The Latest News in and around Harness Racing

MHRI Remembers Stan Thompson and Tim Pinske at MRC Meeting

Stanley John Thompson of Spicer, Minnesota, passed away on Tuesday, July 10th in Willmar. He was 88.

Stanley was born on January 26, 1930 on the family farm near Spicer, the son of Carl and Lillian. He grew up on the family farm, and after graduating from Willmar High School in 1948, Stan enlisted in the United States Army.

Following Stan’s honorable discharge from the service, he returned home to Minnesota to help his mother and family on the farm.

In July, 1957, Stan and Margaret were married in Willmar, MN, and later blessed with three sons; Mark, Michael, and Joel. The family made their home on the Thompson family farm.

Stan farmed during the day and worked at the State Hospital at night. He continued this schedule for 35 years retiring, in 1992. Stan was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Spicer and the Spicer American Legion Post #545.

Stan’s passion in life was Harness Racing. For 20 plus years, Stan raced standardbreds in Minnesota and in neighboring States.

Stan was survived by his wife of 60 years, Margaret; three sons and daughters in law, all of whom live in Spicer; 9 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. He was also survived by his sister Marlene and a brother Maurice.

Stan was a longtime member of the Minnesota harness horsemen’s association who also served 3 terms as a director of MHRI, and he especially enjoyed racing his trotters and pacers at the Minnesota County Fairs.

Current MHRI member and director, breeder, owner and trainer Greg Budach of Janesville, successfully campaigned Governor Cullin, years before Running Aces opened.

Mr. Thompson bred Governor Cullin, who raced and won at every Minnesota County Fair track as well as at Prairie Meadows and at harness tracks in Illinois.

Stan was a kind man who was well liked by everyone who had the good fortune to meet him. MHRI gratefully recognizes and remembers his dedicated service to our members as well as his friendship.

Tim Pinske of Plato, Minnesota, well known at racetracks throughout North America and along with his family, owner of Southern Oaks Training Center in Florida, passed away on Wednesday, July 18th. He was 71.

Tim’s family and friends celebrated his life with a Funeral Mass on July 24th at St. Pius Church in Glencoe.

Timothy John Pinske was born on December 19, 1946, in Shakopee, Minnesota, the son of Robert and Janet Pinske. A lifelong resident of Plato, he graduated from Glencoe High School in 1964.

Tim and Marlys were married the day after Christmas in 1964 and their marriage of 53 plus years was blessed with three sons. Tim owned and operated Plato Woodwork in Plato. He was the fourth generation of Pinske woodworkers, which began in 1893.

Tim was passionate about Standardbred horse racing. His father introduced him to harness racing as a youngster and he in turn introduced his sons to the game.

The Pinske Stables owned and trained trotters and pacers which raced at tracks across the country and in Canada.

Every Fall, their horses move to the Pinske owned Southern Oaks Training Center in Florida, another of Tim’s successful business ventures, for winter training.

Mr. Pinske’s health had declined from the effects of Lewy body dementia but this past winter he was back at Southern Oaks, keeping an eye on the horses owned by the Pinske family while in the company of his wife, Marlys, son Karl and grandson Carter.

The Pinske family has campaigned many top stakes horses over the years, including Bret’s Avenger by the great Bret Hanover, and most notably, they won the North America Cup with Yankee Cruiser, who had been developed and trained by their son Brian, who died suddenly six months earlier in November 2002 while attending the Harrisburg yearling sale.

In November 2003, the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association named Tim winner of the inaugural Brian Pinske Memorial Award, a newly created award presented annually to honor success in open stake races conducted throughout the state of Illinois.

In presenting the award, the IHHA began:

“Starting with less than 20 horses, Brian built a powerful stable which numbered more than 100 racehorses.

His stable was both feared and respected not only in Illinois but throughout the country and this award will help keep alive the memory of Brian’s smile, spirit and high-octane energy that made Brian not only a great horseman but a wonderful human being.”

After the devastating loss of his son, Tim Pinske became the stable’s head trainer, and with his son Karl’s help, carefully directed the stable that Brian had established ever since.

Tim Pinske and his family have been a great friend to and supporter of harness racing in Minnesota and throughout the country, and according to Mr. Pinske’s wishes, his family requested donations in his name be made to the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.

Soon after his passing, veterinarian Dr. John Egloff said of Tim and his family.

“Tim and his family are very special people who we feel privileged to know as friends. His loss is felt by us all. He was a great asset to our sport who will be deeply missed. His character, honesty and integrity are an example we all should strive for.”

MHRI sincerely thanks the Minnesota Racing Commission for the opportunity to remember our friends Stan Thompson and Tim Pinske.

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MHRI in Search of Candidates to Join Board of Directors

The Annual Meeting and election of Directors of Minnesota Harness Racing Inc. will be held at Vanelli’s By The Lake in Forest Lake, MN on Saturday, February 23rd at 3:00 PM.

At the Annual Meeting, members will elect three (3) directors to serve on the MHRI Board of Directors.

The Board consists of eleven members who are working together to grow and improve harness racing in Minnesota on behalf of the association’s membership, industry stakeholders and racing fans.

MHRI is in search of candidates to run for three positions on our Board of Directors, and we respectfully request and strongly encourage our members to seriously consider this opportunity to join us as together we work to improve harness racing in Minnesota.

Mark Corless, Vern Devine and Rick Magee are currently serving terms which will soon expire and must seek re-election if they wish to remain on the Board.

Ballots will be mailed to every member prior to our Annual Meeting, at which time members may also vote in person.

MHRI represents breeders, owners, trainers, drivers and backstretch workers who breed mares to Minnesota registered stallions and who race standardbreds at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack in Columbus, Minnesota.

MHRI also conducts harness racing at County Fairs in Cannon Falls, St. Peter and Wheaton, which continues a tradition of Fair racing in the State which dates back to the 1800’s.

We are dedicated to representing the best interests of all owners and trainers who race in the State, and we are committed to improving living and working conditions as well as purses and racing opportunities for our horses and horsemen and their employees.

MHRI is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit benevolent service organization which works diligently to ensure integrity and safety and which provides benevolence to those who work on the backstretch at Minnesota tracks.

2018 was the among the most successful years in the history of harness racing in the State, and the Board of Directors of MHRI is optimistic as we prepare for 2019 and beyond.

MHRI is an organization which cares deeply about the people and horses without whom harness racing in Minnesota would not exist, and we will never stop working for a better tomorrow.

Please consider this opportunity to join us by becoming a candidate for our Board of Directors.

And, please feel free to contact MHRI staff at with any questions or for additional information.

We thank our members for your loyal support. It is much needed and most appreciated, and we wish you and your families a most Happy Thanksgiving.

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MHRI Watch Party at Running Aces THIS Saturday, Nov. 24th

The Board of Directors of Minnesota Harness Racing Inc. invites you to please join us at Running Aces this Saturday, November 24th for another Watch Party. This one will feature the TVG FFA Championships & Fall Final Four Finals at The Meadowlands.

Together, MHRI and RA are hosting the watch party for MHRI members and harness racing fans, and your friends and family.

Complimentary appetizers and soft drinks will be served. First Post is at 6:15 PM local time.

The card features:
Fall Final Four:
$400,000 Three Diamonds
$400,000 Goldsmith Maid
$400,000 Valley Victory
$400,000 Governor’s Cup
$175,000 TVG Free For All Mare Pace
$175,000 TVG Free For All Mares Trot
$350,000 TVG Free For All Trot
$350,000 TVG Free For All Pace

We sincerely thank you for your continued support of Minnesota harness racing, we look forward to seeing you this Saturday, and we wish you and your families a most Happy Thanksgiving.

Minnesota Harness Racing Inc.

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MHRI Breeders Crown Watch Party at Running Aces!

Dear Friends and Supporters of Minnesota Harness Racing,

The Board of Directors of Minnesota Harness Racing, Inc. (MHRI) on behalf of our members is pleased to invite you to join us at Running Aces on Saturday, October 27th for a Breeders Crown watch party.

The $6 million Breeders Crown, harness racing’s richest and most prestigious year-end divisional championship series, returns to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Twelve Breeders Crown championship races with total estimated purses of $6 million are scheduled with First Post at 4:30 PM.

The party will begin at 4:00 PM, but of course you may wish to come early to try you luck in the card room!

A light buffet of appetizers and refreshments will be served.

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2018 State Champions Shine at Fall Race Meet in Wheaton, Minnesota

Minnesota Night of Champions on September 15th marked the conclusion of a very successful 2018 Race Meet at Running Aces, but the harness racing action continued as Minnesota bred and owned trotters and pacers returned to the track at the historic Traverse County Fairgrounds in Wheaton, Minnesota on Sunday, September 23rd for a great program of County Fair racing.

A large and enthusiastic crowd of harness racing fans watched from their seats in the grandstand as pacers lined up behind the starting gate for Race 1 on a beautiful early Autumn afternoon in rural Minnesota.

Trinitysfancyfilly won the first race in gate to wire fashion for driver and trainer Brian Detgen. With one last day of Fair racing scheduled for Cannon Falls this Friday, September 28th, Detgen is on top of the 2018 County Fair driver standings and is the favorite to win Minnesota County Fair Driver of the Year.

The cleverly named Graburhelmetnhangon placed second for driver Natalie Zabrzenski and trainer Elvin Zimmerman. Flying Fritz and Gitchie Girl were third and fourth in the Minnesota bred two year old pace.

Just eight days after winning the State Championship races for Minnesota bred two year old trotters at Running Aces, MD Magic and Twilight Tinker won their respective divisions again on Sunday in Wheaton.

With Running Aces’ all-time leading driver Nick Roland in the sulky, both juvenile trotting champions triumphed again, both leading from gate to wire.

MD Magic, by Braggart out of the Striking Sahbra mare Magical Debut, has an impressive record of 8 wins and 1 second in 10 lifetime starts for earnings of $68,050.

Nick Roland, who is also Running Aces’ all-time leading trainer, has developed and trains both MD Magic and Twilight Tinker with his longtime girlfriend Jessica Johnson.

Dewey’s Machine and Z Machine finished 2nd and 3rd behind MD Magic in the Minnesota bred trot for two year old colts and geldings, the same exact order of finish as in the $40,000 State Championship race at Running Aces on Minnesota Night of Champions.

Listentomoneytalks was 4th for driver and trainer Jenni King.

With her second consecutive win in Wheaton on Sunday, Twilight Tinker passed $20,000 in lifetime earnings with just 7 lifetime starts. Like MD Magic, Twilight Tinker is by the Minnesota registered stallion Braggart. She is out of the Revenue S mare Tapenade and races for MHRI director Cathy Dessert.

Her full brother, Bragginade, was the Minnesota Champion two year old colt trotter last year, and he was first to cross the finish line in Race 5 on Sunday!

Trained and driven by Nick Roland, Bragginade won a very competitive race. D Incinerator, who raced well all summer at Running Aces, placed second, ahead of his stablemate, Bringoverthemoney, who has dominated this division at Running Aces, with 10 wins, 6 seconds and 2 thirds in 18 starts in 2018 for earnings of $64,732.

Brian Detgen trains both D Incinerator and 2017 Minnesota Fair Trotter of the Year Bringoverthemoney.

In the program’s featured race, 2017 and 2018 Minnesota Champion pacer Dream Chasin won his second consecutive start and 7th in 18 starts this year over a very good field of State bred colts and geldings, which included 2017 Horse of the Year Giggle Monster.

Here Comes Teddy passed $40,000 in purse money won this year with his second place finish for regular driver Brian Detgen and trainer Elvin Zimmerman. Joker John saved ground as the field made two trips around the historic half mile track with an inside trip in a race which featured lots of action and finished third for driver and trainer Nick Roland. Lookingforaplace, who took the lead from pace setting Dream Chasin at the half, hung on for 4th for driver and trainer Jenni King. Giggle Monster and My Muddy Buddy, with owner Justin Van Otterloo in the sulky, completed the field.

Returning to the winner’s circle after his dramatic victory on Minnesota Night of Champions, Dream Chasin closed sharply for driver Natalie Zabrzenski to reclaim the lead at the wire in front of an admiring crowd.

2017 Minnesota Fair Pacer of the Year Dream Chasin has 10 wins 3 seconds and 5 thirds in 31 career starts and earnings of $86,815 for trainer Greg Budach. The homebred son of Fancy Schmancy out of the Francis Albert mare One Wild Apple is owned by Michelle and Greg Budach of Janesville, Minnesota.

Like MD Magic, Twilight Tinker and Dream Chasin before her, Mimi Marguerite followed up her impressive win on Minnesota Night of Champions at Running Aces with a trip to the winner’s circle in Wheaton, her 4th consecutive win. The classy daughter of Braggart out of the Wilson Wyoming mare Wymar’s Image now has 5 wins and 5 seconds in 11 lifetime starts for third generation and 2017 Minnesota Fair trainer of the year Justin Anfinson.

Floatinonthebreeze was second for driver and trainer Jenni King and Frenchkissmebaby was third, starting from the second tier in post position 6.

Rounding out the field were Rock on Ruby for driver and trainer Craig Banks, the winner’s stablemate, Dekker, with Jesse Yoder in the sulky, and 2017 Minnesota Champion two-year-old trotter The Sweetest Thing, racing for driver and trainer Alexia Kehl.

The program concluded with Races 7 & 8, a Free For All Pace and Trot. Veteran Minnesota bred pacers Goodytwosocks and Ya U Bet Cha were first and second in the first FFA, with the pace setter Place’n First hanging on for third.

Goodtwosocks closed fast before an enthusiastic crowd of harness racing fans to win the afternoon’s fastest race for driver and trainer Alexia Kehl. Brian Detgen was in the sulky behind Wendy Haberberg’s fan favorite Ya U Bet Cha, and Jenni King drove and trained Place’n First.

Jenni King also drove and trained French Eclipse who won the afternoon’s last race, a FFA trot. Switcheroo placed second for driver Brian Detgen and trainer Wendy Haberberg, and the Jenni King trainee Whatevershesgot was third with Nick Roland driving. The four year old Whatevershesgot has finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in 59 of 75 lifetime starts.

The first horse races in American history were for trotters at the County Fairs, some established as long ago as the early 1800’s, and harness horsemen, agricultural communities and racing fans have continued to support harness racing at County Fairs nationwide ever since.

Minnesota Harness Racing, Inc. and our members gratefully recognize and thank the horsemen who worked so hard to put on a great show in Wheaton on Sunday, September 23rd, and we applaud and thank the enthusiastic harness racing fans who supported what was a most entertaining and memorable program at the historic Traverse County Fairgrounds on a beautiful Fall day in Western Minnesota.

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