Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 22705
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

Shortly after the first race, a thunderstorm descends on Arlington International Racecourse, just north of Chicago. An hour before post time, families toting coolers had streamed into the track, paying $10 apiece for admission, less for kids and extra to reserve spots alongside the final stretch, a football field or so from the finish line and safe distance from the tawdry business of gambling, without which no one would be here. It is Renaissance Faire Family Day, with pretend jousting, pony rides, a petting zoo and more, alongside a sold-out picnicking area where a staggering amount of sandwiches, potato chips and bottled water, with an occasional birthday cake, were unpacked an hour ago in preparation for a day at the races. Now, this. As clouds approach, folks repack and scurry to the grandstand, but a dozen or so make it no farther than a large tent where draft beer costs $7.50 and Bloody Marys come in plastic cups. Men in drenched suits and ties appear through the deluge, not running but certainly hustling, and throw canvas covers over electronic terminals that gobble money from bettors. The tent’s frame and guy wires and stakes are made from metal, which shrieks and grinds in the wind as parts rub against each other. No reach is spared rain – it’s not clear whether it is blowing in from the side open to the track, through a billowing roof or both. “It’s not safe,” a guy dressed security-guard in navy blazer and grey slacks tells us, advising that everyone flee, through the deluge, to sturdier shelter. He offers free plastic garbage bags that can be turned into ponchos. They charge 50 cents for a pencil if you lack means to take notes from the race program, which contains records of horses, records of jockeys, records of trainers, selling prices, pedigrees, times in recent workouts, etc. Two betting terminals remain uncovered and beckoning while flat screens show races from tracks elsewhere with sunny skies. There is a rumor of half-price beer. How bad can this be? I head to the bar, where Kurt Kresmery, who owns an Elgin property management firm, is nursing a Coors Light. What, I ask, is a guy like you doing in a place like this? He tells me a story. A few years ago, stumped for a Father’s Day gift, a friend who was into horse racing suggested that Kresmery buy his dad a share in a racehorse. Such so-called fractional ownership of horses spreads risk and has become common in a sport where upkeep is expensive and returns uncertain. Thoroughbreds created a point of connection between father and son, neither of whom had been race fans, that endured to the end. Even today, his father gone, Kresmery owns part of a horse that is racing this afternoon at Ellis Park in Kentucky. Before it happens, a horse race can generate endless speculation, with determined bettors considering such esoterics as heat and humidity to help guess how a horse will perform on any given day. The action lasts a minute or two, and it takes four hours to run a program. There is plenty of time for conversation, and Kresmery recalls his dad enjoying afternoons at the track and occasional forays to off-track-betting parlors to watch horses that were partly his. In hospice, Kresmery recalls, his dad held his hands as if grasping reins, trying to mimic a jockey’s bounce when his son told him about an upcoming race. “He died the next day,” Kresmery says. It’s not the sort of tale one hears in video gambling joints. An industry in crisis If video slots are the crack cocaine of gambling, horseracing is Geritol, and that’s part of the challenge facing horse racing as the fan base shrinks and ages. There are just seven races today at Arlington, three short of a traditional 10-race program. “Look at this,” Kresmery says, pointing to a stat sheet for the fifth race, which will be contested for an $11,500 purse. “It’s nothing. Our horse ran third in Kentucky a few weeks ago and we got $10,000.” Even that, Kresmery maintains, isn’t enough to break even, at least for long. Purses are the heart of racing, which, at its core, is all business. Arlington is the state’s premier track, where the grounds are spotless, landscaping is immaculate and neither shorts nor athletic shoes are allowed in the Million Room restaurant, the fanciest of nine eateries. In 1981, Arlington became the first thoroughbred track in the world to offer a $1 million purse. With Bill Shoemaker aboard, John Henry won the inaugural Arlington Million and was named Eclipse Horse of the Year. They still run the Arlington Million each August, but it is a rare bright spot. Purses elsewhere are lower and crowds smaller, with statewide attendance at tracks dwindling from 3.9 million in 1995 to less than 909,000 last year.   Unlike slot players, horse bettors can spend hours analyzing races before laying down bets.   Locally, the amount bet last year at Capitol Teletrack in Springfield, one of two dozen off-track betting sites in Illinois, was less than half what was wagered at a Lucy’s Place gambling parlor with five video machines a few blocks away on Wabash Avenue. Racing at the state fair also has declined. In 2018, a quarter-million dollars was wagered during four days of harness racing at the fair. In 1995, $1.3 million was bet on 82 races run over six days.  Downward trends are statewide and national. Since 1990, when more than $1.25 billion was wagered on horses in Illinois, the amount bet on horses, or handle in racing’s parlance, has fallen to $573.5 million, including bets placed outside the state by gamblers who can watch races across the land via simulcast broadcasts. In 2018, just 11 percent of money wagered in Illinois on horses ran their races in the Land of Lincoln. The state is down to three tracks, two fewer than in 2015, when a pair of Chicago-area harness tracks shut down. That same year, an East Moline track that last held a live race in 1993 gave up after years of simulcasts, ending resurrection hopes. “The horse racing industry in this state is about to fall and crumble and deteriorate and go away – that’s just how drastic it is,” state Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan told state senators during a budget hearing last spring. It’s an industry worth saving, Sullivan argued. Since 2000, the number of state-issued licenses for occupations ranging from grooms to owners has shrunk from 11,000 to 4,000, but still, Sullivan testified, horse racing generates $1 billion a year in economic activity, considering grooms, blacksmiths, feed stores, veterinarians and scores of other jobs. “The jobs generated by this industry, they’re very real,” Sullivan told legislators. “Anything you can do to help them would be appreciated.” Legislators and Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered with an expansion of gambling that includes sports betting at tracks and the potential for racecourses to become full-fledged casinos. There’s a provision for a new standardbred track, despite closures in recent years. Fairmount Park in Collinsville could have as many as 900 video gambling machines and seats at blackjack tables and other table games. Arlington and Hawthorne Racecourse, both in the Chicago area, could each have as many as 1,200 spots for gamblers to make bets on machines, cards or other table games. By comparison, no existing casino has 1,100 video gambling terminals, according to the most recent report from the Illinois Gaming Board, and 317 table games operate in the state’s 10 casinos, most of which are operating fewer gambling machines than authorized. Video gambling has not previously been allowed at tracks, where millions of dollars in wagers are accepted on nothing but horse races.   Gamblers at Fairmount Park line up to risk money.   A share of the take from casino-style gambling at tracks would go toward purses to help the state’s racing industry, but there is a string: Tracks with casinos can’t abandon horse racing and might have to increase the number of races in exchange for slot machines and casino games. The law requires 700 races annually at Fairmount Park if the track wants video gambling and table games; last year, the track’s season lasted 36 days, with many dates including fewer than 10 races, and so the number of races might double. Arlington and Hawthorne together would need 174 thoroughbred racing dates each year if both tracks got casino gambling; last year, the tracks combined had 125 thoroughbred dates. Harness racing tracks, where comparatively stocky standardbreds pull wheeled carts called bikes, would have to have 100 race dates each year, a threshold already met by Hawthorne, which last year held 105 harness racing dates. Minimum race date provisions can be waived by the Illinois Racing Board if horse owner associations agree, the law says, so long as the integrity of the sport isn’t affected. The board also could waive race-date minimums if there aren’t enough horses or if purse levels aren’t sufficient. All this gambling at tracks would come in addition to six new standalone casinos authorized by state legislators, more video gambling terminals in bars and restaurants and more video gambling and table games at existing casinos that now don't have all the tables and video gambling terminals previously authorized. The law also includes provisions for online sports gambling.  “It’s a lot of money” The new law is the talk of the backstretch at Hawthorne the day after the governor signs the bill. It is, folks say, salvation. “You can just feel the mood of the people around here,” says trainer Steve Searle, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather also trained horses. “We were about flat-lined. Seriously. It was as bad as it could get.” By definition, horses anchor the sport, but the number of Illinois-bred animals has plummeted, from nearly 4,500 foals born in 1985 to 300 last year. Lawmakers have adjusted by changing the definition of Illinois horses eligible to compete in races limited to animals born and bred here. A 2018 law made possible by artificial insemination removed a requirement that standardbreds in races limited to Illinois-conceived-and-foaled livestock must come from mares that were impregnated in Illinois and that gave birth within the state. “They got a little creative with the born and bred,” observes trainer Angie Coleman, who’s made her living with racehorses for seven years. Before that, she lived in downtown Chicago. She once sold cars and also has worked for a credit card company. The backstretch, she says, is a more welcoming environment for women than other places she’s worked where men were in charge. “I had those kinds of challenges when I had a real job, but not here,” she says. Plenty of kids – the track provides housing for workers and families – and women inhabit the backstretch. Drivers wear overalls, some in need of washing, instead of silks and are of normal shape and size. Weight doesn’t much matter in harness racing, where bikes bear the load. A three-legged black cat named Trifecta roams the barns. If folks who earn their livings from racehorses don’t care about animals, someone forgot to tell trainer Rob Rittof, who found the cat in a parking lot with a mangled paw and took it to a vet. “It’s a community back there,” says Jim Miller, Hawthorne publicist and race analyst. “You’d be surprised to see the school bus roll up every morning.”  It’s a grueling schedule. Races start at 7:30 p.m. and can last until midnight, but horses don’t sleep late and need to be brushed and fed and exercised and treated for any medical issues. The track provides the stage, backstretch folks put on the play. They don’t appear rich as they prep horses for races, water down ones fresh from the track and watch races unfold on 25-inch box televisions from an era before flat screens. “The labor side, the horse owners, need to have a chance to make money on it, or at least break even,” says David McCaffrey, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Racinos in Indiana, Kentucky and other states have sucked jobs directly from the Illinois horseracing industry, McCaffrey says. Last year, purses at Illinois racetracks totaled $34.5 million. Slots and casino games, McCaffrey figures, could boost purses by $20 million at each of the two Chicago-area tracks. “It’s a lot of money,” he says. “It’s going to be a terrific boon.”   Horse racing is a family affair at Arlington International Racecourse.   While hopes are high for more foals and bigger purses and more races, no one seems to know whether the expected surge of slots at tracks will create more horse bettors. Playing horses is as easy or difficult as you want to make it. While some go by names or odds alone, the serious horse player can spend hours studying racing forms, videos of past performances and weather forecasts. A horse might appear a dog, but wait a minute: He broke late from the starting gate and was bumped in his last race but still gained ground at the end, plus he’s got a new owner and trainer with a reputation for turning also-rans into contenders. Never worn blinkers before? Hmm. And he does better on a synthetic surface than natural dirt. You can hit the “play” button on a video gambling machine every few seconds, but racing runs on a more relaxed schedule, with starts every 30 minutes. Small-time bettors can spend an afternoon at the track and lose less than $50. “It’s a thought process, but that’s the beauty of it, by the way,” McCaffrey says. No one seems to know whether casinos at Illinois tracks will create horse bettors. In Ohio, the handle has gone down since the state legalized racinos to subsidize racing. The Buckeye State’s first racino opened in 2012. In 2014, $166.8 million was wagered at Ohio race tracks; last year, with seven racinos in full swing, the handle dropped to $150.8 million. Death hurts Past efforts to bolster racing in Illinois haven’t met with universal acclaim. “I was probably the only guy who was completely against simulcasting,” says Clark Fairley, a standardbred trainer at Hawthorne who remembers when tracks began broadcasting races from afar to increase betting pools and revenue, with off-track betting parlors opening so gamblers no longer needed to visit tracks like Sportsman’s Park. The Cicero venue closed in 2002, shortly after War Emblem won the Illinois Derby there, then captured the Kentucky Derby as an improbable 20-1 longshot. A TV screen can’t match live racing, Fairley says, and horse racing needs fans at tracks. While he doesn’t like simulcasts, Fairley is a fan of casinos at tracks, which he calls a game changer. “It’s a business for us,” Fairley says. “We need to make a living.” Image is to blame for part of horse racing’s woes, according to a 2011 report commissioned by The Jockey Club. Fewer than 25 percent of the public had a positive impression of horse racing, according to the report, and just 46 percent of fans who attended at least three races annually said they’d tell others to follow the sport. By contrast, 55 percent of poker players said they’d recommend the game to friends; more than 80 percent of football and baseball fans said they’d promote their preferred sport to other people. Attitudes are reflected in the handle, which peaked, nationally, in 2003. “Racing has a serious brand problem, a diluted product and insufficient distribution,” McKinsey and Co., the consulting firm that authored the study, reported. The 2011 nationwide study, which predicted that the amount wagered on horse racing would drop 25 percent by 2021, proved overly dire. Nationally, the handle has stabilized at slightly less than $11 billion wagered each year, according to a follow-up study by McKinsey that was released last year, with the number of races dropping but purses increasing. The best and biggest tracks have made progress, with the number of races and wagers increasing, but those gains have been offset by trouble at smaller venues, where handles have gone down and the number of races has dipped. The number of horses continues to drop, the consultant reported last year, resulting in an average field of 7.7 horses for races, not good from the perspective of fans who want more contestants. Myriad issues account for the sport’s shaky health. Bettors are disheartened by the rise of computers and near-instantaneous wagering – odds change depending on amounts bet, and when well-financed interests from who-knows-where throw big money at races less than a minute before post time, what seemed a shrewd call on a longshot can suddenly become an even-odds bet. Tracks, also, have caused consternation among the most loyal racing fans by taking, some might say skimming, from winners who don’t collect the full amount on successful bets. Instead, tracks take a percentage of winning wagers to help cover overhead, a proposition that goes over as well at a racetrack as it would at a video gambling parlor that paid out $1.90 when the ticket says you won $2. Animal welfare, long a concern, has mushroomed with tragedies at Santa Anita Park, a California track where 30 horses have died since December, prompting calls to ban racing. The Jockey Club says equine deaths, calculated on a per-thousand-start basis, have declined since 2009, when the organization began publishing racetrack death statistics. Reporting is voluntary, and while almost every track provides numbers to allow a national perspective, most tracks don’t allow the Jockey Club to publish statistics showing the number of deaths at their venues. Hawthorne, which allows the club to post statistics, stands out in the 2018 report, recording a higher death rate of thoroughbreds – the track hosts both thoroughbred and harness racing – than any track that voluntarily reports save Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Miller says the track allows The Jockey Club to publish details because transparency is important. “We understand that, if something does happen, if there’s an injury, a death, we want to look into it, we want to understand why and we don’t want to hide it,” he says. Thoroughbreds go down more frequently than standardbreds, and there have been no tragedies during the current harness racing season, Miller said. While numbers from the Illinois Racing Board, which regulates horse racing, show that Hawthorne has had more deaths per 1,000 starts than the state’s other two tracks in eight of the past 11 years, Miller says Hawthorne considers last year’s numbers an anomaly. Death hurts, McCaffrey says. Before becoming director of the thoroughbred horsemen’s association, McCaffrey trained standardbreds. “You do it because you love the animal – that’s the basis for entering into the sport,” he says. Enzo The Baker was McCaffrey’s star. At two years old, the horse named after a character in The Godfather never finished out of the money in nine races, winning seven times, placing once and showing once. It all ended in 2008 at Maywood Park, a harness track near Chicago that closed four years ago. While warming up, Enzo The Baker collapsed prior to a race, victim of a heart defect. “You see this perfectly healthy horse, the next minute, he was on the ground, dead,” McCaffrey says. “It affected me. I was never the same trainer afterward.”     By Bruce Rushton Reprinted with permission of The Illinios Times

ELDON — For some, county fairs are about the rides, the food, the time with friends and family. It’s easy to forget there’s another side, as vendors depend on fairgoers to boost their business. Erin Eister was getting a taste of that side of the fair Thursday with her mom, Ashley. She was helping out with the Scentsy booth. Erin recommended the blueberry cheesecake scented items. That’s her favorite. The Cardinal Elementary student said being under the grandstand wasn’t all bad, though she’d rather be able to steal a bit of time with the rides. “I don’t have a favorite ride,” she said. There’s a challenger for her attention this year: the Pirates of the Columbian Caribbean aerial show. Ashley said Erin enjoyed watching that show on Thursday, and more shows are scheduled through the fair’s end Sunday. The call to post echoed through the grandstand as another race got ready to run. The barns were still mostly empty, though some families prepared their goats for the 1 p.m. show. The items in the vendor stalls may be different, but the scene would have been recognizable to visitors a century ago There was one big benefit for both vendors and the crowd watching the harness racing that was unusual. Sunny skies in mid-June usually bring warm, even hot temperatures. But at midday Thursday it hadn’t quite reached 70 degrees and a steady breeze kept people cool. “It’s probably going to be a pretty nice week,” Ashley said. Kriss Fraze agreed. She wore a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket, and said she was perfectly comfortable doing so. “I was laughing because as I walked outside it was to warm up a little,” she said. “You couldn’t have better weather. Fraze has a bath fitting booth and said fairs are actually a pretty good place to get customers. She’s out of Des Moines, and was relieved to hear the river is heading back down in Wapello County. She saw the sandbags that are still in downtown Eldon, and was worried about the community. While rain is possible Friday night and Saturday, the totals from any rain shouldn’t be more than what you’d expect at this time of year. No, Fraze said, you really couldn’t ask for a better forecast for the fair. By Matt Milner Reprinted with permission of The Ottumwa Courier

East Rutherford, NJ - It was a perfect Saturday morning for qualifiers at The Meadowlands with sunny skies, a slight cross breeze and temperatures in the 70's. The track was rated as fast when the races began at 10am. Hannelore Hanover is back! The 2017 Dan Patch Horse of the Year and career winner of $2.8 million made her 2019 harness racing debut an impressive winning one over current "Road to the Hambletonian" list topper Gimpanzee (Sears). Settled in fifth through the early poles, Hannelore had advanced to third via a few breakers by the 1:25.4 third panel, fanned wide and engaged the leading Gimpanzee then prevailed on the wire in 1:53 flat with a sub 27 final quarter under her own power. Super Schissel (Scott Zeron) was right in between the top pair in third. Ron Burke trains Hannelore Hanover for his interests as Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino and J&T Silva and Joe Bongiorno picked up the drive this morning. Beautiful Sin was ultra-impressive this morning, not only beating a field of quality male rivals but doing so authoritatively. Driver Tim Tetrick moved the Muscle Hill lass first over from fourth as they passed the 59.2 half and brushed past the leader Gerry (Marcus Melander) through the 29.1 third panel, leaving the boys behind with a 27 flat close to the 1:55.3 mile. Gerry stayed on for second while White Tiger (Sears) was a rated third. Lennart Agren's S R F Stable owns Beautiful Sin who at $480,000 was the highest priced yearling of 2017 and Per Engbloom trains. Trainer Domenico Cecere brought a string of Lindy Farms 3-year-old trotting colts in for their first foray of the new season and drove the Chapter Seven colt Refi to a front stepping 1:56.2 / 28.2 win under wraps over stable mate Signor Cardin (Brian Sears). Wing Suit (Zeron) was comfortably third. Refi is owned by Lindy Farms and Bob Rudolph. Sophomore pacing colts came around next and a pair of trainer Tony Alagna's Captaintreacherous colts finished 1-2 with Captain McKee (Tetrick) prevailing from the pocket in 1:52.3 / 27.1 over mile cutter Captain Cash (Andy McCarthy) with Magic Joe Lindy (Zeron) third. Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brad Grant and Captain Trevor Racing own the winner. Another round of Captains swept the first three spots in the next race with Latissimus Hanover (Tetrick) leading throughout under restraint and holding Captain Ahab (McCarthy) and Shipshape (Matt Krueger) at bay in 1:51.1 / 28.1. Trainer Ray Schnittker owns the speedy colt with Mary Kinsey Arnold and Ted Gewertz. Tall Drink Hanover (McCarthy) completed the "Captain sweep" for the sophomore pacers, winning handily in 1:51.4 / 27.1 under complete wraps. Key West (Tetrick) was a good second. Alagna trains both and owns the winner as Alagna Racing along with Marvin Katz and Riverview Racing (Stephanie & Myron Bell). Western Joe was pacing out of his skin through a 26.1 end to a 1:50.1 mile this morning, looking like he's ready to roll after this, his third qualifier. He tracked Shnitzledosomethin (Tetrick) throughout and roared past that rival under some Zeron rousing in the stretch. Chris Choate trains the 2018 Sam McKee Memorial winner for Anthony Ruggeri and Joe Tosies. It's a huge night at The Meadowlands with Graduate Series trotters on the track and BeerFest in the Back Yard. Live racing gets started at 7:15pm.   Nick Salvi

Vernon Downs played host to two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings on Friday (May 10). Both divisions raced for a purse of $58,700. Winnerup (Trond Smedshammer) charged late to win the first division. Star Track Hanover (Jimmy Whittemore) led the group to a first quarter in :27.0. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) took over around the clubhouse turn and hit the half in :55.0 and three-quarters in 1:23.3. Winnerup ($18.40) found himself fourth at the three-quarter marker. Owned by the Purple Haze Stables and trained by Smedshammer, he hit the stretch like he had a rocket strapped to his back. He flew by to win by 10 lengths in a lifetime best of 1:53.1. Big Money (Tyler Buter) came up late to finish second. Chip Chip Conway held on for third. Winnerup is a 3-year-old colt by Credit winner. It was his second win this season. He now has three career victories. Mr Vicktor (Tyler Buter) holds on to win the second division. Skyway Kon Man (Trond Smedshammer) took the lead and hit the first quarter in :29.1. Mr Vicktor ($5.80) , who is trained by G Buzzy Sholty for owners Joseph Lee, Diamond Pride LLC, and Sholty Racing LLC, grabbed the lead just before hitting the half in :58.2. He would be the first to three-quarters with a time of 1:26.2. Skyway Kon Man charged late but had to settle for second as Mr Viktor dug down deep and held on for the win in a career best of 1:55.1. Whimzical Chapter (Dan Daley) was third. Mr Viktor                                        --Fotowon photo Mr Vicktor is a 3-year-old colt by RC Royalty. He is a perfect three for three in 2019. He now has four career victories. Tyler Buter won four races on the night. His other wins came with Financial Impact ($33.80), RX For Success ($3.60), and Travel Winner ($3.80). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (May 11) with a nine race card starting at 6:10 p.m. There will be a special 11 race Mother's day card on Sunday (May 12). Sunday post time is 1:05 p.m. www.vernondowns.com   John Horne  for Vernon Downs

CHESTER PA - The 2019 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) gets underway with quite a bang this Saturday, May 4, at the two eastern Pennsylvania tracks, Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the three classes of Open trotters, Open pacers, and Mare Open pacers each drawing a fine field. The two harness racing events taking place on a special Saturday afternoon card at Philly, worth $30,000 each, are the Mares Open pace and the Open trot. The Open trotters are first on the card in race four, and the event will mark the 2019 debut of Crystal Fashion, a four-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall trained by Jim Campbell. Crystal Fashion won just shy of $1.1 million as a three-year-old last year, with high finishes in most of the major stakes in his division; he was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Starting from post two in a field of seven off a pair of easy qualifying wins in 1:57.1 and 1:57, Crystal Fashion is scheduled to have the green and yellow colors of "T. Tetrick" behind him - only Saturday his driver is scheduled to be Trace Tetrick, brother of Tim, the 2017 Rising Star Award winner and the leading driver at Hoosier Park near Indianapolis. Pappy Go Go, who has a 1:52 victory of each of the two eastern PA tracks this year to give him two of the three fastest times on the trot in North America this season, will get a real test of class here as he begins from post four for driver George Napolitano Jr and trainer Andrew Harris. Ohio champion Mission Accepted opened the season undefeated in three starts since switching to the care of Ron Burke, but he'll have to solve the difficult post seven Saturday, with Andrew McCarthy scheduled to drive. In the sixth race Mares Open pace, 2018 champion sophomore filly Kissin In The Sand will make her first start of this year, starting from post two for trainer Nancy Johansson and driver Scott Zeron. The Somebeachsomewhere mare had ten wins and five seconds in fifteen seasonal outings, taking her mark of 1:47.3 at Lexington, and she was also the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Her main foe appears to be the American Ideal mare Tequila Monday, who has ripped off four straight victories against high-quality mares to open her season for trainer Hunter Oakes. Trace Tetrick has also gained the catch-drive behind Tequila Monday as she starts from post five in the seven-horse field. The GNOS action then heads 100 miles north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pocono, where there will be a doubleheader of racing on Saturday, and the highlight of the evening card will be the track's traditional Derby Day feature, the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace. The Rose Memorial will count in the GNOS pointstandings, and is slotted for the evening action's race ten. The race has attracted the hottest, and the richest, performer in North America so far this year in Western Fame, starting from post seven in the field of nine for trainer Rene Allard, currently in front in a bid for his sixth Pocono training title in seven years, and driver/brother Simon. All the son of Western Ideal has done recently is post four wins and a second in five preliminaries of the Levy Series, then took the $664,000 Levy final by almost five lengths in 1:50.4 at Yonkers, boosting his 2019 earnings to $446,300 with only a third of the year gone. Filibuster Hanover, winner of the 2017 Little Brown Jug and like Western Fame a racing millionaire, had the misfortune of drawing the outside post nine for his seasonal debut, with trainer Ron Burke choosing Jim Morrill Jr. for sulky duty. Sure to draw attention as well is Highalator, starting from post two for trainer Jenny Bier and driver Richard Still; Highalator, who is 10-for-17 lifetime at the mountain oval, and Still teamed to win a leg of the Golden Receiver series at The Meadowlands in his last start. The Great Northeast Open Series races are scheduled every weekend at the two tracks until September 1, with $30,000 contests (a few "special events" carry a bigger bounty) on the sheet for all of the three divisions. When Pocono has the Open pace, it goes on Saturday evening; otherwise the GNOS contests are, with a few exceptions (like this week), slotted for Sunday, at Philly in the afternoon and at Pocono at night. The top pointwinners in the competition will vie for $100,000 in each of the three GNOS divisions, with their Championships to be held over 1¼ miles on a Monday twilight card on September 9.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia / The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Jerry Connors

One lucky Northfield Park bettor in Canada solved the 20-cent Northfield Single Six with a single combination for a whopping $144,777.18 (Canadian) on Monday (April 15). The wager premiered on Oct. 13 and has become popular with punters chasing big scores. The unique combination Pick-6 offers a low 14 percent takeout rate and starts nightly in race nine. The 20-cent wager carries over 50 percent of its nightly pool until it is solved by a single combination. The 20-cent wager is doing exactly what it was designed to do -- offer handicappers large jackpots.   Ayers Ratliff

Chester, PA -- Entering from a string of respectable efforts from off the pace in Open company at Dover Downs, a change of tactics proved beneficial for Tiger Thompson N ($3.20) in his Harrah's Philadelphia harness racing debut on Sunday afternoon (April 14), as he delivered a crushing 7-3/4 length blow to his rivals in the featured $18,000 top-level conditioned pace.   "He's been finishing off really well; his last quarters have been really strong," said driver Dexter Dunn of the 6-year-old Big Jim gelding who could only muster a third-place finish in his previous effort at Dover after being hemmed in.   In his local debut, Dunn angled Tiger Thompson N out from third early to brush clear of Bettorever (Tony Morgan) after a sharp :26.3 initial quarter. After clearing with a circuit to go, Tiger Thompson N controlled middle splits of :55.1 and 1:22.2 before drawing off in earnest through the final turn to lead by six at head-stretch. Ultimately, Tiger Thompson N capped his lifetime-best 1:50.3 mile with a :28.1 closing split and plenty of energy in reserve.   "He still had the plugs in; he was doing it pretty easily," Dunn said of Tiger Thompson N's local debut. "He went a strong mile today on the front and hopefully he can keep that form up."   Jack Roger (David Miller) circled a collapsing second flight to take second at 23-1, while Dash Of Danger (Kyle Husted) emerged from last at the top of the stretch to finish third.   Trainer Josh Parker acquired Tiger Thompson N in November along with co-owners Nanticoke Racing Inc., Stephen Messick and the Prestige Stable. So far, the eight-time winner has won three times for his American connections.   For Dunn, the featured win was the cornerstone of a driving hat trick: the New Zealand national also teamed up with Final Justice ($13.00, 1:54.3) and Zampara ($21.00, 1:53.3).   Live racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (April 17), with first post set for 12:25 p.m. Eastern and a $4,507.07 carryover in the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 in race five.   by James Witherite Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

Pompano Beach, FL...April 1, 2019...No kidding! Caviart Reagan upset the applecart in Pompano Park's Sunday night harness racing feature while Panocchio won for the 42nd time over South Florida's five-eighths mile oval--one of five wins for leading driver Wally Hennessey. Caviart Reagan, owned and trained by Jim McDonald, was driven to victory by Dave Ingraham, who escaped trouble when the leader, the 4 to 5 favorite Brigadierbronski A, suddenly made a miscue around the final bend on the lead. As Brigadierbronski's pilot, Wally Hennessey, searched for clearance to avoid further situations developing, Ingraham took the pylon route on through and opened up a daylight lead, eventually scoring by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:51.4, a seasonal best time. Second choice American Hustle, with Bryce Fenn in his sulky, rallied to finish second while Mc Mach, handled by Rick Plano, finished third after suffering a bit of interference trying to avoid the breaker. Windsun Gotham finished fourth while Brigadierbronski managed to pick up the minor award in the classy quintet. In a post-race interview, driver Dave Ingraham said, "well, it was just one of those things. When Wally's horse went up in the air, I was lucky enough to find some room inside and saving that ground was the difference. The five year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight now has a 3-2-3 scorecard in 13 starts, good for $19,460 for the year and $152,480 lifetime. Off as fourth choice at 8 to 1, Caviart Reagan paid $19.60 to his faithful. Hennessey, though, was not silenced on the Sunday program, competing in five other races on the program and winning all five, including a conditioned event with the track record holder, Panocchio. This gallant nine year-old altered son of No Pan intended took command after a demanding opening panel of :26.4 and led every stride thereafter to score in 1:52.1 for his second win of the year and 65th of his illustrious career--42 of those at Pompano Park. Spirit Shadow, handled by Andy Santeramo, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths away, while Pointsman, driven by Jim Meittinis, was next. Major Starlight and Impressive Art picked up the final awards in the sextet. Panocchio now has banked $580,628 to go along with his track record of 1:48.3 at Pompano Park achiened four seasons ago. Off at 1 to 5 on the tote-board, Panocchio paid $2.60 to his multitude of backers. Racing continues on Monday night with a Super Hi-5 finale sporting a carryover of $75,242.   by John Berry for Pompano Park

Scarborough, Maine - March 29, 2019 ... Scarborough Downs will swing open it's gates for the 70th consecutive year on Saturday (3/30), welcoming the multitudes of fans and horses back to the track, and heralding the start of the 2019 harness racing season in Maine. The Downs will open the race meet on a two day a week schedule, racing Saturday and Sunday afternoon cards with a post time of 12:30 p.m. (EDT). Admission to the races is once again free of charge at the Downs, and with twin 8-race programs carded for both Saturday and Sunday, the fans will have ample opportunity to witness the excitement and pageantry of harness racing from a close-up, rail-bird's seat. In addition to a season full of top harness racing action, the track is pleased to promote exciting events all season long. The Kentucky Derby, which kicks off thoroughbred racing's chase for the Triple Crown, falls on May 4th this year and will once again be the Downs' biggest party of the year. On the local side, the $25,000 Mid-Summer Classic, scheduled for July 13, will attract and showcase the finest pacers in New England while the $25,000 Joseph Ricci Memorial (August 24) will be the highlight of the trotting scene in Maine. The Maine Sire Stakes program will once again anchor the action at the Downs this summer as the regal Maine-bred pacers and trotters launch their season-long campaigns beginning on June 25, culminating in the highly anticipated Festival of Champions on October 12, where they will be racing for championship glory and combined purses that will exceed $600,000. The local harness racing season, packed with heart pounding excitement and the chance to win big, gets underway as the bugler sounds the first "Call to Post" at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Get Back to the Track to experience it all! Scarborough Downs will proudly feature live harness racing on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 PM (EDT) through the month of April. For more information, visit www.ScarboroughDowns.com or visit our Facebook page.   By Michael Sweeney for Scarborough Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - The American Ideal harness racing mare Sally Fletcher A, who had had several close finishes without victory over half-mile tracks recently, refound her winning ways upon coming to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning the $14,000 distaff pacing feature in 1:53 on the Tuesday twilight card. Driver Anthony Napolitano opted on finding late luck with the even-money favorite as he kept her third along the inside most of the way. Opportunity came knocking when the second-over horse gapped on the turn, with Sally Fletcher A answering the summons by swinging out and then wider turning for home. Despite bearing out even further in the lane, the Down Under mare had sufficient rally to catch the potential Pocono Pike pocket rocket Bye Bye Michelle by a length while raising her bankroll to $340,247 for trainer Jose Godinez and the Blindswitch Racing Stable. Among the many horses on the Tuesday card prepping for the upcoming Weiss Series, the Sportswriter sophomore miss Girl's Got Rhythm was perhaps the most impressive, setting a North American season's record of 1:53 in her career debut. Hot-driving Tyler Buter settled the John Cummins-owned filly in the two hole behind a strong pacesetter (and fellow Weiss eligible) As Time Goes By, then came on in the lane to wear down the pacesetter by ¾ of a length on the money, reflecting some of her pedigree - her third dam was the dam of the fabled Jenna's Beach Boy. Trixar certainly also had breeding in his corner - an altered sophomore son of Trixton out of the $400G+-winning Spice Queen - but it took him until his 14th career start to put it all together, proving most photogenic in a bang-bang-bang finish over fellow Weiss eligibles Oceanato Hanover and Massive Vodka in 2:00, despite being out every step of the trotting mile. The betting public had lost hope on the fashionably-bred three-year-old, co-owned by trainer/driver Bill "Moon" Mullin along with Howard Taylor, as he lit up the tote board with a $166.80 win payoff.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

LEBANON, OH - Pine Dream evened the recent score with All About Cowboys in the Sunday (Feb. 24) $24,000 Open I Handicap Trot at Miami Valley Raceway. Over the last five weeks, the two top trotters have dominated the local squaregaiters, each winning a pair and each with two runnerup finishes. Both have earned just over $40,000 during the initial two months of the season. The two trotting titans got away last and second last in the scratch-shortened seven-horse field until well past the :57 halfway point, but when they decided it was time to go they blew by their five adversaries in short order. Three-wide at the three quarter station, driver Trace Tetrick flew to the top and opened up a commanding lead. Jason Brewer and All About Cowboys tried gallantly to keep up, but could do no better than to tow along in Pine Dream's wake through the stretch. Pine Dream stopped the timer on an extremely windy day in 1:55.2 and paid $5.80 to win, while the exacta with All About Cowboys returned $36.40. Chupp Racing Stable Inc. plucked Pine Dream from the Blooded Horse Sale last August and needed a little good fortune to get him. "Merv went to the sale with his eye on a pacer, but his price went too high," related trainer Kelly Chupp. "When he called a little later and said 'I bought a trotter' I said oh no, just what we don't need. It has turned out great though and now I just love that little horse!" Primed N Powerful (Tyler Smith) took full advantage of his drop into the $20,000 Open II Trot, beating Merci Monsieur AS (Kayne Kauffman) and Fomor (Josh Sutton) in 1:57. It was the winner's first triumph in five tries in 2019 for trainer Bob Phillips and owners Ronald Phillips and Sharry Boledovich. The six-year-old gelding paid $7.20 to win.   Gregg Keidel  

LEBANON, OH. - 'Super' Brett Miller has "owned" the inaugural Howard Beissinger Memorial Medley trotting series, winning all four preliminary heats over the first two weeks at Miami Valley Raceway. His toughest decision in the series thus far has to be what horse to drive in the $25,000 championship final next Friday at a distance of 1-1/4 miles. He won with both Deweyknowigotit and Double A Goldrush in the first leg, a pair of ¾ mile dashes for $12,500 purses to kick the new series off. Miller followed that up by winning both $17,500 divisions with the same two trotters on Friday (Feb. 15) at the conventional distance of one mile. Deweyknowigotit and Double A Goldrush ended up tied for the lead in series money earnings, the yardstick used to determine the nine finalists. The remainder of the field will be comprised of Rompaway Galaxy, Lets Go Bucks, Nothinbutanallstar, No Whip Chip, Rockinthepines, Cruzen Cassi and He's Got Pizazz-if they all enter. Both winners went gate-to-wire as favorites in the second leg. Deweyknowigotit topped Nothinbutanallstar (LeWayne Miller) and Rompaway Galaxy (Jason Thompson) in 1:56. The Derek Watiker-trainee, owned by his father Lionel Watiker, paid $3.20. The son of Deweycheatumnhowe is now 5 for 7 in 2019, good for almost $40,000 in earnings, following a forgettable 2018 season when he went 0 for 11 and earned just $3960. Double A Goldrush took a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2 in his split, beating Lets Go Bucks (Dan Noble) and No Whip Chip (Chris Page) who dead-heated for second. Ross Leonard trains the winner, who is approaching $200,000 in career earnings. The 5-year-old gelding by Elegant Man is owned by Michael and Laura Lee in partnership with Terry Leonard. A $25,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace was captured by Zoe Ellasen (Trace Tetrick) in 1:53. Feelin Red Hot (Page), the winner the previous two weeks, finished second after cutting the entire mile from an assigned outside post. Always About Farah (Sam Widger), making her initial start in the open ranks, was a creditable third. Zoe Ellasen sat fourth through the opening :28 panel, then attacked first-over through middle fractions of :56.2 and 1:24. It was the first win of this season for the 5-year-old Santanna Blue Chip lass, but the 19th triumph in an outstanding career that has already netted $340,000 in earnings. She is owned by Ron Steck in partnership with her trainer Tyler George. Leading driver Trace Tetrick and second place Brett Miller each fashioned "Grand Slams" on the Friday program, reaching the winner's circle four times each. Racing resumes Saturday night (Feb. 16) when a $24,000 Open I Pace and two divisions of the second leg of the Bill Dailey Memorial Medley for pacers will be featured. Post time is 6:05 p.m. From Miami Valley Media Department  

Monticello, NY - No, it's not a typo, yesterday at Monticello Raceway harness racing driver Austin Siegelman won 5 races and today he duplicated the exact same feat. Siegelman won the second race of the afternoon with Reflexionofroyalty from the rail in 2:00.1 and returned a $8.50 win pari-mutuel, it was the first win of the season for Reflexionofroylaty. Histoire Eternelle (PP4) gave Austin his second win of the day, as he scored a wire to wire win in 1:57 for trainer Chris Petrelli. He came right back in the following race to score with Victory Singer (1:59.4 - $2.60) it was the 3rd win a row for Victory Singer. In the 7th race it was Sky Guy from post position 8, to win by 3 lengths after cutting the entire mile in 1:57.1, the son of Sportswriter is trained by Thomas Merton. The last win of the afternoon came aboard Celtic Art, the Joe Moeykens trained son of Artiscape won in 1:59 and paid $10.40 to win. The top 4 drivers are in a bottleneck for leading dash winner with 3 drivers Bruce Aldrich Jr. Michael Merton, and James Devaux all tied with 34 wins, Austin is in close pursuit with 33 wins. Over $780,000 was wagered on the 10-race card. Live racing returns on Monday with a 12:25 post time. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, January 2, 2019 Yonkers Raceway's 2019 racing season begins this Monday night (Jan. 7th), with a dozen races at the usual first post of 6:50 PM. The Raceway's 234-program docket offers a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday schedule (nearly exclusively at 6:50 PM), with the seasonal schedule accompanying this release. As always, all dates are pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission. A reminder that the next two days have morning draws... --Thursday, Jan. 3rd (draw for Tuesday, Jan. 8th)-- --Friday, Jan. 4th (draw for the Thursday, Jan. 10th)--. The entry box closes each day at 9 AM. The usual afternoon box closing/draw schedule returns Monday (Jan. 7th), with a double draw for Friday and Saturday (Jan. 11th and 12th). A current condition sheet is available at www.empirecitycasino.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/conditionsheet.pdf For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.   Frank Drucker  

Age is but a number to Celtic Merchant. The harness racing 13-year-old trotter is always ready to go. And he wants to go fast. Celtic Merchant, who has overcome three ligament injuries during his career, has won three of six races this year, all at Pompano Park in Florida. His most recent victory was Tuesday (Feb. 16) in an "Over the Hill Gang" event for trotters ages 9 and up. He triumphed by a head in 1:56.4. For owner Steve Oldford, watching and driving the old-timer never gets old. Oldford, who is training Celtic Merchant while the horse is in Florida, is best known for his amateur driving exploits --- and Celtic Merchant has been at the forefront of Oldford's success. In 2010, Oldford won the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series championship, the Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup, with Celtic Merchant at The Meadows. Three years later, Oldford was named the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Amateur Driver of the Year, and five of his victories that season came with Celtic Merchant. Among those wins was a division of the Hambletonian Amateur Drivers event at the Meadowlands. "He's been quite an asset," said Oldford, who also has captured five Billings points titles and multiple Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year awards. "He's a great big horse with a big heart. He's great to drive. You can put him on any track. There have been lots of highlights with him. He's been a great anchor for my amateur horse stable." Oldford acquired Celtic Merchant in July 2009, when his trainer, Allen Sisco, spotted the trotter in a claiming race at Georgian Downs. After making one start for his new connections, Celtic Merchant was sidelined by a ligament injury, which was the second of his career. But he returned to action seven months later and produced 28 wins until being sidelined again last spring. Once again, Celtic Merchant bounced back and resumed adding victories to his total. "We thought the most recent injury was it and he was going to live on the farm," Oldford said. "We turned him out. After a while, we'd take a horse out on the track and he was just running the field with them so we decided to try to bring him back. "He's not sore, he's healed. To trot as fast as he's trotting, he's as good as he's been in a long time. I say that knocking on wood. He's just a tremendous horse. If he stays at it and stays healthy he's going to be right back in the Billings races this summer. That's what I'm hoping for." Celtic Merchant is a son of stallion Angus Hall out of the mare Jewelry Store. He has won 45 of 213 career races and earned $354,606. He is a half-brother to stakes-winning lady Jewels Galore, who is the dam of last year's New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old filly champion Jewels In Hock. Oldford has driven Celtic Merchant to 14 wins during his career. Rick Plano has guided the gelding to his most recent victories at Pompano Park. "He's not the easiest horse to manage in the post parade," said Oldford, who has 112 wins as a driver. "He gets fired up and he'll drag you all over the place. He just loves to go. But you put him in a race and he'll sit a hole real nice. I wouldn't say he's two fingers to drive, but he's pretty darn easy to drive compared to the post parade. "He just wants to go right now. If you jog him more than three miles, your arms are going to be a couple inches longer by the time you're done. That's just the way he is. He always wants to be turned loose and go faster. He just loves to race and he loves to win." And that never gets old, either. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, August 20, 2015--Summer has flown by in typical fashion and parents and students are gearing up for the beginning of the school year. For most, that means new clothes, shoes, and lots of school supplies. But for many, getting the school supplies their children need to start the year off right can be a financial burden. According to statistics provided by the National Retail Federation, the average parent spends hundreds of dollars on back-to-school items, including $101.18 on school supplies, $355.76 on clothing and shoes and $212.35 on electronics. To help families and students in need, the City of Yonkers is hosting its fourth annual "Backpack to School" drive to collect school supplies for elementary students who need them. That initiative just received a huge boost with the donation of 300 new backpacks from Empire City Casino. That's not the only boost New York State schools and teachers receive from Empire City, the Yonkers casino and raceway generates nearly $300 million annually for state education. In the past 8 years operating as a casino, the property has generated over $2.3 billion that has gone directly to fund education in New York. "Families with children returning to school have a heavy financial burden at this time of year, and it's important that the community lend a helping hand," said Empire City's president, Tim Rooney. "We're proud of the funds we generate each year to support teachers and students across the state and encourage all who are able to do what they can to support the Backpack to School Drive." For more information on the "Backpack to School" program and drop off locations, visit www.cityofyonkers.com/government/mayor-s-office/initiatives/backpack-to-school-drive. Frank Drucker

1 to 16 of 22705
1 2 3 4 5 Next »