Day At The Track
Dan Patch awards live,Harness racing

Watch Dan Patch Awards live today

The name of the 2019 Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night (Feb. 23) at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren’t among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA’s YouTube page. After a one-hour cocktail hour, the awards ceremony gets underway at 6:30 p.m.(12:30pm NZ time) and will be available via the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page. At approximately 9:30 p.m (3:30pm NZ time), emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access YouTube page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page on Monday (Feb. 24). Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It’s your guarantee to see who’s wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale’s Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder’s Facebook page can be found here. (USHWA)   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Jackie Barker,Harness racing

Aussie stable snippets

TALENTED junior driver Jackie Barker enjoyed one of her biggest nights at the office when she landed a winning harness racing treble at the Ararat Pacing Cup night on Friday. Barker, who hails from Hamilton, snared the first country cup of her career in the Group Three Ararat Pacing Cup with an all-the-way victory on the Emma Stewart trained Deedenuto (Safari - Harbhahay (Justanotherpoorboy). The win was the third leg of a winning treble for the emerging youngster, after she took out the opening two races on the Ararat card - the first with Montpellier (Orlando Vic - The Kahmotion (Dream Vacation) for Anton Golino; and race two with What's Stanley Got (Heston Blue Chip - Whats Nero Got (Art Major) for the Tindale stable, from Berringa south west of Ballarat. Three wins wasn't the end of the memorable night for Barker though - she went within a whisker of taking the Ararat Trotters Cup as well, for her grandfather Jim Barker, finishing runner up on Glorious Finale to the Chris Svanosio trained and driven Kyvalley Finn (Skyvalley - Kyvalley Paris (Majestic Son). She also finished a close second later in the night for her grandfather on Presidential Grin, behind Rebecca East's Crowded Reactor (Auckland Reactor - Threes A Crowd (Armbro Operative). It was the third driving treble in Barker's career - following on from Mount Gambier and Hamilton trebles last year. "It was my first cup so that was an awesome experience - and a treble on the night made it extra special," Barker said. "The other seconds were both very close as well, so it's a bit hard not to think about what might have been...but you've just got to enjoy those nights when they come along, because you can come back down to earth pretty quickly in this game!" she said. ________________________________________________________________________________________ GUN Tasmanian harness racing trainer-driver Rohan Hillier recently reached a well-deserved milestone. Hillier, based at Beauty Point, posted his 700th career win at Hobart. The popular horseman showed his usual polish to get the money with A Spanish Dance (Rocknroll Dance-Guernica (Major Art) in the Hobart Signwriters Pace. The 3yo filly is trained by Marc Butler. Earlier on the program, Hillier took out the $12,000 Metropolitan Cup with his brilliant pacer Ryley Major (Art Major-Shes Ryleymak (Totally Western). It was the seven year old's 11th win from 12 starts this season. Ryley Major now has 27 wins for $225k. Another "Tassie" reinsman in Troy McDonald was delighted to get his 100th winner in the gig recently. Promising junior Queenslander Angus Garrard landed his 50th winner at Albion Park last Tuesday. Garrard is a graduate of the junior harness racing ranks in his home state. Another Sunshine State driver in Justin Elkins also recently racked up his 50th career win. Pictured: Rohan Hillier (Photograph Stacey Lear) ________________________________________________________________________________________ YOU just have to love the passion of well-known industry participant Gordon Banks. Part-owner of the brilliant Majordan (Art Major-Benelise (Vintner), Banks hit the social media scene with gusto after his pacer won the $100K G1 Newcastle Mile on Friday in track record time of 1.50-7. "Majordan now becomes the first qualifier for the $1M Miracle Mile at Menangle in two weeks. The Newcastle Mile was his second G1 victory in less than a year, having won the $100K Len Smith mile at Menangle in July," Banks posted. "Well deserved congratulations to trainer Kevin Pizzuto and his team who have turned the horse into a star, and to driver Todd McCarthy who has driven the horse wonderfully and developed into a world class driver. "What a fun and great win." Pizzuto has now won 15 races with Majordan, who made his race debut at Maryborough for noted horse breaker Mark Hayes. They finished third. Jayne Davies then took over and scored a win at Warragul. Majordan later joined the Amanda Turnbull stables and recorded nine wins-including four at Melton and two at Menangle. Next stop was Pizzuto and the pacer has now won 30 for $490K. Pictured: Majordan taking out the Newcastle Mile to become the first qualifier for the Miracle Mile ________________________________________________________________________________________ THE happy-go-lucky travelling man from the west has done it again...and again! Phil Duggan, who lives near Perth, decided a while ago to go on a "roadie" with two pacers. The WA handicapping system on stakemoney was proving a bit of a hurdle at home for his old warrior Im Batman (Yankee Sensation-Articulation (Albert Albert), and Duggan decided the pacer would fare better under the National Ratings system used in eastern States. A third at South Australia's Mt Gambier was followed by a win 2000kms away at Queensland's Redcliffe. And last Wednesday the pacer repeated the dose at the track in a slick 1.58-7. And he again won by a casual nine metres at Redcliffe last night. Duggan, who has also tried his hand at the thoroughbreds with success, has a temporary base at Deception Bay. He uses the nearby beach as his training pad most days--and most successfully! An appearance at Albion Park maybe sooner than later. Pictured: Phil Duggan   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Valokaja Hindo,Harness racing

Valokaja HIndo wins Gr. III

The Jean Michel Bazire harness racing trainee and 4/10 favorite Valokaja Hindo (9m Great Challenger) won this day’s featured Gr. III Prix Joinville le Pont (purse 80,000€, 2925 meters, European eligibles) at Cagnes sur Mer.   The winner was timed in 1.14.3kr and Christophe Martens was the pilot. Eirik Djuve owns the now 12 time winner for 605,420€ earned. 36/1 Aprion (10g Nahar de Breval) was placed second for Y.A. Briand due to the interference dq of Balooka du Boscail. Eridan (6m Ready Cash) was placed third for driver David Bekaert and Cobra Bleu (8m Fortuna Font) was placed fourth with Bryan Coppens at the lines.     Thomas H. Hicks  

Soho Almasi,Harness racing

Aussie news

THERE is just something exciting about Kevin Pizzuto being back in the biggest races. It wasn’t long ago he retired his champ Tiger Tara and now he’s back in the biggest of big Australian dances, the $1 million Miracle Mile on March 7. Pizzuto’s always rated his speedster Majordan a Miracle Mile horse, but everything went wrong this time last year, it’s a much better story this time. Majordan guaranteed himself a Miracle Mile berth – the first horse to do that – when he led throughout and broke the track record winning the $100,000 Group 1 Newcastle Mile last night. His 1min50.7sec mile sliced 0.2sec off Balraj’s track record. Although the doubters pointed to Majordan’s soft 30.3sec second split, the son of Art Major did burn through a 26.9sec leading quarter then went 26.5sec from the 800-400m before still finishing-off in 27sec. That’s a 53.5sec last half around Newcastle. Paul Court’s Kiwi pacer Hail Christian grabbed the eye, flying home from three pegs right along the inside to get within a head of Majordan in second spot. The Black Prince was sound in third spot after trailing the leader, while four-year-old Balraj closed well late after coming wide and ran a mighty fourth. Let It Ride was beaten for early speed from the pole, came and sat parked and held-on well for a seven-metre fifth. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ THE Newcastle Mile was marred by pre-race controversy when the three Craig Cross/Luke McCarthy runners were scratched for late arrival. McCarthy pleaded for leniency after presenting the horses – Bright Energy, Little Rascal and Wrangler - to stewards just six minutes after the two-hour cut-off. “The stewards tweeted at 2.09pm there was a fallen tree causing traffic delays, so we got the horses off the walker, loaded them and were on the road by 2.50pm. We’d normally allow three hours tops for the drive, but we left as soon as we could and that was four hours and 10mins before the cut-off,” McCarthy said. “We kept in touch with the stewards and actually drove through the gates of the track one-minute before the cut-off, but the traffic was so busy on a big night it took us another seven minutes to get through, unload the horses and see the stewards. “It was six minutes after the cut-off and it’s usual practice at a regular meeting for stewards to give 15mins of leeway, but not last night.” Obvious comparisons were drawn in the different approach Queensland thoroughbred stewards adopted just last month when traffic chaos delayed the arrival of buzz galloper Alligator Blood for the Magic Millions raceday. They put all races back one slot and the horse received a police escort to the track. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ CO-TRAINER Clayton Tonkin insisted the best was still yet to come for his star pacer Centenario, who had to be euthanized last Thursday night. The former Australian 2YO of the Year, who won 11 of his 17 starts and $332,520, broke a shoulder in trackwork and had emergency surgery. Sadly, the operation was unsuccessful and Centenario could not carry his weight on the shoulder. “We’re all devastated,” Tonkin said. “He was a real favourite, like part of the family, and he still had it all ahead of him. He was the best of our fantastic batch of four-year-olds.” In the past couple of months alone, Tonkin and co-trainer Emma Stewart have had major setbacks with stars like Be Happy Mach, The Storm Inside and Ride High, let alone previous setback with last year’s Chariots of Fire winner Poster Boy. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIAN trainer Mick Stanley has started the juvenile season in stunning style. First came Soho Lanikai’s (Somebeachsomewhere-Obahma Joy) breathtaking 65.2m debut win in the Premiere Stakes at Melton on February 8 in a 1min54sec mile rate for 1720m. Last night (Saturday) Soho Almasi (Mach Three-Fususi) was never out of second gear leading throughout to win her first start by 16.4m in a 1min56.3sec at Melton. Both are raced by leviathan owner-breeder Rob Watson, hence the “Soho” tag. “We’re off to Sydney next week, Almasi for the Pink Bonnet and Lanikai for the Sapling Stakes,” Watson said. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ IT is so rare to see a filly beat the boys in a feature race, but that’s what exciting WA filly Double Expresso did at Gloucester Park last night. Ross Olivieri’s daughter of Sweet Lou beat buzz pacer Major Martini by a nose in a hotly-contested $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic and they went a slick 1min55.4sec for 2130m. Double Expresso, who won seven of her nine juvenile runs, was beaten first-up third campaign, but has since won three on end. The free-for-all was easy work for Aiden De Campo’s Handsandwheels, especially after the scratchings of key rivals Galactic Star, Bill Haley and El Jacko. Handsandwheels continued his fantastic season when he led throughout, dictated terms and zipped home in 27.4sec to beat Rock Me Over in a cosy 1min56.8sec mile rate for 2130m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ONE of Victoria’s most-improved pacers Deedenuto won an action-packed Group 3 Ararat Cup last night. Top young driver Jackie Barker teamed with leading trainer Emma Stewart for Deedenuto’s all-the-way win in a brisk 1min57.9sec mile rate for 2195m around the old-school Ararat track. The race changed dramatically on the home bend when Deedenuto’s stablemate, Our Millionaire, galloped outside the leader and effectively wiped-out the favourite and buzz runner General Dodge and he was looming strongly. Auckland Inter Dominion finalists Sicario continued his good recent form by finishing second. The Ararat Trotters’ Cup went to in-form trainer-driver Chris Svanosio with his son of Skyvalley, Kyvalley Finn. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ THE excitement continues to grow around regally-bred three-year-old trotter Elite Stride. Owner-breeder Emilio Rosati has been buzzing about the colt, by Muscle Hill out of his former US trotting mare Real Babe, since mid-last year. And Elite Stride’s two wins and a second from just three starts underline his potential. Trained and driven by Anthony Butt, Elite Stride booked his spot in next Saturday night’s Group 1 Need For Speed final by impressively winning a heat at Bendigo last Thursday night. He was helped by favourite Powderkeg breaking and losing all chance at the start, but Elite Stride did his share of work and won well in a 1min57.7sec mile rate for 1650m. His main danger in the final will be Maree Caldow’s Andover Sun, who won the other heat in a 1min57.8sec mile rate.   Adam Hamilton

Ghengis Pride returned to winning ways when landing "The Causeway Classic" at Goleen.   Much hype had surrounded the renewal of "The Classic" and harness racing spectators were served up with a race befitting the name.   Rhyds Solution made the running and unlike previous days Ghengis Pride was up with the running early in the 2 mile contest .Not much changed during the race with the tempo rising heading to the Lisagriven turn.   Turning off the final turn Rhyds Solution was still in front .Coming over the bridge Ghengis Pride and Saunders Picasso closed in along with Kestrels Dots Sammy .The final two furlongs saw Ghengis Pride stay on the best to win bt tjree lengths with Saunders Picasso just holding off Kestrels Dot Sammy   Deidre Goggin on her local track had a brace of winners   The Spectacular Backdrop at The Causeway Track in Goleen      --David Shine Photo   In The opener Brywins One Off (third in Skibbereen) saw off a late challenge from Kentucky Finale to lad the spoils for the Goggin family who the leading lights behind the races in Goleen   Goggin secured her second winner aboard Newtown Amber who set a blistering pace and held on by a short head to beat favorite Diplomatist. She collected leading jockey for those two wins   Micheal Collins TD presents Jockey Of The Day to Deirdre Goggin    --David Shine Photo   Matthew O Reilly who looks certain to be leading rider for the season gave Billycoan Colt his fourth win of the campaign. The pair looked in trouble crossing the bridge but O Reilly was only playing with his rivals and won by five lengths ,Chris O Reilly trains the winner for Hallie Kelleher.   The Grade D produced an epic finish between Dreamfair I Say and Rhyds Dilemma with Jamie Hurley getting the photo finish by a short head on Dreamfair I Say who is trained by Hurley and owned by Liam O Brien from Schull.   Winning connections of Dreamfair I Say winner of The Grade D Pace at Goleen     --David Shine Photo   Great credit is due to the hard working Goleen Committee who were rewarded with fantastic racing on a bright Spring Day in front of a good crowd   After two cancellations due to weather Barnahulla will hope for third time lucky next Sunday   RESULTS   Race 1: Grade E Trot. The O Mearas Bar Cup 1st: Brywins One Off, D. Goggin 2nd: Kentucky Finale, C. O' Driscoll 3rd: Fire Fly Z, A Mc Carthy. DIST 3L 8L Race 2: Grade D Trot Div 1. The Twins Memorial Cup 1st: Newtown Amber, D. Goggin 2nd: Diplomatist, M. O' Reilly 3rd: Splash The Cash, J. Hurley. DIST SH 12L Race 3: Grade D Trot Div 2. The Frank & Anna Goggin Memorial Cup 1st: Dreamfair I'd Say, J. Hurley 2nd: Rhyds Dilemma, T. Moloney 3rd: Garths Sheragar, C. O' Driscoll DIST SH 4L Race 4: Grade C / D Trot. The Fastnet Bar Cup 1st: Billycoan Colt, M. O' Reilly 2nd: Coalford Bruce, T. Moloney 3rd: Lets Party, A. Mc Carthy. Race 5: Grade A / B Trot. The Lobster Pot Bar Cup 1st: Ghengis Pride, T. Moloney 2nd: Saunders Picasso, D. Goggin 3rd: Kestrelsdotsammy, J. O' Driscoll 4th: Rhyds Solution, T. O' Leary. DIST 3L 1/2L

By Jonny Turner    Oamaru trainer-driver Brad Williamson added another accomplishment to his family’s long list of trotting achievements when Cracker Hill won the Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton on Saturday. The Muscle Hill 3yr-old produced a powerful front running performance in the mile (1609m) feature to notch Williamson’s first group race victory as a trainer. The first of what is set to be many group race victories for Williamson can be linked to a chance meeting with Queenstown harness racing enthusiast Gary Preston. And it could give hope to breeders and vendors that took home passed in yearlings from last week’s national sales. “I didn’t really know Gary before he asked me to train the horse,” Williamson said.  “He had been passed in at the sales and Gary was syndicating him.” Williamson suspects the reason Cracker Hill was passed in was because of the way his front legs are conformed. “He doesn’t stand that well in front, so I think that is the reason he was passed in.” “It doesn’t worry him and I have always thought he is a really nice horse.” Preston is the man behind the syndication enterprise All Things Harness Racing. All Things Harness Racing was the official purchaser of Cracker Hill’s half-brother, by Love You, at last week’s yearling sales. The trotter will head to Williamson’s barn, where he will join two Muscle Hill yearlings that the Oamaru trainer purchased. The New Zealand Trotting Derby in April is Cracker Hill’s next big assignment. Williamson plans to start the 3yr-old in the Sires Stakes Prelude at Addington on March 13, prior to that. “The trotting derby is his big aim for the next part of the season,” Williamson said. “Hopefully we can have a bit more luck with the draws there.” “We will get through the derby before deciding on anything else.” “I’ll give him a race at Addington before then, because­ he hasn’t started there for a while.” “So, he can go to the Sires Stakes Prelude.” Cracker Hill worked to the lead after being trapped wide early, before One Majic Kenny put pressure on him before the turn. The winner brushed off that challenge early in the home straight before going on for a comfortable and impressive win by almost two lengths. “I was really happy with him, he felt great,” Williamson said. Midnight Dash was a neck behind One Majic Kenny in third. The first three broke away from the rest of the pack by five lengths at the finish. The testing nature of the rain affected Ashburton track saw the Sapling Stakes run in slower time than the Hambletonian Classic. Krug scored a front running victory in the 2yr-old pacing feature in 2.01.1 That mile (1609m) time was 2.1sec slower than Cracker Hill’s 1.59.0 effort. Blair Orange controlled the Sapling Stakes tempo with Krug, who held out runner-up First Class in a dash up the Ashburton straight. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    The greatest sire of the modern era was the centerpiece of a quite remarkable national standardbred yearling sale earlier this week. Across three days, in Auckland and then Christchurch, nine horses sold at auction for $200,000 or more smashing all previous records for top-end purchasing. Eight of them were pacers and, of them, seven were sired by the incomparable Bettor’s Delight. He’s at an age now where most sires have retired or are close to it – 22. Yet he’s still going strong, shuttling back and forth across the Pacific Ocean every year between Woodlands Stud in Clevedon and North America. After four years of frozen semen and minor books, he first shuttled here in 2007 and served nearly 500 mares, including 345 in New Zealand. In the ensuing 13 years that number has swelled to 5000, including 3650 here. The decision makers at Woodlands Stud, led by Director and co-owner Andrew Grierson, made a conscious decision to cut his book by more than half 18 months ago in an attempt to look after him. They even raised the price to an eye-watering $25,000 + GST per service so try and scare off a few. But it didn’t work. Well, they stuck to it, but it didn’t sate breeders’ unquenchable thirst for his offspring. And this week, those breeders were roundly rewarded with some unbelievable sale statistics – an average of over $80,000 for a colt and over $65,000 for a filly. All but one colt sold out of 43 and a total of 19 lots by him sold for over $80,000. Grierson says it just cements the horse’s legacy as indisputably the greatest sire of all time. “He’s just as popular in America, too; the only horse to ever be leading sire up there at his age.“ Of course, he’s been New Zealand’s champion sire for the past nine seasons, too and in Australia since 2012. Even if he never served another horse in Australia, Grierson says the longevity of his racehorses “will likely have him leading for five years plus after he stopped breeding, in my assessment.” But there are no plans for that at this stage even though Grierson, arguably the country’s foremost veterinary consultant, is giving him every chance to stick up the white flag. “His feet are normal despite being checked twice a year for signs of laminitis. “He gets plenty of exercise on the walker, we take regular bloods and they’ve always been normal. “At the start of the last breeding season I sent his semen away to Lee Morris for review and she said it was the second-best quality she’d seen this season. “Having a big set of ‘nuts’ helps that, I suppose.” Asked to summarise the horse that changed the professional and financial course of his life, Grierson was pretty succinct. “He’s just a freak. “He’s certainly underpinned our Stud for the last decade. “We weren’t struggling but we certainly weren’t dominant like we are now. “We’re all so hugely proud of him and grateful for what he has done.” The Stud itself has gone to another level over the past five years and this past season, 180 mares owned by the Stud, Grierson personally, or nonagenarian co-owner Charles Roberts were served. “Tony Grayling, our studmaster, said when he joined five years ago, he weaned 50 foals and we had 24 go to the sales so that shows you how far we’ve come. “We’ve had the strength of stallion power with Bettor’s Delight, American Ideal and now Sweet Lou, and it’s allowed us to increase our broodmare band markedly. “I don’t profess to be an expert on breeding, but there is a saying that you put the best to the best and hope for the best, and that’s what we do. “And those stats from the sales this week – averaging $80,000 – shows that many others are thinking the same. “It’s a big commitment for some of them who are putting five, ten or more mares in foal. “Sure, they get a bulk discount, but it’s still $20,000 a service which shows the faith everyone has in him.” So, the big question on everyone’s lips is how much longer will Woodlands and their North American partners go to the well on their equine money-printing machine? “We’ll let him tell us. “As soon as he’s not well and unable to travel, he stops. “But there was a very successful sire in North America called Mr Prospector, who served mares until he was 27, so who knows? “I have told the Americans though that it’s best for the horse to retire to a paddock in Auckland. “That snow up there won’t be fair on him in his old age.” Footnote: Bettor’s Delight’s best Australasian progeny is a ‘who’s who’ of the last decade’s racing and include Lazarus, Tiger Tara, Chicago Bull, Bit Of A Legend, Adore Me, Dream About Me, Beautide, Thefixer, Arden Rooney, Have Faith In Me, Self Assured, Ohoka Punter, Ultimate Sniper, Border Control, Gold Ace, Belle Of Montana, Elle Mac, Spanish Armada, Carabella, Bettor Cover Lover, One Change, Pat’s Delight, Spankem, Jesse Duke and many, many more. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

ORLANDO, FL - Two veteran harness racing journalists - Jay Bergman, longtime editor / writer / handicapper in the Sports Eye / Daily Racing Form publication family, and Joe Kyle, a noted photographer / writer primarily associated with the Horseman and Fair World magazine, were selected to be ballot candidates for this summer's voting for entrance into Communicators Hall of Fame. Their selection was determined by the result of a vote of the Directors of United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading media organization, at their annual meeting on Saturday. Jay Bergman established his excellence in harness racing as the longtime editor and columnist for Sports Eye, where he highlighted both the equine and human star performers of the sport, featured horses that bettors might keep an eye on for future profit, and also took to task those not adding to the forward movement of harness racing. He served as a freelance correspondent or columnist for many of the sport's major publications, and also did television commentary for a number of harness racing's top tracks and races. A 1984 winner of a John Hervey Award for writing excellence, Bergman is currently a columnist for DRF Harness. Joe Kyle is primarily associated with the Kentucky-based Horseman and Fair World, and was its "go-to" man for both writing and photography when the Grand Circuit made its annual tour of the mile ovals at Indianapolis, Springfield and DuQuoin (IL), and the Red Mile in his publication's base of Lexington KY - a natural association for Joe, who grew up in the Midwest. Kyle saw, wrote about, and captured on film most of the sport's stars in many of the industry's top races, and he won the inaugural George Smallsreed Award for photography in 2001 for a picture of Hambletonian winner Scarlet Knight and trainer/driver Stefan Melander - himself a noted photographer in Europe. Bergman and Kyle will be voted on by the membership of USHWA during midsummer balloting, which is held in conjunction with balloting for the sport's most prestigious honor, election to the Hall of Fame of the sport. Those Hall of Fame candidates will be determined by the Screening Committee of USHWA at a meeting held in conjunction with the previous year's Halls of Famers formal introduction into the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY the first Sunday in July. Having conducted its Directors' meeting on Saturday, USHWA will hold its annual General Membership meeting on Sunday morning; on Sunday night, USHWA will host the annual event honoring the sport's best and brightest, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet. The Banquet will also be the first public gathering of the new crop of Hall of Famers - Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick - as well as Communicators HOFers Ken Weingartner and Phil Pikelny. The Dan Patch Banquet can be seen live starting at 6:30 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters/. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

By Jonny Turner    Finding the perfect starting point for smart 4yr-olds Lotamuscle and Gil Favour to begin their seasons means trotting master Paul Nairn will make a rare trip from Leeston to Oamaru today. Nairn has chosen to step the pair out for the first time since the Harness Jewels in June on the grass track at Oamaru on Waikouaiti Cup day. Lotamuscle and Gil Favour took contrasting paths to end up in the top bracket of New Zealand’s 3yr-old trotters last season. Lotamuscle announced his class when winning last year’s Hambletonian Classic. Gil Favour started his season in more humble circumstances, winning his maiden in his second start at Methven. The squaregaiter consistently improved last term and went on to notch placings in the Northern Trotting Derby and Harness Jewels. Lotamuscle’s downward-trending formline, which culminated in a sixth placing at the Harness Jewels, could be partly attributed to the horse battling stomach ulcers. Nairn hopes those problems are now behind the gelding. "It is fair to say his form was a little bit mixed in his last half-dozen starts last season," Nairn said. "We found he had ulcers which are not uncommon in racehorses. [They] were affecting him a bit. "It is hard to know exactly how they are unless you put a camera down and have a look. But he is in good order and he is quite healthy and well." Nairn has been pleased with Lotamuscle leading up to his first start as a 4yr-old. "He is probably a bit on the fat side at the moment. "His work has been quite good and he seems quite good." Gil Favour has also pleased Nairn. The trainer is hopeful the 4yr-old, who he bred and races himself, will continue his upward momentum this term. "I was pleasantly surprised with how much he stepped up to it last season," Nairn said. "He has come back well. "The two of them are ... not great trackworkers at home. "Gil Favour is possibly working a little bit better than he was last season so I am hopeful he is going to take the next step up." Gil Favour gets a 10m headstart on his stablemate, who starts from the 10m mark tomorrow. Nairn favours Gil Favour as a slightly better winning prospect. "I think if Gil Favour can step away like he can do he will have an advantage over the other horse. "It is his first stand [start] for a while after having a lot of mobile racing, but if he begins like he has before it will be hard for the other fellow to catch him." In typical Nairn style, neither Lotamuscle nor Gil Favour has had a trial or workout leading into their resumptions. That means they give away a race-fitness edge to their main rivals Kiwi Crusher (front), Riteur (10m) and Humble Ladd (10m). The Waikouaiti Cup features a battle of experience and inexperienced pacers. Fifty-one-start veteran Queen Bee Bardon will clash in the 3000m feature with Rocknroll Max, who will be having just his seventh start. Rocknroll Max will get a 20m headstart on the mare when he starts from the front line. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - For a second straight night, harness racing driver Yannick Gingras recorded five wins and won the feature at the Meadowlands, as he scored with Trump Nation in Saturday night's Preferred Handicap for pacers. Trump Nation, sent to the gate as the 4-5 public choice, blasted away from post seven in the field of eight along with Atta Boy Dan and Americanprimetime. Endeavor was in the early scrum but driver Corey Callahan decided to back off into the four-hole as Atta Boy Dan led at the quarter. Trump Nation continued on until surging to the top at the three-eighths. Endeavor, the 2-1 second choice, was on the move at the half racing on the rim and chipped away at the leader's edge, drawing to within a length at the head of the stretch. The rivals battled through the lane as Endeavor continued to inch closer, but at the wire, it was an ultra-determined Trump Nation out-gaming Endeavor by a neck in 1:49.4. Harambe Deo was third.   Gingras wasn't worried as his primary foe was closing in. "I was pretty confident I was going to be able to hold him off," said Gingras. "This horse was super again." Trump Nation, a 5-year-old gelded son of Betterthancheddar-Late Flyin N who is trained by Ron Burke, returned $3.80 to his backers. He's now won 15 of 40 lifetime starts and earned $432,446 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Evan Katz, Weaver Bruscemi and Purnel & Libby. THE NEED FOR SPEED: A fast track and comfortable-for-the-time-of-year temperatures in the 40s on a clear night led to some rock-the-clock times on the program. The red-hot Bell I No, who won a week ago in 1:49.1 despite cold conditions and a -1 track variant, recorded the second fastest mile in North America of 2020 when he ripped through fractions of :26.4, :54.1 and 1:22 before completing the mile in a lifetime-best 1:48.4 to record his third win in four starts in the sixth race high-end conditioned pace. Andy Miller drove the Andrew Harris trainee. Just two races later, the Ron-Burke trained Covered Bridge equaled Effronte A's national season's-best of 1:48.3 by coming from off the pace in taking another high-end conditioned pace. Driven by Gingras, Covered Bridge lowered his previous lifetime mark by two-and-one-fifth seconds while making his seasonal debut. A LITTLE MORE: Chalk players ruled the night, as eight winning favorites scored on the card. ... Wagering on the track's four popular multi-leg puzzles was vigorous as the 20-cent Pick-5 ($75,544), 20-cent Pick-6 ($29,150), 50-cent Early Pick-4 ($89,159) and 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($74,289) accounted for total bets of $268,142. ... Gingras, Dexter Dunn (three winners), Andy McCarthy (two) and Marcus Miller (two) combined to win 12 of the 13 races. ... Burke recorded three wins on the night. ... All-source handle on the card totaled $2,687,050, the eighth time in the last nine programs that wagering has exceeded $2.5 million. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:55 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

A SHARE of history awaits outstanding pacer Lochinvar Art. Thanks to his victory in tonight's Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire at Club Menangle, Lochinvar Art received a 'golden ticket' into the $1million Ainsworth Miracle Mile. The southern hemisphere's premier speed test, the Miracle Mile is programmed to be run around the 1400-metre circuit on March 7. With trainer David Moran declaring the invite to Australasia's richest race will be accepted, the four-year-old will be aiming to become just the second pacer to secure the two premier events in the same season. Former boom gelding Have Faith In Me became the only performer to achieve the feat in 2016. "We will definitely be starting him in the Miracle Mile," Moran said. "It's not often you get a chance to compete in a $1million event. "He was sensational tonight and deserves a shot at the big one." Driven by Moran, Lochinvar Art occupied the 'death seat' before staving off a determined Self Assured to score by a head, with Max Delight five-and-a-half metres away third. By covering the mile in 1:50.1 Lochinvar Art became the second pacer to gain passage into the Miracle Mile. Majordan was the first offered a berth in the Grand Circuit event thanks to his triumph in last night's Newcastle Mile. With Todd McCarthy holding the reins, the Kevin Pizzuto-trained speedster stopped the clock in a track record 1:50.7. The balance of the Miracle Mile field will be determined via next Saturday night's Group One Schweppes and Allied Express Sprints at Club Menangle.   Club Menangle

OUTSTANDING New Zealand mare Our Princess Tiffany has put herself in a strong position to complete a rare Group One double at Club Menangle. Thanks to her victory in tonight's Therese Cordina Robin Dundee Stake at the world class venue the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained daughter of Art Major has earned a berth in next week's Boden Projects Ladyship Mile. Success in the famed sprint will see Our Princess Tiffany become just the fourth New South Wales Oaks winner to return to secure the Ladyship Mile. Cheryl's Delight was the ground breaker in 1977 followed by Foreal in 2005. Our Dream About Me won the Oaks in 2016 before capturing the Ladyship Mile last season in what was her swansong. Our Dream About Me was also trained by Purdon and Rasmussen. The power couple also combined to win the Ladyship Mile with Adore Me in 2015 and A Piccadilly Princess in 2017. Driven by Purdon during her latest triumph, Our Princess Tiffany covered the mile in a quick 1:49.9 as Bettors Heart and Havtime filled the placings. Local mare Hows The Memory won last weekend's Ladyship Mile qualifier - Sibelia Stake - in 1:51.2. Australasia's premier mares' event, the Group One is part of a stellar card at Club Menangle next Saturday night which includes the New South Wales Oaks, Pink Bonnet and Lady Drivers' Invitational. The $200,000 Boden Projects Ladyship Mile field: Belle Of Montana, Bettor Enforce, Pick Up Line, Hows The Memory, Fame Assured, Bettors Heart, Our Alfie Romeo, Our Princess Tiffany, Havtime and Takara Truffle, with Redbank Addi and Our Step Up the emergencies. The barrier draw will be held in the office of Harness Racing New South Wales from 3pm on Monday February 24. Club Menangle

HE doesn't train a runner in this season's John Gibson Memorial New South Wales Oaks, but that may not stop Mark Purdon from continuing his amazing association with the Group One. Establishing a remarkable affiliation with the Blue Riband in recent years Purdon has trained four of the past five winners. Beginning with Fight For Glory in 2016, Purdon then prepared Our Dream About Me to capture the 2017 edition before Partyon completed a hat-trick in 2018. Purdon then co-trained Our Princess Tiffany to win last season's edition. Purdon's partner Natalie Rasmussen drove Fight For Glory and Our Dream About Me, while he took the reins behind Partyon and Our Princess Tiffany. At Club Menangle tonight Purdon secured the first Oaks heat by driving Stylish Memphis for co-trainers Mark Jones and Brendon Hill. The quickest of the three heat winners, Stylish Memphis rated 1:53.8 over 2400 metres. Dr Susan never gave her rivals a chance in the second heat, providing Anthony Butt with an armchair drive to score in 1:55.8. Winner of last month's Victoria Oaks, Dr Susan is co-trained by Nathan Purdon. Victorian raider Maajida rounded out the heats when she beat Its Beaujolais and Our Antonio Rose in 1:57.5 for record-breaking horsewoman Emma Stewart, setting the scene for an epic showdown in the Final. The $200,000 John Gibson New South Wales Oaks field: Dr Susan, Stylish Memphis, Maajida, Keep Rockin, Its Beaujolais, A Rainbow Delight, Jenden Strike, Michelle Le Mac and Our Antonio Rose, with Mustang Milly and Vincenzina the emergencies. The barrier draw will be held in the office of Harness Racing New South Wales from 3pm on Monday February 24. Club Menangle

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Yannick Gingras was the star of the night at the Meadowlands Friday, guiding five winners on the harness racing card, including Dayson, who won the featured high-end conditioned trot in 1:52.3. The 7-year-old gelded son of Conway Hall-Nervey's Taurus emerged from a first-turn scrum in perfect position, racing in the pocket behind the speedy Nows The Moment, who was on the point to the head of the stretch despite being pressed around the far turn by Kenziesky Hanover. Through the lane, Nows The Moment weakened, and as he did he bore out, creating more than enough room for Dayson to cruise under the wire first racing along the inside. It was a half-length back to 8-5 favorite Eye Ofa Tiger As. Elysium Lindy, who won this race a week ago, was trip compromised when pushed wide around turn one and raced from the back of the field before charging home to get third. Nows The Moment was fourth. "He raced great," said Gingras of Dayson. "He's such a game horse and tries hard." Dayson, who returned $8.20 to his backers as the second choice in the wagering, races out of the Ron Burke barn and is owned by Burke Racing Stable & Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby and L. Karr. He now has 38 victories from 89 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $1,181,127. Burke had a huge night, winning four races. He hooked up three times with his go-to pilot Gingras. PICK-6 REPORT: A total of $76,682 in "new money" was added to the carryover of $14,376 in the 20-cent Pick-6, meaning that players were betting into a rare "player's advantage" pool. A total of $79,555 was paid out, almost $3,000 more than was pushed through the windows. There were many winning tickets in the Pick-6, as the payoff of $238.98 was the result of a sequence that saw winner's odds of 7-2, 1-1, 5-2, 5-2, 6-5 and 6-5. The action was big in all four of the Big M's multi-leg wagers, as a total of $290,158 was wagered in the 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6 and two 50-cent Pick-4 pools. The Late Pick-4 took in $75,592, by far its best showing in five tries since debuting earlier this month. A LITTLE MORE: The Nancy Takter-trained JK American Beauty - who now has lifetime earnings of $422,790 - made her 4-year-old debut a winning one, taking the fifth race high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in a lifetime-best 1:50.2 with Gingras driving. ... All-source handle totaled $2,689,916 on the 13-race program, the best Friday night thus far in 2020 and third-best overall. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:55 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

Club Menangle wishes to brief the harness racing industry on the disappointing first season down-under for the Champ, Lazarus. Lazarus had an enormous first season at stud in North America at Deo Volente Farms. Lazarus was able to obtain an 80% "in foal" outcome, with 136 mares bred and 109 positives. On commencing his stud season down-under, he arrived from North America in the picture of health and ready to commence his first season at stud in the Southern Hemisphere. The initial examination of his fertility under the supervision of the veterinary staff at Charles Sturt University and Dr Angus McKinnon, Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, indicated his semen was well above average and did not indicate anything untoward. Yirribee Stud were delighted with his willingness to breed and his semen production. During the early part of the season his positive returns were 86%. Into the season, reports of "in foal" positives tapered off and subsequently became more problematic. As the return of negatives increased, Dr McKinnon arranged for further testing at the University of Sydney and the University of Newcastle. Following consultation with Club Menangle's North American owners, Taylor Made Stallions, a further independent review of the circumstances was undertaken by Dr Andrew Grierson, Woodlands Stud NZ. Dr McKinnon provided a report to Club Menangle on 31 January 2020 advising that what appears to have occurred were changes to spermatogenesis (the production of mature sperm), associated with travel. Acute thermal stress from a fever, scrotal insulation or trauma are well-documented associations with subfertility. This subfertility is not a permanent condition. A regime will be in place to monitor his temperature at every point on his way to quarantine, on arrival in Australia, travel to Yirribee and every day while in Australia to minimise the risk of this occurring again. Both Dr McKinnon and Dr Grierson have indicated that prior to his return trip to North America, Lazarus appeared to be on the improve, based on morphological changes. This has been supported by initial testing by Dr Charles Scoggin of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington, upon the return of Lazarus to the United States. After analysing the results Dr Scoggin stated; "Given the past circumstances surrounding this stallion, his sperm quality has rebounded and improved from comparative tests done in December 2019. He appears poised to have another successful Northern Hemisphere season. From what I've seen thus far, I would have no issue using this semen to breed mares". During the North American breeding season, Club Menangle and Taylor Made Stallions will closely monitor Lazarus' North American breeding results. While Club Menangle would have wished to provide an earlier update to the industry, the existence of veterinary evidence on which to base any public advice, was unavailable. For more information telephone Club Menangle chief executive Bruce Christison on (02) 4645-2200 Club Menangle

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The name of the 2019 Horse of the Year will be announced Sunday night (Feb. 23) at the annual U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards dinner at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. But even if you aren’t among the attendees you will be able to watch the announcement live via USHWA’s YouTube page. After a one-hour cocktail hour, the awards ceremony gets underway at 6:30 p.m.(12:30pm NZ time) and will be available via the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page. At approximately 9:30 p.m (3:30pm NZ time), emcees Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir will announce the winner of the E. Roland Harriman Horse of the Year trophy, which follows the revealing of the names of the Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year. To access YouTube page, please click here. The entire video will also be available on the U.S. Trotting Association’s YouTube page on Monday (Feb. 24). Post time for the evening is 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour Red Carpet cocktail reception sponsored by Shartin N. Also starring on the Red Carpet will be Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder, with the two Heathers broadcasting live on their individual Facebook pages. It’s your guarantee to see who’s wearing what and what the attendees have to say about the festivities. Heather Vitale’s Facebook page can be found here. Heather Wilder’s Facebook page can be found here. (USHWA)   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com
Sunday's feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel was the $15,000 Open Trot and it went the way of an Open first timer. Certify (Credit Winner) was a winning machine in 2019 spending much of his year competing in New York Sire Stakes races. Whether it was traveling the Fair Circuit or racing in Excelsior competition, Certify thrived throughout his three year old campaign. A late season purchase by owners William Hartt and Marc Reynolds, Certify paid immediate dividends for his new connections when he won the $50,000 Excelsior Final contested here at Saratoga in September. Following a win last Sunday in his seasonal debut, Certify was up into the Open this week and wound up as the public's 1-2 betting favorite with Jay Randall in the sulky. The four year old trotter cruised out to the early lead in the six-horse feature and traveled unopposed for the majority of the mile before Randall asked the budding star to crank up the speed around the final turn. Certify's response was instant and he drew away to be a decisive winner in the Open stopping the timer in 1:55.4 to move his local win streak to six and record his first career Open Trot victory. Volare (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket to the winner before finishing as the runner-up while Cash Me Out (Brett Crawford) came on to earn the show spot. The exacta and triple in the feature paid $14.20 and $61, respectively. Certify is trained by Lance Hudson who has six wins and a second in his seven starts since acquiring the talented trotter in September of last year. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella
ORLANDO, FL - Two veteran harness racing journalists - Jay Bergman, longtime editor / writer / handicapper in the Sports Eye / Daily Racing Form publication family, and Joe Kyle, a noted photographer / writer primarily associated with the Horseman and Fair World magazine, were selected to be ballot candidates for this summer's voting for entrance into Communicators Hall of Fame. Their selection was determined by the result of a vote of the Directors of United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport's leading media organization, at their annual meeting on Saturday. Jay Bergman established his excellence in harness racing as the longtime editor and columnist for Sports Eye, where he highlighted both the equine and human star performers of the sport, featured horses that bettors might keep an eye on for future profit, and also took to task those not adding to the forward movement of harness racing. He served as a freelance correspondent or columnist for many of the sport's major publications, and also did television commentary for a number of harness racing's top tracks and races. A 1984 winner of a John Hervey Award for writing excellence, Bergman is currently a columnist for DRF Harness. Joe Kyle is primarily associated with the Kentucky-based Horseman and Fair World, and was its "go-to" man for both writing and photography when the Grand Circuit made its annual tour of the mile ovals at Indianapolis, Springfield and DuQuoin (IL), and the Red Mile in his publication's base of Lexington KY - a natural association for Joe, who grew up in the Midwest. Kyle saw, wrote about, and captured on film most of the sport's stars in many of the industry's top races, and he won the inaugural George Smallsreed Award for photography in 2001 for a picture of Hambletonian winner Scarlet Knight and trainer/driver Stefan Melander - himself a noted photographer in Europe. Bergman and Kyle will be voted on by the membership of USHWA during midsummer balloting, which is held in conjunction with balloting for the sport's most prestigious honor, election to the Hall of Fame of the sport. Those Hall of Fame candidates will be determined by the Screening Committee of USHWA at a meeting held in conjunction with the previous year's Halls of Famers formal introduction into the Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY the first Sunday in July. Having conducted its Directors' meeting on Saturday, USHWA will hold its annual General Membership meeting on Sunday morning; on Sunday night, USHWA will host the annual event honoring the sport's best and brightest, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet. The Banquet will also be the first public gathering of the new crop of Hall of Famers - Tom Charters, Jeff Gural, Bill Popfinger, and Tim Tetrick - as well as Communicators HOFers Ken Weingartner and Phil Pikelny. The Dan Patch Banquet can be seen live starting at 6:30 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/USHarnessWriters/. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  
LEBANON, OH. - Lifeonthebeach A, despite drawing the outermost post position, dominated the $25,000 championship leg of the Bill Dailey Memorial Medley on Saturday (Feb. 22) at Miami Valley Raceway. Contested over a mile and a quarter, the 7-5 favorite was sent on his way from the get-go by driver Chris Page and cruised through fractions of :28.3, :58, 1:27 and 1:55 before tacking on a :28.1 final panel to score handily in 2:23.1. Stablemates Champion Rock (Tyler Smith) and Royale Rose (Brett Miller) from the Dan Stone Stable finished second and third. The winner is a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere now sports 18 career wins in 55 tries and increased his lifetime earnings to $129,652 with the triumph. He won the initial Dailey Memorial leg, which was a 5/8ths mile dash, in 1:08.3, then suffered an unfortunate incident in leg two at one mile when his crupper snapped and Page was forced to pull him out of the race. His confidence wasn't compromised, however, as he won for the fourth time in six 2020 seasonal starts as the 7-5 favorite. Lifeonthebeach A is owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Two races later, the weekly $25,000 Open I Pace was won by My Hero Ron (Tyler Smith), who topped Fan Of Terror (John DeLong) and Shagnwiththedragon (Sam Widger) in 1:50.3. It was the second win in 2020 for My Hero Ron, but the first in Open company. Danny Dubeansky trains the 8-year-old son of Well Said for owner Brian Witt. A $20,000 Open II Pace was captured by Street Boy (Brett Miller) over Big Bad Mike (Trevor Smith) and The Dark Shadow (Widger) in 1:51.3. Frederick Linz owns the 5-year-old son of American Ideal, who now has five victories in eight starts this meet, the others all coming in $30,000 claimers, and a 2020 bankroll of $56,825 already this year. Miami Valley will race three consecutive matinees at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 23), Monday (Feb. 24) and Tuesday (Feb. 25). From Miami Valley Raceway
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