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Former world champion Perfect Alliance, who was victorious in her first 11 races this year before suffering back-to-back setbacks, will try to get another win streak started when she faces five harness racing foes in Friday's $20,000 first round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Perfect Alliance finished seventh in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series on July 12 at the Meadowlands. The race was won by Bee A Magician in a world-record 1:51.1, with Perfect Alliance 4-1/4 lengths back. Afterward, Perfect Alliance was found to have bled, in addition to scoping sick, and will compete with Lasix on Friday. In her previous start on June 14, Perfect Alliance finished second to Classic Martine in the Armbro Flight Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Perfect Alliance starts Friday's Ima Lula from post six, with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Julie Miller, and is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The remainder of the field is Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, and NF Happenstance. "I was pretty surprised because she had a layoff and trained good during the week," Miller said about Perfect Alliance's performance last week. "This time of year, we do have a little bit of sickness in the barn with the young horses. She still went in (1):52 with a last quarter in :27, it's still an impressive mile, but I didn't like how she did it. "After scoping her and pulling the bloodwork, we elected to put her on Lasix and treat her for being sick. She seems really good. We took the necessary steps to get her better for this week. I'm just hoping for a nice bounce-back race. I'll let Corey decide behind the gate what he wants to do, if he wants to leave or race from behind. I just want to see her finish strong at the wire." Perfect Alliance -- owned by Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz, and Arthur Geiger -- won the Singer Memorial Series and the Bobby Weiss Series during the winter and equaled the then-fastest mile ever by a 4-year-old female trotter when she won a division of the Miss Versatility in 1:51.2 at Woodbine Racetrack. She also set a track record at Mohawk, winning in 1:51.4. "You always want more, and we're the same way," Miller said. "She started luckily in good spots [earlier in the year] where she seemed to be the prohibitive favorite all the time, to where she did prove herself in those races in Canada. "You're going to have a clunker every now and then. They're living animals; they're going to have an off day. You just need to listen to your horse and let them decide their schedule. I'm still proud to train her and I'm sure the owners are still proud to own her." The second round of the Ima Lula is July 25 and the $55,000 estimated final is Hambletonian Day, Aug. 2, at the Meadowlands. Reynolds Memorial Stakes divisions for 3-year-old trotters are on Saturday's Meadowlands card. Only four fillies entered, so that race will be a non-betting event prior to the regular 7:15 p.m. post time for the night's first race. One of those fillies is Julie Miller-trainee Take The Money, who is auditioning for the chance to race in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks. Eliminations for the Oaks are July 26 and the $500,000 final is Aug. 2 at the Big M. Take The Money, owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing, has won six of 10 races this year, primarily in Pennsylvania. She has twice finished second to top Hambletonian Oaks contender Shake It Cerry. She will be driven Saturday by Marcus Miller and faces Bikini So Teeny, Silent Opera K, and Mity's Winner. "She's been a nice [Pennsylvania] Sire Stakes horse, in my opinion," Miller said. "We're using this race to decide whether if we're a Hambletonian Oaks contender or not. She's had a little bit of a layoff, but I want to see a nice race, finishing with trot. With a four-horse field, it's usually just a race home. That's what I want to do. "If Marcus hops off the bike and says 'She was vicious, she was super,' then you go in the Oaks. If he says she didn't seem strong, then we have to have a discussion. She trained really good. I know by program she seems to be the best, but that's why they still race. I'm just hoping for a strong race." On the boys' side, there are two 11-horse divisions worth $32,207 each. Jimmy Taker-trained Nuncio, who has won four of six races this year and twice finished second to nemesis, and stablemate, Father Patrick, is part of the 3-5 favored entry with Amped Up Hanover in the first division. Nuncio and Amped Up Hanover are eligible to the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Aug. 2. The rest of the field is Uva Hanover, Another Deposition, Sarcastic Man, Southwind Poseidon, Revrac Harbour, Resolve, Home Front, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. All are eligible to the Hambletonian except Another Deposition, Dony Andreas, and Montalbano Bi. Takter's Trixton is the 3-5 choice in the second division. The split also includes Mister B's Way, Skates N Plates, Another Transcript, Truxton, Well Built, Speak The Truth, Scacco Matto, Lightning Force, Muscle Midas, and Datsyuk. All are eligible to the Hambletonian. * * * The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters on Friday visits Harrah's Philadelphia, where several horses with famous siblings will go behind the gate. Kolachke (Donato Hanover-La Riviera Lindy) is a half-sister to 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven and Sistas (Andover Hall-Honorable Mother) is a half-sister to Honorable Daughter, the 2008 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter. Inch By Inch (Yankee Glide-Armbro Niagara) is a full sister to millionaire Falls For You, Lilu Hanover (Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover) is a full sister to stakes-winner Luckycharm Hanover, and Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough) is a three-quarter-sister to 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Heaven's Door. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications  

Bee A Magician, the 2013 Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year after her undefeated 17 race season, finally got her first win of 2014 after five starts, beating the top trotting mares in the country in a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility at the Meadowlands Saturday. And unlike most of last year, she did it by coming from behind for driver Brian Sears. Classic Martine (Tim Tetrick) was the first to leave with Perfect Alliance (David Miller) also leaving and settling into the two-hole. They went to the first quarter in a quick :26.3. Then Miller came out with Perfect Alliance to quarter move and before she could clear to the lead, there was Maven and driver Yannick Gingras flying three-wide on the outside and they took command. Past the half mile marker in :55.2, Maven was in control of the lead as D’Orsay (Corey Callahan) came first-over and Miller followed the outside flow second over with Bee A Magician. To the three-quarters in 1:24.3, Maven was still on top but D’Orsay was gaining ground and giving Bee A Magician a perfect outside trip. Down the stretch D’Orsay past Maven and then Sears got Bee A Magician into high gear and she trotted on by and then was able to hold off a late closing Charmed Life (Brett Miller) to win by a neck in 1:51.1. D’Orsay was third. Trained by R. Nifty Norman, Bee A Magician is a four-year-old mare by Kadabra and is owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. Her time of 1:51.1 was one fifth of a second from her lifetime mark. She paid $4.00 to win as the even money favorite. Bee A Magician By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

I love to take credit when I do something right. Those of you that read my column last week or saw me at the Meadowlands knew how much I thought that Your So Vain could win the Hambo Matturity and he did at 7-1 and that Bee A Magician was the play in exacta’s and that came back a very nice $71.00. Now the action is almost all at the Meadowlands on Saturday headed by the Meadowlands Pace and other top stakes event, but Friday there are eliminations for the Maple Leaf Trot and thus we must see what magic Ake and Sebastian K can wow the crowd with. Good Luck! $40,000 Trot Maple Leaf Eliminations Mohawk Raceway 3rd race FRIDAY – No place or show wagering and rightly so as Sebastian K is the premier trotting star in the world of harness racing this year. After his amazing 1:49 world record victory in his last start everyone will be wondering if he can surpass that at Mohawk. Maybe not this week but perhaps next week. Use Flanagan Memory and Wishing Stone in exotic plays. $40,000 Trot Maple Leaf Eliminations Mohawk Raceway 8th race FRIDAY – Without Sebastian K in this field it becomes very competitive. Only Modern Family has been able to stay somewhat close to him so look for this good trotter to get out early to the lead and not look back. He usually can win when Sebastian K is not in the race. Use Market Share and Intimidate in exotic plays. $100,000 Trot NJSS Final 2YO Colts Meadowlands 1st race SATURDAY – Tough to go against a trotting colt from the Jimmy Takter Stable that has yet to face defeat and drops a few seconds every time he races. That’s the case in here with French Laundry who has been perfect early on and should reap some big rewards in here. Use Stonebridge Force and Canepa Hanover in exotic plays. $100,000 Trot NJSS Final 2YO Fillies Meadowlands 2nd race SATURDAY – Surprised at such a short field going for $100,000. Going with Mission Brief over Saturday Mornings as last week Mission Brief put on a trotting clinic for Ron Burke Stable in posting a ten length romp in 1:55.1. What a mile in only her second lifetime start! Use Saturday Mornings and Demons N Diamonds in exotic plays. $317,000 Trot Stanley Dancer Memorial Meadowlands 4th race SATURDAY – Let’s see if this will be an early prep for the finish of the Hambletonian as Jimmy Takter has all three of his top colts in the race. I nearly selected Trixton as he is not a great leaver but once he gets going he is too tough to beat. But after Father Patrick’s world record mile I think he may be in a class by himself. Going to be a great race. Use Trixton and Nuncio in exotic plays. $213,500 Trot Del Miller Memorial Meadowlands 5th race SATURDAY – Going to take a shot in here that trainer Ake Svanstedt has Heaven’s Door primed and ready to take on Shake It Cerry. Last two starts this filly has been awesome with a lifetime mark of 1:52. A repeat of that mile will make her a winner again. Use Shake It Cerry and Designed To Be in exotic plays. $212,150 Pace Mistletoe Shalee Final Meadowlands 6th race SATURDAY – Last week Sandbetweenurtoes showed true grit in grinding out a very impressive elimination division victory in 1:49.3. She is unbeaten in her five starts this year and same effort will get her back in the winner’s circle. Use Table Talk and Uffizi Hanover in exotic plays. $178,450 Pace Golden Girls FFA Mares Meadowlands 7th race SATURDAY – Another classic match-up of the best open mares in racing. I am going with Shebestingin as she has seemed to return to her winning ways and last week popped a 1:50.3 score against lesser competition but sometimes a win like that will wake a horse up. Use Anndrovette and Somwherorainbow in exotic plays. $463,300 Pace William Haughton Memorial Meadowlands 8th race SATURDAY – Here comes the best open pacers in all the land and heading the lineup is none other than Sweet Lou. He has been unbeaten in his last five starts against the very best and once he gets rolling I don’t think anyone will be able to catch him once again. Use Captaintreacherous and State Treasurer in exotic plays. $776,000 Meadowlands Pace Final 3YO Colts Meadowlands 9th race SATURDAY – Gentlemen, start your engines! This will be a classic race as it always is. JK Endofanera is the favorite and rightly so after his impressive win last week but He’s Watching impressed me the most. He showed that with any live cover he can beat the best and I think that is what is going to happen tonight. Either way it will be a great race. Use JK Endofanera and Lyonssomewhere in exotic plays. $40,000 Trot Miss Versatility Older Mares Meadowlands 10th race SATURDAY – What a great group of world class trotting mares in this race. I have to go with Bee A Magician after she wove her way around the best older trotters in the world last week and came away with a strong second place finish showed me she is back to winning form. Use Perfect Alliance and Maven in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace NJSS Final 2YO Colts Meadowlands 11th race SATURDAY – If Artspeaks continues to improve over his last two starts he will mop up this field once again. His late moves have been pretty sharp, especially last week when he scored in 1:53.3 for Scott Zeron. Use Dealt A Winner and Weapons Dealer in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace NJSS Final 2YO Fillies Meadowlands  13th race SATURDAY – When you show last quarters in :27.4 and :25.4 in just your first two pari-mutuel starts, then you are a force to be reckoned with. That’s what Stacia Hanover has done and she is undefeated in her early career and looks to stay that way for a while. Use Cashaway and Ideal Nuggets in exotic plays. 

East Rutherford, NJ - No fewer than seven major Grand Circuit stakes will populate the Saturday night card at The Meadowlands, led by the track's signature race, The Meadowlands Pace.   The all-star lineup begins with a pair of high-stakes preps for trotting's top prizes, the August 2 Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks.   Race four is the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial three-year-old colt trot which will be the stage for last year's top freshman Father Patrick to battle Trixton who has emerged as a worthy adversary this season. It is the first time these two have met, the occasion made even more intriguing by the fact that both are trained in the Jimmy Takter stable.   Oddsmaker Darin Zoccali has Father Patrick (Yannick Gingras) listed as a strong morning line favorite at 4/5 from post nine, while Trixton is at 3/1 from post twelve in the second tier with trainer Takter aboard.   The $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for sophomore trotting fillies also pits last year's finest against emerging talent. Shake It Cerry was clearly the best of a very talented crop last season, easily winning year end awards for the Takter stable and regular driver Ron Pierce. She has transitioned successfully to sophomore status winning four of five starts this season and is the 9/5 choice from post seven.   Her only loss required the world record 1:51.3 effort by Designed To Be at Pocono last month. It was the second time Designed To Be has assaulted the record books, having taken the two-year-old title with her 1:52.2 mile last fall in Lexington. She will have Brian Sears aboard for trainer Julie Miller on Saturday.   The remarkably fast Cooler Schooner is the fastest freshman trotter ever, regardless of sex by virtue of her amazing 1:51.3 win last summer at Pocono. She is sometimes guilty of self-sabotage but can never be dismissed. The Campbell brothers, John and Jim will conspire to manage that wicked speed toward its best use.   The new shooter in this division is Heaven's Door another who demonstrated great talent at two for Ross Croghan but it took until this year for her mind to catch up to her speed. She was sold over the winter and moved into the Ake Svanstedt barn where she has flourished. She won last month's NJSS final in a stakes record 1:52 with great ease and is facing the division's best now for her new connections and adds another element of suspense.   Next up (race six) will be the $212,500 Mistletoe Shalee for sophomore pacing fillies, another contentious contest. Sandbetweenurtoes raced but once at two for Tony Alagna but showed such promise in her first few starts at three that the brothers Remmen, Ray and Larry, bought her for John Grant and she hasn't lost since. She was the winner of last week's elimination in 1:49.1 with Brett Miller aboard and will likely be the post time fave off a 5/2 morning line.   Precocious Beauty was the divisional leader last year for the McNair barn and has yet to find that form thus far at three, though last week's race was encouraging. Takter's Uffizi Hanover won the 2013 Breeders Crown and the Fan Hanover this year for her regular pilot, newly minted Hall of Famer David Miller.   The older dames race on the pace for $178,450 in the cleverly named Golden Girls stake in the seventh race. Joe Holloway has always had a way with the ladies, training several distaff champions over the years and has a formidable pair in this one. Somwherovarainbow has well over a million in career earnings and has been in deadly form for Joe since early spring with six wins from ten starts, among those the Bluechip Matchmaker final. Brian Sears drives.   Her stable mate Shebestingin is the fastest female Standardbred ever, having seared The Red Mile clay in an eye-popping 1:47 flat last fall. She has yet to beat the best of this division since graduating into the open ranks but her speed make her a danger for David Miller.   The race favorite at 2/1 is the iron-tough race mare Androvette. Her story has been told many times but never gets old, particularly for her connections. She vaults over $3million lifetime with a win in this stake for trainer PJ Fraley and her constant racing companion Tim Tetrick.   Just when you think, "Well, this just can't get any better," you come to the meat of the card. Race 8 contains the finest Free For All pacers in the land racing for $463,300 in the WR Haughton Memorial, one of the biggest events of their season. The lifetime earnings for these ten horses are just north of the $20 million mark.   Captaintreacherous is the two time defending Pacer of the Year and a winner of over $3million in his racing career for trainer Tony Alagna. He's developed into a fan favorite with his gritty, never give up style and he'll need every bit of that heart, a large dose of speed and another clever steer from Tetrick on Saturday. He's drawn a favorable post starting just inside the 8/5 favorite, Sweet Lou.   Sweet Lou has flashed brilliance from the start for his connections and still holds the freshman pacing world speed record. Now five year of age, he's in the best form of his career and has been invincible since paired with driver Ron Pierce in May. Together they are five for five, all in 1:48.3 or faster culminating with a world record 1:47 the hard way at Pocono in the Franklin, the fastest mile on a five-eighths track in history.   Sweet Lou is one of a formidable four horse armada sent out in the Haughton by Meadowlands and national leading trainer Ron Burke. The four Burke horses alone have amassed a staggering $12million in career earnings led by the richest pacer in history, ageless wonder Foiled Again at $6.3 million. Foiled will have to overcome the extreme outside post for his regular driver Yannick Gingras in this battle.   The $776,000 Meadowlands Pace is race nine on the star studded extravaganza and has been well covered in many arenas, so for our purposes let's just say it shapes up to be a very exciting and contentious race, as is usually the case in the absence of a clear division leader.   Among the deepest and most contentious divisions this season is the older trotting mares. The returning Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, last year's division leader Maven and pair of four year old mares that have blossomed into trotting divas, Perfect Alliance and Classic Martine will all meet among a field of eight in the $40,000 Miss Versatility in race ten.   It's one for the ages this Saturday night at The Meadowlands with over $2.5 million in purses offered over the 13 race card, including four $100,000 finals for state bred freshmen. Post time is 6:30pm and it's going to be well attended, so if you're thinking of coming out make your reservations now. If not, the Haughton and Pace will be carried live on the CBS Sports Network and the TVG Racing network.   From the Meadowlands Media Relations Office

Sebastian K has taken the harness racing world by storm. Sebastian K turned in the fastest mile in the history in harness racing with an awe inspiring 1:49 victory in the Mohegan Sun Invitational Trot. Previously, Sebastian K had already amazed the harness racing world by becoming the first horse to trot three consecutive sub 1:51 miles. Sebastian K will look to add to his unblemished North American record when he ventures north of the border to race in Maple Leaf Trot Eliminations on Friday at Mohawk.  Ake Svanstedt has established his new training operation by buying a new farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. He has a stable of 53 horses at his new operation. We recently were able to see his latest star, Your So Vain, winning the first ever Hambletonian Maturity with an uncanny drive to victory over Bee A Magician. His unique training and driving skills has been exposed to the harness racing world Ake Svanstedt dominated harness racing in Sweden for 15 years. His acclaimed record includes four Trainer of the Year and three Driver of the Year Awards in Sweden. One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy HLINK: Congratulations on your world record performance at Pocono Downs. How did Sebastian K come out of the race? AS: He came out great. He is eating well, drinking well and feeling real good. HLINK: Did you decide to go for the world record at Pocono? AS: He warmed up really well. He was doing so well in the race, so I decided to go for it. I was pushing him at the end. HLINK: Is this the best that Sebastian K has ever been? AS: These last two races is the best he has ever been. HLINK: Can anybody beat Sebastian K? AS: He can come out of form or something can happen in a race.  Every race is a new race. HLINK: Your next race is the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk? When will you ship up for that? AS: Hopefully we get out of the elimination and can go right to the final. We will ship the day before. HLINK: What other races are on Sebastian K's schedule? AS: We have a race at Vernon Downs in August, Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park on September 20th and Allerage at Lexington on September 28th. HLINK: Did Sebastian K race without shoes on Saturday at Pocono? AS: Yes he raced without shoes HLINK: What did you think of the track surface at Pocono Downs AS: It is a very nice track. It is one of the fastest we have ever driven on. HLINK: In Sweden you had a stable of over two hundred horses. Your stable now has fifty-three horses. How many horses would you like to have in your stable? AS: We do not want many more. We are very happy with the amount of horses we have now. HLINK: You recently purchased a new horse farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. Can you tell us about the place? AS: It is a perfect farm. It is a very nice area that is very quiet. It is a 140 acre farm. There is a round and a straight track for conditioning. There is a large paddock with plenty of room. It is a perfect training farm. HLINK: You now have Muscle Network ($324,350 earned last year) in your barn. How is he doing and when will we see him race. AS: He is in a qualifier Saturday. We are looking at the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands to race him. He is a really nice horse. He is getting better and better. HLINK: You have a large group of two-year-olds that you will have racing. What can you tell us about them and who is your next star? AS: We have one in Pocono on Friday. We have a couple in the New Jersey Sire Stakes on Friday. We don't go too fast in the qualifiers. We are going to have to see them in the races a few times. It's all about speed these days. You have to see who can keep up with the speed. You don't want to get too high on a horse and then get disappointed. HLINK: Ocean Love Potion was an impressive winner the other day in the Pennsylvania Sire stakes for three-year-old fillies. Please tell us about her progress. AS: She did not do too much as a two-year-old. She was doing very well over the winter. She really surprised us in the race. When she is training she doesn't seem like she is really training. She has a really good head for the races. HLINK: You have some other three-year-olds. AS: Heaven's Door won the Sire Stakes Final. She is a really nice filly that will be in the Hambletonian Oaks. She won her last race and is in next weekend. She is going to the Oaks after that. HLINK: We are all intrigued by your white horse, White Bliss. How is this horse progressing? AS: He is training down. He had some bad colic which put his training back a few weeks. We are in no hurry with him. He will probably start racing in September. HLINK: The other night, Stonebridge Force, and Yannick Gingra's horse Cenapa Hanover, got into a hardball battle on the lead. You parked out Cenapa Hanover and wouldn't let him pass. AS: Yannick horse was bearing out. We had to hold our speed. You don't want to give anything for free. HLINK: Your So Vain Made an impressive move to the top the other night. Tell us about that race? AS: They were going really slow. They were walking. I thought that I better make that move now before someone else does. I wanted to get to the lead and let them catch me. HLINK: Do you train your pacers any different than the trotters? AS: We train them the same as the trotters. HLINK: How is your training methods different than other trainers in America? AS: We train the horses to be really strong. If there are strong they can carry their speed a long way. That is the main thing. HLINK: Tell us about your owners? AS: We have a great bunch of owners. Most of our owners are from Sweden. We encouraged them to come to America and have some success with us. HLINK: You have a horse with Jeff Gural, Blue Muse. How is it to train for him? AS: He is easy to train for. He doesn't ask many questions. He wants to know some info once in a while. He is a great guy to train for. It was an honor to be asked to train horses for Jeff Gural. HLINK: You have been doing some catch driving. How much of that will you be doing? You drove for the Burkes, did they tell you anything? AS: We were driving to get to know the speed of the races and get to know the other drivers. The speed is a little different than Sweden. If we get to drive a good horse, of course we are going to drive him. The Burkes just asked us to drive the horse. HLINK: What do you think of Father Patrick? AS: He is a really nice horse. It is one of the best three-year-olds I have ever seen. HLINK: We have in America rivalries that develop. It is like in hockey when the Flyers play the Rangers. They don't like each other. Do you see a rivalry developing between Jimmy Takter and yourself? AS: No!!! no! no! It's not like that, of course we are competing on the track. It is friendly competition. HLINK: What can we do to make racing in America better and more popular? AS: (Laughter) I don't know. (Laughter). I think we need to get the people more connected with the great horses. We have to promote the sport. We should get the people more connected with the people behind the scene, the trainers and the drivers. HLINK: People are pronouncing your first name many different ways. Some say “Akee” and some say “Okee”…Can you please tell us the correct way? AS: The correct way to say it is “Okee,” but if someone wants to say it different I do not mind. It is difficult to get the proper translation from Swedish to American. We have already seen Ake Svanstedt dominate two divisions of the trotters with Sebastian K and Your So Vain. In the coming months, Ake will be unveiling his stable of acclaimed two-year-old trotters. It will not be a surprise to see Ake produce some more stars for the harness world. Nothing he does the rest of the year will come as a shock. He has already made harness racing history and will be adding to that resume. By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com

This Week: Meadowlands Pace, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Golden Girls and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Maple Leaf Trot eliminations, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Hanover events for 3-year-old colt pacers and 3-year-old filly pacers, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Sheppard eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit schedule continues to be a busy one and this week the spotlight shines on several racetracks, beginning with the Meadowlands. The stakes heavy Saturday card features the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds, the $463,300 W.R. Haughton Memorial for free for all pacers, the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $178,450 Golden Girls for older pacing mares, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $40,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and the $40,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers, both at Balmoral Park, and two $25,000 eliminations at Yonkers in the Lawrence B. Sheppard for 2-year-old colt pacers. Grand Circuit racing for the week begins on Friday (July 11) at Mohawk Racetrack with two C$40,000 eliminations in the Maple Leaf Trot for free for all trotters. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Mohawk entries can be found at this link. Last time: Ray Schnittker had an incredible performance during last weekend's Grand Circuit action. He posted 145 training points, 125 driving points and 55.1 owner points, thanks to his success in Landmark Stakes events at Historic Track. Schnittker trained, drove and shared ownership in six of the nine Landmark winners from the Friday (July 4) card in Goshen. Among the winners was 3-year-old male pacer Stevensville, who could be heading to the $450,000 Delvin Miller Adios at the end of the month. Stevensville (Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show), who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Max C. Hempt Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, won the $19,340 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old pacers in 1:58.1 over a sloppy track. Owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna, and Ryan Miller, Stevensville has won seven of 21 career races and $185,079. He finished second in last year's Matron Stakes. Other winners for Schnittker, who is based at Historic Track, were 2-year-old male trotter Gabe The Bear Dean, 2-year-old female pacer Shes Ready To Rock, 3-year-old female trotter Suegrabbitnrun, 3-year-old male trotter Derby, and 2-year-old female trotter Kaliska. The Saturday (July 5) Grand Circuit feature at Meadowlands Racetrack was the inaugural $484,850 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, going 1-1/8 miles with no Lasix permitted. It drew an overflow field of 14, including defending Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who had the misfortune to draw unlucky post 13. Your So Vain pulled a 7-1 upset, benefitting from a bold drive by trainer Ake Svanstedt who gunned to the front with a three-wide move on the backstretch and prevailed by 2-3/4 lengths. It was a terrific display by a horse that had not raced since November, and was debuting for the Svanstedt barn. The time was 2:05.3 as Your So Vain paid $16.60 to win. Bee A Magician, jammed up in traffic and shuffled far back in the early stages, kicked in strongly to get second over Flanagan Memory. JK Endofanera will be the 2-1 favorite for the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace final with He's Watching a close 5-2 second choice. The two standout colts won their $50,000 Pace eliminations on July 5, setting the stage for a classic showdown on July 12. JK Endofanera won the first elimination in a career-best 1:48.2 at the end of a surprisingly tight finish for the 2-5 favorite. Having fended off Doo Wop Hanover rounding the final turn, JK Endofanera found stretch challengers to his left as Lyonssomewhere tried to squeeze up the pylons while to his right, Always B Miki came charging down the center of the track. JK Endofanera dug in to hold off Always B Miki by a neck with Lyonssomewhere getting third. Brian Sears handled the 3 Brothers homebred trained by Ron Burke. He's Watching won the faster elimination in 1:48.1, also a lifetime best. Last year's Dan Patch Award champion following an eight for eight campaign, He's Watching has come back strong this season with two wins in five starts for Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. Despite starting from post nine, driver Tim Tetrick maneuvered He's Watching into a perfect second-over trip. They roared through the lane to reel in 17-1 longshot Sometimes Said by 2-3/4 lengths. Luck Be Withyou was third. Complete recaps of 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 - 392; 2. Tim Tetrick - 389; 3. Ron Pierce - 252; 4. Brian Sears - 190; 5. George Brennan - 164.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 638.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 287; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 182; 5. Joe Holloway - 142. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 2. Burke Racing - 145.75; 3. Weaver Bruscemi - 134.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. Ray Schnittker - 68.65. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Mohawk Racetrack, Yonkers Raceway, Northfield Park, The Meadowlands and The Meadows. Mohawk will race the Maple Leaf Trot; Yonkers Raceway will offer the Sheppard final; Northfield will contest the Battle of Lake Erie; The Meadowlands will have W.N. Reynolds Memorial races for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters; and The Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand CIrcuit  

East Rutherford, NJ - Saturday night brings one of the most anticipated Grand Circuit cards of the season to The Meadowlands. The racing centers around a pair of $50,000 eliminations for The Meadowlands Pace and the inaugural $484,500 Hambletonian Maturity four year old trot. The Pace elims are carded as races six and seven with the top five finishers from each to return for the $776,000 final next Saturday. North America Cup winner JK Endofanera is the 6/5 choice in the first elim for Meadowlands leading trainer Ron Burke for owners the 3 Brothers Stable. NA Cup second place finisher Tellitlikeitis, trained by Jimmy Takter for the Lothlorien stable, and He's Watching, third in the 'Cup, lead the charge in the seventh. He's Watching was last year's divisional Dan Patch champ and is looking for his best form for trainer David Menary who owns him in partnership with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. The Hambletonian Maturity, raced at a mile and one eighth, is a new concept designed to provide a stake restricted to four year olds as they transition into the aged ranks. The race has attracted both 2013 Hambletonian and Oaks winners Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician. It will be the first foray for 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician against males, a task made more difficult by the fact that she drew post 13 in the bulky fourteen horse field. Brian Sears, who drove both last season, has opted for "Queen Bee", conditioned by Nifty Norman for Hartman, Liverman and Mc Duffee. Royalty For Life races out of the George Ducharme barn and will be making his first seasonal start from post six with new driver David Miller (who will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday). His ownership consists of New Englanders Alfred Ross, Ray Campbell, Jr and Paul Fontaine. Rounding out the stakes is a single $25,000 elimination for the $212,000 Mistletoe Shalee three year old filly pace where ten fillies race to eliminate three. Those seven will meet the three fillies (Rock N Roll Xample Uffizi Hanover and Weeper) that were granted a bye into next Saturday's final. The WR Haughton Memorial FFA pace required no eliminations and the ten high powered pacers entered will go right through to next Saturday's $463,000 final. Also on the program is the second leg of the two year New Jersey Sires Stakes with the pacing fillies going as a single ten and the colt pacers split into a pair of eights. There is a special post time of 6:30pm on Saturday with a stunning fireworks display set to thrill onlookers after the races are completed. Reservations may be made for both this Saturday and next week's star studded extravaganza by calling 201-THE-BIGM. Further information is available by visiting The Meadowlands website. From Meadowlands Media Relations  

Bee A Magician will try to return to her winning ways when she faces 13 male rivals - including last year's Hambletonian Stakes winner Royalty For Life - in Saturday's $484,850 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Last year, Bee A Magician won all 17 of her starts and was named Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada. This season, the mare is winless in three races and coming off a ninth-place finish in the Armbro Flight Stakes on June 14 at Mohawk Racetrack. It was her first off-the-board finish since going off stride in her second lifetime start in July 2012. Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman said Bee A Magician scoped sick following the Armbro Flight. Bee A Magician, who has won 27 of 33 career starts and $2.33 million, prepped for the Hambletonian Maturity with a 1:53.1 qualifier win on June 27, trotting her final quarter-mile in :26.3. She will start the Hambletonian Maturity, to be contested at 1-1/8 mile, from post No. 13 with regular driver Brian Sears. "She qualified really good and she's acting fine, so it looks good now," said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. "I was really happy with her qualifier and Brian thought she was back to her old self, so hopefully we're good. "It was a bit of a shock," he added about Bee A Magician's finish in the Armbro Flight. "I've never seen her stop before. But these things happen. She's never really had any setbacks before, so we weren't used to it. But she got over it, so we're OK. At least we knew there was something wrong." Joining Bee A Magician in the Hambletonian Maturity field are Your So Vain, Sweet Justice, Bambino Glide, Fico, Wheeling N Dealin, Royalty For Life, Flanagan Memory, Spider Blue Chip, High Bridge, Master Of Law, Major Athens, Possessed Fashion, and Creatine. Conditions for the Hambletonian Maturity allowed for up to 16 starters rather than the traditional 10. Royalty For Life, who is making his 2014 debut, won last year's Hambletonian Stakes while Spider Blue Chip was the Breeders Crown champion and Creatine captured the Kentucky Futurity. Wheeling N Dealin was the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. "I think it will be OK; I think we'll be alright," Norman said about facing the boys. "We'll see how some of those colts are." Also on Saturday's card at the Meadowlands are two eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace and one elimination for the Mistletoe Shalee. The first elimination for the Meadowlands Pace features North America Cup winner JK Endofanera. The second division includes He's Watching, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer, and last year's Breeders Crown champion Luck Be Withyou. The top five finishers from each elim advance to the July 12 final. As for Bee A Magician's future schedule, she is being pointed to the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands, which is for trotting mares, following the Hambletonian Maturity. "I think I'll try to keep her at home as much as possible, race her close to home," Norman said. "It's a long year and I don't want to over-race her. We'll see how it goes. If we can do some good on Saturday and get some money there, that's a big purse, it would make the rest of the year a lot nicer." Following is the field in post order for the Hambletonian Maturity with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Your So Vain, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 2. Sweet Justice, Corey Callahan, Bruce Saunders; 3. Bambino Glide, Marcus Miller, Julie Miller; 4. Fico, Tyler Smith, Staffan Lind; 5. Wheeling N Dealin, Jody Jamieson, Luc Blais; 6. Royalty For Life, David Miller, George Ducharme; 7. Flanagan Memory, Ron Pierce, Rene Dion; 8. Spider Blue Chip, Ron Pierce, Chuck Sylvester; 9. High Bridge, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 10. Master Of Law, Scott Zeron, Frank Antonacci; 11. Major Athens, John Campbell, Rich Gillock; 12. Possessed Fashion, Tim Tetrick, Tom Fanning; 13. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman; 14. Creatine, Mike Lachance, Bob Stewart. by Ken Weingarter, for Harness Racing Communications

A harness racing pair of Meadowlands Pace contenders earned strong confidence builders Saturday night. First up was Beat The Drum, who showed early speed, caught a bit of a shuffle, moved first over as the 2-1 second choice and just kept on coming to win a non-winners of four event in 1:50.1. Beat The Drum will likely make his next start in a Meadowlands Pace elimination for Bender Sweden Inc and trainer Staffan Lind. Dan Rawlings guided the son of Tell All to his new lifetime mark. Not to be out-done was the Art Official colt Let's Drink On It, who faced seven older rivals in the sixth race B-2 event for $18,000. Moving to the half mile pole, the 4-5 betting choice made the lead through a sharp 54.2 half mile, then paced a 54.1 back half mile to win by over four lengths over the veteran Silent Swing in an extremely sharp, and lifetime best 1:48.3. Currently eighth on The Road to The Meadowlands Pace, Let's Drink On It is owned by Seekman, Bond, Hewitt and Boido Jr, trained by Joe Seekman and was driven to victory by his regular pilot, Tyler Smith, who had a career night, winning five races on the program. It's safe to say that Odds On Equuleus has left his 0 for 15 three year old campaign behind him. Tonight at The Meadowlands, he flashed the turn of foot that caught everyone's attention as a two year old, winning tonight's $30,000 Free-For-All Hanidcap in a lifetime best, 1:48.2. Leaving from post position three and sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Marcus Miller gathered Odds On Equuleus back towards the rear of the field, settling in next to last through an opening quarter of 26.2 and a rapid half-mile of 53.3, established by Aracache Hanover. He awaited the move of Wake Up Peter, who in turn flushed out Dovuto Hanover, positioning Odds On Equuleus third over through three-quarters of 1:21.3 Turning for home it appeared to be anyone's race, with Aracache Hanover grimly holding onto the lead, Dovuto Hanover grinding away first over and Wake Up Peter gathering momentum off cover. But then, seemingly in an instant, Odds On Equuleus appeared widest of all in deep stretch and accelerated dramatically to win going away, pacing the final quarter mile in 26 seconds flat. Wake Up Peter was a very solid second and Dovuto Hanover a game third. The winner is owned by Odds On Racing and trained by Tony Alagna. For the second consecutive night, live handle at The Meadowlands showed slight gains over the previous year, gathering momentum into the strongest month of the meet. Next weekend begins the Championship stretch at The Meadowlands. Friday night features New Jersey Sire Stakes for the two year old trotters, while Saturday night carries the freshmen pacers as well as eliminations for The Meadowlands Pace, Mistletoe Shalee and William Haughton Memorial. Also on the card is the $450,000 est. Hambletonian Maturity for four year old trotters at one mile and one eighth, with a field that could hold up to 16 entrants. The intriguing matchup in that event is that of 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life pitted against the 2013 Hambletonian Oaks Winner (and Horse of the Year), Bee A Magician. Please note that while the Friday July 4th program will begin at 7:15 P.M., Saturday July 5th will carry a special 6:30 P.M. post time, with fireworks to follow the live racing program. For more information, go to playmeadowlands.com. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

Another beautiful Friday morning for babies and qualifiers at The Meadowlands with the 2 year old trotters opening the card and some of the top pacers and trotters in the sport churning up the track in qualfying races. Takter won the first two, opening with the Muscle Hill x Unbelievable colt Falk On Hill S winning in 2:01 last quarter in 29 with Jimmy driving. The colt was bred in Sweden by Goran Falk who has retained ownership and imported to the US over the winter. Nunkeri, from the first crop of Lucky Chucky, was a good second beaten just a half length with Morcredit Blue Chip third. Takter sent the $300,000 Muscle Hill x Cressida Hanover colt Canepa Hanover out with purpose in the second race. Yannick Gingras put him on the lead through the half in a minute then stepped on the gas resulting in long powerful strides from the colt around the bend in a 27.4 third panel, finishing 18 lengths in front in 1:56.1. He is owned by the partnership of Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Brixton Medical and Al Libfeld. Ake Svanstedt cut the mile and won the third with another Muscle Hill colt, this one a $60,000 Harrisburg yearling from Cream Puff (she by Pine Chip and this colt bore a likeness to that champion in appearance) named Stonebridge Force. He set a leisurely tempo through a 1:33.4 three quarters then sprinted home in 27.2 when engaged by Uncle Lasse resulting in a 2:01.1 mile in his first start. Sarrasso Inc and Laseur, Inc share ownership. Pacing fillies came along next and a pair of really nice Rock N Roll Heaven fillies were out strutting their stuff. Heaven On Earth, trained for Triple D Stables by Scott Di Domenico and driven by Tim Tetrick won a stretch duel with Hollyrocker in 1:56.4 / 27.2. She was a bargain $10,000 purchase at Lexington. A few races later, Zip Code Envy won her third qualifier straight for the Takter Gingras combo, this time it was from off the pace in 1:56.1, last quarter in 27.1. Sawyer was second and American Truth third. She cost $27,000 in Kentucky last fall. Tony Alagna sent out a couple of nice colts this morning, the first is a homebred Rocknroll colt from Cosmo Blue Chip for British client Tom Hill named Rock On The Hill who scored a 1:56.3 / 26.4 front end win with Tim Tetrick aboard. He looked sharp in his second appearance holding off Manny In Sports through a rousing stretch drive. Tony came right back with Artspeak, a Western Ideal from The Art Museum who brought a winning bid of $100,000 from Brittany, Katz, Joe Sbrocco and In The Gym Stables at Lexington to win in 1:56.2 with a 26.4 closing quarter with Scott Zeron driving. Royalty For Life had another go this morning and looked stronger this time, leading all the way to win in 1:53.2 home in 27.2 for David Miller. His sights are set on next Saturday's $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity for trainer George Ducharme and owners Al Ross, Ray Campbell, Jr & Paul Fontaine. Bee A Magician was next in a workout with the same goal in mind and she sure made a case for racing the colts next week. She cut the mile and won off by herself in 1:53.1 with a 26.3 close under no encouragement from Brian Sears. A mini-Meadowlands Pace was next in qualifier eleven and JK Endofanera made a statement that he is clearly the horse to beat heading into next week's eliminations. He strolled along on an easy lead through three quarters in 1:25 then jetted home in 26 flat to win by a couple in 1:51- with Sears motionless in the bike. Lyonssomewhere could not gain from the pocket, National Debt was improved over recent with a good stretch run for third. Shebestingin wrapped the day up with a 1:51 / 26.3 gate to wire win with Sandbetweenurtoes tagging along nicely. For full results of these baby races click here. Live racing resumes tonight at 7:15 with the opening round of New Jersey two year old sires stakes and the elimination round of the popular Miss Hot To Trot pageant. Horsemen are reminded of the traffic issues surrounding the complex this evening and the suggested route is to take Patterson Plank Road to gain entry. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

After a stint in the breeding shed, 7-year-old trotter Wishing Stone is ready to make his 2014 harness racing debut in a conditioned handicap Friday at the Meadowlands. Wishing Stone received post 10 in the race and is 9-2 on the morning line. He enters the race off one qualifier, a 1:55.2 effort on June 20 with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke. Undercover Strike is the 3-1 favorite, followed by Mistery Woman at 7-2 and Spider Blue Chip at 4-1. Wishing Stone stood as a stallion at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. He fulfilled contracts for 331 doses of frozen semen overseas as well as being bred to some 30 mares in North America. Although it is common for trotters overseas to breed and race in the same season, that is not the case in North America. Some well-known successes abroad include Ready Cash, who is France's richest trotter in history in addition to being a popular sire, and Coktail Jet and Mack Lobell, who both won the prestigious Elitloppet after performing stud duties. "It's a fun experiment and I think it's going to work," said Mike Gulotta, the CEO of Deo Volente Farms and head of the Wishing Stone Syndicate ownership group. "Actually, the first part of it has worked. We're excited." Gulotta hopes to see Wishing Stone get a boost as a stallion thanks to a new bonus program at the Meadowlands for New Jersey-sired horses. "I think now that people see that things will be changing in New Jersey, there will be a lot more interest in him and other Jersey stallions next year," Gulotta said. "Sometimes people need to see that something is actually happening in order to commit." Wishing Stone is well known in Europe, having competed there at ages 4 and 5. In 2011, he won the French trotting race Grand Prix du Sud Ouest at 1-5/16 mile and also the King's Trophy in Sweden. He was second in the Gran Premio Continentale in Italy. A year later, he captured the Copenhagen Cup in Denmark at a distance of 1-1/4 mile. He finished his European campaign with a second-place finish in the Jubilee Trophy for 5-year-old trotters in Sweden. He returned to the U.S. in August 2012 to continue his career in North America. Lifetime, Wishing Stone has won 21 of 69 races and earned $2.23 million, making him the richest offspring of sire Conway Hall. He has won multiple stakes in the U.S., including the 2010 Kentucky Futurity in straight heats at Lexington's Red Mile. "We'll see now how he races," Gulotta said. "He looks good. I think he's gained weight and grown up a little, actually, which may be helpful to him. We're happy." To read a Hoof Beats magazine story about Wishing Stone's double duty, click here. * * * JK Endofanera, the No. 1-ranked horse on the Road to the Meadowlands Pace, is entered in Friday's qualifiers at the Meadowlands. The colt, which captured the North America Cup on June 21, has won eight of 12 career races and never finished worse than third. The Ron Burke-trainee has earned $913,517 for owner 3 Brothers Stable. He is not the only Meadowlands Pace eligible in the qualifier. He is joined by Jimmy Takter-trained Lyonssomewhere, who was fifth in the North America Cup, as well as Joe Holloway's Always B Miki, Tracy Brainard's Big Boy Dreams, and Ron Coyne Jr.'s National Debt. Lyonssomewhere is No. 4 and Always B Miki is No. 7 in the Meadowlands Pace rankings. Big Boy Dreams, who was second to He's Watching in last year's New York Sire Stakes championship, has not raced in 2014. Eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace will be held July 5 and the $650,000 final is July 12. Elsewhere, Boomboom Ballykeel, who won last year's Metro Pace, is in the first of three divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday. Boomboom Ballykeel has one win, which came in the sire stakes in May, in three starts this season. He is trained by Richard Moreau. The second division includes Meadowlands Pace eligibles Bugger Bruiser, trained by Carmen Auciello, and Erv Miller's Jet Airway while the third division has Ian Moore's Play It Again Sam. Three horses eligible to the Meadowlands Pace are competing in the same New York Sire Stakes division Friday at Buffalo Raceway - Patrick Lachance's Sir Sam's Z Tam, Mark Ford's Twin B Speedo, and P.J. Fraley's Ideal Cowboy. * * * In addition to the previously mentioned horses qualifying Friday at the Meadowlands, Bee A Magician, Royalty For Life, Shebestingin, and Cee Bee Yes will be among others in action. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is winless in three starts this season and coming off a ninth-place finish in the Armbro Flight Stakes on June 14 at Mohawk. Trainer Nifty Norman told Trot Insider the mare scoped sick following the Armbro Flight and would start next against her male counterparts in the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters on July 5 at the Meadowlands. Last year, Bee A Magician's wins included the Hambletonian Oaks. Also being pointed to the Hambletonian Maturity is 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life. * * Levy Memorial Series champion P H Supercam will look to snap a four-race losing streak in Saturday's open handicap at Yonkers Raceway. The race also includes Heston Blue Chip and last week's winner Digital Z Tam. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications U.S. Trotting Association

It was confirmed early this afternoon (Thursday, June 19, 2014)  that harness racing driver Brian Sears has been banned from competing at three racetracks, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, which are all owned by Jeff Gural. Sears, 46, is one of the leading drivers in the harness racing industry. According to the United States Trotting Association, Sears has 8,829 career victories and $153,761.224 in purse earnings by the horses he had driven. He hails from a family deep in harness racing tradition. His late grandfather, Gene, is a member of the Hall of Fame and his father, Jay, is a prominent owner, breeder, trainer and driver. In a telephone conversation, Sears confirmed that he has been banned from the three tracks but refused to comment about it at this time. Sears would still be able to compete in stakes races at the three tracks but would not be allowed to race in any regular overnight events or qualifying races.   Jeff Gural did not return any phone calls or emails concerning the situation. Sears had been a regular fixture at the Meadowlands for many years. While he does most of his driving at Yonkers Raceway, he had been competing at the three tracks on a regular basis for most of their stakes events. It was just last season that Sears won both the $1.2 million Hambletonian Final with Royality For Life and the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Bee A Magician, on the same day at the Meadowlands, the second time he has acheived that feat. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

It was confirmed this afternoon that harness racing driver Brian Sears has been banned from competing at three racetracks, the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, which are all owned by Jeff Gural. “Basically he is not allowed to drive at the Meadowlands period.” Jeff Gural said. “I have not decided about the stakes horses yet, other than that he is not allowed to drive. I guess that includes Tioga and Vernon Downs too. I was wasn’t really thinking about those tracks, only the Meadowlands at first.” Sears, 46, is one of the leading drivers in the harness racing industry. According to the United States Trotting Association, Sears has 8,829 career victories and $153,761.224 in purse earnings by the horses he had driven. He hails from a family deep in harness racing tradition. His late grandfather, Gene, is a member of the Hall of Fame and his father, Jay, is a prominent owner, breeder, trainer and driver. In a telephone conversation earlier in the day, Sears confirmed that he has been banned from the three tracks but refused to comment about it at that time. “I have understood that he is getting a lawyer,” Gural said, “and because of that I cannot comment at this time on the reasons why he is being banned. It may have to wait to come out in court. I have very good reasons and let’s just leave it at that.” Gural did say he was exploring if he would be able to bar Sears from competing in stakes races too. In many jurisdictions when people make nomination payments years in advance, tracks have had to allow banned trainers and drivers to compete in those specific races only. Gural said if he can ban Sears from driving in stakes races too he would do it. “I never said anything to him about getting a lawyer,” Brian Sears said. “I just have to do what I have to do. He really feels hurt because I was not willing to race there (Meadowlands) on a regular basis. It’s a shame. It’s really disappointing. I can see his point to a degree but they are racing just two days a week. I don’t want to drive at three tracks every week, that’s not for me. People want my services to drive in stakes races and I enjoy racing in them. It worked out well for me last year and I don’t see why it should not work out well for me this year. “It’s just a shame that it has come to this.” Sears said. Apparently both Sears and Gural have had conversations prior to the banning and that Sears was denied being able to drive certain horses at the Meadowlands in advance of the recent findings. Sears had been a regular fixture at the Meadowlands for many years. While he does most of his driving at Yonkers Raceway, he had been competing at the other tracks on a regular basis for most of their stakes events. It was just last season that Sears won both the $1.2 million Hambletonian Final with Royality For Life and the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Bee A Magician, on the same day at the Meadowlands. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Perfect Alliance saw her 11-race winning streak come to a close at the hands of Classic Martine Saturday at Mohawk Raceway in the $266,000 final of the Armbro Flight Final for older trotting mares. Also in the race was the 2013 Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, who had a good trip behind Perfect Alliance but lacked any closing kick and finished a disappointing ninth. It was Classic Martine and driver Tim Tetrick who shot away from the starting gate to the early lead like a rocket. Bee A Magician also left from post nine and was parked three-wide early and had to grind her way to the lead by the opening quarter mile in a quick :27 seconds. There was no rest for the weary as driver Yannick Gingras was also on the move with the race favorite, Perfect Alliance, and they were able to then clear to the lead going to the half mile pole in :56. From there Perfect Alliance led the field as Rockin With Dewey (Mario Baillargeon) came first-over and started to challenge at the three-quarters in 1:24. Then as they started down the stretch, Bee A Magician had room along the rail but began to fade. Rockin With Dewey was still strong on the outside as Perfect Alliance held her ground.  But Tim Tetrick was able to swing wide with Classic Martine and they closed with a burst of speed to win by one length in 1:52.1 over Perfect Alliance with Rockin With Dewey third. “Leaving out of the gate I wanted to get in good position,” Tim Tetrick said. “I thought that Yannick was going to get his mare (Perfect Alliance) in front and I would be in great position. Then Brian (Sears) put his mare (Bee A Magician) in front and was I content and I was fine having those two great mares in front of me. “I was just concerned about finding some clearance at the top of the lane.  She is so quick off the wings and I knew she would follow the cover. She was content to sit and once I got clear with her she can really get to the house. She is just a really nice mare.  She is really handy. She can leave the get in :27 or :26 if you have to. Then she can come home in :27 and that makes her very versatile.” It was the fourth win in five starts this year for Classic Martine. The four-year-old mare by Classic Photo is trained by Chris Oakes and is co-owned by the Hauser Brothers Entertainment, LLC and Suan Oaks. She paid $11.90 to win.   By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

What a weekend last week for some favorites and some not! On Friday I hit all four horses I picked on the nose…then on Saturday not one single winner! That’s how tough the racing has been this season and the only difference this weekend is that purses are BIG TIME. We have the 2014 much anticipated debut of the 2013 Pacer of the Year, Captaintreacherous, in the $100 Meadowlands Maturity for four-year-olds Friday, the Saturday the program is magnificent at Mohawk Raceway with the $1,000,000 North America Cup, the Fan Hanover, Armbro Flight, Goodtimes, Roses Are Red and Mohawk Gold with the greatest pacers and trotters in all of North America under the limelight. Good Luck! $100,000 Pace Meadowlands Maturity 4YO’s 10th race FRIDAY – What a way to begin your four-year-old season by drawing the 10 post. I don’t think it will hamper Captaintreacherous as much as many others think. Myron Bell, Tony Alagna and the Captaintreacherous partners have planned it all out and Tony says his colt is going to be better than last year and thus the outside post should not hinder his winning efforts. Use Apprentice Hanover and Odds On Equuleus in exotic plays. $72,300 Trot PASS 3YO Colts Pocono Downs 3rd race SATURDAY – Looks like Wheelsandthelegman is in the softest of the three divisions tonight and this gelded son of Donato Hanover has been razor sharp and with the rail he should be able to wire the field. Use DD’s Hitman and JJ Alex in exotic plays. $72,300 Trot PASS 3YO Colts Pocono Downs 4th race SATURDAY – Here comes the Jimmy Takter Show…this time it’s Nuncio and new driver Matt Kakaley, but this young man has tons of talent and should enjoy the trip. Colt is unbeaten in his two starts so far and has looked super each week. Takes another here. Use Uva Hanover and Auspicious Hanover in exotic plays. $272,100 Trot Goodtimes Final 3YO Colt Mohawk Raceway 4th race – Right now I would have to say that Trixton is more powerful looking and faster than Father Patrick. He looms over the field tonight by a full second. Big powerful horse likes racing on the big track and goes for his fifth straight win. Use Flyhawk El Durado and Harper Blue Chip in exotic plays. $72,300 Trot PASS 3YO Colts Pocono Downs 5th race SATURDAY – Here come’s the 2013 Dan Patch award winning two-year-old colt trotter of the year, Father Patrick. Unbeaten in his two starts this year and crushing the competition each time. He is so powerful and it looks like the rest of the field will be racing for second money. Use Datsyuk and Dony Andreas in exotic plays. $266,000 Trot Armbro Flight Final Older Mares Mohawk Raceway 5th race SATURDAY – It is so hard to consider going against Perfect Alliance. She’s perfect at 11 for 11, she has an inside post and the gate speed to get out front and not get caught. But something inside of me says that Bee A Magician was so sensational last year and now after two very good starts she can overcome post nine and return to her winning ways. Use Perfect Alliance and D’Orsay in exotic plays. $330,000 Pace Roses Are Red Final Older Mares Mohawk Raceway 7th race SATURDAY – She may be the oldest mare in this field but she is on a roll right now. Anndrovette is the three-time Dan Patch Pacing Mare of the Year, highest money earning in this top field at $2.7 million and the last two starts showed she is still best from either off the helmet or on the front end. Use Yagonnakissmeornot and Somwherovrarainbow in exotic plays. $100,000 Pace Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational 8th race – Here are many of the top Free-For-All pacers in the world going head and head once again. I am going to stick my neck out on a mild long shot and am going with Sunshine Beach. Top three-year-old set world record last year in 1:47.4 so we know he has the speed. He won over $900,000 in 2013 and off his two very sharp qualifying wins he looks ready for action. Can’t ignore his :25.2 last quarter mile! Use State Treasurer and Foiled Again in exotic plays. $457,500 Pace Fan Hanover Final 3YO Fillies Mohawk Raceway 9th race SATURDAY – With Precocious Beauty out of the final this race really becomes a wide-open affair with most anyone coming up with a big effort and winning. I am going with Uffizi Hanover as she hails from none other than Jimmy Takter’s barn. She showed her former winning ways last week with a sharp head triumph in 1:51.4 with an amazing :25.1 last quarter mile. That’s tops in my book. Use Table Talk and Nat A Virgin in exotic plays. $1,000,000 Pace North America Cup 3YO Colts Mohawk Raceway 10th race SATURDAY – They always save the best for last and this race is the best. What a final with everyone in the field a legitimate contender. As much as I want to think that He’s Watching can rebound and wire the field, I don’t see that happening, but the action up front will be tremendous as no one wants to sit and hope going for this kind of cash. I am going with McWicked as he was really used twice in the race last week and still was able to draw away at the finish for Casie Coleman Stable. It was really a tough call. Use Tellitlikeitis and He’s Watching in exotic plays.

The story of 4-year-old harness racing female trotter Perfect Alliance, who enters Saturday's $266,000 Armbro Flight Stakes with 11 wins in 11 starts this season after winning a total of just two of 18 races at ages 2 and 3, would seem farfetched if it didn't sound so familiar. Perfect Alliance races out of the stable of Julie and Andy Miller, who five years ago took an unheralded 4-year-old male trotter named Lucky Jim and helped lead him to an award-winning season. Lucky Jim joined Team Miller with a total of just two wins in 20 career races. He won his first eight starts that season, including two winter series at the Meadowlands, before tackling the sport's top older trotters. He didn't slow down, winning seven more races in a row before finishing the campaign with 17 victories in 18 starts. His triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Nat Ray, Maxie Lee Memorial and Cutler Memorial, and he received the 2009 Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter. Whether Perfect Alliance can write the same ending as Lucky Jim remains to be seen, but the first few chapters of her story are strikingly similar. She won two winter series - one at the Meadowlands and one at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs - before challenging the top female trotters in the game. In her first try against the big girls, in a division of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine, Perfect Alliance won in 1:51.2, equaling Classic Martine's world record for the fastest mile ever by a 4-year-old female trotter. Incidentally, Lucky Jim shares the world record of 1:50.1 for the fastest mile ever by any trotter on a one-mile racetrack. Last weekend, Perfect Alliance won her elimination for the Armbro Flight by 6-1/2 lengths in a track-record 1:51.4 at Mohawk. She starts the final from post four with Yannick Gingras at the lines and is the 6-5 morning line favorite. "It's hard to believe we could ever do that again - and she hasn't done it yet - but the way she started out is a lot like the way we campaigned [Lucky Jim] because she fit some of the winter series," Andy Miller said. "She got a lot of confidence out of those series and just kept progressing and getting better and better. "Now she's as brave as a horse can be. Now that she's facing the better mares, she thinks she can tackle anything." Miller drove Perfect Alliance in her first seven starts, but has been sidelined since mid-April because of injuries sustained in an accident. In her second race this year, Perfect Alliance won from post 10 at the Meadowlands despite being stuck on the outside for most of the mile and getting a flat tire on the final turn. "She still dug in and won the race," Miller said. "When she did that, I thought it was something special. I didn't know if she would go [onto record-setting performances] but I knew there was a lot there." Perfect Alliance is owned by New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural's Little E LLC, Meadowlands Racetrack General Manager Jason Settlemoir, David Stolz and Arthur Geiger. She is a daughter of stallion Credit Winner out of the mare Yalta Hanover and was purchased for $75,000 under the name Perfect Deo at the 2011 Lexington Selected Sale. Her mother is a half-sister to stakes-winners Yursa Hanover, He's Spooky and Scary Good. She is a three-quarter sister to Thistle Dhu, who ironically edged Perfect Alliance last season by a nose in the $40,000 Zweig Memorial Consolation for 3-year-old filly trotters. "Last year [Perfect Alliance] was hot on the gate and had a few little issues, just immaturity," Miller said. "I think the time off and bringing her back this year she's just matured so much. The second time I qualified her, I covered her up a bit and put some earplugs on her and when I popped them she responded. I knew there was a lot there, but how far it would go, I didn't know. "It's worked out good. With these types of horses, you just hope you don't do anything wrong. She kind of takes care of herself. She does everything we ask and we just try not to mess it up." Following is the field in post order for the Armbro Flight with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Lady Laker, Trevor Ritchie, Al Tomlinson, 20-1; 2. Bax Of Life, Chris Christoforou, Jerry Duford, 15-1; 3. D'Orsay, Sylvain Filion, Jonas Czernyson, 6-1; 4. Perfect Alliance, Yannick Gingras, Julie Miller, 6-5; 5. Classic Martine, Tim Tetrick, Chris Oakes, 5-1; 6. Upfrontluckycarol, Steve Condren, Clark Beelby, 20-1; 7. Rockin With Dewey, Mario Baillargeon, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1; 8. Charmed Life, James MacDonald, Dave Menary, 12-1; 9. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman, 4-1; 10. Angies Lucky Star, Trevor Henry, Richard Moreau, 25-1. Andy Miller got a positive report from his doctors recently as he continues his recovery from vertebrae surgery, but still is several months from returning to action. "He said everything looks good," Miller said Monday while watching qualifiers at Gaitway Farm, where he and wife Julie Miller are stabled. "He said in six weeks I can probably get rid of the [back] brace, but as far as doing anything, it'll be a couple months yet. "I was hoping I could do a little bit of work. Hopefully in six weeks I'll get a little more clearance, but I'm sure it will be a couple months before I can really do much." Miller said it was "frustrating" to be on the sidelines, but he is still active in watching horses train and race and providing his input. Miller has won 8,054 races in his driving career and nearly $101 million in purses, with both totals ranking among the top 25 in North American harness racing history. "Eventually, I'll get back out there, but I'll just take my time," Miller said. "I'm so thankful that I can be here and watch them and give my input on them training. "There haven't been any setbacks and if I didn't have the brace on, you wouldn't know anything is wrong with me. I can get around pretty good; I'm not running sprints, but everything is as good as it can be." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

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