Elitloppet weekend showcases Sweden Cup

May 25, 2-15 - Some refer to Saturday’s Sweden Cup as the little Elite race and often it includes past and future harness racing Elitloppet players. Italian trotters are well represented and they have performed well in past Sweden Cups. Irving Rivarco and Owen's Club (which also holds the record of the Finale with 1.09.7kr) are the two Italian winners both led by Pietro Gubellini. In the first elimination Saturday Ringostarr Treb, trained byHolger Ehlert and driven by Wim Paal take their shot along with Olympic Kronos and Lufti Kolgjini. Second elimination includes Orione Spin and Kolgjini, Royal Blessed with Paal and Rod Stewart rained by Jerry Riordan. The elims also include well-regarded Reven d’Amour, that competed in a US Breeders Crown several years ago, and the J-P Dubois bred Nato Dream now owned by Stefan Melander. This year’s event has 20 starters aligned in two mile sprint eliminations, as shown below: Solvalla – 5-30-15 Saturday Sweden Cup 3a race 1  RINGOSTARR TREB* (IT) h 5 Paal Wilhelm (Ehl Ho) 1609 2  REVEN D'AMOUR h 10 Ohlsson Ulf (Lar FB) " 3  MAGICCARPETRIDE US* (US) h 9 Adielsson Erik (Ped An) " 4  OLYMPIC KRONOS (IT) h 7 Kolgjini Lutfi " 5  HIGHSPEED CALL v 7 Jansson Torbjörn (Pet Ni)a " 6  GOING FOR GOLD ZAZ h 7 Bergh Robert " 7  NOUVELLE PELLE v 12 Eriksson Kim (Joh Bo)a " 8  PRINCE TAGG h 9 Karlstedt Ralf " 9  DAVID SISU h 7 Takter Johnny (Sal Pe) " 10  DISCO A.E. h 7 Kihlström Örjan (Mel St) "   4a race 1  KASH'S CANTAB (US) h 7 Adielsson Erik (Joh SH) 1609  2  ORIONE SPIN (IT) v 7 Kolgjini Adrian (Kol Lu) " 3  VÄSTERBOONTHENEWS v 7 Ingves Peter (Pur Pe) " 4  NATO DREAM (US) h 6 Melander Stefan " 5  TABRIZ DU GITE* (FR) h 8 Thomain David (Lel Je) " 6  GOLDEN SID v 8 Jansson Torbjörn (Lin Bj) " 7  I SAW YOU v 10 Lindblom Åke " 8  MONSTER DRIVE h 9 Lövgren Joakim " 9  ROYAL BLESSED* (IT) h 5 Paal Wilhelm " 10  ROD STEWART* (IT) h 5 Eriksson Christoffer (Rio Je) "     Mosaique Face took the 2014 Sweden Cup and he may be a factor in the 2015 Elitloppet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCpTGmSedBY Thomas H. Hicks

Group photo from 2014 drivers challenge

Rematch in Clinton drivers challenge

Clinton -- Two years ago, James MacDonald was winning Clinton Raceways' annual harness racing drivers challenge heading into the final race when Trevor Henry pulled off a last second victory. MacDonald got his revenge a year ago, winning his first title with a decisive victory over Jody Jamieson. Henry was third. On Sunday, May 31, the trio, along with five other top reinsmen, will suit up against each other again as the 35th annual Drivers Challenge hits the track in support of the Clinton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. "Legions are having a tough time financially across the province. Every cause is a good one, but we think this will be a nice tie-in for us," said Clinton Raceway general manager Ian Fleming. Though it's a fun, relaxed atmosphere in which all proceeds of the day, including the drivers' fees, will go to the Legion, MacDonald said the drivers don't take the competition lightly. "Everyone's really competitive," he said. "You put a bunch of egos in together and one's a winner and you're going to get people trying pretty hard. There's no favours there, that's for sure." Henry, a finalist for the O'Brien Award for Canada's driver of the year in 2014, said pride is on the line. "It's always nice to have the bragging rights," Henry said, "But it's just a lot of fun. It's a good day out." The Drivers Challenge will pit Clinton's top three drivers of 2014 -- Henry, Ryan Holliday and Bruce Richardson-- against MacDonald, Jamieson, Doug McNair and Mike Saftic from the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit and Canada's leading dash winner, Alfie Carroll, who turned 30 in early May, and is leading the nation with nearly 200 wins already in 2015. For the first time in its long history, the Drivers Challenge is being held at the beginning, rather than at the end of the season, to make room for the eighth edition of Clinton Raceway's biannual Legends Day classic that will close out the track's 16-race season on Sept. 6 in support of the Clinton Public Hospital. Henry, long the king of Ontario's smaller tracks and now a regular fixture on the WEG circuit, said he's a big fan of Clinton Raceway. "It's just good to go there and give back to the town of Clinton," Henry said. "They do a lot of good there. It's a good town and a nice track and a good spot." MacDonald said he likes making the trip to Clinton because the Drivers Challenge usually draws a huge crowd and, "the people there seem to appreciate it and they put on a good show." MacDonald currently ranks a close second on Canada's driver earnings list with over $1.35 million made in 2015. McNair is a close third ($1.23 million), following by Henry in fifth ($1.09 million), Jamieson in sixth ($980,000) and Carroll in eighth ($890,000). In the wins department, after Carroll, McNair currently ranks sixth in the nation with 90 wins, followed by MacDonald in seventh (88) and Henry tied for ninth (80). The eight reinsmen participating in the Drivers Challenge have more than 26,300 career wins between them and combined career earnings of around $300 million.     Jessica Carnochan

Shane Tritton

Son of Art Official sizzles in New Zealand

Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Shane Tritton has arrived in New Zealand ready to put the final touches on Salty Robyn in the lead up to Saturday's Harness Jewels. The son of Art Official was narrowly beaten in a workout last Saturday by the Mark Purdon trained Dream About Me with the final quarter clocked in a scintillating 25.6. Salty Robyn led from the start in the field of three with Mark Jones in the sulky and looked set for victory after dashing away turning for home but was grabbed late with the official margin between the first two runners just a half-head. "Salty Robyn has come through the hit-out really well, I think Saturday's run proves that he is back at the top of his game because he is as much better horse than he showed at Addington last start," said Tritton. "I was at Melton for the Queen Of The Pacific on Saturday night and flew directly from Melbourne and arrived in New Zealand on Sunday, I'll look after him for the rest of the week and Lauren (Panella) will fly in after driving at Newcastle on Thursday." Tritton believes Salty Robyn was a run short before his last start 7th in the New Zealand Sires Stakes. "On reflection he was underdone going into the Sires, I gave him an easy time of it when he first arrived in New Zealand and in hindsight I may have been too soft on him. "He will be spot on for Saturday, he has drawn well and he has good gate speed so he will be doing his normal thing and pushing forward at the start." The Purdon pair Chase The Dream and Lazarus will be the hardest to beat according to Tritton. "Chase The Dream has beaten us twice already, Lazarus was in the Sires Final and finished third so he has shown how good he is too. "Mark (Purdon) and Nat (Rasmussen) are the benchmark, they get the results and they will be extremely hard to beat." Tritton and Panella will return to Australia on Monday. "We will fly back on the Monday and the horses will fly over on the Tuesday, I've got two other horses racing at Ashburton on Sunday (No Potato and Lurah) as well so it is going to be a big weekend for us." Greg Hayes

Franco Nelson

Franco Nelson moves camp

Harness racing is a hard business at the best of times but when horses are removed from one stable and shifted to another, there is always a bit of ill feeling involved regardless of how well  it is handled. Last November the Robert Dunn stable went really close to winning another New Zealand Cup when Franco Nelson missed by the barest of margins from holding out Adore Me. Another top run in the New Zealand FFA cemented Franco Nelson's arrival as a genuine grand circuit horse. Unfortunately foot issues then played havoc with the star pacers season and as a result he has missed most of the big races since that great week in November. Owners Clive, Sharon and Rona McKay recently made the decision to move the son of Christian Cullen to the Michael House barn. " The main reason we moved Franco Nelson to Michael's is that there is a vet on the property full time to help with Franco Nelson's foot problems" "We knew Robert would be upset by the decision but we have to do what we think is best for the horse." "Robert and John have been very good to us which made the decision even harder," Rona McKay told Harnesslink this afternoon. Robert Dunn was philosophical about losing the stable star. " I was pretty upset at the time although I don't blame Clive or Rona." " Franco Nelson does have a lot of ongoing issues but we thought we were getting on top of them. " After all the work we put into the horse, it is disappointing to lose the horse like this," Robert said.  The open class ranks are a bit thin at the moment and Franco Nelson would be a welcome sight back on the racetrack. Harnesslink Media

May 24, 2015 - Today’s featured harness racing action in France took place at various rural venues with one on the turf. The Prix Bernigaud (€34,000 purse, 2625 meters distance handicapped, 15 European starters) went to 15/1 Triton de Meunier (8g Camelia du Donjon-Ora de Meaunier) that overcame a 25 meter penalty to score in 1.17.1kr over 2650 meter distance. J-I Verrier teamed and trains and owns the winner. Uncle Oaks (7g Le Big Boss-Ile d’Or) was second for Th. Issautier at 5/1 with third to 4/1 Scarlet de l-Iton (9f Ideal d’Iton-Hermine de l’Iton) with trainer Thierry Collaud up. 6/1 Going As (7g Pink Diamond-Go Lucky) was fourth for Germany’s owner Stall Germanian and Stall Rubin. At Avignon the turf masters were at the start in the Prix du Chateau de Segries (€45,000 purse, 2650 meters distance handicapped, 16 starters). Barefoot Tresor Wic (8m Jag de Bellouet-Epona Vinn) and reinsman Daniel Bekaert overcame a 25 meter penalty to score in 1.18.1kr at 2/1 over his 2675 meter distance. 11/1 Verdict d’Honneur (6g Prodigious-Ploace d’Honneur) was second ahead of 50 meter penalized 87/1 Ramses des Charmes (10g Kiss Francis-Hydra de l’Epinay). Laurent Simon trains the first and third place finishers. At Solvalla today the two Elitloppet 2015 eliminations were drawn as shown below. 1a Elimination Univers de Pan (Philippe Daugeard) Support Justice (Geir Vegard Gundersen) Vincennes (Örjan Kihlström) Mosaique Face (Lutfi Kolgjini) Ustinof du Vivier (Mattieu Abrivard) Royal Fighter (Jennifer Tillman) Nuncio (Stefan Melander) Wind Of The North (Dave Palone) 2a Elimination B.B.S.Sugarlight (Peter Untersteiner) Nahar (Robert Bergh) Bret Boko (Ari Moilanen) Maven (Johnny Takter) Magic Tonight (Örjan Kihlström) On Track Piraten (Erik Adielsson) Timoko (Björn Goop) Voltigeur de Myrt (Gabrielle Gelormini)   Univers de Pan drew post one in the opener and he was full of trot and blocked in the Finlandia AJO. Fast front-runner Mosaique Face (1:09) Saturday in Sweden drew the advantageous post four for Lutfi Kolgjini. Four year-old Nuncio and trainer/driver Stefan Melander drew post seven with US invader Wind Of The North at post eight for sulky-sitter Dave Palone, the American driver who has just passed the 17,000 victories. Per Eriksson’s Royal Fighter drew post six for driver Jennifer Tillman. Elimination two has Timoko and Bjorn Goop scoring from post seven with Nahar and Robert Bergh from post two.Finlandia AJO pacesetting winner Bret Boko goes from post three and Maven starts from post four for Johnny Taker and trainer Jimmy Takter, today an easy winner in the US with Father Patrick in the Maxie Lee Memorial, defeating pocket-sitting Bee A Magician. Thomas H. Hicks

Chester, PA --- Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has seen his share of great trotters over the years and he thinks Father Patrick is among them. The 4-year-old Father Patrick, who was a division champion at ages 2 and 3, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one by capturing Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by two lengths over Bee A Magician in 1:52.1 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Lindy's Tru Grit finished third. Father Patrick's time equaled the track record for a 4-year-old male trotter. "If everything stays perfect I think he's going to be very dominant," said Takter, whose past stars include Horse of the Year Award winners Moni Maker and Malabar Man. "I really do. I've been around greatness, and I think he's going to be a horse people talk about for many, many years." Father Patrick has won 23 of 29 career races and earned $2.51 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. Takter also visited the winner's circle following the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older male pacers, which was won by his Great Vintage by three-quarters of a length over Dancin Yankee in 1:50.2. Mach It So finished third. Radar Contact won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by a neck over Anndrovette, who won last year's race. Ooh Bad Shark was third. The Maxie Lee field featured a deep group of trotters, including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician as well as division champions Classic Martine and Market Share, who won last year's edition of the event. Father Patrick and Bee A Magician were among four horses to go for the lead on the first turn and Father Patrick got to the front before the group neared the second turn. The opening quarter was :27.1, followed by a half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.2. Bee A Magician tried to launch a challenge coming off the final turn, but Father Patrick yielded no ground. "He did it so easy too," winning driver Yannick Gingras said. "The earplugs are still in; I never really called on him. I let him trot the last eighth (of a mile). "Bee A Magician got the right trip, but with those kinds of fractions maybe I got a little bit of a jump on her. But she's a great horse and I was definitely worried around the turn when Brian (Sears) pulled because I knew she would give me a run. But he just showed what kind of horse he is." A son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream, Father Patrick prepped for his seasonal debut by qualifying three times, with his final effort being a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands on May 16. "Last week we wanted to get him a race but weren't able to, so I treated that (qualifier) as a race," Gingras said. "We went decent fractions and he stretched his legs out a little. I knew he was about as ready as he could be. He's not in peak, peak form yet, but he was good enough to win today." In addition to preparing for his racing campaign, Father Patrick has been doing stud duty. He made three trips to the breeding farm in the week leading up to the Maxie Lee. "It's individual," Takter said about whether breeding and racing could work for all horses. "I know horses that won't go at all; when you start breeding them they lose total interest in racing. In his case, it hasn't been negative. So far so good." Great Vintage also has done stud duty, but after he bred just a handful of mares this year Takter decided it was better to give him a chance again on the racetrack. Great Vintage had been "retired" after suffering a ligament injury last August. A 7-year-old son of American Ideal out of the mare Art's Vintage, Great Vintage is 2-for-2 this season. He has won 28 of 95 career races and earned $793,108. "He came back very happy," Takter said. "He got hurt in the fall last year, so I thought he was done. But he came back sounder and better. He was a really good 2-year-old, but he got hurt in the paddock when he was turned out so he didn't come back good as a 3-year-old. He had a bad injury on the knee. "He raced good (in the two years) after that. He's a good horse. He's a brother to ($2.1-million-earner) Vintage Master, so he's got a license to play. He's a tough horse." Takter trains Great Vintage for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk. In the Betsy Ross, Radar Contact went to the front in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette at the wire. A 7-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway out of the mare Topville Cyberwave, Radar Contact has won six of 16 races this year and finished worse than second only twice. For her career, she has 31 victories in 97 starts and $877,006 in purses. Radar Contact is trained by Noel Daley for owners Charles Stillings and Dean Ehrgott. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Pompano Beach, FL...May 23, 2015...Johnny Grippa teamed up with harness racing driver Bruce Ranger to score a handy win measuring 2 1/2 lengths in Pompano Park's $8,500 "Winner's Over" handicap pace on Saturday night in 1:51.4. The seven year-old son of Cam's Card Shark led at every junction in the mile, clocking fractions of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:25.3 before exploding home in :26.1 to pin the defeat on stablemate Hillybilly, handled by Ben McNeil, with Northern Companion, with Tom Sells handling the lines, third. Shamderock and Who's Your Maddy picked up the final awards in the quintet. At the outset, Johnny Grippa was sent right to the front from his advantageous post five with Northern Companion, one slot in, also on the engine early and settling in the garden spot with Shamderock, Who's Your Maddy and Hillybilly completing the order through the early going and over to the half. On the backside, driver McNeil sent Hillybilly winging from the back of the pack and, with no interruptions, brushed up into second around the final turn. In the lane, Johnny Grippa was doing some serious brushing of his own, scorching the last panel to seal the deal. In a post race interview, driver Bruce Ranger, having just celebrated lifetime win number 8,888 just last Wednesday, smiled and said, "Well, that's the first of my 'next' 8,888." He continued, "This is just a hard hitting, solid performer. He loves to be in the thick of the action from the get-go and the five post here is the perfect spot to do so. He was sharp last week finishing second and he was sharp again tonight with the 'soft' fractions helping him the middle half of the mile." Trained by Stewart Nemiro for Mc Trade Enterprises, Johnny Grippa won for the fifth time this year in 18 starts, good for $40,600 so far in 2015. Lifetime, Johnny Grippa now owns 42 wins with career earnings of $194,170. As the 1 to 5 chalk on the tote-board, Johnny Grippa paid $2.40 to win. Also of interest on the Saturday night card was the winning debut of Bring On The Beach, a three year-old full brother to the great Somebeachsomewhere, Trained by Jim Mc Donald for the Mardon Stables, Paradox Farm and Dan MacIssac, Bring On The Beach scored for Wally Hennessey in 1:54.4, holding off the late surging pair of Marion and Motorcity Pawnstar in the process. Bring On The Beach was away cautiously in this, his first career outing before brushing from third around the opening turn and taking the lead right at the first marker in :29. He then proceeded through panels of :57.4 and 1:26 before holding on to score by three-parts-of-a-length on the strength of his :28.4 finale. Unraced at two--sans a Mohawk qualifier in which he made a miscue early--Bring On The Beach came into the action off of a 1:56.4 qualifying win three weeks ago. After the win, Hennessey said, "He's a nice colt, no doubt about that...but he's got about 40 lengths to make up to catch his brother...$3,000,000, too. He's got some talent. I hope he goes half as far as his brother!" As the 4 to 5 tote-board favorite, Bring On The Beach paid $3.80 to win to his many followers. Racing continues on Wednesday night with first post tabbed at 7:30 p.m. Correction: In our last report, it was erroniously stated that the handle for last Wednesday's program was a record $1,381,817. While the single race handle of $1,299,038 proved to be a record, the aforementioned total handle was not a record as $1,435,549 was wagered on Isle of Capri night in 2003 and $1,403,907 was the total handle on Isle of Capril night in 2000. by John Berry for Pompano Park

May 23, 2015 - Harness racing Elitloppet officials today rounded out next Sunday’s 16-horse lineup (two eliminations of eight each) with the addition of Royal Fighter, Vincennes and Bret Boko. The full field is shown below. Timoko (FR) Maven (USA) On Track Piraten (SWE) Wind Of The North (USA) B.B.S.Sugarlight (NO) Support Justice (NO) Nahar (SWE) – a past winner of this classic Voltigeur de Myrt (FR) Magic Tonight (SWE) Univers de Pan (FR) Nuncio (SWE) Ustinof du Vivier (FR) Mosaique Face (SWE) Royal Fighter (SWE) Vincennes (FR) Bret Boko (FI) Trainer Per Eriksson’s Royal Fighter earned his ticket a week ago with a win in what was then the fastest clocking in Europe in 2015. The seven year-old son of Varenne has earned only 1.6SEK million in a relatively lackluster career that has shown flashes of brilliance. The SWE bred mare Vincennes has been a solidly consistent performer at high levels this Spring. The seven year-old daughter of Spotlite Lobell has earned 6.1SEK million and is a closer. Bret Boko was the final invitee off his impressive gate to wire victory in the Finlandia AJO. The son of Yankee Glide has earned over 3.1SEK million and has gate speed to be a factor. The 2015 Elitloppet field is a competitive one and should provide intense action. It’s a combination of proven veterans and outsiders that recently have provided fast victories. Be there for a great classic at Solvalla and Elitloppet weekend. Thomas H. Hicks

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 23 - Ontario sired three-year-old fillies were out in full force for the harness racing eliminations of the WEG-SBOA Stakes Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A pair of $25,000 eliminations were contested for both pacing and trotting divisions to determine the fields for next Saturday's finals. A group of 22 sophomore trotting fillies were split into two 11-horse divisions. In the first elimination, Stubborn Belle, last year's O'Brien Award winner, made her 2015 debut a winning effort in 1:55.2. Driven by Paul MacDonell, Stubborn Belle made a move from third to first in the second-quarter to take control at the half in :57.1. After posting a third-quarter of :28.2, Stubborn Belle trotted home under minimal urging to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Meadow Seelster, who made a break after the start, made a huge comeback to finish second. Summers Jewel, Battle Mage and Tymal Illbthere rounded out the top-five to secure spots in the final. A daughter of Taurus Dream, Stubborn Belle is trained by John Bax and owned by Al Libfeld and Bax's Parkhill Stud Farm. The sophomore trotting filly won five of 14 starts last season and compiled earnings of over $524,000. Stubborn Belle returned $2.90 to win. Stubborn Belle The second elimination saw Danielle Hall, last year's Ontario Sires Stakes champion, sent-off as the heavy favourite in her season debut, but an early break from the star filly tossed the division up in the air. Second Sister and driver Doug McNair showed early speed to grab the lead. Once on the front, McNair got to call all the shots and set fractions of :29, :58.1 and 1:26.4. In the stretch, Second Sister cruised home in :28.1 to win by three-lengths over first-up challenger Kaddy in 1:55. Yanks Ball Girl, Magic Shelley and Sumthintotalkabout picked up the remaining cheques to earn a spot in the final. Following her break, Danielle Hall caught the field and was able to finish sixth. A daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, Second Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owner Jarold Hawks. The trotting filly finished third last week in her season debut. Last season, Second Sister won three of eight starts and earned $55,760. Her clocking of 1:55 Saturday night established a new career mark. Second Sister paid $26.70 to win. Second Sister On the pacing side, a total of 20 three-year-old fillies were split evenly into two ten-horse eliminations. In the first elimination, Ms Mac N Cheese was able to overcome post-ten to win in 1:52.4. Driven by Sylvain Filion, Ms Mac N Cheese, the 2/1 favourite, sprinted off the gate and was able to make the front from the far outside. The public's choice set fractions of :26.4 and :55.4 before being challenged around the final turn. Ms Mac N Cheese reached the three-quarter pole in 1:24.1 with a first-over challenger at her wheel. In the stretch, the favourite turned aside all rivals to create some separation and paced home in :28.3 to win in 1:52.4. Code One Hanover, who got a two-hole trip, was able to close in on the leader in late stretch to finish second and narrow the margin of victory down to a length. Wrangler Magic, Capela and Southwind Ginger finished in the money to earn the final three spots in next week's final. A daughter of Badlands Hanover, Ms Mac N Cheese is trained by Richard Moreau for owner David Ratchford. The sophomore pacing filly is now two for two this season and nine for 12 in her career with over $84,000 in earnings. Ms Mac N Cheese lowered her career-mark by a fifth of a second with Saturday night's victory. She returned $6.10 to win. Ms Mac N Cheese In the second elimination, Solar Sister, the even-money choice, made it a sweep of the pacing eliminations by post-ten starters with a 1:53 victory. Driven by Doug McNair, Solar Sister sprinted to the front from post-ten and was able to reach the pylons at the opening-quarter in :26.2. The public's was then able to call the shots and posted fractions of :56 and 1:24.4. In the stretch, Solar Sister kept her momentum going and held off her rivals with a :28.1 final-quarter to win by a length. Delightful Hill came charging from the back to finish second. Win The Gold, Much Adoo and Twin B Honour rounded out the top-five. A daughter of Mach Three, Solar Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owners David Willmot and Clay Horner. Her elimination victory improves her 2015 record to a perfect two for two and was the fourth win of her career. Last season, Solar Sister won two of 12 starts and banked over $214,000. Saturday's clocking of 1:53 established a new career mark for the McNair trainee. A $2 win ticket on Solar Sister paid $4.30. Solar Sister The post position draw for both finals was conducted following the eliminations. The elimination winners earned the right to select their posts. The $129,661 WEG-SBOA Stakes final for trotting fillies and the $127,661 WEG-SBOA Stakes final for pacing fillies will take place next Saturday (May 30.) Here is how they will lineup in next week's finals. WEG-SBOA - Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly Final 1. Kaddy - Steve Condren 2. Stubborn Belle - Paul MacDonell 3. Second Sister - Doug McNair 4. Summers Jewel - Mario Baillargeon 5. Battle Mage - Jack Moiseyev 6. Meadow Seelster - Jody Jamieson 7. Sumthintotalkabout - Rick Zeron 8. Yanks Ball Girl - Randy Waples 9. Tymal Illbthere - Trevor Henry 10. Magic Shelley - Chris Christoforou AE: Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson WEG-SBOA - Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly Final 1. Much Adoo - Paul MacDonell 2. Ms Mac N Cheese - Sylvain Filion 3. Solar Sister - Doug McNair 4. Wrangler Magic - Yves Filion 5. Twin B Honour - Trevor Henry 6. Win The Gold - James MacDonald 7. Code One Hanover - Paul MacDonell 8. Southwind Ginger - Jody Jamieson 9. Delightful Hill - Jody Jamieson 10. Capela - James MacDonald AE: I Wonder Why - Steve Condren Mark McKelvie

 ANDERSON, Ind.-May 23, 2015 - Indiana's three-year-old pacing colts were in the spotlight at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, May 23 to square off in the opening round of Indiana Sires Stakes action and as predicted, the sophomore colts opened their harness racing series in impressive fashion. Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit, considered two of the top pacing colts for 2015, both delivered in their respective eliminations. Making his 2015 return to the races, Freaky Feet Pete picked up right where he left off as he found the winner's circle in his sophomore debut, winning in 1:50.3. Driven by Trace Tetrick, Freaky Feet Pete used a :27.2 final panel to coast home a winner by two lengths. Freaky Feet Pete settled well off the early pace, retreating to fifth while the rest of the field battled for early position through first half fractions of :27.1 and :55.4. Freaky Feet Pete began his quest to the front just past the half and reached the leader's wheel approaching the final turn. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:23.1, Freaky Feet Pete found his best strides late in the lane and cruised home to notch his first victory of the season. The 1:50.3 final time equals his career best. "I think his best attribute is that he's very versatile, on the front, off the pace, it doesn't really bother him," driver Trace Tetrick noted after the race. "Great horses do great things and that's what he is. He's come back great, he's fresh, he's ready to race, and he loves his job." Voted Indiana's two-year-old pacing colt of the year, Freaky Feet Pete has now won 10 of 11 career starts and earned $271,950 for owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer. The son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori is trained by Larry Rheinheimer. In the very next division, Wiggle It Jiggleit, fresh off his world record setting performance, made his Hoosier Park debut a winning one to remain undefeated in nine starts. With regular pilot Montrell Teague in the sulky, Wiggle It Jiggleit made a powerful move down the backside and cruised to the wire seven lengths in front of his competition in 1:50.3. The world champion took off the speed early in the mile, but made a controlled move to the lead and cleared just before the half-mile mark through fractions of :27.1 and :55.3. Wiggle It Jiggleit led the field through the three-quarter split in 1:23.3 before beginning to put his talent on display. As the rest of the field struggled to stay within striking distance, Wiggle It Jiggleit was racing the clock. Finishing well within himself at the wire, the son of Mr. Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover coasted to the wire with his earplugs still in-tact. "I don't want to put him on the front every time, he's versatile and I think he can go any way," driver Montrell Teague noted in the winner's circle. "I could have taken him back to last and he probably would have done the same thing. Racing him off pace just teaches him that he has to calm down a little bit, and now, hopefully, we'll be ready for next week." "He's awesome, his attitude, his intelligence, he just does everything right," Teague continued. "It's a pleasure to be around a horse like him and to go those kind of miles every week. I didn't even pop the earplugs tonight." Wiggle It Jiggleit became the fastest-3-year-old pacing colt on a half mile track in history when he romped to a 1:49 victory at Harrington Raceway on May 11. He is conditioned by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague Jr. With the victory, Wiggle It Jiggleit's career earnings surpassed the $100,000 mark. Trainer Jon Anderson teamed up with driver Rick Plano to double up in the other two divisions of the stakes action. The Anderson-Plano scored first with My Buddy Ninkster in the opening split and followed up with Rockin Ron scoring in the final division. After finishing second in his last two outings, My Buddy Ninkster rebounded to find the winner's circle when it counted in 1:51.1. Benefitting from a pocket trip, My Buddy Ninkster was able to overcome the tempo-setting Harfo Hanover and Tony Hall late in the lane. Sired by Dali, My Buddy Ninkster recorded the fourth victory of his sophomore campaign while establishing a new lifetime mark in the process. Owned by John and Mary Krasnican, the son of Dali-Sporty Ellie has now earned $46,553 lifetime. In the final division of the stakes action, Rockin Ron kept his winning streak alive as he recorded his 5th consecutive victory at Hoosier Park in 1:51.2. The Jon Anderson trainee dictated fractions of :27, :55.2 and 1:23.2 before powering home a winner. The son of Real Desire-Im All A Roan is now 5 for 5 this season and six for 15 in his career. Owned by Ronald Phillips, Louis Leinberger and Jesse Ferge, Rockin Ron has earned $58,300 lifetime. All four of the evening's elimination winners successfully earned a spot in the first of five $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final slated for May 30 at Hoosier Park. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. Emily Gaskin

Vernon, N.Y. -- Sent off the prohibitive 2-5 favorite, Barn Doll ($2.90) sustained a push to the fore on the far turn, drawing clear for a 1:54 triumph in her $40,600 New York Sire Stakes event for harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday (May 23) evening at Vernon Downs.   The daughter of Conway Hall and Headintheclouds settled in midpack early on, as Magic City (Jeff Gregory) cleared the lead through a :28 initial quarter. On the backstretch, Jimmy Whittemore angled Barn Doll second-over behind the cover of Frou Frou (Jim Morrill, Jr.), but was ultimately left uncovered after a :57.2 half mile as Frou Frou cleared. Despite no longer having the aid of cover, Barn Doll continued progressing, pushing clear on the far turn and drawing clear of Frou Frou by 3-1/2 lengths in the end. Stirling Debutant (Rick Zeron) sustained a move on the far turn to take third, just missing Frou Frou in a late battle for second.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables.   Lock Down Lindy ($3.80, Rick Zeron, 1:54.3) and Concentration ($10.00, Chris Lems, 1:56.3) also proved victorious in their Sire Stakes divisions.   Vernon Downs is dark for racing on Sunday, but hosts a 13-race program on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25). Post time is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

May 23, 2015 - Lutfi Kolgjini put his trainee Mosaique Face (6m Classic Photo-Iona LB-Supergill) on the front and he scored by open lengths, in 1.09kr track record at Gavle and fastest of the year in Europe (1:51.02 mile). The winner secured an Elitloppet ticket with the victory, that was presented in the winner’s circle. He is owned by Tommy Nilsson Holding AB of Malmo and was bred by Kolgjini and Anna Svensson. Mosaique Face had come off disappointment from a heart ailment. His maternal family justifies confidence as dam Iona LB has produced four winners from five foals and is from Zenia LB by Valley Victory-Armbro Megan-Speedy Crown-Delmegan-Super Bowl-Delmonica Hanover (Prix d’Amerique winner trained by Delvin Miller and that winter in FR by Aime Choquette). Mosaique Face earned 400,000SEK with the win and was off at 7/1 odds. He now has 13 career wins in 46 outings for 8,109,713SEK earned. Maven (6f Glidemaster-M. Stewart-American Winner) raced bravely to be second after a three-wide move down the backside for Johnny Takter to engage the winner. Maven was already an Elitloppet starter. Papagayo E. (5m Coktail Jet-Ann Speedy T.-Speedy Tomali) from Norway was a good third for Bjorn Goop. Creatine, Beer Summit and Panne de Moteur were the next three to the line. Also on the Gavle card was a 1.11.9kr victory in the Bronze Division V75 by Shadow Woodland (6g The Bosses Lindy-Unlimited Visa-Credit Winner) from Finland for Ulf Ohlsson. The Reijo Liljendahl trainee secured his second 2015 win in five outings and second straight. Thomas H. Hicks

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 23, 2015 -Harness racing driver Brian Sears was the man about town Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of $40,000 eliminations for the 25th Art Rooney Pace. A total of 13 3-year-old gentlemen-11 colts and two geldings-began the night, with the first four finishers in each elim getting a pass through the velvet robe into the stakes finale. Sears took of the first event with a first-up Sonofa Sizzle ($9.90) in 1:52.1. He held off Betting Exchange (Dave Miller) by a neck after the front end folded. The front end came in the form of 6-5 favorite Soto (Brett Miller), who worked around Arque Hanover (Jason Bartlett) and threw down intervals of :27.2 :56 and 1:24.1. Meanwhile, scourge of Delaware Sonaofa Sizzle, from post position No. 3, had engaged the leader before putting him away. He held off Betting Exchange, who was three-wide early before slipping out in the lane. Cartoon Daddy (catch-driver Dan Dube) was a never-threatening third, with Arque Hanover, despite breaking early in the lane, finished fourth to get into the final. A tiring Soto and an outrun A Bettor Hat (George Brennan) rounded out the order. For second choice Sonofa Sizzle, son of Life Sizzles owned by Michael White and trained by Josh Green, it was his fourth win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $81.50, with the triple returning $190. "He did everything I asked of him," Sears said "It helped that they mixed it up a bit early, but he was very sharp." Let's not gloss over the "interesting" effort of Arque Hanover, who, in the words of his date, was a victim of too much pace and no place to go. "I was overloaded," Bartlett said. "He was definitely a winner. He had so much pace, he started getting crooked on me and made a break. It's shows how good he was that he came back and made the final, anyway." The second elimination saw odds-on choice In the Arsenal ($2.50), whose debutante effort came in last season's Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here, barely prevail. Leaving from post No. 2, he gave the first lead to Rock N' Roll World (Dube) before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. In the Arsenal then moved to the lead, completing his rounds (:57.2, 1:26, 1:53.1). Rock N' World, now a runner-up in all four races this season, tried In the Arsenal in the passing lane by missed a head. National Seelester (Dave Miller) and Bet You (Brett Miller) also earned their invites to return, while Rolling Ring Afire (catch-driver Tyler Buter), Western Pioneer (Brennan) and a breaking Penji Hanover (Mark MacDonald) completed the order. For In the Arsenal, a son of American Ideal trained by Kelvin Harrison for co-owners (breeder) White Birch Farm and In the Arsenal Racing, it was his second win in as many '15 tries. The exacta paid $10.20, with the triple returning $16. "He's more mature mentally and physically than he was at 2," Sears said. "In elimination races, you have to race a favorite as if he's the favorite, so I put him on the lead. He knows what he's doing out there." The $300,000 final of the Rooney goes next Saturday night (May 30), along with the six-lass $117,724 Lismore (3-year-old pacing fillies). The open draw for both stakes takes place late Tuesday morning. Saturday's $42,000 Open Handicaps were won by... --(Trot), Luminosity (Brennan, $6.50) in 1:54.4 --(Pace), Duc Dorleans (MacDonald, $16.60) in 1:51.3. No one took down the Saturday Pick 5, so Monday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $4,501.50 and offers a $10,000 guaranteed pool (program pages available at www.yonkersraceway.com). The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 every racing program. The Raceway's live season continues Memorial Day evening (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM, pair of finals in the Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note there is no live racing or evening simulcasting June 3-12, inclusive. Afternoon simulcasting is available daily, including the June 6th Belmont Stakes. Frank Drucker

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - Atomic Million AM, an 11-race winner in 2015, make his return to the Hippodrome 3R Sunday in the opening round of $125,000 Quebec-Bred Series. The series features three weeks of elimination competition culminating with the $35,000 finals on Sunday, June 14. A four-year-old gelded son of Million Dollar Cam, Atomic Million AM won over $110,000 last year, a decent size portion of that coming in this series. In 2014 he also took a lifetime mark of 1:50.3 at Mohawk Raceway. He heads the fifth race older horse division and starts from post three for driver Sylvain Lachalle. So far in 2015, Atomic Million AM, has been razor sharp with two wins and two seconds in his four starts. A winner in two of his last three starts, Atomic Million AM is owned and trained by Alan Martin of Gatineau, QC . They are the overwhelming favorite in the race. Other contenders include My Lucky Bluejeans (post two) and Victor Bayama (post 8). The first of two Quebec-Bred Series opening rounds for mares is the second race and featured is Victoria Semalu in post four. Unraced last year, this four-year-old mare has come about for Dany Fontaine. Just three weeks ago she took her record with a 1:53.4 triumph at Rideau Carlton. She will face stiff competition from Lutetia Semalu (post 6) and Cambec Lindor (post 2). The sixth race second division is an excellent matchup with four return winners in the field. The race favorite is Champagne Shower, who is coming off a lifetime mark of 1:52.1 at Mohawk Raceway and has won two of her last three starts for trainer Yves Tessier. A four-year-old mare by Santana Blue Chip, Champagne Shower starts from post five with Denis St Pierre driving. Her return winner rivals are Cyndalianne Duc (post 2), Chaleurs Fantasy (post 6) and Tango Bayama (post 7). First race post time Sunday is 1:30 pm. For more information contact www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

Anna Sewell’s 1877 novel Black Beauty is one of the most popular books of all time. The modern day film adaptations were also wildly successful. Aside from energizing the animal welfare movement in nineteenth century England, the story inspired worldwide love for a black stallion. In the Standardbred world, where folks often split hairs when it comes to distinguishing colors, black is an outlier. Blacks don’t represent a large percentage of trotters and pacers, but have played a key role in the development of the breed, nonetheless. The most important sire of the modern era is Meadow Skipper. He was brown, but his daddy, Hall of Famer Dale Frost, was black. He won the Geers and Meadow Lands Farm Stake at two and earned more than $200,000. But this black stallion, who was handled by Delvin Miller and Jimmy Arthur, made himself an immortal by siring Meadow Skipper. Other productive sons were Fulla Napoleon, Mountain Skipper and Goodnuff. Tar Heel, a jet black stallion, came along three years earlier than Dale Frost. Lawrence Sheppard paid a record $125,000 for the Little Brown Jug winner as a three year-old. And unlike Dale Frost, who passed after breaking his leg at age 17, and left behind a small number of offspring, Tar Heel was a siring machine: Hanover got 27 crops out of him. Many of his get were homely as sin and sour as a lemon, but they knew how to win races. His sons did not sire on; he had no Skipper. However, his legacy on the track is deep. Horse of the Year at two, three and four, Laverne Hanover, won the Fox, Little Brown Jug and Tattersalls Pace. He won 61 of 98 starts. The full brothers, Nansemond and Isle Of Wight, beat the mighty Albatross a combined eight times. And the former won the Jug. Keystone Pat, Otaro Hanover, Tar Boy and Sunnie Tar are a few of the others. And the coal black giant, Tarquinius, who took over the FFA division for a stretch in 1964, was another standout. The Tar Heels changed over time; there’s a striking difference between Tarquinius, who was out of a Corporal Lee mare, and Laverne and Nansemond, both of whom were out of Adios mares. Bob Marks points out that the son of Billy Direct got a steady diet of trotting mares prior to the success of Steady Beau and Sly Yankee, while the Adios mares that followed gave him smaller, better gaited individuals. Tar Heel’s daughters were responsible for the Triple Crown winner, Ralph Hanover, as well as Praised Dignity, In The Pocket, Colt Fortysix and Forrest Skipper. Tar Heel mares produced the top performer for most of the sires they were bred to. Adios’s top son, Bret Hanover; Dancer Hanover’s best, Romeo Hanover; and Columbia George’s best, Le Baron Rouge, are three examples. Widower Creed was a top notch black FFA pacer for Howard Beissinger in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The son of Jimmy Creed did not distinguish himself as a sire, but he did produce Miss Creedabelle, the dam of Bret’s nemesis, Adios Vic. Continentalvictory, the brilliant daughter of Valley Victory, who passed three months ago at age 22, was another black star. The last filly to win the Hambletonian, the Hall of Famer, earned $1.6 million, and took the Yonkers Trot and World Trotting Derby. Scotland, the progenitor of Muscle Hill, via Rodney, Speedy Scot, Speedy Crown etc., was a black horse. As was his son Hoot Mon and that one’s daughter Hoot Song, the filly who beat the boys in the 1957 Yonkers Trot and finished second behind Hickory Smoke in the Hambletonian. Caleb, a black son of Hoot Mon, was second in the 1961 Hambletonian. Hoot Mon, who is one of three black horses to win the Hambletonian—Park Avenue Joe and Continentalvictory being the others—was the sire of Hambletonian winners AC’s Viking and Blaze Hanover, as well as Capetown, the sire of Overcall, and Thankful, the dam of Nevele Pride. Earl Laird, Jimmy Cruise’s FFA project, who was chronically lame and didn’t race until age six, was black. The brave trotter won the Maple Leaf Classic, United Nations Trot and the American Classic. Flak Bait, a high-end son of Speedy Somolli, who took the 1985 Kentucky Futurity, was black. And Natural Herbie, who surprised everyone in last year’s International Trot Preview, and also won the Vincennes and Chip Noble, is also black. The 1953 Horse of the Year, world record holder Hi Los Forbes, was black. As is Rock n Roll Heaven’s sophomore filly, Band Of Angels. There are only three mainstream black sires in North America: hitting the reset button in Ontario, after an unsuccessful run in New York as a four year-old, Archangel, sold out right away up North. Shadow Play was very successful in the Ontario Sire Stakes with his first crop, but ran up against Sportswriter last year; and Winning Mister stood in PA in 2013, made a four race comeback in the fall of that year, and is now apparently permanently retired to stud. The first two will certainly spread that black around. Our world gets more bay and brown every day. We need more ebony, more onyx, and more black beauty. (Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink)

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Nichols, N.Y. -- Making his local harness racing debut after chasing top pacers in Delaware, Mary Ann Larrimore's Believe This Bob ($4.10) had no trouble keeping clear of his seven rivals in Sunday (May 24) evening's $14,000 Open Pace at Tioga Downs, holding sway for a 1:50.3 triumph.   The 7-year-old Beach Romeo gelding split fellow leavers Road Untraveled (Brandon Simpson) and Glass Prince (Rick Dane) to assume the pacesetting duties, clicking off a :26.2 first quarter and maintaining the lead through a :55 half mile. Believe This Bob in fact controlled the terms throughout, edging clear from the pocket-sitting Road Untraveled on the far turn. Upon encouragement from Aaron Byron through the stretch, Believe This Bob dug in to maintain a clear two-length margin over a late-rallying Glass Prince. Glass Prince, who was locked in on the backstretch by Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr.), had room to edge off the pegs at head-stretch, narrowly defeating Road Untraveled for second. Prairie Jaguar faded to fourth off his uncovered bid.   Joe Skowyra trains Believe This Bob, now a 27-time winner.   Byron kicked off a driving grand slam in the featured event, reeling off two more wins immediately aboard Oakmont ($4.30, 1:51.3) and NBA Pick ($8.10, 1:55.2) before capturing the finale with Philana Chalice ($40.00, 1:55.2). Corey Braden and Jim Marohn, Jr. both recorded driving doubles on the night, while Edgar "Sparky" Clarke notched a training double on the 10-race card.   Monday (May 25) afternoon's all-stakes card kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, with first-round Graduate action for 4-year-olds and New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing fillies comprising the entirety of the 13-race card.   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
With some good sized crowds filling the apron for a festive Memorial Day weekend of fun-filled activities at Balmoral Park, a pair of harness racing Illinois conceived and foaled stake events for three-year-olds shared top billing on the racing oval.   Trotters grabbed the spotlight on Sunday, May 24th as a very evenly matched field of nine diagonally gaited fillies squared off in the $16,400 Violet Stake.   Continuing the fast start she's enjoyed in her second season Cynthia De Marlie and Jason Van Winkle's Bi Polar Rose shot right to the top and proceeded to make every call a winning one as she reported home with a four-length decision in a career best of 1:57.3 for Travis Seekman.   Gunned away from post six the daughter of Polar Winner--I Still Owe carved out splits of 29.4, 59.2 & 1:28.4 while rolling along relatively unchallenged on the front end.   With plenty still in reserve, the Ronnie Roberts trained miss trotted home in 28.4 while drawing away from stretch challenges by Persuasive Look (Casey Leonard) and Fox Valley Yoko (John De Long) who wound up second and third respectively.   Hammered at the betting windows, Bi Polar Rose returned $4.60, $3.00 & $2.40 while running her career record to 6-3-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $93,457.   On Saturday, May 23rd a total of 12 state-bred colts and geldings met in a pair of $7,500 Cardinal Stake eliminations. The top five finishers in each division will return next Saturday night to battle in the $18,400 final.   In the first division the Dane May owned and trained Dinky Dune continued his second season improvement as he came charging through the passing lane to record a two-length triumph in 1:53.4 for driver Pat Curtin.   Given a perfect steer, the gelded son of Duneside Perch--Dream Hand settled in third early on but as the pace slowed Curtin zipped the bay gelding to the front leading the field through an opening quarter in 30.0.   The action continued to heat up through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:26.4 as a hard charging Dixie's Boy ( Casey Leonard) showed the way with Dinky Dune right on his back in second.   Through the lane Dixie's Boy managed to fend off the first over challenge of 6-5 favorite Lucpark (Mike Oosting) but a fit and fresh Dinky Dune was full of pace and ready to roll as he moved down to the passing lane. Sealing the deal with a wicked 26.4 final quarter Dinky Dune cruised right on by the pace setter to notch his second career win in eight starts. Lucpark came on again late to edge Dixie's Boy for the place and show spots. Rockin Cassinova & Mighty Hot Shot also earned spots in next week's final.   In the second elimination last year's division leader Earndawg showed that he's ready to defend his crown as he posted a very comfortable 1 ½ length victory in 1:54.1 with Todd Warren at the controls.   After easing away from the gate in third while stablemate King Of The Swamp (Ridge Warren) led the field through opening splits of 28.4 & 58.2, the Roger Welch trained gelding grabbed command of the proceedings as the field moved around the final bend.   After taking the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.4 the son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K gamely held off his rivals with an impressive 27.2 final quarter to notch his 10th win in 20 career starts for the partnership of Bo & Pat De Long and Ernest Miller. Frosty Dune (Casey Leonard) saved ground throughout then rallied nicely to finish second while King Of The Swamp held on for third. Also gaining spots in the final were C Note and Comecatchme.   The 50 Cent Pick 5 wager was not hit on Sunday, May 24th so there will be a carryover of $11,081.42 added to next Saturday's (May 30th) Pick 5. Because of the carryover BalmoralPark will guarantee a $25,000 pool for next Saturday's Pick 5. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on their competition with free 10 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at www.ustrotting.com beginning on Thursday, May 28th.   Tom Kelley  
Slugfest (Conway Hall) made his return to the winner's circle at the harness racing meeting at Saratoga on Sunday afternoon. The track's top trotter, Slugfest is following up his award winning 2014 campaign with another big season. The Maureen Salino-trained trotter had been first or second in six straight Opens heading into Sunday afternoon's tilt but was coming off of a sound defeat as the 1-5 favorite in last week's $18,000 feature. Slugfest was up to the task on the beautiful Sunday afternoon at the Spa as the five year old went coast to coast in 1:56.4 to record his fifth Open win of the '15 season. Bentley Karan (Stephane Bouchard) closed for second while Increditable (Bruce Aldrich Jr) came on for third. Jay Randall piloted the even money favorite Slugfest to the Sunday score. It was one of two training wins on Sunday for Salino whose Ideal Delight (Billy Dobson) prevailed in 1:57.2. Live racing resumes on Thursday at Saratoga with a 4:00pm first post. Melissa Simser
Chester, PA --- Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has seen his share of great trotters over the years and he thinks Father Patrick is among them. The 4-year-old Father Patrick, who was a division champion at ages 2 and 3, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one by capturing Sunday's $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by two lengths over Bee A Magician in 1:52.1 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Lindy's Tru Grit finished third. Father Patrick's time equaled the track record for a 4-year-old male trotter. "If everything stays perfect I think he's going to be very dominant," said Takter, whose past stars include Horse of the Year Award winners Moni Maker and Malabar Man. "I really do. I've been around greatness, and I think he's going to be a horse people talk about for many, many years." Father Patrick has won 23 of 29 career races and earned $2.51 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. Takter also visited the winner's circle following the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older male pacers, which was won by his Great Vintage by three-quarters of a length over Dancin Yankee in 1:50.2. Mach It So finished third. Radar Contact won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by a neck over Anndrovette, who won last year's race. Ooh Bad Shark was third. The Maxie Lee field featured a deep group of trotters, including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician as well as division champions Classic Martine and Market Share, who won last year's edition of the event. Father Patrick and Bee A Magician were among four horses to go for the lead on the first turn and Father Patrick got to the front before the group neared the second turn. The opening quarter was :27.1, followed by a half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.2. Bee A Magician tried to launch a challenge coming off the final turn, but Father Patrick yielded no ground. "He did it so easy too," winning driver Yannick Gingras said. "The earplugs are still in; I never really called on him. I let him trot the last eighth (of a mile). "Bee A Magician got the right trip, but with those kinds of fractions maybe I got a little bit of a jump on her. But she's a great horse and I was definitely worried around the turn when Brian (Sears) pulled because I knew she would give me a run. But he just showed what kind of horse he is." A son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream, Father Patrick prepped for his seasonal debut by qualifying three times, with his final effort being a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands on May 16. "Last week we wanted to get him a race but weren't able to, so I treated that (qualifier) as a race," Gingras said. "We went decent fractions and he stretched his legs out a little. I knew he was about as ready as he could be. He's not in peak, peak form yet, but he was good enough to win today." In addition to preparing for his racing campaign, Father Patrick has been doing stud duty. He made three trips to the breeding farm in the week leading up to the Maxie Lee. "It's individual," Takter said about whether breeding and racing could work for all horses. "I know horses that won't go at all; when you start breeding them they lose total interest in racing. In his case, it hasn't been negative. So far so good." Great Vintage also has done stud duty, but after he bred just a handful of mares this year Takter decided it was better to give him a chance again on the racetrack. Great Vintage had been "retired" after suffering a ligament injury last August. A 7-year-old son of American Ideal out of the mare Art's Vintage, Great Vintage is 2-for-2 this season. He has won 28 of 95 career races and earned $793,108. "He came back very happy," Takter said. "He got hurt in the fall last year, so I thought he was done. But he came back sounder and better. He was a really good 2-year-old, but he got hurt in the paddock when he was turned out so he didn't come back good as a 3-year-old. He had a bad injury on the knee. "He raced good (in the two years) after that. He's a good horse. He's a brother to ($2.1-million-earner) Vintage Master, so he's got a license to play. He's a tough horse." Takter trains Great Vintage for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk. In the Betsy Ross, Radar Contact went to the front in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette at the wire. A 7-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway out of the mare Topville Cyberwave, Radar Contact has won six of 16 races this year and finished worse than second only twice. For her career, she has 31 victories in 97 starts and $877,006 in purses. Radar Contact is trained by Noel Daley for owners Charles Stillings and Dean Ehrgott. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA
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