Day At The Track
Martin Luther King Remembrance Pace

Trolley reigns on night fit for a king

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trolley got the better of arch-rival Muscle Diamond for a second straight week in the harness racing feature and the Meadowlands paid tribute to civil-rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an action-packed Friday night at the mile oval. Trolley was at the top of his game once again, and while seven days prior he had luck on his side in the form of clearance in the stretch after a rail trip, this time around he determinedly earned his way to a third win in the $21,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters in his last four tries. Trolley displayed early speed this time around - a completely different tactic than the week before - before yielding the point grudgingly to even-money favorite Muscle Diamond at the three-eighths. The twosome sped clear of the field at the half in :55.2 as 5-2 third choice Melady's Monet was activated from fifth, but this would be a two-horse battle to the finish. Marcus Miller popped Trolley out of the pocket around the far turn, briefly providing cover for Melady's Monet, and had 1¼ lengths to make up in the final three-sixteenths. He chipped away at Muscle Diamond's advantage through the lane before wearing down that foe in deep stretch on the way to a 1¼-length win in 1:53.1. Melady's Monet finished third. As the 9-5 second choice, Trolley returned $5.60 to his backers for trainer Erv Miller and owners Michael Anderson, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis and Louis Willinger. The 6-year-old son of Donato Hanover-Lakeside Bride has now won 13-of-27 career starts and earned $313,459. Trolley "KING" WINS THE KING: Jim "King" Solomon guided Waltzacrossthewire (1:54 as the 7-5 favorite) to victory in the first race on the card, the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, which exclusively featured African-American drivers. The event honored the slain civil-rights leader, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929. "Dr. King was always adamant about a better quality of life for black Americans," said Mike Cruse, one of the driving forces behind the event, "and not only black Americans, but a better quality of life for all Americans. He was a powerful guy. We have a lot of admiration for him." Waltzacrossthewire A LITTLE MORE: For all updates concerning if the Big M will race on Saturday given the impending inclement weather, check www.playmeadowlands.com. ... Corey Callahan had a driving triple on the card while Marcus Miller and Anthony Napolitano had two apiece. Jenn Bongiorno had a training double. ... The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five was hit. The lone player holding a ticket with the combination 7-2-6-4-9 in the 14th race walked away with $43,014.58. ... All-source wagering on the 14-race program totaled $2,741,370. Just For You and Billy Dobson winning race seven Marion Gondolier and Anthony Napolitano winning race nine Derf Hanover and Cory Callahan winning race twelve BIG M SUPER HIGH-FIVE RETURNS 43K One lucky simulcast player wagering into the Oregon hub hit big at the Meadowlands Friday night. The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five yielded the required one winning ticket to pay off, and the player holding the 14th-race ticket with the combination 7-2-6-4-9 cashed in for $43,014.58. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

American Girl, harness racing

54 wins, now one win from $1 million

LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing ten-year-old American Girl won for the 54th time in her illustrious career on Friday night (Jan. 18) at Miami Valley Raceway. The daughter of Art's Chip is now just one win away from reaching the $1 million earnings plateau. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the $25,000 Mares Open Handicap, driver Trace Tetrick took no chances in the bulky 10-horse field, heading directly towards the front when the gate swung open. Getting where he wanted to go, though, wasn't as easy as it might have been. Although American Girl had her head in front she wasn't able to clear to the lead until well past the :27.2 first quarter. From there, however, there was little doubt about the outcome until runnerup JB's Shooting Star (Chris Page) rallied furiously through the stretch to make things interesting near the wire, reached in 1:54.2. Cast No Shadow (Josh Sutton) also raced admirably to grab the show money. Three final preliminary legs of the Claim To Fame Series for male $12,500 pacers were also contested. Winners were Rock Of The Ages (John DeLong, 1:52.1, $10.40 to win), RHP (Dan Noble, 1:53.1, $3.60) and Mosee Terror (Noble, 1:54, $3.60). In addition to that trio, finalists for next Friday's $25,000 championship leg are Stonehouse Adam, Max Hanover, Ruthless Call, Key Word, Hezabluechipboy N and Believe In Your Mach. With an extreme winter storm forecast for the weekend in Ohio, Miami Valley horsemen can expect a text alert by 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning in regards to the status of Saturday night's live program. Gregg Keidel  

Ella Michelle A

Ella Michelle A takes feature at Yonkers

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 18, 2019 - Ella Michelle A (Joe Bongiorno, $7.70) won the draw for the inner half of the gate, then left the other lasses at her mercy Friday night (Jan. 18th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Ella Michelle A stuffed both Amateur Hour (Brent Holland) and Clear Idea (Matt Kakaley) in behind, while 3-2 favorite Itty Bitty (Jason Bartlett) was forced to retreat after she, too, tried leaving. Meanwhile, Ella Michelle A had an issue (:27.4, :57, 1:25.4, 1:55.1), with Clear Idea faltering after a weak second move. Ella Michelle A had a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn before winning by three. Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) offered late lane pace to get second, with a tough-trip Itty Bitty, 53-1 rank outsider Made of Jewels AS (Troy Beyer) and Amateur Hour settling for the minors. For second choice Ella Michelle A, a now-8-year-old Down Under daughter of Cammibest owned and trained by Chris Scicluna, it was a winning seasonal debut. The exacta paid $89.50, the triple returned $324.50 and the superfecta paid $2,896.  YONKERS CANCELS SATURDAY LIVE RACING, EVENING SIMULCASTING Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live racing program (and evening simulcasting) for tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 19th), due to the impending snow and ice storm. It’s the first cancellation of 2019. Afternoon simulcasting is available until approximately 6 PM. Live racing is scheduled to resume Monday night (Jan. 21st), with the usual first post of 6:50 PM. Frank Drucker

NJ Legislature

$20m subsidy stalled in NJ Legislature

ASBURY PARK, NJ -- January 18, 2019 -- A testament to the harness racing and equine industry industry's viability is that horse racing has survived on its own without state support in New Jersey. Both Pennsylvania and New York supplement the expansion of gaming within their borders to promote their horse racing industry. This has resulted in a boom in both their racing and breeding programs. Due to New Jersey being in direct competition with these two bordering states, it has struggled to keep up the pace. Specifically, New Jersey has been unable to match the millions of dollars both Pennsylvania and New York are able to pump into purse accounts and enhancing breeding programs. A bill introduced in the New Jersey Legislature four months ago would provide a $20 million subsidy to the industry to make it more competitive. But it has been stalled, and if the legislation isn't approved soon, it could be too late. According to the United States Trotting Association, purse awards in New Jersey and surrounding states in 2007 were: New York $97,689,858; Pennsylvania $58,969,119; and New Jersey $68, 843,978. In comparison, by 2013, New Jersey's purse awards dropped by 54 percent while New York and Pennsylvania purse awards increased 23 percent and 83 percent respectively because they had the benefit of state support. As a 2014 Rutgers Equine Science Center report indicated, breeding also has been dramatically affected -- resulting in a decrease of jobs for New Jersey residents. For thoroughbreds the decrease for mares bred was 57 percent, stallions 43 percent and foals 44 percent. The decrease for the standardbred was far more drastic; mares bred down 77 percent, stallions down 64 percent, yearlings in the Sire Stakes program down 54 percent. The horse racing industry in New Jersey has an extensive and rich history. Two New Jersey racetracks that have roots in the mid-19th century are still in operation today. Freehold Raceway was established in 1853, The Monmouth Park racetrack has been a Shore tradition since 1870. Live harness racing began at the Meadowlands in 1976. In 2007, the New Jersey equine industry was valued at $4 billion and it produced an economic impact of $1.1 billion, comprised of the $278.2 million spent annually for racing-related operations, not including racetracks; $262.4 million spent annually by non-racing operations; $117.8 million spent annually by equine owners without operations; and $502 million spent annually by New Jersey racetracks. The industry employed approximately 13,000 persons and generated $160 million in tax revenue annually. In 2007, there were horses in 7,200 individual facilities on 176,000 acres statewide. In the last seven years, we have lost major standardbred farms. In 2013, Perretti Farms, once the 900-acre home of elite stallions and as many as 400 first-class broodmares, closed and was forced to sell all of their horses. Without the support of the state, the farm could not contend with surrounding states that enjoy state-supplemented purses. In 2015, the 150-plus acre Showplace Farms, a premier training center for more than 35 years and home to more than 400 standardbred racehorses, closed its doors citing "fewer horses racing and the current economic climate in New Jersey." The industry and horse farms not only aid and protect the preservation of open space in New Jersey, they support the entire agribusiness of hay producers, straw producers, grain producers, trainers, grooms, veterinarians, equine dentists and blacksmiths. If the horse racing industry fails, these support businesses stop production and contribution to the New Jersey economy as well. Even with all the decline within the industry in New Jersey, the Meadowlands Racetrack is still considered to be a foremost racetrack. The state stopped investing in horse racing, but the industry kept investing. Operators of the Meadowlands Racetrack opened off-track wagering (OTW) facilities in 2012 at a cost of $17 million and built a new grandstand at a cost of well over $100 million. Operators of Monmouth Park spent $7.5 million on improvements on equipment, operations and opening OTW locations. In 2014, Monmouth Park starting building a 7,500-seat concert hall and restaurant. If racing related-activities continue to leave New Jersey, the state stands to lose its premier agribusiness that generates $780 million in economic impact annually, including jobs, federal, state and local taxes and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space. To view the full story. Mark Ford, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 18, 2019 -- Southwind Amazon, harness racing's "winningest" horse in 2018 with 22 victories, is streaking again. The 9-year-old Camluck-Artoonist gelding survived a 26.2 opening panel in the slop -- and a hotly contested stretch duel when three rivals were within reach -- to notch his fourth straight victory in Friday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Southwind Amazon prevailed in 1:52.3 for Ronnie Wrenn Jr., trainer Paul Holzman and owner Ameer Najor, a head better than the first-over Dapper Dude, with Knocking Around third. It was career win 71 for Southwind Amazon, who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $775,547. Aaron Merriman piloted five winners, including a pair for trainer Bill Rhoades, on the 13-race program. In other highlights of the week at The Meadows: Pantaleano Wins 6, Including Final 5 on Tuesday Card Tuesday's card belonged to Jim Pantaleano, who won six races -- including the final five on the 13-race card. Pantaleano tallied for trainers J.L. Adams, Kris Hite, Paul Kennedy, Christen Pantaleano, Doug Snyder and Dave Zito. Chris Shaw also enjoyed a big day, albeit in a different way. He scored at 59-1 with Jean Rastetter and Ron Harvey's Blue Bell Bonnie, sending the mare over $100,000 in career earnings, and he finished second at 52-1 with Robert Barnard's Filly Forty. In the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace, Circle The Page -- dismissed at 24-1 -- made up 7-1/2 lengths for Dan Rawlings and snapped a mini-slump by defeating White Metro by a neck in 1:54. Fox Valley Charm, the 3-5 favorite, saved show. John Sullivan conditions the 5-year-old daughter of Real Artist-Queen Marie, who vaulted over $200,000 in lifetime earnings, and owns with Michael Marocco. Explosive Leggs Rallies for 3rd Straight Explosive Leggs rallied wide through the final turn, powered past the leaders and collected his third straight victory in Monday's feature, a $15,000 Conditioned Trot. Mike Wilder drove for trainer Carl Cocciolone, who owns with Mark Sosovicka. TSM Photo Bugger finished second, 1-3/4 lengths back, with Parkhill Lancelot third. The winner, a 7-year-old Explosive Matter-American Leggs gelding, extended his career bankroll to $209,727 by scoring in 1:58.3 over a "good" surface. Imasharktoo enlivened Monday's proceedings with a 57-1 upset for Jeremy Indof, trainer John Zawistowski and owners Andrew Chudzik and Diane Chudzik. Wilder fashioned a four-bagger on the 13-race card. Dirty Secret 8-1 Winner in Top Distaff Pace Dirty Secret stalked 4-5 favorite Barn Bella from the pocket, then edged past her by a head in the lane for David McNeight III to pull off the 8-1 upset in 1:56.2 in Wednesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Pace. A rallying Bessie completed the ticket. David McNeight, Jr. trains the 7-year-old daughter of Justice Hall-Classic Flight, who lifted her lifetime earnings to $261,280, for Peter Kibler, Kenneth Owczarczak and Courtney McNeight. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, first post 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Hanover Shoe Farms announces that first year trotting stallion International Moni's book is full and closed for the 2019 harness racing breeding season. Hanover and Moni Maker Stable wish to extend their gratitude to all breeders that bought a share in International Moni as well as to those that applied to breed mares to him. The response to International Moni was truly overwhelming and we regret not being able to accommodate everybody that wished to buy a share or breed to him. Gunjan Patel Syndicate Administrator / Social Media Coordinator Hanover Shoe Farms, Inc.

Northfield, OH - Due to high winds and heavy snow expected for Saturday night from Winter Storm Harvey, Northfield Park has cancelled live harness racing for Saturday night (Jan. 19). Northfield Park will be open for day and evening simulcast wagering on Saturday. Live racing will resume on Monday (Jan. 21) at 6:00. By Michael Carter, for Northfield Park

Saturday night's Filly and Mare Open Pace is named for Larry and Eileen Brodbar, recipients of the harness racing 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Harness Horsemen's Association. "This is truly an honor for us," said Eileen Brodbar. Larry and Eileen were married in 1980 and it was Larry, who cut his teeth on the trotters and pacers at New York's Monticello Raceway, who introduced his wife to the game up close and personal. "In 1987, there was harness racing at Fairplex Park and there was ad in the program for a seminar for potential new owners," Eileen related. "Ann and Jonn McGregor were there as well as Andy Perez, and that along with some advice from Alan Horowitz led us to buying into our first horse." The Brodbars became partners with the McGregors in a newly-turned 3-year-old named Pasadena Phantom and they were off and running, or more accurately in this case, pacing. Pasadena Phantom worked his way up the ranks and eventually became an Invitational winner, one of many outstanding performers who have joined Larry and Eileen in the winner's circle not only in California, but across the country. The best they ever bred was Iwannawinbets, while Eileen estimates the best they've ever campaigned in partnership is Show Runner. In between, they have been represented by the likes of Solid Bet and the New Zealand trio of Jay Bees Risk, Gifted Lobell and Bobby's Dream. "Risky Broad, who is a daughter of Jay Bees Risk, is currently our broodmare," Brodbar noted. One of Eileen's major contributions to the sport came at Los Alamitos in the 80's and early 90's when she was responsible for Clocker's Corner, which educated people about harness racing with drivers, trainers and handicappers on scene to make it a well-rounded and educational experience. "I'm very proud of the what we were able to accomplish with those seminars," she stated. Said CHHA Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Robin Clements, "The Brodbars have stuck with California through the good and the bad times and they still support and love the sport." Cal Expo congratulates Larry and Eileen Brodbar on this well-deserved recognition. Outrageousdelightn sets sights on another score Outrageousdelightn, who has accounted for two of the last three top dances at the meet, heads the cast for Saturday night's Larry and Eileen Brodbar Filly and Mare Open Pace. There are 11 races on tap, including the co-featured Robert Gordon Prep, with first post under the Watch and Wager LLC banner set for 6:10 p.m. Outrageousdelightn has captured two of the last three Distaff Opens since coming in from the East. The 10-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight races for Don and Barbara Arnstine, Steve Chambers and Tyler Wiseman with Kathie Plested conditioning. In last week's clash at the head of the class, driver Steve Wiseman was able to work out a pocket trip behind favored Delightfully Wild, eased out for the drive and got the job done by three-quarters of a length. Capitol Hill accounted for three straight Filly and Mare Opens between November 10 and December 15 and gives the Plested barn two big looks at the outcome. The 8-year-old Badlands Hanover mare is owned by of George McChrystal and Plested. Rounding out the cast are Magnifique, Misspanderosajones, Along Came Jane, Bettor Lady, Burn My Villa and Getter Queen Flush. The Robert Gordon Prep will match a field of eight as they get ready for next week's Final. Urgointohearmeroar has won four of this five starts at the meet and looms large for owner Mark Anderson, trainer Gordie Graham and regular pilot Mooney Svendsen. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

HINSDALE--As Gov. JB Pritzker takes the helm in Illinois, horsemen throughout the state, are urging his administration to include harness racing and its enormous contribution to the agribusiness industry when they explore new avenues to expand gaming.   "With more than $1 billion in contributions to the agribusiness economy of our state, horse racing must be included in any conversations about gaming," said Tony Somone, Executive Director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association (IHHA). "Ours is the only segment of the gaming industry that has significant room to grow and provide real and sustainable jobs in agriculture."   Former Governor Jim Edgar who is a part of Governor Pritzker's transition team is aware of the economic impact that horse racing can have in Illinois having raced his own horses for many years. "Horse racing and the thousands of jobs it creates remains an important part of the agricultural economy of our state," former Governor Edgar said. "Ensuring its viability in the overall gaming environment is in the best interests of the state of Illinois."   Studies show that every race horse employs as many as ten workers across Illinois. From grooms and trainers to breeding farms, grain dealers, veterinarians, track officials and many more, horse racing is a solid job creator that has been badly neglected in Illinois in recent years.   "It is true that horse racing is struggling in Illinois because of casinos, but we know that with additional gaming assistance, other states have seen their horse racing industry rebound to previous heights of employment and business," said Marty Engel, President of the IHHA. "We earnestly hope that Gov. Pritzker sees fit to include horse racing in any gaming legislation that emerges in the months ahead. We are one segment of gaming that will more than pay its way through the creation of new and sustainable jobs throughout our economy."   In the last decade, legislation in Illinois has allowed the development of slot machines at taverns and the construction and opening of the 10th casino in Des Plaines. Illinois horsemen have survived despite all of those changes but not without losing thousands of good agribusiness jobs to places like Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and virtually every other horse racing state that has actively worked to grow the sport.   Engel added, "Make no mistake; horsemen will come back to Illinois to race if the prizes or purses are competitive with other states. And they will bring jobs with them. We have seen it happen throughout the country in states that have boosted their purses with money from slot machines. Those states now offer purses much larger than Illinois and their horse racing industries are booming as a result, adding tens of thousands of jobs." ###   Mack Communications 540 W. 35th St. Suite 201 Chicago, IL 60616 312-940-3638 www.mackcommunications.com      

Trolley is back on track. Harness racing trainer Erv Miller just hopes he can stay there. A 6-year-old male trotter, Trolley has won four of six races since returning from a 13-month absence because of a broken coffin bone. He won last week's Preferred Handicap at the Meadowlands by three-quarters of a length over Muscle Diamond and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line in Friday's (Jan. 18) $21,000 Preferred Handicap at the Big M. Melady's Monet, who brings a three-race win streak to the event, is the 9-5 favorite. Friday's 14-race card begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). "Trolley is on his way back, I hope," Miller said. "If he stays healthy, we'll see where he can go. I think we'll see a pretty good horse. He can really go. He's showed the talent off-and-on and we've just been waiting on him." For his career, Trolley has won 12 of 26 races and earned $302,959 for owners Michael Anderson, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis, and Andy Willinger. He started a total of only seven times at ages 2 and 3, but was a two-time winner on the Pennsylvania-stakes circuit and runner-up to Southwind Frank in the 2016 Beal Memorial. As a 4-year-old, he won six of 13 races and established his career mark of 1:51.4 at the Meadowlands. "He was a real immature horse early," Miller said. "He was a big horse - big, strong horse - he just wasn't ready to go young. As he got older, he kept getting better and better. He showed some real talent so we kept hanging on with him. Hopefully he's going to pay us back for waiting on him. "We tried standing him (at stud) last year. But if he holds up for us, we'll be glad it didn't work out. He's sure coming back good so far." Trolley, driven regularly by Marcus Miller, is a son of Donato Hanover out of Lakeside Bride. He was purchased as a yearling for $30,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale. "He wasn't a real pricey horse because he was a little oversized for a young horse," Miller said. "He's made money along the way. It's not like he's not been paying his way. "He's a nice horse to be around. He gets around real good. He's versatile. He can race from the back or on the front, it doesn't matter which way you race him. He's a big, strong horse." Miller will be watching Trolley in the coming weeks to determine how to stake the horse when payments are due in February. "If he stays healthy until staking time until February, we'll be putting him in some stakes races," Miller said. "I think he's a top horse if we get enough races in him and he stays sound. Right now he seems as sound as he's ever been in his life. Hopefully that will keep going. Hopefully we're ready to rock along." For Friday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

The hard-hitting 12-year-old trotter Franky Provolone is making his final start in Friday night's fourth race and it's sure to be a bittersweet experience for his harness racing owner/trainer Robin Clements. "Franky has been a fan favorite here at Cal Expo and Running Aces for many years, but he's starting to tell me that it's time to retire," Robin noted at entry time. "After this last race he'll be sent to a friend of mine, Janet Scott and her two kids Carol and Cody in Wilton, where he will retire with another standardbred named Continental for company. "Franky has been good to me and he owes me nothing. It's my position that he deserves to be retired to a home where he will be safe and forever loved." For the record, Franky Provolone comes into this weekend's assignment with 297 starts on his card, sporting 53 wins, 68 seconds and 62 thirds, with $254,000 in his bank account and a 1:55 4/5 mark that was established five years ago. By Armbro Scribe out of the Donerail mare Simply Royal, he was bred on the Desomer Farm in Wilton and was originally owned and raced by Rick Plano. "I acquired Franky at the age of 5 in April of 2012 out of a claimer for $3,750," Clements said. "I raced him one more time here at Cal Expo and then sent him to Running Aces in Minnesota with Steve Wiseman and Kathie Plested." After racing once in a $4,500 claimer at Running Aces, Wiseman was approached about selling the trotter, but Robin didn't want to do that at the time. "We then put him in a $6,000 claimer that didn't fill," the story continued. "The only other class was the Open Trot in which he finished a strong third, and from that point on we knew we had an Open trotter." Franky Provolone went on to win 15 races that year while earning over $55,000 and was voted CHHA 2012 Horse of the Year for his accomplishments. "In 2017 and 2018, Franky was enrolled in the Summer Fling Racing League at Running Aces where fans can purchase a piece of a horse for the summer meet," she added. And how does Robin Clements sum up this popular performer who will attending his last dance this weekend? "He is a very sweet horse with a kind soul who gave 110 percent on the track every time he raced." You can't ask for more than that. Au Revoir, Open Trot command spotlight The Au Revoir Invite, which will be the final start for the popular trotter Franky Provolone; and an Open Trot featuring Its a Horse are the main events on Friday night's Cal Expo program. There will be 12 contests on the card, which is presented by Watch and Wager LLC, and things get underway at 6:10 p.m. The Au Revoir, in addition to being Franky Provolone's final start, is unique in that it will match a pair of trotters against four pacers, with Franks Best being the other trotter going up against pacers Nevermissabeat, McCedes, Bos So Hot and Whatchamacallum. The co-featured Open Trot will find Its a Horse gunning for this fourth straight victory while leaving from the assigned No. 10 post position in the field of seven. He is a 6-year-old son of Full Count who is owned by Ray Alan Miller, is trained by Marco Rios and will once again be handled by Gerry Longo. The Ohio-bred trotter made his local debut on December 28 and posted a facile five and a quarter length score at odds of 9-1 in an Open II affair, then moved up to the top level and did an encore from well off the pace while again motoring away in the final stages. Its A Horse cut it much closer in the most recent clash at the head of the trotting class, coming from far back at the top of the lane to collar pace-setting Silverhill Volo by a half-length. The latter performer has been runner-up in the last two top dances and accounted for the December 15 Open while rewarding his many backers as the 1-2 choice. Chip Lackey owns, trains and drives the 8-year-old son of Muscle Hill. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Owners of mares in foal that are based in New Jersey are reminded that the deadline to register a mare for the 2018 foaling season to the Standardbred Development Fund is January 31. The registration fee is $100 and the mare registration forms are available on the New Jersey Sire Stakes website here. All checks should be made payable to the New Jersey Sire Stakes and mailed to New Jersey Sire Stakes, P.O. Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625. Registered mail is encouraged to be certain that the envelope is postmarked no later than January 31. Any questions or requests for further information can be directed to Chris Castens, NJSS Executive Director at 609-292-8830 or to agmcast@ag.state.nj.us. For further information: Christopher Castens (609) 292-8830

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Meadowlands will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special harness racing event Friday (Jan. 18) night, when they host a race that will feature African-American drivers exclusively in the first of 14 races on the card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Mike Cruse's name will be one of the more recognizable to Meadowlands' regulars. During his career, he's won 282 races, the most recent coming at the Big M in May of last year when he and Mr Heaven hit the wire six lengths to the good in 1:51. Yes, he is ready to compete, but also anxious to remind all fans why the event is taking place: To honor the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. "Dr. King was always adamant about a better quality of life for black Americans," said Cruse of Dr. King, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929, "and not only black Americans, but better quality of life for all Americans. He was a powerful guy. We have a lot of admiration for him." When the question of the lack of black participants in harness racing was raised, Cruse explained that they are there, just not in the high-visibility jobs. "I just think it's the way we position ourselves in the business," he said, "there are a lot of black farriers, grooms and caretakers." "We are all highly enthused about the race," said Cruse of himself and the nine drivers he'll do battle with, "a lot of the black drivers don't have the opportunity to drive in the limelight of the Meadowlands. Everyone wants to race at the mecca of the sport." Cruse is hopeful that the action will be fast and furious - at the windows. "I would like to see everyone come out and bet the race," he said, "we are a competitive field of drivers. You can't bet your Tetricks or your Callahans in here. It's a gambler's paradise. Anyone can win the race." Cruse will be the guest on "In the Sulky", which can be seen Friday night at 6:45 p.m. on the live simulcast presentation of "Racing from the Meadowlands." A LOT TO HANDLE: There have been four race cards at the Big M thus far in 2019, and on each program, wagering has reached $2.5 million, with an average per race - over the 54 races - of $201,786. ... On Saturday (Jan. 12), a 2019-best $109,617 was pushed through the windows on the 50-Cent Pick-4 wager. The average pool thus far this year is $100,722. ... The 50-Cent Pick-5 has done well since switching to the first race on the card, with an average pool of $58,917. ... Free program pages for the Pick-4 are available at www.ustrotting.com and www.playmeadowlands.com. ... Driver Dexter Dunn was red-hot last weekend (Jan. 11-12), winning seven times. CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP DAY AT FANDUEL: The action will be huge on Sunday (Jan. 20) at the Big M's FanDuel Sports Book when the Los Angeles Rams travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in the NFC Championship Game at 3:05 p.m. At 6:40 p.m., the AFC title matchup pits the New England Patriots - who are playing in their eighth consecutive conference championship - going to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. EAT AT PINK'S, WHERE IT'S OK TO WINE: A limited number of seats remain for this Friday's (Jan. 18) five-course Italian wine dinner in the Big M's Pink Restaurant's SkyBox Suites. The dinner is $70 per person. For reservations, call 201-460-4079. WHHC RESULTS: Stephanie Davis, James Michael, George Wagner and Tim Platt were the top four finishers, respectively, in last Saturday's (Jan. 12) World Harness Handicapping Championship Qualifier, presented by DerbyWars.com, at the Meadowlands. The foursome will now advance to the WHHC Final on April 13 at the Big M, which offers $150,000 in prize money (based on 150 entries). For a complete qualifier schedule, go to http://playmeadowlands.com/contest_detail.aspx?id=8240. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing owner Evan Katz makes a habit of perusing the listings on online auction sites. In fact, he checks them almost daily in the hopes of finding another horse to add to his stable. When Katz came across a listing for Itty Bitty in fall 2016, he found a diamond in the rough. Then a freshman, the pacing filly by Always A Virgin out of the Warrior For Peace mare Bananih had 15 starts on the Indiana fair circuit for owner, trainer, and driver Charles Conrad. Itty Bitty earned two wins and another eight seconds and thirds, but it was her finishing ability that caught Katz’s eye. In her final start for Conrad, Itty Bitty came home in :27.4 at the Fayette County Free Fair in Connersville, Indiana. “She showed some really good fair lines in Indiana with some really good final quarters. If you know the tracks there, anything semi-decent is a real fast last quarter,” Katz said. “She was always closing. From the top of the stretch to the wire, she was always passing horses. That’s what you have to look for, horses that finish.” Despite her low opening bid, as a regular user Katz knew that the online auctions are generally quiet until the timer reaches the final few minutes. He waited and waited, but there was little activity. When the auction ended, Katz bought the filly for $8,000. “It’s pretty much sight unseen. You go by the lines and hope the people are being upfront with you,” Katz said. “There’s an offer or a starting bid and in the last 10 minutes, usually people really start to bid. There really wasn’t a whole lot of action on her. “I’m not sure why other people really didn’t go after her,” he continued. “I don’t think the guy who had her realized the potential. She’s really a natural. She’s loves to race.” Katz gave Itty Bitty to Billy Parker and sent her to Monticello for her first start subsequent to the auction. They spotted her in a $3,300 overnight for non-winners of a pari-mutuel race October 5, 2016. Itty Bitty’s rivals proved vastly overmatch as she circled the field and stormed away to an 18-length win. She stopped the clock in 2:00.1 with a :27.3 final quarter. “She just exploded halfway up the backstretch. She was real impressive, she just drew off. Then I realized that she was a little better than I had thought,” Katz said. Shortly after that start, Katz gave Itty Bitty to trainer Andrew Harris, who along with Bob Darrow, bought an ownership interest in the filly. In 70 starts, Itty Bitty has amassed 17 wins, 11 seconds, and 10 thirds good for $220,377. Her biggest victory to date came last Friday (January 11) when she took the $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Yonkers Raceway. Starting from post three with Jason Bartlett in the sulky, Itty Bitty watched as Wishy Washy Girl took command from post five around the opening turn. Bartlett wanted the lead, however and pulled Itty Bitty entering the backstretch. The pair made the lead in a :27.4 opening quarter and the even-money favorite never looked back.  With Bartlett comfortable in the bike and with a good hold of her, Itty Bitty increased her margin to 2½ lengths past three-quarters. By the time she reached the top of the lane, she increased her advantage to 4 ½. Itty Bitty cruised past the finish 5 ¼ lengths clear of the field in 1:55.  Katz was quick to praise his team for Itty Bitty’s unlikely rise to the top. “Andrew does a great job with her, as with all the horses I have with him,” Katz said. “He deserves a lot of the credit. To keep her sharp, keep her happy. He’s always on top of things. He’s probably the only trainer that talks to me every day and tells me what’s going on. Very honest guy. “The feedback is always good about her,” Katz continued. “She always tries. Every race she tries. She reflects the name; she’s not very big. She just has a big heart.” Itty Bitty will try to double up in Yonkers’ distaff feature as she will start from post seven in this week’s $44,000 handicap. With Bartlett back in the bike, the pair are tepid 5-2 morning line favorites despite the wide assignment.  Itty Bitty’s competition includes last week’s runner up Clear Idea, who makes her second start off a winter freshening and may be better poised to utilize her characteristic early speed. She’s 3-1 on the morning line for Matt Kakaley. Brazuca ships in from the Meadowlands off a third in the Swamp’s top class for distaffers December 28 and drew post three. Ella Michelle, Culinary Delight, Amateur Hour, and Made Of Jewels As complete the field. “I’ve always had a positive outlook on her. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but last week she won and he never even popped the plugs and she won in hand,” Katz said. “I think she’ll be alright. She’ll probably be the favorite, so I’m sure she’ll be in play and we’ll hope for a decent trip. If you take off the gate, you’re seventh and where do you go from there?” First post time Friday is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Sheila Napier, who works in the Chris Beaver Stable, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Napier, 37, has worked for Beaver for three years, and in 2018 her horses included the $500,000-winning 3-year-old filly trotter Custom Cantab. She also had four horses that made the Ohio Sires Stakes championship card at Scioto Downs, including three in the 2-Year-Old Filly Trot. Prior to working for Beaver, Napier's 10-year stint with Ron Potter including being the caretaker of the 2011 Little Brown Jug winner Big Bad John. "I've always read about this award and this is really great," said Napier, a native of Cincinnati whose first job working with horses came while in high school in 1995 at the Delaware (Ohio) Equine Lab. "I've been doing this for a long time and something I looked forward to as far as possibly getting, but maybe in Ohio and not this big." All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel - all of whom were former caretakers themselves - selected Napier as the winner. Beaver nominated Napier, and in his letter he noted, "Sheila takes unrivaled pride in the condition of her horses. I can rest at ease when she has a horse racing. I know it will get on the road on time and will be wearing all the right equipment, even if I can't make it. "Her horses are never shorted on the care that I expect for them and that is required," added the Ohio-based Beaver, who also winter trains at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida. "She can't stay away from her horses. She truly loves them and takes incredible pride in their accomplishments. My life would be a lot easier if more grooms brought the passion into their work that Sheila has." Napier said she usually has at least eight horses under her care in the Beaver barn, and it was Custom Cantab who was the star in 2018. Included among Custom Cantab's 13 wins were the Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final at Hoosier Park and the season-ending Matron at Dover Downs. "Oh, that filly," said Napier, whose travels always include her 11-year-old daughter Jess. "Custom Cantab is one of those special little fillies that wants to finish in the top three her whole life. She's quite sassy, amazing and full of heart. I absolutely love that filly; she is very special." As winner of the HRRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, Napier will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, where she will be presented a trophy. Napier, along with all the USHWA 2018 award winners, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards banquet. Information on accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek and dinner tickets can be found at www.usha.net. Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park/USHWA  

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trolley got the better of arch-rival Muscle Diamond for a second straight week in the harness racing feature and the Meadowlands paid tribute to civil-rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an action-packed Friday night at the mile oval. Trolley was at the top of his game once again, and while seven days prior he had luck on his side in the form of clearance in the stretch after a rail trip, this time around he determinedly earned his way to a third win in the $21,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters in his last four tries. Trolley displayed early speed this time around - a completely different tactic than the week before - before yielding the point grudgingly to even-money favorite Muscle Diamond at the three-eighths. The twosome sped clear of the field at the half in :55.2 as 5-2 third choice Melady's Monet was activated from fifth, but this would be a two-horse battle to the finish. Marcus Miller popped Trolley out of the pocket around the far turn, briefly providing cover for Melady's Monet, and had 1¼ lengths to make up in the final three-sixteenths. He chipped away at Muscle Diamond's advantage through the lane before wearing down that foe in deep stretch on the way to a 1¼-length win in 1:53.1. Melady's Monet finished third. As the 9-5 second choice, Trolley returned $5.60 to his backers for trainer Erv Miller and owners Michael Anderson, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis and Louis Willinger. The 6-year-old son of Donato Hanover-Lakeside Bride has now won 13-of-27 career starts and earned $313,459. Trolley "KING" WINS THE KING: Jim "King" Solomon guided Waltzacrossthewire (1:54 as the 7-5 favorite) to victory in the first race on the card, the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race, which exclusively featured African-American drivers. The event honored the slain civil-rights leader, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929. "Dr. King was always adamant about a better quality of life for black Americans," said Mike Cruse, one of the driving forces behind the event, "and not only black Americans, but a better quality of life for all Americans. He was a powerful guy. We have a lot of admiration for him." Waltzacrossthewire A LITTLE MORE: For all updates concerning if the Big M will race on Saturday given the impending inclement weather, check www.playmeadowlands.com. ... Corey Callahan had a driving triple on the card while Marcus Miller and Anthony Napolitano had two apiece. Jenn Bongiorno had a training double. ... The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five was hit. The lone player holding a ticket with the combination 7-2-6-4-9 in the 14th race walked away with $43,014.58. ... All-source wagering on the 14-race program totaled $2,741,370. Just For You and Billy Dobson winning race seven Marion Gondolier and Anthony Napolitano winning race nine Derf Hanover and Cory Callahan winning race twelve BIG M SUPER HIGH-FIVE RETURNS 43K One lucky simulcast player wagering into the Oregon hub hit big at the Meadowlands Friday night. The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five yielded the required one winning ticket to pay off, and the player holding the 14th-race ticket with the combination 7-2-6-4-9 cashed in for $43,014.58. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  
LEBANON, OH. - Harness racing ten-year-old American Girl won for the 54th time in her illustrious career on Friday night (Jan. 18) at Miami Valley Raceway. The daughter of Art's Chip is now just one win away from reaching the $1 million earnings plateau. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the $25,000 Mares Open Handicap, driver Trace Tetrick took no chances in the bulky 10-horse field, heading directly towards the front when the gate swung open. Getting where he wanted to go, though, wasn't as easy as it might have been. Although American Girl had her head in front she wasn't able to clear to the lead until well past the :27.2 first quarter. From there, however, there was little doubt about the outcome until runnerup JB's Shooting Star (Chris Page) rallied furiously through the stretch to make things interesting near the wire, reached in 1:54.2. Cast No Shadow (Josh Sutton) also raced admirably to grab the show money. Three final preliminary legs of the Claim To Fame Series for male $12,500 pacers were also contested. Winners were Rock Of The Ages (John DeLong, 1:52.1, $10.40 to win), RHP (Dan Noble, 1:53.1, $3.60) and Mosee Terror (Noble, 1:54, $3.60). In addition to that trio, finalists for next Friday's $25,000 championship leg are Stonehouse Adam, Max Hanover, Ruthless Call, Key Word, Hezabluechipboy N and Believe In Your Mach. With an extreme winter storm forecast for the weekend in Ohio, Miami Valley horsemen can expect a text alert by 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning in regards to the status of Saturday night's live program. Gregg Keidel  
YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 18, 2019 - Ella Michelle A (Joe Bongiorno, $7.70) won the draw for the inner half of the gate, then left the other lasses at her mercy Friday night (Jan. 18th), easily winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Ella Michelle A stuffed both Amateur Hour (Brent Holland) and Clear Idea (Matt Kakaley) in behind, while 3-2 favorite Itty Bitty (Jason Bartlett) was forced to retreat after she, too, tried leaving. Meanwhile, Ella Michelle A had an issue (:27.4, :57, 1:25.4, 1:55.1), with Clear Idea faltering after a weak second move. Ella Michelle A had a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn before winning by three. Culinary Delight N (Larry Stalbaum) offered late lane pace to get second, with a tough-trip Itty Bitty, 53-1 rank outsider Made of Jewels AS (Troy Beyer) and Amateur Hour settling for the minors. For second choice Ella Michelle A, a now-8-year-old Down Under daughter of Cammibest owned and trained by Chris Scicluna, it was a winning seasonal debut. The exacta paid $89.50, the triple returned $324.50 and the superfecta paid $2,896.  YONKERS CANCELS SATURDAY LIVE RACING, EVENING SIMULCASTING Yonkers Raceway has cancelled its live racing program (and evening simulcasting) for tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 19th), due to the impending snow and ice storm. It’s the first cancellation of 2019. Afternoon simulcasting is available until approximately 6 PM. Live racing is scheduled to resume Monday night (Jan. 21st), with the usual first post of 6:50 PM. Frank Drucker
ASBURY PARK, NJ -- January 18, 2019 -- A testament to the harness racing and equine industry industry's viability is that horse racing has survived on its own without state support in New Jersey. Both Pennsylvania and New York supplement the expansion of gaming within their borders to promote their horse racing industry. This has resulted in a boom in both their racing and breeding programs. Due to New Jersey being in direct competition with these two bordering states, it has struggled to keep up the pace. Specifically, New Jersey has been unable to match the millions of dollars both Pennsylvania and New York are able to pump into purse accounts and enhancing breeding programs. A bill introduced in the New Jersey Legislature four months ago would provide a $20 million subsidy to the industry to make it more competitive. But it has been stalled, and if the legislation isn't approved soon, it could be too late. According to the United States Trotting Association, purse awards in New Jersey and surrounding states in 2007 were: New York $97,689,858; Pennsylvania $58,969,119; and New Jersey $68, 843,978. In comparison, by 2013, New Jersey's purse awards dropped by 54 percent while New York and Pennsylvania purse awards increased 23 percent and 83 percent respectively because they had the benefit of state support. As a 2014 Rutgers Equine Science Center report indicated, breeding also has been dramatically affected -- resulting in a decrease of jobs for New Jersey residents. For thoroughbreds the decrease for mares bred was 57 percent, stallions 43 percent and foals 44 percent. The decrease for the standardbred was far more drastic; mares bred down 77 percent, stallions down 64 percent, yearlings in the Sire Stakes program down 54 percent. The horse racing industry in New Jersey has an extensive and rich history. Two New Jersey racetracks that have roots in the mid-19th century are still in operation today. Freehold Raceway was established in 1853, The Monmouth Park racetrack has been a Shore tradition since 1870. Live harness racing began at the Meadowlands in 1976. In 2007, the New Jersey equine industry was valued at $4 billion and it produced an economic impact of $1.1 billion, comprised of the $278.2 million spent annually for racing-related operations, not including racetracks; $262.4 million spent annually by non-racing operations; $117.8 million spent annually by equine owners without operations; and $502 million spent annually by New Jersey racetracks. The industry employed approximately 13,000 persons and generated $160 million in tax revenue annually. In 2007, there were horses in 7,200 individual facilities on 176,000 acres statewide. In the last seven years, we have lost major standardbred farms. In 2013, Perretti Farms, once the 900-acre home of elite stallions and as many as 400 first-class broodmares, closed and was forced to sell all of their horses. Without the support of the state, the farm could not contend with surrounding states that enjoy state-supplemented purses. In 2015, the 150-plus acre Showplace Farms, a premier training center for more than 35 years and home to more than 400 standardbred racehorses, closed its doors citing "fewer horses racing and the current economic climate in New Jersey." The industry and horse farms not only aid and protect the preservation of open space in New Jersey, they support the entire agribusiness of hay producers, straw producers, grain producers, trainers, grooms, veterinarians, equine dentists and blacksmiths. If the horse racing industry fails, these support businesses stop production and contribution to the New Jersey economy as well. Even with all the decline within the industry in New Jersey, the Meadowlands Racetrack is still considered to be a foremost racetrack. The state stopped investing in horse racing, but the industry kept investing. Operators of the Meadowlands Racetrack opened off-track wagering (OTW) facilities in 2012 at a cost of $17 million and built a new grandstand at a cost of well over $100 million. Operators of Monmouth Park spent $7.5 million on improvements on equipment, operations and opening OTW locations. In 2014, Monmouth Park starting building a 7,500-seat concert hall and restaurant. If racing related-activities continue to leave New Jersey, the state stands to lose its premier agribusiness that generates $780 million in economic impact annually, including jobs, federal, state and local taxes and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space. To view the full story. Mark Ford, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.
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