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Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening (June12) Harness Racing card at Running Aces was loaded with exciting races and close finishes. One of the most exciting stretch duels came in the $10,000 upper-level claiming pace ($12,500 tags), when Cantholdmebackmack ($5.40) and driver Nick Roland rallied from the back of the pack to engage in a battle with race leader Bet Together (James Yoder) in the homestretch.   Bet Together had posted the early fractions of 27.0 and 56.1 before losing the lead to a strong challenge from 31-1 outsider Cenalta Power (Tim Maier) near the three-quarters. Bet Together dug down deep and reclaimed the lead turning for home, but then faced another strong challenge from eventual winner Cantholdmebackmack, who rallied past late to post a ¾ length tally in 1:53.1 for a two race win streak.   The talented 8 year old gelding by Relentless Yankee is owned and trained by Jessie Pacheco. Goody Two Socks (Rick Magee) was home third.   The $11,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace was another epic battle between the two top mares Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) and Kiss On The Lips (Nick Roland). Kiss On The Lips and Nick Roland worked hard in the first quarter to establish the lead from the outside post in 27.1 and was in control at the half mile post in 57.3 but faced a tremendous challenge from Gold Star Mysti throughout the final half mile. Those two mares traded noses on the lead every step from there to the wire, with Kiss On The Lips prevailing by a head at the line. A Judges inquiry determined that Kiss On The Lips bore out in the deep stretch into the path of Gold Star Mysti, just enough to warrant a disqualification for interference. The order was reversed and Gold Star Mysti was declared the official winner for her first win of the season, the final time was 1:53.3. The winning mare is owned by Gold Star Farm, and trained by James Yoder. Driver Nick Roland led the program with three wins, while Rick Magee and James Yoder both posted driving doubles.   The 20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 wager continues to build and now stands at $7,333.63 for Saturday night, June 16. This weekend's feature races will each go for $20,000 with the Running Aces Trot on Saturday, and The Running Aces Pace on Sunday.   There are lots of activities for Father's Day at the track, including a chance to win a fishing trip, and a bottle opener giveaway along with Live music and other family themed activities. Post Time on both Saturday and Sunday is 6:00 pm CDT.   by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces    

Columbus, MN- The Saturday evening Harness Racing card at Running Aces featured the Showdown in Columbus between reigning king of Minnesota trotting Banker Volo, and king of California trotting Pridecrest.   The masses were split right down the middle in whom they thought would take the top prize in their first matchup, in the $11,000 Open Handicap. Pridecrest took more action at the windows, going off as the ever-so-slight favorite at 4-5, over Banker Volo at 6-5. When the gate sprung open and pulled away, it was Banker Volo (Nick Roland) who was charging hardest of all, quickly securing the lead.   All eyes were searching for Pridecrest at the start as well, and he was unhurried in the early stages, floating away in 5th through the early fractions of 28.2 and 58.2. Pridecrest launched a first-over attack just past the half mile pole, sprinting up to second position but never quite drawing alongside Banker Volo, who began to accelerate around the final turn. Silverlode had enjoyed a sweet pocket trip behind Banker Volo, and came charging late to make for a thrilling finish.   The crowd was aroar with support for Banker Volo and he fought gamely to the wire to secure the heartwarming victory, successfully defending his legacy as the top trotter in track history. The timer stopped at 1:55.1, with an impressive final panel of 27.4 for the winner, with Silverlode trotting home in 27.2 to come up just a head short on the line.   Banker Volo ($4.40) is now a 9 year old stallion by Yankee Glide, and he is owned by Jeralene Roland and trained by Jenni King, and has now won 33 races and $365,898 lifetime.   The $10,200 3 year-old Minnesota-Sired "A" pace went to Peekaboo Tattoo ($9.80), a filly by Up Front Brad who had raced only 1 time as a two year old, before campaigning in California this year, and picking up 4 wins in 12 starts there. The filly was up against a very tough competitor in Giggle Monster, the odds on favorite in the talented field. Giggle Monster (Dean Magee) made a quarter pole move to take control of affairs after a slow opening panel of 30.0, and the sharp gelding by Wind Me Up led through middle panels of 1:00.2 and 1:28.4 but Peekabo Tattoo (Steve Wiseman) shook free from a three hole journey to gun down Giggle Monster in the final strides, getting up to win by ¾ of a length in 1:56.2 for a new lifetime mark. The winner is owned by Fabiola Quevedo and trained by Edwin Quevedo. Steve Wiseman led all drivers on Saturday with another Hat-Trick for his third consecutive night of 3 wins, while Nick Roland posted his second double in a row.   Live Racing is back at Aces on Sunday, May 27, with first post at 6:00 pm CDT. Carryover in the .20 cent Pick-5 wager is $577.67 and the .50 cent Hi-5 is $1,211.15.   By Darin Gagne' for Running Aces  

Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was headlined by the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace, with a talented field of 6 facing the starting gate.   Top billing went to Firedrake, winner of the 2017 Dan Patch Free-For-All Pace at Running Aces, and a track record holder. Firedrake ($4.40) with trainer/driver Nick Roland in the bike, left alertly from post 4 on the gate and took command early, pacing a strong opening stanza of 27.3, and then stealing a pedestrian second panel of 30.3, after that there would be no chance of catching the 5-year-old gelding by Dragon Again.   Hard Cold Cash (Tim Maier) made a mild bid past the 5/8 pole, but was no match tonight for Firedrake and the soft second quarter fraction. Pocket-sitter Kiss On The Lips (Gerald Longo) was able to secure second, over a late bid from To The Limit (Steve Wiseman). Firedrake paced a final half of :55.2 and final panel of 27.3 to secure the victory in 1:53.4 under a hand drive.   The talented pacer is owned by Set The Pace Racing, LLC and now shows 3 wins in 9 starts this year. For driver Tim Maier, the trip on Hard Cold Cash in the feature race, marked his return to the sulky after a 10 month hiatus from the track. The absence in the bike followed a racing spill last July. Management, Staff, Horsemen and Fans from far and wide were all thrilled to see Tim back in the sulky. Tim and Cold Hard Cash finished fifth tonight, beaten less than 5 lengths, after a tough trip first over in a fast final half mile. Stevensville ($3.20) made his presence felt in a big way this evening, as he posted a very sharp gate-to-wire victory in an eye-opening time of 1:52.2 with Trainer/Driver Rick Magee. Stevensville powered away from the middle of the gate in post four to grab command, and he faced a very strong challenge from Elusive Image (Tony Huffman) during the final half mile. Stevensville was able to fend off Elusive image with a solid final quarter of 27.3, keeping his rival at bay. The final margin was ½ length. Stevensville is a 7-year-old Stallion by SomebeachSomewhere, and he is owned by Dr. Ken Rucker and Jana Lee Rucker of Wisconsin, tonight's tally was the 22nd lifetime win for the winner of $509,629. Buzz Light (Nick Roland) posted a super-sharp win in the final contest of the night, a $7,000 conditioned pace. From post 4, Buzz Light left sharply and secured second position behind the heavy race-favorite Storming D Odds (Steve Wiseman). After being shuffled back to third, Roland was able to angle out just in time for a first-over bid at the half mile, and Buzz light proceeded to grind first over, remaining in striking position until the homestretch, where he powered home impressively in 28.3 to score a solid win over the favorite, with Crash and Burn (Dean Magee) checking home in third in the 1:55.3 mile. Buzz Light is owned by Cathy Dessert and trained by Nick Roland. Tonight's victory was his third score this year, and sixth lifetime win. A rare occurrence took place this night at Running Aces, as the last five races on the card were won by horses wearing saddlepad number 4, with nobody correctly selecting the 4-4-4-4-4 combination in the 20 cent Pick-5, nor anyone correctly playing 4-4-4-4 in the Late Pick-4 wager. Those two pools will now carry-over to Saturday night, May 26, with first race scheduled at 6:00 pm CDT. Post Position 4 actually won the final 7 races on the card, after taking second in race one. (Firedrake-#5 in race 3, started from post four after the scratch of #2.) By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces

Windsun T Bird is still going strong as her 11th birthday approaches, with the pacing mare getting her meet off to a nice start with a 7-1 upset last Friday night at Cal Expo for harness racing owner/trainer Robin Clements and pilot Nick Roland. "Miss T Bird, as we call her, had been in quite a few tough races with a few being track record breaking at Aces, so I knew she needed a good break," Clements related. "I gave her a month off when she returned and she really took advantage of her rest. "When I started her back she felt like her old self, very strong and happy. I was actually amazed how well she was training back. I decided that I would qualify her, but with the rain predicted I decided to race her instead and give her that one race to tighten up." Robin originally put David Siegel up, but as he had a horse in the race, she found a very able replacement in Nick Roland, who is making a very nice impression in his first Cal Expo invasion. "Nick never drove T Bird before, but had raced against her the last few years at Aces and was familiar with her style," Robin said. "When they sitting fifth during the race I didn't expect much out of her, but when he pulled her past the five-eighths pole and she had her momentum going, I knew we had a chance to win. "Nick did a great job and gave her a perfect trip. I like that Nick always liked the mare and that makes for a great combination when a driver has respect for your horse." Clements added, "Maria Alvarez has done a great job grooming Miss T Bird and had taken care of her at Running Aces while she worked for Timmy and Denise Maier, and Jack Olsen who helps me train has done a great job as well with my horses. It was definitely a team effort. "Windsun T Bird is a gutsy mare who puts everything she has on the track, its all business with her, yet she is such a pleasure to work with and around and is our barn greeter so it's no surprise she is one of the favorites in the barn." Pair of Opens, Horowitz Eliminations set A $6,600 Open Pace for fillies and mares that features a contentious cast of nine; a $5,500 Open Pace that rematches Firedrake and Jazzmanian Devil and two elimination heats for the Alan Horowitz Memorial get the spotlight on Friday night at Cal Expo. There will be 11 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with another 11 contests set for Saturday evening. First post each night is 6:10 p.m. Jazzmanian Devil is a 6-year-old son of Sand Shooter who carries the banner of William Condo with Kathie Plested training and Mooney Svendsen again handling the lines. After getting a solid qualifier under his belt two weeks ago, Jazzmanian Devil was dismissed at 6-1 in last week's Open Pace. Last of the half-dozen turning for home, he exploded for Svensen once straightened for home and got the job done by a half-length in a 1:54 flat tour. Firedrake was the 4-5 choice in that contest but had to settle for a close third. He was a game winner on opening week from the tough No. 10 post, as he was hard used for position, tracked to the drive and dug in when it counted for the score. A 4-year-old son of Dragon Again from the Artsplace mare Everything's Easy, he races for Set The Pace Racing LLC with Nick Roland doing the driving and training. He was a 1:51 2/5 victor at Running Aces in early September. Completing the field are Senga Nitro, Baylor Out and Ragin's Flight. There are two wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is conducted on the first five races, and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four races on the evening and comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The featured event on the Tuesday Night (Sept. 5) harness racing program at Running Aces was the $11,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace, and it was another exciting battle between Kiss On The Lips and Gold Star Mysti. Driver Nick Roland was aggressive with Kiss On The Lips, sending her fast off the gate to a quick lead, she was clear and on top by three lengths in a flash. Roland then throttled her speed as the rest of the field settled away behind her, and the field was in good single file order at the 28.2 check-in. Kiss On The Lips and Roland were still well in hand passing the half mile mark in 58.3, and rival mare Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) had begun their first-over attack, drawing on even terms with the front-runner for the next 3/8 of a mile. The talented top two mares were still locked in battle through a fast 27.2 third panel that stopped the clock at 1:26 for three-quarters. As they turned for home, Kiss On The Lips ($20.60) was able to fend off Gold Star Mysti in another impressive display of determination, as she opened up two lengths and hit the wire in 1:53.3 for her 2nd straight win. Gold Star Mysti held second as the 1-5 favorite, and La Madawna De Rosa (Luke Plano) checked in third. Kiss On The Lips has now won 7 of 28 races this season. She is trained by John Rogers for Owner Peg Hoffman. The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 Year old pace saw a talented field of 10 freshman line up behind the gate, and the filly Ellamennopee was the one who shined brightest on this night, picking up her 4th win in 7 lifetime starts with a fantastic effort in 1:56.1 for a new lifetime mark. Driver Steve Wiseman sent the impressive filly to the early lead from post 3 off of the crowded gate, before yielding to Watchmeneighneigh (James Yoder) and race favorite Giggle Monster (Dean Magee). Giggle Monster led through the middle portions of the affair, but Wiseman launched Ellamennopee ($7.00) to the attack going into the final turn, and she quickly took control, pacing away to a 3-length tally for Trainer Brett Ballinger and Owner Merlin Van Otterloo. Live Racing continues at Running Aces 3 nights a week through September 16. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was highlighted by the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for Horses & Geldings, and once again it did not disappoint as the talented field of seven put on an exciting show, and after the dust cleared at the wire, Firedrake had etched his name into the history books with a track record setting victory.   Firedrake, the 4 year old pacing gelding sensation by Dragon Again, has posted a fantastic campaign at Running Aces in 2017, he was nearly undefeated in his first 8 races (save a disqualification early in the season), and he became the Champion in the $35,000 Dan Patch Free For All Pace (1:52.1) in July. Now, he has added a track record to his impressive 4 year old resume.   In tonight's contest, Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent Firedrake fast off the gate from post 6, utilizing his early speed to take the first call and lead, before yielding to rival BestinTheBusiness (James Yoder) who was looking to build on a 3 race winning streak. BestintheBusiness cleared from post 7 just past the fast 26.4 quarter-pole clocking, and led through the middle panels of 56.1 and 1:23.2, though was nosed for the lead, and pressured in a strong first-over attack by Lodi Machette Man (Steve Wiseman).   Lodi Machette Man was still at the throat-latch of BestIntheBusiness as they turned for the money, and JDS Brent N Sheree was launching 3-wide, but Firedrake was waiting in the garden seat that he had secured early on, and Nick Roland turned on the turbo boosters through the inside lane with Firedrake, who rallied past his tough rivals to get the victory. The tally is his 9th of the season, and a lifetime best 1:51.2 mile that eclipsed the previous track mark from 2013 (Tyber Tyke, Nick Roland 1:51.3).   Firedrake ($5.60) has now won 15 of his 30 lifetime races, and has bankrolled $69,404. He is owned by Jessica Johnson.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Trot event also went to post on Sunday, and Imapixieatmidnight ($6.60) did not disappoint her faithfull backers as she posted a flawless mile for her 5th win of the season. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland guided her away from the gate in the pocket position from post four, and took command of affairs just past the five-eighths checkpoint, with enough in the tank to hold off a late challenge from It's Stormin Money (Steve Wiseman). The victory by 1/2 length in 2:00.2 equaled the lifetime best for the filly by Sos Lunar Eclipse, who now shows 9 lifetime wins and $79,677 in earnings for owners Set The Pace Racing, LLC.   Nick Roland led all drivers on Sunday night with a driving double on the card.   Live Racing continues at Running Aces, 3 nights a week, through September 16.     By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The $12,000 Open Handicap Trot was the featured event on the Tuesday Night harness racing program at Running Aces and it would produce an exciting race, with 3 lead changes before the 28.2 quarter, it was clear it was going to be a thrilling event.   Natural Forces (Joe Casagranda) posted the early fractions before Franky Provolone (Dean Magee) came sweeping by, but then it was race-favorite Ideal Jesse (James Yoder) who took his turn on the lead, but there would be room for just one more lead change in the mile, as driver Nick Roland had perfectly positioned his charge, Becky Badger Baby ($26.80) right behind Ideal Jesse in the flow, and the 5 year old mare by Rail Splitter was able to out-kick him to the wire to pick up the impressive win in a lifetime best mile in 1:56.4. Nick Roland trains the sharp trotter who is no stranger to success at Running Aces, having been Minnesota State champion at both 2 and 3. She is owned by Royal and Barbara Roland and Dale Hein, and she now sports 25 lifetime wins in 57 starts and a career bankroll of $121,212.   The $10,000 Open Handicap Pace for Horses & Geldings went to Stuckey Dote with Nick Roland aboard the sulky for Trainer Brett Ballinger and Owner Merlin Van Oterloo. Stuckey Dote ($16.00) was an early leader before yielding for the pocket and then driving through the inside lane in the stretch to post a career best win in 1:52.3. Stuckey Dote is by Voracious Hanover and now shows 16 wins in 31 starts, with $95,925 in the bank.   The $10,000 Mares Open Pace was another thrilling contest, and it would be Best of Jenna ($7.80) who would shine brightest of all on this night. Trainer/Driver Rick Magee was aggressive with his mare and sent her right to the lead from post six in the 7 horse affair, setting fractions of 27.0, 55.4 and 1:24.1 before pacing home in 27.4 to hold off a late charge from both Stable Eyes (Luke Plano) and Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder). The winning margin was just a neck, but it was enough for the 5 year old Jenna's Beach Boy prodigy to post her fifth win in 8 starts this year, scoring in her first start for new Owner Daniel Graber, in a final time of 1:52 to equal her lifetime mark.   Tonight Running Aces hosted a "Driver Appreciation Night" to benefit two drivers (Tim Maier and Lemoyne "Mooney" Svendsen) that were injured in a racing accident last month, and are currently recovering from that incident. Running Aces management doubled the on-track live handle of the featured 9th race and donated that to the drivers, to be added to the sales of Running Aces hats that will also benefit the drivers.   The .20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 carryover now sits at $29,718.15 and will highlight the wagering menu for Saturday Night, August 13, with first post at 6:00 PM CDT.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday evening program of harness racing at Running Aces featured the $35,000 Dan Patch Free For All Pace, and the event drew a talented field of 7 contenders who had collectively earned more than $2.1 million and won 187 races in their respective careeers.   The contest would wind up being dominated by the horse who came into the race with perhaps the least credentials in purses and wins, but perhaps one of the biggest hearts of all in the field.   Firedrake ($13.20) posted a sparkling gate-to-wire performance and absolutely dominated the affair. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent the 4 year old Dragon Again gelding right to the lead from post 5, and controlled everything through moderate front panels of 28.0 and 56.2 before facing a strong challenge and heavy pressure from race-favorite and Midwest pacing dynamo Roland N Rock past the 3/4 marker in 1:25. Firedrake had plenty of answers for Roland N Rock (Steve Wiseman) and the rest of the field as he turned back all challenges, and turned on the afterburners to sprint home in 27.1 for the biggest win of his career, a 2 1/4 length victory in 1:52.1 to take the Dan Patch FFA Trophy. Megatron (James Yoder) was up for second, with Roland N Rock home in third.   Firedrake is no stranger to the winner's circle, in fact he has crossed the wire first in 9 of 10 starts this year, suffering his only defeat to Roland N Rock in last week's $15,000 Dan Patch preview. Firedrake was un-raced at age two, and had a great season at 3 with 6 wins and 5 seconds in 15 starts, with most of them right here at Running Aces. The razor sharp pacer is owned by Jessica Johnson and now shows 14 wins in 25 lifetime starts and $59,624.   Also on the Sunday card, Al Mar Money Glide ($65.00) pulled a big upset in the $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Trot event, posting his first lifetime win in his seventh trip to the gate, stopping the timer in 2:01.1 with Steve Wiseman aboard for Trainer Brady Jenson and Owner Larry Jo Jenson, the gelding is by Money Talks.   Driver Steve Wiseman posted another Grand Slam for his second consecutive night with 4 wins on the card. Nick Roland and Luke Plano both picked up driving doubles as well.   The 20 cent Jackpot pick 5 pool continues to grow, with a carryover of $15,648.83 going in to the Tuesday night (July 25) program. There is also a carryover of $2,575.41 for the Race 11 Hi-5 wager on Tuesday.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday night May 21 Running Aces harness racing card featured the return of local favorite Roland N Rock to the Minnesota oval to headline the $11,000 Open Handicap pace. He did not disappoint his loyal fans and pari-mutuel backers as he turned in a dazzling performance as expected. Assigned the outside post in the 8 horse field, driver Nick Roland sent “Rocky” out quickly in search of the lead, but found plenty of competition for the top spot, and opted to float back into the four hole as they checked in at the quarter in a swift 26.4. From there the duo sat patiently through the half in 56.1 before launching their attack, first with a second over position nearing three-quarters (1:24) and then a quick 3 wide brush to take command turning for home, pacing away from the field to score by 2¼ lengths in 1:52.2 with a 28.0 final quarter and a final half in 55.3 SF Donttellonme (J. Casagranda) rounded out the exacta off of an early pocket trip, while pace-setter Easy Again (R.Magee) checked in third. Roland N Rock (by Rocknroll Hanover) returned $3.60 for a $2 mutuel, after posting his 3rd win of the season and boosting his seasonal bankroll to $117,450 for Owners Duane and Connie Roland. Firedrake ($5.20) did not disappoint in his 2017 debut as well, delivering as co-favorite in a nice $6,400 conditioned pacing event. Firedrake and trainer/driver Nick Roland secured a pocket trip behind Bo Master and found his way up the inside of the track late to score a nice win by 2¼ lengths in 1:56.1 Firedrake is owned by Jessica Johnson, and the 4 year old gelding by Dragon Again now sports 7 wins in 16 lifetime tries. The win also completed the back-to-back double for Roland. Steve Wiseman posted a Grand Slam with 4 wins on the Sunday night card, Wiseman fans were rewarded in the opener as he scored aboard Art Genta paying $3.40, race 3 ($2.60) with Muscle Beach, race 4 steering Cenalta Diesel ($7.60) and race 10 with a $4.80 mutuel aboard Magnifique. Wiseman had a triple on the opening night card, and jumps out to the early lead in the driver standings. Lemoyne “Mooney” Svendsen picked up his second driving double in a row with the two biggest prices of the night, Losira in race 5 ($18.60) and Hi Ho’s Little Rev ($21.00) in race 9. Live Racing returns to Running Aces this coming Tuesday, May 23 with a first post of 7:00 pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

Nick Roland returns to the Running Aces harness racing track as its leading driver and plans to have a busy first night Saturday when the facility just south of Forest Lake off I-35 opens its 10th season. Roland, a 34-year-old Grinnell, Iowa, native, said he expects to be in every race, 8-10 a night. Last year, Roland was among the top three finishers in most races and won about 30 percent of them. “That’s a pretty high win percentage in the harness racing world,” he said. “We’ve been at Running Aces every year since it opened.” The Pioneer Press talked with Roland about harness racing and his experiences at Running Aces. You were the leading driver at Running Aces last year. What is it about Running Aces that you like? It’s relatively close to where I grew up. My family has raced horses for a number of years in the area. I’ve grown up knowing everyone from the area. Being kind of the hometown guy around here, I get a lot of first choices on horses that other people don’t. You race your own horses as well as other people’s horses? We have between 20 and 25 horses at Running Aces. Those are the horses I have to drive first. After that, I drive for a number of other stables in the area. I may be listed as the driver of several horses in a race and I pick one. Where else have you driven? This past year, we went out to New York and stabled out there in the winter. We raced at Yonkers, Monticello, the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Saratoga. We also raced in British Columbia. Also, we’ve raced in Sacramento. Obviously, this is a full-time job for you. In December and January, it’s pretty slow. Other than that, it’s pretty much full time. How did you get involved in harness racing? My great-grandfather on my mother’s side started racing back in the 1950s, and my grandparents on my father’s side started racing in the 1970s. My parents met at the races. It was kind of bred into me. When did you decide harness racing was the sport for you? I grew up doing it. I was able to put myself though college by being able to have horses at my parents’ farm. My parents insisted I get a degree and get a real job. It’s kind of a gypsy lifestyle, racing horses. I worked at an insurance company for a year and I was miserable. I did that for a year and quit and decided I was going to race full time, and I haven’t thought about doing anything else since. Unlike in thoroughbred racing, where the jockey has to be diminutive, size isn’t as much of a factor. How big are you? I’m a pretty big driver. I’m 6-foot-1 and about 170 pounds. Size isn’t as much of a factor in standardbred racing. The sulkies are balanced to offset the driver’s weight, but you don’t want somebody huge on there. You don’t see many 300-pound drivers, do you? Not any more. There used to be some pretty big guys that were top drivers. Nowadays, most of the top guys aren’t as big as me. The guys are under six feet tall and probably around 160. In harness racing, is the driver also often the trainer? I’m the trainer on our stable and; for other stables, the driver varies. Most trainers use “catch drivers,” which means they use a driver they can hire. Generally, most trainers don’t drive full time like I do. At Running Aces, there are a lot of trainer-drivers because it’s a small, isolated area. It’s not someplace you can expect to make a good living just catch driving. Do you prefer pacers or trotters? (The majority of harness racing horses are pacers — where the front and back leg on each side of the horse move in unison; trotters have a front and back leg on opposite sides of their body move in unison). We do both. We have about half and half pacers and trotters. I guess I don’t have a preference. I like good horses, and it doesn’t matter to me if they’re a pacer or trotter. Standardbred horses are the standard for harness racing. Ever race any other breed? No, I haven’t. I have thought about getting into thoroughbred racing. With Canterbury Park being so close, there are a couple of guys I know and we were talking about going in together and claiming something there. We haven’t done it yet. It would be neat. How different or difficult would it be to train a thoroughbred? It’s hard to say because I’ve never done it. It is quite a bit of a different world. Thoroughbreds race, at most, twice a month. Standardbreds can race once a week. Standardbreds are much more hearty. What question are you asked the most when people find out you are involved in harness racing? Can you make any money doing it? I guess that’s the question I get asked all the time. And what is the answer? The answer is yes, you can make money doing it. If you’re a small-scale owner, you shouldn’t plan on it or count on it. The way to do it is to have a large number of horses so you can diversify your risk. If you have one that doesn’t make anything, generally you have one that makes up that loss. Are we talking profits in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands? It really depends on the scale you’re willing to go. This biggest standardbred trainer, I think, earned like $20 million in purses. His owners generally are the same two or three guys. They spend a lot of money but have hundreds of horses. In 2012, our best year, our stable made a little over $400,000 in purses at Running Aces. It’s not all profit but that was a good year. We had between 15 and 20 horses. By Bob Sansevere Bob Sansevere can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays on the KQRS Morning Show, and he does a daily podcast called The BS Show, which can be listened to live on the Tom Barnard digital radio network or downloaded via iTunes, Stitcher or thebsshow.net.   Reprinted with permission of The Twin Cities Pioneer Press

The Sunday night (Aug. 28) harness racing program at Running Aces featured the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace for horses & geldings, and Roland N Rock ($6.20) would post another impressive win, stopping the teletimer in 1:51.3 this evening with Driver Nick Roland in the sulky. The dynamic duo of Nick and “Rocky” dropped smartly in the pocket from post 3 in the 5 horse affair, and waited patiently for the stretch drive, parlaying the perfect trip into his 10th win of the season, and 32nd lifetime score for Owners Connie and Duane Roland. Bombshell Betty ($3.00) posted another impressive win in the $8,500 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Filly Trot, with a 1:57.3 lifetime best mile, her 7th win of the season. Driver Jim Marino sent her away quickly from the outside post 5 in the 5 horse contest and she was never in doubt, leading all the way, and trotting home in 28.2 for a 1 ¼ length tally. She is owned by Jesse De Long and Tabatha Canaar, and trained by Justin Anfinson. The Winnin Dollar ($4.60) got back to doing what he does best, winning that is, as he was sharp with a closing from off the pace effort to win the $8,500 Minnesota-sired 3 year old geldings Trot in 1:59.1 with Nick Roland aboard, also owned by Jesse De Long and trained by Justin Anfinson. Zachariah’s Honor ($3.20) captured the $6,000 2 year old Open handicap pacing event, with a sharp gate-to-wire effort in reign to Luke Plano. The Hot Pans gelding paced to a new lifetime mark of 1:58 with his 3rd lifetime win in 10 starts for owners Royal & Barbara Roland. Lil Orphan Elmer, a 4 year old gelding pacer by Always A Virgin, posted a career effort, in a $6,600 conditioned pacing event with his 2½ length win in 1:54.1  drawing away off a first-over trip and posting a final quarter of 28.0 with trainer/driver Mooney Svendsen in the bike for owners Scott Ehrlich and George Mc Chrystal. It was his 4th start for his current connections, and his 5th win in 23 starts this year. Driver Nick Roland posted a Hat-Trick on the Sunday card, while Tim Maier and Luke Plano both picked up driving doubles. The next card of Live harness racing Action will go to post on Tuesday, August 30 at 6:00pm CDT, with a carryover in the .50 cent Hi-5 wager (race 9) of $2,272.12. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The $15,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Trot was the featured event on the Wednesday (Aug 24) card of harness racing at Running Aces, and the filly Imapixieatmidnight (by Sos Lunar Eclipse) would post her second lifetime win this evening, and continue the overall dominance of the filles in this division all season long. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent his filly right to the lead from post 3, and dominated the early stages through fractions of 30.4, 1:01.0, 1:31.1 and then was able to hold off a furious late charge from last week’s winner Liquor’sKwikker (Rick Magee), stopping the clock in 2:03.0 for a new lifetime mark. She is owned by Set The Pace Racing, LLC and she paid $6.40 for every $2.00 win ticket. Another impressive performance this night was Goody Two Socks, an 8 year old gelding pacer by Restless Yankee, who delivered his 17th lifetime win in a new lifetime best of 1:53.3 for trainer Alexia Kehl with Driver Rick Magee in the sulky. Goody Two Socks ($12.40) got away in the pocket early from post two, then sat third to the top of the stretch and was steered into a clear path by Magee in the lane to surge past pace-setter and heavy favorite Chewy Baca (Luke Plano) and post a 1 length tally in the $6,000 conditioned event. He is owned by Seppo Hakamaa of Michigan. Buddy’s Hope (Nick Roland) picked up an impressive gate-to-wire win in a $5,300 conditioned event in 1:53.4 in his final local start of the season, as he was never in doubt tonight from post 6 with a 1 ½ length score for Trainer Sean Lancaster, and Owner Jerome Bouvier. He paid $7.60 at the windows this evening. Pa’s Corn Squuezin (Brian Detgen) posted another big win tonight in 1:57.0 in a $4,500 conditioned pace for two in a row for Owner/Trainer Dale Lagerquist, paying just $2.10 as the overwhelming favorite. And the 3 year old Aubrey’s Jesse (Nick Roland) picked up her 7th  lifetime win in a $4,500 conditioned Trotting event, posting a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4 for Owners Mr. Caroll D. and Rick Huffman with Trainer Joel Mc Danel, and she paid $3.20 as the public choice. For Driver Nick Roland it completed a Hat-Trick on the program this evening. The next card of Live Harness Racing action will go to post at Running Aces on Saturday, August 27th at 6:00 pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The $11,000 Open Handicap Trot was the Featured event on the Saturday night harness racing program at Running Aces, and Track Record holder Banker Volo ($3.20) was back in racing action, after taking a stint as Equine Ambassador on Family Day at the Track last Sunday, when he provided jog cart rides to lucky and adoring fans. Tonight would prove to be no walk in the park for the very talented, and heavily favored Banker Volo, as he would wind up hung every step of the mile from post 6 in the six horse contest. When the gates swung open tonight there would be a mad scramble for the lead, and the first lead belonged to Explosive Muscles (Gerald Longo) who had charged out from post 4 to lead at the 28.0 quarter pole, then the battle continued and the lead would go to Flameon with Dean Magee, who cleared and was immediately challenged by Banker Volo and Nick Roland who had left sharply from post 6 and was now caught in a heavyweight battle as Flameon would not concede through the middle half of 56.3, and ¾ time of 1:25.2. Though that duo were noticeably tiring from the epic duel, they continued to fight on in the stretch, and Banker Volo dug down deep to Take the winner’s prize, out-kicking Flameon to the wire (third) and holding off a fast charging Big Expense (Mooney Svendsen) who was home in second in 1:56.3. Banker Volo now sports 8 wins in 10 starts this year and $270,043 for Owners Daniel and Jeralene Roland. The nightcap $4,800 Trotting event was a thrilling event that would be decided by just a neck at the wire, with Amped Up Hanover (Dean Magee) looking to wire the field off fractions of 29.1, 58.2 and 1:27.0 he would face a furious stretch battle from Cantoria (Steve Wiseman) who tried valiantly to get by from three-hole trip, but just fell short at the line in 1:57.3 as Amped Up Hanover ($9.20) picked up his second win in 15 starts this season, for Owners A Piece of The Action and Trainer Tim Maier. Tonight at Running Aces we also remembered the late Charlie Hare with race 4 named in his memory, Charlie was a Minnesota resident and lifelong friend of both Gerald Longo and John Rogers, and in fact worked in the Gerald Longo stable every year here at Running Aces. On hand in The Winner’s Circle for the Memorial were many of Charlie’s friends, fellow horsemen and Family, including his Son and Daughter, Nephews and Grand-daughters and Great-grand-daughters. Flick A Fly ($3.80) won the Memorial race, a Fillies & Mares conditioned pace, in 1:54.3 with Driver Rick Magee. Drivers Rick Magee and Dean Magee both pulled off the Hat-Trick this evening with 3 wins apiece, while Nick Roland drove 2 winners for a double. The next card of Live Harness Racing Action at Running Aces will go to post on Sunday, August 14, at 6:00 pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

A harness racing fan favorite at Running Aces, pacing mare Queen Of Denial made her return to the Minnesota oval tonight, and did not disappoint her loyal followers by posting a nice 1¼ length tally over a decent field of condition/optional claiming distaffers. Her royal highness paced in 1:55.3 with the win and paid her backers $5.20 at the windows. She is owned by Peter Pellegrino, and trained by her driver Nick Roland. Queen Of Denial had been racing out on the east coast all season, and had been doing quite well, until she took a bad step in a race on May 31 at Pocono Downs and fell to the track. She hadn’t been herself since that incident until she returned to Minnesota and the care of Jessica Johnson and Trainer Nick Roland, and she took quite well to her old stomping grounds this evening with a very nice effort. She is by Hot Pans and was bred by Duane Roland of Iowa, and she now sports 17 lifetime wins and a bankroll of $120,422. The Wednesday night Harness Racing program at Running Aces featured the $15,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Trot, and it was heavy favorite Silent Dreams ($2.20), a filly by Money Talks who posted another impressive win, topping the field by two lengths in 2:05.1 with Dean Magee in the sulky. It was the third win in 4 lifetime starts for Silent Dreams, who has now earned $23,900 for Glen & Jody Wilson, she is trained by Brett Ballinger. Bunkerhill Bill did not disappoint off the big class drop in the Wednesday finale, as he posted a dominating gate-to-wire performance in 1:56.2 and paid $3.00 to win, with Gerald Longo in the sulky for owner/trainer Gene Miller. Despite just a 7 horse field, and with the big favorite on top, the .50 cent Hi-5 wager paid handsomely with a $630.40 dividend to each winning ticket holder. The .50 cent Hi-5 wager has been producing very large payouts all season at Running Aces. The next card of Live Harness Racing goes to post at Running Aces on Saturday, July 30 at 6:00pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

Driver Jim Marino, a resident of British Columbia, Canada posted his 2,000th career driving win at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack on Saturday night, July 16 when he piloted Stuckey Dote ($12.80) to victory in the $15,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old pace in a 1:55.2 lifetime mark. The milestone win was the product of a second-over trip and a 3-wide move at the ¾ pole, placing his charge Stuckey Dote in perfect position to sweep by the pace-setter Cyrax (Brian Detgen) in the homestretch and score the win by 1 ¼ lengths. Marino is 40 years old, and has been driving since 1998, he won his first race in 1999, and has not looked back since. He recorded his best year in 2012, when he posted 192 wins and nearly $1.3 million in purses. Jim has been among the top drivers throughout his home province of British Columbia for many years, including hundreds and hundreds of trips to the Fraser Downs winners circle. In addition to his 2000 wins, he has now accumulated nearly $11 million in career purse earnings. Marino has raced in the United States in the past, in fact he recorded his 1,000th win at Cal Expo Harness in 2009, but this is the first year he has competed at Running Aces in Minnesota. Jim has been a welcome addition to the great and talented driving colony here, and we certainly hope to see him coming back here in future seasons. I spoke with Jim after his milestone win and he told me that he was very happy to have been able to achieve the milestone here at Running Aces, at what he described as a "first class facility" and he also said the drivers here have welcomed him and been very supportive. Marino also told me he was "happy to get it off his back (so to speak)" so he can just concentrate on his regular daily routine without the pressure of a milestone win upon him. But my guess is, it won’t be too long before he will be feeling that pressure again as this very talented horseman will continue to achieve great things in the sulky sport. Jim Marino qualified in June for the national driving championship in Canada this fall, which could potentially lead him to the 2017 World Driving Championship. We certainly wish him good luck on October 14 at Western Fair. Jim will be joining me as my guest interview on the Running Aces segment on Post Time with Mike & Mike next Thursday night, 7:00 pm EDT when we will learn more about his start in Harness Racing and talk about his big milestone tonight, and his participation in the Regional and National driving championships. Also on Saturday we celebrated the great Dan Patch who hailed from Savage, Minnesota and set his long-standing world record of 1:55 at the Minnesota State Fair exactly 90 years ago. The Dan Patch historical society was on hand for the event, with winning drivers tossing Tee-shirts from the Winners circle, plus drawings and other festivities. On the racetrack, Firedrake ($6.40) was sharp from gate-to-wire in the The $7,000 Minnesota Sired or Owned colts & geldings conditioned pace, which was one of the Dan Patch days feature races. Trainer/driver Nick Roland sent Firedrake away alertly from post six, quickly taking the lead, and controlling the contest through fractions of 27.4, 58.1 and 1:26.2 before charging home in 29.0 pulling away from the field with every stride in the 1:55.2 mile. This nice 3 year old gelding is by Dragon Again out of the Artsplace mare Everything’s Easy, has now won 4 of 9 lifetime starts, he is owned by Set the Pace Racing, LLC. The other Dan Patch featured pacing event was the $7,000 Minnesota Sired or Owned Fillies & Mares conditioned pace, and it was American Dancer ($5.60) who did not disappoint as the 9-5 favorite with driver Luke Plano in the bike. Plano got her away in the pocket from post 5, and waited patiently for the stretch, where they were able to pull away from the field to win by 4 lengths in 1:55.0, a new lifetime mark for the filly by General Aidid, owned by Timothy Lems and trained by Robert Lems. The $15,000 3 year old Minnesota-Sired Open Pace went to Stuckey Dote ($12.80) with driver Jim Marino in the sulky in a new life’s mark of 1:55.2 for Owner/Trainer Merlin Van Oterloo. It was the 8th lifetime win for Stuckey Dote, and the 2000th career driving tally for driver Jim Marino. Driver Nick Roland had a big night as well as he posted a Grand-Slam, also piloting winners Dagmar ($11.00) in 1:59.4, Bettor’s Promise ($3.80) in 1:53.3 and Mint to Cruise ($5.00) in 1:58. by Darin Gagne, for Running Aces

The Saturday night harness acing card at Running Aces featured the $15,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old pacers in action, and Freedom Reigns with Tim Maier in the sulky was looking for his 6th straight win, and he left very quickly from the gate and had to work hard to clear the lead from Swagasaurus Rex (Rick Magee) who sprinted away from post two and stopped the timer in 27.4 at the quarter pole, before yielding to Freedom Reigns at the 3/8 pole. The big favorite then led all the way to head-stretch after posting 56.4 and 1:25.3, but it would be Cyrax (by Intrepid Seelster) who would pull the upset and put an end to the winning streak. Cyrax was guided away in the 3rd position from the inside post by Driver Brian Detgen, who waited patiently until the top of the stretch to angle out, and charge down the center of the track, pacing away from his rivals, and posting a 2½ length win, in 1:55.0 with Freedom Reigns holding second, and Stuckey Dote (Jim Marino) up for third. Cyrax lowered his lifetime mark by nearly 4 seconds with tonight's win, he is owned by James Springer and Trained by Robert Lems, and paid his backers handsomely at the windows, delivering $34.40 for every $2.00 wager. And In The $11,000 Open Handicap Trot, a talented field of 6 went to battle, with Banker Volo (by Yankee Glide) looking for his 5th straight win, and he stepped lively from the outside post for Trainer/Driver Nick Roland, easily clearing the field and posting a 29.0 quarter time, he trotted confidently from there, throwing up 58.2 and 1:27.1 fractions, before sprinting home in 28.1 to post another new Track Record for aged Trotting Stallions of 1:55.2, lowering the mark that he had just set a week ago. Banker Volo paid $3.60 to win for his many backers and He now has won 5 in a row, and 6 of 7 starts this year, and has earned $27,217 this season for Owners Daniel and Jeralene Roland. Flameon (Dean Magee) was home second, with Big Expense (Moonie Svendsen) checking in third. Drivers Nick Roland and Steve Wiseman both posted driving Triples on the card, and Luke Plano posted a driving double. Darin Gagne

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