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There were two divisions for freshmen filly pacers in the second week of harness racing prelims in the Maryland Sire Stakes at Ocean Downs.   Driver Art Stafford Jr. picked up the assignment behind Tell Me The Truth (Total Truth) giving her her first lifetime win in the 1:58 wire to wire mile with Bad Bitty up for second. Kevin Lare trains for owners Frank Chick and Julie Meirs. The breeders are Concord Stud Farm and Julie Meirs.   In the second split HS Shauna (Up Front Charlie) gained the lead from post 6 out of the gate holding off the favorite Miss Choptank stopping the clock in 1:57. Roger Plante Jr. was in the bile for trainer Steve LeBlanc and owner/breeder Cary Grady.   Judge Bob ( Great George Two) made his first lifetime start a winning one, coming from seventh at the half to taking a half-length lead over the favorite Uncle Ike in the two year old trotting colts and geldings. Jonathan Roberts was between the wheels for trainer Megan Roberts and owner/breeders Wm. B. Roberts, Graham Grace Stables and M & W Stables.   Maryland Sire Stakes continue Monday Aug. 21 with the freshmen pacing colts and geldings and the trotting fillies.   By Cheri Stambaugh

(Berlin, Maryland) - The 2017 RUS MidAtlantic Monte Trotting Series kicks off this Sunday, August 20, 2017 at Ocean Downs Racetrack and a select field of six trotters will be competing for a purse of $5,000 in this non-wagering event. The race is scheduled to be contested between the fifth and sixth races on the regular program. First race for the evening has a scheduled 7:05 post. For the initial leg of the series, the field of six trotters appear to present an interesting puzzle with several of the horses meriting serious consideration for top honors. Following this leg of the series, the series moves on to the Meadowlands on Saturday, September 9 for the second leg with the series final being contested at Rosecroft Raceway on Sunday, October 8. In post position order: One True Friend (post 1, Hillary Hartnett) has compiled a record of 5-2-2-0 this year with a lifetime mark of 2:03.3 set at Tioga Downs with seasonal earnings of $1,695. Since One True Friend's victory at Tioga, she has two second place finishes at Upstate New York fairs. With a return to the raceways, Hartnett is looking for the Wesley Miller trainee to return to her winning ways. 2016 RUS New York Fair Series Champion Admirable Hanover (post 2, Vanessa Karlewicz) comes into the race off a victory at the Oswego County Fair to account for his lone win thus far in three starts for 2017. The ten year old altered son of Cantab Hall has thus far this year a 3-1-2-0 record with $1,533 in earnings. His lifetime mark of 2:03.4 was set last year in the Fair Final held at Batavia Downs. Finishing second to One True Friend at Tioga Downs, Owner/Trainer/Rider Vanessa Karlewicz is hoping to turn the tables on his opponent. Making his seasonal debut this year is Hyway Marcus (post 3, Sasha Moczulski), a winner of three races out of five RUS starts lifetime. With a lifetime mark of 1:59.1 set in 2016, Marcus comes into this race off a qualifying effort at Monticello Raceway but benefits from returning to one of his favorite tracks, winning here in 2015 and finishing second in 2016. In last year's RUS America series, the talented son of Gut Instinct won at Rosecroft Raceway in addition to the previously mentioned second place finish at the Ocean. Trained by Josh Green, Sasha Moczulski gets the call on Hyway Marcus for the first time. While the first three horses figure to be prominent in the race, post positions four and five feature two horses making their RUS debuts. Making his first lifetime start under saddle for trainer John Calabrese is Keenan (post 4, Maria Buchanan). Keenan qualified at Ocean Downs last Friday (August 10), in 2:06.1 and hopes to build upon the qualifier. In sulky, Keenan has lifetime earnings of nearly $560,000. If any of that talent passes over to the saddle, Kennan will be a formidable foe. Another horse making their debut is Pine Tab (post 5, Helene Gregory). A Nick Surick trainee, Pine Tab was victorious in his only morning trial, winning his qualifier at Gaitway Farms back in June in a crisp 2:00.1. Helene Gregory returns to ride the son of Cantab Hall. Drawing the outside post six and making his first RUS start in two years is Catalyst (post 6, Stephanie Jacobs). In 2015, Catalyst compiled a 2-0-1-1 record and a 1:59Q mark set at Gaitway Farms. In his comeback qualifier, Catalyst was victorious in 2:01. Jody Dunning has the training duties while RUS MidAtlantic President Stephanie Jacobs gets the call on the eight year old gelding. In addition to the race, RUS Riders will be available trackside for a Meet and Greet. Fans and individuals interested in more information on racing under saddle are invited to attend. by RUS MidAtlantic

Russell Foster was the spring driving champion at Rosecroft Raceway and is the leading harness racing driver this summer at Ocean Downs. But the 28-year-old Maryland native never imagined this kind of success in the sulky. Prior to October 2015, Foster had won a total of 67 races over a span of more than six years. Since then, he has won 403 times. Foster's success can be traced to his purchase of pacer Hi Sir in June 2013. By the end of 2014, the Foster-trained-and-driven Hi Sir was a force on the Maryland circuit and helped propel Foster's career to new levels. In 2016, no one won more races than Foster at Rosecroft (96) and he visited the winner's circle a total of 192 times. This year, Foster has already won 185 races, good for 33rd most in North America, and his $1.20 million in purses is nearing his $1.35 million in 2016. Foster, the son of trainer Arty Foster Jr., recently took time to talk to Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association's Harness Racing Communications division about his career. KW: You're having another great year. What have been the keys to your success? RF: I don't really know if there has been a key to it. I'm just showing up every night and trainers have been putting me on a lot of good horses. That makes my job a lot easier. I've just been lucky to get some good drives. KW: What have the last two years been like? Did you foresee this type of success? RF: No, I didn't. It's been a big lifestyle change. I had a horse of my own (Hi Sir) that I took over to Rosecroft and was doing really well there. My dad brought a couple over and they started doing well and people just started listing me (to drive). I didn't really think I was going to be a catch driver. It just took off on me. KW: At what point did you realize it was going in that direction? RF: I would say last year. I didn't realize it was going to take off the way it did. It just kept going the way it was going and I took it as it came. KW: You mentioned it's been a lifestyle change. What kind of adjustment was it? RF: You're spending a lot more time at the track. I worked for my grandfather for the last 10 years, so I was always at the track a lot paddocking horses for him. But I wasn't at the track every night until the last race every night. It's a lot more late nights, a lot more time at the track. It's tough to get used to, but you get used to it after a while. KW: Is it tough mentally, too, as you're getting acclimated? RF: It was tough at first. I was used to driving only a couple horses a night, so I was really focused in on those horses. Now when you're driving 10 or 12 a night, you don't really have the time to put all that much thought into every race. I really think that's better in a way because a lot of times when I was driving just a couple I'd really overthink things. Now I just kind of go with the flow of it. I think it's better. KW: Are you the type of person that would dwell on things when they didn't go well, or were you able to turn the page? RF: If I drove a bad race it used to really bother me and it took me a while to get over it. Now, five minutes later you have to get right back on the next one. You've got to learn to turn the page. That makes it a lot easier. You still feel bad about the bad ones, but you don't have time to dwell on it. You've got to be ready for the next one. KW: Is that one of the biggest adjustments you have to make? RF: Yeah, I would say so. You've got to be able to move on to the next one. KW: What have been the highlights for you so far? RF: I've had success with my horse (Hi Sir) at Rosecroft. He got horse of the meet a couple different times over there. Mr Ham Sandwich, I won three or four (Maryland) Sire Stakes finals with him. That was a big thrill. KW: Your family has been involved in racing for a long time. Is this something you always wanted to do? RF: Yeah, I always enjoyed it. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I loved going to the track with my dad; I loved going to Rosecroft. It's where I wanted to go every weekend and I had a lot of fun with it. Whenever I had spare time on the weekends and during summers, I spent a lot of time at the barn and always enjoyed jogging horses and all that. KW: How old were you when you started jogging horses? RF: I'd say 12 or 13. KW: Did you work with the horses during high school, or were you involved in other things? RF: I played soccer my freshman and sophomore year, but after that it was pretty much all the horses. KW: When did you decide you wanted to start training and driving a little on your own? RF: Right from the time I was 16 I wanted to try to have one or two of my own. When I turned 19, I got my driver's license and I gave it a shot. It didn't seem like it was a realistic thing for me at the time; I didn't do very good starting out. I just focused more on working for my grandfather. He had 20 head racing at the time, so I didn't really have time to focus on much else. Then around 2012, 2013, he started to cut back on horses. So I got focused more on driving at Rosecroft. That's when things kind of went that route. KW: Have you had any other jobs? RF: No, never had any other job than this. KW: What do you most enjoy about working with the horses? RF: I just love being around them. Even now with driving all the time, I still work at the barn every day. I still enjoy that aspect of it. I just love it. There's nothing else I ever wanted to do. KW: Is it nice to have success so close to home? RF: That's definitely a plus. Of course it would be nice to have success somewhere else too, but I loved going to Rosecroft when I was growing up, I used to love watching races there. So to have success there is pretty cool. KW: Have you thought about expanding to other tracks more? RF: I drive a few for my dad at (Harrah's Philadelphia) here or there. It's definitely tougher up there, tough to break in. But I give it a shot every now and then. I drive quite a few in Delaware. It's tough there also, but I'm trying my hand there. I hope to pick up a few drives this winter at Dover. KW: Do you see yourself doing more of that as time goes on? RF: I think so. Hopefully as I get better and my name gets out there more. Hopefully I can keep making the right moves and people give me a chance. KW: How have you seen yourself improve, what have you learned, in these last couple years? RF: You just feel a lot more comfortable out there. You become a lot more patient. I used to always press a little too hard, I think. The more you're out there, the more comfortable you feel. You get a better feel for how the races are going and take your shots at the right time. When you first start out, you're more nervous and worried about making the right move. Once you do it more and more, you stop thinking so much and it just kind of comes to you. KW: When Ocean Downs closes you'll have some time before Rosecroft reopens, so what are your plans? RF: Harrington goes four nights a week, so I'll be there every night. Those other three nights I'll just try to get some family time in before Rosecroft opens up. I'll be going six nights a week then. So now I just want to spend time with my wife (Megan) and son (Blake). My wife is a big help to me. I wouldn't be able to have horses on my own if she wasn't there. She takes care of things when I'm on the road. KW: What do you like to do when you're not busy at the track or at the barn? RF: I just like hanging out with my son and watch him play. He's almost a year-and-a-half now; he's getting to the fun stage. Other than that, I always liked fishing, going out on the boat and being on the water. KW: Where do you like to fish? RF: Just around here locally, the Chesapeake Bay, the Wye River, places like that. KW: Looking at your stats, you're going to go past last year's numbers pretty soon. That must feel good. RF: Yeah, coming into the year I was just hoping I would improve a little bit. I kind of set a goal for myself to get over 200 wins this year. I'm just hoping things keep going the way they're going. I never set any goals before, but I thought if I could get to 200 wins this year it would be a pretty good step up. KW: It's got to feel pretty good the way everything has come together these last couple years. RF: It definitely does. I didn't think it was going to happen, so it's a very pleasant surprise. KW: What does the future hold? What would you like to accomplish down the road? RF: I've never been real big on setting goals, so I haven't put much thought into that. I just hope to keep getting drives, keep competing and keep progressing each year. I'm just taking it as it comes right now. I just want to keep moving in the right direction. KW: That's worked for you so far. RF: Yeah (laughs), we'll just keep doing it the way we're doing it, I guess. Ken Weingartner

The Ocean Downs crowd watched the largest two-year-old crop in many years hit the track with three splits for harness racing filly pacers and one for colt and gelding trotters.   Reinsman Ross Wolfenden picked up the win in the first division for filly pacers behind Miss Choptank (Total Truth) cutting the mile in 1:59 with Cool Toy up for place. Wayne Givens trains for owners Legacy Racing of DE Inc. and Stephen Townsend. Olive Branch Farm and Philip Wilson are the breeders.   The offspring from first crop sire Charlie De Vie proved themselves in the colt/gelding trot finishing 1 -2. Chucky De Vie gave Wolfenden his second stakes win one length ahead of Uncle Ike stopping the timer in 2:01.2 for owner-breeder Joie De Vie Farm and trainer Chris Ryder.   Princess Rusty (Rusty's For Real) with Jonathan Roberts in the bike took the second race for filly pacers in 1:59 for trainer Mike Hall, owner Al Carter and breeder Carter Racing Stable. Tell Me The Truth crossed the wire second.   The final prelim of the night took a photo to show pocket sitting B N Hopeful (Total Truth) caught the leader Sansa at the wire. Justin Vincent was the pilot for trainer and co-owner Carlin Savage and Gregory Knepp, Only Money Inc is the breeder. Time for the mile was 2:02.1   Maryland sire stake prelims continue Monday Aug. 14 with two divisions for filly trotters and three splits for colt/gelding pacers.   By Cheri Stambaugh

Laurel, DE --- Maryland harness racing driver Ricky Still was injured while driving at Ocean Downs in July. With a broken kneecap and femur, Still is facing significant medical bills and won't be able to work for some time. His brother has launched a Go Fund Me page on his behalf, which can be reached at this link.

The Maryland Standardbred Race Fund stakes for harness racing two year olds continued at the Ocean with two divisions for filly trotters up first as non wagering events. Corey Callahan sent his homebred Gaagaa Gone (GooGoo GaaGaa), trained by Richard Hans, to the front opening up at every pole winning by 18 lengths in 2:03.2 giving us a performance reminiscent of her sires early career at Ocean Downs. Four Deuces was up for place.   Shazamm (Conway Hall) gave driver Corey Callahan a sweep of the filly trots winning in 2:01.4 over Iron Mine Krystal. Renaldo Morales III trains for owner Daniel Clements, and the breeder is Winbak Farm.   Redline Rusty (Rusty's For Real) improved his stats to 3 wins in 6 starts finishing the first split for colt/gelding pacers a half length in front of America First in 1:58.4. Roger Plante Jr. had the driving assignment for trainer Mike Hall and owner Al Carter. Carter Racing Stable LLC was the breeder.   Russell Foster picked up his first stakes win of the night behind Slick Tony (No Spin Zone) stopping the clock in 1:57.4 for owner/trainer/ breeder George Leager. Charlie J finished second.   The third division saw I Run The Show (Cam's Rocket) tie the stakes and track record for 2 year old pacing geldings of 1:55.4 sent way back in 2000 by Shimmering Joseph. Russell Foster was in the bike for owner/breeder Michael Hans and trainer Roger Hans. Toms Tyrannosaurus finished second.   Driver Jonathan Roberts and Bo Breeze (Nuclear Breeze) took advantage of his pocket trip charging down the stretch to win over Sea Bags in 1:58.1 for trainer Shawn Murray and owner Murray Stables. The breeder was Robert and Elberta Murray.   by Cheri Stambaugh  

On Sunday July 30 the Maryland Standardbred Race Fund (foaled) Stakes for harness racing two year olds started with the trotting colts and geldings going to post in race two.   Driver Chuck Connor Jr. sent Whats The Word (Donato Hanover) to the lead, striding off to win by 17½ lengths in the 1:58.2 mile. Iron Mine Bro was up for place. Arden Homestead Stable and Janice Connor are the owners with Janice also picking up training duties. Fred Hertrich is the breeder.   The filly pacers split in three divisions. In the first split George and Tina Dennis Racing's Michelle's Jazz (Roll With Joe) moved up from mid pack going up the back stretch to take a two length victory over leader Cheyenne Zone. Frank Milby was in the bike for trainer Joe Columbo in the 1:56.4 mile, Winbak Farm was the breeder.   Race six saw the lead change several times, after a couple of miscue's at the start. Pedal Power (Roddy's Bags Again) made a break at the start, recovered and worked her way passed the pack going three deep at the ¾ pole to win by a neck over Toms Trophy in 2:02.2. Reinsman Art Stafford Jr. drove for trainer and co-owner Darrell Lewis and Leah Lewis. The breeder was Winbak Farm.   The final split of the night had the crowd screaming for their favorite in the tight photo. Jason Green gave Cool Toy (Cool Flying Fun) the perfect pocket trip, charging down the stretch to win by a nose over Tell Me The Truth and Sanza. Elwood Tignor trains for owner Breakaway Racing and breeder Nick Callahan.   The action continues on Monday July 31 with two divisions for 2 year old filly trotters and four splits for colt and gelding pacers.   By Cheri Stambaugh

The harness racing 3 year old trotting colts/geldings made their final sire stakes appearance on Sunday July 23rd at Ocean Downs going for a purse of $69,800.   After and up and down start to his career the hybrid colt EI EI O (Cam’s Rocket-My Baby Momma) found his way to the winners for the second week in a row with stablemate Hybrid Henry up for place in the 1:57 mile. Brian Burton was in the bike for owner/trainer/breeder Richard Hans.   After sitting back in the field last week and getting beat by a neck in the filly pace pilot Roger Plante Jr. sent Miss Valerie (Allie’s Western) out of the gate, taking air to the quarter pole. When the clock stopped in 1:59, the favorite Miss Valerie was 2 lengths ahead of long shot A Blue Believer in the $63,700 Final.   Steve LeBlanc trains for owners Leblanc Racing Inc., Count De Money Stable and William Lutz. Tom and Linda Winebrener are the breeders.   The finals continued on Monday July 24th with another large enthusiastic crowd in attendance. Their favorite Mr Ham Sandwich (Cam’s Rocket) did not disappoint setting a new stakes record for 3 year old pacing colts of 1:53 on the half opening up 9 lengths over second place Adios Muchachos in the $70,000 Final. Reinsman Russell Foster was between the wheels for owner/breeder Brian Emerson, Judy Welty trains.   Once again the combo of Roger Plante Jr. and trainer Steve LeBlanc proved successful when Holy Trout (Holy Guacamolie) remained undefeated notching her 9th win in 2017 taking the $70,150 final for trotting fillies.  Camita coming from back in the pack was the place victor the close photo over Starz And Deuces who was third. Dr. William Solomon is the owner/breeder, time for the mile was 2:01.4.   Sunday July 30th and Monday July 31st start the 2 year old Maryland Standardbred Fund (foaled) Stakes at the Ocean, come out and meet three of the drivers for autographs and photos at 6:30 prior to the races.   By Cheri Stambaugh

The pacing fillies started the Sunday night July 9th harness racing card with two divisions of prelims.   Whitesvillemichele (Capitol Power) held off a strong challenge by Cheap Ain't Fast winning by a neck in the 1:58.4 clocking. W. David Hill III drove for owner/trainer/breeder Gary White.   The second division for pacing fillies saw the favorite Miss Valerie (Allie's Western) take control in the gate to wire win over Evergreen Marla stopping the clock in 1:59.1. Reinsman Roger Plante Jr. had a little scare when Miss Valerie jumped the photo finish light at the wire. Steve LeBlanc trains and co-owns the filly with Count De Money Stable and William Lutz Jr. Tom & Linda Winebrener are the breeders.   Hybrid Henry (Cam's Rocket) took some air to the quarter before taking the lead from LG's Hotshoeboy setting a stakes record for trotting geldings of 1:58.1. Russell Foster was the pilot for owner/trainer/breeder Richard Hans.   The sire stakes prelims continued on Monday night July 10th with the pacing colts and geldings. Mr Ham Sandwich (Cam's Rocket) returned to winning form in the second race with Russell Foster in the bike. The 1:55 mile was just short of the stakes record. Adios Muchachos finished second 5 lengths back. Judy Welty trains the winner for owner/breeder Brian Emerson.   Trotting filly Holy Trout (Holy Guacamolie) remains a perfect 7 for 7 in 2017 for owner/breeder Dr. William Solomon. Roger Plant Jr. was the driver in the 2:01.3 mile with Daygone up for place.   The second round of prelims continues Sunday and Monday July 16th & 17th.   By Cheri Stambaugh

Ocean Downs hosted a second night of Maryland Standardbred Fund Stakes with another great harness racing crowd and a flag and hat give away.   Three year old trotting filly Holy Trout (Holy Guacamolie) remains undefeated in 2017. With only a head to separate them at the wire Holy Trout held off Spoonful in the 2:01.4 mile giving her a perfect 6 for 6 record this year. Roger Plante Jr. was in the bike for trainer Steve LeBlanc and owner/breeder Dr. William Solomon.   In the first split for three year old pacing colt and geldings Corey Callahan sent Bags To Riches (Roddy's Bags Again) to the lead right out of the gate where he extended his margin to 2 1/2 lengths over Almost Cut My Hair and driver Vic Kirby crossing the wire in 1:55.3. Jason Skinner co-owns and trains the winner for partner and breeder Only Money Inc.   Reinsman Art Stafford Jr. guided River Crest (Roddy's Bags Again) to the front taking control of the fractions in the gate to wire win over favorite Beach House in the 1:55 mile for pacing colts and geldings. Art co-owns River Crest with A.Stafford, R. Stafford and Larry Martin, Winbak Farm was the breeder.   The first round of Maryland Sire Stakes will begin with preliminaries on Sunday July 9th and Monday July 10th for three year olds.   by Cheri Stambaugh  

The big crowd at Ocean Downs had plenty to see and do on the beginning of the holiday weekend with a harness racing driver Meet and Greet featuring Rick Still, Jason Thompson and Montrell Teague, carriage rides on the track between races, a sketch artist and pony rides.   The 3 year old trotting colts and geldings went as early non wagering events when the split resulted in short fields. Hybrid Henry (Cam's Rocket) cut the mile holding off a stretch challenge by pocket sitting Just Like Bud in the 1:59.2 mile. Russell Foster picked up the drive for owner/trainer/breeder Richard Hans.   The second division of colt and gelding trotters saw several missteps early in the mile. The Jeff Fout trainee Command The Fire (CR Commando) recovered nicely, edging his way to the lead by the head of the stretch stopping the clock in 2:01.4 over Kirby In Command. Winbak Farm is the owner/breeder.   Three divisions of filly pacers were races 1, 6 and 8 on the pari-mutual card. Driver Jonathan Roberts, sitting behind Ideal In Cash (Western Ideal), was content with the pocket trip catching A Lady Sizzling at the wire by a nose in 1:58.2. Shawn Callahan trains for owner/breeder Nick Callahan.   In race 6 the second split for the filly pacers, reinsman Art Stafford Jr. sent Lunar Phase (Roddy's Bags Again) to the top where she maintained a three length lead over Miss Valerie in the 1:55.1 mile. Art Stafford Jr. co-owns with F. Wyatt Starkey and William Moffett Inc. is the breeder of Lunar Phase.   The final stake of the night saw the favorite Free Flight Fran (Veeza) and pilot Allan Davis take advantage of the rail, leaving strongly, cutting the mile in 1:57.3 for owners Thomson Sisters Racing and breeder Winbak Farm. She's A Billionair was second. A break by Bad Mama in the first turn resulted in some interference and a disqualification in the final placings.   The three year old filly trotters and colt and gelding pacers go to post tonight July 3 at 7:05 pm in their divisions of the Maryland Standardbred Fund Stakes.   By Cheri Stambaugh

Christina Talley, 50, passed away after a long two-year battle with cervical cancer at Penninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md. on Feb. 10. Ms. Talley, who was born in Bel Air, Ohio, daughter of the late Jack and Martha Talley, is survived by her significant other, Curtis Daniels, four children, five grandchildren and several uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. A horse enthusiast throughout her life, she cared for horses owned by her father, a renowned Delmarva-area harness race caller Jack Talley, who also owned and trained a number of harness race horses. Later she became an owner of horses with Go Nurse, she favorite. Go Nurse won Horse of the Year at Ocean Downs in 2001. A funeral Service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Salisbury Baptist Temple, Salisbury, Md. At 10 a.m., a one-hour visitation will be held prior to the services. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Salisbury Baptist Temple, 6413 Hobbs Road., Salisbury, Md. 21804. Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, P.A., 501 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, Md. 21804. To send condolences to the family, please visit www.hollowayfh.com

In September 2015, Leonard "Buddy" Jones III and Kevin Fitzgerald were thrilled when the auctioneer called "Sold!" after their $1,400 bid for one of the harness racing horses going through the Chick's Sale ring. "We liked the way he looked," Fitzgerald explained. "Did we know what we were looking at? No. We didn't have a clue what we were buying." He's not exaggerating. Three weeks before the sale, the idea of owning a racehorse hadn't crossed either of their minds. Jones, however, received a call from a coach who wanted his daughter to join a particular softball team. Jones agreed to meet with him to talk it over. "I met him at Ocean Downs and we were betting on the horses," Jones said. "He had horses. He told me there was more money on that end than betting on it." That was all the encouragement it took for Jones to rally the support of Fitzgerald and head for the September 2015 Chick's Sale in Harrington, Del. Lucky for them, the horse they happened to bid on was Walton Shaw A (2002, p,10,1:53.1h, $301,884). Though he was nearing the end of a winless season, Walton Shaw A had what they lacked -- experience. "Everybody said he was classy," Fitzgerald said. The 14-year-old pacer proved it to them in 2016, winning five races and earning just under $20,000 for Fitzgerald and Jones under the guidance of conditioner Jay Shores this year. Though they initially sent Walton Shaw A to a trainer in Delaware, as that's where he'd been racing before the sale, Jones and Fitzgerald quickly realized they wanted to be hands-on owners. “It was too far away for us to go and see our horse,” Jones said. It was just a matter of weeks before they moved the pacer to a training center in Salisbury, Md., a short drive from both of their homes. Walton Shaw A earned a few checks at Rosecroft Raceway before the track closed in December. When the five-eighths-mile oval reopened in March, Walton Shaw A proved all he’d needed was some time off. Jones and Fitzgerald made their first trip to the winner's circle March 8 after Walton Shaw A made a huge three-wide move from the back of the pack to win easily by five lengths in 1:56.1. The older pacer continued to earn checks just about every week for his eager owners before earning a second victory May 3 in a $5,000 claiming race. He again came from behind to make a big move at the three-quarter pole, drawing off to win by more than seven lengths in 1:55. In June, Jones and Fitzgerald excitedly began racing Walton Shaw A at their local track, Ocean Downs. Classified as a C-2 pacer, Walton Shaw A put in a game effort every week but faced some stiff competition. His owners were pleased to see him drop down to the C-3 level in July. After a solid third-place finish July 22, driver Roger Plante Jr. put Walton Shaw A right on the front the following week. He stayed there, winning by nearly a length in 1:57. "We were tickled," Fitgerald said. Nevertheless, he and Jones didn't have high hopes the following week when Walton Shaw A was moved back up to the C-2 level. The pacer surprised them though, coming first over to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.1. "I didn't expect him to win," Fitzgerald recalled. "He went off at 22-1." Walton Shaw A returned to Rosecroft this fall and earned his 44th lifetime win Nov. 1, coming from behind as he so often does to win in 1:55.2 for Plante. He's earned a second and third since, and his connections are hoping to race him once more before he retires. They credit Walton Shaw A's success with getting them hooked on harness racing. They've already got two other horses and can be found at the barn more often than not. Fitzgerald, a school bus driver and mechanic who'd never interacted with horses, says he never pictured himself working with the animals. "I never thought I'd be into the horse thing," he said, "but I really enjoy it." He says other horsemen have proven helpful, providing pointers and advice when needed. He also credits Walton Shaw A with being the perfect first horse. "He made it look easy," Fitzgerald said, adding that even when the horse got loose at the farm he went right to his stall. And while the potential purses might have sparked Jones’ initial interest in harness racing, you wouldn’t know it listening to him now. When asked what he considers Walton Shaw A’s best race, it’s not one of the horse’s wins he mentions. “I thought it was when he went in 1:53 and finished eighth at Rosecroft,” Jones said. “That is impressive for a 14-year-old horse.” Though sorry to see his career coming to an end, Jones and Fitzgerald know they have Walton Shaw A to thank for getting to experience the thrill of harness racing. They say they have no plans of parting with the old pacer. "He's the family pet," Fitzgerald said. by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

The three year old Maryland Sire Stakes finished the summer harness racing stakes season on Thursday Sept. 1 at Ocean Downs.   The non-wagering card opened with the $39,000 race for trotting fillies. The dual between Rock The Game (Cam's Rocket) and Star Rose continued with Rock The Game winning by a neck in 2:01.4 this week. Breakaway Racing owns the filly, Shaun Callahan trains and Frank Milby was the reinsman.   Speed It (Cam's Rocket) won his 6th straight race for trotting colts/geldings with driver Jim Morand in the bike. The pair took the lead at the quarter mile mark opening the distance to the field at every pole with Righteous Renegade finishing second. Richard Hans owns, trains and bred the winner. Time for the $40,365 final was 2:01.1   The $39,000 race for pacing colt/geldings went as race one, with the Winbak Farm owned and bred Steal N Go sweeping the series, making this his 6th win in 7 starts this year. Steal N Go (Bonnie And Clyde) cut the mile in 2:01.2 for driver/trainer Jeff Fout with Toms Tae Kwon Do getting up for place.   Mo Power (Capitol Power) with Bill Long in the bike crossed the wire first in the$39,000 race for pacing fillies but was placed second for interference in the stretch.   Fastestgirlaround (Dontloseyourdayjob) with pilot Frank Milby finished second and was moved up to the win spot. Brian Callahan trains and co-owns the filly with Gloria Kinnamon. Gloria is also the breeder.   The Maryland Sire Stakes move to Rosecroft starting with the 2 year olds on September 20th.   By Cheri Stambaugh

It was a night for upsets in the harness racing two-year-old ranks. The favorite in the $40,475 filly trot the 'Ronald "Doc" Banning Memorial", Holy Trout was three deep in the first turn when she made a break leaving the Givens trained entry in the lead. Jim Morand cut the 2:03.4 mile with Camita (Cam's Rocket) while stablemate L G's Hotshoegirl settled for the pocket trip, taking second and Holy Trout recovered for third. Camita is owned and bred by Jim Morand and Nanticoke Racing Inc.   In race 3 the 'W.W. "Pete" Saw Memorial' for the colt and gelding trotters, the two favorites made breaks in the first turn leaving the field wide open. Reinsman Russel Foster sent Redneck Cowboy (Four Starz Robro) to the front, holding off several challenges on the backside and last turn to pull away by 3 lengths over late closing Guac N Roll. Kasey Bendix and Virginia Marvel own and bred the winner and Jerry Nock trains. Time for the mile was 2:04. The purse was $40,250.   Miss Valerie (Allie's Western) remains undefeated in the filly pacing division. Driver Roger Plante Jr. sent Miss Valerie out of the gate, finally taking the lead at the quarter pole from Evergreen Marla. They maintained a short lead all the way to the wire in 1:59.2. Maxkenna was up for third. Steve LeBlanc trains the winner for owners LeBlanc Racing Inc., Count De Money Stable and William Lutz Jr. The breeders are Tom and Linda Winebrener. This race was the $41,900 'Hubert Jackson Memorial'   Race 7 for pacing colts and geldings was the 'Charles Keller Memorial' with a purse of $37,725. The rivalry between Adios Muchachos and Mr Ham Sandwich continued with leader changes twice in the mile. In the end Mr Ham Sandwich (Cam's Rocket) with Russel Foster in the bike was victorious in the 1:55.4 Stakes record mile. Judy Welty trains for owner/breeder Brian Emerson.   The 3 year olds finish the Ocean Downs stakes on Thursday Sept. 1st.   Maryland Sire Stakes continue at Rosecroft starting September 20th.   By Cheri Stambaugh

On Thursday (Aug. 25) at Ocean Downs, the three year old Maryland Sire Stakes contested four non-wagering harness racing events.   Righteous Renegade took the race for trotting colts and geldings in 2:08 for driver Brandon Henley. Janey Lambert is the owner and Linda Lambert trains the winner.   The filly trotters were up next and Rock The Game (Cam's Rocket) with driver Frank Milby in the bike was able to maintain the 1 length lead over Star Rose at the finish in 2:02.4 for owners Breakaway Racing and breeder Nick Callahan, Shaun Callahan trains.   Driver/trainer Jeff Fout guided Steal N Go (Bonnie And Clyde) to the front in the colt and gelding pace and held that lead to the wire in 2:03.2 for owner and breeder Winbak Farm. What I Say Goes was up for place.   The final stake was for filly pacers. Fastestgirlaround (Dontloseyourdayjob) gave driver Frank Milby his second stakes win, taking the filly pace over Mo Power.   Anthony Sapienza trains for co-owners Brian Callahan and Gloria Kinnamon. Time for the mile was 2:01.1.   The August Finals for 2 year olds will be Sunday Aug 28 at Ocean Downs.   By Cheri Stambaugh

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