June 25, 2016

Hall Of Fame Gala Tickets Now On Sale

June 24, 2016 - The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame has announced that tickets for its 2016 Induction Gala are now on sale.

The reception and silent auction will commence at 5:30 p.m., followed by a four course dinner, live auction and induction ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $175 per person, and include a $50 charitable tax receipt. $1,700 Table sponsorships include 8 tickets, a $300 donation to the CHRHF and a charitable tax receipt for $700. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Online Store here or by contacting Linda Rainey at 416-417-9404 or linda.rainey@horseracinghalloffame.com.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Gala will be extra special, as the hall will celebrates its 40th anniversary. The evening of August 3 promises to be a memorable one as the ten new inductees of the class of 2016 join those inducted before them, and tribute is paid to the inaugural group of members from 1976.

Held at the Mississauga Convention Centre, co-hosting duties will be shared by Jim Bannon, CHRHF member and Woodbine Entertainment Group thoroughbred racing analyst, along with Greg Blanchard, raceway manager at The Raceway at Western Fair District and former racing television commentator. The gala event will feature a cocktail reception, a fantastic line up of silent and live auction items, a four-course gourmet dinner and the induction ceremony.

The gala will celebrate the induction of Standardbred inductees San Pail, Odies Fame, John Ferguson, Yves Filion and Bruce Johnston, as well as Thoroughbred inductees Wise Dan, Dahlia, Mark Casse, Dr. Michael Colterjohn and Daryl Wells, Sr.

In addition there will be a special award of honour presented to Norm Picov for his service and contribution to Canada’s horse racing industry.

The hall will look back at the stories of 2016 Legend honourees Exterminator and Woodlawn Drummond, acknowledge the 50th Anniversary of Victorian Era being named Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion older horse in 1966 and relive Precious Bunny’s exploits 25 years ago when, in 1991, he became the first horse to win the Little Brown Jug, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and the Adios.

The jam-packed evening will include the always exciting live and silent auction, featuring an impressive collection of unique experience packages, sporting event tickets and many other surprises. All proceeds from the auction will go directly toward helping the Hall of Fame recognize the achievements of those who have built and established the roots of horse racing in Canada.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame acknowledges the generous sponsorship support of this year’s event: Platinum Sponsor – Ontario Racing and OLG; Reception and Wine Sponsor – Central Ontario Standardbred Association; Guest Photography Sponsor – Ontario Standardbred Alliance Tracks and Woodbine Entertainment Group for producing the video tributes to each of this year’s inductees.

Opportunities to advertise in the souvenir induction program, become an event sponsors or to donate auction items are still available.

(With files from the CHRHF)
(Standardbred Canada)

NOTICE TO INDUSTRY – Requesting a Stay before the Horse Racing Appeal Panel

June 23, 2016 – Requesting a Stay  before the Horse Racing Appeal Panel.  What is the Horse Racing Appeal Panel?  Click here for more information.

Dan Gall Named Standardbred Canada President & CEO

June 21, 2016 - Standardbred Canada, the Canadian harness racing industry leader, announced today that Dan Gall has been named the association’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Gall joins Standardbred Canada with more than 15 years leadership experience in the gaming industry. Since 2000, he has served OLG Slots in general management roles in seven different locations, including Western Fair District, Woodbine, Kawartha Downs, Hiawatha, and Clinton. As General Manager, he has responsibility for implementing and successfully managing the annual strategic plan, broad-based operational and fiscal management responsibility which includes support for the horse racing industry through racing events, marketing and industry relations.

“I’m very happy to welcome Dan Gall as Standardbred Canada’s President & CEO,” said Chair of the Board, Joanne Colville. “Dan certainly understands the horse racing industry, having worked side-by-side with us for the last 15 years at OLG Slots. Dan has extensive general management experience, and in particular is an excellent leader who will build a strong team in the workplace while forging positive relations with all of Standardbred Canada’s members and industry partners.”

Gall, who resides in Bayfield, Ontario will join Standardbred Canada in mid-July. He is looking forward to the position and understands the task at hand.

“I have spent most of my career working in the same venue at many of Ontario’s racetracks,” said Gall. “I witnessed the changes in the industry and understand the importance of Standardbred Canada’s role. I recognize the challenges facing the industry and I’m confident that Standardbred Canada will continue to have a positive influence on the industry for many years to come.”

In March, Standardbred Canada’s Board of Directors retained Mandrake Management Consultants to search for the association’s President & CEO. The search was national in scope, screening more than 30 individuals with horse racing, breeding and gaming experience. A Selection Committee made up from the Board of Directors met with a recommended short list of six individuals who in turn went through multiple interviews, assessments, background and reference checks prior to meeting with and being appointed by Standardbred Canada’s Board of Directors.

(Standardbred Canada)

North America Cup News Centre

June 19, 2016 – Pepsi North America Cup Night was full of speed with record performances throughout the Saturday, June 18 card at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. Trot Insider has provided complete coverage of all the stakes action.

Hannelore Hanover kicked off the stakes action with a bang as she equalled the world record for four-year-old trotting mares with a 1:51 romp in the $267,000 Armbro Flight Stakes.

Driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke, the Swan For All-High Sobriety mare equalled the world record set by Mistery Woman in 2014 at The Red Mile. She also lowered Bee A Magician’s track and Canadian record for older mares by one-fifth of a second that was established in last year’s Armbro Flight eliminations.

Gingras moved the popular elimination winner to the lead by the :27.2 opening quarter and carved out middle fractions of :56 and 1:24.1 before drawing away from her rivals in the stretch by six and a half lengths. Shake It Cerry (David Miller) closed from the outer flow for second and the other elimination winner, Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan), finished third.

Hannelore Hanover was the heavy 1-9 favourite following her dominant 1:52.2 victory in last week’s eliminations.

“I knew she could go like that. Last week, she was totally wrapped up,” said Gingras after the record performance. “I knew she had a couple of big miles in her, that’s for sure. She’s fresh and she’s never been racing with the top level horses so she was always within herself. It was a scary mile tonight, but she still had more.”

The Indiana stakes star has now won seven of her eight starts this year for Pennsylvania’s Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Frank Baldachino of Clarksburg, New Jersey. She went over the half-million earnings mark with her 16th career win.

Marion Marauder swooped in to steal the glory in the $268,000 Goodtimes Trot for local connections when the heavy favourite broke stride coming into the stretch.

A three-year-old son of Muscle Hill out of Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder is campaigned by local trainer Mike Keeling and owned by Keeling’s son Devin along with Marion Jean Wellwood of Stratford, Ont.

Leaving from mid-field in post five, 3-5 favourite Dayson (Yannick Gingras) worked alongside early leaver Will Take Charge (Paul MacDonell) through a :27.4 first quarter and eventually cleared by the three-eighths mark.

As the popular elimination winner headed to the half in :56.3, driver Scott Zeron edged Marion Marauder out from mid-pack and followed the cover of Tony Soprano (John Campbell), who confronted Dayson on the way to three-quarters in 1:25.

Dayson and Tony Soprano continued to battle into the stretch when the former colt broke stride and Gingras quickly pulled him out of the way into the safety lane. Will Take Charge then came through inside while Marion Marauder rallied off cover as Tony Soprano leveled off down the lane. Blenheim (Chris Christoforou) also weaved in between horses after tracking Marion Marauder’s cover.

In the end, Marion Marauder prevailed by half a length in a new lifetime mark of 1:52.4 over Will Take Charge, with Blenheim finishing one length behind in third. Bar Hopping (Tim Tetrick), the second favourite, finished fourth.

Sent postward as the 8-1 third choice on the toteboard after his fourth-place finish in last week’s eliminations, Marion Marauder paid $18.40 to win.

“I didn’t know what to expect last week,” said former WEG driver Zeron, who had driven the colt to runner-up finishes in the William Wellwood Memorial and Breeders Crown last year. “All I remembered from him was how he was at two and he was a little shy behind the gate. I didn’t know how much he had matured this year so I was a little cautious with him when I didn’t have to be last week.

“I was confident in him so I pushed him out of the gate and I was able to land in a position where I saw John [Campbell] pulling on the outside with a nice horse of [Bob] McIntosh’s [Tony Soprano] so I was happy to have that cover and finally be in the right spot — be within two lengths at that three-quarter pole — and he delivered.”

Marion Maurader is now a three-time winner from 16 starts and just shy of the half-million earnings mark. The Hambletonian eligible will look to continue his winning momentum this summer with some tougher competition on the horizon.

“We beat Dayson today and we’re going to have to tackle [divisional champion] Southwind Frank — he’s beaten us every other time — but if I’m in the right spot, you know, I think I have a great shot.”

John Bax, who campaigned the race’s namesake and scored an upset victory with another local colt, Hemi Seelster, in last year’s edition of the Goodtimes, presented the trophy to the winning connections.

Despite getting locked in down the backstretch, driver Brett Miller was able to maneuverPure Country into the outer flow and the Jimmy Takter-trained three-year-old pacing filly closed late to earn millionaire status with a victory in the $438,000 Fan Hanover Stakes.

The elimination winners raced one-two through a :26.1 quarter, with Good Will Hanover (Chris Christoforou) leading the way over the 9-5 favoured Darlinsonthebeach (Dave Miller) while the reigning Canadian divisional champion L A Delight (Randy Waples) followed in third.

Meanwhile, Mayhem Seelster (Jack Moiseyev) fired from post nine, but was left parked out through the first panel. As she looked for a spot in fourth ahead of Pure Country, the outer flow began to advance from behind.

Good Will Hanover continued to lead the field past the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.2 with Lindwood Beachgirl (James MacDonald) moving up to challenge first over and Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) following her cover. However, Miller was able to tip Pure Country out third over during the third panel and sent the Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana filly widest of all the closers in the stretch to prevail by one length in a career-best clocking of 1:49.3. Darlinonthebeach finished second and L A Delight was third over Newborn Sassy.

The beaten favourite in her elimination, Pure Country was defeated by a neck by Good Will Hanover and sent off as the 5-2 second choice in the final.

“Things weren’t working out very well at the beginning there and we slipped out there,” noted Miller after the race. “She felt so good scoring down and she was really sick last week. Jimmy did a heck of a job getting her right. She was very good tonight.

“This track here, with this long stretch, you never know…you see a lot of horses win on the front, but you see a lot of horses come from off-the-pace. It’s kind of tough to get in the right spot sometimes. She’s just a great mare and she can overcome a lot.”

The Miss Pennsylvania champion earned her second win this year from five starts after a perfect 10-for-10 freshman campaign for Pennsylvania owner/breeder Diamond Creek Racing. The Fan Hanover victory pushed her bankroll to $1,178,953.

Always B Miki paced the fastest mile in the history of Canadian harness racing on the undercard, winning the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational in 1:47.1 for driver David Miller and trainer Jimmy Takter.

Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) left from post five with 78-1 outsider Nirvana Seelster (Phil Hudon) sprinting off the gate and crossing to command into the first turn. Nirvana Seelster blazed through the first quarter in :25.2 and headed to the half in :53.2 while Miller moved 1-5 favourite Always B Miki underway from sixth. Always B Miki flushed out Bettors Edge (Yannick Gingras) from third and followed his cover past three-quarters, which was clocked in 1:20.2, before sweeping by with apparent ease and opening up three and a half lengths en route to the record-setting victory. Shamballa (Rick Zeron) closed off the winner’s cover to finish second and Evenin Of Pleasure was third.

The former Canadian record of 1:47.2 was set 10 years ago by Primetime Bobcat at Woodbine Racetrack and matched by Won The West, A Rocknroll Dance, and Modern Legend in subsequent victories at Mohawk.

Always B Miki has finished no worse than second in nine starts since his return to racing late in 2015. The Gold Cup was his seventh victory over that time span and 21st lifetime. The five-year-old millionaire son of Always A Virgin and Artstopper is owned by Takter’s wife Christine and Bluewood Stable of New Jersey, along with the Roll The Dice Stable of Delaware.

Lady Shadow successfully defended her title in the $370,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older pacing mares with a wire-to-wire winning effort and went over the million-dollar earnings mark in the process for trainer Ron Adams.

Yannick Gingras picked up the catch-drive on the elimination winner and sent the five-year-old Shadow Play-Lady Camella mare to the lead from post three while the rest of the field lined up behind her. Lady Shadow cruised through fractions of :26.3, :54.1 and 1:21 before holding off the inside closers, Waasmula (Trevor Henry) and Solar Sister (Doug McNair).

Lady Shadow lowered her lifetime mark to 1:48.1, coming within one-fifth of a second of the Canadian record for older pacing mares that was set by Anndrovette, a former three-time Roses Are Red winner and fifth-place finisher as the 3-1 favourite in this year’s edition.

“Believe me I was surprised too that there was no speed on the outside,” said Gingras after the race. “I watched a few of her replays and looked at her lines from last year and before that because I was actually thinking about racing her off the back, especially with the way the card has been playing out — the front hasn’t been that good.

“Obviously, she is better on the front, her lines show that, but when the gate folded, nobody left so it made my decision easy.”

Lady Shadow is owned by David Kryway of Amherstburg, Ont., along with Carl Atley of Ohio and Pennsylvania’s Edwin Gold and Bfj Stable. The win was Lady Shadow’s third in nine starts this year and 19th lifetime, sending her bankroll to $1,080,541.

She paid $10.50 to win as the 4-1 second choice.

In a $40,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace also on the undercard, Venus Delight was shuffled to last, but staged a big rally in the homestretch to circle the field for the 1:50.2 victory.

Insider Venus Delight got away mid-pack, but as the backfield advanced in the outer flow, she founded herself in seventh-place by head-stretch. However, Tim Tetrick fanned the millionaire mare out wide coming off the final turn and reeled in the 6-5 favourite Witch Dali (Jody Jamieson), who had led through fractions of :26.1, :55.1 and 1:23. A :26.2 closing quarter put Venus Delight a half-length in front of Witch Dali at the wire. Our Hot Majorette (Rick Zeron) shot through along the pylons off a three-hole trip to finish less than a length behind in third.

Venus Delight picked up her second win this year since her Betsy Ross victory at Harrah’s Philadelphia at the end of May. The six-year-old Bettors Delight-Venus Killean mare is now a 27-time career winner for trainer Jeffrey Bamond Jr. and Bamond Racing LLC.

A total of $1,210,071 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 for Saturday night’s mandatory payout in the 15th and final race of the night.

The carryover entering the night was $484,912. The new money wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 brought the total pool to $1,694,983.

Those who connected with a winning ticket scored a return of $6,538 for a $1 ticket or $1,307.60 for a 20-cent ticket.

The winning combination was 6-12-4-8-11 as the top five finishers from Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race were: Carracci Hanover (7-2), Asap Hanover (8-5), Mckinney (17-1), Shadow Place (12-1) and St Lads Lotto (10-1).

The Jackpot Hi-5 pool helped bring the total handle for Pepsi North America Cup night to $5,241,508, a new Mohawk Racetrack and North America Cup night record.

(Standardbred Canada)

Betting Line Wins North America Cup

June 18, 2016 - Even-money favourite Betting Line tied the stakes, track and Canadian record of 1:47.4 with his late-closing victory in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup on Saturday, June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont.

U.S. Hall of Fame driver David Miller earned his first victory in the Cup guidingBetting Line to the one-length triumph over Racing Hill and Control The Moment. The three-year-old son of 2001 Cup champion Bettors Delight out of the Western Hanover mare Heathers Western colt is campaigned by the locally-based horsewoman Casie Coleman, who is now the first female trainer to win the race twice.

Racing Hill (Brett Miller) left from post six in Saturday’s featured event with Control The Moment (Randy Waples) crossing over from post nine and clearing to command into the first turn.

Control The Moment reached the first quarter in :26.4 and was quickly confronted by Lyons Snyder (Sylvain Filion) in the second panel. Lyons Snyder swept up out of an early three-hole and went head-to-head with Control The Moment as they raced by the half in :53.4.

Their battle continued down the backstretch, with Control The Moment refusing to give in. Lyons Snyder eventually relented and dropped into the pocket while Racing Hill launched his attack nearing three-quarters in 1:20.3.

Meanwhile, Betting Line had followed mid-pack in fifth-place throughout. David Miller made his move with the popular elimination winner as Racing Hill chased Control The Moment into the stretch. Racing Hill edged by Control The Moment in front of the crowd, but Betting Line powered by on the outside to steal the glory with :25.4 closing speed.

The 1:47.4 victory equalled the track and Canadian record for three-year-old male pacers that was set in the 2012 North America Cup eliminations by Sweet Lou and matched by Thinking Out Loud in that year’s final.

While David Miller boasts many impressive credentials, the North America Cup had eluded him in 15 prior attempts.

“The first time I drove a horse in this race was Falcons Future and that was in ’94, so yes, this is very sweet,” said Miller, whose previous best showings in the Cup were a pair of runner-up finishes aboard Sutter Hanover in 2007 and Twilight Bonfire in 2013.

Miller, who had picked up the catch-drive on Betting Line for last weekend’s eliminations, said that it was at about the mid-point of the race that he felt like his mount was going to get home first.

“The way he finished last week, I thought if I was somewhere close…I didn’t really like being that far back and them getting away from us, but when I did ask him through the stretch he took right off.

“Right now, he ranks right up there. He’s been very impressive both weeks. I like his never-give-in attitude.”

Betting Line was a top ranked colt coming into the season having won half of his 12 starts as a two-year-old while earning $540,422 and an O’Brien Award nomination in his division. He was assessed as the 8-1 third pick in Trot Magazine‘s Spring Book rankings.

He started his sophomore campaign with top-two finishes in a pair of condition races at Mohawk before winning his Somebeachsomewhere Stakes division. From there, Coleman opted to make a shoeing change from aluminum to steel and he won the fastest of the two eliminations in 1:49.1.

For Coleman, a second North America Cup trophy was the perfect birthday gift.

“This is all I wanted for my birthday and Betting Line made it come true,” said Coleman, whose birthday was on June 13.

“I always said I want to see him get a trip from off-the-pace where he had cover and that worked. Dave drove him perfect. They were going all kinds of quick fractions. I was a little worried that he was a bit too far back, but then I saw the clock pop up in 1:20 and a piece so I was kind of happy.”

The Cambridge, Ont. conditioner had also hoisted the Cup in 2010 when Sportswriter won the prestigious event. Coleman shares ownership of Betting Line with the same connections that celebrated their first win together — Ross Warriner of Burlington, Ont. and Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont. — as well as another longtime partner, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont.

“It’s a great team. Casie did a super job. Dave did a super job driving him. It couldn’t be better,” said Nichol. “It feels great. The second one always feels better,” he laughed.

Betting Line paid $4.20 to win.

After a week’s rest, the champion will return to Mohawk for the next Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event.

Bred by New Jersey’s Fair Winds Farm Inc. and purchased by his connections for $60,000 at the Harrisburg Sale, Betting Line has earned $1,119,922 so far in his career.

The complete order of finish for the 2016 North America Cup follows: Betting Line, Racing Hill, Control The Moment, Boston Red Rocks (Tim Tetrick), Michaels Victory (Scott Zeron), Lyons Snyder, Big Top Hanover (Yannick Gingras), Magnum J (Doug McNair), Beast Mode (Trevor Henry), and Manhattan Beach (Corey Callahan).

Click here for complete coverage of the Pepsi North America Cup undercard, including the $267,000 Armbro Flight Stakes (older trotting mares), $268,000 Goodtimes Trot (three-year-old trotting colts/geldings), $438,000 Fan Hanover Stakes (three-year-old pacing fillies), $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pacers), and $370,000 Roses Are Red Stakes (older pacing mares).

Important Links

  • Entries - Saturday’s overnight sheet
  • Results - Saturday’s racing results
  • Program Pages - past performance program page for each race, courtesy of TrackIT
  • News - all the previews and recaps leading up to Canadian harness racing’s richest prize
  • Handicapping Tips - advice and selections from WEG’s handicapping experts
  • Live Video - watch the races via live streaming online

(Standardbred Canada)

McNair: Post 10 Win ‘Not Impossible’

June 16, 2016 - If recent form is any indication, Magnum J will be flying through the stretch in Saturday’s (June 18) $1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. He will try to make history and land in the winner’s circle.

Magnum J, last year’s Battle of Waterloo champion, will try to become the first horse to win the North America Cup from Post 10 since the event moved from Greenwood Raceway to Woodbine Racetrack in 1994 and then to Mohawk Racetrack in 2007, a span of 22 races. He enters the Cup off a fourth-place finish in his elimination, where he started from Post 9 and rallied from last place with a :26.2 final quarter-mile to end up one and a quarter lengths shy of winner Boston Red Rocks.

His final quarter was four-fifths of a second better than any other horse in the field.

A week earlier in a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk, Magnum J started from Post 10 and rallied from last place in the final quarter-mile, this time in :25.4, to finish fourth. He paced his back half in :53.

Trot Insider was able to catch up with Magnum J’s driver, Doug McNair, at the NA Cup post position draw on Tuesday. McNair answered some questions about the gelding

Magnum J is 15-1 on the North America Cup morning lineBetting Line, who won the first of last week’s two Cup eliminations in a career-best 1:49.1, is the 5-2 favorite for trainer Casie Coleman and driver David Miller. Boston Red Rocks, who won his elim in 1:50.3, is the 3-1 second choice, with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Steve Elliott.

“It would be good if he could be a little closer to the front end; I think he would still close good,” said trainer Gregg McNair, who owns Magnum J with Tony Lawrence and William Brown. “He’s not likely going to get that chance Saturday, so we’ll probably have to race him the same way as the last two starts.

“We’ll just hope they go big fractions and something opens up and he maybe gets good money somehow. We’ll see how things go.”

Magnum J won two of four races last year, with his final start coming in the Battle of Waterloo on August 3 at Grand River Raceway. Soreness issues forced McNair to quit with the horse for the season, but the son of Big Jim-Jamirotoy trained back well this year.

He finished seventh in his seasonal debut because of a breathing issue, but bounced back to win a division of the Ontario Sires Stakes in 1:53.2 at The Raceway at Western Fair District. That victory was followed by his two starts from the outside posts in the Somebeachsomewhere and North America Cup elimination.

McNair selected Magnum J, a $10,000 yearling purchase, at the 2014 Forest City Sale.

“I wanted to try a Big Jim because he was a heck of a speed horse himself,” McNair said. “Magnum J, he kind of caught my eye a little bit. He’s been a good buy. It’s too bad that we had to shut him down last year, and when he’s real good this year he’s not drawn good.

“I really don’t know how good he is. But he’s a fast horse.

Doug McNair, Gregg’s son, is the regular driver of Magnum J. The McNairs will try to join the father-son team of driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Carl Jamieson to win the North America Cup. The Jamiesons accomplished the feat in 2011 with Up The Credit.

“It’s not impossible,” Gregg McNair said. “It seems like that right now, but that’s why they have the race.

“He’s got some other stakes this year,” the trainer added, “but none for a million dollars.”

To view the entries for Saturday’s card at Mohawk or a free program for Mohawk’s Saturday card, courtesy of TrackIT, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries – Saturday Program Pages.

The complete field for the Pepsi North America Cup, in post order, appears below.

(PP – Horse – Driver – Trainer – Morning Line Odds)
1. Big Top Hanover – Yannick Gingras – Ron Burke – 6-1
2. Lyons Snyder – Sylvain Filion – Mark Silva – 4-1
3. Betting Line – David Miller – Casie Coleman – 5-2
4. Boston Red Rocks – Tim Tetrick – Steve Elliott – 3-1
5. Michael’s Victory – Scott Zeron – Mark Silva – 12-1
6. Racing Hill – Brett Miller – Tony Alagna – 8-1
7. Beast Mode – Trevor Henry – Christopher Nicol – 20-1
8. Manhattan Beach – Corey Callahan – Ron Burke – 15-1
9. Control The Moment – Randy Waples – Brad Maxwell – 8-1
10. Magnum J – Doug McNair – R. Gregg McNair – 15-1

(Note: The connections of Betting Line and Boston Red Rocks selected posts as elimination winners)

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

(Standardbred Canada)

Burke Brigade’s Fearsome Foursome

June 16, 2016 - Ron Burke has two chances to win his second Pepsi North America Cup this Saturday, although his fastest horse from his three NA Cup competitors is the one not racing for a million dollars this weekend.

Burke sent Big Top Hanover, Check Six and Manhattan Beach into last Saturday’s eliminations. While Big Top Hanover and Manhattan Beach made the cut, Check Six was just edged out for fifth in the first elim. His individual time of 1:49.4 was faster than the winner of the second elimination, Boston Red Rocks.

“Two things: one, his division was a little tougher and two, he came up not as good as we’d hoped,” Burke said of Check Six. “Back to the drawing board a little bit on him, he did scope sick. And the other two, the division wasn’t as tough.”

His first qualifier was Big Top Hanover (Western Ideal – Blind Ambition), who hasn’t missed a cheque since his third lifetime start in July 2015 for owners JT45 LLC of Long Beach, NY and Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA. But the top five selection in the Trot Magazine Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book is also winless in six starts this year (0-4-2). While finishing second to Boston Red Rocks in his NA Cup elim, a number of changes will be in store for the sophomore come Saturday.

“Basically, ‘Big Top’ will go on the JK Endofanera route. A somewhat disappointing performance to rigging him and trying to find more pace out of him. But he got a great draw,” Burke told Trot Insider. “He’ll train on Wednesday. He’s been sick but he seems to be getting over it.”

JK Endofanera finished third for Burke in the 2014 NA Cup elims. Despite drawing Post 9 for the Final and being dismissed as the fifth choice, driver Brian Sears was able to work out a great trip and JK Endofanera gave Burke his first NA Cup victory. Burke is hopeful lightning can strike twice for driver Yannick Gingras and Big Top Hanover’s connections.

“[JK Endofanera] came up terrible in his elim and we did a lot of things different with him, the trip set up and rewarded us with the best result. Brian drove him great and it worked out perfect…that’s what I’m looking for here. Round Two, you know…we’re going to give Big Top a complete overhaul and find a way to make him a little more happy and hope that he’s one more week removed from being sick.

“One thing about Yannick: he will put him in the best spot possible for him to make money. If the horse doesn’t do it, it won’t be because Yannick doesn’t have him where he needed to be. We don’t need to go longer miles than the other horses.”

Big Top Hanover is listed as the fourth choice on the North America Cup morning line at 6-1. Though feeling his horse can be better, he was also not blown away by the other nine finalists leaving this race up in the air.

“There was nobody that I thought was ultra-impressive. I thought a lot of horses raced good but there was nobody that made me say ‘oh my god, that horse was great.’ So you hope, because of that, there’s a lot of action in the race and we can sneak through and pick up a part.

“Betting Line, his was the best effort of everybody. That whole group, you can make cases for everybody. In the other division, with the exception of the winner, everyone was left scratching their heads saying ‘maybe I could have been better than that’.”

Certainly a horse that Burke knows can be better is his second NA Cup finalist, Manhattan Beach. Owned by Burke along with Ontario’s Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, PA, and the Wingfield Brothers LLC of Kenton, OH, the full brother to Burke’s 2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach has talent but falls short when it comes to luck.

“Manhattan Beach, the bad luck just continues with him. He actually was sneaky sharp last week but started from a bad spot and he’s starting from a bad spot again this week. That’s how his year has been. He’s had chances but he’s just not been in the right spot. I still think that horse has a lot of upside but in the end it’s likely going to be kick to the back [of the field] and hope for the best.”

Saddled with Post 8 and morning line odds of 15-1, Manhattan Beach(Somebeachsomewhere – Benear) has a 1-0-3 record from six starts this year, making the NA Cup Final after a fifth place finish in his elim for driver David Miller. Listed in Trot‘s NA Cup Spring Book as a top ten selection, Corey Callahan picks up the drive on Manhattan Beach with Miller staying aboard Betting Line.

“Corey’s one of my guys. I’m comfortable with guys that I’ve used before and understand me and how I want my horses raced. Corey does a great job for us so when Yannick told me he was available I said ‘he’ll drive the one you don’t.”

Even though he’s won this race before, Burke still has a strong desire to take home another Pepsi North America Cup trophy, as it represents a race he holds in high regard.

“In reality, to me, it should be part of the Triple Crown. I’ve always said the Triple Crown should be [the North America Cup], the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug. To horsemen, I think that is our Triple Crown. If you ask ‘on the pacing side, what three races do you want to win?’…so you never get tired of trying to win that race.

“I’m excited, I don’t have the best two but I have two and I have a chance so I’m thrilled to race in it.”

His other two stakes horses on Saturday night rate on the other end of the favouritism spectrum. Hannelore Hanover was the most impressive of the competitors in the Armbro Flight elims, winning in a lifetime best 1:52.2. Trotting colt Dayson also stamped himself as the one to beat in the Goodtimes by virtue of his 1:53.2 score in his elim.

“That’s the opposite. With them I go in very confident and couldn’t have had better performances. Everything’s going good with them up to this week, they’re both coming in razor sharp and continue to be that way…someone is going to have to step up to beat either one of them.”

Owned by Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Frank Baldachino of New Jersey, Hannelore Hanover (Swan For All – High Sobriety) has raced six times in the last two months and never trotted slower than 1:53. But it was her race at Miami Valley Raceway in May that punched her ticket to the Armbro Flight.

“When we first tested her in Miami Valley, it was against similar type horses, she really handled them pretty easily in track record time. That’s when we started thinking … no Bee A Magician, Shake It Cerry isn’t as sharp as she has been in the past, really the rest of them are very nice mares but no great mares. Hopefully if this mare is as good as we think she is maybe she can do some damage.”

After the Armbro Flight, the sky is the limit in terms of future stakes engagements as Burke notes Hannelore Hanover is eligible to “everything” down the road.

“Last year I said to Yannick I really think she’s the best three-year-old behind Mission Brief and Wild Honey. And I thought those were two of the best in the last few years.”

Even some in Burke’s camp started wondering if Hannelore Hanover could in fact defeat Mission Brief if the two raced against each other.

“Not to knock Hannelore, because I love her, but you realize Mission Brief went ten lengths faster than that as a two-year-old,” noted Burke. “I think Mission Brief has proven herself to be special without a doubt.”

Hannelore Hanover is the 6-5 choice in the $267,000 Armbro Flight Final. Two races later, Dayson goes to the post as the 2-1 morning line favourite in the $243,000 Goodtimes Final for three-year-old trotting colts.

“He’s a pretty special horse; that mile at Tioga was one of the better performances any horse out of my barn has ever done. You just don’t see horses parked and setting track records by eight lengths. He was a very good horse when we bought him.”

One of his stiffest tests for future contests, again, could just happen to come from down the shedrow in stablemate Southwind Frank.

“Same thing, I don’t know if he wants any part of that one. We’ve trained them together; at least training, he doesn’t give you the idea that he could beat him. They’re both very nice horses, I love that we have two horses of that calibre.”

Purchased privately by Burke along with Our Horse Cents Stables, J And T Silva Stables LLC and Rossie Smith of New York, Dayson (Conway Hall – Nerveys Taurus) is 3-for-4 for Burke this season and 10-for-12 lifetime. He’ll leave from Post 5.

“I think he fits well with that (Goodtimes) group,” Burke said about Dayson, who has earned $237,562 in his career. “It’s not the best colts out there, but it’s an even bunch. He’s nice. He’s a very good horse…He’ll do well in the spots we put him in.”

To view the entries for Saturday’s card at Mohawk or a free program for Mohawk’s Saturday card, courtesy of TrackIT, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries – Saturday Program Pages.

The Pepsi North America Cup is the centerpiece of Mohawk’s fantastic Saturday card of racing that will also feature the $438,000 final of the Fan Hanover Stakes (which will showcase three-year-old pacing fillies), the $370,000 final of the Roses Are Red (pacing mares), the $267,000 final of the Armbro Flight (trotting mares), the $268,000 final of the Goodtimes Stakes (three-year-old trotting colts), and the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup (invitational pacers).

TSN2 will televise the Cup final live on Saturday. First-race post time for Mohawk’s Saturday card of racing is 6:30 p.m. The NA Cup has been slotted as Race 12 on the 15-dash card and has an approximate post time of 10:40 p.m.

Mohawk will offer three Pick-4 wagers Saturday, including an All Stakes Pick-4 with a $100,000 guaranteed pool, comprising Races 9 through 12 and featuring the Roses Are Red, Mohawk Gold Cup, Fan Hanover and Pepsi North America Cup.

Photos clockwise from top left: Big Top Hanover (Nigel Soult), Hannelore Hanover (New Image Media), Manhattan Beach (Chris Gooden), Dayson (New Image Media)
(Standardbred Canada)

Woodbine Selects Master Planner

June 16, 2016 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group has announced that it has selected SWA Group, a leading landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm, to create the master plan to guide the long-term vision for Woodbine’s overall development and expanded entertainment offering across its 680 acres of largely undeveloped land.

SWA Group was chosen from a short list of international firms with expertise in the master planning of large-scale urban destinations, through an invitation-only Request for Proposals process lead by LiveWorkLearnPlay (LWLP), WEG’s development consultants. Assisting SWA will be BCV Architects and Nelson Nygaard.

“This is a big step forward in our plan to transform Woodbine into a leading entertainment destination in Toronto. We know SWA is the right partner for the job,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of WEG. “Most people don’t realize that we have the largest piece of privately-owned, undeveloped land in Toronto here at Woodbine. Our vision is to unlock the value of the property by creating a city within a city that brings a range of dynamic offerings to people within the GTA, with the goal of building a sustainable foundation and economic future for horse racing in Ontario.”

Ontario Lottery and Gaming is in the midst of a selection process for an operator to oversee expanded gaming operations at the Woodbine site, which will bring live table games, expanded and modernized slots and a greatly enhanced gaming environment to what is already Canada’s most popular gaming facility. In conjunction with the anticipated expansion of the gaming operations, WEG is embarking on a large-scale redevelopment of the adjacent lands to create a dynamic mixed-use district that integrates entertainment, recreation, racing, gaming, dining, education, employment, residential living and more. The redevelopment plans are subject to meeting a number of conditions established by Toronto City Council in 2015 when it approved expanded gaming as a willing host municipality at Woodbine Racetrack.

The master plan, once finalized, will bring to life Woodbine’s vision of a vibrant gaming, entertainment and horse racing destination, all integrated into a diverse new district that responsibly contributes to its surrounding community. The mixed-use development is expected to create new jobs and bring further economic vibrancy to northwest Toronto, attract a broad range of Torontonians and visitors, and spark a renewed interest in horse racing and gaming in the province.

Woodbine, LWLP and SWA will continue to work closely with the City of Toronto and OLG to determine the exact components of this new district, but can confirm that an initial phase of development will include the previously announced 165,000 square-foot entertainment venue seating 5,000 people, in partnership with Trinity Development Group Inc.

“At SWA, we have had the privilege to work on many high-profile, large-scale projects around the world and are proud to be able to contribute to crafting Woodbine’s future,” said Sean O’Malley, managing principal of SWA’s Laguna Beach studio. “By bringing together an appreciation for nature and a strong commitment to design and sustainability, we look for the intrinsic value in every site that will best meet the needs of our client and the communities they serve. Woodbine has so much opportunity and we are excited to get started.”

SWA is a world leader in planning creative communities which integrate multiple uses. Among many projects, it has worked on the master plan for Disney World; the groundscape for the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai; the Long Beach, California, shoreline redevelopment plan; and the master plan and landscape concepts for the 2018 Olympic Nordic complex in PyeongChang, Korea.

“Bringing this vision to life is an important milestone for us and we are lucky to have great partners like SWA, LWLP, Trinity Development Group Inc. and the OLG to work with along the way,” added Lawson. “We are excited to get down to work and can’t wait to share our final plans with the community.”

“WEG has an ambitious vision for Woodbine’s redevelopment, and we are honoured to be working with them and SWA to realize it,” said Richard Martz, partner and principal of LWLP. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime, city-building opportunity to become the heart of, and transform, northwest Toronto by delivering something that has never been seen in the GTA. We have the potential to create not just a project, but a world-famous place that celebrates the rich history of horse racing in Ontario and integrates it into the fabric of a vibrant, dynamic complete community.”

(Standardbred Canada)

Enhanced Examinations For ‘Cup’ Horses

June 16, 2016 - The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) advises trainers and owners that Official Veterinarians will be conducting an enhanced examination of horses entered in this Saturday’s North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack.

Trainers are requested to make their horses available for this hands-on pre-race veterinary examination at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning. We also ask that trainers send a groom to attend the horse, and not have any bandages or topical poultices, or liniments on the horse.

This is the second year of a pilot introduced prior to the last year’s Metro Pace and the Canadian Pacing Derby.

“Based on comments we received last year, we believe the racing community supports these efforts,” said Dr. Bruce Duncan, AGCO Manager of Veterinary Services. “And of course the health and welfare of the race horse and the safety of the participants are of paramount concern to the AGCO. We encourage industry feedback with respect to applying this enhancement to other racing events.”

(with files from the AGCO)
(Standardbred Canada)

Woodbine, T-Bred Horsepeople Ink Deal

June 15, 2016 - The Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario recently announced the signing of a contract that guarantees 133 dates of Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack every year through the 2018 racing season.

The two entities announced via a joint release that ‘a commitment to revenue sharing between WEG and the horsepeople on any new gaming that may occur through Woodbine is also part of the agreement.’ The agreement will conclude on March 31, 2019 (the previous agreement closed on March 31, 2016).

In the fall of 2014, WEG and the Central Ontario Standardbred Association announced a five-year agreement that established minimum purse levels and race dates. That deal also ‘runs through’ March 31, 2019 – the same day that the WEG/HBPA deal expires.

In regard to the WEG/HBPA deal, Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson has said, “this three-year extension of our deal with the horsepeople allows us to build on the momentum of the current success of our 2016 racing season.”

Lawson went on to say that “it also sets the foundation for a deeper relationship between Woodbine and Ontario’s horsepeople in the short and long term. This stability and vision allows us to continue to offer our customers and horseplayers the highest quality of horse racing.”

“The HBPA is proud of reaching an agreement through the 2018 racing season with Woodbine,” said Sue Leslie, the president of HBPA of Ontario. “Woodbine and its horsepeople must work together in co-operation in order to face the many outside challenges before our industry. This agreement exhibits the commitment needed to help provide stability and assurance that we are on the same path together moving forward. This contract should be welcomed by all sectors of the industry.”

Woodbine Racetrack’s 133-day 2016 meet launched on April 9 and is set to conclude on December 4.

(With files from WEG / HBPA)
(Standardbred Canada)