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Deerfield Beach, FL – The American Harness Racing Secretaries (AHRS) concluded their three days of meetings on Saturday morning followed by an awards luncheon. The final session started off with last minute checking of hundreds of stakes events with some changes in dates, purses and names of events. Tracks and race organizations now have until early January to finalize and submit their race conditions for publication. None of the changes can be announced to the public until all final documents are submitted. There were roundtable discussions after the dates changes were finalized and the topic of high interest to most everyone was Friday’s presentation on electronic entries by USTA’s T C Lane. While everyone was on board that the presentation was excellent and that is will help speed up and create more accurate entry data into the USTA system there are concerns for those who do not have strong computer skills. It was also noted that the system is very easy to use and that trainers will adapt with time and that the system will be accepted and used by the majority of trainers in the industry. Talks also took place about electronic equipment cards and ID’s for horses to help make it easier on the paddock people doing their jobs. The biggest issues were that of computer hackers being able to enter the system and create havoc with the entries and if the USTA system will have proper safeguards to prevent hackers from gaining access. It was also noted that some people may try and look at entries for stakes races before the box closes to see if they really want to enter or not depending if they can see how many horses are entered and who they are. These issues will be brought up to the USTA for follow up discussions. Discussions also took place about possible universal consideration of the mandatory driver and trainer fees paid from purses. That in the “old” days owners were paid the entire purse and then they worked their own deals with trainers and drivers. Now most every track deducts 5% of the owners purse to both the trainer and driver and that consideration should be given to changing that percentage to 7% for trainers and 3% for drivers. It was also noted that some tracks paid a stipend to every driver competing in a race, up to $25 if they fail to finish in the top five. At the end of meeting luncheon a huge round of applause was given to both Carol Cramer and Sharon Hermann for their work in helping make the AHRS meeting run so smoothly. Carol Cramer is the one that imputes all the data for every stakes race in North America and works with all the race secretaries, stakes organizations and staking service companies and has done this service for many years with assistance from Sharon Hermann, who says she is retired but continues to assist AHRS. It was also noted during the meetings that Carol Cramer has been inducted into the Living Hall of Fame Communicators Corner for all of her hard work and devotion to the sport during her long career. The meetings concluded with Ken Marshall from Hazel Park presenting outgoing AHRS president, Connie Hochstetler from the Red Mile with a special plaque commemorating her outstanding service to the organization over the past two years as president. She will be replaced by Ian Fleming from Clinton Raceway as the new president. By Steve Wolf for

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has agreed to move Thoroughbred and mixed-breed racing next year to Detroit-area harness tracks Hazel Park Harness Raceway and Northville Downs, making them both permanent Thoroughbred racing sites, pending state approval. The five-year agreement was reached on Dec. 1, a deadline set by the Michigan Gaming Control Board after the tracks earlier this year proposed amendments to their live dates applications to include Thoroughbred and mixed-breed licenses. The contracts have been sent to the board’s office and await approval. The Michigan HBPA has been in talks with both tracks, as well as Flint-area harness venue Sports Creek Raceway, to host Thoroughbred racing since the closure of Pinnacle Race Course in southern Detroit at the end of 2010. Since Pinnacle’s closure, the state’s Thoroughbred meet has been conducted at Mount Pleasant Meadows, a mixed-breed track in rural central Michigan. To read the rest of this story click here.

Eight Michigan Sires Stakes (MISS) finals were held on the Monday, Sept. 2, Labor Day afternoon card at Hazel Park, with four going being the gate as non-wagering affairs prior to the regular program. Although for the most part the races consisted of short fields, eight different stallions were represented in the winner's circle. The quartet of races on the betting card got underway with the $35,172 MISS final for 2-year-old male pacers. The Brad Kramer-driven Beastly was fourth at the three-quarters but the gelded son of Stampede Hanover-Todd's Affair rushed past the competition in the final turn to draw clear by 10 1/2 lengths as the 1- 9 favorite in 2:02.2. Man The Torpedo (Skip DeMull) was a distant second, with Chasing Jake (Jason Merriman) third. Kelly Goodwin owns and trains Beastly, who won for the third time in six starts. Kramer sent Lady Laker to the lead from post 7 in the $39,377 MISS final for 3-year-old filly trotters, and by the :58.1 half she had a three-length lead, expanding the margin to seven lengths at the 1:27 three-quarters. The 1-9 favorite then cruised to the wire 15 lengths in front in 1:58. Defending MISS champion Kendall Marie (Peter Otten) finished second, with Crazy Sherry (Carl Putnam Jr.) third. A daughter of Lockkeeper-Hyercass, Lady Laker is trained by Al Tomlinson for owner David Vanderhyde. She was  undefeated in four starts in 2012, and in 2013 her four wins also include the Hanover in mid-July at Balmoral Park. Her earnings went past the $100,000 mark with her MISS win on Monday. Ovewhelming favorite That'll Be The Rei successfully defended his MISS title as Mike Micallef directed the son of Cheyenne Rei-Unspeakable Joy gelding to a wire-to-wire, 1:55.1 victory in the $37,827 MISS final for sophomore male pacers. That'll Be The Rei defeated runner-up Lexington Avenue (Kody Massey) by five lengths, with Sharp Cheeser (Darrell Wright) third. Micallef also trains That'll Be The Rei for owner Dan Courtemanche. The win was his ninth in 14 starts this year and 18th overall in 24 career starts. That'll Be The Rei increased his earnings to more than $120,000 with the victory. Haberdashery busted the favorite brigade wide open in the last of the four betting races with a 50-1 upset in the $40,077 MISS final for 3-year-old male trotters. The 1-2 favorite Zeplin, driven by Goodwin, appeared on his way to victory but when he broke stride in the stretch, it paved the way for Haberdashery and driver Jeff Sweeney to go on to the 2:02.4 victory. Zeplin recovered to finish second, with Winwood Scout and driver DeMull third. A gelded son of Keystone Nordic-Ready Elegance, Haberdashery won for the first time in six career starts. The winner is trained and owned by Chris Allen. All four early races were won in relatively easy fashion. Lady Windsor started things off with a 2:00.1 victory for trainer-driver Wright in the five-horse, $35,272 MISS final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Keep It Sweet (Larry Lee Smith) was 13 lengths back in second, with Best Friend Always (Todd Buter) another 18 lengths behind in third. E.J. Underwood III owns Lady Windsor, a daughter of Coventry-Rhonda T. The career-best win was her sixth straight in seven career starts. Scrappy Alex and trainer-driver Putnam led wire to wire in the $35,222 MISS final for 2-year-old male trotters to score in 2:09.3. SS RC CR (Rex Putnam) finished 2 3/4 lengths behind in second, with Just A Kid (Tim Roach) third. A gelded son of Scrappy Robert-Classic Enterprise, Scrappy Alex is owned by Sam Heron. The win was his fourth in nine starts. Kramer and Kayla Grace romped to a 15 1/4-length win in 1:58 in the $34,372 MISS final for 2-year-old filly pacers. Sue's Your Daddy (Jeff Sweeney), TC Country (Otten) and Winwood Elle (DeMull) finished second, third and fourth, respectively, as the short field crossed the wire in post-position order. A daughter of He's All That-A Maze Of Grace, Kayla Grace remained undefeated in nine starts. She is trained by Marie "Ginny" St. Charles, who shares ownership withEd and Cheryl Sayfie's ECS Racing. Super Soph, whose nine-for-nine freshman season in 2012 included the MISS final, successfully defended that title with a career-best 1:53.2 score in the $34,627 contest for 3-year-old filly pacers. Jason Merriman was in the sulky as Super Soph led gate to wire to defeat Don't Stare (Keith Crawford) by 2 1/2 lengths, with Reiwatch (Kramer) third. A full sister to Canadian Hall of Fame inductee Admirals Express, Super Soph is a daughter of Admirals Galley-Platinum Card. Greg West trains Super Soph for owners Ryan Morefield, Brian Campbell and Mark Wamp. Her earnings now stand at more than $128,000. Submitted by Hazel Park Publicity Department  

Eight Michigan Sires Stakes (MISS) championships will be contested on a special Labor Day afternoon card on Monday, Sept. 2, at Hazel Park Raceway. Four races will be held on the holiday card that gets underway at 1:30 p.m., while four will be raced as non-betting races prior to the program at 11:30 a.m. All four MISS 2-year-old champions are in this year’s finals and have a chance to repeat. The quartet of horses, who were also all named 2012 champions in their respective divisions by the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association, includes the 3-year-old filly pacer Super Soph, who went undefeated in nine starts last year. Trained by Greg West and owned by Brian Campbell, Mark Wamp and Ryan Morefield, Super Soph has six wins in 13 starts this year, including the Michigan Breeders Futurity on Aug. 19 at Hazel Park. A daughter of Admirals Galley, Super Soph is a full sister to Canada’s 2005 Horse of the Year Admiral’s Express, who was just inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The $34,627 MISS final for 3-year-old filly pacers is one of the four early races, with the Jason Merriman-driven Super Soph leaving from post 1 against just three rivals, including Spartan Futurity winner Reiwatch. On the wagering program, Kendall Marie will try to defend her title in the $39,377 MISS final for 3-year-old filly trotters. The daughter of Keystone Nordic has four wins in 14 starts this year, including the Spartan Futurity on Aug. 13 at Midland. Peter Otten will drive for trainer Keith Hough from post 4 in Race 7. Reigning champ That’ll Be The Rei, who amassed a nine-race win streak last year, brings a five-race skein into Monday’s $37,827 final for 3-year-old male pacers. Trained and driven by Mike Micallef, That’ll Be The Rei’s current streak includes the Wolverine Futurity at Holland in late July. The daughter of Cheyenne Rei will start from post 4 in the 8th race. The 3-year-old gelding trotter Zeplin won just twice last year in nine starts but one of those efforts came in the MISS final. The son of Hard Rock N Roll has two wins again this year, one of which was a victory in the Michigan Breeders Futurity last time out on Aug. 19 at Hazel Park. Trained and driven by Kelly Goodwin, Zeplin will start from post 3 in the $40,077 final that is scheduled as Race 9. The only race for 2 year olds on the pari-mutuel card is the $35,172 final for colt pacers. Scheduled as Race 2, the five-horse field includes Michigan Breeders Futurity winner Beastly, who will be driven by Brad Kramer from post 4, and Spartan Futurity winner Man The Torpedo, who will start from post 2 with driver Skip DeMull. Admission and parking at Hazel Park are free. The track will also offer concession specials on Monday as well as live music. By Hazel Park Publicity Department  

Hazel Park, MI - Longwell and harness racing breeder/owner/trainer/driver Dan Shetler were able to grind out an impressive first-over victory against pacesetter Sir James (Mark Headworth) in capturing the $100,000 William C. Connors Memorial Saturday at Hazel Park.

Six 3-year-old trotters will go postward in Friday night's (July 12) $100,000 William Connors Memorial at Hazel Park Raceway, with the compact field having met last weekend in a prep race won by Sir James.

The Great Lakes Amateur Drivers Association season opener is in the books and harness racing man Jerry Mihelich will long remember it as his first big win with Keeping Grace, trained by Marie St. Charles.

A bill aimed at boosting Michigan's horse racing industry will not be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who considers the plan likely to be unconstitutional without the approval of voters at statewide and local levels.

In a dozen years of outriding at Michigan tracks, Hazel Park outrider Debbie Taylor and her horse Butch have led a lot of parades -- post parades that is. Taylor and Butch, an 18-year-old chestnut quarter horse, have caught loose horses, led post parades and averted disaster at harness racing's Hazel Park for the last eight years and before that at Northville, Saginaw and Sports Creek for four years.

There are several bills passed by the Michigan legislature that are still sitting on the governor's desk. One of them may hold the fate of Michigan's horse racing industry.

Michigan's horse racing industry is betting that it can get a boost with a bet on its past. Legislation in Lansing would allow horse track managers to introduce additional and innovative horse race betting games, like wagering on past races. The proposal has passed the House, and is in a Senate committee.

The day after he broke his ankle in an August 5 on-track accident at Raceway Park, harness racing driver Jason Merriman was at Hazel Park, wrapped in a cast, trying to convince the state race stewards that he was ready for action.

The Detroit Free Press, on its website, has published a feature on Hazel Park Racetrack's new exhibit of rare, original Currier & Ives trotting lithographs, entitled 'The Story of Harness Racing by Currier & Ives.'

Midway through the harness racing 'Michigan Colt Stakes' season, there remain just two undefeated horses. One of them is a small, but speedy, 3-year-old pacing filly named Tropical Breeze.

On June 11th nine amateur harness racing drivers went to post in a CK.G. Billings Harness Driving Championship trot at Hazel Park Raceway and when the dust had settled Mike "the Doo-Wop Doc" Caston rallied 20-1 longshot Merlincrest to a neck victory in a time of 2:01.4.

Blazing temperatures matched the competition on Monday evening as eight eager harness racing amateurs faced the starter at Hazel Park Raceway.

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