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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   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: 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: 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: 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 For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing 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

SEPT. 8, 2016 - Grassroots regular season action came to a close at Flamboro Downs on Thursday evening and harness racing driver Billy Davis Jr. finished up the campaign with a Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots double on a night he piloted four of his five mounts to victory. Both the two-year-old pacing colts and pacing fillies were in action on Thursday, and Davis was victorious with one of each, kicking things off in the second $18,000 pacing filly division with Dudesalady. Starting from Post 2, Dudesalady went straight to the front and made her way through fractions of :28.2, :59 and 1:28.4 before sailing home a one and one-half length winner in 1:58.1. Fan favourite Village Jamie was second and Casino Classic finished third. "There was a bit of a delay and everyone went into the paddock because they didn't know how long they were going to be, and I just stayed out there because she's so calm and relaxed," said Davis. "It was so hot and muggy inside the paddock; I just stayed outside so she could cool down and keep her air and stuff. And then the race, it just kind of set up good because no one really left, she made front easy, she got nice easy fractions, and then just sprinted home. "She's just a classy old race mare, I really like her," added the reinsman. Susanne Kerwood of Rockwood, ON conditions Dudesalady for M And L Of Delaware LLC of Wilmington, DE and Victoria Dickinson of Greenville, DE. In four Grassroots appearances the daughter of Shadow Play and Accountable tallied two wins, one second and one third for 137 points and a berth in the Sept. 15 Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack. While driving Dudesalady is like driving an aged mare, Davis's second win came aboard a slightly more complicated youngster. "He's fast. He's one of the faster two-year-olds, I think, around right now, but he's got a - the best way to describe him, he's kind of got a sticky transmission and he'll stall," said Davis of freshman pacing colt Dreamfair B J. "All the breaks he's made are kind of speed breaks, he just tries to change gears too quick." Leaving from Post 6 in the last pacing colt division, Davis eased Dreamfair B J into sixth on the rail as Aston Hill Dave rolled out to a :28.2 quarter. Heading for the :58 half Davis was able to tip Dreamfair B J into the outer lane behind fan favourite The Dark Shadow and follow that colt as he pressured Aston Hill Dave by a 1:26.3 three-quarters. Around the last turn Davis sent Dreamfair B J out three-wide and gave him a clear look at the finish and colt sprinted down the stretch to a head victory in 1:56.2. The Dark Shadow and Aston Hill Dave settled for second and third. "He kind of did it to me when I first got him out of the hole - he just tried going too quick right away, he just gets a little steppy -but when you get him going he's pretty good," Davis noted. "That's why I kind of moved him half early in the turn, just to kind of get him into top gear, and he just coasted down the lane. I didn't want to have to move him too late and ask for a lot of speed right away." Davis crafted the much needed win for trainer Patrick Fletcher of Hagersville and owner-breeder John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON. Heading into Thursday's test the son of Big Jim and Dreamfair Orchid was just outside the cut off for the post season and his first Grassroots victory assured him of a berth in the Semi-final round. Dreamfair B J finished up the regular season with one win, one second and one seventh in three Grassroots appearances. In addition to his Grassroots victories, Davis also returned to the winner's circle with two of his overnight mounts, two-year-old pacing filly Go Find Out in the fourth race and five-year-old pacing mare Jennys So Great in the eleventh. Driver Sylvain Filion, whose lead atop the Ontario Sires Stakes drivers' standings was 92 points heading into Thursday's contest extended that margin with victories in the first two pacing colt divisions. In the first race the Milton, ON resident guided heavy favourite Silverinyourpocket to a front-end victory, cruising away from Post 1 and through fractions of :28.2, :57.1 and 1:26 en route to a two and one-quarter length win in 1:56.3. Master The View and Thrownoutofbetter sat second and third throughout the mile and crossed the wire as they started. Puslinch, ON resident Richard Moreau conditions Silverinyourpocket for owners David and Marguerite Ratchford of North Sydney, NS. In six Grassroots starts the son of Badlands Hanover and Fillys Victory posted four wins, one third and one fifth and he leads his peers into the post season with a point total of 217. Aboard fan favourite Tymal Peacemaker in the second pacing colt division, Filion employed the same tactics, sending the colt straight to the front from Post 5. Tymal Peacemaker clocked fractions of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:27.3 on his way to a 1:56 victory, the fastest win of the Grassroots competition on a rain-soaked Flamboro oval rated one second slower than normal. Trident Seelster finished four and one-half lengths back in second and London Seelster was third. Stephane Larocque of Carlisle, ON trains the son of Mach Three and Flying Color for Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, QC. With 100 points from two wins in two Grassroots starts, Tymal Peacemaker will join Silverinyourpocket in the Sept. 15 Grassroots Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack, which could present Filion with a difficult choice should the colts draw into the same race. The other two pacing filly divisions were captured by Daenerys Hanover and Treasures Pearl, who both advanced to the Semi-final round. Daenerys Hanover earned her second Grassroots trophy with a 1:57 off-the-pace effort crafted by Thornton, ON resident Aaron Byron. The pair tipped off of cover in the stretch and paced home to a three-quarter length victory over favourite Anderson Seelster and Amulet Seelster. Sean Mehlenbacher of Hamilton conditions Daenerys Hanover for John Mehlenbacher of Burlington, ON. In four Grassroots starts the daughter of Camluck and Dragon Moon delivered two wins, one fourth and one seventh for a point tally of 110. Treasures Pearl picked up her third Grassroots win with a gate-to-wire effort in 1:56.2. The daughter of Sportswriter and St Lads Treasure finished three and one-quarter lengths ahead of Warrawee Speedy and one more up on White Dancer. London resident Nick Steward engineered the win for trainer Ron Adams of LaSalle and owner-breeder Donald Leschied of South Woodslee, ON. In addition to her three Grassroots victories, Treasures Pearl also had one third and one fourth-place result and heads into the post season on a point total of 170. Semi-finals for the two-year-olds go postward on Sept. 15 at Mohawk Racetrack with the top five finishers from each Semi-final returning to the Campbellville oval on Sept. 24 for Grassroots Championship Night. Ontario Racing

SEPT. 6, 2016 - While the two-year-old pacing colts and fillies wage their last regular season Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots battles at Flamboro Downs on Thursday, Sept. 8, harness racing fans can enter the final Ontario Sires Stakes "Be A Winner" contest of the 2016 campaign. Ballot boxes for the seven two-year-old pacing fillies competing in Race 8 will be set up at the "Be A Winner" contest table and one finalist will be selected from each ballot box. Each finalist will receive an Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) t-shirt, ball cap and lanyard badge and a $15 win-place-show wager on their chosen filly. After enthusiastically cheering the fillies home, the finalist who chose the victorious filly will join her connections in the winner's circle for the blanket and trophy presentation. The winning finalist will also go home with a trophy, a commemorative winner's circle photograph, an OSS jacket and golf shirt, and a $50 wagering voucher. In addition, early arrivals to the Dundas oval can pick up an Ontario Sires Stakes ball cap with their program purchase and get in on the racetrack's weekly Thursday Survivor Challenge. More information about the Survivor Challenge is available at Thursday's test is the final opportunity for the novice pacing colts and fillies to earn points toward a berth in the Sept. 15 Grassroots Semi-finals. Trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON will send out three colts in pursuit of Grassroots points and two of them need a big effort to extend their season. Master The View will lead off for the Darling Stable, starting from Post 2 in the first $18,000 division. The Vintage Master gelding recorded two seconds, two thirds and one fourth through the first five regular season events, giving him a total of 82 points, enough to secure a post season berth. "He's been racing well. He hasn't quite fired in the stretch the way I'm hoping he will, but he's got lots of talent," said Darling. "He's been racing decent, but we need him to step up a notch. "He just hasn't got that real killer instinct yet, he's just kind of having fun out there," added the trainer. Master The View and driver Jody Jamieson will have their hands full on Thursday, facing off against current point leader Silverinyourpocket from Post 1 and fourth-ranked Test Ride from Post 4. Darling's second starter, Trident Seelster, currently sits right at the cut-off for the post season with 28 points earned from one second and one sixth. Jamieson will steer the Big Jim son from Post 1 in the second pacing colt division and Darling is hoping the return to a half-mile track will suit the youngster. "I'm hoping the half-mile track helps him. He was a nice second the last time on a half (August 17) and then his last start (August 29) was kind of a disappointing finish," explained Darling. "He's one, we're just hoping for a cheque with him." Trident Seelster faces the division's number three colt, Down On My Luck, from Post 6. The Dark Shadow will anchor the Darling entry from Post 4 in the final Grassroots division of the season. After starting his Ontario Sires Stakes career at the Gold Series level, where he was second on one occasion and fifth twice, The Dark Shadow dropped down the Grassroots level for the August 29 event at Mohawk Racetrack, where he finished second. "He did okay in the Golds, but then it just got tougher - and now I've got Southwind General for that - so I just dropped him down to the Grassroots. He fits in there pretty good," said Darling, who also owns all three colts. "We've got to have a good finish in there to make the final, so we're hoping for the best. He's a quality horse." With just 25 points, The Dark Shadow currently sits below the post season cut off. A win or a second would advance the Shadow Play son to the Semi-final round. All the on-track action gets under way at 6 pm on Thursday, with the two-year-old pacing colts squaring off in Races 1, 3, and 9 and the pacing fillies waging their last Grassroots battles over the Flamboro Downs oval in Races 2, 5 and 8. Ontario Racing

SEPT. 4, 2016 - Flamboro Downs kicked off its 2016 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Sunday evening with the Grassroots regular season finale for the harness racing three-year-old trotting fillies. The first $18,000 Grassroots division rolled in behind the Flamboro Downs starting gate in the sixth race and Sunrise Avenue powered straight to the front from Post 3 and never looked back, ringing up fractions of :29.1, :59.4 and 1:29.4 before reaching the finish in 1:58.4. The Power Of Many and Anneli Hanover were two and one-quarter lengths back in second and third. The reason why I dropped her back down into the Grassroots is she hasn't been strong enough for me this year," said trainer-driver Rick Zeron. "I've really struggled with keeping her strong and that's the reason why she was back in the Grassroots tonight, because she can handle the Grassroots." Sunrise Avenue started her sophomore campaign at the Grassroots level, posting one sixth and one second-place result, then moved up to the Gold Series level for two starts, where she finished seventh in both efforts. Zeron conditions the daughter of Kadabra and Miss Wisconsin for his partners Millar Farms of Newmarket, James Walker of Port Perry and Noblock Racing Stable of Collingwood, ON, and says the partners are confident the filly will eventually mature into a stronger trotter. "I will move horses from time to time, put them in sales and stuff like that, and I really want to keep this filly, because I think, if she can develop over the winter, I think she's going to be an open trotting mare for me next year as a four-year-old," the Oakville, ON resident explained. In the short term, Sunday's victory extended Sunrise Avenue's Ontario Sires Stakes season through the Sept. 16 Grassroots Semi-final at Mohawk Racetrack. All three of Sunday's winners will compete in the Semi-finals in spite of spending time competing at both the Gold and Grassroots levels this summer. In the second division, Could It Be Magic returned to the Grassroots after one start at the Gold level and picked up her second Grassroots win. The Kadabra daughter powered out to the front from Post 2 and led the field through fractions of :28.3, :58 and 1:27.2 on her way to a season's best 1:57.1. Fan favourite Magical Valentine settled for second, six and one-quarter lengths behind Could It Be Magic, and Moonlight Cocktail was two more lengths back in third. Trainer-driver Wayne Henry of Arthur shares ownership of Could It Be Magic with Fred Brayford of Alliston, and the partners have been disappointed that the filly has not regained the freshman form that saw her win six of 10 starts and bank $195,156. "She didn't come back this year the way that we'd hoped," said Brayford. "I think she's got a couple of wins in the Grassroots, but that's about it." Through eight sophomore starts Could It Be Magic has tallied two wins and two seconds and earned $27,000. She wraps up the Grassroots regular season with 125 points, good enough for a top 10 ranking in the division standings. Myretirementticket went to the top of the standings with her third Grassroots win of the season in the last division. In rein to Paul Mackenzie the Cornaro Dasolo daughter controlled the tempo through fractions of :28.4, 1:00, 1:28.2 and sailed home a one length winner in a season's best 1:57.4. Windsong Magic and Roadmapper rounded out the top three. "You go out, you parade her, you score her down, she's good, and put her nose on the gate and she knows what it's all about," said Mackenzie. "So she's not hard to drive, she's really good for a trotter to drive, she's very consistent, and if you ask her to leave she can leave, or you take her back, do whatever you like, she's handy. She's just a real nice filly in that class." Like Sunrise Avenue and Could It Be Magic, Myretirementticket dabbled in the Gold Series, making two starts and netting two fifth-place cheques from her battles against the division's top tier fillies. "He said he tried her in the Golds, but she can't go with Caprice Hill and them, so he put her back in the Grassroots, she's real competitive here," said Puslinch resident Mackenzie, who piloted the filly to victory for trainer-owner-breeder Eli Wagler of Ingersoll, ON. "She's been really good to him from a two-year-old right up to now." The other 17 top point earners will join Sunrise Avenue, Could It Be Magic and Myretirementticket in the Sept. 16 Semi-finals, with the top five finishers from each Semi-final earning a berth in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 24. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Flamboro Downs on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the last regular season Grassroots event for the exciting two-year-old pacing colts. Racing gets under way at the Dundas oval at 6 pm. Ontario Racing

Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras established a new track and Canadian record in winning the 38th edition of the $244,000 Confederation Cup on Sunday night (May 15) at Flamboro Downs. The streaking Ron Burke trainee held off reigning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 3-5 favored second tier starter, in 1:50.1 to set a new record for older harness racing pacers on a half-mile track. Burke, trainer of 2015 champion All Bets Off with three entrants in this year's edition, has set a new track record in the Confederation Cup for the second year that it has been contested as a race for 4-year-olds. Last year, All Bets Off won his elimination in what was a track record 1:50.4 before returning to take the final, and later won the Prix D'Ete in 1:50.3 at Hippodrome 3R for a share of the former Canadian record. Gingras left with Rockin Ron from post four as he indicated he would in a pre-race interview on the Flamboro Downs broadcast. Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) also left from post seven and cleared to command heading to the first turn. However, Rockin Rock retook the lead into a :26.2 first quarter. As the 4-5 second wagering choice led the field off the turn in front of the grandstand, his stablemate My Hero Ron (Matt Kakaley) tipped first over from fourth with Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) following his cover. Rockin Ron raced past the half in :55.3 and headed to three-quarters in 1:23.3 while Teague fired Wiggle It Jiggleit three-wide down the backstretch to take over second place. Wiggle It Jiggleit continued to chase the leader as they turned for home, but Rockin Ron maintained a one length advantage down the stretch as he sprinted home in :26.3 to score the 1:50.1 triumph, equaling his lifetime mark that he took at Miami Valley Raceway in his last start. Rodeo Romeo (Brett Miller) finished 2-1/2 lengths behind in third off a three-hole trip. The finish order was completed by Rockin In Heaven, National Seelster (Sylvain Filion), Burke trainees Rock N Roll World (James MacDonald) and My Hero Ron, Drachan Hanover (Randy Waples) and Americanprimetime (Chris Christoforou). After the race, Gingras admitted that he was concerned that the front-end looked tiring, but opted to stick with his strategy after speaking with Burke. He pumped this horse up, but he sure put up," said Gingras in a post-race interview. "He went a big mile, and at the wire, he was just starting to get going. If he went around again, he was going to win anyway. I never touched him with the whip and I was ultra-impressed by him. I was able to cross right over, but :26.2 and :55.3 are no easy fractions. And 1:23.3 and then he had :26 on the end of it to come home, so you've got to give the credit to the horse, he put in a big performance." Rockin Ron has now won all 11 of his starts racing for the Burke stable, including 10 this year. The 4-year-old Real Desire gelding is owned by Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Rtc Stables Inc. Prior to the race, Burke noted that the Confederation Cup would be a good test for Rockin Ron to decide what direction he takes with the pacer. That's very impressive -- :26.3 tonight was a very good quarter and Yannick really thought that he had more left so this is another step in the right direction and we'll try to figure out where we go from here," said Burke after the victory, noting that Rockin Ron is scheduled to compete in next Saturday's Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. Standardbred Canada

Rockin In Heaven made a name for himself last year as a surprising Grand Circuit harness racing competitor and Sunday he will look to continue making a mark in the $244,000 Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs. The Dr. Ian Moore trainee will be making his third start of his four-year-old season on Sunday after earning more than $367,000 last season as a sophomore. Rockin In Heaven was not on many, if any, radars to be a Grand Circuit level colt last year and his conditioner is not shy to admit even he was caught off guard by his trainee's breakout season. "As I stated last year, he has been one of the most pleasant surprising horses I've ever had in my entire life," said Dr. Moore, Thursday afternoon. "How he went from a two-year-old that was so-so to a nice stakes horse last year, hopefully he will become a nice four-year-old this year." The journey to a nice four-year-old season has certainly started off well for the son of Rock N Roll Heaven. Rockin In Heaven finished a close fourth in his season debut on April 30 and followed it up with an impressive 1:50.1 victory last Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack. The Dr. Moore trainee will now tackle his first stakes engagement of the season Sunday and will be forced to overcome the tough starting spot of post-seven. "He's really feeling good and all that sort of thing," Moore said. "It's really a shame that we drew so bad, which as everybody knows is very important in a half-mile track race of that caliber or any caliber." Rockin In Heaven, who is 7-1 on the morning line, is no stranger to stepping up in big moments. He was an 11-1 upset winner in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes last June at Mohawk and a few months later, at the exact same price, won the $290,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. Rockin In Heaven spent most of last summer on the New York Sires Stakes circuit, becoming well adjusted to racing on a half-mile track. Sunday's Confederation Cup will put him against some familiar faces from his Empire State battles. "There is a lot of New York horses in there that he raced against, including National Seelster and Americanprimetime," said Moore. "So they are all good half-mile horses." Dr. Moore is confident his driver, who is very familiar with Ontario's half-mile tracks, gives Rockin In Heaven a bit of an added boost in Sunday's dash. "Trevor (Henry) is well-versed on a half-mile track, so I'm glad we have Trevor to drive," said Moore. "He got along very well with him last year and we are looking forward to Sunday." Henry and Rockin In Heaven have teamed up on 13 occasions and visited the winner's circle in six of those starts. Dr. Moore will leave the strategy up to his driver on Sunday, but with heavy-favourite Wiggle It Jiggleit starting from the second-tier, the start and first-turn at Flamboro could be interesting. "Our horse has raced at Flamboro as a two-year-old and he finished his two-year-old season there," noted Moore. "I presume there will be a bit of a mad dash (at the start)." Dr. Moore co-owns the four-year-old with Douglas Polley, Francois Lecomte and Gordon McComb. Rockin In Heaven is entering the Confederation Cup less than $2,000 away from $400,000 in career earnings. Whether Rockin In Heaven is able to stun his rivals on Sunday, Moore knows his pleasant surprise will certainly give him and his co-owners a great effort. "He's a very tough animal. He's always up to the task and no matter what he always gives us his best." Mark McKelvie

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