s different. To have the longevity he’s had and to produce in the big races the way he did, that’s what stands out.” …and they named him right, too. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Mr Harris,Harness racing

Veteran pacer just keeps on winning

By Garrick Knight    Like a fine wine, Mister Harris is seemingly just getting better with age. The 10-year-old veteran pacer, a winner at Manawatu on Thursday evening, is in career-best form for his Hawera trainer, Willie Fleming. He’s won three of four starts this season and now sits on nine for his career. “I’m bloody rapt with how he’s going,” said Fleming. “I haven’t done anything different with him, the only thing I can see is that I’ve changed my feed. “Whether that’s it, I don’t know, but Scott Dickson made a point of telling me today when the horse was warming up that he looked bloody well.” Fleming took over training Mister Harris at the start of last year, when his breeder and then owner/trainer, Dave Cambie got injured. “Dave had cut the end off his thumb and didn’t want it getting infected, so he sent me the horse to look after for a while. “I actually had him when he got his last win in Dave’s name and he then retired from training and got out of the game.” He offered Fleming the horse on lease and it was an easy proposal to accept. “Dave was made a life member at the Taranaki club before he retired but has now backed right away from it all. “He’s trying to get a bit more golf in, I think. “But he still watches the horse and was the first one to ring me after the race today.” Fleming reckoned he knew Mister Harris was on song for his five-horse race yesterday in the tie-ups before going out on the track. “He gave me a couple of nips and flicked his foot at me. “When he’s grumpy like that, I know he’s going to race well. “He’s a really neat old horse with a bit of character about him.” Fleming actually expected his near-perfect start to the season (four wins and a placing from five starters) to continue a few races later when Sonny Reactor lined up in one of the Australasian Young Drivers’ Championship (AYDC) heats. “The other fella, I thought he was a real chance. The better chance of the two. “But he just over-raced which was disappointing. Ben Butcher said I just had him too well.” Where to now is the big question for Fleming with Mister Harris, who now finds himself an R67. “You tell me because I don’t know. We were lucky that the first win this season was penalty-free, which gave us a lifeline, but he’s getting up there now. “He seems to love racing at Manawatu so I’d like to keep him here if I can. “Last season I tried to pick up a couple of country cups with him on the grass, but he seems better on the hard surface. “The days of him winning from in front are gone, I think, but he’s still got one hell of a sprint when saved up for one run at them.” Another three heats of the AYDC were held and it was series leader Sarah O’Reilly again holding court with two seconds and a fourth to maintain her lead heading in to tonight’s final heat at Alexandra Park. Cam Hart, from Sydney, is the only one that can beat her for the title, but will need a minor miracle as he drives the rank outsider, Johnny Mac. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The colt division of the GP Mipaaf (purse 407,000€, 2100 meters autostart) in Napoli, Italy saw a 1.14.3kr clocked victory by Bristol CR (2m Owen CR- Rapsidia CR-Yankee Slide) with a front end score. Banderas Bi (2m Ganymede-Isa Grandi-Toss Out) was second and Barberesco Grif (2m Conway Hall-Maura Grif-Varenne) was third. Buena Suerte Bi (2f Yankee Glide-No Ifs Here) took this day’s PR Mipaaf Filly (purse 88,000€, 1600 meters autostart) clocked in 1.14.9kr and reined by V.P. Dell’Annunziata for trainer Tiberio Cecere. The winner raced on the front as she recorded her fifth victory in seven starts in this her two-year old season. Betta Indal (2f Varenne-Isabeau Volo) was second with Rene Legati up with third to Brezzapura Ferm (2f Ganymede-Ozge Ferm-Fast Photo) home third for Gior, D;Allessandro Jr. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

After weathering what turned out to be an extended storm of injury issues that kept 2015 Horse of the Year Award winner Wiggle It Jiggleit sidelined for nearly three years, George Teague Jr. is looking forward to seeing his 7-year-old harness racing  pacer continue his comeback attempt in Thursday's $25,000 open at Dover Downs. Wiggle It Jiggle will be making his third start this year, but his first since Sept. 30. The gelding finished second in his 2019 debut at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio on Sept. 19 and third in the open handicap at Harrington Raceway. Since then, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won twice in qualifiers at Dover, the first in 1:55.1 with a final quarter of :29.3 and the second in 1:54.4 with a final quarter of :27.2. "He's doing good," said Teague, whose George Teague Jr. Inc. shares ownership of Wiggle It Jiggleit with the Teague Racing Partnership LLC. "He was tying up a little bit (leading to his recent time off) and when I got him off that, I qualified him, and he just didn't fire like I thought he should. It turned out his blood was a little off. "The last time I qualified him he seemed to be a lot more like himself. Not totally like he was in the past, but I still think it's just going to take a little while. I'm hoping he can come back to that status, or close to it. He's going to be fine. We'll see how it plays out." Wiggle It Jiggleit, trained by Clyde Francis, has won 38 of 53 career races and earned $3.91 million. His earnings rank sixth among pacers in North American harness racing history. "At any time, any horse can come up with injuries; unfortunately, he did," Teague said. "It didn't look that bad originally, but one thing turned into another, turned into another, which turned into three years. It is what it is. That was a perfect storm. But every storm blows over. "He still seems like the horse of old, he really does. He doesn't seem any less willing to go. Everything is there, we just have to put the speed back into him, and I don't expect that to come over night. He's sounder than he's ever been and looks great physically. We just have to put the work in and see if he can get a little stronger and a little faster." Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Thursday's open. Jim Morand will drive Wiggle It Jiggleit, subbing for Montrell Teague, who recently suffered a wrist injury that will keep him in a cast until after Christmas. George Teague Jr. is taking a race-by-race approach with Wiggle It Jiggleit but is hopeful the son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover can return to the Grand Circuit in 2020. "I still think it's a possibility," Teague said. "I'm not going to ruin his reputation by putting him in the box when it doesn't look like he should be in. I'm just trying to get a grip on how I think he'll come back and whether he gets back to close enough where I think I can invest a little bit of money in staking him. "I'm not making any definitive plans; I'm just hoping he tells me as we go along. It's tough to get back to where he needs to be without racing against competition. I can qualify, I can train, but none of it is like racing. When he makes it to a point where I think he's showed me enough one way or another, then I'll make my decision there." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Dover. The open is race 12, with an 8:10 p.m. estimated post. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Heats seven to nine of the of the 2019 Hanley Australasian Drivers Championship were held at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday with three first time AYDC winning drivers saluting. Series leader Sarah O'Reilly extended her lead in the series to 11 points, with the final race held at Alexandra Park on Friday night. With 17 points awarded to the winner of the final race, Cameron Hart would have to win or finish second with O'Reilly finishing down the track to upset the kiwi. Victories tonight were shared by New Zealander, John Morrison, West Australian, Corey Peterson and Queensland representative Matt Elkins, with the Australians both saluting for the first time on New Zealand soil. Elkins drove Ripsnorter for trainer Michael House to an all the way victory in heat seven of the series with the Brisbane local thrilled with his first AYDC win, ''It was great to tick a New Zealand winner off my bucket list'', he said following the win. Series leaders Sarah O'Reilly and Cameron Hart again both drove consistent races to fill the placings. Western Australian Corey Peterson drove Sheikh Yabooty to a fast finishing win from a near impossible four pegs position in heat eight. In a tight finish, Sheikh Yabooty prevailed over the favourite Matai Minky for Corey Peterson and Play Ball for Victorian Zac Phillips. Peterson was appreciative for the Manawatu Club hospitality after his victory ''Thanks to the Manawatu Harness Racing Club for a great few days in Palmerston North, with some great times had by all.'' In the final heat of the night, Ace Stride backed up his Tuesday win with another first over crush victory for South Island representative John Morrison. O'Reilly drove another placegetter, her fourth for the series along with two winners, with Matt Elkins rounding out the trifecta. The AYDC drivers now fly north to Auckland for the final heat at Alexandra Park on Friday and to experience the Inter Dominion on Saturday night to complete their trip.   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Brothers Mark and Barry Purdon are poised to dominate Saturday night’s Inter Dominion Pacers Grand Final at Alexandra Park, Auckland with several runners making the Grand Final in Australasia’s biggest harness event. This also applies to the Trotters Grand Final with the Mark and Natalie Rasmussen trained Winterfell drawing beautifully in gate two. Throughout the series, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Stars Barn have provided winners each night with red hot favourite Ultimate Sniper going through undefeated, Cruz Bromac winning a heat after being placed in the other two, while Chase Auckland finished second on all three occasions. Thefixer and Ashley Locaz also raced well enough to make the cut. Barry’s A G’s White Socks was the surprise of the series, winning two heats and Mach Shard was consistent all the way through. With seven of the twelve starters, it will be a huge shock should any other stable receive the accolade of preparing the winner. Looking at the Trotters Final which goes before the Pacers, it appears that the Purdon/Rasmussen team will prevail with short priced favourite Winterfell due to his perfect gate two draw. Listed below is a summary : THE TROTTERS (2) WINTERFELL from the All Stars barn looks the hardest to beat from the ideal draw. He can sometimes be a little risky if pushed from the gate, but providing he does everything right will be hard to hold out. (4) MAJESTIC MAN battled on gamely after racing exposed for the final circuit when third to Winterfell last Friday and is sure to be in the finish. (9) TEMPORALE is racing at his peak and has drawn to follow Big Jack Hammer through at the start. Off a nice sit will be hard to hold out. (8) MARCOOLA is a victim of a horror draw and is likely to be taken back off the gate to be held up for a late finish. He has been unlucky not to finish closer in all his heats and must be taken in trifecta’s and first fours. (12) PARAMOUNT KING’S performances in every heat have been excellent after winning on opening night. With the right passage, he is a definite possibility. (10) HABIBI INTA gave ground after racing exposed last Friday. There have been some excuses though and if he runs up to his Dominion victory, should be competitive. (13) MASSIVE METRO was blitzed by Winterfell last Friday and the draw has done him no favours. Has raced well through the series and is a must for multiples. (11) TOUGH MONARCH has not adapted very well to the right hand going. He battled on gamely last Friday and is another place hope with luck. (1) BIG JACK HAMMER due to his pole line draw should receive the run of the race and providing he runs the distance is a rough place hope. SELECTIONS : (2) WINTERFELL, (10) Habibi Inta, (9) Temporale, (4) Majestic Man. THE PACERS (5) ULTIMATE SNIPER looks the goods after luck falling his way in the barrier draw, his performances throughout the series has been ultra impressive. Should there be a query, it may be going forward at the start, but should he find the front, it could be easily be shut the gate. (11) CRUZ BROMAC has come through the series in grand style but has been cruelled by the barrier draw. However in saying that, he is to trail stablemate Ashley Locaz which could be the early leader. If Ultimate Sniper goes back, there is some remote chance he could find the lead and prove to be the one to run down. (7) A G’S WHITE SOCKS is another from a horror draw which could go forward at the start and if a nice sit eventuates, he is a definite blowout chance. (9) CHASE AUCKLAND wouldn’t know how to run a bad race and is in the mix from his awkward inside second line draw. (13) THEFIXER who had every chance when second to Cruz Bromac after trailing last week has to be respected. These five appear to be the logical top chances, with remote trifecta and first four hopes being : (3) ASHLEY LOCAZ, (6) MACH SHARD, (8) TRIPLE EIGHT and (1) SAN CARLO. SELECTIONS : (5) ULTIMATE SNIPER, (9) Cruz Bromac, (9) Chase Auckland, (7) A G’s White Socks.   Len Baker

A $3000 bargain snapped up by Craig Saligari and Chris Plozza just over 15 months ago has paid handsome dividends and is directly responsible for them owning Crocodile Kid, who is attempting to notch a hat-trick of wins when he contests the Retravision 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Crocodile Kid, a striking black gelding, is awkwardly drawn at barrier five in a field of eight in the 1730m sprint in which he will clash with several smart pacers including Stefsbest, Ocean Ridge, The Dali Express and Sergeant Oats. However, he is a brilliant sprinter who has revealed great versatility in winning in fast time over 1730m on each of the past two Friday nights when handled skilfully by Michael Grantham. After a most encouraging fifth behind Ocean Ridge over 2130m at his WA debut three Friday nights ago, Crocodile Kid flourished in the following two weeks, setting the pace and winning at a 1.55.2 rate from Red October and Robb Stark and then racing three back on the pegs before sprinting home fast to beat Mon Lillies and Saleahs Comand at a 1.55.4 rate.    “He’s not just a miler,” said Saligari, who prepares the Victorian-bred six-year-old at Wanneroo. “He’s versatile and able to run all distances, with the right sort of runs. He is a good leader as well as being a good sit-sprinter.” Sailgari and Plozza are certainly not shedding any tears at their decision to outlay $30,000 to purchase the Armbro Operative gelding who is the first and only one of four foals out of the Safely Kept mare Crocodile Tears to have raced. Crocodile Tears took 44 starts to record her first victory (in an R0 event in Albury in December 2010) and managed just four country-class wins from 66 starts in Victoria. She is related to Onaventure, who had 79 starts in WA for seven wins between 2005 and 2008. Crocodile Kid is bred to be a good winner. His ancestry on his dam’s side traces back in a direct path to the mighty Aachen, who won at each of his first 20 starts (from February 1956 to December 1958). This sequence was an Australian record until 1970 when Lucky Creed recorded 24 consecutive wins. The record of 29 straight wins is now held by West Australian champion San Simeon. New Zealand mare Connenora produced Aachen and there is a direct line of mares culminating with Crocodile Tears. The current Saligari-Plozza success story began almost 16 months ago when they bought Bob Wheel from Ryan Bell for $3000. “I was doing a lot of trackwork with Ryan at the time,” Saligari explained. “Ryan basically had had enough of him. He was trackworking really well but wasn’t performing well in races. He offered Bob Wheel to us for $3000, and we took him.” Bob Wheel had won six races for Bell, including the $25,000 WA Sales Classic for three-year-olds in March 2017. He enjoyed his new environment in Wanneroo and won at his third start for his new owners, starting at 20/1, racing in the breeze and winning easily to earn $4,163.     And then, early this year Bob Wheel was successful at Gloucester Park from barriers No. 9 and No. 8 when he paid $64.10 and $51 on the tote. Before Bob Wheel contests the second event at Gloucester Park this week he had raced 36 times for Plozza and Saligari for six wins, three seconds, three thirds and $61,527 in prizemoney. “We own two-thirds of Bob Wheel and Dad has a third share,” said Saligari. “Mum and Dad have been able to buy a car out of the winnings and recently Chris thought it was time to get another horse. She made a lot of contacts and there were a few on the Trading Ring that she had a look at. And then she got on Messenger and texted a few people who have big stables over east. “We were hoping to get a nice horse and bring him on one-on-one at a smaller stable and give him all the care he needs. We came across Crocodile Kid and went through all his performances. Looking at his replays we were impressed with his gate speed and his final quarter was always good. And he can do things tough, as well. “He breezed and ran 1.54 in Sydney and he won a race (over 1609m) at Menangle, going 1.53.2, coming home in 26.7sec. That run spurred Chris on to make the decision to buy him for $30,000.” Crocodile Kid raced 50 times for ten wins in Victoria for his breeder-owner-trainer-reinsman Noel Tyndall before having nine starts at Menangle for prominent trainer Kevin Pizzuto for one win. He is proving to be a great buy, with his three runs at Gloucester Park producing a fifth and two wins for stakes of $22,266.   Ken Casellas

Chris Ryder, as harness racing trainer and part owner, has announced that Bettor's Wish will stand to a limited number of mares in 2020 for a stud fee of $10,000. He will be collected at Walnridge Equine Clinic, Cream Ridge, N.J., making his foals eligible to the reenergized New Jersey Sire Stakes.   Bettor's Wish will remain in training and race next year against the sport's older pacers in the popular free-for-all events.   "There was a lot of interest from around the country and within our own ownership group to breed to him. I don't think there will be any issue keeping a regular collection schedule," Ryder said.   Part-owner Eric Cherry is delighted to be able to breed to Bettor's Wish next year. "I bought into him for his stallion potential and because he crosses so well with a lot of my mares. I will be breeding Breeders Crown Champion Call Me Queen Be (p,3,1:49.1f) Candlelight Dinner (p,2,1:52.2), I'm Trigger Happy (p,3,1:51.3f) and others. I'm very excited for the future."   Bettor's Wish had a remarkable 3-year-old season amassing $1,643,745--the most of any horse this year--and a record of 13 wins and 6 seconds in 19 starts. He finished the year with a field-sweeping second in the TVG Final at the Meadowlands racing against older horses, making him the first 3-year-old pacer to hit the board in the history of the TVG races.   For further details or booking information call (908) 451-4135 or email BettorsWish@gmail.com.   From the Bettor's Wish Ownership Group    

By Jonny Turner    The chance to capture the race that has got away awaits champion reinsman Tony Herlihy when he drives Sicario in Saturday night’s Interdominion Pacing Championship final. New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman winning the race on a $101 outsider in his 15th attempt is just one of the fairy tale endings this year’s Alexandra Park Championship can bring. Herlihy is approaching the opportunity with the calmness that has seen him known as “The Ice Man” for the past four decades, as well as with his signature sharp wit. “Its a great race to be a part of, you get a good view when you’re out there – its harder when you’re in the crowd, you can’t get a look in,” Herlihy quipped. Herlihy has got the best of views of the three horses that have denied him victory in Australasian pacing’s greatest test of stamina. The reinsman was runner up with Christopher Vance in 1991, Sly Flyin in 2006 and a promoted second with Chokin in 1995. “We have gone some great races, but we just haven’t been able to win it.” “There have been a couple there that have gone really good.” “Sly Flying went great behind Elsu and Christopher Vance went great behind Mark Hanover – he just nutted him out of it.” Sicario’s $101 odds suggest he is not the horse to help Herlihy win his elusive pacing final However, the Brent Lilley trained pacer in to Saturday night’s 2700m mobile feature with one claim that the five other horses paying $101 do not. The Victorian pacer reeled off the fastest last 800m of the entire Interdominon series when reeling off a 52.8sec sectional when running fourth behind Cruz Bromac on night three. The strong performance, when coming from well back in the field, gives Herlihy hope he could land another pacing final placing. “He is a first five chance, we just need that little bit of luck in the running with him.” “He was ordinary the first night, but he has improved since then.” “He went super the second night, I was pretty sure he would have run in the money the second night.” “But, I just couldn’t get him out in the straight to get a clear crack at them.” Sicario may need all of the skill that has won Herlihy 3,514 races in New Zealand to find him a perfect spot in the running. The gate speed the horse showed on night one, the only time Herlihy has asked him to leave quickly, does not suggest he could be first to the markers after Saturday night’s start. “He would have been able to put a neck or half a length on them if I really hunted him on the first night.” “But I didn’t worry about that, because they weren’t going to let me cross.” My Kiwi Mate looks to have first option on the lead from barrier 1, with fast beginner Chase Auckland likely to be able to keep pace with him from barrier 1 on the second row. Sicario has On The Cards, who beat him out of the gate on night one, drawn outside him in barrier 4. Herlihy has had contrasting fortune in Interdominion Trotting Finals and will be out to extend his record as its all-time leading driver with Temporale on Saturday night. The reinsman goes in to the 2700m mobile feature with wins to his name behind Diamond Field (1994), Pride Of Petite (1997), Buster Hanover (1998) and Delft (2006). All Temporale needs is some Ice Man magic to work him in to the race from his second row draw and he will be right amongst the finish. “Hopefully he can get a good run, there are four or five there that are going really good, so hopefully we can have a bit of luck with him,” Herlihy said.   

Gun South Australian reinsman Wayne Hill admits he's feeling a little apprehensive leading up to tomorrow night's nostalgic return of harness racing to the Wayville Showgrounds. "It's a very tight and tricky circuit. You quickly learn that you don't want to be sitting up straight going into the corners. The only way is to lean inwards that's for sure!" Hill said. But he's confident any nerves he may have will quickly be forgotten as he tries to emulate the deeds of his late grandfather Syd Hill. "Pop had horses all his life and raced frequently at Wayville back in the old days. He had a lot of success and my dad Gary remembers one night when Pop won heaps on the punt after winning the SA Guineas at 100/1. He came home and threw the money on a bed-dad reckons he'd never seen so much cash!" Wayne laughed. "Dad said Pop would never, ever buy crayfish, but on that night, there was crayfish for everyone who turned up at the house." Hill said his father Gary had one drive at Wayville but, unfortunately, didn't do any good. "My Pop might have got a lot of Wayville winners, but I'd just like to get one," he said. Hill said he had some "practice runs" last week with a few trials at the 510m circuit. Check out the trials action here: Check out Wayne getting the feel of Wayville at the trials: "I thought I had it sorted out, but I was still experiencing a bit of fish-tailing now and again because the cart was sliding about," he said. "We are using the older style Regal racing sulkies. Personally, I'd prefer the newer American carts because they seem a bit more stable." And Hill is more aware than most of the extra skill and attention needed on the Wayville circuit. "I got tipped out in the first race at the Back to Waville meeting two years ago when my 'bike' hit a divot on the last corner and just flipped me," he said. "So hopefully I manage to stay aboard this time because all my family, including Uncle David from Victoria, will be there." Hill is one of nine drivers from three States competing at the tiny circuit. He will be joined by fellow South Australians Ryan Hryhorec, Ken Rogers and Jayson Finnis. Representing Victoria will be Lance Justice, Jason Lee, Jayden Brewin and Luke Watson, while the other competitor, Mark Yole, hails from Tasmania. The return to Wayville meeting in 2017, the first since 1973, was promoted as a "retro night" and saw more than 8000 patrons pack in to watch "racing at a colosseum". Wayville, in the centre of Adelaide, was home to SA harness racing for 48 years from 1925. The final touches are being put to track preparations In the halcyon days of the 1950s and '60s, fans flocked to the track to cheer on the household names including Webster, Shinn, Holberton, Messenger, Sugars, Bowyer, Hurley, Cox and Brook. There are seven races listed for tomorrow night's Wayville "Black Friday Bash" meeting. As in 2017, all races, to be telecast on Sky Channel Racing Two, will be conducted as standing starts and limited to eight runners. The meeting will also provide a platform for raising mental health awareness in the community, with HRSA partnering with service providers and community organisations delivering mental health services.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It was a perfect morning from the All Stars least perfect horse. And it was all you needed to see if you want to back Winterfell to win the $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final on Saturday night. On a morning when trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were left beaming after the private workouts of many of their superstars at Pukekohe, it was Winterfell who was the star of the show. And it was some show. Not many stables in the history of harness racing could roll a team that includes the first and second favourites for the $500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final, with Cruz Bromac and Ultimate Sniper hitting the line together after the latter trailed until they sprinted up the straight at the end of 2400m. Both look spot on, Cruz Bromac the more natural track worker, Ultimate Sniper wearing far more gear, in a muck of sweat but pacing fluently on the tightish, flat Pukekohe track. The conveyor belt of class didn’t stop there, with Thefixer sharp as he came from last to brush up alongside Another Masterpiece and Self Assured also over 2400m, the latter pair looking where they need to be for their support races at Alexandra Park on Saturday. Other Grand Final contenders Chase Auckland and Ashley Locaz will have their final workouts today, with new driver John Dunn to partner the latter for the first time. And before the Inter pacers strutted their stuff, the stable flexed some serious newcomer to the carnival muscle in Northern Trot Derby winner Enhance Your Calm and New Zealand’s most exciting trotter Oscar Bonavena, with little Oscar sitting behind his far bigger stablemate and picking him up in the last 200m. It was all slick stuff, horses deliberately hitting the line together, not a step out of place, no hanging or heads tossed in the air. Professional, daunting. “It was a really, really good morning,” said Mark Purdon. “We were happy with all of them so things are very much on target for Saturday.” But while there was a phenomenal amount of elite horse power on display the eyecatcher was Winterfell. He started this Interdom series the problem child of the open class trotting ranks, having finished 104-lengths last at his previous start, beaten 33 lengths when sixth of eight the start before. Remarkably for a horse who finished his three-year-old season looking a potential champion he has won only four of his next 14 leading into this series, finishing unplaced in six of them. They are rare numbers for an All Stars Group One player. The sort of numbers that might see a less talented horse ostracised to another stable. Or another country. But something has clicked since Winterfell arrived north. The Winterfell that Purdon has been so happy with at home is finally accompanying him to the races. He was still wayward winning on night one, was taught how to settle in the field when it became apparent he couldn’t win on night two and looked back to his outstanding best winning his final round heat in national record time. That improvement curve continued all the way to yesterday when he worked with leading three-year-old pacers One Change (Sires’ Stakes winner) and Flying Even Bettor. Winterfell was bombproof trailing the galloping pacemaker whereas for several starts in the last 12 months he would have wanted to join in the galloping fun. He looked big, strong, trotting squarely but more importantly he looked a racehorse, no gawking, swerving or looking for excuses. He looked like an Inter Dominion Trotting Final winner in waiting. “He has gone from strength to strength up here,” says Purdon. “He still did a few little things wrong on night one but he has been perfect since. “He went a record last Friday and I am sure he can go faster again this week and I’d like to be in front.” Winterfell can probably afford to get crossed early and still be handed the lead because of the respect he has regained during this series. With yesterday’s faultless trackwork display another stamp in his passport out of Crazy Town, it is going to take something special to beat Winterfell on Saturday night.   Michael Guerin

Believe it or not, but only two horses from the previous Inter Dominion Trotting series will strut their stuff again this year. And they’re both Aussies. Twelve months ago, former New Zealand gelding Tornado Valley dominated the Inter Dominion Trotting Championships in Melbourne leaving everyone and everything in his wake including Tough Monarch and Big Jack Hammer. Plenty has changed since. Firstly, the defending champion did not make the trip across the Tasman Sea and secondly, the wave of challengers they face this year is deep and loaded with exquisite talent. Undoubtedly, the challenge is monumental to keep the famed trophy on Australian soil but both are there and ready to take their place and that gives them hope. Mighty mare Scotch Notch proved it can be done when successful here at Alexandra Park back in 1983 for legendary Victorian horseman Graeme Lang. The David Aiken trained Big Jack Hammer will start from the inside gate in the 2700m mobile start feature while the Rickie Alchin prepared Tough Monarch faces a second-line draw after landing gate 11. Their efforts throughout the three heats have been mixed but good enough to qualify so they have a fighting chance. But will that be enough? The Australian duo will need to bring their absolute best because the local contingent oozes class and a ripping race awaits. Leading the charge is the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained rising star Winterfell who gains a perfect opportunity to enhance his reputation after drawing ideally in gate two. The Majestic Son five-year-old has looked sharp winning two of his three heats and will clearly make his presence felt early. The last time an Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final was staged in Auckland was 2011 and Mark Purdon reigned supreme with champion performer I Can Doosit. In fact, Purdon has trained five previous winners including I Can Doosit (twice), Buster Hanover and Pride Of Petite (twice) Winterfell is clearly capable of adding his name to the famed list of previous winners. Big brother Barry is no stranger to Grand Final success either after preparing the likes of Night Allowance and Diamond Field; speed machine Marcoola will represent his stable this weekend. Marcoola is a proven big race performer and despite drawing gate eight, the outside of the front-line, the Sundon entire will carry plenty of support. Young Sheree Tomlinson takes the drive and will look to emulate the deeds of Kate Gath last year as a female Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final winner. Another wonderful horseman with previous Inter Dominion success is Paul Nairn, the Christchurch based trainer scored with Call Me Now back in 1995 and chases his second piece of silverware with the richly talented Habibi Inta. The recent Dominion winner will start from gate ten and only needs an inch of luck to take this. Beach training duo of Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett are duly represented by outstanding duo in Temporale (gate 9) and Massive Metro (gate 13). Both trotters have performed exceptionally well throughout the series and have winning claims. Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy will partner Temporale and victory will provide the trainer/driver combination their second Inter Dominion winner after combining with giant gelding Delft back in 2006. Herlihy has driven four Inter Dominion winners - Diamond Field, Pride Of Petite, Buster Hanover and Delft. Rising star Majestic Man (gate 4) is another trotter clearly good enough to claim the big event. His heat efforts have been sublime and the father/son combination of Phil and Brad Williamson are chasing their maiden Inter Dominion success. Local trotter Paramount King has stamped himself as a major player following his terrific heat efforts but faces a second-line draw after landing gate 12. Prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, they will be looking to go one better after finishing as the runner-up last year with Speeding Spur behind Tornado Valley. The Robert and John Dunn stable have two runners engaged with Valloria (gate 6) and Bonnie Highlander (gate 7) representing their strong stable. Like Bonnie Highlander, Destiny Jones (gate 3) is looking to become the first mare since Sumthingaboutmaori (2004) to claim the Inter Dominion for the fairer sex. The Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final is the second leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and follows on from the Dominion at Addington in Christchurch last month won by Habibi Inta. The four remaining legs include the Great Southern Star (1/2/20), Australian Grand Prix (29/2/20), ANZAC Cup (24/4/20) and Rowe Cup (1/5/20).   Chris Barsby

When a youthful Mark Purdon captured the 1991 Auckland Inter Dominion aboard Mark Hanover trained in partnership by legendary father Roy and older brother Barry, little did he realize what the future was to hold. All in, the Purdon’s have figured in nine Inter victories, three in the pacing ranks and six with the trotters. For champion trainer/driver Mark it has been a ritual to go in search of Australasia’s most prestigious harness event, with success coming on several occasions. Following Mark Hanover, A few years went by before Mark’s name began to become dominant, especially in the trotting ranks scoring with Pride Of Petite in 1996 (Melbourne), and 1997 (Adelaide) when driven by brother in law Tony Herlihy which became one of the greatest races ever seen at Globe Derby Park, then came Buster Hanover (Sydney) in 1998 with Herlihy again the winning reinsman. Thirteen years elapsed before I Can Doosit trained and driven by Mark with Grant Payne as associate trainer scored successive victories – Auckland in 2011 and Melbourne 2012. Back in 1993 Mark’s father Roy had combined with Barry to land the 1993 Trotters Grand Final in Auckland with Night Arrow. In 2016 and 2017 it was the pacers that really made Mark a force to be reckoned with when two outstanding horses Smolda and Lazarus came on the scene. Smolda being victorious in 2016 and Lazarus 2017 when both series were held in Perth. Partner Natalie Rasmussen is no stranger to the Inters either after her outstanding pacer Blacks A Fake scored at Hobart in 2006, Adelaide 2007, Melbourne 2008 and Menangle 2010 and could have easily been five after going down narrowly to Mr Feelgood at the Gold Coast the year before. Barry Purdon himself will have two Grand Final runners this year when A G’s White Socks and Mach Shard step out to do battle. Since registering the partnership, Mark and Natalie have qualified five horses for this year’s series headed by Ultimate Sniper, Cruz Bromac, Chase Auckland, Thefixer and Ashley Locaz. With Mark, Barry and Natalie being the most prolific name in New Zealand and Australian harness racing, the name Purdon will be prominent for a long period of time to come.   Len Baker

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Tyler Buter is putting the finishing touches on a memorable harness racing season and looking forward to taking another step forward in 2020. The 34-year-old Buter has won a career-high $5.56 million in purses and driven in a career-high 34 races worth at least $100,000 this season. He also got the 3,000th win of his career in April. Among Buter's other triumphs this year were the $500,000 Messenger Stakes, the most lucrative victory of his career, with American Mercury and the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series championship for trotters with Rich And Miserable. He was second in the Matron and third in the Little Brown Jug with American Mercury and second in the Art Rooney Pace with Branquinho. In addition, he drove in the Hambletonian eliminations, Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, Adios, Three Diamonds, and Progress Pace. Buter was named the Driver of the Year in U.S. Trotting Association District 8, which covers most of upstate New York. Entering Thursday, he had won 324 races this year, marking the fourth time he topped 300 in a season, and the first time since 2009. "I'm definitely happy with the way the year went," said Buter, who resides in Middletown, N.Y. "I made the decision early in the year that I was going to drive more and train less. Judging by the numbers, it definitely paid off. "It was a lot of 'firsts' for me this year (on the Grand Circuit). Being in the big races, that's where I want to be. Not everybody wants to travel and follow those horses around, but that's what I like to do. I like driving the 2- and 3-year-olds; I think that's the most fun to me." Buter, though, did enjoy a good bit of fun this season with a 4-year-old, Rich And Miserable, trained by his father Todd. The gelding has won 11 of 21 races this year, highlighted by his head victory over Hannelore Hanover in the Great Northeast final, and earned $277,000. He races Saturday in a conditioned event at The Meadowlands. "He was a fun surprise this year," Buter said. "He was just OK as a 2- and 3-year-old but he matured a lot between 3 and 4 and he had a great year. "Unfortunately, he wasn't staked to anything, but it might have been a blessing in disguise. We'll point him toward a couple bigger races next year. We won't go crazy, but we'll give him a chance to race with the top names." Buter grew up in Manchester, Mich., and got his first win at the Gladwin, Mich., fair before his 17th birthday. After successful stints in both Michigan and Illinois, he relocated to the East Coast in 2010. Despite his many years in the sulky, Buter is still evolving as a driver. "That's the crazy thing, I've been driving horses full time for 15 years almost, and you're always learning," Buter said. "I try to go through every night and drive every horse good. I'm my own worst critic; I'm pretty hard on myself as far as making mistakes. "It's still hard to go a whole night and not make one mistake, and I've been doing it a long time. Being mistake-free is everyone's goal and it's something I strive for, trying to be perfect, if I can." Over the years, Buter has realized the need to put any miscues behind him as quickly as possible. "I used to let it carry over and get upset," Buter said. "You can't let it get to you. Five minutes later, you're going to be driving someone else's horse that put in seven days of hard work to get ready for this race and you've got to give your undivided attention to that horse and not be thinking about the one you just drove." As for 2020, Buter has no specific goals. "I just want to keep getting better," Buter said. "If I can have a little better year next year, that would be great. You never really want to take a step backwards in this business." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA
YONKERS, NY, Thursday, December 12, 2019— Harness racing trainer Peter Tritton, that fairly competent Down Under imported trainer, was asked about Bit of a Legend N, that fairly competent Down Under imported pacer. “We were coming off after a race one night and Jordan (Stratton) said to me, ‘Every driver should have a chance to sit behind a horse like this.’ ” Bit of a Legend N, who rarely ran out of real estate on the racetrack, has nonetheless run out of daylight as a racehorse. The 10-year-old double-millionaire is set to retire after a Yonkers Raceway winner’s circle send-off Saturday night (Dec. 14th). The son of Bettor’s Delight is off to Midland Acres in Bloomingburg, OH, to begin a stallion career. “I’m going to have to plan a road trip to go see him,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N and Stratton have gone down the road together, the number of memorable miles too numerous to mention. “He’s my favorite horse. No question,” Stratton said. Bit of a Legend N came over as advertised, having won Australian Breeders Crowns at ages 3 and 4. “Peter (Tritton) told me he was a getting a pretty nice horse,” Stratton said of the then 7-year-old who the late Harry Von Knoblauch purchased for $103,000. “I went to the farm to see him. He just looked good running in the paddock and in his first qualifier (Yonkers, January of 2016), I knew. “He didn’t go much (third, timed in 1:57.1), but the way he drove, the way he carried himself.” Rising through the overnight ranks with two wins and two seconds in four tries, it was time to wear the big-boy pants and the ’16 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Sweep. Bit of a Legend N won all five of his preliminary legs starts, including a stirring, track-record 1:51.2 dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit. In the $609,000 final a week later, he drew well, took control early and won in a facile 1:51 (see accompanying photo). He was (and remains) the only Free-For-Aller to run the Levy table. The 2016 season saw Bit of a Legend N win 13-of-28 starts (with six seconds and one third), socking away $723,850. Proving he was no one-hit wonder, Bit of a Legend N threw down consecutive half-million-dollar seasons in 2017 and ’18. The 2017 Levy saw Bit of a Legend N win twice (with two seconds) during preliminary-round competition before a no-chance-trip fourth (to Keystone Velocity) in the final. He then hit the road, winning the $109,600 Molson (Western Fair, 1:51.3), $260,000 Gerrity Memorial (Saratoga, 1:50.3…at 15-1) and Quillen Memorial (Harrington, 1:52.1).  The next season saw another standout Levy-leg log (two wins, two seconds, one third) and yet another less-than-no-shot trip in the final. From post position No. 7, Bit of a Legend N charged home for second, again to Keystone Velocity. Bit of a Legend N eventually returned to Londontown, looking to defend his Molson (renamed to Camluck Classic) title. He wound up a flat, never-in-it fifth and “the only time he ever disappointed me,” Stratton said. “He’s had some EPM (parasite) issues throughout his career,” Tritton said. “We’ve been able to stay on top of it, usually, but I think that, and the ship up to Canada, was too much for him. His blood was no good, but he bounced back.” Indeed. A week later at Northfield, it was a first-up, life-best 1:49.4 effort in the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie, putting away the same horse—Rockin’ Ron—who had dusted his rivals in the Camluck. “Everyone was excited for him,” Stratton said. “There were people, wherever we went, who said he was their favorite horse.” Bit of a Legend N’s 2019 season was hampered by some poorly-timed quarter cracks, essentially costing him any shot of doing damage in the Levy. “It’s never a good time to get them, but this was a bad time for him, and us,” Tritton said. “It took about six or seven weeks to completely heal and the series doesn’t allow for any time off.”  “It not that he’s even slowed down that much, but the competition is just better,” Stratton said. “Before, you could win a race in 1:52. Now, it’s no better than third.” Stratton offered some of the same platitudes about Bit of a Legend N that were bestowed upon Foiled Again by his primary driver, Yannick Gingras. “He can relax and go a quarter in 30 (seconds), then sprint in :27. He won’t do more than what’s necessary. It’s just his way of taking care of himself. Look at his races. The margins are never that much. He knows what he has to do. That’s why he’s lasted so long.” The plan was for Bit of a Legend N to be racing Saturday nights through the end of the season, but after a second-place finish in late November, Tritton detected a bit of a problem with an ankle (“There was nothing to gain by having him go a couple of more weeks”), so the North American racing career ended with 33 wins in 99 starts and earnings of $1,909,935 (more than $2.5 million including foreign take-home). “I’ve had good horses before,” Tritton said, “but he’s different. To have the longevity he’s had and to produce in the big races the way he did, that’s what stands out.” …and they named him right, too. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
CHESTER, PA - The Yankee Glide gelding Max was very strong on the front end in winning the $18,000 featured harness racing trot at Harrah's Philadelphia Thursday, completing a 1:54 victory by coming home in :27.4 in 38-degree temperatures. Max headed right to the lead in front of Infiniti As under the command of Yannick Gingras, but it looked as if he might have to surrender the lead after the :27.4 quarter to the brushing Rubber Duck, the classy veteran who was seeking his fourth straight triumph. However, Infiniti As made a break before the finish line the first time, allowing Rubber Duck to take the pocket behind Max as he went on to splits of :57.1 and 1:26.1, towards the latter call coming under pressure from the mare Kenziesky Hanover. Kenziesky Hanover and Max went at it head-to-head through the stretch, with Rubber Duck making it a competing threesome up the inside, but Max proved the best over Kenziesky Hanover by ¾ of a length in the brisk finisher, with Rubber Duck another neck back in third. Ron Burke trains the winner, who went over six figures in 2019 earnings with the victory, for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino. P L Ketchup posted hot fractions in the $17,000 co-featured trot, but he could not hold off the late kick of the Yankee Glide sophomore gelding Yankee Beast, who won his second straight by ¼ lengths while posting a new lifetime best of 1:55.4. Marcus Miller drove the fast-closing three-year-old for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owner Anna Kristina Lorentzon. Driver George Napolitano Jr. had three winners on the afternoon, as did trainer Christie Collins. Also, driver Pat Berry scored career victory #3999 when he won with Sortie Hanover; he's listed on seven horses tonight at The Meadowlands in pursuit of the milestone 4000th win, and if it eludes him there, Berry listed on nine horses here Friday afternoon. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia  
Invader Robyn Camden (Art Professor) added one to her already bulky win total for the 2019 harness racing season as she prevailed in the Thursday feature for fillies and mares at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Rene Allard trainee was assigned post position five in the five-horse Open which went for a purse of $18,000. Robyn Camden got away last in the feature but with the grueling pace being set wound up getting a nice trip to come from off-the-pace. Billy Dobson piloted the four year old mare who was the 6-5 second choice in the wagering as she circled the compact field before drawing away in 1:54.1 to record her fourteenth victory of the season. The race's favorite The Charging Moa N (Jay Randall) wound up first-over in a 27.4 third quarter and that trip took its toll on the talented New Zealand invader who wound up finishing third after being passed in the stretch by Bye Bye Felicia (Mark Beckwith). Robyn Camden became the third Allard-trained distaffer to win the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga in 2019 as she won the season's final ladies' feature on Thursday. She paid $4.60 to win and led an exacta with Bye Bye Felicia second that returned $36.80. The win in the feature was one of three on the afternoon for Dobson who will own seven driving titles at the Spa at the conclusion of the meet this weekend. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  
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