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Interesting article here on US Racing regarding harness racing at The Meadowlands. Skimming can be dangerous and it’s easy to tell when people elect to skim rather than read. On Facebook, I’ll post a thought, and will get several reactions. A full-length column generates few responses. Our attention spans have eroded mainly because of the smart phone and reading feature articles has become the victim. We read the headlines, believe that to be truth and then react accordingly on social media. So, when the headline read “No Fall Harness Meet at The Meadowlands in 2020,” harness racing fans reacted angrily and vocally. They deduced that the Meadowlands, flush with a $6 million race subsidy from the state was looking to cut back on racing and its overall commitment to harness racing. Those that read on learned why. There is an agreement in place between New Jersey, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park that allows a fall thoroughbred meet to be contested at the Meadowlands from mid-October to early December. In essence, Monmouth has the right of first refusal. But converting a harness track to a thoroughbred track requires intense labor and for the last few years, it was cost prohibitive for Monmouth to remove the limestone used by harness tracks and bring in tons of sand for thoroughbred racing. Monmouth has held a turf only meeting in recent Octobers — this year it was seven days — and because the dirt track was left untouched, the Meadowlands filled in with a fall meet of its own in October and November. It was a good fall meet that featured the Kindergarten finals for 2-year olds as well as the TVG Free for Alls for pacers and trotters. Like the Meadowlands, Monmouth also received a purse subsidy to the tune of $10 million. Guess what? They are exercising their right to have a full fall meet from early October until December 2, 2020. Monmouth wants to do what other states do if they can — race more, attract more gambling dollars and increase their revenues. The Meadowlands understands. They were happy to fill the void to the delight of the harness racing fan. But now, Monmouth wants back in and because that’s the signed agreement, there is no ill-will whatsoever. New Jersey law states that the Meadowlands must have 76 dates and losing the fall meet means they will fall short of that requirement and the track expects to race 90 days in 2020; the same number as they have done this year. In recent years, the track has run from January to the first Saturday in August, ending their meet on Hambletonian Day. With the resurrected Monmouth plan, the track would race after Hambo Day into mid-September; then, the track would be converted over for the thoroughbreds to come in and take over in October, November and a sliver of December. The harness meet would then start again in December and run through September. And, like it currently does, race days would be Fridays and Saturdays with some Thursdays. The one drawback is what to do with the TVG Free for Alls. They have been run at the end of November, but that can’t happen next year. Track officials have indicated that they will be run before the meet ends in September, but that’s before the Breeders Crown which would cause those that own and train standardbreds to alter their plans. Most harness fans don’t like this. The great thing about the FFA is it usually is the time where 3-year olds run against older horses but, with the Breeders Crown in October, the incentive goes away. Most trainers want to race against 3-year olds entirely before taking on older horses. This makes it impossible, so as a result, we might see only older horses in the FFA pace and trot. At the end of the day, we’re probably overthinking things. If the FFA pace and trot is comprised of just older horses, the earth will continue to rotate on its axis. The FFA could be moved, but that hasn’t been discussed as of yet.  The other drawback is the Breeders Crown. If this schedule stays intact for the foreseeable, the Meadowlands would be out of the mix for the so-called Super Bowl of the sport. Again, there are other great tracks able to host, but the Meadowlands is an iconic venue and really should be in the mix. Headlines are written to capture attention and this one certainly did with people assuming that the fall meet was being canceled for economic reasons, which is not the case. There will be plenty of racing at The Big M next year, with different dates. We’ll see what impact the move will have on handle, but no track handles more money than the Meadowlands and once fans find out that the track is staying open after Hambo Day, the money will eventually follow. By John Furgele Printed with permission of US Racing John Furgele As a kid growing up in the Buffalo suburbs in the 1970s and 80s, the radio was one of John Furgele’s best friends. In the evenings, he used to listen to a show on WBEN radio called “Free Form Sports,” hosted by Buffalo broadcast legend Stan Barron. The show ran weeknights from 6 to 11 pm and featured every kind of sport you could imagine. One minute, Mr. Barron was interviewing a Buffalo Sabres player; the next, he was giving high school field hockey scores. But there was always one thing that caught John’s ear. During those five hours, Barron would give the results from Western New York’s two harness racing tracks — Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. This is where John learned what exactas, quinellas, trifectas and daily doubles were all about. From then on, he always paid attention to harness racing, and when Niatross (a legendary Western New York horse) hit the scene in 1979, his interest began to blossom. John believes harness racing is a sport that has the potential to grow and he will explore ways to get that done via marketing, promotion and, above all, the races themselves. When he’s not watching races, John is busy with his family and his job in sales. Like the pacers and trotters, he does a little running himself and you’ll occasionally find him “going to post” in a local 5K race.  

TWO of Australia’s top Inter Dominion prospects, Colt Thirty One and McLovin, remain on target for Auckland raids. Star trotter McLovin seems to be over his untimely bout of the “thumps” in yesterday’s (Friday) Dominion Trot at Addington and will be flown from Christchurch to Auckland tomorrow (Sunday). “He seems fine. We jogged him this morning and all went well,” trainer Andy Gath said. “Kate (Gath, co-trainer and driver) and I will go to Auckland with him, spend a few days there, work him Wednesday. “If all goes well Wednesday, we’ll push on to the Inter Dominion otherwise he’ll head home. “The thumps is something which comes out of the blue and is most often just a one-off thing, so we think he’ll be fine.” Queensland’s pin-up pacer Colt Thirty One, already a Victoria Cup runner-up this season, resurrected his Inter Dominion hopes with a dominant win in the Group 3 Popular Alm free-for-all at Melton last night (Friday). Stand-in driver John Caldow took the reins for trainer Grant Dixon and the race turned in his favour when the leader, Wrappers Delight, seemed to choke-down and Colt Thirty One went from having to sit parked to rolling to the front. There was a lot to like about how he powered down the back in 26.9sec and still finished-off in 27.4 – a 54.3sec last half. “He needed to come out and win a race like that to convince us about Auckland and he did,” Dixon said. “I’m at a total loss to explain why he galloped at the start the week before, but the main thing is he bounced-back this week.” Colt Thirty One is booked on a flight from Melbourne to Auckland on November 23. “That’s the main reason we left in down in Melbourne after the Victoria Cup for a few races … because it’s much easier getting from Melbourne to Auckland rather than having to get there from Brisbane,” Dixon said.   by Adam Hamilton

By Jonny Turner    Westwood Beach pacer Spirit Of St Louis showed his class on the nation’s biggest harness racing stage when winning at the New Zealand Cup Carnival’s Show Day meeting at Addington yesterday.  The 3yr-old scored the biggest victory of his fleeting career when dashing along the inner to win race 3, the South Of The Waitaki event, for trainer Graeme Anderson and driver Matthew Williamson. The win gave Cantabrian Trevor Casey a race to race double as a breeder and owner after Lone Star Lad took out the previous event. Casey races Spirit Of St Louis with of a crew of Anderson’s owners who are spread between Canterbury and Southland. The 3yr-old’s win continued a brilliant winning strike rate Anderson has built with Casey’s breed. It’s an association that started when the pair were having morning tea at Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Stars stable after watching their horses work. “It all started when Trevor sent me a horse called All Star Magician,” Anderson said. “I had Titan Banner at Mark and Natalie’s place and we were there one day having morning tea.” “Trevor offered the horse to me because Mark was finished with him, so I took him home.” “We ended up winning three in a row with him before we sold him.” Anderson and Casey combined to win three races with Bettor Sensation before Spirit Of St Louis arrived in Dunedin. Anderson admitted the pacer did not look like a potential standout when he got him. “He was just a wee thing and he had a horrible big split on one leg.” “But he has developed in to a nice horse, he has got high speed and a cruisy nature.” Spirit Of St Louis’ victory took his career record to three wins and a second placing from four starts. Anderson said he will need to carefully place the horse as his rating continues to rise. “He has got up in the ratings pretty quickly, but we are going to have to keep going.” “He has got the Sires Stakes Silver next and then there is a 3yr-old race for him at Gore.” “At least in those races he is racing his own class.” “I would love to give him a month off after Gore and then get him ready for races like the [New Zealand] derby and the Southern Supremacy.” Williamson was denied another driving win when Lone Star Lad out-sprinted Fanny Hill to win race 2. The victory was a deserved one after the trotter, bred and solely raced by Casey, had campaigned consistently throughout the spring. Friday’s race could be the last time Lone Star Lad starts from trainer Regan Todd’s stable. The 5yr-old is under off to Australian buyers. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Lather Up’s ownership announced on Friday (Nov. 15) the decision to stand their world champion at Sugar Valley Farm in Ohio rather than at the new Diamond Creek farm in New York. “When we saw the overwhelming reception on the part of Ohio breeders coupled with that of top breeders from other states who appreciate the convenience of shipped semen, Adam [Bowden] and I thought it best to stand the horse in Ohio,” said Duncan Taylor of Taylor Made Farm. “He will be standing at Sugar Valley Farm as a Diamond Creek / Taylor Made Stallion. “We could not be more excited about the addition of Lather Up, the co-fastest horse on the planet, to our stellar roster,” Joe McLead of Sugar Valley Farm said. “With Ohio re-establishing itself as a top state in the industry with a top notch stakes program and opportunities galore, it became more apparent to us at Sugar Valley to continue the full court press to bring Lather Up back to Ohio. “Our industry has the appeal of the most prolific thoroughbred operation, in Duncan Taylor & Taylor Made Farm, wanting to be a part of Ohio’s program. It is quite humbling to be working alongside of them, standing the fastest pacer in Lather Up and a champion trotter in What The Hill. Working with Adam Bowden and Diamond Creek Farm while standing Downbytheseaside has been tremendous.” Lather Up was described by the Daily Racing Form as “the fastest horse in harness racing history” when he equaled Always B Miki’s world record time for the mile in 1:46. He also set multiple track records from ages 2 to 4. Lather Up established a new track record in one of every five starts, an achievement that will likely define him as one of the most accomplished Standardbreds . All inquiries regarding season or share purchases should be directed to Diamond Creek Farm. Lather Up in The Haughton Final  The $230,200 Sam McKee Memorial for free-for-all pacers on Saturday (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands was one more sizzling showcase for Lather Up as the pacer broke the 1-1/8 mile record, winning in a world record 1:59.2. Hear from Montrell Teague and Sam Mckee's family On July 6, 2019, Montrell Teague drove the four year old pacer Lather Up to a winning victory in 1:46 flat. That time equals the fastest mile in the history the sport! Lather Up, who resides in Delaware, is trained by Clyde Francis and owned by Harrington residents Gary & Barbara Isles. In this segment was talk with Montrell about this eye popping mile!

A Victorian harness racing trainer-driver has been disqualified for six years, after admitting to injecting a horse with potassium so stewards wouldn't find out it had been fixed for a race. Scott Dyer has also admitted to acting corruptly by being aware that another trainer had fixed horses by 'drenching' them. Drenching involves putting a tube down a horse's throat to put substances into them that give them an unfair advantage on the track. Dyer pleaded guilty to five breaches of Australian Harness Racing Rules over the incidents in December 2014, at a hearing of the Harness Racing Victoria Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in May. It disqualified him from training and driving for seven years and 34 days, but he asked the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review the decision. The breaches came to light when police intercepted calls made by another registered trainer, Larry Eastman, between October and December 2014. The calls revealed that on December 8, after the horse Waterslide had won a race at Charlton and stewards called for a post-race blood sample, Dyer injected the animal with potassium to hide the substances that had been put into it earlier to give it a racing edge. He also drove the horse Sukovia in Horsham on December 15, after discussing with Eastman that another horse, Dynamic Dick, would be stomach tubed. Before another race in Swan Hill on December 2, Dyer was also aware through Eastman that the horse Cashisking would receive the same treatment. Eastman went on to plead guilty to five criminal offences, including using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes and engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event. He was convicted and fined $20,000. In reviewing Dyer's case, VCAT member Reynah Tang decided a disqualification of 10 years and four months would fit the bill. But he discounted the penalty to six years when considering Dyer's guilty plea and the delay in his case coming before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board. He also considered the potential impact of the disqualification of his depression, which a psychiatrist confirmed he had been dealing with since 2013. There was also a lack of evidence that Dyer had benefited financially from the offending and he remained on the Newstart Allowance, Mr Tang said. By Marnie Banger   Australian Associated Press       VIC - VCAT Decision - Scott Dyer 15 November 2019   On 14 November 2019, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) released its decision in relation to an application for review lodged by former licensed person Scott Dyer regarding a decision of the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 22 May 2019. Background On 22 May 2019, Mr Dyer pleaded guilty at a HRV RAD Board hearing to five charges that related to a Victoria Police investigation that lead to criminal charges being issued against licensed trainer Larry Eastman. The HRV RAD Board determined charges regarding Mr Dyer interfering with a post-race blood sample; failing to drive a horse on its merits; possession of a syringe containing the substance potassium on a racecourse; and corrupt or improper conduct in relation to information he had about the prerace stomach-tubing of ‘Cashisking’ on 2 December 2014 and ‘Dynamite Dick’ on 15 December 2014. Mr Dyer was disqualified for a period of 8 years. The HRV RAD Board media release can be found here. VCAT Hearing On 8 October 2019, VCAT Member Tang heard submissions from Allan McMonnies for Mr Dyer and Adrian Anderson for HRV. In the VCAT Decision, dated 14 November 2019, Member Tang set aside the penalty decision of the HRV RAD Board, and in its place substituted a total effective disqualification of six years. Mr Dyer will be disqualified until 25 June 2024. The full VCAT decision can be viewed here. Harness Racing Victoria

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Misslarose is a harness racing veteran who knows what the winner's circle at the Meadowlands looks like, and the 5-year-old daughter of Majestic Son-Marion Chocolata found her way there again Friday night after winning the Big M's featured event, a high-level $20,000 conditioned trot. Gemologist, the longest shot in the field at odds of 79-1, was on the go early and led the field past the quarter before yielding the top to 3-2 favorite Very Very Fast. Misslarose was also in the early scrum and quickly brushed up to the top just before the half, stopping the clock there in :56.2. The Jenn Bongiorno trainee, who won at the Big M seven times a year ago, showed her home-field advantage from there, hitting three-quarters in 1:25 before reporting home an easy winner, 1¼ lengths in front of Very Very Fast, in 1:53.2. Uncle Hanover rallied for third. With Dave Miller doing the driving, Misslarose returned $7.20 to her backers as the second choice in the wagering. She now has three wins in seven Meadowlands starts this year, and over the last 23 months, has won at the Big M 10 times. "What a solid edition to the stable," said Bongiorno of the winner, who was making only her fifth start for the conditioner. "She absolutely loves the Big M. Once she got to the front tonight, I knew it would be tough to catch her. She just loves to do her work. I'm proud she can beat a solid field of aged male trotters." Owned by Wish Me Luck Stables, Misslarose has now amassed 18 wins from 72 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $214,790. CHURN, BABY, CHURN: A formful night of racing led to many tickets cashed on the Big M's popular multi-leg wagers. There were six winning favorites on the program, while nine of the 13 races on the card resulted in win payouts of $7.20 or less. The 50-cent Pick-5 returned $161.20 while the 50-cent Pick-4 came back $67.15. A LITTLE MORE: You can't stop Dexter Dunn, you can only hope to contain him. The 30-year-old New Zealander, who leads the Big M driver's colony with 18 victories, won three on the Friday program. Dunn loves to win in bunches, as in the early stages of the Fall Meeting, he's won four on a card twice and three on three occasions. ... Yannick Gingras also won three on the card. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,314,260. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. Dave Little

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 15, 2019 -- With not a distaff derby in sight a harness racing Friday night (Nov. 15th), Yonkers Raceway offered $22,000 tri-features. Using some editorial discretion, we went with the trotters. Odds-on favorite Icanflylikeanangel (Jason Bartlett, $3.30) has no issues whatsoever. From post position No. 5, he worked around Majestic Brayden (Joe Bongiorno), making the lead before a :28.1 opening quarter-mile. From, there, it was a :58.2 intermission and 1:27 three-quarters, with pole-sitting Lord Cromwell (Matt Kakaley) not getting close first-up from third. Icanflylikeanangel owned a length-and-three-quarter lead into the lane, needing only to hold off his immediate stalker. He did, defeating Majestic Brayden by a couple of lengths in 1:55.2. Third went to Lord Cromwell, sharing the minors with Sumatra (George Brennan) and I'm the Muscle (Dan Dube). For Icanflylikeanangel, a 5-year-old Archangel gelding co-owned by Pollack Racing & Randy Bendis and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his fifth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $31, the triple returned $90 and the superfecta paid $332. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Nov. 16th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $3,858.09 and a $15,000 guaranteed pool. The guarantee is in conjunction with the U.S. Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 Saturday night. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Saturday’s Pick 5 program pages accompany this release.       YR Sat., 11-16-19 P5 program pages.pdf 212K View as HTML Download BY FRANK DRUCKER Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

Veteran Victorian harness racing owner-trainer Leon Conway has a spring in his step at the moment - and deservedly so! Conway and his partner Lisa Horton prepare a small team at Lancefield, 70 kms north of Melbourne, and lately all their dedication and hard work has been paying dividends. A trip to the Yarra Valley meeting on Melbourne Cup Day resulted in six-year-old gelding Cantbetold (Major In Art-Illawong Kaye (Golden Greek) finishing second, while stablemate eight-year-old gelding Forever And A Day (Dawn Of A New Day-Rumbleon (Bookmaker) grabbed a third placing. Between them this season, the pair had weighed in, without a win, on nine of their combined 15 race starts. But at Kilmore last Wednesday night, Forever And A Day, one of a small number of free-legged pacers going around in the country, registered an impressive win for his popular owners. Reinsman Rod Petroff was at his best, easing away from the fence early to land one out and three back when the field settled. He then took all the short cuts, weaving through the field to make up an enormous amount of ground before finding himself three back on the pegs swinging for home. When the sprint lane came, Petroff was ready to pounce and Forever And A Day ($13) zipped home to run down Silky Smooth Excuse and race favorite El Boston. "He really has been a model of consistency this season because he's been third on four occasions as well as two fourths and a fifth - he's a lovely little horse," Conway said. "Apart from having terrific gate speed, he also has a great sprint. We've now won seven races with him for nearly $40,000 so he has certainly proved to be a bargain buy at $1500," he said. "I think he's had two goes at Melton and ran third once in a tick over 1.54. He worked home nicely, but it took a bit out of him. Anyway, we might give it another crack one day." The Conway name is a prominent one in harness racing over a long period. The late Maurie Conway (a cousin of Leon's dad) was well-known as a former bookmaker, trainer and studmaster, standing such sires as Bon Adios, Tarport Low and Pure Steel. Maurie's son Ross raced brilliant horses including Nicholas Branach, Voight, Copper Satin, Sonya Malai and Jonells Son. Conway, who was born in the Mallee wheat growing township of Hopetoun, spent a few years as a child in Kerang and lived in Adelaide in 1960. But he "didn't like it and went home to Hopetoun" where he was a popular local butcher for many years. "I ended up having two shops there for a while, one at Hopetoun and one down the road at Beulah," Leon said. "I sometimes used a track around the local football ground to train my horses and then later I shifted out a bit on a 3000-acre farm. "Apart from having the horses, I farmed with the help of my son Clint and we grew wheat, peas, lupins and practically everything else. We also had cattle and sheep. "But when I lost my wife Joy about 10 years ago - the day after I closed our Beulah butcher shop - it was a pretty hard time and I found my way down to Romsey. "I'd got to know (trainer) Vince Vallelonga when he had lived at Rainbow, not far from Hopetoun, years ago. "Vince gave me a call and he was fantastic - I lived on his place and helped him for about 18 months and that's where I met Lisa. "Now I'm the track manager at Lancefield and along with Lisa, we always seem to have a few horses poking about. We are just loving it - and it's even better when we manage to get a winner!"   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

CHAMPION Aussie horseman Luke McCarthy didn’t see anything to be scared of at Addington this week. In fact, if anything, his confidence of giving the Auckland Inter Dominion a huge shake with comeback star Bling It On has grown after watching the NZ Cup and NZ free-for-all. “There’s no standout. It’s certainly not as tough a school as it was when the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Smolda were around,” McCarthy said. “I watched the Cup and felt Bling It On was certainly as good as any of them and the free-for-all didn’t change anything.” Bling It On has deliberately been kept away from the races since his stunning Group 1 Victoria Cup win at Melton on October 12. It came at just his second run on the comeback trail. But McCarthy has him screwed right down and ready for Auckland. “He had a couple of quiet weeks after the Victoria Cup because he’d been in work for six months in his comeback, but he’s very fit again now,” he said. “He’s had plenty of work at home and two trips into Menangle where I’ve worked him the Auckland direction with a galloping pacemaker. “He zipped home a 26sec quarter in a race cart this week (Thursday) and I’ll get even more serious with him to top him right off when we go back again next Thursday.” Bling It On is booked on a flight Monday week from Sydney to Auckland. “As I’ve said all along, I really do think he’s come back better than ever,” McCarthy said. “People have him down as just this sit-sprint horse, but he’s more than that, especially now. He’s versatile and can do some work. Put it this way, if I drew to lead, I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to hold it. “People forget when he won that Hunter Cup he was out wide for a while and did a fair bit of work before I took a trail and he still finished the race of really well. “And I’m sure he’s come back an even better horse this time in.”   By Adam Hamilton

An old-fashioned workload produced a new best version of Habibi Inta in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington yesterday. And after his graphic demolition job in our richest trot the big stallion has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals in the Inter Dominion Trotting series which starts at Alexandra Park in 13 days.  Habibi Inta made the most of a perfect Blair Orange drive and the early gallop of favourite Oscar Bonavena to bolt away with the group one, giving Orange the dream double of Cup week after his New Zealand Cup on Tuesday.  Already a group one winner at the Harness Jewels two seasons ago, Habibi Inta went to a whole new level yesterday and that was after some tough love from trainer extraordinaire Paul Nairn.  “After he won at Kaikoura last week I kept the work right up to him,” explains Nairn.  “I knew he would have to be fit, really fit for the 3200m and he handled the work beautifully.  “I thought he could win because he was so fit but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he could do that.”
 It was a career statement win from Habibi Inta as he sat off the hot speed set by Marcola and jogged past him at the top of the straight.  It was a dramatic reversal of their previous clash at Ashburton when Marcoola thrashed him by 13 lengths, showing how the right horse on the day wins the group ones this season. Nairn will now bring the big, muscular six-year-old to Auckland for an Inter Dominion where some of his key rivals have question marks hanging over their heads.  Aussie raider Tough Monarch was a brave second yesterday capping a great week while veteran Monty Python surged into third while Marcoola was out of gas at the top of the straight. Another Australian visitor in McLovin suffered a case of the thumps but should be good to go for the Inters, a series Oscar Bonavena will miss.  The latter was slightly checked into a gallop after 400m when horses galloped both inside and outside, leaving trainer-driver Mark Purdon enormously disappointed as he tailed off. Punters didn’t enjoy it much either.  But Purdon bounced back two races later when Chase Auckland made the most of the trail-passing lane run to win the $200,000 NZ Free-For-All. A brave and luckless fourth in the NZ Cup three days earlier, Chase Auckland got all the luck this time as he was destined to be three back on the inside but Cruz Bromac galloped when heading to the lead, which left Classie Brigade in front and Chase Auckland in the luxury spot.  All the main players from the F-F-A will head to the Inter Dominions where they will be met by a fresh wave of Australians.   Michael Guerin

When reflecting about New Zealand Cup week of 2019, it is best summed in two simple words – Blair Orange. Fresh from his success on Tuesday when he landed his maiden New Zealand Cup success aboard the All Stars prepared Cruz Bromac, the country’s leading reinsman has now collected his maiden Dominion trophy after guiding Habibi Inta to a runaway victory in the 3200m stand start feature. Habibi Inta scored decisively when defeating Australian Tough Monarch and Monty Python while the heavily fancied Oscar Bonavena and defending champion Marcoola were unplaced. Orange becomes the first driver since Anthony Butt to complete the Cup/Dominion double in the same week after Butt triumphed with Flashing Red and Mountbatten back in 2007. Partnering with masterful trainer Paul Nairn, a dual winner of the great race and a trainer who is not frightened to adopt unorthodox training techniques to gain the best from his team of trotters, the duo landed the Gr.1 $300,000 Airpark Canterbury Dominion at Addington today (Friday). After securing the Gr.3 South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura at his most recent start, connections deliberately bypassed Tuesday’s Gr.1 $100,000 Free-For-All in preference for today’s feature and the decision was rewarded in spades. Habibi Inta stepped slowly but safely and landed a handy position with Destiny Jones finding the marker pegs first before handing over to Australian trotter McLovin who in turn released Marcoola to the lead. Ultimately, Habibi Inta landed the one out/one back trail when finding the back of Didjabringthebeers. Oscar Bonavena made a crucial break soon after the start and was never a winning factor thereafter. The lead time was covered in 2:01.5. The pressure was intense with Marcoola rolling strongly in front; he trotted the first half of the final mile in splits of 30.3 and 29.9 seconds. Heading down the back straight for the final time, Marcoola continued at a solid speed while McLovin sat in the trail with Habibi Inta behind him after Didjabringthebeers dropped off. Passing the 400m marker, the third split was covered in 29.6 seconds. Entering the home straight, Marcoola tried to kick away while both Habibi Inta and Tough Monarch both came with their runs. Habibi Inta quickly surged past Marcoola and opened up a margin on Tough Monarch while veteran performer Monty Python made late ground to grab third placing, both Marcoola and McLovin weakened over the latter stages. At the line, Habibi Inta scored by a widening 7.5 lengths over Tough Monarch while Monty Python was a further 4.5 lengths away in third. The winning time was 4:02.1 – a mile rate of 2:01.7 with a final split of 30.3 seconds. For Orange, it simply caps a dream week. “I honestly can’t believe it, I thought Tuesday was unbelievable but this is a very special feeling and for some great people too. I’ve probably never felt more confident so far from home than today, he was trotting great.” Orange said. Habibi Inta takes his record to 11 wins from 36 starts while his earnings sit below $400,000. The victory provides Nairn with his third winner of the Dominion after previous victories with Call Me Now (1995) and Stig (2008). Habibi Inta is raced by Julie Maghzal who bred the horse in partnership with Gaby; the six-year-old is a son of Love You and from the grand producing Sundon mare Ten To One. The next leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $150,000 Inter Dominion in Auckland at Alexandra Park on December 14.   Chris Barsby

By Jonny Turner  Patience was rewarded and the winner’s podium overflowed with happy owners when Chase Auckland sprinted to victory in the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington yesterday. Driver Tim Williams helped the All Stars pacer get group 1 rewards for his consistent spring when securing a perfect run in the trial that set up the 5yr-old’s win. The win meant the Addington Birdcage was again flooded with jubilant owners as the large Alabar Racing Syndicate celebrated their pacer’s first win in an open class group 1 feature.  Syndicate manager, Ivan Behrnes, poured praise on Williams after the race and not just for his cool and calm drive. The reinsman has been instrumental in helping Chase Auckland developing in to a genuine open class force, Behrnes said.  “He can be a bit of a handful, as you could see after the race, but he has been really in the zone in his races this season.” “It is a credit to Tim, you can often see them just going around in the prelim on his own, keeping him relaxed.” “They have really got a great combination since he has become his regular driver.” A patient approach from his trainers has also been key to Chase Auckland developing from one-time age group star to top line Grand Circuit performer. All Stars trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen did not rush the horse after he suffered a muscle problem that set his 4yr-old season back.  “Mark and Natalie kept saying be patient, he wasn’t ready for these kind of races last year, it was too soon for him,” Behrnes said.  “But this season everything has gone perfectly and he has looked a picture.” “He has had a fantastic build up, he has looked a picture and we were hopeful he could develop in to a stayer.” “He has always had the speed, which you could see again today.” Many expected Chase Auckland to blast off the arm and easily slot in to the trail behind the likely leader, Classie Brigade. That was not the case when the newly relaxed Chase Auckland was too chilled out behind the mobile and did not display the blazing gate speed he has in the past. “I was back off the gate - It’s the first time he has raced from behind the mobile this season,” Williams said.  “But it just shows how quick out the others were.” Despite the early moves not playing out as expected, Chase Auckland and Williams still landed in the trail behind Classie Brigade. In a complete turnaround in race fortunes from the New Zealand Cup, the breaks went Chase Auckland’s way when they went against his stablemates in the New Zealand Free-For-All. Spankem was unable to take the lead from Classie Brigade and Cruz Bromac went roughly, losing a handy spot. An overflowing winners podium after Chase Auckland's FFA win                           --HRNZ photo On Tuesday, Chase Auckland copped the bad luck in Cruz Bromac’s New Zealand Cup. The pacer was forced to make his run wide on the track after two of his rivals started stopping quickly in front of him. The Auckland Reactor gelding charged home pacing the fastest closing 400m and 200m sectional times of the great 3200m race.  The Alabar Racing Syndicate were left wondering what might have been after having to settle for fourth placing.  “We were so disappointed on cup day, he was in a excellent spot and Tim drove him tremendously,” Behrnes said.  “He was ready to go today after running the fastest sectionals in the cup.” “It was a huge thrill.” Classie Brigade, who also came out of the New Zealand Cup with a hard luck story held second in the New Zealand Free-For-All, a length from Chase Auckland. Cruz Bromac recovered from his early gallop to produce a huge performance to run third.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight New Zealand’s leading driver capped an unforgettable week with victory in the country’s biggest trotting race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange, three days removed from winning the New Zealand Cup, pulled off another double-figure-priced upset when Habibi Inta blew his opponents off the track in the $300,000 Dominion Trot. Orange combined with trainer Paul Nairn in victory and paid tribute to the master trainer of trotters post-race. “He’s an outstanding trainer; it’s just like when you drive for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen). “His horses are fit and healthy and they just trot beautifully and I’m just a lucky guy to be sitting here.” Habibi Inta was a last-start winner at Kaikoura but punters preferred Purdon and Rasmussen’s boom four-year-old, Oscar Bonavena. But he struck trouble on the first bend and took no further part. Second favourite Marcoola, hunting back-to-back wins in the race, led up but couldn’t muster any more down the straight as Habibi Inta cleared out. “Going in to the race, I never thought we could beat Oscar Bonavena or Marcoola,” said Orange. “I thought we could run second or third. But once again it comes down to Paul’s ability to have them ready on the day. “We got a bit of luck and the horse did the rest.” Nairn was typically under-stated after adding yet another Group 1 to his record, and a third Dominion after Call Me Now in 1995 and Stig in 2008. “I’m thrilled. “He’s been working sensational but I thought there were four or five good winning chances in the race. “I kept the work up to him after Kaikoura because I knew he’d have to go very well, and it worked.” Julie Maghzal owns the Love You stallion and was in shock shortly after receiving the trophy. “I can’t believe we’ve won it, I just can’t believe we’ve won it,” she said gazing with amazement at the grandiose trophy. “I’m absolutely thrilled and elated to see him do what I always knew he was capable of. “He’s been nurtured all the way by the nicest, most lovely man you could ever have dealings with. “Paul and I have been together in racing for a long, long time.” Maghzal is in love with Habibi Inta and says he will stand as a stallion one day, privately if not commercially. “He’s a beautiful, beautiful animal and a very solid trotter and I’ll definitely be breeding from him later on. “His sister, Habibti Ivy, just had a wee filly by Father Patrick a few days ago so it’s been a great week. “I’m just so happy to have everyone here to share the day with me; my brother, daughter, all my family and friends. “To win this race means so much – and I was just happy to have a horse in it.” The final word went to Orange, who acknowledged former mentor Mike Austin in his speech. “My first thought when I crossed the line was my late mate Mike Austin. “I drove a lot of trotters for him and I know he’d be so proud. Thanks MG.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight  A season that started out without any great expectations has turned in to a very memorable one for the connections of Scorcha. The Art Major mare burned away from her opponents in the $30,000 Show Day Futurity at Addington on Friday for their second big win in less than a month. Last month, she won a $10,000 race at Addington and, in doing so, locked up the $10,000 first prize in the Met Mega Series, run over spring. Naturally, having banked $47,500 in seven starts this season, her connections are over the moon. Especially since she is lucky to even be back on the race track. “It’s fantastic, really, and totally unexpected,” said Dave Rankin, who co-owns and co-bred the mare and is also a director of Addington Raceway. “She had an issue this time last year after three starts and we had to put her out. “When she came back, we were just hopeful that we might have a horse that was going to do something. “We are just so thrilled to be here, and to get the opportunity.” Nigel McGrath trains Scorcha and he has been a regular collaborator with Rankin for many years. “Nigel has done us extremely proud. He’s done so well as a trainer.” Rankin says he, wife Kathy and co-breeder Ian Rule tried to sell Scorcha’s dam, Sparks Under Fire, but were left with her. “The mare, we couldn’t give away at the sales this year when we decided that we were just about the end of our breeding career “There was no interest, so now we’ve got another foal on the ground. “She foaled last week and now we’re putting her back in foal to Rock N Roll Heaven.” As for Scorcha, after a stack of interest in the past couple of months, they might yet agree to sell her if the price is right. “There has obviously been a lot of interest in her, but we decided we weren’t interested in selling until after Cup Week. “She could well be sold now, but we’ll wait and see for another day. “There are further opportunities coming up and the question is, are we good enough? “We didn’t think so today against some stiff competition so hopefully she keeps proving us wrong.” Matt Damon, first-up for two months, was extremely brave in second while The General, who trailed throughout, sprint-laned for third. The even-money favourite Taxman, for the second time in three days, let punters down once again, fading to fourth after free-wheeling in front. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Dover, DE — Breeders Crown winner Gimpanzee and Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry each added another Grand Circuit harness racing title to their respective résumés with victories in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old trotters on Thursday (Nov. 14) at Dover Downs. Gimpanzee proved a powerful 1:51.1 winner in the Matron on Thursday at Dover Downs. Fotowon photo. In the $208,300 Matron for sophomore trotting colts and geldings, Gimpanzee ($2.80) and Brian Sears sprinted to the early lead before yielding control to Chin Chin Hall (Dexter Dunn) at the completion of a :27 first quarter. The son of Chapter Seven was relegated to third as Don’t Let’em (Yannick Gingras) brushed aggressively from midfield to clear with a circuit to go, but angled first-over to attack soon after stalking a :54.4 half. On the backstretch, Gimpanzee sustained a strong attack on Don’t Let’em, taking charge effortlessly past three-quarters in 1:23 and drawing away at will for a 1:51.1 score. Chin Chin Hall emerged up the open stretch to take second, four lengths back, while Pilot Discretion (Andy McCarthy) rallied off cover for third. Marcus Melander trains 17-time winner Gimpanzee for Courant Inc. and the S R F Stable. The $176,150 Matron for 3-year-old trotting fillies saw Simon Allard send Breeders Crown runner-up When Dovescry ($7.60) clear of Beautiful Sin (Åke Svanstedt) and Only Take Cash (Tim Tetrick) into the first turn before controlling splits of :27, :56.1 and 1:23.4. With three-sixteenths to go, When Dovescry faced a bid from Evident Beauty (David Miller), who circled stalled cover to challenge on the final turn. The daughter of Muscle Hill successfully held her ground, holding off a late stand-side rally from Only Take Cash by a half length in 1:52.2. Evident Beauty stayed on between fillies to maintain third. Rene Allard trains 10-time winner When Dovescry for the Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh and Lawrence Dumain. For recaps of the Matron 3-year-old paces, click here. For recaps of the Matron 2-year-old divisions, which were contested on Nov. 7, click here. From the USTA

Dover, DE — After Dancin Lou snapped his four-race win streak in the Breeders Crown, Bettor’s Wish ($3.20) got back in the win column with a 1:49.2 score in the $248,350 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old harness racing pacing colts and geldings on Thursday (Nov. 14) at Dover Downs. Bettor’s Wish worked clear of American Mercury (Tyler Buter) just beyond a :27 first quarter, but faced immediate pressure from Dancin Lou (Andy McCarthy) with a circuit to go and on toward a :53.2 half. With a quarter mile to go, Bettor’s Wish began to scamper away, turning aside Dancin Lou past three-quarters in 1:21.3.   The son of Bettor’s Delight was kept to task through the final furlong, and he maintained 1-3/4 lengths of clearance over American Mercury. Aflame Hanover (Corey Callahan) angled off the pegs at head-stretch to chase and just miss the runner-up spot. Trainer Chris Ryder co-owns Bettor’s Wish, an 18-time winner and an earner of over $1.8 million, with Bella Racing Ltd., Fair Island Farm Inc. and Bettor’s Wish Partners. Bettor’s Wish has finished first or second in all 18 of his starts this season. Following a runner-up finish to Warrawee Ubeaut in the Breeders Crown, Tall Drink Hanover ($13.20) rode the pocket to victory in the $165,900 Matron for 3-year-old pacing fillies, reeling in her arch rival in the process. Andy McCarthy put Cin play from the outset to seize early control, only to yield to prohibitive favorite Warrawee Ubeaut (Yannick Gingras) just behind a taxing :26 first quarter. After stalking a :54.2 half, Tall Drink Hanover found herself boxed as Sunny Dee (Brian Sears) offered first-over pressure up the far side. Off the home turn, Tall Drink Hanover angled to the open stretch and eclipsed the dueling leaders, beating Sunny Dee by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.2. Treacherous Reign (Dunn) lifted from third-over to narrowly take third over the engulfed Warrawee Ubeaut, who missed the board for the first time this year in her Matron defeat. Tony Alagna trains 15-time winner Tall Drink Hanover, a daughter of Captaintreacherous, for Alagna Racing LLC, Marvin Katz and Riverview Racing LLC. For recaps of the Matron 3-year-old trots, click here. For recaps of the Matron 2-year-old divisions, which were contested on Nov. 7, click here. From the USTA

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