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WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 25, 2014 -- Trailing by 8 lengths at the half, Do Me Honor took advantage of live cover to get into position, then brushed through the lane to capture Monday's $15,000 Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred Pace at The Meadows. Do Me Honor was sixth down the backside when Aaron Merriman moved her third over in the cover flow. She needed to go wide to do it, but the 6-year-old daughter of Cheyenne Rei-Do Me Right overtook the leaders with authority, scoring in 1:54. Rescue Team was second, 1/2 length back, with Miss Kilo third. Bill Bercury trains and owns Do Me Honor, who extended her career bankroll to $526,177. Eric Goodell and Eric Ledford each piloted three winners on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Despite pouring rain that delayed the start of the first race by a half hour, Habitat and Wild Honey did not mind the “off-track” as they both cruised to half-length victories in winning their respective divisions of the Matron Stakes Thursday afternoon at Dover Downs. Both were strong wins in the daily double for driver Yannick Gingras. Wild Honey started off the show in capturing her $203,600 Matron Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies. The track was labeled good despite constant rain. Bright Baby Blues (David Miller) was the first to show but by the opening quarter mile in :27.4, driver Yannick Gringas had Wild Honey, the 1/5 favorite, on the move and took over the lead. From that point on the field raced Indian-style past the half mile in :57.4 before the action began to pick up. Corey Callahan was sitting third with Smexi and then came first-over with Gold Gora (Tim Tetrick) following the live cover in the backstretch and past the three-quarters in 1:26.3. Then coming down the stretch Gingras held the field at bay with Wild Honey. Bright Baby Blues came up the passing lane to try and mount a challenge but it was too little too late as Wild Honey won in 1:55.2. “She’s just a fantastic filly,” said trainer Jimmy Takter in the winner’s circle, “Despite the conditions she was just on cruise control.” It was the eighth straight win and ninth of the year in only ten starts for Wild Honey. The freshman daughter of Cantab Hall is co-owned by Christina Takter, John Fieldings, Herb Liverman and Jim Fieldings. She paid just $2.20 to win. Wild Honey The $237,500 Matron Stakes for two-year-old trotting colts saw Habitat and Gringras go to the early lead over Uncle Lasse (Ron Pierce) with the first quarter mile in :28. Then it was Cruzado Dela Noche and driver David Miller quarter moving to the front before the half mile marker in :56.1. As they hit the backstretch Pierce came back first-over with Uncle Lasse and trying to follow their outside cover was Billy Flynn (Brett Miller) but to no avail as they could not close the gap. Past the three-quarters in 1:25 saw Uncle Lasse in contention but then he began to tire and at the top of the stretch, Gingras left the pocket with Habitat to come after Cruzado Dela Noche and all the while, sitting in fourth place along the race was David Miller with Muscle Diamond and they shot up the passing lane. But it was not enough as Habitat was the strong horse, winning by a half length in 1:54.2 with Muscle Diamond nosing out Cruzado Dela Noche for second place. “He (Habitat) is a very consistent horse,” said trainer Ron Burke, “and he can do it all. I was glad to see Yannick give him a trip today. I think he will be in great shape for the upcoming Breeders Crown.” Sired by Conway Hall, it was the seventh win this year for Habitat. He is owned by the Hauser Brothers Racing, and J & T Silva Stables and paid $6.20 to win. Habitat By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Sweetheart Dance was a repeat winner in Northfield's weekly top distaff event when she cruised to victory in the $12,000 Fillies and Mares Open on Friday (October 17) at Northfield Park. She is trained by Kent Sherman for Pittsburgh, PA owner Keith Pippi. Aaron Merriman, North America's leading driver this year, was in the sulky. Sweetheart Dance (Yankee Cruiser-Somkindasweetypie-Life Sign) was assigned the outside. She had to work in the first quarter to make the lead, but never experienced an anxious moment once she struck the front. Sweetheart Dance led her competition through fractions of :27.4, :56.3, 1:25.1 and 1:54.3, besting her competition by two lengths. Completing the race were Rockratese, Y Mach Me, Shes Glorious, Lady Ideal, JK Geronimo and Non Pareil. Friday's win was the 10th victory this year in 29 starts. It bolstered her career win tally to 22 and her lifetime earnings to $243,091. She was heavily favored and returned $2.60 to win. by Ayres Ratliff, for Northfield Park

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 10, 2014 -- Visible Gold notched his Third Straight victory -- and 24th over the past two seasons -- when he followed live cover and scored in Friday's $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dave Palone found a seat fourth for Visible Gold in deference to a hot early pace and moved the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight-Gabrielle gelding behind the first-over cover of Southern Allie. Visible Gold shed his cover into the final turn and rolled home in 1:51.2, a length ahead of Carol's Comet. Major Belle finished third. Ron Burke trains Visible Gold, who extended his career bankroll to $342,444, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Aaron Merriman drove five winners and Mike Wilder three on the 15-race card. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 8, 2014 -- A winner in her debut at The Meadows, Anaffairtoremember was even more impressive next time out when she overcame post 8 to capture Wednesday's $16,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Handicap Trot. When new owner/trainer Bill Bercury introduced Anaffairtoremember to The Meadows, she rewarded him Oct. 1 with a tough first-over victory. On Wednesday, she found a seat fifth for Aaron Merriman, followed the live cover of Mistress Valentine and rolled home in 1:53.3, 2-1/4 lengths better than early leader Kandian Club. Mistress Valentine was a clear third. The 4-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman now boasts career earnings of $261,982. Tony Hall, Mike Wilder and Merriman each drove three winners on the 15-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday, when the card features a $50,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 5, races 11-15. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 5, 2014 -- Fly Past Hanover, a 3-year-old trotting gelding, shot the Lightning Lane and notched his second straight Pennsylvania Fairs championship Saturday at The Meadows On a festive evening that featured many family-oriented activities, The Meadows hosted all eight fairs finals, each with a purse of $25,000 -- up 25 percent from last year. Aaron Merriman piloted three champions, including a pair -- Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover -- for trainer William Daugherty, Jr. Fly Past Hanover stalked the favorite, Mr Weaver, from the pocket and blew by inside to triumph in 1:59.2 for his 22nd victory over the past two seasons, downing Mr Weaver by 2-1/4 lengths. Faust was third. Daugherty said he wasn't surprised the son of Cantab Hall-Flexible Spending was able to repeat as champion. "He's a good honest trotter -- 90 percent sound, no big problems," Daugherty said. "We got rained out three or four times this summer; that gave him a little rest." In the other championships: 3-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Sheema Star Sheema Star provided the night's tote board pyrotechnics when she shed excess cover in the lane to pull off a 50-1 shocker in 1:59.3 and give driver Brady Brown his first career victory at The Meadows. She Nuit was second by a head, with Hearts Content third. "When I saw I was following the morning-line favorite, I knew we wouldn't be on the fence long," Brown said. "I figured I would have cover carrying me all the way to the stretch. My plan was to come from the back anyway. Everything worked out." Ashley Brown owns and trains the daughter of SJ's Caviar-Hearts In Bloom. 3-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Wiggle It Hanover Not to be outdone by his buddy Brown, Shawn Johnston captured his initial driving victory at The Meadows when Wiggle It Hanover -- a daughter of Dragon Again-Western Gesture that Johnston also owns and trains -- rallied to capture only her second lifetime win in 1:56.3. La Fiesta, the PA Fairs juvenile champion, was second, a head back, while Fixed Income earned show. "They were all itching to get out of there, but she likes to come off the pace," Johnston said. "Was there anything holding her back? Probably me." Johnston received congratulations of sorts when his fellow horsemen doused him with two buckets of icy water. 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Wellsaidandone Seated early by the determined Ruffle Up and Roger Hammer, Wellsaidandone had more pop late and blazed by the leader to score in 1:53.4 for Merriman, trainer Mike Gillock and owner Harry Locke. On a brusque night when stake records seemed safe, the Well Said-Yenta Hanover gelding missed the stake mark by a tick, an impressive performance. "That horse of Roger's looked like he'd been getting his own way at the fairs," Merriman said. "I thought if he got cheap fractions, he'd be tough to beat. My horse really exploded out of the hole and made my job extremely easy." 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot -- Wimborne Hanover Wimborne Hanover soared over $100,000 in earnings with his win in 1:59.3. Bambam Lauxmont was second, 3/4 lengths in arrears, while Music Man De Vie completed the ticket. The victory by the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding wasn't surprising -- he was the 1-2 favorite -- but the front-end style was, as Daugherty previously indicated the youngster had become too hot. "In this field, I thought he might have to go to the front," Daugherty said. "He's been good and solid since I changed his bit, but he wasn't going to get a seat tonight. Aaron said he got a little lazy near the wire." 2-Year-Old Filly Trot -- Isabella Carina Brian Zendt drove Isabella Carina in her most recent outing, a Keystone Classic split, and what he learned proved instrumental in her victory Saturday. "We made some rigging changes," Zendt said. "She had a Murphy blind, and she acted like she couldn't see right. She had her head kind of cocked sideways. We took that off, and she was much better tonight. She's a Cadillac -- wants to do everything right." The daughter of Tom Ridge-Bellissimo moved three wide down the backside and drew off by 5-1/2 lengths to score in 1:59.2. Susie B and Peoplesayimnogood completed the ticket. Walter "Boots" Dunn conditions the homebred Isabella Carina for Dunn Stable. 2-Year-Old Filly Pace -- Keystone I Wish Although she trailed by 5 lengths down the backside, Keystone I Wish tracked down the loose leader, Angel Plus, and scored in 1:57. Tropical Terror, the "winningest" freshman in harness racing with 16 victories, lacked late racing room and settled for second, 1-1/2 lengths behind, while Angel Plus saved show. "I was a little concerned (with her position), but this filly will chase one down," said winning driver Todd Schadel, who trains the daughter of Art Official-I Will -- an $8,000 Harrisburg buy-back -- and owns with Christine Schadel. 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace -- Marshmallow Pulse Marshmallow Pulse not only grabbed the championship in 1:57.1, but he also extended a streak -- in the money in all 17 career starts. Tony Hall drove the Quik Pulse Mindale-Marshamarshamarsha gelding for trainer Jason Shaw and owner Mason Shaw who, although only 2, showed his savvy as a horseman yet again. Nippy was second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with Given Up Terror third. "He tries every time he goes on the racetrack," Jason Shaw said of his $4,500 yearling acquisition. "He gives you everything he's got. Next year we may try some early closers here, then back to the fairs." by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

$200,000 will be on the line on Saturday night at The Meadows, as the 2014 Pennsylvania Fair Finals will be featured as part of a special 13-race evening card. Post time is 6:55PM.   Horses have been traveling the circuit since mid-June earning points in Pennsylvania Sire Stake fair events at 21 venues. The top eight point-earners in each of eight divisions will meet for the annual championship events.   The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA)  will also host a Family Fun Night, helping to bring the county fair atmosphere to the track with plenty of activities for kids.   Parade marshal Wendy Ross will have a special tribute to America between races 3 and 4 on the card, and after the 6th race a special Gold Medal Celebrity Match Race will take place, featuring former Pittsburgh Penguin Bob Errey and former basketball star and current University of Pittsburgh basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. Errey earned a gold medal in 1997 as part of Team Canada in the World Hockey Championships, and McConnell-Serio was a member of the 1988 USA Olympic championship winning women's basketball team.   On the track, eight $25,000 PA Fair Finals will be the top attraction, featuring some of the top winning horses in the nation. Freshman pacing filly Tropical Terror, trained by Jason Shaw for owner Mason Shaw, and driven by Chris Shaw will look for win #17 on the season. In 18 starts, the Western Terror filly has 16 wins and 2 second place finishes, and has the rail in race #2.   Sophomore filly trotter Cantabs Lightning, owned, trained and driven by Wayne Long, has won 10 of 16 this season. The Cantab Hall filly has drawn post 4 in the sixth race on the card.   In the 3YO pacing filly ranks, Allstar Morning, owned by Kristen and Ethan Spahn, has won 10 of 26 this year and has post 3 in the 7th race. Dave Palone drives the Four Starzzz Shark filly for trainer Gerald Lee.   Police Navidad, who has the rail in the 8th race 2YO colt trot, has won 11 of 17 this season for owners Lander Stables, Kathy & Virginia Schoeffel and Jim Reuther. The Muscle Massive gelding is trained and driven by Steve Schoeffel.   Another Shaw Stable entrant, Marshmallow Pulse, has the rail in the freshman colt pace. In 16 starts, the Quik Pulse Mindale gelding has 12 wins and has never been worse than third. Tony Hall will drive. The main challenger will be his stablemate, Nippy, with Chris Shaw driving. Nippy, a Nuclear Breeze gelding, has won 14 of 17 with three second place finishes.   Two more double-digit winners will square off in the 3YO colt trot, as Mr Weaver (12 for 23) will face Fly Past Hanover (11 for 22). Mr Weaver has post 1 for owners John and Owen McMullen. John McMullen trains and Wilbur Yoder drives. Fly Past Hanover is owned by Susan Daugherty, trained by Bill Daugherty, and will be driven by Aaron Merriman.   The MSOA is proud to host the event once again this year, and looks forward to a fan-friendly night.   by Jeff Zidek, for the MSOA

Batavia, NY---Timing is everything and driver Jim McNeight had his down to a science Wednesday night (Oct. 1) in winning the $8,500 mares Open pace feature at Batavia Downs with Infrontigo Hanover. Going directly to the wood off the gate, McNeight settled Infrontigo Hanover in fourth while Taylor Rei (Aaron Byron) and Fiftyonefifty (Mike Whelan) played give-and-go to the quarter. When the dust settled at that post in :28.2, McNeight saw his chance and Infrontigo Hanover was quickly pulled at the three-eighths and took the lead before they hit the half. From then on the only thing left to figure out was how fast and by how many? Infrontigo Hanover opened up a six-length lead going to the three-quarters in 1:25, then turned the corner and paced home uncontested to a wrapped-up three and one-half length victory in a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2. The winner paid $9.10. Bazooka Terror (Kevin Cummings) closed sharply for second and Dontch Remember (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) finished third. It was the fourth win in 28 starts for Infrontigo Hanover and raised her seasonal earnings to $34,844 for owners Summer Wind Stable of New York Inc. and Bob Gruber. The 6-year-old Western Hanover mare is trained by Bob Gruber. Second leading North American dash winning driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was at the Downs Wednesday and pulled closer to leader Aaron Merriman as he came away with five winners on the card. He scored with Kill A Rockingbird ($28.60), Blissful Escape ($3.90), Delightful Syd ($5.80), Stonetag ($4.40) and Helena's Hope ($3.30). Jim McNeight had the hat trick and Kevin Cummings doubled up. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Oct. 3) with post time at 6:35. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Oct. 1, 2014 -- Anaffairtoremember made her debut at The Meadows a memorable one when she peeled off cover late, roared through the lane and captured Tuesday's $16,500 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Trot. Anaffairtoremember, who had been plying her trade at Hoosier Park and Mohawk, was away sixth for Aaron Merriman when she picked up the live cover of the first-over Mistress Valentine. She shed her cover in the lane and scored in 1:54.2, 2-3/4 lengths better than early leader Kandian Club. Mistress Valentine saved show. Bill Bercury trains the 4-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman, who now boasts $253,732 in career earnings, for MT Pockets Stables. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

Aaron Merriman has more wins this year than any harness racing driver in North America. He continued his reign in both of the evening's features on Monday (September 29) at Northfield Park. Mythical Hall posted his third consecutive victory in the $12,500 Open Handicap Trot. Andy Rickert trains the six year-old for Mark Jakubik of West Seneca, New York. Mythical Hall (Andover Hall - Myth - Lindy Lane) started from the outside. He left alertly at the start, took the lead and was in complete control of his competition. He trotted fractions of :27.4, :56.3, 1:25.3 and 1:55.3. He bested his competition by a ½-length. Completing the race were Kirty Dream, Zorgwijk Heavenly, Mary's Darvin, Sand Royal Blu, Calling A Victory, Bookem and Annie's Rocketman. Edit was scratched from the event. Monday's triumph was the ninth win this year for Mythical Hall. It increased his lifetime win tally to 27 and his earnings to $409,610. He returned $13.00 to win. The evening's $12,500 Open Pace was the "Arron Merriman Show" again, this time aboard Top Of The Mark. Tye Loy trains the winning five year-old for owner Harry Locke of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Top Of The Mark (Western Terror - Top Of The Hour - Abercrombie) started from post nine and was third throughout the initial :26.4 quarter. Merriman moved the pacer in the second quarter, made the lead approaching the half and never looked back. He continued on the lead through times of :54.4, 1:22.3 and 1:51.3. He was ¾-lengths in front at the finish. Completing the race were Hall Of Memories, Chase The Sun, True To Mach, Our McLovin, Iwilldowhatido, Lite Me Up and Cullens Blue Jean. Cold Bath was scratched. Top Of The Mark now has seven wins in 23 starts this year, 25 career successes and a bankroll of $225,045. He was the race favorite and paid $5.00 to win. Ayers Ratliff

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 24, 2014 -- Ralph R moved confidently first over as the 1-5 favorite and rolled to an easy victory in Wednesday's $117,200 Keystone Classic at The Meadows. Wimborne Hanover took advantage of breaks by four of his six rivals to capture the other division in the stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Although he had just one victory on his card, Ralph R appeared to be the best following a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship. The son of Muscle Massive-Aiken For Clay proved it was more than a paper advantage when he brushed from third for Mike Wilder and scored in a career-best 1:56, 4-1/2 lengths better than Red Maple Lane. Sixteen Encores was third. "He scored down fantastic," Wilder said. "Not knowing the horse, I just got him away safe. But there was really nothing to know. I never moved -- plugs in, and I never laid the whip on him. He was push button." Robin Cruise trains Ralph R, who has banked $133,374 this year, for Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Paymaq Racing. Wimborne Hanover boasted nine wins entering the stake; most, however, were at PA Fairs, and, at 8-1, he figured to have his work cut out for him. But he watched Don't Mind Me break at the start. He saw Hurrikane Jonny K, the 3-5 favorite, jump it off while moving first over. He noticed the pocket-sitting Cue Hall run around the final turn. Finally, when the leader, Longcat Hanover, broke stride in the stretch, Wimborne Hanover had seen enough. He dug in for Eric Ledford and triumphed in 1:57.3. Longcat Hanover survived an inquiry and held second, 4 lengths back, while Massive Storm earned show. With all the dancing during the race, Bill Daugherty, Jr., who trains the Muscle Massive-Wherley gelding for Susan Daugherty, feared his youngster -- who broke stride in his last start -- would join the conga line. "I thought about that a little bit because, being 2-year-olds, they'll do that," he said. "I was hoping to get a decent check today, not really win it, but we'll take it. He ran down a little bit behind in his last start, so I put a longer shoe on the back, and that seemed to make a difference." Wimborne Hanover will wrap up his fine freshman campaign in the Pa Fairs championships Oct. 4 at The Meadows. In the $18,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, Daylon Miracle had little trouble capturing her 13th victory this year with a 1:53.1 tally for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Bill Bercury. The pocket-sitting Kandian Club was second, 3-1/2 lengths in arrears, while ER Ellie completed the ticket. A 5-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel, Daylon Miracle extended her career bankroll to $398,987. Tony Hall, Wilbur Yoder and Wilder each piloted three winners on the 16-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday when the card features a $91,998 Keystone Classic for freshman colt and gelding pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Sectionline Yankee upsets in $25,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace at Scioto Downs with a track record equaling performance of 1:50.2. She now shares the track record with Betterluvnexttime. The 5-year old mare by Yankee Cruiser out of Aquatic Yankee is trained by Steve Bauder for owners, Harold Lee Bauder, Michael Dixon and Harold Bauder of Ohio. Sectionline Yankee was driven by Greg Grismore and started from post one in the field of eight and was 6-1 on the morning line. Continual Velocity and Chris Page left for command from post eight when the wings folded along with inside leavers, She's Shocking and Novascotia Hanover. Novascotia Hanover and Tony Hall cleared to the front before the quarter that was clocked in a hot :26.1. She's Shocking and Kayne Kaufmann took the pocket ride before being shuffled to third when the favorite, Continual Velocity and Chris Page made a quarter move. Sectionline Yankee was sitting fourth on the rail at the half that was paced in :54.1. Grismore decided to make his move, pulling first up down the backside with Eve Marie Seelster and Kyle Ater in tow. Grismore applied the heavy pressure to the three quarters clocked in 1:22.2. The battled continued down the stretch before Sectionline Yankee pulled 3/4 of a length clear of Continual Velocity and Eve Marie Seelster completed the trifecta. Sectionline Yankee returned $18.20 to her supporters while increasing her bankroll to just under $315,000. The co-feature for the Saturday night card didn't disappoint either. Kanaris and Aaron Merriman set a new track record of 1:48.3 for a 4-year old gelding on the 5/8 mile oval in the $25,000 Open Pace. The previous record of 1:49.4 was set this year by Full Code and Beach Memories. Kanaris is the son of Panspacificflight and Thermopylae. He's trained by Joe Seekman for Tripoli Stable of Illinois. This victory crushed his own career best of 1:51.2 and pushed his lifetime earnings over $200,000. Kanaris started from post seven in the field of eight, but that didn't deter Merriman from leaving. They cleared inside leaver, Beach Memsories and Josh Sutton before the first turn. The first quarter was paced in :26.1. Sutton wasn't content to take the two hole trip, he pulled at the quarter to take over command. They paced single file to the half, clocked in :54.1. Ardyne Ace and Randy Tharps started their rally, pulling first up from third spot and Big Risk, driven by Tony Hall followed suit. The fast pace didn't let up. Beach Memories flew by the three quarters in 1:21.1 with Kanaris in tow. Merriman popped the ear plugs and waited for the stretch to make his move. The two paced 5-lengths clear of their foes and Kanaris had the upper hand to win by a nose over Beach Memories. His stablemate, Santa Fe Beachboy paced home in :27.2 to grab the show spot. The final week of racing in the 2014 season resumes on Wednesday (September 24) post time 6:30 pm. From Scioto Downs Racino

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 19, 2014 -- Visible Gold strolled through a leisurely front half on the lead, then blitzed the back half in 54.2 to capture Friday's harness racing $18,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. When Dave Palone was able to give Visible Gold fractions of 28/58, the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight -Gabrielle gelding had plenty in the tank to roll home in 1:52.2, 3/4 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Exactly Black. Major Belle raced well first over for show. Ron Burke trains Visible Gold, who has won 10 races this year and $323,444 in his career, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Palone drove six winners -- three for Burke -- on the 15-race card while Aaron Merriman enjoyed a four-bagger. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Without ever seeing the “rail” and parked out first-over the entire mile, Sumatra was able to grind it out for driver Brian Sears in capturing the $118,300 Old Oaken Bucket Thursday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. It was a bulky ten-horse field for three-year-old trotters on a half mile track and winning trainer Tom Fanning said this was going to happen. “I don’t like everyone not having their nose on the gate,” Fanning said Wednesday morning. We won’t be able to take back if we don’t leave or else we will be parked out the entire mile. I still think my horse is a contender in here. He has been doing great the last two weeks.” Fanning was right on the mark with that pre-race comment. Uva Hanover (Tim Tetrick) were the first out of the gate and on the early lead with race favorite Datsyuk (Charlie Norris) grabbing the pocket trip. They went to the opening quarter in :28. Then Skates N Plates (   ) came first-over and cleared to the lead with Sumatra and Sears losing their cover and getting parked-out to the half in :56.4. Around the third turn, Skates N Plates was in command with Sumatra gaining ground with every stride. They passed the three-quarters in 1:26 and Sumatra was then able to clear to the lead as Skates N Plates began to fold. Down the stretch Sears urged Sumatra on and they held a two length lead as the field came at them but it was too late as Sumatra held on at the wire to score by a diminishing three-quarters of a length in 1:56.1. Datsyuk was second and Il Sogno Dream (Aaron Merriman) finished third. Sumatra went off at odds of 19-1. “It did work out,” Sears said, “My horse was able to overcome it (first-over). He doesn’t have the handiest speed in the world but he is honest and he tries real hard. I know that horse of Trond’s (Smedshammer) would not hold the lead and my horse got by him on the last turn and that made the race for him. I didn’t put any pressure on him. I let him do it on his own. He’s not real quick but he keeps going and does not get tired and he showed that today.” It was the second win this year for Sumatra. The gelded son of Muscles Yankee other win this year was the Dexter Cup Trot final at Freehold Raceway, once again on a half mile track. Sumatra is owned by Joseph Smith of Vero Beach, FL and paid $41.00 to win. Pinkman takes $59,445 Standardbred Stake Nothing was “breaking bad” for Pinkman in Thursday’s $59,445 Standardbred Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters, as he overcame favorite Crazy Wow in deep stretch for the victory at the Delaware County Fair. Making only his second start, Pinkman and driver Yannick Gingras followed leader Crazy Wow -- who won the New York Sire Stakes championship last Saturday -- for nearly the entire mile before pulling out of the pocket and trotting to the win in 1:57. Crazy Wow finished second, followed by Ralph R and Walter White. The Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman, racing as an entry with Walter White, went off at 5-1 and paid $12 to win. Pinkman and Walter White are named after characters from the television series “Breaking Bad.” Pinkman is a son of Explosive Matter out of the mare Margie Seelster. He was purchased for $77,000 under the name Traffic Jam at the Lexington Selected Sale. His family includes stakes-winner Grassbed, who is the mother of 1990 Dan Patch Award-winner Me Maggie and grandmother of millionaire racehorse and top stallion Credit Winner. In his first start, Pinkman finished second from post eight in a conditioned race at The Red Mile. He has now earned $27,275 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. On Thursday, Pinkman sat behind Crazy Wow through fractions of :29.4, :59.3 and 1:28.4. Walter White made a first-over challenge from fourth place at the half-mile point, but only was able to get within a half-length of overtaking Crazy Wow for the lead. Pinkman found room coming off the final turn and was able to overcome a 1-1/4 length deficit to win by a neck. "He is now a gelding rather than a colt," said Jimmy Takter. "We had some problems that resulted from the castration surgery that took some time for him to recover from so that is why he had a late start. We started him in Lexington last week and I was very happy with him so I decided to put him in here." By Steve Wolf, Ken Weingartner with Kimberly French

Delaware, OH --- Wild Honey trotted the fastest mile in history by a 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile racetrack Wednesday (Sept. 17) at the Delaware County Fair, winning the second $32,323 division of the Standardbred Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters in 1:55.2. The recently crowned Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion left no doubt about the race’s outcome, leading from start to finish at odds of 1-9. The fractions were :28.4, :57.3 and 1:25.4 with driver Yannick Gingras at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. Hot Start finished second by 7-3/4 lengths and Gee O’Keeffe was third. Wild Honey’s performance erased one of trotting’s oldest records from the books. She eclipsed the previous best time of 1:56.3 by a 2-year-old female trotter on a half-mile track set by CR Kay Suzie on Sept. 21, 1994 at Freehold Raceway. The only trotting record to stand longer is Pine Chip’s 1:54 time for a 4-year-old male trotter on a half-mile oval, set on Sept. 18, 1994 at Delaware. In addition, Wild Honey bettered the mark of 1:55.3, set by colt Dontyouforgetit in 2012 at Delaware, for the fastest ever half-mile time by any 2-year-old trotter. Wild Honey is trained by Jimmy Takter, as was Dontyouforgetit. A daughter of Cantab Hall out of the mare U Wanna Lindy, Wild Honey is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding. She was purchased for $35,000 under the name Can Can Lindy at the Lexington Selected Sale. Her family includes 1994 Hambletonian winner Victory Dream. Wild Honey has won six consecutive races since finishing second by a head to Gatka Hanover in her debut. She has earned $271,031. “She won all of her (PA Sire Stakes) legs and had just one defeat by a (head) in her first lifetime start,” said trainer Jimmy Takter. “She’s just a tough filly. She’s got it. She’s the real deal.” Takter said Wild Honey is on her way to Lexington for the Grand Circuit meet next week. “When I got a first quarter of :28.4, I thought it would be hard for anybody to beat her in here,” said driver Yannick Gingras. “At the five-eighths I just let her roll along. I didn’t really ‘let her go,’ I just let her do what she wanted to do. The 1:55.2 was all her. The plugs were still in. I didn’t dig into her. She could have gone in (1):54 and change.” Sweet Shurga and driver Ron Pierce charged through the stretch and overcame favorite Smokinmombo in the final strides to win the first $32,323 division of the Standardbred Stakes. Smokinmombo, driven by Aaron Merriman, led for nearly the entire race after vanquishing Avalon Hall in a battle for the top spot coming off the first turn. Sweet Shurga was third until the final turn when Pierce moved to the outside and followed Dancewithme Chuck into the stretch. From there, Sweet Shurga cruised past her foes to reach the finish line in 2:00. Sent off at odds of 17-1, the daughter of Donato Hanover-Sweet American paid $36 to win. Sweet American is a full sister to 1993 Hambletonian winner American Winner. Smokinmombo finished second, followed by Dancewithme Chuck and Yanks Ball Girl. The fractions were :28.3, :59.3 and 1:29.3. Sweet Shurga has won two of four races and earned $19,629 for owner Bob Key and trainer Norm Parker. "She’s a green filly of Mr. Key’s,” said trainer Norm Parker. “She goes back to the family of American Winner. (Mr. Key) always liked that family. I liked her when I got her. Paul Reid trained her in Florida. When I got her she was really green. "Her manners are her biggest problem. She’s very temperamental, but I think she’s going to be a nice filly. "(Since her break on Aug. 20) we did some field time. In her last race at The Meadows, Dickie Stillings took good care of her. I just did the same thing -- gave her some field time and thought I’d bring her here and give her a shot.” by Ken Weingartner with Kimberly French & TJ Burkett/USTA

Combined they have won more than 10,500 races. Each has won the Peter Haughton Memorial Award as the top young Ohio driver. They all rank in the top 20 for dash winning drivers. And, this year all three of the Ohio "young guns,' Aaron Merriman, Chris Page and Tyler Smith are making their first Little Brown Jug start. Merriman, 36, is currently in second place as North America's leading dash driver (trailing Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. by 4 wins). The native of Northfield, Ohio will pilot Avalanche Hanover from post #3 in the 2nd LBJ elimination. 2014 has already been memorable for Merriman. In August he competed in his first Hambletonian, guiding Il Sogno Dream to a fourth place finish in the $1.1 million final. Merriman and Il Sogno Dream will reunite in the $118,000 Old Oaken Bucket on the Jug undercard. A few weeks ago Merriman was enshrined into the Northfield Park Wall of Fame. "The Wall of Fame was real cool, it's my hometown track," noted Merriman. "There has been some great horseman at Northfield. The Jug is a great opportunity and I'm happy to be in it." Chris Page, 30, will be handling Rediscovery from the outside post #8 in the first $103,600 elim. The native of Mt. Vernon attended his first Jug in 1993. "(Rediscovery) is a nice colt," said Page. "He is real fresh right now and we trained him over the track last week. My goal is to make the Jug final." The youngest of the trio is Tyler Smith. Smith, 21, is a native of Washington Court House and will drive Let's Drink On It in the first elimination. "Driving in the Jug is an absolute thrill," beamed Smith. "My horse has been a 'no-luck' horse all year. I hope to get off to a good start and advance to the final." Smith has already made history. He was the youngest driver ever to achieve 1,000 career wins and at the age of 12 he became the youngest male driver in harness racing history to record a sub-2:00 race, driving Look Lilly to victory in 1:59.1 in a matinee at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The pacing classic will air live from 5:00 - 6:30 pm on the CBS Sports Network. by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug  

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