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It is well chronicled that horse racing — Standardbred and thoroughbred — has been struggling in the state of New Jersey. Without “racino” revenues to boost purses, racing has suffered at Monmouth, the Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway (the latter two primarily showcase harness racing). Lower purses have meant fewer racing days, less in-state breeding and an inferior product. For years, the Atlantic City casinos gave the tracks purse subsidies — but that stopped during the final years of Governor Chris Christie’s regime. For the last few years, supporters of racing have tried to find ways to get those purse subsidies back. In 2016, New Jersey voters went to the polls and were asked to approve a casino in North Jersey, presumably at the Meadowlands. It was rejected soundly. Meadowlands owner Jeffrey Gural has lamented that he needs purse subsidies to continue racing at the Meadowlands. Gural has been subsidizing purses with his own cash and says that he can’t continue this in the future. He has indicated that races like the Meadowlands Pace could be cancelled, with that money used for overnight purses. The Meadowlands Pace offers a purse of at least $700,000 and Gural contends that money might be better spent on overnights, so they can compete better with Yonkers, Harrah’s Philadelphia and Pocono Downs. With the subsidies in limbo, the Meadowlands applied for 68 racing dates for 2019 — down from 90 in 2018. When told by the New Jersey Racing Commission that the minimum is 76, the track applied for the minimum. Freehold, which often raced Thursday-Saturday, is going to race Friday and Saturday afternoons only in 2019 and it too will race the state minimum of 76. As grim as this picture may appear, there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel. It looks like the New Jersey State Legislature is poised to pass a five-year, $100 million plan for purse subsidies at New Jersey’s three horse racing tracks. It would call for $20 million per year, with Monmouth receiving $10 million, the Meadowlands $6 million and Freehold $1.6 million. Another $1.8 million will go to the New Jersey breeding program — money that is sorely needed to build up state stock. Monmouth applied for 58 racing dates in 2019 and says, if the purse subsidy gets passed, it could increase to 71. The Meadowlands should follow suit, with the hope of getting back to or near the 90-date mark. Let’s do some simple math based on the current harness racing calendars at Freehold and the Meadowlands. With Freehold, if you take the $1.6 million and divide it over 76 racing dates, that’s $21,052 that could be added to daily purses. Of course, Freehold can do different things with the money — it could increase purses for stakes races, sire stakes or create a high-stakes race that could attract some of the best Standardbreds in the game. The latter is not likely. If you’re increasing purses, the best thing to do is use it on those who train and race at Freehold all year long. $21,052 may not sound like a lot, but over 10 races that’s $2,100 per race. A preferred pace might run for $10,000 instead of $8,000. That matters. The Meadowlands would really benefit. On Saturdays, the preferred races at the Big M usually offer a $20,000 purse. By comparison, the Yonkers opens are currently being run for $44,000. With $78,947 in additional daily purses now available, the open races at the Big M could be run for $30k, $40k or even $50k. This is pure speculation on my part, but the prevailing thought is that Gural and the Meadowlands will use the subsidy to bolster the overnights and the New Jersey Sire Stakes. As much as we love the big race, the overnights are what keep the sport afloat on a daily basis. Gural has hinted that the sire stakes finals could have $250,000 purses, a significant increase over the $100,000 that was offered in 2018. There were 12 races on the Friday, Dec. 14 card with $141,340 in total purses. If they used that $78K, the total purse jumps to $219,340, an average of $18,278 per race. On the same date, Yonkers offered 10 races and $226,750 in purses, an average of $22,675 per race. As you can see, the additional $78K would help the Big M close the gap significantly — and with the Big M offering a one-mile oval, there is a chance that some trainers may move some of the horses to race there instead of Yonkers. And the subsidy should help most in the spring. The Meadowlands does OK in January and February, because the tracks that siphon their horses — Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia — are closed. Once March comes, the higher purses at those tracks result in horse shortages in East Rutherford. The purse subsidy might keep enough horses on the Meadowlands’ grounds to help them get through the spring and summer with better quality stock. If you enjoy harness racing, this is welcome news. Nobody in the sport wants to see the Meadowlands become a third-rate track. It’s done too much good for the sport and, despite being second-rate to some, its handle dwarfs that of most other tracks. Bettors like the one-mile oval and they’ll wager over $2 million on run-of-the-mill Friday and Saturday cards. That said, nobody likes to see bailouts. It’s a dirty word and many think if you can’t market and promote your sport so that it’s self-sustaining, then you should suffer the consequences. Many in the Garden State are against this legislation. In an Asbury Park Press poll, 58 percent say they are against the purse subsidy, with 42 percent in favor. Nobody likes to see their taxes raised or used to bail out private industry, but many fail to realize how many people would be impacted if harness racing disappeared in New Jersey. Those that work in the game may be forced to take government subsidies in the form of welfare, unemployment and other forms of social services. The taxpayers foot that bill too! Once the legislation passes, things should get interesting. We will need to hear how both the Meadowlands and Freehold will use the additional monies; we’ll need to see if the Meadowlands adds a few days to the calendar; and we’ll need to see if they have any new tricks up their sleeves. For now, the subsidy is good news. It does not cure all the ills with harness racing in New Jersey, but things are better now than they were a week ago. Reprinted with permission of US Racing By John Fugele John Furgele As a kid growing up in the Buffalo suburbs in the 1970s and 80s, the radio was one of John Furgele’s best friends. In the evenings, he used to listen to a show on WBEN radio called “Free Form Sports,” hosted by Buffalo broadcast legend Stan Barron. The show ran weeknights from 6 to 11 pm and featured every kind of sport you could imagine. One minute, Mr. Barron was interviewing a Buffalo Sabres player; the next, he was giving high school field hockey scores. But there was always one thing that caught John’s ear. During those five hours, Barron would give the results from Western New York’s two harness racing tracks — Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. This is where John learned what exactas, quinellas, trifectas and daily doubles were all about. From then on, he always paid attention to harness racing, and when Niatross (a legendary Western New York horse) hit the scene in 1979, his interest began to blossom. John believes harness racing is a sport that has the potential to grow and he will explore ways to get that done via marketing, promotion and, above all, the races themselves. When he’s not watching races, John is busy with his family and his job in sales. Like the pacers and trotters, he does a little running himself and you’ll occasionally find him “going to post” in a local 5K race.

In the last five years harness racing yearlings produced out of Southland, Otago or Central Otago under the Southern Bred Southern Reared banner, have been among the sale toppers at the annual Yearling Sales in Christchurch. Last year Chicago Cub, a full brother to millionaire pacer Chicago Blues topped the sales, selling to Emilo and Mary Rosati for $190,000. He was bred and prepared by Winton couple John and Katrina Price. In 2016 SBSR group produced the top two lots in Mach Shard ($200,000) and Honor And Glory ($170,000) while further back Bollinger sold for $200,000 in 2015. The honour board also includes Titanium in 2013 at $170,000 and Beaudiene Beaufighter which topped the Sales in 2014.  The highest amount paid for a Southern Bred Southern Reared yearling was in 2008 when Tuapeka Mariner sold for $250,000. This February the SBSR group will present fifty two yearlings at the NZB Standardbred Sale in Christchurch. SBSR was a concept initially talked about by the late Doug Stiven of Tapanui, and Dave Kennedy of Bayswater and it was in 2002 that Dave Kennedy, Mark O’Connor, Debbie Smith and John Stiven formed the inaugural committee. “The reason we got SBSR going was to get Southerners working together to raise the profile of the product at the Sales,” Stiven said. SBSR is open to all breeders in Otago and Southland and one of the highlights of the year is the annual bus tour and yearling parades.  Stiven says the tour for trainers and buyers is one of reasons SBSR has been successful. “We get about 22 to 25 buyers each year now and it’s very beneficial for those buyers to be able to come, and of all our vendors. Ken Barron and Michael House have never missed one.” Dave Kennedy agrees the tour has been a big part of the success story. “The SBSR tour is the best thing we’ve ever done there’s no doubt about that. You get the main buyers arriving on your doorstep. They see your place and see what you’ve done and what your horses look like.” This year the tour will be held on 11th and 12th February. SBSR also promotes substantially through a variety of magazines and websites and employs local TV personality Tom Conroy to film their stock. Stiven says the SBSR brand is being recognised in Australian with horses like I’m Themightyquinn, Beaudiene Boaz, I’m Victorious, Fight For Glory, Arden Rooney and Galactic Star flying the flag. I’m Themightyquinn Outside of the Yearling Sales SBSR is also the group behind The Diamond Creek Farm Classic at Ascot Park Invercargill on Diamonds Day. To date the race has been won by Kept Under Wraps, Lazarus, Mongolian Hero, Aloka and A Bettor Act. It’s sponsored by American heavyweight Diamond Creek Farm.  “We asked Adam Bowden if he thought Diamond Creek Farm was a good fit for Diamonds Day and We said that SBSR supported the two year old race. He was happy to make a five year commitment through service to A Rocknroll Dance and Sweet Lou with the right of renewal.” For decades SBSR horses have been proving the importance of the southern region to the Australian racing industry and beyond. It all started with trail blazers like Cardigan Bay, Robin Dundee, Stella Frost and Young Quinn. Cardigan Bay - 1963 New Zealand Cup - Addington, Christchurch Cardigan Bay - 1964 Yonkers Raceway - Stanley Dancer - 1st USA start Cardigan Bay Stiven said “Southland has long been regarded as the Kentucky of New Zealand. The SBSR group has managed to work together for the betterment of the Southern region as a platform to show unity in the sale of yearlings from this special part of the world. It also shows the group is (about) more than yearlings with the sponsorship of the Two Year Old Diamond Classic.” Continuing to put Southland on the map, from now until sale time I’ll write a number of stories about SBSR including what makes the south so good for breeding, the twelve millionaires the group has produced, the SBSR yearling tour in February and I’ll profile six of the well-bred youngsters that SBSR will be presenting at the Christchurch yearling sales. Bruce Stewart

Southwind Amazon posted his 21st win of the season at Northfield Park on Monday (December 17) capturing the evening's 13th race. His win tally ranks Southwind Amazon as the winningest harness racing horse in North America so far in 2018. Southwind Amazon's 21 wins this year have come from 37 starts. He has also finished second and third each five times, an impressive feat for a horse generally assigned the outside against Open company on a ½-mile track. The eight year-old gelding began Monday's victorious journey from the outside and led his competition at every call through fractions of :26.1, :55.3, 1:23.1 and 1:52, besting his competition by 2-lengths. Southwind Amazon (Camluck - Artoonist - Artsplace) is owned by Ameer Najor of Bloomfield, Michigan and is trained by Paul Holzman. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was in the sulky for the winning drive. Ayers Ratliff

MILTON, December 17, 2018 - Phantom Seelster's Christmas wish list may include a new broom following another harness racing victory in the Valedictory Series on Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Richard Moreau trainee powered to a 1:52.1 triumph in the second of two $17,000 second leg Valedictory divisions and will now have an opportunity at a series sweep on Boxing Day. Driven by Bob McClure, Phantom Seelster came first up on the far turn from fifth and grinded away to sit a pair of lengths from the leader Legal Power at three-quarters in 1:24.2. R Bazingga followed Phantom Seelster second-over to set up a stretch showdown. In the lane, Phantom Seelster charged home in the centre of rivals Legal Power and R Bazingga to win by a length. Legal Power just edged out R Bazingga for second, while Larrys Petrock, who won a first leg division, finished fourth. A gelded son of Mach Three, Phantom Seelster extended his current win streak to five with Monday's score. The Moreau trainee swept the Harvest Series to start his current run of victories. Phantom Seelster now has five wins and $72,270 earned in 19 starts this season for owners Gestion Mastel Inc, Conrad Leber and Marcel Barrieau. The roan gelding sports career numbers of eight wins and $115,935 heading into the series final. A $2 win ticket on Phantom Seelster returned $5.20. Phantom Seelster The evening's first split saw Beachin Lindy get the job done despite drifting out late once again. The Steve Charlton trainee and driver Doug McNair got pulled up towards the top on the far turn by following Rocky J Squirrel second-over. Rocky J Squirrel claimed the top spot in the lane, but gave it up late to finish second by a neck to Beachin Lindy in 1:53.4. Ivegotagirlcrush finished third, while Bit Of Luck crossed the line fourth. Owned by Larocque Racing Stable, Beachin Lindy collected his seventh win in 25 starts this season. The gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere picked up his ninth career victory to bring his career earnings to $71,244. Beachin Lindy, who finished fourth in his first leg division, paid $6.60 to win. Beachin Lindy Sophomore pacing colts and geldings, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2018, were eligible for nomination to the Valedictory Series. The $34,400 Valedictory Series final is scheduled to take place on Boxing Day (December 26). Post time for Woodbine Mohawk Park's Boxing Day card is 1 p.m. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. Mark McKelvie Replays: www.YouTube.com/WoodbineReplays (Race 4 and 7)    

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 17, 2018 -- Windsong Leo rolled to his 20th victory, tying him with Southwind Amazon and Spicey Victor for most wins in harness racing this year, when he overwhelmed a good field in Monday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Rebounding from a horrible trip at Northfield Park, Windsong Leo zipped to the front in 26.2 for Dave Palone and effectively put away the competition with a 27.3 third panel. The 6-year-old Jereme's Jet-Windsong Goldie gelding scored in 1:50.2, 3 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Anythingforlove A. Phoenix Warrior N rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Windsong Leo, who soared over $400,000 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Phil Collura. In Monday's companion feature, the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot, True Blue Stride stretched out his stablemate, Dayson, to the quarter, then edged by in deep stretch to down him by 3/4 lengths in 1:55.3. PL Icabod finished third. Jim Pantaleano steered the 6-year-old Muscle Hill-Sabrina Hall gelding, who now has banked $241,306, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Brett Miller, Palone and Burke each fashioned a triple on the 11-race card. Cory Kreiser also enjoyed a big day, collecting three training victories with horses he solely owns and piloting one of them, Jefferson County, at 46-1. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The connections of last season’s champion juvenile pacing filly Princess Tiffany are leaving no stone unturned to try and get to the bottom of her underwhelming start to the season.  Unbeaten last season when she won the Jewels and Breeders Crown, Princess Tiffany has finished third and fourth at Alexandra Park the last two Fridays, costing punters a fortune and confusing her trainers.  So she has been sent to Matamata’s Veterinary Services clinic for scintigraphy, a process in which dye is injected into a horse before scanning to pinpoint areas of possible soreness.  While it used to be relatively rarely used on racehorses it has become more commonplace and the All Stars, who train Princess Tiffany, will sometimes send their horses for the scanning process at the end of long campaigns.  But Princess Tiffany is just beginning her campaign and has a $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Championship, for which she could still be favourite, at Alexandra Park on December 31.  So her scintigraphy is to try and work out why she is racing below her best. “Mark (Purdon, trainer) thinks something might be annoying her but we can’t work out what, which is where the scintigraphy is so good,” says stable traveling foreman Matt Bowden.  “We are not thinking it is anything serious but at least this way we will know and we are still confident of getting her to the Sires’ Stakes Final.” Princess Tiffany’s expensive failure last Friday and the horrible mid-race smash in her event somewhat detracted from the emergence of unheralded filly Belle Of Montana.  She is now a group two winner after just four starts for trainer Barry Purdon and paced the 2200m mobile in a very slick 3:28.3, quicker than both her stablemates Dream About Me (Queen Of Hearts) and Ultimate Sniper (Alabar Classic) as they won the other major 2200m mobiles on the night.  While the fields for the December 31 meeting won’t be out until December 27, there has already been a big shortener in the markets for the group ones with Marcoola now into $1.75 to win the National Trot.  He moved into a $1.90 after destroying his opposition in the Lyell Creek last Friday and is even shorter now as second favourite Speeding Spur has been ruled out of the race. “He has had a really busy time obviously with the Inter Dominion so we will freshen him up now and then all going well head back to Australia for the Great Southern Star,” says co-trainer Josh Dickie.  There must also be doubts after Luby Lou, who sits on the fourth line of betting, making it to the National Trot as she has yet to race this season and her only chance of a lead-up race would be $50,000 Flying Mile at Cambridge on Christmas Eve.   Michael Guerin

INTER Dominion hero Tiger Tara has thrived since his stunning win and is headed to Perth. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto said as long as suitable flights can be locked-in, Tiger Tara will tackle the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup on January 11 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup a week later. Both races are at Gloucester Park. “He’s come through like he hasn’t even had a run,” Pizzuto said. “He’s too well not to go to Perth. Plus the prizemoney is so good and he loves the small track. “As long as I can sort the right flights, and they tell me that should be fine, he’ll go there.” Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal is another headed to Perth after a stunning return to racing with a win at Menangle yesterday (Monday). My Field Marshal drew wide, worked hard early, grabbed a midrace trail then gunned-down heavily-backed stablemate Raukapuka Ruler to win running away by 2.3m in a 1min50.9sec mile. He was timed to run a 53.8sec last half. “This is the best preparation he’s had for a long time. He always seemed to have it under control today, either when our horse kicked away with a big lead. He gathered him in quickly,” Butt said. Yesterday’s race was transferred from last Saturday night when the Menangle meeting was washed-out. “It’s turned out perfectly really. He now heads to Melbourne, has a day in a yard down there and flies out to Perth on Wednesday night,” Butt said. “I was keen to get him there for a lead-up race and he’ll have that in the sprint at Gloucester Park on December 28.” Butt’s other stable star, Let It Ride, will stay in Victoria for his lead-up racing towards the Hunter Cup on February 2. “I just think he needed the run when he was beaten the other night (second to Conviction in a free-for-all at Melton last Saturday),” Butt said. “There’s lot of good options for him in Victoria. He can have four runs close together, then a week’s break and into the Ballarat then Hunter Cups.” Adam Hamilton

Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Announces Changes to Nomination and Election Committees, Updates Standardbred Driver/Trainer Category. 2019 Nominations now being accepted.   At a recent meeting of the CHRHF Board of Directors, the following changes to the Hall’s Nomination and Election Committees were approved.   Standardbred Committee Chairs   Long-time Standardbred Election Committee Chair Kathy Wade Vlaar, Manager of Member and Stakeholder Relations, Standardbred Canada will move to the position of Chair, Standardbred Nomination Committee, to fill the position previously held by Darryl Kaplan, now CHRHF President. Jeff Porchak, Director of Digital Communications, Standardbred Canada was named Chair, Standardbred Election Committee.   Standardbred Nomination Committee   Jamie Martin, Director of Operations, Grand River Raceway joins the Standardbred Nomination Committee, replacing Brian Webster who has served the CHRHF in various capacities over many years. The CHRHF thanks Brian for his valuable knowledge and contributions during his time volunteering with the organization.   Thoroughbred Nomination Committee   Kris Platts, Manager, Broadcast/Simulcast Operations, Woodbine Entertainment Group Broadcast Department, joins the Thoroughbred Nomination Committee, following Jim Bannon, Thoroughbred Racing Analyst and Handicapper, being named Vice-President of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.   A complete list of all Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame committees and members can be found here   Additonally, as part of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s continuing efforts to honour the most deserving people and horses who have made a significant contribution to Canadian Standardbred and Thoroughbred horse racing, a change has been made to recognize Standardbred drivers and trainers as two separate categories. Historically Standardbred driver/trainers have been considered one category by the CHRHF. The changing landscape of harness racing now includes more people who specialize either as a trainer or driver. While there will still be individuals who succeed as both drivers and trainers, for the purpose of evaluating nominees, these people will be assigned to the category where their career has been the strongest, while still recognizing the total body of their work. The purpose of this change is to provide a more balanced comparison to their peers.   The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is now accepting public nominations to be considered for the CHRHF Class of 2019.   The public is invited to participate in the nomination of horses and people who have made a significant contribution to Canadian Standardbred and Thoroughbred horse racing, for induction to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2019.   Nominations for the following will be considered:   MALE HORSE: Stallions or geldings whose contribution to Canadian racing occurred in the past 20 years.   FEMALE HORSE: Mares whose contribution to Canadian racing occurred in the past 20 years.   VETERAN HORSE: Horses whose careers have been concluded for 20 years, but less than 50 years.   PERSON: Trainers, Drivers, Jockeys   BUILDERS: Includes, but not limited to Breeders, Owners, Officials, and others.   COMMUNICATORS: Includes, but not limited to writers, broadcasters, photographers, announcers.   VETERAN PERSON: Trainers, Drivers, Jockeys whose careers have been concluded for 20 years, but less than 50 years.     All nomination submissions to be made using the form available on the CHRHF website . A PDF version of the form is also attached, or may be obtained by contacting admin@horseracinghalloffame.com. Complete eligibility criteria may be found here.     For further information, or to submit a completed nomination form, contact:   Standardbred Nominations:   Kathy Wade Vlaar, Standardbred Nomination Chair, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 1-2150 Meadowvale Blvd., Mississauga, ON L5N 6R6 P: (905) 858-3060 ext. 207 F: (905) 858-3089 E: kwvlaar@standardbredcanada.ca   Thoroughbred Nominations:   Tom Cosgrove, Thoroughbred Nomination Chair, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 555 Rexdale Blvd., P.O. Box 156 Toronto, ON M9W 5L2 P: (416) 213-2113 E: tmc@woodbineentertainment.com   Nomination forms may also be submitted to: Linda Rainey, Managing Director Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame P: (416) 417-9404 E: Linda.rainey@horseracinghalloffame.com   All submissions will be carefully considered by the Nominating Committee of the applicable breed. Three finalists in five categories for Standardbreds and five categories for Thoroughbreds will be presented to the Election Committee for final voting by secret ballot.     NOMINATION DEADLINE: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019 5:00 pm EST.   The list of nominees selected for consideration by the Election Committee for each breed will be announced Monday, March 25, 2019. The Inductees for the 2019 class of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame will be announced Tuesday, April 9, 2019.   We invite you to visit the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame located at the West Entrance of Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is available at www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com or by contacting admin@horseracinghalloffame.com or 416-417-9404     Linda Rainey Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame   Linda.rainey@horseracinghalloffame.com 416-417-9404

When Tornado Valley NZ and Sky Petite crossed the line first in the harness racing Inter Dominion Trotting Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night it gave their sire Skyvalley a well needed huge boost for the Australasian breeding Industry. Well under patronized at stud by breeders in New Zealand and Australia this sensationally bred stallion Skyvalley gave notice that he has all the credentials to become a top end commercial sire.  With only 135 foals of racing age from his first five crops in Australia and 53 foals of racing age in New Zealand Skyvalley is the sire of 65 winners to date with $2,859,599 in progeny earnings total for both Countries.  Tornado Valley became Skyvalley's richest earner to date with the Inter Dominion Final giving him lifetime earnings of $412,887. The Inter Dominion Final also catapulted Sky Petite to become his second richest earner to date with $237,785 in the bank. These two earners are followed by Aldebaron Eve with $158,508 and then Blue Sky Commander NZ with $136,913. Tornado Valley NZ and Sky Petite Skyvalley NZ is unquestionably one of the best bred and best performed harness racing trotters ever to stand at stud in Australia From 47 starts he won 24 and was 13 times placed for $322,675 in stakes. He won six races at Group level and was placed a further three times and established three national records. A dual winner as a two-year-old, Skyvalley announced himself as the next big thing in Australian trotting when he trounced his rivals by 15 metres in the final of the $102,000 Breeders Crown for three-year-olds at Bendigo, rating a brilliant 1:59 for the 2150 metres - an all age Australian record. Skyvalley NZ really came into his own as a four-year-old winning 14 races, the most by any standardbred in Australia that season. His wins included the 4YO Breeders Crown (by 32 metres), demolishing his opposition with Dan Mielicki describing it as the best win by any horse that season, drawing comparisons to the great Maori's Idol by many who witnessed his thrashing of his rivals that day. He won the Melton Trotters Cup on Tabcorp Park opening day beating the best open age free-for-all horses over the 2760 metre journey, running his last mile in 2:01. He also won the Cobram Trotters Cup and several metropolitan free-for-alls. One of his memorable wins as a five-year-old was the Bill Collins Sprint over 1720 metres at Grand Curcuit level in a track record 1:56.4, beating Sundons Gift NZ, and wearing no shoes, such was his impeccable gait and manners. At the same age he won the Scotch Notch Memorial at Tabcorp Park and the Freestone Trotters Cup at Moonee Valley. He also finished third in the Inter Dominion Grand Final after an injury interrupted campaign. Skyvalley winning The Breeders Crown for Four-year-olds Skyvalley NZ is a rare individual who took your breath away with some of his feats on the racetrack. Champion horseman Chris Lang, who trained him throughout his career, said: "Having the privilege of training some of the best trotters of our generation, there is no doubt he was the one who could leave you breathless. To sit behind him was like sitting in a sled, such was the fluency of his gait. His stride was like no other horse I have ever seen. He never needed shoes and only ever wore aluminiums when he did." "He was ahead of his time and I believe represents the future of breeding in this part of the world," Lang stated. Skyvalley is a son of the world No.1 sire in Muscles Yankee 1:52.4, leading living sire of juvenile and all aged trotters in North America. Muscles Yankee has sired the winners of over $100 million in stakes and at this stage is credited with 139 on the 1:55 list. In the Southern Hemisphere Muscles Yankee USA is best represented by 2011 and 2012 Inter Dominion Champion I Can Doosit NZ. Muscles Yankee is also credited with producing the worlds best current trotting stallion Muscle Hill who is completely dominating the breeding scene throughout the world today. On his distaff side he can claim equal distinctions. He is a half-brother to a champion trotting mare in Allegro Agitato NZ Tr 1:57.8 ($529,854), a multiple winner at Group 1 level in New Zealand and Australia and herself being sired by Sundon USA, proving that crossing with Sundon USA mares will undoubtedly work. Their dam, Chiola's Lass NZ Tr 2:04 ($157,779), was two-year-old and three-year-old trotter of the year in New Zealand and is one of the leading daughters of a champion trotting sire in Chiola Hanover USA. She won 10 of her 17 starts including the Victoria Oaks, NZ Great Northern Derby and The Holmfield and was voted the NZ Trotter of the Year at 2 and 3. Harnesslink Media

CHESTER PA - The three-year-old Larry Karr upset older fast-class stock in the $18,000 pacing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, during the final card of the 2018 harness racing season, which saw many familiar faces - and one new one - resting atop the horsemen's statistical competitions. An altered son of A Rocknroll Dance, Larry Karr has now won three straight races, with his triumph in the final Philly feature of the season done "the hard way," going first-over. Favored Mach Pride had put up early splits of 28.3 and 57.3 over a "sloppy +1" track that seemed to get a little muckier as the day wore on, then had the winner come up to him at the 1:25.4. Through the stretch Larry Karr responded to the urging of Yannick Gingras, who had four successful drives on the getaway card, going past the pacesetter by ¾ of a length in 1:54.1, with pocketsitting Sevens Hope A another half-length back in third. The sophomore's human namesake, Lawrence Karr, is co-owner of the sharp pacer, who looks like he could do some damage in winter series (only $59,746 lifetime earnings), along with Frank Baldachino, Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Larry Karr's victory was one of three wins on the day for trainer Ron Burke, who picked up his seventh Harrah's training title, this season harnessing 130 winning charges. In the percentage competition, requiring one starter for a trainer every two cards, "Orange Crush" Julie Miller earned her first Harrah's laurel after a .479-.475 decision over Jim Campbell. Two very familiar names divided up the driving crowns. George Napolitano won his fifth consecutive Philly dash title, and his seventh overall, with a 271-252 edge over Tim Tetrick. Tetrick himself has won five sulky victory titles at Philly - and in the track's 13-year history, only Cat Manzi, who won the first driving crown, has put his name in this column other than this year's 1-2 finishers. In the UDR chase (one start per card minimum for drivers), Tetrick reversed the tables on Napolitano, posting a .356 UDR for the season vs. Napolitano's .348. "Timmy T" has now won three straight local UDR championships and seven overall here; George Nap has three, Yannick Gingras has two, and Cat Manzi also won the first UDR title here to close the very select roster of driving champions on the local scene. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

December 16, 2018 - The Prix de Briare (purse 55,000€, 2700 meters, 15 European starters) kept the winning streak going for 1.1/1 favorite Valokaja Hindo (7m Great Challenger-Jindo Enghave) and harness racing trainer/driver Jean Michel Bazire. Eirik Djuve (Norway) owns the winner now of five straight in seven starts in France. His career earnings increased to 231,504€. Race time was 1.13.9kr. 14/1 Casting de Chenu (6m Baccarat du Pont) was second for Tony Le Beller and trainer/owner J-M Baudouin. The Prix de Cancale (purse 48,000, 2850 meters, 12 starters) saw the excellent performance of Florence Bourbon (3f Ready Cash-Urgentissime-Coktail Jet-Ivre de Victoire) continue. Off at 3.7/1 Bjorn Goop piloted the winner for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Ecurie du Haras de Saint Martin. Race time was 1.15.5kr for the nose winner that now has five career wins in six starts, for 77,260€ earned. 6.4/1 Feen du Goutier (3f Un Mec d’Heripre-Queen Bourbon-Love You-Urika Speed) was an almost dead-heat second with Yoann Lebourgeois up for trainer Guarato and Ecurie Saint Martin. Fairy White (3f Ouragon de Celland) was third for Anthony Barrier. Monte specialists battled in the Prix de Limeil (purse 70,000€, 2850 meters, eight European starters) with 6.8/1 Crepe de Satin (6f Le Retour-Ina d’Avril) prevailing for jockey Mlle. Mathilde Collet and trainer Bruno Marie. Race time was 1.15.2kr. The 2/5 favorite Carla du Chatelets (6f Jag de Bellouet) held second for Mlle. Oceane Briand and third was 8.1/1 Brainstorm (7m Polerol de Laumac) with Matthieu Abrivard in the irons. At Milano le Maura (Italy) was the Palio dei Proprietari (purse 36,300€, 2700 meters, 12 starters) with the 1.16.5kr timed victory to Tornado del Vento (6m Light Kronos-Gara del Vento-Toss Out) reined by Giuseppe de Filippis. Seleniost (7m Varenne-LeFirst-Indro Park) was second ahead of Umberto Axe (5m Love You-La Furiosa Spin-Angus Hall). Well regarded Severino raced at or near the front early before fading badly. Thomas H. Hicks  

Cash Me Out (Cash Hall) overcame post position eight to prevail on Sunday afternoon in the final harness racing feature of the season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The $16,050 Winners Over for trotters was the feature on the matinee card and the Kyle Spagnola-trained Cash Me Out was one of a few participants that were dropping out of the Open Trot. Driver Phil Fluet forwardly placed the classy seven year old trotter who wound up mid-pack in the early going before moving first over on the race's favorite Wings Of Royalty (Shawn Gray). Cash Me Out grinded his way alongside the leader and those two did battle throughout the final half mile before Cash Me Out got the better of that rival to spring the mild upset at odds of 5-1. Wings Of Royalty was the runner-up while Karets (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Cash Me Out's victory, that came in 1:57.2, was his sixth of the season to go with a dozen second-place finishes and eight thirds en route to over $142,000 in earnings. For his career, Cash Me Out has now compiled more than $975,000, inching ever closer to the million dollar mark. The feature winner paid $12.20 to win on Sunday and led an exacta and triple that returned $34.20 and $194, respectively. The 2018 racing season has come to an end at Saratoga with action set to resume in 2019 on Sunday February 17th. Mike Sardella

Star four-year-old Ana Malak has delivered trainers Greg and Skye Bond their first win in the Group 1 Retravision-Golden Nugget (2536m) and led home a first five for the in-form trainers. Following his tough win in the 4YO Classic a fortnight ago, Ana Malak was again the one to beat for last night’s feature after he drew barrier one earlier in the week. With six runners in the race, the Bond stable were able to dictate how the race was run and had the first four in running for much of the event. Ana Malak had a comfortable time in front, while Mighty Conqueror sat outside of him in the breeze, with Bettor Aim and Bright Diamond the next pair in running. The son of Bettors Delight held off a game Mighty Conqueror in the run to the finish, winning by a short half-head and rated 1.57.5. The outsider of the six Bond runners Fizzing ran home strongly for third, ahead of Bright Diamond and Bettor Aim. Golden State was the first of the non-Bond runners across the line in sixth position. Winning reinsman Ryan Warwick, who brought up his second success in the Group 1 feature last night, paid tribute to Ana Malak’s toughness. “Around the corner I was going really well and I thought I had the other horse off the bit,” he said. “I probably tried to kick away too early. “Because he hasn’t done a lot of racing, he probably gets caught looking around…the other horse (Mighty Conqueror) was really game. “If you flip the draws around, you flip the result around.” WATCH: Ana Malak's Nugget Win Here Ana Malak is now expected to progress towards next month’s Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, where he may be joined by Galactic Star, who is engaged in tonight’s Inter Dominion Final. Warwick takes the drive on the six-year-old from barrier one and said he’s yet to make his mind up on whether he would try and hold the front or hand up to one of his rivals. Saying Grace was the Bond’s other winner on the evening, taking out the third heat of the Christmas Gift. Meanwhile, Rocknroll Lincoln showed why he would be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming Pacing Cups, taking out the Retravision Free-For-All Pace (2130m). Fresh from his win in the Bunbury Cup a fortnight ago, Rocknroll Lincoln was able to find the front comfortably from barrier two. Vultan Tin ensured the Justin Prentice-trained pacer wouldn’t get it his own way in front, putting pressure on his outside. Rocknroll Lincoln showed his class in the closing stages though, pulling away to win by 5m to Vultan Tin. Reinsman Gary Hall Jnr said he was confident the five-year-old would measure up in the feature events next month and gave a strong indication he would stick with him, given Chicago Bull would be absent from those races. “He’s got a great characteristic where can do what I tell him to do and drop the bit,” he said. “When you really ask him, the speed is there and the toughness is there. “They say everything happens for a reason, so I’m hoping that this guy is the reason behind Bull’s demise. “As unfortunate as that was, I’m pretty happy to team up with this guy.” Tim Walker

The weather and track were sensational at Central Southland Raceway at Winton yesterday, and records tumbled as a result. Robyns Playboy started the run when he bettered the long standing three year old track record of 2-54.5 held since 2007 by Rider On The Storm. His new record time is 2-54.4. The gelding already holds the Southland record of 2-53.0 which he posted at Wyndham last month. From gate eight Robyns Playboy was caught wide early before driver Craig Ferguson had little option but to go forward and take the lead. “He worked bloody hard early. He was out three wide. They went to the mile in 55 (seconds). Then he was able to back it off. Craig said he was really settled today and he tried to get in but couldn’t so he just had to keep going. He said he was still going good at the finish,” said owner and trainer Ross Wilson. Early in his career Wilson said Robyns Playboy didn’t switch onto the racing game but now it’s a totally different story. “At home he’s starting to get too keen. I haven’t hoppled him since Monday because he went that fast on Monday. I’ve just cantered him behind the jogging machine. That’s why he’s going to the races because he’s tearing around being an idiot.” Understandably there has been plenty of interest from buyers to purchase the talented three year old but Wilson says he’s not on the market. “I tell them pretty quick that’s he’s not for sale. People say 'you don’t want to hear my offer' and I say 'No.' I always remember turning down $250,000 for Robyn’s Cullen when he was a two year old. It’s not about the money it’s just about having fun with a horse.” So with two track records in the space of four weeks Wilson says his next target is the Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes on his home course on the 27th December. After that there are some good stakes races on the horizon. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever had and you only get one chance with a race like the Derby. We’ll look at the Super Nugget Final, The Supremacy and after that I definitely want to have a go at the Derby.” Regular driver Craig Ferguson says Robyn’s Playboy is the best horse he’s driven. “Although we went a three year old record today I tried to look after him. If I’d let him go at the 600 he would have won a lot more convincingly. He’s got a good high cruising speed,” he said. The winning margin for Robyns Playboy in the John Keenan Memorial was a length and a quarter from Raffy Roo. A race later four year old trotter Majestic Man continued his rich vein of form when he narrowly won the main trot of the day. The four year old son of Majestic Son galloped at the start and settled third last with only Super Fast Pat and Rebel Kibbybones behind him. At the 800 metres driver Brad Williamson hopped onto the back of an improving War Admiral. Halfway up the straight War Admiral had mastered pacemaker Grace O’Malley with Majestic Man starting to make his run down the middle of the track. He just mastered a game War Admiral by a nose. The Phil Williamson trained trotter coming back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart. His winning time of 3-01.0 was a new track record bettering the previous record of 3-02.5 recorded by Sundons Wish last season. Majestic Man is raced by the Griffins Syndicate and it was some compensation for the group after their class trotting mare Dark Horse had to be turned out again after picking up another injury. Another large syndicate horse Please Shuddup won the next race and his time for the 2400 metre mobile was also a new track record. The Auckland Reactor four year old was tucked away nicely on the running line by reinsman Matty Williamson as Canterbury visitor Pats Dragon set a hot pace. Please Shuddup returning after winning at Winton -     Photo Bruce Stewart Smokin By and Cast No Shadow both had turns in front up the straight but Williamson used the passing lane to perfection to get up and win by three quarters of a length from Smokin By with a nose back to third place getter Cast No Shadow. The winning time of 2-53.3 was a new track record for entires and geldings for the 2400 metre mobile. The previous record of 2-54.0 was set in 2017 by Jimmy Mack. Meanwhile two relatively new trainers posted quinellas in back to back races at Winton. Gore trainer Ricky Gutsell trained Vintage Rose and Maahes to quinella Race One whilst a race later Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson scored a quinella with his two runners That’s The Story and Zoned Scarlett. Gutsell is in his third season of training and this was the first time he’s managed the feat while Williamson who is in his second season as a trainer quinellaed a race once before at Invercargill in February. Other winners today included Zinny Mach who won by an impressive four lengths and Fear Cruisin which won by a length and a half for trainer Peter Robertson of Templeton. Runner up to Fear Cruisin, Betstars Blue Jean was a game second after pulling a peeled tyre. In the last race of the day the Greg and Nina Hope trained and Ben Hope driven Mossdale Art added to her breeding potential when she won her 1609 metre mobile event in a smart 1-52.5. She’s owned by Mossdale breeder Archie Affleck and won by the biggest margin of the day – eight lengths.   Bruce Stewart  

Tiger Tara’s TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night capped an extraordinary year for harness racing trainer Kevin Pizzuto and his family. In August the New South Wales horseman was involved in a serious road accident, which could have cost him and his horses their lives. Aboard the float that day were Tiger Tara and three stablemates, with Pizzuto in the driver’s seat. Another driver ran through a stop sign and a collision was unavoidable. The resultant impact fractured the horseman’s sternum and ribs, tore his ligaments in both arms as the steering wheel shattered in two, and left him with hidden scars every time he thought of taking the road again. But bloodied and broken that day, Pizzuto’s thoughts were only on his horses. “My driver came and got the horses which I’d gotten off the float … and then I went to hospital,” Pizzuto said. “He (Tiger Tara) was lying down up the front of the float and I thought he’d broken his back. I was shattered. I had blood coming out everywhere, but when he got up, my heart, yeah ... just relief.” Two months after the accident Tiger Tara pummelled his rivals in the Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. Then, in November he produced one of the gutsiest runner-up efforts in modern times when second in the Group 1 New Zealand Cup. “I’ve always said he’s the toughest horse in the land… I knew he was good, but last night, that was something else,” Pizzuto said of the ID18 win. “I’ve had him better than I’ve ever had him, this prep. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve pulled ourselves up and that was amazing.” Tiger Tara, with gun reinsman Todd McCarthy aboard, took up the front-running role early in Saturday night’s Grand Circuit decider and went on to break rivals’ hearts off the back with an unforgettable 26.3secs third quarter. The son of Bettors Delight got up the lane in 27.9 to rate 1:53.9 over the 2760m trip, McCarthy’s winning salute encapsulating the glory in a snap. And the final twist, Pizzuto’s daughter Courtney accepted Mikey Hawli’s marriage proposal on track in front of the huge crowd after the victory. Courtney said yes, and so did Kev. “He had to ask me first,” Pizzuto said. “The horses were scoring up... I was praying we’d win after that. He’s a good bloke and a hard worker.” Trots Media - Cody Winnell   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

December 16, 2018 - The sensational Face Time Bourbon (3m Ready Cash-Vita Bourbon-Love You) easily won today’s harness racing Gr. I Criterium des 3Ans at Paris-Vincennes (purse 240,000€, 2700 meters, 15 starters). Bjorn Goop was the pilot of this Sebastien Guarato trainee that is owned by Scuderia Bivans Srl and was bred by SARL Haras Saint Martin. Race time was 1.14.4kr off relaxed fractions (a quick last 500 after the 500 to go time of 1.15.2kr). Face Time Bourbon now has nine wins in 10 career starts, the last six in a row, now good for 317,150€ earned. The lightly rigged, unchecked colt, off today as the 2/5 favorite, appears to be on route to a superb career with his superb gait and manners. 32/1 Favorite Fligny (3f Rockefeller Center-Africa Fligny) was second driven by Sylvain Deudonne for trainer Gregory Thorel and Ecurie le Pinsonniere. Third was 51/1 Fanina des Racques (3f Ready Cash) with Franck Nivard up, and ahead of 75/1 Fakir du Lorault (3m Vaillant Cash) and 66/1 Fighter Smart (3m Uniclove). The well-regarded Fly With Us and Faithful were dq’s. The undercard’s top race was the Gr. III Prix Jean Dumouch (purse 115,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap, 11 European starters) with victory to the rallying 29/1 Balbir (7g Ganymede-Manzir) that was reined by trainer Mickael Cormy for Ecurie du Vieux Chene. Race time was 1.14kr. The winning Balbir took his second straight victory and the 27th in his career, good now for 605,290 earned. The 48/1 Bolide Jenilou (7g Kesaco Phedo) was second for Anthony Barrier and trainer Gregory Thorel. The 2/1 favorite Carabinieri (7m Wellino Boko) was third for Franck Nivard and fourth was 13/1 Valko Jenilat (9m Kepler) with Eric Raffin up and this one faced a 25 meter handicap. Thomas H. Hicks

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