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The gallant 11-year-old Commander Crowe took the prestigious Gr. I International Aby Stora Prix today in Sweden in a raceoff with the other heat winner Quid Pro Quo. The gelded son of Juliano Star-Somark-Mack Lobell recorded his 60th career victory in 102 starts, now for earnings of 32,010,516SEK, that is over US$4,669,000 at today's conversion rate. The race-off began with the Commander from post one (determined by coin flip), Orjan Kihlstrom up, and Quid Pro Quo electively started from post five to gain advantage from the banked track. Erik Adielsson hustled Quid Pro Quo (5m Yankee Glide-Hostage-Express Ride) to the front and set a reasonable pace. Then in front of the stands, and abundant cheering fans, Orjan Kihlstrom took a hard shot at the youthful leader but could not clear. Commander dropped behind his rival around the second turn and then again made a harder challenge for the lead on the backstretch. Despite heavy urging by Adielsson, Quid Pro Quo's desire was broken and the Commander surged past with 400 meters to go and opened a quick five lengths that he extended to ten bythe  top of stretch. Kihlstrom put the whip away and jogged to the line eased up in 1.12.1kr (1:56.01 mile rate) to pocket another 400,000SEK for Snopgarps Gard AB and trainer Fabrice Souloy, in what was a strategically superb match-race. Quid Pro Quo earned 100,000SEK for his raceoff effort and for the day he earned 700,000SEK. The Aby Stora Pris commenced in 1936 and has been raced each year since. Sebastian K won the 2012 and 2013 editions and that horse was lauded today with videos of his successes and free t-shirts for the fans. Rapide Lebel, Lisa America and Torvald Palema won this race in 2011, 2010 and 2009. Race record before today's heats was 1.11.3kr set by Red Chili Pirat in 2006. Double winners of the Aby Stora Pris include some greats - Sebastian K. (2012, 2013), Gidde Palema (2003, 2005), Victory Tilly (2000, 2002), Zoogin (1995, 1996), Idéal du Gazeau (1981, 1982), Lyon (1970, 1972), Gelinotte (1956, 1957) and Iran Scott (1951, 1952). Ake Svanstedt has won the race six times as driver and Stig H. Johansson is a five-time winner. North American-bred winners have included Sea Cove and Prince Mystic. Roosevelt International competitors also won this classic, including 1960 Roosevelt winner Hairos II (Willem Geersen), Oscar RL (Henri Levesque), Roosevelt winner in 1981-1983 Ideal du Gazeau (Eugene Lefevre), 1990 Roosevelt victor Reve d'Udon, and Pluvier III (Gunnar Nordin), the Roosevelt winner in 1965. Quid Pro Quo (5m Yankee Glide-Hostage-Express Ride) took heat one from post six with a decisive victory in 1.10.3kr. Owned by Stall Gladiator the winner recorded his first 2014 win in eight starts, now for career earnings for 5,040,760SEK. Erik Adielsson handled the winner that defeated Norway’s Juliano Rags reined by Noralf Braekken with Reven d’Amour third for Bjorn Goop. Commander Crowe left from post five but was unable to clear the front and raced without cover throughout for Orjan Kihlstrom. The Crowe faded to seventh. Joke Face made a miscue at the start.  The second heat was a surprise as Commander Crowe left hard again for Orjan Kihlstrom from post four, but this time he made the front with Quid Pro Quo in the pocket. Joke Face was first to move but was unable to get alongside the Commander as Kihlstrom rated the pace and accelerated  enough to win by a length from Quid Pro Quo with Juliano Rags third ahead of Solvato. Time for the 1640 meter autostart test was 1.10kr (1:52.63 mile rate). The victory for Commander Crowe was number 59 in 101 starts, now for earnings of 31,610,516. Snopgarps Gard AB owns the winner. The heat winners earned 400,000SEK for their victories. The undercard so far has produced interesting winners. Sylvester America scored in 1.15.2kr over 2140 meters autostart for trainer Jerry Riordan and reinsman Johan Untersteiner. The Italian bred three year-old son of Varenne-Armbro Voice-Garland Lobell recorded his fourth win in 10 starts for owner Lisa Riordan, and earned 50,000SEK first money. The Klass II Final for 200,000SEK to the winner went to Poker Kronos (5g Viking Kronos-Frances Lavec-Tenor de Baune) for trainer/driver Robert Bergh. He scored in 1.12.6kr for his fifth win in seven 2014 appearances, and his fifth straight. My Gliding Angel (4f Yankee Glide-My Shooting Star-Malabar Man) also won on the card in 1.13.6kr for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop in a narrow three-way photo over the Varenne mare Rare Wise As (Linda Allercrantz up for trainer Jerry Riordan) and favorite Backfire was home third with Johnny Takter up. Another US import, Single Sock, finished fourth. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com      

Four divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for freshman trotters were contested at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon (August 14), each going for a purse of over $65,000. In the first division, the wagering public backed Tick Tok Tag (Broadway Hall-Tags Schooner) who was coming off two narrow defeats against similar at The Meadows. Off the gate, it was the Erv Miller trainee Ralph R (Muscle Massive-Aiken For Clay) going for the lead, but he quickly yielded to the favorite at the quarter, which went in :29 seconds flat. There was no change in position until the top of the stretch, when Ralph R emerged out of the pocket, and was able to out duel Tick Tok Tag in the late stages, winning by a nose, in a time of 1:57.2. Divisionist (Andover Hall-Only Lonely) finished third. Ralph R is owned by The Ervin Miller Stables and Paymaq Racing, trained by Erv Miller, and was driven by Marcus Miller. In Division two, undefeated Piercewave Hanover (Donato Hanover-Passionate Glide) was the one to beat, sent off as the public choice. As the wings closed, the favorite sprinted right out for the lead, with the Ake Svanstedt charge Colbert (Cantab Hall-Domestic Diva) securing the pocket spot, by the quarter in :28 seconds. After rating a :31 second quarter, Piercewave Hanover felt pressure from a first-over Honor And Serve (Donato Hanover-Honorable Daughter). As they turned for home, the two were on even terms, with Honor And Serve grinding to victory, stopping the clock in 1:57. Piercewave Hanover finished second, while Explosive Drama (Explosive Matter-Phillycityhall) rallied for third. In the third division, it was James Bafia and Eugene White's Shoot The Thrill (Explosive Matter-Fancy N Diamonds) picking up the victory. At the start, it was Special Action (Yankee Glide-Special Appeal) moving out for the lead, with Lima Pride (Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy) In The Pocket, by a quarter in :29.1. The leader rated a :32.1 second quarter, before Ake Svanstedt vacated the pocket with Lima Pride. They battled for the lead until the top of the stretch, where Special Action made a break, allowing driver Tony Hall to split foes with Shoot The Thrill, springing the mild upset in 1:59.1. Lima Pride was second, while Chef Lee (Cantab Hall-Summer Savory) finished third. Shoot The Thrill is trained by Dirk Simpson. In the fourth and final division, the wagering was evenly split between unbeaten Billy Flynn (Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones) and Walter White (Cantab Hall-Muscaloosa). At the start, Billy Flynn and Walter White left in tandem for the lead, with Billy Flynn eventually re-taking after a quarter in 28.3. After a rated :30.2 second quarter, the leader faced a first-over challenge from Vintage Hall (Cantab Hall-Sweet Vintage) but was able to put him away just past three-quarters. Into the stretch, Billy Flynn squared off with Walter White, who attacked up the open stretch. They hit the line together, with the narrow win going to Billy Flynn in 1:57.4. Billy Flynn is owned by Bender Sweden Inc, trained by Steffan Lind, and was driven by Brett Miller. Wicker Hanover (Explosive Matter-Won An Done) finished third. Mike Bozich

The young hipsters dressed to the nines sipping cocktails while lounging on rooftop patio furniture was the first indication this was not your granddaddy's Hambletonian. That it was a surprisingly pleasant overcast August afternoon, and not a sauna, was another. In the end, the track belonged to imported Swedes -- Jimmy Takter and Ake Svanstedt, especially -- along with Ron Burke, of course. But the day? That belonged to the gleaming new $88 million grandstand that thrummed with youthful energy and passed its first big test with aplomb. Track owner Jeff Gural was pleased and, naturally, couldn't resist an "I told you so" dig at his critics. "I think if you go back to the weekend we opened, I think if you look at some of the blogs, they were all critical, 'Gural's an idiot. The place is much too small. What's he going to do for theMeadowlands Pace and Hambletonian?' We saw the place is just perfect. It was designed exactly right," he said of a building about a third the size of the behemoth across the pond. Give the man his due. On this Hambletonian, he wasn't wrong. The crowd, estimated at 20,700,was thick -- particularly in the new version of Paddock Pack now called The Backyard -- but not impenetrable. The queues -- for pari-mutuel or more ordinary refreshment -- moved withimpressive speed given the volume. The on-track wagering wasn't as strong as the Nouveau Big M folks would have liked to have seen, mind you, but then the young kids don't bet like their granddaddies, either. It's the cost of trying to introduce the business to a generation to which harness racing is as foreign as rumble seats. But out there in our hyper-connected world, from Hackensack to Helsinki to Sydney the bets poured in. With a few countries still to be heard from, the expectation is that the haul will be about $1 million higher than last year. The total handle of more than $8.7 million is already the third best Hambletonian Day in history and foreign wagering could still push this year's number to the top spot, exceeding some $9 million bet in 2005. "That's impressive in this day and age," Gural said. "That's a tribute to the card. We had full fields, a couple of big fields, almost all the major stars were there with the exception of the three-year-old (pacing) colts. But on the trotting side, we got a little lucky with Father Patrick drawing the 10-hole. It wasn't a walkover, as it turned out." The Ãber trotter, bet down to 2-5 despite starting from parking lot, was part of Takter's Terrific Trio instrumental in scaring off challengers in the main event and leaving the Hambletonian heatless just one year after returning to its old format. That Father Patrick made a jump at the gate immediately made for some interesting drama whether you watched on the huge high-definition infield screen from one of the outdoor grandstand seats or in the hinterland via the spectacular show on the CBS Sports Network that employed 13 cameras to great effect, including a wide-angle mounted on the starting gate. Takter's intact duo of Trixton and Nuncio got the job done, of course, with a neck-and-neck stretch battle to boot. When the stone dust finally settled, Takter celebrated his first Hambletonian victory in the bike (and third lifetime), nipping John Campbell for what would have been his seventh triumph in harness racing's premier race. You needed a cab ride to reach the rest of the field scattered by three breakers, which was particularly disheartening to driver Yannick Gingras and the rest of Father Patrick's connections. That it was likely Gingras' greatest day at the track was little consolation for the Quebec native who won four stakes -- including the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit -- and just shy of $600,000 in purses in all, but was crest fallen about losing the big one. "It's probably the best day I've had racing horses but it's also the most disappointing day. I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before, and I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for it. The gate opened, I just touched him on his tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance, but you never know," Gingras told the ubiquitous Bob Heyden, one of the few things about the new place that thankfully was not traded in for a newer model on Hambletonian Day. That Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame was tabbed to present harness racing's Stanley Cup to Takter and Co. speaks to that youth movement again -- unless you're referring to that glorious silver bowl that now has 90 of the sport's greatest trotters inscribed in silver discs on its wedding cake base. Dear Lord, let's hope no one ever entertains trading that in for a newer model, because newer isn't always better. Progress isn't always positive. Sorely missed in the new digs is the old front paddock that radiated with equine and human stars and served as the annual meeting place for the sport's far-flung powerbrokers on Hambletonian Day. The signs that once hung above the stalls on the facade of the old place honouring each of the Hambletonian winners since the race moved to New Jersey in 1981 seem out of place now lining the infield. Try as they might, even the Copacabana rum girls sporting huge feather headdresses and littleelse other than smiles, didn't make up for the loss. Though, they were a nice touch along with the fathead driver cutouts seen throughout the day, the appearance by Captain Bill Wichrowski from the Discovery Channel's show Deadliest Catch and old style pennants each bearing the name of a Hambletonian finalist. The bridge from old to new was the free Hambletonian hats, The Nerds bashing out loud, enthusiastic covers in the park and the track itself, of course, which yielded three more world record performances. "I've been coming to the Hambletonian since 1960's when it was staged in DuQuoin [IL], and appreciated its growth and renewed pageantry when it moved to New Jersey in the old grandstand setting. We're working to build on that great tradition.," said Tom Charters president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "In a way it was similar to the first Hambletonian here in 1981 - a new experience entirely. This is a new venue and a wonderful new facility, a new era. We will work with the Meadowlands to establish some new traditions that underscore the Hambletonian's place as America's trotting classic and the most important harness race in the world." Classic Martine got things started in the first race, equaling the world mark for trotting mares with a 1:51.1 score in the $52,000 Ima Lulu Final. Five races later, Mission Brief equaled the global mark for two-year-old trotting fillies with a 1:52.2 score in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. Barefoot speedster Sebastian K capped the record-setting parade in race 11 when he equaled the 1:50 record for older trotters while winning the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial the same day Cashman's 14-year-old granddaughter, Grace Cashman, sang the national anthem. None of which -- even the Hambletonian winner -- topped spectacular sightlines from multiple decks, a Hollywood-style sign on the roof that spells out Meadowlands in huge letters and a massive sports bar that transforms into a dance club at night -- all designed to lure the next generation critical for the sport's survival. "Everybody loved it. Everybody thought it was spectacular," said Gural, who is fond of wandering his plant to make himself available to his patrons. "The biggest compliments were from the people that had never been there. If you've never been there, you're really shocked when you pull up to the door." As the start of a new era for harness racing greatest day drew to a close, even the sky brightened and the Manhattan skyline materialized like a mirage out of the haze. The hipsters on the roof barely noticed, what with their iPhones, friends and cocktails to attend to, but the rest of us noticed them all right. They were completely foreign to the old place and a most welcome addition to the club. by Dave Briggs for the Hambletonian Society

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 5, 2014 -- Piercewave Hanover, who already owned the national season's record for 2-year-old gelding trotters on a five-eighths-mile track, lowered that mark with a facile front-end victory in 1:56.1 in Tuesday's Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. The $233,008 event, known as the Florida Pro, was contested over four divisions, with Billy Flynn, Lima Pride and Walter White taking the other splits. Dave Palone enjoyed a stake double with Piercewave Hanover and Walter White among his five wins on the 16-race card. Piercewave Hanover established the former mark in a July 15 PASS split at The Meadows, when he was ahead at every call. He duplicated that feat Tuesday, meaning that he never has been behind in his two-race career. Will the son of Donato Hanover-Passionate Glide be as effective off the trot? Palone thinks he will be. "Every time you ask on him, he's got more trot for you," Palone said. "I think he'll be even better chasing. He's very lethargic on the lead -- you have to talk to him the whole way. But he's always willing to give you more. The first time he has to track down a really good horse, he'll love it. Big future, I think." Explosive Drama was 1-1/2 lengths back in second, with Keystone Bodacious third. Chris Oakes trains Piercewave Hanover for Hauser Brothers Racing and J&T Silva Stables. Billy Flynn extended his career unbeaten streak to four when he jogged on the front end for Brett Miller in 1:56.4, 3-1/4 lengths better than My Cousin Vinnie. Bighandsbiggloves earned show. As is his custom, Billy Flynn bore out in the stretch, but Staffan Lind, who trains the son of Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones for Bender Sweden Inc., continues to regard that as a non-issue. "He still had the ear plugs in. This was easy for him today," Lind said. "He trots perfect. When we get on a big track, we'll gear him a little bit differently, and he'll be straight." Lima Pride atoned for a break in the Arden Downs when he vaulted to the lead for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt and triumphed in 1:57.2. Shoot The Thrill was second, 1-1/2 lengths in arrears, with Pierre third. "I don't know why he broke last race," Svanstedt said, "but in his first race, he hit the sulky, and I thought he did the same last race. So today we had a higher and wider bike, and he didn't hit it." Top Ten Racing Stable owns Lima Pride, a son of Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy who has captured both his PASS starts. In the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, converted claimer Boytown made it four straight with a 9-1, Lightning Lane victory for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Chelsey Wibert in a career-best 1:52.4. Tall Cotton finished second, 1/2 length back, while Better Caviar completed the ticket. The 5-year-old American Winner-P Town Girl gelding now boasts $254,658 in lifetime earnings. Stake racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday with a $100,000 PA Stallion Series stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Jimmy Takter has once again won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old fillies, only perhaps with the horse he did not figure winning it with this Saturday. Lifetime Pursuit upset her stable mate Shake It Cerry in the stretch and posted a world record mile of 1:50.4 in giving driver Yannick Gingras his first ever victory in the Hambletonian Oaks. Leaving from post seven, Gingras sent Lifetime Pursuit to the early lead with Take The Money (Dave Palone) right on their backs. They sped to the opening quarter in :26.3 and before anyone could settle down, here comes stable mate Shake It Cerry and driver Ron Pierce and they went to the front by the half mile in :55.1. Heaven’s Door (Ake Svanstedt) came first-over and gave outside cover to the race favorite Designed To Be (Brian Sears) as they raced to the three-quarters in 1:23.2. As the field started down the stretch, it was Gringas and Lifetime Pursuit pulling from the pocket, collaring Shake It Cerry and drawing off to win by two lengths over Designed To Be and Take The Money. Shake It Cerry was fourth. Lifetime Pursuit paid $22.00 to win. “She (Lifetime Pursuit) has been a little under the radar,” said trainer Jimmy Takter, “She is a top horse. She ran second to “Cerry” all last year. I felt good about her going into this race. She has been serious every race. I gambled a little bit, we made a few changes and it worked.” “She got a perfect trip,” Gingras said. “She probably needed that to win but she was awesome anyway. They pulled off her shoes and I think that made the difference. She is always good gaited but that really helped her today.” Owned and bred by Brittany Farm’s George Segal, her time of 1:50.4 surpassed the previous world record of 1:51 set last year by Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. “Absolutely she is a terrific filly,” said Segal, Jimmy’s done a great job, Yannick driving her great.  I don’t pay attention to the publicity. She’s been racing great.  You race for $30,000 and you do different things and you come out here for half a million bucks and you put it all on the line..” Lifetime Pursuit By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Sebastian K and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt showed they can sit a pocket trip and still have plenty left for the finish as they demolished a field of top trotters in capturing the $300,650 John Cashman Final at the Meadowlands Saturday. The time of the race tied the world record of 1:50. Usually Sebastian K has the early gate speed to be on the lead but this time it was driver Yannick Gingras putting the pedal to the metal with Archangel and out leaving Sebastian K to the opening quarter in a quick :26.2. They raced that way past the half mile marker in :54.4 as John Campbell started to come first-over with Mister Herbie but to no avail as Svanstedt pulled on the right line and sent Sebastian K after Archangel by the final turn and they raced as a duo to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. Then it was time to separate the men from the boys and that is what Svanstedt did with Sebastian K, pulling out the ear plugs and his world champion trotted away from the field in the stretch to win by four open lengths. Market Share (Tim Tetrick) closed well to be second with Archangle fading to third place. With is 1:50 clocking, Sebastian K tied the world record over a one mile track that was set last week by Intimidate. “He has been good all year,” said Ake Svanstedt, “Every race this year, he was very good. He (Archangel) leave very fast and he pushed his horse for that and so I take it easy with him. We’re not going to race one month.  We have raced every weekend in four weeks now, so it’s too much for him. He gets a break now." It was the seventh win in just eight starts this year for Sebastian K. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting of Vero Beach, FL and paid $2.60 to win. For Svanstedt, it was his third victory on the program. Sebastian K By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

CENTURION ATM TAKES $355,500 PETER HAUGHTON

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

We have been on a roll as of late with winning weekends the last two weeks. I am confident we can make it three straight winning weeks and never have to leave the Meadowlands. It’s their closing weekend and that mean’s Hambletonian Day, one of the best days of racing in the sport of harness racing this Saturday, headlined of course by the Hambletonian Trot. The card is jamming with top stakes action. The only problem is something we have no control over and that is Mother Nature. I handicapped based on a fast track so here’s hoping the rain either ends early or does not stop until late in the day. Good Luck! $52,000 Trot Ima Lula Final 4YO Mares Meadowlands 1st race SATURDAY – With a serious case of seconditis after her championship season last year, we keep hoping for Bee A Magician to return to her unbeaten form of 2013 but it just isn’t happening. Perhaps they will change tactics here and go back to racing her off the pace and that she will be able take this field. Use Classic Martine and Ma Chere Hall in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Miss New Jersey 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 3rd race SATURDAY – Seems that trainer Jimmy Takter may have solved the previous breaking problems of Gettingreadytoroll off her lifetime mark last week in 1:49.3 and that she is settled down to keeping her mind on business. Repeat of last winning effort will bring home the bacon in here. Use Act Now and Bliztra in exotic plays. $225,000 Pace New Jersey Classic 3YO Colts Meadowlands 4th race SATURDAY – Western Vintage has had a rough 3YO season after many thought he would be one of the leaders in this division after his great two-year-old season. Seems he has not lived up to expectations but should go off the favorite here after decent qualifying win. I’m going with Doo Wop Hanover. He has had good success when not racing against the best in the country, drew well for this and could get the dream two-hole trip to score off of. Use Western Vintage and Bushwacker in exotic plays. $257,700 Pace FFA US Pacing Championship Meadowlands 5th race SATURDAY – Too tough to even consider going against the best pacer in the sport. Sweet Lou is on a seven-race winning streak, last four in less than 1:48 and he is just a pacing machine. He is facing a strong field but he has beaten all of them before and can do it again. Use Captaintreacherous and State Treasurer in exotic plays. $352,050 Trot Merrie Annabelle 2YO Filly Final Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – This will be an interesting matchup as both Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover have yet to meet and both are hot fillies that race on the front end. Mission Brief gets the call with her blinding early speed but you never know how Gatka Hanover will handle getting a two-hole trip. Use Gatka Hanover and Lock Down Lindy in exotic plays. $355,500 Trot Peter Haughton 2YO Colt Final Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – It’s interesting that in this final there are four return winners of the ten starters. Ake Svanstedt’s Centurion ATM showed he is the horse to beat after coming off the pace in his elimination race last week and strolling to a 1:54.2 win in just his third lifetime start. Repeat of that mile will make him an easy winner once again. Use Canepa Hanover and Guess Who’s Back in exotic plays. $75,000 Trot FFA Vincennes Invitational Meadowlands 10th race SATURDAY – All the talk was that after Master Of Law won his qualifying race that he was on his way to taking on the best in the country. He lived up to performance with a 1:52 win last time out and now gets really tested against a good field and having to start from post nine. Use Wishing Stone and D’Orsay in exotic plays. $300,650 Trot John Cashman Memorial FFA Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – Whether it rains or not I think Sebastian K and Ake Svanstedt are too tough to get caught again at the wire. No one can out leave him and unless every horse in the field tries to go first-over against him, he has too much stamina to not hold them off. Use Uncle Peter and Market Share in exotic plays. $500,000 Trot Hambletonian Oaks 3YO Fillies Meadowlands 12th race – Last week in prep race, Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry held Designed To Be and Brian Sears at bay and were able to win. Now Shake It Cerry starts from second tier in post 11 and won’t be able to dictate early fractions to anyone. I still think that Shake It Cerry will “shake it loose” somehow and find a different way to beat Designed To Be once again. Use Designed To Be and Lifetime Pursuit in exotic plays. $1,066,125 Trot Hambletonian Final 3YO Colts Meadowlands 13th race SATURDAY – Trainer Jimmy Takter has his heart set on finishing one, two, three in harness racing’s most prestigious race and he very well should get what wants as he has the best colts in racing. Father Patrick needs to just overcome starting from post ten as he is seconds faster than the rest of the field. Use Trixton and Nuncio in exotic plays. $177,750 Pace Lady Liberty Final Older Mares Meadowlands 14th race SATURDAY – Was super impressed with the three moves Drop The Ball made for driver Corey Callahan last week in winning elimination race. She will need that gusty performance once again to win the final as Rocklamation will be in the hunt this week. Drop The Ball gets the slim call in here. Use Rocklamation and Somwherovrarainbow in exotic plays.

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 31, 2014 - If the pieces all fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday. the son of Western Ideal is making his return to the races, after being sidelined since late June, in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, the fourth of 15 races on the Hambletonian Day program on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage is rated the 5-2 second choice [Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5] and will leave from post two with Brian Sears at the lines. Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk. This all marked the bargain colt - he cost only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale - as a potential divisional star at three. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring. "We gave him a break after the Hempt [on June 21] for a couple of reasons," said Perry Soderberg, the colt's co-owner. "One, because he had some really tough races up to that point, and two, his blood work wasn't perfect so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse." Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands and a week later was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. Then it was on the road to Mohawk Raceway for the North America Cup elims [he finished fourth] and to Pocono for the Hempt [he was eighth]. Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3 clocking and five and a half length victory on July 19 in the hands of new pilot Brian Sears. "Well, Yannick [Gingras, who previously drove the colt] has been great, but he has [Jimmy] Takter's and [Ron] Burke's horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year," Soderberg explained. "I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now. "All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers," he added. "He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that's how this business works." Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. But when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October. With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a bankroll of $370,728. "Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape," said Soderberg. "He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break." Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1 Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ  

Centurion ATM is the type of horse that seems ready to step up when it's time to race. The 2-year-old trotter didn't do much to impress trainer Ake Svanstedt before beginning his rookie campaign, but Svanstedt has been happy with the colt since he started going behind the gate. Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM's first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races. "He's a racehorse," Svanstedt said. "He trained from the beginning and he was a normal horse until he qualified. Then he was something special. Before the qualifier, he did the job and was a nice and friendly horse, but he was nothing special. He loves to race." Centurion ATM will start the Haughton Memorial from post one, with Svanstedt handling the driving, as usual. The colt is 3-1 on the morning line, which makes him the third choice behind New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back (2-1) and NJSS runner-up Canepa Hanover (5-2), who received byes to the final. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Centurion ATM is a son of SJ's Caviar out of the mare ENS Tag Session. He was purchased for $100,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale and is a full brother to stakes-winner Triumphant Caviar. He is owned by Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB. "I hope he can do a good race," Svanstedt said. "If everything is normal, he can do a good race. I think he has potential. We'll see." Svanstedt, who was Sweden's Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions, will have nine horses racing on Saturday's card. "Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it," he said. In addition to Centurion ATM, he sends out Amicus in the Haughton plus Doncango in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, Heaven's Door in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, Sebastian K and Your So Vain in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, Home Front and DD's Hitman in $50,000 divisions of the Townsend Ackerman for 3-year-old trotters, and Blixtra in the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. Sebastian K, the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:49 mile at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in June, is the 3-5 favorite in the Cashman Memorial. He has won six of seven races this year and is coming off a 3-1/4 length triumph over Mister Herbie in 1:51 in his Cashman elimination. "Everything was good in the last race," Svanstedt said. "And he loves the Meadowlands and the big track. He feels very good at the Meadowlands. He is a different horse at the Meadowlands." Sebastian K's only loss came by a nose to Intimidate in the Maple Leaf Trot on a sloppy track at Mohawk. "He didn't win in Canada, I think he left too fast and the track was very heavy," Svanstedt said. "We opened in :26.4 in the first quarter and that's too fast on that heavy a track, so he would be tired. He was tired, but he lost by just a nose, so he was good. He fought." Svanstedt did not plan to train Sebastian K during the week. "He is just going to go in the paddock every day for the whole day," Svanstedt said. "This is four weeks [of racing] in a row and he's never done that before. It's very different for him. But I'm not worried because he felt so good in the last race." Heaven's Door is the 9-2 third choice in the Hambletonian Oaks, behind world champion Designed To Be (2-1) and Delvin Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry (5-2). Heaven's Door has won two of five races this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters, and finished second in the Miller. "There are tough horses in there, but I have a good horse too," Svanstedt said. "She has everything. She pulls a little, but she is getting better with that. Some races she pulls a lot and I cannot drive slowly. The one time [in a race in May] she galloped at the start because she is pulling so much. But she is getting better." Doncango, a 20-1 longshot in the Hambletonian, has only raced once this year - winning in 1:54 - after battling leg woes throughout the winter. "It's tough for him," Svanstedt said. "We had a lot of problems with him at the beginning. But he trained tough and feels good. He's trained three months without problems and feels sound. "If he can earn money, we'll be really happy." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

MANALAPAN, NJ - July 30, 2014 - Saturday's Hambletonian Day 15-race card at the Meadowlands is loaded with rich stakes worth nearly $3.6 million in purse money, including the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and its filly companion race, the $100,000 Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey. The two stakes for New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers are early in the card - the third race for the Miss New Jersey and the fourth race for the New Jersey Classic - and have the possibility of being two of the most contentious and bettor-friendly events, with no prohibitive favorites. Racing conditions for the two stakes were amended to eliminate eliminations. The finals are limited to the 10 highest lifetime money-winning horses in the entry box. To further sweeten the pot, even those who do not share in the top five purse distribution will not go home empty-handed. The connections of the New Jersey Classic colts finishing sixth through 10 will receive $1,500 each while the connections of the Miss New Jersey fillies will receive $1,000 each. "We are very pleased that we have full and competitive fields for both stakes, in fact, 11 entered in each with 10 going postward," said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey [SBOANJ], which sponsors the two races. "We feel stallions will return to New Jersey once we have casino-infused purses, a likelihood in the next few years, but for now we are trying our best to make it worthwhile for breeders to support our program and owners to buy New Jersey-sired offspring with the opportunity to compete in such events as the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey," Luchento added. Post time on Saturday, August 2, 2014 is 12 noon with gates opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $5. The $1 million Hambletonian [Race 13] and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks [Race 12] and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network [for Channel Finder - www.cbssportsnework.com]. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz. The fields for the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey with post, horse, sire, driver, trainer and morning line odds: Race 4 - $225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC 1-Doo Wop Hanover - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Steve Elliott - 9-5 2-Western Vintage - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nancy Johansson - 5-2 3-Rockeyed Optimist - Rocknroll Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Steve Elliott - 20-1 4-Buckwacker - Rocknroll Hanover - David Miller - Chris Ryder - 9-2 5-Sweet Rock - Rocknroll Hanover - Brett Miller - Wayne Given - 20-1 6-Dancin Hill - Rocknroll Hanover - Scott Zeron - Tony Alagna - 10-1 7-Rock Out - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 15-1 8-Card Shock- Cam's Card Shark - George Brennan - Mark Silva - 20-1 9-Beat The Drum - Tell All - Ron Pierce - Staffan Lind - 6-1 10-Rocknroll Reality - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 12-1   Race 3 - $100,000 THOMAS D'ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY 1-Ideal Helen - Western Ideal - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 10-1 2-Act Now - Western Ideal - Brian Sears - Nikolas Drennan - 3-1 3-Gettingreadytoroll - Rocknroll Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 2-1 4-My Lady Day - Western Ideal - David Miller - Joe Holloway - 15-1 5-Surfside Sexy - Rocknroll Hanover - Ron Pierce - Ron Burke - 20-1 6-Cut A Deal - Rocknroll Hanover - George Brennan - Nick Surick - 20-1 7-Blixtra - Rocknroll Hanover - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svandstedt - 9-2 8-Highland Rockstar - Rocknroll Hanover - Mike Lachance - Buzzy Sholty - 20-1 9-Rockingcam Park - Rocknroll Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Ron Coyne Jr. - 8-1 10- Kate Can't Wait - Rocknroll Hanover - Corey Callahan - Ross Croghan - 6-1 By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ

This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle and Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Hanover Colt Stakes and Hanover Filly Stakes, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action kicks off this Friday (Aug. 1) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the first leg of the Kindergarten Series for 2-year-old colt trotters and 2-year-old filly trotters. There will be three $10,000 divisions for the colts and five $10,000 divisions for the fillies. The big Saturday afternoon (Aug. 2) program is led by the $1,006,125 Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $300,650 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, the $177,750 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters. Also on Saturday, Balmoral Park will host the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers. On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Crete oval will feature the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 2-year-old colt trotters and the $50,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters. Tioga Downs on Sunday will feature the $78,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old colt pacers and the $67,000 (est.) Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Confronted by a challenger who would not go away, 1-5 favorite McWicked dug in, blazed the back half in an amazing :53.2 and captured this past Saturday's (July 26) $400,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Light at The Meadows. McWicked held off Somewhere In L A at the wire to win the Delvin Miller Adios. With the 1:49.1 victory, Casie Coleman, who conditions McWicked for S S G Stables, became the first female trainer to win an Adios final in the 48-year-history of this important test for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Leaving from post two, David Miller was able to give McWicked a rather leisurely half in :55.4 on the front. When Brett Miller moved Somewhere In L A uncovered down the backside and the pair looked McWicked in the eye, the battle was on. However, McWicked edged away in deep stretch to triumph in 1:49.1, a length better than his gallant rival. Cammikey was a ground-saving third. With the win, McWicked pushed his career bankroll to $798,447 and extended a prolonged roll that has seen him sweep the eliminations and final of the Max Hempt Memorial and the Adios. Many of the sport's stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none were brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial trot in a world record 1:50. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track. Yannick Gingras sent the handsome 5-year-old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked :26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was a geared down 1-3/4 length winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga rounded out the qualifiers from this elimination for this Saturday's Cashman final. Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer. Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian K as they reached the quarter in a dazzling :26. The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed the inquiry sign and reviewed the move, and was back to the top. Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a :27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horses late to be second, Uncle Peter was third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in this week's race. The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 509; 2. Tim Tetrick - 443; 3. Ron Pierce - 307; 4t. Brian Sears - 205; 4t. David Miller - 205. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 884.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3t. PJ Fraley - 189; 3t. Ray Schnittker - 189; 5. Joe Holloway - 154. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 206.75; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 188; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. S S G Stables - 80. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at The Meadows with the Currier & Ives for 3-year-old colt trotters; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for older pacers; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Saturday's 89th edition of the $1 million Hambletonian Trot at The Meadowlands has drawn a field of eleven 3-year-old trotters going a mile in harness racing's most prestigious race. The Hambletonian is the opening leg of the Trotting Triple Crown which also includes the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. Leading the field are Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton, all trained by Jimmy Takter, who is a two-time Hambletonian winner with Malabar Man (1997) and Muscle Massive (2010). Takter is looking to become the first trainer to sweep first, second and third in the modern era of the Hambletonian. Father Patrick is the 4-5 morning line favorite and will be driven by Yannick Gingras from post 10. Trixton is 7-2 and will start from post 7 with Takter driving and Nuncio is 9-2 with Hall of Fame driver John Campbell leaving from post 5. "At this point, I have three really good horses and they're racing scary good," Takter said. "I've got to keep them fresh and make sure nothing goes wrong. I have the three best horses, and I would be extremely disappointed if I don't win the Hambletonian this year. My goal is to win the Hambletonian. It's fun. The Hambletonian is the biggest race in our sport and something you work hard to win." Father Patrick, the 2013 Dan Patch award winning champion 2-year-old colt trotter, and is perfect this year in six starts for $510,931 in earnings and is ranked second in the current Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Top Ten Poll. "He's the best horse I've ever developed," Takter said. "He's just different. He has all the things I like in a horse. He's a good sound horse. You can't find any fault with him. You can do anything you want with him. He's so handy. Patrick, to me, is the perfect horse." Owned by the Father Patrick Stable, the colt has wins this season in the Earl Beal Jr. at Pocono Downs and the Stanley Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands. He has won 15 straight starts since losing to Nuncio in his second career effort. Overall, Father Patrick has banked $1,254,988 with 16 wins in 17 starts. Co-owned by the trainer's wife Christina, Trixton has six wins this year in eight starts for $283,855 in earnings. He was third to Father Patrick in the Dancer Memorial and is coming off a victory in a division of the Reynolds Memorial at The Meadowlands. Trixton, sixth in the harness poll, has career earnings of $337,542 with 10 wins in 16 starts. "He's the kind of horse with a big future as a 4-year-old. He's improving, getting more professional and very confident." the trainer/driver noted. Nuncio, owned by Stall TZ Inc., finished second to his stablemate in both the Earl Beal Jr. and Stanley Dancer Memorial, his only losses this year in seven starts. "I'm very happy with the way he's been coming along," Campbell said. "Jimmy trained him from behind all winter and we've qualified him that way, and raced him that way, and he's started to figure it out. Nuncio, 10th in this week's poll, has earned $342,003 in 2014 and has 10 wins and seven seconds from 17 lifetime starts for $803,077. John Campbell has won the Hambletonian a record six times with the most recent victory coming with Glidemaster in 2006. The supporting events include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for trotting fillies; the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings; the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old trotting fillies; the $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial Free-For-All trot; the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship; the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic for state bred 3-year-old pacers and the $177,750 Lady Liberty featuring Free-For-All pacing mares. The Hambletonian card has attracted international media interest, including live television coverage on the CBS Sports Network from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. Here is the Hambletonian field in post position order: Note that Don Dorado starts from post 11, which is in the second tier. 1. Resolve, Corey Callahan, 20-1 2. JJ Alex, Francisco Del Cid, 50-1 3. Doncango, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 4. Datsyuk, Charlie Norris, 12-1 5. Nuncio, John Campbell, 9-2 6. Royal Ice, Ron Pierce, 20-1 7. Trixton, Jimmy Takter, 7-2 8. Il Sogno Dream, Aaron Merriman, 50-1 9. Harper Blue Chip, Brian Sears, 12-1 10. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, 4-5 11. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, 20-1. The 89th Hambletonian has an approximate post time Saturday of 5:11 p.m. ET. (With files from the Meadowlands & UPI)  

SEBASTIAN K WINS CASHMAN ELIM WITH EASE

The final edition of Breakfast With The Babies for the 2014 season began with Hambletonian favorite Father Patrick getting in some prep work in advance of next Saturday's big dance. His performance did nothing to encourage any Hambo fence-riders that may have been considering buying a $15,000 ticket to that dance. Yannick Gingras gave him a tour of the oval in 1:52 flat, back half in :54.4, last quarter :26.2 about as easy as it could be done. It looks like "All systems go" for team Father Patrick. Last year's champion three year old filly pacer I Luv The Nitelife made her return to the races this morning in winning fashion for owners Richard and Joanne Young. She has been nursed back to the races by trainer Chris Ryder after her season ending injury last fall and she looked sound and happy in her 2014 debut. Driver Tim Tetrick settled the mare in third through a slow 57.2 half, moved her on the last turn to a stretch lead then flashed her grit by refusing to yield to the late challenge of Bakersfield with a 27.1 close to the 1:53.2 mile. A pair of Meadowlands Pace finalists teed it up in the last race of the day and Lyonssomewhere got the best of JK Endofanera here by sprinting home in 26.2 on the end of a 1:51.1 mile. Trainer Jimmy Takter put the speedy colt on the lead through friendly fractions and had enough to rebuff JK Endofanera's close. So far as the freshmen, Habitat, a speedy Conway Hall colt that had made a pair of breaks in NYSS action recently, impressed with an effortless 1:55.3 / 27.1 win with Yannick Gingras aboard. Ron Burke trains colt for himself and partners Weaver Bruscemi and Our Horse Cents Stable. The group paid $50,000 for Habitat at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale last fall. Trond Smedshammer won a couple this morning, the first with a nice Yankee Glide out of Calchips Finisher named Finish Line. He sat a pocket to first timer Sugarmakesmecrazy and Ake Svanstedt, nailing that one in the final strides of the 1:58.1 / 28.1 mile.He was a $50,000 Lexington buy for Trond's American Viking Stable, Diane Giuliano and Purple Haze. Trond came right back with the Andover Hall x Chez Belle filly Chezando, closing ground into a 28.4 final quarter for the 2:00.4 score. She cost Purple Haze and Michael Parisi $70,000 at Lexington last fall. The last of the baby trots fittingly saw Jimmy Takter win in 2:00.1 with French Laundry, a good Muscles Yankee colt who won a NJSS event in 1:56 a few weeks ago. He just held off the impressive closing rush of the $175,000 Cantab Hall colt Colbert who was making his very first start for Svanstedt. Pacers came around in the tenth race and ASAP Hanover won for the third time in morning trials, this one in 1:52.4 with Tim Tetrick driving. Linda Toscano trains the $150,000 Lexington sale colt by Somebeachsomewhere from Allamerican Coed for John Mehlenbacher. He has impressed and improved in each of his three outings. This time Tetrick put him on the lead and sprinted home in 26.4 in hand. Penji Hanover paced home hard to be second. Trainer Tony Alagna had a good day beginning with the eleventh where a pair of his pacing fillies went to the wire together with Cashaway tracking down Martinique in the final strides to get the 1:54.1 win. Cashaway was second in the recently contested NJSS final for Tim Tetrick, who drove the Western Ideal x CPA $105,000 Lexington sale grad today for owners Brittany Farms and Marvin Katz. New Jersey Sires Stakes champion Artspeak got some work in this morning, leading all the way and drawing off late in 1:53.2 over the pocket sitting Stover. The winner also hails from the Alagna barn with Scott Zeron doing the driving for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners (John Fodera and Steve Wienick). Racing manager Myron Bell bought the Western Ideal colt from The Art Museum for $100,000 in Lexington on their behalf and it certainly looks as though they've got a good one here. A Plus completed the Alagna natural hat trick by winning in 1:54.1 / 27.3 with Zeron aboard. She's an American Ideal filly out of the Brittany broodmare Has An Attitude that Tony bought for himself with partners In The Gym, Massey and Sbrocco for $60,000 in Kentucky. Better Said was a good second here with a late move for Toscano and Tetrick. Ed Hart's nice Cam's card Shark colt Dealt A Winner prevented an Alagna-slam when he held safe over Tony's closing Rock On The Hill in 1:54.2 for Brian Sears. Jeff Snyder owns the winner, a $35,000 Harrisburg bargain buy last fall. Live racing resumes at 7:15 this evening with the John Cashman Memorial eliminations headlining the thirteen race card. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

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