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From Junebug to Little Brown Jug: Justin Turnbull's Racetrack Travels. Sometimes people trot out stereotypes about harness racing. They say it's a sport only enjoyed by older people, and maybe kids should just stay home. Justin Turnbull is a young racing fan who flips the script on those notions. "My parents started taking me to the track when I was two years old," says 13-year-old Justin, who lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He was raised alongside a familiar name on the Maritime racing scene: "My great uncle Fraser had a mare named Carols Junebug who had a baby named Junebugs Baby, whose field is practically in my backyard, so I grew up as he did." Junebugs Baby is now 11 years old and racing for different owners, but the early connection left a lasting impression. "I went to the track with my parents, and they took me to every track that Junebug raced," recalls Justin. "There was one day my dad got me up early. We drove to PEI, as a surprise, just so I didn't miss his race; went out to eat; then drove back home." While his immediate family does not currently own horses, their presence remains strong. "My great uncle Fraser has always had horses, and he always tells me stories about all his horses he had before Junebug. There were also horses on my mom's side of the family as well," says Justin, who is often sighted at tracks in the Maritime provinces, but also well beyond. The well-travelled young fan even made an appearance in the winner's circle at the 2019 Little Brown Jug. His dad, Jason, brought Justin to Ohio last year to fulfill a promised 2018 Christmas present: a shared Jug Week vacation. Even though Justin had his arm in a sling--it had been broken in a playground accident--he proudly sported his blue-and-white checkered driving colours, plus a winning attitude. He and his father met trainer Bill MacKenzie during the week, and were later thrilled to be invited to the winner's circle with Southwind Ozzi and entourage. Southwind Ozzi winning The Little Brown Jug "I've been to all the tracks in the Maritimes, but the Delaware County Fair and the Little Brown Jug are definitely my favorite," says Justin. "I got to meet all my favorite drivers, spend time with them, while also seeing the best three-year olds compete for the Jug." Southwind Ozzi's Jug is one Turnbull will always remember: In an extraordinary gesture, trainer MacKenzie even gave his first personal Jug trophy to the young fan who had overcome early-life health struggles. Visiting racetracks has brought Justin closer to harness racing, and harness racing closer to him. "My favorite horses would have to be Junebugs Baby, Foiled Again, Wiggle It Jiggleit, and Wakizashi Hanover, all who I've had the pleasure of meeting," he shares. "My favorite drivers would be my great uncle Fraser, Montrell Teague, Bob McClure, Jody Jamieson, Ryan Campbell, and Tim Tetrick." On Twitter (Justin is @HorseFan4Life), his photos often show him alongside his favourite racing personalities. Justin Turnbull with Jody Jamieson If harness racing could use a youth movement, it can best facilitate it by welcoming fans like Justin Turnbull to the track. "I will definitely be working in this industry when I grow up," he notes. "Some days I say I'm gonna call races like Vance Cameron, handicap races like Dave Brower, and other days I think I wanna be a trainer, like Ron Burke, Tony Alagna, and Brent McGrath." Justin Turnbull with Brent McGrath In the absence of a family racehorse or relatives who are current participants in racing, barriers to entering the sport can seem overwhelming for young people. Although many tracks are closed or limiting all spectators at the moment, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the USHWA Youth Membership Committee shares Justin Turnbull's view that young people belong at the races, whenever the races return. "I think kids should be allowed at all tracks because it teaches us little things at a time, and I'm always asking questions to learn what is being done," he says. "I couldn't imagine not being allowed in. How else would I be in love with this sport and wanna grow up doing this as my job?" The 2020 Northside Downs racing season ended in November, making Justin's local track a quieter place during the winter months. For him, it's only a temporary break from the up-close experience of his chosen sport. "We don't own any horses at the moment, but my dad says we will for sure someday. I would even like to own a part of a horse as a start, to learn," he notes. Here's hoping that 2021 will bring many more racetrack visits for Justin, and for all young people who love horses and harness racing. Melissa Keith, with Justin Turnbull; photos by Jason Turnbull (This is the final article in the year-long 2020 USHWA Youth Racetrack Reviews series, circulated and created by the USHWA Youth Membership Committee Chair Melissa Keith, with contributions from USHWA Youth members, potential members, Youth Committee members, and industry supporters, and guidance from the late Bill Galvin. Sincere thanks to all contributors: Justin and Jason Turnbull; Angela Holt and Claire Halstead of the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers; Ryan Clements; Brian Tropea and the Ontario Harness Horse Association; Trey Colbeck; Ryder Skinner and Matt Sparacino; Grady Hachey; Nicholas "Ace" Barnsdale; Lily Watson; Edison Hatter; Tony Elliott; and Nathan Bain.)  

Officials with Nova Scotia Harness Racing Industry Association are pleased to announce that harness racing will commence at the Nova Scotia tracks in June. Safety and the well being of our patrons is top priority. The announcement May 20 , 2020 by Premier McNeil for all "business that was not directly closed under the health protection order and is able to start operating as long as they meet the general requirement" was welcoming news for the three tracks. Truro Raceway, Inverness Raceway and Northside Downs will be enforcing Covid-19 restrictions for all workers and race participants. Public Health measures that will be enforced include social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment. No spectators will be allowed on the properties during live racing events until further notice. Fans will be able to wager from the safety of their homes through the online betting platform Nova Scotia Premier McNeil along with Dr. Strang has done a tremendous job in keeping COVID-19 under control in our Province. We would like to thank the Honorable Keith Colwell, Department of Agriculture for supporting our proposal to open the tracks. Like all jurisdictions, there are several changes to how live racing will be conducted. No fans will be permitted at the racetracks until further notice and all trainers will have to submit groom rosters ahead of race dates. Social distancing and use of personal protective equipment will be enforced along with guidelines set forth by public health, racing forensics, CPMA and Standardbred Canada. The guidelines for Back to Racing, including protocols for the tracks to follow while training and conducting live racing will be made available on each tracks website. Qualifying dates for Truro Raceway, Northside Downs, and Inverness Raceway will be announced in the coming days.  

Nova Scotia is a province steeped in harness racing tradition. It also home to many of the sport’s youngest participants and fans. Lily Watson is a 19-year-old horsewoman and newly-minted Atlantic Post Calls columnist, covering racing action and community news at 94-year-old Inverness Raceway, Cape Breton.  “I have been coming to the races with my friends since I was 10 years old,” she said. “I started paddocking when I was 13, and I bought my first horse at the end of that summer. This year is my sixth year as an owner, and my third year as a trainer.” Although there are families with many generations in local racing, Watson’s story is a little different. “I do not have an extensive family history in the sport like many others do,” she explained. “I got involved as a kid and my dad quickly took an interest too. He’s now an owner, groom, and president of the track’s executive committee.” Watson takes pride in being a racehorse owner and trainer, adding that she has plans to pursue driving within the next few years. Her role model? “That’s easy, Mary Clare MacDonald. Not only is she a female in the business, but she’s the best, and she does it all.” Lily also spoke highly of the reinsman who drove both of her horses to victory at Inverness October 8th, 2017, giving Watson her first career training wins: “I’ve been a fan of Gerard Kennedy’s driving for a while, and now he drives for me regularly, which is awesome.” The owner of Im Indigo and Tymal Torrance said that apart from her own horses, she had special appreciation for a well-known local favourite: “Cam Cool was my favourite horse to watch.”  Young participants are active in keeping Inverness Raceway moving forward. Watson, who begins coverage of her home track in the May issue of Atlantic Post Calls, wrote about the level of youth involvement—and enjoyment—at the scenic half-mile treasure on Cape Breton’s west coast:  “We have lots of fundraisers that go on here, including 50/50 and Tri-cash draws and bingo on a regular basis to keep our track going. [Inverness does not simulcast its live races.] Every year we have a ‘Kiddie Day’ where we fill our grandstand with games and prizes for children, which I think helps them associate our track as a fun place to come to. A couple of years ago, one of our young horsepeople, Melanie Leblanc, organized youth dances at the track to fundraise for a new set of saddle pads that have been a great upgrade for us that everyone has benefitted from and that we will be able to use for years to come.  It can be hard sometimes, as a young person, to understand the importance of the role we play here. But I think it’s safe to say that if Inverness didn’t have the youth involvement that it does, there wouldn’t be enough fans and horsemen to keep the game alive. On any given race day, there are young people around everywhere you look, as grooms, owners, trainers, fans, and staff. That’s something that truly makes our track special, we have got to have more young people involved here than any other Nova Scotia track.  People don’t come to Inverness to make big money, and they probably don’t look forward to driving all the way here or racing around our sharp first turn. They also probably don’t love it when they’re in a full field and draw the 6 hole as Inverness is only 6 wide. But we get some big crowds regardless! Something Inverness does have is a strong, family-oriented community with a lot of dedicated fans that never miss a race. The barn side is full of friendly horsemen, young and old who share a passion for the game. We love when people come to visit our track, any day of the week! We especially love to have the chance to show our ‘Cape Breton Hospitality’ at special events like stake cards that bring even more people and horses to our big blue barn. Inverness Raceway is a place for everyone to visit and feel welcome, we’re all here to have a good time.” Lily Watson (with Melissa Keith)

Introduced to harness racing as a 12-year-old, the year would have been 1956. Saturday night racing at Truro Raceway included watching double-gaited Josedale Clansman race; George Turner was in the bike. Watching Kirk Pinkney win with Scotland Mist is still clear in my mind, as is the horsemanship ability of Kirk’s sons, drivers Phil and Dave Pinkney. Westville’s Clayton MacLeod was too becoming one of my driving favourites.   Fast forward 63 years, what a race card, what tremendous harness racing last Saturday night at Truro Raceway. Part of Truro’s big week, Atlantic Grand Circuit Week, it just doesn’t get much better. In sharing parts of the evening, I’ll pinpoint what I’d describe as a few personal highlights. The quality of racing caught many people’s attention – fast miles were the order of the day. Catch Twenty Two, with Darren Crowe handling the reins, won Race 3, the Vincent “Butch” Horne Memorial,” pacing in 1:56 flat. The next race, the Bud & Lorne Whidden Memorial, went in 155.1 with Jason Hughes and Rocknrols Image getting the job done. Besides the outstanding action on the track, most of us railbirds enjoy comparing notes, even reminiscing about something that might have happened a way, way back. Running into Doug Saunders and his wife Kim, the couple had driven down from Glace Bay for Saturday night’s race card. “You and I met on the Canada Games Diamond in Halifax in 1973,” Saunders, 66, recalled. “It was after a Brookfield Elks-Dartmouth Dairy Queen fastball game. I interviewed you.” Saunders arrived in Halifax in the fall of 1972 from his native Kenora, Ont. With experience in radio, he joined first CJCH Radio, followed by a stint with CHNS Radio. Quite a career in television followed as Saunders became a colourful and knowledgeable voice with CBC from 1973 up until his retirement in 1995.   “I had two or three opportunities to go on to bigger things, such as an offer from Hockey Night In Canada. What kept me here? I loved Nova Scotia, I didn’t want to leave. When I first came to Nova Scotia, I just felt that I was home.” In 1975 Saunders became involved in harness racing, purchasing a  horse by the name of Royal Banner. Enjoying the sport, he operated a standardbred farm in Middle Musquodoboit during the 1990s. In 2004, he became general manager of Tartan Downs in Sydney. “Kim and I have lived in Glace Bay the past 15 years. I own a two-year-old filly, Ubettimagoodone, with Jeff Lilly. She’s had one lifetime start. She’s a half-sister to Bettim Jackie, who made a $100,000 last year as a three-year-old.” Noticeably knowledgeable regarding harness racing – Saunders commented. “The track crew have this racetrack in excellent shape tonight. To compliment the condition of the track – the quality of Maritime horses just continues to get better each year. My wife Kim and I will remember this night in Truro for a long time. I love Truro, I have some good friends who live here and with this calibre of harness racing, you can bet your life, we’ll be back again.” A personal synopsis: the most outstanding race of the night was Race 9, producing an exciting ‘three horses across the track finish.’ Red Dirt Boomer won the $10,020 division of Atlantic Sires Stake for three-year-old pacing colts in 155.4      It was good to talk to a number of interesting harness racing followers during the night, including the Zann family who were seated at a table in the trackside restaurant. Truro-Bible Hill-Salmon River-Millbrook MLA Lenore Zann, her parents Paul and Jan Zann and Wayne Burley were all enjoying the exciting racing. “It feels like coming home being here at Truro Raceway,” Lenore said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people through harness racing.” Jan said her grandmother owned thoroughbreds in Australia and both Jan and Paul shared interesting stories of successful family-owned race horses. “We arrived in Truro in 1969,” said Jan. “We’ve always enjoyed coming to the races, when relatives visit we always bring them to the Truro Raceway.” An overall exceptional night, it seemed fitting that the final race saw Rose Run Quest, with driver Marc Campbell, stop the clock in 152.1 – a new Truro Raceway track record. By Lyle Carter Reprinted with permission of The Truro Daily News

Howmac Sabrina had her first harness racing win of the year stopping the clock in 158/4 in the first ATSS A Division. Owned by Brittany Watts and Windemere Farms, trained by Michael Dowling, with David Dowling doing the driving. Second was Cheeky Cherry and third went to Woodmere Rio. Woodmere Oleksiak took a new lifetime mark of 157/4 to win the second A Division of the ATSS. Owned by Hollis Newton, Debbie Denny, Ric McNutt and Windemere Farms, trained by Earl Watts and driven to victory by David Dowling. Arc Light was second and rallying for third was Woodmere Tango. Woodmere Oleksiak Atlantic Sire Stakes action continues in two weeks time during Lobster Carnival Week in Summerside   Debbie Francis Executive Director Atlantic Standardbred Breeders Association

The 2019 Atlantic Sires Stakes season is set to kick off Friday night. Truro Raceway will host the Atlantic Sires Stakes three-year-old pacing fillies Friday evening. Two 'A' divisions will each go for a purse pool of $10,220 and one 'B' division will go for $2500. The Atlantic Sires Stakes program, the first of its kind in Canada, was formed over fifty years ago to promote the Standardbred horse industry in Atlantic Canada.  Today the program showcases the best young horses in the region and offers participants and spectators the finest in harness racing action. Atlantic Sires Stakes events will take place at racetracks throughout Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island this year. Points earned in each 'A' division event will go towards securing a coveted position in the season-ending Atlantic Breeders Crown Championships.  First race post time at Truro Raceway on Friday is 6:30 pm.   Debbie Francis Executive Director Atlantic Standardbred  Breeders Association

INVERNESS, N.S. — The Inverness Raceway held its annual awards banquet last Friday in Inverness, handing out the Cape Breton track’s prestigious harness racing awards from the 2018 race season. Doubleshotofscotch was named the horse of the year, while mare of the year was given to Modern Best and Makes Me Stupid and Bonny Mac were chosen for the iron horse award. Tipperback Jack was the most improved horse for 2018, while Intended Royalty took home the fastest mile for a local horse award. Claimer of the year was Shanghai BG. Red Doucet Jr., who also had the most drives during the year, took home the top driver over the age of 50 with 44 wins, followed by Rodney Gillis with 28 wins and Ryan Campbell with 24 victories. The top trainer over 50 was John MacDonald with 13 wins, followed closely by Lennan MacIsaac with 12 wins and DF Beaton and Wendall Harper with 11 wins each. Shawn MacDonald and Lanny Hanscombe were the top drivers in the 20-49 category while Alex Sutherland Jr. was the top trainer in the division. Ambrose Gillis was chosen as the rookie driver of the year while Matt Hinkley and Zack Mullins were selected as the rookie trainers of the year. The Gerard Kennedy Financial Award was presented to Mary MacQuarrie, while the Raymond (Slim) Gillis Award was given to Barry Watson. Meanwhile, the Standardbred Canada award went to John MacDonald. Dylan MacLean was the junior groom of the year. The volunteer of the year was awarded to Ed Copley, while the fan of the year was given to Jamie Campbell. The 2019 harness racing season will begin at Inverness Raceway on June 2. Full list of 2018 annual award winners: Horse of the Year: Doubleshotofscotch Mare of the Year: Modern Best Fastest Mile For Local Horse: Intended Royalty Iron Horse: Makes Me Stupid and Bonny Mac Mode of Consistency: Res Aiden Most Improved: Tipperback Jack Claimer of the Year: Shanghai BG Three-year-old Filly: This Old Millie Three-year-old Colt: Windmeredontmatter and Blackriver Ripper Two-year-old Filly: Miss Dynamite D Two-year-old Colt: TQs Charlie Top Trainer (50-plus): .466 with 13 wins John MacDonald, 12 wins Lennan MacIsaac, 11 wins DF Beaton and Wendall Harper, Top Trainer (20-49): .485 Alex Sutherland Jr. Top Driver (50-plus): .466 with 44 wins Red Doucet Jr., Rodney Gillis (28 wins), and Ryan Campbell (24) Top Drivers (20-49): .455 Shawn MacDonald and Lanny Hanscombe with six wins, Sandy MacNeil, Alex MacDonald, Joey Poirier with five wins, and Charles Fraser and Ambrose Gillis with four wins Most Drives: Red Doucet Jr. Rookie Driver: Ambrose Gillis Rookie Trainers: Matt Hinkley and Zack Mullins Junior Groom: Dylan MacLean Gerard Kennedy Financial Award: Mary MacQuarrie Fan of the Year: Jamie Campbell Standardbred Canada Award: John MacDonald Raymond (Slim) Gillis Award: Barry Watson Volunteer of the Year: Ed Copley Recognition Award: Malcolm MacEachern, DF Beaton and Charles Fraser Appreciation Award: Bernie MacDonald, Kevin Deagle and Richie Mullins Reprinted with permission of The Cape Breton Post

BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Separating the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) from the Truro Raceway is a necessary move to pull both operations out of their long-standing financial spiral, Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell says. “There has been not really solid financial management over a long period of time,” Colwell told the Truro Daily News on Friday, with respect to the raceway and NSPE. “So, we’ve made a clear separation with the two now.” Seventeen staff members at both the raceway and the NSPE Commission were informed at a special meeting Friday morning that their jobs had been terminated. The employees were provided with severance pay, told to collect their personal belongings, to turn in their keys and to leave the premises. “I think it is sort of a hard day for some people but in the long run this is going to be a regeneration and a rejuvenation of the whole race track and, more importantly, the exhibition, to make sure this is a longstanding real asset for agriculture in the province and the communities in Truro and surrounding area,” Colwell said. The advisory board that Colwell had put in place in recent years has also been relieved of responsibilities. NSPE general manager Joe Nicholson has been replaced by Darrelyn Hubley, a business manager with more than 30 years experience in event management and promotion, who has been hired to oversee the transition period. She is responsible solely for the NSPE operations and will report directly to Colwell’s office. Everything to do with Truro Raceway will be managed by the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association, which is renting the track, stables and related facilities from the NSPE for $200 per month. Although Colwell credited the advisory board members with doing “a great job,” he said they were faced with an “impossible task” of trying to turn things around, given the dire financial position the facility is in combined with the current state of the harness racing industry. “We really need a fresh start there,” he said. “Somebody from outside the area to give a fresh approach that’s got a lot of experience in running these kinds of operations, exhibitions and those sorts of things.” The NSPE Commission has been sitting on a debt of $1 million for the past recent years, of which approximately $500,000 is owed to the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. “I don’t know what we are going to do long term with that but at the present time, it will just stay there as an outstanding balance owed to the farm loan board,” Colwell said. “So, all those issues have to be addressed over time. We need time to do that and the first step is today. It was costing us about $20,000 a week when you look at the overhead for the wages and everything, and the exhibition was broke.” While the horse owners’ association will be responsible for raceway expenses, Colwell said his department will be funding the NSPE operations for the foreseeable future. “We want the harness racing to prosper in the province over time and it’s been faltering for a number of years, because of a lack of interest in the sport,” he said. “And they’ve got some pretty good ideas how they can move it forward and I’m confident they’ll be able to do that.” Now that the province is going to be picking up the tab for the NSPE expenses, Colwell said all local suppliers who have extended credit to the facility “will be paid.” The minister said he’s now looking forward to being able to meet with local municipal officials to set out a plan for the NSPE’s long-term future. “Now we can move ahead,” he said. “We couldn’t do very much until we got all this stuff straightened out.” Reprinted with permission of the Truro Daily News

Separating the Truro Raceway operations from the management of Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission (NSPEC) would not be a recommended move from the perspective of a longtime harness racing proponent. “How do you divide it up when there’s events going on, on either side,” said Bruce Kennedy, who has had “my finger on the pulse over there for the last 50 years almost.” “That should be under one management to get the full benefit out of it,” he said, of the various activities that are held at both the raceway and the NSPE complex. Kennedy’s comments came in response to a recent article published in the Truro Daily News regarding what is believed to be a planned restructuring by the provincial government the will see the operations of the Truro Raceway separated from the NSPEC. Agriculture minister Keith Colwell met with a number of local officials in a closed meeting in mid December during which he said an announcement regarding the NSPEC will be forthcoming. News of that meeting prompted a response from Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, who said the minister had informed her last fall of his intentions to separate the two entities. Although Zann said Colwell did not indicate his reasons for wanting to separate the two operations, she said she was left with the impression the decision is being made for financial reasons. In early 2014 Colwell called in the NSPEC’s $422,000 debt to the Nova Scotia Farm Loan board, relieved the board members at that time of their responsibilities and ultimately established a new operating board. At that point, the NSPEC carried a total outstanding debt load of $1 million. Colwell’s department is currently refusing to release any financial information pertaining to the NSPEC and the only statement it will offer on the issue is to say “the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition is an important organization for the agriculture sector and for the economy in the region and province. We are working with the exhibition.” “So I would say this latest decision is both a ‘calling in of the markers’ (by writing off the Farm Loan debt) but it is also political - a way for this Liberal minister to take control of the NSPE … while cutting the raceway loose and letting them fend for themselves - sink or swim,” Zann said. Kennedy who has been involved in the harness racing industry, including as an owner for the past 50 years, including as both a member and chairman of the former commission board and president of the Harness Racing Association, among other roles, said he believes separating the two organization is not the best way to make the raceway financially viable. “The thing, I guess, that might concern me is the harness racing side of it,” he said. Kennedy said he doesn’t know what Colwell plans to do with the facility but separating the two operations and expecting the raceway to survive on its on simply will not work. “There’s just too much cost and overhead to it,” he said. Currently, the provincial government allocates $1 million a year to the Harness Racing Industry Council, which is split between the Truro Raceway and the tracks in North Sydney and Inverness. The money, the bulk of which goes to the Truro Raceway, is used both to supplement race purses and for infrastructure at the tracks. But Kennedy said the amount is too little to split among three tracks. Additionally there are just not enough racehorses in Atlantic Canada anymore to justify having three tracks in Nova Scotia, Kennedy said. “In my book we don’t have enough for two racetracks,” he said. “They’re racing for such a small amount of money, that the guys go out there and they’re really subsidizing themselves. There’s not enough money to race for to pay your bills.” Kennedy said he and other harness racers are travelling to the United States where they can still enjoy the sport while earning enough from larger purses there to make it financially worthwhile.  “But we can’t do it at home,” he said. “Pretty sad.” By Harry Sullivan Reprinted with permission of The Truro Daily News

Inverness Raceway will play host to the Atlantic Sires Stakes for harness racing two-year-old pacing colts this weekend. Two 'A' divisions will each go for $10,160 in purses, as the colts battle it out in their second last meeting of the regular season Points earned in each Atlantic Sires Stakes 'A' division pace and trot event go towards securing a spot in the season-ending Atlantic Breeders Crown Championships. This year's championships will be hosted by Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park October 7 and 8. To view current point standings, go to First race post time on Sunday at Inverness Raceway is 1:30 pm. Lynne MacLennan

Atlantic Sires Stakes racing action heats up again this week as the harness racing  trotters and pacers head to Truro Raceway as part of Atlantic Grand Circuit Week. The Atlantic Sires Stakes - Meridian Farms two and three-year-old trotters will convene at the Truro oval on Tuesday evening. A total of six trotting divisions will highlight the evening race card. Joining the trotters will be the two year-old pacing fillies which will meet in three 'A' division events and one 'B' event. Atlantic Sires Stakes events will continue on Thursday evening when the two year-old pacing colts gather for some friendly competition and the Atlantic Sires Stakes three-year-old pacing colts will meet on Saturday. First race post time on Tuesday at Truro Raceway is 6:30 pm. Lynne MacLennan  

Inverness Raceway will play host to Atlantic Sires Stakes fillies this Canada Day weekend, as the nation celebrates 150 years of Confederation and Canada's horse racing industry recognizes the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada. A total of 23 racetracks in eight provinces from coast to coast are taking part in the national celebration over the July 1st weekend, acknowledging this major milestone in the industry's history. The Sunday afternoon race card at Inverness Raceway will also include a trio of Atlantic Sires Stakes events for three-year-old pacing fillies. A $9800 purse will be up for grabs in each of the two 'A' division events, and a lone 'B' division will go for a purse pool of $2500. This is the second meeting of the Atlantic Sires Stakes fillies this race season. Points earned in each 'A' division event go towards earning a coveted spot in the season-ending Atlantic Breeders Crown Championships. First race post time on Sunday at Inverness Raceway is 1:30 pm. Lynne MacLennan

BIBLE HILL, N.S. – The excitement of horses’ hooves pounding down the stretch and teamsters yelling encouragement to their mounts is the name of the game at Truro Raceway on Sundays. Tomorrow, race fans will enjoy 10 dashes of entertaining harness racing at the Bible Hill oval. Qualifying sessions are on tap for 11:30 a.m. Ross and Ernie Wood Memorial Friends of the late Ross and Ernie Wood (Kenny Arseneau, Gary Miller, Tommy Hollis and Jim Fraser) have partnered to present the annual memorial pace tomorrow afternoon.  Ross and Ernie were longtime harness racing enthusiasts and loyal supporters of the sport.  The winning connections of Race 9 will receive a colourful summer blanket in a winner’s circle presentation. Rivalry heating up in feature Fresh off of a commanding nine-length victory, Goliath Reigns, in line to Todd Trites, will take on six strong contenders, including the team of His Boy Elroy and Bernard (Pooker) McCallum, winner of the June 4 feature pace, along with Mortal Combat, Brookdale Buster, Giant Slayer, Badlandia and Distinctiv Rusty. Top of the Turn Diner – Lobster dinner with dessert and tea/coffee $19.95. – 1/4 chicken dinner with dessert – tea/coffee $15.95 Chase the Ace June 11 Chase the Ace winner – Max Long ($121.00). Eight of clubs was drawn. Carryover for June 18 –$1,437.50 Pepsi North America Cup tonight Truro Raceway is excited to present the $1-million Pepsi North American Cup for three year olds simulcast live from Mohawk Raceway. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Who won the day – June 11 An extraordinary occurrence took place last Sunday with several aged horses on the program dominating the payouts. In Race 4, three senior 14-year-old challengers, connected to make the triactor – Jennifer Baxter's Intrepidus, Sharon The Moment for Hollis White and Lil Orpahn Cam for owners Dawn Ellis and Jeff Ellis. Experience prevailed again when 14-year-old Bagel Man picked up the victory in the sixth race for Bob Collette of Truro. Rapid Fire with Bernard (Pooker) McCallum 1. Favorite track to drive at besides Truro: Charlottetown 2. Favorite Food: Steak 3. Favorite non-horsey activity: Playing cards 4. Least favorite barn chore: Sweeping the floor 5. Favorite TV show/movie - Little House on the Prairie Upcoming events June 25 – Carl and Marg MacKenzie Stake for three-year-old pacing colts and fillies. July 16-23 – Atlantic Grand Circuit Week. July 16 – Bring a friend day (Check race program for details on how to register). By Diane Daniels Reprinted with permission of The Truro Daily

HARRISBURG PA - The first winner of a race in 2017 North American harness racing was named Saulsbrook Lanny, who was home first in the opener of a matinee program at Truro Raceway in New Brunswick, Maritime Canada. The race went off at 1:01 p.m. Atlantic time, which is one hour ahead of the U.S.'s earliest zone, Eastern time, so the clock would have read 12:01 p.m. on the Eastern seaboard when the gate sprang at Truro.   The name "Lanny" is the "second name" of this equine winner and also the first name of the father of the driver who won the first 2017 harness race in the United States. The Who's songline of "Meet the new boss ... same as the old boss" was never more appropriate as Aaron Merriman, who had just finished 2016 with 891 victories to top all North American sulkysitters for the second straight season, was the first U.S. driver to take a pari-mutuel contest in the New Year, guiding King Muscles to victory in the curtainraiser (6:07 p.m. EST) at Northfield Park.   Aaron Merriman will be honored in Las Vegas the last weekend in February at the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Sponsored by Hoosier Park, receiving the Leading Dashwinner trophy; a fellow driver (and Buckeye) to be honored will be the 2016 Driver of the Year as voted by the event's host, the U.S. Harness Writers Association, Hall of Fame horseman David Miller.   ...And in the oddest of circumstances, King Muscles, the first winning horse in the U.S. in 2017, is owned by ... David Miller! But this Miller is David E. Miller, a 38-year-old resident of Millersburg OH, while Hall of Fame David Miller has the middle initial of "S."    

Trackside, an informative harness racing column by Diane Daniels, has appeared in the Truro Daily news for the past 13 years. Daniels, also race office supervisor at Truro Raceway, does a great job promoting harness racing and keeping fans updated on horses, drivers and race results. Quietly, behind the scenes, Daniels works positively with horsemen and she plays a key role in projects such as the annual standardbred sale. Reading Daniels’s column last Saturday, a headline 'Calendars' caught my attention. Daniels explained that Truro Raceway was once again offering The Heart of Harness Racing calendars at a cost of $5 with the proceeds being donated directly to Truro's Colchester Food Bank.dvertisement  Daniels pointed out that the month of March photo was a submission from Truro track photographer Kyle Burton. “At The Wire” is a breathtaking four-horse finish Burton captured earlier this summer at Truro Raceway. It was an easy decision – deciding to support a good cause Sunday afternoon and to watch some exciting harness racing. Arriving at Truro Raceway for the third race of a nine-dash card, following the race, I purchased a food bank supporting calendar at the race office. Great racing and interesting conversations followed. “It was a surprising photo to capture,” Burton said as we discussed his calendar photo. “I didn't expect the finish to be that close. It's really unique to get four horses that close together at the end of a mile. It was really exciting and I’m sure the fans enjoyed it.” The feature eighth race was for winners over $950 their last five starts; the purse was $1475. Surrealist, a 10-year-old gelding, won the race for driver Paul Langille in a time of 2:01 on a track rated off by three seconds. “Surrealist is owned by Dana Getto of New Waterford,” Burton said. “He is now trained by Paul Langille, that win makes him a 19-race-winner in 2016. He is tied with two other horses as the winningest horse this year in North America. Surrealist will race in Truro for the remainder of the season, which is good for local fans.” Burton has a vast knowledge of harness racing and when Surrealist was featured this month in the national Trot Magazine, Burton's photos helped tell his incredible story. Langille, who drove Surrealist to the win in the feature, commented. “I sat fifth early in the mile, I started to move my horse at the three-eighth marker. We came second over following Rawdon Gold Digger. He took us to the three-quarter pole where I moved to go three high – Surrealist and His Boy Elroy, with Bernard McCallum, battled it out the last quarter mile. This horse has 54 lifetime wins, he really knows how to dig in the last quarter of a mile." With two driving wins on the afternoon, Langille, the 2015 driving champion with 55 wins, brought his 2016 total to 23 wins to sit fourth among Truro's top drivers. Darren Crowe is closing in on the driving championship with 39 wins, Ryan Ellis is second with 28, Todd Trites has 27 for third and Ernie Laffin holds down fifth spot with 19 wins. Adding to the afternoon were comments from longtime handicappers Gary "Mouse" Fielding and Irving Mathews. Fielding and Mathews shared unique methods for picking winners. Scott Daniels It was good to talk to former driver Scott Daniels, Diane's husband, another very knowledgeable race follower. “The races are very competitive and they are fast,” Scott said. “Years of breeding the best to the best is now on the race track. There are no clunkers any more. We also have quite a number of good young drivers, I enjoy the game; I haven't missed a card this year. With me, it's close between watching harness racing and watching hockey, I love both sports." Scott began driving pacers and trotters in 1957. He drove his last horse at Truro Raceway in 2010. Scott's record shows 3,835 drives and he recorded 462 wins. There were some years along the way he could not drive because of his 30-year career as a correctional officer at Dorchester Penitentiary. A member of the famed Daniels harness racing family, Scott's father, Frank Daniels, had more than 1,700 career wins, while his brother Gary paraded back more than 1,500 winners. Lyle Carter's sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857. Reprinted with permission of The Truro Daily News

The Atlantic Breeders Crown Host Committee is pleased to announce the four Atlantic Canadian harness racing families who will be honoured for their successes and longstanding contributions to the industry during the upcoming Atlantic Breeders Crown weekend at Red Shores Charlottetown on October 8-9th. It is only fitting in the 50th year of the Atlantic Sires Stakes program, that the family of Jack and brother Doug Ferguson of Nova Scotia are being recognized. Jack was a longtime proponent of the local harness racing breeding program, operating Precentor Farm and serving as the manager of the Atlantic Sires Stakes program for nearly 30 years. Brother Doug produced some of the best known products of the regional stakes program at his Kilkerran Farms in Bay Head, NS. Kilkerran Ella and Kilkerran Robbie were two of the top stars in the AtSS program in the 1970's. Two-time Atlantic Canadian Horse of the Year, Kilkerran Fury, still holds the record for career earnings by a Maritime-bred in the region. Kilkerran Ingle was the last Maritime-bred to win the Gold Cup and Saucer in 1992, while Kilkerran Scot is the richest-ever Martime -bred performer. The Pineau family from Rustico, PEI has experienced many successes in the Atlantic Sires Stakes over the decades. Brothers Alyre, John and Alphonse all developed and raced numerous stakes performers. Alyre recorded over 1000 driving wins in a long career, setting the CDP track trotting record on three separate occasions and winning numerous AtSS trot events. John was also a successful trainer and driver in later years and was breeder of a number of top Maritime-bred trotters with the Rustico prefix. One of his homebreds, Rustico Pluto was the first locally bred trotter to break the 1:55 barrier. Alphonse was also a driver and trainer who spent some time on the Grand Circuit in the 1970's. The popular blacksmith also developed several top horses for H.B. Willis. Several other Pineau family members have donned the silks over the years including Alyre's sons, David, Tommy and Joey and Alphonse's son Steve. From New Brunswick, the family of the late Sonny MacDonald has been involved with standardbreds for over 50 years. Wife Sylvia was the long-serving Clerk of the Course at Exhibition Park Raceway. Sons Clyde, Ross and Bruce all were involved in the family past-time. Ross was a top driver and trainer at EPR in the late 1980's and Bruce has found success in Ontario training some top horses for the Mardon Stables and partner Dan MacIsaac, including Card Trick Hanover, Armbro Choir and Catch The Dream. From Newfoundland and Labrador, the Dooling family will be recognized for their long involvement in the local industry there. Presentations to each of the four families will take place at the Atlantic Breeders Crown banquet at the Top of the Park at Red Shores Charlottetown on Saturday, October 8th. The four families from each of the Atlantic Provinces will also be saluted with memorabilia on display in the "Memory Lane" room on the second level of the CDP grandstand. By Jerry McCabe

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