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Columbus, OH --- Although she certainly enjoyed her recent vacation, harness racing's  Donna Lee was also anxious to return home, for a young lady she dotes on was sure to be exhibiting signs of separation anxiety. “I’ve never been away from Caprice this long,” she said in reference to two-time O'Brien Award winner Caprice Hill. “The only time we have been apart is when she went to Tony (Alagna) after she was broken as a yearling for a couple months, but I got her right back.” Purchased by Tom Hill for $55,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale, Caprice Hill is a daughter of Kadabra and stakes winner Bramasole. Conditioned by Lee’s son, Tony Alagna, the now 4-year-old mare has amassed $992,401 in purse money from a record of 25-15-7-1. Her resume includes victories in the 2015 edition of the $311,600 Peaceful Way, the $192,500 Ontario Sire Stakes Super final that same year and the $149,000 Matron Stake in 2016. Caprice Hill, who is a half-sibling to Bramalea Hanover (Windsong’s Legacy, $288,512), was also second in last year’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and has been incredibly consistent throughout her career. “She is just perfect,” said Lee, who oversees the mare's day-to-day care for her son. “She never does anything wrong. She has been like that from the first day I had her. We just show her what she needs to do and it immediately clicks; she knows right away what her job is and she loves her job.” Caprice Hill has definitely been the perfect student as not once has she ever went off stride, even as a youngster. “I tell people all the time and they don’t believe me,” Lee said. “One of the first times I was jogging her, another horse was out there and the driver was playing around. She decided she wanted to go with them and she did, but she did it all on the trot. Right after that is when I called Tony and told him we had something special on her hands. “He didn’t believe me either and was kind of like ‘Don’t fall in love’ but when he trained her down in 2:02, he asked me if I wanted to see my filly train and of course she was just perfect. I think that’s when he started to agree I was right about her.” Performing almost solely in Canada, Caprice Hill has not received anywhere near the attention her former stablemate Racing Hill has, but then again, that stallion did capture the $500,000 Breeders Crown final, the $500,000 Messenger, the $400,000 Adios final and the $500,000 Hempt Memorial final. Now standing at Hickory Lane Farm in Ohio, Racing Hill is also owned by Hill. “Tom was so lucky to have Caprice and Racing Hill in the same year,” Lee said. “Caprice is the first horse he bought and to have that kind of success with not just her, but Racing Hill, is a blessing. “I think Caprice would have been talked about more if she had raced outside of Canada more often, but she loves it up there and the air is good for her.” Lee is referring to the allergies Caprice Hill has battled throughout her career. “She is allergic to oats first of all,” she said. “We had a veterinarian make a serum for her that she has done quite well on, but it was a problem for her. It is something she had to overcome and she has.” One of the reasons Lee feels Caprice Hill is so successful is her attitude and how much she enjoys competition. “She loads herself on the van,” Lee said. “All you need to do is drop the gate and stay out of her way. She knows when it is time to race and can’t wait to get there. If she has a week off and she sees other horses get on the van on a Friday or Saturday night, she gets mad. She starts bucking and kicking because she doesn’t want to stay home; she wants to go.” It has already been determined this will be the last season the mare will appear on-track prior to heading to her second career in the breeding shed. However, the process has already commenced for Caprice Hill to be a mother. “Tom decided he wanted an embryo transfer this year and she was bred to Muscle Hill,” Lee said. “We just checked her and she didn’t take, so she will return to him for another try. “She is used to her big stall with a window and her BFF next to her. When she is bred she might get nervous because she’s not used to the routine and it may throw her off. We’ll see what happens and go from there. “I have to get her ready for stakes season and we are looking towards the second week in June to bring her back.” All the mare’s connections are looking forward to a very exciting 2017 with their charge. Caprice Hill returned from her winter vacation with a terrific coat and put on some weight, which will only aid her in taking on the likes of world champion Hannelore Hanover. “She is just a happy horse,” Lee said. “She is definitely fat, but not in a bad way and she just has a great attitude. This is a tough season to face older horses, but we think she is in a position to show she belongs. Hopefully we can take her to Lexington this year because I think she would love it and literally fly there. “I know this year is it and she will be retired. It will be very hard not to see her every day and she is always paying attention to me, too. She has a stall guard, but is always craning her head out to look in the office and see what I am up to. “She really is just the perfect horse and they so rarely come along. She is a pleasure.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

There’s an old one-time popular love song entitled “Reunited And It Feels So Good” that pretty much conveys the feelings of trainer Donna Lee Ozment for the horse Auniqueaquistion, the 2013 Illinois 3-Year-old Filly Pacer of the Year, now that she is back in her barn.   Towards the end of the filly’s very success sophomore season where Auniqueaquistion won every major stake in her division for Donna and almost $250,000 in purse earnings she got a much unexpected phone call that stunned the veteran trainer. “I was on my way to Maywood Park when I got a call and asked me “When can they come and pick up the mare.” I asked ‘what mare?’ “Auniqueaquistion, they answered. She’s been sold.” “I was stunned. I had no idea of the sale or that her owner (John Carver) was even thinking of selling her. The filly was like a close pet to me and she was doing so well for us. “I had her for her first two years and she made her owner a lot of money (over $350,000). She won everything as a 3-year-old, the Maywood (Filly) Pace, the Ann Vonian, the Grandma Ann on Super Night from the 10-hole and a Hanover. I was shocked and I was in tears when she left.” Carver sold half of the filly to Dandy Farms of Glenview, Illinois last November. Almost a year to the sale day she was reacquired by Carver and sent back to Ozment after winning only 2 of 20 starts while banking just $18,000, “I’m so happy to have Auniqueaquistion back,” continued the native of Fairfield, Illinois. “She’s happy to be back, too. “I tend to get very close to my horses and she was the closest I’ve been to one. I train all my horses but she was one that I actually rubbed and took care of. I bathe her. I did her up every day and she lived with my little mini (horse). “Auniqueaquistion was very attached to her mini. When she came back to our barn and saw her mini she came over and started licking her back. Everybody in the barn was getting watery eyes. It was very touching. “She was not a happy-camper when she was gone. While she’s much happier now she’s still not the same animal she was when she left. She’s a kicker now and she never kicked before. Her personality did change while she was gone but she is coming around and I think she’ll get better and better. It’s just going to take time. “She remembered me when she came back and she remembered that I had always given her a snack after she jogged. The first time back after I jogged her I put her in the stall and started to walk away she started nickering as if to say: “Hey, where’s my snack.” Auniqueaquistion (Dale Hiteman) will open at program odds of 6-1 in Friday’s eighth race conditioned pace. It’ll be the 4-year-old mare’s third start back for Ozment. The daughter of Cole Muffler raced an improved third last week, ending up less than 1 length short of the winner. In the meantime Auniqueaquistion is back enjoying her snacks and the company of her mini friend while Donna has her favorite pet back in her barn along with some drier eyes, so as they say: “All’s well that ends well.” by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

You've probably seen it written many times: "Local man makes good." But in the case of trainer Tony Alagna, that phrase doesn't do the former Steger resident's achievements justice. Some four years ago at the age of 37, Alagna left our state to go on his own after working for many years as an assistant behind Illinois Hall of Fame trainers Erv Miller and the late Brian Pinske. Alagna returned home last weekend as one of the premier harness racing trainers in all of North America. Despite all of his success in a relative short period of time since he left, Alagna was a bit humbled by the boisterous reception he received in the Balmoral Park winner's circle after his star 3-year-old pacer Captaintreacherous captured the $235,000 American National stake. "When I first started out, Captaintreacherous was the kind of horse I dreamed about," said Alagna. "It's just super to come back to my hometown and be treated so well by everyone." Going into this weekend horses racing out of Alagna's stable have won purse money of $5.3 million, third-highest for any stable nationwide. Compare that figure to 2009, when Tony's horses won $330,000 in his last year in Illinois. "When I started out, I didn't have any equipment, and I had to buy anything. As the stable grew, I had to hire more and more people. Now I have 30 employees working for me back in New Jersey at Gaitway [Farms]. We have three barns with 30 horses in each. "I have six trainers in charge of 15 horses each and three caretakers. I have another four people who just jog horses. I also employ three blacksmiths, an office manager and a staff." Organization and good, dependable employees are the keys to Algana's successful stable. "Being on a schedule on a daily basis is paramount when you have a large number of horses. I have the training schedule set up in groups of six, and it's not unusual for us to train 60 horses in a day. "One big advantage I had working for top trainers like Erv [Miller] and Brian [Pinske] is that you learn to manage a large stable, and you learn how to maintain consistency week in and week out with race horses." Racing horses at a number of different racetracks on the east coast and in Canada, along with to the Midwest for major stake events in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky keeps Alagna on a hectic schedule but one that he seems to carry out in stride. "I definitely get my work ethic from my mom [Balmoral Park-based trainer Donna Lee Ozment]," Alagna stressed. "She instilled in me that if you don't work hard, you're not going to be successful. Mom always told me that if you don't take care of the horse, the horse won't take care of you." By the looks of Alagna's national status in the harness racing community, he would be the first to tell you, "Mother knows best." Reprinted with permission by www.Daily-Journal.com

State-bred fillies grabbed the spotlight on Thursday, October 10th as a field of eight sophomore pacers battled in the $12,000 Betzotic Stake at Maywood Park. As she’s done with regularity through her first two seasons on the track John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion proved to be too much for this group as she rolled to a two-length victory in 1:54.3 with driver Dale Hiteman at the controls.   Getting away perfectly in the third spot despite starting in the second tier Hiteman sent the daughter of Cole Muffler---Shessoluvabull to the front after watching Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) put up an opening quarter of 28.0.     In control of the proceedings as she cruised through middle splits of 57.1 & 1:26.1the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss put away a first over bid from Thank You Doc (Jason Brewer) on the final turn, eventually drawing clear with a 28.2 final quarter to notch her 10th victory of the season. Feel Like Dancing followed the winner’s every move from the quarter on but was forced to settle for the bridesmaid role while Thank You Doc held on for third.   With the win Auniqueaquisition now boasts career totals of 14 wins and five seconds in 23 starts with earnings of $336,155. The even-money choice in the race returned $4.00, $2.80 & $2.80. by Tom Kelley for Maywood Park  

Division leader Auniqueaquistion had no problem overcoming the dreaded 10-hole thanks in part to another perfect steer from the red-hot Mike Oosting as the filly rolled to a 1 ½ length triumph in the $174,000 Grandma Ann Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies. The final time was 1:52.4. Floating away from the outside post Oosting had the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shessoluvabull in seventh as Dune In Red (Todd Warren) sped through an opening quarter in 27.0. The action really started to heat up going to the half as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) vacated the pocket and quickly swept into the lead as the fillies reached the half-way point in 56.4. “I was really happy we were able toget a hole even if was just for a little bit,” said Oosting. “I was prepared to go towards the front the entire way if I had to because this filly felt better tonight than she has been for most of the year.” A live outer flow continued around the far turn as Dallas Jones (Casey Leonard) moved up to challenge Feel Like Dancing, towing up a fit and fresh Auniqueaquistion who was cruising along in a perfect second position as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3. Setting sail for the money Oosting moved the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss to the far outside and she responded beautifully as she rattled off a final quarter to score for the ninth time in 14 starts this season.Schmatie (John De Long) rallied well to finish second while Dune In Red held on for third. “Considering we had the 10-hole you couldn’t have dreamed up a better trip,” explained Oosting. “She was just awesome tonight which is a credit to Donna. She really felt like her old selfout there.” At the top of her division for two straight years now Auniqueaquistion boasts 13 wins and five seconds in 22 starts with career earnings of $330,155 for owner John Carver. Despite being saddled with the outside post Auniqueaquistion was well backed at the windows returning $5.80, $3.80 & $3.60. David Baum   

The count down to Illinois biggest night of racing action, Super Night 2013, began in earnest on Saturday, Sept. 7th at Balmoral Parkas 12 eliminations battles were contested by some of Illinois top pacers. Kicking things off were a trio of $15,000 Orange & Blue Stake elimination’s for two-year-old pacing colts. The top three finishers in each elimination as well as one fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will advance to next Saturday’s $200,000 est. final. In the first division Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s PQ Three continued his recent winning streak as the Erv Miller trainee posted a 1 ¼ length decision in 1:54.1. Sent right to the front from his outside starting spot by driver Mike Oosting the son of Yankee Skyscaper—Sweltering cruised through splits of 28.2, 57.3 & 1:26.2 while easily keeping his rivals at bay throughout the mile. Overloaded (Kyle Wilfong) sat right on the winner’s back the entire way to earn the place money while Cotton Eyed Joe (Robert Smolin) rallied to be third. Dave’s Skyscaper was fourth. The win was the sixth in 10 starts this year for PQ Three who now boasts $114,399 in career earnings. In the second elimination Paula Smith & James Runyan’s Fox Valley Deuce prevailed in a thrilling three-horse photo, winning by a nose in a career best of 1:54.3 for Dale Hiteman. Perfectly positioned while saving ground in fourth as Fox Valley Cupid (Ryan Anderson)  carved out splits of 28.2, 58.1 & 1:26.4 the Joel Smith (2 wins) trainee pulled as the field neared the top of the stretch. Battling tooth and nail through the lane the son of Sportsmaster—Dodger Girl managed to get a nose in front in the final strides to earn his second win in 10 tries. Fox Valley Cupid held on for second while I Bizel The Shizel (John De Long) rallied up the passing lane to be third. Manny’s Z Tam was fourth. The final division was taken by Jack & Peggy Hood, Mystical Marker Farms and Dirk Simpson Stables Traffic Cop who reported home with a 3 ½ length score in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. Zipped right to the front as 4-5 favorite Badger Quinn went off stride right at the start, driver Todd Warren did a nice job of directing the proceedings as he rolled through splits of 28.1, 58.1 & 1:27.3. After turning away a first over challenge from Duneside Art in the lane the son of Sportsmaster-Dixiegirl proceeded to draw away from her rivals for her second win in 10 lifetime appearances. One Sure Apache (Mike Oosting) rallied to be second while Fox Valley Van (John De Long) finished third. Duneside Art was fourth. Next up were sophomore pacing fillies as a total of 18 ladies looked for 10 starting spots in next week’s $173,000 (est.) Grandma Ann Stake. In the first of two $15,000 elimination tussles John Carver’s Auniqueaquistion gave the chalk players a thrill as she shook loose from a precarious position in mid-stretch to win by a half-length in1:53.0. Positioned near the front by driver Mike Oosting as the lead changed hands several time through splits of 28.4, 57.4 & 1:26.1 the daughter of Cole Muffler—Shesoluvabull was desperately searching for racing room behind a tiring leader as the field turned for the money. Maneuvering outside then back inside again with the Donna Lee Ozment trained miss Oosting finally secured racing room with just less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. Responding beautifully, Auniqueaquistion bulled her way to the front and steadily began to draw clear for her 12th win in 21 career starts. Schmatie (John De Long) finished a game second while Aliyah Maria (Dave Magee) was third. Dune In Red & State Street Liz also gained spots in the final. In the second elimination Paula Smith, James Runyan and Frank Pike’s Dallas Jones continued an amazing second season transformation as she came flying home to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:53.1. Well-handled by a red-hot Casey Leonard the daughter of Sportsmaster—Cams Bett was reserved through the early stages as Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong) and Mystical Danica (Marcus Miller) battled through splits of 27.4, 56.4 & 1:24.4.Tipping four deep as the ladies turned for home the Joel Smith trained miss then picked off one rival after another on her way to her eighth win of the season. Mystical Danica held on for second while Thank You Doc (Mike Oosting) rallied sharply to finish third. Feel Like Dancing was fourth while Fox Valley Isabella was fifth. A total of 17 sophomore pacing colts were dropped into the box for a pair of $15,000 Pete Langley Memorial eliminations. Once again the top five will be back on Super Night to go for an estimated purse of $173,000. The first division provided a thrilling finish as Paymaq Racing, D&M Trading & Mystical Marker Farms Mystical Walter emerged with a hard fought three-quarters of a length victory in 1:51.0. Confidently handled by driver Casey Leonard the gelded son of Yankee Skyscaper—Yankee Blue ranged up first over to engage Crankin’ It Up (Kyle Wilfong) after watching that rival post splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.3. After battling head and head through the lane Mystical Walter finally began to pull clear in the final one-hundred yards, notching his 10th career win in 20 starts for trainer Erv Miller. Crankin’ It Up was a sharp second while Alequash Hotspur (Dale Hiteman) finished third. Fox Valley Norman was fourth while Big Brad was fifth. In the second Langley elimination Stephanie Winship, Carl Lacy, Amy Giberson & Monty Thompson’s Silver Devil parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:52.2. Riding along in the pocket while Monopoly Man (John De Long) strolled through splitsof 28.0, 57.3 & 1:25.1 driver Casey Leonard patiently waited for the passing lane to make his move with the Nick Giberson trainee. Swinging down to the inside with a sixteenth to go the roan son of Duneside Perch—Armbro Wahine came charging home in 26.4 to secure his seventh win in this his first season of action. Monopoly Man held on well to finish second while Ready (Brian Carpenter) used a pylon skimming journey to get the show dough. Fancy Creek Elusiv was fourth while Fox Valley Action was fifth. With a total of 21 three-year-olds and up entered for the Tony Maurello Stake a trio of $15,000 elimination’s were needed. Once again the top three along with a fourth place finisher (drawn by lot) will be back for next week’s $125,000 final. In the first elimination Stevanna Turner’s NJ’s Big Deal rallied in the final strides to win by a head in 1:50.1 for driver Mike Cox. After leading the way through an opening quarter in 28.1, Cox elected to let a hard charging Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) go, winding up in the three-hole as the field sped through middle splits of 55.3 & 1:23.0. The John Fletcher trainee was then moved to the outside at the top of the stretch where he gamely wore down Ice Scraper (Kyle Husted) and Uncle Smoothie (John De Long) for his11th win of the year. Whirlwindiplomacy was fourth The middle elimination provided no surprises as heavily favored Fort Silky cruised to an easy 1 ¾ length victory in 1:51.1 for owners John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler. Sent to the front by driver Casey Leonard after a quarter in 27.0 the seven-year-old gelding then went unchallenged through middle splits of 55.4 & 1:24.3.Setting sail for home the Terry Leonard trainee sealed the deal in fine fashion, rattling off a final quarter in 26.3 to notch his 12th win of the year. Cole Heat (John De Long) finished second while Fox Valley Yukon (Marcus Miller) was third. Uncle Bud finished fourth. Chalk players were dancing again in the final Maurello elimination as Paymaq Racing, Mystical Marker Farms, Ken Duffy & Shim Racing’s A Cool Card notched his fourth straight win rolling to a one-length decision in 1:50.4 with Marcus Miller in tow. Working out a perfect second over trip as King’s Legend (Todd Warren) put up splits of 27.3, 56.0 & 1:23.4 A Cool Card tipped three-wide off his cover as the field straightened for home. The Erv Miller trainee then stormed home in a wicked 26.2 to record his sixth win in 10 starts this year. Iam Bonasera (Kyle Wilfong) finished a hard knocking second while Gibbs (Dave Magee) rallied to be third. Sports Fanatic wound up fourth. Freshman pacing fillies closed out the elimination action with a total of 20 youngsters battling in a pair of $15,000 Filly Orange & Blue elimination’s. The top five in each will return on Super Night to slug it out for a $200,000 jackpot. In the first elimination Team Miller clicked once again as Marcus (2 wins) made a successful return to the local scene guiding Obermeier & Quaid Stable’s (2wins) My Little Bit to an easy one-length triumph in 1:54.1, giving his father Erv, his fourth training win of the night. Powering to the front after an opening quarter in 28.1, the daughter of Sportsmaster-Parade Of Love rattled off middle splits of 58.1 & 1:26.1. With plenty still in reserve the good looking filly paced home in 28.0 to win for the fourth time in eight life time starts. Party Hangover Two (John De Long) was second while Thesleazyprincess (Mike Oosting) was third. Fox Valley Amanda was fourth while Simplyirresistible was fifth. In the second division Sawgrass Farms Molly Go Lightly took advantage of a ground saving trip as she charged up the passing lane to win by a half-length in1:55.0. Perfectly handled by Mike Oosting (3 wins) the daughter of Lexington Legend-Waggle was forwardly placed while skimming the pylons through splits of 29.0, 58.3 & 1:27.3. With the fillies fanning out for the stretch drive, Oosting moved the Nelson Willis trainee up the inside where she rallied gamely for her second win in eight trips postward. Kiwi Party (John De Long) overcame post nine to be the bridesmaid while Mae Flynn (Dave Magee) was third. Tessa finished a hard fought fourth while M A Refling overcame a miscue at the start to finish fifth. The elimination action for Super Night continues on Sunday, Sept. 8th at Balmoral Park as a trio of Lorna Propes Stake elimination’s (three-year-old & up filly & mare pacers), a pair of Su Mac Lad Stake elimination’s (three-year-old trotting colts) and one Lady Ann Reed (3yo trotting filly) will all be contested. Post time on Sunday is 7:10 p.m. (central). Tom Kelley  

Proving once again that she will be the filly to beat among this season's three-year-old state-bred filly pacing set, John Carver's Auniqueaquistion rolled to a very impressive three-length victory over seven harness racing rivals in Friday's $122,000 Filly Maywood Pace.

The talented sophomore filly Auniqueaquistion has her sights set on shedding her role as the bridesmaid in the major harness racing stake races when she takes on seven ICF rivals in the $122,000 Maywood Filly Pace Friday night.

Maywood Park hosts elimination races Thursday night for its harness racing $100,000 Maywood Filly Pace championship that will be contested a week from tomorrow on Friday, June 14.

Thunder Steeler made his presence felt in the late stages of the $24,000 Invitational pace at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino as he rallied sharply to take home top harness racing honors in the featured event on Saturday (Apr 27).

In the world of harness racing, there's no better recipe for success than hard work, perseverance, knowledge and passion for the game. Sprinkle in a bit of luck and as some would say, 'it's all good.'

If Smash Key was alive now he would be 49. The old boy was no harness racing star of the 1960s but the Brown Key gelding sure did make an impact on one woman's life. Smash Key was the first standardbred that Steger (Illinois) trainer Donna Lee Ozment jogged.

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