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Monday, December 31, 2012

M1 - EHV 1 Virus Response from Meadowlands-

Due to the report of a confirmed Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in a horse that raced at Sports Creek Raceway on December 19th, The Meadowlands Racetrack is denying entries of horses that have raced at Sports Creek Raceway after December 1st, until further notice.


The nation will celebrate the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 21 despite the fact that his actual birthday in January 15. 

Because Monticello Raceway will not have a live card on Monday January 21 the raceway will present its 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pace on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 .

The race, which features the talents of African-American drivers, was first presented in 2001 and although the raceway was initially reticent to showcase this event the results have been a win-win situation, not only for the raceway, but for the African-American community, too.

“It will once again be our pleasure to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a race named in his honor. Over the years the Dr. King Pace has proved to be an event that is looked forward to not only by the African-American community  but by many racing fans, too” noted Eric Warner, the tracks director of racing. Last year we had a very competitive race and the competition was enjoyed by all the participants.”

In the 2012 Dr. King Pace Bobby Williams Jr. reined Mt Vernon Hanover to a 2:01.2 victory which was Williams first in the race named for the revered civil rights leader.

Williams is expected to return to defend his crown and will undoubtedly be joined by other locals including three-time Dr. King Pace winner, Cedric Washington, along with his dad, General “Bubba” Washington who won this event in 2005.

Currently Warner is in the process of seeking drivers to compete in this year’s event.

“I’ve already heard from James O’Farrow who says he’d like to compete again this year. And George  Polk, Jr. winner of the 2010 Dr. King Pace wants to return but we will still need eight drivers to fill the event,” Warner added.

Any driver of  African-American descent who might be interested in competing in this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pace  is urged to contact Warner in the race office at Monticello Raceway by calling 845-794-4100x557.  Or they can call the tracks publicity office at ext. 455.

CalX1 - Cal Expo Tuesday Barn Notes


By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Watch and Wager LLC at Cal Expo swings into 2013 with three days of racing a week and plenty of momentum following an opening meet of 16 programs that proved to be quite successful.

Since January of 2012, harness racing has been conducted on a two-day a week basis in California, but due to an influx of horses there will now be trotting and pacing three days a week through the end of this Watch and Wager meeting in May.

“Restoration of the three-day racing week is vital to the infrastructure and long term viability of the California industry,” said General Manager Chris Schick. “Our horsemen have really pulled together to make it happen.”

Handle figures for the opening portion of the meet reflect an on-track increase of 8.1 percent; a California mini-satellite increase of 27.1 percent; an account wagering increase of 28.9 percent and an out-of-state increase of 55.2 percent. California fairs and tracks were down an average of 14.4 percent, with the total nightly average of $757,177 being up 13.3 percent.

“Considering the very poor weather, we are reasonably happy with our first meet results,” continued Schick. “We think we are well positioned for the new year.”

The meeting will run through May 11 and racing continues this week with Friday, Saturday and Sunday cards featuring the opening legs of the Joe Lighthill, Lonnie Beck, Marvin Shapiro and Joe O’Brien series.

For the majority of the meeting, racing will be conducted on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. For the complete schedule, please go to


Northeast Ohio’s premier racetrack will be offering live harness racing four nights a week to start the 2013 racing year.  Beginning January 1 and continuing through June 7, Northfield will be racing every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evening with a 6:30 pm post time. There is no live racing on Memorial Day Monday, May 27.

From the middle of June through the end of July, the track will add Saturday night live racing and be dark on Wednesdays except for a special edition holiday card on Wednesday July 3.  

Beginning in August, Northfield returns to the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evening racing schedule through October. The only exception is that there will be no live racing on Labor Day Monday, September 2.

A five-night a week schedule -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday -- will be in effect during the final two months of the year. There is no live racing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although the Northfield oval will offer two special Sunday holiday cards on December 22 and 29. 

Northfield Park’s three marquee racing events in 2013 are as follows:

Friday, April 26                       $100,000 (est.) Courageous Lady Friday

Saturday, July 20                    $100,000 (gtd.) Battle of Lake Erie

Saturday, December 14           $150,000 (est.) Cleveland Classic



After racing in the afternoon of Monday, December 31 Monticello Raceway will commence its 56th season of live harness racing on New Year’s Day,  Tuesday, January 1, 2013 and programs  will follow on  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that week.

After the Friday card of January 4 it will be back to the normal four- day-a-week schedule of Mondays through Thursdays, with one exception; the raceway will be dark on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21.
All post times during the month of January will be at 12:25pm.

On January 22 the Mighty M will honor the memory of Dr. King with its 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pace, a race that will feature the talents of African-American drivers.

Simulcast wagering on both harness and thoroughbreds will continue seven days a week throughout the month. And of course, there’s also gaming and entertainment daily at Monticello Casino and Raceway.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

M1 - Burke and Gingras Highlight Meadowlands Saturday Night

It was a common theme early in 2012.  It seemed that every night trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras were winning multiple races together.  On Saturday at the Meadowlands, that trend resurfaced.  Together, the duo combined for four wins while Gingras earned five total wins on the card, giving him a total of seven in the first two nights of racing at the Meadowlands.

One of the Burke/Gingras winners came in the sixth race, the featured A-1 pace, providing a preview of some of the horses that will be competing in The Presidential series.  But in the end, it was a three year old beating the older horses as Hillbilly Hanover went all the way on the lead to a 1:52.1 triumph. 

Trainer Nick Surick had a good night as well, earning two victories on the card with Mystic Desire and Esprit De Kayjay A.  Both horses were guided to victory by Andy Miller.

The Meadowlands continued its momentum at the betting windows.  Despite a nasty winter storm in the northeast, the bettors still wagered $2,898,623 on the Saturday program.

Racing returns to the East Rutherford oval on Thursday night with first post time at 7:15 pm.  The Friday program will be drawn at 9 am on Monday and the Saturday program will be drawn on Wednesday at 9 am.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Horse Rescue United Recipient of Contest Donations

(Allentown - December 28, 2012) – Horse Rescue United (HRU) is pleased to announce they are the recipient of donations as a result of this year’s The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge, organized by the Horse Players Association of North America (HANA) Harness Division, was a season long competition where handicappers using computer programs (The Chips) and handicappers using pens and programs (The Pens) competed against each other handicapping over sixty race cards at various standardbred tracks in North America on The Road to the Breeders Crown.  Each handicapper competing represented horse rescues who are primarily involved in standardbreds which are used in harness racing.  While various rescues in Canada and the United States were beneficiaries throughout the contest, HRU was the recipient of the grand prize thanks to Mark McKelvie, one of ‘The Pen’ handicappers being the overall contest winner.
“Just being one of the standardbred rescues selected to be represented by the handicappers was a great honor for Horse Rescue United as it is recognition of the work HRU does”, stated HRU President Anouk Busch, “We would like to thank the sponsors for making donations to advance the work of standardbred rescue, HANA for running the event, and of course Mark McKelvie whose handicapping skills made it possible for HRU to be the lucky recipient.  These donations will assist HRU in rescuing and retraining retired standardbreds”.

Horse Rescue United Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity located in Allentown/Chesterfield, NJ dedicated to the rescue, evaluation and retraining of horses.  While HRU does rescue horses of all breeds, the majority of horses rescued are standardbreds.  For further information about Horse Rescue United, please visit HRU’s website at

M1 - Big Numbers Abound Opening Night

The Meadowlands Racetrack put on a pari-mutuel show on Friday night.  The night contained a little bit of everything.  A 99-1 shot, Carolstern, paid over $240 to win.  That win caused a Pick 5 Carryover into the Saturday night program of $16,769.68. 

Later in the card, All About Justice scored at 50-1 and returned over $107 to win.  That victory caused a Late Pick 4 payout of over $10,000 following an Early Pick Four that returned over $18,000.

The bettors came out in force on opening night, as the Meadowlands handle of $2,691,107 was an increase of 24% from the $2,166,584 bet on opening night one year ago.  All three of the Meadowlands guaranteed wagers were very well received, including the brand new early pick four, which carried a pool of over $42,000.

Dave Miller was the driving star of the evening, notching three wins on the card.  Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras both picked up where they left off, each with driving doubles.

The Saturday night card features a Pick 5 carryover of $16,769.68 which kicks off the card in race one.  The Early Pick 4 sports a $25,000 guarantee and gets underway in Race 3 and the Late Pick 4, covering races 7 through 10, will carry a $75,000 guarantee.

Racing resumes Saturday, with post time at 7:15 p.m.

Horsemen should note the holiday draw schedule this week.  The Meadowlands will draw on Saturday for Thursday’s program, Monday for Friday’s program and Wednesday for Saturday’s program. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

CalX1 - Saturday Barn Notes


                  By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Mike Eaton has been making his share of winner’s circle appearances since arriving from the East Coast last month and the 49-year-old Massachusetts native plans on continuing the trend here at Cal Expo.

“I actually got into harness racing because my parents played the races at Foxboro,” Eaton explained. “I fell in love with the sport as a kid and wanted to be just like those drivers.”

It was a chance encounter at the racetrack that gave Mike the pass he needed to get to the backstretch and pursue his dream. “I got to be friends with Bruce Aldrich while playing video games, and his family was heavily involved in racing. When I was 18, I went to the backstretch with him and started learning everything from the ground up.”

Eaton eventually started working with Bruce’s uncle, Basil, then struck out on his own at Foxboro. When that track closed, he plied his trade at The Meadows, Saratoga and most recently back home in Massachusetts at Plainridge. “When Plainridge closes for the five-month break, I would normally go to Monticello, but this year we’re trying California. I like Monticello, but it’s hard to get in and then there’s the winter weather.”

By the way, the other Eaton showing up recently on the program here at Cal Expo is Mike’s son, Mark. The amateur driver is getting some experience in the sulky while also working his way through college.

For the most part, the elder Eaton has gone about his business on half-mile and five-eighths layouts. Now that he’s competing over the mile oval at Cal Expo, he related, “A lot more patience is needed.”  

As far as all-time favorite horses, a soon-to-be 8-year-old Florida-bred trotting son of Famously holds that honor. Famous Image, who is one of the performers who has made the trip out West with Eaton, is closing in on the $100,000 earnings plateau. “When I bought him, he was pretty lame, and my wife didn’t want me to do it. I saw something in this horse and I took it as a challenge.”

Famous Image won 10 races the first two years under the Eaton banner and has prevailed in eight of his 30 starts this season. Challenge met.

There are any number of ways to go in Saturday evening’s $12,300 final of the Bob Gordon Pacing series, with Rd Donethat among the major players in the Watch and Wager LLC at Cal Expo headliner.

A 5-year-old son of Ambro Khaki, Rd Donethat goes about his business for Tim and Denise Maier with Luke Plano at the controls. He didn’t compete in the first leg of the Gordon, but certainly made himself known in the second leg two weeks as he proved a punctual even-money favorite in that affair.

The dark-hued performer left to the lead, was covered up before the half and sat second to the stretch, then ignited when the question was asked to post a two-length decision while covering the mile in 1:58 flat over a sloppy racetrack. A repeat will obviously put him right in the thick of things.

Lady’s Art captured the other division of that second Gordon leg in a desperate finish over Big Better Best, who accounted for the a division of the opening leg. Lady’s Art is a 3-year-old daughter of Art Major who races for Kenneth Seastron and James Kouretas with Junior Wilkinson conditioner and Chip Lackey handling the lines.

Taking them on are Whicadidja with David Siegel; Young American from the Frank Petrelli barn; Gold Deuce, Steve Wiseman; Good Tiger Falls for trainer Mike Magri; Flash’s Camilla with James Kennedy; Big Better Best, to be guided by Bruce Clarke; Bloom N Doom with Mooney Svendsen; and Loco For Cocoa, who leaves from the outside slot.


 Next week’s schedule will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (January 4-6).

Thursday, December 27, 2012


MANALAPAN, NJ – December 27, 2012 -- When racing resumes at Freehold Raceway on January 3, 2013, all races with a purse of $5,000 or less will be subject to a preference system to benefit horses with a New Jersey connection and those supportive of Freehold racing.

“This agreement is something that benefits both Freehold Raceway and the horsemen who race in New Jersey,” said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento.  “This new preference system should not discourage out-of-staters from entering.  But it does give those with a history of supporting Freehold and those with connections to New Jersey some assurances that they will have a better chance to race.  This is something that both the track and the horsemen agree is important.  We have worked hard to make this as equitable as possible.”

“We understand at this time of year there is a rare overabundance of racehorses in this region, and we want to ensure that we can give those individuals who have continued to support our racing program and the overall New Jersey harness racing program first priority in our races,” said Freehold Raceway General Manager Howard Bruno.

The First Preference is for horses that are New Jersey-sired, New Jersey-owned and New Jersey-trained [defined as a horseperson with a current New Jersey address on his/her New Jersey Racing Commission license, where that trainer has started 15 or more times at Freehold from August 30, 2012 to December 31, 2012].  A mutually agreeable date range will be set for the fall of 2013, winter of 2014 and fall 2014 racing seasons.

A horse/individual would have to meet only one of the First Preference criteria, not all three, in order to qualify for a preference.  Freehold and the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey would agree in advance on the horsemen qualifying under this criteria, based on the official statistics compiled by Freehold Raceway.

The Second Preference would apply to horses who have made two of their previous three pari-mutuel starts at Freehold.

If a race is oversubscribed with horses meeting the First Preference, starters will be determined by the Second Preference criteria.  Horses not drawing into the race who met the First Preference criteria will receive a “star” and given preference if entered back in a similar class.

Freehold will continue to write New Jersey-owned and New Jersey-sired classes [NJSO], using the new preference system.  If designated NJOS races close as written on the condition sheet, they will receive a 25 percent bump in the purse.

For races with purses of $5,001 or higher, preference will go to horses who have had two of their previous three pari-mutuel starts at Freehold.

The changes go into effect January 1 to April 1 and November 1 to December 31 in both 2013 and 2014.  The draw for the January 3, 2013 opening day program will take place on December 31, 2012.
--Submitted by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ


After the calmest of early winter seasons in the southern Catskill Mountains a heavy snowstorm on Wednesday, December 26 ,which carried over to the following day, played havoc on the racing program at Monticello Raceway on Thursday.

Featured  on the December 27th program  was the Au Revoir, the race for 14 year olds only, which saw Whitlock N hold off a late charging Tattler’s Jet (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) to go out a winner in the final race of his career.  Actually, because of the rules and regulations of the United States Trotting Association, it was the final race for all the entrants.

Whitlock N scores a 2:01.4 victory over Tattler’s Jet (far outside not in photo) Albagold and Parker down along the pylons was 3rd (Geri Schwarz Photo)
The New Zealand- bred Whitlock N, driven by Kevin Switzer, Jr., scored a 1-1/4 length triumph over Tattler’s Jet (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) in a time of 2:01.4 over the muddy racetrack which was cleared earlier of the 12-inches of wet snow that fell during the overnight period. Third place went to Alba Gold in rein to Zeke Parker.

Because of the inclement weather and the bad traveling conditions the seven horse field was reduced to four by post time because three others couldn’t make it to the raceway. Two of the three  late scratches were trotters; Speedy Big Ras and Crowbar Hotel ,who had to come in from central New York where the snowfall was even greater. The third scratch due to inclement weather was pacer, Adams Rocket A.

When the Au Revoir began Switzer gunned Whitlock N to the lead and was challenged on the outside by  Tattler’s Jet and Jimmy Marohn, Jr. They raced side by side toward the quarter pole until Marohn knew that Switzer wasn’t going to let him go so he backed Tattler’s Jet to the end of the four-horse field.  Whitlock N then showed the way by the quarter in :28.2.

“I didn’t want to let Tattler’s Jet go. If he got to the front I couldn’t beat him so I wanted the lead so he had to beat me,” Switzer explained of his decision to park-out Tattler’s Jet. “When he (Whitlock N) gets the lead he knows what to do and he’s always been tough on the front- end.”

With Whitlock N in command and Alba Gold in the two-hole they passed the halfway point in :59.

Coming off the third turn Whitlock N seemed to slow down  a bit and Parker moved  Albagold out to challenge and the two  raced head to head up the backside until Whitlock N pulled away.

“He (Whitlock N) didn’t slow down on the turn he drifted- in  and my left wheel was caught in the heavy snow alongside the pylons. That’s what slowed us down,” Switzer said with a smile lighting up his face.. “When we came out of the snow he (Whitlock N) vaulted again to the lead.”

Whitlock N put away Alba Gold  as they headed into the final turn. Switzer then braced for Tattler’s Jet  who moved three –deep as the field straightened for home. And although Tattler’s Jet was in high gear on the far outside his rally fell short.

Prior to today’s  race  Switzer was confident  in Whitlock N, after all he drove the veteran pacer  to a 2:00.1 victory last Saturday (Dec. 22) at Scarborough Downs. Today win was 69th  of Whitlock N’s career.

Owned by Ken Sumner of Mechanic Falls, Me  and trained by Robert Marston, Whitlock N paid $5.70 for win.

Inaugurated in 1991 the Au Revoir has developed into a race for both pacers and trotters which, when presented, is the final race of each of the entrants’ careers.

“This was the only the sixth Au Revoir we’ve filled and one of them was a 14-year-old two- horse match race,” noted Eric Warner the tracks director of racing. “It’s very unique race and very hard to fill because there are so few (horses)still around at the end of the season of their 14th year.


M1 - Captaintreacherous Featured in Meadowlands Promotion.

One lucky harness racing fan will experience the thrill of owning a champion racehorse via a unique promotion at The Meadowlands where the Grand Prize is a one-percent share of all future purse earnings by the sensational Captaintreacherous.

  Syndicate manager Myron Bell proposed the idea to Jeff Gural when the colt was offered for syndication last fall. A deal was struck to make the concept a reality and The Meadowlands has purchased a share of Captaintreacherous for use in this exciting promotion.

  As the star of the phenomenal first crop of super-sire Somebeachsomewhere, Captaintreacherous had a fantastic season in 2012. The "Captain" won the marquee two year old events at both The Meadowlands (Woodrow Wilson) and Mohawk Racetrack (The Metro) while compiling four wins of 1:50- or faster, the first freshman in racing history to accomplish that feat.

  At year's end, Captaintreacherous had won 8 of 10 starts and earned $918,253. With the recent announcement of the 2012 seasonal awards, he became the first freshman in 25 years to be honored as "Pacer of the Year".

  Captaintreacherous is currently being prepared for his three year old campaign by trainer Tony Alagna and will be reunited with driver Tim Tetrick when he returns to the races next season.

  You may enter for your chance to win with paid admission every Saturday night (starting this Saturday, December 29). Entry forms will be available at the admission gates and should be deposited in the designated containers located in the Clubhouse lobby and at the Paddock Level promotions table.

  Twenty randomly selected names will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing to be held after Race 10 on May 4. The drawing will be done in reverse order; with the first seventeen drawn receiving a $100 betting voucher, the 18th name drawn receives a $150 voucher and the runner-up will be awarded a $250 voucher. The 20th and final name drawn will receive the 1% share of Captaintreacherous'future purse earnings.

  The Grand Prize is one-percent of all purses earned by Captaintreacherous during his racing career and ends when he retires from racing. The contest winner shall be responsible for none of the expenses incurred during the length of the promotion.

  Contest regulations will be available onThe Meadowlands website.

M1 - Yannick Gingras Ready to Defend Big M Driving Title

Following a season of career firsts, Yannick Gingras is anxious to defend his Meadowlands driving title when live racing returns Opening Weekend, Friday, December 28 and Saturday, December 29.

Post Time is 7:15pm.

Gingras has firmly established himself as one of harness racing’s rising stars, and at age 33, the Quebec-born driver continues to soar at a record pace.

In 2012, the Green Hornet earned more than $13 million in purses for the first time, ranking him second in the nation. 

Gingras also won his first Meadowlands Pace with A Rocknroll Dance and earned his first Big M driving title by edging Tim Tetrick in wins 125-123.

He passed 4,000 career wins, winning over 400 races for the fifth time in six years, and also hit the $85 million mark in career earnings.

“2012 was absolutely a dream year for me,” said Gingras.  “I thought going in I could have a good year with the stock I had coming back, and it actually went beyond expectations.”

Gingras had A Rocknroll Dance in high gear in the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace, and the Dragon Again colt went down the road from the rail in 1:48.1 enroute to a million dollar season.

“I thought A Rocknroll Dance had a big chance to win the Meadowlands Pace, and he got the job done that night, and really all year long,” noted Gingras. 

He also won the Pace consolation with Hurrikane Kingcole in a sizzling 1:47.4.

During the 2012 meet Gingras’ fast start and strong finish earned him leading driver status at the Big M for the first time.

“The Meadowlands driving title has always been a dream of mine,” he admitted.  “It was kind of surreal to get that done because it was really my first driving title anywhere.  When I came to the Meadowlands in 2004 I was still young and was just starting to dominate at Yonkers.”

Gingras capped off 2012 with a natural hattrick in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine with Dan Patch Award winner To Dream On, Maven and Rockin Amadeus.  He also finished second with Drop The Ball and Little Brown Fox.

“Fortunately, pretty much all the horses I drove in 2012 are coming back,” he noted.  The only one I’m not sure of is Little Brown Fox.  Horses like Foiled Again, Drop The Ball, To Dream On and Rockin Amadeus certainly give me something to look forward to in 2013.”

Gingras and Foiled Again continued to wreak havoc in the free for all ranks.  The 2011 Pacer of the Year roared back at age eight with another million dollar campaign and was voted the sport’s top older pacer for the second straight year.  The son of Dragon Again also became the richest pacer of all time at $4.6 million with a dramatic upset in the $794,870 Canadian Pacing Derby in 1:48.3 at Mohawk, the biggest career win for horse and driver.

“What amazed me about Foiled Again is he wasn’t quite as sharp going into that race as he was at other points in his career,” recalled Gingras.  “It was the first time he had a chance to go for the money record, plus he did it from a spot where he usually doesn’t win.  He closed from eighth and was zig-zagging between horses.  It just defined his career.  He’s an overachiever and an unbelievable horse, and on that stage he gave me my biggest win ever.  It was a great thrill and I’m so proud of that horse.  He’s not the fastest nor the biggest horse out there, but he’s got a huge heart and makes money.  If he stays healthy the $5 million mark is well within his reach.”

It’s all about horse power, and Gingras will continue to have plenty of it as the go-to guy for Ron Burke, the Big M’s leading trainer in 2012.

“Ron Burke is a great person to drive for,” said Gingras.  “He’s not going to call you to give you a hard time when you mess up.  I feel I’m definitely still improving as a driver.  I was on top of my game this past year and I’m really confident in myself.  He sees that and I think we’re a great team.  He likes the way I race his horses.  He wants somebody who gives his horses the best chance to win.”

Gingras will be part of a driver autograph session on the Paddock Level on Saturday, December 29 from 6 to 6:30pm when the Meadowlands offers a 2013 calendar giveaway.  He will also be an In The Sulky guest on the track’s pre-card broadcast.

CalX1 - Friday Barn Notes


            By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The $9,700 finale of the Bob Staats Pacing series for fillies and mares is the featured attraction here at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo Friday night with opening leg winners RD Iou and Don’t Hurry Love heading the marquee. First post for the 13-race program is 5:55 p.m.
                                                                                                                                                RD Iou is a 4-year-old Iowa-bred daughter of Armbro Khaki and the Niatross mare Brettatross who has accounted for nine of her 25 trips to the post this season with a 1:54 1/5 career standard that was established this summer at Running Aces. Denise Maier is the owner and Tim Maier does the driving and training.

The chestnut miss was runner-up to Don’t Hurry Love in the first leg of the Staaats on November 30 as the pace-setting 3-5 favorite, then turned the tables on that rival two weeks ago as she played the role of stalker and motored by when it counted to post a clear-cut two and a quarter length score.
Don’t Hurry Love is a 3-year-old Florida-bred miss who carries the banner of Ed Actkinson, takes her lessons from Bob Johnson and has Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. She was first-over in that Staats opening leg and had little trouble overhauling RD Iou that evening, then was first-over once again in the second stanza of this event and made a clear lead at midstretch, but it was RD Iou who came up with the late heroics to earn the decision.

Completing the field are Drawing Dead for trainer Dario Solares and driver Williams Hernandez; In Regal Attire for driver/trainer Dan Gassien; and Twentyone Guns, who gives the Johnson barn a pair of chances with Scott Cisco guiding from the outside slot. The action continues Saturday night with the final of the Bob Gordon Pacing series holding the spotlight.


This weekend will find the Bob Staats series final on Friday night, followed by the Bob Gordon series finale on Saturday, as two of the major players in California harness racing over the last several decades are honored.
                                                                                                                                              In addition to being an outstanding trainer, Bob Gordon was a very important link between horsemen and management, earning respect from his peers on both the backside and frontside during his career.

Steve and Vickie Desomer worked alongside Mr. Gordon and are high in their praise. “Bob Gordon was a very good horseman and not only a great friend to Steve and myself, but a friend to the owners and caretakers alike,” Vickie said.

Bob Staats, along with his wife Loretta, was a prominent owner/breeder beginning in the early 1970s and had some of his greatest success with Gordon as his trainer. One of their most popular performers was the brilliant New Zealand racemare and producer Stand By N, who put the Staats stable on the map with a 1:52 career standard, over $250,000 in earnings and an induction into the California Harness Hall of Fame in 2010.

Other outstanding Staats performers included Stand By’s son Moxie, a 1:49 3/5 pacer with more than $40,000 in earnings; Nemisis, a 1:48 victor; the popular mare Reno Rose; Bells To Be Rung and BG’s Prodigy, with the latter being named after trainer Gordon.

“Bob Staats was one of the top owners and breeders we’ve had in the sport,” said racing secretary Fred Kuebler. “He was very important to California harness racing and one of the first to bring horses over from New Zealand. He had a great partnership with Bob Gordon that produced some outstanding racehorses over the years.”

In coming months, there will be series named in honor of owners Lonnie Beck, Richard Staley, Lloyd Arnold, Bill Conlin and Marvin Shapiro; driver/trainers Joe Lighthill, Joe O’Brien, James Grundy, Shelly Goudreau and James Dennis; steward Michael Corley and author and racing historian Stan Bergstein.


The racing action will continue this week with a Saturday program, while next week will find the trotters and pacers competing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (January 4-6).


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


To say that Monticello Raceway’s  $5,000 Au Revoir on Thursday afternoon December 27th is a unique race would be a gross understatement. Not only is it a tremendous undertaking to get a field of 14-year-olds together in the waning moments of a year for a final race of their careers, but add to that the fact that the competing seven horses are of both standardbred gaits.

“Oh, and don’t forget that to fill this race we need to get horses from all over the country, “interjected Eric Warner the tracks director of racing, who has the responsibility of getting enough of the old timers together for a final event.. “
“With only 54 14 year olds that have started at least once this year there’s no way that seven or eight would be racing at one track near the end of the season. We had to make many phone calls to get enough for a race  and the (NYS) Racing Board has been very helpful by allowing us to race both trotters and pacers together in their final time call to post.”

Oddly, this season a trotter, Speedy Big Ras, has received the odds-maker’s nod  as morning line favorite rated at 5-2.
Perhaps its Speedy Big Ras’s recent form he at the Mighty M  – a win and a second in last three outs--that attracted program director, John Flynn’s  watchful eye or that the gelding will start from the coveted pylon position. Either way, Kyle Di Benedetto will handle the driving for owners Anne Wheeler and Dr. Bob Keller.

But the pre-race hype has belonged to the grand ole campaigner Tattler’s Jet, and rightly so. His 120 career victories –nine this season--ranks him fifth best in wins over the past 60 years.  Although the $324,000 career winner will have the services of the meet’s leading driver, Jimmy Marohn, Jr., still  Dave Carter’s pacer is rated as third choice(7-2)  and will start on the far outside from post position seven.
Coming in from Michigan trainer Gene Miller will have Tattler’s Jet on the Mighty M grounds before this day is through.

However, when all the wagering is over the post time favorite could easily be Ken Sumner’s Whitlock N who’ll be traveling in from Scarborough Downs in Maine  where he won his last start in 2:00.1 for Kevin Switzer, Jr.  Switzer will be again in the bike when the $258,000 career earner leaves from the four-hole.
Second choice (3-1) on the early line is local campaigner Hero’ Cavalcade. With a victory in 2:01.1 this year the Lisa Pratt-owned Keystone Raider gelding has been knocking on the door in his recent starts finishing second in 1:59.3 on Dec. 4 and third in 2:00.4 last time out on Dec. 18. Rick Harp will do the driving when they leave from post six.

Alba Gold, owned by Kathy Merola, will be In from Western New York  and  has the unique distinction of being the last  racing off-spring of the two-time Harness Horse of the Year (1971 & 1972) and outstanding stallion, Albatross. With five wins this year and career earnings in excess of $372,000 Zeke Parker has the task of finding the winners circle at the end of the Au Revoir.
There is also a second trotter in the contest who’ll be coming in from central New York, that being Gene and Lynne Denney’s, Crowbar Hotel, rated 8-1 on the morning line. The Westgate Crown gelding,  a 107,000 career earner with a 2:00 victory to his credit this season, will start from post two with hot-handed  Bruce Aldrich, Jr. at the controls.

And Adam’s Rocket A, in from the Freehold NJ area, will carry the longshot’s role in the Au Revoir this year. Rated at 10-1 on the early line, the Armbro Operative gelding brings with him a lifetime record of 1:53.3 and earnings of over $230,000 in purse earnings.
The Au Revoir field, two trotters--who drew for the inside post positions-- and five pacers,  will do battle in the fourth race in the Thursday December 27th card.The seven starters collectively have 360 wins and combined earnings  in excess of $1.66 million .

The Au Revoir will be the fourth race on the13-race card. First post is slated for 12:25pm.

M1 - Meadowlands Poised for a Big Opening Weekend

The world’s greatest harness racing makes its return this weekend to East Rutherford, New Jersey for opening weekend of the 2013 Meadowlands standardbred Meet.  

The upcoming meet comes with a few wrinkles, including a re-introduction to Classified Racing, which will give the Meadowlands customer better betting races, more value and fewer short priced favorites.

Opening night is Friday, with post time set for 7:15 p.m.  In addition to a tremendous betting card with full fields making up twelve races, a new bet makes its debut in the $25,000 Early Pick 4 (Races 3-6).  The $15,000 Pick 5 (Races 1-5) and the $50,000 Late Pick 4 (Races 7-10) make their return to the wagering format.

Friday night will also feature many great promotions for the Meadowlands customer.  Free admission and a free live program will get you started.  Beat The Boss is back, where bettors try to take down the boss, Chairman Jeffrey Gural in a handicapping contest.  The Cash It or Stash It promotion returns along with rides in the starting car and a paddock tour.

Saturday night features 13 great races with full fields and the 2013 Meadowlands calendar giveaway. There is a driver autograph session beginning at 6 p.m., That’s My Driver promotion, rides in the starting car and much more!  The Meadowlands Racetrack will raise the Late Pick 4 (Races 7-10) guarantee on Saturday night to $75,000 as it reasserts itself as harness racing’s best bet! 

There is something for everyone on opening weekend and there is just one place to be this Friday and Saturday night, the Meadowlands Racetrack.  Post time for both cards is 7:15 p.m.


Monticello Raceway has cancelled its scheduled qualifying races on Thursday, December 27 because of a pending snowstorm. However, live racing will continue as scheduled with first post at 12:25pm.

“Although the amount of snow we will receive varies greatly with the temperature hovering around freezing, still we have cancelled our qualifiers for tomorrow (Thurs. Dec. 27) so we can have the racetrack set to go  for our pari-mutuel card,” explained  Eric Warner the tracks director of racing.
Qualifiers will go as scheduled next Wednesday, January 2

Monday, December 24, 2012

CalX1 - Cal Expo Hosts Special Wednesday Night Card



            By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The  $13,850 Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series finale is the featured attraction on a special Wednesday evening of harness racing at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo. First post is 5 p.m. and the racing action will continue this week with Friday and Saturday night programs.
                                                                                                                                       Stars and Glides, who has turned in some big miles at this meeting since coming in from Pocono, gets the top billing in the Budahn finale for owner/breeder Jack Coffey and driver/trainer Bruce Clarke.

The 3-year-old son of Master Glide and the Website mare Starlet’s Web won a conditioned event by nearly nine lengths on December 8, then came back the following week to prove a punctual even-money choice in the second leg of the Budahn. He came home with three and a half-lengths to spare in that contest over a sloppy racetrack.
                                                                                                                                                El Azteca will be one of the main rivals after accounting for the opening leg of this series on December 1 in a game, first-over performance. The multiple stakes-winning son of Panama Hanover is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and Scott Cisco will be handling the lines.
                                                                                                                                           Rounding out the field are a pair of Bob Johnson trainees in Tangram and Chevie Balboa; Try This with Chip Lackey; Connie’s Lady, to be guided by James Kennedy; Earls Dreamofglory with David Siegel; and the Frank Petrelli-trained Claim Jumper from the outside slot.


This week will find the finals of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series on Wednesday; the Bob Staats Pacing series for fillies and mares on Friday and the Bob Gordon Pacing series on Saturday.
                                                                                                                                           The Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series finale is named for the mainstay of California harness racing for over 30 years who passed away in April of 2009 at the age of 58 at his home in Sacramento.
                                                                                                                                                Dr. Budahn was born in St. Paul, Minn., and while growing up in that state his father introduced him to harness racing. He attended the University of Minnesota and soon after graduating made the move to California, along with his wife Debra.

Dr. Budahn served on the Board of Directors of the California Harness Horsemen’s Association (CHHA) for over 12 years, including a stint as president of the organization for three terms. He was a strong voice in California harness racing and was always there for the horsemen, helping them in any way he could.

Along with Debra, Dr. Budahn started The Gusty Stable, which campaigned some of the best trotters and pacers to ever compete in the Golden State. They included Doodlin and Claude’s Last Lady, who both represented the Budahns in Breeders Crown Events. The Gusty Stable also raced such top performers as Wilder Echo, Alfa Star, Amazing Glide, Claudius Augustus and bred and developed Direct Flight.

Rick Kuebler drove many of the aforementioned stars and acknowledged Dr. Budahn’s contribution to the sport. “He was also the finest all-around horseman I’ve ever known and the most sought-after veterinarian in the state when it came to diagnosing the problems of a horse.”
                                                                                                                                          Watch and Wager LLC is proud to present the Dr. Gary Budahn, Bob Staats and Bob Gordon series finals this week, with more special events scheduled in the coming months to honor those who have been so important to harness racing in California.


                                                                                                                                            The racing action will continue this week with Friday and Saturday programs (December 28 and 29), while next week will find the trotters and pacers competing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (January 4-6).