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There may never be a good time for a major expose on horse racing, especially with the Kentucky Derby taking place this Saturday. But, nonetheless, the Washington Post today has a major story on the drugging taking place in both harness racing and thoroughbred racing. Here is the beginning of the story. Scott A. Robinson was in the market for revenge. A Lamborghini-driving horseman, he’d gotten rich selling farm animal supplements online. But he claimed he was owed money by a former business partner he’d met at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Racetrack. Then the track’s security chief offered to help, Robinson said, connecting him with a private investigation firm called 5 Stones Intelligence, which was known for its formidable federal connections. Robinson met them and agreed to pay $30,000 for their services, he said, hoping they could help prove his case. Eager for payback, Robinson wasn’t bothered when the investigators’ questions veered from his financial dispute with his partner to doping horses. Nor was he concerned when they brought him to a hotel suite where two FBI agents were waiting, and where the questions again veered toward doping. By around the third time he met with the agents, Robinson said he realized the person under investigation was him. To read the rest of the story, click here. Reprinted with permission from the Washington Post

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs are announcing policy regarding the horses of which a majority interest of more than fifty percent is held by those harness racing owners affected by the press release of March 6. Any horse sold publicly or privately to disperse those ownership interests must be a legitimate sale to someone other than and not affiliated with the current owners. It is recommended that all prospective buyers/owners read through the "Rules" and "Disputes" section of conditions for stakes administered by The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs which contain language that includes the right to exclude horses from stakes that do not meet the specifications within. It is also recommended that any prospective buyer request from the seller the current stakes schedule for which all required payments have been made toward 2021 stakes. To date, there have been no exclusions or refunds of payments from stakes at The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs on the horses that fall into the above category, so those horses are currently eligible to the stakes in which the payments are current. Their eligibility will continue, providing the remaining payments are made by the new owner. The horses described above, if legitimately sold to the satisfaction of the stakes sponsors would become eligible to race in overnight or stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs sixty (60) days after the transfer is completed. Any horse that is or was trained in the Allard Florida stable will be excluded from overnight and/or stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs indefinitely, as written in the March 6 release. From the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs  

The following statement is from Doug Lieb, harness racing trainer Rene Allard's Attorney on the Gural - Allard situation. Dear Mr. Gural: This firm is civil counsel to Rene Allard. Last week, you further escalated your long-running campaign to blacklist Mr. Allard from his chosen profession. Mr. Allard has every right to make a living. He has every right to continue training horses, which is his passion and his life’s work. All of his current professional activities are specifically permitted by court order. We demand that you cease and desist from your tortious interference with—and your efforts to organize a group boycott of—Mr. Allard’s business. Your actions are not just unlawful, but wrong. You began your campaign against Mr. Allard in 2013 by excluding him from your racetracks. You then employed a private investigative firm that harassed and threatened others in the harness racing industry unless they provided negative information about Mr. Allard. You then caused unreliable information generated by those investigators to be turned over to the United States Government, leading to Mr. Allard’s arrest. As a result of your actions, Mr. Allard is the subject of a pending criminal prosecution in which he fully intends to clear his name. In the latest escalation, you have now demanded that all horse owners who do business with Mr. Allard stop doing so as a condition of doing business with you. On March 6, 2021, the Meadowlands media relations department issued a statement (the “March 6 Statement”) [1] that the three racetracks you control—The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, which account for a significant portion of harness racing opportunities in the Northeast and include harness racing’s flagship track—will “exclude any horse being trained or that has been trained” by Mr. Allard in Florida. The March 6 Statement also notes that for owners who “currently have or have had horses in Mr. Allard’s stable this winter,” “all horses owned wholly or in part by them will be excluded” from these three tracks and “deemed ineligible . . . for any/all administered stake races . . . for a minimum of three years.” Owners who have done business with Mr. Allard must also divest their interest from any horses not trained by Mr. Allard in which they are minority owners by March 15 in order for those horses to race at your tracks. [2] The ban would likely affect dozens of owners and hundreds of horses that have never been trained by Mr. Allard. Thus, in addition to banning horses trained by Mr. Allard, the March 6 Statement effectively provides that any owners who have any business relationship with Mr. Allard must agree to cease doing business with him as a condition of doing unrelated business with your tracks. The pressure on owners is severe. Owners who agree to the policy announced in your March 6 Statement would need to immediately sell their ownership interest in horses that are not trained by Mr. Allard, which would likely mean selling those horses at a loss. Owners who do not agree to the policy would presumably lose the stakes money they have already paid to race at the Meadowlands this year and any purses they may have won from racing there. It is difficult to envision a clearer example of tortious interference with business relations. You are engaged in “deliberate interference” with Mr. Allard’s existing contractual relationships with owners in an effort to induce owners to breach their contracts with Mr. Allard. NBT Bancorp Inc. v. Fleet/Norstar Fin. Grp., Inc., 87 N.Y.2d 614, 621 (1996). You are also making statements that “impugn[] the basic integrity” of Mr. Allard’s business. Amaranth LLC v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., 71 A.D.3d 40, 48 (1st Dep’t 2009) (“[Plaintiff] has adequately pleaded the elements of tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. It is well settled that where a statement impugns the basic integrity . . . of a business, an action lies and injury is conclusively presumed.”). And you are exerting severe economic pressure on owners by threatening to freeze them out of the most important opportunities in their field if they have any economic relations with Mr. Allard in the future. See, e.g., Carvel Corp. v. Noonan, 3 N.Y.3d 182, 193-94 (2004) (severe economic pressure on third parties who do business with plaintiff may constitute tortious interference with plaintiff’s prospective economic relations). You are also, in potential violation of the Sherman Act, attempting to orchestrate a group boycott of Mr. Allard in plain sight. A group boycott is an agreement among participants in the relevant market not to deal, or only to deal on discriminatory terms, with a competitor. See, e.g., NYNEX Corp. v. Discon, Inc., 525 U.S. 128, 134 (1998). Such boycotts are per se unlawful—meaning that they are illegal irrespective of whether they actually have an anticompetitive effect or a legitimate business rationale—where they involve horizontal agreements among competitors. See, e.g., Fashion Originators’ Guild of Am., Inc. v. FTC, 312 U.S. 457 (1941). You are both an owner of racetracks and an owner of horses. Should you succeed in your efforts to induce other horse owners to agree not to do business with Mr. Allard as a condition of doing business with you, you would be entering into such horizontal agreements. The improper purpose of the March 6 Statement is further confirmed by your history of targeting Mr. Allard—and others in your industry who defy your edicts. In 2013, after Mr. Allard won several significant races at your tracks and was having an excellent season (including a training UDRS of .367), you excluded him from racing at any of your tracks without explanation. [3] As you have acknowledged, banning trainers—especially winning ones—from the Meadowlands can help your bottom line. [4] That is so in part because you and your close associates sometimes have stakes in horses competing in those same races. A trainer has previously testified under oath that you banned him from your racetrack because he was winning races. [5] After another trainer spoke out publicly against that ban, you banned him too. [6] When a trainer worked to defeat legislation that would have expressly authorized the practice of allowing horses you own to race on your tracks, you banned him—and then banned other horsemen who were merely members of the association that opposed the proposed bill. [7] Even after you banned Mr. Allard from your racetracks, Mr. Allard continued his long track record of success. You, in turn, continued taking measures that would harm his career. You engaged a private investigative firm, 5 Stones Intelligence, to investigate Mr. Allard. 5 Stones used aggressive, unlawful tactics in an attempt to coerce witnesses into incriminating others in the industry. When witnesses refused to participate and told 5 Stones that they were not aware of any wrongdoing, 5 Stones threatened their careers in the industry. You then gave the Government the information that 5 Stones collected through these questionable means. As you noted in the March 6 Statement: “We, along with the Thoroughbred Jockey Club, spent much time and money employing the Five Stones investigators to prepare a case to get the Feds interested which led to all of those indictments,” referring to the indictment against Mr. Allard and others. Your own words suggest that your purpose in retaining 5 Stones was not to uncover the truth. It was to produce information, whether true or false, that would “get the Feds interested” and lead the Government to indict Mr. Allard. In other words, you worked with 5 Stones to “lead the FBI in the right direction.”[8] That the Government charged Mr. Allard on the basis of information provided at least in part by yourself and 5 Stones—after your years-long campaign against Mr. Allard, and after 5 Stones’ repeated harassment of witnesses—raises serious doubt about the criminal charges that Mr. Allard now faces. Despite Mr. Allard’s arrest, owners have continued to employ him to train their young, non-racing horses because they are confident in his integrity and future success. As you are surely aware, Mr. Allard has been permitted by prosecutors and the Court to continue making a living by engaging in this work while the criminal case is pending. [9] You, however, have continued your efforts to put Mr. Allard out of business entirely. Even before the March 6 Statement, you contacted owners directly to pressure them to end their business with Mr. Allard. Those private communications were consistent with your thinly veiled public comments that “anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well” [10] and that “some might find it in their interest to cooperate.” [11]           *          * We hereby demand that you formally retract the March 6 Statement. We further demand that you state in writing that will not seek to require owners to stop doing business with Mr. Allard as a condition of entering horses into races at tracks you control. You, your corporate entities, your affiliates, your employees and agents, and others acting at your direction, including but not limited to 5 Stones Intelligence, must also preserve all documents and correspondence concerning the investigation of Mr. Allard; your direct and indirect communications with others in the industry about Mr. Allard’s business and/or conduct; and/or the March 6 Statement. This letter is not an exhaustive recitation of Mr. Allard’s legal claims, rights, or remedies, all of which we expressly reserve. Sincerely yours, Douglas E. Lieb   cc.        Brice Cote (by email -   [1]                 Gural Statement on Allard Training Stable, United States Trotting Ass’n, http://ustrottingnews .com/gural-statement-on-allard-training-center. [2]                The March 15 deadline is a key entry point when horse owners must pay fees in order to race in the upcoming season. Many of the dozens of owners potentially subject to the ban have already paid their February stake payment installment. [3]                Steve Wolf, Allard’s Exclusion Includes Three Racetracks, HarnessLink, May 18, 2013, [4]                Dave Briggs, Why American Racetrack Owner Jeff Gural Is Taking a Stand on Integrity, Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, Apr. 8, 2015, (“[Banning trainers] has helped us at the Meadowlands. Look at some of our competitors where people we’ve banned are racing. Look at their handle . . . There are other factors, but from what I’ve seen, our handle dwarfs our competitors where the drug guys are allowed to race. One would think it does help, obviously.” (alterations in original)). [5]                Pena v. New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, Civ. No. 12-2, 2012 WL 95344, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan. 10, 2012) (“Indeed, Plaintiff avers that Mr. Gural ‘has made public statements that he does not want Pena racing at the Meadowlands, for no apparent reason other than that Pena is winning so many races.”). [6]                Meadowlands Bans Driver George Brennan, Allegedly for Comments Made in NY Times, Paulick Report, June 4, 2012, [7]                Lifetime Ban – Now Retribution By Gural, HarnessLink, June 23, 2016, http://www.harnesslink .com/News/Re--Gural-ban-Memo-in-Word. [8]                Bob Ehalt, Surveillance Firm Played Role in Federal Indictments, BloodHorse, Mar. 21, 2020, [9]                See ECF No. 12, United States v. Grasso, 20-CR-163 (S.D.N.Y.), ECF No. 12 (describing “Additional Conditions,” including “Def[endant] not to train horses entered into any races” (emphasis added)). [10]               Ehalt, supra note 8. [11]               John Brennan, Meadowlands Racetrack Owner Sees Doping Scandal as a Long-Term Boost for Horse Racing, Online Gambling, Apr. 9, 2020, -- Doug Lieb Kaufman Lieb Lebowitz & Frick LLP 212.660.2332 10 E. 40th St., Suite 3307 New York, NY 10016

East Rutherford, NJ - Meadowlands management has become aware that Rene Allard is training a stable of horses in South Florida. As a result, The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs will exclude any horse being trained or that has been trained in that stable in any stake and is actively investigating who owns the horses that are or have been in his stable this winter.   Those owners who currently have or have had horses in Allard's stable this winter are advised that all horses owned wholly or in part by them will be excluded from participation in all Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs races and that all of horses owned wholly or in part by them will be deemed ineligible to for any/all Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs administered stakes races for a minimum of three years. If owners affected by the above are a minority partner on horses with owners that are not affected by the above and are being trained by accepted trainers, they must legitimately divest their interest in those horses, which will be required to be done and demonstrated to the satisfaction of The Meadowlands before the March 15 stakes payments will be accepted on those horses. The affected owners should notify their partners on the horses that fall into the above category immediately. "This news is particularly disturbing after the indictments of March and a later superseding charge in December of last year," said Meadowlands President Jeff Gural. "We, along with the Thoroughbred Jockey Club, spent much time and money employing the Five Stones investigators to prepare a case to get the Feds interested which led to all of those indictments. We will continue to partner with the Jockey Club to fund the continuing investigation by Five Stones. We could use support in this initiative and welcome anyone who would like to aid in the funding of this necessary and important endeavor. "To learn that people actually give this guy horses to train after what was discovered by the Federal investigation boggles the mind. The only reason to do this, that I do this, is to clean up racing so we might have a future and to protect the guys that do try to follow the rules. "Horsemen seem to have this absurd unspoken bond that they protect each other. Well let me be perfectly clear, trainers that break the rules and use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) are stealing from you, not me. They are beating your horse with a PED enhanced horse then, they are buying or claiming your horse and them beating you with your own horse. I just don't get it." Meadowlands investigator Brice Cote will respond to questions at From the Meadowlands Racetrack          

Harness racing trainer Rene Allard has been included in a superseding indictment filed in federal court last week against Louis Grass, Donato Poliseno, Thomas Guido III, and Richard Banca. All defendants have entered not guilty pleas to one count each of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy for their role in what prosecutors say was a scheme to “manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated ad misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants' control.” The allegations in the Dec. 3 indictment are nearly identical to those in the indictment filed against Grasso, Poliseno, Guido and Banca in February and March of this year. The timing of the indictments and arrests earlier in the year coincides with a larger case also from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York into alleged doping schemes utilized by Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. At that time, a complaint was filed against Allard but prosecutors requested several extensions of time in the case throughout the spring and summer. The complaint details Allard's involvement in the alleged scheme with his co-defendants, as recounted by FBI special agent Bruce Turpin. To read the full article by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click on this link.  

Thoroughbred Daily News reporter Bill Finley has reported that harness racing trainer Rene Allard has joined the long list of those indicted for their role in a massive horse doping scheme that has rocked Thoroughbred and harness racing. The number of individuals who are known to have been involved is now 29. Allard was not among the original list of names of those who were indicted that was released Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Allard is second in the current trainer’s standings at Yonkers Raceway, behind only Richard Banca, who has also been indicted as part of the doping probe undertaken by the FBI. According to a source, Allard was arrested earlier this week while vacationing in Las Vegas. He is being charged with “misbranding” drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. During its investigation of Allard and others, the FBI intercepted a disturbing phone conversation between Ross Cohen and Louis Grasso, who were among those indicted Monday, discussing the deaths of horses who were given illegal drugs by Allard. It reads (exactly): Cohen: What’s going on with the Allard death camp? Grasso: (Laughter) well I didn’t get anymore emergency calls yesterday so I am assuming… Cohen: Assuming the number stopped at 7? Grasso: Well yeah Cohen” How many died? Grasso: Three Cohen. Jeez. What were you thinking? Grasso: Three or two maybe. The pair continue to discuss the situation before wrapping up: Grasso: …One of them just died on the table they just cut him open and poof it died. Cohen: Holy f–k did they do an autopsy? Grasso: Their heart rate was like triple they were breathing real heavy their membranes were going f-ing purple. To read the rest of the story, click here.

Robyn Camden (Art Professor) has thrived in her limited starts at Saratoga Casino Hotel over the course of her young career and on Thursday afternoon, the Rene Allard trainee returned to the Spa to compete in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Assigned post six in the six-horse feature, Robyn Camden cruised out to the front-end in a fast first quarter paced in 27.1. Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum), who owned a win and a second in the two installments of the feature for distaffers in 2020 leading up into Thursday's card, had made the top before yielding to Robyn Camden in the early going. Those two drew off from the competition past three quarters and it appeared that the public's top two choices in the wagering were poised for a good battle in the stretch. Robyn Camden put those thoughts to bed pretty quickly as reinsman Billy Dobson asked the 4-5 favorite to crank up the speed around the final turn and the results were instant. Robyn Camden paced away to win decisively in 1:54.2 triumph while Miss Irish Rose A held off longshot Firstup (Shawn Gray) to earn the place spot. Robyn Camden won her previous try at Saratoga when she scored in the local Open during closing week of the 2019 meet, dominating the competition en route to a victory by better than four lengths. On Thursday, the favorite paid $3.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $7.80 and $29, respectively. Robyn Camden is owned by Jason O'Sullivan of Dublin, Ireland. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 5pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

It has been announced that the Prince County Horsemen’s Club’s 2019 awards banquet will take place on April 11, 2020 at Credit Union Place Convention Centre in Summerside, and Rene Allard is going to be this year’s guest speaker. Allard is coming off yet another solid season, as starters from his operation won 339 races and banked $5.91-million in purses in 2019. Over the course of his career, Allard has trained his pupils to 4,545 wins and more than $53.7-million in purses. Social hour will start at 6:00 p.m. and awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. Jimmy Flynn will provide entertainment after the awards dinner, followed by music and dancing to end the evening. Tickets are now on sale. All seating will be assigned. Also, a limited number of tables of eight are currently available. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from Lynn Whitlock (629-3346), Earl Watts (626-9444), Frank Banks (439-2981), Deanna Clow (629-9175), Darla MacEachern (439-5522), Jansen Sweet (856-0166) or Kingsley Walsh (432-4121). (With files from the Prince County Horsemen’s Club)

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Even as a certain well-regarded harness racing mare qualified at Dover in what was likely preparation for early season work, two horses who were very prominent in last year's Levy Series action turned in top qualifiers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning. Western Fame, the 2019 Levy Series winner who would go on to take a Franklin elim and finish third in the Franklin Championship here at Pocono, went straight to the lead for driver Simon Allard and trainer/brother Rene Allard, winning in 1:57.1. A last quarter of :28.4 made the winner of $1,745,185 clear at the wire for Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Gilbert Short. Later, former Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Champion Ideal Jimmy, a three-time Levy prelim winner last year, put in a sharp 1:53.4 mile on the engine, with a :27.3 last quarter leaving him 8¼ lengths in front of his field for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Erv Miller, and the Van Witzenburg stable. Also deserving mention are the team of driver Eric Carlson and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who combined on the first three qualifiying winners. Garcia-Herrera sent out a total of eleven horses in the prep races, a few times with two in the same race, and in addition to the three wins he had four second-place finishers and two third-place finishers. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Series continued on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the temperature dropping through the 20s throughout the twilight harness racing card but the contested action featuring hot contests and hot horses. Both winners were claimed out of the $25,000 second preliminary leg for horses this week valued at a base price of $27,500, as horsemen want the right horse ready to take the throne in this group's $50,000 Game of Claims Championship on Saturday the 29th. The only double winner in this Game Of Claims section is the four-year-old Captaintreacherous ridgling Trente Deo, but if he sweeps his prelims, he'll be doing for somebody other than trainer Rene Allard and owners Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr. Trente Deo, an engine winner last week for those connections, here rallied from the pocket to post a 1:52.4 victory for driver Simon Allard. Also winning in this company, and also moving to a new stable, is the veteran Pacific Fella gelding Polak A, who came from off the pace to win in 1:52.1 while exceeding $800,000 in earnings for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Darren Taneyhill and owner Eric Prevost (these two having the horse only this one week). Polak A had a second last week and a win here, so like two-time winner Trente Deo he is likely to make their Championship and may be eyed by several stables, even though the base price of claiming for this group goes up to $30,000 in next week's last preliminary. There were three divisions of the second preliminary round for the Game Of Claims group valued at a $17,500 base price Saturday, and the rail proved the common launching pad for the three victors of the $15,000 races. Simon and Rene Allard combined to take two of the cuts: with Horsing Around, who had been claimed in the first prelim, the Shadyshark Hanover gelding winning for Allard Racing Inc and Neal Moase in 1:53.2; and with the Roll With Joe gelding Stirling Escort, picture-perfect in tallying for A-1 Racing in 1:54.3. Neither Allard winner was claimed this time, but the winner of the other cut, the Make My Day gelding Ancle, is changing hands for the second straight week after becoming the only two-time Game Of Claims winner in this price class. Jim Morrill Jr. guided Ancle to victory in 1:53.3 for trainer James Guagliardo and owner Steven Celinsky. In all, six horses were claimed for $105,000 at this level with an eye towards the group's February 29 $30,000 Championship, bringing the night's total barnchangers to a dozen, with $278,775 changing hands. In the $17,500 top conditioned pace, last year's Pocono Pacer of the Year and the winningest harness horse in the United States with nineteen, the eleven-year-old Western Terror gelding Atta Boy Dan, joined the repeat series victors as the only two-time winners at the meet with a 1:51.3 victory. Tyler Buter kept the greybeard just off a wicked :25.4 opening duel, brushed to the lead, and then the pair won as they pleased for trainer Peter Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin. The victory was the 74th in Atta Boy Dan's career, and he now sports a bankroll of $982,752. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. visited Victory Lane four times Saturday, giving him ten triumphs after three days in the young Pocono season. The PHHA and the Pocono community extends its sympathies to trainer Andrew Harris, to his two daughters, and to the extended family upon hearing that Andrew's wife Amanda passed away at age 34 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The harness racing trotters and pacers take to the track at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday for the earliest seasonal opening in 55 years of the harness sport in northeast Pennsylvania, with the first of thirteen races scheduled for 5 p.m. The opening set of features during February's racing at The Downs will be part of the new Game of Claims Series, grouping horses of varying values. It's appropriate that the claiming horses will provide the early season highlights at a track where 483 claims resulted in $9,465,025 turnover during 2019. Saturday's Game of Claims's first preliminary rounds will have two groups of horses with a base claiming price of $25,000 going for $25,000 a division, and three sections of $15,000 basic-level horses racing for $15,000 purses. The claiming price will go up slightly for prelims two and three, with each group's top pointearners in the preliminaries getting a chance to race for the throne as their Game Of Claims division's champion on Saturday, February 29, with a $50,000 bounty on the line for this week's $25,000 base-price horses, and $30,000 up for grabs by the leading $15,000 base-price competitors. Multi-time leading Pocono trainer Rene Allard will be sending out horses in four of the five Game Of Claims cuts, three of them new to the barn; the "holdover," Maxdaddy Blue Chip, was the 2017 Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and is still going strongly at age eight. Another "golden oldie," the 11-year-old Atta Boy Dan, returns to Pocono in a $14,000 pace after being named the 2019 Pocono Pacer of the Year. Atta Boy Dan, who will be starting from the outside in a field of seven, was the winningest harness horse in the United States last year with 19 victories, and he was the focus of the attention of many stables, being claimed no fewer than seventeen times, for a total of $670,000. FINISHING LINES -- In Tuesday morning qualifying action at The Downs, Crocketts Cullen N turned in a sharp 1:54.2 mile in wire-to-wire fashion for driver Larry Stalbaum and trainer Tracy Tarantino. The Kiwi import won fifteen times in 2019, including ten times in his last fifteen starts, all in high-class company. During the month of February, Pocono will race on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., with Mondays being added in March and post times shifting to the standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Monday cards will start at 4 p.m., and they will be joined at that start time in April with Tuesday racing as Pocono expands to its full standard schedule. An introductory press briefing will take place this Thursday to preview the highlights of the 2020 racing season at the northeast Pennsylvania track. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The 2020 racing season got off to a quick start at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday morning, as the Big Jim harness racing pacing mare Jossie James A won the first qualifier of the season in 1:54 while making her U.S. debut. Yonkers driving leader Jason Bartlett sent the oft-winning mare away quickly from post seven and tucked third. They sat in that position as Lyons River Pride, first or second in his last four starts against good foes at Yonkers, set fractions of :27.3, :56.4, and 1:25.1, then moved out on the turn and overhauled the leader by a half-length for trainer Richard Banca and owner Barbara Boese. Rene Allard, Pocono's leading trainer last season, teamed with his brother Simon for two qualifying wins, with the fast but fractious trotter Magical Journey in 2:01 and the stakes colt Captain Malicious in 1:57.1 in his 2020 bow. They also had seconds with Lyons River Pride and with newcomer Y S Sunshine, a Quebec stakes winner at two and three. The track's leading driver last season, George Napolitano Jr., also posted a first, guiding Nine Ways, a 14-time winner last campaign, to a wire-to-wire win in 1:56.4, one of two on the day for trainer Antonia Storer. Driver Tyler Buter also had a pair of triumphs during the first session. Tomorrow (Tuesday) will offer another qualifying session along with the draw for this Saturday's Opening Night of the 139-card 2020 racing season. The inaugural card will feature two events in the highlight races of February's action, the Game Of Claims Series for various levels of pacers, with elimination rounds determining who will be in the contest to sit on the throne after taking the series' rich Championship races. In the month of February, Pocono will race on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., with Mondays being added in March and post times shifting to the standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Monday cards will start at 4 p.m., and they will be joined at that start time in April with Tuesday racing as Pocono expands to its full standard schedule. An introductory press briefing will take place this Thursday to preview the highlights of the 2020 racing season at the northeast Pennsylvania track. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

YONKERS, N.Y. – Trainer Rene Allard is off to a fast start in the 2020 season at Yonkers Raceway. Allard has topped the track’s trainer standings in three of the last five years and was the runner up in the other two. Just nine programs into the new season, Allard’s tally is 13-for-42 with another 15 seconds and thirds. “We’re only racing about half the barn right now and the ones that we’re racing are in good spots, so it helps. When you’re only racing half the barn, it’s easier to keep a higher average,” Allard said. “I have approximately 30 horses who are going to qualify between now and the middle of February. I’m very happy with the start of the year so far. During the Yonkers break, we kept them fit and trained and as soon as they opened, we were ready to go.” The trainer recently completed an addition to his Middletown, N.Y. barn that added another 12 stalls, brining his total to 84. Only seven remain unoccupied, and that number could shrink to zero after Sunday’s Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands. “I try to keep the barn full and there’s the young horses that are training down in Florida right now. I have nine yearlings that are down in Florida training down. In the spring they’re going to come here. We always make it work,” Allard said. “The winter, we back down to usually 60. In the summer, we go up to 120. Right now, I probably have a little bit more horses than I usually do this time of the year, so I have a feeling we’ll be pretty busy.” Allard has four entrants on the Saturday night (Jan. 18) program at the Hilltop. Among them is Ostro Hanover, who seeks his fourth straight victory in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace. The 5-year-old gelding, owned in partnership by Go Fast Stable, B And I Stable, VIP Internet Stable, and Kapildeo Singh is 15-for-46 in his career with $256,466 earned. “He finished his year very strong, I was very happy with him. He’s been sharp and we’re taking a shot in the Preferred,” Allard said. Ostro Hanover won seven of his first 16 races for Frank Yanoti before joining Allard’s ranks as a companion to his standout 3-year-old pacer Springsteen in July 2018. However, Ostro Hanover went 0-for-6 to close his sophomore season, finishing third in the New York Sire Stakes Final beaten 11 1/4 lengths. “We really liked what we saw. I saw him win a couple times. We contacted the owner and we bought him and we thought he could be a great 3-year-old for the New York Sire Stakes,” Allard said. “Since we were going with Springsteen and they have multiple divisions, we thought, why not have two? We bought him and he was OK. I think we just did OK with him. We expected him to maybe be a little better the first year.” Allard stopped with Ostro Hanover after the NYSS Final Sept. 22, 2018 and he reemerged as a gelding a qualifier March 27, 2019. Ostro Hanover rattled off two straight wins in the conditions at Saratoga to begin his 4-year-old campaign. “He got a little bit sore at the end there. He was always a little bit weird behind, we couldn’t figure it out,” Allard said. “We castrated him, turned him out, and gave him time, and he came back really good. He was always pacing a little funny behind before, but once we did that, he came back good.” Although Ostro Hanover earned a check in nine straight starts, he continued to find the winner’s circle elusive. His next victory came July 6 in a $17,500 overnight at Pocono Downs. “The 4-year-old year is the toughest year for any horse. You go from racing only 3-year-olds and then you have to race against the world,” Allard said. “I don’t race my 4-year-olds as heavily. Last year, I had Springsteen, Simple Kinda Man, and Ostro Hanover, we didn’t race them as hard as some of the 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds. As the year goes on, it seems like they catch up to the rest.” As the year progressed, Allard saw Ostro Hanover continue to develop physically and mentally. “The one thing I’ve noticed is he used to gallop a lot when he jogged and now he paces almost all the time. He’s gotten stronger, he’s built a little more muscle,” Allard said. “His attitude has been great since he’s a gelding. When he was a colt, he was a little bit inconsistent. He had better days, bad days. Now, he never has a bad day. As they year went on, he got better and better, so we were happy with that.” By the end of the season, Ostro Hanover was firing on all cylinders. He won a $20,000 overnight at Yonkers Nov. 9 and after a third-place finish Nov. 21, earned a win in a $30,000 overnight Nov. 30. The next logical move was the Open Handicap Pace. However, Allard had another plan. He put Ostro Hanover in a $75,000 claimer for a $30,000 purse Dec. 7, taking advantage of the 25% allowance in the final month of Ostro Hanover’s 4-year-old season. The move paid off as Ostro Hanover doubled up. He won in the same class on the final Saturday of the season, scoring his third straight victory. “We figured he was a 4-year-old, so if anybody claimed him, they had to pay $100,000 for the horse,” Allard said. “We didn’t think anybody was going to claim him and we thought it was a good spot for him, so we took advantage of his 4-year-old allowance to get a couple wins out of it. But the plan was, after January to put him back in the conditioned races.” Ostro Hanover qualified Jan. 10, finishing second by a neck to Preferred rival Jack’s Legend. Allard thinks the gelding is ready to go in his first pari-mutuel start of the year. “We’ll see what happens. He’s been training good, he’s trained every three days for the last three weeks in the Yonkers break and then last week, they didn’t use the Open or the Preferred, so we qualified him and he qualified well; we were happy with him. “I think the horse is feeling good, he’s fresh, and I think he belongs in there. It’s a bit of a step up, but when the horse’s feelings are not hurt and the confidence is there, usually they show up. They’re kind of like humans with their feelings. Right now, he thinks he’s one of the best because he’s won his last three. I think that reflects in their performance when they’re feeling brave.” Ostro Hanover will start from post six with regular driver Dan Dube in the sulky. Jack’s Legend, who won two Open Handicaps and finished second in another last fall for Rich Banca, will start from post seven with Jason Bartlett in the bike. Reagan’s Avenger and Tookadiveoffdipper each won their last start in the Yonkers overnight ranks and step up into the Preferred. Benson Boys, Twin B Tuffenuff, and Benhope Rulz complete the lineup. “I think it’s not too bad of a spot,” Allard said. “There’s a couple nice horses in there. Banca’s horse is probably the best horse, but he drew outside. There’s a couple nice horses, but I think if he gets in the hunt with the right trip, he’ll definitely be right with them.” Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Kiwon Waldron, who spent this past summer away from his homeland in Bermuda, to drive very successfully on the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit under the tutelage of Michel and Rene Allard, was the leading driver at the recent Bermuda Harness Pony Meet Saturday with four winners. In Bermuda, the club races on a quarter-mile track with only four horses per race and they go a half mile (2 laps). Most horses will race two heats on one race card.  Waldron, 19, started off winning the second race with Reign Of Terror in 1:06, then won the fourth race with Just In Time in 1:07.3 and came back with Just In Time to win the ninth race in 1:10. He then won the 11th race with Thisbabyrocks in 1:04.3 to complete his four-bagger on the afternoon. We also noticed on the Bermuda race program, a pony named Wiggleitjiggleit! by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Invader Robyn Camden (Art Professor) added one to her already bulky win total for the 2019 harness racing season as she prevailed in the Thursday feature for fillies and mares at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Rene Allard trainee was assigned post position five in the five-horse Open which went for a purse of $18,000. Robyn Camden got away last in the feature but with the grueling pace being set wound up getting a nice trip to come from off-the-pace. Billy Dobson piloted the four year old mare who was the 6-5 second choice in the wagering as she circled the compact field before drawing away in 1:54.1 to record her fourteenth victory of the season. The race's favorite The Charging Moa N (Jay Randall) wound up first-over in a 27.4 third quarter and that trip took its toll on the talented New Zealand invader who wound up finishing third after being passed in the stretch by Bye Bye Felicia (Mark Beckwith). Robyn Camden became the third Allard-trained distaffer to win the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga in 2019 as she won the season's final ladies' feature on Thursday. She paid $4.60 to win and led an exacta with Bye Bye Felicia second that returned $36.80. The win in the feature was one of three on the afternoon for Dobson who will own seven driving titles at the Spa at the conclusion of the meet this weekend. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 22, 2019-- Yonkers Raceway graded the distaff derby on a curve Friday night (Nov. 22nd), going with a brisk $35,000 Preferred Handicap Pace for the harness racing ladies. It was Robyn Camden (Jim Marohn Jr., $16.20) getting the better of Lady Dela Renta A (Jordan Stratton) and 25-1 Cabowabocuttie (Eric Goodell) in a cavalcade of closers, the teletimer doing its thing in 1:55.4 At the outset, 4-5 fave Write Me a Song (George Brennan) found the lead, working around Sudden Change N (Austin Siegelman) before a :26.4 opening quarter mile. Then, Kaitlyn N (Jason Bartlett) grabbed the baton, parked into the second turn for the privilege. It was a :55.3 intermission before Shady Caroline (Matt Kakaley) took out of fourth, challenging in and out of the 1:25.3 three-quarters. She towed in Cabowabocutie while our heroine, Robyn Camden, was third-over from assigned post position No. 4. They had to get to Kaitlyn N and her length-and-a-quarter leader into the lane. They did. Cabowabocuttie grabbed the first lead, but Robyn Camden was about to go by. 'Robyn' then held the late threat of a cone-extricating Lady Dela Renta A at bay, the final margin three-quarters of a length. A last-to-fourth Clear Idea (Joe Bongiorno) and a tiring Kaitlyn N settled for the minors. For third choice Robyn Camden, a 4-year-old daughter of Art Professor owned by Jason O'Sullivan and trained by Rene Allard, it was her 12th win in 27 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $103, the triple returned $783 and the superfecta paid $3,717. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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