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MILTON, ON - December 12, 2019 - Winter Series harness racing action finally got underway Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with first round action in the Valedictory and Niagara Series. Each series featured two $17,000 divisions with three-year-old colt and gelding pacers dueling in the Valedictory and sophomore pacing fillies contesting the Niagara. The Valedictory Series launched with Windsun Ricky rallying from sixth at the head of the lane to reach up and defeat Lyons Pegasus, who led from the second-quarter on, by half a length in 1:51.4. What Up Mo was third, while Conboyville was fourth. Sent off as the even-money choice, Windsun Ricky was driven to victory by Sylvain Filion for trainer Murray Brethour. The gelded son of American Ideal now has five wins in 15 starts this season, with three of those victories coming in six starts since a break from the track in August and September. Windsun Ricky is now five for 20 in his career and has banked $69,080 for owners Brethour, Windsun Farm and Noblock Racing Stable. He paid $4.10 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. No rallying was needed in the second division, as Virgin Storm went coast-to-coast on the lead to win in 1:52.4. James MacDonald guided the Nick Surick trainee to his fourth win in 25 starts this season. Jknr Liketell rallied for second, beat a length. Dreamfair Charro was third, while Legion Seelster was fourth. Unraced at age two, Virgin Storm entered Thursday's race having not scored a victory since his fifth start of the season. The gelded son of Always A Virgin now displays totals of four wins, $57,555 earned and a mark of 1:52.4 for owner M Spacc Stables. Virgin Storm paid $11.30 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. The Niagara Series started with Sunfire Blue Chip filly Dreamfair Zenfire scoring at odds of 4-1 for driver Travis Cullen and trainer Jodie Cullen. Dreamfair Zenfire rushed up from third to claim the top at the half and went on to pace a :56.2 back-half to win by a length and a quarter in a career-best 1:53. Cranberry Brie took second, while Erikas Shadow and Mary Goodnight completed the Superfecta. The most experienced competitor in the Niagara, Dreamfair Zenfire is now six for 37 on the season after going winless in four starts as a rookie. She is a homebred for John Lamers that has now earned $64,131 during her racing career. Dreamfair Zenfire paid $11.40 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. Arya Stark closed out Thursday's series action in exciting fashion, winning by a neck over Giggle Hanover in 1:53.4. Driven by Chris Christoforou, Arya Stark angled out from fourth heading to three-quarters, collecting cover from a two-hole pulling Passport Hanover. Trip Aces Hanover, who led into the stretch, surrendered the lead late to Arya Stark, while Giggle Hanover charged up the rail late. Passport Hanover was fourth. A daughter of Royal Mattjesty, Arya Stark picked up her fifth win 34 starts this season and sixth career win overall with the upset score. Melissa Lamoureux trains the sophomore and co-owns with Jeffrey Boyd and Jefferson Davis. Arya Stark, who paid $23.80, now has career earnings of $68,537. To watch the race replay, click here. The Valedictory and Niagara Series were open to three-year-olds, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2019. Each event will resume next Thursday (December 19) with second-round action. The series finals will be contested on Boxing Day (December 26). Live racing continues Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Ripping off cover came Easy Lover Hanover through the stretch with a :26 final quarter to cross the line first in the $34,000 Preferred Handicap Pace on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, one of five harness racing victories on the card for driver Jody Jamieson as he continues to grind towards 8,000 wins. Nirvana Seelster led the field to the first quarter in :27.3 while 4-5 favourite B Stoney sat in the pocket. Easy Lover Hanover raced fifth up the backstretch but Jamieson angled him second over as East End tipped uncovered into a :56.2 half. East End stalled rounding the final turn, leaving Nirvana Seelster to hold off B Stoney pulling pocket towards three-quarters in 1:24. B Stoney faltered through the stretch as Nirvana Seelster maintained command, but Easy Lover Hanover slung to the center of the course and swept towards the pacesetter, nailing him by a neck in 1:51. East End finished third. A six-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, Easy Lover Hanover won his 10th race from 25 starts this season and his 44th from 109 overall, earning $1,041,023. Ben Wallace trains the $6.00 winner for owner Brad Grant. The win in the Preferred was the penultimate of Jamieson’s evening. He won his first two of the evening back-to-back when launching A Boy Named Suuzz ($30.40) off a helmet to a two-and-a-quarter length victory followed by Rockin In Heaven ($4.50) with a near-wire-to-wire mile in 1:49.4. Nocturnal Blue Chip ($6.70) gave Jamieson his third victory of the evening with his final win coming from Ideal Jet ($7.20) in a coast-to-coast 1:51.2 mile. Jamieson goes into the Monday, Dec. 9 card at Woodbine Mohawk Park just one win away from 8,000. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park. From Standardbredcanada.ca 

MILTON, ON - December 2, 2019 - World champion harness racing trotter Emoticon Hanover capped off her legendary career with a coast-to-coast 1:53.3 victory Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The six-year-old trotting mare was sent to the top by driver Bob McClure and got things her own way, trotting home in :27 for a three-quarter length victory in the $34,000 Preferred. Trainer Luc Blais confirmed Monday morning that Emoticon Hanover, a two-time Breeders Crown champion, would be retired following that evening's start. "I was very nervous before the race," said an emotional Blais following 'Emoticon's' final start. "She gave me an incredible thrill. She never (had) a bad race and always gave a 150 per cent of her." A daughter of Kadabra, Emoticon Hanover was purchased for $165,000 at the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale by Serge Godin's Determination and went on to become one of the greatest Ontario sired trotters of all-time. "We (made) the decision in the last minute," said Blais. "We had a meeting in Montreal and it was not an easy decision, but she deserves that, she deserves to breed with the best stallion." Blais noted that the connections first choice is to breed Emoticon Hanover to Muscle Hill. Emoticon Hanover spent the majority of her two and three-year-old campaigns battling with rival Caprice Hill for Ontario Sires Stakes glory. The talented ladies exchanged victories in the 2015 and 2016 OSS Super Finals. The Blais trainee gained recognition across North America as a four-year-old with a dominating stretch of victories that included a pair of World Record performances, 1:50.2 at Tioga Downs in the Joie De Vie and 1:52 at the Delaware County Fair in the Miss Versatility. 'Emoticon' followed those dazzling performances with a score in the Allerage at The Red Mile and her first Breeders Crown title. "Any kind of race we liked to watch her, she tries hard and I can't tell you what is the best (race)," said Blais. "I think the race at Tioga 1:50.2 was very impressive for me, it was a big race that afternoon." The World Champion returned to the races as a five-year-old and finished off the 2018 campaign in style by winning her second-consecutive Breeders Crown and her first TVG Mares Trot. Emoticon Hanover won the O'Brien Award as Canada's top older mare trotter in 2018. Determination's superstar continued to compete at the highest level this season, racing against the boys in her second consecutive Maple Leaf Trot. The highlight of her six-year-old season came a little over a week ago when she reached up in the final strides to defeat Atlanta in the TVG Mare Trot, surpassing $2 million in career earnings. The TVG victory was also the 1,000th career training victory for trainer Blais. "I'm going to remember my 1,000th win," said Blais. "It's going to be easy to remember this one." Emoticon Hanover finishes her career with 27 wins, 56 top-three finishes, $2,044,663 earned and a mark of 1:50.2 in 74 starts. Woodbine Entertainment made a special presentation to Emoticon Hanover and Blais following Monday's race to recognize their accomplishments. TRAINING CANCELLED TUESDAY MORNING Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to notify all horsepeople that training has been cancelled for Tuesday morning. The track will reopen for training on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Communications

Standardbred Canada reports that the four-year-old Shadow Play harness racing mare Kendall Seelster swept to the front past the half and held command from the late-surging Physicallyinclined to take the $34,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, Nov. 23. Easy Lover Hanover rolled to the front past a :25.4 opening quarter but yielded command past a :56 half as Kendall Seelster brushed uncovered towards the top. Physicallyinclined also began to move for the front past the half and ranged within two lengths of the lead nearing three-quarters in 1:23.2. Kendall Seelster opened two lengths on Physicallylinclined in the stretch but worked to hold control through the lane. Physicallyinclined drew closer but hit the finish a half-length shy of victory in a 1:51.4 mile. Easy Lover Hanover gave chase from third. Owned by 1187422 Ontario Inc., Kendall Seelster won her ninth race from 22 starts this season and her 22nd from 56 overall, earning $931,346. Sylvain Filion drove the $6.70 winner for trainer Rod Boyd. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park. From Standardbred Canada

MILTON, ON - November 16, 2019 - Series finals, a milestone and Jackpot score headlined an eventful harness racing Saturday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. An 11-race card featured a trio of main events with a pair of Harvest Series finals for Ontario sired three-year-old colts and geldings and a $34,000 Preferred Pace. Easy Lover Hanover became harness racing's newest millionaire with 1:51.4 victory in the $34,000 Preferred Pace. The Ben Wallace trainee scored his eighth win of the season and 42nd in 106 career starts to cross the $1 million mark. Sitting second-over at three-quarters, Easy Lover Hanover displayed the determination that fans have become accustomed to seeing by charging down the centre of the track and overtaking the lead in the final-eighth to win for driver Bob McClure. A six-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, Easy Lover Hanover has competed in several of the sport's top pacing events during his career with his biggest victory coming in the Progress Pace as a three-year-old. Brad Grant is the owner of racing's new millionaire. 'Easy Lover' was made the 4/5 favourite in Saturday's Preferred, returning $3.70 for a $2 win ticket. Tony O'Sullivan trainee Angers Bayama took off on rivals racing to three-quarters to secure a 4 ½ length victory in the $49,600 Harvest Series final for pacing colts and geldings. Sylvain Filion guided the gelded son of Big Jim to the career-best 1:50.4 victory for the series sweep. The First Step, who had victories in each of the preliminary legs, finished second. Prestige Seelster and Bettor B Going completed the Superfecta. Angers Bayama is now on a six-race winning streak to bring his career record to six for 14 with $78,655 earned for owner Bayama Farms Inc. The six wins have all come since joining the barn of O'Sullivan. A $2 win ticket on Angers Bayama returned $3. Lifetime Royalty claimed the top at the opening-quarter and never looked back for a 10-1 upset victory in the $47,800 final for trotting colts and geldings. Jody Jamieson was the driver behind the gelded son of Royalty For Life for trainer Scott McEneny. Okeanos trotted a :27.3 final-quarter to challenge Lifetime Royalty, coming up just a neck short for a runner-up finish to the 1:54.4 winner. Arcanum and A Royal Line rounded out the top-four. Lifetime Royalty's experience in the Harvest Series was an up and down ride, as the McEneny trainee captured a first leg division, finished seventh in the second leg and then rebounded for the victory Saturday. The sophomore gelded is now two for 16 this season and three for 25 overall after his career-best victory to bring his career earnings to $99,231 for owners Brad Grant, McEneny and Martwest Racing Stable. Lifetime Royalty paid $22.90 to win. The Harvest Series was open to Ontario sired three-year-old colts and geldings, who were non-winners of $30,000 in 2019 as of September 30, 2019. Saturday's final race saw the Jackpot Hi-5 taken down, as a horseplayer from Chicago had the only winning ticket for a score of $92,381.06 (USD). The 6/5 favourite Mc Pat captured the final-race, but the top-five also included the two-longest shots in the race. The top-five finishers are listed below: 1st: #5 Mc Pat (6/5) 2nd: #10 Cliffhanger (5/1) 3rd: #9 St Lads Thriller (46/1) 4th: #1 Mighty Mach (110/1) 5th: #3 Cortez The Killer (12/1) The $0.20 winning ticket cost $134.40 and was built 5,10/5,10/ALL/ALL/ALL. Live racing resumes Monday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment              

MILTON, ON - November 14, 2019 - Thru The Wickets and Lady Driver took home the gold in Thursday evening's Harvest Series harness racing finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The $47,500 final for trotting fillies and $50,200 final for pacing fillies wrapped up the three-week event for Ontario sired three-year-old fillies. Thru The Wickets tipped three-wide from fifth shortly before three-quarters and powered down the centre of the track to win the trotting final by a length and three-quarters in 1:57.1. Trevor Henry guided the daughter of Kadabra to victory for trainer Shane Weber. Warrawee Ultra shot from the rail and led by open-lengths to three-quarters in 1:26.1. The leader was all done at the head of the lane, allowing rivals from well-back to pick up the pieces. Thru The Wickets took the top spot over runner-up Northern Royale, who rallied from eighth, while Club Belvedere crossed the line third after racing a few lengths behind Warrawee Ultra throughout the opening three-quarters. The Harvest Series victory is the second win in 12 starts for Thru The Wickets, who was unraced at age two and had last collected a victory on August 1. She now has $38,152 earned for owners Tom & Elizabeth Rankin. Thru The Wickets paid $16.90 to win. To see the race replay, click here. Lady Driver converted off a two-hole trip behind Esprit Dequipe to best that rival by a pair of lengths and win the pacing final in 1:54.2. Jonathan Drury steered the Sportswriter filly to victory for trainer Carmen Auciello. The top-two at the finish were the same two leading at every call in the $50,200 event. Lady Driver left from post-seven and cleared Esprit Dequipe at the opening-quarter at :27.3. The fillies flipped positions racing to the half with Esprit Dequipe posting fractions of :57 and 1:25.1. The stretch drive saw little drama, as Lady Driver angled out and powered by for the score. Jessicas Legacy was third, while race-favourite Free Exchange was never in the mix and finished fourth. Lady Driver improves her three-year-old record to six wins and $74,055 earned in 22 starts. Her career numbers escalate to eight wins and $110,360 banked for owners Michael Hall, Ctc Stable and Our Three Sons Stable LLC. A $2 win ticket on Lady Driver returned $6.70. To watch the race replay, click here. The Harvest Series was open to Ontario sired three-year-old fillies, who were non-winners of $30,000 in 2019 as of September 30, 2019. Live racing resumes Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:50 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

Kendall Seelster regained her winning touch in Friday’s $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park, while a set of upsetters made headlines in the opening round of the Harvest Series for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Kendall Seelster was a popular winner in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred for pacers for the tandem of driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Rod Boyd. Sent off as the 3-5 favourite, the four-year-old daughter of Shadow Play-Kiddie Cocktail tracked Double A Mint to the quarter pole in :26.2 before looping past that foe and grabbing the lead. Kendall Seelster whacked out middle panels of :56 and 1:25 before roaring home in :27.3 to win by 1-1/2 lengths over Double A Mint and Better Be Donna N. It was the seventh win of the year and the 20th to date for the OSS graduate who now boasts a bankroll that stands at $899,346. She is owned by 1187422 Ontario Inc of Ottawa, Ont. Lifetime Royalty captured the first of two $17,000 divisions of the Harvest Series for three-year-old trotting fillies, and she did so to the tune of 8-1 for driver Louis Philippe Roy. The son of Royalty For Life-Cha Cha Glide left sharply and dropped into the pocket position while Red Hot Torch rolled the field through first-half fractions of :28 and :57.3. Heavily favoured Okeanos put first-over pressure on the leader at the half, and those two continued their battle to the three-quarter pole in 1:26.3. Okeanos shook loose on the lead in the lane, but he was picked off late by a hard-driving Lifetime Royalty who used a :28.1 final frame to win by three-quarters of a length over Okeanos in 1:55.2. Orlys Pride took home the show dough. Trainer Scott McEneny co-owns the gelding with Brad Grant and Martwest Racing Stable. It was the first win of the season – and the second to date – for the career winner in excess of $75,000. Arcanum, who was sent off at odds of 5-1, used his closing skills to post a 1:57.2 triumph in the second division for driver Scott Young. The son of Archangel-Penetangore got away fifth and watched A Royal Line and race favourite Meeas Dream take turns on the lead through fractions of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:28.1. Meeas Dream dug in late, but couldn’t fend off Arcanum who sped home in :29 to win by three-quarters of a length over Meeas Dream, with Stormont Rare a bang-up third. Trainer Kris Anderson shares ownership on the gelding with partner Ken Wiese of Paisley, Ont. The homebred now owns a 3-0-2 record from 14 starts this season in addition to earnings in excess of $23,000. The four-time winner has stashed away more than $36,000 to date. To view results for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.

MILTON, ON - October 29, 2019 - The inaugural Breeders Crown Charity Challenge came to a close this past Friday with the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society taking home $109,484 as part of a Woodbine Cares record one-time donation of $282,996 in donations to five local charities. "We are so humbled by the contributions and donations made by so many people throughout the Standardbred racing community in the US and Canada," said Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine Mohawk Park. "This all started as a great idea by Marvin Katz and it far surpassed all of our expectations. It truly is a reflection of the great people in our industry and the power of working together. These donations will positively impact many lives." The Breeders Crown Charity Challenge launched in June and featured four teams consisting of a celebrity, a charity of their choosing, and an award-winning three-year-old Standardbred. Each charity is received one per cent of their horse's earnings from June 1 through Oct. 26. Along with the horse's earnings, a breeding auction was held in Lexington, Kentucky in early-October to raise funds for the challenge. Exceeding expectations, more than $200,000 in funds was raised through the auction, allowing Woodbine Cares to make larger donations to each charity. Each team competed to garner the most votes in a Facebook poll, which closed on October 24, with the winning team receiving the largest portion of the funds raised for their charity. A special presentation was held during Friday's Breeders Crown card to recognize the charities and unveil their donation amounts. Marvin Katz, a presenting sponsor for the Breeders Crown, came up with the idea for the Charity Challenge and joined in presenting cheques to each charity. In recognition of Katz, Woodbine Cares Foundation donated $50,000 to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in the presenting sponsor's name. The Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, celebrity Dan Plesac (former MLB pitcher) and their horse Captain Crunch received the most votes to win the Charity Challenge and earn $109,484 ($100,000 + earnings). Kim MacDonald (Weather Network personality) and her horse Woodside Charm finished second in the voting to earn $80,000 for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. The other two charities in the challenge received a last-minute boost to their earnings courtesy of Breeders Crown victories by their horses. Michael 'Pinball' Clemons (Toronto Argonauts General Manager and former CFL player) teamed up with Warrawee Ubeaut to earn $33,831 ($25,000 + earnings) for the Pinball Clemons Foundation, while Eddie Olczyk (former NHL player) and Gimpanzee collected $9,681 (earnings) for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. A total of $282,996 was donated to five local charities through the Breeders Crown Charity Challenge and this could not have been accomplished without the support and generosity of the following individuals and groups. Captaintreacherous The Captaintreacherous Syndicate, Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, Hanover Shoe Farms Always B Miki, Father Patrick and Sweet Lou Adam Bowden, Diamond Creek Farms Muscle Hill Michael Klau, Southwind Farms Chapter Seven Tom Grossman, Blue Chip Farms Tactical Landing Kevin Greenfield, Southwind Farms Gimpanzee Courant Inc, SRF Stable, Marcus Melander Warrawee Ubeaut Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, J & T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi Captain Crunch 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, Caviart Farms, Nancy Johansson Woodside Charm Verlin Yoder by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - October 28, 2019 - Ontario Sired two-year-old harness racing fillies headlined Monday evening's action at Woodbine Mohawk Park in a pair of Harvest Series finals. Trizzle Trazzle drew in off the also eligible list to score a 56-1 shocker in the $49,600 pacing final, while Trina scored at 6-1 in the $47,500 trotting final. A daughter of Mach Three, Trizzle Trazzle broke her maiden in style by rallying from eighth at three-quarters to pass tiring rivals and score a half length victory in 1:54.2. Jonathan Drury guided the Kevin St. Charles trainee to victory. The early-action saw Kit shoot from the centre to post a :27.2 opener before Wiggle Delight circled from second to first and led by more than two lengths through solid fractions of :55.4 and 1:23.4. Race-favourite Beach Sports was second-over turning for home and pushed towards the front, but was overtaken in deep stretch by the longshot Trizzle Trazzle, who came from eight-lengths off to win. Ms Brampton Beast was third, while Wiggle Delight finished fourth. Trizzle Trazzle's maiden breaking score boost her earnings up to $44,926 for owners E C S Racing LLC. She paid $114.80 to win. To watch the race replay, click here. Per Henriksen guided his student Trina to a convincing 1:55.4 victory in the trotting fillies final. The daughter of Muscle Mass angled out from fourth at the half, powered first-up to within a neck of the lead at three-quarters and trotted away in the lane to win by 3 ½ lengths. Goddess De Vie followed the winner's path from the half on to finish second. Susies Lady rallied from eighth for third, while Bra In The Wind was fourth. Trina knocked two-seconds off her previous best and improves to two for eight with $43,875 earned. She is owned by Harbor Racing Stable LLC and Asa Farm. A $2 win ticket on Trina returned $14.80. To watch the race replay, click here. The Harvest Series was open to Ontario Sired two-year-old fillies, who were non-winners of $30,000 as of September 30, 2019. Live racing resumes Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

MILTON, ON - October 24, 2019 - Woodbine Mohawk Park would like to notify all harness racing horsepeople that the direct phone line to the Race Office is currently down. Horsepeople can get through to the Race Office by dialing 416-675-7223, followed by 1 and then one of the following extensions: 4304, 4306, 4309 or 4329. The Race Office can also be contacted at 416-434-5893. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

MILTON, ON - October 23, 2019 - Woodbine Mohawk Park has announced a change to the harness racing training schedule for this weekend. There will be no training available at Mohawk Park this Friday (October 25) or Saturday (October 26). The track will only be open for Breeders Crown horses in retention to use from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment  

In discussing his horse, Sister Sledge, trainer Ron Burke gave a simple but accurate assessment of Friday's $600,000 Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly harness racing trot final at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "Moving forward, I think she's as good as any filly out there, but there are a couple real good ones," Burke said. "The 2-year-old trotting fillies are very solid - a bunch of them actually." This past Friday, Yannick Gingras showed just how deep the field is by driving horses to victory over undefeated opponents in both elimination races. Gingras guided Sister Sledge past previously perfect Hypnotic AM, a 1-5 favorite, in the first elim. He followed by driving Ms Savannah Belle to victory and keeping Ramona Hill out of the winner's circle for the first time. Hypnotic AM was second while Ramona Hill finished third. Gingras will drive Sister Sledge, a daughter of Father Patrick-Behindclosedoors, in the final. The horse, who drew the two-post, has eight wins and has hit the board in all 10 starts this year, winning C$308,852. She will go off right next to Hypnotic AM, who drew post one. A repeat of their exciting elimination battle would be interesting, as Gingras went outside in the homestretch to pass the favorite and win by 1-1/4 lengths. "When I got alongside of her I could tell I had more trot," Gingras said. "It was just a matter of getting to the wire. But I was definitely confident, throughout really. She's a nice filly. The other one is nice too, but I had all the confidence in the world in my filly. With the trip, I thought she would give her a really good run anyway." It was the first setback in eight starts for Hypnotic AM, who has won C$394,582 this season with Brian Sears in the sulky. "She raced good (in the elim)," trainer Marcus Melander said. "She got a little fresh on the lead and Brian had to hold her a little too much. Maybe we need to do some changes for this week, but I think she raced good. You always want to win so you know you're going to draw (post) one to five. She just got a little too fresh on the lead. It was just too much." Hypnotic AM had last raced Sept. 14 in winning the New York Sire Stakes championship. The Chapter Seven-Daydream AM S miss qualified in 1:54.2 in advance of her Crown elimination. "She was very good in her qualifier and I thought she was going to be ready," Melander said. "Maybe this will put her a little bit forward. I still think we have a great filly even if she got beat, and (Sister Sledge) is a good horse. I really like my horse and think she will have a big chance in the final. She gets over the ground so easy. She can do anything; race on any sized track, she's got speed, she's got stamina. She's got everything that a good horse has got to have." In the second elim, not winning proved costly for Ramona Hill, who drew post 10 in the final. Driven by Andy McCarthy, the Muscle Hill-Lock Down Lindy freshman lost for the first time in six starts. "I didn't think she was tracking as good as she has been, so we're going to make a couple of adjustments for the final, but she went a monster trip after Andy got her settled," said trainer Tony Alagna, whose filly has earned C$106,300 this year. "He tried to press out of there a little bit with her, but she wasn't as comfortable, so he just waited on her. She was parked the entire mile first over, so she went a huge mile just to be third. "We'll regroup, but we're very pleased with her. She's a filly we were very high on, but she was very immature and we didn't even know if we'd make it to the Breeders Crown with her at one stage. To be here, and to be in the final, speaks volumes to her quality. She just needed some time. As the year's gotten longer, she's gotten better. We gave her a nice break after the Kindergarten (leg on July 19) and that really seemed to help her. All those things helped her for sure." Winning for the fourth time in eight starts allowed Ms Savannah Belle to earn a post five Friday, setting up what could be a fierce final. As he did with Sister Sledge, Gingras rallied his horse down the homestretch. The filly has hit the board in seven races and won C$216,658 this year. "She was super down in Lexington; we only raced her the first week there, we skipped the second week just to aim her for this and I think she'll be even sharper (in the final)," trainer Per Engblom said of the daughter of Muscle Hill-Stubborn Belle. "I think my filly will do good. She hadn't raced in three weeks; she'll be a little sharper next week. "She's a darling. She's good every time. She had a couple (1:52 miles) in a row. I worried she might be a little short, but Yannick worked out the perfect trip for her, so it was no problem." Engblom has two horses in the final, as Shishito (Father Patrick-Yoga) will go off from the eight hole. "She was third in the first elimination and I think she'll step up and be a little better this week too," the trainer said. "She was very good. She was leaning in the turn a little bit so (driver Dexter Dunn) lost a little ground in the last turn, but then she finished really good in the stretch. We'll try to change her bridle up a little bit to keep her a little straighter. She's such an honest little filly, I just love her. She's nice." Rounding out the final are May Baby (post three), Dip Me Hanover (four), Wine Rack Hanover (six), Madame Sherry (seven) and Violet Stride (nine). Trainer Nifty Norman feels Wine Rack Hanover may be calming down at just the right time. "She's got a big motor, she's just had trouble with her manners all year," Norman said of the Kadabra-Winbak Maya miss. "But she's getting better and better all the time. She was really tough to hang on to; she was really hot. She's starting to work it out. She's got a great attitude. She never gives in. I'm pretty happy with her." Trainer Jim Campbell felt Madame Sherry, a daughter of Father Patrick-Celebrity Angel, "raced OK" in her elimination but echoed most everyone's thoughts about the final. "It's a tough group," Campbell said. "It's a real tough group. She's going to have to step her game up to be better for next week to get money in there, but she's got a chance to go for it, which is better than not being in it." Below is the field for the Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly trot final. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Hypnotic AM-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander 2-Sister Sledge-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke 3-May Baby-James Yoder-James Yoder 4-Dip Me Hanover-David Miller-Linda Toscano 5-Ms Savannah Belle-TBA-Per Engblom 6-Wine Rack Hanover-Sylvain Filion-R. Nifty Norman 7-Madame Sherry-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell 8-Shishito-Dexter Dunn-Per Engblom 9-Violet Stride-Tyler Buter-Mark Harder 10-Ramona Hill-Andy McCarthy-Tony Alagna By Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown

MILTON, ONT, October 18, 2019 - Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras set up shop in the winner's circle to launch the Breeders Crown elimination weekend festivities on Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. A pair of eliminations for the 2-Year-Old Filly Trot and a single elimination for the 2-Year-Old Colt Trot were contested. Gingras drove Synergy to a 1:55 win in the $32,500 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Trot elimination. The field left evenly except for Chestnut Hill, who galloped off the gate while mid-pack Beads went to the front as the rest of the field found early spots. Back Of The Neck sat behind the leader into a :27.2 first quarter while Synergy sat in fourth. Synergy was in a good spot going into the half as favorite Amigo Volo and outsider Horse Trader jumped, leaving a big lead for Beads and a clear path for Synergy on the inside through a half in :57. By the 1:25.4 three-quarters, Beads was being chased strongly by Third Shift, who went four wide into the stretch, along with Rome Pays Off charging up the middle and Synergy riding the rail. Those three left Beads behind and as Third Shift dueled with Rome Pays Off, Gingras glided by them to win by a length in 1:55. Synergy (Father Patrick--Southwind Sauna), is trained by Per Engblom. The colt was bred by Southwind Farms and is owned by Brittany Farms, John Fielding, Herb Liverman and David Anderson. Third Shift nosed Rome Pays Off for the place. Chestnut Hill recovered from the early break and finished fourth. The top-seven finishers from the elimination advanced to the final to join the trio of Capricornus, Port Perry and Real Cool Sam, who all took byes to the final. Moon Bridge, Beads and Amigo Volo finished fifth through seventh to qualify for the next Friday's (October 25) $600,000 final. Synergy paid $36.90 to win. To watch the replay, click here. Sister Sledge regained her winning form and in the process ended the undefeated reign of Hypnotic AM in capturing the first of two $32,500 eliminations of the Breeders Crown for juvenile trotting fillies. Gingras guided Sister Sledge to the lead in the early stages and released 1-5 favorite Hypnotic AM and driver Brian Sears well before the :27 2/5 opening quarter marker. Those two continued in that order through middle fractions of :56 1/5 and 1:24 4/5 as only Violet Stride attempted to rally on the outside without cover but couldn't get reasonably close to the top pair. In the homestretch Gingras tipped the daughter of Father Patrick to the outside and Sister Sledge rolled right by the favorite to score by a length. Hypnotic AM entered the Crown elimination unbeaten in seven prior starts but had to settle for second here. Shishito saved ground most of the way and finished third with Violet Stride and Madame Sherry earning final berths. Burke Racing Stable, Jason Merillo, J & T Silva, Purnell & Libby and Weaver-Bruscemi LLC share partnership in Sister Sledge now an eight time winner in 10 starts as a freshman. "I rushed her a bit out of the two hole at The Red Mile," said Gingras, "And she got rough. Here I waited a bit and she was strong." Trainer Burke was frustrated with a second and third place finish in Grand Circuit action at The Red Mile but found the answers he was looking for. "We decided to change her bridle after the Pennsylvania Championship," Burke said of the mistake. "She's as good a filly as there is out there." Sister Sledge returned $13.80 to win. To watch the replay click here.  It was Gingras once again putting the end to another unbeaten streak in the second $32,500 Breeders Crown elimination for juvenile trotting fillies when he guided Ms Savannah Belle to victory with previously flawless Ramona Hill had to settle for third. Ms Savannah Belle started from post eight but Gingras was quick to energize her at the outset grabbing the early lead then yielding to Indiana-based filly May Baby before the :27 3/5 opening quarter was clocked. Ms Savannah Belle stayed close up in the pocket as May Baby carved out lively fractions of :56, 1:24 4/5 for James Yoder. Gingras wasted little time and angled Ms Savannah Belle to challenge into the homestretch and the daughter of Muscle Hill took off quickly rolling past the leader and drawing clear from other rivals to post a 1:53 2/5 clocking. Wine Rack Hanover rallied along the inside after a pylon-sitting trip for second just ahead of Ramona Hill who went a long way on the outside without cover in a difficult grinding effort. May Baby settled for fourth after doing the early leg work and Peaceful Way champion Dip Me Hanover rallied late for the final berth. Sent off as a 4-1 offering Ms Savannah Belle returned $10.60 winning for the fourth time in 8 career starts for owner-breeder Al Libfeld and trainer Per Engblom. "We decided to race her just the first week at The Red Mile and get her ready for this," said Engblom following the victory. "I think she'll be even better next week. "She had some bad luck early she drew outside (post 10) in the Doherty and raced well there." Ms Savannah Belle paid $10.60 to win. To see the replay, click here. Post positions for the 2-Year-Old Colt Trot and 2-Year-Old Filly Trot finals were drawn following the eliminations. Elimination winners drew for inside post positions one through five. $600,000 2-Year-Old Colt Trot 1 Beads 2 Synergy 3 Moon Bridge 4 Amigo Volo 5 Chestnut Hill 6 Rome Pays Off 7 Third Shift 8 Capricornus 9 Real Cool Sam 10 Port Perry $600,000 2-Year-Old Filly Trot 1 Hypnotic Am 2 Sister Sledge 3 May Baby 4 Dip Me Hanover 5 Ms Savannah Belle 6 Wine Rack Hanover 7 Madame Sherry 8 Shishito 9 Violet Stride 10 Ramona Hill From Woodbine Communications/Hambletonian Society

Considering Bob McIntosh has been training for 48 years, and considering he is tied with Ron Burke for second place among harness racing trainers in Breeders Crown wins, one almost has to heed McIntosh's statement about filly trotter Only Take Cash as a warning. "This one's kind of special," said McIntosh, whose 16 Breeders Crown victories place him behind only Jimmy Takter. McIntosh realizes, however, that it's unknown how "special" will translate on the track in Saturday's Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old filly trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Only Take Cash is in the first of the two $25,000 eliminations, where she is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind 2-1 favorite Evident Beauty. When Dovescry is the 9-5 favorite in the second elimination. The top five finishers from each elim advance to the $500,000 final Oct. 26 at Mohawk. Evident Beauty edged Only Take Cash by half a length in September's Elegantimage Stakes at Mohawk while The Ice Duchess won the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial. "Evident Beauty sat on (Only Take Cash's) back and just nailed us at the wire," McIntosh said about the Elegantimage. "When you race against the good ones it just comes down to the trip sometimes. I don't see anybody in the field just that dominant. It looks like a pretty close race to me. There's some very, very nice horses in there." McIntosh feels Only Take Cash is right up there with the best of them. She has won 15 of 19 career races, earned $648,561, and is a two-time Ohio Sire Stakes champion. This year she has hit the board in all 10 starts with seven wins and $376,421 in earnings. The homebred filly, by Cash Hall out of Armbro Affair, is owned by Robert McIntosh Stables, Dave Boyle, and Marv Chantler's Mardon Stables. "She's been amazing," McIntosh said. "She hasn't had that many starts but she's come up big every start. She's just been a dream come true. She's been special from day one and has a good attitude. She had an amazing 2-year-old year and this year just as good." The trainer is especially impressed by her gait and her grittiness. "She's not big, but she has no wasted motion in her gait," he said. "The biggest thing about her is, she'll give you 120 percent. She wants to win. You can't train that into them. They're either born with it or not." The best news for McIntosh is how Only Take Cash looks heading into the race. "I trained her a little bit this morning and she was as sharp as she can be," he said on Thursday. "When I came in this morning I was very pleased. She's healthy, she's sound, ready to go. The rest is up to her and the driver. It's just going to come down to trips, but I couldn't be happier with how she's going into it -- knock on my wooden head she stays healthy." If she gets the trips her trainer wants, McIntosh could add to his Breeders Crown wins, which is a source of pride for him. "I was in front for a while and then Jimmy came along," said McIntosh, who is in the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. "But it's been a great series for me. I love the Breeders Crown. It all comes down to the Breeders Crown, and I think that's a good thing. It's at the end of the year, you're going against the best, and if you can pull that one off you stamp yourself as one of the best of the year." Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Mohawk. The card features Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male and female trotters and pacers plus older female trotters. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Open Trot, Open Pace and Mare Pace. For complete entries, click here. Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-olds are tonight, with a 7:50 p.m. post time. For entries, click here. By Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown    

Trenton, NJ --- It is costing Custom Cantab's connections $31,250 to supplement her to the Breeders Crown Mare Trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park. But the way harness racing trainer and part-owner Chris Beaver looks at things, it's almost like spending found money. "She was a $6,000 yearling, so with (paying) the supplement we're still way ahead," Beaver said with a laugh. They sure are. The 4-year-old mare has won 18 of 44 career starts with 11 seconds and 10 thirds, good for $1 million in earnings. She has won three of 15 races and $266,647 this year while making the jump from racing primarily on the Indiana Sire Stakes circuit to the Grand Circuit. She has shown enough to give her owners confidence, winning the Joie De Vie Stakes, taking second in the Harry Harvey Trot in a field with male competition, and finishing third on six occasions. "It had been in my head for a while through the season," Beaver said of the Breeders Crown. "The payments were early in the year and she'd never been eligible before and it just kind of wasn't on our radar. She was staked to do a lot of other stuff. But she's made the TVG final (in November) and we wanted her to race in between there. She's split up amongst partners, so nobody had to bear the burden of it themselves, and she's coming off a real good race (in the Harvey)." And it was that race that made the final decision for owners Beaver, Donald Robinson and Robert Hechkoff's R.B.H. Ventures somewhat easier. "We talked about it a little bit before her last race at Yonkers, and the partners were all on board," Beaver said. "She was parked the entire mile there. It was still closing for second, and she picked up a good amount of money there. I think over the course of that day, after that race, we talked a little bit, and there seemed to be no objection about supplementing her." Custom Cantab races in the first of two $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations Saturday at Mohawk. She is 4-1 on the morning line, starting from post three with driver David Miller in a seven-horse field. Plunge Blue Chip is the 8-5 favorite. World record-holder Manchego is the 4-5 favorite in the second elimination. Manchego is a past Breeders Crown champion and the Mare Trot group also includes two-time Crown winners Hannelore Hanover (first elim) and Emoticon Hanover (second elim). The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $325,000 final Oct. 26 at Mohawk. "We have confidence she can be top three in the final or we wouldn't have made the payment," Beaver said. "I feel like she's got a legit shot to win the elimination. In the final, there's a couple that have been better than her at times, but she's also been better. We beat Manchego a few times earlier in the season. I've got confidence in her. Even some weeks when I haven't thought she's trained that good she comes out and races unbelievable for us." It has been an interesting year for Custom Cantab. Beaver held her out of some races because he was unsure how she would make the transition to open competition after competing mainly in the Indiana Sire Stakes. But her victory in last year's Matron gave him a good feeling to take some shots. "I guess I've been pleasantly surprised how good she's been this year since she went to Meadowlands and started racing there and gone on through the rest of the season," Beaver said. "When they get stretched out there aren't many much better than her. So, I think she's legit. Whether it's going to pay off we'll have to wait and see. She's been in the ballpark all year." Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Mohawk. The card also features Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male and female trotters and pacers. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Open Trot, Open Pace and Mare Pace. For complete entries, click here. Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-olds are tonight, with a 7:50 p.m. post time. For entries, click here. By Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown

Third Shift and Moon Bridge got a little unscheduled time off recently because of sickness, but the two Ake Svanstedt trainees are ready to go Friday (Oct. 18) in the single Breeders Crown elimination for 2-year-old male trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Thirteen horses were entered for the event, with the connections of Real Cool Sam, Port Perry, and Capricornus accepting byes to advance directly to the final. The top seven finishers from the remaining 10-horse field will join that trio in the $600,000 final Oct. 25 at Mohawk. Two-time Grand Circuit-winner Amigo Volo, a son of Father Patrick from the stable of trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman, is the elim's 5-2 morning-line favorite from post three. Dexter Dunn will drive the gelding, who won divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes at Lexington's Red Mile in his most recent outings. Third Shift, the New York Sire Stakes champion, is 8-1 and will be driven by Svanstedt from post one. Moon Bridge, who won the Ontario Sire Stakes championship this past Saturday at Mohawk, is 10-1 and will start from post seven with Sylvain Filion. Svanstedt considered sending the horses to the recently concluded Grand Circuit meet at Red Mile, but the health of the horses changed those plans. "Third Shift was sick, so we left him at home and decided to go for the Breeders Crown," Svanstedt said. "It was the same with Moon Beam. He was sick and hadn't raced for one month before the (Ontario) final. But both of them are sound and healthy now and I hope they can do good races." Third Shift enters Friday having last raced in the New York championship Sept. 14 at Batavia Downs. The colt, by two-time Breeders Crown champ Chapter Seven out of Overnight Command, zipped around the half-mile oval in a track- and stakes-record 1:56. He shaved more than a second off the previous Batavia standard of 1:57.1 and three-fifths of a second off the stakes record, which was set last year by Dan Patch Award winner Gimpanzee. "He hasn't raced since then, but he was very good in the final," said Svanstedt, who owns Third Shift with Mellby Gard Inc. "He has trained good and everything is good with him. He has everything. He is fast and strong and has a very good head. He is a horse that always tries; he wants to win. He's a good horse." Third Shift has won three of six races, finished second twice, and earned $198,212. His fastest win time of the campaign, 1:54.4, came at seven-eighths-mile Vernon Downs in a preliminary round of the New York Sire Stakes. "He is a big horse, but he handled the (half-mile) tracks good," Svanstedt said. "I hope he can go faster on the big track (at seven-eighths-mile Mohawk). He raced in (1):54 at Vernon in his third race, so I think he can go faster on the big track." Moon Bridge was unraced for nearly a month when he captured the Ontario title, beating Port Perry by a head in 1:55.4. The colt, by E L Titan out of Classic Belle, has won two of six races and earned $149,953 for owners Esa Lahtinen, Janne Korpi, and Jussi Hietalahti. He was bred by Lahtinen's Overseas Farms and Korpi. "He was good," Svanstedt said. "He is a nervous horse, but he handles it good. We have to be careful with him; we always take it easy with him. But he is a good racehorse. He comes to race." All eliminations for 2-year-olds, which go for $25,000 each, are Friday at Mohawk. Hypnotic AM and Ramona Hill are the morning-line favorites in the elims for 2-year-old filly trotters; Baby Your The Best, Alicorn and Lyons Sentinel get the nods in the elims for 2-year-old filly pacers; and Tall Dark Stranger is the choice in the single elimination for 2-year-old male pacers. Racing begins at 7:50 p.m. (EDT) Friday. The $600,000 finals for 2-year-olds will be Oct. 25 at Mohawk, with an early 7 p.m. post time. Elimination winners, in an order determined by lot, draw for post positions one through five for the finals. The draws for the 2-year-old finals, except for the colt-and-gelding pace, will be conducted Friday following the eliminations. The draw for the colt-and-gelding pace will be Tuesday at the post-position draw and press conference at Woodbine Mohawk Park. For Friday's complete entries, click here. Eliminations for 3-year-olds and up are Saturday, with a 7:10 p.m. post time. For Saturday's complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

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