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This winter in harness racing in New Zealand has been like no other in living memory. The winter racing scene is usually left to the lesser performed horses to strut their stuff and it is not often that a potential top liner appears at this time of year. However this season we have seen several debutantes win in a manner that suggested a big future. Both Connoisseur and Rycroft created a huge impression when winning on debut and were quickly snapped up by Australian buyers. This Friday at Alexandra Park in the Hydroflow Mobile Pace we have another horse making his debut who looks to have a big future. Trained at Pukekohe by Brent Mangos, Vibhuti has been burning up the trial tracks in recent weeks and looks to have talent to burn. Last Saturday at Alexandra Park at the Auckland Trotting Club workouts, Vibhuti gave a display not often seen by unraced maidens. Not only did he distance his opponents by 6 lengths, but he paced the 2200 meters in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with the last 800 meters in a quick 57.5 and the last 400 meters in a sizzling 26.7 That would win most maiden 2200 meters races at Alexandra Park and even from the second row on Friday night, Vibhuti looks very hard to hold out. The 3 year old son of American Ideal is bred to be good. A half-brother to Mr Chin 1:51.2 ($410,837) and Light Hearted 1:56.6 ($138,452) Vibhuti is closely  related to the former star age group pacer in New Zealand in Butlers First 1:57.4 ($380,883). The family was introduced to New Zealand by David Phillips in his National Bloodstock days when he imported the Keystone Ore mare Lady's First. Hambletonian Limited, the breeder of Vibhuti is the most recent arm of the David Phillips breeding operation. Raced by Hambletonian Limited in partnership with Tony Shaw, Vibhuti is the name for the sacred ash used in Religious worship in Hinduism. Judging by his recent workout performance, Vibhuti doesn't look like he will need any divine intervention to find his way to the winners circle on Friday night.. Harnesslink media

They’re on their way. The powerful New South Wales harness racing stable of Belinda and Luke McCarthy were to the fore at Menangle on Tuesday, winning three Breeders Crown heats, and the Cobbitty yard is sure to be strongly represented at next month’s semi-finals in Victoria. Ominous Warning captured the first race at Menangle, the American Ideal @ Woodlands Breeders Crown 2YO Colts and Geldings Heat 6, defeating Francisco De Gore by a half-neck in a 1:59.1 mile rate with a last quarter of 26.8 seconds and a last half of 55.1. The son of Four Starzzz Shark found the lead easily early in the 2300m race before churning out comfortable early sectionals. Driver Luke McCarthy got busy on Ominous Warning late in the home straight as Francisco De Gore ascended down the outside, the $1.10 favourite holding on for a narrow win over the fast-finishing $40.10 outsider. Another few strides and the result probably went the other way, so punters won’t be sacking the second horse in a hurry. Lettucerockthem showed in Race 2, the Roll With Joe Breeders Crown 3YO Colts and Geldings Heat 5, that he’s in seriously good form. The son of Art Major scored an easy victory, the final 5.4m winning margin not a true indicator of the dominance with which Lettucerockthem handled Tuesday’s competition. Luke McCarthy kept peeping over his shoulder time and again in the straight aboard Lettucerockthem to see Ideal Legacy’s driver hard at work, while the rest of the field might as well have been in another race. Consequently, Lettucerockthem never had to leave second gear, clocking a mile rate of 1:58.3 and a last quarter of 28.4. Flying filly Bamako Mali then gave the McCarthys a third crown heat win for the day in a blistering 1:57.9 in heat six of the two-year-old fillies’ division. McCarthy took Bamako Mali to the front at the top of lane and she dashed clear before late challengers came from all corners in the last 50m. The race commentator commented “she was no good thing” but as is her style Bamako Mali lifted when challenged and held on by a head over Ameretto with a similar distance to Butterfly Princess in third. “Someone told me it was only 0.7 seconds outside the track record,” McCarthy said (Sheezallattitude holds the two-year-old fillies’ record for the 2300m start with a 1:57.2 set in 2010). “She’s got a great will to win. The other one almost headed her. I’d say it levelled up but she fought back. She’s a great trier.” Bamako Mali has won nine of 13 starts and been placed second or third at the other four. On Ominous Warning McCarthy said the gelding had pulled up “a little bit sick” after his recent Breeders Challenge defeat. “We were disappointed not to win that,” he said. “Luckily we were able to get him right in time for yesterday. “Ominous Warning is pretty good. He was still probably a bit underdone yesterday.” McCarthy said Lettucerockthem was potentially in career-best form. “He’s probably in the best form he’s been in since he was a two-year-old,” he said. “I felt he travelled really good throughout yesterday.” Other Breeders Crown heat winners at Menangle were Saloon Passage for Nathan Hurst in the three-year-old boys’ sixth heat, winning by 10.5m in a rate of 1:55.7, and Ocean Diva for trainer Paul Fitzpatrick and driver Blake Fitzpatrick by a short half-head over Starzzzinthenight in 1:59.5 in the three-year-old fillies’ fifth heat. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Three-year-old pacing fillies were featured on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway as part of the New York Sire Stakes. Locally-based Spreester (American Ideal) scored a victory in her division of the $59,100 Sire Stakes behind a late surge with driver Jim Morrill Jr in the sulky. Spreester continued her terrific stakes season behind the 1:53.2 seasonal best victory on Saturday night. The fastest winner of the three "big time" Sire Stakes races was Major Dancer (Art Major). Making her NY debut, the Casie Coleman-trained pacer came charging hard late before drawing away to win in 1:53.1 with Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey in the sulky. The upset of the three stakes races came when Ken Doll J (Bettor's Delight) survived a first over journey to prevail in 1:55.2 with Jimmy Whittemore in the bike. Ken Doll J was dismissed at odds of 9-1 for her first win of 2014. Sire Stakes action returns to the Spa on Wednesday evening when three year old trotting fillies take center stage. Live racing resumes on Tuesday night at Saratoga with first post time set for 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

When no one put in a decent bid at the yearling sales for In The Arsenal, White Birch Farms of Allentown, NJ decided to buy their homebred son of American Ideal back and gave him to trainer Kelvin Harrison to prepare for the races. And that move has paid off royally as In The Arsenal was able to lead from start to finish in capturing the $125,000 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace final for two-year-olds Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Eric Goodell, In The Arsenal was sent right to the lead from start and by the first turn he not only well in command but his main rival, the 2/5 favorite Cartoon Daddy (George Brennan), could not handle the first turn, became rough gated and went off stride. From that point on no one could come close to In The Arsenal as Goodell held the field at bay through fractions of :27.4, :58.4 and 1:28.4 before sprinting home to an easy one and one-quarter length triumph in 1:56.4. Rock N’ Roll World (Eric Carlson), who had the two-hole trip at odds of 42-1, was second with Parklane Eagle (Jordan Stratton) third. “(In the Arsenal) dragged me out of there really good,” Goodell said. “I went faster than I wanted to go early, but he was able to relax after that. “I had no idea the other horse (Cartoon Daddy) made a break. I was just worried about mine and things worked out.” Goodell also won the $44,000 Open Handicap Pace with Dream Out Loud N ($9.70) in 1:51.4, with a :54.4 back half. It was the second straight win for In The Arsenal, who paid $6.30 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Champion pacer Im Themightyquinn finished the Brisbane harness racing winter carnival the same way he started it. The Gary Hall trained nine-year-old once again captivated a massive crowd at Albion Park with a thrilling come from behind victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake defeating tough local pacer Avonnova and Mach Beauty. Handled by regular reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, Im Themightyquinn sat mid-field in the moving line before sustaining a long sprint from the 900m marker while Mach Beauty led his stablemate Suave Stuey Lombo. With Mach Beauty charging down the back straight on the final occasion in a 26.5 second split, Im Themightyquinn was left working hard while Avonnova sat patiently in the trail. In the straight, Im Themightyquinn dug deep to fight his way past Avonnova to score by a half neck margin with Mach Beauty a further 3m away in third. The winning milerate was 1;56.1 – just outside of the track record of 1;55.9 held by Mr Feelgood. Winning trainer Gary Hall was overcome with emotion following the gutsy victory. “This is unbelievable; I thought he was all done at the top of the straight after such a strong back straight split but he showed why he is a champion and that was an effort of a champion. I’m so pleased for the horse and I’m thrilled with the way he’s been admired by the Queensland people.” Hall said. Im Themightyquinn won both open class features during the carnival, the Gr.2 $60,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint in track record time of 1;50.5 plus tonight’s Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake. Im Themightyquinn The Gr.1 $100,000 SKY Racing Queensland Derby was dominated by race favourite and star Sydney colt Bling It On who defeated Alleluia and Yayas Hot Spot. Driven aggressively by Luke McCarthy, Bling It On found the lead at the 2000m point and dictated terms in front thereafter before striding clear to win by 9.5m in a time of 1;57.2 for the 2680m event. The American Ideal colt remains unbeaten in Queensland winning all nine starts to date. Bling It On now heads to Victoria for the Australasian Breeders Crown series next month. Bling It On The Gr.2 $80,000 Kevin & Kay Seymour QBRED Triad 2yo Finals were thrilling contests. Jack Malone scored a nose victory over a gallant A Good Chance with Constantlysideways finishing third after leading. Trained and driven by Peter Greig, Jack Malone rated 1;55.9 for the 1660m event. The Cammibest gelding is raced by Patrice Madden. Jack Malone In the fillies final, the Shannon Price trained stablemates Bettorthanspecial edged out Bettor Promise by a short head margin in a time of 1;58.5. Brad Cowen took the winning drive. Bred and raced by Tony and Katy Price, both fillies are by super sire Bettors Delight. Bettorthanspecial The Gr.3 $45,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4yo Championship was taken out by former Kiwi pacer Five Card Draw who scored via the sprintlane to beat Majestic Major and Chevals Clivesdale in a driving finish. Five Card Draw rated 1;55.8 for the 2138m event. Trained and driven by Darrel Graham, Five Card Draw has now won seven races at Albion Park since being purchased by Dean Shannon earlier this year. Five Card Draw Champion pacer Blacks A Fake was another star attraction trackside tonight parading in front of the massive crowd on a number of occasions which was met by a great response. Harness fans Rob Johnston from Cedar Creek and Alan Lendrum from Toowoomba shared in the experience of a lifetime after being drawn as the lucky winners for the owners of Im Themightyquinn and Bling It On for the night. They took 10% ownership for the night with full owner’s privileges. Well done! by Chris Barsby

Overcast skies this morning to go with the coffee and chocolate babka for Breakfast With The Babies at The Meadowlands. John Campbell took a pair of trots, most notably with the regally bred Muscle Diamond. The son of Muscle Hill from the very accomplished Windylane Hanover added trotting hopples this morning for trainer Brett Bittle and the result was a 1:58.4 win with a 27.2 final quarter. He was a $40,000 buy from the Lexington sale by the Kellers and Bittles who enjoyed such success with his dam. John won right back with the Lucky Chucky lass A List Lindy for Chuck Sylvester. She took over past the quarter and finished the 2:01 mile with a 29 flat final quarter. She's owned by Chuck and long-time partner Neal Goldman along with Pinstripe Stable and her breeder, Lindy Farms who sold her at Harrisburg for $60,000 last fall. Shaqline made her first start for Takter in this one and caught some eyes with her finishing kick. The $450,000 first crop topper for Lucky Chucky, Mr Lucky Luke made his debut today and was second in 2:02 with Campbell driving for the Cancelliere brothers. The winner there was Keystone Bodacious, an $85,000 Muscle Massive colt from Balanced Action. He was driven by Corey Callahan for the Jonas Czernyson barn and owners Arden Homestead, Mal & Janet Burroughs, LST Stables and W. Devan, Jr. Campbell and the Cancelliere boys paired up later with Rock N Roll Heaven colt Raylan Givens for a 1:54.2 score. Raylan set most of the pace and held off the late charge of Shades Of Bay for the win. He's $135,000 Harrisburg buy from Lisheen, thus a half-brother to the champion older pacer of a few years back Lis Mara. A Plus opened the pacing action and the American Ideal filly from Has An Attitude was impressive taking over from Better Said passing the half and sprinting home in 27 flat to close the 1:57.4 mile. Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna picked up where last night left off (they paired for a triple on the card) here with the flashy, blaze faced filly owned by Alagna in partnership with In The Gym Partners, Tangie Massey and Joe Sbrocco. She's A Hot Mess was making her fourth morning appearance and the speedy daughter of American Ideal x Sure Fun Tryin' flaunted her speed today for Alagna and Zeron with an effortless 1:54 win. With the field scratched down to three, She's A Hot Mess was left to set the pace and does wander a bit without a target but she sure covers the ground. She's a homebred owned by the trainer along with the Bell's Riverview Racing and John Fodera. Asap Hanover also turned heads this morning with his stretch sprint to win in 1:54.1 for Tim Tetrick. Making his second morning start following up an impressive 1:56.4/26.2 six length win last week, Asap ranks high on the list of colt prospects seen this summer. He's a $150,000 product of the Lexington yearling sale, sired by Somebeachsomewhere from Allamerican Coed. The colt is owned by John Mehlenbacher and trained by Linda Toscano. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:15 as we continue with Corntastic weekend. The race feature is a pair of eleven horse divisions of the $65,000 Reynolds Memorial stake featuring Hambletonian contenders Nuncio and Trixton making their final preparations for that classic two weeks hence. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, July 17, 2014-The Empire's best 3-year-old colts and geldings-save for He's Watching-invaded Yonkers Raceway Thursday night for the $221,000 New York Sire Stakes Armand Palatucci Pace. The odds-on gelding Twin B Tenacious (Steve Smith, $3.90) won the first ($72,800) division from second-over. Unhurried from the pole, "Tenacious" chased Twin B Speedo (Mark MacDonald) through intervals of :27.2, :58 and 1:25.4. "Speedo" swung wide and whipped the leader by a half-length in 1:54. Third went to Keystone Honor (Matt Kakaley). Smith is now 4-for-4 since picking up the drive behind Twin B Tenacious. "To be honest, I had the drive the first time (Meadowlands) when a lot of the guys were out of town," Smith said. "He had some chicken lines (breaks) previously, and has doesn't always relax. "I learned you have to let him settle, but when I've asked him, he's finished very well. Twin B Tenacious, a son of Bettor's Delight trained by Casie Coleman for owner West Wins Stable, is 4-for-8 this season. The exacta paid $12, with the triple returning $114. The second ($74,100) statebred event was supposed to be fairly simple work night for Art Rooney Pace winner All Bets Off (Kakaley). However, despite a perfect tow from entrymate I'm All Heart (George Brennan), the 1-5 tandem found themselves run over. Capital Account (Yannick Gingras, $35.80), third-over from post position No. 4, snapped All Bets Off by a half-length in 1:52.4. Big Boys Dreams (Jason Bartlett) was third. Fifth choice Capital Account, a Brittany Farms homebred American Ideal colt trained by Jimmy Takter, is now 4-for-11 this season. The exacta paid $76, with the triple returning $336.50. "This was his best race so far," Gingras said. "Sometimes, he's been known to throw in steps, but tonight, this worked out. When I saw Matt (Kakaley) working (on All Bets Off), I knew I had him beat. "The last time he was here (NYSS last month), he was locked in. If I had come first-up, he'd have won but I had to use him leaving. It was a much better trip tonight." Thursday night's final ($74,100) sires soiree saw Forty Five Red (Brennan, $22.60)-last season's winner of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace here-make the lead right at the half and hold sway. Forty Five Red, from post No. 4, took over from Sir Jake's Z Tam (Jordan Stratton) after that one's :27.3 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.3 intermission, it was a 1:24.1 three-quarters and a season's-best 1:52.3 finale, which found Forty Five Red a length better than Winds of Change (Tim Tetrick). Neat (Marcus Miller) was third, while 1-2 choice Stay Up Late (Brian Sears) was a never-in-it dead-heat for fifth. Forty Five Red, a son of If I Can Dream co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Our Horse Cents Stable, has won his last couple after beginning the season 0-for-6. The exacta paid $133, with the triple returning $379.50. "Last week (overnight here), he was all out to win and just didn't race well," Brennan said. "Tonight, I scored him down much harder he was a totally different horse...on the bit and alert." Forty Five Red's winning time Thursday was more than two seconds faster than his previous effort. After Saturday night's $125,000 final of the Sheppard Pace (2-year-old colts/geldings), New York Sire Stakes continue Tuesday night, with the $200,200 Clyde Hirt Pace for 2-year-old fillies colts and geldings. Four, $50,050 groupings go as races 2,4,5 and 6. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Louisville, KY --- It wasn’t exactly in the cards for White Birch Farms to be racing In The Arsenal, but after capturing his $25,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard elimination at Yonkers Raceway on July 12, in front running fashion, they have to feel vindicated after the colt came home from last year’s Harrisburg Sale rather than being in someone else’s barn. “He didn’t reach his reserve,” said Kelvin Harrison, the colt’s conditioner. “So White Birch bought him back for $7,500. It was because he was small, but not real small. He was also absolutely correct. “I think it was because he was the 14th foal out of this mare (Ladyotra). A lot of today’s yearling buyers will steer away from horses after they are the eighth foal for some reason. Also, the thing is they grow and that’s exactly what he did. Even if he had turned out to be a small 2-year-old that wouldn’t have bothered me as Direct Fight (a former Harrison trainee that earned $825,052 in his career) was and it never bothered him.” The son of American Ideal and the On The Road Again mare Ladyotra, In The Arsenal seeks his second consecutive triumph and the second of his three race career on Saturday (July 19) in the $175,000 Sheppard final. In The Arsenal will leave from post position two with Eric Goodell holding the lines in race five. He is the 5-2 morning line second choice in a field of eight. The colt will face some stiff competition from 8-5 morning line favorite Cartoon Daddy, who is a perfect two-for-two with more than $31,000 in the bank and was the other Sheppard elimination victor. But back to In The Arsenal’s family tree. The homebred’s dam was 21 years old when she foaled him, but Ladyotra, who earned more than $115,000 in her racing career, has been as prolific as they come in the breeding shed. From her 14 foals she has produced Exquisite Art (1998, Artsplace, p,3,1:50.4, $578,544), Otra Sign (1999, Life Sign, p,1:54.2f, $115,458), Queen Otra (2001, Artsplace, p,4,1:51, $200,837) and Premier (2007, Artsplace, p,1:51.3f, $158,233). Ladyotra has dropped nine winners and the 12 yearlings that were sold to other buyers at public auction fetched the sum of $589,000. It is still early in his racing career, but In The Arsenal certainly possesses the genetic material to be a very nice horse. “I watched He’s Watching last year in the final of the (New York) Sire Stakes,” Harrison said. “He was a small horse but he has the same sire as In The Arsenal and he certainly could go fast. I watched him again this year in the eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace and he had not grown much from last year but was really muscled out. Then you saw what he did the night of the Meadowlands Pace. 1:46.4. That time speaks for itself. “In The Arsenal has actually grown and is now probably bigger than He’s Watching. He is no longer a small horse but a medium sized one. He’s very muscular and he’s a well put together horse. He is also great gaited. The only thing that ever concerned me with him was he might get a little bit hot.” The colt was sixth in his career debut on July 5, a $15,000 2-year-old race at Meadowlands Racetrack, after having the lead at the half. “It wasn’t the greatest of trips,” Harrison said. “Brian (Sears) chased him up a little bit out of the gate and then he got him going. He put him in the hole and then he didn’t get out of the hole, then was a bit aggressive when he did let him go. He still paced nicely right to the wire. “For the elimination, I thought when the sheet came out, we would put him in the hole and race him from behind, but when I saw what was in there I told Eric (Goodell) to just not get him in trouble.” After Saturday’s engagement, In The Arsenal will appear in most of the major stakes races for his age, gait and gender. “We have him staked up to everything,” Harrison said. “He just has real, real high speed. I think he’s one of those that has enough speed to make his own race. He’s also one of those horses that has never had a bad day. Even when he was training, I trained him with a group and put him behind, etc. He just always did everything so easily. I even worked him at White Birch in 1:59 before I even qualified him. Even then he was really handy.” Here is the field for the Sheppard final, with drivers, trainers and morning line odds: 1-Rock N’ Roll World-Eric Carlson-Nifty Norman-10-1, 2-In The Arsenal-Eric Goodell-Kelvin Harrison-5-2, 3-Perfect Bet, Jeff Dauplaise, Jeff Dauplaise-12-1, 4-Mystical Pacer-Brent Holland-Erv Miller-10-1, 5-Cartoon Daddy-George Brennan-Ron Burke-8-5, 6-Parklane Eagle-Jordan Stratton-Peter Foley-20-1, 7-Lone Survivor-Brian Sears-Sam DePinto-6-1, 8-Byby Landon-Jason Bartlett-Allan Johnson-8-1. Courtesy of Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

Top New Zealand filly Ideal Belle has been scratched from her two-horse Australasian Breeders’ Crown heat at Alexandra Park tomorrow night and has been ruled out of the rich series by trainer Barry Purdon. The New Zealand Oaks winning filly, who would have been one of the favourites for the Group One 3YO fillies division, has suffered a leg injury after being caught in a fence at Purdon’s Clevedon property. The tall American Ideal filly, who showed she was right on song for the series with a smart workout last week, will now head to the spelling paddock. Her scratching means that the Geoff Small trained Zeta Bromac will get a walkover ABC heat win, as will Ideal Belle’s stablemate Sky Major who is still well on track for the 3YO colts and geldings division of the series. In other Breeders Crown news, the Tim Butt trained Field Marshal is set to arrive in Melbourne on August 6 in preparation for the ABC after qualifying in a one horse heat at Cambridge last week, while Katy Perry, who was defeated in her Cambridge heat by Joanne’s A Delight, is already in Australia and will compete in the Tatlow Stakes (Group Two) at Melton on Saturday before heading to a Breeders' Crown Repechage. Katy Perry is just one a strong contingent of Kiwi trained or owned horses that are seat to do battle in feature races across the Tasman this weekend. Others include Messini, Kept Under Wraps, Iceobar, Bettor Rock On, My Arya, Primz Luck, One Over Da Moon, Our Twentyten, and Daenerys Targaryen. However the two highlights of the weekend may come from champion Australian pacers Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up. ‘Trigger’ (Smoken Up) is set to have his last start in New South Wales at Menangle on Saturday and his trainer-driver Lance Justice is expecting a big performance, while ‘Quinny’, who will be reunited with Gary Hall Jnr, will battle it out with Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo, and Avonnova for Group One glory in the Blake’s A Fake at Albion Park on Saturday. After much talk about drivers leading into the race, Lauren Panella has decided to stick with Mach Beauty, while Bart Cockburn, who has been sacked from Avonnova after his interesting drive in the Sunshine Sprint, will take the reins behind Suave Stuey Lombo. Replacing Cockburn in the sulky behind Queensland star Avonnova is Shane Graham, who was victorious in his only drive on the gelding. By Mitchell Robertson  

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, July 16, 2014-Elimination winners In the Arsenal (Eric Goodell, post 2) and Cartoon Daddy (George Brennan, post 5) lead eight 2-year-old colts into Saturday night's $125,000 final of Yonkers Raceway's Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace. In the Arsenal won the first of last weekend's two, $25,000 elims in a maiden-breaking 1:56.2. The White Birch Farm homebred son of American Ideal, caught three-wide early, nonetheless strode out by 2¾ lengths. "(The Sheppard) was always on our schedule," trainer Kelvin Harrison said. "He's a smallish horse, and we thought the half-mile track would suit him." Cartoon Daddy was a tick faster in his elimination, prevailing in 1:56.1. The $60,000 son of Art Major, co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Joe DiScala Jr., hit town after a New York Sire Stakes win at Buffalo. "He was looking around (in his elimination), the way 2-year-olds tend to, but once I pulled the plugs, he was all business," Brennan said. The Sheppard goes as the fifth race (approximate post 8:50 PM) on the 12-race card. After the open draws, the roster is... 1-Rock N' Roll World (Pat Lachance), 2-In the Arsenal (Eric Goodell), 3- Perfect Bet (Jeff Dauplaise), 4-Mystical Pacer (Brent Holland), 5-Cartoon Daddy (George Brennan), 6-Parklane Eagle (Jordan Stratton), 7-Lone Survivor (Brian Sears), 8-Byby Landon (Jason Bartlett). The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

At this point many two-year-olds have a couple of starts in them, so it’s time to marry personal observations with wild speculation and project which ones will be stepping up to win the Cup, Jug and Hambletonion next year. This is by no means a definitive list of the best of the best; as a matter of fact I’m going out of my way to include some by off-brand stallions. That being said, here are a few early standouts. Artspeak is a Western ideal colt out of the Artsplace mare, The Art Museum. The Western Ideals have fallen on hard times at the sales of late, relatively speaking, but Brittany threw $100,000 at this guy, which matched the top price for any of his paternal brothers in North America. He has won both of his NJSS starts for Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna, in dominant fashion. On Pace Day he came first over to win in 1:52.3 at odds of 3/5 at the Meadowlands. Western Ideal has given us the outstanding performers and game changing sires Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal, as well as Always A Virgin and Big Jim. His 2013 crop moves on to the slugfest that is the PASS next year. Stacia Hanover, the winner of the $100,000 NJSS final for freshman pacing fillies, is also by Western Ideal. The $35,000 Harness Breeders purchase is trained by veteran Steve Elliott and, like Artspeak, driven by Scott Zeron. She has two other wins in the restricted class, aside from the high-dollar final which she won in 1:53.4 at odds of 3/5. Yankee Bounty is a two-year-old gelding by the enigmatic Artiscape stallion, Yankee Cruiser. His dam is the Allamerican Native mare Yankee Bootleg. This isn’t a combination that screams early speed. Yes, Yankee Cruiser did give is the current king of the pacing ranks, Sweet Lou, who held world records at two and three, as well as the rejuvenated speed demon Dancin Yankee, but for the most part this stallion was up against it in Pennsylvania. Yankee Bounty, a $21,000 Harness Breeders purchase, has won both of his starts in impressive fashion. He won splits of the Pennsylvania All Stars and the Albatross for Corey Callahan and trainer Kevin Lane. Yankee Cruiser stands his first year in Ohio in 2014. Bob Ben And John is one of the wave of impressive colts from the first crop of 2009 two-year-old division champ Sportswriter. Casie Coleman, who trained the son of Artsplace, and has been the leading cheerleader for his initial offering, plucked him from the Lexington sale for a modest $17,000. His dam is the Cambest mare, My Best Girl. This colt made his first pari-mutuel start last week in a $70,000 OSS-Gold leg at Mohawk. He was an easy winner by three in 1:53 at odds of 2/1 for Chris Christoforou. Sportswriter is absolutely killing it in the freshman pacing division of the Ontario Sire Stakes; he’s taking all the air; none of the others are on the same planet. SBSW shook the Pennsylvania program to its foundation with his first crop, but what’s happening with Sportswriter in his restricted program may be more dramatic. Shadow Play impressed us last year with his first crop, but he hasn’t gone on to be a factor in the open realm with his sophomores. We’ll wait and see if Sporty, a key player from the stressed Adios line, makes his presence felt outside of Ontario. Sassa Hanover is a filly from the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven. Ron Burke bought her at Lexington for $50,000. Sassa’s dam, Sayo Hanover, is half to the very fast Shadyshark Hanover. Jim Morrill drover her to an easy two length win in a NYSS race at Monticello on the July 4. She won in 1:56.3 with plenty to spare. And two of her paternal sisters—She’s Heavenly and Band Of Angels—also won top dollar splits of the sire stakes that day. Heaven was held in high esteem at the sales, and thus far he is fulfilling his promise.   Dragon Eddy is a two-year-old gelding—aren’t they all—by Dragon Again, a stallion known more for throwing rugged long lasting types like Foiled Again, Atochia and Aracache Hanover than he is as a sire of early speed. My Little Dragon won her division at two, but she was an exception. Well, Eddy is something of an outlier himself. He brought $42,000 at Lexington, which is on the pricey side for Dragon Again, who now stands in Ohio. John Buttenschoen trains and Mike Simons drives. At the end of June Eddy won a split of the Pennsylvania All Starts in 1:54.3 at Pocono, and he went on to win a division of the Albatross in an eye opening 1:52.4 at odds of 2/5 at the Meadows on July 8. Mission Brief is a brown Muscle Hill filly who opened a lot of eyes when she took her $100,000 final of the NJSS by 13 lengths in 1:53.3 for Yanick Gingras and Ron Burke. This was an improvement on her previous start, where she only won by ten. Her dam Southwind Serena is by the great trotter Varenne. Mission Brief was a $150,000 Lexington purchase. Look out! The Bank is a Donato Hanover colt out of 2008 three-year-old division winner, Lantern Kronos. He won a split of the Pennsylvania All Stars for Jimmy Takter on July 4th and broke stride while leading on the last turn as the 1/9 favorite in a division of the Hickory Pride at The Meadows this week. Again, Takter drove. Uncle Lasse, a full brother to Shake It Cerry and Solvato, is another very promising Donato colt in the Takter Barn. He also won on July 4. Yesterday he was beaten in a quick 1:56.3 split of the Hickory Pride by the Cantab Hall colt Billy Flynn, driven to perfection by Brett Miller. Possess The Will and Your So Vain notwithstanding, Donato has pretty much been all filly no colt to this point. If this pair is turned over to Gingras or Pierce they could change that in a hurry. Honor And Serve, a Donato colt out of 2008 freshman division winner and world record holder Honorable Daughter, is another who might turn the tide. He just took a split of the Hickory Pride for Dave Palone and Jim Campbell. Royal Deceptor is one of numerous offspring of the New York stallion RC Royalty that sold at the Morrisville sale. The success of last year’s Hambletonion winner, Royalty For Life, inspired many to look favorably upon the eleven-year-old siring son of Credit Winner. Cheryl and Michael McGivern took this brown colt home for $11,000. Royal Deceptor won all three of his qualifiers, then went out and won a split of the NYSS in a track record 1:59.3 at Buffalo Raceway for Michael McGivern. Gatka is a big, rugged filly from the first crop of seven-year-old Hambletonion winner Muscle Massive, whose big brother Muscle Mass met with success in Ontario and has since been relocated to New York. Gatka is a sister to Ake Svanstedt’s Muscle Hill filly Heaven’s Door, who won the $100,000 NJSS sophomore final and finished second behind Shake It Cerry in the Del Miller. She won a division of the PA All Stars at The Meadows in 1:56 at 2/5 and last week she took a split of the Meadow Gladys with ease in 1:57.1 at 1/5.  Billy Flynn, a $120,000 Lexington purchase by Steffan Lind, is by Cantab Hall, arguably the best trotting stallion in North America. Another brown colt—there seems to be a run on them—he is out of the Enjoy Lavec mare Zeta Jones and was bred by Brittany farms. Billy took a split of the PA All Stars by six lengths in 1:57.2 at Pocono earlier this month and he beat the highly regarded Centurion ATM and Uncle Lasse in a division of the Hickory Pride. Brett Miller drives. Wild Honey is proving to be a $35,000 bargain for Jimmy Takter. The daughter of Cantab Hall was a close second to Gatka Hanover in that one’s first start and, like Gatka, won a split of the Meadow Gladys at The Meadows, for Yanick Gingras. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

The Maryland Standardbred Fund Stakes headlined the Sunday race card at Ocean Downs.   The stakes kicked off with two-year-old filly trotters opening the card as early non-wagering events. Driver Vic Kirby took Sign N Drive (Cr Commando) to the front out of the gate, holding off a three-quarter pole challenge by Miss Jocelyn, stopping the timer in 2:06.1 for owner Scott Woogen of Mechanicsville, VA, Duane Wagner was the trainer.   In the second division Callmemza (Great George Two) left the gate from post four and never looked back. Collen In Command got the pocket trip but was never able to challenge Callmemza. W. Bib Roberts trains and co-owns the filly along with Graham Grace Stables and M & W Stables. Time for the mile was 2:07.1 with Jonathan Roberts in the bike.   In the first race on the card, K J Ben (Riggins) gave owner Scott Woogen his second stakes win of the night in the first division of colt/gelding pacers. Reins men Art Stafford Jr picked up his first stakes win of the night with the Duane Wagner trainee in 1:59.2.   A single division of colt/gelding trotters went to post as race 3. Co-owner/trainer/driver Ray Schnittker made his first trip to Ocean Downs a winning one with Broken Record(Muscles Yankee) over Save The Night in 2:00.1. Theodore Gewertz co-owns.   Driver Corey Callahan made a rare appearance at the ocean up behind Toms Typhoon (Cam's Rocket) in the second division for colt/gelding pacers. Corey settled In The Pocket, waiting till the head of the stretch to challenge Quick Art, winning by ¾ length in 1:57.2 for owner Thomas Cooke. Roger Hans is the trainer.   The final two stakes of the night were for filly pacers, with Ringler Stables Ideal Wedding(American Ideal) cutting a mile in 2:00.4 for driver Allan Davis and trainer Richard Ringler. Fancy Sound was second.   The final stake of the night gave owner Scott Woogen his third stakes win of the night when Bag Lady Blue(Roddy's Bags Again) stopped the clock in 2:00.1 over Andi's Peanut. This also gave trainer Duane Wagner his third training win and driver Art Stafford Jr. his second Maryland stakes win.   By Cheri Stambaugh, for the Maryland Stakes Fund  

After facing stout pressure in a :27.0 third quarter, Fireyourguns ($4.70) held sway in the stretch to take the featured $14,000 Open Pace on Sunday (July 13) afternoon at Tioga Downs.   The five-year-old American Ideal gelding wasted no time finding the top spot, clearing Bet On the Law (Tyler Buter) and Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr.) on the first turn. After rating a :57.0 half-mile, Fireyourguns was pushed along up the backstretch by Bet On the Law, who vacated the pocket with three-eighths to go. He sustained his push through the far turn, forcing a three-quarter split of 1:24.0, but Fireyourguns was up for the task, digging in the whole way to protect his lead. He prevailed by a half-length in 1:53.0, holding off a stand-side charge from Prairie Jaguar, who angled three-wide off the late duel to take second. Bet On the Law stayed on for third.   Trainer Terence McClory co-owns Fireyourguns with Jennifer and Robert Lowe. The win aboard Fireyourguns was one of three on the day for driver Aaron Byron, who also teamed up with Cool Like Fire (1:55.4) and 46-1 longshot winner P H Thunder (1:56.2).   Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers on the day with a grand slam, turning in victorious efforts with Hurricane Howard (1:54.4), Oh My Joepa (1:55.0), Jolly Lester (1:55.2), and Western Trademark (1:55.0).   Live racing resumes at Tioga Downs on Friday, July 18, with first post scheduled for 6:15 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

He’s Watching, a $3,000 yearling purchase, tied the all age world record for harness racing pacers on a one mile track as he won the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-olds Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ in 1:46.4. Driven by Tim Tetrick, He’s Watching benefited from following the race favorite, JK Endofanera (Brian Sears), on the outside in the backstretch and they carried him to the top of the stretch. From there He’s Watching had little trouble collaring the race leaders and with a :25.3 last quarter mile, blew by the field to win by three and one-half lengths. Always B Miki (David Miller) was second with Tellitlikeitis (Brett Miller) third. “I’m feeling pretty good,” said winning trainer Dave Menary who selected He’s Watching at the yearling sales. “This was the exact trip I thought he was going to get. I didn’t have to give Tim (Tetrick) any instructions. I was hoping we could get a second over trip behind JK. I did my job all week, Tim did his job and it worked out well. He is very versatile. He can race on the bit or come from off the helmet. Tim said he has more in the tank!” He’s Watching tied the all age world record for pacers with his 1:46.4 victory. The record was first set by Holburn Hanover in 2006 and then again in 2008 by Somebeachsomewhere. Both Lynonssomewhere (Yannick Gingras) and Luck Be Withyou (Ron Pierce) both went out for the early lead with JK Endofanera getting away in third and He’s Watching in fifth place. Past the opening quarter mile in :25.3 and the half in :53.2, Tetrick sat sorta half-in-half-out with He’s Watching and then started on the outside just enough so that when Sears came first-over with JK Endofanera, they were in the perfect spot for the outside cover. Coming to the three-quarters in 1:20.3, Sometimes Said (Corey Callahan) came three-wide but they could not threaten the leaders. Then in the stretch was when Tetrick fanned to the outside with He’s Watching and mowed down the field. “Unbelievable,” Tetrick said. “He is a great horse and I was lucky to pick up the drive. It is just an honor to be able to compete in these big races. I could not have asked for a better trip. It worked out great. My horse really exploded all the way to the wire. Like I said, it was unbelievable.” It was the second straight win and third victory in just six starts this year for He’s Watching. The son of American Ideal went undefeated as a two-year-old and was named the 2013 Dan Patch Award Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. He is co-owned by Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray, Michael Geurriero and Muscara Trust.  Muscara Trust bought half interest in the colt back in December for a reported $1 million. It was a bitter sweet victory for Muscara Trust as the founding member of the Stable, veteran owner/trainer/driver, Joseph Muscara, passed away on Monday at age 90. He also owned Mach Three, who won the Meadowlands Pace back in 2002. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice in the race, He’s Watching paid $6.20 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com 

There is a pot of gold awaiting the best three-year-old trotters and pacers in the province of Quebec as the $400,000 Quebec-Bred Series gets under at the Hippodrome 3R Sunday afternoon. For the next three weeks there will be elimination competition and then on Sunday, August 3, the top eight point earners throughout the series for both trotters and pacers, colts and fillies, will race in the $65,000 finals. Each week the elimination divisions race for a purse of $7,500. “This is a great series to showcase our Quebec-bred trotters and pacers,” Said Vincent Trudel, the general manager for the Quebec Jockey Club at Hippodrome 3R. “The elimination competitions will be very good and I know the finals will make for a great day of racing.” Leading the way in the colt & gelding pacing division is Jefferson Tare, who is the winningest horse this season at the Hippodrome 3R and is now unbeaten in six straight races. He starts from post seven in the seventh race second elimination division. His main competition will come from Hal Bro, Bad Magic and Eveil Dun Champion. The fifth race first division for colts & gelding features Atomic Million Am, who just last week posted a lifetime best 1:50.4 victory at Mohawk Raceway. He starts from post three and he has won six of his eight starts this year and is the morning line favorite to win his division in this series. He faces My Lucky Blue Jeans, D J Power and C L Art Magic. The filly division is headlined by local favorite Hawaiian Drummond, who starts from post four in the fourth race first division. She is a on a four-race win streak at the Hippodrome 3R and in her last start she romped by six open lengths in 1:58.2. It won’t be a walk in the park for Hawaiian Drummond, as she faces a tough foe in newcomer My American Tallia. Making her Canadian debut at 3R this daughter of American Ideal has never won a race in 11 lifetime starts, but she has been second four times, the last two timed in 1:55.1 and 1:56.2 and earlier in 1:52.2. The first race first division for fillies features Night Fall taking on C L Infinite and Bemmol Kalie. The trotting colts and geldings have two divisions and it looks like last year’s champion, Maximuscle, heads the lineup once again. He has won his last three starts, last week wiring the field in 2:00. He will start from post two in the third race first division of the series. His first big test in the series will come from Andovers Touch in post six. Andovers Touch is on a three-race win streak at the Hippodrome 3R and faces Maximuscle for the first time. The second division is the sixth race and is spotlighted by Monster Mass in post three. He has won two of his last four starts and takes on Jardinier and SOS Gasland. The ninth race preliminary round for three-year-old trotting fillies has ten entered. And the race favorite is the filly, Viva Bayama, who drew post ten, which makes her start in the second tier behind the two horse. Viva Bayama is making her debut at the Hippodrome 3R and is the 5/2 favorite despite her outside post. She will face off against Kim Sorel (post 5) and the Jean Beaulieu of Y S Intrigante (post 3) and Y S Magestic Girl (post 7). Post time Sunday is 1:00 pm. For more information visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club

The Queensland winter carnival continued tonight at Albion Park and star filly Nike Franco made a one-act affair of the feature, the Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks. In fact, it was one of the easiest victories in a major event seen at Albion Park for some time. Starting as a short priced favourite, Nike Franco was given plenty of time to balance early before driver Luke McCarthy made his move heading down the back straight on the first occasion. Working to the lead at the 1200m marker, Nike Franco quickly turned the race into a procession. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly scored comfortably by 15m from Charming Allie and Beef City Safari in a time of 1;56.4 for the 2138m event. Nike Franco ran her final half in 56.3 seconds. “She is a high quality filly with strength and a great cruising speed; she travelled very well tonight and gave me a real armchair drive. Both Belinda and I have to make special mention of Dean Braun who prepared the filly before we took her over, she was in great shape.” Winning reinsman Luke McCarthy said. Connections now have the option of lining up against the boys next week in the Gr.1 $100,000 Queensland Derby. Nike Franco Nike Franco wasn’t the only feature race winner for Team McCarthy with the stable also scoring in the Gr.3 $45,000 Knudsens Betta Home Living 4 & 5yo Championship with speedster Chilli Palmer and the Gr.3 $30,000 TattsBet Gold Coast Derby with star colt Bling It On. Chilli Palmer, renowned for his devastating sprint, unleashed his power over the concluding which came off a genuine tempo to score comfortably defeating Terror Time and Majestic Mach. The milerate was 1;54.4 for the 2138m event. The Elsu gelding was only having his second start for the stable following his scratching last week from the Sunshine Sprint. Connections have the option of starting in either the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake or the Gr.3 $45,000 4yo Championship next week. Chilli Palmer Brilliant colt Bling It On scored a narrow yet decisive victory in the Gold Coast Derby tonight, clearly proving he is the horse to beat in next week’s blue riband classic. Sitting back in the field, the American Ideal colt sustained a strong sprint from the 600m marker to hold off Alleluia and Major Sam in a time of 1;56.2 for the 2138m event. Bling It On remains unbeaten in Queensland after eight starts. Leading breeder/owner Harvey Kaplan shares in the ownership of both Bling It On and Nike Franco. Bling It On Star Queensland mare Forever Gold proved she was on target for next week’s Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake following her dominant victory in the Gr.3 $30,000 Southern Queensland Plumbing Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes. Sent to the lead soon after the start by driver Kylie Rasmussen, Forever Gold cruised to an easy victory defeating Missing Letters and Gliding Rose in a time of 1;55.6 for the 2138m event. Forever Gold has now won this event for three straight years. Forever Gold The $20,000 Lunchbox Lodge Country Cup Final was taken out by classy pacer Beetson who led throughout in the 2138m feature defeating Glenferrie Hood and Karloo Kix in a time of 1;56.6. Recently transferred to the stables of Shannon Price, the multiple feature race winner made a clean sweep of the series after scoring arrogantly in the heat last week. And former track record holder Suave Stuey Lombo exacted revenge on new track record holder Im Themightyquinn when successful in the Centenary Classic Mercedes Benz Open Pace. Finding the lead, Suave Stuey Lombo was brilliantly rated in front by Lauren Panella and defied Im Themightyquinn over the concluding stages after staging a great war over the final lap. The 2138m event was covered in a time of 1;54.7 with the final half paced in 56.1 seconds. Both pacers will back-up next week. Next week, the features include the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake, the Gr.1 $100,000 SKY Racing Queensland Derby, the Gr.2 $80,000 Kevin & Kay Seymour QBRED Triad 2yo Finals and the Gr.3 $45,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4yo Championship. The mighty Queensland champion Blacks A Fake will also be trackside to parade before fans next week. And don’t forget about the opportunity to win 10% ownership of either Im Themightyquinn or Bling It On for the night next week, for further details check out the website – aphrc.com.au By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

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