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Simpson Memorial Stakes move to Harrah’s Philadelphia
Thursday, January 14, 2016 - by Moira Fanning, for the Hambletonian Society

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Cranbury, NJ --- The John Simpson Memorial Stakes for colts and fillies will undergo several changes in 2016 as the races return to Pennsylvania after a successful five-year run at The Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs.

The eight races for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers will be reformatted as early closing events that race the same year payments are collected. Named in honor of the late John Simpson, the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association will host the races at Harrah’s Philadelphia with double the amount of added money and a revamped payment structure.

“The Simpson name has been synonymous with excellence for 75 years,” said Peter Marinari, executive director of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association. “We are pleased to be able to bring these races home to Pennsylvania.”

In accordance with the conditions of the now canceled stake, the accumulated stake monies will be refunded to the owners or nominators of the eligible horses as of Dec. 15, 2015 as the race becomes an early closer.

The early closing events, still administered by the Hambletonian Society, now have a single nomination fee of $200 per colt or filly and a single sustaining fee of $400 for those that wish to participate in the race. The entrance fee to start in any division of the Simpson races will be $400. Two-year-olds will make these payments in 2016 on March 15 and May 15; 3-year-olds on Feb. 15 and March 15.

Payment forms and complete conditions will be available on the Society website at www.Hambletonian.org or you may call 609.371.2211 to have them mailed, faxed or e-mailed to you.

The Simpson Stakes were originally named the Hanover-Hempt Stakes after two of Pennsylvania’s largest Standardbred breeders that owned the events. The races, created for 2- and 3-year-olds of each gender and gait, were first raced in 1960 at the Carlisle Fair, near Harrisburg, Pa.

In 1993 the races were renamed the Simpson Stakes to honor Hanover Shoe Farms chairman of the board and Hall of Fame horseman John F. Simpson Sr. Born in 1919, Simpson became a legendary figure in harness racing, winning more than $5 million in purses. He won the Hambletonian twice, the Little Brown Jug three times and won all six of the Triple Crown races for both gaits. Simpson passed away in Orlando, Fla., in 1995, and “Memorial” was added to the stake name.

“It’s important to the overall health of harness racing for stake racing to continue, and in this case, actually increase in value,” said Jim Simpson, president and CEO of Hanover Shoe Farms and son of the late John Simpson Sr. “We are grateful to the PHHA for their support in bringing these races home to Pennsylvania and for their commitment to top quality racing.”

Each division of the Simpson Memorial Early Closers is named for one of Hanover’s iconic stallions or a champion racehorse bred by Hanover. The pacing divisions bear the names of such immortals as Bret Hanover (2cp division), the mighty Albatross (3cp division), and such famous distaffers as Razzle Hanover (2fp division) and Hardie Hanover (3fp division).

The trotting stakes carry the names of Ayres (3ct division), Super Bowl (2ct division), Davidia Hanover (2ft division) and Elma (3ft division).

The dates and venues for the 2016 races are below.

3-Year-Olds: to be raced at Harrah’s Philadelphia

  • The Ayres (Trotting Colt & Gelding Divisions): Friday (Oct. 14) -- $50,000 Estimated
  • The Elma (Trotting Filly Divisions): Friday (Oct. 14) -- $40,000 Estimated
  • The Albatross (Pacing Colt & Gelding Divisions):  Sunday (Oct. 16) -- $47,000 Estimated
  • The Hardie Hanover (Pacing Filly Divisions): Sunday (Oct. 16) -- $40,000 Estimated

2-Year-Olds: to be raced at Harrah’s Philadelphia

  • The Super Bowl (Trotting Colt & Gelding Divisions): Friday (Oct. 28) -- $25,000 Estimated
  • The Davidia Hanover (Trotting Filly Divisions): Friday (Oct. 28) -- $25,000 Estimated
  • The Bret Hanover (Pacing Colt & Gelding Divisions): Sunday (Oct. 30) -- $25,000 Estimated
  • The Razzle Hanover (Pacing Filly Divisions): Sunday (Oct. 30) -- $25,000 Estimated

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