Day At The Track
Eurobond, harness racing

$25,000 trot feature to Eurobond

Plainville, MA --- Eurobond took a while to grab the lead but when he did, it was for good and it paid off handsomely for his harness racing connections as he won the $25,000 Winners-Over trot at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Nov. 23). Eurobond (Bruce Ranger) chased Make It A Double (Matty Athearn) to the quarter in :27.3 before taking over the lead past that station and calling the shots from there. Eurobond trotted away, opening up a two length lead at the half and extending it to three by three-quarters in 1:24.3, with the rest of the field in two rows experiencing futile pursuit. At the top of the stretch the leader had opened up by five but started to look vulnerable as Manny L (Shawn Gray) was flying late and making up considerable ground. But Eurobond found the wire first by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:55.4.   It was the fourth win of the year for Eurobond ($3.20) who has now earned $43,965 for owner Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Robert Rudolf. Domenico Cecere is the trainer. Cecere and Ranger also teamed up to win the $18,000 conditioned undercard trot with Sweet Shirley Mae ($2.10) who led with fractions of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:27.2 before turning for home, opening up six lengths and winning in 1:56.2. Sweet Shirley Mae is owned by Moni Market Breeders. Ranger also won with Brookroadgeorge (1:58.3, $9.20) and Gracie Under Fire (1:59.2, $16.00) on Monday to claim a driving Grand Slam on the card. Live racing will resume at Plainridge Park on Wednesday (Nov. 25) instead of Thursday (Nov. 26) due to the Thanksgiving holiday. And the final day of racing for the 2020 season will be held on Friday (Nov. 27). Post time for both days will be 1 p.m. Friday will feature a $47,420 carry over and a $75,000 guaranteed pool in the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, a free program page for the race will be available on the USTA's website (ustrotting.com) under the Handicapping tab on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 25). The Wicked Hi-5 on Friday carries a mandatory payout so if there is no unique winning combination purchased, the track will pay out on the closest winning combination(s). The $75,000 guaranteed pool on Friday is the largest ever offered in the 21-year history of Plainridge Park. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

Chris Shaw, harness racing

Chris Shaw nails down 1,000th career win

WASHINGTON, PA, date, 2020 -- Harness racing driver Chris Shaw notched career win 1,000 at The Meadows when he piloted Pass The Vape to victory in Monday's featured race, the $16,200 Open Handicap Trot. Shaw, who got his first win at the York Fair in 2006, grew up in Lebanon, PA and was graduated from Lebanon High School, which also produced noted Standardbred owner Sam Bowie, who was known to play a little basketball in his day. After high school, Shaw began working third shift at a Sherwin-Williams plant in Fredericksburg, PA -- a grind to be sure, but it freed his mornings to help the horses trained by his brother Jason and their father. "Jason always had 30 head, so there were a lot of opportunities to drive," Chris recalls, "but when you race primarily at the fairs, you have to ship everywhere." When Jason relocated to southwestern Pennsylvania and year-round racing at The Meadows, Chris soon followed -- as did their parents, Carol and Tom. Now, driving opportunities are even more abundant, as Chris' wife, Ashley Brown, also is a trainer. These days, Chris, whose mounts have won more than $7 million, is a fixture at both The Meadows and the Pennsylvania Fairs circuit. Does he have a preference? "Racing's racing no matter where you go," he says. "Fairs are a little more family friendly, and that's nice." As for the future, he indicates he has no immediate changes in mind. "Keep winning races, keep your head up, think positive," he says. And there's little chance he'll be returning to the corporate world -- even if he didn't have to work third shift. "The adrenaline rush you get from driving, there's no other feeling like it." In the milestone win, Shaw moved Pass The Vape first over from fourth. The duo overtook 1-5 favorite Lady's Dude in mid-stretch and scored in 1:54 over a "good" surface. Milford's Z Tam rallied from last for second, beaten a head, with Smalltownthrowdown third.   Derek Watiker trains Pass The Vape, a 5-year-old Dejarmbro-Vapor Rises gelding who pushed his career bankroll to $444,463, for Lionel Watiker. Jim Pantaleano piloted four winners and Tony Hall three on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 13-race program features a mandatory payout for the final-race Super Hi-5, with the pool projected at $250,000. First post is 12:45 PM, with race 13 scheduled to go at approximately 4:45 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Talbotcreekwhiskey, harness racing

Final Open Pace goes to Talbotcreekwhiskey

Talbotcreekwhiskey (Somebeachsomewhere) emerged victorious in the final Open Pace of the harness racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Monday. In what may have been the best race of any local Open this year, the Justin Sodano-trained Talbotcreekwhiskey got parked the mile to the outside of the favorite Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum). The defending Pacer of the Year at the Spa, Crockets Cullen N gave the cold shoulder to the invader in a race that featured first-half fractions of 26.4 and 55.3. While those two slugged it out, Olde Broadside (Alek Chartrand) came from last in the six-horse co-feature and dropped back to the inside around the final turn. It looked as if Talbotcreekwhiskey had finally had enough after being parked every step of the way but his pursuit of the leader continued in the stretch before he reached up to take over in the final strides. Talbotcreekwhiskey overcame the journey and stopped the timer in 1:54.3 to be an unlikely Open winner with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. Olde Broadside closed for second while Crockets Cullen N earned the show spot in the $10,000 Open. Talbotcreekwhiskey paid $4.90 to win as the second-choice in the wagering and led an exacta and triple that came back $41.80 and $128.50, respectively.   The co-featured trotting race on the card went the way of Winning Legends (Winning Mister) who went coast-to-coast for trainer-driver Justin Huckabone. The four year old trotter had one win in his two local tries in the Open this season heading into Monday's try in which he had little difficulty scoring in 1:56.3. Gruden (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket and finished second after winning a place photo with Stone In Love (Brian Cross) who came up third-best. Winning Legends was the 3-5 betting favorite in the final installment of the $10,000 Open Trot for the 2020 campaign. The exacta and triple paid $8.10 and $25, respectively, in the trotting feature. Tuesday afternoon is closing day at Saratoga. Billy Dobson and Gary Levine will be recognized in the winner's circle with plaques recognizing their seasons as the leading driver and trainer, respectively. First post time for closing day is set for Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

United States Trotting Association

Annual USTA Board Meeting to be held online

Columbus, OH - Due to travel concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 USTA Board of Directors annual meeting will not be held in person, but rather all board meetings and functions will be conducted exclusively online. The determination was made through a unanimous vote of the USTA Executive Committee, which convened via Zoom this past Wednesday (Nov. 18). "Health and safety were the most important considerations in making this decision," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "We've successfully conducted a number of our annual district meetings online during the past month, which has provided us with a good test run for virtual meetings." The 2021 annual meeting was scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square hotel in Columbus, OH from March 12-15. The agenda and full schedule for the virtual 2021 USTA Board of Directors Meeting will be disseminated once dates and details have been finalized. From the USTA Communications Department

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 23, 2020 -- Tuesday's Super Hi 5 harness racing jackpot at The Meadows will carry a mandatory payout. With the carryover already at $111,462.16, the final pool is projected to reach $250,000 or more. The last time The Meadows offered a mandatory Super Hi-5 payout, the pool ultimately exceeded $300,000. The Meadows offers the Super Hi-5, with a minimum 20-cent wager, on the final race of each live card. (The Super Hi-5 will not be offered Monday.) Ordinarily, the jackpot is paid only if there is a unique winning ticket. In Tuesday's must-pay situation, however, all holders of correct tickets will share the spoils. To make Tuesday's event even more challenging, the final race (race 13) will feature a field of 12, with horses 10, 11 and 12 leaving as trailers from the second tier. First post Tuesday is 12:45 PM, with race 13 scheduled to go at approximately 4:45 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA

Pompano Beach, FL...November 22, 2020...Ideal Feeling, superbly handled byharness racing driver Dave Ingraham, held off the determined late charge from Mach West to score a narrow repeat win in Pompano Park's Open Handicap Pace on Sunday night in 1:50.4, the identical time of last week's win. The five-year-old son of American Ideal left with alacrity from his outside post (seven with a scratch) and swept into the lead with Mach West (post four with Wally Hennessey)) finding the garden spot early through panels of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:22.3. In the lane, Ideal Feeling, drifting out slightly, then used a :28.1 finale to hold off Mach West's charge along the pylons. The winning margin was a neck with Loud Splash (John MacDonald) third, two lengths away.   Dash Of Danger paced an "even-steven" mile to be fourth while Lets Roll, who put in a mild challenge around the final bend, picked up the minor award in the field reduced to seven with the scratch of Real Peace. Trained by Peter Blood for owner Rick Berks, Ideal Feeling earned his seventh win of the year in 21 starts to send his 2020 bounty to $70,688 and $267,693 lifetime to go along with his 1:48.4 Meadowlands mark this season. In a post-race interview, trainer Peter Blood related, "You know, he's just the nicest horse to be around, handy, great personality and can be handled with two fingers! He is the true definition of a 'race horse.' He likes off the pace better but, with the outside post, he had to be sent forward at the start tonight, just like last week. He's earned a week off after these two trips, that's for sure." Sent off as the 3 to 5 tote-board favorite, Ideal Feeling paid $3.40 to win. The Open II Pace went to Joe Chindano, Jr's Skip To My Lou, who roared home in :27.2 to score a repeat win in1:51.4 over Plus One (Wally Hennessey) with Brandon Hanover (Tyler Smith) rounding out the top three. Mac Anover and La Rockin Sampson earned the minors in the sharp septet. Skip To My Lou is a four year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou and this win was his fourth of the year in 14 starts, sending his seasonal bounty to $24,571 and $107,701 lifetime. He paid $2.60 as the 1 to 5 tote-board favorite. In other action, four $12,000 divisions of the FSBOA sponsored Sunshine State Stakes Finals for two year-olds were contested on Sunday night--two of these non-betting events--with Ifnotmewho and Prairie Sweetness capturing those on the pari-mutuel card with Shulda Hada Drink and Theflyingrock taking top honors in the non-wagering races. Ifnotmewho, a daughter of Credit Winner, earned her second straight win in the filly trot with a courageous late surge near the wire to score in 1:59 for Wally Hennessey--the margin a half-length over Prairie Virtue (Mike Simons) with Caio Bella (Alessandro Spano) third, 3 ¾ lengths away. West Haven and Prairie Trinket earned the final two awards in the field of seven. It was, indeed, Caio Bella, who blasted off the wings to take the field through panels of :29.1 and 1:00. On the backside, with three-eighths to go, Prairie Virtue left her cozy pocked to take command with Ifnotmewho following and settling back in right behind as they straightened away for the drive home. At mid-stretch, Ifnotmewho began gnawing away and got heir just in time. Hennessey also trains the filly for owner Herman Brewer with the win sending her scorecard to 2-3-2 in nine starts, good for $36,953. As the 1 to 2 favorite, Ifnotmewho returned $3.00 to her multitude of backers. Prairie Sweetness, involved in photo finishes is her first two career starts, got the nod in this her third trip back of the starting gate for Kevin Wallis in the filly pace, by edging past favored Sheza Terror (Wally Hennessey) at the wire to score in 1:56.4, lowering her lifetime best by 3 1/5 seconds. Ms Rodeo Drive (Dave Ingraham) overcame the outside post to garner third while Gator babe was next. Rocks StormyD earned the final check in the octet. At the outset, KD's Dream Girl, Sheza Terror and Prairie Sweetness were one-two-three off the wings but prior to the opening panel in :28.4, KD's Dream Girl suffered a broken hobble hanger and was forced to pull out allowing Sheza Terror to inherit the top spot with Prairie Sweetness on her tail. Prairie Sweetness, a daughter of Royel Millennium wound up stalking the leader the rest of the way through fractions of :58.4 and 1:28.3 and just did squeak by in the very last stride on the strength of her :28 finale. With a scorecard reading 2-0-1 in just three starts, Prairie Sweetheart has banked $8,286 in her first month on the racetrack. Trained by Mike Deters, who co-owns with Laurie Poulin, Prairie Sweetness paid $6.00 as second choice in the betting. Shulda Hada Drink, took top honors in the juvenile trot featuring colts and geldings as this altered son of Shibboleth Hanover took a new lifetime mark with a near gate-to-wire romp in 1:58.2 in just his third lifetime start. Driven by Mike Simons for trainer George Coblentz and owner Nick Coblentz, Shulda Hada Drink posted numbers of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:28.3 to eclipse his former mark in his only other win by three full seconds. Ifnotnowwhen (Wally Hennessey) was second, 9 ¼ lengths away, while the pocket-sitting Seeking Matthew (Sergio Corona), finished third over Jo Jo Jet, who completed the quartet. Thefly6ingrock, also driven by Mike Simons, a winner last week in 1:54.2, proved that mile was no fluke as he blazed through panels of :27, :54.3 and 1:23 before hold on late to score by 1¼ lengths in 1:53.1, of course a new career best. The very fast closing Hey Don't Tell Me (Mike Micallef) was second while Mister David C was next in the quintet. Buddha Beach and Lucky Ramsey completed that roster. Theflyingrock, a gelded son of Rockingcam, is trained by Wayne Carter, who co-owns with Jean Carter. Finally, there were several notable performances in the driver category on Sunday night with top honors going to Rick Plano, who scored a consecutive driving triple in the Late Pick-3. Plano started things off with a ninth race win with Rockin Machine ($21.20), took the 10th with Imagineuwithoutme ($7.40) and the finale with McMach ($4.00) to reward the Pick-3 Send It In Army with a $168.40 payday for the 50 cent ducat. Plano trains all three, as well, and gave wife Maryann an owners triple as sole owner of Rockin Machine and Imagineuwithoutme and part owner of McMach with Jan and Mindy Findling Repko. Wally Hennessey also had a driving triple with Ifnotmewho ($3.00), Caviart Reagan ($3.60) and Sand Sniper $9.40). Mike Simons also hit the winner's circle three times as he swept both ends of the non-wagering Sunshine State Stakes with the aformentioned Shulda Hada Drink and Theflyingrock and got the triple with How Are Yee John ($4.60). Racing resumes Monday night with a post time scheduled for 7:20 p.m and the Super Hi-5 finale carry-over ballooning to $9,678.26. by John Berry, for Pompano Park  

Batavia, NY --- Harness racing horsemen racing at Batavia Downs should be aware of the following draw schedule change for the races on Saturday November 28. The draw for Saturday (Nov. 28) will take place on Tuesday (Nov. 24) instead of on Wednesday (Nov. 25), with the entry box closing at 9 am. Driver choices and scratches must be received by the judges on Wednesday (Nov. 25) no later than 9:30 a.m. Programs will be printed on Wednesday (Nov. 25) due to Thursday (Nov. 26) being the Thanksgiving holiday. The draw schedule for the remaining five race days of 2020 is as follows: Race Day Draw Day Saturday (Nov. 28) Tuesday (Nov. 24) Wednesday (Dec. 2) Friday (Nov. 27) Saturday (Dec. 5) Wednesday (Dec. 2) Wednesday (Dec. 9) Friday (Dec. 4) Saturday (Dec. 12) Wednesday (Dec. 9)   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs ww.avast.com

Plainville, MA --- The Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta wager has been one of the most popular bets offered at Plainridge Park since its introduction and also one of the toughest to hit. Since the last winning ticket was cashed here back in September, the carryover pool has now grown to $47,420 after the ninth race on Friday (Nov. 21). Now with the meet heading into the final week, the pool must be paid out. Whereas the track has been offering the wager twice on each live racing day, this week the Wicked Hi-5 will be suspended from the wagering menu all week until Friday (Nov. 27) when it will be offered only one time in race six with a mandatory payout and guaranteed pool of $75,000. If there is no unique winning combination purchased, the track will pay out on the closest winning combination(s) wagered. The Wicked Hi-5 on Friday will be part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering program and as such, a free program page for the race will be available on the USTA's website (ustrotting.com) under the "Handicapping" tab on Tuesday afternoon. The $75,000 guaranteed pool is the largest ever offered in the 21-year history of Plainridge Park. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up on Thursday (Nov. 26), there will be no live racing held at Plainridge. However that card of racing will be conducted on Wednesday (Nov. 25) instead. Post time for the final three days of racing at Plainridge Park is 1 p.m. by Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts    

Sugar Valley Farm and the owners of the harness racing pacing standout Catch The Fire are excited to announce that The Adios victor will be joining the Sugar Valley Farm stallion roster for the 2021 season, while continuing his racing career. Catch The Fire will stand in Ohio for an introductory fee of $3,500. Catch The Fire, a son of standout stallion Captaintreacherous and out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Dream Outloud, is a top performer among the talented 2020 sophomore pacers. A Grand Circuit winner and KYSS 2-year-old champion, he has earnings of $655,001 lifetime and has proven to be a formidable competitor across the country and on all racetracks. Owner Charles Taylor is excited for this new opportunity, “Fire was exceptional right from the time he went into training. He has a flawless gait with no wasted motion. He has proven that with his sub 1:50 wins on all size tracks. He loves to race and has been very versatile in how he wins. He raced the best of his class every week. H never dodged the competition.” “He’s been a dream to drive. He’s just so smart on the track and does everything so easily. He’s incredibly versatile. To have a horse pace sub 1:50 miles on all sizes of racetracks is really something special,” said driver Mike Wilder. Sugar Valley Farm’s Joe McLead loves adding another strong pacing stallion to the Buckeye state, “He’s going to be a great addition to Ohio. He’s the Adios winner and a Jug elim winner and just an excellent individual. Being the first son of Captaintreacherous to come to the state makes it even better. He is a great addition to our roster that will allow us to cover all different maternal families. He’s the perfect fit to our puzzle. I was honored to have Mr. Taylor call to stand him. It’s going to be a lot of fun to manage his breeding career and watch him race when the breeding season is over.” For further information, contact Sugar Valley Farm at 740.363.5618 or email info@SugarValleyFarmStallions.com.   From Sugar Valley Farm

CHESTER, Pa. — Veteran campaigner Dealt A Winner ($6.80) overcame a post eight dispatch and held his ground while under siege late to take Sunday's (Nov. 22) featured harness racing event at Harrah's Philadelphia, an $11,600 upper-level conditioned pace. Dealt A Winner and driver Yannick Gingras were strung out a bit by 2-1 favorite Rock The Town (Anthony Napolitano) through a :27.3 first quarter, but cleared for sole control of the terms with well over a circuit to go. After pulling the half back a touch to :55.3, the 8-year-old Cam's Card Shark gelding capably held his ground to stave off a late push up the open stretch from runner-up Rock The Town, who only missed Dealt A Winner's 1:51.2 mile by a neck. Thatswhatisaid N (Daniel Dubé) sustained a first-over grind through the final three-eighths of the mile to finish third, missing by just a half length.   Ron Burke trains 27-time winner Dealt A Winner for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura. The win was his second in a row and his sixth of the season. Todd McCarthy led all drivers with three wins on the 14-race program. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 25), with a $2,769.87 carryover buoying the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 offered in the fifth race. Post time for the first of 14 races is 12:25 p.m. EST.     by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Fall Final Four/TVG Finals Night saw a handful of horses lock up harness racing divisional honors Saturday night at The Meadowlands. It also saw the two most-coveted human awards more than likely cinched by a pair of the game's biggest stars. First up was Dexter Dunn, the 30-year-old native of New Zealand, who in his second year driving full time in America, left not much doubt whom the United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year will be. Of the eight stakes races on the card, Dunn emerged victorious four times, guiding Manchego (TVG Open Trot), Kissin In The Sand (TVG Mares Pace), Always A Miki (Governor's Cup) and Bettor's Wish (TVG Open Pace) to victory lane. Add in the fact that Dunn won four Breeders Crown races and was the only driver in the sport with $10 million in earnings this year coming into the night, he better make room for a second DOTY trophy. Takter scored three times on the card, as her trainees - Manchego, Kissin In The Sand and Always A Miki - were all handled by Dunn. She entered Saturday with earnings of $7.3 million from just 397 starts. During 2020, in addition to the aforementioned power-packed threesome, Takter also had likely Horse of the Year winner Tall Dark Stranger - the Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup champion - in her barn. It's clear that Takter will more than likely raise the USHWA Trainer of the Year hardware again. A LITTLE MORE: Trainer Ron Burke and driver Dave Miller both reached an incredible milestone, as each pushed past the $250-million mark in lifetime earnings. Burke reached that lofty number when his Baklouva finished second in the Governor's Cup Consolation while Miller became a quarter-billionaire after scoring with Blue Diamond Eyes in the Three Diamonds. Burke is harness racing's leading all-time trainer in terms of earnings while Miller is second to John Campbell, who finished his career with $299 million in his bank account. ... All-source handle on the 13-race card was $2,744,397. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

East Rutherford, NJ -- Bettor's Wish closed out his racing career in style with a powerful performance in Saturday's (Nov. 21) $340,000 TVG Series Open Pace championship, defeating Backstreet Shadow by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:48.1 at The Meadowlands. This Is The Plan finished third. Bettor's Wish led to the first turn before yielding to Southwind Ozzi in a :27.1 opening quarter. Southwind Ozzi's time on top was short-lived as driver Dexter Dunn directed Bettor's Wish back to the lead and took the field to the half in :54.2 and three-quarters in 1:22. He was never threatened in the stretch.   Sent off as the 1-2 favorite, Bettor's Wish paid $3.00 to win. "I barely asked him tonight, to be honest," Dunn said. "It was all him. It's been him his whole career. He's a true racehorse. "It was a special feeling crossing the line with him tonight. He's been an amazing horse to me." Bettor's Wish, a 4-year-old stallion by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, won 24 of 44 career starts and $2.60 million. He failed to finish among the top three only three times in his career. He received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male pacer in 2019 and was second to Shartin N in voting for both Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Other victories this year for Bettor's Wish included the Sam McKee Memorial, Dayton Pacing Derby, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. Bettor's Wish is owned by trainer Chris Ryder, Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, and Bettors Wish Partners. He was bred by Brittany Farms. "I'm very sad to retire the horse tonight, but it's the right time, it's the right thing to do for his stud career," Ryder said. "I'm really, really going to miss him. He's raced so good for us so many times, it's like I've got to pinch myself when I look back on those races. There are so many good memories. "I'd really like to thank my ownership group. They stood behind me 100 percent and let me race him wherever and whenever and that's made it a whole lot easier. The whole trip has just been very exciting and something I'll never forget." Bettor's Wish bred 58 mares in New Jersey this year before beginning his 4-year-old campaign. He will stand at Diamond Creek Farm of Pennsylvania in 2021. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Three months have passed since When Dovescry and Plunge Blue Chip clashed at The Meadowlands in a Steele Memorial thriller. Saturday night (Nov. 21), both million-dollar mares returned to settle the score in the $140,000 TVG Series Mares Trot. The 2019 Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry, a 4-year-old mare by Muscle Hill-Cedar Dove, set a career best mark of 1:50.0 in the Steele this past August. The Brett Pelling trainee entered off a second-place finish in her local prep race last week. She left from the outside post (6) as the even-money favorite taking on five rivals, with her adversary, Plunge Blue Chip, drawing post position three. Plunge Blue Chip, the daughter of Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donato, finished second to When Dovescry when the two last met locally in the Steele. Ake Svanstedt, who trains, drives and owns the 5-year-old mare in partnership with Blue Chip Bloodstock, Inc., got away well at the sound of the bell, sending Plunge Blue Chip to the early lead. Around the first turn, she relinquished the top to long-shot, Felicityshagwell S, who made the opening quarter in :27.1. Sensing a slow pace, Svandstedt pulled the pocket and brushed to the point with Plunge Blue Chip as the field linked up with the backstretch. She progressed unhurried to the half-mile marker, catching a :29.1 breather, clipping the beam in :56.2. With plenty in reserve and no serious threats, Plunge Blue Chip showed the field her heels in the stretch, kicking clear to a 1½-length victory. Pat Matters advanced from last to finish second from When Dovescry who disappointed, settling for third.   Plunge Blue Chip stopped the clock in 1:51.4, matching a stakes record jointly held by Hannalore Hanover and Emoticon Hanover. She paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 second choice. "The best position for her today was in the front, and she made it," Svanstedt said. "She came home fast and felt good." On a night that celebrated the retirements of Manchego, Bettor's Wish and Kissin In the Sand, Svanstedt revealed in a surprise post-race announcement, that Plunge Blue Chip has made her final trip around the Big M oval. According to Svanstedt, "[Plunge Blue Chip] sold as a broodmare and she is going to Anvil and Lace farm in Kentucky." With her win in the TVG Mares Trot, Plunge Blue Chip improved her record to 23 wins from 48 career starts. She retires with $1,576,251 in earnings. By Shades Demsky, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Supporters of the harness racing betting favorites found themselves empty handed following the Fall Final Four pacing events on Saturday (Nov. 21) at the Meadowlands. Breeders Crown champ Summa Cum Laude grew leg weary off quick fractions while pocket-sitter Always A Miki vaulted with fresh legs to a 1:50.2 victory in the $371,900 Governor's Cup--sponsored by Walnridge Farm & Heritage Hill Farm. Captain Sleaze, at odds of 90-1, kicked to the front and held a brief lead by a :26.3 opening quarter as Always A Miki pulled wide from the pocket with Summa Cum Laude on his back. Always A Miki cleared command to the backstretch before yielding to Summa Cum Laude. Then Abuckabett Hanover tipped first over from fourth tracked by his stablemate, Metro Pace winner Exploit, approaching a :54.3 half. Abuckabett Hanover ranged toward the pacesetter nearing three-quarters in 1:21.4, but his advance stalled nearing the straightaway and forced Exploit to launch three wide. Summa Cum Laude clung to the lead into the stretch as a lane opened for Always A Miki to vacate pocket, and the Always B Miki-Beach Gal colt lunged to a late lead over an extended Exploit and held firm to a half-length victory. Summa Cum Laude held third with Captain Fancy closing for fourth.   "He's a very small horse, there's not much too him--but he's shown all year [that] he's a true competitor," driver Dexter Dunn said after the race. "We re-moved there at the quarter, then Yannick [Gingras and Summa Cum Laude] came and it worked out perfect. The three-quarters was pretty fast, and he was tagged on Yannick's helmet the whole trip. I knew he had something left if I could get him clear." Owned by Christina Takter, Goran Anderberg, Herb Liverman and Rojan Stables, Always A Miki collected his fifth victory from 13 starts, earning $342,418. Nancy Takter trains the $16.00 winner. Blue Diamond Eyes culled the flames of red-hot Breeders Crown champ Fire Start Hanover and emerged victorious in the $323,600 Three Diamonds Final--sponsored by Daniel Baer & South Mountain Stables. Driver David Miller had Blue Diamond Eyes revved early, powering for the front past a :27.3 first quarter to pocket Notorious Pink into the backstretch. Fire Start Hanover raced fourth into the backstretch and gradually edged off the pylons until committing first over by a :56 half. Once taken outside, Fire Start Hanover rolled towards Blue Diamond Eyes to battle the leader by three-quarters in 1:23.3. However, the far-turn blitz paid a toll on Fire Start Hanover as she retreated through the field with shortening strides. Blue Diamond Eyes meanwhile blazed to the finish while prompted by pocket-popping Notorious Pink, who settled for second by one-and-a-half lengths in the 1:51.1 mile. Thebeachiscalling wove through traffic for third with Lindy At The Beach taking fourth.   "Really where she turned her whole year around was in the Kentucky Sires Stakes," trainer Ron Burke said after the race. "She went down, re-found herself, then she came back and won the final. Then even in the Breeders Crown, we couldn't get her in the right spots. Last week [David Miller] said she's ready for a big effort and he said we'll give it to her this week. Like, we're just going to put her on the front and make them come beat her. He was very right--I knew when they came into the last turn [that] they'd have to pace hard to get around her, because she'll fight when she gets the lead." Winning her fifth race from 13 starts, Blue Diamond Eyes has banked $554,617 for owners Thomas & Scott Dillon. The filly by Captaintreacherous-Aria Hanover returned $11.40 to win. An $81,000 consolation was contested earlier on the card for the Governor's Cup. Chris Ryder trainee Beachhead bolted down the center of the track off swift fractions of :26.2, :54.3 and 1:22.4 to win by three-quarter lengths in 1:51.2 over Baklouva, who rallied from last for second. David Miller drove the $13.40 winner for owners Steve Heimbecker and Mac Nichol. By Ray Cotolo, for the Meadowlands Racetrack

East Rutherford, NJ - Kissin In The Sand took the lead at the half, fended off a challenge from Shartin N on the final turn, and pulled away from the field in the stretch to win Saturday's $150,000 TVG Series Mare Pace championship in a stakes-record 1:48 at The Meadowlands. Three-year-old filly Peaky Sneaky was second and Shartin N was third. It was the final start of Kissin In The Sand's career. The 5-year-old mare finished the season with a seven-race win streak and pushed her lifetime victory total to 27 in 58 starts. She earned $1.74 million for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables and trainer Nancy Takter. "She was outstanding tonight," winning driver Dexter Dunn said. "She's had an amazing career, she's an amazing mare, and I was lucky enough to get on for the last four or five starts to enjoy the last run home." Kissin In The Sand left from post nine and settled into third as Peaky Sneaky and Shartin N exchanged the lead in an opening :26.3 quarter. Kissin In The Sand made her move on the backstretch and got to the front just as she hit the half in :53.4. She remained on top to three-quarters in 1:20.3 and came home in :27.2 to win by 2-1/2 lengths over stablemate Peaky Sneaky.   "She kicked in the straight really good," Dunn said. "She knows when it's go time. Once we got the plugs out, she went to another gear and finished off a very strong mile." Sent off the 4-5 favorite, Kissin In The Sand paid $3.80 to win. Kissin In The Sand, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, was bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc., and Concord Stud Farm. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. Among her wins to close out this season were her first Breeders Crown as well as the Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. "When she was 3, I actually took care of her myself because I had a much smaller stable, so I had a very close relationship with her," trainer Nancy Takter said. "That's why she's so special (to me). "She's matured so much through the years. She was a pain in the butt to break. I remember four years ago when she came into my barn, I called Marvin Katz and said she's either going to be great, or she's going to be terrible. So I'm happy she decided to be great. She was just tough from day one and her performance tonight just shows how tough she really is." Kissin In The Sand will be bred to another of Takter's recently retired stars, Tall Dark Stranger. "Hopefully, they're a match made in heaven," Takter said, adding with a laugh, "I already told Marvin and Bud (Hatfield) that I get to train the first baby." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

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Plainville, MA --- Eurobond took a while to grab the lead but when he did, it was for good and it paid off handsomely for his harness racing connections as he won the $25,000 Winners-Over trot at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (Nov. 23). Eurobond (Bruce Ranger) chased Make It A Double (Matty Athearn) to the quarter in :27.3 before taking over the lead past that station and calling the shots from there. Eurobond trotted away, opening up a two length lead at the half and extending it to three by three-quarters in 1:24.3, with the rest of the field in two rows experiencing futile pursuit. At the top of the stretch the leader had opened up by five but started to look vulnerable as Manny L (Shawn Gray) was flying late and making up considerable ground. But Eurobond found the wire first by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:55.4.   It was the fourth win of the year for Eurobond ($3.20) who has now earned $43,965 for owner Lindy Farms of Connecticut and Robert Rudolf. Domenico Cecere is the trainer. Cecere and Ranger also teamed up to win the $18,000 conditioned undercard trot with Sweet Shirley Mae ($2.10) who led with fractions of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:27.2 before turning for home, opening up six lengths and winning in 1:56.2. Sweet Shirley Mae is owned by Moni Market Breeders. Ranger also won with Brookroadgeorge (1:58.3, $9.20) and Gracie Under Fire (1:59.2, $16.00) on Monday to claim a driving Grand Slam on the card. Live racing will resume at Plainridge Park on Wednesday (Nov. 25) instead of Thursday (Nov. 26) due to the Thanksgiving holiday. And the final day of racing for the 2020 season will be held on Friday (Nov. 27). Post time for both days will be 1 p.m. Friday will feature a $47,420 carry over and a $75,000 guaranteed pool in the Wicked Hi-5 wager in the sixth race. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, a free program page for the race will be available on the USTA's website (ustrotting.com) under the Handicapping tab on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 25). The Wicked Hi-5 on Friday carries a mandatory payout so if there is no unique winning combination purchased, the track will pay out on the closest winning combination(s). The $75,000 guaranteed pool on Friday is the largest ever offered in the 21-year history of Plainridge Park. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts
WASHINGTON, PA, date, 2020 -- Harness racing driver Chris Shaw notched career win 1,000 at The Meadows when he piloted Pass The Vape to victory in Monday's featured race, the $16,200 Open Handicap Trot. Shaw, who got his first win at the York Fair in 2006, grew up in Lebanon, PA and was graduated from Lebanon High School, which also produced noted Standardbred owner Sam Bowie, who was known to play a little basketball in his day. After high school, Shaw began working third shift at a Sherwin-Williams plant in Fredericksburg, PA -- a grind to be sure, but it freed his mornings to help the horses trained by his brother Jason and their father. "Jason always had 30 head, so there were a lot of opportunities to drive," Chris recalls, "but when you race primarily at the fairs, you have to ship everywhere." When Jason relocated to southwestern Pennsylvania and year-round racing at The Meadows, Chris soon followed -- as did their parents, Carol and Tom. Now, driving opportunities are even more abundant, as Chris' wife, Ashley Brown, also is a trainer. These days, Chris, whose mounts have won more than $7 million, is a fixture at both The Meadows and the Pennsylvania Fairs circuit. Does he have a preference? "Racing's racing no matter where you go," he says. "Fairs are a little more family friendly, and that's nice." As for the future, he indicates he has no immediate changes in mind. "Keep winning races, keep your head up, think positive," he says. And there's little chance he'll be returning to the corporate world -- even if he didn't have to work third shift. "The adrenaline rush you get from driving, there's no other feeling like it." In the milestone win, Shaw moved Pass The Vape first over from fourth. The duo overtook 1-5 favorite Lady's Dude in mid-stretch and scored in 1:54 over a "good" surface. Milford's Z Tam rallied from last for second, beaten a head, with Smalltownthrowdown third.   Derek Watiker trains Pass The Vape, a 5-year-old Dejarmbro-Vapor Rises gelding who pushed his career bankroll to $444,463, for Lionel Watiker. Jim Pantaleano piloted four winners and Tony Hall three on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday when the 13-race program features a mandatory payout for the final-race Super Hi-5, with the pool projected at $250,000. First post is 12:45 PM, with race 13 scheduled to go at approximately 4:45 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the MSOA
Talbotcreekwhiskey (Somebeachsomewhere) emerged victorious in the final Open Pace of the harness racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Monday. In what may have been the best race of any local Open this year, the Justin Sodano-trained Talbotcreekwhiskey got parked the mile to the outside of the favorite Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum). The defending Pacer of the Year at the Spa, Crockets Cullen N gave the cold shoulder to the invader in a race that featured first-half fractions of 26.4 and 55.3. While those two slugged it out, Olde Broadside (Alek Chartrand) came from last in the six-horse co-feature and dropped back to the inside around the final turn. It looked as if Talbotcreekwhiskey had finally had enough after being parked every step of the way but his pursuit of the leader continued in the stretch before he reached up to take over in the final strides. Talbotcreekwhiskey overcame the journey and stopped the timer in 1:54.3 to be an unlikely Open winner with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. Olde Broadside closed for second while Crockets Cullen N earned the show spot in the $10,000 Open. Talbotcreekwhiskey paid $4.90 to win as the second-choice in the wagering and led an exacta and triple that came back $41.80 and $128.50, respectively.   The co-featured trotting race on the card went the way of Winning Legends (Winning Mister) who went coast-to-coast for trainer-driver Justin Huckabone. The four year old trotter had one win in his two local tries in the Open this season heading into Monday's try in which he had little difficulty scoring in 1:56.3. Gruden (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket and finished second after winning a place photo with Stone In Love (Brian Cross) who came up third-best. Winning Legends was the 3-5 betting favorite in the final installment of the $10,000 Open Trot for the 2020 campaign. The exacta and triple paid $8.10 and $25, respectively, in the trotting feature. Tuesday afternoon is closing day at Saratoga. Billy Dobson and Gary Levine will be recognized in the winner's circle with plaques recognizing their seasons as the leading driver and trainer, respectively. First post time for closing day is set for Noon. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway
Columbus, OH - Due to travel concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 USTA Board of Directors annual meeting will not be held in person, but rather all board meetings and functions will be conducted exclusively online. The determination was made through a unanimous vote of the USTA Executive Committee, which convened via Zoom this past Wednesday (Nov. 18). "Health and safety were the most important considerations in making this decision," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "We've successfully conducted a number of our annual district meetings online during the past month, which has provided us with a good test run for virtual meetings." The 2021 annual meeting was scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square hotel in Columbus, OH from March 12-15. The agenda and full schedule for the virtual 2021 USTA Board of Directors Meeting will be disseminated once dates and details have been finalized. From the USTA Communications Department
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