Day At The Track
Austin Siegelman, Harness Racing

Young bucks chase Big M dream

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Two names that might not be familiar to Meadowlands regulars will be appearing in the harness racing program more and more during the winter months, and Mitchell Cushing and Austin Siegelman are prepared to do what it takes to make it on the sizable Big M stage. The first of these two youngsters is 19-year-old Cushing, who was actually contacted while making his way from his Albion, Maine home to the Meadowlands Thursday night. "I'm on my way there now," said Cushing, who graduated high school in June of 2016. "It's about six hours to get there. It'll be my second time driving at the Meadowlands. Last week, I drove one horse." Six hours in the car for one drive. Why? "For the love of the sport," said Cushing, who has been driving regularly for a year and a half in Maine and Massachusetts. "It's always been a childhood dream to drive at the Meadowlands." It may not be a six-hour trip, but when Pocono Downs races, Siegelman drives four days a week from Pocono to Monticello and back. On days such as Thursday, once Monti is done, it's 90 minutes one way to the Big M. Siegelman has been driving full-time for about four years. His father James has horses at Pocono that Austin drives, but with Pocono dark for the winter, the 25-year-old is taking another shot at Big M glory after trying the mile oval a year ago with limited good results. "It's the Meadowlands," said Siegelman. "Who doesn't want to drive there?" Siegelman has an alliance with trainer Chris Marino, so he'll get some drives there, as well as for his dad. Other than that, he'll be relying on himself. "I'm not a big phone guy," said Siegelman. "So how much work I get will be based on performance and people I know." It'll be tough for the two youngsters, who both plan to be around until March, and they are keeping expectations muted. "Try to make as much money as possible," said Cushing, whose dad Ron has been a long-time trainer. "But that depends on what horses you have. To have people say, 'Did you see this kid, he did a good job'. Then, if a big trainer were to come to Plaindridge this summer, he might consider me. It would be more than enough to be be known and respected." "I don't have a lot of expectations," said Siegelman. "Just put in some good efforts. I'd like to win some races. The Meadowlands is the place to be. Everybody watches the Meadowlands." And now everybody will be watching Cushing and Siegelman. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Artiste Vivanciere, harness racing

Artiste Vivanciere takes Q+ at Vincennes

December 15, 2017 - Today’s harness racing Quinte+ Prix de Tourcoing (purse €70,000, 2850 meters, 18 starters) was at Paris-Vincennes and it went to 3.1/1 Artiste Vivanciere (7g Onyx du Goutier-Giga Query) with Matthieu Abrivard up for trainer Mlle. Claire Desmontils. The 1.15.2kr timed winner bested 33/1 Vaillant Zailer (8g Tresor de la Motte) and Franck Ouvrie with 65/1 Ariana du Nil (7f Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree) third for Maxime Bezier. 58/1 Vicomte de Corveil and 18/1 Verdi du Chatel completed the top five. Today’s featured event was the monte Prix du Neubourg (purse €80,000, 2700 meters, 12 starters five year olds) and what a finish it was with three on the line together. 4.7/1 Corail d’Aure (5g Cygnus d’Odyssee-Muccia)m scored timed in 1.13.9kr with Adrien Lamy in the irons for trainer Pierre Emmanuel Mary. 31/1 Crepe de Satin (5f Le Retour-Ina d’Avril) was second for Romain Marty and trainer Bruno Marie. 32/1 Cappricia Verderie (5f Mah Jong du Vivier-Prisia Verderie) was third for Mansour Krouchi and trainer Mme. Emilie LeBeller. Yesterday at Vincennes was the Prix des Glaieuls (purse €34,000, 2700 meters, 14 two year olds) and the 1.17.2kr timed winner was 4/1 Free And Easy (2m Ready Cash-Viva Island) handled by Matthieu Abrivard for owned Jean Pierre Dubois, trainer Yves Boireau and breeder Scuderia Bolgheri Srl.  1.4/1 Fredo Griff (2m Love You-Royale de Bea) was second for Mathieu Mottier, trainer Dominique Mottier and breeder/owner Ecurie Griff. 15/1 Fakr Merite (2m Uaukir) took third for Julien Raffestin. The winners dam, Viva Island, is a daughter of Goetmals Wood-Island Dream-Coktail Jet. Island Dream was a US$555,000 winner who won the Prix Albert Jiel, Prix Ozo and Prix Roquepine. She has produced Not Disturb and Infinitif. Thomas H. Hicks  

Louis Philippe Roy, harness racing

Roy wins five Thursday at Woodbine

TORONTO, December 14, 2017 - Exactly seven-days after finishing in the runner-up spot five-times, harness racing driver Louis Philippe Roy turned the tables to post a big Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Mont-Joli, Quebec native won five of seven drives on Thursday evening's 10-race card. Roy started his night with a victory in the evening's second-race behind Richard Moreau trained three-year-old trotting filly Oceanview Deb ($3). Victories two and three for the young reinsman would come in the fifth-race behind Des Tackoor trained four-year-old pacer Undrafted ($3.50) and the sixth-race behind Rene Bourassa trained three-year-old pacing filly Restless Hanover ($15.70). Roy hit the "Grand Slam" in the eighth-race with three-year-old trotting filly Highland Top Hill ($2.60) for trainer Marty Fine. He would then double up with Bourassa by steering seven-year-old pacer Independent Spirit ($5.10) to victory in the finale for his fifth-win. Currently second in the WEG driver's standings, Roy now has 262 victories in his first-full season on the Woodbine Circuit. Overall, Roy has 371 victories and $5.6 million in earnings in 2017. Roy will attempt to keep things rolling on Friday evening's 10-race card. He is scheduled to drive in seven-races. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Oceanview Deb - Louis Philippe Roy​ Undrafted - Louis Philippe Roy Restless Hanover - Louis Philippe Roy Highland Top Hill - Louis Philippe Roy Independent Spirit - Louis Philippe Roy Mark McKelvie

Churita, harness racing

Churita back in Hollywood Dayton win circle

DAYTON, OH. - It had been three weeks since Churita last raced, but the layoff didn't seem to bother her a bit. Churita, a lightly raced harness racing 5-year-old Airzoom Lindy mare, bested the best male trotters in southern Ohio for the second straight time at Hollywood Dayton Raceway on Thursday night (Dec. 14). In just her 20th start of the year, Churita trotted past a full field of open trotters for trainer-driver Matt Rheinheimer to garner her half of the $18,500 purse with a winning 1:55.3 mile. Rheinheimer ducked his prize mare off the gate, getting away last from the outermost post position. He probably felt his goose was cooked when he saw pedestrian fractions of :28.2 and :58 put up by pacesetter Fantasy League (Tyler Smith), who eventually finished third. Churita was at the back of the double-tiered field at the half, but swung three-wide and was moved up to fifth at the 1:26.2 three quarter mile marker. With the quickest final split of all, however, she picked up adversaries one at a time through the stretch to prevail. Dispatched at 9-2 odds, Churita returned $11.60 to her backers while the exacta with runnerup Mugshot Man (Kyle Ater) kicked back $66.60. It was the ninth victory of the season for Churita and raised her 2017 bankroll to $148,518. Career-wise the winner has earned $771,710 in just 66 starts, a very impressive $11,693 lifetime average per start. She Is owned by Porterproffesionalservice of Michigan. Gregg Keidel

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Esprit De Kayjay A isn't getting older, he's getting better. The 13-year-old harness racing gelding won his second straight Meadowlands start after taking four in a row at Freehold, winning the first of two divisions of the second leg of the Dash For The "G" Notes series Thursday night at the Meadowlands. Andy Miller has been in the sulky for all half-dozen victories. Esprit De Kayjay A worked out a pocket trip and won easily splitting rivals in deep stretch to win in a season's-best 1:53.4 by 2¾-lengths over Pan Grad. Salevster Stallion was third. As the 1-2 public choice, 'Kayjay' returned $3.00 to win for trainer Nick Surick, who also owns the horse along with his mom Debbie. The veteran campaigner has now won 71 races in 300 lifetime starts and has banked $533,121. "He's a horse with a lot of problems," said Surick, who is far in front of the field in the trainer standings at Freehold Raceway. "But he has a huge heart. He seems to do his best work in the winter when they don't go as fast." Miller completed a driving sweep of the Dash For The "G" Notes events, guiding Walks Of Life to a powerhouse score in 1:52.4. The 7-year-old son of Western Ideal burst away from the gate and was never threatened while racing on the lead, scoring by 2¼-lengths over May I Cruise West. Every Intention was third. Walks Of Life's performance was particularly impressive given that the gelding had not raced since late July, when he won at the Meadowlands in 1:51.2. Trained by Vincent Fusco Jr., Walks Of Life paid $6.40 to win as the 2-1 favorite, scoring for the 24th time in 104 lifetime outings, and in the process, pushed his lifetime earnings past the $100,000 mark. A LITTLE MORE: Driver Jim Marohn Jr. recorded three winners on the card, including a sweep of the Late Daily Double. ... All-source handle on the nine-race program totaled $1,150,707. ... After once again not resulting in a single-ticket winner, the carryover for the late 20 Cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 swelled to $37,595.13. ... Racing resumes Friday night at the Big M with a first race post time of 7:15 p.m. ... During December, the Meadowlands will race Thursday through Saturday nights. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Impressive Auckland Reactor gelding Chase Auckland defeated another strong field of harness racing 3yo's tonight in the $50,000 Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park, and remains unbeaten with six wins from six starts. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Chase Auckland had to be good to win after getting attacked in front for most of the race by David Butcher and the Ray Green trained King Of Swing.  On the turn King Of Swing was beaten and the only danger to Chase Auckland was All U Need Is Faith who had trailed all the way. At the line Chase Auckland found plenty and managed to hold off his stablemate by half a head with another All Stars runner Spankem running into third. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said after the race. "Oh he is a very good horse and just seems to give a bit more every time I ask him". Chase Auckland ran the 2200m in a very fast 2-36.4 with a closing 800m in 56.7 and 400m in 27.9 seconds. The Alexandra Park track was lightning quick tonight with Vincent going close to breaking his own New Zealand record when winning fresh up in the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup. Vincent beat A G's Whitesocks by half a length and ran the 2700m stand in 3-19.7 with a last 800m in 55.6. Titian Banner ran third and remarkably his time of 3-18.8 was inside the record of 3-19.4. Earlier in the night Jo's Dream and Partyon deadheated in the $100,000 (Gr1) Rosslands Queen Of Hearts 4yo and older mares pace. The winners paced the 2200m mobile in 2-40.9 with a closing 800m in 56.3 seconds.   Chase Auckland winning his sixth race in a row.   Partyon and Jo's Dream deadheating tonight.   Vincent winning the Franklin Cup Harnesslink Media

When news broke on the morning of the third Ashes Test that Indian bookies had boasted to Britain’s The Sunnewspaper that they could fix cricket matches, it quickly became an international story. While betting corruption and cricket have staged a delicate dance since the major scandals involving Hansie Cronje and the like broke in the early 2000s, there is always a raised eyebrow when such brazen claims of match fixing are raised. Why? Because society still cares about the integrity of cricket. Last Saturday, three significant Queensland harness racing identities, Shane Graham, Leonard Cain and Vicki Rasmussen, were charged with match fixing and it barely made it past the court notices and in brief sections of the paper. The people involved are charged with serious crimes, essentially fixing a race result for the purposes of profit. These crimes carry maximum terms of 10 years in jail. In the last six months, three of Queensland's five leading harness drivers have been charged with match fixing, while there have also been arrests in Victoria in a long-running investigation into impropriety there. Each harness racing scandal that breaks, and they seem to be weekly at the moment, barely raises a murmur in the general public. The punting fraternity, those who essentially fund the sport, through betting on it invariably trot out the old ‘Cheats on Seats’ and ‘Crims on Rims’ references. But while cheating and skullduggery in the sport of silks and sulkies is hardly a new thing, it certainly casts a pall over an industry which appears to be dying a slow and painful death. You see, the arrest of Graham, who is Queensland’s leading driver, as well as Rasmussen and Cain occurred less than 12 hours after a race once revered as one of the biggest in any code, the Inter Dominion, was staged at Perth’s Gloucester Park. The win of harness racing’s new superstar Lazarus (at 11pm AEDT on a Friday night) got even less coverage than the arrests in Queensland on Saturday. So if no one, apart from the crowd at Gloucester Park, saw Australia’s best harness race, did it really happen? Next year, the Inter Dominion returns to Melbourne for the first time since 2008. Well when I say Melbourne, it’s Melton, 35km west of the city at a facility opened in 2009 to service the needs of the sports participants and certainly not its dwindling fan base. While organisers will no doubt do their best to promote the event, with Lazarus’ title defence centre stage, the Inter Dominion won’t make a ripple in the competitive sporting landscape of the Victorian capital. Certainly nothing like the 40,000 who packed Moonee Valley for the 1985 edition. At that time, the sport was in its prime, helped by the fact that night-time entertainment in Melbourne outside of the trots,  was virtually non-existent.  The broader question is does harness racing, once a thriving sport in the 1970s and 1980s, have a pulse in Australia? On the current evidence, the news is grim. The diagnosis becomes completely terminal if it can’t rid itself of the cancer of corruption, which has been a long-time problem for the sport. If those within the industry - and we are talking about major players here -  don’t act with integrity then the social licence of the sport is under threat. We saw how close the greyhound industry went to being banned (especially in NSW), when major players acted like cowboys (and worse), and lost the faith of the general public. It’s a pretty simple formula for harness racing. If the cheating and corruption reach a level where it costs more to enforce the law then the benefits which flow back to the community, then it will quickly lose the last skerrick of relevance it has. At that point, it will be consigned to history. That will be a great shame. By Bren O'Brien Reprinted with permission of Punters.com.au Bren O'Brien is a lifelong follower of harness racing.  

DOVER, Del --- Both of last week's $25,000 Open winners who finished in a harness racing dead-heat win, Cajon Lightning and Sicily returned in the feature race at Dover Downs on Thursday, Dec. 14 and this time 7-1 Cajon Lightning closed with a rush to score a 1:51 victory with Sicily finishing second. Tim Tetrick had another big day with five winners. Art Stafford Jr drove the Mach Three-Tex In The City gelding to his eighth win of the season and entered six figures in the win column earning $!02,655 for Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Steve Iaquinta and Minisink Farms. The win was the third Open of the meet for the Eric Ell trainee. Sicily (Montrell Teague) was second in front of Arque Hanover (Corey Callahan). George Teague's Daiymir and Montrell Teague came three wide at the top of the final turn to take over and then held off hypothetical (Tony Morgan) in a stretch battle to win by a head in 1:51.2 to take an $18,000 Winners pace. The Mr. Wiggins-Cookie Money colt won for the eighth time in 14 races and now has won $100,550 in purses in this his first year of racing. Drunkonaplane (Callahan) finished third. Tim Tetrick drove the winners of both $35,000 Claiming paces. First, Bamond Racing's Cyclone Kiwi N notched a 1:50.4 conquest from post 8 with Jet Airway (Callahan) finishing second. Hi Sir (Russell Foster) was third. Later, Tetrick posted a 1:51.3 victory behind Bill Emmond's I Am A Cowboy . Bluebird Ideal (Ross Wolfenden) was runner-up with Whirl Monroe (Vic Kirby), the show finisher. Tetrick also guided Jack Roger to a 1:52.2 triumph in a $16,000 Winners pace for trainer Jason Skinner and owner Alan Welch. It was the sixth win in 10 starts for the Rock N Roll Heaven-Stonebridge Prima sophomore gelding, now a $49,590 winner. American Sportsman (Eddie Davis Jr.) and Sir Will's Wish (Vic Kirby) were second and third respectively. Sawbuck Hanover who won last week's $35,000 claimer step up for a 1:50.4 success in the $14,000 Winners-Over pace. McKenry (Bret Brittingham) was second in front of Regalanthopost (Tetrick), third. The Bettor's Delight-Shesaporche gelding is owned and trained by Josh Parker. In addition to Tetrick's five wins, Tony Morgan and trainer Jim King, recorded a double. No Live Racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Dover Downs races four days a week, Monday through Thursday with post time at 4:30 p.m. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred races each day from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight in the Race and Sports Book. Marv Bachrad

With two harness racing country cup wins in six days Shadow Sax has launched himself to the head of the Trots Country Cups Championship, and Emma Stewart’s lightly-raced favourite may be only just getting warmed up. A winner of 16 of his 24 starts who hasn’t missed a placing since start three, Shadow Sax has made up for lost time this season when the once terrific juvenile has overcome the niggles that burdened his four-year-old campaign. He was a class above when dominant in the December 3 Choices Flooring By Westside Stawell Pacing Cup, but it was perhaps his rugged win six days later in the Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup that reaffirmed his status. That was the view of veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who was in the sulky for both. “It was a step up again when he got to the Geelong Cup,” Lang said. “He had to withstand the pressure as John Of Arc started strong and continued to over race outside of him.” A 69.7-second lead time, almost a second faster than the lead time when It Is Billy set the track record in the 2016 cup, set the foundation before some respite with 30.5 and 30.6 first and second quarters. Love Ina Chevy loomed during a 27.3 third quarter when Shadow Sax saw off Lance Justice’s threat, and a 28.7 final quarter was required to keep leader’s back Cant Refuse (second) and quality swoopers Messini, It Is Billy, Tee Cee Bee Macray, Lets Elope and Mister Wickham at bay. “(Shadow Sax) has a laidback character and reserves himself until I give him a tap on the backside to wake him up and he hit the line really well,” Lang said. A 1.8m win captured the bulk of the $30,000 prizemoney for owner-breeders Russell and Pamela Hockham. “I don’t take any of (his opposition) horses for granted, they have all earned their spot,” Lang said. “Not every horse can step up into that grade, where the good ones just keep coming at you. He’s the new kid on the block. He’s always acquitted himself well, but he spent a long time out. I think whatever he does this campaign will auger well for the future.” His next chapter could well come in the January 6 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup, a $60,000 Group 2 pace that is the first of six country cups across three weeks. Michael Howard

Three people alleged to be involved in a harness racing fixing scandal at Cobram more than two years ago will have to wait until next year to find out the outcome of the case against them. Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley yesterday faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court for the 13th and final day of a contested hearing. Magistrate John Murphy decided to receive final written submissions from the prosecution and defence out of court. ‘‘I’m satisfied there is a case to answer against all of the accused,’’ he said. Yesterday, Gary Hevey attempted to re-open the prosecution’s case after taking instructions from higher authorities. ‘‘A situation has arisen, I have been asked to re-open the prosecution case,’’ he said. Mr Murphy ruled Victoria Police telephone intercepts admissible this week. ‘‘Those instructing me have taken a different view,’’ Mr Hevey said. ‘‘They say I should re-open the prosecution case for utilising telephone intercepts post-offending. (I) propose for your honour to rule admissible the telephone intercepts and material post-offending.’’ Mr Jack’s lawyer Anthony Lewis said none of the telephone intercepts were ‘‘admissible to incriminating conduct’’. ‘‘It will prolong the proceeding,’’ he argued. Mr Murphy agreed, saying it would lengthen the case, querying the need for the telephone intercepts as the crown already had numerous text messages admitted into evidence. ‘‘(What is) the relevance of this further material? It would extend the case by at least one or two days,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t allow the prosecution to re-open the case.’’ The court case was adjourned about noon yesterday, with a ruling set to be made on the three accused in April. HEARING SUMMARY Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in, facilitating and possessing knowledge and/or information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. The charges relate to an allegedly fixed race at Cobram on June 22, 2015, after which an investigation was launched into the tactics adopted during the event and information provided to Harness Racing Victoria on the stabling arrangements of a horse. Of the accused, only Mr Jack and Mr Pitt took part in the race. Prosecutors allege Mr Jack, driving Tooram Lad, allowed Airbournemagic, driven by Mr Pitt, to win the race. The court has heard from representatives who have spoken about betting patterns before the race, while the father of Ms Bartley was excused from giving evidence against his daughter. Earlier in the hearing, Harness Racing Victoria evidence was thrown out and not used during the hearing as it was found to be involuntarily obtained. The hearing started on Monday, November 27, in front of Magistrate John Murphy and entered its third week on Monday. This week, charges against previous co-accused Ms Turnbull were dismissed. By Hayden Thomson  

December 14, 2017 - Toronto, Ontario - The Board of Ontario Racing and members of the Standardbred Alliance have voted to merge the two existing harness racing organizations. The combined entity will be an independent, not-for-profit industry organization that will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the Province with one unified voice.   "We're excited to announce the merger of the two organizations to create a more inclusive Ontario Racing with an expanded membership and governance mandate," said Hugh Mitchell, Chair of Ontario Racing Board of Directors. "Both the board of Ontario Racing and the Standardbred Alliance are confident that the merger will create a unified voice for racing to advocate for the sector's interests and ultimately negotiate a long-term funding agreement that ensures the sustainability of three breeds of horse racing in Ontario."   The newly formed entity will create a more cost-effective and streamlined approach to industry administration and governance, as well as a more collaborative and effective approach to decision-making and strategic planning on behalf of 15 racetracks and racing industry associations across the Province.   Ontario Racing will create a not-for-profit to be called Ontario Racing Management (ORM), utilizing shared resources from Woodbine Entertainment's management team. This formula follows the successful business model of the Standardbred Alliance and allows racetracks to realize on multiple operational cost savings.   "Members of the Standardbred Alliance have benefitted from Woodbine Entertainment's expertise and have realized countless benefits including greater operational efficiencies and a coordinated approach to overcoming shared challenges," said Ian Fleming of Clinton Raceway.   The newly merged organization is committed to having a three-year business plan in place by April 1, 2018. The plan will include guarantees of purse payments for all member tracks, staking programs and race schedules, as well as establishing and administering common racetrack rules and policies.   "Once the long-term funding model is determined, the sector can move towards a more sustainable plan for racing, which includes strengthening the industry to meet public demand and ensure the long-term success of viable racetracks," said Sue Leslie, President, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "We need to work together, all racetracks and horsepeople, and we are committed to working collaboratively with all industry stakeholders moving forward."   "The alliance track model has helped stabilize racing since its inception. Merging the alliance tracks and OR will create a unified voice to communicate with Government and secure the long-term funding. ORM will help sustain racing in Ontario for years to come," says Bill O'Donnell, President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association.   About Ontario Racing - One unified voice for the industry   Ontario Racing is a not-for profit industry organization created out of the merger of the current Standardbred Alliance and the existing Ontario Racing organizations. It will serve as the industry organization responsible for making strategic decisions on issues that affect the horse racing industry, including distributing the OLG transfer payment agreement, and will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the Province.   Mike Chopowick Ontario Racing 416-477-5519 | mikechopowick@ontarioracing.com

Don't read too much into hotshot driver Natalie Rasmussen turning her back on Heaven Rocks for the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. The co-trainer says the enigmatic star pacer is still the one to beat, even though she has jumped off him to drive Vincent. The pair dominate betting on the 2700m standing start event as Alexandra Park's summer season goes up a notch with its first premier meeting of the season, while the track backs up with another meeting tomorrow night to cater for its huge Christmas bookings. Rasmussen and Mark Purdon train Vincent and Heaven Rocks but a driver reshuffle was forced after Purdon was suspended for 26 days on Inter Dominion night last Friday.   Purdon would have driven Vincent, last season's best three-year-old, in his comeback race but with him sidelined Rasmussen felt compelled to. "It is a tricky situation with Mark out because there is a lot of pressure driving a horse like Vincent fresh up and I don't think it is fair to put that pressure on somebody else," she explained. "He is ready to race and there to win but I think he is a false favourite and don't want him driven like a $2 chance because he probably isn't ready for that. "Of course he can win because he is a very good horse but I think Heaven Rocks is our better chance because he was so good last Friday and should be even fitter. "It is just a very tricky race for Vincent fresh up." Heaven Rocks will be partnered by Tim Williams, who admits he hasn't had great success on the nutcase pacer before. But he has been doing all the work with him in the north over the last two weeks. Add in Jack's Legend back on his home track, the improving AG's White Socks and Titan Banner, now back with Purdon-Rasmussen, and tonight's race will be a huge pointer to what to expect in the Auckland Cup on December 31. With Williams being in charge of the All Stars northern assault, he has been charged with getting Partyon's mind back on the job for tonight's group one $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts. The multiple group one winner looked lazy when a fresh up fourth last Friday in a race where Bonnie Joan was outstanding but there has been good early money to suggest that result can be reversed tonight. "She needed a bit of a sharpen up and she got that this week," said Williams. "I worked her in block blinds this week to get her mind on the job and she sprinted up the straight well with Vincent in her work. "She will race in sliding blinds on Friday and we expect her to improve a lot." One horse who won't need to improve is the stable rep in the $50,000 Alabar Classic in Chase Auckland. Owned by the race sponsors, the exciting three-year-old has barrier one and should remain unbeaten. The three-year-old fillies clash in the $85,000 Peter Breckon Memorial looks far more even but Bettor Joy deserves favouritism after a mammoth win last Friday while the main trot sees the return of Speeding Spur. Like Vincent in the Franklin Cup, Speeding Spur is good enough to win fresh up but he needs only one key rival getting an easy trip on the markers to be beaten. Michael Guerin

Wallkill, NY- Blue Chip Farms is pleased to announced that Credit Winner’s richest son, Devious Man, will stand at Blue Chip Farms in 2018 for $4,000. A winner of nearly $1.4 million lifetime, Devious Man was a NYSS Champion at 2YO as well as winner of five NYSS legs.  The “Man” won the Empire Breeders Stake Final and finished second in the Hambletonian and multiple Grand Circuit stakes, including the Kentucky Futurity Final as a 3YO.  In 2017, he was third or better  in 15 out of 17 starts. Devious Man has a fantastic family.  He is a ½ Brother to 5-$100,000 winners including World Champion, Dan Patch 3YO and Aged Trotter of the Year, Vivid Photo 4,1:50.2 ($3.2 million).  Vivid Photo was the victor in the 2005 Hambletonian Final.   "We are very excited to have Devious Man in the barn to carry on the legacy of Credit Winner and Blue Chip in New York trotting,” said Tom Grossman, Principal at Blue Chip Farms, "Along with Bettor's Delight and Art Major, this blood has literally given life to our farm and our families. Devious Man has all the attributes to do the same for the next generation, and I am confident that with Stroy, my team and the rest of the partnership we are building, he will be given every chance to carry the flag and ‘Take On The World.’"   A quality cross to Valley Victory, Cantab Hall and Donato Hanover line mares, booking and syndicate share inquires can be made directly to Jean Brown-Clearwater, Jbrown@bluechipfarms.com or Ed Amezcua, eamezcua@bluechipfarms.com.   The $252,000 Empire Breeders Classic Final!     Devious Man wins the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr Memorial      

December 13, 2017 - Tony LeBeller teamed 2.1/1 Avenir de Blay (7g Hooper-Mirabelle de Blay) to victory in Wednesday’s Quinte+ Prix Poitou-Charentes (purse €85.000, 2850 meters, 17 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. The LeBeller harness racing trainee, that he also owns, was timed in 1.14kr to defeat 7.2/1 Attacus (7g Hand du Vivier) driven by Eric Raffin for trainer Sebastien Guarato. 21/1 Venus de Bailly (8f Chaillot) was third for Alexandre Abrivard ahead of Artiste de Joudes at 13/1 and 4.4/1 Auch. Avenir de Blay On the card was the Prix les Mathes-la Palmyre (purse €80,000, 2175 meters, 11 starters) with the 1.13.7kr timed score to 5/1 Chance des Douits (5f Power Jet-Pony Girl) for Gabriele Gelormini. 5.4/1 Comete Darche (5f Ready Cash) took second for J-M Bazire and 39/1 Chic et Belle was third driven by Anthony Barrier. Chance des Douits The day’s featured event was the monte Gr. III Prix Auguste Francois (purse €110,000, 2175 meters, 12 starters) and a classic affair it was with a pair on the line together timed in 1.11.8kr. The 2.4/1 winner was Val Royal (8m Capriccio-Quarda du Rib) handled by Eric Raffin for trainer J-M Bazire and owner Ecurie des Charmes. This one, and his chief rival could be a Cornulier player. Second finishing was 41/1 Valse de Reve (8f Mister President-Nouba Horba) with Guillaume Martin in the irons for owner/trainer Alain Roussel. 2.1/1 Alpha Saltor (7m Paris Haufor-Glory d’Ariane) took third for jockey Matthieu Abrivard. 12/1 Vra Voyou and 12/1 Tiger Danover were 11th and 12th. Val Royal Other interesting winners this day were 11/1 Bel Air (6g Ganymede-Kaldeira) in the Prix de Villers Cotterets (purse €55,000, 2100 meters, 18 starters) with P-Y Verva up for trainer Franck Bouismartel, also the owner. 33/1 Ballaya (6f First de Retz) was second for Franck Anne ahead of 7/10 favorite Global Response (6g Credit Winner-Com Mimmi). Race time was a quick 1.11.5kr. Bel Air Finally was the Prix de Blanquefort (purse €55,000, 2100  meters, 12 European starters) and the 1.12.9kr timed winner was 5.5/1 Amitie d’Orgeres (7f defi d’Aunou-Passion d’Orgeres) handled by Anthony Barrier. 8.4/1 Romi Mms (7f Turbo Sund-Goldy LB) was a rallying second for J-M Bazire and SLO based owner Mitja Slavic. Third was the 3/2 favorite Ardente du Clos with owner/trainer Matthieu Abrivard the pilot. Amitie d’Orgeres   Thomas H. Hicks  

Batavia, NY---The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present harness racing performance awards to the top dash winning trainer and driver of the meet during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" ceremony in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) and whereas the top conditioner has been well identified, the driver's race will likely go down to the final races of the weekend. Kim Asher is currently the top percentage trainer in North America with a UTR of .427 and $1.1 million in earnings. She is also ranked eighth in North America for wins, currently with 208. So it's no surprise that Asher is also the trainer of the meet at Batavia Downs for 2017. Asher has started 351 horses during the session winning 88 races, finishing second 55 times and third another 55 times and saw her horses hit the board 56% of the time. Those efforts gave her a stellar UTR of .390 and $479,491 in purses. Her win total more than doubled her closest competitor. Competing for only the second year at Batavia, Asher's training career spans 19 years and during that time she has won multiple training titles including most recently, the 2017 Buffalo Raceway meet. This year Asher has sent out 208 winners and that mark was a personal best. Her stable boast horses with gaudy win totals like Quicksilvercandy A (20), Saint William A (16), Itsonlyrocknroll A (13) and Kaitlyn Rae (11). During her career Asher has 1,934 wins, 1,456 seconds and 1,222 thirds out of 9,196 starts for a lifetime UTR of .342 and earnings of over $15 million. The driving accolades for this meet are still up in the air. Larry Stalbaum is the current dash win leader with 127 wins while Ray Fisher Jr. is second with 122 and Drew Monti is third with 117. With only two cards of racing left and probably 20 starts apiece remaining for all three drivers, Stalbaum looks fairly solid with a five-race lead. If Stalbaum does win the title it would be his first at Batavia Downs. However the long-tenured horseman is no stranger to being the best set of hands on any circuit. Over his 32-year career he has won dash honors at Northville Downs, Hazel Park, Sports Creek Park, Jackson Harness Raceway, Monticello Raceway, Raceway Park, Cal Expo and most recently, Buffalo Raceway earlier this year. During his career, Stalbaum has driven 5,732 winners and earned just under $39 million in purses. Ray Fisher Jr. has won two driving titles at Buffalo Raceway and four at Northfield Park. But since arriving at the Genesee County oval in 2007 has never taken the top spot there although he did finish second and third three times each. So winning it this year would definitely be a notch in his belt. Since his career began in 1987, Fisher has won 4,200 races lifetime and just shy of $18 million in purses. Drew Monti is the defending dash driving winner at Batavia Downs, taking his first-ever driving title last year with 116 wins. He had a substantial lead this year earlier in the meet, but the competition stiffened and now he has a lot of work to do in order to repeat. Although the 23-year-old Monti has only been driving for five years, he is already closing in on his 1,000th win (currently with 979) and has made $5.5 million in purses during that time. The competition for the driving title will resume on Friday night (Dec. 15) and will be decided on Saturday (Dec. 16). Post time for both nights is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA  

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Two names that might not be familiar to Meadowlands regulars will be appearing in the harness racing program more and more during the winter months, and Mitchell Cushing and Austin Siegelman are prepared to do what it takes to make it on the sizable Big M stage. The first of these two youngsters is 19-year-old Cushing, who was actually contacted while making his way from his Albion, Maine home to the Meadowlands Thursday night. "I'm on my way there now," said Cushing, who graduated high school in June of 2016. "It's about six hours to get there. It'll be my second time driving at the Meadowlands. Last week, I drove one horse." Six hours in the car for one drive. Why? "For the love of the sport," said Cushing, who has been driving regularly for a year and a half in Maine and Massachusetts. "It's always been a childhood dream to drive at the Meadowlands." It may not be a six-hour trip, but when Pocono Downs races, Siegelman drives four days a week from Pocono to Monticello and back. On days such as Thursday, once Monti is done, it's 90 minutes one way to the Big M. Siegelman has been driving full-time for about four years. His father James has horses at Pocono that Austin drives, but with Pocono dark for the winter, the 25-year-old is taking another shot at Big M glory after trying the mile oval a year ago with limited good results. "It's the Meadowlands," said Siegelman. "Who doesn't want to drive there?" Siegelman has an alliance with trainer Chris Marino, so he'll get some drives there, as well as for his dad. Other than that, he'll be relying on himself. "I'm not a big phone guy," said Siegelman. "So how much work I get will be based on performance and people I know." It'll be tough for the two youngsters, who both plan to be around until March, and they are keeping expectations muted. "Try to make as much money as possible," said Cushing, whose dad Ron has been a long-time trainer. "But that depends on what horses you have. To have people say, 'Did you see this kid, he did a good job'. Then, if a big trainer were to come to Plaindridge this summer, he might consider me. It would be more than enough to be be known and respected." "I don't have a lot of expectations," said Siegelman. "Just put in some good efforts. I'd like to win some races. The Meadowlands is the place to be. Everybody watches the Meadowlands." And now everybody will be watching Cushing and Siegelman. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations
Millstone Township, NJ - 12/15/17 - The Standardbred Retirement Foundation's (SRF) raffle winner for the trip to the famous Prix d'Amerique race in Paris is from Fair Lawn, NJ, are race horse owners, and are SRF supporters since 2010.   SRF hasn't been able to reach them to share the good news.   Thank you to all our supporters of this very important fund raising effort.   All raffle ticket sales will help SRF feed and care for the more than 300 trotters and pacers under its full expense, as well support its youth programs. www.AdoptaHorse.org   SRF is Different:   * Is the largest Standardbred adoption program in the U.S.   * Helps Standardbreds exclusively, young, aged, injured, neglected, or abused.   * Is feeding and caring for more than 300 trotters and pacers. * Is providing lifetime homes for more than 150 retirees and provides lifetime follow-up for every adopted horse, never to be at risk again.   Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101, Millstone Twp., NJ 08535
Goshen, NY - The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is inviting Immortal nominations for the Class of 2019. All Museum members in good standing have the privilege of nominating people and horses who they feel have made a significant contribution to the sport of harness racing. The nominees must be deceased three years or more to be eligible for consideration. Nominations must include a complete biography of the subject and detailed harness racing career statistics, when applicable. Nominations must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2018. They may be emailed on or before that date to director@harnessmuseum.com or mailed to The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924. In July, the Immortals Nominating Committee announced that the trustees of the Museum had unanimously endorsed the election of Håkan Wallner. On Sunday, July 1, 2018, Mr. Wallner will be inducted into the Hall of Immortals during ceremonies held under the tent on the Museum lawn. The charismatic and energetic Wallner was the consummate businessman and horseman, and was well-respected by the American harness racing elite. Wallner was convinced that he could succeed in this country as a trainer of trotters and in a short amount of time he was competing at the highest level and affecting every facet of harness racing from the yearling sales to the Grand Circuit. His contribution to the globalization of U.S. trotting continues to have a profound effect on the breeding, training and racing of the American trotter. Håkan Wallner was a globetrotting pioneer who single-handedly raised the bar of Swedish racing and breeding to an international level, and he is regarded as one of Sweden's greatest trotting ambassadors. He paved the way for European and Scandinavian horse trading and his efforts forever changed the breeding landscape with an influx of the fresh American bloodlines into Sweden, Italy, France, Denmark, Finland and other countries. Wallner lead the way for other Scandinavian and European horsemen to move to the United States and compete at the sport's highest level. The list includes Soren and Jan Nordin, Jimmy Takter, Per Eriksson, Per Henrikson, Stefan Melander, Mario Zuanetti and Pekka Korpi. Collectively this group has nine Hambletonian winners. HÃ¥kan Wallner died January 20, 2001 in Treviso, Italy. He was inducted to the Swedish Trotting Hall of Fame in 2015. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, NY and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. If you would like further information on the Immortals nomination preocess, the 2018 induction ceremony, the Museum, its membership program, special events and educational programs, please call 845-294-6330 or visit www.harnessmuseum.com. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame
East Rutherford, NJ - The Saturday harness racing card at The Meadowlands indicates that winter racing will provide the wagering product horseplayers have embraced for years. The higher purse races have been stacked on Saturday and the result is a rock solid offering from start to finish.   The evening begins with the popular new Survivor Pick 10 (races 1-10 $10,000 guarantee) and the opening leg is a conditioned pace that contains but six horses but the quality is high and the abilities of the six quite even.   Spanning the card are the variety of guaranteed pool horizontal wagers including the Pick 5 (races 2-6 $25,000 guarantee), Early Pick 4 (races 4-7 $25,000 guarantee) and Late Pick 4 (races 8-11 $50,000 guarantee) with the last race vertical Super Hi-5 Jackpot carry over approaching $40,000 into Friday's card.   On the racetrack the Saturday night feature is the seventh race, a $20,000 Preferred pace where the highly regarded import Christen Me N comes in on a hot streak and has been installed as the 2-1 morning line choice.   A career winner of over $2 million, Christen Me N has been carefully managed state-side by trainer Jim King, Jr since arriving on these shores from his native New Zealand this spring. He made two Meadowlands starts earlier this season, both solid sub 1:50 efforts with 25 and change final quarters against top quality competition, an indication he will relish the mile oval.   Tim Tetrick is in for the card and will drive Christen Me N from his handicapped post 7 for owner Richard Poillucci on Saturday.   Dave Brower Race Reviews and free program pages for a few of the more popular wagers are available on The Meadowlands website.   Post time is 7:15 p.m.   Nick Salvi
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