Tuesday, February 11, 2014

“Magician” Rules O’Brien Night; Almost Raced in Hambo

By Joe Scarpa

One down, one to go for Bee A Magician.

The brilliant trotting mare won an O'Brien Award last night as Canada's 2013 Horse of the Year. Fifteen days later, she is expected to be named U.S. Horse of the Year at the Dan Patch Awards ceremonies at Dover Downs. Bee A Magician also took home an O'Brien Award as the top 3-year-old trotting filly at last night's ceremonies in Prince Edward Island.

Accepting the Horse of the Year Award co-owner Herb Liverman revealed that Bee A Magician came closer to racing in the Hambletonian than most thought. He said that she had a problem with a sore foot around the time of the race and that was the primary reason her connections decided to go instead in the Hambletonian Oaks.

"There was a lot of discussion about going in the race and one of the questions was ‘is she 100%?' and I said that if I had to answer that right away the answer was no," said trainer Nifty Norman. "Her feet were stringing her. So Herb said, ‘that's good enough for me. Unless you're 100 % confident then we won't go.’ We just decided to not even enter the Hambletonian."

Most believe that Bee A Magician is so good that she would have beaten males in the Hambletonian, but Norman wasn't ready to go that far.

"Personally, I was never in favor of going in the Hambletonian because I was worried it would hurt her for the rest of the year," he said. "With the way things turned out I'm glad we didn't go. Royalty For Life was at the top of his game that day and I doubt if we would have beaten him anyway."

Norman said that his star mare has had a good winter so far and looks "unbelievable." He is eyeing the May 19 Miss Versatility in Canada for her 4-year-old debut and will likely follow that up with an appearance in the Armbro Flight, also at Mohawk.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Friday, February 07, 2014

Lights Out

By Bill Finley

They seemed to have everything in place last night at Miami Valley for a big inaugural card. Everything, that is, but lights. And so Miami Valley went dark on opening night.

The sport’s newest harness track closed before it opened as racing was canceled last night at Miami Valley due to a power failure.

The card was set to begin at 6:30, but about 15 minutes prior to the first race the lights started to go out. It was announced to the crowd that racing could not begin until auxiliary generators could be started. Eventually, management gave up and called off the night’s races around 8 pm. Last night’s scheduled card will be held Wednesday.

Miami Valley had hoped to open with a bang as it had attracted Dave Palone for the first night. With Palone joining Ohio drivers Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and Dan Noble the program featured the three leading dash wining drivers from each of the last three years.

Miami Valley was built to replace Lebanon Raceway and to give owners a better facility to take advantage of laws legalizing racetrack slots.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Yonkers Showed Ron Pierce the Money

Racinos are back in the news, this time on the harness side. Following the lead of fellow drivers George Brennan and Brian Sears, Ron Pierce is making a move across the Hudson to Yonkers. Time will tell whether or not it's wise to leave The New Meadowlands. Below is the lead story in this week's edition of Harness Racing Update, published and edited by Bill Finley.

Veteran driver Ron Pierce said that his decision to switch allegiances from the Meadowlands to Yonkers boils down to the simple fact that he needs to make more money.

Pierce announced Sunday that he will drive at Yonkers on Friday and Saturday nights instead of the Meadowlands, at least until stakes season starts in East Rutherford. With the switch, he joins George Brennan and Brian Sears as drivers who have made the move across the Hudson to take advantage of the big purses at Yonkers.

For the next few months, Pierce will split his time between Yonkers and Dover Downs.

Anticipating that Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural would be upset with his defection, Pierce said that he hopes Gural understands that drivers can't ignore how much money can be made at Yonkers.
"Mr. Gural has to understand that I have a mortgage on my house, have car payments, insurance payments. I've got an ex-wife that I have to give a large chunk of alimony money to," Pierce said. "I have to do what's best for myself. I need the money. I think he should understand that I am in a predicament where I have to make as much money as I can."

With the Meadowlands closed last weekend for the Super Bowl Pierce drove at Yonkers and said being there was an eye-opener for him. He had a huge weekend, winning eight races.

"I have been considering going over to Yonkers now for several years," he said. "After I went over there the other night and did pretty well over the weekend, I had the race bike in the back of my truck driving home and a buddy of mine called me and said I should just stay there because I would make a lot more money. I knew that all along but it really hit me when he added up my purses and said I made $87,000 in two days at Yonkers.

Gural reiterated that he wants the top drivers like Pierce at his track.

"I'm disappointed because you would think that there would be some degree of loyalty and appreciation for the fact I spent $100 million to keep the Meadowlands open, which is probably one of the main reasons that we haven't seen a catastrophic collapse of the industry," he said.

"Having said that, Ron has had a distinguished career and I recognize that he's at the tail end of a distinguished career and I guess he's trying to make as much money as possible."

Read the entire story at harnessracingupdate.com.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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