Hi there,

Welcome to the first ever issue of Insider Access.

Released every 2 weeks, Insider Access showcases insider rumors and commentary in the worldwide harness racing industry.

Each issue includes an exclusive Stallion review not available anywhere else - not even on Harnesslink.com. This week we review Artistic Fella.

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The below notes are the express opinions of columnist Steve Wolf and do not represent the opinions of Harnesslink.

Barring of people from racetracks

The “Hot Topic” currently is the story that driver Jim Morrill, Jr. has been banned from driving at Pocono Downs. He says he does not know why but when trainers enter him to drive horses, the race office says they have to select another driver. Jimmy does not know why and no one is currently returning his phone calls at the racetrack.

Jim Morrill, Jr
Jim Morrill, Jr

The issue at hand is that privately owned racetracks have the right of barring anyone they feel would be detrimental to the racing program at the track. This has been a law for many years. And track management does not have to address these issues privately or publicly.

But Jim Morrill, Jr. is not the only case of this happening. It has happened to trainers, drivers, owners, race fans, etc. at tracks all across the country for years. Only recently has it become so popular, mainly due to social media.

But the nuts and bolts of this issue are very plain. Let’s take Jeff Gural at the Meadowlands. He has barred people and not indicated why. He has put his foot down and barred anyone the track feels is not worthy of being allowed to participate. It is not an easy thing to do unless you have good reasons and are willing to stand by your beliefs.

Mr. Gural also owns two other tracks so that the sting is felt that much more when there become three tracks you cannot compete at. The long and the short of all of this is that I believe Jeff Gural would not bar top people from competing at his track unless it has some merit. He is always worried when drivers leave his track to go compete elsewhere. He wants the best drivers and trainers and owners and fans to come and race and wager at his tracks, so why would he then bar people unless there are some good reason behind it.

I have had to bar people from coming to the track over the years, good people I thought, but because of the actions they committed they were barred. Over time some were given a second chance, some were not, but despite them being barred, racing continued. And you would be surprised at times that people are also barred for reasons that have nothing to do with conduct detrimental to racing.

It was simply a tragic accident

This past week there was a very tragic accident at Flamboro Downs. A horse fell to the track, got up and started running amok the wrong way. It eventually ran head first into another horse with such speed that both horses broke their necks and died on the spot. This story and video went viral on the Harnesslink Facebook page with more than 52,000 views. But could this accident have been prevented?

My answer, after reviewing and investigating the accident and the video, is no. It was a plain and simply a very rare one-of-a-kind accident. There is no outrider at Flamboro, which is wrong and every track or fair or matinee or qualifying race should be required to have an outrider present. But that’s another story.

At Flamboro Downs the paddock is on the right side when you face the winner’s circle. The horse fell on the first turn so even the most alert outrider may not have been able to catch the horse before it caught up to and ran into the rest of the field. Could the drivers have pulled up or gone in the infield or up along the fence and try to escape the runaway horse? Nope, horses are communal animals and when panicked or spooked they look only for familiar surroundings to run to, like their stall, the race paddock or in this case, another horse to be with.

Most of the time the drivers on the track cannot hear the track announcer say that the race is a no contest due to an accident. All they can see is the flashing red warning lights that something has happened and to be aware. What happened here is just a tragic event that we hope never happens again. I for one am very thankful that the drivers involved were able to walk away and not require medical assistance.

View the video on Harnesslink

Barn fire at Saratoga Raceway

Just last week a major tragedy was avoided at Saratoga Raceway when 26 horses were safely evacuated from a barn that had caught fire. The fire was reportedly started early in the morning by accident when someone forgot they had a heating element in a plastic bucket of water. The water evaporated and the element melted the bucket and that was what started the fire. It was a careless mistake that could have been devastating.

Can’t use an apostrophe in Canada?

I have a small but important beef with Standardbred Canada and the fact that their race program and registration of horses do not allow for an “apostrophe” to be used. This came to mind when the undefeated two-year-old and Dan Patch Award Winner, He’s Watching, was written up as eligible to some Canadian stakes races this year. I called the reporter and told him of his error and they corrected me!

Seems that in Canada they feel it is better to use improper grammar then to try and fix the situation. Thus no “apostrophe’s” allowed. So all you English majors and teachers too, please don’t come after us if you see Hes Watching and Shes A Great Lady seemingly spelled wrong in a story or race program. Go after the source…In the USA it’s OK…but in Canada its not!

By Steve Wolf

Sulky Sam

Hooray for Hollywood--Ohio!

Columbus, OH -- Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway is rising swiftly from its foundation and poised to become one of the most remarkable harness racing facilities in central Ohio.

An aerial view of the $125 million Dayton Raceway

Set to start its first race over the five-eighths mile track built under the supervision of Greg Coon on Friday, October 3, the new oval promises to be another shining star in a galaxy of world-class gaming destinations owned and operated by Penn National Gaming.

Long-time horseman and racetrack executive, Mark Loewe noted, "Penn National Gaming is excited to bring a first class gaming and racing facility to the Dayton market. Following the traditions that started in 1972 with the first Penn National racetrack, Red Carpet experiences are the standard at all our properties and Dayton will continue that tradition."

As the vice president of Ohio racing operations, Loewe (pronounced Low--'ee) certainly has his hands full in the Buckeye State. Not only has the hard-working native New Yorker been overseeing the transition from the transfer of Raceway Park in Toledo to the Dayton facility, but Loewe is also responsible for overseeing the transfer of racing from Beulah Park to the new Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, a new Thoroughbred track which is also under construction.

In addition to the racetracks, Penn National Gaming also owns and operates two stand alone casinos in the great state of Ohio. Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Casino Toledo are both up and running and a big part of the firm's success in the mid-west. Nonetheless, the highly anticipated grand opening of the harness track at Dayton remains high on the list of Loewe's priorities.

During a recent tour of the Montgomery County facilities, it was clear to our group what a strong commitment Loewe and Penn National have placed in the Dayton structure. In addition to the $125 million in construction costs, the firm also paid the state a $50 million casino license fee and a $75 million relocation fee to move Raceway Park. An identical investment has been made in the Austintown plant, bringing a half billion dollar outlay to Ohio horse racing.

Nationwide, Penn National owns and/or operates 18 casinos, 7 racetracks and 7 racinos. They have a large stake in the future of racing, and Mark Loewe shares that commitment. Having worked his way up through the ranks at Penn National over the last six years, first as General Manager of the Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club and then as Vice President of Racing at Penn National Racecourse in Grantville, Pennsylvania, Loewe has proven himself a capable leader with horse sense.

With his boots on the ground and a sharp eye on the progress, Loewe has been actively involved in the planning and construction of the facility, especially the areas that effect horsemen. Loewe and company "are confident that the Ohio harness racing community will enthusiastically embrace the amenities and opportunities at Ohio’s newest harness racetrack."

Kevin Rawson, project manager for Turner Construction, reviews the site plans with Mark Loewe, Janet Terhune and Dan Coon

The race paddock houses 140 stalls, enough for a 14-race card. Each 10' x 12' stall has full drainage for bathing with floor mats. Every detail has been considered and implemented to ensure that horses and horse people have a first-class facility in which to race. The construction, staffing and ancillary jobs associated with project will employ around 1,000.

The five-eighths mile track, designed and installed under the supervision of the famed Coon brothers, sports twelve degree turns and an all-weather stone dust. By all accounts, Dayton promises to be a prominent and exciting new place to race harness horses.

by Chris Tully

Stallion Review - Artistic Fella

Artistic Fella
Artistic Fella

Artistic Fella is a son of the Cam Fella stallion Pacific Fella who earned $1,064,631 on the racetrack and took a best time of 1:48.4. He has been a successful sire in both North America and Australia with his stock having earned $20,727,656 in North America with three millionaires including No Pan Intended $1,613,180 ands Romona Disomma $1,033,475. Pacific Fella is already a sire of sires with No Pan Intended already having passed the $28 million mark in earnings at stud.

In Australia Pacific Fella made his mark with stake earnings of $8,100,881 (especially with his fillies) including such smart horses as Ima Spicey Lombo $483,686, Ruby Dazzler $350,767 and That's Mister Ali $312,662.

Artistic Fella is from an unraced daughter of Artsplace in Everything's Easy, who has had 13 foals for six winners with four in 1:53 headed by Artistic Fella. Other notable winners include Melissa's Fancy 1:52f, ($473,313) and Easy Big Fella 1:50.4 ($246,764)

The grand dam is the very smart No Nukes racemare called Everything Goes who took a record of 1:53 on her way to earning $342,033. She left 12 foals for seven winners with one in 1:53 and two in 1:55 including the talented Everything's Great 1:52.1f ($240,391) who is a full sister to Everything's Easy.

The third dam is the Meadow Skipper mare in Easy To Love who left 12 foals for 10 winners with four in 1;53 including the smart Wear My Ring 1:52.4f ($284,258). Easy To Love is a three quarter sister to the great racemare Halcyon ($855,588) and a half sister to two sires who stood down under in Present Laughter ($509,912) and Paulsboro ($231,561).

What makes Easy To Love so interesting is not only is she the third dam of Artistic Fella but she is also the second dam of his sire, Pacific Fella. So Artistic Fella is 3x3 to Easy To Love. A half sister to Easy To Love in Expressive Moves was imported into New Zealand and left the very smart race mare in That's Life Lavra ($191,346) who has two foals old enough to race for two very good winners in Neffeli Lavra 1:53.9 (Australia) and the 3yo Bio Marinus 1:58.3 mile rate with six wins from just the 16 starts to date.


Lightly raced at two, Artistic Fella faced the starter just four times at that age for three wins including two heats of the New Jersey Sires Stakes on his way to earning $51,250 and taking a mark of 1:53.3.

At three he faced the starter 18 times for 11 wins and $941,558 in stakes with a best winning time of 1:48.4. His biggest win was undoubtedly in the $1,000,000 Meadowlands Pace. That day he won in 1:48.4 beating a top line up including My Boy David ($1,339,281), Shark Gesture ($2,890,594), Total Truth ($2,105,122) and Western Ace ($1,924,290). Another top effort was his win in the $225,000 Berrys Creek final at The Meadowlands in 1:50.3 running his last quarter in 25.4.

At four he raced a further 16 times for 7 wins 2 seconds and 3 thirds for $702,107 in stakes with a record of 1:48.4. His wins included the $540,000 Breeders Crown Final in 1:49.2 and the $200,000 Dan Patch final in 1:49.2. The Breeders Crown that year was an outstanding group of great horses. They included Mister Big, Lis Mara, Boulder Creek, Total Truth, Western Shore and Mypanmar. The nine starters had average earnings of $2,201,344 (can you believe that?). Total stakes earned by this group is a staggering $19,812,103. It was a great, great group!

Stepping out again at five, Artistic Fella raced 14 times for 5 wins, 7 seconds and 1 third for earnings of $945,617 and an improved record of 1:48 flat. He took his record in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final at Chester. With just a little bit of luck he could have doubled his earnings as he ran second in the $702,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (to Mister Big), the $600,000 Haughton final (to Mister Big), the $532,000 Breeders Crown final (to Mister Big) and the $332,000 US Pacing Championships (to Mister Big).

Retired at the end of his five year old campaign, he went to stud with a race record of 52 starts for 26 wins and 14 placings for stakes totaling $2,604,532. He took a best time of 1:48 and broke the 1:50 barrier 21 times during his career.


Artistic Fella stood in Canada and has made a good start to his siring career with his first crop of two year olds racing in the 2013 season. He made it on to the top twenty list of two year old sires in North America and with the hugely reduced stake money on offer in Canada this has been a good start. He was third on the Canadian based sires list behind Shadow Play and Mach Three and you would expect that like his sire, his progeny would improve markedly at three. His best two performers to date are the fillies Porsche Seelster ($107,647) and Regil Meg ($75,748). Others showing up are Allstar Seelster ($43,433), Concert Artist ($42,852), Titus Seelster ($40,125) while Can Art and Western Fella have looked progressive types.

With just the one crop racing in Canada, Artistic Fella has 98 old enough to race (2yo olds in 2013) for 47 starters, 25 race winners, 1 in 1:53, total stakes to date of $599,900.


Artistic Fella's first crop raced as two year olds in the 2012/2013 season and really made a statement. From a foal crop of 80 he produced the best two year old filly in Australia in Mindarie Priddy, now the best three-year-old in Australia p3.1:53.8 ($226,560) as well as Kimba Bay 1:57.5 ($100,273), Artistic Copper ($87,815) Majestic Amy 1:59.4 ($87,390) and Paua Fella 1:58.8 ($37,849). It was a great debut season and his second crop of just 56 foals has started in the same vein with the outstanding two-year-old colt Artistic Flite winning in sensational fashion the Bathurst Gold Final last week already confirming Artistic Flite as the best two-year-old in Australia this season.

All up Artistic Fella has had 15 winners from 35 starters in Australia to date for $709,636 in total stakes.


His stock are in the main like their sire, displaying both speed and grit. They are good gaited and his fillies seem as good as his colts. They should continue to improve as they mature as both their sire Artistic Fella and grand sire, Pacific Fella did. Has already shown that he has the ability to leave stock that can race and win at the elite level.


The only knock on him so far in North America is the low money his pogeny will race for in Canada where he stands as the program there has almost dissappeared. Although he has good size crops in Canada it will be difficult for his progeny to make any money of note and this will be a handicap as a stallion in the eyes of the breeding world.

Down under his problem will be the small crops over the next few seasons of just 67 and 42. He did breed big numbers this year at 220 mares.


A very good start to his siring career especially down under. He has a special three-year-old filly in Mindarie Priddy and a special two-year-old colt in Artistic Flite that could carry him through to when his big crop that has just been bred, starts to race. His fillies run as well as his colts which is a big plus but he does need to improve his overall percentages to cement his spot in the stallion market. It is early in his career and if age does help his stock as many predict, then those percentages may improve to the same level achieved by his competitors.


6.5 out of 10

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