PHRC updates policy regarding nasal strips

The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission has updated its policy regarding nasal strips, effective November 1, 2014.

CLICK HERE for a copy of the policy.

Stillings family produces another World Champion

StillingsWhen it comes to horses, it’s all about family bloodlines. Champions breed champions.

The same can often be said when it comes to the people involved with horses.

Dick Stillings is known throughout the world of harness racing as a Hall of Famer, thanks to decades of success as a driver and trainer.

Recently, however, a new Stillings has been making a name for herself in another branch of the equine community.

Sophia Stillings, 12, is the granddaughter of Dick Stillings, and has become quite a powerhouse at the Morgan Grand National and World Championships.

This past weekend (October 17-18), the Spring Valley, Ohio native won her fourth consecutive World Championship in the Pleasure division, and her second straight world title in Equitation in competition held at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.

Sophia, the daughter of Ricky and Kirsten Stillings, started riding at age five. “She has always been around horses,” said Kirsten, a former mutuel teller at Scioto, of her daughter. “We took her to a horse camp one summer and she fell in love with it. She wanted to take lessons and committed herself to it.”

After leasing a horse for two years, the Stillings family knew it was time to make a purchase and bought Sophia her own horse, Artful Image.

Better known as Rose, the mare has been with Sophia ever since. The pair has worked together at Cape Cod Equestrian Center in Spring Valley with trainers Reese and Erin Richey.

This year, despite her success in the past, Sophia wasn’t sure her streak would continue. “There were some others that came into the ring for the pleasure championship that were very nice horses,” she said. “One was a four-time world champion in another division.”

She faced a similar challenge in equitation.

“Equitation isn’t my best suit, so it’s something I had to work hard at and that was probably my biggest goal for the year.”

In the end, Sophia and Rose had won two more World Championships.

Sophia, her parents, and her 7-year-old sister Ella did not make the trip alone this year, as they had backing from the most well-known member of the family, grandfather Dick. “It was pretty exciting,” said Sophia. “I didn’t expect him to come and it was a lot of fun to have him there.”

The harness racing Hall of Famer took a break from his racing schedule at The Meadows to make the trek to Oklahoma to support his granddaughter. “She’s amazing,” said Dick. “I went to a lot of her shows in Ohio, but this is the first time I went to Oklahoma to see her. It was great. I had tears in my eyes. When you do something like that achievement wise, for herself and the horse, you feel great for them.”

Dick Stillings was also grateful to get the opportunity to spend time with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. “Her mom, Kirsten, is a big influence on her and so is Ricky, her dad. They have two daughters and whatever either wants to do, they try to help them do it. You couldn’t find better parents. For me, I hadn’t been anywhere in a while, and it was great to get to be there and be part of it.”

Dick Stillings has been part of many success stories in the world of harness racing, including two Breeders Crown wins (with Esquire Spur and Kentucky Spur) and a pair of Little Brown Jug victories (with Barberry Spur and Jaguar Spur). But this achievement by his granddaughter ranks right near the top of his list of equine memories. “All I can say is that it’s one of those situations where you are happy for them and you’re happy for yourself that you could be there to see it.”

MSOA hosts Errey, McConnell-Serio in special charity race

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association hosted a special “Gold Medal Match Race” pitting two former world champions in a charity harness racing event.

Bob Errey, who won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, earned his gold medal in 1997 as part of Team Canada in the World Hockey Championships.  Suzie McConnell-Serio, head coach of the University of Pittsburgh women’s basketball team and a former Coach of the Year in the WNBA, earned an Olympic gold medal as part of the United States team in 1988.

Errey and McConnell-Serio are harness racing fans that have made many visits to The Meadows with family and friends, and combined forces with the MSOA this past Saturday night to raise money for two local charities.

McConnell-Serio was representing Coaches For Cancer, an organization that works with basketball coaches.  McConnell-Serio representing a local branch representing the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and Duquesne University, all three of which are based in the Pittsburgh region.

Errey’s charity of choice was the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s IBD research program, which looks to find a cure for Irritable Bowel Disease.

Through the work of Errey, McConnell-Serio and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, each charity received $2,000, while everyone in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to see two gold medal winners battle on the track and visit with racing fans.

List of eligibles released for Fall Late Closers

The Meadows Race Office has released the list of horses eligible to the Fall 2014 Late Closer Series.

CLICK HERE for the full list.

MSOA supporting HHYF fundraiser

The Harness Horse Youth Foundation’s annual fall fundraiser, Drive For Youth, is rapidly approaching.  The Meadows will participate on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10 under the guidance of Heather Wilder from the MSOA.

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MSOA to host PA Fair Finals

$200,000 will be on the line on Saturday night (October 4) at The Meadows, as the 2014 Pennsylvania Fair Finals will be featured as part of a special 13-race evening card. Post time is 6:55PM.

Horses have been traveling the circuit since mid-June earning points in Pennsylvania Sire Stake fair events at 21 venues. The top eight point-earners in each of eight divisions will meet for the annual championship events.

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IMPORTANT: PHRC updates key policies for drivers

The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission has updated policies in regard to three key items for drivers.  New policies will go into place on November 1 for Giving Holes/Making Room, Pylon infractions, and a new Whipping Policy.

Click on the links below to read the new policies.

Giving Holes-Making Room Policy — Effective Nov 1 2014

Pylon Policy — Effective Nov 1 2014

Whipping Policy — Effective Nov 1 2014

NOTICE: PHRC Claiming Regulations and Procedures

The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission has issued a notice regarding claiming regulations and procedure.

CLICK HERE to read.

Track announces new Late Closing Series for 2YOs

The Meadows Race Office has announced a group of four Fall Late Closers for two-year-olds.  Nominations for these new events will close on October 1.

For more details and a nomination form, CLICK HERE.

MSOA raises $3,000 via ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association is pleased to make a $3,000 donation to the ALS Association, raised through the organization’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

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Enjoy a special MSOA/Washington Wild Things video

The MSOA once again teamed with the Washington Wild Things for a night at the ballpark.  Check out this special video in honor of the event!

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Horsemen’s Emergency Fund benefits from MSOA, Meadows donations

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association teamed with The Meadows Racetrack & Casino this past Friday night (August 8) for a special evening to benefit the Horsemen’s Emergency Fund.

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Download our August, 2014 Newsletter

The MSOA’s e-Newsletter for August, 2014 is now available.  CLICK HERE to download!

Cambria Suites Meadow Lands discount available to MSOA members

cambria2A reminder, MSOA members are eligible to receive a discount at the Cambria Suites, Meadow Lands.

Be sure to mention the MSOA when booking by phone at 724-223-5555.

The Cambria Suites is located at 451 Racetrack Road.


Video: Zendts, Cam Land point Cammikey toward Adios success

Trainer Bill Zendt, driver Brian Zendt, and the Cameron family’s Cam Land LLC will send Cammikey into the 2014 Adios Eliminations at The Meadows.

Bill Zendt sat down and talked about his homegrown sophomore pacer in a video interview.

CLICK HERE to watch.

Video: Parker sends Mattamerican into Adios for owner Key

Meadows based trainer Norm Parker sends Mattamerican into Saturday’s Adios Pace eliminations for owner Bob Key.  Parker took time to talk about his 3YO Allamerican Native pacer in an interview produced by Jeff Zidek for The Meadows.

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MSOA Announces 2014-15 Scholarship Winners

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association is pleased to announce that seven students will share more than $11,000 in MSOA scholarships as they continue their educations this fall.

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MSOA hosts successful Back To The Track night

BTTT MeadowsThe Meadows Standardbred Owners Association hosted a well-received Back To The Track Night at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino on July 11.

In addition to great racing action featuring seven Pennsylvania Sire Stake races on a 15-race card, there were plenty of activities for everyone.

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MSOA teams with Variety’s “My Bike” Program

My BikeThe Meadows Standardbred Owners Association teamed with Variety Pittsburgh’s “My Bike” program, hosting a special night of racing at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino on Friday, July 11.

The evening included a special match race that benefitted the group, and the MSOA ended the night with the announcement that the group is purchasing an adaptive bike for a local child.

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MSOA, Pastor Joe ask horsemen for help

On July 5, two members of our harness racing family, Michelle Venneri and Becky Hess lost their home and all contents to a horrific fire.

The MSOA and the Chaplaincy program are asking that horsemen and friends contribute to a fund to help restore their finances and household items that need to be replaced.

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Horse Approval Guidelines Updated

The Meadows’ Race Office has updated the track’s Horse Approval Guidelines, effective June 24, 2014.

CLICK HERE for full details.

Meadows hosts first 2YO qualifiers of 2014

The Meadows hosted its first qualifying races for two-year-olds on Friday (May 30), with five events, part of a 16-race qualifying card.

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Meadows Chaplain honored by local community

Pastor JoeHundreds of horsemen, track employees and members of the community turned out to honor Pastor Joe DiDonato at a recent Washington Wild Things baseball game.

Pastor Joe threw out the first pitch and even announced a few innings on the PA system, hearkening back to his former days as a radio DJ in Pittsburgh.

A picnic dinner for family and friends during the game, and a fireworks display afterward completed the night, as the longtime Meadows chaplain was honored for his years of service to horsemen and the community.

CLICK HERE for a special video, produced by the Wild Things.

The MSOA congratulates Pastor Joe and thanks all of the horsemen that turned out to help make the event a success!

MSOA hosts second annual Ruffner/Yoder Memorial

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association hosted a special evening of racing on Friday night, May 30, to conclude the Memorial Day holiday week.

Featured on the evening was be the second annual Ruffner/Yoder Gun 23 Memorial Race, which honors two fallen heroes, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Ruffner and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jarret Yoder. Both served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and lost their lives in a helicopter crash in April, 2013.

Horseman Grant Boudreaux served in the same unit and helped to create the memorial race last year, but was still serving overseas and could not attend. Following the 2013 race, Boudreaux, along with members of the Ruffner and Yoder families, presented the MSOA with an American flag that flew during one of their combat missions. This year, both Boudreaux and the flag were in the winners circle for the post-race presentation.  Sam Hill, owned by Don Tiger, trained by John Sullivan and driven by Greg Wright Jr won the event for the second straight year.

The MSOA also continued its charitable efforts that evening, hosting a special race to benefit JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Race #5 on the Friday night card was the JDRF Benefit Race, and the MSOA donated its commission from wagering on the race to the fund.

A match race featuring three local celebrities from ABC affiliate WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. Marcie Cipriani, Ashlie Hardway, and Justin Rose, part of the WTAE news team, was another feature on the card, and Rose, a sports anchor, followed up the race by making his debut as a race announcer, calling The Meadows’ 10th race on the card.

The MSOA also hosted its highly popular Family Fun Night, with a bounce house, racehorse “Meet & Greet” in a stall on the track’s apron level, “Spin To Win” giveaways and driver/trainer meet and greets.

It was a successful night overall, both on the track and in the grandstand, as a large crowd was entertained by a strong 15-race card that featured a win by Hambletonian hopeful Father Patrick in 1:53.1.