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MAY 17, 2018 - For the second straight year the Ontario Sires Stakes program will kick off its harness racing season during Flamboro Downs' $425,000 Confederation Cup program, this Sunday, May 20. Both the three-year-old trotting colts and pacing colts will open their provincial campaigns at the Dundas oval on Sunday, with the trotters battling for Grassroots glory in Races 1 and 3, and the pacers making their highly anticipated return to Gold Series action in Races 5, 8 and 11. Headlining the pacing colt division is reigning Super Final champion Western Passage, who will start from Post 4 in the eighth race for trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge, her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, John and McKinlay Fielding of Toronto, and Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham, Ontario. "Western Passage trained back well," said Coleman on Thursday. "I was disappointed in him his first start (May 12), I thought he should have won, so I made some changes and I expect him to be better Sunday, hopefully." A son of Coleman's former champion Sportswriter, Western Passage heads into Sunday's test off a pair of qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park and a runner-up finish in a May 12 prep race at the Campbellville track. Doug McNair, who drove the gelding to both victories in his $206,980 freshman season, including a win over The Raceway at Western Fair District's half-mile oval, will be in his usual place in Western Passage's race bike on Sunday. The outstanding program of harness racing will wrap up with the $182,500 Confederation Cup Final for four-year-old pacers in Race 12. McNair will steer elimination winner Western Joe from Post 7. In between races Flamboro Down fans of all ages will enjoy a wide array of entertainment. Fans will have an opportunity to meet and reminisce with Somebeachsomewhere's driver Paul MacDonell, who will sign a limited number of portrait cards of the late Ontario Sired superstar. Five lucky fans will also leave the Dundas oval as co-owners of a racehorse, courtesy of Flamboro Downs and TheStable.ca. Olympic medal winning hockey players Renata Fast, Sarah Nurse and Laura Fortino will be on hand to show off their gold and silver medals and sign autographs, while a sports memorabilia auction will benefit the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. Stilt walkers, a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator and "Flamboro's Famous Minis" are just some of the other between race entertainment options. The Grassroots three-year-old trotting colts will raise the curtain on the evening's festivities at 6 pm. For all the Confederation Cup night details visit http://www.flamborodowns.com/confederation_cup.html. For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Flamboro Downs  

HAMILTON, May 16, 2018 - The stage is set for a memorable 40th edition of the harness racing Confederation Cup this Sunday (May 20) at Flamboro Downs. The $182,500 event for four-year-old pacers is the highlight of a 12-race card with over $475,000 in purses up for grabs. The Confederation Cup undercard features a trio of $65,000-plus Ontario Sires Stakes Gold divisions for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings and a pair of $18,000 OSS Grassroots divisions for sophomore trotting colts and geldings. Elimination winners Filibuster Hanover and Western Joe are the horses to beat in Sunday's Confederation Cup. Filibuster Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras will start from post-three in the rich final after capturing their elimination in 1:51.4. The Ron Burke trainee is the richest horse in the field with $894,068 in career-earnings. 'Filibuster's' biggest victory came in last year's Little Brown Jug. Trainer Burke captured the Confederation Cup in 2016 with Rockin Ron. He will also send out Eddard Hanover (PP4, Louis Philippe Roy) and Maroma Beach (PP8, Trevor Henry) in Sunday's final. Western Joe did not have the luck of the draw on his side after posting a speedy 1:51.3 elimination score. The Christopher Choate trainee will start from post-seven with driver Doug McNair. A career-earner of $262,173, Western Joe has the most-wins in the field with 16 in a little more than two-seasons on the track. Driver McNair won the 2010 edition with Aracache Hanover. The Confederation Cup is carded as Race 12. Flamboro Downs has put together an activity-filled evening for their signature event with activities and entertainment for everyone. A special dedication to the late-Somebeachsomewhere, 2008 Confederation Cup champion, will take place with his driver Paul MacDonell on hand to sign portrait cards (while supplies last) and discuss "The Beach". Fans on track could go home with more than they expected. Flamboro has teamed up with TheStable.ca to give away 10 shares in a racehorse with the track paying all the fees for the rest of the year. Drawings for five of the shares will take place Sunday, while the other five will be given away this week on Fresh 95.3. Sports fans have plenty to look forward to on Confederation Cup night. Flamboro is pleased to welcome Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey team members Renata Fast, Sarah Nurse and Laura Fortino with a mix of Gold and Silver medals. There will also be a sports memorabilia auction with all proceeds going to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. Entertainment on Cup night also includes a pair of races from "Flamboro's Famous Minis", a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator, stilt walker, sulky rides from Wanna Drive, T-Shirt tosses, sampling stations and more. Industry booths from Racing Under Saddle (RUS) and mobile app 'Off And Pacing' will also be set up. All the fun takes place Sunday evening with the first-race going to post at 6 p.m. For more information about the 40th Confederation Cup and all the event details, visit www.FlamboroDowns.com. Here is the full field for the $182,500 Confederation Cup: 1. Daiymir (Jonathan Drury/Clyde Francis) 2. Bags To Riches (Jody Jamieson/Jason Skinner) 3. Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke) 4. Eddard Hanover (Louis Philippe Roy/Ron Burke) 5. Boogie Shuffle (Randy Waples/Murray Brethour) 6. Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan/John Butenschoen) 7. Western Joe (Doug McNair/Christopher Choate) 8. Maroma Beach (Trevor Henry/Ron Burke) 9. Odds On Delray (TBA/Tony Alagna) AE: Rock N Tony (Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke) Mark McKelvie

Mississauga, ON --- Favorites Western Joe and Filibuster Hanover came out on top during Sunday night's (May 13) elimination round for the 40th edition of the C$182,500 Confederation Cup, which is scheduled for May 20 at Flamboro Downs. The top four finishers from each C$20,000 elimination, plus a fifth-place finisher drawn by lot (TBA), will advance to the final. Western Joe won his Canadian debut in the first elimination with driver Doug McNair working out the winning front-end trip for trainer Christopher Choate. Leaving from post five, Western Joe set his sights on the lead and worked to clear Maroma Beach (Yannick Gingras) through a :26.4 opening quarter. The 3-5 favorite carved out middle splits of :56.2 and 1:24.1 with even-money Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) launching his attack out of third down the backstretch and Eddard Hanover (Louis-Philippe Roy) rushing three-wide. However, Western Joe pulled clear of his rivals to score in 1:51.3 by 1-1/4 lengths. Maroma Beach finished second over Eddard Hanover while Funknwaffles ended up fourth. Bags To Riches (Jody Jamieson) was fifth. Owned and bred by New York's Anthony Ruggeri, the 4-year-old son of Western Ideal out of Ante Fay entered the Confederation Cup eliminations off three close runner-up finishes at The Meadowlands. Winning for the seventh time this year in 14 starts, Western Joe returned $3.40 to his backers at the betting windows. Filibuster Hanover was victorious in the second elimination for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke, who previously won back-to-back editions of the Confederation Cup in 2015 and 2016 with All Bets Off and Rockin Ron. Art Scene (Louis-Philippe Roy) charged three-wide into the first turn to take the lead over insiders Blood Line (Trevor Henry) and 1-5 favorite Filibuster Hanover. He was on top by three lengths at the :26.3 quarter mark and raced on to the half in :55.3 before coming under attack. Filibuster Hanover swept by down the backstretch and opened up a quick three length lead past three-quarters in 1:23.1 with Daiymir (Jonathan Drury) in pursuit off his cover. Down the stretch, Odds On Delray closed inside with Doug McNair trying to sweep the eliminations, but came up one length short as Filibuster Hanover prevailed in 1:51.4. Boogie Shuffle (Randy Waples) came on for third over Daiymir. Rock N Tony (Corey Callahan) completed the top five finish order. A judges' inquiry into the start of the race concerning Red John resulted in no change to the order of finish. The judges ruled that Red John's sulky sustained a flat tire after the start and there was no interference caused by Boogle Shuffle or Daiymir relating to equipment issue. Filibuster Hanover, the 2017 Little Brown Jug champion, paid $2.50 to win. He is now two-for-two this year following his Graduate Series win last weekend at The Meadowlands. The Somebeachsomewhere-Fashion Ecstasy gelding is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Joseph Di Scala Jr. and J And T Silva Stables. Courtesy of Standardbred Canada 

HAMILTON, May 9, 2018 - A talented group of 15 harness racing four-year-old pacers will convene on Flamboro Downs this Sunday (May 15) for the eliminations of the Confederation Cup. The top four-finishers from each $20,000 elimination, plus a fifth-place finisher drawn by lot, will qualify for the 40th Confederation Cup on Sunday, May 20. The purse for the final is $182,500. The first elimination features a field of seven and is led by O'Brien Award winner Classic Pro (PP2, Trevor Henry), who is making his 2018 Canadian debut. The Dr. Ian Moore trainee won his season debut on April 15 at Pompano Park. Classic Pro captured four of 14 starts last season, but his best performances may have come in defeat. The son of Shadow Play finished fourth in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup and third in The Meadowlands Pace, which helped him bank $293,645 during his sophomore campaign. The highest earner in Sunday's first elimination is Funknwaffles (PP1, Corey Callahan) for trainer John Butenschoen. The gelded son of American Ideal was last season's New York Sires Stakes champion and Little Brown Jug runner-up. Funknwaffles, a career-winner of $856,813, made his season debut last Saturday at The Meadowlands, finishing fourth in a leg of the Graduate Series. The second split is headlined by Little Brown Jug champion Filibuster Hanover (PP2, Yannick Gingras). The Ron Burke trainee comes into his Confederation Cup elimination off a win in his season debut last Saturday at The Meadowlands. Filibuster Hanover won five of 20 starts last season and banked $730,104. Burke, who won the 2016 edition with Rockin Ron, will send out four starters in Sunday's eliminations. Maroma Beach (PP 2, Louis Philippe Roy) and Eddard Hanover (PP6, Louis Philippe Roy) in the first split join Rock N Tony (PP8, Yannick Gingras) and Filibuster Hanover in the second division to make up the Burke quartet. Trainer Jimmy Takter is back in the Confederation Cup and looking for a repeat of last year's victory with Western Fame. The Hall of Fame trainer will send out Blood Line (PP1) in the evening's second elimination and has gone back to what worked in last year's edition by using driver Trevor Henry. Blood Line scored just one win in 19 starts last season, but did hit the board in nine of those starts, earning $169,819 throughout the course of the season. The Confederation Cup eliminations have been carded as Races 10 and 11 on Sunday evening's program. Post time for the eliminations card is 6 p.m. The 40th Confederation Cup takes place Sunday, May 20 and Flamboro Downs has a night of fun planned for all ages. Activities onsite for Confederation Cup night includes an appearance from several members of Canada's Olympic Women's Hockey Team, driver Paul MacDonell signing photos of the late-great Somebeachsomewhere, strolling entertainment acts, live music, a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator, sampling stations and industry booths. A sport memorabilia auction will also take place with all proceeds going to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society. An exhibition race featuring miniature horses and the opportunity to drive a racehorse with the Wanna Drive team is also part of the entertainment on Cup night. The Confederation Cup undercard will include the start of the 2018 Ontario Sires Stakes season with three-year-old pacing colts and geldings battling in Gold Series action. Flamboro Downs is also teaming up with TheStable.ca to give away 10 shares of a racehorse. A total of five shares will be given away through radio contests leading up to Confederation Cup night, while the other five will be won by fans onsite for the big race. Fans attending this year's Confederation Cup are encouraged to follow Flamboro Downs on Twitter and Facebook for opportunities to win a VIP experience. Post time for Confederation Cup night on Sunday, May 20 is 6 p.m. Here are the fields for Sunday's (May 13) Confederation Cup eliminations. Race 10 - Confederation Cup, Elimination #1 1. Funknwaffles by American Ideal (Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen) 2. Maroma Beach by Somebeachsomewhere (Louis Philippe Roy - Ron Burke) 3. Classic Pro by Shadow Play (Trevor Henry - Dr. Ian Moore) 4. Hurricane Beach by Somebeachsomewhere (Bob McClure - Luc Blais) 5. Western Joe by Western Ideal (Scott Zeron - Christopher Choate) 6. Eddard Hanover by Dragon Again (Louis Philippe Roy - Ron Burke) 7. Bags To Riches by Roddy Bags Again (TBA - Jason Skinner) Race 11 - Confederation Cup, Elimination #2 1. Blood Line by Somebeachsomewhere (Trevor Henry - Jimmy Takter) 2. Filibuster Hanover by Somebeachsomewhere (Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke) 3. Art Scene by American Ideal (Louis Philippe Roy - Joe Pereira) 4. Red John  by Mach Three (Phil Hudon - Victor Puddy) 5. Daiymir by Mr Wiggles (Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis) 6. Boogie Shuffle by Well Said (Randy Waples - Murray Brethour) 7. Odds On Delray by Somebeachsomewhere (Doug McNair - Tony Alagna) 8. Rock N Tony by Rockin Image (Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke) Mark McKelvie

HAMILTON, April 20, 2018 - The best four-year-old pacers in harness racing will display their talents at Flamboro Downs on Sunday, May 20 for the 40th edition of the Confederation Cup. The 2018 edition of Flamboro Downs' signature event marks the fourth consecutive year that four-year-old pacers will battle for the prestigious Cup. The inaugural Confederation Cup took place in 1977 and this year's winner will join an impressive list of past champions, including Cam Fella, On The Road Again, Matts Scooter, Art Major, American Ideal and Somebeachsomewhere. A total of 30 four-year-old pacers remain eligible to this year's $150,000 added race. An exciting lineup of activities has been planned for this year's Confederation Cup Night. Racing fans will not want to miss out on a special tribute to the late-great Somebeachsomewhere. The legendary pacer's driver Paul MacDonell, a record five-time winner of the Cup, will be on hand to sign photos from Somebeachsomewhere's 2008 Cup victory. Fans attending this year's event could walk away with more than a casual interest in the sport. Flamboro Downs and The Stable have teamed up to giveaway 10 shares of a racehorse, five on Cup Night and five through radio contests leading up to May 20. The racing fun won't be restricted to the slightly less than two minutes for each pace or trot. The Wanna Drive team will be onsite to take fans for sulky rides, while the always popular miniature horses will strut their stuff in an exhibition race. Sports fans have plenty to be excited about for at this year's event. Several Canadian women's hockey Olympic Gold and Silver medalist will be taking in Cup Night and making an appearance. A Sports Memorabilia Auction will also happening on Cup Night with all proceeds going to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society (OSAS). The competition on the track will be fierce throughout the entire evening, as the 2018 Ontario Sires Stakes season kicks off with a Gold Event for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings to make up a strong Cup undercard. The activities off the track will keep fans busy with live entertainment, a stilt walker and balloon artist, a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator, sampling stations and industry booths as just some of the various items fans can check out. This year's Confederation Cup promises to be another memorable event, but that experience could be taken to new heights for some lucky fans. Flamboro Downs will be giving away 70 passes for a Molson VIP Experience at the 40th Confederation Cup. To learn more and win a Molson VIP Experience pass, follow Flamboro Downs on Facebook and check back regularly for more details. First-race post time for Confederation Cup Night is 6 p.m. Make sure to visit www.flamborodowns.com for more details in the coming weeks. Below is the list of eligible horses to this year's Confederation Cup. AIR STRIKE by Always A Virgin ART SCENE by American Ideal BAGS TO RICHES by Roddys Bags Again BECKHAMS Z TAM by Always A Virgin BET ON BRETT by Sportswriter BEYOND DELIGHT by Bettors Delight BLOOD LINE by Somebeachsomewhere BOOGIE SHUFFLE by Well Said CALVIN K by Classic Card Shark CLASSIC PRO by Shadow Play DAIYMIR by Mr Wiggles DREAMFAIR B J by Big Jim EDDARD HANOVER by Drgon Again FILIBUSTER HANOVER by Somebeachsomewhere FUNKNWAFFLES by American Ideal HENRY HILL by Roll With Joe HURRICANE BEACH by Somebeachsomewhere LAWRENCETOWN BEACH by Somebeachsomewhere MAROMA BEACH by Somebeachsomewhere MODERN REFLECTION by Rockin Image NASCAR SEELSTER by Mach Three NORMANDY BEACH by Somebeachsomewhere ODDS ON DELRAY by Somebeachsomewhere PENZANCE HANOVER by Somebeachsomewhere R J P by Somebeachsomewhere RED JOHN by Mach Three ROCK N TONY by Rockin Image SPORTS COLUMN by Sportswriter WESTERN HILL by Western Ideal WESTERN JOE by Western Ideal Mark McKelvie

The Fool’s Joseph Solitro was all over the latest announcement from Great Canadian Gaming Corp. (TSX:GC) on December 19; the casino operator gets four more gaming facilities in southern Ontario. Its stock jumped more than 14% on the news. During high school, I went to Mohawk Racetrack as well as Flamboro Downs to watch harness racing on Friday and Saturday nights. It was a cheap way to spend a weekend night. Both have slot machines now, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) intends for Great Canadian Gaming to grow revenues at these facilities as well as the OLG Casino Brantford and OLG Slots at Grand River Raceway. Has ownership in some of Ontario’s busiest gaming facilities However, the most significant winner from this announcement could be investors in Clairvest Group Inc. (TSX:CVG). The little-known Toronto holding company made headlines back in August when it took a small 2% stake in the partnership run by Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Business Partners LP, which would operate Woodbine Racetrack’s gaming operations and two other casinos in southern Ontario. At the time of the Woodbine announcement, Clairvest was a definite thumbs-up, in my opinion. After this latest news, in which Clairvest gets 45% ownership in the Ontario Gaming West GLA Limited Partnership (Great Canadian Gaming receives 55%), which will operate the four gaming facilities for at least the next 20 years, it’s two thumbs up. If anyone knows how to grow gaming revenues, it’s Great Canadian Gaming. In the past five years, it’s grown revenues by 46% from $388 million in 2011 to $566 million in 2016. That’s not too shabby for a business that’s operating in a heavily regulated industry. The four assets it will manage have annual gross gaming revenues of $450 million. With a little hard work and marketing, the revenues are sure to rise in the next two to three years. It’s a nimbler operation than its bigger Canadian peer About a month before the Great Canadian Gaming/Brookfield/Clairvest announcement, I wrote a piece about which private-equity stock was worth owning: Clairvest or the much more prominent Onex Corporation (TSX:ONEX) run by Gerry Schwartz. Ultimately, while I liked both investments, I went with Onex because of its size. Six months later, in hindsight, the results speak for themselves. Onex is down 9% since July, while Clairvest is up 32% in the same period. Honestly, if I could have seen the two investments coming, I might have altered my decision, but that’s water under the bridge. The reality is that Clairvest plays with smaller numbers than Onex, but that doesn’t reduce the attractiveness of its investments; it just makes them different. Over the past 15 years, Clairvest’s average annual total return is 13.8% — 88 basis points higher than Onex’s. Clairvest’s returns might not be as flashy from one year to the next — except this year, where it’s up 53% with one week to go — but over the last decade, it’s only seen two years in negative territory (2008 and 2009), and both times the declines were kept to single digits. That’s my kind of stock. Clairvest understands the racing business I must admit that I missed the significance of the company’s harness and thoroughbred racing investments when I wrote about it in July. However, reading the November 16th news about Caesars Entertainment Corporation buying Centaur Gaming, the operator of several racing and gaming facilities in Indiana, an operation that Clairvest first got involved back in 2010, gives even greater confidence about its decision to get involved with Great Canadian Gaming. According to the press release, the sale will increase Clairvest’s book value per share by $3 to $40.89. That, my friends, is a good thing. Bottom line on Clairvest It might only have a market cap of $700 million, but Clairvest punches much higher than its weight. As small caps go on the TSX, it doesn’t get much better this. 3,985 stocks listed between the TSX & TSXV, but here are the 5 we'd buy right now! Overwhelmed by how many public companies there are to choose from in Canada? Motley Fool Canada Director of Research Iain Butler has you covered. Once a month, Iain and the rest of our team at Stock Advisor Canada reveal their five favourite Canadian stocks for new money now. Considering they've walloped a "stuck in the mud" TSX by 10% over the past 4 years with truly life-changing winners like Shopify (up 236%, more than tripling your money), you'll probably want to have your front-row seat reserved when our next five "Best Buys Now" are released - exclusively on behalf of Stock Advisor Canada members. To make sure your name is on the list, just click here now... before the curtain is lifted without you. By Will Ashworth  Reprinted with permission of The Motley Fool Fool contributor Will Ashworth has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of BROOKFIELD BUSINESS PARTNERS LP.

CAMPBELLVILLE, November 21, 2017 - The Standardbred Alliance today released details regarding a group of harness racing claiming series to take place during the month of December at Flamboro Downs and The Raceway at Western Fair District. The Alliance Holiday Claiming Series will have six events with three held at Flamboro and three at Western Fair. Each series will have two preliminary legs and an added-money final. The conditions for each series are as follows: Event A: Trot, Claiming $8,500. Allowances for Age & Sex. Event B: Pace, Horses & Geldings, Claiming $7,000. Allowances for Age & Sex. Event C: Pace, Horses & Geldings, Claiming $15,000 for Non-Winners of $30,000 lifetime, as of midnight, December 1, 2017. No allowances on earnings. Event D: Pace, Fillies & Mares, Claiming $7,000. Plus Allowances. Event E: Pace, Fillies & Mares, Claiming $15,000 for Non-Winners of $30,000 lifetime, as of midnight, December 1, 2017. No allowances on earnings. Event F: Trot, Claiming $15,000 for Non-Winners of $30,000 (Fillies & Mares $37,500) lifetime, as of midnight, December 1, 2017. No allowances on earnings. (Note: Events A, B, C will be raced at Western Fair and Events D, E, F will be raced at Flamboro) The nomination fee for each event is $100 ($80 USD) and nominations close Friday, December 1. The nomination form can be viewed by clicking here. If sending nominations by mail, envelopes must be clearly post-marked no later than December 1, 2017 or payment will not be accepted. Registered mail is recommended. Alliance Holiday Claiming Series payments can also be made online at www.woodbineentertainment.com/sbpayments.   Mark McKelvie Woodbine Entertainment, Media Communications

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, employed plenty of action on Sunday, October 15 when the granddaddy of all amateur racing organizations had contests at two different racetracks, one in the USA at Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio and the other in Canada at Flamboro Downs in Dundas, Ont. "Tiny Tim" Miller won the Midwest region Northfield trot with Song In My Heart while "Gentle Ben" Hollingsworth copped the Canadian event- a pace-behind with Michelle's Deuce over Flamboro's double oval. In his event Miller took no prisoners and sent his trotter down the road from the four-hole and made every pole a winning one en route to a solid 1-1/2 length triumph over Kelly "Sky" Walker's Stemilt Touch. Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller took home the show dough with 45-1 shot, Keep The Cash. The winner, owned by Bert Hershberger and trained by JD Wengerd, was sent off the 6-5 favorite and returned a $4.40 win mutuel. For hot-handed Miller it was his fifth driving victory in just 10 seasonal starts. In the Canadian Billings pace later Sunday evening "Gentle Ben" had the prohibitive favorite Michelle's Deuce and drove like one is supposed to when deemed the best in the filed and rushed the 8-year-old Armbro Duece mare to the lead and remained unchallenged throughout coasting to an easy 1:59.1 triumph to notch the mare's 6th seasonal victory. The battle for second money saw Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and No Teasing Me out-foot Thrift Shop with David "Poppa" Glasser to the wire to garner the place dough. Owned by the LINK Stable and trained by Corey Johnson, Michelle's Deuce paid $3.50 for win. It was Hollingsworth's first seasonal driving victory(from just 4 starts) and 21st of his limited career. Billings action continues on Monday night with two trots on the card at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

OCTOBER 4, 2017 - Ontario's two-year-old trotting fillies wrapped up their regular season at Flamboro Downs on Wednesday and fans of the longshot had a field day as the harness racing favourites faltered in both $94,800 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold divisions. In the opener second choice Sorceress Seelster fired out of Post 4 to an early lead, reaching the quarter pole three and one-quarter lengths ahead of her peers in :28.1. The filly continued to draw away from the field heading for the :57.1 half, but skipped off stride in the third turn and left Allerage Stargazer in brief possession of the lead. Heading into the backstretch for the final time, driver Lyle MacArthur sent Zorgwijk Sophia to the front, reaching the three-quarters in 1:28.2, and the filly was on cruise control from there to the wire. The longest shot in the six-horse field, Zorgwijk Sophia stopped the Flamboro Downs teletimer at 2:00.1. Allerage Stargazer was four and one-half lengths back in second, holding off a charging P L Layla who finished third. Favourite Smoke And Mirrors recovered from a series of breaks to be fourth. St. George Brant resident MacArthur drives and trains Zorgwijk Sophia for Linda Wellwood of St. George Brant and Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, ON. With Wednesday's win the Majestic Son daughter jumped into fourth spot in the division standings with 77 points from one win, two thirds, one seventh and one eighth in five Gold Series starts. The victory also more than tripled the filly's earnings, which now stand at $70,824 after eight starts. The second division saw Wayne Henry fire longshot Gotta Pay To Play out of Post 4 and take command of the early tempo. Illusioneesta and Shamrock Shaker took a run at the pacesetter heading by the :29.4 quarter, but Henry refused to yield control and they tucked back onto the rail in second and third. Gotta Pay To Play carried on to a :59.2 half and when heavy favourite Kadabra Queen mounted a challenge rolling off the third turn, Henry once again opted not to concede the lead and just after the 1:30.3 three-quarters Kadabra Queen went off stride. From there Gotta Pay To Play sailed home to a two length victory in 1:59.1. Illusioneesta finished second and Shamrock Shaker was third. Kadabra Queen finished well back in sixth. Arthur, ON resident Henry drives, trains and owns first-time winner Gotta Pay To Play, who had two fifths, one sixth and one seventh-place result in her first four Gold Series starts. The victory bumps the Windsong Espoir daughter up to seventh spot in the point standings and increases her freshman earnings to $62,020. Both Zorgwijk Sophia and Gotta Pay To Play will compete in the $225,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack on Oct. 14, along with the other eight leading point earners, part of the Ontario Sires Stakes program's $1.8 million season finale. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 - Driver Steve Byron and trainer John Bax teamed up to win all three $18,800 divisions of the last regular season Grassroots event for harness racing two-year-old trotting fillies at Flamboro Downs on Tuesday evening. Byron and Bax kicked off their successful evening in Race 1 with Warrawee Trip, who led from gate-to-wire in a contest reduced to five fillies as the result of three scratches due to sickness. The 2:01.4 clocking was a personal best for Warrawee Trip, who trotted under the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of her stablemate Dalliance Seelster. Candid Hally was well behind the leaders in third. "You never know until you get out in a race whether they're going to have that drive to win or not, or that heart, or brains; there's so many variables in this game," said Bax. "She always wanted to do it, that's her biggest attribute." Campbellville resident Bax conditions Warrawee Trip for his partners Glengate Farms of Mississauga, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown and Bruce Norris of Caledon East, ON. Tuesday's win was the Majestic Son daughter's second in seven starts this season and boosted her career earnings to $22,099. Warrawee Trip, who was a $30,000 purchase at last fall's Canadian Yearling Sale, will have an opportunity to pad her earnings in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship. With one win and two seconds in Grassroots action she finishes the regular season in fourth-place in the standings with 100 points. In the second Grassroots division Byron got away fourth with fan favourite Magical Lady, then moved into second behind pacesetter Princess Stephanie when stablemate Tusk and Ladys Intuition went off stride heading for the half. Pretty N Well challenged Princess Stephanie through the final quarter, but when Byron maneuvered Magical Lady into an open lane in the stretch the filly trotted right by the duelling leaders and on to a one-half length victory in 2:02.3. Pretty N Well finished second, with Princess Stephanie settling for third. "That was the first time Steve drove her and he was pretty impressed with her gait," said Bax of the Kadabra daughter. "She was pretty green out there, she did a little sashaying once in a while, but I think when she learns she's going to be useful." It was just the third start of the season for Magical Lady, who finished second in her Grassroots debut at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 4. With a total of 75 points the filly fell one point shy of finishing in the top 10 and joining her stablemates in the Grassroots Championship. SRF Stable of Delray Beach, FL owns Magical Lady, who was a $150,000 acquisition from the 2016 Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale and has returned $15,395 in her first three starts. Bax and Byron completed the Grassroots hat trick with Gradabra in the third division. Starting from Post 3 Gradabra landed on the rail in second behind Precieuse CC, who led the field to a :30.1 quarter and a 1:01.4 half before skipping off stride heading into the third turn. Inheriting the lead, Gradabra demonstrated a bit of inexperience, but rallied when Ms Miller appeared on her flank heading for the 1:32.4 three-quarters. After matching strides with Ms Miller through the final turn, Gradabra found another gear in the stretch and trotted under the wire three-quarters of a length on top in 2:02.3. Ms Miller settled for second with Melanie G well back in third. "She's pretty green too," noted Bax. "Steve had to do a lot of yelling. He was actually happy when a horse pulled out beside him. When she warmed up Matt (Bax) said she was looking at everything, you know, her ears were going every which way. "She fought back really well today, I was real impressed," Bax continued. 'That was kind of the first time she's taken on another horse, so that was good to see." The win boosted Gradabra's point total from 34 to 84, landing her in the Grassroots Championship with Warrawee Trip and Dalliance Seelster. In her first four Grassroots starts the Kadabra daughter had posted two thirds and two fifths. Bax shares ownership of Gradabra with Glengate Farms of Mississauga, ON, Gordon Wright of Charlotte, MI and Dave Hudson of Dallas, TX. The filly, a full-sister to former Bax trainee Juanitas Fury ($416,292), was a $70,000 purchase at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale and has earned $18,339. "It's good to end on a higher note," said Bax. "I'm really pleased with Gradabra and Magical Lady that they started to show me what I kind of thought in the winter time that they had." While the Bax fillies and their peers wrap up their Grassroots campaign at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 30, Flamboro Downs will host one more Ontario Sires Stakes event before the 2017 season comes to a close, welcoming the two-year-old trotting fillies for Gold Series action on Wednesday, Oct. 4. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 2, 2017 - Ontario Sires Stakes action returned to Flamboro Downs on Saturday with two Grassroots divisions for the harness racing two-year-old trotting colts. In the first $18,100 division Stormont Ventnor finally found his way to the winner's circle after a trio of runner-up finishes. Flamboro fans made the son of Justice Hall their top choice and Stormont Ventnor and driver Phil Hudon made it clear from the start that the fans were on the right track. Starting from Post 1 the pair established early control and never faced a challenge, rolling through fractions of :30.4, 1:02.2 and 1:32.3 on their way to a four and three-quarter length win in 2:02.1. P L Louigi and Audacious finished second and third. "The colt raced great. I scored him out to get a good feel of him and he scored out great, so I let him trot on out and then got the fractions all in my favour and he did the rest," said Hudon, who has driven the colt in three of his four Grassroots starts. "He's a nice little colt." Guelph resident Hudon crafted the win for trainer Kevin Benn of Napanee and owner-breeder Eric Baker of Long Sault, ON. In his four Grassroots starts Stormont Ventnor has accumulated $23,412 and 125 points, which puts him atop the division standings with one regular season event remaining at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 13. The second $18,450 division saw Leaderofthepack return to the Grassroots winner's circle, cruising along on the front end to his second win in 2:04.2. Starting from Post 3 Leaderofthepack and driver Ryan Holliday posted fractions of :31, 1:02.3 and 1:34.3 on their way to the one and one-half length victory over Radical Attempt and North And South. Favourite Barney Mac made an early break and finished fifth. "He raced good," said Holliday. "We got the control thing, so that always helps on a half-mile, but he was a little better tonight too. It was his third week in a row he's raced, and I think he's just getting a little tighter, so that helped." Holliday piloted Leaderofthepack to the win for his father, trainer David Holliday, and brother, Ben Holliday, all of Mount Forest, ON. In five starts the Angus Hall son has two Grassroots wins and one third-place finish, recorded in the August 26 Balanced Image Final at Hanover Raceway. With 103 Grassroots points, he sits third in the division standings heading into the final contest of the regular season. The top 10 point earners after the Sept. 13 event will compete in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 30. "The colt seems to be getting a little stronger, so hopefully he can hold his form together the next couple weeks here," said Ryan Holliday. "If we can keep him good for the next two, we'll be all set." Ontario Sires Stakes action will return to Flamboro Downs on Tuesday, Sept. 12 with the last Grassroots event of the regular season for the two-year-old pacing colts. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Ontario Racing

YORK, UK - Come this Saturday afternoon there will be an attempt to break the all-age world record for harness racing Under Saddle on a half mile track at York Harness Raceway in England. The current world record holder is Santo Domingo, who at age 8 in 2015, set the mark for jockey Marita Volstad with a 1:59.3 clocking at Flamboro Downs in Canada. The early favorite is Teresa Haythornwaite's Rhyds Design, who has already won at York with a sulky in 1:57. Rhyds Design will be ridden by Lauren Moran. Another major contender who could set the record is Rocker Laidler's Evenwood Sonofagun, who will be ridden by the Rocker's wife, Alexis Laidler. Rocker said he feels that the record can be broken on Saturday. There are six horses entered in the race. Post positions are drawn the day of the event. Also entered from the Nicholson Stable are Burning Dust and Afan Romeo and the Laidler Stable is also entering JMs Hallstar and Rhyds Solution. The race will be featured live on Facebook from Craig Stevenson. By Craig Stevenson, for York Harness Raceway  

MAY 19, 2017 - The 2017 Ontario Sires Stakes season will kick off on Sunday, May 21 at Flamboro Downs as part of the Dundas racetrack's $460,600 Confederation Cup harness racing program. Ontario's best three-year-old trotting colts and geldings will highlight the Confederation Cup pre-show, competing in the Gold Series season opener. Waterdown, ON resident Scott McEneny will send out Tycoon Seelster in the first of three Gold Series divisions. The Angus Hall gelding was a three-time Ontario Sires Stakes winner as a two-year-old and finished second in the season ending Super Final. "He's come back pretty good this year," said McEneny, who conditions Tycoon Seelster for Chris Storms of Picton, ON. "He was a little bumpy last year, he didn't have the best gait, but he seems to be coming back a little better this year. He got a lot bigger, a lot thicker, over the winter." Tycoon Seelster and regular driver Paul MacDonell of Guelph, ON will start from Post 4 in Race 1 of the Confederation Cup program, going postward at 7 pm, with the other two $65,600 Gold Series battles scheduled for Races 2 and 5. Also making their 2017 Ontario Sires Stakes debut on the Confederation Cup undercard are the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, competing in the first Grassroots event of the season in Races 4, 6, and 8. Prairiecreekprince and driver James MacDonald of Guelph will lead the pacing colts onto the half-mile oval, starting from Post 1 in the first $18,450 division for trainer Dave Menary of Cambridge, ON. "He's a nice big strong colt, he doesn't have very many lifetime starts so I'm hoping that he can kind of mature into a useful horse," said Menary, who trains the Mach Three gelding for Ryan Morefield of Brighton, MI. "I was happy with his second qualifier (May 15) and he drew really good on Sunday - the exact opposite of Sintra - so I'm super happy about that." In addition to first-time Ontario Sires Stakes starter Prairiecreekprince, Menary will also send out former Ontario Sires Stakes star Sintra from Post 8 in the evening's main event. Another son of Mach Three, Sintra was a commanding two and one-half length winner in his Confederation Cup elimination, halting the Flamboro teletimer at 1:52.4. "That's a big hurdle to overcome, but if anybody can do it I think he can," said the trainer of the gelding's outside post position in the $176,000 Final. Menary, whose operation is based at a farm no further than a Dustin Johnson tee-shot from the Flamboro Downs entrance, shares ownership of Sintra with Brad Gray of Dundas and Michael Guerriero of Brampton, ON. The gelding heads into Sunday's final undefeated in the first three starts of a four-year-old campaign that has seen him triumph in an April 29 overnight event at Mohawk Racetrack, the May 6 opening leg of the Graduate Series at The Meadowlands, and last weekend's Confederation Cup Elimination. Regular reinsman Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON will pilot Sintra in his bid for a fourth win on Sunday. "The four-year-olds are really lucky, most of the starts are front loaded," noted Menary. "The Confederation Cup, and the Graduate Series, and even the Prix D'Ete in Quebec, they're all a little bit earlier in the year so before they have to test, you know these are nice horses, but before they have to test the real deep waters it gives them a chance to get started with their own kind." Scott McEneny will also harness a starter in the Confederation Cup Final, sending out Mr Wiggle Pants with Doug McNair aboard from Post 7 in the eleventh race. Mr Wiggle Pants, owned by Brad Grant of Milton, ON, finished third behind Western Fame in his elimination. In addition to Sunday's outstanding program of racing, Flamboro Downs fans will be treated to a host of trackside activities including giveaways and prize draws, stilt walkers and face painters to entertain the youngest fans, a miniature horse race and live music by local band Speakeasy. Details about the Confederation Cup program are available at http://www.flamborodowns.com/confederation_cup.html. For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Ontario Racing www.ontarioracing.com Follow the OSS on Social Media! @ONTSSNews  

It is the place where dreams begin; it is the place where the top drivers and trainers of the future are born. It is the place where friends become family, and complete strangers become friends. This is the place where many trainers and drivers capture their first victories and dream of making it to the big leagues. These are the “B” tracks.  In the communities where these tracks are located, race nights are a time for family, friends, and neighbors to come together to laugh, enjoy each other’s company and create memories; and if they are lucky, maybe even cash a winning ticket or two. The people who race horses here, may not be racing for a million dollars, but to them, their horses are worth just that. Even though they may be racing in a claiming race, they are worth so much more to those that love them. For many fans, it is where they first experienced the thrill of betting and winning. For some owners like myself, it is where we got our first thrill of winning too.  Sometimes the trainer may have roles other than just a trainer. They may be the owner, as well as the driver, as well as the caretaker. In some rare cases, they have also bred the horse. I am going to share with you some of my favorite memories which were created at a “B” track.  There are many, and all of them mean something to me. Not every horse can race at an “A” track like Mohawk Raceway; that is precisely why there are “B” tracks. “B” tracks provide another place for horses to race and be successful. For example, Sydney Seelster (Pinky) liked the tight turns the smaller tracks have, in addition to the speed being a little more manageable for her. This was discovered after we tried racing her once at Mohawk Raceway and once at Woodbine, in both races she tried her very best, came fifth in one of those starts but she definitely raced more competitively on the “B” tracks. The majority of my experiences as an owner came from racing at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, and Grand River Raceway- all “B” tracks. When Pinky won her first race for me on a Saturday afternoon, at Flamboro Downs, I felt like I had won a stakes race. I cried tears of joy. It is because of a “B” track my dream of being a winning owner came true. It is where my adventure with Pinky begins.  It is the place where I discovered the thrill of being an owner. Every track has their big day; their day to shine. It could be holding a stakes race or a track’s opening day for the season. This is one aspect of the sport which unites both “A” and “B” tracks. Whatever the occasion or event is, the ‘little’ tracks always make the occasion a big deal. I look forward to attending these special events and I do my best not to miss one.   Every year on the holiday Monday in August, Grand River Raceway, in Elora, hosts an annual event celebrating the harness racing industry in the province of Ontario. The day is called Industry Day. The day features the finals of the Battle of Waterloo for Ontario-sired colts and the Battle of the Belles for Ontario- sired fillies. The Industry Day of 2011 was my first time attending Industry Day. It is also the first time I recall going to another track other than Mohawk Raceway. Walking through the grandstand, I marveled at the new sights, it is a bee hive of activity. The atmosphere is lively and the passion is remarkable.  That day, driving stars Scott Zeron and Doug McNair were there to take pictures with fans, so I got mine taken with them. That was a highlight for me. The races were fast paced and action packed. The crowd was passionate and excited. There was clapping and cheering. The atmosphere was celebratory and made an impression on me. Many memories were made that day, and I will cherish them always. Since that Industry Day, I have attended every one. Like many people, going to Industry Day has become a tradition for me, and I look forward to going every summer. In the summer of 2012, I made the journey to Hanover Raceway for the Dream of Glory Stake and the fireworks which followed the races. It was time for me to experience another track. Hanover Raceway was a charming track. It was not fancy but that is what makes Hanover Raceway so special. The Dream of Glory may not be the most celebrated stakes race, but for fans in the small town of Hanover, they look forward to it every year. I was honored to be asked to present the trophy. After the races finished, everyone was anticipating the fireworks. The firework show was mesmerizing. To add to the colorful spectacle, snow-like flakes fell on me, they were ashes from the fireworks. In a strange way, it added charm to the night and was something unique, an experience I will always remember. Flamboro Downs holds the Confederation Cup and I look forward to going every year. It is a day where some of the best horses and drivers come to compete on the same track Pinky did. To think of it like that always makes me smile. I was given the signs which have the names of the horses in the Confederation Cup that are used when assigning post positions. I have the ones from 2015 and 2016 (with the exception of the winner, as that gets displayed). They are something I treasure. I have proudly displayed them in my room. My parents and I visit Flamboro Downs often. We go for dinner, to watch the exciting races and cheer on our friends who are racing. I always enjoy talking with the friendly staff. All levels of staff at Flamboro Downs always makes me feel special. Gary Guy is the announcer for Flamboro, as well as Grand River Raceway and Georgian Downs. He is always sure to give me a shout out when he sees me sitting along the rail. I always feel so special when he does. I appreciate how he takes the time to do that. When Pinky won he always tried to play a song that mentioned pink as Pinky returned to the Winner’s Circle.  That made winning even more sweet. Every second-year Clinton Raceway holds an event which is like no other. Legendary drivers including Bill O’Donnell, Ron Waples, and Wally Hennessey, just to name a few, compete in one signature race. Although he did not drive, Keith Waples was also there. Hence, this day is called Legend's Day. The first time my parents and I went, every driver I wished good luck to in post parade won that race. My dad thought I was wearing horseshoes that day. After the Legend's Day race, all of the Legend's went to have a group photo taken.  I said hello to Wally Hennessey on his way to get his picture taken. He asked if I could watch his helmet and gloves. I agree and when he returned he gave his gloves and signed them. For the rest of the day, I wore those gloves with such pride. Later that afternoon it rained a lot. While we were taking cover [outside] from the rain, under an overhang at the end of the grandstand, we met a caretaker who had a horse in the last race on the card, we told her how ‘lucky’ I had been with telling drivers good luck. She told me “Trevor Henry is driving my horse is the last race, wish him good luck, and if we happen to win, come out for your picture”. Trevor Henry won that race. The rain was now teeming down. I raced through the rain to the winner’s circle. I was still wearing the gloves given to me by Wally Hennessey. I had to shield the signature from the rain, so the ink would not run. The drive home that afternoon was spent drying out.  I was drenched, but it added to the memories from that day. Today, those gloves have dried and are in a safe place for me to cherish. Two years later, I returned to Clinton Raceway for Legend's Day. I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the legends for a story a friend was doing. He is a journalist and was unable to make it. That was an experience which I was honored to have. This past October I made four-hour journey to Leamington Raceway. My parents thought it would be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I sat in the backseat, with my iPod and snacks, and we were on the road bound for Leamington Raceway. It was my first time visiting Leamington Raceway.  I love to visit new tracks and meet new friends. My dad was excited to be going too because Leamington was one of the few tracks he had not visited either. Before long, we are driving through small towns and countryside, soon we arrived at Leamington Raceway. I stepped out of my car and I was greeted by smiling faces. Then I received an awesome surprise, I was speechless. It was a sign which read “Stop! Parking for Sydney Weaver”. I felt so special, like a celebrity. It was just a small gesture that made my day even more special. I have always believed it is the little things in life that take up the most room in our hearts. That is something "B" tracks have in common. They add little personal touches, that make you feel welcome. For example, at Grand River, when you walk in the front doors, you are greeted by a gentleman, whose name is Tom, in a top hat and tails. He is happy and always smiling. That warm welcome is so special and has a big impact. The grandstand at Leamington was packed with people of all ages, and lots of kids. Everyone was having a grand time. Lawn chairs lined the fence. The day was picture perfect  We met up with friends and watched a few races, before being invited to take a tour of the new paddock. While in the paddock I had the opportunity to meet the people who were instrumental in getting the new paddock built.    The lovely people of Leamington Raceway were kind and gave me a Leamington Raceway sweater and baseball cap. I helped with on track draws too. Overall it was a fun day, and the day passed quickly. Before I know it, my parents and I are on the road again.  This time headed for home. As we drove, we reminisce about the memories that were created. “B” tracks might not be as well-known as the major tracks, but we need to embrace and support them. “B” tracks make our industry what it is. They are the foundation of our industry.  It is because of the smaller tracks that major tracks are able to prosper.  “B” tracks provide strength and support which is vital to the success of our sport. That is the beauty of a “B” track. Sydney Weaver is 16 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, groom's horses, jogs them on the track, owns both a Standardbred and a Thoroughbred racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

Some members of the CKG Billings Amateur Drivers Series including the Glasser brothers, David and Neil, ventured north of the border to participate in harness racing at two different Canadian racetracks. On Sunday (Oct. 2) the battle was at Flamboro Downs which will be followed on Monday (Oct. 3) at Mohawk Racetrack. The event marked the first time that brothers David "Poppa" Glasser and Neil "Skinny Legger" Glasser competed against one another in a betting contest. However, the Sunday race proposed challenges for the Glasser's. First they had to move their Rosh Hashanah celebration to Saturday prior to leaving for Flamboro Downs on Sunday, the first day of the weeklong religious celebration. But that the brothers were in the same race posed a dilemma for their mother, Evelyn, who said, "I cannot cheer for either of you because then I'm cheering against the other." Undaunted, the Glasser boys went about the business of amateur racing venturing to Ontario with both having their sights set on victory in Canada, which, by no means, was a given. However, luck was on David's side. He not only drew the favorite in the race but one that was an overwhelming bettor's choice. The combination of a hot favorite and a good journey allowed the older Glasser brother to score an easy six-length victory with LMC Mass Oak in a 2:02 clocking over Windsong Lekeobnav and driver "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Third place went to Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford who got 30-1 shot, Muscle Action, home for the show dough. "In this Billings travel race, thankfully and luckily for me, the race secretary insisted on a one-hundred percent random draw for horses and I luckily drew the best horse. Sometimes trainers request a driver," David Glasser said and then added, "I've never been 1-9 before in any race and this horse was really good. All I had to do was steer." When the race was official and the winner's prices were posted backers of LMC Mass Oak received $2.20, $2.20; and $2.30 across the board. The Muscle Mass 4 year-old gelding is owned by Loredana and Frank Cirillo and trained by Ken Riebeling. You might ask what happened to the other Glasser brother. Unfortunately Neil's horse, Sky Angel, made a break behind the gate and was never in the hunt finishing ninth. But with David winning at least momma Glasser had something to cheer about. by John Manzi for Billings Series  

OCT. 2, 2016 - Ontario's top three-year-old trotting fillies closed out their Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series season with a pair of impressive miles over an off harness racing track at Flamboro Downs on Sunday evening. Emoticon Hanover took over top spot in the division point standings with a track record effort in the second $105,000 Gold division. Driver Sylvain Filion fired the fan favourite away from Post 6 and dropped in second behind pacesetter Magical Steph as the Grassroots champion took the field to a :28.3 quarter. Filion allowed Magical Steph to continue her work on the front end through a :58.3 half and a 1:27.3 three-quarters and then sent Emoticon Hanover after the lead. The filly powered down the stretch to a three length victory in a track record 1:56.3. Dewdle All Day trotted into second, leaving Magical Steph to settle for third. "I was a little concerned going to the first turn, there was a horse made a break, two horses made a break, and mine got a little bumpy," said Filion. "I thought maybe mine would jump for a while, but she settled as soon as she hit the backside, so I was real happy with that. I was just being extra careful in the turns, so I moved her down the backside and I knew she had tons of go, I knew if she stayed flat that she was going to win for sure." Filion engineered the track record effort for trainer Luc Blais of Lochaber Ouest, QC and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. The 1:56.3 mile took two-fifths of a second off the 1:57 record shared by former Ontario Sires Stakes competitors Condi Lane (2008), Miss Paris (2012) and Riveting Rosie (2014). The win was Emoticon Hanover's third in Gold Series action and, combined with a pair of seconds, gives her 200 points and top spot in the sophomore trotting filly standings. In 12 sophomore outings the daughter of Kadabra and Emmylou Who has only missed the board on two occasions, logging six wins, two seconds and two thirds for earnings of $360,418. In addition to her Gold Series success the talented young trotter has held her own in open company, winning her Casual Breeze and Simcoe Stakes divisions. "She's been pretty good throughout the season and she feels like she's even getting stronger now," noted Milton, ON resident Filion. "I know she'll be coming into the Super Finals in top form, because she's been racing so good and she's still fresh." Flowers N Songs earned her second Gold Series trophy in the other division, employing a similar come-from-behind strategy. Starting from Post 2, driver Doug McNair settled the filly in fourth as Major Muscle stepped out to :29.3 quarter and a :59 half. Heading for the 1:28.3 three-quarters McNair sent the fan favourite up the outside behind Elegantimage champion Royal Charm, and turning for home Flowers N Songs shifted into high gear, sailing under the wire one and one-quarter lengths in front in 1:57.3. Royal Charm finished second and pocket-sitter Tymal Tempest was third. "She's been a pleasure to drive all year," said Guelph, ON resident McNair. "She gives it 100 per cent every week." Unraced at two, Flowers N Songs made her debut at Pennsylvania's The Meadows at the beginning of February and made her first stakes start in the Celias Counsel Series at Mohawk Racetrack in April. In addition to her pair of Gold Series trophies, the daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe and Pleasures Song has captured one leg of the Celias Counsel, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Stake Final, the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial and her Elegantimage Elimination. Through 25 starts she has tallied 10 wins, six seconds and three thirds for earnings of $460,284. "We've just been going week by week, basically, and she's held up to a pretty tough schedule," said trainer Paul Reid of De Leon Springs, FL, who conditions Flowers N Songs for owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. "She's a very nice filly to be around, always happy, really loves her work, which has made the kind of season she's had possible," Reid added. "Some of the fillies aren't quite as cooperative, and she's been very cooperative with everything we've wanted to do. She's a good keeper, she eats good, so she's been a joy to have." While most of her peers will spend the next two weeks preparing for the Oct. 15 Super Final, Flowers N Songs will be heading to Lexington, Kentucky's The Red Mile for the Oct. 9 Kentucky Filly Futurity. The filly is also eligible to the Oct. 22 and 29 Breeders Crown. "She's just a real nice filly, and like I said we've still got a full schedule ahead of us, so we're just taking her week by week," said Reid. "Hopefully we can make them all." Flowers N Songs and Emoticon Hanover will go head-to-head in the Oct. 15 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack, battling against eight other leading point earners for a share of $250,000 and the three-year-old trotting filly division title. Ontario Racing

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