New Owner Seminar to be held

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will be hosting a seminar for new owners on Saturday, October 31 at 2PM.

Additional details will be available soon, but mark your calendars and make plans to bring potential new owners to the track that day, as we will have live racing at 11:25AM!

Qualifying schedule announced

The Meadows Race Office has announced that qualifiers will be held during the October shutdown on Thursday October 8, Thursday October 22 and Thursday October 29.


Local owner donates earnings to Hanners Fund

When Marty Megatron stepped onto the track at The Meadows on Tuesday afternoon (September 22) he carried the hopes of his owner Don Tiger.

However, Tiger’s desire for the horse to win took on a different meaning this week, as he was donating the horse’s purse earnings to the family of horseman Brad Hanners, who passed away earlier in the week.

“I decided that 100% of Marty’s net earnings that day will go to Brad’s wife and their kids,” said Tiger.

He was inspired by what he saw at Scioto Downs on their sire stake championship night, as horsemen gathered to support the Hanners family. Rather than just make a cash donation, Tiger decided to let his horse determine things. “Racing is what we love. If it was me, I know I would want a horse to go to the gate for me.”

There was no guarantee that Marty Megatron, who races for trainer Tim Twaddle, would get a check in the $6,200 race.  Despite leading much of the mile, the horse faded out of the money.   Tiger, however, made a guarantee, vowing a minimum of $250 would be sent to the family if the horse finishes out of the money.

Tiger added, “I never knew Brad. I met his grandmother once in the grandstand at The Meadows years ago. I just think that horsemen top to bottom need to help out other horsemen.”

Tiger and Marty Megatron certainly did their part.

 The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will accept donations for the Hanners Family at the MSOA office located on the backstretch at The Meadows. Checks can be made payable to the Hanners Fund.  

Meadows, MSOA announce October schedule changes

On July 22, 2015, the MSOA and Meadows Racing requested a reduction of race days between October 12 and October 29.  The purpose of this change is intended to refresh the purse account and to provide a scheduled break for horses and horsemen.  The delay in announcing this break was due to the tabling of the proposal by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission at the August 1 meeting.

The MSOA and The Meadows received the approval letter regarding this change on August 24.

The last day of live racing will be October 10.  Racing will resume on October 30.  October 31 has also been added to the racing schedule, with an 11:25AM post.  

Newcomer to PA Fairs trying to make a name for himself

Lester Smealby Rich Fisher, for the US Trotting Association
When he was a 10-year-old boy, Lester Smeal II visited the Clearfield (PA) Fair, and it was love at first sight with the sport of harness racing.

He told that to his dad, Lester, whose reply was “You’ve got to wait until your opportunity comes.”

The opportunity began in an unusual way when a year later the Smeals rescued two Thoroughbreds from a track and brought them on to their farm in Morrisdale, Pa., situated near Penn State University.

“We had seen an ad in the paper and we went and got two of them,” the 20-year-old Smeal said. “We used them as normal riding horses, and my dad said ‘If you want to see how good you are, train the one.’ My dad helped me out and I trained a Thoroughbred in a cart. If you can train a Thoroughbred to do it off the racetrack you can probably do a Standardbred.”

Smeal went to the U.S. Trotting Association’s Driving School in 2014, got his license, and bought and trained two Standardbreds — Amber Eyes and License To Steal. He drove qualifiers at The Meadows before heading out to the fair circuit. After getting rained out a few times, his first race came earlier this year at the Bloomsburg Fair, where he finished fourth out of five horses.

“I was a little bummed out about the finish but I was happy with the way I drove,” Smeal said. “You can’t do anything about it for your first time. It was still pretty good.”

He said the thrill of being in a race was everything he thought it would be. He rated it higher than stuffing a running back for a five-yard loss from his linebacker position at West Branch Area High School.

“I loved doing it,” Smeal said. “I used to play tons of football when I was younger. I told my dad I loved doing this more than I loved playing football.”

After a fifth-place finish, Lester came up with his first win, driving Amber Eyes to first place in a division of the Quaker State 3-year-old pace on July 3 at the Butler Fair.

At the start of the race, Aaron Johnston’s horse took the lead and Smeal said “I had my horse literally right up behind his ear, breathing right down his neck.”

The horses stayed that way until an inside hole opened up on the second lap. Johnston and another driver took their horses high and Smeal said, “I didn’t know if I could take the hole down on the inside, but that’s what I did, and took off and got the first win.

“It was pretty exciting, very emotional for my whole family,” he added. “I had my whole family there, they were all watching me. They couldn’t believe I got my first win in my third race. They were all proud.”

Since then, Smeal has raced at as many tracks as possible “to keep my horses going.” He has driven Amber Eyes to two thirds and License To Steal to a second, and enjoys driving horses that he owns and trains.

“It’s pretty sweet,” he said. “Whenever you do that you learn more about your horse. By training them, you get to know the horses and know how to trigger them to go fast.”

Smeal makes no secret that he wants a career in harness racing. His dream is to get his professional driver’s license as soon as he gets enough drives, and he also enjoys being an owner and trainer.

“Honestly, it’s not a hard deal for me to do it all,” he said. “For football I always had the same commitment. With the training and driving, it is a big deal, always working with horses, constantly driving them. It’s fun. People might not think it’s fun, both training and driving, but for me it’s a blast. I’d rather be doing that than sitting at a desk. I love the personality of horses, each horse is completely different.”

And while he is confident in his ability, Smeal is humble at the same time, as he acknowledged having plenty of help up to this point.

“I want to give a big thanks to my family and everybody on the fair circuit,” Lester said. “(Trainer/driver) Roger Hammer has given me pointers on how to get a horse faster. (Driver) Chris and (trainer) Jason Shaw were the first people I had to work with to get my license. And everyone else on the circuit has been helping me out so much. I really owe a lot to them.”

Mission Brief dominates Moni Maker Trot

Mission Brief Moni Maker 8 21 15When Mission Brief demolished a field of 3-year-old fillies in Friday’s (August 21) $174,000 Moni Maker at The Meadows, it reinforced the notion gaining momentum across harness racing—when she’s healthy and competing against fillies, the only horse that can beat Mission Brief is Mission Brief.

Fresh off her second-place finish to Pinkman in the Hambletonian, Mission Brief waltzed to victory—winning driver Yannick Gingras never cut her loose–in 1:52.3 for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

I’m So Fancy finished second, 3-1/4 lengths back, while Gatka Hanover earned show, giving trainer Burke a 1-2-3 sweep. Hambletonian Oaks winner Wild Honey, the only filly in the field given a shot to challenge Mission Brief, stalked the winner from the pocket but broke stride in the stretch, finishing fourth-placed-sixth.

From the gate, Gingras idled outside with Mission Brief, waiting for the dust to settle before pushing her to the front.

“I thought the only way to get beat is to do something stupid,” Gingras said. “Even if someone decided to go on, I thought I could trot by them. So I wanted to give her a chance to get her feet under her and go from there. She’s faster, bigger, and stronger. She doesn’t look like a filly; she looks like a colt.”

The daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena, who extended her career bankroll to $1,153,417, recorded even fractions of 28/56.1/1:24.1/1:52.3 in winning for the 14th time in 20 career outings.

Burke, harness racing’s perennial leading conditioner, showed no hesitation in calling Mission Brief “a special horse, the best horse I’ve ever trained.”

“There’s no part of me that wavers on that—she’s the best horse I’ve ever trained,” he said.

Prior to the race, Burke indicated he likely would keep Mission Brief in against fillies for the balance of the season, but what he saw in the Moni Maker has him considering other options.

“I would like to maybe try it (racing against males),” he said, “but it won’t be an easy sell to everybody else in our group. I’m a little bit gamer—maybe I believe more in her than anybody does. For a while, it’s a decision we don’t have to make.”

Burke said Mission Brief’s next race will be the Peaceful Way at Mohawk, with a lot of “green” time for the filly between now and then as well as continuing medical treatments for her back.

“We’ll keep after that, but I don’t think it’s a chronic condition,” he said. “It was something that came on. She got out of kilter like anybody else and had to work her way through it. When she warmed up tonight, she was as sound as she’s been all year.”

REMINDER: Keep PHRC informed of changes

Horsemen are reminded to include the PHRC to the list of their contact in regard to changes in address, phone number, email address, etc.

PHRC issues notices regarding Cobalt, Hobbles and Methylprednisolone

The MSOA advises horsemen of three notices released by the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission.  Please read each of the notices below by clicking on the links.

Hopples/Hobbles 05-2015

Methylprednisolone 05-2015 (UPDATED)

Cobalt Testing

360-Degree Camera takes a trip around The Meadows

360Fly, a company based just a few miles from The Meadows, recently teamed with the MSOA to test out their product on the helmet of Mike Wilder during a race.  Enjoy the video!

Qualifying standards: Effective April 16, 2015

From The Meadows Race Office:
Effective April 16h the new Qualifying standards will be, until further notice:

2:00 Pacers
2:02  Trotters

Three-year-olds will be allowed 2 seconds.
Two-year-olds will be allowed 4 seconds.

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.