Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dan Patch Award Winners Announced

Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications:

Rock N Roll Heaven finished his racing career a month ago, but added another win to his resume Tuesday.

Rock N Roll Heaven, who completed his career with a 10-race win streak that included a world-record performance in the Little Brown Jug, was named harness racing’s best 3-year-old male pacer by the U.S. Harness Writers Association in Dan Patch Award voting revealed Tuesday.

Award-winners were named in 12 age-based divisions for trotters and pacers. The results of USHWA balloting for Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at the organization’s annual awards dinner, to be held February 27 at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Other division winners were 2-year-old male trotter Pastor Stephen, 2-year-old male pacer Big Jim, 2-year-old filly trotter Crys Dream, 2-year-old filly pacer See You At Peelers, 3-year-old male trotter Lucky Chucky, 3-year-old filly trotter Bar Slide, 3-year-old filly pacer Put On A Show, older male trotter Enough Talk, older female trotter Buck I St Pat, older male pacer Won The West and older female pacer Dreamfair Eternal.

Buck I St Pat has won three consecutive awards for best older female trotter, joining Moni Maker (1997-2000), Peace Corps (1990-92), Scenic Regal (1987-89) and Fresh Yankee (1969-72) as mares to earn the honor at least three years in a row. Buck I St Pat was named on all 131 ballots returned, making her the only unanimous selection this year.

Enough Talk claimed his second award for best older male trotter; he won previously in 2008. He joins Mr Muscleman (2004-05) and No Sex Please (1990 and 1992) as the only horses to win twice in the last 34 years.

Won The West captured his second consecutive division title as best older male pacer. He joins Mister Big (2007-08) and Red Bow Tie (1998-99) as the only horses to pull off the double in the last 32 years.

Lucky Chucky earned his second straight division crown, having won the 2-year-old male trotter title last season. He is the fourth consecutive trotter to accomplish that feat, following Muscle Hill, Deweycheatumnhowe and Donato Hanover.

Rock N Roll Heaven, the top-ranked horse in the year-end Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, was named on 129 of 131 ballots returned. In addition to the Little Brown Jug, which he won in consecutive heats with back-to-back world-record-equaling 1:49.2 miles, Rock N Roll Heaven’s victories included the Breeders Crown, Tattersalls Pace, Battle of the Brandywine, and Messenger Stakes.

Trained by Bruce Saunders and driven primarily by Daniel Dube, the colt earned $2.15 million, good for the seventh richest season ever for a pacer of any age. He is owned by Frank Bellino.

Among the other award winners, Pastor Stephen won the closest balloting since 1988. He defeated Manofmanymissions by one vote, 56-55. In 1988, Esquire Spur defeated Park Avenue Joe 82.5-82 in voting for 3-year-old male trotter.

See You At Peelers finished the year with 13 wins in 13 races and became only the second 2-year-old filly pacer to win her Dan Patch Award with an undefeated season. My Little Dragon, who was 6-for-6 in 2005, was the first.

Put On A Show won 12 of 16 starts and $1.16 million this year, pushing her career earnings to $1.89 million and setting the record for highest earnings for a filly pacer. Miss Easy held the record, with $1.77 million earned in 1990-91.

Pastor Stephen (56 votes)
Cantab Hall-Gala Dream-Enjoy Lavec
Breeder: Brittany Farms
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brittany Farms
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 11-6-4-0 Purses: $653,748 Mark: 1:56 at Mohawk
Top wins: $485,000 William Wellwood Memorial; $98,489 Champlain

Crys Dream (94 votes)
Taurus Dream-Crysta’s Image-Balanced Image
Breeder: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme
Owners: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme, Deo Volente Farms, TLP Stable
Trainer: Henrik Hollsten Drivers: Jean Dubois, Luc Ouellette
Races: 8-7-0-0 Purses: $584,392 Mark: 1:54.3 at Woodbine
Top wins: $502,000 Goldsmith Maid; $452,020 Peaceful Way

Lucky Chucky (108 votes)
Windsong’s Legacy-Aerobics-Muscles Yankee
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: SGS Partners, Perretti Racing Stable, Lindy Racing Stable
Trainer: Chuck Sylvester Driver: John Campbell
Races: 11-5-3-1 Purses: $1.43 million Mark: 1:50.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $970,000 Canadian Trotting Classic; $500,000 Colonial

Bar Slide (69 votes)
Yankee Glide-Marla Bar-Malabar Man
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Fredericka Caldwell, Bluestone Farms
Trainer: Joe Holloway Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 14-5-2-1 Purses: $568,529 Mark: 1:52.4 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $70,500 Bluegrass

Enough Talk (73 votes)
Enjoy Lavec-Fashion Setter-Donerail
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: Peter Kleinhans Racing, Jerry Silva
Trainer: Peter Kleinhans Driver: Ron Pierce
Races: 17-5-4-1 Purses: 641,022 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $235,750 Titan Cup

Buck I St Pat (131 votes; unanimous)
Jailhouse Jesse-Name It Something-Speed In Action
Breeder: Ron Fuller
Owners: Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen, Ron Fuller
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 19-9-3-4 Purses: $715,135 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $340,470 Armbro Flight; 250,000 Breeders Crown

Big Jim (120 votes)
Western Ideal-Bold Pink-Big Towner
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms
Owner: Jim Carr
Trainer: James “Friday” Dean Driver: Phil Hudon
Races: 10-6-1-2 Purses: $827,204 Mark: 1:49.1 at Woodbine (world record)
Top wins: $709,000 Governor’s Cup; $600,000 Breeders Crown

See You At Peelers (99 votes)
Bettor's Delight-West Side Glory-Western Ideal
Breeder: Christina Takter
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Jim Morrill Jr.
Races: 13-13-0-0 Purses: $581,649 Mark: 1:51.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championship

Rock N Roll Heaven (129 votes)
Rocknroll Heaven-Artistic Vision-Artsplace
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Charles “Cotton” Nash, Julie Nash, Francene Nash
Owner: Frank Bellino
Trainer: Bruce Saunders Driver: Daniel Dube
Races: 21-16-2-1 Purses: $2.15 million Mark: 1:47.3 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $604,100 Little Brown Jug; 604,000 Tattersalls; $500,000 Breeders Crown

Put On A Show (118 votes)
Rocknroll Hanover-Stienam’s Place-Artsplace
Breeders: Green Mountain Farms, Kentuckiana Farms General Partnership
Owners: Craig Henderson, Richard Young, Joanne Young
Trainer: Chris Ryder Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 16-12-3-0 Purses: $1.16 million Mark: 1:49.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $350,000 Valley Forge

Won The West (90 votes)
Western Hanover-Gabrielle-Dragon’s Lair
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Strollin Stable, William Robinson, James Koehler
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: David Miller
Races: 19-7-8-3 Purses: $1.36 million Mark: 1:48.1 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby; $500,000 Breeders Crown

Dreamfair Eternal (123 votes)
Camluck-J Cs Nathalie-Flight Of Fire
Breeders: John Lamers, Mary Lamers
Owner: John Lamers
Trainer: Patrick Fletcher Driver: Randy Waples
Races: 22-16-4-1 Purses: $925,575 Mark: 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs
Top wins: $364,560 Milton; $300,000 Breeders Crown

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Muscle Hill to be held at Vernon Downs in 2011

Vernon Downs is proud to announce one of its newest sponsors for one of the top Open mare trotting events in North America to its 2011 stakes schedule in The Muscle Hill.

Recently known as The Conway Hall, The Muscle Hill Syndicate has stepped up to sponsor one of the top mare events for an estimated purse of $200,000.

“We are very pleased to be involved with the management of Vernon Downs in sponsoring this event," said Syndicate Manager Mike Klau of Southwind Farms. "Vernon has always been a great place to race trotters and we feel that this event always showcases the world’s best and that’s something that we felt that we could support.”

Recent winners of the event include World Champion Passionate Glide in 2007, Falls For You in 2008 in 1:53.1, which stands as the current stakes record, Multiple World Champion Buck I St Pat in 2009 and Yursa Hanover and Dan Dube in 2010.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Muscle Hill Syndicate to showcase the best of the best trotting mares in the world for The Muscle Hill in 2011," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "Muscle Hill himself was a multiple World Champion and was undoubtedly one of the best trotters to step foot on a racetrack. We are very proud that his name will live on in the industry, and will be a major stakes event at Vernon Downs.”

The Muscle Hill is scheduled for Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at Vernon Downs and will be co-featured by the $200,000 counterpart for Open Trotters, The Credit Winner.

For more information on Vernon Downs please visit us online at www.vernondowns.com.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeff Gural Responds to New York City OTB Closing

Jeffrey Gural is the chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

"As the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and a member of the Creditors Committee for OTB, I feel that I have to respond to the statement issued by the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance which claims to represent almost all of the horsemen in New York State. I am proud to say that they certainly do not represent the horsemen at Tioga Downs.

As you know, this group vigorously opposed the legislation that would have kept OTB open and now seems relatively unconcerned with the fact that it is closing. I want to make it clear to the industry that the closing of OTB is a disastrous development for our industry.

While I totally agree that OTB as it has been run is not a well oiled machine, I think that everyone involved recognizes that in order for it to survive long-term it has to go in a new direction and open the type of facilities that we have seen opened in New Jersey and appear to be quite successful.

Unfortunately, from an economic standpoint, the closing of New York City OTB will be disastrous. I expect that the breeding fund will lose approximately $1,500,000 and that the racetracks will lose an additional $11,000,000, 50% of which goes to horsemen in the form of purses. In total this represents a loss of approximately $7,000,000 in purses and breeding funds statewide.

Worse yet, sometime next year Aqueduct will open and that will take business away from Yonkers which will probably cost an additional $1,500,000 to the breeding fund in 2012 and cause purses at Yonkers to decline by about 20%.

Making matters even worse, the likelihood is that the other OTB’s will also eventually fail and the head of District 37, the largest union in the state that represents the thousand workers who lost their jobs yesterday at Christmas time, assured me that the union will do everything they can to insure that no legislation is passed in the future that will help our industry or the other OTB’s.

That does not bode well for the future of horse racing.

Another negative has been the numerous newspaper editorials written on this subject which all make reference to the fact that horse racing is a dying business and should no longer be subsidized by the taxpayers. The amazing part of all of this is that the legislation this group opposed would actually have increased purses statewide by about 10% and kept the breeding fund where it currently is.

All in all, the events earlier this week, in my opinion, are an unmitigated disaster but apparently our largest breeding farms and all but the Tioga Harness Horsemen’s Association disagree. Is it any wonder that our sport is where we are today?