January 23, 2017

No Woodbine Training This Week

January 23, 2017 – The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to inform horsepeople that there will be no training available at Woodbine Racetrack this week.

Training is not available on Tuesday morning or prior to the races this week at Woodbine.

Due to mild January temperatures and rain, the decision was made to postpone training for a week and allow the track crew an opportunity to perform maintenance on the racing surface.

Training will be available at Woodbine on Tuesday, January 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

(WEG)

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Inaugural Courses Added To Equine Guelph Portal

January 19, 2017 – Equine Guelph has announced some details in regard to the first two inaugural courses that have been added to its new portal, which as been created to provide horsepeople with short, practical, online training to stay up to date with the latest information on equine care.

For more information regarding thehorseportal.ca, click here.

The inaugural short courses are ‘Equine Welfare – Canada’s Code’, which will be conducted from March 6 until March 24, and ‘Equine Biosecurity – Canada’s standard’, which will run from April 10 until April 28.

“Through The Horse Portal, grooms and trainers can access common sense, practical training that can be used on a daily basis,” Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, has said. “Equine Guelph looks forward to partnering with the equine industry across the nation to bring Canadians together from racing and non-racing to learn about equine welfare and care as a community. Thank you to Standardbred Canada for supporting us on this important industry initiative.”

(With files from Equine Guelph)

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Race Date Changes Announced

January 17, 2016 – The Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing has approved the application made by Grand River Agricultural Society to amend the 2017 race date schedule for Grand River Raceway, the application made by Woodbine Entertainment Group to vary the 2017 race date schedule for Mohawk Racetrack, and the application made by the Western Fair Association and The WFA Raceway Corporation to amend the 2017 race date schedule for The Raceway at Western Fair District.

The Registrar has approved the following changes:

MOHAWK RACETRACK

Add:
Tuesday, August 1 (First-race post time 7:30 p.m.)

THE RACEWAY AT WESTERN FAIR DISTRICT

Delete
Monday, May 29
Tuesday, May 30
Wednesday, May 31

Add
Sunday, May 14 (First-race post time 1:15 p.m.)
Monday, October 2 (First-race post time 6:15 p.m.)
Saturday, December 23 (First-race post time 1:15 p.m.)

Revised Post Time
Sunday, December 31 (First-race post time moved from 8:00 p.m. to 7:05 p.m.)

GRAND RIVER RACEWAY

Delete
Friday, August 25

Add
Friday, August 18 (First-race post time 6:30 p.m.)

To view the current race date calendar for the three tracks, click here.

Modern Legend A Millionaire

January 14, 2017 – Modern Legend became harness racing’s newest millionaire with a victory in the $34,000 Preferred Pace on Saturday night (January 14) at Woodbine Racetrack.

Rebounding from a fifth-place finish in his 2017 debut last week, Modern Legend prevailed off cover as the post time favourite in rein to James MacDonald and survived a judge’s inquiry.

American Virgin (Doug McNair) left from the outside post position for the lead over insider Alexas Jackpot (Sylvain Filion), with Nirvana Seelster (Rick Zeron) parked to the turn before settling into third.

American Virgin sprinted the first quarter in :26 and proceeded to the half in :55.2. Meanwhile, 52-1 longshot Company Man (Louis Philippe Roy) went first-up from mid-pack, with Modern Legend following to the outside second-over and the oncoming Prescotts Hope (Phil Hudon) moved three-wide.

American Virgin continued to lead the field of seven past three-quarters in 1:23.2, but Modern Legend rallied off cover down the stretch to defeat the pacesetter by a neck in 1:50.4. Company Man finished over two lengths behind in third with Nickle Bag (Jody Jamieson) closing from the back of the pack for fourth. Prescotts Hope completed the top five finish order.

Following the race, there was a judges’ inquiry into whether Modern Legend had sufficient clearance when tipping outside approaching the half. Judges ruled there were no violations of the rules of racing and the results were made official.

In a special winner’s circle presentation, Modern Legend and his owner, trainer and breeder, Dave Drew, of Grimsby, Ont., were honoured for the career milestone.

The millionaire son of Modern Art and Ruby Cam has won 23 races from 71 starts lifetime, including the 2014 Canadian Pacing Derby in a career-best 1:47.2 at Mohawk Racetrack as part of an O’Brien Award-winning campaign that year.

After a shortened 2015 season and being sidelined for more than 18 months, Modern Legend won his return race on December 17 in sub-1:50 fashion against Woodbine’s Preferred pacers. Despite a fifth-place finish in his next outing on January 7, the betting public maintained their faith in the talented nine-year-old gelding, who returned $5.80 to win on Saturday night as the 9-5 favourite.

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Woodbine Racetrack.

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HPItv Channels To Shut Down

January 11, 2017 – Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) announced on Wednesday (January 11) that HPItv will shut down its multi-track channel and accompanying odds channel effective Saturday, April 11, 2017.

WEG has operated HPItv, a CRTC licensed digital television channel that broadcasts racing to homes across Canada, and its predecessor, The Racing Network (TRN) since 2001.

“The decision to shut down HPItv was a difficult one as it will affect some customers and a number of our people that have worked diligently to create and sustain its development,” said Sean Pinsonneault, WEG’s Executive Vice-President, Strategy and Wagering. “The HPItv subscriber base continues to trend downward as more of our customers move online while production costs have risen, making it an unsustainable business case to keep the HPItv multi-track channel operating as the media landscape evolves.”

HPItv will broadcast a limited track schedule into April.

Racing fans can watch all tracks offered on HPItv at HPIbet.com, as well as any other track available for wagering on the platform.

“HPIbet.com continues to be the growth platform,” said Pinsonneault. “We will continue to allocate resources towards developing our online channel and expanding the horse racing customer base as more fans turn to the internet and mobile devices.”

HPItv’s Pay-Per-View (PPV) channels, HPItv Canada, HPItv International and HPItv West, will continue to be offered on cable and satellite platforms.

“WEG remains fully committed to the long-term success of the racing industry and will continue to focus on the strategic development of the horse racing, wagering and hospitality aspects of our business,” said Pinsonneault. “This all must be done within the economic realities of the new racing model in Ontario which requires us to focus on the priorities that are most critical to the business and pursue additional growth through innovation and new products.”

The recently redesigned HPIbet.com and mobile offering presents dozens of exciting features for the horseplayer, including a multi-track view of up to four racetracks from across the world at the same time.

(with files from WEG)

WEG Unveils 2017 Stakes Schedule

January 5, 2017 – On Thursday, January 5, the Woodbine Entertainment Group revealed its $10 million-plus Standardbred stakes lineup for 2017.

The 2017 stakes schedule is highlighted by the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers on Saturday, June 17 at Mohawk Racetrack.

Several changes have been made to the stakes calendar for 2017 to allow horsemen the opportunity to maximize opportunities both in sires stakes and Grand Circuit events.

Beginning in 2017, the $700,000 Metro Pace and $500,000 Shes A Great Lady for two-year-old pacers will be moved from their usual position on Labour Day weekend to Saturday, September 23.

The $350,000 William Wellwood and $350,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old trotters also find new spots on the calendar and will take place on Monday, September 18.

The $550,000 Canadian Pacing Derby remains in the Labour Day weekend slot and will be the feature event on Saturday, September 2, while the $650,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and $600,000 Maple Leaf Trot hold their same spot on the calendar on Saturday, September 16.

Along with adjustments to the stakes calendar, WEG has also altered the stakes payment schedule for 2017.

For many years, nominations have closed in both February and March for different events, but beginning in 2017 all nominations to WEG Stakes will now close on February 15, 2017.

All nomination and sustaining payment details can be found in the 2017 Stakes Booklet, which can be viewed by clicking here.

WEG will continue to distribute purse money to all finishers in major stakes events during the 2017 season.

The winner of the finals will receive the traditional 50 per cent of the total purse, while those finishing sixth through last will take home 1 per cent of the purse. The horses finishing second through fifth will receive 50 per cent, 24 per cent, 16 per cent, 10 per cent of the remaining purse, respectively.

All Alliance stakes events will continue to be administrated by WEG during 2017.

The entire 2017 Stakes Schedule can be viewed by clicking here.

Stakes payments to WEG and Alliance events are payable to the Woodbine Entertainment Group. Payments can be made through the race office, by mail or online.

Stakes payments to these stakes can also be made through SC Stakes Online. Click here for more info on how to get started.

(WEG)

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Wagering Up In Canada

January 5, 2017 – Data from Standardbred Canada indicates that pari-mutuel wagering on Canadian harness racing increased by 1.97 per cent in 2016.

Canadian harness racing attracted more than $460 million in handle in 2015, which was an increase of 10 per cent from 2014. This past year (2016) saw Canadian harness racing handle $469,705,495, which works out to a 1.97 per cent overall increase from 2015.

The number of Canadian races with pari-mutuel wagering in 2016 was 12,383, which attracted an average per-race handle of $38,066. The average per-race handle in 2016 increased by 6.25 per cent in comparison to the 2015 average of $35,827.

Total purses in Canada were down in 2016. Combined purses surpassed $120 million in 2015, but were $111,796,128 in 2016.

Please note that the figures mentioned above are not official Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency data.

The United States Trotting Association announced earlier this week that total wagering on harness racing at U.S. racetracks in 2016 was $1,446,796,214, a 4.33 per cent decrease from the $1,512,300,328 bet in 2015.

The 2016 per-race average wagering was $37,325, a $464 (1.23 per cent) decrease from $37,789 a year ago, while total race days also declined 1.95 per cent to 3,675 compared with 3,748 in 2015.

Total purses were slightly down by $532,112 (0.13 per cent) with $423,067,643 awarded in 2016 compared to $423,599,755 in 2015.

Following are the comparative economic indicators for U.S. harness racing from 2015 and 2016.

Please note: Includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. Data source: United Tote.

(With files from the USTA)

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Tattersalls Sales Co – Meadowlands January Select Mixed Sale – Final Call for Supplemental Entries!!

January 4, 2017 – Final Call for Supplemental Entries!! – Entry Deadline is Friday, January 6th.  The popular winter sale will be held in the back paddock at the Meadowlands on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 16.  Use our January Mixed Sale online entry form or call (914) 773-7777 for further information.

Sale manager David Reid has said that despite the racehorse population not being what it used to be, the numbers for the mixed sales that are held at the Meadowlands have continued to stay strong, and he expects the January sale to hold true to form.

“There are two ways to look at the shortage of racehorses,” he said. “On the one hand, there are plenty of racing opportunities and purses are strong, so many find it hard to part with a good horse.

“But on the other hand, that smaller population of racehorses has sent demand through the roof when a good one does go to auction. Nearly every horse that sells these days – that’s competitive and winning – brings every penny it’s worth, and many times a whole lot more.”

With breeding season just around the corner, the sale has also become a target for those selling race fillies, in-foal broodmares and stallion shares.

“Our ‘Magnificent Mares’ section has really picked again recently, and we expect that trend to continue,” Reid said. “With the yearling market like it was this last fall, there’s big money to be made selling high-end fillies and mares.”

(Tattersalls Sales Co.)

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Woodbine Training, Racing Update

January 2, 2016 – The Mohawk Racetrack race office would like to offer horsepeople an update on training and live racing at Woodbine Racetrack.

The racing surface and paddock at Woodbine will not be available for training this Tuesday (January 3), but instead will be open on Wednesday (January 4) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Live harness racing resumes at Woodbine this Saturday (January 7).

The Mohawk Race Office will reopen on Tuesday morning and the draw for Saturday will be held on Wednesday. Entry box closes at 10:30 a.m.

(with files from WEG)

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Come Together

Trot Feature – Classy Lane

The year 2016 started with a terrible tragedy that shook Canada’s harness racing community. But from the ashes came amazing stories of hope, resilience and remarkable kindness. By Keith McCalmont

A New Year brings new beginnings. A time for reflection and to dream of new opportunities and set goals that will propel you to a brighter future.

On January 4, with the calendar only just flipped over to 2016, the lives of six trainers and some 43 horses were forever changed as a tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ontario took the lives of 39 standardbreds, one thoroughbred and three miniatures.

The five-alarm fire brought Barn 1 to the ground and with it the beloved animals, along with the vast majority of the equipment, belonging to trainers Floyd Amos, Kris Di Cenzo, Dan Lagace, Roger Mayotte, Chantal Mitchell and Ben Wallace, and their staff.

The tragedy became front page news. Television crews rushed to the site, and the story dominated the airwaves and surged across the globe via social media.

There was grief.

A touching memorial held in the standardbred paddock at Woodbine brought tears from even the sturdiest horsepeople. A stoic Ben Wallace, understandably, struggled to keep his emotions in check while doing his best to explain to reporters about the connection between human and horse.

Chantal Mitchell thoughtfully answered each question asked of her while somehow maintaining her composure in the midst of adversity. Her inner strength lifting her to the unenviable position of unofficial spokesperson for the group – and, in doing so, shared the story with the world.

There was also compassion.

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA), headed by Bill O’Donnell and with the great assistance of Cathy Boughton and Stacey Newman, launched a GoFundMe page.

Their goal was to raise $100,000. As of November 19, the Classy Lane GoFundMe page has attracted 1,412 donations totaling $683,058.

“I know horsepeople stick together but this was a lot more than I ever expected,” said O’Donnell. “I thought if we could raise $100,000 it would lend a hand to some of the people that had lost so much and we hit that amount in 12 hours. The response was unbelievable.”

Funds arrived from equine groups across North America. And not just from the standardbred community – – donations of time, money and equipment came from the thoroughbred, quarterhorse and show horse communities reaching as far abroad as Italy and Australia.

What started as a terrible 2016 for the horsepeople at Classy Lane evolved into a story of strength in community and character in the face of tragedy.

Kris Di Cenzo lost four horses in the Classy Lane fire and while the 40-year-old conditioner admits he has struggled in the aftermath, he has also achieved great success, and is poised to record his first six-figure season in purse earnings since 2011.

“Things have gone really smoothly considering all that happened. The help has been unbelievable. It’s hard to put into words but the support from everyone, financially and emotionally, has been incredible,” said Di Cenzo.

Racing is a business and those involved in the claiming game know they have to be prepared to lose a horse from time to time. But there’s really nothing that can prepare a horseman for what happened at Classy Lane.

“It’s a very strange situation. Horses come and go, but for them to go through what they went through just hurts so much. You never think it will end that way,” said Di Cenzo.

In May, the new barn at Classy Lane opened and the group of six trainers moved back into their new home. Di Cenzo has since expanded his modest stable to six horses.

In addition to his horses, he also lost the majority of the tools and equipment he uses on a daily basis in the fire.

“There wasn’t much left. I still had some stuff in my garage at home because I’d downsized my stable,” said Di Cenzo. “Thankfully I still had a few harnesses and other equipment but other than that everything else was gone – – horses, jog carts, race bikes.”

The sticker shock of having to outfit an operation from scratch along with finding new horses to train would have bankrupted most conditioners.

“It was a huge expense and you don’t realize what things cost,” said Di Cenzo. “You just tend to accumulate things over time and you buy equipment as you need it but when you have to go buy a bunch all at once it’s a real eye opener. Thankfully, everybody’s donations was a huge help.”

With a link to it on the Standardbred Canada website, funds poured into the GoFundMe account from across the globe. O’Donnell formed a committee of respected horsepeople to work out a plan to distribute the funds. That committee included Sue Leslie, Karen Breen, Jamie Martin, Ian Fleming, Dave Drew and Jim Wellwood.

“Trainers and grooms were out of business right away,” explained O’Donnell. “So, we took some of the money to give to them, to keep them going.

“We had to consider how much the grooms make per week…nearly three months worth of salary,” continued O’Donnell. “The trainers were reimbursed to re-outfit the horses and then gave them what it seemed fair they’d make per horse for six months and it kept them going until they could get their feet back on the ground.”

There was also the matter of trying to reimburse the owners for the loss of their horses. To that end, O’Donnell engaged three separate appraisers who all came back with very similar numbers.

“The average value was assessed and capped at $100,000 for racehorses and the babies at $75,000. We were able to give those owners 35 percent on the price of the horses,” said O’Donnell.

It’s worth noting that the appraisers, professionals in the trade, all refused to accept any payment and simply donated their time to the cause.

The swift action helped put horses back in barns fairly quickly, allowing money to be earned and also providing a chance for horsepeople to heal.

“To be honest, there were times I wasn’t really feeling up to it,” admitted Di Cenzo. “But, a little horse I bought pretty quickly after the fire, named Stimulus Spending, helped.

“He’s not a great horse, but he’s quirky and fun to be around and he’s picked me up pretty good,” continued Di Cenzo. “Between the GoFundMe money and the owners re-investing, we were able to get a few horses bought up pretty quickly. Without that money and our owners, it would have been a very difficult transition.”

Di Cenzo also credits one of his owners, Madith Peterson, with helping get him back on his feet.

“She called me up a week after the fire and said she hadn’t been without a horse since 1982,” said Di Cenzo. “She said, ‘When you want to get back going just let me know’. That’s the type of support we’ve been getting. She’s a very nice lady and loves her horses.”

While Di Cenzo is having one of his better seasons with a record of 8-16-15 from 112 starts, there are still difficult moments.

“There’s nights I’ll be driving back to the farm and I have the vision of the barn in flames and it freaks me out a bit,” said Di Cenzo. “For the most part, it will take time. I’ll never forget it, it’s always in the back of my mind.”

And yet, there is comfort that it’s the sweeter moments that endure.

“Everyone remembers winning a race but it’s also the every day enjoyment of taking them out to the paddock and watching them play,” said Di Cenzo. “That’s the stuff you miss. You get a bond with them.”

If you take the time to read through the 1,410 donations gathered via GoFundMe, it becomes inherently obvious that the story touched not just horsepeople but the general public itself.

A $10 donation from Paula Kelly was accompanied with the following message, “I am so sorry about the loss of the horses, minis and kittie cat. I can’t imagine. ….I had tears coming down my cheeks reading about all the horses in the Globe and Mail this past weekend. I hope my little donation helps in the big scheme of things……again I am so sorry.”

A donation from Little Rascals Daycare in Belleville, Ontario put a smile on O’Donnell’s face.

“That one really touched me,” admitted O’Donnell. “They raised money through the summer with bake sales and I couldn’t believe that these young kids wanted to give the money to the horsepeople. I thought that was really cute. They sent a cheque with a little letter and it was very touching that they would do that.”

Little Rascals CEO Cheryl O’Hara, a regular at the Royal Winter Fair with a soft spot for horses, is a firm believer in the importance of community.

“Part of our philosophy is that the children need to be involved in the community and do things that will help others,” explained O’Hara. “So, we started doing little fundraisers like pizza parties and raising money through bake and gift sales.”

The students at Little Rascals come from all walks of life and range in age from infant to 11-years-old.

“The older ones mentor the younger ones. Some of our older kids were talking about the fire and when it was suggested that the money could be donated to the people at Classy Lane all the kids agreed that’s who they wanted to help,” said O’Hara.

And so the kids got to work, mandated with a fun task that not only offered considerable charity to the people at Classy Lane but also enriching their own life experience.

“It spread from the idea of helping a community and the parents got on board. It really showed the kids what they do is important and it gave them a small amount of pleasure to be able to help out,” said O’Hara.

With no shortage of charitable opportunities, why did the children decide on Classy Lane?

“The horses really seemed to be the clincher for them,” said O’Hara. “They all seem to have a true love for animals and when they saw how upset the people were it was a unanimous decision.”

O’Donnell and his staff sent a thank you package to the daycare with a number of different items including hats, t-shirts and colouring books. And when word spread that their story was being told on the Standardbred Canada website, the children were filled with joy.

“When I was able to show them the article they couldn’t have been happier. It was a moment when you could see their inner innocence shine through and they were proud to have done something nice for someone else,” said O’Hara.

Some say that music heals. And it was in that spirit that a group of musicians got together at the Alexandria, Virginia Moose Lodge to raise money for horsepeople they had never met.

The event, known as the Cat Jam, was arranged by Nancy Lisi, a former standardbred trainer, with the help of Estelle Miller and Pat Dowdy.

“I’m a veteran harness trainer. I mostly trained trotters,” said Lisi. “I had a couple wins at The Meadowlands and even had one horse finish third in the Battle of Brandywine, but I never really had a Grand Circuit horse.”

Lisi’s life seems equally divided between horses, music and charity. Her husband, Arthur, was the musical director for The Cosby Show. He also owned horses.

Once upon a time, when racing at now defunct Rosecroft, Nancy and Arthur led an informal band called The Paddock Pickers, a group that included Rob Waller and Dave Paolucci.

“It was just me and a couple guys at the track playing music in the paddock and the horsemen would come listen to us. We’d play bluegrass music and jam,” said Nancy.

When Rosecroft was closed, Nancy feared for what would become of the many cats that called the barn area home.

One benefactor, at Nancy’s behest, spent $9,500 in vet bills to pay for the shots and spaying and neutering as well as the trapper who caught 110 cats. To help recoup the funds, Nancy and her Paddock Pickers went on a fundraising binge, playing a series of shows at local bars under the new moniker of The Cat Jammers.

“It took us nearly a year to make the $9,500 back but we did it,” laughed Nancy who plays guitar, bass, upright bass as well as some claw hammer banjo.

The good deed agreed with the group and they decided to keep on playing.

“We started jamming for humans in 2011. When the fire happened we wanted to help out right away,” said Nancy. “We actually did two ‘Cat Jams’ in support of the fire.

A free spirit, and a bit of a whiz on the web, Nancy had the Moose Lodge full of patrons to raise money for her fellow horsepeople. Some racing fans may also know Nancy from her Preserve Harness Racing page on Facebook.

“We’re just happy to have helped and had a little fun along the way,” said Nancy.

Chantal Mitchell, who became the recognizable face of the Classy Lane group in the aftermath of the fire, remains the confident, steadfast trainer.

“It’s been a tough year but we’re working through it,” said Mitchell. “We’ve moved into the new barn and it’s… just… fresh. It’s like a new beginning.”

Although her numbers are down from a healthy 2015 meet, she confesses to being humbled by the great support of the industry.

“It was incredible and such a great help. Everything that was given to us from money, to help, to support was extremely helpful,” said Mitchell. “You don’t realize how much things cost until you have to replace it.

“Even now, months later, I’ll be thinking about a piece of equipment and thinking I have it… but then I don’t have it anymore,” continued Mitchell. “The money that was donated was a great help to replace everything and I think that COSA did a very good job at distributing the funds fairly for the charity we received.”

Asked to speak about some of the non-monetary donations that were made, Mitchell shares, at length, countless examples of support.

“Sharpe Feeds called all their suppliers and came and made a special presentation to us donating a certain percentage of their sales for a month and cut us all a cheque for that,” started Mitchell.

Other horsepeople filled up totes with donated equipment and delivered it to the Classy Lane trainers.

“Tony Alagna and his owners donated jog carts and Per Henrikssen gave us all a Finn-Tack harness each with lead shank and a halter,” continued Mitchell. “I had owners that I never asked for help just send me cheques in the mail.”

A set of driving suits arrived. Tack shops offered discounts. People reached out on Facebook and offered the emotional support that sometimes gets forgotten in the aftermath of a tragedy.

“The OPP were very good about that,” noted O’Donnell. “Officer Beckwith spoke to everyone about grief and a few people took up that opportunity to get help.”

The whole experience was overwhelming for Mitchell, even if she didn’t show it.

“So many things happened along the way it was hard to process and I’m so thankful to everyone out there that helped us out so much,” she said.

Mitchell’s pacer Rakin It In served up a poignant moment in the week following the fire by nosing out The Loan Ranger at Woodbine to collect the winner’s share of a $14,000 purse.

“It was difficult but at the end of the day I still had a horse I had to deal with, and that horse helped as a coping mechanism because I was still able to have somewhat of a routine,” said Mitchell.

Raking It In is retired now but not forgotten.

“I have him on a farm and he’s living out his life. I go out there sometimes to see him and I get pictures from the caretakers over there,” she said.

And despite the tragedy, spirits are up at the newly built Barn 6.

“For the first while it was different mainly because the routine was halted and there was the question of the unknown,” explained Mitchell. “Are they rebuilding our barn? Will we have horses and where will we put them? Do people want to keep going or want to retire? But now we’re all back at it and the sales are over and it’s feeling more like business as usual.”

She credits getting back to work with helping her cope with the loss.

“There wasn’t much time to sit back and wallow. I’ve dealt with it over time. Time helps. Being able to keep doing what I love to do, helps. I get to mourn but I get to mourn while doing what I love to do. If I didn’t have this, each day would have been that much more difficult,” she said.

The resiliency of horsepeople is well documented.

Even though this is a community that competes head-to-head for purse money, night in and night out, it is tremendously uplifting to hear stories of how differences were put aside for the sake of humanity.

“In our industry, people will always help you when it comes to your horse. We all stand together in that way,” said Mitchell.

And so, some 10 months and nearly $700,000 later, the people of Classy Lane continue to re-build and thrive thanks to the unwavering support of their racing family.

“That’s what horsepeople do,” smiled O’Donnell. “They come together.”