Maven, harness racing

Why has Maven been put on a pedestal?

Maven has been the darling of the harness racing press and a hefty chunk of the sport’s fan base for the past few months. She’s taken the crown from Foiled Again, who held that distinction for a couple of years. The six-year-old daughter of Glidemaster—the only top tier trotter that sire has produced in North America—only won four races during 2014, and only one of those was a grade one stakes race. She set a track record in winning the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs in November. Her other three wins came in the Miami Valley Distaff in mid-May, a preferred trot at Pocono in August and the BC elimination at the Meadowlands. Maven finished out in three legs of the Miss Versatility Series, which she won in 2013, and was third in the final at Delaware, which division champ Classic Martine won. She earned $333,027 between her dozen starts in NA and a pair in Europe. So what’s all the fuss about? Why is Maven the flame of the Twittersphere and the horse harness scribes have elevated to the top of the pile? Her pedestrian numbers during the past year scream journeyman in a slump—not superstar. Racing in Europe adds some panache to her resume, but she has one third place finish to show for five European starts last season and this. Maven’s popularity obviously extends to the sales ring as she brought a record $750,000 bid from Herb Liverman at Harrisburg in November. And he already owned a piece of rival Bee A Magician. One of Maven’s problems is that Liverman is determined not to have the pair go head to head. That means Maven is stuck in Europe, or destined to take on the boys back home. Neither of those scenarios looks promising at the moment. Contrast Maven’s overseas performance with the much less celebrated Arch Madness, who made eight starts in Europe during 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won two of them, the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix and a heat of the Elitlop. He finished second in the latter twice and was third three times in European races. Arch got some publicity for all of this, particularly in Canada, but Maven seems to be leaving him in the PR dust despite a much shorter record of accomplishment. Something similar has been happening on the pacing side. Eleven-year-old Foiled Again is still the most popular pacer in NA. He was second to Sweet Lou in division earnings in 2014, thanks to making the board in 19 of 26 starts, but he had no grade one stakes wins. The Quillen was his only significant victory, and that one isn’t very important at this point. He won four legs of the Levy, then went winless for the season except for his Quillen elimination and final. In 2013 he was wildly popular and a candidate for Pacer of the Year, despite suffering 18 losses. Foiled’s hook is excellence over many years, consistency and the money record for pacers that he holds. Maven was good at two and three, winning 15 times and earning more than $900,000, but she took a back seat to Check Me Out until the late fall of her sophomore campaign. She was the standout in her division at four, winning 10 times and banking more than a half million dollars, and had an off year in 2014. This exaltation on the part of fans and the press is curious. Some of it has to do with her newsworthy passage from Jonas Czernyson to Ron Burke to Jimmy Takter. And participating today in the premier race in France for last year’s trainer and driver of the year doesn’t hurt. But with each non-competitive loss on the Continent, we should get less cheerleading and more questions about why she has been placed on a pedestal.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

Driver Jason Bartlett; wife Kristen; and sons Kobe and Karter (Galterio / Faraldo)

SOA and Yonkers honor horsemen

On the evening of January 24, The Standardbred Owners Association of New York, in conjunction with the management of Yonkers Raceway, proudly honored the track's leading harness racing driver, trainer and owner for calendar year 2014.   Maine native Jason Bartlett came away with his fourth Yonkers' driving title, finding the winners circle 485 times in 2014 from 2,440 starts, thus winning with nearly 1 in 5 of his mounts.   Trainer Ron Burke, who smashed the national earnings record, eclipsing even Thoroughbred trainer Todd Pletcher's earnings mark, also topped all Yonkers conditioners with over $4.6 million in purse earnings. Burke had a Hilltop Oval leading 144 winners in 2014, which was 26 more than the second-leading trainer.   Additionally, Burke Racing Stable took home the leading owner title for 2014.   Alex Dadoyan, Executive Director    

The judges could not separate Don't Tell Rusty (Kevin Wallis) and That'll Be The Rei (Mike Micallef)

"Rusty" and "Rei" dead-heat

Pompanp Beach, FL...January 24, 2015...That'll Be The Rei, driven by harness racing driver Mike Micallef, and Don't Tell Rusty, handled by Kevin Wallis were inseparable at the wire in Pompano Park's $13,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday Night.   The pair hit the wire together in 1:51.1 after That'll Be The Rei cut all of the fractions--:26.2, :54.3 and 1:22--before drifting out just enough in the lane to allow Don't Tell Rusty to sneak through along the pylons late foe the tie ballgame.   Fancyfreeshark, with Bruce Ranger handling the lines, finished third while stablemate Lyons Johnny wound up fourth. Pontiac Luck picked up the nickel in sextet.   Each combatant in the "DH" won for the initial time in 2015 with That'll Be The Rei, a five year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, winning for the 29th time in 51 lifetime starts and Don't Tell Rusty, a six year-old by Tell All, achieving his 11th success in 78 career trips back of the starting gate.   In a post race interview, Micallef said, " With a lot of the early speed outside in here, I thought it best to try and go down the road since his only win here gate to wire a few starts back. He has good gate speed and I really didn't think anybody would try and tackle an opener in :26 and change. He hadn't been out in a couple of weeks so he might have been just a trifle short late in the mile but he raced very well. I w as very pleased with his performance tonight."   The other dead-heat participant, Kevin Wallis, related, "This is the first time I sent him on early...only because he drew well here and I was hoping to get a nice trip after yielding. I knew he was capable of a good final quarter and, when we found some room on the inside, well, he responded nicely. He's just a good, solid racehorse and he might have been a but tighter than some of the others that had missed a week or two.."   That'll Be The Rei, also trained by Micallef for owner Dan Courtemanche, pushed his lifetime bounty to $249,477 while Don't Tell Rusty, trained by Paul Holzman for owner Melvin Fink, sent his lifetime bankroll to just shy of $100,000--$99,636 to be exact.   That'll Be The Rei, off at 6 to 1, returned a dead-heat price of $7.80 while Don't Tell Rusty, 16 to 1 on the board, paid $16.00 to his $2 backers.   The co-feature event, the $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap went to Johnny Grippa, driven by Joe Sanzeri.   This seven year-old altered son of Cam's Card Shark took full advantage of a miscue in the lane by the 1 to 2 favorite, Canadian Touch, to take command and then hold off the furious late surge of Always N The Money, with Peter Wrenn driving, to score by a neck in 1:52.2. Ahead Of The Curve and Joe Pavia, Jr. was eventually awarded third while T's Electric was moved up a notch to fourth. Canadian Touch, third under the wire, was placed fifth due to his aforementioned miscue.   Johnny Grippa won for the 38th time during his career measuring 97 starts and now has $164,770 on his card--$18,325 of that since being claimed by Sanzeri along with Russ Guardino.   Off at 5 to 1, Johnny Grippa paid $13.60 to win.   Late Closing events also highlighted the Saturday night card with The Baron Lancer and Murdock Hanover spotlighting claiming pacers and The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer for claiming trotters.   The Baron Lancer, with a bulky field of 11 going to the gate, went to Coopers Beach, driven by Jason Dillander for owner-trainer Shawn Glassmeyer.   This six year-old son of Western Ideal survived a torturous opening half of :53.4 and actually pulled away from the field in the lane to score a sharp four length win in 1:52.   Milliondollartouch (27 to 1) finished second for Dan Clements while Attack Modes Billy (47 to 1) with Ed Hensley was third.   Coopers Beach, second choice at 5 to 2, paid $7.60 to win.   The two divisions of the Murdock Hanover went to In Mint Condition (Mike Micallef) and Officernagentleman (Matt Romano.   In Mint Condition, owned by Lew and Kathleen Whitaker, made a sharp quarter move to the top and just did hold off Ring Leader, charging through on the pylons, and Fearless Chip, on the outside, to score in 1:52.1 as the 3 to 2 favorite.   After the event, Micallef joked, "I guess I was the cream in the middle of the Oreo cookie in that one!"   In Mint Condition won for the 24th time in his career to send his lifetime bankroll to $149,563.   Officernagentleman, trained and driven by Matt Romano for C & F Associates, also hung on for dear life in scoring a head decision over the late charging Red Hot Yankee and Rick Plano in 1:52.2 for his 20th lifetime win. Bold Willie and Dan Clements teamed up for third.   Even money on the tote-board, Officernagentleman paid $4.20 to win.   Finally, two divisions of The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer went behind the Hummer Starting Gate and South Jersey Hey and Royalty On High proved victorious in their respective events.   South Jersey Hey gave amateur driver Steve Oldford his 99th lifetime victory by rallying in the lane to score a 2:01.2 decision over American Empress, driven by Jamie Marra with Whosover and Don Glowacki teaming up for show honors.   The winner paid $5.00 as the public choice.   Royalty On High, driven by Dein Spriggs, took advantage of some hot fractions early--for the class--and then snuck through along the inside to light up the tote-board with a $49.00 mutuel in scoring a 2 1/2 length win over L F Topaz and Billy Muggleston in 2:01.1. VT's Gold Key was third for Leon Cable.   Pompano's Super Hi-5 again had multiple winners on Saturday night and the carry-over for Sunday's program is well in excess of $60,000.   Post time is 7:30 p.m.   John Berry    

Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter

Dube sweeps Yonkers features

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Harness racing driver Dan Dube, off to a solid start to the season, continue his roll Saturday night by sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $35,000 co-features. In-form Not Again ($4.40) defended his marquee trot title, winning this Open Handicap event in 1:56.3. Assigned outside his six rivals, Not Again, as the second choice. was in play early. Eschewing a three-hole, he drove on, getting around Meadows invader Count Me In. That one, the 11-10 favorite, took over from lone lass Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter). Not Again threw down the gauntlet (:27.3, 57.3, 1:26.2), taking no outer-tier pressure whatsoever. Count Me In pulled pocket early, and that would cost him. Not Again wound up winning by length-and-a-quarter, with 45-1 rank outsider Sim Brown (Mark MacDonald) slipping up the cones for second. Count Me In was third, with Hoorayforvacation (Eric Carlson) and Star Photo (Eric Goodell) rounding out the payees. Backstreet Hanover jumped it off entering the final turn. For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $98, with the triple returning $228. Dube won the blind-draw Open Pace was a pocket-patrolling Michael's Power ($10.40). That one, from post No. 6, left outside of Sapphire City (Carlson). He then gave it up to a quarter-move by just-over-even-money favorite Warrawee Needy (MacDonald). It was "Needy" laying down the law through intervals of :27.1, :56 and 1:23.2, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, that quick third quarter could not separate himself from the gang, and the gang swallowed him up. It was Michael's Power ducking inside, beating a closing Take it Back Terry (Brennan) by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4 Sapphire City, Warrawee Needy and a season-debuting P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder. For third choice Michael's Power, a 6-yer-old Camluck homebred gelding owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his second win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $52, with the triple returning $244. Dube won four races during Saturday's dozen-race card. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker  

Three harness racing series finals made up the Winter Series Spectacular at The Meadowlands on Saturday night. The Super Bowl, Wordly Beauty and last but not least, the Escort Final with a purse of $56,000 appeared the most competitive of the three series finals on paper. Coming into The Escort Final, Tim Tetrick had what appeared to be a difficult decision to make, between Khan Blue Chip, a Linda Toscano trainee and Company Man. Tetrick decided to sit behind Company Man and it was proven that he chose wisely. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Tetrick allowed Company Man to sit third, just off the speed of Khan Blue Chip through a rather soft opening quarter of 28.1. Sensing the light tempo, Tetrick pulled his gelding as they straightened up in the backstretch and made a strong bid for the lead. Company Man hit the half-mile in 56 and three-quarters in 1:23.3, before getting separation on the field and opening up a three length lead turning for home. His main rival, Major Uptrend, was stacked up third over finding himself with five lengths to make up at the top of the stretch. Driven by Corey Callahan, Major Uptrend lengthened his stride late, along with a game JK Patriot and that pair began to close in on Company Man. But Tetrick saved just enough for the final strides and Company Man held on for the score in 1:51.4. Major Uptrend was second and JK Patriot third. Tetrick noted that his horse has the potential to move up the class ladder in the coming months. "He's tough enough," said Tetrick, "he can carry his speed for a long time and he's tough enough and that makes for a good racehorse." Up next for Company Man will be the Sonsam series which gets underway on Saturday February 7th. The top-five finishers from The Escort are all eligible to the Sonsam. Company Man is trained by Virgil Morgan Jr.for Daniel Mitchell. Company Man Tetrick was far from done as he had a major contender, Witch Dali, in the the second winter-series Final contested which was the $47,600 Wordly Beauty for three and four year old filly and mare pacers. Donttellruss was sent off as the 4/5 favorite off her pocket-rocket win over Witch Dali in round two of the series. Tonight, Corey Callahan was intent on the lead, parking out all challengers, especially the first over Just Fine. Donttellruss established a hot-pace of 27, 54 and 1:22.3 before turning for home with the lead, with Empress Deo looming off cover and Witch Dali situated third over as the field entered the stretch. Callahan called on Donttellruss for everything she had, but Tim Tetrick showed his mare, Witch Dali some racetrack and she responded, carving into the margin with each and ever stride. Nearing the wire, Witch Dali wore down a gritty Donttellruss to win the Worldly Beauty in 1:52.2. The win marked the sixth in seven starts since returning from the layoff for Witch Dali and it also made for the second winter series win for the daughter of Dali. Trainer Tony Alagna said he was "licking his chops watching his mare tracking the leaders from third over with the hot fractions up front." Alagna also made reference to a foot issue that kept his mare on the sidelines for one year saying, "we waited on her, but she has come back great and she was super tonight." Witch Dali was driven by Tim Tetrick for Tony Alagna, Alagna Racing and Bradley Grant. Donttellruss saved the runner-up spot with Empress Deo third. The top-three finishers are all bound for the Burning Point series which gets underway on Friday, February 6th. The Super Bowl looked like a four-horse race on paper and on the heels of a defeat in round two of the Super Bowl series as a 3/5 favorite, JL Cruze turned the tables once again on Opulent Yankee when the big money was down, winning the $50,000 Super Bowl Final with John Campbell. Sent off as the 2-1 third choice, JL Cruze left for position and was seemingly moving up to challenge the early lead, but was promptly looped by a three-wide Two Hip Dip going past the opening quarter of 28.4. JL Cruze was hung out on the rim, grinding it first over through a strong 27.2 second quarter. Campbell asked his gelding for speed at this point and JL Cruze responded and took over the lead from Two Hip Dip moving into the far turn. Opulent Yankee was tracking the leaders from third and he elected to remain on the pylons as his entry-mates Blocking The Way and Propulsion moved to the outside. However, Two Hip Dip got aggressive and pulled from the pocket just before the three-quarter pole to challenge JL Cruze, which enabled Opulent Yankee to advance along the pylons as Two Hip Dip flattened out in the stretch. Turning for home off three-quarters in 1:25, JL Cruze accelerated away from the field, with the three-horse entry chasing him home as Two Hip Dip faded, but no one was catching JL Cruze, who streaked under the wire a powerful Super Bowl Champion in 1:54.4. Opulent Yankee was second with Blocking The Way third. The top-five finishers in the Super Bowl Final are all eligible to the upcoming Charles Singer Memorial trotting series which begins on Thursday, February 5th. JL Cruze was driven to victory by John Campbell for trainer Eric Ell who mentioned in a post-race interview that his gelding "was battling a bit of an illness the week before and was not 100-percent, but he had a great week this week and showed up with his best effort tonight." JL Cruze is owned by W Kenneth Wood, W J Dittmar Jr. and S J Iaquinta. The Super Bowl Final was part of a pick 5 sequence that sported a $22,616 carryover, resulting in a total pool Saturday night of $146,934. Darin Zoccali    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Youwillwishyouhad is making the 2015 harness racing season as successful as his 2014 campaign as he scored another impressive victory in the $10,500 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (January 24).   After posting 11 victories in 28 starts last year and finishing in the money 13 other times, Youwillwishyouhad made it a perfect 2-for-2 in the early going of 2015 after romping to an easy 2-1/2 length win over Western Alumni in 1:57.3 over the good track.   Starting from the three post, Youwillwishyouhad had little resistance in getting to the lead and put up fractions of 29.2, 59.3 and 1:29.0. Turning for home, driver John Cummings Jr. had Youwillwishyouhad in cruise control and looked for some challengers which never materialized. Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) skimmed the pylons to take second while No Real Surprise (Frank Milby) held on for third.   Owned by Leonard Segall and trained by James Clouser Jr., the 4-year-old Youwillwishyouhad (Artiscape-Dawn's Ideal) has now earned $10,500 this season and $76,657 lifetime. It was his 17th career trip to the winner's circle in just 39 starts.   Billy Dobson had a good night in the bike as he produced five winners while David McNeight III had a double.   Racing will continue on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a 13-race card.   The early daily double will feature the $10,500 Open Trot and the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace.   The opener is expected to be another showdown between trotters Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) and Second Hands News (Frank Milby). Lutetium is the slight 8-5 morning line favorite starting from the six hole while Second Hand News is next at 3-1 but gets the seven spot.   The F&M Open Pace will feature the hard-charging Bazooka Terror (Cummings) who was assigned the outside eight post. Bazooka Terror is listed as the 3-1 second pick behind 5-2 choice Memumsnotnice who drew the three hole with Billy Dobson in the sulky.   For more information including race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek

Out of 31 races last week, a grand total of three were won in coast-to-coast fashion, and one of those was turned in by China King and harness racing pilot Chip Lackey while capturing the Open Pace at juicy 19-1 odds. The East Coast invader, who races for Gary and Jennifer Sabot and trainer Gene Vallandingham, had suffered brutal beats at the hands of the streaking St Lads Lotto in his previous two efforts, but was able to turn the tables last weekend with his 1:52 1/5 tour. To be honest, I didnt go into that race with the same confidence I had the previous two starts when he was just nipped, Lackey explained. Hed missed a couple of starts, it looked like there was plenty of other speed in there and after a night and a half of racing to that point, there hadnt been a horse win on the front end. On top of that, Id been having some pretty bad luck with my drives. That said, I always try to be optimistic when I go out there and I will say that Jen (Sabot) and Gene were pretty confident about China Kings chances and did a terrific job to have him ready. Lackey was able to buzz the pacer right to the front and cut out fractions of :27 2/5, :54 4/5 and 1:22 3/5 en route to the three-quarters of a length upset over the 1-2 St Lads Lotto, who had his seven-race win streak snapped in the process. This is a very nice one, Chip noted. There are a lot of horses who like to roll away from there and then you have to wrestle with them, but hell pretty much do anything you want and is very ratable. Everything considered, I thought they might want me to take back with him last week, but they said to let him fire out and thats what we did. It was a tremendous effort when you remember he hadnt raced in three weeks, and it also did a lot to raise my spirits after some tough luck. High Bet Hanover eyes another snapshot Sundays distaff pacing feature goes in two divisions, with High Bet Hanover and Js Littlerockstar heading their respective races. A 10-race card is set with first post at 4:50 p.m. High Bet Hanover comes into her contest having posed for pictures following four of her last five starts, with her only setback coming two weeks ago when she took on some very tough male rivals. The Bettors Delight mare, who races for Kc C Carvalho, is conditioned by Tim Brown and will have Luke Plano guiding, rattled off three straight victories here between December 22 and January 2, then had her work cut out versus the likes of A Real Miracle at next asking. Returning to face fillies and mares last week, High Bet Hanover was hammered down to 1-2 and did not disappoint her many supporters. Plano left into a tracking trip with his charge, took aim on the leaders in the stretch and swept by when it counted for a length and a half score. Js Littlerockstar has been a gem of consistency and will be well backed in the co-feature. James Kennedy owns, trains, drives and bred the Little Steven mare, who has multiple Sire Stakes trophies on her mantle. The bay miss has accounted for the last two stakes engagements for her division, getting the January 4 score after the disqualification of arch-rival Brewski, then hung a head decision on that foe in last weeks Sire Stakes clash in another big mile. Next week will find the trotters and pacers in action under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Friday and Saturday nights, with no racing on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1. By Mark Ratzky, publicty Cal Expo Harness                                          

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 23, 2015-Favored Set Me Up (George Brennan, $5.40) finished what she started Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In play early from post position No. 3, Set Me Up-beaten choice a week ago-marched around Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance), then waltzed through Westchester (:28.2, :58.4, 1:27.1). In the interim, last week's victress, Spirit of Desire (Jason Bartlett), was trying it first-up, moving from fourth. Set Me Up had a length-and-a-half entering the lane, then fended off "Jillian" in a two-speed number. The final margin was a half-length in 1:55. Spirit of Desire held third, with Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald) and Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) completing the cashers. Pole-assigned Nefertiti Bluechip (Matt Kakaley) settled for valuable experience, which figures to serve her well later in life. For Set Me Up, a 6-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was her second win in three seasonal starts The exacta paid $21.40, with the triple returning $55.50. The Raceway's live season continues night Saturday (post time 7:10 PM, weather permitting). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note the next Sunday matinee is Feb. 22. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

LEBANON, OH. - Beat The Beat took a major leap in class Friday night at Miami Valley, tackling harness racing open mares for the first time in her career, and acted like she had been there all along. Following just her sixth lifetime win in a conditioned claiming event last week, the five-year-old Art Major mare was forced to graduate to the $16,500 Mares Open and responded with a 1:55.4 triumph at odds of 15-1. Driver Kyle Ater took advantage of Beat The Beat's inside post position to get away midpack as a front-end duel developed between Stucklikeglue and Rev Me Up, the winners of the weekly distaff feature the last two weeks. With the pacesetters racing wheel-to-wheel through early fractions of :27.1 and :55.4 an outer flow began to form down the backside. A Sham Of Amber and Buckeye Thea lined up behind Rev Me Up on the outside while Beat The Beat and the others waited for racing room following Stucklikeglue on the inside. Coming out of the final turn Ater angled the winner to the far outside as the rest of the field fanned out for the stretch duel. The longshot winner was freshest and strongest in the lane as a host of closers in the ten-horse field made their final bids. A Sham Of Amber raced gamely for a second place finish with Hoponit third, Muy Caliente fourth and Stucklikeglue holding on to collect the minor spoils. Beat The Beat is owned by Kirk Nichols and William Green. She is trained by Dan Ater, Kyle's father. Her seventh lifetime trip to the winner's circle boosted her career earnings to $85,870. Gregg Keidel  

Somwherovrarainbow made her five year old debut a winning one as she triumphed in the harness racing $30,000 Free-For-All Handicap at The Meadowlands on Friday Night. Sent off as the 3/5 favorite, the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was sent hard off the gate by Dave Miller and cleared the lead heading toward the opening quarter without any urging. Essentially, that was the end of the race as the World Champion and millionaire would coast through fractions of 27, 55.2 and 1:23.1 before turning for home with an ever-expanding lead. Breeders Crown winner, Monkey On My Wheel, made a brief bid, but tired first over. Southwind Serentity offered minimal response off cover. The only horse to make any noise in the stretch was For The Ladies N, who rallied from last to finish second with Icommandmyspirit getting up to be third. The final clocking was 1:50.4. For Somwherovrarainbow, the win marked the 20th time the magnificent mare has made the trip to the winners circle from 45 starts, sending her earnings past $1.34 Million. Somwhereovrarainbow is trained by Joe Holloway for owners Theodore Gewertz and Diamond Creek Racing. On the wagering front, there will be a Pick 5 carryover of $22,616 into The Saturday card at The Meadowlands. Post Time and the start of the Pick 5 which begins in the first race is 7:15 P.M. Hill I Am got back to his winning ways in the fifth race, a $17,050 non-winners of three trot. Sent off as the 9/2 third choice in the wagering, Hill I Am was aggressively moved to the lead heading to the half-mile pole and proceeded to lead the charge around the far turn. Candy Stash made a first over move after the leader, but Corey Callahan could be seen looking over his right shoulder as the field approached the top of the stretch, seemingly looking around for competition. As the field straightened up, Callahan called to his trotter and the response was instant as Hill I Am powered away to win impressively by nearly five lengths in 2:10.2 for the 1 1/8th miles. Hill I Am was an undefeated New Jersey Sire Stakes Champion as a two year old for Dennis Laterza and Roy Dobbins who were the winning connections tonight. Tim Tetrick was the driving star on the night, winning four races. The fifth race jackpot super hi-five was hit tonight and returned $47,172.50 for $.20 cents. That pool will start fresh on Saturday night. The last race jackpot super hi-five went unclaimed and will feature a carryover into the 13th race on Saturday of $61,470. The win by Hill I Am sparked a Pick 5 carryover of $22,616 into The Saturday card at The Meadowlands. Post Time and the start of the Pick 5 which begins in the first race is 7:15 P.M.   Darin Zoccali    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The trotters in the second race at Buffalo Raceway sure did put on a show Friday night (January 23) and when the dust settled, Nineanddivine (Frank Milby) took a nose victory and returned a whopping $186.00 for the harness racing victory.   The top four finishers were all within a head of each other in the end and the entire field of eight were just three lengths apart at the wire.   Tremendous Hit (Shawn Gray) was in command through three-quarters of a mile but said good night at the top of the stretch. Trotters then started coming from everywhere in the lane and Nineanddivine, sitting seventh in the drive for the finish, rallied and nosed out 13-1 shot Chrome Finish (Ray Fisher Jr.) for the victory. Ryan's Caviar (Jim McNeight), 18-1 shot, was a head back to take third.   The $2 exacta of 8-6 returned $2,131 and the 50-cent trifecta of 8-6-5 was worth $6,228.   Nineanddivine is owned by Todd Santoro and is trained by Gary Gibson.   Racing will resume on Saturday night with another 13-race card scheduled.   For more information including the latest news, results, race replays and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 23, 2015 -- Stuck outside for most of the mile but following live cover, Camille zipped through the slop in the stretch and collected an impressive harness racing victory in Friday's $24,800 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. The race figured to be a challenge for Camille, as she had been off a month and was assigned post 9. But Dave Palone positioned her behind R Marie Hanover, who was parked out but advancing. Camille made the decisive, three-wide move at the three-quarters, gobbling up the leaders and scoring in 1:53.2. Novascotia Hanover rallied for second, 4-3/4 lengths back, while R Marie Hanover persevered for show. Evan Pattak  

MANALAPAN, NJ - January 23, 2015 - Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento and Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural met Friday, January 23, 2015 and agreed to withdraw the trainers' rewards program and suspend ABC classification racing at the Meadowlands. "We have always been willing to explore any strategy that would bring about the best possible racing at the Meadowlands," said Luchento. "Until we have slots revenue, which I feel is not far off, we have to be responsive and creative to whichever concepts will fill the entry box and provide the full, competitive fields that are the hallmark of the Meadowlands. Director of Racing Peter Koch will be issuing his condition sheets to reflect the return to condition racing. "We hope these changes are reflective of both the needs of the trainers and race office," Luchento added. "The SBOANJ and the Gural team are partners in making the Meadowlands a success and look forward to a return to the glory days of harness racing in East Rutherford." The trainers' rewards program was a preference system instituted in 2014 to provide preferences to trainers who supported the spring and summer racing programs. Carol Hodes for SBOANJ

DOVER, Del. ---- The upcoming U.S.Harness Writers Association's (USHWA) Dan Patch Awards-Dinner in Orlando, Fla. On Feb. 22 annually passed out the top horses and individual trophies. Heather Vitale is a 2014-season double winner in the broadcasting category. Her feature on top trainer Casey Coleman on CBS Sports Network and a feature on harness racing in Ireland shown on her Post Time show on WBOC-TV were winners. --------------------------------------------------- Tickets for the USHWA Night of Champions gala are available by contacting Judy Davis-Wilson by phone 302-359-3630 or e-mail: zoe8874@aol.com. Substantial savings on hotel rooms, at $115 can be reserved. Call 407-352-1100 before Jan. 25 and mention code. Dan Patch. Canada's O'Brien Awards=Dinner is set for Feb. 7. ---------------------------------------------- Corey Callahan and Aaron Merriman continue to battle for leading drivers during 2015 in North America with Merriman holding an eight-win lead as of Thursday (1/22). Ron Pierce is presently third in winning drives. Listed in the top 20 are both Trace Tetrick, Ross Wolfenden, Allan Davis, Vic Kirby and Jonathan Roberts are listed in the top 50 standings. Callahan and Pierce are first and second among money-winning drivers in the New Year. Ron Burke, is again, far and away the leading trainer, in wins and money won. Wayne Givens and Dylan Davis, in the top 10 trainer. ----------------------------------------------------- At Dover Downs, this meet, Corey Callahan has driven winners of 139 races. Allan Davis is second with 80 wins. Ross Wolfenden, third, with 76 wins. Vic Kirby is fourth with 68 in fourth place. Tony Morgan completes the top 5 with 56 wins. ---------------------------------------------- Wayne Givens leads Doug Lewis by two wins, 34- 32. Jim King is third with 27 winners. Defending champion Dylan Davis and Nick Surick at tied for fourth- place with 25 wins. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Jingle Bell Rocker continues in a Christmas spirit adding another victory to his current longest winning streak at the track. The claiming pacer won his sixth straight race, but it was a bad week for other horses with win streaks. Charleysandjimmy's streak ended after four victories. Those who had three wins in-a-row tasted defeat during the week; pacers Fleeting Flirt N, Fashion Showdown N, Hey Pancho and trotters Fitness Craze, Blueridge Empire, Joyeux Dream and Classis Belisima. Mr. Truth became a three-race winner Thursday. Marv Bachrad

LEBANON, OH. - As eight "Claim To Fame" series are wrapping up with lucrative championships the last week of January at Miami Valley, another nine late-closing harness racing series for conditioned horses have been introduced for the month of February. There are series for pacers (divided by sex) and trotters that fit either non-winners of $400 per start in 2014-15, non-winners of $800 per start in 2014-15 or non-winners of $1200 per start in 2014-15. Nominations must be received by Sunday, January 31, 2015. "Due to the overwhelming response to our racing program and the large volume of horses in the entry box every day, we have put a limit of 40 entrants per series on these late closers," said Race Secretary Gregg Keidel. "If more than 40 enter, we will apply preferences for Ohio-sired and Ohio-owned horses followed by horses that have already started at Miami Valley this season. I wouldn't think this clause would kick in on the two higher conditions classes, but it may well have to be applied in the lower class, especially the paces." Horsemen are advised to read the fine print in the conditions prior to submitting nominations. Names for the series will be announced soon following a review of over a hundred nominations of prominent former southwest Ohio horsemen and horses by a committee of five veteran local horsemen. Entry forms for the February late closers can be downloaded off the track website: www.miamivalleygaming.com - under the Racing/Horsemens Info tabs; or picked up in the Miami Valley race office. Gregg Keidel

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Maven has been the darling of the harness racing press and a hefty chunk of the sport’s fan base for the past few months. She’s taken the crown from Foiled Again, who held that distinction for a couple of years. The six-year-old daughter of Glidemaster—the only top tier trotter that sire has produced in North America—only won four races during 2014, and only one of those was a grade one stakes race. She set a track record in winning the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs in November. Her other three wins came in the Miami Valley Distaff in mid-May, a preferred trot at Pocono in August and the BC elimination at the Meadowlands. Maven finished out in three legs of the Miss Versatility Series, which she won in 2013, and was third in the final at Delaware, which division champ Classic Martine won. She earned $333,027 between her dozen starts in NA and a pair in Europe. So what’s all the fuss about? Why is Maven the flame of the Twittersphere and the horse harness scribes have elevated to the top of the pile? Her pedestrian numbers during the past year scream journeyman in a slump—not superstar. Racing in Europe adds some panache to her resume, but she has one third place finish to show for five European starts last season and this. Maven’s popularity obviously extends to the sales ring as she brought a record $750,000 bid from Herb Liverman at Harrisburg in November. And he already owned a piece of rival Bee A Magician. One of Maven’s problems is that Liverman is determined not to have the pair go head to head. That means Maven is stuck in Europe, or destined to take on the boys back home. Neither of those scenarios looks promising at the moment. Contrast Maven’s overseas performance with the much less celebrated Arch Madness, who made eight starts in Europe during 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won two of them, the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix and a heat of the Elitlop. He finished second in the latter twice and was third three times in European races. Arch got some publicity for all of this, particularly in Canada, but Maven seems to be leaving him in the PR dust despite a much shorter record of accomplishment. Something similar has been happening on the pacing side. Eleven-year-old Foiled Again is still the most popular pacer in NA. He was second to Sweet Lou in division earnings in 2014, thanks to making the board in 19 of 26 starts, but he had no grade one stakes wins. The Quillen was his only significant victory, and that one isn’t very important at this point. He won four legs of the Levy, then went winless for the season except for his Quillen elimination and final. In 2013 he was wildly popular and a candidate for Pacer of the Year, despite suffering 18 losses. Foiled’s hook is excellence over many years, consistency and the money record for pacers that he holds. Maven was good at two and three, winning 15 times and earning more than $900,000, but she took a back seat to Check Me Out until the late fall of her sophomore campaign. She was the standout in her division at four, winning 10 times and banking more than a half million dollars, and had an off year in 2014. This exaltation on the part of fans and the press is curious. Some of it has to do with her newsworthy passage from Jonas Czernyson to Ron Burke to Jimmy Takter. And participating today in the premier race in France for last year’s trainer and driver of the year doesn’t hurt. But with each non-competitive loss on the Continent, we should get less cheerleading and more questions about why she has been placed on a pedestal.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/
On the evening of January 24, The Standardbred Owners Association of New York, in conjunction with the management of Yonkers Raceway, proudly honored the track's leading harness racing driver, trainer and owner for calendar year 2014.   Maine native Jason Bartlett came away with his fourth Yonkers' driving title, finding the winners circle 485 times in 2014 from 2,440 starts, thus winning with nearly 1 in 5 of his mounts.   Trainer Ron Burke, who smashed the national earnings record, eclipsing even Thoroughbred trainer Todd Pletcher's earnings mark, also topped all Yonkers conditioners with over $4.6 million in purse earnings. Burke had a Hilltop Oval leading 144 winners in 2014, which was 26 more than the second-leading trainer.   Additionally, Burke Racing Stable took home the leading owner title for 2014.   Alex Dadoyan, Executive Director    
Pompanp Beach, FL...January 24, 2015...That'll Be The Rei, driven by harness racing driver Mike Micallef, and Don't Tell Rusty, handled by Kevin Wallis were inseparable at the wire in Pompano Park's $13,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday Night.   The pair hit the wire together in 1:51.1 after That'll Be The Rei cut all of the fractions--:26.2, :54.3 and 1:22--before drifting out just enough in the lane to allow Don't Tell Rusty to sneak through along the pylons late foe the tie ballgame.   Fancyfreeshark, with Bruce Ranger handling the lines, finished third while stablemate Lyons Johnny wound up fourth. Pontiac Luck picked up the nickel in sextet.   Each combatant in the "DH" won for the initial time in 2015 with That'll Be The Rei, a five year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, winning for the 29th time in 51 lifetime starts and Don't Tell Rusty, a six year-old by Tell All, achieving his 11th success in 78 career trips back of the starting gate.   In a post race interview, Micallef said, " With a lot of the early speed outside in here, I thought it best to try and go down the road since his only win here gate to wire a few starts back. He has good gate speed and I really didn't think anybody would try and tackle an opener in :26 and change. He hadn't been out in a couple of weeks so he might have been just a trifle short late in the mile but he raced very well. I w as very pleased with his performance tonight."   The other dead-heat participant, Kevin Wallis, related, "This is the first time I sent him on early...only because he drew well here and I was hoping to get a nice trip after yielding. I knew he was capable of a good final quarter and, when we found some room on the inside, well, he responded nicely. He's just a good, solid racehorse and he might have been a but tighter than some of the others that had missed a week or two.."   That'll Be The Rei, also trained by Micallef for owner Dan Courtemanche, pushed his lifetime bounty to $249,477 while Don't Tell Rusty, trained by Paul Holzman for owner Melvin Fink, sent his lifetime bankroll to just shy of $100,000--$99,636 to be exact.   That'll Be The Rei, off at 6 to 1, returned a dead-heat price of $7.80 while Don't Tell Rusty, 16 to 1 on the board, paid $16.00 to his $2 backers.   The co-feature event, the $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap went to Johnny Grippa, driven by Joe Sanzeri.   This seven year-old altered son of Cam's Card Shark took full advantage of a miscue in the lane by the 1 to 2 favorite, Canadian Touch, to take command and then hold off the furious late surge of Always N The Money, with Peter Wrenn driving, to score by a neck in 1:52.2. Ahead Of The Curve and Joe Pavia, Jr. was eventually awarded third while T's Electric was moved up a notch to fourth. Canadian Touch, third under the wire, was placed fifth due to his aforementioned miscue.   Johnny Grippa won for the 38th time during his career measuring 97 starts and now has $164,770 on his card--$18,325 of that since being claimed by Sanzeri along with Russ Guardino.   Off at 5 to 1, Johnny Grippa paid $13.60 to win.   Late Closing events also highlighted the Saturday night card with The Baron Lancer and Murdock Hanover spotlighting claiming pacers and The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer for claiming trotters.   The Baron Lancer, with a bulky field of 11 going to the gate, went to Coopers Beach, driven by Jason Dillander for owner-trainer Shawn Glassmeyer.   This six year-old son of Western Ideal survived a torturous opening half of :53.4 and actually pulled away from the field in the lane to score a sharp four length win in 1:52.   Milliondollartouch (27 to 1) finished second for Dan Clements while Attack Modes Billy (47 to 1) with Ed Hensley was third.   Coopers Beach, second choice at 5 to 2, paid $7.60 to win.   The two divisions of the Murdock Hanover went to In Mint Condition (Mike Micallef) and Officernagentleman (Matt Romano.   In Mint Condition, owned by Lew and Kathleen Whitaker, made a sharp quarter move to the top and just did hold off Ring Leader, charging through on the pylons, and Fearless Chip, on the outside, to score in 1:52.1 as the 3 to 2 favorite.   After the event, Micallef joked, "I guess I was the cream in the middle of the Oreo cookie in that one!"   In Mint Condition won for the 24th time in his career to send his lifetime bankroll to $149,563.   Officernagentleman, trained and driven by Matt Romano for C & F Associates, also hung on for dear life in scoring a head decision over the late charging Red Hot Yankee and Rick Plano in 1:52.2 for his 20th lifetime win. Bold Willie and Dan Clements teamed up for third.   Even money on the tote-board, Officernagentleman paid $4.20 to win.   Finally, two divisions of The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer went behind the Hummer Starting Gate and South Jersey Hey and Royalty On High proved victorious in their respective events.   South Jersey Hey gave amateur driver Steve Oldford his 99th lifetime victory by rallying in the lane to score a 2:01.2 decision over American Empress, driven by Jamie Marra with Whosover and Don Glowacki teaming up for show honors.   The winner paid $5.00 as the public choice.   Royalty On High, driven by Dein Spriggs, took advantage of some hot fractions early--for the class--and then snuck through along the inside to light up the tote-board with a $49.00 mutuel in scoring a 2 1/2 length win over L F Topaz and Billy Muggleston in 2:01.1. VT's Gold Key was third for Leon Cable.   Pompano's Super Hi-5 again had multiple winners on Saturday night and the carry-over for Sunday's program is well in excess of $60,000.   Post time is 7:30 p.m.   John Berry    
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Harness racing driver Dan Dube, off to a solid start to the season, continue his roll Saturday night by sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $35,000 co-features. In-form Not Again ($4.40) defended his marquee trot title, winning this Open Handicap event in 1:56.3. Assigned outside his six rivals, Not Again, as the second choice. was in play early. Eschewing a three-hole, he drove on, getting around Meadows invader Count Me In. That one, the 11-10 favorite, took over from lone lass Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter). Not Again threw down the gauntlet (:27.3, 57.3, 1:26.2), taking no outer-tier pressure whatsoever. Count Me In pulled pocket early, and that would cost him. Not Again wound up winning by length-and-a-quarter, with 45-1 rank outsider Sim Brown (Mark MacDonald) slipping up the cones for second. Count Me In was third, with Hoorayforvacation (Eric Carlson) and Star Photo (Eric Goodell) rounding out the payees. Backstreet Hanover jumped it off entering the final turn. For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $98, with the triple returning $228. Dube won the blind-draw Open Pace was a pocket-patrolling Michael's Power ($10.40). That one, from post No. 6, left outside of Sapphire City (Carlson). He then gave it up to a quarter-move by just-over-even-money favorite Warrawee Needy (MacDonald). It was "Needy" laying down the law through intervals of :27.1, :56 and 1:23.2, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, that quick third quarter could not separate himself from the gang, and the gang swallowed him up. It was Michael's Power ducking inside, beating a closing Take it Back Terry (Brennan) by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4 Sapphire City, Warrawee Needy and a season-debuting P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder. For third choice Michael's Power, a 6-yer-old Camluck homebred gelding owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his second win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $52, with the triple returning $244. Dube won four races during Saturday's dozen-race card. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker  
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