Day At The Track

Last year Bernie and Cath Hewitt were delighted to lay their hands on their maiden Gold Crown trophy, but now they have another career first to celebrate. The Bathurst Harness Racing Club has announced the Georges Plains couple as the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival honourees. The Hewitts are synonymous with the harness racing industry and undoubtedly had their greatest season last year with Group 1 success with College Chapel in the Gold Crown and Royal Story in the Breeders Challenge Finals. “My board’s selection of Bernie and Cath as the Gold Crown honourees for this year is a reward for their many years of service and dedication to the harness racing industry,” club president Wayne Barker said. “Any success in sport only comes about through sheer hard work and dedication to the cause and Bernie and Cath epitomise this, so it was a very easy decision for the board to select them this year as our honourees." Bernie Hewitt has trained and driven 1,400 winners since 1983 and rates Nikalong Shadow, Super Nik, Pretty Sassy and Read About Lexy as some of the best horses he has trained and driven. “I’ve been very fortunate to drive some great horses throughout my career. Nikalong Shadow was one of the best, he was trained by Dad, won 45 races and also contested the 1989 Inter Dominion in Perth. I have very fond memories of that year,” Hewitt said. “It seems such a long time ago now since I drove my very first winner, Smokey Comedy at Canberra back in the late 70s. "I would have only been out of school 12 months then, but that first win is something I’ll never forget. “This is a tough sport and a lot of long hours involved in the training and racing, however Cath and I love what we do and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the love and support that Cath has given to me. Cath deserves the recognition as much as me.” The Hewitt family relocated to Bathurst in 2001 and had instant success, winning two Bathurst training and driving premierships. They eventually set up their home at Georges Plains, which now encompasses a magnificent establishment that can cater for up to 45 horses. “I have everything I need here at home. I can walk out the back door and basically start work straight away,” Hewitt said. “It is fantastic to see Jase, Doug and Gem all involved with harness racing. All three have been very successful in the training and driving ranks as well. I couldn’t be any more proud of them. “It’s was a shock to us both when we were informed of about the selection, and to be included in the list of Gold Crown Honourees, the who’s who of harness racing, it doesn’t get any better than that." By Danny Dwyer Reprinted with permission of The Central Western Daily

It's Tasmanian harness racing's biggest day and no-one faces a bigger task than Todd Rattray and his star pacer Harjeet. But the Longford trainer-driver says his backmarker can win the Group 11, $75,000 Tasmania Cup in Hobart on Saturday night "if he gets the right run." Harjeet will start off 30m, alongside former winner Star Chamber, and will be giving a start to some quality rivals headed by Victorian-trained Sicario and Tasmanian arch-rival Scooterwillrev. "Obviously he's got to get through the field but if he gets the right run I can't see him being out of it," Rattray said. The trainer was well satisfied with Harjeet's second behind Scooterwillrev in his heat because early interference cost him valuable ground. He wasn't knocked around when it became obvious he couldn't catch the leader and Rattray said the horse "had a fair bit left at the finish." He had a fair bit left at the finish (of his heat) Trainer Todd Rattray The standing-start holds no fears for Harjeet who has won four of his six starts from behind the tapes and never missed a place. "He always begins safely, sometimes quicker than others, and he's getting better with every run so I reckon he'll be right," Rattray said. The trainer rates Sicario as his biggest danger. "I think he's just a real good horse but there are plenty of others that also have a chance," he said. The race will determine future plans for Harjeet. "If he wins, he becomes an M4 horse so that would probably make the Easter Cup too hard," Rattray said. "He'd probably have to go to NSW or somewhere like that." Harjeet was quoted at $10 for the final before the heats but is now $6.50 in Sportsbet's latest market. Victorian-trained horses hold favouritism for the three main support races. Max Delight, owned in Tasmania, is an unbackable $1.04 for the $30,000 Tasmanian Derby and Enchanted Stride has firmed from $2.40 to $2.25 for the $30,000 Tasmanian Oaks. Western Debt ($3.50 to $3.80) holds favouritism for the $20,000 George Johnson but local Resurgent Dream ($7 to $4.80) has been heavily backed to beat her. Although the Hobart meeting takes centre stage, there is also plenty of interest at Mowbray on Sunday night with the return of Rohan Hillier-trained stars Ryley Major and Dufrense. Ryley Major won his last nine starts in Tasmania before a long layoff. By Greg Mansfield' Reprinted with permission of The Examiner

Monticello, NY-- On a pleasant afternoon with the sun peeking through the clouds and the temperature hovering in the mid-50's the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) kicked off its 37th season with a trot at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official sign Joe Lee was victorious after he guided Soul Train to an easy triumph in a 2:00 clocking. After getting away with a slow start from the four-hole Lee was content to follow the leaders in the early going before he moved his charge off the pylons and then rallied to the lead which was theirs as the field trotted by the half mile marker in :59. "I felt I had the best horse so I didn't want to follow the leaders and after we passed the quarter pole I moved "Soul" off the pylons and headed for the lead," Lee explained. Sent off the odds-on favorite, Soul Train opened up daylight on the field and led Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) by the half way point in:59 and were still in command as they passed the third stanza in 1:29. After sitting in the cat-birds seat Brandos Muscle Man, with Peter Kleinhans at the controls, made their run at the leader as the field straightened for home . Although they trotted by Wygant Prince they came up short and had to settle for second money, 1-1/2 lengths behind Soul Train. Joe Lee, who during the major league baseball season is the New York Yankee's assistant clubhouse manager, was thrilled with his trotter's performance today. "He's such a pleasure to drive, Nothing fazes him and he's so handy. If you want to leave just ask him or if you need to find a hole he's responsive," Lee said of Soul Train. "An old veteran (a $410,000 career winner) he knows just what to do." Lee co-owns the 8-year old altered son of Trainforthefuture with Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farina. He paid $2.80 for win. The second leg of this NAADA trotting series will take place at Yonkers Raceway next Thursday, MARCH 21.   by John Manzi for NAADA

REACTION AND STATEMENT OF ARCI PRESIDENT ED MARTIN ON REINTRODUCTION OF THE BARR-TONKO LEGISLATION: The Association of Racing Commissioners International is disappointed that the sponsors of the re-introduced federal legislation have totally ignored the needs articulated on behalf of those responsible for policing the sport of horse racing. The sponsors of this legislation have proposed nothing to address the significant part of the race horse industry that is totally unregulated. This bill will do nothing to protect horses. It is shocking that the use of bisphosphonates on young horses is not addressed given the significant concern that they adversely affect bone development in young horses and contribute to stress fractures as they do in other mammals. We already know stress fractures can be a precursor to increased risk of a catastrophic breakdown. This issue was presented to lawmakers at the public hearing on this proposal in the last Congress, yet they continue to focus on repealing a long standing equine welfare program permitting a controlled furosemide administration on race day proven to be helpful to the health of the horse and recently affirmed by a consensus statement from the independent American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Unfortunately, the constructive suggestions of what the federal government could do to safeguard horses and help integrity efforts in racing continue to be ignored. Here are the suggestions that were presented in my testimony last year. The federal government could - Require all horses bred to be racehorses be registered with and come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which would have the ARCI maintain this data for use jointly by APHIS and the state racing commissions; Empower APHIS to make rules affecting young horses not yet under the jurisdiction of a state racing commission; Direct APHIS to contract with state racing commissions for the purpose of out-of-competition equine welfare examinations to determine adherence to the APHIS rules; Authorize APHIS to recover costs for such inspections from the owners of any horse inspected, consistent with state racing commission contracts entered into for this purpose;   Require that a portion of the existing funds - $9.5 million - appropriated by Congress each year for anti-doping programs through the White House Office of National Drug Policy be available to fund anti-doping research of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium consistent with anti-doping needs identified by the Organization of Racing Investigators or the ARCI;   Adopt the ARCI Model Rules affecting equine welfare and medication by reference, thereby achieving universal uniformity in regulation;   Require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to each dedicate at least one agent for the sole purpose of assisting state racing commissions in the conduct of investigations, particularly those that cross jurisdictional lines. Note: The FDA already has such an investigator assigned.   Rebecca Shoemaker Assistant to the President & CEO Association of Racing Commissioners International

Andy Gath is hoping promising trotter McLovin can bounce back from his first defeat in Australia last week and use Saturday night’s North West Ag Services 2019 Charlton Trotters Cup as a springboard to the top. Gath said McLovin, who has drawn the pole in the Group 3 race over 2760m, run in the Group 1 Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix was “totally out of character”. “He went awful really, compared to what he can go like,” Gath said. “But he has pulled up well; we have had him checked out and his work has been good. We just have to put it down to one of those things, he just put in a shocker. It was pretty average for his standards. “You don’t go to the races with a lot of confidence after a poor performance but we can only go on by what he has done here at home and his work has been as good as it was with his previous races so we expect him to go pretty well.” McLovin did a power of work before fading as Big Jack Hammer stormed home to salute in the Grand Prix. But the six-year-old’s prior Australian form – which included a commanding win in the Group 2 Lion Pty Ltd South Australian Trotters Cup and a South West Conveyancing Terang Trotters Cup victory – was faultless. McLovin won’t have everything his own way as he faces a talented field headed by the ultra-consistent group performer Deltasun. But Gath said he felt the six-year-old had a promising future regardless of the result. “His three runs prior to last week have been top class, in our opinion, against quality opposition,” he said. “Obviously we got a dent in our confidence last week but we can see him competing in all the big races next season.” The Gaths, who will also be taking November Guy (DNR Logistics Trot) to Melton, are hoping for a better run of luck than last week, when Tornado Valley’s incredible nine-race winning streak – which netted four Group 1s, five Group 3s and $229,500 in prizemoney – ended in the Grand Prix. He said the superstar was now enjoying a spell. “The writing was probably on the wall a little bit at his previous start, when he won but he didn’t go as good,” Gath said. “(But) he has done more than we thought he would able to do - I would have bought him myself if I knew. He will have about six weeks off – it will be his first decent spell since I have had him.” The North West Ag Services Charlton Trotters Cup shares top billing with the Group 3 Charlton & District Community Bank Charlton Pacing Cup, with both races held at Melton this year as construction continues on the Charlton Harness Racing Club’s revamped home, part of the town’s $4.2 million community hub. Shaun Campbell for Trots Media

Trainer Steve Telfer says the Alexandra Park stakes increases have him ready to unleash a big team for the remainder of the season but don’t be fooled into backing the one with the most senior driver. Telfer takes six horses to Alexandra Park tonight for the first meeting of the new ATC stake levels, where most horses above maidens for $20,000 or $25,000, akin to premier meeting stakes in any other parts of the country. “The stake increases are a huge help because it means even if your horse can run a placing or two a month they pay for themselves,” said Telfer. “And that means winning stakes can be profit, which makes a real difference. “So we are going to be concentrating on racing closer to home. We have a lot of younger horses and three-year-olds in work and ready to go which we have sort of aimed at for the late autumn, winter months because the stakes are great but the fields aren’t as strong.” Telfer has three chances in tonight’s $25,000 main handicap and the stable number one driver David Butcher is on Hunter Bromac, even though both Parker and Check In are likely to be more favoured. Telfer says punters shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Butcher is automatically on the stable’s best chances so don't follow him blindly. “Different owners prefer different drivers and then you have different conditions for races so it isn’t always the case David is on our best chance. “I actually can’t split them tonight, they are all good each way chances but I think Parker will step well and try and run them along.” That standing start will be crucial for race favourite Mach Shard, whose manners have been iffy at best but looks the one to beat if he behaves. Telfer has only had $30,000 Graduette runner Olivia Rachel (race one) for a week and likes the filly but says the race tonight is her first race right-handed which could be tricky. “And we have two in race five. Triolet is suited by her drawing following the speed but Court On The Edge has gate speed so the second line draw negates that.” Double Rocket looks the horse to beat in the Sales Series Graduate (race two) coming out of last Friday’s Northern Derby where he was a strong fifth. Michael Guerin

The unfortunate scratching of WA Pacing Cup winner Rocknroll Lincoln has opened up the opportunity for Handsandwheels to score another feature race win in the four and five-year-old Championship (2130m) at Gloucester Park tomorrow night. Handsandwheels recorded his first feature win since the 2017 WA Derby in last month’s Group 2 RWWA Cup and proved himself as a Free-For-All horse on the rise. He continued his solid form with a tough fourth to El Jacko in the Pinjarra Cup on March 4. He gets another chance for a Group 2 win in tomorrow night’s $50,000 event, where he has drawn barrier one. The Justin Prentice-trained Rocknroll Lincoln, who had drawn barrier nine and looked the main danger to Handsandwheels, was withdrawn earlier today due to bruising in his feet. Prentice said he wasn’t 100 per cent happy with Rocknroll Lincoln and said the five-year-old would now be spelled, with a view towards next year’s WA Pacing Cup. Aiden De Campo has the drive on Handsandwheels, trained by his father Andrew, tomorrow night and said the five-year-old deserved to be the one to beat off his recent form. “He’s going great,” he told RWWA Harness. “His Pinjarra Cup run was good and his work since then has been good too. “We were looking for the right race for him and this looks to be that right one.” De Campo said he expected to hold the lead from the favourable draw, but acknowledged the short-priced favourite Handsandwheels would still have his work cut out to win the race. “He’s got good gate speed and I can’t imagine anything else would want to pressure us,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a good thing in racing though. “There are still some well performed horses in the race.” Handsandwheels is now a $1.07 favourite with TABtouch, ahead of Clarenden Hustler ($10) and Hasani ($12). De Campo takes the drive on $51 outsider Walsh in the Sales Classic for the three-year-old Colts and Geldings (2130m), but conceded the gelding would have his work cut out to beat star trio Patrickthepiranha, Shockwave and Its Rock And Roll. Prentice has the short-priced favourite Has No Fear in the Sales Classic for the three-year-old fillies and hopes to launch a WA Oaks campaign off the back of it. De Campo’s only other drive of the evening is in the opening event with Smoldering Ashes, who he felt could fill a minor placing from barrier 11. “We will drop back to the fence and hopefully be three back,” De Campo said. “If he gets the splits he can figure in the finish, if he doesn’t we will bring him back again next week and have another go.”   Tim Walker

The best pacer that Anna Woodmansey has trained needs to be taught to slow down. That’s the opinion of the Chambers Flat horsewoman going into Saturday night’s feature event at Albion Park – the $21,000 Changeover At Burwood Stud 2yo Classic (Race 7). The 56-year-old said Pelosi had so much speed she needed to be taught to use it in a race. “She’s such a lovely gaited animal, who needs to be taught to race. She can go like a bat out of hell at times and just needs to slow down and use her speed appropriately,” Woodmansey said. The very well bred American Ideal - For Dear Life (Life Sign) filly is the only starter on the second line in Saturday's eight-strong 1660m mobile. She will be driven by John Cremin. Pelosi goes into the race with a first-up 1.3m victory when a $2.80 second favourite at Albion Park on February 26. The gifted bay then followed that up with an easy 4.3m trial win at the same venue on Wednesday (March 13). "I gave her that trial because last week's 2-year-old race was put off until this week because of the Australia Ladies Driving Champs," Woodmansey said. “She’s had two preps with Kylie Rasmussen and she really liked her. She’s a smart, sensible filly. She comes from a nice family, many of which have won Group races. However they can tend to be a bit loopy unless you keep them in work,” Woodmansey said. “But I must admit it’s been hard trying to treat this good girl equal to the others. She’s much better though, and makes the job worth getting up for,” she added. Pelosi paced a 1:56 mile rate (1:59.6 - 1660m) when winning from gate three on debut. She sat three-deep on the markers that day and then loomed up three wide at the 400m. In the straight she had too much sprint for the favourite Will The Wizard. On Wednesday she came from well back in the field to sit parked at the bell and then at the 700m took control of the race. From that point the battle was for second. Cremin had a big handful as his filly cruised to the line in 2:03.9 (mile rate 2:00.1). Pelosi hails from a quality family, and the daughter of American Ideal is well named. Her human namesake - Nancy Patricia Pelosi is an American politician who has been the speaker of the United States House of Representatives since January 2019. "Wayne named her. He reckons Pelosi gives (Donald) Trump heaps. Her mother was also a very nice racehorse. In fact a lot of the family have done well," Woodmansey said. Wayne is Wayne Honan, Woodmansey’s partner and the owner/breeder of both Pelosi and her dam - For Dear Life (2005 Life Sign mare). Honan's Hall-of-Fame father, the late Jack bred the grand-dam, the 1992 Stature mare, Express Post. Between them, For Dear Life and Express Post won 25 races and just on $400,000. For Dear Life won 14 of her 28 starts ($322,331) and three Group One events, including the $125,000 Breeders 2yo Challenge in 2008; the $100,000 NSW Wales Oaks in 2009; and the $100,000 APG 3yo Fillies Final in 2009. The first two Group Ones were achieved at Harold Park and the latter at Albion Park. Woodmansey said Express Post won 11 of her 18 starts and $89,483. "I think that might be where Pelosi gets her speed from because Jack said Express Post was an exceptionally fast mare," said Woodmansey. Pelosi arrived at Woodmansey’s barn in November and she is one of three currently in work. The trainer said she would slowly build her up to the APG 2yo heats at Albion Park the end of next month. Toughest for Pelosi to defeat will be the also unbeaten Toanui Spirit (5) and Xaviers Hurrikane (7). Trained by KerryAnn Turner and Shawn Grimsey respectively, both 2-year-olds were impressive winners on debut. New South Wales Visitor Toanui Spirit comes into the race with a 2:01.6 winning mile rate at Newcastle on February 23, while  Xaviers Hurrikane, who has copped the outside front-row draw, made a statement when winning at Albion Park on February 12 by 5.3m with a quick 1:56.1 mile rate. Robert Morris and Nathan Dawson will drive Toanui Spirit and Xaviers Hurrikane respectively. Pelosi's impressive win at the Albion Park trials on Tuesday: http://www.harness.org.au/racing/fields/race-fields/?mc=AP120319N   Duane Ranger for Racing Queensland

Annabeth (Shadow Play) worked hard to secure the early lead in Thursday's harness racing feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel and once the veteran mare got to front, she proved to be tough as nails. Annabeth got interfered with in last week's installment of the Fillies and Mares Open but this Thursday, she enjoyed smooth sailing once clearing the lead in a first quarter of 27.3. Following a second quarter breather that led to a half in 57.3, Annabeth was confronted by the race's favorite Sally Fletcher A (Bruce Aldrich Jr) and those mares slugged it out toe-to-toe for almost a half mile. The Bill Adamczyk-trained eight year old dug in on the front-end and rebuffed the favorite before stopping the timer in 1:54.1 for her first win in the local Open this season. Happy Heart (Mark Beckwith) rode the coattails of the winner throughout and wound up as the runner-up while a game Sally Fletcher A had to settle for third in the $15,000 feature for the ladies. Annabeth, who was driven to victory by Shawn Gray, was the fourth choice among the group of six distaffers in the Open while dismissed at odds of 5-1. She paid $13.00 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $61.50 and $149.00, respectively. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post time set for 6:45pm.   Mike Sardella

YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Jim King, Jr. thinks about returning to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer admits he’s, “going in with a better chance than most.” King will start a trio of mares in the series first leg Friday night (March 15), and the onslaught is led by Shartin, who will try to become the first mare to repeat in the Matchmaker Series. Shartin’s victory in the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final last April was the first of nine major Grand Circuit wins last year which propelled her to become the first mare to win over $1 million in a single season and earned her the Dan Patch Award for Older Pacing Mare. The experience is still fresh on the minds of King and his wife, Joann.  “Between my wife and I we’ve got well over one hundred years in this business and to be in a position here where we get this kind of stuff, it’s still very exciting to us,” King said. “This time last year (Shartin) was a real handful,” King remembered. “By now, we’ve kind of got a handle on her, but she started off real big because she won races in January for 11 months straight. That’s pretty good in that class to be doing that. She’s exceeded all our expectations time after time. As far as I’m concerned, she never got beat without a really good reason, not necessarily an excuse, but there was always an answer for why it didn’t work out and a couple were that she just plain old made a break. It’s probably a once in a lifetime go.” While the answers were there each time Shartin tasted defeat, she rarely needed them. Shartin went 19-for-24 last year and took a mark of 1:48.2 in Lexington. She wrapped up her season with a win in the $175,000 TVG Mares Series Final November 24 at the Meadowlands. Shartin made her first qualifying start this year February 13 at Dover Downs, winning in 1:56. She returned eight days later to qualify again in 1:52. “I don’t see where she’s any worse for the wear,” King said. “She qualified back really good. Easy enough the first time, just a good trainer. Then we went back and qualified her like you would expect for a horse like her do to, so that was good.” While Shartin came into the series last year with five races under her belt, Friday night’s start as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the ninth race, the $40,000 fifth and final division of the Matchmaker first leg, will be her seasonal debut. King couldn’t get a race into Shartin without shipping her north, so he opted to stay home in Delaware and wait. King thinks going into the series with a fresh horse is an advantage. “We really couldn’t get her started without sending her to New York and that’s a pretty good trip. I’d be satisfied if we get six starts up there, or even five,” he said. “She’s ready. She always gets back ready when I had time in between. I didn’t go into a race three weeks out that I felt, ‘man I wish I had a race in her.’ She’s always been OK, but not off this long a break, but I feel pretty good about it. “I do think you’re better off going in fresh because it’s such a long, grueling series,” King continued. “We leave home nine hours before a race. That’s a big deal to do that week after week after week. She’s always held up to that kind of stuff. (Bettor Joy) I feel is really competitive also, I just don’t know if she’s that stout, I don’t know if she can stand it week after week, but we’re here to find out. Where they come from, they don’t race regularly like that, but they do ship around.” Like Shartin, Bettor Joy is a New Zealand-bred mare imported to the United States by owner and managing partner Rich Poillucci. A new face in the series this year, Bettor Joy was a two-time Group 2 winner back home and won another two listed stakes.  “Rich Poillucci, he does all the legwork, he does the homework, he finds these horses, he watches the horses that they race with,” King said. “We’ve got some pretty good connections over there now to go over them and give us their opinions on them. It’s a big team effort and we’ve got a pretty good team.”  Bettor Joy, a 5-year-old mare by Bettor’s Delight out of the Road Machine mare Joyfulbelle, completed her final start in New Zealand November 16 and made her first stateside qualifying appearance January 23 at Dover Downs. She finished fourth in her first pari-mutuel start January 30, but returned a winner from post seven in the $27,500 Filly and Mare Open February 27. “She was good enough we made all the payments on her. She’s quick, she’s handy,” King said. “She did what we expected. Dexter Dunn raced her (in New Zealand) and he said that she was all that, she was a really good horse. Her first start was just OK. They went pretty good and we just weren’t up to that kind of mile. Then we got her back in and she was ready to go.” Although they are both New Zealand-bred and are both talented, Shartin and Bettor Joy have distinct personalities on the racetrack. “Entirely different horse than Shartin; she’s just a bull and (Bettor Joy), she’s a lady. She’s a good girl,” King said. “She’s very drivable. You can leave with her, you can take her off, she can step around horses. Shartin, when you get her cranked up she’s ready to roll. You don’t want to be changing course in the middle of a straight, that’s for sure. Bettor Joy’s a lot more professional in that aspect. She lets the driver be a lot more part of the game there.” Bettor Joy will make her Yonkers debut in the sixth race, the $40,000 second division of the Matchmaker first leg, as a 9-5 morning line choice. Her start will come one race after Newborn Sassy kicks off King’s chances in the series at 9-2 in the first division. Perhaps overshadowed by her New Zealand-bred counterparts, Newborn Sassy placed in two preliminary legs of the Matchmaker Series last year before winning a $40,000 consolation shortly before Shartin captured the final. The 6-year-old Western Ideal daughter went 9-for-36 last year and made $289,290, boosting her career tally to $1,036,455. Newborn Sassy “She’s a good girl. She can’t do what the other two can do, but she’s a half-mile track specialist,” King said. “Last year we came up with just one (win in the series), the other starts went wrong. They had just taken out the passing lane, we got locked in a couple times in the two hole and just didn’t work out for her, but still ended up OK. She came back real good, she can do her job good enough.” Tim Tetrick will drive all of King’s starters in the series Friday night. The driver purchased an ownership interest in all three mares, a move that gave King confidence. “Timmy thought enough of them that he decided he’d like to own part of them. I think that’s saying something because that puts him in a position where he doesn’t have any choice, he has to go with them,” King joked. “All those girls, I think they’ll all go out and do their job even if they don’t all come home a winner. If they do their job and we come back and do it again next week, I’m really going to be happy with them,” King said. “We’ve got a good team and that’s what it takes.” Friday night’s card features five divisions of the Matchmaker Series First Leg while the George Morton Levy Series kicks off with six splits Saturday, March 16.  Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

Harness racing driver Cory Stratton will be in the sulky Saturday (March 16) at Meadowlands Racetrack, but it is a seat he plans to take less often as he focuses on building his own training stable. The 26-year-old Stratton, the younger brother of driver Jordan Stratton, started his barn in 2018 after spending several years helping manage other stables and working for other trainers. He has 10 horses and is based at the Mark Ford Training Center, not far from his Middletown, N.Y., home. Stratton was the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Amateur Driver of the Year in 2010 and its Rising Star Award winner in 2012. He was driving at Monticello Raceway this year but stopped last month to focus on training. "I enjoy driving, but it came down to turning down more horses or giving up Monticello," Stratton said. "I just enjoy training more. I enjoy working with them all week and when they do well you know you've accomplished something. It's nice to see your horses do good." Stratton was working for trainer Travis Alexander when he decided to branch out. Another conditioner, Peter Tritton, helped Stratton get started by recommending him to an owner that had asked Tritton to train one of his pacing mares. "I didn't want to extend my stable," Tritton said. "I said (Stratton) would do a really good job. He's a hard worker. I know he's got ability. I told people I think he's worth a chance. He's young and keen and he does the work himself. It's always good to help the young people in the sport. I'd recommend him to anyone looking for a trainer." The 7-year-old mare sent to Stratton, Best Of Jenna, won eight of 25 races with him last season and has added two more victories this year. "She's kind of a nice mare," said Indiana's Jacob Graber, who helped his son, Mark, find Best Of Jenna's new trainer. "She's had some issues; she's hard to deal with. I didn't know Cory from Adam, but (Tritton) told me Cory would do a good job. He told me that if Cory can't get the job done nobody else will, and he was right. We're very pleased with Cory. There are other people in my area that notice that too. Cory is a nice guy and his brother Jordan is too. They're very nice people." Stratton credited his dad, Dave, brother Jordan, Tritton and Alexander as influences on his career. "I was happy working for Travis, it was good to work under him, but everybody wants to be their own boss," Stratton said. "When the opportunity came up I wasn't passing it up. "My dad was a really good trainer so I learned a lot from him. Peter Tritton has helped me out. He is one of my go-tos and he's a great guy as well. Having Jordan drive for me has definitely helped as well. Without him I wouldn't be where I am." Stratton won 17 of 66 training starts last year and $191,441 in purses. He entered Thursday with five wins in 34 races this season. "I'd like to keep growing, keep succeeding and doing well," Stratton said. "Mark Graber is a great owner and he really helped me. Without Peter Tritton and him getting me going again it would have been difficult. They sent me some quality horses. "Obviously it would be nice to have some stakes horses down the road or some sire stakes. But I'm happy just racing at the big tracks and doing well. I'm hands on, I work with the horses every day. I race them where they can win, in the right conditions. I'm not afraid to ship them around if I have to. If they're not racing good somewhere, I'm not afraid to take them somewhere else and freshen up their attitude. I'm not afraid to try things." Stratton will drive Swift As A Shadow, a horse he co-owns, on Saturday at the Meadowlands. He starts from post 10. "The horse drew the 10 hole, but he's been razor sharp," Stratton said. "He kicks home good, so I'll hope that the cover flow is good and he'll sprint home pretty good." On Friday (March 15) at the Big M, 5-year-old pacer On Cruise Control makes his second start for Stratton after arriving from Canada. The horse is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line in a GSY Amateur Series event. "He wasn't that great in his first start, but he was off a couple weeks," Stratton said. "He should be all right in there. I don't see why he can't do good. It could be a pretty good weekend." Regardless of what happens this weekend, Stratton is happy with his career decision. "I'm loving it," he said. "I'm enjoying the ride. Hopefully it never ends." Ken Weingartner

Guelph, ON - March 14, 2019 - “You never think it would happen to you, and one of your horses, until one day you wake up to a phone call in the middle of the night,” recounts Sarah Scott, member of the horse racing community for over 20 years, and owner of Fork.    Since the first line fire in December, Sarah has not only been busy with her horse’s recovery but also spreading awareness of fire prevention programs.   Sarah works as an account manager specializing in equine rehabilitation, at System Equine in Rockwood and they will be hosting a Barn Fire Prevention and action plan evening on March 19 at 6 pm. Special guest speakers will include: TJ Snow of Milton Fire Department, Riley McGilloway of Halton Hills Fire Department, and Dr. Liz Shiland DVM (one of several vets who assisted at the First Line fire). Sarah will also be sharing her experience as a horse owner.    They will discuss: barn fire prevention, what to do in case of fire with horses and/or animals, fire safety and caring for horses after they have been exposed to smoke inhalation and fire trauma.  Barn owners need to be ever vigilant with barn fire prevention, never get complacent and always prepare themselves for emergencies.    Equine Guelph will be offering a new Fire & Emergency Preparedness online short course on TheHorsePortal.ca– Apr 8 – Apr 15   Sarah’s Story:   We celebrated our staff Christmas party at Mohawk raceway December 20th, having a great time filling the night with Christmas cheer. I arrived home, around 12:30 am and settled into bed shortly after 1 am. I was awoken by my husband to the words “the barn is on fire and there is nothing we can do.” I was instantly numb. I felt almost robotic as I grabbed some clothes, and drove to what was our horses’ home, now land marked by police cars directing fire trucks. The car did not even come to a complete stop before I jumped out.    When I arrived no one knew where my own horse was, but we knew he was out. It was dark, raining and the most unsettling of sights, with red and blue flashing lights intermingling with the mist. I was told it took two firefighters and one of the second trainers to move my horse Fork from his stall, with singed facial and mane hair from the inferno he escaped and was taken to another barn on the property and placed in an empty stall.   Emergency response:   Sarah quickly joined the growing team of fire fighters, owners and veterinarians triaging the scene. They were fortunate to have a number of containment areas with other barns close by, a pool area that held three horses, and paddocks to hold the horses after they were removed from barn seven. Other factors that aided the rescue were: rain, wind blowing away from the barn and educated/experienced horse people, on scene that did not pull open the doors until fire and rescue arrived.   Each horse was evaluated and treated by the attending veterinarians before they were given the “ok” to go to Mohawk.  When the horses arrived at Mohawk (for temporary stabling) they were all bathed and once again looked over for burns or distress. Black soot was embedded in the horses’ hair, leading to the conclusion the lungs must also be compromised. Fears of smoke inhalation damage were confirmed with the first scope.  The owners were worried if their horses would be ok, racked with questions if they were suffering and if they would ever race again. It was a quick paced day with lots of decisions.   Sarah’s expertise served her well, having worked with clients, vets and owners whose horses were affected by the encroaching wild fires in BC and Alberta, supplying them with nebulizers from System Equine that were donated by Nortev Flexineb and assisting the equine practitioners in developing treatment cycles. Never had she imagined she would be implementing a similar treatment plan for her own horse who had won his race just a few short weeks before.   The team worked diligently with the vets following up on the temperatures, discharge, vitals and overall observation. Sarah is very grateful to everyone involved with the rescue and rehabilitation, including her employers at System Equine and Nortev for supplying the nebulizers aiding in the recovery of many of the horses.   Sarah’s prayers have been answered as subsequent testing and scoping showed no signs of soot and no residual inflammation in the lungs. Sarah is also very grateful to her husband Mark who was so supportive, working tirelessly caring for both of them.  “He truly is the reason Fork has returned to the racetrack,” says Sarah. Fork is in the clear and qualified to race at Mohawk on January 24 2019.   Final thoughts:   Sarah will forever be a fire prevention crusader and advocate of having a plan. No matter how busy life gets, she will never turn her phone off at night. Much reflection takes place after an incident, from the simple things like having emergency numbers in your phone to having the fire department out to do a pre-plan. Having halters, leads, pens and paper quickly accessible, clear barn aisles, feed tubs positioned so they are not in the way of exiting a stall are some of the little details that can make a big difference in an emergency.   And of course, looking back on the chaos, there is much gratitude for the community who rallied together. Thanks, and huge acknowledgements must be given to the first responders, the community who all sprung from their beds in the dead of the night and for everyone who came together to support the rescue.   Sarah hopes sharing her story will move people to take preventative measures and looks forward to seeing large attendance both at the Fire & Emergency Preparedness online short course on TheHorsePortal.ca– Apr 8 – Apr 15 and at System Equine’s Barn Fire Prevention and action plan evening on March 19 at 6pm, also available by live feed at: https://imp.easywebinar.live/registration-2    

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, March 14, 2019 - Slowly but surely, harness racing Dan Dube is inching toward his latest milestone. Favored An the Thunderolls ($5.30) was a Yonkers Raceway off-the-pace winner in Thursday night's (March 14th) $10,000, thrd-race pace (1:56.3), giving Dube an 8,998th career driving victory. The Quebec-born Dube, turning 50 this June, has career purses in excess of $119 million...not to mention a congratulatory sign waiting for him. For the third consecutive night, the Raceway parachuted past the million-dollar handle plateau, as the dozen races attracted a total of $1,172,527. It was the fifth seven-figure program of the season. A reminder that this Friday and Saturday evenings (March 15th and 16th) begin the Blue Chip Matchmaker (five divisions) and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (six divisions), respectively. The lasses go for $40,000 per race, while the lads chase $50,000 each. The finalized program pages for those races accompany this release. Frank Drucker

Bendigo - trained pacer Resurgent Spirit’s Tasmania Cup heat win on Sunday night might have been considered an upset by many, but for his harness racing driver Alex Ashwood, the strong performance had been coming. “He did a great job. He had a good run and hit the line well,” said Ashwood of the former star youngster’s win at odds of $41. “I’m happy with how he’s recovered – it looks like he’s somewhere back to his best. “I thought he was way over the odds at $41; I thought he might have been a $10 chance to be honest.” The impressive manner of the Kate Hargreaves-trained gelding’s win has Ashwood convinced there is no reason why they cannot repeat the feat in this Saturday night’s $75,000 Tasmania Cup final in Hobart. “He’s got a great chance …. He’s got a bit of an awkward draw in barrier 12, but saying that I think the race is going to be to suit,” he said. ”There will be even more speed this week, so that will bring him right into the race.” “I feel he’s approaching peak fitness.” It’s a homecoming for both Ashwood, 24, who left Tasmania at age 17 to follow his harness racing dream, and Resurgent Spirit, who enjoyed a run of 13 straight wins at the start of his career in Hobart as a two and three-year-old. His heat win boosted the now eight-year-old record on the Hobart track to 21 wins from 30 starts.  Alex Ashwood at he and partner Kate Hargreaves' Shelbourne property. Picture: DARREN HOWE   “I try and get back once or twice a year for a couple of good races,” said Ashwood. “With the horse coming from Tassie and the owners being down here, it’s been a good result and a good reason to come home.” Formerly trained by his breeder and owner Roger Whitmore, Resurgent Spirit was transferred to his new trainer 18 months ago and is now prepared by Hargreaves and Ashwood at their Shelbourne property. Ashwood delivered full praise to Hargreaves, who combines harness racing duties with role as a teacher at Kennington Primary School, for a wonderful training performance. “She’s stuck at home working the rest of the team, while I’m down here in Tassie. In saying that she wouldn’t be able to do that without John and Timmy Mannix, they’ve been a great help,” he said. “It’s been a real good few weeks for the stable – we can’t complain.” Saturday night’s drive will be Ashwood’s first in a Tasmania Cup final and will pit him against his father Rodney aboard the Dean Braun-trained War Dan, who was third behind Resurgent Spirit in Saturday’s heat. “I know dad is excited about that …. I think he wants to beat me home more than anything at the moment,” he said. It will be a busy evening at Elwick Park for Ashwood, who will also drive Resurgent Spirit’s sister Resurgent Dream for New Norfolk trainer Whitmore in the $20,000 George Johnson and also has two drives for his training father. By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advetiser

Star Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice has high hopes that Rocknroll Lincoln will maintain his superb form and win the $50,000 Direct Trades Supply Four and Five-Year-Old Championship over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “I plan that this will be his final run before going out for a spell,” Prentice said. “And it would be nice for him to go out on a winning note, though barrier nine will be no help. Once again, his chief mission will be the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups next season. “He went to the line really well when a close second to El Jacko in the Pinjarra Cup (on Monday of last week). He had to come three deep without cover.” At his previous outing Rocknroll Lincoln gave a powerful performance to win the Governor’s Cup after racing three wide for the first lap and taking the lead 1100m from home before scoring by a length from As Happy As Larry at a 1.54.7 rate over 2130m. That was his first appearance since winning the group 1 2936m WA Pacing Cup five weeks earlier. Rocknroll Lincoln will again be handled by champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who appears certain to send the five-year-old forward in the first circuit. The stallion will again clash with the Andrew de Campo-trained Handsandwheels, who has performed strongly in both the Governor’s Cup and Pinjarra Cup at his past two starts. WATCH INTERVIEW WITH AIDEN DE CAMPO Handsandwheels finished with plenty of determination when fourth in the Governor’s Cup and he raced in sixth position in the one-wide line and was hampered for room until the final stages when he went to the line strongly to finish a close fourth in the Pinjarra Cup. Reinsman Aiden de Campo, who has driven 59 winners this season and will celebrate his 27th birthday on Saturday, said he was planning to set a solid pace in his bid for victory on Friday night. Six-year-old El Jacko, who burst to the front in the first circuit and then set the pace before winning the Pinjarra Cup, will be favoured to give trainers Greg and Skye Bond and reinsman Ryan Warwick another feature race win by proving too smart for his rivals in the $30,000 Narrogin Cup over 2662m on Saturday night. El Jacko will start from barrier five on the front line and will clash with giantkiller Always Arjay, Simba Bromac, James Butt and Sweet N Fast. The Bond camp will be represented by in-form New Zealand-bred pacers Ana Afreet (Warwick) and The Buckeye Bullet in the DTS Chainmesh Fencing Pace, a WA Derby prelude over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This will be an acid test for the inexperienced Ana Afreet, who will start from the back line. The versatile Bettors Delight black colt has not been extended in a winning at his only three starts --- two at Pinjarra and one at Bunbury. The Buckeye Bullet, a winner at five of his ten starts, also faces a testing time from the No. 6 barrier on the front line. Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr has three runners in the race, last-start winners Eloquent Mach (Stuart McDonald), Robbie Easton (Micheal Ferguson) and Major Trojan (Gary Hall Jnr). The greatest interest will surround the performance of the lightly-raced Major Trojan, who will start from the inside of the back line. An impressive winner at two of his five New Zealand starts, Major Trojan made his Australian debut at Bunbury last Saturday night when he enjoyed a perfect trip in the one-out, one-back position in the $25,000 Battle of Bunbury before starting a three-wide move 300m from home and fighting of doggedly to finish a neck second to stablemate and pacemaker Eloquent Mach. The final quarters on a rain-affected track were covered in 27.7sec. and 27.8sec. and Major Trojan, an upstanding colt, should have derived great benefit from his first outing for four months.  Ken Casellas

Talented colt Shockwave, relegated to second in three Group 1 events for two-year-olds last year, is on target to break through for his first feature victory, according to his trainer Ryan Bell. Bell is happy with Shockwave’s draw at barrier No. 3 in the $50,000 DTS Pine Logs Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings at Gloucester Park on Friday night and is confident the Mach Three colt is capable of leading and emerging triumphant in the Group 2 event over 2130m. Champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, fresh from landing two winners and winning the Noel Smith Memorial Invitation Drivers Championship at Victorian track Horsham on Monday, will be planning to take full advantage of Shockwave’s sparkling gate speed in a bid for an all-the-way victory. Bell, who drove Shockwave when the colt finished solidly from the one-out, one-back position to win easily from Its Rock And Roll and Patrickthepiranha in a prelude of this event on Tuesday of last week, said: “He’s done very well since that win and I’m really pleased with him and the way he has come along. “I thought his win was comfortable, without being exciting. But, surprisingly with the amount of racing he’d had, he came through his run like as though he needed it. However, he’s now jumping out of his skin. “Barrier three is the best barrier we’ve had for quite a while, so we’re going to make the most of it in a bid to keep the two main dangers (Patrickthepiranha and Its Rock And Roll) on our outside. Shockwave is definitely capable of winning.” Bell and Hall have already tasted success in the Sales Classic for three-year-old colts and geldings. Hall drove the Katja Warwick-trained Rock Me Over to a neck victory over Our Trump Card 12 months ago and the previous year Bell trained and drove Bob Wheel when he worked hard in the breeze before hitting the front with 100m to travel and winning by a head from the fast-finishing Kasey John. Hall has formed a good association with Shockwave, a $46,000 yearling, having driven him seven times for four wins, two thirds and a ninth placing. Shockwave, Patrickthepiranha and Its Rock And Roll are certain to dominate betting on Friday night’s race. Colin Brown trains Patrickthepiranha (a $30,000 yearling) and Its Rock And Roll (a $37,500 yearling). Brown will handle Its Rock And Roll from barrier four and Dylan Egerton-Green will be in the sulky behind Patrickthepiranha at barrier five. Patrickthepiranha is sure to prove extremely hard to beat. He won in fine style at his first six starts as a three-year-old before being desperately unlucky when third behind Shockwave last week. He began speedily from the No. 5 barrier, but was trapped three wide for the first 500m before being restrained to assume the one-out, two-back position. Patrickthepiranha was further seriously inconvenienced when a tyre of his sulky was deflated 500m from the finish. Despite that, Patrickthepiranha fought on determinedly to finish just over two lengths behind the winner. Shockwave also started from the No. 3 barrier in the Sales Classic final for two-year-olds last season when he was the $1.70 favourite. He crossed to the front after 200m and set a solid pace before going down by a head to 12/1 chance Its Rock And Roll, who finished fast from fourth at the bell. Patrickthepiranha, who started from the outside barrier (No. 9), was forced to cover extra ground and did very well to finish third. Ken Casellas