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Kneedeep N Custard went last-to-first in the hotly-contested last Open event of the Fraser Downs spring harness racing meet on Apr. 17, coming within two fifths of a track record.   Kelly Hoerdt pulled the five-year-old back to the trailing spot in the five-horse field early as odds-on favourite Tiempo Hanover (Brandon Campbell) took the lead. Armycaptin Hanover (Scott Knight) pressured the leader through a :27 opening split from the first-over spot and remained parked through the half in a blazing :54.   Tiempo Hanover continued to lead, and Armycaptain Hanover maintained the first-up bid to three-quarters in 1:21.2 as Kneedeep N Custard wound up from the backfield. He made up ground quickly and went three-wide around Armycaptin Hanover as they turned for home. Kneedeep N Custard then outsprinted the tired leaders to win going away by a length and a quarter in a lifetime-best 1:50.4.   Tiempo Hanover and Armycaptin Hanover held on for second and third, respectively. The winner paid $10.30.   KNEEDEEP N CUSTARD REPLAY     Kneedeep N Custard, a Custard The Dragon gelding, improved his record to 22-for-39 and surpassed a quarter million dollars in earnings with the win. Hoerdt trains and co-owns with Blair Corbeil of Beaumont and Fred Gilbert of Brandon. The horse's previous mark was 1:51.2 in his Western Canada Pacing Derby Final victory in 2019. This mile was two tenths off the track record for aged pacing geldings.   The battle for the drivers' title for the meet between Hoerdt and Campbell ended in stalemate, as both drivers landed on 32 wins. The former clutched the draw with a win in the ninth with Overactive (1:55.4) from post seven. Scott Knight won the battle for third with two wins on the night to bring his total to nine.   Fraser Downs' next scheduled dates are in September. The track ended its spring season early due to Covid-19.   "We have no choice - we've literally run out of money to operate at the track," said Nigel Holmes, the executive director of Harness Racing BC (HRBC) in a press release. "It means our regular spring racing meet will end early, and prospects are not good for our regular fall meet, unless we are able to negotiate some form of short term COVID financial support from the BC government."   Holmes also said that HRBC is committed to finding a way to survive the year. HRBC announced on Mar. 31 that the government of British Columbia was unable to offer funds to keep racing going. The status of Fraser's fall meet is currently uncertain.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Harness racing has been a fixture at Fraser Downs in Surrey for many decades, supporting decent livelihoods for families and an agricultural way of life. But as BC enters year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, horse racing in the Fraser Valley is facing difficult times. “Because of COVID, we’ve been forced to suspend all racing indefinitely after the last race tonight and 135 workers will be unemployed,” says Nigel Holmes, executive director of Harness Racing BC. “We have no choice—we’ve literally run out of money to operate at the track. “It means our regular spring racing meet will end early, and prospects are not good for our regular fall meet, unless we are able to negotiate some form of short term COVID financial support from the BC government,” Holmes said. Horse racing groups are facing financial challenges because of the closure of the casino connected to Fraser Downs, and a similar track/casino complex at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver. Under a longstanding agreement with the province, thoroughbred and harness racing groups receive a share of slot machine revenue generated at the casinos. “It’s money we use to sustain the industry, run races, hire workers, pay the purses, maintain the track, stable horses, and fund a host of agricultural support programs for breeding, rearing and training,” Holmes says. “But casinos were closed early in 2020, and that revenue source has dried up—with significant consequences.” Holmes says his group would like to renew discussions with Victoria about possible emergency support measures that will help the industry make it through 2021 and be able to flourish as BC recovers from the pandemic. “We are committed to finding a way to survive this year. Those involved in harness racing are very passionate about its place in our sporting and agricultural communities. In the coming days and weeks, we will be making that case as we meet with government representatives,” he says. In addition to the 135 layoffs, Holmes says the suspension of racing will impact on the local economy. He says the horse racing industry will no longer be purchasing a full range of goods and services from businesses including feed suppliers, hay sales, veterinarians, and farriers— many of which are multigenerational, locally owned businesses. For more information contact Nigel Holmes, Executive Director, Harness Racing BC 604-788-7589 From Harness Racing BC

Chase The Ace took the Filly and Mares Open Pace at the Fraser Downs harness racing circuit for the second straight week with a three-wide swoop.   Brandon Campbell tucked the mare into the four-hole early and followed through the quarter in :28.4 and half in :56.3. Campbell pulled the horse out behind cover, which immediately stalled, and then went three-wide as the field approached three-quarters in 1:24.   Chase The Ace then vanquished pocket-sitter Cusdmagicdragon (Kelly Hoerdt) and Rocket Mystery (Rod Therres) in the lane to win by a length and three quarters in 1:52.3.   CHASE THE ACE REPLAY     Chase The Ace, sent off at 3/5, shattered her lifetime best by two and four-fifths seconds with the win. The daughter of Armbro Baylor also increased her tally to 15 wins from 45 starts and improved her bankroll to more than $80,000. Campbell also trains for Jodi Loftus of Calgary.   Campbell won five of the evening's 12 dashes, surpassing Hoerdt in the drivers' standings with just one card to go in the meet. Hoerdt won three. Campbell now has 30 wins to Hoerdt's 29. Scott Knight and Rod Therres are tied for third with seven victories apiece.   Fraser Downs will return with 10 races on Apr. 16 for its final program until September. The action will kick off at 8 p.m. PDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

In the midst of a downpour, Armycaptin Hanover emerged best of a three-across finish in the Fraser Downs Open Pace harness racing feature on Apr. 9 to complete a last-to-first stunner.   Scott Knight withheld the gelding from the gate and sent him to last of six early as Kneedeep N Custard (Kelly Hoerdt) and Just A Start (Brandon Campbell) fought for the lead through a :27.3 first quarter. The latter won that duel before the half in :54.4.   Armycaptin Hanover started rolling at that point, moving second-over on the backside behind the cover of Dontpokethedragon (William Tainsh), who bested him in the previous week's open. Dontpokethedragon and Just A Start threw down going past three-quarters in 1:24 as Armycaptin Hanover loomed in third.   Just A Start appeared to get away from the first-over challenger, but he tired in the stretch and both Dontpokethedragon and Armycaptin Hanover laid siege coming to the wire. The trio hit the finish line together in a tight photo, but it was Armycaptin Hanover who crossed it first in 1:53.4. Dontpokethedragon got up for place, and Just A Start was a game third.   ARMYCAPTIN HANOVER REPLAY     Armycaptin Hanover, a five-year-old son of Captaintreacherous, has now made $72,559 and has a record of 13-for-54. Hoerdt trains and co-owns with Blair Corbeil of Beaumont. That victory was the horse's first of the season. He paid $11.60 to win.   Campbell clawed two back in the race for the drivers' title. He scored five wins on the night to Hoerdt's three. Hoerdt now has only one win over his rival, with the score sitting at 26-25. Knight is third with seven.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink  

Chase The Ace captured the Handicap Open Pace for harness racing fillies and mares at a muddy Fraser Downs on Apr. 7, 2021 while making her 2021 debut.   Driver Brandon Campbell tucked her into third through a first quarter in :29.3. They remained inside as consistent open contender Cusdmagicdragon (Kelly Hoerdt) carved out fractions of :58.3 and 1:27.1 on the front end.   Campbell triggered Chase The Ace's move coming around the final turn, and the pair easily stepped around the top two. She won by four and a half lengths in 1:55.4 going away. Rockin Mystery (Rod Therres) reached up for second over Cusdmagicdragon, who finished third.   CHASE THE ACE REPLAY     Chase The Ace has now won 14 of her 44 lifetime tries and earned more than $75,000. Campbell also trains the five-year-old Armbro Baylor mare for Jodi Loftus of Calgary. The horse went eight-for-23 last season and made just shy of $50,000.   Hoerdt and Campbell renewed their battle for the top of the drivers' standings, winning five and three races, respectively. Hoerdt holds a three-win advantage over Campbell after the Apr. 7 program. Scott Knight won two to improve his tally to six on the evening and jump Therres for third place.   Hoerdt also trained five winners and leads Jim Marino in the trainers' table by 11.   Fraser Downs will be back on Friday, Apr. 9 with 10 races starting at 8 p.m. PDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Dontpokethedragon remained undefeated in 2021 as he won the harness racing Open Handicap Pace at Fraser Downs with a late rail dive on Friday, Apr. 2.   Driver Brandon Campbell urged him fastest off the gate, reaching the top briefly before Kneedeep N Custard (Kelly Hoerdt) drove on to assume command. Kneedeep N Custard led through fractions of :27.2, :57, and 1:26.3.   Armycaptin Hanover (Scott Knight) lurked first-over turning for home and Dontpokethedragon remained in the pocket. Kneedeep N Custard fought on, but Dontpokethedragon unfurled his wings with a 1/16th to go and slid up the passing lane to win by half a length in 1:55.2.   Armycaptin Hanover just got up for second over Kneedeep N Custard, who finished third. The winner was a mild upset, paying $15.30.   DONTPOKETHEDRAGON REPLAY     Dontpokethedragon is a four-year-old Custard The Dragon gelding. He has won eight of his 30 lifetime tries and brought in just less than $100,000. Jim Marino trains and co-owns with Paul Sanders of Surrey and J J J Stables of Prince George.   Both Campbell and Hoerdt, the top two reinsmen at Fraser Downs, steered four winners on the evening. Hoerdt narrowly tops the drivers' standings with 18 wins over Campbell, who has 17. Rod Therres is a distant third with five winners so far this season.   Also on the card, the three-year-old Shadow Play gelding, Helter Skelter ($2.60), broke his maiden in the fifth race pace. He crushed a nine-horse maiden field in wire-to-wire fashion on his 14th start for owner/trainer/breeder Randy Rutledge of Aldergrove. Campbell drove that one to victory in 1:58.4.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Paperback Thriller confidently brushed to the front and capture the Handicap Open Pace for harness racing fillies and mares at Fraser Downs on Wednesday, Mar. 31.   Brandon Campbell dropped Paperback Thriller into the two-hole through the opening quarter in :29.3 before sweeping to the front by three-eighths. They continued to lead unopposed in middle splits of :58.2 and 1:26.4.   Paperback thriller was solid and finished the job, withstanding a charge from the heavily favoured Cusdmagicdragon (Kelly Hoerdt) and cruising to a three-quarter-length victory in 1:54.4. Cusdmagicdragon got up for place, and Rockin Mystery (Rod Therres) was third. The winner paid $11.50.   PAPERBACK THRILLER REPLAY     That was Paperback Thriller's first win of the season. The six-year-old Mystery Chase mare has won 20 of her 94 lifetime starts and earned just shy of $150,000. Jim Marino trains for Raymond Henry of Calgary.   Also on the card, Hoerdt had a natural hat trick with wins aboard Night Stick (1:54.2) in the fourth, Chase Me Forever (1:54.4) in the fifth, and Im Too Sexy (1:56.4) in the sixth.   Fraser Downs' next card will consist of nine dashes and is scheduled for Friday, Apr. 2.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barndsale, for Harnesslink

You Name It needed every meter of racetrack minus one to get to the lead in the Fraser Downs claiming feature on Friday, Mar. 26, but she got there, winning the race by a nose and achieving her first harness racing win in 38 starts.   Brandon Campbell drifted the horse to the inside as the car pulled away and placed her in third before the quarter in 28.2. The field continued in single-file formation past the half in 58.1 until You Name It got rolling first-over going to five-eighths.   The mare made minimal headway initially, gaining only a length by three-quarters in 1:26.2 as leader Glimpseofthegoddess (Dave Hudon) continued to pace strongly. Those two were on similar pace throughout the stretch drive, but You Name It had just slightly more to give. She got past Glimpseofthegoddess under the light of the wire to win by a nose in 1:55.1   YOU NAME IT REPLAY     Glimpseofthegoddess was second, and Stylomilohos (Kelly Hoerdt) rode the winner's cover to take show.   You Name It is a nine-year-old Jk Royal Flush mare that owned and trained by Mona Roy of Water Valley. The horse has won 13 races from 154 starts and earned more than $115,000. Her last win came more than three years ago on Dec. 26, 2018 at Fraser.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Dontpokethedragon turned in a quality harness racing performance to take the feature claiming dash at Fraser Downs on Wednesday, Mar. 24.   Driver Brandon Campbell refrained from an early speed duel and dropped his pacing gelding into fourth going towards the first turn. He held position through the quarter in 28.1 and 57.4 before swinging three-wide around stalled first-over horse Pureform Mr Toffee (John Vukelich) and vaulting to the lead.   Dontpokethedragon cleared to the lead just past three-quarters in 1:26.1 and opened up a three-length advantage turning for home. He glided to the line from there, winning by a length and three quarters in 1:55.4. Redneck Jim (Dennis Johnston) recovered after a shuffle to take the place spot, and Sporty Dragon (Scott Knight) was third.       Dontpokethedragon is now seven-for-29 with more than $90,000 in earnings lifetime. Jim Marino co-owns and trains the four-year-old by Custard The Dragon for partners Paul Sanders of Surrey and J J J Stables of Prince George.   Fraser Downs' next race card is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 26 with nine races starting at 8:00 p.m. PDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Kneedeep N Custard forged to the front and jogged in the Fraser Downs open pace at 4/5 on Friday, Mar. 19.   The five-year-old gelding held an outside position coming through the first bend, and reinsman Kelly Hoerdt encouraged him on to take command of the race. The horse complied and cleared just past the quarter in 27.3. The shortened field of three others allowed Kneedeep N Custard a 56.2 half, but Paperback Thriller (Brandon Campbell) launched a first-over move going by three-quarters in 1:25.2.   Those two battled for a short period, but Kneedeep N Custard soon kicked away and extended to win by two and a quarter lengths under wraps. Cusdmagicdragon (Allan Molloy) came on for place, and Paperback Thriller was third. The winner paid $3.90.   Kneedeep N Custard's win started his 2021 campaign perfectly, and it brought his win total up to 21 from 36 starts lifetime. He's earned $245,822 for Hoerdt, who also trains, Blair Corbeil of Beamont, and Fred Gilbert of Brandon.   Hoerdt scored four in total on the card; Campbell had three.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Fraser Downs had its opening night on Wednesday, Mar. 17, and harness racing trainer Jim Marino was already on top of his game, conditioning four winners.   Marino's Sporty Dragon won the claiming feature, marching first up and scoring handily in rein to Brandon Campbell, last season's leading driver at Fraser.   Campbell found the four-hole with Sporty Dragon early and sat chilly through the quarter in 29 and half in 57.4. He made his move with the odds-on favourite going towards five-eighths, pulling first-over, and advancing to second before three-quarters in 1:26.4.   Longshot leader Mach Silver fought on bravely, but Sporty Dragon was too sharp on this occasion. Sporty Dragon got by late and extended the margin to a length and a quarter in the 1:55.2 win. Mach Silver held second over a charging Pureform Mr Toffee, who finished third. The winner paid $3.00.       Sporty Dragon's perfect start to the season increased his overall win total to six from 22 attempts and his bankroll to $49,074. Marino, a resident of Surrey, co-owns the son of Custard The Dragon with J J J Stables of Prince George. Campbell also put up a grand slam on the evening, visiting the winner's circle after races one, two, eight, and nine.   Kelly Hoerdt, Fraser Downs' top trainer from 2020, was another multi-race winner while both training and driving; he scored in the fourth, fifth, and tenth races.   Fraser Downs will see action again on Mar. 19 with 11 scheduled races starting at 8 p.m. PDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

After a nearly three-month hiatus, racing is set to return to Fraser Downs on Wednesday (March 17), and as expected, perennial kingpins Jim Marino and Kelly Hoerdt have chances galore on the 10-race program. Marino, who has nine starters throughout the program, will send Sporty Dragon to post as the 8-5 morning line favourite in the evening's featured event, an $8,500 optional claiming pace carded as the ninth race. Like his five rivals, the four-year-old Custard The Dragon gelding will make his 2021 debut, and he does so after a 1:53.4 win in a Dec. 16 conditioned event, his fourth in 14 starts as a sophomore. Top Western Canadian reinsman Brandon Campbell has assumed the driving duties, and the pair will start from post three. His top competition in the opening night feature will likely come from Redneck Jim (post five, 9-5), who ended 202 with a string of minor placings in Open company. Trainer Dennis Johnson will drive the nine-year-old As Promised gelding. Marino also has starters in both sub-featured $8,000 conditioned events: Moosette (Campbell, post two, 3-1) will take on four distaff rivals in the second, and his tandem of Shales Storm (Scott Knight, post two, 4-1) and Dontpokethedragon (Campbell, post five, 8-5) will line up against a trio of male competitors in the eighth. Hoerdt's five starters on the program are led by Chazmichaelmichael, who has been installed the 2-1 favourite in the evening's final race, a $7,500 conditioned event. The four-year-old Custard The Dragon entire knocked heads with the tough Major Custard on the Alberta stakes circuit all season long in 2020, finishing fourth to him in the Western Canada Pacing Derby on Nov. 29 and third to him in the Brad Gunn at Century Mile on Dec. 12. Hoerdt, who will drive Chazmichaelmichael from post three, shares ownership with fellow breeder, Blair Corbeil. Earlier on the card, Hoerdt will look to extend Thankyaverymuch's current win streak to three in a $7,500 claiming pace, carded as race five. The five-year-old son of Betterthancheddar rallied off cover to win his last two starts — and three of his last four — over lower-level claiming company in December. To view entries for Wednesday, click here. From Standardbred Canada

Outstanding standardbreds, harness racing trainers, drivers and owners were honoured last Tuesday (Feb. 27) at the 2017 BC Standardbred Industry Awards. The evening was held at Cloverdale’s Fraser Downs racetrack — the only remaining standardbred racetrack in B.C. The awards are hosted annually by Harness Racing BC, an organization that represents trainers, drivers, owners, breeders and grooms in the industry. More than 100 people came out to recognize the hard work that each and every person — and horse — puts in at Fraser Downs. Trainers, drivers, grooms, standardbreds and more were honoured, highlighting the range of talents needed to make the track successful. Awards were given to both racing veterans with decades of experience and promising up-and-comers, a nod to the industry’s past, present and future in B.C. Horseperson of the Year, awarded for horsemanship, success on the track, integrity, and an outstanding dedication to community involvement, went to Gordon Abbott. Breeder of the Year was given to the team of Douglas Neyhart, Erik Neyhart and Donna Scrannage. Douglas Neyhart went on to win Owner of the Year as well, and Donna Scrannage was awarded the Pat Brennan Memorial Award for her years of exemplary service to the BC standardbred racing industry. Shirley Waite took home the Doug Gillespie Award, given in recognition of the original food services manager at the Cloverdale and Sandown Raceway and awarded to a person who demonstrates superior leadership and service excellence. Wayne Pinette won the Hy Class Award, for his significant contributions to the racing industry. The driver and trainer awards went to the following: Driver of the Year (20–100 starts): Kelly Hoerdt Driver of the Year (101–250 starts): Serge Masse Driver of the Year (over 250 starts): Jim Marino Driver Dash Winner: Jim Marino Rookie Driver of the Year: Robert E. Scrannage Trainer of the Year (20–100 starts): Serge Masse Trainer of the Year (101–250 starts): Rod Therres Trainer of the Year (over 250 starts): Jim Marino Trainer Dash Winner: Jim Marino Rookie Trainer of the Year: Blaine Chappell Groom of the Year: Annie Chappell Backstretch Award: Debra Dalton For the full results of the evening, including the awards given to the standardbreds themselves, visit By Samantha Anderson Reprinted with permission of The Surrey Now-Leader

The Homestretch was packed at Fraser Downs racetrack on Saturday, Nov. 11, for the annual Breeders Classic Day. The excitement was high – the event is what Standardbred Canada calls the “richest day of harness racing in British Columbia,” with four $100,000 finals races in one action-packed afternoon. “It was really exciting,” said BC Harness Racing executive director Carla Robin. “It’s the showcase of the year for our young horses, two to three years old, and the Homestretch was absolutely packed.” Robin said it was a great day of racing, despite the less than favourable weather conditions. At one point, track operators had to halt the races and do track maintenance for 45 minutes, in order to ensure safe and fair racing. But the pause didn’t detract from the excitement, said Robin, and the last race of the night was just as nail-biting as the first three. Rick Mowles’ J J J Stables won three of the four $100,000 finals, starting with the $100,000 Robert Millbank Memorial Breeders Take for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Driver Jim Marino steered Ron Bakardi to victory with a two-length score of 1:57 in the first final of the day. Canadian Pharaoh was close behind in second, with Machitoutofthepark for third. Scardy Cat took off during the $100,000 Betty Millbank Memorial Breeders Stake for two-year-old pacing fillies, coming in with 1:58.4 after two favoured horses made breaks early on in the race. FOR MORE: Cloverdale’s Fraser Downs still racing strong RELATED: Fraser Downs harness racing industry back on track The third race of the day featured Yoga Pants – the young one to watch. “Our champions were just amazing young horses,” said Robin. “Yoga Pants was probably the best, she’s won 11 of her 12 season starts.” Yoga Pants’ near-perfect lifetime record of 15 for 17 has already brought her a $327,409 bankroll. Her race on Saturday afternoon, the $100,000 Mary Murphy Memorial Breeders Stake for three-year-old pacing fillies, was, as Robin recounts, “right down to the wire,” and hard fought. Yoga Pants, and driver Jim Marino, made the lead before the turn and kept ahead. Keys Please, who had been tucked into Yoga Pants’ pocket, made an attempt at the final turn, managing to pull close. Meanwhile, Tahuya Gameday, who had been pacing in third place, pulled forward and found room on Yoga Pants’ inside. When the timer tripped, Yoga Pants came first, Tahuya Gameday in second, with Keys Please third. The last race of the day, the $100,000 Robert Murphy Memorial Breeders Stake for three-year-old colts and geldings, was delayed by the weather, but well worth the wait. Driver Serge Masse and Millbanks Bart had a three-length lead going into the final turn, but it was cut down when Ima Dude took his shot, surging forward from the pocket to close in on the pace-setting horse. But Millbanks Bart kept forward and finished a length before Ima Dude, with Bakardi Gold coming third. The final race finished off a day of fine competition, said Robin. “The horsemen — I have to commend them— they were excited not only for their own successes, but for the success of their fellow horsemen as well.” By Samantha Anderson Reprinted with permission of The Peace Arch News

The heavy scent of horse drifts through the barn at the back of Fraser Downs harness racing racetrack. Birds fly among the rafters, hiding from pearl-grey clouds that threaten rain and twittering at the horses below. Krystal Pistol, a small Standardbred, barely 15-hands, munches peacefully on hay in her stall. John Chappell stands by her. “Sometimes it’s not how tall they are,” Chappell said, looking at the horse he trained and would be driving in a race that night. “It’s the heart and the lungs; the power they have. The desire. That’s what it takes.” Chappell is a generational horseman — like his father before him and his son after him, Chappell owns, trains and drives Standardbred horses. He has 15 horses that he races at Fraser Downs. On Thursday, Oct. 19, it would just beKrystal Pistol. She would be competing in a claiming race for a $4,200 purse. At five or six years old — Chappell can’t remember exactly — she is too old for the big events happening that night: the qualifying races for the 2017 Breeders Stakes. The Breeders Stakes is the biggest event of the year for Standardbred racing community in B.C. “That’s where you get your champions,” Dianne Pennington, the breeders and events manager at Harness Racing B.C., said. On Nov. 11, the best two- and three-year-old B.C. bred horses will compete for $100,000 in prize money. On Thursdays and Fridays in October, the young horses competed to qualify for the final race. Yoga Pants, a nearly undefeated three-year-old filly, would be racing in one of the qualifiers that night. “Number seven in your program, number one in your hearts,” quipped Jim Marino, a Cloverdale-raised owner, trainer and driver. He would be driving Yoga Pants in the stakes race for a $15,000 purse, as well as seven other horses in different races that night. Marino is currently the leading trainer and the second leading driver at Fraser Downs, with a 26 per cent of horses he trained and 23 per cent of horses he drove coming in first. Winning race horses have a routine — breakfast, exercise, brushing, rest, warm-up, race — and Marino has one too. “I like to have a nap,” Marino said. “I’ll have lunch, go home, have a nap. Then I’ll come back. Then I’m prepared.” When Marino walked out the barn, perhaps heading home to his pre-race nap, the clouded skies released sprinkles of rain. Six hours later, it was pouring. The lights around the track cast a harsh glow on the puddled surface, and illuminated the newly painted and repaired fence around the perimeter. Drivers warmed up their horses on the sloppy track, limestone splashing across their faces. Horse-racing fans made their way through the brightly lit casino floor to the Homestretch restaurant. Normally, Harness Racing B.C. executive director Carla Robin said, the Homestretch would be packed on a race night. But that Thursday, 15 minutes before the first race, there were about 30 people watching. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, there were 140 people. The Thursday before, there were 40. Normally, racing occurs on Fridays and Sundays, which Robin says are heavily attended events. The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates the racetrack, changed the schedule for October, allowing races to be run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for one month. The month’s four extra race days are meant to make up for nine cancelled days due to winter weather last season. But the change in schedule means fewer people know when the horses are racing, and some horsemen think Great Canadian isn’t doing enough to advertise. “There’s no horse racing sign on there whatsoever,” horseman Allan Molloy said about Elements Casino, which fronts the race track. “There’s pictures of people having fun at a casino … and there isn’t one with a horse.” Earlier that night, Molloy had set up a sandwich board on the boulevard at the casino entrance. The plain white sign simply read: Live horse racing, 6 p.m. At 6 p.m., the first race began. In a container-turned-office on top of the casino roof, Dan Jukich called the race, binoculars in hand. He’s been calling races at Fraser Downs since 1978, and is known unofficially as the voice of harness racing in B.C. Jukich has a deep understanding of the horses in each race. He knows which horses are “full of beans” and ready to go, and which horses didn’t perform as well as they could last time they raced. On days like Thursday night, when dribbling rain turned to torrential downpour, he can pick out which horses don’t want to be racing on the sloppy track. The splash back created from pounding hooves can bother some horses, although Thoroughbreds tend to be more picky about wet tracks than Fraser Downs’ Standardbreds. “You have to remember, horses are pack animals. Most of them will travel in a pack and they’re happy to do that. There are a lot that want to be very competitive, and —” he interrupted himself, switching on the microphone as the starting car began to move and the horses pushed forward for the second race. Marino, driving two-year-old Dragon Slayer, won that race, bringing in a $15,000 purse. Later that night, he would race three other horses to victory, including Yoga Pants, who won her race by nearly a second. Chappell also won his race, taking the lead by a hair. “There’s times it looks like it’s a lot of fun and you make a lot of money, but it’s a hard business,” Chappell said before the race, back in the barn where Krystal Pistol was chewing her hay. “The horses have to perform. They have owners and they pay bills.” But, “it’s exciting,” he continued. “You go out and we race. You do well and you get your picture taken. “You get to feel like a rock star for a while.” Yoga Pants rests in her stall in the afternoon on Oct. 19. That night, driven by Jim Marino, she won the third leg of the Mary Murphy Breeders Stake and $15,000 in prize money. (Grace Kennedy photo) John Chappell, 55, will be Krystal Pistol’s driver in the evening race at Fraser Downs. The two of them won the final race of the night, with a time of 1:57. (Grace Kennedy photo) Racing is a family affair at Fraser Downs. Here Blaine Chappell, son of John Chappell, poses with his horse My Boss, which raced Tuesday, Oct. 17. (Grace Kennedy photo) As the night progress, the horses raced in ever increasing rain. (Grace Kennedy photo) Grace Kennedy Ron Bakardi, driven by Jim Marino, pushes towards Canadian Pharoah in the third race of the night. Canadian Pharoah won the third leg of the Robert Millbank Memorial Breeders Stake for two-year-old colts and geldings on Thursday, Oct. 19, bringing in a $15,000 purse. (Grace Kennedy photo) By Grace Kennedy Reprinted with permission of the Surrey Now-Leader

Harness racing driver Brandon Campbell, Canada’s representative to the 2017 World Driving Championship, will be presented with a set of his Canadian driving colours at Fraser Downs Racetrack on Friday, April 21. Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada, along with Carla Robin, Executive Director of Harness Racing BC and Darren MacDonald, Director of Racing for Great Canadian Gaming will make the presentation prior to the first race at about 6:45 p.m. (PST) in the winner’s circle.  Standardbred Canada will have a Good Luck banner available for fans to sign in the Homestretch area. Campbell, a 33-year-old Calgary resident earned his way into the Worlds, which are hosted in Canada this year, by winning the National Driving Championship in London at The Raceway at the Western Fair District last October.   The road to the Nationals started in May last year when he was invited to represent Fraser Downs in the Western Regional Driving Championship which was hosted at Century Downs in June.   He won that event for the second consecutive time, leading to a coveted spot in the 2016 National event.  Campbell competed in the 2014 NDC which was hosted in PEI and finished in third behind winner Jody Jamieson and runner-up Marc Campbell. Campbell, the first Western-based driver to represent Canada in the Worlds, has driven over 1300 winners and horses to earnings in excess of $8 million during his career which started in 2003.  This is Campbell’s first WDC competition.  “Since the first time I competed in the Nationals, I’ve wanted to win so that I could represent Canada,” said Campbell, “this is a dream come true and I can hardly wait to wear the red and white colours.  I’m proud to represent my country and I’m looking forward to a very exciting competition!” The 22-race competition, hosted by Standardbred Canada takes place at five different racetracks in four different provinces. Drivers earn points based on their finishing position and the top point earner at the end of the 22 races will be declared the 2017 World Driving Champion and win $25,000 in prize money. The first leg kicks off at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Balzac, Alberta on Saturday, August 12. Following the first leg in Alberta, the drivers will then head to Ontario for the next two legs. Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville will host the second leg on Monday, August 14, and that will be followed by the third leg at Georgian Downs in Innisfil on August 15. The action then moves to Trois-Rivières, Quebec on Wednesday, August 16, where Hippodrome 3R will host the fourth leg of the WDC before the drivers head to Prince Edward Island and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park for the fifth and final leg of the Championship on Friday, August 18, one of the major highlights of Old Home Week. This event, along with the 25th anniversary edition of the World Trotting Conference, hosted in Charlottetown, PEI, are both held every two years and will coincide with the 250th Anniversary of horse racing in Canada, and Canada 150 celebrations. Here is the complete list of drivers and the countries that they represent: Australia - Shane Graham Austria - Gerhard Mayr Belgium - Rik Depuydt Canada - Brandon Campbell Finland - Mika Forss Germany – Michael Nimczyk New Zealand – Dexter Dunn (defending champion) New Zealand – Mark Purdon Norway – Eirik Høitomt Sweden - Björn Goop  United States - Marcus Miller Canadians have won the WDC on four occasions. Hervé Filion won the inaugural edition in 1970, his nephew Sylvain Filion won in 1999 and Jody Jamieson won the 2001 and 2011 editions of the WDC. A Canadian driver has yet to win at home.   Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager of Industry Marketing

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