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When news broke on the morning of the third Ashes Test that Indian bookies had boasted to Britain’s The Sunnewspaper that they could fix cricket matches, it quickly became an international story. While betting corruption and cricket have staged a delicate dance since the major scandals involving Hansie Cronje and the like broke in the early 2000s, there is always a raised eyebrow when such brazen claims of match fixing are raised. Why? Because society still cares about the integrity of cricket. Last Saturday, three significant Queensland harness racing identities, Shane Graham, Leonard Cain and Vicki Rasmussen, were charged with match fixing and it barely made it past the court notices and in brief sections of the paper. The people involved are charged with serious crimes, essentially fixing a race result for the purposes of profit. These crimes carry maximum terms of 10 years in jail. In the last six months, three of Queensland's five leading harness drivers have been charged with match fixing, while there have also been arrests in Victoria in a long-running investigation into impropriety there. Each harness racing scandal that breaks, and they seem to be weekly at the moment, barely raises a murmur in the general public. The punting fraternity, those who essentially fund the sport, through betting on it invariably trot out the old ‘Cheats on Seats’ and ‘Crims on Rims’ references. But while cheating and skullduggery in the sport of silks and sulkies is hardly a new thing, it certainly casts a pall over an industry which appears to be dying a slow and painful death. You see, the arrest of Graham, who is Queensland’s leading driver, as well as Rasmussen and Cain occurred less than 12 hours after a race once revered as one of the biggest in any code, the Inter Dominion, was staged at Perth’s Gloucester Park. The win of harness racing’s new superstar Lazarus (at 11pm AEDT on a Friday night) got even less coverage than the arrests in Queensland on Saturday. So if no one, apart from the crowd at Gloucester Park, saw Australia’s best harness race, did it really happen? Next year, the Inter Dominion returns to Melbourne for the first time since 2008. Well when I say Melbourne, it’s Melton, 35km west of the city at a facility opened in 2009 to service the needs of the sports participants and certainly not its dwindling fan base. While organisers will no doubt do their best to promote the event, with Lazarus’ title defence centre stage, the Inter Dominion won’t make a ripple in the competitive sporting landscape of the Victorian capital. Certainly nothing like the 40,000 who packed Moonee Valley for the 1985 edition. At that time, the sport was in its prime, helped by the fact that night-time entertainment in Melbourne outside of the trots,  was virtually non-existent.  The broader question is does harness racing, once a thriving sport in the 1970s and 1980s, have a pulse in Australia? On the current evidence, the news is grim. The diagnosis becomes completely terminal if it can’t rid itself of the cancer of corruption, which has been a long-time problem for the sport. If those within the industry - and we are talking about major players here -  don’t act with integrity then the social licence of the sport is under threat. We saw how close the greyhound industry went to being banned (especially in NSW), when major players acted like cowboys (and worse), and lost the faith of the general public. It’s a pretty simple formula for harness racing. If the cheating and corruption reach a level where it costs more to enforce the law then the benefits which flow back to the community, then it will quickly lose the last skerrick of relevance it has. At that point, it will be consigned to history. That will be a great shame. By Bren O'Brien Reprinted with permission of Punters.com.au Bren O'Brien is a lifelong follower of harness racing.  

DOVER, Del --- Both of last week's $25,000 Open winners who finished in a harness racing dead-heat win, Cajon Lightning and Sicily returned in the feature race at Dover Downs on Thursday, Dec. 14 and this time 7-1 Cajon Lightning closed with a rush to score a 1:51 victory with Sicily finishing second. Tim Tetrick had another big day with five winners. Art Stafford Jr drove the Mach Three-Tex In The City gelding to his eighth win of the season and entered six figures in the win column earning $!02,655 for Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Steve Iaquinta and Minisink Farms. The win was the third Open of the meet for the Eric Ell trainee. Sicily (Montrell Teague) was second in front of Arque Hanover (Corey Callahan). George Teague's Daiymir and Montrell Teague came three wide at the top of the final turn to take over and then held off hypothetical (Tony Morgan) in a stretch battle to win by a head in 1:51.2 to take an $18,000 Winners pace. The Mr. Wiggins-Cookie Money colt won for the eighth time in 14 races and now has won $100,550 in purses in this his first year of racing. Drunkonaplane (Callahan) finished third. Tim Tetrick drove the winners of both $35,000 Claiming paces. First, Bamond Racing's Cyclone Kiwi N notched a 1:50.4 conquest from post 8 with Jet Airway (Callahan) finishing second. Hi Sir (Russell Foster) was third. Later, Tetrick posted a 1:51.3 victory behind Bill Emmond's I Am A Cowboy . Bluebird Ideal (Ross Wolfenden) was runner-up with Whirl Monroe (Vic Kirby), the show finisher. Tetrick also guided Jack Roger to a 1:52.2 triumph in a $16,000 Winners pace for trainer Jason Skinner and owner Alan Welch. It was the sixth win in 10 starts for the Rock N Roll Heaven-Stonebridge Prima sophomore gelding, now a $49,590 winner. American Sportsman (Eddie Davis Jr.) and Sir Will's Wish (Vic Kirby) were second and third respectively. Sawbuck Hanover who won last week's $35,000 claimer step up for a 1:50.4 success in the $14,000 Winners-Over pace. McKenry (Bret Brittingham) was second in front of Regalanthopost (Tetrick), third. The Bettor's Delight-Shesaporche gelding is owned and trained by Josh Parker. In addition to Tetrick's five wins, Tony Morgan and trainer Jim King, recorded a double. No Live Racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Dover Downs races four days a week, Monday through Thursday with post time at 4:30 p.m. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred races each day from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight in the Race and Sports Book. Marv Bachrad

With two harness racing country cup wins in six days Shadow Sax has launched himself to the head of the Trots Country Cups Championship, and Emma Stewart’s lightly-raced favourite may be only just getting warmed up. A winner of 16 of his 24 starts who hasn’t missed a placing since start three, Shadow Sax has made up for lost time this season when the once terrific juvenile has overcome the niggles that burdened his four-year-old campaign. He was a class above when dominant in the December 3 Choices Flooring By Westside Stawell Pacing Cup, but it was perhaps his rugged win six days later in the Flying Brick Cider Co. Geelong Pacing Cup that reaffirmed his status. That was the view of veteran reinsman Gavin Lang, who was in the sulky for both. “It was a step up again when he got to the Geelong Cup,” Lang said. “He had to withstand the pressure as John Of Arc started strong and continued to over race outside of him.” A 69.7-second lead time, almost a second faster than the lead time when It Is Billy set the track record in the 2016 cup, set the foundation before some respite with 30.5 and 30.6 first and second quarters. Love Ina Chevy loomed during a 27.3 third quarter when Shadow Sax saw off Lance Justice’s threat, and a 28.7 final quarter was required to keep leader’s back Cant Refuse (second) and quality swoopers Messini, It Is Billy, Tee Cee Bee Macray, Lets Elope and Mister Wickham at bay. “(Shadow Sax) has a laidback character and reserves himself until I give him a tap on the backside to wake him up and he hit the line really well,” Lang said. A 1.8m win captured the bulk of the $30,000 prizemoney for owner-breeders Russell and Pamela Hockham. “I don’t take any of (his opposition) horses for granted, they have all earned their spot,” Lang said. “Not every horse can step up into that grade, where the good ones just keep coming at you. He’s the new kid on the block. He’s always acquitted himself well, but he spent a long time out. I think whatever he does this campaign will auger well for the future.” His next chapter could well come in the January 6 PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup, a $60,000 Group 2 pace that is the first of six country cups across three weeks. Michael Howard

Three people alleged to be involved in a harness racing fixing scandal at Cobram more than two years ago will have to wait until next year to find out the outcome of the case against them. Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley yesterday faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court for the 13th and final day of a contested hearing. Magistrate John Murphy decided to receive final written submissions from the prosecution and defence out of court. ‘‘I’m satisfied there is a case to answer against all of the accused,’’ he said. Yesterday, Gary Hevey attempted to re-open the prosecution’s case after taking instructions from higher authorities. ‘‘A situation has arisen, I have been asked to re-open the prosecution case,’’ he said. Mr Murphy ruled Victoria Police telephone intercepts admissible this week. ‘‘Those instructing me have taken a different view,’’ Mr Hevey said. ‘‘They say I should re-open the prosecution case for utilising telephone intercepts post-offending. (I) propose for your honour to rule admissible the telephone intercepts and material post-offending.’’ Mr Jack’s lawyer Anthony Lewis said none of the telephone intercepts were ‘‘admissible to incriminating conduct’’. ‘‘It will prolong the proceeding,’’ he argued. Mr Murphy agreed, saying it would lengthen the case, querying the need for the telephone intercepts as the crown already had numerous text messages admitted into evidence. ‘‘(What is) the relevance of this further material? It would extend the case by at least one or two days,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t allow the prosecution to re-open the case.’’ The court case was adjourned about noon yesterday, with a ruling set to be made on the three accused in April. HEARING SUMMARY Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in, facilitating and possessing knowledge and/or information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. The charges relate to an allegedly fixed race at Cobram on June 22, 2015, after which an investigation was launched into the tactics adopted during the event and information provided to Harness Racing Victoria on the stabling arrangements of a horse. Of the accused, only Mr Jack and Mr Pitt took part in the race. Prosecutors allege Mr Jack, driving Tooram Lad, allowed Airbournemagic, driven by Mr Pitt, to win the race. The court has heard from representatives who have spoken about betting patterns before the race, while the father of Ms Bartley was excused from giving evidence against his daughter. Earlier in the hearing, Harness Racing Victoria evidence was thrown out and not used during the hearing as it was found to be involuntarily obtained. The hearing started on Monday, November 27, in front of Magistrate John Murphy and entered its third week on Monday. This week, charges against previous co-accused Ms Turnbull were dismissed. By Hayden Thomson  

December 14, 2017 - Toronto, Ontario - The Board of Ontario Racing and members of the Standardbred Alliance have voted to merge the two existing harness racing organizations. The combined entity will be an independent, not-for-profit industry organization that will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the Province with one unified voice.   "We're excited to announce the merger of the two organizations to create a more inclusive Ontario Racing with an expanded membership and governance mandate," said Hugh Mitchell, Chair of Ontario Racing Board of Directors. "Both the board of Ontario Racing and the Standardbred Alliance are confident that the merger will create a unified voice for racing to advocate for the sector's interests and ultimately negotiate a long-term funding agreement that ensures the sustainability of three breeds of horse racing in Ontario."   The newly formed entity will create a more cost-effective and streamlined approach to industry administration and governance, as well as a more collaborative and effective approach to decision-making and strategic planning on behalf of 15 racetracks and racing industry associations across the Province.   Ontario Racing will create a not-for-profit to be called Ontario Racing Management (ORM), utilizing shared resources from Woodbine Entertainment's management team. This formula follows the successful business model of the Standardbred Alliance and allows racetracks to realize on multiple operational cost savings.   "Members of the Standardbred Alliance have benefitted from Woodbine Entertainment's expertise and have realized countless benefits including greater operational efficiencies and a coordinated approach to overcoming shared challenges," said Ian Fleming of Clinton Raceway.   The newly merged organization is committed to having a three-year business plan in place by April 1, 2018. The plan will include guarantees of purse payments for all member tracks, staking programs and race schedules, as well as establishing and administering common racetrack rules and policies.   "Once the long-term funding model is determined, the sector can move towards a more sustainable plan for racing, which includes strengthening the industry to meet public demand and ensure the long-term success of viable racetracks," said Sue Leslie, President, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "We need to work together, all racetracks and horsepeople, and we are committed to working collaboratively with all industry stakeholders moving forward."   "The alliance track model has helped stabilize racing since its inception. Merging the alliance tracks and OR will create a unified voice to communicate with Government and secure the long-term funding. ORM will help sustain racing in Ontario for years to come," says Bill O'Donnell, President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association.   About Ontario Racing - One unified voice for the industry   Ontario Racing is a not-for profit industry organization created out of the merger of the current Standardbred Alliance and the existing Ontario Racing organizations. It will serve as the industry organization responsible for making strategic decisions on issues that affect the horse racing industry, including distributing the OLG transfer payment agreement, and will represent all Ontario racetracks and horse racing industry associations in the Province.   Mike Chopowick Ontario Racing 416-477-5519 | mikechopowick@ontarioracing.com

Don't read too much into hotshot driver Natalie Rasmussen turning her back on Heaven Rocks for the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. The co-trainer says the enigmatic star pacer is still the one to beat, even though she has jumped off him to drive Vincent. The pair dominate betting on the 2700m standing start event as Alexandra Park's summer season goes up a notch with its first premier meeting of the season, while the track backs up with another meeting tomorrow night to cater for its huge Christmas bookings. Rasmussen and Mark Purdon train Vincent and Heaven Rocks but a driver reshuffle was forced after Purdon was suspended for 26 days on Inter Dominion night last Friday.   Purdon would have driven Vincent, last season's best three-year-old, in his comeback race but with him sidelined Rasmussen felt compelled to. "It is a tricky situation with Mark out because there is a lot of pressure driving a horse like Vincent fresh up and I don't think it is fair to put that pressure on somebody else," she explained. "He is ready to race and there to win but I think he is a false favourite and don't want him driven like a $2 chance because he probably isn't ready for that. "Of course he can win because he is a very good horse but I think Heaven Rocks is our better chance because he was so good last Friday and should be even fitter. "It is just a very tricky race for Vincent fresh up." Heaven Rocks will be partnered by Tim Williams, who admits he hasn't had great success on the nutcase pacer before. But he has been doing all the work with him in the north over the last two weeks. Add in Jack's Legend back on his home track, the improving AG's White Socks and Titan Banner, now back with Purdon-Rasmussen, and tonight's race will be a huge pointer to what to expect in the Auckland Cup on December 31. With Williams being in charge of the All Stars northern assault, he has been charged with getting Partyon's mind back on the job for tonight's group one $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts. The multiple group one winner looked lazy when a fresh up fourth last Friday in a race where Bonnie Joan was outstanding but there has been good early money to suggest that result can be reversed tonight. "She needed a bit of a sharpen up and she got that this week," said Williams. "I worked her in block blinds this week to get her mind on the job and she sprinted up the straight well with Vincent in her work. "She will race in sliding blinds on Friday and we expect her to improve a lot." One horse who won't need to improve is the stable rep in the $50,000 Alabar Classic in Chase Auckland. Owned by the race sponsors, the exciting three-year-old has barrier one and should remain unbeaten. The three-year-old fillies clash in the $85,000 Peter Breckon Memorial looks far more even but Bettor Joy deserves favouritism after a mammoth win last Friday while the main trot sees the return of Speeding Spur. Like Vincent in the Franklin Cup, Speeding Spur is good enough to win fresh up but he needs only one key rival getting an easy trip on the markers to be beaten. Michael Guerin

Wallkill, NY- Blue Chip Farms is pleased to announced that Credit Winner’s richest son, Devious Man, will stand at Blue Chip Farms in 2018 for $4,000. A winner of nearly $1.4 million lifetime, Devious Man was a NYSS Champion at 2YO as well as winner of five NYSS legs.  The “Man” won the Empire Breeders Stake Final and finished second in the Hambletonian and multiple Grand Circuit stakes, including the Kentucky Futurity Final as a 3YO.  In 2017, he was third or better  in 15 out of 17 starts. Devious Man has a fantastic family.  He is a ½ Brother to 5-$100,000 winners including World Champion, Dan Patch 3YO and Aged Trotter of the Year, Vivid Photo 4,1:50.2 ($3.2 million).  Vivid Photo was the victor in the 2005 Hambletonian Final.   "We are very excited to have Devious Man in the barn to carry on the legacy of Credit Winner and Blue Chip in New York trotting,” said Tom Grossman, Principal at Blue Chip Farms, "Along with Bettor's Delight and Art Major, this blood has literally given life to our farm and our families. Devious Man has all the attributes to do the same for the next generation, and I am confident that with Stroy, my team and the rest of the partnership we are building, he will be given every chance to carry the flag and ‘Take On The World.’"   A quality cross to Valley Victory, Cantab Hall and Donato Hanover line mares, booking and syndicate share inquires can be made directly to Jean Brown-Clearwater, Jbrown@bluechipfarms.com or Ed Amezcua, eamezcua@bluechipfarms.com.   The $252,000 Empire Breeders Classic Final!     Devious Man wins the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr Memorial      

December 13, 2017 - Tony LeBeller teamed 2.1/1 Avenir de Blay (7g Hooper-Mirabelle de Blay) to victory in Wednesday’s Quinte+ Prix Poitou-Charentes (purse €85.000, 2850 meters, 17 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. The LeBeller harness racing trainee, that he also owns, was timed in 1.14kr to defeat 7.2/1 Attacus (7g Hand du Vivier) driven by Eric Raffin for trainer Sebastien Guarato. 21/1 Venus de Bailly (8f Chaillot) was third for Alexandre Abrivard ahead of Artiste de Joudes at 13/1 and 4.4/1 Auch. Avenir de Blay On the card was the Prix les Mathes-la Palmyre (purse €80,000, 2175 meters, 11 starters) with the 1.13.7kr timed score to 5/1 Chance des Douits (5f Power Jet-Pony Girl) for Gabriele Gelormini. 5.4/1 Comete Darche (5f Ready Cash) took second for J-M Bazire and 39/1 Chic et Belle was third driven by Anthony Barrier. Chance des Douits The day’s featured event was the monte Gr. III Prix Auguste Francois (purse €110,000, 2175 meters, 12 starters) and a classic affair it was with a pair on the line together timed in 1.11.8kr. The 2.4/1 winner was Val Royal (8m Capriccio-Quarda du Rib) handled by Eric Raffin for trainer J-M Bazire and owner Ecurie des Charmes. This one, and his chief rival could be a Cornulier player. Second finishing was 41/1 Valse de Reve (8f Mister President-Nouba Horba) with Guillaume Martin in the irons for owner/trainer Alain Roussel. 2.1/1 Alpha Saltor (7m Paris Haufor-Glory d’Ariane) took third for jockey Matthieu Abrivard. 12/1 Vra Voyou and 12/1 Tiger Danover were 11th and 12th. Val Royal Other interesting winners this day were 11/1 Bel Air (6g Ganymede-Kaldeira) in the Prix de Villers Cotterets (purse €55,000, 2100 meters, 18 starters) with P-Y Verva up for trainer Franck Bouismartel, also the owner. 33/1 Ballaya (6f First de Retz) was second for Franck Anne ahead of 7/10 favorite Global Response (6g Credit Winner-Com Mimmi). Race time was a quick 1.11.5kr. Bel Air Finally was the Prix de Blanquefort (purse €55,000, 2100  meters, 12 European starters) and the 1.12.9kr timed winner was 5.5/1 Amitie d’Orgeres (7f defi d’Aunou-Passion d’Orgeres) handled by Anthony Barrier. 8.4/1 Romi Mms (7f Turbo Sund-Goldy LB) was a rallying second for J-M Bazire and SLO based owner Mitja Slavic. Third was the 3/2 favorite Ardente du Clos with owner/trainer Matthieu Abrivard the pilot. Amitie d’Orgeres   Thomas H. Hicks  

Batavia, NY---The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present harness racing performance awards to the top dash winning trainer and driver of the meet during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" ceremony in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) and whereas the top conditioner has been well identified, the driver's race will likely go down to the final races of the weekend. Kim Asher is currently the top percentage trainer in North America with a UTR of .427 and $1.1 million in earnings. She is also ranked eighth in North America for wins, currently with 208. So it's no surprise that Asher is also the trainer of the meet at Batavia Downs for 2017. Asher has started 351 horses during the session winning 88 races, finishing second 55 times and third another 55 times and saw her horses hit the board 56% of the time. Those efforts gave her a stellar UTR of .390 and $479,491 in purses. Her win total more than doubled her closest competitor. Competing for only the second year at Batavia, Asher's training career spans 19 years and during that time she has won multiple training titles including most recently, the 2017 Buffalo Raceway meet. This year Asher has sent out 208 winners and that mark was a personal best. Her stable boast horses with gaudy win totals like Quicksilvercandy A (20), Saint William A (16), Itsonlyrocknroll A (13) and Kaitlyn Rae (11). During her career Asher has 1,934 wins, 1,456 seconds and 1,222 thirds out of 9,196 starts for a lifetime UTR of .342 and earnings of over $15 million. The driving accolades for this meet are still up in the air. Larry Stalbaum is the current dash win leader with 127 wins while Ray Fisher Jr. is second with 122 and Drew Monti is third with 117. With only two cards of racing left and probably 20 starts apiece remaining for all three drivers, Stalbaum looks fairly solid with a five-race lead. If Stalbaum does win the title it would be his first at Batavia Downs. However the long-tenured horseman is no stranger to being the best set of hands on any circuit. Over his 32-year career he has won dash honors at Northville Downs, Hazel Park, Sports Creek Park, Jackson Harness Raceway, Monticello Raceway, Raceway Park, Cal Expo and most recently, Buffalo Raceway earlier this year. During his career, Stalbaum has driven 5,732 winners and earned just under $39 million in purses. Ray Fisher Jr. has won two driving titles at Buffalo Raceway and four at Northfield Park. But since arriving at the Genesee County oval in 2007 has never taken the top spot there although he did finish second and third three times each. So winning it this year would definitely be a notch in his belt. Since his career began in 1987, Fisher has won 4,200 races lifetime and just shy of $18 million in purses. Drew Monti is the defending dash driving winner at Batavia Downs, taking his first-ever driving title last year with 116 wins. He had a substantial lead this year earlier in the meet, but the competition stiffened and now he has a lot of work to do in order to repeat. Although the 23-year-old Monti has only been driving for five years, he is already closing in on his 1,000th win (currently with 979) and has made $5.5 million in purses during that time. The competition for the driving title will resume on Friday night (Dec. 15) and will be decided on Saturday (Dec. 16). Post time for both nights is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA  

Thirty-five-year-old Kristy Elson has high hopes of making a flying start to her career as a harness racing trainer by landing a winner with her first starter Cott Beach in the $18,000 GT Insurance Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Cott Beach by Advance Attack is a brilliant filly who has amassed $169,938 in prizemoney, with her 13 starts producing eight wins, three seconds, one third and one fourth. Elson has taken over the preparation of Cott Beach this week from part-owner Peter King, who started the small filly at Gloucester Park last Saturday night when she was surprisingly beaten into third place behind Mistersandman and Lucky Sensation after she had started from the outside barrier in a field of eight and revealed much of her renowned sizzling early speed. Cott Beach, having her first start for 22 days and driven for the first time by Shannon Suvaljko, was forced four wide in the early stages when the lead time was covered in a sizzling 35sec. She eventually crossed to the lead after 400m, and set a moderate pace but the early speed told on her and she wilted over the final 150m. Kristy Elson is a daughter of Blythewood trainer Gary Elson, whose licence has been suspended pending the outcome of a stewards’ inquiry. Gary Elson prepared Cott Beach for her first 12 starts, which included victories earlier this year in the Champagne Classic, the Westsired feature event for two-year-old fillies and the $100,000 Westbred Classic. She also finished second to outstanding colt Jack Mac in the Golden Slipper in July. Nathan Turvey, who handled Cott Beach in her first 12 starts for eight wins and three seconds, will resume in the sulky behind the filly on Friday night, with Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan engaging Suvaljko to drive his brilliant filly Miss Sangrial. Miss Sangrial, who finished second to Cott Beach in the Champagne Classic, has had 15 starts for seven wins, four seconds and two thirds. She is awkwardly drawn at barrier six this week, with Cott Beach at barrier five. They are the only fillies in the race and are sure to receive stiff opposition from the colts and geldings, including Speed Man, Mistahmistah and Lucky Sensation. Before her surprise defeat at 5/2 on last Saturday night, Cott Beach had scored easy victories at her two previous outings (her first two runs as a three-year-old). After leading and winning from Bettor Finish at Bunbury on November 5, Cott Beach set a fast pace and romped home by ten lengths from Fortunate Adda, rating 1.57.1 over 2130m at Gloucester Park on November 17. Adding considerable interest to Friday night’s race will be the appearance of the inexperienced New Zealand-bred gelding Mistahmistah, who will be making his Australian debut and is sure to be fancied from the favourable No. 2 barrier. Mistahmistah arrived in Perth eight weeks ago and is trained and driven by Kyle Harper. He warmed up for this week’s assignment with a most impressive win in a 2150m trial at Byford on Sunday morning when he was restrained at the start from the outside barrier. He settled down in last position in the field of six and the first two sections of the final mile were covered in the slow times of 32.8sec. and 31.2sec. before final quarters in 29.9sec. and 29.4sec. Mistahmistah was still last with 300m to travel before he went four wide on the home turn and was completely unextended in winning very easily at a modest 2.03.1 rate. He has raced only once, for a narrow victory at a 2.00.4 rate over 1950m at Addington on July 7. Trained by Cran Dalgety and favourite at 10/1 on, Mistahmistah began well from the No. 4 barrier and burst to the front after 80m before setting a slow pace, with opening quarters of the final mile in 32.2sec. and 32.6sec. He then increased the tempo and ran the final 800m in 57.2sec., with the last 400m taking 27.3sec. He held on and won by a nose from Christian Who, who finished fast along the inside. The most memorable feature of that race was that it gave star New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn his 2000th career victory and took his tally for the season to 221, a New Zealand record. New Zealand-bred colt Speed Man, to be driven by ace reinsman Gary Hall Jnr for champion trainer Gary Hall Snr, will start from the outside in the field of eight in his quest to notch four wins in a row at his fifth appearance in a race.  After being checked and breaking into a gallop before finishing a well-beaten second to Reacher at his debut, at Wagin in mid-October, Speed Man scored decisive victories at Narrogin, Bunbury and Pinjarra in November. He was three back on the pegs at the bell before charging home out wide to win by 12 lengths from Rocknroll Beachboy at a 1.57.6 rate over 2185m at his most recent appearance. The Katja Warwick-trained Mistersandman was fourth (three back on the pegs at the bell) before Chris Voak brought him home with a well-timed run to take the lead 150m from the post and to a convincing victory over Lucky Sensation and Cott Beach at Gloucester Park last Friday night. By Ken Casellas

All the charges relating to Amanda Turnbull’s alleged involvement in a Cobram race fixing scandal were dismissed in court yesterday, after prosecution and defence lawyers came to an agreement. Within the first few minutes of yesterday’s proceedings in the contested hearing, which is in its third week at Shepparton Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Gary Hevey asked Magistrate John Murphy to dismiss the charges against Ms Turnbull. ‘‘In relation to Ms Turnbull, the crown is not going to present further evidence,’’ he said. ‘‘I invite your honour to dismiss the charges against her.’’ Mr Murphy agreed, dismissing the charges against Ms Turnbull due to a lack of evidence. With that, Ms Turnbull and her family and friends stood up and left the court room in silence. Lisa Bartley’s defence lawyer Rohan Laurence then submitted to the court his client had no case to answer — as there was a ‘‘hole’’ in the prosecution case. He said this was on the grounds that Ms Bartley’s conduct did not directly affect the outcome of the race as she was not a driver of Airbournemagic, Tooram Lad, or any other horse in the race in question. ‘‘None of Ms Bartley’s conduct occurs in the race,’’ Mr Laurence told the court. ‘‘But instead occurs in a period of one month before the race. (Her) conduct does not relate to the event or the running of the event, her conduct had no bearing on the result of the race. ‘‘Significantly, it is not alleged (by the prosecution) that it did.’’ Mr Hevey argued that if betting agencies knew Airbournemagic was being trained at well-known harness racing driver Nathan Jack’s place, as Ms Bartley knew, the odds would have been different. ‘‘(There was) no other purpose than to keep the odds long, it continued during the race when Mr Bartley’s (David Bartley, Lisa Bartley’s father) colours were used,’’ Mr Hevey said. Mr Jack’s defence lawyer, Anthony Lewis, adopted the submissions made by Mr Laurence in relation to his client’s charges. ‘‘There is no evidence to support the allegation (that) ... conduct would inflate betting odds of Airbournemagic,’’ he said. Mr Lewis then claimed Mr Jack was a less successful trainer than David Bartley. ‘‘There is now evidence that, had the regulated betting agencies known Mr Jack was the trainer, that would not have made any difference ... to the odds.’’ Yesterday, Mr Murphy made a ruling to include admissions made in Victoria Police interviews, after defence lawyers submitted they be dismissed. The hearing continues. HEARING SUMMARY Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley have pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in, facilitating and possessing knowledge and/or information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. The charges relate to an allegedly fixed race at Cobram on June 22, 2015, after which an investigation was launched into the tactics adopted during the event and information provided to Harness Racing Victoria on the stabling arrangements of a horse. Of the four accused, only Mr Jack and Mr Pitt took part in the race. Prosecutors allege Mr Jack, driving Tooram Lad, allowed Airbournemagic, driven by Mr Pitt, to win the race. The court has heard from representatives who have spoken about betting patterns before the race, while the father of Ms Bartley was excused from giving evidence against his daughter. Earlier in the hearing, Harness Racing Victoria evidence was thrown out and not used during the hearing as it was found to be involuntarily obtained. The hearing started on Monday, November 27, in front of Magistrate John Murphy and entered its third week on Monday. Yesterday, charges against Ms Turnbull were dismissed. by Hayden Thomson Reprinted with permission of The Sheppaton News

DOVER, Del --- Corey Callahan pull Nat A Virgin three wide on the final turn and zipped past battling leaders Divas Image (Tim Tetrick and Enhance our Mind (Vic Kirby) to score a 1:51 harness racing victory in the $25,000 Mares Open pace on a chilly Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Dover Downs. Divas Image in her first start at the track took the early lead fought off challengers on the backstretch with the field fanning out in the lane. There was plenty of action in the stretch with the Dylan Davis trained Nat A Virgin, a19-1 shot, exploding on the outside reaching the wire in 1:51.Enhance Your Mind took the inside track to finish second in front of Divas Image. Empress Deo (Ross Wolfenden), who had won two straight, was third her first non-1-2 finish in her last seven starts. Nat A Virgin, a five-year-old Always A Virgin-Nat-A-Tat-Tat, notched her sixth win in her 31st outing this year while earning $85,300 for owner Mike Casalino. Eddie Davis Jr. guided Frank Chick's Rockin BB to victory rolling down the Passing Lane in 1:52.2 to win the $18,000 Filly and Mares sub-feature. A sophomore by Rockin Image-Yankee Pankee BB, it was her sixth success this season. The Ken Lare-trainee has won $118,955 in 2017. OK Jasmine (Kirby) finished second with Bad Lightning (Art Stafford Jr.) the third horse. Roselily recorded her second win in her last three starts, a 1:51.3 lifetime best, to win a $16,000 female pace. Art Stafford Jr. was in the bike for trainer Eric Ell and owners Ken /wood, Bill Dittmar, Steve Iaquinta and Minisink Farms. The brown three-year-old is by Big Jim-Emmas Lily and now has won six times earning $78,109. Race favorite Take Em (Callahan) took a four-race win streak into the contest but had to settle for second. All About The Pace (Tetrick) was third. Westsluckycam gave Corey Callahan his first of two wins steering CTC Stable's four-year-old daughter of Camluck-Terror Of The West conditioned by Mike Hall, to her 10th conquest of the campaign in 1:52.1 in a $13,000 distaff pace. BJ's Sweetheart (Foster) was runner-up. Fashion Showdown (Tony Morgan) took show honors. $25,000 OPEN PACE TOPS STRONG THURSDAY CARD AT DOVER DOWNS A $25,000 Open pace is the headline event on a hard-hitting, speedy 13-race  program on Thursday, Dec. 14.at Dover Downs. The eight-horse $25,000 Open Handicap is this week’s top race . Sicily returns after a 1;49.3 dead-heat victory last week with Cajon Lightning. Montrell Teague drove Sicily’s wire-to-wire performance sharing first place with Art Stafford-driven Cajon Lightning. Sicily is trained by Wayne Givens for Reggie Hazzard and Legacy Racing while Cajon Lightning is owned by Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Steve Iaquinta and Minisink Farms. Niss Allen and Crissman Inc. start Major Uptrend with Tony Morgan dropping down from the Preferred class. Jo Ann Looney King’s Q’s Cruise, with Tim Tetrick driving, was awarded the rail for being the only three-year-old in the lineup. Arque Hanover (Callahan) owned by Tom Lazzaro, Abe Basen, and Robert Cooper Stables’ and is reined by Corey Callahan, Vapour N, who spent much of last meet in top class events at Dover races for JCraparotta & driver Pat Berry. Stepping-up after an impressive win last week is Bill Sartin and Mark Salerno’s Special T Rocks with Allan Davis and newcomer Bamond Stable’s Moonliteonthebeach and Ross Wolfenden driving. The undercard is a good one, with an $18,000, a $14,000 and a $13,000 pace along with two $25,000-$35,000 Claiming paces on the3-race program. Dover Downs now offers a 50-cent Pick 5 wager, starting with the 2nd race through the 6th. A late daily double is carded for the 12th and 13th races. Dover Downs races four days a week, Monday through Thursday with post time at 4:30 p.m. Fine food is available while watching the races at the acclaimed Winner's Circle Restaurant Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred races each day from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight in the Race and Sports Book. Marv Bachrad

Aussie harness fans are looking to comeback superstar Bling It On to help ease their Perth Inter Dominion hangover. The sport peaked with that magnificent win by Lazarus at Gloucester Park last Friday night. It’s natural to fall a little flat afterwards. The Kiwis have the huge Auckland Cup Carnival to keep them pumped, but Aussies have to wait until races like the WA, Fremantle, SA and Ballarat Cups next month for another “spike.” Step-in Bling It On, the reigning Hunter Cup champ who has so magnificently returned from career-threatening injuries to win both starts this season. He hasn’t just won them – he’s humiliated his rivals and run slick times. Barring a major upset, Bling It On should make it three wins on end in the fifth race at Menangle on Saturday night. Driver and co-trainer Luke McCarthy can’t hide his excitement at how well Bling It On has turned from nasty knees injuries sustained in a horror race fall at Albion Park in July. “Just getting him back racing at all was a bonus, but everything says he’s as good as ever. He just feels so sharp,” McCarthy said. Bling It On swooped from back in the field to thrash a handy field first-up, then worked to the front and won as he liked last time. He’s drawn the outside (gate 11) this week, but simply looks a class above his rivals. If there are any dangers, they could be Shane Tritton’s enigmatic Eh Ef El (gate seven), the emerging Charlaval (eight) and talented Spare Me Days (nine). This week is another important stepping-stone towards Bling It On’s Hunter Cup defence. “After this we’ll go to the Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst on Boxing night. It’s an ideal race because it’s over distance and he’ll need it before going to Victoria,” McCarthy said. “I’d say we’ll head down there for the Ballarat and Hunter Cups.” Adam Hamilton

Lexington, KY --- Citing the widespread use of drugs on yearlings and 2-year-olds that may result in improper bone development and the recent use of horse auctions to launder money for the drug cartel, the Association of Racing Commissioners International is formally calling for the independent regulation of the breeding and sales industries. “These significant portions of the racing industry are totally unregulated,” said ARCI Chair Jeff Colliton. “If we care about our horses and the integrity of the sport, the racing industry can no longer turn a blind eye to the need to address this shortcoming.” Bisphosphonates: Need to regulate use of drugs in horses intended for sale The ARCI Equine Welfare Committee, chaired by Dr. Corrine Sweeney, met via conference call on Nov. 7 to discuss the use of bisphosphonates on horses that race or are intended to race. While this class of legal medication has been specifically approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat navicular disease in older horses, federal law currently does not preclude their use in young horses despite concerns about their safety and research in other mammals showing a link to stress fractures. In horses, stress fractures may contribute to a catastrophic breakdown. Committee members were concerned about the use of these drugs in young horses amid reports of their widespread use on yearlings and 2-year-olds to treat pain or get them ready for the auction ring. Some noted that the bones of horses treated with bisphosphonates may falsely appear to be fully developed when subjected to a radiograph prior to entering the auction ring. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the profit motive for the seller. But this should never be allowed to overrule the concerns about the welfare of the horse,” said ARCI President Ed Martin. There is sentiment within ARCI to outlaw the use of these drugs in young horses, following the lead of the British Horseracing Authority which has banned their use in horses younger than 3.5 years of age. In addition, the published drug policies of the sales companies are more lenient than those adopted by racing commissions governing the conduct of the race, particularly the permitted stacking of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Drug money laundering The high-profile US federal investigation and convictions that revealed that the Mexican drug cartel was utilizing Quarter horse sales to launder drug money exposed another reason why the breeding and sales aspects of horse racing need to be regulated, Colliton said. The use of “front” owners and corporations is outlined in the book Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty by Melissa Del Bosque which is reportedly being made into a movie to be released at some point in the future. Per the noted author Alfredo Corchado whose work has focused on the drug cartels, this case is “a harrowing portrayal of a cartel family’s thirst for power, money and fast horses.” He also notes that this work offers “a critical, up close look into organized crime’s growing influence over the sport of kings, and the deadly consequences.” “It is naive to think that this may be an isolated instance in an area of the sport that is unregulated,” ARCI President Ed Martin said. “I know first-hand from my experience in New York that criminal activity can occur right under the nose of the most prominent people in racing.” Martin, as the N.Y. regulator, was instrumental in the 2003 criminal indictment of the New York Racing Association for a federal felony conspiracy to defraud the government, a charge NYRA pled guilty to under a deferred prosecution agreement. “Equine breakdowns and activities relating to organized crime are damaging to the public image and acceptability of this sport,” he said. “While the conduct of the race is adequately regulated and racing’s anti-doping program is comparable if not superior to corresponding programs in human sport, the above-mentioned issues highlight the limitations of the existing regulatory authority in many ARCI jurisdictions.” On Dec. 8, 2017, the ARCI Board of Directors adopted the following resolution: WHEREAS reports that the use of some medications on young horses, yearlings and two year olds, may potentially endanger their proper development as race horses, increasing the potential risk of fractures and catastrophic injury; and, WHEREAS the use of such drugs on young horses may misrepresent the extent to which bones have developed to potential buyers and may mask ailments or conditions that would not only impact the price paid at auction but affect a future racing career; and, WHEREAS young horses intended to be racehorses are often beyond the regulatory authority of the racing regulator and their care and development is not subject to any independent oversight; and, WHEREAS it has also been proven that the sale of racehorses has recently attracted members of the drug cartel who have used racehorses to launder money; and, WHEREAS both the breeding and sales aspects of the racing industry are un-regulated and outside the regulatory framework that prohibits activities deemed dangerous to the horse or contain the necessary safeguards to deter and detect illegal activity; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Association of Racing Commissions International (ARCI) is in agreement with statements made by Louis Romanet, President of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, indicating that horses should come under the authority of an independent regulatory authority from the moment of birth and throughout their racing career; The ARCI calls for the expansion of the racing regulatory authority of its members or other suitable entity to include the breeding and sale of race horses and empowers its Officers to begin a conversation with policymakers at all levels and racing industry constituencies to advance this concept and develop all appropriate details. What are Bisphosphonates Bisphosphonates are a group of medicines that slow down or prevent bone loss, strengthening bones. Bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclasts which are responsible for breaking down and reabsorbing minerals such as calcium from bone (the process is known as bone resorption). Bisphosphonates allow osteoblasts (bone building cells) to work more effectively, improving bone mass. Bisphosphonates are used in the treatment of osteoporosis, Paget's disease of bone, and may be used to lower high calcium levels in people with cancer. When used to treat osteoporosis, the optimal duration of treatment is not yet known; however, the majority of benefits appear to happen within the first five years of treatment and long-term use has been associated with atypical femur fractures, osteonecrosis of the jaw and esophageal cancer. Experts recommend the need for bisphosphonate treatment should be reviewed every three to five years. Rhonda Allen Racing Commissioners International 1510 Newtown Pike Suite 210 Lexington, KY 40511 Office: (859) 224-7070 Ext. 4001 rallen@arci.com

Gerry Longo put on a show at Cal Expo last Friday night as he sent out four winners on the harness racing card, guiding three of them himself. The 71-year-old Longo kicked off his four-bagger when Sparkin Your Fire accounted for the Filly and Mare Open with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, making it two straight scores at the head of the class. Longo came right back and captured the next race with HairwayTo Heaven to the delight of the chalkpayers and added victories with Place at the Beach and Gene Eugene before the 12-race program was concluded. Once a fixture at or near the top of the standings at this track, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, Gerry was away from California for three decades when he came out for this meet in 2014 and has been returning on a regular basis for the local action. "I can tell you that the weather is nice, the people are great and I'm impressed with the way they've upgraded the facility," Longo has said. When asked about his exit from the Golden State in the mid-1980s, Longo explained that he made the move to Chicago at a time when it looked like harness racing was about to go down for the count in California. "I did some racing back there in '78, '79 and '80, then I bought a place and started racing in Chicago full time," he said. "I like to travel, so I've also been racing at tracks in Virginia and Minnesota." Last Friday evening, he was traveling quite a bit to the winner's circle and it was great to see those green, black and gold colors getting photographed. Sparkin Your Fire, Capitol Hill clash Friday night's Cal Expo program is headed by a $6,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace that finds Sparkin Your Fire and Capitol Hill getting another chance to settle the score. A 13-race program is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. and the main event is scheduled as the 4th contest on the evening. Sparking Your Fire is a 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Peg Hoffman with Gerry Longo the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen doing the honors. She is coming off back-to-back decisions in the Distaff Open, storming home late for Svendsen on both occasions to get the job done. While the first of those tallies was going away by three lengths, the most recent saw her late heroics handing a neck decision on Capitol Hill. The latter will leave from the No. 6 post just inside her main rival for owners George McChrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman giving directions. She captured three of her first four outings at this meet between November 4 and November 25 at this Open level. There are two wagers that are offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races on the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, on the penultimate four races. The Pick 4 comes with a guaranteed gross pool that has been raised to $30,000. *** There will be no live racing here next week, with the trotters and pacers back in action on December 26 with a special Tuesday evening card that will begin at 5 p.m. There will also be racing that week on Friday and Saturday, December 29 and 30. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

For more than a decade, harness racing trainer Don Maiorano has counted on Soapy Sap. Now, as Maiorano counts down the days to the 14-year-old female trotter's retirement at the end of the year, he is especially grateful for their time together. "We've lasted longer than most marriages," Maiorano said, laughing. "I know it's a business, but you get attached. There were many times when she bailed me out. She's part of the family, really. She will be missed, for sure." Maiorano bought Soapy Sap at age 3 in October 2006. For her career, she has won 39 of 318 races and earned $529,565 in purses. All but 20 of her starts and one of her victories came with Maiorano, who in addition to owning the mare is her trainer. Soapy Sap never won six figures in any year, but she was dependable and durable despite diminutive size. Over the past 25 years, no female trotter has started more races at the Meadowlands, where she raced 106 times in her career. She won 13 races at the Big M, including legs of the Singer Memorial and Super Bowl series, and finished among the top three a total of 40 times. Overall, she hit the board 144 times and earned a paycheck in 218 races. "She's the definition of a professional," Maiorano said. "I was offered money for her, but I turned it down. I'm not a guy with a lot of money, but I enjoy this and it's a lot more fun when you have a nice horse. It was fun racing at the Meadowlands against those big horses in those series and winning a couple races. It was just a good feeling." Maiorano, who has a two-horse stable, is based at Johnson Park in Piscataway, N.J., on the banks of the Raritan River. Although the park is surrounded by busy roads, with the city of New Brunswick across the river and Rutgers University campuses also nearby, it is a quiet location. The park, with a half-mile track, was once a bustling part of the state's racing scene, but is now home to only a handful of horses. "I've been down here since the '70s," said Maiorano, who in addition to training horses has owned a taxicab and worked in construction. "She's been stabled at some other places, but she can get a little hot with a lot of other horses around and grab on. "Over here, she's nice and relaxed. When she's ready to jog she'll start jogging herself. After about 20 or 25 minutes she'll know she's had enough. At this age, I let her basically do what she wants to do to stay happy. She's happy here. She watches the people in the park; out her back window she watches the deer. I don't know if she would have lasted this long if she was somewhere else." Soapy Sap is one of 64 horses to race this year at age 14. Harness racing's mandatory retirement age is 15, with all horses celebrating their birthdays on Jan. 1. Maiorano expects Soapy Sap to make two more starts before the end of the year, with the first being Friday at Freehold Raceway. When her career on the track comes to an end, Maiorano would like to see her begin a new career as a broodmare. Soapy Sap, who has a mark of 1:53.4 set at the Meadowlands as a 7-year-old, is a daughter of Yankee Glide out of Alphabet Love. "She has a great attitude," Maiorano said. "A lot of people told me she was a real fun horse to watch. She's so little and would sit in the pack and if she was within three lengths of the leader at the three-quarter pole she was usually right there with them at the end. She just dug in and gave you her best. "That's why I would love to see a foal out of her. I know she's not real big and she stands a little crooked up front, but she goes." Maiorano would like to breed Soapy Sap himself, but has received calls from several people interested in buying the mare. "I'm going to try my best to do something myself because I would love to have a foal from her, but that's a dream pretty much because I'm not sure I could afford to do it," Maiorano said. "The most important thing is I want to give her a good home. She deserves a good home." Maiorano is thankful for the assistance he received over the years with Soapy Sap, from the drivers to the veterinarians and farriers. "I've had a good team behind me and they helped make this all possible," Maiorano said. "Her legs are still like a 2-year-old. She doesn't act her age. On the racetrack she still wants to go." When Soapy Sap retires, Maiorano will turn his full attention to his remaining horse, 6-year-old trotter Latoka, and try to find another horse to fill Soapy Sap's shoes. "I've always been a small guy; I've pretty much always owned and raced everything myself," Maiorano said. "It's very hard, especially nowadays, to replace a horse. And to get something like her, I'll probably never have another one. Hopefully I can replace her, but she's going to be hard to replace. I'm just happy to have had one like her for all this time." Ken Weingartner  

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