Day At The Track
Jimmy Taggart, Jr., harness racing

Taggart posts 5,000th career win

Monticello, NY - On Tuesday afternoon January 28, harness racing driver Jim Taggart Jr notched a career milestone as he won his 5,000 win aboard GD Striker in the 8th race at Monticello Raceway.   GD Striker wired the field in a 5 length victory 2:01.2 - $3.20 over New York Attitude (Renaldo Morales III) who finished second followed by London Hanover (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) The 49-year-old Taggart has been a fixture of the Mighty M for decades, the PA native has enjoyed much success with trainer Gary Messenger, ironically is was a Messenger trained horse that earned Taggart the covenanted 5000 win. GD Striker picked up his first win of the 2020 season, he is a 4-year-old gelding by Guccio and is owned by Jason Darling of Burlington NJ. During his career his mounts have earned $24,710,856 in purses, Taggart was the leading dash winning driver at Monticello Raceway for 2019, presently he is in 3rd place with 17 wins behind Greg Merton (18) and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (19).   by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Party At The Banks, harness racing

Open Trot, Claim To Fame Series highlights

LEBANON, OH. - Party At The Banks (Chris Page) and Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers), a pair of classy mares sitting at the rear of a field of the Midwest's best geldings in Tuesday's (Jan. 28) $24,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley Raceway, got serious as they approached the :56.4 halfway juncture. They swept past their male counterparts in the second half-mile and finished one-two in the feature race, clocked in 1:55.2. Page was content to ease his winning mare off the gate, landing last as the leaders tripped the initial beam in :27.1. Party At The Banks was pulled to the outside just before front stepping Sweet Mr Pinetucky (Trace Tetrick) reached the midway point in :56.4. Making steady progress during the third stanza, the 6-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K moved up to fourth in second over position at the 1:25.3 three quarters station with Peggy Sue in tow. The pair of mares still had a half dozen lengths to make up as they swung off the final turn but with the leader's strides shortening late in the mile they were able to accomplish the feat with a few steps still to go. Party At The Banks, the 2019 aged Ohio Sires Stakes champion, was making her third start of the 2020 season. Racing for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, she now sports 27 wins in 62 lifetime tries and a bankroll of $326,548. The final pair of Claim To Fame Series championships were also contested on Tuesday. Smash (John DeLong) lead Galyns Gift (Galliers) and M E Radar Girl (Miller) past the wire in 1:55.4 to be crowned queen of the $12,500 claiming mares. Owner Wilfong Racing LLC got the winner's share of the $22,500 purse. Peter Redder trains Smash, who returned $17.40 to her faithful in a mild upset. Legal Transfer (Jeremy Smith) copped the split for $8000 male claiming pacers, topping Beachboydesire (Tetrick) by a head with Colossal (Josh Sutton) just a half length back at the end of the 1:54.4 mile. Trainer Adam Short also owns the 11-year-old winner who has banked over a quarter million dollars in his career. Legal Transfer paid $5.60 to win. From Miami Valley Raceway

McDazzle

Mcdazzle shines in feature; Wilder wins 4

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 28, 2020 -- McDazzle brushed wide through the lane, overtook her stablemate, Camera Lady, in the shadow of the wire and captured Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. After getting away fifth for Mike Wilder, McDazzle picked up the live cover of Magic Forces, who carried her into striking position. Although the track was listed "good," the 6-year-old daughter of Art Official-Dream McQueen had plenty of pop and downed Camera Lady by a head in 1:53.2. Touchamatic completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains McDazzle, who boosted her lifetime bankroll to $336,896, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Wilder piloted four winners on the 13-race card while Tony Hall and Burke each fashioned a triple. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a trio of carryovers: a $3,110.11 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6); a $1,007.09 carryover in the Pick 4 (races 3-6); an $873.91 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Billy Davis, Jr., harness racing

Buffalo Raceway set for opening night

Hamburg, NY — Buffalo Raceway will open the 2020 harness racing season on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) with a 13-race program that gets underway at 5 p.m. It will be a busy week at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg as there will be lots for the fans to look forward to during opening week. Wednesday’s opener will feature a $2,500 guaranteed Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will also be free programs and a 2020 season magnet giveaway. In the Winner’s Circle Cafe, personal pan pizzas will just be $5 and patrons can also taste the new philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies. When the action returns on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 6 p.m. start time, the popular ‘Lucky Exacta’ contest returns as each fan will receive two ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters along with an exacta combination. Should your exacta come in, you’ll spin the prize wheel to win free wagers on the last race of the night. The coasters will also have $5 in free play from Hamburg Gaming. While the fans will be treated off track, it’s back to business for drivers and trainers. Billy Davis Jr., who swept the driving titles last season at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs with 119 and 131 victories, respectively, will be busy as he is scheduled to drive in 12 of the 13 events on opening night. “I had a very good meet last year,” Davis said in looking back on 2019. “I am hoping to build off that and have another good run.” He went on to say about the early part of the season, “It’s always difficult to know how the opening days of racing meets can go but I am very confident in my trainers and their horses. It would be great to start the season off with a bang.” James Clouser Jr. returns after he claimed the training crowns at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in 2019. He had 56 winners at Buffalo Raceway last season and added 51 more at Batavia Downs. He’ll send a pair out on the opening night program. Maria Rice, who was the runner-up behind Clouser in both Western New York meets last year, hopes to jump start her season as she drew into six races on the Wednesday night card. The main event on the slate is the $13,000 Open Trot that drew the likes of 2019 Buffalo Raceway ‘Trotter of the Year’ Wheels A Turning and Lougazi. The sub features include the $10,000 Class A Trot and the $10,000 Class A Pace for the fillies and mares. Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action returns on Friday starting in April and will have a 5 p.m. start time. For more information, including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com. by Brian Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Hightstown, NJ -- Chris Page put together quite the superfecta in 2019. The 36-year-old harness racing driver piloted Ohio's Horse of the Year in 2-year-old male pacer Elver Hanover, notched career victory 5,000, increased his workload on the Grand Circuit, and got married. "It was the best year of my life, horse racing wise and in my personal life," Page said. "I was very happy with all of it." Page won more than 400 races for the seventh consecutive year in 2019 and nearly set a career high for purses despite taking off all but one day in December for his honeymoon. The Ohio resident visited the winner's circle 435 times and earned $5.94 million. Although his purses failed to eclipse his $6.19 million in 2018, his average earnings per start were better in 2019. In addition to driving Elver Hanover, who was undefeated in nine races, Page drove Ohio champion 2-year-old filly pacer Looksgoodinaromper and had occasional drives with 4-year-old Mission Accepted, who was named Ohio's best older trotter. All three horses were from the stable of trainer Ron Burke. "It was a very good year," Page said. "Honestly, I've got to thank the Burkes. They're the ones that made it possible. Between them and (trainer) Brian Brown, they've been very good to me. "Everything just came together. The good thing about 2019 going into 2020, those horses that were 2-year-olds are coming back as 3-year-olds here in Ohio for the stakes program. With a little luck, we'll have a great year this year too." Page drove Elver Hanover, by Yankee Cruiser out of Edra Hanover, in all but one of his nine races last season. Yannick Gingras was in the bike for the gelding's 1:48.3 world-record score in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile. Page was back behind Elver Hanover the following week when he closed his season with a win in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. "It's tough to say anything is perfect, but how do you say that he's not? More importantly, the horse got put away on top," Page said. "Anytime in the year, the horse never was taking tired steps. He was always pacing forward late. And he is user friendly. That makes my job so much easier when you can do whatever you want with a horse. "I saw a picture of him the other day and he looks like a tank. He might have grown a little bit, in height and filled out, and he's always been a good-looking horse, anyway. It makes 2020 exciting driving horses like that." Page drove Looksgoodinaromper in all 12 of her races, winning five. She became the fastest 2-year-old filly pacer on a half-mile track with a 1:52.3 victory at Northfield in a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes. "You can't forget about her," Page said. "I really liked her. I think she maybe got a little bit tired late in the year and we were drawing terrible. But she's a world-record-holder too." Page, who studied to be a veterinarian before turning his full attention to driving, got his first win in 2001 and topped 1,000 starts and 300 wins for the first time in 2009. With the exception of last season when he took his honeymoon break, he has been one of the five busiest drivers in North America on a regular basis. "Obviously, you have dreams; everybody dreams," Page said about his success. "But I kind of implemented a process and stuck to it. You've got to know a few people, but I believe in hard work. I put the work in, and I still do. Being there and trying to be cordial and respectful. These people, there are plenty of guys out there that they can choose to drive their horses. Sometimes, they might remember you for a simple hello. "That's kind of how I got started. I don't have family per se in the business. My parents didn't do it. I need every inch I can get. And timing. When I got started driving, we didn't have the slots here at the racetracks. Your Brett Millers, your Dave Millers, they went out east and it opened up some room for a young guy like myself to get started." Page likes to be as prepared as possible when he sits behind a horse. He also likes to help prepare a horse to maximize its potential. "I'm a program reader and nowadays with the replays, if I haven't driven a horse, I can type in his name and watch his last few races," Page said. "I do a lot of that; I watch replays quite a bit. It's like, Tom Brady watches film before he goes out and plays a game. You have to do your homework. I want to know as much as I can about the horse; what it can do and what it can't do. "The (young horses) I drive, the first few starts I kind of babysit them. I race them off a helmet and make sure they're pacing late. Once they get that figured out, then you can add another element. Most horses can leave or can learn to leave very easily. But on the flip side, not as many can race off the pace, do stuff like that, because they get hot. I really take pride in my work and really try to do best by the horse." Page was happy to take time off with his wife Brianna at the end of last year to enjoy a honeymoon, which included a week in the Bahamas and a week skiing in Michigan. The couple was married in September. "I never take time off," Page said. "I might take a day or two here or there, but not really any significant time since I started racing. She works in an orthodontist office. She works in the morning, I work at night, so to get to spend some time together is nice. Plus, it was Christmas time and we got to spend time with the families at Christmas. We just had a ball, really. It was the quickest month of my life." Was it difficult to adjust to not rushing around? "No, not at all," Page said. "I'm usually always looking at my watch because I have stuff to do, but for a whole month I didn't pay attention to the time. I kept telling myself I was on vacation and it didn't matter. My biggest chore was figuring out what to eat that day." A very good way to end a very good year. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

BEDMINSTER, NJ  – The Bridgewater Courier News reports that one of the most iconic landmarks in Somerset County is going up for sheriff's sale. Lana Lobell Farms, owned by former Bedminster Township Committeeman Kurt Joerger and his wife, Janice, will be going up for sale at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Freeholders Meeting Room in the County Administration Building, 20 Grove St., Somerville, NJ. Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch during the financial crisis of 2008, has foreclosed on the 123-acre property on Rattlesnake Bridge Road between the Branchburg border and Route 78. Iconioc Lana Lobell Farms in Bedminster will be up for sheriff's sale next month. (Photo: ~New Jersey Conservation Foundation)   During its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, Lana Lobell Farms was one of the nation’s top producers of Standardbred racehorses. Its annual yearling sale attracted high-profile buyers from around the world, and horses bred there included four winners of the Hambletonian, harness racing’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby.  But the prestigious horse farm came to an end in 1997, when the former owner filed for bankruptcy. According to Somerset County Superior Court records, Joerger had an unpaid balance on the mortgage of $3,900,127 as of Dec. 1, 2018. Joerger also owed $192,627 in interest for a total, along with other costs, of $4,129,857. Joerger had taken out a $5.42 million mortgage with Merrill Lynch to buy the property in July 2003 at an interest rate of 3.875%. The initial monthly payment, court papers say, was $17,736 per month. Joerger never filed a response to any of the legal papers submitted to the court.   In February 2016, Somerset County spearheaded a partnership to purchase the two parcels making up the farm for $5.87 million. Joining the county in the partnership were the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on behalf of Bedminster Township, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the New Jersey Agriculture Development Committee. Somerset County's share of the purchase is about $1 million in open space funds. The property, known for its iconic white fence on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, had been approved for nine estate homes in 2007, but was never developed. At one time a golf community was also proposed for the property. Joerger resigned in 2007 from the Bedminster Township Committee when faced with a recall election. Because of the agricultural easement on the property, the opportunities for any development are limited. Reprinted with permission by the Bridgewater Courier News

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (January 28, 2020) –  Thirty-six cooks entered Meadowlands Racetrack’s 5th Annual Homestyle Chili Cookoff last Saturday night, all vying for the grand prize of $1,000 and a spot in the International Chili Society’s 2020 World Championship. Nathan Gramm of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, took home the $1,000 prize for his homestyle chili.  Gramm is an ICS competition veteran and flies all around the United States to compete in chili cook-offs. Chili cook-off veteran, Chris Johnson took home $500 for her second place finish.  Meadowlands chili cook-off veteran Laura Stoessel, took the $250 third place prize.  Gregory Farm of Rosyln, PA, took home the $1,000 grand prize for his chili verde beating out 18 other competitors in the category.  This was Farm’s first time competing at the Meadowlands. His win also qualifies him for the 2020 World Chili Verde Championship. “This was an awesome event, said Farm. “ It was lots of fun. I’m excited to compete again next year!”  Robert Quinones, the 2018 & 2019 People’s Choice champ, finished in second place for his chili verde and took home $500 while first time competitor Jarron Smith walked away with $250 for his third place finish. It was a record number of participants and a record number of patrons on hand to sample and vote for their favorite chili throughout the evening. The $250 People’s Choice prize went to Brian Walker.  “This has become a major event for us at the track,” said Meadowlands General Manager and COO Jason M. Settlemoir. “Each year the number of participants grows and exceeds our expectations.  We are looking forward to next year’s event!” For upcoming events and promotions, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. From the Meadowlands Media Department

Freehold, NJ ---- Freehold Raceway will host their fourth Preferred Handicap trot of the calendar year this Friday (January 31), and the winners of the prior three editions are coming back for another shot at glory.   Inukchuk Chuck won the Preferred on January 3, for his second win in a row at the class. Since then, he's tried his luck three times in a row at Yonkers Raceway, without much success. Trainer Nick Surick is persumably hoping the tides turn with a return to Freehold. Andy Miller is named to drive from post position four.   Magic MVP got the job done on January 17, rallying up the passing lane to win by a neck. Last week, he made a strong wide rally to finish third in the Preferred. He'll leave from post position six this week, with driver Pat Berry back in the sulky for trainer Miriam Kraemer.   Freehold-loving veteran Dot Dot Dot Dash won the Preferred last week, scoring by a neck in 1:57.2. She'll seek a repeat triumph this week from post position eight. Chase Vandervort will drive for trainer Leah Vandervort.   Two horses who qualified last week at Freehold also profile as contenders. Rock of Cashel edged Southwind Cruze by a neck in a qualifier on January 24, with both horses being timed in 2:02.1. The former will leave from post position five for trainer Mark Harder, making his first start since November 6. Last year, he won seven races and earned more than $86,000. The latter has hit the board in his last three starts at Yonkers Raceway, most recently losing by two lengths in a solid time of 1:55.3. Joe Bongiorno is in the bike from post position seven, for trainer Jenn Bongiorno.   Caviar Star, Abbie's Celticlass, and Mugshot Jess complete the field. The Preferred is scheduled as the seventh race on the card, with a listed post time of 2:30 PM EST.   The first of nine races at Freehold on Friday is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST.   From Freehold Raceway  

Pompano Beach, FL...Jan 28, 2020...In politics, Super Tuesday is March 3 when more than a dozen States hold their presidential primaries. In harness racing, "Super Tuesday" is tonight when Pompano Park will be the site for the two largest guaranteed pools in track history. To kick things off, the track's Pick-5 will feature a $30,000 guaranteed pool as a result of a $7,146 carryover from Monday night. That "Send It In" special begins in race 1, courtesy of the Joe Sanzeri driven Shez In Orbit lighting up the tote-board at 30 to 1, sandwiched in between the four other winners pegged at 2/1, 1/2, 7/2 and 5/1. Next, the Pick-6 pool, beginning in race 3, features a $75,000 guaranteed pool--the result of a carryover of $31,977. That sequence, too, was started with Shez In Orbit, followed by winners at 7/2, 5/1. 8/5, 7/5 and 6/1. All of this comes on the heels of a track record handle in the Pick-4 pool on Monday of $121,452, which paid a lucrative $692.35 for the 50 cent ticket with the four winners off at 5/1, 8/5, 7/5 and 6/1. The evening wraps up with the Super Hi-5 finale, with a jackpot of $93,047.64 for a single winning ticket. Post time for Super Tuesday at Pompano Park is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park              

Batavia, NY --- Harvey E. "Gene" Griffin of East Pembroke, NY passed away Friday (January 24, 2020) at Unity Hospital in Rochester, NY, surrounded by his loving family after a lengthy illness. He was 75-years-old. Mr. Griffin was born December 23, 1944 in Caledonia, NY, a son of the late Mollie (Charles) Minor and Fredrick (Goldie) Griffin Sr. Mr. Griffin was a member of the Western New York Harness Horseman Association and raced mainly at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway during his career. As a versatile and talented horseman in the sport, his first driving win came in 1979 while his last training victory came in 1993. Mr. Griffin is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Paula Griffin. Gene leaves to mourn his children, Keith (DeOnn) Griffin of N. Carolina, Kenneth (Carolyn) Griffin of Batavia and Tammy Griffin of East Pembroke. Mr. Griffin is also survived by 11 siblings, a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Mr. Griffin was preceded in death by his daughter, Denise Parker; sister, Mary Griffin and brothers, Fredrick, Benjamin, Gordon and James Griffin and Arthur Minor. Family and friends are cordially invited to share thoughts, condolences and fond memories on Saturday (Feb. 1) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the J. Leonard McAndrew Funeral Home, 2 Bogue Ave., Batavia, NY. Expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family at: www.mcandrewfuneralhomes.net. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 27, 2020 -- A narrow loser of his last two, Perlucky turned the tables in Monday's $20,000 Open 1 Handicap Trot at The Meadows, scoring an in-command, front-end harness racing victory in a career best 1:54.2 over a "good" surface. Those two recent defeats were by a combined margin of less than a length after tough trips. There were no such issues Monday, however, as Perlucky easily captured the point for Dave Palone and defeated the pocket-sitting Final Breath by 3/4 lengths. A hard-used Icanflylikeanangel, who was out at the three-eighths and never picked up cover, persevered for show. Ron Burke trains Perlucky, a 5-year-old Lucky Chucky-Paper Girl gelding who now sports a career bankroll of $378,159, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phillip Collura. Mike Wilder piloted four winners and Palone three on the 13-race card. After multiple carryovers, the Super Hi-5 was hit, returning $16,129.04 for the single winning ticket. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday, when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee in the Pick 4 (races 3-6). First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

Freehold, NJ --- They call him "Diamond Jim", and he had a gem of an afternoon on Saturday (January 25) at Freehold Raceway. Harness racing driver Jim Marshall III won four of the eleven races on the program.   He didn't waste any time, taking race 1 with Brandon Mongiello's Northern Jack ($4.40). After missing in races 2 and 3, he bounced back in the 4th race, guiding the John Bavosi-trained gelding Tie Your Shoe Ed ($5) to his second consecutive win.   Marshall completed the hat trick with Bullet Bob ($5.80) in race 6, for trainer Mark Harder. He had three chances to complete the grand slam, and did so in race 11 with R M Blackhawk ($2.60). That win also gave Mongiello his second training win of the day.   The veteran driver has gotten off to a strong start in 2020.   On the calendar year, he's won 15 races from 88 starts, good for third place in the Freehold driver standings.   Since Freehold restarted on August 30, Marshall has 40 victories in 336 drives.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Thursday, beginning at 12:30 PM EST. Marshall is named to drive in every race on the card.   Northern Jack     Tie Your Shoe Ed     Bullet Bob     R M Blackhawk

LEBANON, OH. - Insomniac and Foolish Heart were crowned harness racing champions of their respective Claim To Fame Series on Monday afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. Each captured a preliminary leg enroute to the lucrative finals and each utilized the popular "give and go" strategy early in their triumphant championship miles. Insomniac proved best in the $15,000 claiming trot division, contested for a $27,500 purse, scoring a 1:58.1 triumph over a sloppy track besting Away My Baby (Tyler Smith) and Ray Hall (Ricky Macomber Jr.). Taking full advantage of an inside post draw, driver-trainer Brady Galliers allowed a single adversary to manage a temporary lead but retook control as the field passed the quarter mile marker. From there, the margin of victory was about the only thing in doubt as the 8-year-old gelded son of Crazed easily lived up to his 6-5 favoritism and cruised to an open lengths victory. A noted early speed trotter, Insomniac has been on the lead at the halfway point in each of his last five starts, resulting in three wins in addition to a second a third place finish. The 29-time winner has now amassed $350,517 in earnings. He is owned by Galliers Racing LLC. Insomniac Trace Tetrick guided Foolish Heart to victory in the $17,500 final of the Claim To Fame division for $8000 claiming mare pacers. The 6-year-old daughter of Foreclosure N reclaimed the lead from stablemate T C Scandal (Brett Miller) early in the trip then showed her heels to the field until reaching the wire in 1:56.2. Skyway Royalty (John DeLong) and My Caroline (Kyle Ater) did make a race of it in the stretch, but Foolish Heart held them off and returned $3.80 to her faithful. Partners Carl Howard, Dana Parham and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. claimed the winner out of the first preliminary leg in the series for $9600 and were rewarded with a $8,750 return in their first start with the new stable addition. The eight division Claim To Fame Series at Miami Valley will come to a close on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 28) when the $8000 claiming "boys" and $12,500 claiming "girls" will each decide their championships while chasing $22,500 purses. Post time is 2:05 p.m. Gregg Keidel

It is last call to make room reservations at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., for the U.S. Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 23. If you are planning to attend the gala festivities that will honor the best equines and humans in the sport in 2019, room reservations must be made by Friday, Jan. 31. Rooms are nearly sold out so make sure you don't get shut out! The USHWA rate for a standard room at Rosen Shingle Creek is $199 (plus tax). For a direct link to the Rosen Shingle Creek special page to make USHWA room reservations, please click here. Depending on availability, rooms may still be available after Jan. 31, but can only be made by calling the hotel directly at (866) 996-6338 and asking for the "Dan Patch Awards rate." This is the third year Rosen Shingle Creek will host the Dan Patch Awards banquet. This year's banquet, which will be held in the Gaitlin B ballroom, gets underway with the Red Carpet at 5:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Be on hand when the Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year are announced. Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet are $180, with a filet mignon dinner featured. Tickets can be ordered until Feb. 17 by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson at zoe8874@aol.com or (302) 359-3630. Remember, all attendees will receive a 10 percent discount at all of the hotel's restaurants, a 10 percent discount at the Spa at Shingle Creek, and a green fees discount at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. There is still limited space available in the USHWA journal. The deadline is Friday, Jan. 31. To take out a congratulatory ad please contact Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com or (708) 557-2790. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway will open the 2020 season on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) with a 13-race harness racing program that gets underway at 5 p.m.    It will be a busy week at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg as there will be lots for the fans to look forward to during opening week.   Wednesday's opener will feature a $2,500 Guaranteed Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will also be free programs and a 2020 season magnet giveaway.   In the Winner's Circle Cafe, personal pan pizzas will just be $5 and patrons can also taste the new philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies.   When the action returns on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 6 p.m. start time, the popular 'Lucky Exacta' contest returns as each fan will receive two ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters along with an exacta combination. Should your exacta come in, you'll spin the prize wheel to win free wagers on the last race of the night. The coasters will also have $5 in free play from Hamburg Gaming.   While the fans will be treated off track, it's back to business for drivers and trainers.   Billy Davis Jr., who swept the driving titles last season at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs with 119 and 131 victories respectively, will be busy as he is scheduled to drive in 12 of the 13 events.   "I had a very good meet last year," Davis Jr. said in looking back on 2019. "I am hoping to build off that and have another good run."    He went on to say about the early part of the season stating, "It's always difficult to know how the opening days of racing meets can go but I am very confident in my trainers and their horses. It would be great to start the season off with a bang."   James Clouser Jr. returns after he claimed the training crowns at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in 2019. He had 56 winners at Buffalo Raceway last season and added 51 more at Batavia Downs. He'll send a pair out on the opening night program.   Maria Rice, who was the runner up behind Clouser Jr. in both Western New York meets last year, hopes to jump start her season as she drew into six races on the Wednesday night card.   The main event on the slate is the $13,000 Open Trot that drew the likes of 2019 Buffalo Raceway 'Trotter of the Year' Wheels A Turning and Lougazi. The sub features include the $10,000 Class A Trot and the $10,000 Class A Pace for the filly and mares.   Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action returns on Friday starting on April and will have a 5 p.m. start time.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

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Monticello, NY - On Tuesday afternoon January 28, harness racing driver Jim Taggart Jr notched a career milestone as he won his 5,000 win aboard GD Striker in the 8th race at Monticello Raceway.   GD Striker wired the field in a 5 length victory 2:01.2 - $3.20 over New York Attitude (Renaldo Morales III) who finished second followed by London Hanover (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) The 49-year-old Taggart has been a fixture of the Mighty M for decades, the PA native has enjoyed much success with trainer Gary Messenger, ironically is was a Messenger trained horse that earned Taggart the covenanted 5000 win. GD Striker picked up his first win of the 2020 season, he is a 4-year-old gelding by Guccio and is owned by Jason Darling of Burlington NJ. During his career his mounts have earned $24,710,856 in purses, Taggart was the leading dash winning driver at Monticello Raceway for 2019, presently he is in 3rd place with 17 wins behind Greg Merton (18) and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (19).   by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway
LEBANON, OH. - Party At The Banks (Chris Page) and Peggy Sue (Brady Galliers), a pair of classy mares sitting at the rear of a field of the Midwest's best geldings in Tuesday's (Jan. 28) $24,000 Open Trot at Miami Valley Raceway, got serious as they approached the :56.4 halfway juncture. They swept past their male counterparts in the second half-mile and finished one-two in the feature race, clocked in 1:55.2. Page was content to ease his winning mare off the gate, landing last as the leaders tripped the initial beam in :27.1. Party At The Banks was pulled to the outside just before front stepping Sweet Mr Pinetucky (Trace Tetrick) reached the midway point in :56.4. Making steady progress during the third stanza, the 6-year-old daughter of Break The Bank K moved up to fourth in second over position at the 1:25.3 three quarters station with Peggy Sue in tow. The pair of mares still had a half dozen lengths to make up as they swung off the final turn but with the leader's strides shortening late in the mile they were able to accomplish the feat with a few steps still to go. Party At The Banks, the 2019 aged Ohio Sires Stakes champion, was making her third start of the 2020 season. Racing for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, she now sports 27 wins in 62 lifetime tries and a bankroll of $326,548. The final pair of Claim To Fame Series championships were also contested on Tuesday. Smash (John DeLong) lead Galyns Gift (Galliers) and M E Radar Girl (Miller) past the wire in 1:55.4 to be crowned queen of the $12,500 claiming mares. Owner Wilfong Racing LLC got the winner's share of the $22,500 purse. Peter Redder trains Smash, who returned $17.40 to her faithful in a mild upset. Legal Transfer (Jeremy Smith) copped the split for $8000 male claiming pacers, topping Beachboydesire (Tetrick) by a head with Colossal (Josh Sutton) just a half length back at the end of the 1:54.4 mile. Trainer Adam Short also owns the 11-year-old winner who has banked over a quarter million dollars in his career. Legal Transfer paid $5.60 to win. From Miami Valley Raceway
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 28, 2020 -- McDazzle brushed wide through the lane, overtook her stablemate, Camera Lady, in the shadow of the wire and captured Tuesday's $20,000 harness racing Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. After getting away fifth for Mike Wilder, McDazzle picked up the live cover of Magic Forces, who carried her into striking position. Although the track was listed "good," the 6-year-old daughter of Art Official-Dream McQueen had plenty of pop and downed Camera Lady by a head in 1:53.2. Touchamatic completed the ticket. Ron Burke trains McDazzle, who boosted her lifetime bankroll to $336,896, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Wilder piloted four winners on the 13-race card while Tony Hall and Burke each fashioned a triple. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the program features a trio of carryovers: a $3,110.11 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6); a $1,007.09 carryover in the Pick 4 (races 3-6); an $873.91 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  
Hamburg, NY — Buffalo Raceway will open the 2020 harness racing season on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) with a 13-race program that gets underway at 5 p.m. It will be a busy week at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg as there will be lots for the fans to look forward to during opening week. Wednesday’s opener will feature a $2,500 guaranteed Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will also be free programs and a 2020 season magnet giveaway. In the Winner’s Circle Cafe, personal pan pizzas will just be $5 and patrons can also taste the new philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies. When the action returns on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 6 p.m. start time, the popular ‘Lucky Exacta’ contest returns as each fan will receive two ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters along with an exacta combination. Should your exacta come in, you’ll spin the prize wheel to win free wagers on the last race of the night. The coasters will also have $5 in free play from Hamburg Gaming. While the fans will be treated off track, it’s back to business for drivers and trainers. Billy Davis Jr., who swept the driving titles last season at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs with 119 and 131 victories, respectively, will be busy as he is scheduled to drive in 12 of the 13 events on opening night. “I had a very good meet last year,” Davis said in looking back on 2019. “I am hoping to build off that and have another good run.” He went on to say about the early part of the season, “It’s always difficult to know how the opening days of racing meets can go but I am very confident in my trainers and their horses. It would be great to start the season off with a bang.” James Clouser Jr. returns after he claimed the training crowns at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in 2019. He had 56 winners at Buffalo Raceway last season and added 51 more at Batavia Downs. He’ll send a pair out on the opening night program. Maria Rice, who was the runner-up behind Clouser in both Western New York meets last year, hopes to jump start her season as she drew into six races on the Wednesday night card. The main event on the slate is the $13,000 Open Trot that drew the likes of 2019 Buffalo Raceway ‘Trotter of the Year’ Wheels A Turning and Lougazi. The sub features include the $10,000 Class A Trot and the $10,000 Class A Pace for the fillies and mares. Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action returns on Friday starting in April and will have a 5 p.m. start time. For more information, including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com. by Brian Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
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