TEAM ALLARD AND THE YEARLING GAMBLE

BY DAVID MATTIA

Do you remember last year when we had our great yearling giveaway sweepstakes?  The deal was that some lucky person out there would win a free 5% share in one of Team Allard's selected yearlings.  All anyone on earth needed to do was enter the no-strings-attached and totally free contest.  Over seven-hundred folks entered, and a lot of exciting prizes, including the grand prize, were given away. 

 

Of course -- just like we said - someone actually won the yearling super-prize. 

 

The lucky winner got themselves a free 5% ownership in a solidly bred yearling which had been hand-picked by Rene Allard. 

 

Actually, the winner got to choose from one of two horses:  BETTOR'S ACCOUNT, a solid colt by Bettor's Delight who sold for $55,000, or MY SWEET MEMORY, an impeccably bred filly by Sweet Lou who dropped the hammer at $50,000.  At the time, Sweet Lou's ability as a sensational sire had yet to be discovered.  My Sweet Memory is from his first crop... and what a crop it's turned out to be.  

Bettors Account My Sweet Memory Team Allard

 

So, what happened to these two horses since the contest?

 

Well, the numbers were drawn and the lucky winner was, and still is, a Canadian guy named Dave Erickson. The yearling he chose BETTOR'S ACCOUNT, trained down professionally from October 2017 through June 2018, and then he went out and won his first baby race at Pocono Downs in a speedy 1:57.3.  BOOM! 

Bettor's Account, the famed Team Allard Yearling Giveaway where Dave Erickson received 5% ownership for FREE! Off to a great start in his career, he officially has a win and a record to as he wins his qualifier with Matt Romano driving at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for Team Allard and Rene Allard.

 

Yeah, that's what happened.  Don't you wish you'd entered that contest? 

 

Sure, babies make it to the races all the time, but it's not the usual scenario whereby a yearling is bought and broke and trained and ready to race in June, and then goes out there and crushes his opponents in his very first start.  Regardless of Bettor's Account future on the racetrack, watching him go from baby to beast was a lot of fun for everyone involved... including the lucky guy who won 5% of him.  

 

The filly that Dave Erickon did not choose, My Sweet Memory, qualified really well too.  Right on schedule.  But, like most young horses, she is being brought along slowly and carefully.  That's the way it usually goes in the yearling game.  She could very well go on to be the better of the two, but for now, Bettor's Account seems to be a little ahead of the game.  Hey, maybe My Sweet Memory is a "closer" and she catch up before you know it.  

 

Usually, buying a young one and bringing it along to the races is like a really long and treacherous steeplechase. As an owner or trainer, you have to try to keep your optimism meter set somewhere in the middle of middle as your horse approaches each hurdle.  Don't fret about getting too high or too low on a horse either.  If it's going to happen, it's going to happen.  Owning a horse in the Team Allard Stable, win or lose, usually turns out to be an action-packed adventure.  

 

If Rene is half as good at picking out yearlings as he is about picking raceway horses who win, win and win some more, there is bound to be a shakeup in the world of the Grand Circuit where only a handful of trainers seem to dominate.  

 

By the way, did you know that Rene Allard just won his 4,000th career race?  That's an incredible number of wins for a trainer.  Bob Baffert hasn't even won 3,000 yet … and he's a heck of a lot older than Rene Allard.  

Rene Allard 4000 wins

 

Anyway, getting back to the yearlings, you've got a long way to go from the October yearling sales to the June baby races. Just when you get over one hurdle, you come to another and another and another.  More often than not, you come to a hurdle that even the greatest bred, most super-duper looking 2-year-old colt or filly can't clear -- not just yet anyway.  It's okay if they don't do much of anything as 2-year old.  Some of the greatest horses of all time were slow to come around. 

 

JUSTIFY, this year's Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing, didn't even race as a 2-year-old.  Does that mean he wasn't any good?  On the contrary.  It probably means - as was proven to be true - that his trainers, first Rodolphe Brisette, and then the aforementioned Bob Baffert, are skilled horsemen who knew that the horse needed a little more time to grow into his greatness.  

 

Historically, there have been many horsemen who seem better or luckier or simply more gifted than others at picking the yearlings who go on to greatness.  Will Rene Allard join that elite group?  Well, if you look at his stats with racehorses in general, it stands to reason that he can pick out a baby too.  Our best guess is that Rene has added a new level of greatness and prestige to his already winning formula.

 

There's an old saying in horse racing:  "Breed the best to the best and hope for the best."  The same guy who said that probably also said, "Sored up. Needs time to grow.  Gelded and turned out."      

 

It's hard to pick a winner from a family of horses that goes back for generation after generation. Moreover, going over every yearling from head to toe, can be a back-breaking task, especially when you're taking the time to examine hundreds and hundreds of horses in the physical sense. 

 

What makes it even tougher is that the catalog doesn't have enough room to include all of the duds in a horse's family tree. You have to do that kind of research all by yourself.  It can make your head explode.  You open up a catalog, and all you see is black ink.  But, for every black-type pedigree, there are a whole lot of red ink clunkers.  Families can fool you no matter how gifted you are at weeding through pedigrees.  It's not unusual to see a $2,000 yearling go zooming past a $200,000 yearling when racing season comes along.  It doesn't happen very often, but it happens often enough to get a mention.  Don't worry, horse lovers.  It happens in human families too.

 

Way back in 18th century Germany, Mr. and Mrs. Johann van Beethoven had seven kids and a piano.  One of their kids, Ludwig, went on to be - duh - Beethoven.  You know, the composer?  Every kid in 7th grade knows how to play the first ten notes of his Moonlight Sonata, and frankly, it’s getting annoying because most families don't keep their pianos properly tuned.  The point is that the Beethoven family had seven kids and only little Ludwig amounted to anything.  In fact, the Beethoven Family Sales Catalog was so bad that most of the kids didn't even make it to the races.   Hey, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a sister whose only claim to fame was that she had nice handwriting.  Jimi Hendrix had a brother who couldn't even hold a guitar, but he was very good at holding a gun, burglarizing houses and getting in and out of jail.  So yeah, buying a yearling that can hit the ground running and winning like Bettor's Account, can often find you wandering around in a Purple Haze.   

 

The unwritten rule about yearling prices states that the yearling who go on to be the best horses are the ones who sell from $35,000 to $55,000.  This doesn't mean you should steer clear of the yearlings who sell for $100,000 or more.  It's just that most accomplished horses purchased from select sales fall somewhere into that mid-price range simply because there are more of them. 

 

There's always someone who walks off with a $500,000 or $800,000 standardbred yearling, but that's a tough nut to crack.  You might be putting too many of your eggs in one basket.  Rene Allard sort of split this concept neatly.  He bought a filly by Muscle Hill named WHEN DOVESCRY for $205.000 and another filly by Muscle Mass name ONE MORE ROSIE, for $140,000.  Both fillies seem to be headed in the right direction. 

 

Them to everyone’s surprise, Rene plunked down a mere $16,000 for DIAMOND FAN, a flashy colt by Ponder.  Could he be the star of the barn?  Nobody knows yet. 

 

Of course, any horse who sells for big bucks must be something special, and we've all heard the horror stories about the flops, but pedigree and conformation notwithstanding, no one, regardless of experience or skill, can see inside a horse's heart -- and don't forget about all those steeplechase hurdles we talked about.  We're not speaking literally here when we talk about seeing a horse's heart, but some of the flashiest colts and fillies are just that -- all show and no go. 

 

Like the Beethoven kids, some royally-bred juveniles, don't have a whole lot of ambition or interest going on in their heads.  In racehorse language, "heart" is the same as brains and brawn and determination.  Some horses have these attributes and some horses don't.   That's where you have to hold your breath when you're sitting on the owner's side of the bench.   

 

Currently, the Allard Class of 2018 is just getting into the workforce.  It's going to take some time to see just how successful the class will be in the long run.  Are there any future champions in the Team Allard Stable?  So far, the Magic Eight Ball has two faces.  One says, "Too early to tell."  The other says, "All signs point to yes,"   As far as pure stats are concerned, and for the time being, Team Allard is way ahead of the Beethoven family. 

TEAM ALLARD'S YEARLING GIVEAWAY HAS A WINNER!

BY DAVID MATTIA

There's this Canadian guy named Dave Erickson, and he lives within earshot of the pounding waters of the famous Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.  

 

Dave has been around harness horses for most of his life, but Tuesday night, he decided to take the ultimate plunge.  No, he did not go over the falls in a barrel, he entered the mega-awesome Team Allard Yearling Yearling Giveaway -- and he won the grand prize!  Now, as a result of the contest that seemed to good to be true, Team Allard has acquired a brand new team member.  

 

Get out!  Really?  Someone actually won?   YES!  We told you a thousand times that someone would.  

 

The best part of it all is that Dave Erickon has always wanted to be a part of Team Allard, but as far as the contest was concerned, he waited until the last few minutes before the drawing deadline to win the opportunity to own 5% interest in one of two yearlings.  He had to choose.  Which yearling did he choose?   Hold on there, folks.  We'll get to that in a few minutes.   Keep reading.....  

 

"I entered by fluke," said David Erickson, a native of Oshawa who owns and operates a deck and fencing business in the Niagara Falls area.   

 

"I was probably the last person to join.  I had read about the contest for weeks because I follow Rene Allard and Simon in all of their races.  For some reason that I can't explain, I entered the contest at about 6:30 pm which was right before the seven o'clock cutoff.  When my name was announced, I almost....well let's just say that was really, really surprised.  It was unreal.  I've known about the contest all along and enjoyed reading about it on the Team Allard website.  I follow the Allards.  They're a blast to watch and they're great for the business.  I decided at the last minute to enter my name and email.  I think Rene is great and I also think he's great for  harness racing...and he's a proven winner too." 

 

How about that, folks?  We told you the contest was insanely for real, and while thousands listened and read our stories about it, there were only about 700 of you who entered.   The reason why we didn't get an entry from EVERYONE is quite obvious -- it all seemed too good to be true, right?   But, like we told you, it was 100% true, and now Dave Erickson is the beneficiary of his gut instinct  -- even though his gut instinct waited until the last minute to enter. 

 

The drawing was exciting too.  Prior to the Grand Prize -- presented to you by Team Allard's Director of Publicity, Ryan Macedonio on live streaming video -- several other super prizes were drawn by people like Simon Allard and his mom Danielle.  Even Marcus Miller joined in and picked the random ticket that won some lucky contestant an awesome gift bag from Blog Talk Radio's "POST TIME WITH MIKE AND MIKE." 

There were also 8 Consolation prizes offered up to anyone who signed up.

 

Brian Sears Hall Of Fame Memoribilia - Nicole Thayer

Set of Tim Tetrick Racing colors - Trevor Frizzell

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Gift Bag - Kathy Edwards

SLS Equine Custom Halter & Browband - Jamie Secrist

Post Time with Mike and Mike Gift Bag - Shannon Stordy

Set of Louis-Philippe Roy driving colors - Arlene Hess

Team Allard Custom Winter Jacket - Gary Zinderman

Rosecroft Potomac Pace Memoribilia - Simon Simard

 

Finally, when it was time for the Grand Prize drawing, George Napolitano Jr, the leading driver at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, fresh from the Winner's Circle, reached into a bag of tickets and pulled out the winning ticket.  The number on the ticket corresponded with the number assigned to Dave Erickson.   Instantly, Dave became part of the team -- BUT -- he still had to choose between 5% ownership in a yearling filly by Sweet Lou or a yearling colt by Bettor's Delight.  So....which did he choose?  We already told you to wait a few minutes, so hold on. 

 

Naturally, the yearling contest attracted a lot of harness fans and horsemen alike, and if Team Allard's goal with this contest was to generate some publicity, they couldn't have stumbled up a more suitable winner.  Dave is not only a fan, he's a horseman too.  Seems as though Dave Erickson has harness racing roots, and he has worked in the past as groom and a trainer...and a fan.  

download.png

 

"I grew up as a kid with Paul MacDonell and I worked for his father," Dave said.

 

" When Paul went out on his own I worked for him too.  I got out of the harness business for a few years and then got back in again with Tom Rankin under his head trainer Pat Hunt.  I was a groom and then a trainer.  Now I own a fencing company because it pays better.  I build decks and fences for a living, but every night and day I watch harness racing via computer which is why I am a huge fan of Rene Allard.  

 

"Not in any particular order, my three favorite horses of all time are a horse I groomed named Cavans Jovial and then of course, Somebeachsomewhere, and Foiled Again."

 

Dave Erickson continued: 

 

"I have actually been hemming and hawing over fractional ownership for two years.  I talked to a few people but I sat on the fence about making a decision.  I looked at other partnerships, but it was Rene Allard's team that interested me the most.  I was even going to email Rene about buying in on a horse, and now I won one."  

 

So, which yearling did Dave choose?  Did he choose the filly or the colt?  We thought you'd never ask. 

 

"I took the Bettor's Delight colt Bettor's Account,"  said Dave. "I have no doubt that Sweet Lou will have an impact as a sire and that's a nice filly,  but I just couldn't get away from the colt's pedigree.  I remember Bettor's Delight, Delinquent Account, Artiscape, and now there's Big Town Hero and other foals.  I also figure that the colt will probably race in Ontario, so we can get out to watch him and enjoy the ride." 

 

Okay. so there you go, folks.  The new team member is not only knowledgeable about horses and horsemanship, he's also a humongous harness racing fan.  

 

Before we ended our interview, Dave Erickson said that he wanted to add one last thing.  This is what he said. 

 

"I want people to know that....well it's just a huge thank you to Rene and all of Team Allard.  Those boys are a blast to watch, great for the business, and easy to follow because they are ALWAYS IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE!"   

 

Yes, Dave Erickson was THAT enthusiastic, and it's that kind of enthusiasm that got him to enter the contest.   Let that be a lesson to all you folks who didn't enter.  That's just a joke.  Team Allard appreciates  everyone who appreciates great harness racing -- win or lose.  But, for all of you who did enter - to the prize winners and to those who didn't win a prize -- your continued support is always appreciated by Team Allard.  

 

Thank you, and good luck next time.     

WHAT ARE THE ODDS YOU WILL OWN A RACEHORSE THIS WEEK?

BY DAVID MATTIA

DID YOU EVER HEAR THE STORY ABOUT A GUY NAMED JOE AVERAGE?  EACH MORNING, JOE AVERAGE WAKES UP, GRABS THE NEWSPAPER AND READS THE OBITUARY PAGE.  IF HIS NAME ISN'T ON IT, HE GETS OUT OF BED AND EATS BREAKFAST.  

FOR THE NEXT TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, JOE'S WORLD IS HAUNTED BY STRANGE ODDS AND STATISTICS AND RISKS INSCRIBED UPON HIS LIFE BY VARIOUS INSURANCE COMPANIES, MARKETING FIRMS AND ALL KINDS OF GOOGLE-ABLE MONEY-GRABS.  EVERYTHING JOE AVERAGE DOES FROM DAY TO DAY IS MEASURED IN RISKS AND PROBABILITIES.  DOES HE SMOKE?  DOES HE DRIVE TOO FAST OR TOO SLOW OR NOT AT ALL?  DOES HE CHECK HIS SMOKE DETECTOR BATTERIES REGULARLY?  DOES HE EXERCISE, EAT SENSIBLY AND WEAR A FIT BIT?  DOES HE OWN A HARNESS RACEHORSE?  

WHOA!  WAIT A SECOND.  IF JOE AVERAGE IS SO "AVERAGE" WHAT'S HE DOING OWNING A HARNESS RACEHORSE?  JOE AVERAGE CAN'T AFFORD TO BUY AND MAINTAIN A RACEHORSE, CAN HE?  UH, WITH PARTNERSHIPS LIKE TEAM ALLARD, HE CAN.  ONE WAY IS TO BUY IN WITH REAL MONEY, AND THE OTHER WAY IS TO WIN THE DARN CONTEST THAT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO ENTER WEEKS AGO!!!   

READ ON, PLEASE.

Yes, folks, TEAM ALLARD'S  FREE YEARLING GIVE AWAY is coming up.  The yearlings have been chosen, and the odds of YOU being the lucky winner aren't all that bad -- currently about 600 to 1 --  depending on how many people enter their names by draw time.  Sounds like one lucky Joe Average, has a shot at becoming Joe Not-So-Average or Joe Above-Average.  

 

It's totally true.  For the same botanical odds as finding a four-leaf clover without actually looking for one -- and that's a real statistic -  you can own a free share in a Team Allard yearling partnership.  Your odds of winning any one of a number of smaller prizes are even better because Rene Allard and his gang are giving away a whole bunch of groovy stuff.  How about a set of signed Tim Tetrick colors, or an SLS Equine Custom Halter with a Browband or a selection of totally awesome gift bags -- signed by some of harness racing's top drivers?  The prizes just keep pouring down.   

 

So, yeah, in a few days one lucky Joe (or Jane) Average will win the Grand Prize.  They'll get to choose between owning a 5% share in a daughter of Sweet Lou named MY SWEET MEMORY, or owning a 5% share in a son of Bettor's Delight named BETTOR'S ACCOUNT. 

 

Both yearlings were purchased at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale on October 4, 2017.  My Sweet Memory (Hip #117) commanded a price of $50,000 and Bettor's Account (Hip # 123) was collared for $47,000.  

 

So, which will it be, the boy or the girl?   If you manage to punt past that 600-1 morning line long-shot, the odds of you choosing the better horse instantly plummet to a solid 50-50.  If you look up at the tote board, that's what they call even money.  Thereafter, the odds of your "baby" going on to earn money on the racetrack are pretty good too because both horses are bred by the best and hand-picked by the best to be the best.  

 

Basically, there's really no way to lose this contest -- if you happen to win it.  Does that make sense?  Sure it does. The odds, at least in this case, are totally in your favor.  The chance of either horse going on to be a great TROTTER, however, are a million to one because they're both PACERS.  Do you know the difference?  If you don't, you'll figure it all out when you get to pal around with your new peers --  all the other big shot owners who belong to Team Allard.  

 

And, by the way, don't let that 5% thing make you feel like small potatoes.  You're an owner, man.  Remember that harness racing drivers, even greats like Brian Sears or Dave Miller or any one of those guys, are only in it for 5% of the action too.  Think of it as being part of the 5% group -- it sounds very prosperous.

 

So, what are the odds of a juvenile horse going on to fame and fortune?  That's the billion dollar question.  It all depends on a whole lot of things that we'll only partially get to in a moment, but let's digress.  Let's go back to the life of Joe Average.  Maybe it will help us to understand how a little bit of scrutiny and serendipity clump together with a whole lot of luck to create a champion pacer. 

 

On any given day, Joe Average's odds of being struck by lightening are about a million to one.  But, odds can change without mercy.  If Joe golfs or fishes regularly, that bolt of lightning with his name on it is getting a nice second-over trip.  If Joe chooses to pursue those same hobbies on the west coast of Florida where thunderstorms pop up out of nowhere, the aforementioned lightning bolt is getting a pocket trip behind a late-tiring favorite.  Wait a second.  Did Joe Average even enter his name into the Team Allard yearling giveaway?  Odds are that he did not.  Joe Average does not enter contests because he figures he'll never win.  Don't be like Joe Average.  He deserves to get struck by lightning for being so stupid and lazy.  

 

Okay, so, let's say you win this contest.  What are the odds that you'll make money?  What difference does it make?  You've already won just by winning.  Don't get too antsy about it.  Geez, you've just become an instant racehorse owner and a member of a very prestigious harness racing partnership and you already want to name the horse after your grandson?   Ain't gonna happen.  Don't worry about lightening or crazy stuff like that.  Nobody really cares about Joe Average -- that's why he's average.

 

Here's the thing.  Let the chips fall where they may, okay?  Buy yourself some Cuban cigars and a nice smoking jacket.  Sit back and relax in a hammock.  Be content in the knowledge that your "baby" is in great hands, and that his or her possibilities are endless.  Let the other 95-percenters worry about the bottom line.  

 

But seriously, what are the odds that a "baby" will make it to the races?  Which Team Allard baby is the better choice?  Again, it's all about odds and stats that really don't mean anything when you boil it all down. 

 

Let's take this all apart statistically -- just like Joe Average's insurance company would.

 

Bettor's Account, the colt you might pick, is sired by Bettor's Delight.  He's a proven sire.  Bettor's Delight has been breeding for several years and his progeny have done very well.  On the other hand, My Sweet Memory, the filly by Sweet Lou, is what some folks in racing might call "chancy" in that Sweet Lou is just starting out as a stallion.  This is his first crop of babies so there are no stats or odds connected with his ability to sire good racehorses.  

 

While there are no stats for Sweet Lou as a sire, there are other stats that might sway someone towards his filly.  For example:   Sweet Lou took a record of 1:47 and earned $3,478,894.  Bettor's Delight took a record of 1:49.4 and earned $2,581,461.  What does that tell you?  It doesn't really tell you anything except for the basic facts that Sweet Lou's race record is nearly 2 seconds faster than Bettor's Delight's record, and that Sweet Lou Earned close to a million more dollars than Bettor's Delight.   Does that mean his babies will be better than Bettor's Delight's babies?   There's no way to know until the sons and daughters of Sweet Lou start racing next year.   

 

Stats alone can't predict the future, and that there is no way to know if a stallion carries a good genetic deck of cards or a bad deck.  Some of the fastest horses in history have been duds at stud. That happens fairly often.  On the flip side, some really solid stallions weren't exactly stellar performers on the track.  It's not very common, but it happens.  One thing positive that can already be said about Sweet Lou as a stallion is that his foals look good enough to bring in some really big bids from people who know a good prospect when they see one.  Sometimes seasoned buyers have alligator arms when it comes to buying yearlings from a first crop sire, but this was not the case with Sweet Lou.  They didn't come cheap.   Then of course you have your undeniable upside to Bettor's Delight because it's already known that he sires top flight horses.  He's already served notice to the harness racing industry that he is definitely not a dud at stud.  

 

Then there's the matter of sex.  One yearling is a filly and the other is a colt.  Isn't a colt more valuable?  Well, for starters, you can see for yourself that MY SWEET MEMORY cost $3,000 more than BETTOR'S ACCOUNT.   Does that mean anything?  Who knows?  Perhaps there are somewhat less earning opportunities for female horses, but a great filly will earn far more than a good colt.  Remember that both of these horses are staked to various events, and there will be plenty of purse money going around regardless of gender. 

 

Keep in mind that these horses have mothers too -- and that accounts for a whole lot.  It's sad to say, however, that horses don't seem to know anything about the accomplishments of their father or mother of siblings.    A very talented trainer once said, "Don't worry about the damn pedigree.  They don't know who their mommy and daddy are."  

 

MY SWEET MEMORY's dam is a mare named All Memory.  She earned about $75,000 and took a race record of1:54.  That's not too shabby when you compare her to the average mare.   What makes All Memory even more interesting is that she's already had two foals and both are really good horses.  One has already earned over $300,000.   MY SWEET MEMORY is the third foal.  Will she keep the family streak going?  There's no way to know until next year or the year after that, but right now, that's one impressive pedigree.

My Sweet Memory

 

BETTOR'S ACCOUNT's dam is a mare named Art Account.  She only took a qualifying record of 2:02, and she never earned a penny.  We don't know why she failed as a racehorse, but we don't really care at this point because she's a fantastic producer.  She's already had ten foals, and three of them are monsters.  She's the dam of a sub1:48 pacer named Big Town Hero.  He's earned over $478,000.  She's also the dam of That's The Ticket, a 2-year old monster filly who has earned over $268,000, and Hurrikane Jon Paul who has earned $255,000.  Basically, this tells us that BETTOR'S ACCOUNT comes from a rock solid family.  He's got proven breeding on the top and on the bottom.  Will he be a money-maker too?  You'll just have to wait and see.  The odds suggest that he has great potential.

123+Bettor's+Account+Team+Allard.jpg

 

In a sense, yearlings are a lot like Joe Average.   Their lives, careers and futures are all about the odds and perhaps some luck too.  Even if you don't win the grand prize, or any of the prizes, at least you learned a little bit about harness horses and breeding and some of the awesome things that might happen after you become a part owner in a royally bred harness racehorse.  Hopefully, you'll walk away from this page better equipped to enjoy the thrill of racehorse ownership.   Good Luck ! 

TEAM ALLARD'S TOTALLY FREE YEARLING GIVEAWAY

BY David Mattia

This fall 2017 Team Allard is totally, unequivocally and literally giving away 5% ownership in one of their yearlings.  Would you care to participate in their contest?   It's a really good deal, and it's free...but we bet you don't believe it, right?  

 

There's an old joke about a harness racehorse breeder in Kentucky who held a win-a-yearling contest.  First prize was one yearling colt.  Second prize was two yearling colts.  Do you get the joke?  If you do, you'll also get the other old joke about the harness owner who is asked, "How did you make a million dollars buying yearlings?"  The owner responds, "I started out with two million dollars."   

 

The general idea here, win or lose, is that it costs a whole lot of money to buy, own and train yearlings.  That's not so hard to figure out, right?   Apart from the incredible thrill of fame and fortune and winning one of the greatest races in the game, yearlings can be dead weight for eight months or more, and while watching your baby develop is an awesome thing, each anticipatory pacing or trotting step along the way to fame can leave your stomach in knots.  Sure, if you want to get into the game, you can go out and claim yourself something and expect to start generating income and fun from the get go, but with a claimer, you pretty much know what you're getting.   Claiming horses, the fact that they are racing's tough-as-nails foot soldiers who deserve every ounce of love and praise notwithstanding,  aren't usually the equine athletes that end up in world class events like the Meadowlands Pace or the Hambletonian.  

 

Yes, it's true that anyone could have claimed a horse named Historic Freight for a mere $52,500 less than one month before he went out and won the 1984 Hambletonian, but what are the odds of that ever happening again?   The prophetic truth is that the only way to strike rock solid gold in harness racing is to buy a yearling and hope that he or she blossoms into a World Champion -- but it costs a lot of money.  Every great horse you can ever think of was once a yearling in which someone invested a lot of time, faith, hope, emotion, and of course, money.  

 

But, what would you do if someone GAVE you part ownership in an expensive yearling?  Odds are that you, like any sane person, would probably back away slowly and carefully, assuming their offer had to be a trick or a gimmick.  

 

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "gimmick" as:  A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity or business.  The word - which originated in the world of magic and illusion - often has a bad connotation because most gimmicks come with strings attached.  There's always a catch, right?  

 

"Open a bank account and get a free toaster!"  Yeah, but only if you maintain a balance of at least $2,000 for 99 years.  "Sign up with our cable TV company for a free 90 days of HBO!"  But, uh, we'll be needing your credit card number so we can charge you a fortune when you try to cancel.   You folks get the general idea.  Gimmicks are, by their very nature, gimmicky, and, like they say, there's really no such thing as a free lunch.

 

But what if a gimmick isn't really gimmicky or tricky?  What if a gimmick is 100% legitimate and well-meaning-- is it still a gimmick?   

 

This fall, Team Allard has decided to break the general rules about gimmicks when they dive head first into the yearling game. The internet might even have to change the nefarious definition of the word now that Rene Allard and his conglomeration of owners and investors have taken the gimmickry out of gimmicks.  Team Allard has re-invented the gimmick and started out on a new adventure -- and they want to take you along with them.

 

Here's the thing:  This fall, Team Allard will be giving away 5% ownership in one of the yearlings they buy at this year's sales.  That's it.  That's the deal.  No ups.  No extras.  No free toasters or cable packages or customer service calls.  No credit cards, no strings, no bills, no headaches...no nothing.  Yes, it's true. 

 

To be eligible you simply go to their website -- TeamAllard.com-- and you sign up.  It only takes a few seconds.  Then, after the Harrisburg sale is over and Team Allard has assembled their lineup of shiny, happy, and impeccably bred yearlings for 2017, the lucky winner, chosen at random, will be given 5% ownership in one of them.  It's all 100% free.  With no strings attached, you get to be part owner of a horse who might be the next world champion -- and it costs you nothing -- nada -- zippo.  It's hard to believe, but believe it.  The folks who own the other 95% of the horse will pay the bills while you sit back and enjoy the thrill of ownership in a horse with a handsome pedigree.  Hopefully,  in June, or thereabouts, you'll start getting your purse checks in the mail.  They may be big or small or not at all, but you will at the very least be able to say that you own a racehorse and that you are an integral part of Team Allard.   It's kind of prestigious and exciting when you think about it.  

 

For years, trainers and breeders have been trying to bring new owners into the harness racing business.  It's not an easy thing to do because there's a lot of risk -- especially with the young ones.  Team Allard has decided that if the mountain won't go to Muhammad, it's time for Muhammad to go to the mountain.  It doesn't matter if the winner is rich or poor.  Every new owner, regardless of their checking account balance,  is a new boot on the ground, and they all know people who know people who know people.  If their yearling turns into a champion -- or at least a reliable racehorse --  one friend will tell another friend and so on.  That's how you generate interest and enthusiasm in harness racing.  Hey, maybe it's a gimmick, but it's a gimmick with a great intention.  It's great for harness racing.  There is really no downside to it.

 

But wait, there's more!

 

Team Allard will be giving away a whole lot of other prizes too.  Besides the totally free yearling mega-prize, you might win a set of Tim Tetrick's autographed colors, or any other of the great prizes that will be offered.   You've got to be in it to win it, and you've got to hurry up too.  Although the exact date of the draw has yet to be determined, the Harrisburg sale will be wrapping up before you know it.  Don't miss a chance to cash on Team Allard'sgimmick that's not really a gimmick.  Look for updates on Team Allard's website and don't forget to enter for your chance to get in on the ground floor.  See you in the Winner's Circle. 

Steven and Don MacRae: A Winning Combination on PEI

BY DAVID MATTIA

Most mornings, Steven MacRae rolls out of the custom-designed house his dad built to accommodate Steven's special needs and the extra room required for his super-duper motorized wheelchair.  It's an awesome Australian-built contraption that cost about $40,000, and it can do just about anything.  It's perfectly suited for all kinds of terrain and it gets Steven to just about anywhere he wants to go.  So, with his hands on the nifty controls, Steven heads out into the fields behind his home to visit his pet horse, a 10-year-old semi-retiree named Cambest Kisser.   Described by just about everyone who has ever worked with him as an ornery and unfriendly horse who has never shown an ounce of affection for anyone, Cambest Kisser is usually the first horse to amble over enthusiastically to greet Steven.  He lays his head in the young man's lap, and the two of them just rest there and bond on their patch of land that's set upon an enchanted island that the two of them call home.    

Steve and Do Over Hanover

Steve and Do Over Hanover

Way high up, towards the northeast corner of the North American continent, there's a beautiful island that some folks call, "The Garden of the Gulf."  It's a magical place -- shaped on a map like a bird in flight -- and covered from wingtip to wingtip with rolling hills of vivid yellows and extraordinary greens  

 

It's truly a fantasy kingdom where ornamental grasses, wildflowers and speckled mosses carpet the earth for as far as the eye can see.  Eventually, this lush and leafy blanket of fairy tale beauty arrives at the towering cliffs of the coastline.  Colored in a curious shade of Martian red, these cliffs loom high above the red and white sand beaches that reach out cautiously into the chilly waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.   

 

The indigenous Mi'kmaq people who have lived on this mythical island for ages and ages called it Epekwitk, but when European explorers starting arriving in the early 16th century, and for nearly two centuries thereafter, the island was known by many different names.  Finally. in 1798, in honor of their military hero Prince Edward Augustus, the Duke of Kent, Great Britain officially named the place, Prince Edward Island -- the Canadian Maritime Province we know today as PEI. 

 

If your fondest wish in life is to find a unicorn, PEI is the magical place where you might want to start out on your quest. If, however, unicorns aren't your style, and you're simply seeking something magical on PEI, apart from the scenery, you just might find what you're looking for inside the heart of a young man named Steven MacRae who lives there with his family and their band of at least twenty horses in a small town called Vernon Bridge.     

 

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was four years old, Steven, now twenty-four, has been confined to a wheelchair since he was thirteen.  His two greatest passions in life are NASCAR Racing and Harness racing.  Currently, his favorite horse has to be Do Over Hanover, a 4-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal that Steven owns in partnership with Allard Racing Inc and Red Isle Racing.  Do Over Hanover became especially special when onJuly 15th he won the 49th edition of the prestigious Governor's Plate at Red Shores Summerside Raceway.  His reception in the Winner's Circle was nothing short of a mob scene, and of course Steven was there, in his all-terrain motorized vehicle, for the trophy presentation.  

Do Over Hanover wins Governors Plate

 

Do Over Hanover followed up that victory with a fifth place finish in the exhalted Gold Cup and Saucer at nearby Red Shores Charlottetown Driving Park. 

 

Perhaps to some, the $22,000 purse for the Governor's Plate and the $47,000 offered in the Gold Cup might not seem very prosperous, but for the most part, the money isn't what it's all about on PEI.   Anyone who races horses on PEI or anywhere in Canada for that matter, will tell you that the Governor's Plate and the Gold Cup and Saucer, are the two races every owner, trainer and driver wants to win more than anything.  

 

Charlottetown, the capital city of PEI,  is small as far as capital cities go, but to the people who live thereabouts, it's as big as it needs to be.  It doesn't really matter anyway because even if you multiplied the size of everything on PEI by ten, you still wouldn't have enough space to contain the enthusiasm the people there have for their beloved sport of harness racing.  In fact, relative to their population sizes, if the folks in the New York Metropolitan area came out to the races in the same proportions as they do on PEI, there wouldn't be a grandstand big enough in the world to hold them. 

 

Steven's dad, Don MacRae, a horse owner and breeder who owns and operates a construction and heavy equipment company on PEI, has been around harness racing for the greater part of his fifty-six years. He explained in detail what harness racing, and life in general, is really all about on PEI.

 

"There's a lot of history here on PEI.  It's the birthplace of the Confederation.  It's where they held the meetings to form Canada back in the 1800s -- 1864 to be exact.  The Old Confederation building is still standing.  The people here are very down to earth. They're nosy --  at least I know that I am.  You know, we like to know who you are and where you're from and what you do, but the folks here always have lots of time to sit down and talk to you.  Nobody is ever in a rush, that's for sure. It's all kind of very laid back.

 

"During what we call our Old Home Week, people come from all over to join in the festivities and to watch the races and to eat the greatest seafood in the world.  It's definitely a destination spot for a lot of Canadians from all over and it's a tradition that's lasted for as long for as I can remember.  Everything seems to revolve around the races...especially the Gold Cup and Saucer. 

 

"Just to have a horse in either the Gold Cup or the Governor's Plate is a feather in your cap.  I mean, where we come from, up here in PEI, the horse who wins the Saturdaynight feature race at Charlottetown or Summerside, well, that horse makes the front page of the local newspaper.  It's big news here and everyone wants to read about it.  You take for example the racing up here in Charlottetown.  When Marcus Miller and the other drivers from around the world arrived here for the World Driving Championship, they couldn't believe the size of the crowds.  It's like our version of the Little Brown Jug."   

 

"The Gold Cup and Saucer is always at the top of everybody's list of races to win.  Of course any one of us would love to win the Breeder's Crown or the North America Cup or any race like that, but the Gold Cup and Saucer is the racing event we grew up with.  That's the race you've got to win if you race on PEI.  There's been some of the biggest names in harness racing who have raced in it.   Foiled Again tried it last year.  He finished fifth, and Go Daddy Go, a horse I own in partnership with Rene Allard, Yves Sarrazin and Bruce Soulsby finished second.   So, I guess you can say that my horse beat Foiled Again and that I had a major contender in the Gold Cup and Saucer.  There are still a lot of folks who just want to have a horse qualify to be in that race...win or lose.  Some guys have been trying for fifty years.  One name that comes to mind is Walter Simmons.  He's had all kinds of really good horses over the years, and now he's eighty-nine, but he's never won a Gold Cup."  

 

Don MacRae and son Steven,  hooked up with Rene Allard a few years back when Don went to the track one night to claim a horse from Rene.  As it turned out, Don never submitted the claim but opted instead to strike up a friendship with Rene who has since steered him towards better and better horses.  Thereafter, Steven, when he wasn't auto racing on the internet or going to the races with his dad, maintained contact with Rene Allard via Facebook.  Soon after, father and son started collecting some quality horses along with the Allard Racing Team.   

 

"Steven kept in touch with Rene on Facebook about a horse named Red Rock," said Don.  Steven loves the internet and his favorite thing to do is participate in NASCAR  racing online.  He loves harness racing best, but NASCAR would have to be a very close second.  He kept in communication with Rene and one thing led to another, Rene has been really kind to Steven.  Rene has a good heart. I don't know what it is about him, but somehow he empathizes with Steven and, I don't know, maybe he knows what it's like to be different or to be bullied in school.  Rene is basically just a big happy kid himself.  Sometimes a kid for whatever reason doesn't fit in well when they're young and then, when they grow up, they develop a soft spot or something for other kids who are in one situation or another."

 

Apart from a horrifying tragedy last year when their horse Big Boy Dreams died suddenly, only one day before he was set to race in his elimination of the Gold Cup and Saucer, a race a lot of people figured he'd win, the future is looking pretty solid for Steven and his dad and their horses.  

 

Somewhere out in those fields, among all those yearlings and two-year-olds on the family farm where Steven zips around on his super-hero wheelchair, there's yet another dream waiting to come true. One of those colts and fillies could be the next world champion -- or at the very least they'll win another Governor's Plate or maybe even the Gold Cup and Saucer.It's just got to be.

 

Later in the day, as Steven rolls around back towards the house to meet up with his online NASCAR buddies, the last horse to nicker his goodbyes is an old war horse named Blue Star Outlaw.  The MacRae clan has had him for a long time.  He won forty-five races for Steven and his dad and now he's enjoying his well-earned retirement.   He's Steven's horse now.  He's described by Don as a lovely horse who will be living with the MacRae family for the rest of his life.   

 

That's the kind of love and dedication you feel when you pal around with guys like Steven MacRae and his truly devoted father Don. It's no wonder they all live in such a wonderful and magical place like PEI.  It's the perfect spot for them. 

Do Over Hanover and Marc Campbell win the 49th Edition of the Governor's Cup at Summerside Raceway Red Shores!
Do Over Hanover Photo by Tiffany ball

Do Over Hanover Photo by Tiffany ball