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Young trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is bubbling with confidence at the prospects of up-and-coming stayer Springsteen in the $21,000 Garrard’s Horse And Hound BOTRA Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The 23-year-old Harper has no hesitation in declaring that Springsteen is now fitter and stronger than he was when he set the pace and scored an effortless victory over Senator Whitby and Bronze Seeker in the 2518m Kalgoorlie Cup on two Thursdays ago. “The step up in distance to 2902m won’t worry him,” he said. “He went across the line in the Kalgoorlie Cup bolting and with the plugs in. He felt like he could’ve run another lap. “After that race I was planning to give him a bit of time off because I thought that the run and the travelling to and back from Kalgoorlie would have knocked him about a bit. But he pulled up fantastically well. I had him cherry ripe for the Kalgoorlie Cup, but I’m even happier now with him. “It was a super run in the Kalgoorlie Cup and if he repeats that performance he will take a lot of beating this week, providing he steps away well from the stand. But even if he’s not in front, he will be hard to beat. He can breeze and is even better when sat up.” Springsteen, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, is the youngest runner in the BOTRA Cup in which he will start off the front and will be opposed to several far more experienced rivals with superior records. Springsteen is lightly raced and has won ten races and been placed nine times from only 33 starts. He has been successful at five of his past nine starts. Harper is seeking to win the BOTRA Cup for the second time. He caused an upset 12 months ago when he drove 25/1 outsider Outstandin to victory over 7/4 favourite Mysta Magical Mach. Outstandin trailed the pacemaker Puhinui Rainbow before he got off the pegs 100m from home, gained a needle-eye split and charged to the front with 50m to travel. Harper’s father Lindsay has won the BOTRA Cup twice. He drove Ariege to victory in 1998 and scored with Shattering Class two years later. Veteran trainer Tony Svilicich is hoping for a change of luck kin the Cup after finishing third with Real Life in 2010, second with Real Life in 2011 and second with Mysta Magical Mach last year. He will be represented by tough stayer Shardons Rocket, the lone backmarker off 30m. Shardons Rocket has been racing with great spirit and cannot be underestimated. He will be handled by Morgan Woodley, who has finished second in the past two BOTRA Cups and won the race with Hilton Adonis in 2006. Leading trainer Gary Hall sen. is seeking his third win in the BOTRA Cup, after scoring with Spirit of Shard in 2008 and Albert Jaccka in 2010. He will be represented by This Time Dylan, who has struck top form in recent weeks with fast-finishing efforts to dead-heat for first with Demon Possessed and a narrow victory over Turnpike Cruiser on the past two Friday nights. “He is definitely an each-way chance in the race is run truly,” Hall declared. Trainers Greg and Skye Bond, Michel Brennan and Justin Prentice each have two Cup runners, with the Bonds being represented with frontmarkers False Promise and Next Dawn, Brennan with Jambo Emali and grand stayer Anvils Big Punt and Prentice with Gday Mate and Braemoor. Prentice looks to have solid each-way prospects with both his runners. Gday Mate, to be driven by Kaiden Hayter, warmed up for the Cup in impressive style at Northam on Tuesday of last week when he galloped at the start and dropped back to last before sustaining a powerful burst to win a 2560m stand easily from Hez Got The Nod. That followed a win and two seconds at Gloucester Park at his three previous outings. Prentice will drive Braemoor, who has won at four of his past nine starts. Braemoor and Gday Mate will start off the 10m line and they will have many admirers. MIDNIGHT DYLAN GIVES BROWN A CHANCE OF THIRD CRANLEY MEMORIAL Ace reinsman Colin Brown describes Midnight Dylan as a little horse with exceptional gate speed and after the New Zealand-bred five-year-old drew favourably at No. 2 on the front line, he declared that he would be extremely hard to beat in the 1730m $21,000 Pat Cranley Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Brown, who has won the event with Can Return Fire in 2008 (when the Alan Bell-trained gelding started at 11/2, set the pace and defeated Major Money Maker and Im Themightyquinn) and the Greg Bond-trained Motu Treasure in 2010, said he was confident Midnight Dylan would lead and prove very difficult to overhaul over the sprint journey. “In front is where Midnight Dylan goes best and he can run time in front,” Brown said. While Brown has won the event twice, he is also anxious to win with Midnight Dylan to make amends for defeats behind hot favourites Borat (5/2 on) and Next Dawn (5/4) in the past two years. Borat led from barrier one before wilting over the final 280m to finish sixth behind 120/1 outsider Sir Artsplace two years ago and last year Next Dawn fought on, three wide, from sixth at the bell to be third behind El Padrino and Dhoni. Midnight Dylan, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, is a noted frontrunner who has had 53 starts for 11 wins and 18 placings. He resumed after an absence of two months when he set the pace and finished second to top-flight stablemate Our Major Mark in the Mount Eden Sprint over 1750m in Kalgoorlie on September 17. Three nights later on the same track Midnight Dylan set the pace and strolled to an easy two-length victory over Unsinkable Boxer over 2550m. “Midnight Dylan has run some very good races when he has led and has been hammered in front, and has still recorded some very fast times,” Brown said. “The Ragpickers Dream looks the main danger to Midnight Dylan. He was very tough last Friday night when a very close second to Your Good Fortune. But drawing No. 2 over the mile is definitely in Midnight Dylan’s favour.” Gary Hall sen., trainer of The Ragpickers Dream, said that drawing poorly at No. 3 on the back line over the sprint trip was a worry. “But he should go close,” he said. “His run last week was very good and he’s very versatile.” The Ragpickers Dream will be handled by Gary Hall jun. in an event in which the stable will also be represented by Arnoux, Black N Bettor and Real Hammer. IN-FORM VOAK IS THE MAN TO FOLLOW Chris Voak is harness racing’s man of the moment and he is sailing in unchartered waters, being in front in the Statewide reinsmen’s premiership for the first time in his career. The 25-year-old is in dashing form and has landed six winners on the first three days of the week, scoring with Bekindtous Adda (6/4 on), What The Blazes (7/4 on), Karloo (evens) and Bettor Whitby (5/2) at Kellerberrin on Sunday before bringing 45/1 outsider Looks Promising home with a well-timed burst to beat Hearts Desire at Pinjarra on Monday and then succeeding with To Transcend (2/1) at Gloucester Park on Tuesday night. After the first month of the 2013-14 season Voak leads the reinsmen’s premiership with 16 winners and 18 placings from 84 drives and shows the way from Shannon Suvaljko (15 wins and 17 placings from 64 drives) and Colin Brown (15 wins and six placings from 39 drives). He has several drives at the meeting at Gloucester Park on Friday night and is sure to be popular with punters, particularly in the opening two events in which he will handle Bettor Whitby in the Regency Foods Pace and Smirking in the Red Pepper Catering Pace. “They look to be my best chances,” he said. Bettor Whitby, trained at Northam by Lang Inwood, is ideally drawn at the No. 1 barrier over the 1730m journey, while Smirking, trained at Oakford by Ross Olivieri, looks well placed from barrier two in his 2536m event. The consistent Bettor Whitby is showing improvement and she warmed up for Friday night’s engagement with a smart win over Nediak over 1730m at Kellerberrin on Sunday. That improved her record to four wins and 24 placings from 53 starts. “She came out of the gate well (from barrier four) and I thought she would land in the breeze,” Voak said. “They went a bit hard early, so I restrained her back to second last before she got the three-wide cart into the race. Then she made her run from the 250m and won by about three-quarters of a length. “I think she will have the speed to hold up on Friday night and I expect her to run a strong race in front. She can lead or sit; it doesn’t matter. But I’ll be trying to lead, especially over the mile.” One of her best runs was at Northam a couple of months ago when she led and got a lot of pressure early and did a very good job to finish a close third to Beautiful Night and Big and Smooth.” Looming as the main danger to Bettor Whitby is the Peter Tilbrook-trained four-year-old Loving You, who has won easily at her past three starts and is nicely drawn on the inside of the back line. Loving You has set the pace for her three recent victories, two at Gloucester Park and one at Pinjarra. Shannon Suvaljko is likely to attempt to gain the run of the race behind Bettor Whitby before setting the mare the task of outsprinting Bettor Whitby in the final stages. Suvaljko gave punters a good lead when he opted to drive Loving You in preference to the Mike Reed-trained Terra Into The West and Ace of Cards. Suvaljko has been successful with both mares in recent months. Chris Lewis will drive Terra Into The West on Friday night and Colin Brown has been engaged for Ace of Cards. An interesting driving change is that of Gary Hall jun. for Cruzee Princess, a smart mare who possesses excellent gate speed and is likely to make a bid for the early lead from the No. 4 barrier. Hall has yet to drive the Chelsey Harding-trained Cruzee Princess, who worked hard in the breeze and fought on gamely when third to Miss Atomic over 2190m at Northam on Tuesday of last week. Voak said he expected Smirking to prove hard to beat from barrier two on Friday night. “He should have enough gate speed to hold out the horses on his outside and should cross the polemarker Racy Lacy, who is a sit-and-kick horse. “Smirking’s fourth behind This Time Dylan over 2503m last Friday night was really good. If he had got a run inside the final 400m I think he would have gone close to winning.” HALL FANCIES “SLOW LEARNER” BENJAMIN BANNEKER Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. would dearly love to win the race named in his honour, the Gate Leading Trainer, Gary Hall Senior Pace, at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He has three of the nine runners and believes that the talented, lightly-raced Benjamin Banneker can bring home the bacon. “Benjamin Banneker is a big chance,” Hall declared. “He’s the best of my runners and he’s my choice. He is a slow learner who is getting better with every run. He doesn’t like to be used out of the gate and he’s better off doing nothing and then coming home.” Benjamin Banneker, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old, has revealed considerable promise in his 23 starts which have produced ten wins and five placings. He maintained his good form when he finished solidly from fifth at the bell to be second to the pacemaker Banana Dana in fast time over 1730m last Friday night. Two starts before that he overcame the disadvantage of having a punctured tyre of his sulky when he finshed strongly to win from Ohoka Samson and Mighty Flying Thomas. Benjamin Banneker, an M4-class pacer, will start from barrier six on the front line and Gary Hall jun. looks certain to bide his time before issuing a strong late challenge. Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri has two M1-class runners in Arousing (barrier one) and Rojen Cruz (four). Both are capable frontrunners with winning prospects. Hall’s other runners are Algeepee and Some Kinda Tactics. Another fancied runner will be Lucie Boshier, who bounced back to top form with a fast-finishing victory over Kotare Ash at a 1.57.7 rate over 2130m last Friday night. Lucie Boshier was produced in fine fettle by Boyanup trainer Dennis Roche. But the mare has been prepared by Chris Brew since that success and will be handled for the first time by claiming junior Kaiden Hayter. Lucie Boshier will start from the inside of the back line. Brew explained that Lucie Boshier had returned to his stables in Serpentine only to facilitate efforts to get her in foal. “She has pulled up very well after her win and is happy and well,” he said. “She should run a good race.” OUR MAJOR MARK HAS TURNED THE CORNER Highly-rated pacer Our Major Mark arrived in Western Australia seven months ago with a big reputation and though he won at his first four starts in the State (in moderate company), he did not impress reinsman Colin Brown. But that has all changed and Brown now ranks him highly. He is confident that he will drive him to victory in the 2130m Central Fruit Sales Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s drawn No. 1 and that’s his barrier,” Brown said. “He’s handling Gloucester Park very well and he went around the Kalgoorlie track well last month. “He’s pacing a lot better and driving a lot better. And his attitude is a lot better. At his early starts here he tried only when he wanted to. He had won half a million dollars and didn’t have a good horse’s attitude. “And then his work on the track over the two to three weeks before he went to Kalgoorlie said that he had turned around. He’s now a genuine horse. He wasn’t before. “He has very good gate speed and has won most of his races in front. In his win over Midnight Dylan in Kalgoorlie he came from three back on the rail. But he’s a lot better horse in front.” Our Major Mark looks one of the star bets on Friday night’s ten-event program. He should lead and defeat Kiss Chasey, who has won in good style at two of his past three starts. by Ken Casellas  

This Week: Bluegrass Stakes and Allerage eliminations, The Red Mile, Lexington, Ky. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off on Thursday (Sept. 26) at The Red Mile with three divisions in the $287,600 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Friday (Sept. 27) card features three divisions in the $270,300 Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $259,700 Bluegrass for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Saturday (Sept. 28), The Red Mile will offer a trio of Bluegrass events in the $400,000 (est.) 2-year-old colt pace, the $200,000 (est.) 3-year-old colt pace and the $200,000 (est.) 3-year-old filly pace. The opening week concludes on Sunday (Sept. 29) with $200,000 (est.) Bluegrass races for 3-year-old colt trotters and 3-year-old filly trotters, as well as $10,000 eliminations in the Allerage for open pacers and open trotters. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: The Grand Circuit spotlight was on the Delaware (Ohio) County Fair this past week, with the $552,551 Little Brown Jug leading two days of exciting stakes races. Vegas Vacation and trainer Casie Coleman hit the jackpot on Sept. 19, winning the 68th edition of the Little Brown Jug in straight heats. Vegas Vacation, driven by Brian Sears, won his first heat in 1:50 and captured the second heat with the identical time, beating Urbanite Hanover by two lengths. Coleman’s Lucan Hanover finished third. Vegas Vacation’s combined time of 3:40 established the two-heat world record for 3-year-old gelding pacers on a half-mile track. Coleman won last year’s Jug with Michael’s Power and became the first trainer since Tom Artandi in 1988-89 to win the race in consecutive seasons. Owned by West Wins Stable, Adriano Sorella, Anthony Beaton and Phyllis Saunders, Vegas Vacation has won nine of 15 races this year. He is a son of Bettor's Delight out of the mare Don’t You Smile. In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, the defending champion Rocklamation did it once again as she posted the 12-1 upset in this year’s $275,480 Milton Stakes final for pacing mares on Sept. 21 at Mohawk. The pacing miss equaled her own stakes record of 1:49.4 taken last year at odds of 23-1. Rocklamation and driver Brett Miller were sitting eighth, 10-3/4 lengths off the tempo setter Androvette turning for home. Down the stretch, Anndrovette was still in command, but the backfield began to fan across the racetrack. Swinging Beauty came from off the pace and was closing hard on the outside, but couldn’t match strides with Rocklamation, who unleashed a punishing late kick in deep stretch to score the one length victory. Swinging Beauty finished second with Anndrovette third. The sport’s top trotters were showcased in the $230,000 Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino during an action-packed 14-race card on Sept. 21. Uncle Peter, with David Miller at the lines, became the sport’s newest millionaire and shattered the track record for older horses on the trot when he powered home a winner in 1:52.3. Leaders Wishing Stone and Market Share matched strides down the homestretch in that contest, while Uncle Peter loomed large in the background. Using a :26.4 final panel, Uncle Peter saved his best for last and was able to get a nose in front of Market Share at the wire. My MVP held on gamely for the third place finish, while Wishing Stone was fourth. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2013, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Hanover Shoe Farms is the sponsor for the 2013 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras – 1,116; 2. Tim Tetrick – 1,002; 3. David Miller - 687; 4. Brian Sears - 563.5; and 5. Andy Miller – 525. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke – 1,145.5; 2. Jimmy Takter – 767.5; 3. Linda Toscano – 436.5; 4. Julie Miller – 284; and 5. Jonas Czernyson – 262.5. Owners: 1. Burke Racing – 249.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi – 232.05; 3. Brittany Farms – 178.85; 4. Frank Bellino – 168.5; and 5. WJ Donovan – 148.25. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will once again be taking place next week in one location, Lexington’s historic Red Mile. Featured will be the Kentucky Futurity, the third and final leg of Trotting’s Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Also on tap will be the companion Kentucky Filly Futurity for the sophomore fillies, the Tattersalls Pace and the Glen Garnsey Memorial for 3-year-old pacers, four International Stallion Stakes races for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits, and four Allerage contests for open pacers and trotters. by Paul Ramlow for the Grand Circuit

Plans for a slot parlor in Plainville got a boost from voters Tuesday, while residents in West Springfield rejected a casino proposal for their town. Plainville residents voted in favor of Penn National’s plans for a slots parlor, with 76 percent approving a host agreement with the gambling company. With a 37 percent turnout, 1,582 Plainville residents supported having a slots parlor in their community, while just 502 opposed, according to results read by Town Clerk Ellen Robertson. Separately, West Springfield voters on Tuesday defeated a casino proposal by Hard Rock, by a vote of 4,165 to 3,413. That leaves only MGM in Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer the remaining alternatives in Western Massachusetts. In Plainville, if Penn wins the state’s sole slot parlor license and is also permitted to continue harness racing, the company would acquire the 89-acre racetrack property in town at Interstate 495 and Route 1, about 5 miles south of Gillette Stadium. The track would be renovated and expanded to fit as many as 1,250 slot machines and other amenities. In Plainville, the results were read at the Beatrice Wood School, the town’s lone polling location to a loud cheer from about 25 townspeople, many of whom said the promise of more than $4 million a year in taxes, and a strong desire to keep harness racing alive in the state swayed public opinion. “We got our votes out, this town needs this,” said Dale Bergvine , a lifelong Plainville resident and member of the pro-slots group People for Plainville. Plainridge track spokesman Bill Ryan said the vote reflects a tremendous amount of confidence in the project. “It’s not bad considering we were dead three weeks ago,” he said, grinning, referring to the company’s losing effort to persuade Tewksbury to back a slots parlor. Mary-Ann Greanier, a member of No Plainville Racino said her group is considering it’s next move, which could include a lawsuit. “The process isn’t working,” she said. “The safeguards we were told to expect are not taking place.” Tuesday night, a spokesman for Penn described the next steps in the process, from the company’s standpoint. “We’re grateful for the overwhelming support expressed today for expanded gaming at Plainridge Race Course. We’re excited to continue to work with the community, and to build upon the great work that has been done thus far here in Plainville. Our next step will be to file our harness racing application on October 1, followed by our formal submission to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on October 4 for a category two gaming license,’’ Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming said in a prepared statement. By Ellen Ishkanian (reprinted with permission by

HLink's Steve Wolf To Assist With Project

Investigators from the Humane Society of Greater Rochester have been keeping a close watch on Rodney Farms in Wheatland. The Humane Society has received numerous calls over a few years from citizens concerned about the welfare of the horses there. “We have a stable owner who has been well respected in the community for years come under troubled times,” said Reno DiDomenico, director of the department of law enforcement at the Humane Society. “The Humane Society’s position has always been to help and educate, not always just enforce. We’ve been trying to work with Mrs. Galbraith and Rodney Farms for a number of years,” DiDomenico said. But conditions reached a turning point in the past several days and DiDomenico felt compelled to act. Investigators executed search warrants on Thursday and seized five of Barbara Galbraith’s horses that she had moved away from Rodney Farms after Aug. 28, when she was charged with three counts of failure to provide sustenance, a misdemeanor. “When we arrived at her property on Aug. 28, we found water troughs that were completely dry, and they didn’t have access to other water,” said Adrienne McHargue, director of communications and outreach at Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Galbraith is scheduled to appear in Wheatland Town Court on Sept. 16. Galbraith, 64, of442 Scottsville-West Henrietta Road, could not be reached for comment. Nobody answered the door at her home Friday. After a February Democrat and Chronicle report detailed the situation at the farm, investigators started to monitor the situation more closely. Horses were not in immediate danger when investigators arrived in August, McHargue said. Galbraith was issued an appearance ticket and the horses were fed and given water. Galbraith still has about 25 more horses. Shortly after that, Lollypop officials got tips telling them Galbraith was moving the horses off the property to several locations. Concerned citizens, McHargue said, told investigators where the horses had been taken. Five of Galbraith’s horses, all underweight, were brought to Lollypop on Thursday. The investigation is continuing, said DiDomenico. DiDomenico said investigators have checked on the horses, often by looking in from the edge of the road, dozens of times over the past few years. The seized animals include three stallions and two mares. One stallion is about 25 years old. The other horses are all about 2 or 3 years old. Galbraith permanently signed the oldest horse over to the Humane Society, DiDomenico said. The condition of the horses are ranked on a scale ranging from one through nine. Five is an ideal score. A lower score signifies an underweight horse. A higher score is an overweight horse. The oldest horse seized was scored one. The others were scored two. Those who took in the horses for Galbraith won’t be charged — moving the horses wasn’t against the law. But any in need of care will be taken to Lollypop, McHargue said. Rodney Farms has a proud history: Two-time Horse of the Year Niatross trained there under Galbraith’s husband, harness racing Hall of Fame reinsman and trainer Clint Galbriath. Niatross’ success elevated Clint and the farm to the top of the racing game, and helped the farm expand to more than 120 racing horses, Barbara said. The racing horses and brood mares nearly filled the 208-stall main barn and 20-stall receiving barn. Each 12-by-12 stall was equipped with automatic waterers and individual infrared heaters. But the farm has struggled for years, and Clint Galbraith’s serious head injury a few years ago made the already shaky two-person operation untenable. The cost and workload of running a working horse farm and breeding operation has been overwhelming, Barbara Galbraith said earlier this year. Massive holes in the roof of the once beautiful main barn let in the snow and wind. Most of the 200 stalls have broken doors and bent bars; only about 30 are usable. by Bennett J. Loudon (reprinted with permission by (

Charlottetown, PE - Balanchine will headline the Preferred Pace Saturday at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Post time for the 13 dash event is 6pm. Red Shores Summerside will host an action packed Labour Day program on Monday with 13 races. Post time is 1pm. Balanchine, owned by Mike Pollard, Stratford and Joey Gallant, Charlottetown, drew post 7 in the evening's top class for driver Brodie MacPhee and the grounds leading trainer Jackie Matheson. The nine-year-old gelding, who is coming off a third place 1:53.2 performance, makes his 15 start this season and a trip to victory lane will mark his 50th lifetime win. Wild Dragon and Terry Gallant are listed at 3-1 on the morning line while Foxyhall Racing will send out two stable stars with Lucky Encounter, with Walter Cheverie driving, and Greatheart Hanover for Jason Hughes. The line-up also includes Forever Paradise, Windemere Express, Machinthesand and Pownal Bay Mustang. Dirt Track Momma takes her winning streak into the Fillies and Mares open in race 10. Trainer Jonah Moase has listed Kenny Arsenault to do the driving from post 4. Race analyst Les MacIsaac has number four on top and is leaning on JK Special for the runner-up spot. "She's still about as steady as any mare in the region and the only thing that her halted her top three run last time was the seven hole," said MacIsaac. "She moves four spots to her left (post 3) so that should her right back in the thick of it." To check out Les's top picks go to Summerside, PE - Red Shores Summerside is ready to go with a 13 dash program Monday. Post time is 1pm with all the action be carried with the live broadcast at The traditional holiday program from the Prince County oval has King of Rock leading the charge in the top class for owners Barry, Trevor and Kevin Doyle of Earnscliffe. The son of Rocknroll Hanover is 10 for 25 in top three finishes this season and hasn't been worse than second in his last six starts. Brodie MacPhee gets the driving assignment from conditioner Darren Trainer. Every Day has drawn the rail for driver Brian Andrew and his owners William and Rachel Andrew while Bet the House leaves from post 2 for Walter Cheverie. Additional chart lines will be announced on Bet the House, who finished seventh after a break at the start on Thursday, and Creighton Hanover rallied for fourth on the same program. Mark Bradley gets the call to drive in this contest. Narragansett and Norris Rogers go into the event riding a two-race winning streak for Foxyhall Racing of Summerside and their trainer Dale Sobey. Ultimate Faith, who competed in the Spud Island Classic, and Cambest Kisser, owned by Donald and Stephan MacRae, Vernon Bridge, could also knock off the favorite for driver Jason Hughes. Rogers picks up another live drive in the afternoon back-up class when he handles Paphos for Donnie Milligan of Tyne Valley. The pacing veteran won by five lengths in his last start in 1:56.1. The Open trotters move to the historic oval on Monday with Zip the Lip landing on the cones for Brian MacPhee. MacPhee reached career win 1,700 Thursday in Charlottetown. Abundaspin, 5-2 odds, is listed as the one to beat as Harold Shepherd handles the teenager for owner Mikaela Lustic, Warren Grove. Caliban Hanover, owned by Wendell MacDonald of Cornwall, will try to spoil the party from post 7 for driver Ron Gass. For race programs, top picks from Jared Stretch or live video go to by Lee A. Drake  

VERNON, NY – Sunday night’s race card at Vernon Downs, headlined by the opening round of the All-Star Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot, produced the track’s highest single-card wagering handle since 2009. The total handle, including on-track and off-track simulcast locations, totaled $313,690, the track’s highest figure since hosting the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions in September of 2009. It also represents a nearly 20% increase over last year’s Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot card. “We worked extremely hard to promote one of our signature nights of the season and we’re pleased to see how well-received it was by horseplayers nationwide,” said Scott Warren, Director of Racing. “By racing the card in the evening, we were able to get our simulcast signal distributed in California and a loaded on-track promotional schedule delivered the type of family-friendly event we strive to produce.” Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life cruised to victory in the $360,000 Zweig Memorial over a star-studded field of trotters and continued his magical season for Vernon Downs based trainer George Ducharme. Vernon Downs resumes racing with a four-day holiday schedule. Live racing takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. and a special Labor Day matinee on Monday starting at 1:15 p.m. by Justin Horowitz  

The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, with unanimous approval from the Ohio State Racing Commission and Chairman Robert Schmitz, has allocated revenue from the horsemen's video lottery terminal proceeds to the Delaware County Fair for the eight Ohio Breeder's Championship races and The Little Brown Jug. The OHHA is allocating a total of $170,000 to the purses for those races, with $50,000 to be earmarked for the Little Brown Jug purse and $120,000 to be divided equally among the eight divisions of the Ohio Breeder's Championships. With the allocation the 2013 Little Brown Jug purse is expected to be in excess of $550,000. “We are pleased to support the race meet at the Delaware County Fair,” noted Jerry Knappenberger, general manager of the OHHA. “County fairs have always been the foundation of harness racing here in the state of Ohio and the Delaware County Fair and the Little Brown Jug are at the center of that foundation.” “We are very grateful for the support of the OHHA and the Ohio State Racing Commission,” added Tom Wright, president of the Little Brown Jug Society. “I appreciate that they saw the importance of the Jug in the revitalization of Ohio’s racing.” Ohio State Racing Commission Chairman Robert Schmitz added, “Great things are happening in the state of Ohio as a result of the expanded gambling. We have seen increased breeding, better racing, new owners – all positives for the future of Ohio racing.” “It is very gratifying to see the VTLs at the Ohio racetracks come to fruition,” noted Phil Terry, director of marketing for the Little Brown Jug. “The amount of time the horse racing industry put into this effort was significant. I am proud to have been a part of that process.” The Delaware County Fair will host harness racing on Sunday, September 15,  Tuesday, September 17, Wednesday, September 18 (Jugette Day) and Thursday, September 19 (Little Brown Jug Day). For more information on the Delaware County Fair or the Little Brown Jug, please visit Jay Wolf

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- V'La Faire saved ground throughout the mile and needed every inch of that real estate to win the $8,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace by a nose over Puff Mommy at Batavia Downs Wednesday in 1:54.4 over a fast track. It was the fastest mile of the year at Batavia Downs for the filly and mare pacers. After dropping into second place behind the pace-setting Two Step Turn to the half, V'La Faire was shuffled back to fourth momentarily as the field of six was double decked down the backstretch to the three-quarter pole. Driver Kevin Cummings remained patient, however, and managed to get around the tiring Two Step Turn around the far turn. As the field turned for home, Puff Mommy (Shawn McDonough) and Keep It Fair (Gregory Merton) fanned out for the battle while V'La Faire ($4.40) snuck down along the passing lane and managed to win the race to the wire by a nose under the urging of Cummings. Puff Mommy took second in the photo while Keep It Fair held on for third. Owned by the Oakhurst Farms and trained by Richard Tomaszewski, V'La Faire has now won three times in 12 starts, earning $33,000 thus far in 2013. One lucky ticket holder at a Rochester EZ-bet location took home the entire pool in the pick-4 on a $4 wager. The pick-4 pool was guaranteed at $3,000, part of the USTA strategic wagering program. Racing continues on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. with a 12-race program slated. By Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs  


Growing up in a big city there were few things to be envious of.  We had it all.  Well, as harness fans we had two of the sport’s most iconic tracks in Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways, but when it came to the sport’s signature event, The Hambletonian, we were miles from where it was happening. In the fall of 1976 The Meadowlands ushered in a new era for the sport. For those of us “half-milers” the one-mile strip had the allure of all of those speedy tracks in the Midwest that annually held State Fairs accompanied by the greatest the sport had to offer. The Grand Circuit’s mile tracks gave the sport’s stars the opportunity to race in heats and generally race faster than they would anywhere else. It just seemed natural that industry leaders would find a way to blend our rich tradition with our obvious future. In 1981 the Hambletonian arrived at the Meadowlands under less than ideal weather conditions. It arrived with many of the same faces that graced the Grand Circuit. It also came with an advanced purse structure more befitting the character the sport had attained in the New York City region.  It would be simple to start the history lesson with Shiaway St. Pat’s victory. It’s nice that Ray Remmen, the winning driver remains one of the most respected horsemen at the Meadowlands to this day.  Yet my story begins with a man who never won a Hambletonian. However, Carl Allen was hardly a loser that afternoon. He guided longshot Olaf to victory in one heat of the Hambletonian and also guided Pams Key to victory in a heat of the Hambletonian Oaks.  Allen’s saga in the Hambletonian is similar to most trotting horsemen. He wanted to win the race more than any other. In 1995 most people thought his time had finally arrived. The homebred C R Kay Suzie was the best filly of her generation and an odds-on favorite to beat the boys in the Hambletonian after capturing the Yonkers Trot. Sure there was a genuine family story line with Carl’s son Rod driving the filly. There was also some dissent because C R Kay Suzie would race with trotting hopples. Purists far and wide (and most Europeans) believed that no true trotter should wear hopples and that they should be prohibited from use in the sport’s most elite race. Maybe like all great inventions, 1995 was too soon for the gear Carl Allen had modified and maximized to be fully accepted. That’s the only plausible reason I can imagine as to why C R Kay Suzie made a break that day as the 1-10 favorite in her Hambletonian elimination. Over the 32 years at the Meadowlands the race has evolved when necessary to more accurately resemble challenges of the day. What has never changed is the openness and availability of the race to those from North America and overseas. The universal appeal of the Hambletonian is something that was nurtured and grew at the Meadowlands. It’s hard to imagine another race having the same allure that would draw a Ulf Thoresen (Nuclear Kosmos 1986) or a Stefan Melander (Scarlet Knight 2001) to come to these shores and succeed.  One would have to think that location, location, location is a major reason why Canadians based in Ontario made the pilgrimage to East Rutherford and enjoyed the ultimate prize in 2000 (Yankee Paco), 2003 (Amigo Hall) and again in 2006 with Glidemaster. It is this type of diversity that has set the Hambletonian apart in its stay in New Jersey. In DuQuoin the greats of the sport were prominent with the Dancers and Haughtons winning with regularity. The canvas has been spread much wider since the race arrived in the Metropolitan New York area. While the race isn’t going anywhere for some time, the 2013 edition marks the last time the horses will cross the wire in front of the current grandstand. With building fast reaching its completion the 2014 Hambletonian’s finish wire will be on the current backstretch. Much like the Hambletonian, however, the shift in grandstand will do little to shift the drama and excitement the race creates for the sport each and every year. It’s hard not to look back and recall some of the greatest moments in the sport’s long history taking place in the Hambletonian or on Hambletonian Day. It’s a race that has been filled with epic drama. In 1983 for example Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer’s stable would suffer a crippling blow in July when likely Hambo favorite Dancers Crown would succumb to severe intestinal issues. Dancer enlisted his brilliant filly Duenna to fill the void and her victory was bittersweet to all. The 1983 Hambletonian was the first to offer a $1 million purse putting it on similar footing with many of the Meadowlands other signature events. It was hard to argue with the Meadowlands brass when they called upon the Hambletonian Society to shift eliminations to a week before the final. That move took place in 1997 and it was in response to the creation of a week-long Hambletonian Festival, adding Breeders Crown races, maximizing betting and attracting international simulcasting. Still it was sad at the time to see an end to what appeared to be a time-honored tradition of heat racing. One of the most exciting periods for the race in New Jersey came in the mid-90’s with the emergence of Valley Victory as a unique and powerful presence in the stallion ranks. Valley Victorys hit the ground trotting and changed the landscape dramatically with Victory Dream (1994), the filly Continentalvictory (1996) and Muscles Yankee (1997). But 1999 may stand out as one of, if not the greatest, crop of trotters the sport has seen. At least that’s the way it appeared to be shaking out leading up to the Hambletonian that year. Self Possessed’s (by Victory Dream) 1:51 3/5 record-setting performance on that afternoon still stands out not just for the final time but for the quality of the horses that the colt left in the dust that afternoon. Vivid Photo and Roger Hammer winning the 2005 edition was a moment in time few will forget. For me Roger Hammer seemed the least likely candidate to emerge from the fairs of Pennsylvania onto the big stage. What made this race special is the obvious miscalculation of the experts. Hammer had been known for most of his career as a driver who liked the front end. When he employed the opposite strategy in the first $1.5 million Hambletonian (of his or any other driver’s career) it fulfilled the “No Guts, No Glory” prophecy. It certainly seemed fitting that horses bred in New Jersey would be good enough to take on the world. Muscles Yankee had a streak of his own with his sons Deweycheatumnhowe (2008), Muscle Hill (2009) and Muscle Massive (2010) distinguishing themselves for varied reasons. Deweycheatumnhowe became the first colt to win the race wearing the trotting hopples Carl Allen had mastered. Muscle Hill set the world record of 1:50 1/5 in a dynamic performance that winning trainer Greg Peck still hasn’t stopped talking about. And Muscle Massive became the most expensive yearling ($425,000) to win the race. The race returns to eliminations and final on one afternoon, for two trips around the course this Saturday afternoon. Though the Hambletonian has moved venues in the past, the next chapter in the race’s rich history remains on sound footing. In an era were few things remain the same for long, it’s refreshing that in this case tradition has triumphed with New Meadowlands home sweet home for the Hambletonian. by Jay Bergman for the Hambletonian Society  

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