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Louisville, KY - Sky Racing World, the Louisville, Ky.-based distributor of international horse racing content and subsidiary of Australian wagering operator Tabcorp, has launched harness racing from multiple Australian states in North America. From Oct. 7, Sky Racing World’s North American advance depositing wagering partners will offer simulcast wagering on harness racing from Australia every Sunday and Monday night. Following harness horse Lazarus N’s winning American debut on Aug. 10 at Hoosier Park, United States racing fans’ appetite for Southern Hemisphere harness racing has never been stronger. Sky Racing World will serve increased North American demand by providing simulcast wagering from major trot races run in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, to its more than 70 US ADW partners, including TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. Bet types, including 20-cent trifecta combinations, will remain consistent with those offered on standard Australian racing for the upcoming harness races, which start this Sunday (Oct. 7) at Maryborough Harness Racing Club, in Victoria, with first post at 10:42 p.m. (EDT). The following night’s harness racing starts at 10:39 p.m. (EDT) from Tabcorp Menangle Park, in New South Wales. The following weekend’s harness racing runs at Victoria’s Yarra Valley from 10:39 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday (Oct. 14), before returning to Menangle from 10:42 p.m. (EDT) the following night. Australian harness racing in October will climax with races at South Australia’s Globe Derby Park on Sunday (Oct. 21) from 10:12 p.m. (EDT); at Menangle again on Monday (Oct. 22) from 10:47 p.m. (EDT); at Victoria’s Hamilton Harness track on Sunday (Oct. 28) from 10:34 p.m. (EDT); and at Menangle on Monday (Oct. 29) from 10:47 p.m. (EDT). Past performances for these and subsequent harness races will be available on Sky Racing World’s website, which also features expert picks. The track codes for wagering on all harness races will be either AU1 (codes for Thoroughbred racing will remain AUS, AUB, AUC or AUD). David Haslett, President and CEO, at Sky Racing World, said: “US harness racing has been available in Australia for several years, so we’re excited to extend the two markets’ relationship by bringing the best Australian harness racing to North America, where interest is just as strong. Harness racing complements our core Australian Thoroughbred racing product, which continues to hold the international spotlight following the history-making performances of horses like Winx.”   Trots Media

Several harness racing industry figures are denying fraud conspiracy charges alleging race fixing and electing trial by jury. Not guilty pleas were entered before Judge Raoul Neave at a Christchurch District Court session on Tuesday where 12 defendants arrested in the Operation Inca investigation made appearances. Bail conditions were relaxed as well, with the consent of the police prosecutor Barnaby Hawes. Passports can be returned to the defendants and they now only have bail conditions requiring them to live at specified addresses. All are on bail. Read the full story at Stuff   David Clarkson for Stuff

104 pacers, 88 trotters have been nominated for TAB ID18 Nominations for the 2018 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing and Trotting Championships closed today. All up, 104 pacers and 88 trotters have been nominated for ID18, with representation from throughout Australia and New Zealand.   2018 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing nominations click here. 2018 TAB Inter Dominion Trotting nominations click here.   The first round of official ID18 rankings will be released by HRV on Wednesday.    Cody Winnell Trots Media

Natalie Rasmussen, the leading female driver in stakes won for the last five years is now free to drive at trials and on raceday. In a statement on the All Stars Website, Mark Purdon has said the RIU has reversed the decision on Natalie. "We were just getting on the plane home from Auckland when we got the news the RIU has reversed its decision and Natalie is free to drive at trials and raceday. "We were surprised it took this long but at least is happened and we can get on with it," he said. Rasmussen who has had an amazingly high UDR for the last several years is unbeaten with her drives so far this season, winning with her only two drives,both on Thefixer when he won his first two starts back this season. Rasmussen will drive the All Stars trained Eamon Maguire in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night after Thefixer was pulled out of the race with a minor foot problem.   Harnesslink Media and Courtesy of All Stars Website

LEXINGTON, KY -- Off a fourth-place disqualification in the Little Brown Jug as he attempted to claim the Pacing Triple Crown, millionaire Stay Hungry came back and battled widest of all in a four-horse stretch-bound sprint, getting a neck in front on the wire to take the first division of two divisions of the $183,000 Somebeachsomewhere Bluegrass Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace, sponsored by the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms, at The Red Mile on Sunday, Sept. 30. Driver Doug McNair positioned Stay Hungry fifth, in behind stablemate American History, as Ideal Feeling paced on the lead to the quarter. Grand Teton soon vacated the rail from third and brushed for the lead following a :27.3 opening quarter. Stay Hungry flushed American History for cover as Grand Teton continued a quick clip to the half in :54.1. American History progressed wide of horses and dragged Stay Hungry to within two lengths of the lead nearing the top of the stretch. Following three-quarters in 1:21.2, American History took a short lead before Grand Teton reclaimed command to his inside. Stay Hungry, off cover, rallied through the center of the track as Grand Teton fought for the lead to the inside but could not outkick the winner to the line and settled for second in the 1:48.2 mile. Bounding Dragon snuck through a seam to the pylons for third and American History faded to fourth. Winning his sixth race from 13 starts this season and his 12th from 22 overall, Stay Hungry, a colt by Somebeachsomewhere, has compiled $1,239,459 in earnings for owners Brad Grant and the Irwin Samelman Estate. Tony Alagna trains the $3.60 winner. Thinkbig Dreambig brushed to the front after the quarter and led the rest of the way in progress to a 1:48.2 lifetime-best victory in the second Bluegrass division. I'm A Big Deal took the lead early as Nutcracker Sweet rushed from post nine for the top heading to the quarter. Nutcracker Sweet swooped to command past the :27.2 opening quarter as his stablemate Thinkbig Dreambig gradually advanced towards the lead. Passing the half in :54.2, Thinkbig Dreambig maintained his speed while under first-over pursuit from Hayden Hanover, closing from fifth around the final turn. Hayden Hanover drew to within two lengths of the lead by three-quarters in 1:21.4 but continued to chase the son of Bettor's Delight in the stretch before settling for second. Rush To Judgement, tracking from second over, closed for third with Nutcracker Sweet holding fourth. Trained by Jimmy Takter for owners Brixton Medical Inc., John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk, Thinkbig Dreambig, driven by Yannick Gingras, won his sixth race from 15 starts, earning $450,537. He paid $3.20 to win. The Trond Smedshammer-trained Explosive Matter filly Phaetosive won her fourth-consecutive race and her seventh from nine starts this season when she cruised to a 1:51.3 victory in the third of three divisions of the $206,000 Cantab Hall Bluegrass Three-Year-Old Filly Trot, sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms and Brittany Farms, on Sunday, Sept. 30 at The Red Mile. What A Knockout led early as Lily Stride, from post one, inherited the pocket and Phaetosive floated into third. Past the first quarter in :28.4, What A Knockout trotted unchallenged to a :56.1 half while Seviyorum, racing second to last, tipped off the rail and began an uncovered bid. Smedshammer flushed first over with Phaetosive heading into the final turn and swiftly overtook What A Knockout past three-quarters in 1:24.1. Phaetosive kept to task through the stretch as Lily Stride finagled out of the pocket to snag second from Seviyorum in third. Piranha Fury, off a rail trip, closed for fourth. Surpassing $800,000 in career earnings, Phaetosive, competing for the Purple Haze Stables LLC, collected her 11th victory in her 16th start career. Sent the 1-9 favorite, she paid $2.10 to win.   Odds-on favorite Supergirl Riley circled to the top past the half and kicked to a three-and-three-quarter length victory in the first split of the Bluegrass filly trot, winning in 1:52.2. The Erv Miller-trained daughter of Muscle Mass pushed for the lead early before yielding to Urban Legend toward the center of the track. By the first quarter in :28, Marcus Miller pulled Supergirl Riley from the pocket to cleared control before a :56 half. Live Laugh Love, positioned fifth, tipped first over and rushed towards the pacesetter around the final turn. Supergirl Riley maintained a half-length lead past three-quarters in 1:24.3 and sped into the stretch, expanding her margin to two-and-a-half lengths with Live Laugh Love chasing in second. Fury Road, who edged off the rail and into the second-over spot around the final turn, trotted another two-lengths back in third with Passionate Miss closing from the back for fourth. Owned by Paymaq Racing, George Golemes and Harvey Eisman, Supergirl Riley won her fifth race in 14 starts this season and her ninth from 23 overall, collecting $375,763 in earnings. She returned $3.80 to win. Andrew McCarthy launched Chuck Sylvester-trainee Hey Blondie from off cover to take the second Bluegrass split in 1:51.1. S M S Princess cleared control from post seven with Top Expectations, from post one, sitting the pocket. Hey Blondie sat fifth past the quarter in :28 and stayed in position as S M S Princess quickened to the half in :55.2. Nixie Volo, from third, angled first over rounding the final turn with Bella Glos second over and Hey Blondie in behind. S M S Princess held onto a half-length lead by three-quarters in 1:23.4 and braced for the backfield blitz into the stretch. Bella Glos fanned off cover and surged to the front under pursuit of Hey Blondie and Pat Matters kicking wide from fourth over. Hey Blondie overpowered Bella Glos late in the stretch and surged to a three-quarter length victory with Pat Matters finishing two-lengths behind in third and Top Expectations holding fourth. Winning her third race from 11 starts this season and her eighth from 24 overall, Hey Blondie, by Cantab Hall, has accrued $473,935 in earnings for owners Steve Jones, Mary Kinsey Arnold, Paul Borgogna and David Mc Duffee. She paid $8.20 to win. Trainer Jimmy Takter swept the top three spots when he piloted Tactical Landing to a 1:51.1 lifetime best ahead of harness racing stablemates Zephyr Kronos and Wolfgang in the second of two divisions of the $242,000 Explosive Matter Bluegrass Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot, sponsored by the Explosive Matter Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms, at The Red Mile on Sunday, Sept. 30. Zephyr Kronos swept to the front ahead of Wolfgang, another stablemate, in the pocket. Jimmy Takter placed Tactical Landing wide in fourth through the first quarter in :28.4 before gradually advancing towards the lead. Following a :56.2 half, Tactical Landing gained separation. Tactical Landing held a two-and-a-half length lead while Muscle M Up attempted to gain position first over. By three-quarters in 1:24.2, Tactical Landing spun into the stretch while Zephyr Kronos cut his deficit from second well ahead of Wolfgang battling for third. Patent Leather, from last, rallied through the center of the track to take fourth. An $800,000 yearling purchase at the 2016 Lexington Select Sale, Tactical Landing, a colt by Muscle Hill out of the Varenne mare Southwind Serena, won his fifth race from nine starts this season and of 11 overall, earning $313,600 for The Tactical Landing Stable. He paid $3.60 to win. Sent the 1-2 favorite, Met's Hall delivered a wire-to-wire 1:51.2 performance in the first division of the Bluegrass colt trot. Andy Miller put the Julie Miller-trained Cantab Hall colt on the point as Evaluate secured the pocket from post one. Met's Hall trotted to the quarter in :28.2 and faced no pressure to the half, timed in :56.1. Maxus, positioned fourth, moved first over heading into the final turn tracked by Shoshie Deo second over. Met's Hall maintained a length lead past thre-quarter in 1:25.1 and initiated a sprint into the stretch. Maxus lost stride, leaving Evaluate to chase from the pocket two lengths away at the wire along with Fashionwoodchopper in third. Shoshie Deo took fourth. Earning $964,754, Met's Hall won his fourth race from nine starts this season and his ninth from 20 overall. The $3.00 winner races for Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable Inc. Grand Circuit action continues at The Red Mile on Thursday, Oct. 4 with divisions of the $350,000 est. International Stallion Stakes for two-year-old colt and gelding trotters. First-race post Thursday will be at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile  

Under-rated trotting mare Destiny Jones has proved her toughness and liking for the grass surface by sitting parked but still winning the DG Jones Trotting Cup at Motukarara Raceway yesterday. The 7yo harness racing mare by The Pres ran a close second to the classy Habibti Ivy in last years running of the race and yesterday she was the victor, narrowly beating Monty Python by a nose in a dour finish up the straight. Driver Sam Ottley thought that Destiny Jones was a nice drive for her, and said before the race. "She does a good job every time she goes out this mare and she doesn't mind the grass. "I am sure she will give a good sight again," she said. Destiny Jones ran the 2810m stand in 3-46.4 with a closing 800m in 59.6 seconds. She is currently at a $21.00 quote with the TAB to win the Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Trot on showday, but is likely to have her next start in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup on Friday at Addington. Ottley had a good day in the sulky winning all three trotting races on the program. Her first trotting winner came in the form of a first starter from the Paul Nairn stable in Lotamuscle Lotamuscle is a 3yo gelding by Muscle Hill and is out of the Love You mare Lotalov. Lotalov won nine races when trained by Nairn, the last of them in March 2014.  Her first foal Lotamuscle has inherited plenty of his mums speed and came from near last at the 600m to win easily Trainer Paul Nairn thought he would go on to make a nice horse. "He has taken a bit of time to get organised and trotting nicely but he does appreciate the grass" he said. Lotamuscle winning yesterday. Ottleys other trotting winner was the Andrew Garters trained Momentous who was given a perfect run in the trail and was simply too good for his opposition in the Rating 40 to 70 Charteris Bay Trot. Momentous (Muscleman - Now's The Moment) beat the Gavin Smith trained Red Hot Rocket by half a length and has now won five races with three of them on the Motukarara track.   Harnesslink Media  

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 29, 2018-Yonkers Raceway has announced that 4-year-old double millionairess Ariana G has been selected to represent the United States in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot @ Empire City Casino, set for Saturday afternoon, Oct. 13th. The Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld co-owned homebred daughter of Muscles Yankee comes off a track-record (1:52.1) effort in Friday night's (Sept. 27th) Dayton Trotting Derby. It was her fifth win in 11 seasonal starts and 26th in 37 career races ($2,367.709). The International would serve as the 11th venue where Ariana G has raced, though her first small-track try. Twice a Breeders Crown champ, twice a Dan Patch award winner and with a Hambletonian Oaks win leading a gaudy resume, her accomplishments are numerous. Now, she prepares to meet some of the world's best trotters. "I spoke with (trainer) Jimmy Takter earlier tonight to offer the invitation, and he immediately accepted," race secretary Steve Starr said. "As I said when we announced the nine foreign entrants, it should be a great race." The alphabetical field for the mile-and-a-quarter International Trot, with country of representation... Arazi Boko (Italy) Ariana G (United States) Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden) Dreammoko (Netherlands) Lionel (Norway) Marion Marauder (Canada) Pastore Bob (Sweden) Ringostarr Treb (Italy) Slide So Easy (Denmark) Up and Quick (France) Beginning in 1959 at Roosevelt Raceway, this is the 40th International Trot and fourth since it was brought back after two decades of dormancy. More information about the card (including post time) and surrounding promotions and activities shall be sent when available. YONKERS CO-FEATURES SATURDAY Two hard-knocking veterans who've made careers of winning did just that Saturday night (Sept. 29th), annexing Yonkers Raceway's co-featured $44,000 Open Handicaps. Ladies first, so props to favored N F Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr. $4.10) for whipping five gelded gentlemen in the weekly trotting feature. Assigned outside all of them, she did her thing-leaving-then went the distance (:27.4, :58.2, 1:26.3, 1:55.4). Fashion Creditor (Brent Holland) was a sold second, closing to miss three-quarters of a length, with DW's NY Yank (George Brennan) tiring in the pocket and ending up third. Barry Black (Jordan Stratton) and Don Dream (Jason Bartlett) picked off the remainder, while a first-up Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory) broke. For N F Happenstance, an 8-year-old daughter of S J's Caviar owned by James Moore III and trained by Carol Jamieson-Parker, it was her 10th win (with 10 seconds) in 26 seasonal starts (career 30-for-107) The exacta paid $51.50, the triple returned $104 and the superfecta paid $1,013. The week's marquee pace saw a gutty, two-move effort from Mach it So (Joe Bongiorno, $18). Nose-to-gate from assigned post position No. 5, he was stuffed in behind Doctor Butch (Bartlett). The Doctor found a :27.2 opening quarter-mile as 3-5 fave More The Better N (Eric Goodell) was about to move from third. More The Better N made the lead before a 56-second half, and soon after, Mach it So was back for more. That one engaged More The Better N after a 1:24 three-quarters, then put him away late the lane. Mach it So defeated a second-up Theartofconfusion A (Dan Dube) by a half-length in 1:52.1. Doctor Butch was third, with More The Better N fading to a money-burning fourth. Caviart Luca (Brennan) settled for the final pay envelope. For fourth choice Mach it So, an 8-year-old double millionaire Mach Three gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was his seventh win in 22 seasonal starts (career 47-for-142) The exacta paid $91, the triple returned $307.50 and the superfecta paid $789. Quillen Memorial winner Sunfire Blue Chip came up injured from his assigned eight-hole here. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Tonight the Harness Racing industry celebrated the 2017/18 Season at Alexandra Park with our Annual Awards. It was no surprise that Lazarus took out the top award - Horse of the Year for the second year in a row. After a stellar season Speeding Spur picked up the top trotting award for Trotter of the Year. Full results:   Standardbreds Make Awesome Pets 2YO Trotting Filly Of The Year   CHEERFUL   Vincent 2YO Pacing Filly Of The Year   PRINCESS TIFFANY   Breckon Farms 2YO Trotting Colt or Gelding Of The Year   ENHANCE YOUR CALM   IRT New Zealand 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding Of The Year   ANOTHER MASTERPIECE   What The Hill 3YO Trotting Filly Of The Year   LUBY LOU   Alabar 3YO Pacing Filly Of The Year   SHEZ ALL ROCK   Commodore Airport Hotel 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding Of The Year   WINTERFELL   Lone Star Alexandra Park Coming Soon 3YO Pacing Colt or Gelding Of The Year   CHASE AUCKLAND   Somerset Racing Stables & Equestrian 4YO Trotting Mare Of The Year   BONNIE HIGHLANDER   Dunstan Feeds 4YO Pacing Mare Of The Year   UTMOST DELIGHT   Trackside 4YO Trotting Entire or Gelding Of The Year   HABIBI INTA   HRNZ Marketing 4YO Pacing Entire or Gelding Of The Year   ULTIMATE MACHETE   Emblems NZ 5YO & Older Trotting Mare Of The Year   DESTINY JONES   Canterbury Equine Clinic 5YO & Older Pacing Mare Of The Year   JO'S DREAM   Lone Star Spitfire at Christchurch Airport 5YO & Older Trotting Entire or Gelding Of The Year   SPEEDING SPUR   Hanley Formula 5YO & Older Pacing Entire or Gelding Of The Year   LAZARUS   The Breeders Trotting Broodmare Of The Year   TEN TO ONE   The Breeders Pacing Broodmare Of The Year   BETHANY   The Breeders/FastTrack Insurance Breeder Of The Year   BRAEDEN & CAROLINE WHITELOCK   The Breeders Trotting Stallion Of The Year   MAJESTIC SON   The Auckland Trotting Club Pacing Stallion Of The Year   BETTOR'S DELIGHT   Met Multiplier $1.5m Milestone Owner Of The Year   PHILLIP & GLENYS KENNARD   Southern Harness Leading Junior Driver   MATT ANDERSON   Cruickshank Leading Junior Driver - UDR   NATHAN PURDON   Harness Racing New Zealand Leading Driver   BLAIR ORANGE   Garrards Horse and Hound Leading Trainer   MARK PURDON & NATALIE RASMUSSEN   Airpark Canterbury Cadet Of The Year   ELLIE BARRON   Airpark Canterbury Runner Up - Cadet Of The Year LUKE WHITTAKER   Breckon Farms Trotter Of The Year SPEEDING SPUR   Woodlands Stud Pacer Of The Year LAZARUS   NZ Racing Board Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing STEVE & ANNE PHILLIPS   NZB Standardbred Horse Of The Year LAZARUS   The Informant Best Moment Of The Season SHEREE TOMLINSON/FORD FAMILY - AMARETTO SUN DOMINION WIN       Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc      

Harness Racing Annual Conference Speech 12.30pm 28 September 2018 Introduction Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your invitation to be part of your annual conference and to deliver the opening address. This is an opportunity to reflect on an eventful 12 months and engage with both new and familiar faces from throughout the industry.  You have a very interesting and full programme over the next two days. It comes as no surprise to see this afternoon’s panel discussion about Mr John Messara’s report. You’ve got a strong panel of experts and we hope you enjoy the session. In the meantime, here are some of the details and next steps. State of the racing industry It has long been apparent to most people within the New Zealand racing industry, that the industry has been steadily declining, and is now in an extremely dire state. Issues facing the industry include: the continued decline in foal crop; pressures from breeders, owners and trainers to increase prizemoney; a lack of funding sources; the profitability and sustainability of race clubs; and deteriorating facility infrastructure and investment. The following two facts sum up a bleak story for harness racing: the foal crop fell from 2,142 in 2012/13 to just 1,781 in 2016/17 – a decline of 361 foals in just three years; and total domestic turnover has fallen from nearly $300 million in 2007/08 down to $218.9m in 2016/17. The status quo is clearly not an option if the industry is to be not only sustainable, but successful in 10 years’ time. Comprehensive action at a structural, first-principles level is required. That’s why, as Racing Minister, the scope for Mr John Messara to conduct a high level review of the racing industry was called for. Mr Messara, who as you all know is a top Australian administrator and stud owner, was given a broad canvass to look at the health and future of the industy. The Messara report and its recommendations Mr Messara has delivered. His report is of the highest quality and addresses the relevant issues. Although Mr Messara’s review has a strong thoroughbred focus, his recommendations are relevant to the whole industry and aim to deliver positive impacts for all three codes. It’s very much the first-principles blue print to address the significant problems facing New Zealand racing. The report’s findings and recommendations for industry-wide change are of vital importance to harness racing, especially with regards to proposed legislative, administrative and structural changes. That’s why discussion about the report forms part of your programme this afternoon. Mr Messara has confirmed our worst fears – that the New Zealand racing industry, is vulnerable and in a distressed state, with far-reaching reforms needed to arrest its decline. Harness Racing Chairman, Mr Ken Spicer, came to meet me following the report’s release and he delivered sobering news – that harness racing is indeed facing threats and challenges – we are all in the same boat. What we have in this report is a clear view of what needs to be done.  In summary, the report’s key recommendations include: changes to the current governance structure; outsourcing of TAB commercial activities to an international operator to help increase prize money; amending the distribution formula to the codes; repeal of the betting levy paid by the New Zealand Racing Board to the Government; a serious increase in prize money each year; and a reduction in the number of race tracks. It’s been pleasing to find that, overall, the report has been positively received by the industry. The initial view of industry insiders, including Harness Racing New Zealand, is that the majority of the recommendations are sound and have merit. We also acknowledge that some recommendations would have a greater impact on harness racing than others.  Proposed venue consolidation Venue consolidation is one such issue. It is important to first highlight that Mr Messara’s recommendations around race course consolidation do not require the closure of any clubs. The recommendations do, however, highlight the fact that New Zealand has too many race venues for the scale of our industry. For example, in the Canterbury area alone harness racing takes place at Addington, Motukarara, Ashburton, Timaru, Methven, Kaikoura and Orari. The abandonment or postponement of races due to poor track conditions, particularly for the thoroughbreds, is an all-too-frequent occurrence. It’s costing the industry millions in lost revenue every year. Mr Messara’s recommendations, if implemented, would close 20 tracks in the galloping industry over the next eight years, including 11 from next season. Of those 11, four are also used by the harness racing industry – Reefton, Omakau, Waimate and Winton. There are a number of other galloping tracks, also used by harness racing, which are recommended for closure. Mr Messara also mentioned that there are nine thoroughbred racecourses recommended for closure that he believed the harness code might wish to retain. It is pleasing to see that a conversation between the three codes about racetrack consolidation is well underway.   This includes consultation undertaken by the Future Venue Plan Joint Working Group, which has been established between the New Zealand Racing Board and the three codes to develop a future infrastructure plan for the industry. Mr Messara referred to the ongoing work of the Working Group in developing his recommendations.  We accept racecourse closure may be difficult and confronting, but some concessions will need to be made for the good of the industry as a whole. As noted by Mr Messara, the sale of surplus tracks would generate funds to upgrade the facilities and tracks of the remaining racecourses. Like any successful business, this is consolidating to remain competitive. The remaining facilities would be first-class, providing a foundation for a streamlined, modern and competitive racing sector capable of marketing itself globally. Proposed amendment to the distribution formula Tax and levies play a big part in the recommendations, and it’s acknowledged that proposed changes to the distribution formula in the Racing Act will be of great interest to the harness racing industry. The distribution of TAB profits between the codes has always been a highly contentious issue. As noted by Mr Messara, there is no right or wrong answer to the arguments advanced by those for and against the inclusion of betting on overseas racing in the formula for distributing TAB profits. It therefore comes down to what is considered equitable. We accept that many will find this recommendation, and others, contentious and of significant interest to both the racing sector and local communities. Next steps Some may think the recommendations are too radical. Others may just plain disagree. That’s why it’s vital that those most vested in the industry have the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations. That’s why we are committed to an open and frank discussion with all stakeholders on the report’s findings. You‘re probably aware that an official call for public feedback on the review was announced on 13 September. Consultation will run for five weeks, closing on 19 October. Your views and comments are very important, and we strongly encourage you to provide feedback on the recommendations. Further information about how to make a submission is available on the Department of Internal Affairs’ website. We can assure you that we are committed to working through the report’s recommendations, and feedback from stakeholders, before taking swift and decisive action to carry out the reforms necessary to move the industry forward. As outlined on 30 August to the industry in Hamilton, officials will draft a Cabinet paper with a set of recommendations for decision. That Cabinet decision will set the direction for what is required to reset the industry. We expect these decisions to happen quickly – in time for next year’s Budget. Industry integrity and race-fixing investigations There is a subject that cuts to the heart of the public’s confidence in all codes of the sport – that is integrity. We’re all aware of the Police’s ongoing investigations into alleged race-fixing in harness racing, and the recent arrests. One can’t comment specifically on matters that are before the Courts. However, these investigations demonstrate that the public can have confidence in the integrity of all racing codes. This can only be positive for ongoing interest and punter investment in the sport.  It shows that the Racing Integrity Unit takes its role seriously, alongside other relevant agencies, to independently uphold the integrity of New Zealand’s racing industry. The importance of harness racing Let us take this opportunity to acknowledge the harness racing industry’s importance to New Zealand and the economy: Harness racing contributed 28% of New Zealand’s total domestic racing turnover in 2016/17. In 2016/17 average harness racing stakes per race were up 8%, and total net stakes were up 3.57%. There are 265 race meetings held by the 47 harness clubs throughout New Zealand in a season. There are over 3,000 standardbred horses in New Zealand. These horses raced for in excess of $28 million in prize money, with average stakes per race about $10,000. New Zealand harness racing has a proud history of producing champion horses. Some of which, including Young Quinn and Cardigan Bay, attained legendary status both at home and abroad.  And then, of course, there are the current champions such as Lazarus. Although he was a loss to the sport in New Zealand when he was sold overseas earlier this year, he is flying the flag for our harness racing industry on the global stage. This is a good example of the industry increasing its export turnover and fostering international markets for sales.  Let us also acknowledge the work being done by Harness Racing New Zealand to improve the financial viability of the industry for all participants in this challenging environment. It is discernible that your focus is on a strategic and collaborative approach, with stakeholder buy-in across the system. This approach will stand you in good stead while we consider these necessary reforms. Challenge for the industry We can all see that the conditions are there to make this the thriving industry it once was. But meaningful outcomes will only occur if the review is accepted and enforced on a large scale. And as noted by Mr Messara, a few concessions would need to be made to keep all codes happy. We can turn this around very rapidly and the benefits will start flowing equally quickly. The goals are lofty, including: a substantial increase in the collective returns to New Zealand owners; and a substantial increase in the industry’s overall economic contribution – some believe that the industry is capable of doubling its GDP. For this is achievable, an immediate and collective effort will be needed for the industry to turn itself around. And it won’t be easy. As was said on 30 August – “reform or die, there’s no off-course substitute”. The New Zealand racing industry can have the brighter future it deserves, but real change and brave leadership will be required. We have the chance to turn the industry’s bleak future around together. All the best for your conference.   Racing Minister Winston Peters

DAYTON, OH. - The Dayton Derbies, a pair of $150,000 Grand Circuit events, brought most of the best aged horses in North America to Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway on Friday night (Sept. 28) producing an outstanding night of racing. The action resulted in four track records, including new all-age overall standards on both gaits in the two featured events. Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick) obliterated the all-time fastest mile ever clocking at the 5-year-old Dayton Raceway, speeding to a 1:47.4 victory in the Dayton Pacing Derby. The old record was 1:48.4, a full second slower, established by State Treasurer in the 2015 Derby. Other previous winners are Clear Vision, Wiggleit Jiggleit and Rockin Ron. Western Fame (Brett Miller) gunned directly to the front in the Pacing Derby, speeding to the quarter in :25.2, seating Split The House (Scott Zeron)-who left with authority from the outermost post position-in the pocket. Shortly thereafter, Tetrick moved favored Donttellmeagain to the front to stay through subsequent fractional times of :52.3 and an eye-popping 1:20 flat. A final panel in :27.4 resulted in a 1-1/4 length tally over Western Fame and McWicked (Sears), who had a long overland grind the final half mile. "This horse isn't real big, but he's a real professional," said Tetrick. "I've liked him since he was a baby...and the trainer (Jim King Jr.) does a terrific job with him. The 4-year-old gelded son of Dragon Again is owned by Paton Racing Stables. He now sports 18 wins in 33 lifetime starts, good for $589,911 in earnings. Ariana G (Brian Sears), the only mare in a talented field for the Dayton Trotting Derby, lowered the overall track trotting record to 1:52.1 with an impressive triumph. Sears was patient with Ariana G , allowing first I Know My Chip (Kayne Kauffman) and then eventual show finisher Guardian Angel AS (Matt Kakaley) to mix it up on the front end in :26.4 and then :54.4. Moving to the outer flow in second-over position, Ariana G moved up to fourth at the 1:23.1 three-quarters before besting a fast-closing Warrawee Roo (Daniel Dube) by a half-length in the record time. "I knew they were trotting hard leaving the gate and I was content with my early position and those fractions," Sears related in the winner's circle. "Jimmy Takter (trainer) texted me that she was a versatile sweetheart, and he was definitely right." The 4-year-old winning daughter of Muscle Hill now has captured 26 of her 37 races and banked $2,367,709. She is owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Previous Dayton Trotting Derby winners were Market Share, Il Sogno Dream, Obrigado and Pasithea Face S. A pair of $18,500 Opens on the undercard also produced new divisional track record holders. Optimist Blue Chip (Jeremy Smith) forged to a 1:53.2 score in the Open Trot, matching the fastest mile by a 4-year-old male (Il Sogno Dream in 2015 Derby). Carol's Z Tam (Sears) became the fastest 4-year-old pacing mare in Dayton's brief history stopping the timer in 1:51 in the Open Mares Pace. by Gregg Keidel, for Dayton Raceway

LEXINGTON, KY--Joe Holloway trainee Zero Tolerance vaulted from off cover and nailed pacesetter Queen Of The Pride to win the second of three harness racin divisions of the $273,100 Artspeak Bluegrass Two-Year-Old Filly Pace, sponsored by the Artspeak Syndicate and Winbak Farm, in 1:51 on Friday, Sept. 28 at The Red Mile. Driver David Miller positioned the daughter of Heston Blue Chip in fifth as Queen Of The Pride posted a :27.2 opening quarter on the front. She's Allright, sitting third, flushed first over as Beautyonthebeach angled off the rail from fourth heading toward a :55.1 half. Zero Tolerance, still fifth, entered the flow third over. She's Allright pressured Queen Of The Pride to three-quarters while Beautyonthebeach fanned three wide along with Zero Tolerance in behind. Past that station in 1:24, She's Allright stalled as Queen Of The Pride accelerated into the stretch. Beautyonthebeach rallied but hanged from off cover while Zero Tolerance rallied widest of all to slide past Queen Of The Pride in the final strides. Beautyonthebeach took third from She's Allright fourth. Winning her seventh race from nine starts, Zero Tolerance competes for owners Val D'Or Farms and Ted Gewertz, earning $241,291 in the process. She paid $5.60 to win. Stonebridge Soul paced to the top early and withstood late pressure to win the $90,700 first division of Bluegrass in 1:52.1. The Chris Ryder-trained daughter of Somebeachsomewhere cleared command from early-leader Bestseller Hanover at the quarter in :28. High Reward, sitting third, edged first over past a :57 half to apply pressure to the pacesetter around the final turn with Blue Ivy in tow second over. Maintaining a short lead by three-quarters in 1:25.3, Stonebridge Soul turned away High Reward in the stretch. Blue Ivy kicked off cover from second over and began a pursuit towards the center of the track with Louphoria wider and Sweet Lucy Lou weaving through competition towards the inside. Stonebridge Soul extended to the line as Blue Ivy snagged and held second from Louphoria charging home for third. Sweet Lucy Lou took fourth. Winning her third race in eight starts, Stonebridge Soul, owned by Henderson Farms and Robert Mondillo, has earned $116,790. Dexter Dunn piloted the $5.60 winner. Prescient Beauty blew off cover and swept to a length victory in 1:51.1 to take the final division of the Bluegrass filly pace. Undefiable took the lead as Annie Hill pushed through at the rail for the pocket. Prescient Beauty sat seventh as Undefiable paced the first quarter in :29.1. St Somewhere, away fifth from post nine, edged off the rail heading to the half and sprinted to the top following a :56.4 half. May Bride Hanover tracked the backside brush, with Prescient Beauty on cover, but travelled uncovered into the final turn. St Somewhere's lead narrowed to three-quarters, timed in 1:24.3, as May Bride Hanover dug into the pacesetter on the outside. Prescient Beauty tipped three wide into the stretch as May Bride Hanover retreated and St Somewhere continued on the lead. The odds-on favorite surged to the front late in the mile to best St Somewhere with Annie Hill chasing third and Jk Mardi Says snagging fourth. A homebred for owner James Avritt Sr., Prescient Beauty, a daughter of Art Major, won her fourth race in nine starts, collecting $178,537 in earnings. Doug McNair drove for trainer Gregg McNair and paid $3.40 to win. Overcoming post 10, the Jim Campbell-trained Muscle Hill colt Cloud Nine Fashion stayed undefeated with a 1:55.3 victory, her sixth win career, in the fourth of four divisions for the $373,000 Norman Woolworth Memorial Bluegrass Two-Year-Old Filly Trot Friday, Sept. 28 at The Red Mile. The 8-5 favorite floated away seventh to the quarter while Sister’s Promise progressed past early leader Whispering Oaks through a :28.1 opening quarter. Cloud Nine Fashion moved off the rail in the backstretch and flushed cover from Speed Titan heading to a :57.4 half. Speed Titan ranged toward tempo-setter Sister’s Promise circling the final turn. Cloud Nine Fashion, positioned fourth, kicked off cover following the 1:27.3 third-quarter. She advanced to the lead through the stretch as Speed Titan fought towards her inside and Conway Kellyanne, from third over at 132-1, launched through the center of the course. Cloud Nine Fashion held a length margin on the line as Conway Kellyanne snatched second from Speed Titan in third and Whispering Oaks fourth. Earning $113,875 in her six victories, Cloud Nine Fashion, racing for Fashion Farms LLC, returned $5.40 to win. David Miller sat in the bike.   Even-money favorite Evident Beauty caught cover moving into the final turn and gradually progressed to the front in the stretch to take the $93,000 first division of Bluegrass in 1:54.4. Double-digit contender Southwind Storm swept to the top from post eight as Mother Teresa inherited the pocket spot from the rail and Graceful tucked into third. Southwind Storm trotted to the quarter in :29.1 and sped to the half while widening her lead. In front by two-and-a-half lengths through a :57.1 half, Southwind Storm continued leading around the far turn while Asiago, from fourth, gradually reeled in the pacesetter from first over, carrying Global Pageant second over and Evident Beauty third over. Asiago advanced to the lead past three-quarters in 1:26.1 as Evident Beauty kicked three wide from fourth. The Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee slowly gained ground through the stretch and took a narrow lead on Global Pageant taking second nearing the wire before winning by a neck. Asiago held third while Golden Tricks checked in fourth. Owned by Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC and R A W Equine Inc., Evident Beauty, a filly by Trixton, won her second race from six starts and collected $146,332 in earnings. David Miller drove the $4.00 winner. Jim Doherty Memorial and Peaceful Way winner The Ice Dutchess claimed her third-consecutive victory with a 1:54.4 on-the-front performance. Driver Yannick Gingras placed the Jimmy Takter-trained filly by Muscle Hill fourth as Bella’s Rose Power paced to the quarter in :29.1. Gingras angled wide with The Ice Dutchess before entering the backstretch and brushed to the top heading to the half, timed in :57.4. Starita, the second betting choice and positioned fifth, tipped first over heading into the final turn and stalled a touch before rolling towards leader. The Ice Dutchess remained on the lead by three-quarters in 1:26.4 and coasted through the stretch with Starita besting Bella’s Rose Power in a photo for second and Ma Was Right finishing fourth. Winning her fifth race from eight starts, The Ice Dutchess has compiled $395,915 in earnings for owner Coyote Wynd Farms. She paid $3.00 to win. Noel Daley-trained Trixton filly Princess Deo weaved through competition at the rail and held off a late charge from favorite Special Honor to win the third Bluegrass split in 1:55.1. Hanna Dreamgirl left for the lead from post eight and cleared from Scirocco Donnahill through a :28 opening quarter. Princess Deo, positioned third, stuck to the inside as Jezzys Legacy moved first over with Fade Into You and Special Honor on cover heading to the half. Hanna Dreamgirl continued on the lead through a :57.2 midpoint. Jezzys Legacy applied minor pressure to Hanna Dreamgirl rounding the final turn as Fade Into You and Special Honor mounted their wide bids heading by the 1:27.1 third-quarter. Fade Into You kicked to the lead in the stretch as Jezzys Legacy lost ground and Hanna Dreamgirl clung to position. Princess Deo, shooting around fading pocket-sitter Scirocco Donnahill and through a seam at the pylons, powered to command entering the eighth pole. Special Honor lunged late towards the center of the track but settled for second a half length behind. Fade Into You finished third ahead of Hanna Dreamgirl fourth. Owned by Noel Daley, Deo Volente Farms LLC and John Fodera, Princess Deo won her second race from eight starts, compiling $72,106 in earnings. Andrew McCarthy sat behind the $16.00 winner. The four divisions of the Norman Woolworth Memorial were sponsored by Arden Homestead Stable, Et Gerry & Peter Gerry, Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, Stoner Manor, Inc., Menhammar Stuteri Ab, Jorgen Jahre, Jr., Lawrence DeVan and William DeVan, Jr. Grand Circuit action continues at The Red Mile Saturday, Sept. 29 with five divisions of the $367,000 Western Ideal Bluegrass Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace, sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms and Brittany Farms, and a single dash of the $126,000 American Ideal Bluegrass Three-Year-Old Filly Pace, sponsored by Brittany Stallion Management. Racing gets going Saturday with first-race post at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile

When a horse is having it's first start and is paying $2.10 to win, the expectations are understandably high and it imposes some pressure for both trainer and driver. However after she managed to navigate around the breaking Elegant Jewel at Winton yesterday, there were no doubts The Empress was going to live up to her reputation. Driver Brent Barclay pushed her forward from the second line and had to go four wide into the first bend in his quest for the lead. On straightening to run down the back of the track the Art Major filly was in front and thats where she stayed, winning impressively. Barclay only had to run the reins over her rump for her to pull away and win by two and a quarter lengths. "Like most horses she's probably better from behind. Being favourite and having her first start, Brent took the initative and took out any bad luck," said trainer Robin Swain.  The Empress was bred in Australia but has a strong Southern breeding connection. She's out of the Washington VC mare Easton All Action which was owned by Brian Norman and won three of she nine starts for Graeme Anderson and Amber Hoffman in 2011. Easton All Action won another nine races in Australia and The Empress is her first foal. "I think when the mare finished racing (in Australia) Brian actually tried to buy her back."   The Express is owned by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate which normally buys New Zealand horses and sends them to other New Zealand stables or flys them over to Australia. However for The Express the trip went the other way.  "Merv bought her at the sales and sent her over here. I broke her in and also had her as a two year old. She went up to Mark's (Mark Purdon) for a month and got a small injury. It was nothing major and she just needed a bit of time out. Merv has just left her with me for a while and we'll see what happens."   Swain says she was always going to take time.  "I had her running along for a bit as a two year old but she was such a big filly. When I picked her up at Diane Cournane's place as a yearling I thought she looked like a two year old."   He says The Empress will have her next start in the first Ladyship Stakes Final at Gore in a fortnight. It's a $12,000 race over 1700 metres.  "After Christmas I think she's got the potential to be right up there with those good fillies I've driven if she keeps improving. She's got a strong will to win and Brent said she got lost a bit in front and would be better coming from behind." The win on The Empress was the first of three for Barclay who followed it up with back to back wins on Mighty Flying Art and King Cassidy.   Bruce Stewart

Racing's "race fields" legislation, which was touted as being one of the driving forces in transforming an ailing racing industry has been withdrawn from Parliament. Racing Minister Winston Peters confirmed the Bill before parliament had been withdrawn when speaking at the annual New Zealand Harness Racing Conference in Auckland on Friday. "The bill before parliament was withdrawn yesterday (Thursday) Peters said in response to a question during the conference". "The bill wasn't right for what needs addressing", he said. Withdrawing the Racing Amendment Bill has disappointed the management of the New Zealand Racing Board who sought to amend the Racing Act 2003 to implement a range of provisions that were designed to improve the competiveness of the New Zealand Racing Board's betting operations. The Racing Board wanted to introduce new requirements on offshore betting operators, and provide for regulations on revising the formula for allocating proceeds from sports betting between the racing and sports sectors.  NZRB CEO John Allen  The National Party issued a statement saying it is disappointed that Racing Minister Winston Peters has withdrawn the Racing Amendment Bill. " It would have had considerable financial benefit to New Zealand’s racing industry", National’s Racing spokesperson Ian McKelvie said. The Racing Amendment Bill took several years to develop and involved extensive consultation with the whole racing industry. These changes would have made it possible for the industry to get a return from betting in overseas jurisdictions on New Zealand product and also betting by New Zealanders on foreign portals, both of which currently bring no tax or income back to this country. The Bill had the support of the whole industry and was set to provide a multi-million dollar injection into the racing and sporting codes, which would have flowed through to race stakes. The Bill would have enabled the industry to receive approximately $1 million per month in extra revenue. This extra revenue has already been delayed since late last year as the Minister initially postponed the Bill. Now Mr Peters is making the industry wait even longer for that potential income. National and the racing industry will await the Minister’s next move and hope that he acts in the best interest of the industry as a whole. Harnesslink Media

LEXINGTON, KY--The three-year-olds take the stage on Sunday, Sept. 28 at The Red Mile with filly trotters competing in three divisions of the $206,000 Cantab Hall Bluegrass Stakes, colt trotters contesting in two divisions of the $242,000 Explosive Matter Bluegrass Stakes and colt pacers going in two divisions of the $183,000 Somebeachsomewhere Bluegrass Stakes. Trond Smedshammer's star-filly Phaetosive starts in the third division of the Cantab Hall. Competing for the Purple Haze Stables LLC, the daughter of Explosive Matter has hit the board in all eight of her starts this season, victorious in six, and winning 10 of 15 starts overall. Runner-up to Manchego in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, Phaetosive's resume also includes wins in the $128,500 Del Miller Memorial, $253,000 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship and, her most recent victory, in the $261,800 Elegantimage beating both Manchego and Atlanta in 1:52.2. Smedshammer pilots his training pupil from post two. Supergirl Riley, who upset world-champion Plunge Blue Chip in the $180,000 Zweig Filly Trot at Vernon Downs, fronts the first grouping of the Cantab Hall from post two with Marcus Miller driving. The Erv Miller-trained daughter of Muscle Mass enters off wins in the $50,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) consolation and the $40,000 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) consolation. A winner of four races from 13 starts this year and eight from 22 overall, she has accrued $341,263 in earnings for owners Paymaq Racing, George Golemes and Harvey Eisman. John Butenschoen trainee Nixie Volo, driven by Corey Callahan, enters the second division of the Cantab Hall off a 1:51.2 victory in the $250,000 KYSS final. The daughter of Yankee Glide, winning four races in 12 starts this year and seven from 20 overall, has collected $286,786 in earnings for owners Kentuckiana Racing Stable, VIP Internet Stable, 83 Racing and Eddie Gran. Met's Hall, nearing $1 million in career earnings, starts from post seven with Andy Miller driving in the first division of the Explosive Matter. The Julie Miller-trained son of Cantab Hall has hit peak form in recent months with a second-place finish in the $1,000,000 Hambletonian, a 1:52 lifetime-best victory in the $350,000 Zweig Memorial, a three-length score in the $130,271 Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park and, more recently, a second-place effort in the $512,050 Canadian Trotting Classic. Owned by Story Inc. and Andy Miller Stable Inc., the winner of eight races from 19 starts has compiled $904,254 in earnings. Trainer Jimmy Takter sends three trotters in the second division of the Explosive Matter: Wolfgang (from post two), Tactical Landing (post three) and Zephyr Kronos (post eight). Wolfgang, competing for Brixton Medical, Goran Falk, Hatfield Stables and Fair Island Farm, has earned $562,790 from seven wins in 18 starts which includes the Goodtimes Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park and a $181,000 division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Andrew McCarthy picks up the drive off Wolfgang's fourth-place finish in the $250,000 KYSS final. Tactical Landing, a colt by Muscle Hill out of Southwind Serena competes from post three with Takter in the bike. Owned by The Tactical Landing Stable, has four wins to his credit from 10 starts, including a lifetime-best 1:51.4 mile in a prelim for the KYSS, and over $250,000 in earnings. His achievements also include a third-place finish in the Hambletonian and a second-place effort in the KYSS final. A colt by European-star Ready Cash, Zephyr Kronos gets Yannick Gingras to drive from post eight. His lone Grand Circuit victory came in the $80,000 Zweig Memorial consolation, timed in 1:52, but also finished third in a division of the Stanely Dancer Memorial and second in a split of the Tompkins-Geers. Off an eighth-place finish in the Canadian Trotting Classic, the winner of five races from 15 starts races has earned just over $100,000 in earnings for owners Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz, Perry Soderberg and Christina Takter. Millioniare-pacer Stay Hungry faces off against stablemate and KYSS champ American History in the opening division of the Somebeachsomewhere. Winning 11 races from 21 starts, Stay Hungry, a Tony Alagna-trained colt by Somebeachsomewhere, enters off an attempt at the Pacing Triple Crown as he won his $102,720 elimination of the Little Brown Jug but, after an inquiry looking at interference and a pylon violation, was placed fourth and scratched from the final. Earning $1,193,959 for owners Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman Estate, Stay Hungry starts from post two with Doug McNair in the bike. Yannick Gingras pilots American History from post three. Nearing $500,000 in career earnings, the winner of 10 races in 20 starts swept the KYSS with a 1:48.1 victory in the final. The colt by American Ideal, with $472,285 in earnings, races for owners Brittany Farms LLC, Marvin Katz and American History Racing. Unraced as a two-year-old, Thinkbig Dreambig fronts the final division of the Somebeachsomewhere off a second-place finish in the KYSS final. The Jimmy Takter-trained son of Bettor's Delight, who won the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park in 1:50, has five wins from 14 starts and $404,537 in earnings for owners Brixton Medical Inc., John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk. Yannick Gingras grabs the drive and will start from post two. Hanover Shoe Farms sponsors the Cantab Hall (also sponsored by Brittany Farms), Explosive Matter (also sponsored by the Explosive Matter Syndicate) and Somebeachsomewhere (also sponsored by the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate) Bluegrass Stakes. The 12-race program is the first of the Grand Circuit meeting's matinee cards, with first-race post Sunday, as well as for the following week, slated for 1:00 p.m. (EDT). By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile  

CHESTER, PA - The John Simpson Sr. stakes series, honoring the late Hall of Fame horseman and executive, got underway at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon with two-year-old harness racing filly action, with over $190,000 in combined purses for three divisions of pacers and two of trotters. In the first pace, the Well Said- Lady's Portrait filly Renaissance Lady K was sent to the front by driver George Napolitano Jr. before the 27.3 quarter, then the pair got to the half in 56.3. Favored Philly Hanover launched uncovered from fourth at that point, and made some headway before the leader got to the ¾ in 1:24.1; the chalk then continued to reduce the margin through the stretch, but Renaissance Lady K held gamely to post a neck decision while lowering her mark four seconds to 1:52.1. Norm Parker trains the winner for veteran owner Robert Key. In the other sidewheeling division, Rockn Philly, who did not have a good outing upon returning to her "home track" for a Liberty Bell contest last week, definitely brought her "A" game today while winning in 1:53.4. Victor Kirby sent the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance - Philadelphia to the lead after the 27.4, rested to the half in 57.2, and then powered home in 56.2 - 27.4 while unthreatened, boosting her earnings to $118.038 for trainer Jim King Jr. and the ownership of CC Racing LLC and Jo Ann Looney-King. Turning to the trotters: The "Trot Man," driver Mike Simons, showed he knows 5/8-mile track geometry in the first section, going out from the rail with Pilgrims Lass against two outside leavers, forcing one to tuck before letting favored Navarone Hanover go past the 28.2 quarter, and then racing in the golden seat through middle splits of 58.3 and 1:27.4. As first-over Big Weezy grinded to a short lead headstretch, Simons ducked to the inside, and gradually his Muscle Mass - Goodtimesstarthere filly erased Big Weezy's narrow advantage and got to the wire a neck to the good in a personal best of 1:57.1. Pilgrims Lass has now won two straight for trainer Scott Andrews and owner Edward Andrews. The Donato Hanover - Glide About miss American Kosmos, 3-for-4 lifetime and the 1-9 favorite of the crowd, found herself having to take a two-hole trip behind determined 38-1 shot Sigilwig, who set fractions of 28.4, 58.3, and 1:27.3 in their cut. At the ¾ pole driver George Brennan eased American Kosmos to the outside, and she trotted nicely down the center of the track to win in 1:57.1, at the wire a length ahead of Meadowbranch Vicki, with the gallant Sigilwig holding for third. Julie Miller trains the quick filly, whose only loss came when she made a break, for owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, and Dr. David Goodrow. Stella Jane, looped early and out well past the 28.2 quarter before getting the lead, went on with fractions of 58.4 and 1:27.3, then had enough to withstand the horse that parked her early, Southwind Percy, by a neck in 1:57 after a stretch battle in the last division. George Napolitano Jr., getting a stakes win on both gaits, guided the daughter of Crazed - Naughty Nana for trainer John Butenschoen and owners Crawford Farms Racing. FINISHING LINES - With a carryover from yesterday in the Pick 4 pool, this afternoon's quad-win bet drew a lot of attention, with its 50-cent minimum and 15% takeout. Horses paying $7.60, $13.00, and $2.20 in the first three legs didn't really hint at a mega-payoff, but when $64.60 winner Inner Peace nosed out favorite He's Gone in the bet's final contest, a 50-cent ticket was worth $7441.90. (Had the favorite held, the payoff still would have been a generous $676.50.) From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

Barry Purdon’s best horse may not be his best chance of the four he lines up against a rampant Star Galleria in the $20,000 Spring Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. Trainer Purdon has three of his team making their seasonal debuts including last season’s New Zealand Cup runner-up Jack’s Legend, whose hasn’t raced since March. While Jack’s Legend is the best horse in Purdon’s barn, his stablemate Mach Shard has the enormous benefit of two recent starts under his belt and that fitness edge sees Purdon opt for him as his top hope of upsetting hot favoutite Star Galleria. Star Galleria smashed his own national 2200m stand record with his win last start and will be expected to repeat with anything like similar racing luck tonight. But Mach Shard got close enough to him last start after galloping early that if he can step safely and take advantage of his 20m head start he could prove at least slightly problematic for the favourite. “He was pretty good last start considering the overall time and the fact he missed away, which actually surprised me,” says Purdon. “So even though Jack’s Legend is a more proven horse at the top level Mach Shard might have a little edge on him this week.”  Jack’s Legend is a real deal open class player this season but Purdon’s horses tend to improve with a run under their belt and that will almost certainly be the case tonight.  “I wouldn’t be shocked if he won because we all know he is a very good horse but it is hard for them fresh up against horses like Star Galleria.” Purdon also has stunning debut winner Dream Major in tonight but he meets some hardened rivals in race eight, which looks a great early season form race.  “He is a pretty good horse but he will have some other smart young horses around him and potentially following him so it is a big step up.”  Also returning tonight is National Trot winner Temporale, up against his arch rivals Lemond and Speeding Spur in a rare Alexandra Park mobile mile open grade trot.  Trainer Tony Herlihy is adamant the now six-year-old is bigger and stronger than last season, when a late growth spurt may have seen him weaken off and dip in form.  “He has been working well but we all know how hard it can be fresh up for them, especially when the other two have had a start this time in,” says Herlihy. lot may come down to the start because if Lemond, who has the best draw of the big three, can get across and lead it is hard to imagine he will be attacked. After trotting a very fast time fresh up off a 50m handicap last Friday he might be the best bet of the favourited trio tonight.  Tonight’s mainly mile meeting also features an even bigger rarity, a standing start mile for the lower grade trotters which will see a new national record as there is not one listed at the moment. Michael Guerin

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