Day At The Track
Michael Bellman kicks back with a well-deserved celebratory drink after his treble at Birchip, Harness racing

Bellman the "wrecking bull" at Birchip

It was part-celebration, part spectacle, but more than anything else, the "race that stops the Mallee" - the Birchip Mallee Bull Cup - showcased the strength of harness racing's grass roots in Victoria. A boisterous crowd exceeded all expectations, the racing was competitive and track records were broken - and one of the club's most loyal supporters, trainer-driver Michael Bellman made the day his own. Bellman has not missed a Mallee Bull Cup meeting in the remote north west Victorian town (population 600 and home to the legendary "Mallee Bull" since the community won its battle for racing to return in 2016. The popular Ararat horseman collected a treble, including both the feature events, the Mallee Bull Cup, and the inaugural Mallee Bull Trotters Cup - and fittingly he won a bonus for a track record and the $1000 drivers' challenge. Birchip Harness Racing Club Secretary Brad Sharp was ecstatic because two weeks ago the club was facing the prospect of holding the cup without a crowd at all, due to COVID-19. "Then we were given the okay to have 500 people, so we did all our COVID planning for that...then last week we found out we could have a thousand people here, and we went pretty close to that," Sharp said. The big crowd was treated to some great racing around the tight Birchip circuit, but Bellman clearly claimed the driving honors. He won the first race, a heat of the Mallee Landscapes Pace with a horse he trains himself Gracie Cullen (Alta Christiano - Grace Anatomy (Island Fantasy), then followed up with a front-running win in the TMC Environ Mallee Bull Trotters Cup with the Brent Lilley trained Mass Destruction (Muscle Mass - Tijuana Glass (Chiola Hanover). "The way he trotted at Melton last night (when he broke in the score up) he wasn't great, and you had to wonder how he might go on this track from the standing start," Bellman said. "But he pinged away and didn't put a foot wrong - I have found over the years that often they can go a bit better the next day," he said. Harness racing is alive and well in north west Victoria– the square gaiters lining up in front of Mallee trees for the Birchip Trotters Cup standing start The third leg of Bellman's treble came in the Sharp's Bakery Mallee Bull Cup for St Arnaud trainer Denis McIntyre. Honest seven-year-old Dot The Eye (Shadow Play - Jatiki Miss (DM Dilinger) has been ultra-consistent, but broke through for his first win in seven months and his seventh career victory courtesy of a textbook drive by Bellman. Crowds are back at the races: Dot The Eye and Michael Bellman (down the outside in green colors) finished too strongly in the Mallee Bull Cup "It was fantastic just to have people hanging over the fence and loving the atmosphere - it's just great to have crowds back at the races," Bellman said. "I come to this meeting every year because there are always heats into finals at the Charlton Cup, and that suits some of our horses. But it's what grass roots racing is all about. "There was a cricket club reunion on here as well, and there'd still be (three hours after the last race) probably nearly a thousand people here dancing to the band and having a great time." Adding to the vibe was the Irish-Australian folk band Old Melbourne Road the band of Dunnstown trainer-driver brothers John and David Murphy. Secretary Brad Sharp said the festive atmosphere at Birchip was becoming well-known in harness racing circles across Victoria. "Yes, the weather certainly fell our way today, but we are building our cup into an event that people want to come and experience, and I think that showed today," Sharp said. "People really enjoyed the fact that there was an opportunity to be out and about at an event. It's a credit to all the people who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen, especially when there was so much uncertainty," he said. "A lot of clubs struggle to get people involved, particularly younger people - but we have a committee of 28, and all but eight are under 45 years of age and they're fantastic. "We were lucky too to have Trots Club Victoria CEO Carl Coady and Ballarat CEO Paul Rowse here, as well as our Federal Member Anne Webster and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who presented the Cup. "It's great for all those people to see how good these events are, how important they are to our communities and how much people enjoy them." View the Birchip results click here!   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Ana Afreet N, harness racing

Impressive miles in Big M co-features

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Ana Afreet N and JL Cruze made quick work of their foes Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as each won their respective harness racing co-featured $25,000 Winners Over/Junior Opens with ease on a chilly night at the mile oval. Ana Afreet N, making just his second start back after a two-month layoff, showed that he is all the way back in the groove, as the Jeff Cullipher trainee crushed nine overmatched foes in the marquee event for pacers. Departing from post nine provided little in the way of trouble for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Anna Livia, as driver Andy McCarthy left the gate sharply, moving swiftly around the first turn while four-wide before clearing to the top at the quarter in :27.1. It was over right then and there. After being permitted to rate a second fraction in :28.2 with nobody close on the rim, Ana Afreet N then shrugged off token first-over pressure around the far turn from the horse who won this race last week, Shnitzledosomethin, before sprinting home in :26.4 to win by 1¾ lengths over a rail-sitting Gods Spirit N in 1:50.2. Shnitzledosomethin held third.   "He was terrific tonight," said McCarthy. "He really doesn't love the front end but he's going to have to get used to it racing over a half-mile track [in the March 15 Borgata Series] at Yonkers. He's probably better with a target, but he paced home strong. I think if a horse had been nearby, he would have shown even more." Ana Afreet N paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 favorite and upped his lifetime numbers to 23 victories from just 46 starts. Owned by Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher, his lifetime earnings now stand at $180,072. JL Cruze showed no rust after a two-week break, blasting down the pike in the featured trot in 1:53.2 as the 1-2 public choice. "He takes me around the track," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "He makes my job easy." The 10-year-old son of Crazed-Topcat Hall backed up his pilot's words by having an easy time of it on the front end. "That's what makes him so good," said Dunn, referring to his horse's last start, which he won from off the pace. "He's so versatile, so good out of the gate." JL Cruze, who was assigned post seven in the seven-horse field, exploded away from the gate, made the top out of the first turn, and cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.3, before sprinting home in :27.4 to win by 1½ lengths over a fast-closing Pikachu Hanover. Winnerup was third.   Trained by Eric Ell and owned by W. Kenneth Wood, W.J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze lifted his lifetime statistics to 44 wins from 128 starts, good for an overflowing bank account of $1,584,892. He returned $3.00 to win and has now won four of his last five Big M starts. A LITTLE MORE: McCarthy won three races on the card to finish with five victories over the weekend. ... The 20-cent Pick-6 carryover of $6,225 blossomed into a total pool of $35,136, and those who had winning tickets cashed in for $3,422. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,114,494. There have been 10 Saturday programs conducted at The Big M thus far in 2021, and each has seen the $3-million-handle barrier busted. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

Rockme Rollme, harness racing

Rockme Rollme stays perfect in 2021

Rockme Rollme handled a step up in class with distinction in Woodbine Mohawk Park's feature harness racing condition pace on Saturday, Mar. 6. He is now undefeated after two starts this season.   The five-year-old gelding tucked into third from post four going into the turn, but driver Jody Jamieson reactivated him immediately. The pair went back to the outside and assumed command past the quarter in 27.1. Jamieson gave her a breather going to the half in 56.2 and accelerated mildly to the three-quarters in 1:24.3. East End (James Macdonald) was the first to hurry Rockme Rollme, but that one came up flat-footed in the lane.   Rockme Rollme carved out a length-and-a-half advantage going into the stretch. Legion Seelster (Sylvain Fillion) found room on the inside and attacked in deep-stretch, and Nocturnal Blue Chip (Bob McClure) charged from third over, but Rockme Rollme was too good and refused to be defeated. Nocturnal Blue Chip was a head short in second, and Legion Seelster finished neck behind in third.       That was Rockme Rollme's 14th win from 51 starts lifetime. He nears $300,000 in earnings with the Mar. 6 1:52 win. Tony Montini trains the five-year-old son of A Rocknroll Dance for Albina Montini of Acton, Kwong Sum Low of Etobicoke, Vincent Albanese of Maple, and Joseph Rogers of Aurora.   Trainer Carmen Auciello had four winners on the night: Lady Rocknrolla A in the opener, Ivana Flybye N in the sixth, Military Secret in the 7th, and Points North in the 10th.   Woodbine Mohawk Park will return on Monday, Mar. 8 with 10 races starting at 7 p.m. EST.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Jean Rene Plante, harness racing

Grand slam for Plante

Harness racing driver Jean Rene Plante had a huge night at Flamboro Downs on Saturday, Mar. 6, winning four of the card's 10 races, including the feature.   Plante made it as easy as possible for Katch Kanna in the Preferred 3 trot, and the gelding converted.   He positioned the five-year-old in the pocket through the first turn, following leader Sicario (Brett Macdonald) to the quarter in 28. Ole Jack Magic (Colin Kelly) made a move going past the half in 58.4, but his first-over bid quickly stalled. Sicario continued leading to three-quarters in 1:27.3 with Katch Kanna still in the pocket.   Plante waited patiently for the passing lane and Katch Kanna exploded up the rail in the stretch to win by a length in 1:58.2. Ole Jack Magic sustained his outside move and was rewarded with the place spot. Sicario dropped to third.       That was Katch Kanna's first win of the season and 26th from 138 starts lifetime. The eight-year-old journeyman by Lucky Chucky has now earned more than $205,000 lifetime. He's owned by Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc and Sylvain Descheneaux of Sorel. The horse paid $9.70 to win.   Also on the card, Kiwi Focus N raced for the second time in less than 24 hours. Even more remarkably, Plante drove the 11-year-old mare by Jeremes Jet to a convincing victory. Owner and trainer Mark Goddard sent the mare out again after a lackluster showing in The Raceway at Western Fair's $7,000 claiming class on Mar. 5. Kiwi Focus won by a length and three quarters in 1:59.3. Bettors were undeterred by the short rest, as the horse went off at 1/5, paying $2.60 to win.       In the News in the first and Her Own Land in the seventh were Plante's other two winners.   Flamboro Downs will return on Sunday, Mar. 7 with an 11-race card.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Harness racing fans, harnesslink community, we have some important and exciting news to share with you. The current iteration of our website is now over ten years old and while it has done it's job incredibly well, the time has come for an upgrade.  Due to a number of technological changes, our current website has started to experience several problems behind the scenes which need to be solved. This has also fortunately given us the chance to review our current design as website design has changed a lot over the last ten years.  Our new website will be coming sometime in the next few weeks and should bring with it a faster, cleaner, more modern design. We know that change is hard but we also hope that you will keep an open mind and enjoy our new look when it is launched. Here's to the next chapter! John and the Harnesslink team Here is a picture of our original Website dated 2002

East Rutherford, NJ - Meadowlands management has become aware that Rene Allard is training a stable of horses in South Florida. As a result, The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs will exclude any horse being trained or that has been trained in that stable in any stake and is actively investigating who owns the horses that are or have been in his stable this winter.   Those owners who currently have or have had horses in Allard's stable this winter are advised that all horses owned wholly or in part by them will be excluded from participation in all Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs races and that all of horses owned wholly or in part by them will be deemed ineligible to for any/all Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs administered stakes races for a minimum of three years. If owners affected by the above are a minority partner on horses with owners that are not affected by the above and are being trained by accepted trainers, they must legitimately divest their interest in those horses, which will be required to be done and demonstrated to the satisfaction of The Meadowlands before the March 15 stakes payments will be accepted on those horses. The affected owners should notify their partners on the horses that fall into the above category immediately. "This news is particularly disturbing after the indictments of March and a later superseding charge in December of last year," said Meadowlands President Jeff Gural. "We, along with the Thoroughbred Jockey Club, spent much time and money employing the Five Stones investigators to prepare a case to get the Feds interested which led to all of those indictments. We will continue to partner with the Jockey Club to fund the continuing investigation by Five Stones. We could use support in this initiative and welcome anyone who would like to aid in the funding of this necessary and important endeavor. "To learn that people actually give this guy horses to train after what was discovered by the Federal investigation boggles the mind. The only reason to do this, that I do this, is to clean up racing so we might have a future and to protect the guys that do try to follow the rules. "Horsemen seem to have this absurd unspoken bond that they protect each other. Well let me be perfectly clear, trainers that break the rules and use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) are stealing from you, not me. They are beating your horse with a PED enhanced horse then, they are buying or claiming your horse and them beating you with your own horse. I just don't get it." Meadowlands investigator Brice Cote will respond to questions at Bcote@playmeadowlands.com From the Meadowlands Racetrack          

On this closing day of the Paris-Vincennes Winter Meet, the Gr. I Prix de Selection (purse 200,000€, 2200 meters, four-six year-olds) was the featured event. The 1/10 favorite Face Time Bourbon (6m Ready Cash-Vita Bourbon) prevailed easily timed in 1.10.3kr for Eric Raffin. Raffin last drove FTB on November 8, 2018 in that victorious effort. Sebastien Guarato is the winning trainer for Scuderia Bivans Srl as FTB won for the 29th time in 35 career starts, now for 2,747,440€ earned. He was a well-rated winner today (1.10.7kr at the 1500 meters to go mark; 1.11.1kr at the 1000; 1.10.8kr with 500 to go) as he drew off in the final 500 meters. The 59/1 outsider For You Madrik (6m Up And Quick-Quelea Madrik) was second for pilot Benoit Robin, trainer J.L. Bigeon and owner Joel Seche. Third was 41/1 Fric du Chene (6m Nobody du Chene-Oseille du Chene) with Franck Nivard up for trainer Julien LeMer and breeder/owner Claude Guedj.   To watch the race replay, click here.     Face Time Bourbon Face Time Bourbon is expected to remain in France and race lightly to prepare for the 2022 Prix d’Amerique. LeTrot files/photos by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

It is harness racing driver Louis-Philippe Roy who expresses himself in near disbelief after it has been pointed out in recent days, the fact that his mounts have earned him to date the sum of $25 million. "I had absolutely no idea of this statistic," Roy explained. "It was the leaders of Woodbine (Mohawk) who discovered and pointed it out. It's nice, but it's a step and I hope there will be more! " Long road ahead Considering that LPR's career began very modestly on the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit in 2008, it is a long road, literally and figuratively, that the native of Mont-Joli has travelled. And of the $25M earned, the six years of driving exclusively on the Regional Circuit counted for $44,000 of the $25M! But as he himself says with his usual humility, you have to walk well before you run! "Today, at the age of 31, I aspire above all to a more stable life," Roy recently said. "When I go back in my head all these years of moving, first to Gaspesie, then from Gaspesie to Trois-Rivieres, then to Rideau, then finally to the Toronto area, it's a lot of hours on the road, by car, in all weathers. I'm not saying no to moving at some point with a horse from the Grand Circuit, but that's not my current stage. I aspire to a quieter life, to come home (Guelph) with the person who shares my life." "I am very attracted to young horses, foals and 2- and 3-year-old fillies," Roy said. "I love working with these kind of couriers. That's kind of what pushed me to quietly detach myself from Richard (Moreau), who owns a stable more focused on condition horses and claimers. Of course, by making this choice I win fewer races, I make less money, but my current priority is elsewhere. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with and for Richard. What an accomplished horseman! But it was a conscious choice and I live well with my decisions." The Roy Stable Many racing fans may not know it, but our man has also become a man of horses in recent years. Or could we say, once again a complete horseman who spends his time with young horses. "Some time ago," Roy explained. "I sent the foals and fillies that I bought to my good friend Chantal Mitchell. They were there and I was completely deferring to her and her team. Things have changed. Currently, I train eight horses: six 2 year-olds and two 3 year-olds that I bring back this year. I obviously can't do all this work on my own, so I hired Eric Nadeau. We are both there in the morning at the stable and I can count on him and his background of experiences gleaned here and there." "I love this life," Roy said. "It's closer to what I wanted to do. And that doesn't stop me from driving at night and with Eric, I can rely on someone who is serious and hard-working. It's very stimulating with young horses: we try, we make mistakes, we learn, we rejoice in success. It is also one of the attractions of driving for other trainers, young horses. When you disembark the sulky after a race, you don't just hand over the lines. We discuss and I give my point of view to the trainer for the development of his protege." On the way to other heights No doubt in the minds of the people who have followed Louis-Philippe's career since his beginnings. This stage, carried out last week to the guides of a protégé of Jean Tourigny, is just one more step towards other summits. With the talent he possesses, and seriousness, he will continue to shine on Canada's largest racing circuit, and will stand out. That is what we wish him for 2021. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Going back-to-back in Australasia's greatest harness racing sprint race was never going to be easy. Yet King Of Swing made it look that way with another remarkable Group 1 success in tonight's $1m Garrards Miracle Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Belinda McCarthy-trained and Luke McCarthy-driven superstar did everything he had to in surging to a two-and-a-half metre win over stablemate Expensive Ego (David Moran) and Wolf Stride (Anthony Butt). The predicted early fireworks never really eventuated as The Black Prince held the front from gate one before King Of Swing moved up to his outside and quickly worked past him to take the lead. Watch the race replay click here! To be honest the rest of them were never a chance to run down the superstar son of Rocknroll Hanover as he rated 1:49.1 to win virtually as he pleased. "He's such a smart horse . . . and he's a pleasure to drive," said Luke. "He's had a fairly easy week with plenty of swimming and a few canters and he was right on his game tonight." McCarthy explained that as a professional driver he had a job to do and like the other drivers had to keep his mind on the job and not let the pressure be a factor. "I have so much confidence in this horse . . . he's just a superstar," he said. "He has stamina, he has speed and is just so strong and we really haven't found the bottom of him yet. "Winning a race like this is just such a thrill. "I know it's hard to compare horses from different eras and I've driven some good ones. "But King Of Swing is close to being the best horse I have driven. "And he just keeps getting better; he's unreal." While the race is renowned for the speed it brings, King Of Swing didn't let the others into the race. After a 26.6s first split of the mile he was actually able to 'walk', by his standards in the second split, which was a leisurely 28.6s. That left plenty of fuel in the tank as McCarthy upped the ante with a 28.1 third split before zooming home in 25.9 to give nothing else a chance. Expensive Ego tried hard and lost no admirers with his plucky second while Wolf Stride was one of the few to make ground late for third, albeit four and a half metres behind the second horse. For Menangle racing results click here!   Mandy Madern Club Menangle

IF ever there was a consolation win more deserved at the business end of the Carnival of Miracles, it occurred tonight in the $200,000 APG NSW Derby. No-one has handled the disappointment of losing his stable star Lochinvar Art to injury better than Victorian harness racing trainer-driver David Moran. And the popular horseman, who came here hoping to win a Miracle Mile with 'Locky' will instead go home with another Group One in his baggage after his up-and-coming youngster Patsbeachstorm scored a runaway four-metre win in tonight's 'second' major feature. Most would agree that the Derby had several top chances, but Moran left them all lamenting as the son of Somebeachsomewhere sprinted quickly in the straight to beat Jacks Hawk (Greg Sugars) and local hope Watts Up Sunshine (Cameron Hart), rating 1:55.9 for his final mile. Watch the race replay click here! While Moran would never have the temerity to suggest Patsbeachstorm could ever take the place of Lochinvar Art, he is sure proving a terrific fill-in. "At least that will give us a good reason to have a celebratory drink later tonight," grinned Moran, who gave a relieved salute as he crossed the line. "It's been a tough 12 months, but this fellow is just a beautiful horse . . . he's the type of mate that no-one dislikes. "Seriously, he's just the perfect animal. "These owners have raced a lot of terrific horses and have had a lot of fun doing it. "We had such big plans for this bloke as an early two-year-old but then we nearly lost him. "He was so sick it really was 50-50 there at one stage whether or not he would make it through the night. "So, we had to forget all about the big races there for a while and just work on getting him right." Moran drove the perfect race on Patsbeachstorm and managed to land a one-one trail with fellow Victorian Act Now settling in front and Idyllic enduring a hard run outside the leader with Captain Crusader sitting right behind them. Turning for home Patsbeachstorm stormed to the front and won going away in just the sort of style that Moran would have been hoping his injured superstar Lochinvar Art was tipped by many to do in the $1m Garrards Miracle Mile later in the night. For Menangle racing results click here!   Mandy Madern Club Menangle

ALL week the harness racing experts have been lamenting his absence from the $1m Miracle Mile. And Mach Shard certainly added to that argument with a scintillating win in tonight's $100,000 Ainsworth Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The Belinda McCarthy-trained and Luke McCarthy-driven former Kiwi raced right up to expectations when he romped away from stablemate Star Galleria (Jack Callaghan) and Burnham Boy (Blake Fitzpatrick), rating 1:53.2 in a four-metre win which had class written all over it. Watch the race replay click here! It was a nice consolation success for the six-year-old and Luke later paid tribute to champion New Zealand trainer Barry Purdon for sending the horse across to their stable to chase some of the rich plums on offer here. "With a little bit of luck, he'd have been in the Miracle Mile but he didn't get a clear shot at them until too late last week," he said. "The way he was travelling I knew he would be in the finish and just needed a clear shot at them; he followed Bright Energy and had a lovely run into the race. "I knew he'd finish really well. "He's here to stay and hopefully he'll continue to improve, and we can chase some of the big races along the way. "He's just a lovely horse." McCarthy would agree he might be the perfect horse for next year's Miracle Mile. And the way he put this field of stars, with the race normally regarded as a Miracle Mile consolation race, no-one would argue his credentials. The speed went on early over the mile with One Change, Kowalski Analysis and Balraj jostling for the front and the early honours. While One Change (Shane Graham) held firm, Balraj settled third before coming one off and racing without cover for the rest of the journey. Stablemate Bright Energy landed a one-one trail and Mach Shard finished up with a charmed run in the box seat. From there he looked the winner a long way from home and had little problem rounding them up in the straight. Star Galleria ran home well for second spot with Burnham Boy coming from three back on the pegs t o grab third, just ahead of the fast-finishing Western Sonador. For Menangle racing results click here!   Mandy Madern Club Menangle

HE came, he saw and he conquered. That was the simple equation when superstar New Zealand trotter Majestic Man put paid to Australia's harness racing best trotters with a stunning win in tonight's $50,000 Aquagait Equine Centre Trotters Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle. And he did it easily. Majestic Man made it three Group 1 successes on this trip to Australia and even facing two weeks in quarantine when he heads home won't dent the joy of showing Australia what they are up against if they have any hope of heading over there later in the year to take on Majestic Man on his home turf. It was a race of changes and as usual it never went the way many expected when Arnold (Luke McCarthy) and Red Hot Tooth (Chris Alford) both missed away at the start while Majestic Man and Victorian visitor Pink Galahs did just the opposite. Pink Galahs forced Brad Williamson and Majestic Man to lower the handlebars probably earlier than they had expected - or wanted to - as the pair went straight into battle when the starter said go. Yet Majestic Man was on his best behavior and was able to hold the lead from barrier three and turned the race into a procession when he won with ridiculous ease, beating another Victorian Always Ready (Blake Fitzpatrick) by six metres, with Pink Galahs (Matthew Craven) a nose away in third place, in a 1:53.5 mile rate. Watch the race replay click here! Earlier Pink Galahs became unsettled in the parade ring and almost landed on her backside when she reared up before going on to the track. That resulted in a vet check with meant the race went a little later than expected. But really there were no excuses for the beaten brigade . . . Majestic Man was just too strong. "That was great and just the icing on the cake for our trip to Australia," said Williamson. "It's been a really nice trip for both of us. "It's never easy winning Group 1s and I must admit Mark Purdon has relegated me to second place in a few of the big ones back at home in New Zealand. "To come here and win a few is just so good and we're over the moon with the way the horse has gone since we've been here in Victoria and now in New South Wales." For Menangle racing results click here!   Mandy Madern Club Menangle

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Machnhope had not been seen at The Meadowlands for almost four months heading into Friday night's harness racing featured high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares, but she displayed no ill effects of having not raced at the mile oval since Nov. 13 when she was second to Caviart Ally, dominating her foes on a clear but chilly evening in 1:52. Sent to the gate as the 3-5 public choice, driver Andy McCarthy had Machnhope on the go early from post three in the seven-horse field. She followed 5-2 second choice Wingding Hanover around the first turn and finally cleared to the lead just before the three-eighths and clicked off a soft :57 half, leaving plenty of gas in the tank. Twenty-two to one long shot Sheikh Yabooty N rushed up to go after the leader at three-quarters as the cadence quickened during a third fraction that was timed in :27.3 as Wingding Hanover stayed patient in the pocket. Then, Machnhope turned it on. After opening a 2-length edge at the head of the stretch, Machnhope sprinted the final quarter in :27.2, and despite the late rally of second-place finisher Golden Quest N, she hit the wire a never-in-doubt three-quarter-length winner. Stellenbosch was third as Wingding Hanover weakened to fourth. "She got around the mile track good," said McCarthy of his horse, who had been racing steadily of late in the open ranks at Dover Downs. "I was actually thinking I'd like to trip her out. She finished the mile up strong. She's a little bit of a funny mare. Some nights she's better gaited than others. She was giving me a little bit of a hard time tonight. She's tricky but she definitely has plenty of go." Machnhope, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Hope For Life who is trained by Noel Daley, returned $3.40 to her backers. After winning for the first time in six tries this year, she now has 27 victories from 99 lifetime starts and earnings of $357,044 for owners Deo Volente Farms, Thomas Pontone, L.A. Express Stable and Noel Daley. A LITTLE MORE: Scott Zeron led the driver colony with three winners on the card. Mark MacDonald, Dexter Dunn and McCarthy all had two wins apiece. ... All-source wagering totaled $2,765,650. ... No one had a winning ticket in the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $6,225. Those with five correct collected $296.48. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

Great Britain import Teatimepreacher Gb scored her first harness racing win in Canada in Woodbine Mohawk Park's co-featured condition pace event on Friday, Mar. 5.   The seven-year-old went right to the motor for driver Bob McClure, setting a 27.2 first quarter. Team Kiwi N (Doug McNair) drove on and took the lead briefly going by three-eighths, but Teatimepreacher went right back around and cleared going to the half in 56. Kounnis (Sylvain Fillion) moved out of the three-hole and applied pressure going past the three-quarters in 1:25.1, but Teatimepreacher turned her away as they entered the stretch.   McClure needed only mild urging to get the daughter of The Preacher Man home as she cruised to a one-length win. Team Kiwi N consolidated second, and Nectar (Robert Shepherd) closed late for third.       Teatimepreacher took her 13th victory from 29 starts and surpassed $30,000 in earnings lifetime with the win. Colin Johnson has taken over training duties during the mare's Canadian campaign for owner Raymond Huschka of Penrith Cumbria, Great Britain. She went off as the heavy favourite and paid $3.20 to win.   Earlier in the card, Born A Dragon gained four positions in the last eighth of a mile to win the other co-feature pace.   Driver Travis Cullen dropped her into fourth from post five through the first turn as Major League N (Ed Hensley) controlled the pace early. Major League hit the quarter in 26.4 and half in 55.3. Meanwhile, Born A Dragon stepped around a gapping Majestic Virgin to move up to third. Major League led past three-quarters in a speedy 1:23.2 as the top five contenders separated themselves from the bottom three.   Born A Dragon, who was shuffled back to fifth in the third quarter, stalled upon first asking from Cullen. However, she exploded in the last 1/16th of a mile and got up with half a length to spare to win in 1:52.2. She broke the heart of place finisher Sly Elanor N (Chris Christoforou), who took over the lead just past the eighth pole but couldn't hold onto it. Bestseller Hanover (Louis-Philippe Roy) converted a pocket trip into show money.       Born A Dragon, a six-year-old mare by Custard The Dragon, took her first win of 2021 and her 17th lifetime from 74 starts. Cullen and Paul Sanders of Surrey own the Jodie Cullen-trained mare that has now earned more than $165,000.   Woodbine Mohawk Park will resume racing on Saturday, Mar. 6 with a 10-race card that kicks off at 7 p.m. EST.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Milton, ON — Woodbine Entertainment today released the list of eligible horses for its 2021 major stakes, including the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup. Harness racing’s richest race for 3-year-old pacers received 72 nominations, holding steady to last year’s number of 77. Dan Patch Award winner Perfect Sting leads the group of eligible horses for the 38th Pepsi North America Cup. The undefeated son of Always B Miki won last year’s Breeders Crown (in a dead-heat) and Kentucky Sires Stakes final for trainer Joe Holloway and owners Brittany Farms and Val D’or Farms. O’Brien Award winner Lawless Shadow for trainer Dr. Ian Moore and Ontario Sires Stakes champion Bulldog Hanover for trainer Jack Darling headline the local contingent. Other notables to be nominated include Breeders Crown co-champion Summa Cum Laude, Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion Southwind Gendry, Governor’s Cup winner Always A Miki, Metro Pace winner Exploit and New York Sires Stakes standout American Courage. The 38th Pepsi North America Cup is scheduled for Saturday (June 19) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Woodbine Entertainment’s lucrative stakes program is highlighted by a star-studded month of September, featuring the Maple Leaf Trot, Canadian Pacing Derby, Canadian Trotting Classic, Metro Pace and Mohawk Million. Superstar trotting mare Atlanta captured last year’s Maple Leaf Trot and is again nominated to this year’s event. Her rival Manchego is also nominated as part of 38 eligible trotters. Hambletonian champion Ramona Hill, Breeders Crown champion Amigo Volo and Ontario Sires Stakes champion Pemberton join the older ranks in 2021 and are all eligible to the Maple Leaf Trot. Canadian Horse of the Year Century Farroh headlines the group of 46 older pacers nominated to the Canadian Pacing Derby. Last year’s upset winner Dorsoduro Hanover is again nominated along with 4-year-old standouts Tattoo Artist, Warrawee Vital and Cattlewash. The Canadian Trotting Classic will be the next chapter in a story started during last September’s William Wellwood Memorial and Mohawk Million, as Wellwood winner On A Streak and Million champion Venerate lead the group of 63 nominated sophomore trotters. Woodbine’s signature 2-year-old events attracted 172 nominees for the Metro Pace, 142 for the She’s A Great Lady, 160 for the Peaceful Way and 199 for the Wellwood Memorial. The winner of the Wellwood Memorial will receive a slot in the Mohawk Million on Saturday (Sept. 25). To view the full list of eligible horses for all 2021 major stakes, click here. A sustaining payment for all 2021 major stakes is due March 15. Full information regarding stakes payments and eligible horses can be found here. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

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WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Bettor's Delight gelding Love The Action, who sat out last week's Game Of Claims Pacing Series final preliminary for $10,000-based harness racing pacers after posting a second and a first, got into the final as the last of nine qualifying horses, one point ahead of the AE1, and then he made the wait worthwhile by winning the $20,000 Series Championship in 1:53.4 on Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Claimed by trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and owner Gilbert-Garcia Owen from his series triumph, Love The Action was sent off the 6-5 favorite, and driver George Napolitano Jr. was very aggressive with him, hanging Bamski to a :26.4 opening number, then reclaiming command by the :55.4 half. Second choice Sweet Talkin Satin, the only horse at any level of the series to win all three of his prelims, came the rough first-over trip to the 1:24.1 three-quarters and pressured the leader into the stretch. Love The Action, though, would find his biggest challenge in the lane to his inside in pocketsitter Bamski, driven by George's brother Anthony - indeed, it looked like Bamski had gotten the slightest of advantages past midstretch. But the gritty winner would not be denied, fighting back to beat his left-hand rival by a neck, with Sweet Talkin Satin hanging on admirably for third.   In the $15,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $7500-tagged horses, driver Marcus Miller "broke up the Napolitanos," who had won the initial three finals, sending the Art Major gelding Stick With Cramer up the Pocono Pike to get a 1:55 triumph. Claimed after the first leg by owner/trainer Shea Lare, the winner now has turned in two wins and a second for his conditioner - whose UTR lifetime is .852, as this is the first horse the 19-year-old has trained and owned! Miller put Stick With Cramer in perfect pocket position early, as Needless To Say shot to the top and forced foes to either tuck, as did top two choices R Gauwitz Hanover (George Napolitano Jr.) and Don'tcallmefrancis (Anthony Napolitano), or be hung out, as was Onlythetuffsurvive through early fractions of :27.2 and :57. The two favorites, both double prelim winners, swept around the tiring parked horse down the back, with "Francis" first-over at the 1:26 three-quarters and "R Gawuitz" right behind him. In the stretch, R Gauwitz Hanover tipped right for a path - and Stick With Cramer tipped left, with the latter outpacing the former by a nose, with Dontcallmefrancis very good to hold on for third.   This brought to an end the Game Of Claims events for pacers - but the claiming series action is right back in gear on Monday, with four $15,000 divisions of the first preliminary for $15,000 base-priced trotters. Post time for the Monday card is 12:30 p.m.; program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Ana Afreet N and JL Cruze made quick work of their foes Saturday night at The Meadowlands, as each won their respective harness racing co-featured $25,000 Winners Over/Junior Opens with ease on a chilly night at the mile oval. Ana Afreet N, making just his second start back after a two-month layoff, showed that he is all the way back in the groove, as the Jeff Cullipher trainee crushed nine overmatched foes in the marquee event for pacers. Departing from post nine provided little in the way of trouble for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Anna Livia, as driver Andy McCarthy left the gate sharply, moving swiftly around the first turn while four-wide before clearing to the top at the quarter in :27.1. It was over right then and there. After being permitted to rate a second fraction in :28.2 with nobody close on the rim, Ana Afreet N then shrugged off token first-over pressure around the far turn from the horse who won this race last week, Shnitzledosomethin, before sprinting home in :26.4 to win by 1¾ lengths over a rail-sitting Gods Spirit N in 1:50.2. Shnitzledosomethin held third.   "He was terrific tonight," said McCarthy. "He really doesn't love the front end but he's going to have to get used to it racing over a half-mile track [in the March 15 Borgata Series] at Yonkers. He's probably better with a target, but he paced home strong. I think if a horse had been nearby, he would have shown even more." Ana Afreet N paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 favorite and upped his lifetime numbers to 23 victories from just 46 starts. Owned by Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher, his lifetime earnings now stand at $180,072. JL Cruze showed no rust after a two-week break, blasting down the pike in the featured trot in 1:53.2 as the 1-2 public choice. "He takes me around the track," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "He makes my job easy." The 10-year-old son of Crazed-Topcat Hall backed up his pilot's words by having an easy time of it on the front end. "That's what makes him so good," said Dunn, referring to his horse's last start, which he won from off the pace. "He's so versatile, so good out of the gate." JL Cruze, who was assigned post seven in the seven-horse field, exploded away from the gate, made the top out of the first turn, and cut out fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.3, before sprinting home in :27.4 to win by 1½ lengths over a fast-closing Pikachu Hanover. Winnerup was third.   Trained by Eric Ell and owned by W. Kenneth Wood, W.J. Dittmar Jr. and S.J. Iaquinta, JL Cruze lifted his lifetime statistics to 44 wins from 128 starts, good for an overflowing bank account of $1,584,892. He returned $3.00 to win and has now won four of his last five Big M starts. A LITTLE MORE: McCarthy won three races on the card to finish with five victories over the weekend. ... The 20-cent Pick-6 carryover of $6,225 blossomed into a total pool of $35,136, and those who had winning tickets cashed in for $3,422. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,114,494. There have been 10 Saturday programs conducted at The Big M thus far in 2021, and each has seen the $3-million-handle barrier busted. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Weekend Atnannies made a step up in class at Buffalo Raceway but that didn't bother him one bit as he registered a solid 3/4 length win over Allstar Energy in the featured Class A-AA Handicapped Pace on Saturday night (March 6).   The move up the ladder was warranted as Weekend Atnannies won on February 13 by taking a Class B event by a neck in 1:56.3 in his last outing.   After relinquishing the lead for a brief moment early stage of the race to Allstar Energy, Weekend Atnannies (Kevin Cummings) retook the lead before the opening stanza and never looked back from there.   Setting splits of :28.2, :58.4 and 1:28.3 over the fast track, Weekend Atnannies didn't face any pressure down the stretch and easily strolled to the victory in 1:57. Allstar Energy (Ron Beback Jr.) settled for second while Falcon's Luke (Shawn McDonough) took the show position.   Owned by Rocco Stebbins and trained by Joe Skowyra, Weekend Atnannies (Western Paradise-Lacoste Gal) is a 6-year-old gelding that has now won two of three starts this season. The win upped his seasonal earnings to $8,572 and $113,611 lifetime.   Drew Monti finished the evening with three driving wins while Cummings and Shawn McDonough had two apiece. Gerry Sarama had a training double.   Racing will resume on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. with 11 races on tap. There will be a $4,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick 5 starting in the second race.   For full race results, click here.   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
WILKES-BARRE, PA - Glengarry Knight N, a double harness racing winner in the preliminaries of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $25,000 base-claiming-price level, came off of cover and just caught American Rebel to take the richest purse of the year to date at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, $50,000, in winning his series Championship in 1:52.3. A Real Miracle streaked to the early lead in the contest, rejecting the bid of favored Melanie's Tedy for the front spot and forcing that one to tuck in, then letting stablemate American Rebel go to the top past a :27.1 quarter. The last-named pacer hit the half in :56, with Melanie's Tedy forced to accept first-over duties and Glengarry Knight N following his cover under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano. Near the 1:23.4 three-quarters the chalk stopped gaining and A Real Miracle backed off, letting American Rebel get a clear lead, but Glengarry Night N swung off his dull cover and tried determinedly to the wire, just catching the game pacesetter in the final steps, with the official margin a head.   The victorious altered son of Changeover made quite a debut for trainer William Adamczyk and owner William Emmons, as they claimed Glengarry Knight N for $30,000 last week (progressive prices in series). They are now the braintrust behind the second-richest North American harness horse of 2021 at press time, as the winner pushed his seasonal bankroll to $53,760. "A Napolitano-driven winner coming off two preliminary wins and joining a new barn" also summarized the story in the $30,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $15,000 base-priced horses, as George Napolitano Jr. kept Sunset Braydon clear in the lane for trainer/owner Jordan Derue (who claimed him for $20,000 last week) in 1:52.4. Cash Is King emerged with the early lead with Shoreview on the outside, but a major wrinkle came at the quarter when Royal Heart, the winner of this level's Championship last year, made a break at the :26.3 quarter trying to keep the pocket closed. Shoreview thus got in the two-hole, and the coast was clear for George Nap to come brushing with the favored Sunset Braydon, that horse making the lead well before the :55 half. A long uncovered move by Fernado stalled at the 1:23.2 three-quarters, and that fact coincided with Cash Is King not keeping the pocket filled, allowing the winning Always A Virgin gelding to open a clear margin on the far turn. No one could get near him in the lane, with Just Plain Loco swinging wide to get second behind the winner of half his eight seasonal starts.   The Sunday 5 p.m. card at The Downs will feature the $20,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $10,000-tagged horses and the $15,000 finale for $7500 claiming stock. On Monday, trotters will take up the Game Of Claims mantle, as $15,000-priced horses will go in four $15,000 divisions of their first preliminary. Program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. Though there was no claiming from the series Championships; nonetheless eight horses did change hands during the card for $165,000. And the Napolitano brothers dominated the driving ranks for the card as they did in the series Championships, with Anthony winning five races and George four. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs
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