Big Jim

Big boost for Big Jim

Today was Industry Day at Grand River Raceway, Ontario and saw the running of their two premier pacing events - the Battle Of Waterloo for the two-year-old colts and the Battle Of The Belles for the two-year-old fillies. The Battle Of Waterloo is an iconic event on the Ontario racing calendar and has launched the careers of the likes of Somebeachsomewhere and Prodigal Seelster. Last year's winner, Go Daddy Go went on to be one of the best two-year-olds in North America. This year's $227,000 running of the Battle Of Waterloo was won by Magnum J. Trained by Gregg McNair and driven by his son Doug, Magnum J is a first crop son of the former US 2yo Pacer of the Year, Big Jim. Magnum J was most impressive, leading all the way from seven at the gate to win in 1:55.6 around the half-mile circuit. The victory was his second in a row having won his heat the week before in 1:54.6. Like so many winners of the Battle Of Waterloo before him, he looks like a horse with a bright future. Big Jim was a superstar juvenile himself on the track winning the Breeders Crown and breaking the world record for a two-year-old. He is off the an excellent start to his siring career with 34 of his 72 first crop foals having already raced, 13 having won in 2:00 and 4 already winning in under 1:55. But it was the victory of Magnum J today that alerted the breeding industries on both sides of the world that Big Jim is well on his way as a sire. Big Jim's first southern hemisphere crop of 91 foals (55 in New Zealand and 36 in Australia) will race as two-year-olds this season. Harnesslink Media        

Guelph resident Doug McNair kicks off an outstanding Industry Day (Aug. 3) at Grand River Raceway with a 1:53.2 Gold Series victory behind three-year-old pacing filly Solar Sister

McNairs dominate 25th Industry Day

Rural Guelph residents Gregg and Doug McNair had another outstanding afternoon during their local oval's annual showcase of harness racing. The father-son duo - the top trainer and driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program in 2014 - took four horses to Grand River Raceway on Monday for the 25th Industry Day program and went home with three wins and one third. Kicking off Team McNair's impressive afternoon was three-year-old pacing filly Solar Sister, who captured the first $105,000 Gold Series division in 1:53.2, just one-fifth of a second off the track record. Starting from Post 1 the Mach Three filly and driver Doug McNair took command of the race just past the :26.3 opening quarter and carried on to a :54.4 half and a 1:24 three-quarters before hitting the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of Wrangler Magic. Stonebridge Quest finished two and one-half lengths back of the favourites in third. "She drew good and took advantage of it," said Gregg McNair, who conditions Solar Sister for owner-breeders David Willmot of King City, ON and Clay Harland Horner of Toronto, ON. "It was a big mile. We had a lot of rain around here yesterday so the track, it's good now, but it'll likely even get faster by the end of the day." "They done a good job, this morning I was up here and it had a few ruts in it," he added. "They did quite a bit of work." The win was Solar Sister's third in Gold Series action this season, giving her a perfect 150 points and top spot in the division standings. Through nine sophomore starts the filly boasts a record of six wins and one third for earnings of $325,362. In addition to her Gold Series trophies she also captured the SBOA Stake Final at Mohawk Racetrack on May 30 and finished third in the Fan Hanover Final at Mohawk on June 20. Doug and Gregg McNair returned to the Grand River Raceway winner's circle one race later, with two-year-old pacing filly Stonebridge Pearl, who sprinted down the stretch to a 1:57.3 score in the Battle Of The Belles Consolation. Doug McNair and the Mach Three daughter, who is a Gold Series regular, bested Miss Babe Delight and favourite Twin B Virtue by a length. Gregg McNair trains Stonebridge Pearl for his partners Terry and Jake Davidson of Walkerton, ON. Five-year-old trotting gelding Buddy Hally, who was a Grassroots Champion at two and a Gold Series Consolation winner at three, was the next horse out of the McNair barn and he posted a third-place result in the Doug Gamsby Memorial Trot, behind 1:58.2 winner Extracurricular and Stormont Kate. Gregg McNair shares ownership of Buddy Hally with Howmac Farms Ltd. of North Wiltshire, PEI, Reginald MacPherson of Stratford, PEI and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS. The McNair's capped off their spectacular afternoon by capturing their third Battle Of Waterloo title with Magnum J, who rocketed away from Post 7 and around the half-mile oval to a 1:55.3 victory. Stonebridge Beach closed hard to finish one-half length back in second and Carolina Hurricane rounded out the top three. From the first crop of Ontario stallion Big Jim, Gold Series regular Magnum J is owned by Gregg McNair and Tony Lawrence and William Brown of Hanover, ON. The other Gold Series division went to Ms Mac N Cheese and driver Sylvain Filion. The fan favourites landed in second spot from Post 4 and stalked pacesetter Sports Chic through fractions of :27.2, :57.2 and 1:26 before sprinting up the inside in the stretch to a 1:55.3 triumph. Sports Chic settled for second, one length behind the winner, and Ride Away Shark completed the top three. "I really thought I could maybe cut it out but I could see that Jody wanted to cut it out," said Filion. "I didn't mind the two-hole, and she just responded great. "She's pretty much a push-button filly," added the Milton, ON resident. "She showed today she was real good." Filion engineered Ms Mac N Cheese's second Gold Series win for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON and owner David Ratchford of North Sydney, NS. The Badlands Hanover daughter currently sits second in the division standings with 125 points from two wins and one second in three Gold Series starts. Second by a neck to Solar Sister in the SBOA Stake Final, Ms Mac N Cheese boasts a record of five wins, two seconds and one third in eight starts for earnings of $210,805. The three-year-old pacing fillies make their fourth Gold Series start at Mohawk Racetrack on August 27. Rounding out the stakes action on the 25th anniversary Industry Day program was the Battle Of The Belles, which went home with driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Dave Menary for the second time since its inception in 2009. Moffat, ON resident Jamieson piloted Badlands Hanover daughter Free Show to an effortless 1:56.3 score over Betty Hill and Golden Idol for Cambridge, ON resident Menary and owner Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA. Stakes action returns to Grand River Raceway on Friday, Aug. 14 with the fourth Gold Series event for the two-year-old trotting colts. August 14 is Ontario Sires Stakes Fan Celebration night at the Elora oval and fans can dress up in the likeness of one of the freshman trotting colt's names for a shot at $500 in prizes, or receive an OSS t-shirt autographed by some of the province's top sires and racehorses. Ontario Horse Racing

Mission Brief - Drew perfectly at barrier two in her elimination of the Hambletonian

Hambletonian eliminations draw made

Fifteen colts, three geldings including last season's champion and one very talented filly were entered Monday afternoon for the $1 million Hambletonian at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. The world's most famous trotting race headlines a stakes-laden harness racing card on Saturday afternoon, closing day of the standardbred meet. There will be 10 stakes finals, and host of family activities including pony rides, face painters and live music. Paid admissions can take home a baseball cap for adults or a Foiled Again Breyer Stablemate for kids, while supplies last. First post is noon for the exceptional afternoon of championship racing. The Hambletonian field will be split into a pair of $100,000 elimination heats, races 8 and 9 on the card. The first five finishers in each elimination return for the final - race 13 - that anchors the 90-minute live coverage on CBS SportsNet that begins at 4 p.m. The standout field attracted Pinkman and Mission Brief, the 2014 Dan Patch winners as divisional champions. Pinkman, a gelding trained by three-time Hambletonian winner Jimmy Takter, got the worst of it in the draw for the first eliminations. He landed post 10 as the 8/5 favorite. Stablemate Canepa Hanover fared only slightly better, getting post 9 as the 3-1 second choice in the draw hosted by sportscaster Bruce Beck and New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "It is what it is," Takter said. "If they are both good, and Canepa and Pinkman are both very, very good horses, they will have to overcome the post." Pinkman has won six of seven races this year and 12 of 15 in his career. He will try to become the first Dan Patch honoree since Muscle Hill in 2009 to capture the Hambletonian. Pinkman won the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in a career-best 1:51 3/5 on July 4 and followed that triumph with victories in the Stanley Dancer Memorial here on July 18 and the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Open on July 26 at Vernon Downs. Canepa Hanover, second to Pinkman in the Zweig, is 2-3-2 in eight starts this season, including a victory at The Meadowlands in the New Jersey Sires Stakes final. "They will have to do it the hard way," Takter said. Takter, who sends out five horses in the Hambletonian, finally caught a post position break in the first elimination when The Bank, 8-1, landed post 2. "I think he's a sleeper," Takter said. "He's raced really good the last three or four starts. He's the one that has blossomed the most of the five in the last month." Mission Brief landed post 2 in the second elimination as the 6/5 favorite. Mission Brief, who last year trotted in 1:50 3/5 to become the fastest 2-year-old in harness racing history, is trying to become the first filly since Continentalvictory in 1996 to win the Hambletonian. Mission Brief, trained by Ron Burke, has won three of four starts this year and 12 of 17 lifetime. "It's a perfect draw for her," Burke said. "She doesn't have to leave. She can get away where ever she wants to get away. That seems to be her favorite way anymore, to fall in where she has to and then move from there." The 2014 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, Mission Brief enters the Hambletonian off a 1:51 4/5 win in the Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters. That victory was the clincher in making the decision to pass the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for fillies to take on the boys.   "It was 100 percent," Burke said. "Without that race, I wasn't going to get all the owners on board to go. For her to show up and look like her own self, it was a pretty easy sell. Her best is as good as anybody's best. That's all we were looking for." The full field for the first elimination with drivers, trainers and odds: 1. Donatomite, Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 15-1 2. The Bank, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 3. Workout Wonder, Daniel Dube, Ake Svanstedt, 12-1 4. Habitat, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 6-1 5. Total Darkness, Tim Tetrick, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1 6. Fashion Creditor, David Miller, Tom Fanning, 20-1 7. Jacksons Minion, Tom Jackson, Tom Jackson, 30-1 8. Centurion ATM, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2 9. Canepa Hanover, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-1 10. Pinkman, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5.   The second elimination: 1. Billy Flynn, Tim Tetrick, Staffan Lind, 15-1 2. Mission Brief, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-5 3. Cruzado Dela Noche, David Miller, Nancy Johansson, 20-1 4. Aldebaran Eagle, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1 5. Wings Of Royalty, Tim Tetrick, George Ducharme, 12-1 6. French Laundry, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 7. Uncle Lasse, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 8. Southwind Mozart, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 9. Muscle Diamond, Tim Tetrick, Brett Bittle, 8-1 The finals for three other stakes were also drawn Monday in a press conference in the Victory Sport Bar. Wild Honey, trained by Takter, got post 2 as the 5/2 favorite in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for 3-year-old trotting fillies. The race turned into a wide-open affair with Mission Brief headed to the Hambletonian. The elimination heats were held last weekend with one of those winners, Lock Down Lindy, getting the rail as the 3-1 second choice. Tragically, Spirit To Win, the other elim winner, suffered a fatal training injury Monday morning.   The Oaks field: 1. Lock Down Lindy, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 3-1 2. Wild Honey, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 3. Bright Baby Blues, David Miller, Bob Stewart, 8-1 4. Lady Winona, Brian Sears, Julie Miller, 20-1 5. Rules Of The Road, Corey Callahan, Janice Connor, 8-1 6. Classical Annie, Aaron Merriman, Jim Arledge Jr., 30-1 7. Livininthefastlane, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 7-2 8. Sarcy, Johnny Takter, Jimmy Takter, 10-1 9. Smokinmombo, Aaron Merriman, Chris Beaver, 12-1 10. Speak To Me, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter, 20-1   $319,400 CANE PACE The Meadowlands will host the first jewel of the pacing Triple Crown for the first time. It will feature one of the shortest prices of the afternoon as $35,000 supplemental entrant Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2/5 favorite from post 2. The colt owned by George Teague, Jr. and driven by his son Montrell, is 14 for 15 this season, including a 1:47 4/5 win in The Meadowlands Pace.   $301,500 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Market Share, the 2012 Hambletonian winner, is the 3-1 favorite from post 6 in the race for older trotters. The 6-year-old, trained by Linda Toscano has earned over $3.7 million. Swedish trotting star Magic Tonight is the 4-1 second choice from post 4. Darin Zoccali    

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo

State fund to boost flagging racing industry

PLAINVILLE, Mass. –  Massachusetts' horse racing industry is flush with casino cash. The only problem? There isn't much of a local industry to speak of. The state's obscure Race Horse Development Fund has generated roughly $10.3 million in revenue and is on track to receive almost $18 million more this fiscal year, according to the figures provided to The Associated Press by the state Gaming Commission. The money is made possible by a quirk in the state's casino law that designates a percentage of casino profits and licensing fees to help the flagging horse racing industry. But Suffolk Downs, a Boston thoroughbred track that stands to benefit the most from the fund, hasn't run races since last fall. Plans to revive races this summer have been delayed for months. State gambling regulators are again reviewing proposals Thursday. That leaves just one track benefiting from the racing fund so far: Plainridge Park, a combination slots parlor and harness racing track in Plainville. The state's first and so far only legal casino has been funneling about 9 percent of its gross gaming revenues into the fund since opening in late June. When the state's two licensed resort casinos by Wynn and MGM come online around 2018, they are expected to give 2.5 percent of their gambling revenues to the fund, bringing horse racing's annual casino haul to as much as $21 million. Already, owners and riders at Plainridge said they're seeing a modest bump in prize money and renewed interest as the casino money makes its way to the sport, which involves horses pulling drivers in chariot-like contraptions, as opposed to jockeys riding atop horses. "We can see it start to roll in a little bit and it gives everyone a bit of uplift of what's to come," said Jim Hardy, an owner, trainer and driver. Still, harness racers are frustrated their thoroughbred counterparts are letting their more sizeable share of the pot languish. Under state regulations, thoroughbred racing gets 75 percent of the racing fund, and harness racing — the less popular of the two sports — gets 25 percent. Those two sports must then dedicate 80 percent of their funds toward purses, 16 percent toward horse breeders and 4 percent to health and retirement benefits for industry workers. "To be candid, we feel like we should get a little bit more, especially when there's no viable thoroughbred racing at this time," said Bob Bogigian, a Worcester horse owner whose animals race at Plainridge. To date, some $420,000 has already made its way to the state's harness racing associations. About $1.3 million is earmarked for the thoroughbred racing industry, the gaming commission said. Steve O'Toole, racing director at Plainridge Park, noted the disparity comes even as the harness track will run 105 races this season and roughly 115 next year. In contrast, the owners of Suffolk Downs proposed holding just three race days this year and next. Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said their proposal would enable $1.75 million of the thoroughbred fund to impact racing now while giving horse owners and breeders time to develop long term plans for their industry. Horse racing needs to move from New England's last remaining thoroughbred track because Suffolk Downs intends to redevelop the property. But a group of local thoroughbred owners is still holding out hope for a reprieve. They've told the gaming commission that the Stronach Group, a company that operates a number of prominent tracks in North America, is interested in offering more race days in Massachusetts somehow. The Canadian company did not respond to requests for comments Monday, and Tuttle said Suffolk Downs has had only brief discussions with Stronach. "We have no expectations that we'll have an agreement in 2015," he said. The clock is ticking. The traditional fall end to the racing season approaches. Some state lawmakers have already suggested the money be diverted elsewhere, as has been the case in some of the 16 other states that have similar funds. But the local horse racing industry has a powerful advocate in its corner: Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The Winthrop Democrat, whose district includes Suffolk Downs, had pushed for the horse racing fund as a prerequisite for his support of the 2011 casino law. DeLeo said in a statement it's "premature" to consider altering the fund. Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press  

Columbus, OH --- Hambletonian Oaks elimination winner Spirit To Win died Monday in a jogging accident, according to a tweet posted by All American Harnessbreds, which is headed by Spirit To Win’s breeder and co-owner Fred Hertrich III. "We are extremely sad to announce that our filly and 2015 Hambo Oaks elim winner Spirit to Win died this morning in a jogging accident," tweeted Hertrich. Hertrich shared ownership on Spirit To Win (Cantab Hall-Celebrity Spirit) with Noblock Racing Stable. Trained by Dustin Jones, she had five wins in 11 career starts with $185,630 in earnings. Spirit To Win and driver Brett Miller scored in 1:52.2 to win the second Hambletonian Oaks elimination this past Saturday.  Additional information will be posted when available. The post position draw for the Oaks will take place on Monday afternoon and the Hambletonian Society is expected to make a statement at that time. USTA Communications Department

Annaghmore, County, Ireland - The Grafton Barbers Free For All was the feature event at Annghmore Wed 1st August. The hefty £ 1000 purse drew a top field of 6 runners. The Dunne stable had 3 entries on the card, but all 3 were non – runners. Maybe they are ‘rehearsing‘ for the Delaney spectacular in Dublin next weekend? Only time will tell. In the absence of Styx Thunder, man of the moment Simon Duggan took up the running at the half on board the ever genuine Rhyds Boots. However Duggan had to use Boots a lot and it was left to the closers Oakwood Outlaw (A Wallace Senr) and Maithi Buachaill (P Kane Junr) to fight out the finish. The teak tough grey prevailed by a neck from Maithi Buachiall. Maithi’s connections will be pleased by his return to form. The favourite Tarawood Messi did not enjoy the clearest of runs, even the accomplished Alan Richardson cannot get through a wall of horses. To see video of race click here.  The winner has looks to grace any ring at the Dublin Horse Show, being a beautiful grey by Armbro Operative – and always immaculately turned out. The cheers of owner Thomas Bennett could be heard in Southside Dublin, where the Bennetts hail from. The winner clocked 1.59 flat, 3’s to 6/4 was the business. Race 1 went to the border region when Lakeview Rapido (M Loughran) readily despatched the Coleraine runner Camden Vito (W Stewart) with Rockin’ Johnny Burns taking third with Cool Dragon. A middling clock of 2.02. 8 was posted. The French Trotters was a lively betting heat with the right faces whaling into Secret de Star despite his 80 yard handicap. Alan ‘Spadge‘ Wallace wasn’t born yesterday and he forced a strong pace aboard the sweet chestnut mare, Ruka Verdiere, part owned  by track owner Clive Richardson. Ruka had enough in the cupboard to fend off the speedy Typhee (Gavin Murdock) and the luckless Secret de Star who was hampered by beaten horses. Timekeeper Jim Graham caught them in 3.10. The Bassetts from the Market area In Belfast enjoyed an upturn in their fortunes when the regally bred Westend Dancer (Galliano/ Magical Bell) ran out a clear winner under Martin Loughran’s confident drive from Trottin’ Joe Sheridan’s Springhill KG and Porterstown Courage ( W Stewart ). Dancer won like a nice mare and further prizes should follow off her current mark. What a prospect for the breeding paddock she is. SP was 6/4, time being 2.02.5 Streamside Star is many people’s idea of the best chance of a home win in the Oakwood Stud Derby next weekend. Saturday’s race was his sternest test so far. Alan Wallace Junr sat in the slipstream of longtime leader McElderry and only produced his 3 year old son of Kikicolt on the line to win snugly. Streamside has the strangest tail carriage, he looks like a horse with his tail docked in a old coaching print. The second is a decent racehorse so Streamside has a chance in the 8th / 9th August classic. He will need to improve again if he is to trouble the Scottish superhorse Rewrite History, although 1.59.8 bodes well for his chances.  Next meeting Annaghmore Sat 15th August. Don’t miss the fantastic meeting at Portmarnock 8th and 9th August. By Dan Carlin, for Harnesslink.com

August 3, 2015 - With the multiplier feature of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, the potential of the contest standings changing dramatically existed. At the conclusion of the weekend, those predictions came true. After missing Friday night's contest leg, Mark McKelvie responded with a roar, winning nine of the sixteen legs on Saturday, earning 1,075.9 points, which with his previous 717.6 points thus far has now propelled into first place with a total of 1,793.5, a lead of 126.6 points over Sally Hinckley's 1,666.9. Previous leader Bob Zanakis now sits third, with 1,372.3. Other big movers this week were Gordon Waterstone who moved from seventh to fourth place, Josi Verlingieri (ninth to fifth), Rusty Nash (thirteenth to eighth), Mark Dezii (sixteenth to tenth), and Dennis O'Hara (seventeenth to twelfth). While McKelvie already had eight winners at the end of the Meadow's card, his coupe de grace was the fourth race at the Meadowlands where his last and final winner of the day pick in the TVG Trot of Flanagan Memory ($26.40, $9.00, $7.20) earned him a total of 383.4 points. Standings as of August 1, 2015 - Leg 24     Total Points Points Earned Overall Position Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week 1st Mark McKelvie 717.60 1,075.90 1,793.50 4th 2nd Sally Hinckley 1,014.30 652.60 1,666.90 2nd 3rd Bob Zanakis 1,059.50 312.80 1,372.30 1st 4th Gordon Waterstone 641.70 442.20 1,083.90 7th 5th Josi Verlingieri 631.90 450.10 1,082.00 9th 6th Michael Carter 749.50 275.40 1,024.90 3rd 7th Ann Stepien 703.00 303.50 1,006.50 5th 8th Rusty Nash 569.90 436.30 1,006.20 13th 9th Derick Giwner 618.60 374.30 992.90 10th 10th Mark Dezii 546.40 416.70 963.10 16th 11th Brandon Valvo 561.40 395.10 956.50 15th 12th Earl Paulson 614.20 334.20 948.40 11th 12th Dennis O'Hara 483.20 446.50 929.70 17th 14th Garnet Barnsdale 639.00 267.20 906.20 8th 15th Jay Hochstetler 566.90 322.50 889.40 14th 16th Bryan Owen 570.00 306.70 876.70 12th 17th Ray Garnett 693.90 154.70 848.60 6th 18th Ray Cotolo 362.70 351.70 714.40 18th 19th Mark Deutsch 203.70 230.30 434.00 19th This week the contest kicks off on Thursday, with the Whenuwishuponastar early closer final at Mohawk Racetrack and then finishes up on Saturday with the Hambletonian with its minimum of ten contest races.  Handicapper selections, results and standings are available at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.  Allan Schott  

The mutuel payouts may have been small, but the purses were spread around in the 3-year-old filly pacing division of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) at the harness racing meeting at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 2). A different sire, driver and trainer won each leg of the series as they represented the best New York State has to offer for this sex and gait. In the first $39,200 division, Mosquito Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) left the gate and took a methodic path to the front in 27.4. Leading the single-file group and still unchallenged to the half, Morrill kept a tight grip on the filly with an eye on closing out the deal. When they rolled towards three-quarters, Morrill popped the plugs and Mosquito Blue Chip responded in kind, quickly pulling away to a four-length advantage. With Morrill stretched out like he was in a recliner, the pair scurried home in 28.2 with no one even close, to win in 1:54.2. "She felt like her old self today." "She was on cruise control the entire mile" said driver Jim Morrill Jr. of the filly who is now two-for-two lifetime at Batavia Downs. Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor's Delight-Sandfly Hanover) was sent off the prohibitive 1-9 favorite and paid $2.30 for the win. Paul Jessop trains and co-owns the filly with Our Three Sons Stable and Donato Falcicchio. As most expected in the second $39,900 leg, Band Of Angels (Matt Kakaley) and Moremercy Bluechip (Andy Miller) left from post three and four respectively and got away 1-2 before sauntering to a pedestrian 29-second first quarter. With the rest of the field still in post-position order behind the two favorites, Kakaley continued to grab leather in an even slower 29.4 second panel. From there it was all Band Of Angels who was given her head and quickly opened up a five-length lead before Kakaley lowered the lines and stored the whip. Band Of Angels ($2.50) paced the back half in 56.2, winning in 1:55.1 with Moremercy Bluechip closing ground on the wrapped-up winner to finish second. After the race, winning driver Matt Kakaley pointed out "She did it as easily as a horse could do it and had plenty left coming down the stretch". Band Of Angels (Rock N Roll Heaven-Time N Again) is conditioned by North America's leading trainer, Ron Burke for owner W.J. Donovan. The final $39,900 split featured a speed duel between two unrelenting contestants and it started as soon as the gate pulled away. As the field headed into the first turn, they were spread three-wide across the track; Jag Out (Andy Miller) on the pylons, Nippy W Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the middle and Artiawitchtoyou (Doug McNair) out widest of all. Off the turn, Nippy W Hanover settled in second but Artiawitchtoyou opted to go on. As she drew next to Jag Out at the quarter in 27.1, it was clear the leader had no intentions of giving up that spot. As they contentiously passed the half in 55 flat, Jag Out and Artiawitchtoyou were seemingly pacing in tandem heading into the third turn, but then Artiawitchtoyou had taken all the air she could and by the 1:24.3 three-quarter split, started to show the effects. As she started to fade off, Jag Out continued to drive on to an impressive two-length victory in the fastest time of the day (1:53.4). The winner paid $8.00. "She was awesome! I know we went fast early but she's that good" said driver Andy Miller about the speed duel between his charge and Artiawitchtoyou. Jag Out (American Ideal-Impertinent) is trained by Erv Miller, who co-owns her with Paymaq Racing and Mystical Marker Farms LLC. There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior A series on the card for $30,000 in purses. The first went to Yes You Can (If I Can Dream-Cantbuymehappiness) went gate to wire in 1:56.2 for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Heidi Rohr. Yes You Can, who paid $2.40 is owned by the Holland Racing Stable. The second division was won by Hey Kobe (Bettor's Delight-American West) who also led the entire mile for driver Mark Macdonald and trainer Marthe Drolet. Hey Kobe is owned by Stephen Schneider and William Siegel. The winner returned $4.00. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. notched four victories on the card with Kevin Cummings adding two more wins to his meet-leading total. Racing resumes on Wednesday at Batavia Downs when two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings go postward for a total of $110,000 in purses. Post time is set for 6:35 p.m. Tim Bojarski

The UK/Ireland Inter Dominion series took a new twist yesterday at York on Saturday with the “Flying Scotsman” Astounding for John and Gordon Gilvear, upsetting the applecart with an easy all-the-way harness racing victory in the penultimate heat.    Setting the pace from an inside draw over the mile and a quarter with favourite Meadowbranch DJ parked and Brywinsmagicpotion in the trail, he drew clear in the home straight to a four length win from Brywins with five lengths back to DJ, making it three track records from three Inter heats in the process.   Three different winners from Ireland, England and now Scotland have made the series truly international.   Disappointingly Astounding can’t win the series as he had no luck in his first heat and didn’t go to Portmarnock last week, but he’ll keep things interesting for Brywinsmagicpotion (20) and Meadowbranch DJ (18) as only two points separate them going into next Sunday’s mile and a half final heat at the big Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend in Ireland.   Points are 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 in order of finish and the UK/Ireland Interdom committee will early this week  rule on what happens if the final points are tied.   At stake is a place in the $1.5 million Inter Dominion series at Gloucester Park Perth in late November and early December.   By Bill Hutchison  

Master harness racing trainer Mark Purdon became a two-time Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic winner today at Maryborough. Purdon’s rising star filly High Gait produced a flawless performance in the 2190-metre stand-start Group 1 to score a 2.7-metre win in a mile rate of 2:06.3. High Gait is by Muscles Yankee out of quality producer Regal Volo. She is a full-sister to Breeders Crown winner Our Twentyten. High Gait’s 65secs first half set the filly up to dash home. She got home in 58.4secs, holding off runner-up Missandei comfortably with Sundons Courage third. High Gait has won six races from seven starts, her only defeat coming when second in the Harness Jewels at Ashburton. by Cody Winnell

The big harness racing day at Maryborough today with its sole focus on the straight out trotter is akin to the holy grail for followers of the squaregaiter. The jewel in the crown today was the $75,000 Victoria Trotting Derby which drew together the best Australian three year old trotters with the undisputed New Zealand champion three year old Speeding Spur. Speeding Spur's main problem was that he drew barrier 13 which was the outside of the second line in the ten horse field. Due to scratchings there was only four runners on the front line and Josh Dickie, the driver of Speeding Spur took advantage of the small front line and sent the son of Pegasus Spur forward from the start and grabbed the lead within the first 200 metres. Blue Sky Commander settled into the trail behind Speeding Spur with My Arya facing the breeze. Second favourite Illawong Armstrong circled the field mid-race to sit outside Speeding Spur but he really latched on and as a result there was no let up in the hot speed as he pulled himself into the ground. Turning for home Speeding Spur still held the front but was being attacked on all sides. Blue Sky Commander and Kerryn Manning were issuing a challenge up the passing lane after their soft trip while Amarula and John Caldow were finishing on stoutly centre track. However as he has done all season in New Zealand, Speeding Spur kicked bigtime when he was challenged and was drawing away again at the line with Josh Dickie giving a little victory salute as he hit the line. Blue Sky Commander ran into second with Amarula battling the last bit to run third. Amarula's run was full of merit as she did have a short gallop in the score up but was with the field at dispatch. Speeding Spur trotted the 2690 metres in 3:21.8, a mile rate of 2:00.7 which was a new track record. Trained by Josh and John Dickie at Clevedon in South Auckland, todays win by Speeding Spur was his 11th from 14th starts as a three year old and took his seasonal earnings over the $250,000 mark. His win today from barrier 13 after being attacked savagely mid race in track record time is further proof if any was needed that he is a superstar in the making. New Zealand breeders would have had a big smile on their faces post race as the first three home were all bred in New Zealand and that carried on the great record that New Zealand bred trotters have in Australian age group classics. Harnesslink Media    

Lock Down Lindy and Spirit To Win were the winners Saturday night of the two $35,000 elimination races to determine starters in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, to be held at The Meadowlands on August 8. The Oaks is the filly companion race to the $1 million Hambletonian. Both the Hambletonian and Oaks will be shown live on CBS Sports Network from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Post positions will be drawn on Monday afternoon at a press conference at the track. The winners of each elimination will draw for posts 1 through 5. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) locked in her spot in the final of the Oaks with a two length win in the first elimination race. Content to let Bright Baby Blues (David Miller) and then Gatka Hanover (Yannick Gingras) set the early pace, with Gatka hitting the quarter in :27.2 and the half in :55.1, Lock Down Lindy sprinted to the front of the pack just past the half. The daughter of Lucky Chucky grabbed the lead with authority and held it through the 1:23.3 three quarters. She trotted strong to the wire with all others giving futile chase, though Wild Honey (Jimmy Takter) put on a rally late in the race to be second, with Bright Baby Blues behind her. Lock Down Lindy is trained by Tony Alagna and owned by Mystical Marker Farm, Crawford Partners, Joe Sbrocco and In the Gym Partners. "I had a lot of confidence in this mare and it hasn't really worked out, a lot of bad spots and some mistakes here and there, mostly mine," said winning driver Tim Tetrick. "She showed tonight the talent she does have. I was hoping I could follow Takter's mare (Wild Honey) all the way up there but somehow she got to drop in the three hole. "I just went up for the lead and after that, it was over. Any time you get to compete in these races (Hambletonian and Oaks) is awesome, let alone win them, and I've gotten to drive some great horses that put me in the winner's circle in those races. "It's a wide open race, the way she raced in here tonight, they're definitely going to be looking for her. She won't be dismissed quite as much; she's always had the talent. She just hasn't always been able to put it together." The last two Oaks spots in that race went to fourth place finisher Lady Winona and fifth place Smokinmombo. Lock Down Lindy In the second elimination, Spirit To Win turned on the afterburners in the last sixteenth of a mile, with driver Brett Miller's hands in his lap all the way to the finish line in 1:52.2 to win by two lengths. Spirit To Win is trained by Dustin Jones and owned by Frederick Hertrich III and Noblock Racing Stable. Spirit To Win flirted with the lead off the starting gate, but Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan) got to the quarter first in :28 before Livininthefastlane (Andy Miller) took over that spot with a quick move to the top. They held that spot to the :56.2 half with Rules Of The Road tucked in behind. Spirit To Win, meanwhile, was working her way to the top on the outside, all the way to the head of the stretch. After idling on the outside alongside leader Livininthefastlane for a few strides at the 1:24.4 three quarters, Brett Miller gave the daughter of Donato Hanover the mildest of urging and off she went to the top for the win. Livininthefastlane (Andy Miller) was second, Sarcy (Johnny Takter) was third. Also earning spots in the final were fourth place finisher Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan) and Speak To Me (Scott Zeron). "After last week (when she beat Mission Brief by a nose in the Del Miller Memorial), I had a lot of confidence in her," said Brett Miller. "When I landed where I landed (6th at the quarter), honestly, it didn't bother me. The way she felt, this filly, she acts like one of those horses who gives 100% and won't stop until she gets by them. There are a lot of nice fillies in here, she's going to have to show up next week and do her best." Spirit To Win Hambletonian Oaks Field: Bright Baby Blue Eyes Lady Winona Livininthefastlane Lock Down Lindy Rules Of The Road Sarcy Smokinmombo Speak To Me Spirit To Win Wild Honey $50,000 TVG OPEN TROT Flanagan Memory edged Natural Herbie by a nose to earn his first victory of the season in a 12-1 upset. The 5-year-old trained by co-owner Rene Dion and driven by Tim Tetrick paid $26.40 for his 12th career win in 43 starts. The exacta returned $174.60. Intimidate, 20-1, got third to complete a $2,423.60 trifecta The time was a lifetime best 1:51 4/5. $50,000 TVG OPEN PACE JK Endofanera ruled the featured pacing event of the night in wire to wire fashion, winning by a head over Doo Wop Hanover and State Treasure in 1:49. The win was the second of the season for the North America Cup winner. The first six finishers were separated by no more than one length. JK Endofanera is trained by Jimmy Takter for 3 Brothers Stables. Brett Miller was in the sulky. The winner returned $8.60 for the victory. PICK 5 CARRYOVER There were no winning tickets in the Pick 5 on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. There will be a Pick 5 carryover into the Friday, August 7 program of $29,460.76. JACKPOT SUPER HI-5 CARRYOVER There were multiple winning tickets in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 on Saturday night. The wager will not be offered on Friday, August 7th and there will be a mandatory payout on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 8th with a carryover of $231,403. Ellen Harvey

Grand Circuit racing action returned to Balmoral Park on Saturday, August 1st as a pair of Hanover Stakes for two-year-old pacers shared top billing on the 12-race card. A total of 13 colts and geldings were dropped into the box necessitating a split into two $21,325 divisions for the boys while nine pacing fillies were sent postward for a purse of $32,900. In the first division for the colts Nicole Potts Royale Rose gave the "chalk players" a thrill as he rallied in the final strides to win by a neck in a career best of 1:54.3 for driver Brian Carpenter. After leading the field through an opening quarter in 29.3 Carpenter elected to let a hard charging Blue Fox (Casey Leonard) take control of the proceedings as the field of six cruised through middle splits of 58.1 & 1:27.1.   Through the stretch a game Blue Fox put away a prolonged first over bid from Shootin To Kill (Pat Curtin) and appeared to have the jump on a boxed in Royale Rose. Somehow, Carpenter managed to wrestle the gelded son of Ashlee's Big Guy to the far outside with a sixteenth of a mile to go and the Lyle Scurlock responded beautifully, gobbling up the pace setter in the closing yards for his fourth win in six career starts. Blue Fox held on well to finish second while Shootin To Kill wound up third.   With the win the Lyle Scurlock trainee, who returned $2.80, $2.40 & $2.10 upped his career slate to 4-1-0 in 6 starts with earnings of $20,199.   BS Tyrrific struck another blow for the state-breds in the second division of the Hanover as the overwhelming favorite strolled to a one-length victory in a lifetime best of 1:54.1 for driver Kyle Wilfong.   Taking advantage of the inside post in the field of seven Wilfong sent the gelded son of Richess Hanover--Fox Valley Tyra right to the front where he cruised through soft splits of 29.0, 58.1 & 1:26.3.   With plenty still in reserve, the Robert Sanders trainee was on cruise control through the lane as he sealed the deal with a 27.3 final quarter to notch his third win in five career starts. Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting) who made a first over bid approaching the top of the lane held on well to finish second while Fox Valley Aramon (Todd Warren) used a ground saving journey to get the show dough.   Bet as though defeat was out of the question BS Tyrrific returned $2.40, $2.10 & $2.10 while running his slate to 3-2-0 in five lifetime starts with earnings of $30,235 for the partnership of Robert, Jeremy & Louis Buttice and Frank Santilli.   The public handicappers were right on again in the filly division as Ervin Miller Stables and Bert Hochsprung's Shady Stella easily disposed of eight rivals with a 4¼ length victory in 1:54.1 for Kyle Wilfong.   Zipped right to the front from post six by Wilfong, the daughter of Shadyshark Hanover--She's Stella put up splits of 29.1, 58.0 & 1:25.4.   Still fit and fresh as she turned for the money, the Ervin Miller trainee sped home in 28.2 while under minimal urging from her pilot. Char N Marg (Casey Leonard) rallied from far back to be the bridesmaid while longshot Rocknroll Hoochcoo (Pat Curtin) finished third in her career debut.   The Indiana bred Shady Stella returned $3.80, $2.80 & $3.00 while posting her first win in lifetime start number three. The filly also has a second place finish to her credit and now boasts $27,450 in earnings for her proud connections.   A field of seven diagonally gaited state-breds squared off to close out Saturday’s stake action as they battled for a purse of $21,400.   The parade of favorites continued here as Ronald Knupp’s Master Of Excuses overpowered six rivals in a 2 ¾ length victory. The final time was 1:54.4.   Confidently handled by driver Todd Warren the five-year-old son of Powerful Emotion moved first over on the final turn after watching Ants Iner Pants (Robert Smolin) and Tricky Nick (Ridge Warren) battle through opening splits of 28.4 & 56.3.   Taking command as the field hit the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.1 the Kimberly Roth trainee quickly opened up an insurmountable advantage over his rivals then glided home the rest of the way for his fourth win in 24 starts this year. Sophomore sensation Captain Greedy (J D Finn) rallied late to finish second while the other sophomore in the field, Fox Valley Qatar (Mike Oosting) came on late to finish third.   Starting from the inside spot, Master Of Excuses returned $3.40, $2.60 & $2.60 while pushing his career earnings up to $112,247.   The 2015 Hanover season draws to a close on Sunday, August 2nd with a pair of events for two-year-old trotters. A field of eight fillies will slug it out in race three as they battle for a purse of $22,400 while their male counterparts meet in race five for a purse of $26,300. Once again the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) also features a guaranteed pool of $15,000 while the new trifecta guarantee on race nine will give fans the chance to play into a $25,000 guaranteed pool.   Tom Kelley  

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 1, 2015 -- Harness racing trainer Ron Burke swept both divisions of Saturday's $125,000 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers with Storm Point and Sassa Hanover. The Grand Circuit stake was part of the Adios Day card at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Black Horse Racing's Storm Point launched a relentless first-over move from fourth for Dave Palone. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Limestone Cowgirl wore down the leader, Bettor Be Steppin, and defeated her by 1/2 length in a career-best 1:50.2, a national season's mark. Bedroomconfessions rallied for show. Sassa Hanover made the lead with a quarter-pole move and held off Better Said, downing her by a length in 1:50.4. Southwind Roulette, also from the Burke stable, earned show. "When she's good, she's good from anywhere," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "She hasn't been on her game for a little while. Her blood wasn't right -- everything was messed up. But it seemed like she was back today. She can race any which way when she's good." Burke Racing Stable, Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Larry Karr campaign Sassa Hanover, who soared over $600,000 in lifetime earnings. In other Adios Day Grand Circuit action: $65,142 James Manderino -- 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trotters Jacksons Minion, a Hambletonian eligible, made it three straight wins in grand style, rolling to a front-end win in 1:53.1. That knocked a tick from Lady's Dude's track record for sophomore geldings and erased the stake mark of 1:54.1 jointly held by SJ's Caviar and Wheelsandthelegman. Chef Lee was second, 1-1/4 lengths back, with Shoot The Thrill third. "I didn't know he'd go in 1:53, but I thought he could go 1:54 plus anyway," said trainer/driver Tom Jackson, who owns the son of Explosive Matter-Armbro Espionage with Howard Taylor and Judith Taylor. "That's about all he had at the wire, but I didn't give him his head until halfway through the last turn." In the other Manderino split, Suit And Tie looked much the best on paper -- he was hammered down to 1-9 -- and he looked just as sharp on the track, notching a front-end victory in 1:56. Only The Brave closed well for second, a length in arrears, while the pocket-sitting Simeon earned show. Corey Callahan piloted the son of Andover Hall-Warrawee Krisp -- a Hambletonian eligible -- for owners William Wiswell and M&L of Delaware. "He wasn't quite himself when he raced here last week," said Tyler Butenschoen, assistant to winning trainer John Butenschoen. "He had a good week training, and he raced like he was supposed to. We added some cups, and we went to aluminum shoes up front. He's eligible to the Townsend Ackerman as well as the Hambletonian, so it's the owners' call." $65,000 Ned McCarr -- 3-Year-Old Filly Trotters Sky Hanover meandered to the front from the gate, but she was strong enough on the lead to hold off Meadowbanch Wendy by a nose in 1:56.2. Pad Princess completed the ticket. "I took my time getting there, made sure she behaved herself," said winning driver Andy Miller. "After that, it was a matter of keeping her attention. She's made breaks of and on, but she's been pretty honest lately." Julie Miller trains Sky Hanover for Little E LLC, Westminster Road LLC and Banyan Farms. Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

WASHINGTON, PA, August 1, 2015 — He was forced into a first-over challenge and skipped shadows for much of the mile, but when all was said and done, Dude’s The Man captured Saturday’s $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows in 1:48.4, fourth-fastest in the 49-year history of the event. Yankee Bounty rallied for second, 2 lengths back, while Lost For Words, who threatened briefly in the lane, was third. Winning trainer Jessica Okusko won the Adios orchids in her first try while winning driver Corey Callahan, who had 13 previous Adios starts including eliminations, took his first Adios title. M&L of Delaware and Victoria Dickinson own Dude’s The Man, a son of American Ideal-Art’s Risk who finished second to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Meadowlands Pace final but has been hampered at times by lack of early speed. Callahan said he wanted to get the colt into the race early from post 2. “On these speed-favoring tracks, you can’t circle them from last,” Callahan said. “You can’t get away seventh, be third over and have a shot. I wanted to get away as close as possible, and fourth is where I ended up.” Although Dude’s The Man was first up from fourth, he had little trouble clearing My Hero Ron, winner of an Adios elimination last week. “I thought My Hero Ron was just okay last week,” Callahan said. “I came at him last week with Yankee Bounty and almost got him, so I was pretty confident being first up with that horse on the lead.” Of greater concern was the winner’s persistent battle with shadows. Okusko said she added a Daisy roll and a Pelling pacifier during the week to keep the colt more focused, but their impact was limited. “I was trying to talk him over the shadows and hold onto him,” Callahan said. “Around the last turn, clouds came over. Someone was looking out for me in the last turn. The clouds covered the sun, and he paced right home.” Another potential problem for Dude’s The Man vanished in the lane when Lost For Words, right on the winner’s bumper, didn’t finish strongly. “At the top of the stretch I thought I had a shot,” said Brian Brown, who trains Lost For Words. “He scoped with blood, so he may need more Lasix. Any time a horse bleeds, he’s in trouble.” Okusko said Dude’s The Man may be pointed to the Cane Pace and also remains eligible to the Battle of the Brandywine, the Little Brown Jug and several stakes at the Red Mile. “He’s from a great family, and he has great conformation,” she said. “He’s really come into himself. This was the first time he raced on a five-eighths, and he got around it great.” ADIOS NOTES. Elimination winners National Seelster, Cooperstown and My Hero Ron finished 8th, 4th and 5th, respectively . . . Rock N’ Roll World took the $50,000 Adios Consolation for David Miller, trainer Kelly Stackowicz and owners Jeffrey Snyder and Three Decades Racing . . . Lyonssomewhere collected a front-end victory in 1:49.2 in the $50,000 Roy D. Davis Memorial Pace. Andy Miller drove for trainer Julie Miller and owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound . . . Last Saturday, the Ron Burke stable set a PR with 24 horses entered (22 actually raced), most ever for a single program at a single track. The stable shattered that mark Saturday when they raced 29. Although Burke had to settle for second and fourth in the Adios, he notched seven wins on the 17-race program. Evan Pattak

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Fifteen colts, three geldings including last season's champion and one very talented filly were entered Monday afternoon for the $1 million Hambletonian at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. The world's most famous trotting race headlines a stakes-laden harness racing card on Saturday afternoon, closing day of the standardbred meet. There will be 10 stakes finals, and host of family activities including pony rides, face painters and live music. Paid admissions can take home a baseball cap for adults or a Foiled Again Breyer Stablemate for kids, while supplies last. First post is noon for the exceptional afternoon of championship racing. The Hambletonian field will be split into a pair of $100,000 elimination heats, races 8 and 9 on the card. The first five finishers in each elimination return for the final - race 13 - that anchors the 90-minute live coverage on CBS SportsNet that begins at 4 p.m. The standout field attracted Pinkman and Mission Brief, the 2014 Dan Patch winners as divisional champions. Pinkman, a gelding trained by three-time Hambletonian winner Jimmy Takter, got the worst of it in the draw for the first eliminations. He landed post 10 as the 8/5 favorite. Stablemate Canepa Hanover fared only slightly better, getting post 9 as the 3-1 second choice in the draw hosted by sportscaster Bruce Beck and New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "It is what it is," Takter said. "If they are both good, and Canepa and Pinkman are both very, very good horses, they will have to overcome the post." Pinkman has won six of seven races this year and 12 of 15 in his career. He will try to become the first Dan Patch honoree since Muscle Hill in 2009 to capture the Hambletonian. Pinkman won the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in a career-best 1:51 3/5 on July 4 and followed that triumph with victories in the Stanley Dancer Memorial here on July 18 and the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Open on July 26 at Vernon Downs. Canepa Hanover, second to Pinkman in the Zweig, is 2-3-2 in eight starts this season, including a victory at The Meadowlands in the New Jersey Sires Stakes final. "They will have to do it the hard way," Takter said. Takter, who sends out five horses in the Hambletonian, finally caught a post position break in the first elimination when The Bank, 8-1, landed post 2. "I think he's a sleeper," Takter said. "He's raced really good the last three or four starts. He's the one that has blossomed the most of the five in the last month." Mission Brief landed post 2 in the second elimination as the 6/5 favorite. Mission Brief, who last year trotted in 1:50 3/5 to become the fastest 2-year-old in harness racing history, is trying to become the first filly since Continentalvictory in 1996 to win the Hambletonian. Mission Brief, trained by Ron Burke, has won three of four starts this year and 12 of 17 lifetime. "It's a perfect draw for her," Burke said. "She doesn't have to leave. She can get away where ever she wants to get away. That seems to be her favorite way anymore, to fall in where she has to and then move from there." The 2014 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, Mission Brief enters the Hambletonian off a 1:51 4/5 win in the Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters. That victory was the clincher in making the decision to pass the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for fillies to take on the boys.   "It was 100 percent," Burke said. "Without that race, I wasn't going to get all the owners on board to go. For her to show up and look like her own self, it was a pretty easy sell. Her best is as good as anybody's best. That's all we were looking for." The full field for the first elimination with drivers, trainers and odds: 1. Donatomite, Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 15-1 2. The Bank, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 3. Workout Wonder, Daniel Dube, Ake Svanstedt, 12-1 4. Habitat, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 6-1 5. Total Darkness, Tim Tetrick, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1 6. Fashion Creditor, David Miller, Tom Fanning, 20-1 7. Jacksons Minion, Tom Jackson, Tom Jackson, 30-1 8. Centurion ATM, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2 9. Canepa Hanover, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-1 10. Pinkman, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5.   The second elimination: 1. Billy Flynn, Tim Tetrick, Staffan Lind, 15-1 2. Mission Brief, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-5 3. Cruzado Dela Noche, David Miller, Nancy Johansson, 20-1 4. Aldebaran Eagle, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1 5. Wings Of Royalty, Tim Tetrick, George Ducharme, 12-1 6. French Laundry, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 7. Uncle Lasse, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 8. Southwind Mozart, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 9. Muscle Diamond, Tim Tetrick, Brett Bittle, 8-1 The finals for three other stakes were also drawn Monday in a press conference in the Victory Sport Bar. Wild Honey, trained by Takter, got post 2 as the 5/2 favorite in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for 3-year-old trotting fillies. The race turned into a wide-open affair with Mission Brief headed to the Hambletonian. The elimination heats were held last weekend with one of those winners, Lock Down Lindy, getting the rail as the 3-1 second choice. Tragically, Spirit To Win, the other elim winner, suffered a fatal training injury Monday morning.   The Oaks field: 1. Lock Down Lindy, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 3-1 2. Wild Honey, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2 3. Bright Baby Blues, David Miller, Bob Stewart, 8-1 4. Lady Winona, Brian Sears, Julie Miller, 20-1 5. Rules Of The Road, Corey Callahan, Janice Connor, 8-1 6. Classical Annie, Aaron Merriman, Jim Arledge Jr., 30-1 7. Livininthefastlane, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 7-2 8. Sarcy, Johnny Takter, Jimmy Takter, 10-1 9. Smokinmombo, Aaron Merriman, Chris Beaver, 12-1 10. Speak To Me, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter, 20-1   $319,400 CANE PACE The Meadowlands will host the first jewel of the pacing Triple Crown for the first time. It will feature one of the shortest prices of the afternoon as $35,000 supplemental entrant Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2/5 favorite from post 2. The colt owned by George Teague, Jr. and driven by his son Montrell, is 14 for 15 this season, including a 1:47 4/5 win in The Meadowlands Pace.   $301,500 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Market Share, the 2012 Hambletonian winner, is the 3-1 favorite from post 6 in the race for older trotters. The 6-year-old, trained by Linda Toscano has earned over $3.7 million. Swedish trotting star Magic Tonight is the 4-1 second choice from post 4. Darin Zoccali    
The latest model of Strategic Wagering got off to a roaring start last weekend at the harness racing meeting at Balmoral Park. The idea that began four years ago with guaranteed pools of $400,000 a month in 2011 have been increased fivefold in 2015. Strategic Wagering will now offer at least one guaranteed trifecta pool, Pick Four pool and High Five pool every night for 31 straight days. The addition of the trifecta pools in August will see Strategic Wagering offer guaranteed pools in excess of $2,000,000 this month. The success of the three guaranteed pools last weekend is very encouraging and it appears that Strategic Wagering is on the right path. Bigger pools will most certainly bring bigger players. The weekend averages of the guaranteed pools at Balmoral Park were $54,206 on the trifecta, $36,001 on the pick four and $35,456 on the ten cent high five. Players will like the fast paced action of four races and three guaranteed pools in a little more than an hour. The debut of the three nightly guaranteed pools model at Balmoral Park saw total handle for the two days clock in at $2,171,438 for an average of $98,701 per race with a nightly average of $1,085,719. The final four races featuring the three guaranteed pools did extraordinary business. Handle on the last four races Saturday was $490,700. The Sunday final four sequence did over a half million dollars clocking in at $514,972. The handle for those eight races totaled $1,005,672, or $125,709 per race. The Sunday Pick five paid $11,717.30 for fifty cents. The guaranteed trifecta pools seemingly have the same effect as the guaranteed High Five pools that began in July. The low ten or twenty cent Guaranteed High Five has proven to be extremely popular. The low minimum allows the small player to be a part of the game. Last Friday the Maywood Park High Five pool totaled $26,671, second in the country behind the Del Mar High Five pool of $55,888. Saturday Del Mar had the top High Five pool in the country at $44,301 with Balmoral a close second with $39,214. Pretty admirable figures considering Del Mar averaged $12,087,844 per day during their 2014 summer meet. The pilot program kicked off with three tracks, Balmoral Park, Northfield Park and Maywood Park. During the month of August, Balmoral will offer $70,000 in nightly guarantees comprised of a guaranteed Pick Four pool, a High Five pool and a Trifecta pool every Saturday and Sunday. Northfield Park will offer three guaranteed pools every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Maywood Park will follow with three guaranteed pools each Thursday and Friday. In my opinion, the industry must try to create larger pools. There are so many potential players that would bet $1000 to win, a $200 exacta or a $50 trifecta if the pools would accommodate those wagers. The people who put in thousand dollar tickets on multi race wagers are out there. Creating larger pools will bring these valuable players and eventually increase participation. The lesson we are learning in thoroughbred racing and harness racing is that actually offering less pools per race may be beneficial to business.  Free deluxe twelve line program pages for all Strategic Wagering guaranteed pools are available courtesy of Track Master at www.ustrotting.com. The entire August calendar is also available on the USTA website. Michael Antonaides
PLAINVILLE, Mass. –  Massachusetts' horse racing industry is flush with casino cash. The only problem? There isn't much of a local industry to speak of. The state's obscure Race Horse Development Fund has generated roughly $10.3 million in revenue and is on track to receive almost $18 million more this fiscal year, according to the figures provided to The Associated Press by the state Gaming Commission. The money is made possible by a quirk in the state's casino law that designates a percentage of casino profits and licensing fees to help the flagging horse racing industry. But Suffolk Downs, a Boston thoroughbred track that stands to benefit the most from the fund, hasn't run races since last fall. Plans to revive races this summer have been delayed for months. State gambling regulators are again reviewing proposals Thursday. That leaves just one track benefiting from the racing fund so far: Plainridge Park, a combination slots parlor and harness racing track in Plainville. The state's first and so far only legal casino has been funneling about 9 percent of its gross gaming revenues into the fund since opening in late June. When the state's two licensed resort casinos by Wynn and MGM come online around 2018, they are expected to give 2.5 percent of their gambling revenues to the fund, bringing horse racing's annual casino haul to as much as $21 million. Already, owners and riders at Plainridge said they're seeing a modest bump in prize money and renewed interest as the casino money makes its way to the sport, which involves horses pulling drivers in chariot-like contraptions, as opposed to jockeys riding atop horses. "We can see it start to roll in a little bit and it gives everyone a bit of uplift of what's to come," said Jim Hardy, an owner, trainer and driver. Still, harness racers are frustrated their thoroughbred counterparts are letting their more sizeable share of the pot languish. Under state regulations, thoroughbred racing gets 75 percent of the racing fund, and harness racing — the less popular of the two sports — gets 25 percent. Those two sports must then dedicate 80 percent of their funds toward purses, 16 percent toward horse breeders and 4 percent to health and retirement benefits for industry workers. "To be candid, we feel like we should get a little bit more, especially when there's no viable thoroughbred racing at this time," said Bob Bogigian, a Worcester horse owner whose animals race at Plainridge. To date, some $420,000 has already made its way to the state's harness racing associations. About $1.3 million is earmarked for the thoroughbred racing industry, the gaming commission said. Steve O'Toole, racing director at Plainridge Park, noted the disparity comes even as the harness track will run 105 races this season and roughly 115 next year. In contrast, the owners of Suffolk Downs proposed holding just three race days this year and next. Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said their proposal would enable $1.75 million of the thoroughbred fund to impact racing now while giving horse owners and breeders time to develop long term plans for their industry. Horse racing needs to move from New England's last remaining thoroughbred track because Suffolk Downs intends to redevelop the property. But a group of local thoroughbred owners is still holding out hope for a reprieve. They've told the gaming commission that the Stronach Group, a company that operates a number of prominent tracks in North America, is interested in offering more race days in Massachusetts somehow. The Canadian company did not respond to requests for comments Monday, and Tuttle said Suffolk Downs has had only brief discussions with Stronach. "We have no expectations that we'll have an agreement in 2015," he said. The clock is ticking. The traditional fall end to the racing season approaches. Some state lawmakers have already suggested the money be diverted elsewhere, as has been the case in some of the 16 other states that have similar funds. But the local horse racing industry has a powerful advocate in its corner: Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The Winthrop Democrat, whose district includes Suffolk Downs, had pushed for the horse racing fund as a prerequisite for his support of the 2011 casino law. DeLeo said in a statement it's "premature" to consider altering the fund. Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press  
Allowed a leisurely 58.2 first half, Tall Cotton poured it on during the back half for Dave Palone and scored in 1:54.2 — his second straight victory — in Monday’s $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at the harness racing meeting at The Meadows. Tall Cotton was parked by Mike The Trader the first quarter, but that panel went in 29, leaving Tall Cotton plenty in the tank to repel the protracted first-over bid of Trustworthy Kid, who finished a length back in second. Sixteen Mikes rallied for show. Ron Burke trains Tall Cotton, a 9-year-old Revenue S-B Cor Peatra gelding who extended his career bankroll to $681,471, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Edwin Gold and Howard Taylor. Palone piloted seven winners — three for Burke — on the 14-race card. Evan Pattak        
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