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MILTON, ON - October 18, 2019 - Woodbine Mohawk Park-based harness racing trainer Blake MacIntosh sends a four-pronged contingent into the Breeders Crown eliminations as he attempts to get his first shot to compete in the year-end championship. MacIntosh, whose stable has strengthened into a Grand Circuit force, rides a career-best season entering the Breeders Crown eliminations. Though he has started many in the Breeders Crown eliminations, MacIntosh has yet to send one in a final. "It'd just be a cherry on top of the sundae for the year," MacIntosh said on potentially winning a Breeders Crown. "We're close to a hundred wins and $2.6 million so winning a Breeders Crown would just be something special, especially at Mohawk--it's our home track. Winning the [Canadian Pacing] Derby this year was my biggest thrill but winning a Breeders Crown at Mohawk would probably be a little bit bigger of a thrill. They're all big wins but it'd be very special." Team Best opens MacIntosh's 'Crown' contingent on Friday (October 17) in the lone elimination for the Two-Year-Old Colt Pace. The son of Somebeachsomewhere--racing for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Touchstone Farms Inc. and Daniel Plouffe--debuted a winner at Mohawk in late June but missed some of the summer due to sickness, with which MacIntosh had to deal most of the summer. "It wasn't just the Canadian barn or the American barn--both barns seemed to get [sick] at the same time," MacIntosh said. "It was an obstacle, we worked around it [and] the horses all seem to be coming around right now. The last six weeks everything's seemed to have just gone the right way and we're pretty happy with it." Finishing seventh in the $750,000 Metro Pace final, Team Best shipped to Lexington where he finished second in a division of the Bluegrass but tried racing first over the next week in the International Stallion Stakes and folded in the final quarter. He moves into the Crown off a 1:52.1 runner-up mile in a preliminary for the Kindergarten at the Meadowlands. "We were trying to decide if we were going to go to the Breeders Crown or stay in the Kindergarten with him," MacIntosh said. "But after he raced last week, I decided to give him a shot against the top colts this week. "He doesn't like a lot of air--like if you can keep him on a helmet he will follow all day long," MacIntosh also said. "If you give him a little too much air he gets a little sulky [but] he's learning more and more every start. If he gets the right trip, there's no doubt in my mind he'll be right there at the end of the mile. James MacDonald will drive Team Best--who's 15-1 on the morning line--from post 2 against Metro Pace winner and the 7-5 morning line favourite Tall Dark Stranger. Metro Pace runner-up Papi Rob Hanover is also in the field. Sweet Chapter starts MacIntosh's Saturday-night duties as she competes against the top four competitors in the Three-Year-Old Filly Trot. Her regular pilot Matt Kakaley stays in the bike as the daughter of Chapter Seven starts from post 1 against Hambletonian Oaks winner When Dovescry, runner-up Millies Possesion, third-place finisher Asiago and Kentucky Filly Futurity winner Beautiful Sin. "She can trot with them," MacIntosh said of Sweet Chapter, "and she's always right there; always gets you a cheque. I just thought that she deserved a shot to prove it again. Like in the Hambo Oaks--she was going to get a cheque but then Dave [Miller and Evident Beauty] broke and took her out and that cost her fourth or fifth. We'll hope she [can] draw well and if she can get away the way she can then she'll be right there." Earning over $200,000 from 24 starts for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Blake MacIntosh and Mortgage Boys Stable, Sweet Chapter has one other Grand Circuit mile this season: a wire-to-wire 1:54.2 victory in a $30,000 division of the Simpson Memorial. "I always thought she was a nice filly--that's why she got paid into so much because I had faith in her," MacIntosh said. "She's right on track where I think she should be and [I'm] very, very happy with her." Covered Bridge completes MacIntosh's Crown-elim starters as he competes in the second elimination for the Three-Year-Old Colt Pace. The American Ideal colt--owned by David B. Smith and James Giannuzzi--makes his second start in the MacIntosh barn after racing his other 28 starts for the Okuskos. "They just called me--they wanted him to come up to Canada and see if he's good enough for the Breeders Crown," MacIntosh said on acquiring the colt. "I trained for Jim and Dave for the last couple years. I was the underbidder on this colt as a yearling. I trained him down at Lexington before I brought him home--I made a shoeing change on him. He's a nice colt--Howie and Jessica [Okusko] did a great job with him training down and racing him for the last two years. It's made my job easier. While MacIntosh did not tinker much with equipment on Covered Bridge, the colt rebounded in his first start for the barn last week against conditioned horses at Mohawk. He popped pocket to pull a 19-1 upset in 1:50.4 under wraps and convinced MacIntosh to try the colt in the Breeders Crown. "It's a $7,500 (CAD) stake payment so it's not something cheap," MacIntosh said on deciding to try the colt in the Crown. "So I was very happy with him and I called the owners after the race and said 'I think we can go--it's up to you guys but I think at this point this group looks a little tired. At this point right now there's no standout other than Ryder's horse [Bettors Wish] and I think he can go with the rest of them so let's give it a shot.'" Covered Bridge will race against 7-5 morning line favourite Bettors Wish from post 5 with James MacDonald in the sulky. Crown supplement and Little Brown Jug winner Southwind Ozzi also competes in the second elimination from post 3 as the 9-5 second choice on the morning line. Though not entered in an elimination, Courtly Choice will prep for the Open Pace on Saturday when he starts from post 8 in the $34,000 Preferred. The four-year-old son of Art Major also battled sickness during the summer but returned to form with a 34-1 upset in the Canadian Pacing Derby. Yet he comes into Saturday making his second start after scratching sick from the Dayton Pacing Derby. "When he shipped into Lexington [for the Dayton Pacing Derby] I don't know what happened--he caught a fever of 102.5 so we scratched him," MacIntosh said. "He probably could've raced at Dayton but we wanted to race him the following week for sure. He just wasn't right that week--it's totally separate from [his earlier sickness]. His blood's back to normal now--at least back to where we want it. I don't know if he just caught something shipping from Harrington to home to Lexington--these aged horses do a lot of travelling, so they're bound to pick something up every now and then. Prior to Saturday's start Courtly Choice returned to the track in the $186,000 Allerage but faltered through the stretch in a 1:47.2 mile to finish eighth. "We wanted to make sure we had him tight for next week," MacIntosh said. "He seems to race better when he's at least had a little prep before the races like for the Canadian Pacing Derby--he raced two weeks before that." Woodbine Mohawk Park hosts two nights of eliminations for the Breeders Crown with the freshmen racing on Friday (October 18) and the sophomores and aged horses competing on Saturday (October 19). Friday's 12-race card starts at 7:50 p.m. (EDT) while Saturday's 13-race card gets underway at the regular post time of 7:10 p.m. (EDT). by Ray Cotolo for Woodbine.com    

Clear Idea (American Ideal) returned to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday afternoon to compete in the local Fillies and Mares Open. The Blake Macintosh-trained mare has been a winning machine throughout her career and prevailed in her lone try in the local Open back in August. On Thursday, Clear Idea had Phil Fluet piloting and was the public's odds-on choice in the wagering despite being assigned post six in the six-horse feature. With several leavers in the race, Clear Idea had to be taken back to last in the early going. She remained there in a first half that went in 57.1. The tempo quickened heading to three quarters and when it did, Clear Idea had a hard time keeping up to her cover while second-over. Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall) closed in first-over on the race's tiring leader and when pocket-sitting Bye Bye Felicia, last week's Open winner, flew up the passing lane, it appeared those two were poised to tell the tale. Classy distaffer Clear Idea shifted gears a bit again in the stretch and surged up on the outside approaching the wire. When the dust settled, it was Clear Idea that emerged victorious in 1:55.3 over a track labeled 'sloppy.' Bye Bye Felicia was the runner-up while Come Get The Cash earned the show spot to keep her sensational "on the board" streak alive. The victory for Clear Idea was number 21 in 83 career starts for the five year old Macintosh trainee and was the second on the day for Fluet who won the undercard to the feature guiding longshot Surreal Feeling (So Surreal) to an upset score in the $14,000 Winners Over for fillies and mares. Surreal Feeling paid $33.40 to win while hanging on in 1:56.1. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Blake MacIntosh had a hunch that Fast N First could compete with the horses that would enter the 2019 Little Brown Jug, and the second elimination showed that he was 100 percent right. In the final stride of the mile, Fast N First got up to nose out favored American American Mercury to win the second $128,000 elimination and solidify the field for the $384,000 final. The race started with some hot early fractions as Semi Tough (Matt Kakaley) and Arties Ideal (Marcus Miller) sizzling to a :25.4 opening quarter. Semi Tough forced Arties Ideal into the pocket and then faced the serious threat of favoured American Mercury. Kakaley yielded and allowed Tyler Buter to land the Messenger winner on the lead in a sharp :53.3 half. With Escapetothebeach racing first up and not advancing to challenge, Brett Miller angled Fast N First three-wide down the backside. Clearing Escapetothebeach, Fast N First couldn't drop down to the two path as Arties Ideal popped back out from third to forge first-up through a 1:21.2 third station. American Mercury maintained his lead around the final turn and turning for home, but the pressure was on from the three next best. It appeared that American Mercury would hold off his rivals but Miller was able to get an extra gear out of Fast N First and help the colt live up to his name by getting his nose on the wire in a lifetime best 1:50.2. American Mercury, Arties Ideal and Semi Tough also advanced to the final. "This is very exciting and it's a race I've always wanted to win," said an elated Miller in the winner's circle. "I felt like the race was definitely setting up for us. Blake told me to be sure to keep this horse's attention, and when I made the move up the backside he was very strong but going into the last turn he actually -- just being a colt -- kind of pulled up on me and it cost us a lot of ground. For him to come back on and win, that was strong." Fast N First is owned by trainer Macintosh along with Ontario's Ridgeway Racing of Ridgeway and Steve Heimbecker of Conestogo. The horse picked up his eighth win of the series and fourth straight. The lion's share of the purse pushed his seasonal bankroll to $162,909. "I really wasn't nervous going in," said MacIntosh. "This year I was just hoping to make the final and have some fun. Now we've got a little pressure on us." MacIntosh is poised to win the Jug in back-to-back years, with two totally different back stories coming into the race. Despite not having a Courtly Choice this year, he felt Fast N First belonged with this group. "I thought he'd be right there. I wasn't sure if he could win it but when I saw the draw I was pretty happy with the division we came out in. He's just been a good little colt...he's won eight times this year, and we've protected him pretty good all summer and haven't really raced him over his head. He came out and proved today he's a nice little colt." After the second elimination, the posts for the final were drawn. 2019 Little Brown Jug Final ($384,000) (Post – Horse – Driver) 1 – Southwind Ozzi – Brian Sears 2 – Fast N First – Brett Miller 3 – Air Force Hanover – Simon Allard 4 – American Mercury – Tyler Buter 5 – Stag Party – David Miller 6 – Arties Ideal – Marcus Miller (SCRATCHED) 7 – Semi Tough – Matt Kakaley 8 – Shake That House – Tim Tetrick (SCRATCHED) From the Little Brown Jug

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (Sept. 11) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Mark McKelvie, Joe Zambito, and Darrell Wood. The action heats up on Saturday night with a C$2 million program happening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Mark McKelvie, Director of Communications, will join to highlight the action-packed program and talk about what fans can expect on track. The pair will go through all the stakes races with McKelvie and find out who the heavy hitters will be Saturday night. The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions makes it's first appearance to Batavia Downs Gaming on Saturday and track announcer Joe Zambito will be the one to bring you the action. The card is highlighted by champion Gimpanzee, and will also feature the $50,000 Robert J Kane Memorial Pace which has been previously been won by champions like Foiled Again. Zambito will highlight some of the great wagering opportunities that will be available to gamblers on Saturday night and also discuss each of the championship finals. Racing heats up once again at Shenandoah Downs as the season kicks off on Saturday afternoon. Darrell Wood will talk about some of the new features at the Virginia facility including the new party deck in the home stretch. Opening day at Shenandoah Downs features dollar draft beer and hot dogs. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. by Michael Carter, for Post Time  

Elkton, MD - Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica and the United States Trotting Association, is excited to announce the harness racing line-up for Thursday (September 5th, 2019) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Trainers Blake Macintosh and Anette Lorentzon, as well as the Racetrack Marketing Coordinator for Eldorado Scioto Downs Taylor Johnston. Mackintosh, Trainer of Canadian Pacing Derby upsetter Courtly Choice, will talk about his colts victory over the heavily favored Lather Up at Woodbine Mohawk last Saturday. We'll also find out whats ahead for the 4-year-old pacing superstar. Lorentzon, who also struck gold last Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk, conditions the Maple Leaf Trot winner Guardian Angel As. She'll chime in on harness racing's newest millionaire, and what's on the horizon for the 23-time winner. Johnston, who is also part of the Post Time with Mike and Mike team, will offer her thoughts on the big weekend of racing at Scioto Downs in Ohio. They feature Grand CIrcuit action with the Jim Ewart Memorial and Charlie Hill. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. From the Mike & Mike Show

MILTON, ON - August 31, 2019 - Courtly Choice and driver James MacDonald stormed by harness racing rivals in the stretch for a 30-1 upset victory in Saturday's $525,000C Canadian Pacing Derby at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Blake MacIntosh trained four-year-old rallied from sixth with a :25.3 final-quarter to nail heavy-favourite Lather Up at the wire for a 1:48.4 victory. "It was amazing, I can't even put it into words I'm so happy," said MacDonald. "I've been trying to get a crack at one of these big ones in Canada and I just haven't had a lot of luck and tonight the race set up great and the horse was just unbelievable." Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague brushed from fourth to first entering the backstretch to overtake This Is The Plan, who cut a :25.4 opening-quarter. Courtly Choice and MacDonald got away seventh in the field and were following defending champion McWicked. After a :54.1 half, Lather Up was confronted by first-up challenger Done Well heading to three-quarters. The racing action got tight going to three-quarters, as This Is The Plan was climbing over the back of Teague with Lather Up. The 1/5 favourite has previously had issues with turns and gave up a short-advantage to Done Well at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Courtly Choice and MacDonald were set up to follow McWicked around the final-turn, but the defending champion moved back down to the rail. Courtly Choice ultimately was placed a couple lengths behind the second-over challenger Western Fame turning for home. In the stretch, Lather Up embraced the straightaway and tried to pull away from rivals. Victory appeared to be within reach for Lather Up, until all eyes focused on Courtly Choice flying on the far outside, powering by rivals to reach up for a half length victory. Lather Up settled for second, while Western Fame was third and This Is The Plan finished fourth. "I can't even explain the feeling he was pacing so hard," said MacDonald of Courtly Choice. "I knew I had a lot of pace, but he was just trying to get into gear, and then everyone was kind of just fanning out and I didn't know what Lather Up would do because he always comes back on and he's just such a great horse. "Lather Up has just been unbeatable, and just special to watch. Even just to be on the track is an honour and then to get to beat him in front of my home crowd... it was amazing." A four-year-old son of Art Major, Courtly Choice picks up his fourth win in 12 outings this season and 16th of his career. Last year's Little Brown Jug champion has now earned over $1.3 million for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touchstone Farms Inc. The Canadian Pacing Derby victory is the first for driver MacDonald and trainer MacIntosh, who noted the victory ranks near the top for him personally. "Right up there because winning at your home track and we were an underdog coming in," said MacIntosh, noting that Courtly Choice was starting to return to top form in recent weeks. "I knew that James was taking care of him there the last couple weeks, and he looked like he was back to his old self, (I'm) just ecstatic about this." Courtly Choice paid $71.30, $9.20, $4.60. The $2 Exacta with Lather Up returned $205.90, while the $2 Trifecta with Western Fame paid $1,946.20. The Superfecta completed by This Is The Plan paid $6,524.75 for a $1 ticket. by Mark McKelvie, for Woodbine Entertainment

Tioga Downs plays host to the W.N. Reynolds Memorial races for freshmen harness racing trotters and pacers on Sunday (August 25). The Blake Macintosh trained Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley) is the 7-5 morning line choice in the $38,600 first division of "The Solicitor" for 2-year-old colts & geldings. The 2-year-old colt by Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk is owned by Macintosh and Hutt Racing Stable. He has won five legs of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) this season in seven starts. In the $38,650 second division of "The Solicitor" the 6-5 morning line favorite is Freedom Warrior (David Miller). The 2-year-old gelding by American Ideal-Chief Karen is owned by Forrest Bartlett and trained by Kevin Lare. He has won twice in six career starts. His victories were NYSS wins at Yonkers and Vernon Downs. The 2-1 morning line choice in the $62,400 "The Judge Moore" for freshmen trotting colts & geldings is Back Of The Neck (Mattias Melander). Marcus Melander trains the 2-year-old colt by Ready Cash-Big Barb for owners Howard Taylor, Order By Stable, and Judith Taylor. His lone win in three career starts came in the Kindergarten series at the Meadowlands. The Ake Svanstedt trained entry of Winter Olympics (Ake Svanstedt) and Common Sense S (Jim Morrill Jr.) are the morning line even money favorites in the $56,000 "The Meda" for 2-year-old trotting fillies. Winter Olympics (Muscle Mass-Olympic Dreams) is owned by Svanstedt. She is one for two in her career with a win in the Ontario Sire Stakes at Mohawk. Common Sense S (Trixton-Opportunity) is owned by Svanstedt and S R F Stable. She owns two wins in five career starts including a win last time out in a Tompkins Memorial race at Tioga Downs. The $49,600 "The Lorraine" for 2-year-old pacing fillies will be a non-betting race. The only filly with a win so far in the four horse field is the Nik Drennan trained AP Emily's Dance (Andy Miller). AP Emily's Dance (A Rocknroll Dance-Emily Car) is owned by J Davino, Anthony Perretti Farm, and the Drennan Stable. She is one for two lifetime. The 11 race card (plus non-betting race) will start at 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne, for Tioga Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - The $700,000 Bobby Weiss Series, the traditional early-season contests at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono that often bring a focus to developing harness racing stars, begins its annual competition on Monday and Tuesday with fillies and mares - pacers in three divisions on Monday, and trotters in four sections the next day. George Napolitano Jr., who has been burning up the racetrack both at Pocono and 100 miles south at the newly-opened meet at Harrah's Philly, is set to guide the morning line favorite in the first two cuts on Monday's twilight card. In race seven, he'll be handling Ashlee Sparkles for trainer Blake MacIntosh as that sophomore filly makes her seasonal bow off a very sharp 1:55.3 qualifier here. In the ninth, "GNap" has been tapped by trainer Randy Bendis to steer Sewonandsewforth, who missed by a head at 27-1 in her first contest as a three-year-old last week. In Monday's third division, the brother team of driver Simon and trainer Rene Allard will be the powers behind Lady Ella, a four-year-old mare who came to Pocono during opening week and paced off to an open-length victory in 1:54. The partnership of driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke will have two of the four morning line favorites in Tuesday's Weiss trotting action. The sophomore filly Run Lindy Run, a winner in the Kentucky stakes program last season, will have to try to surmount the outside post seven as she makes her 2019 bow in the fourth race, while in the very next race another Kakaley/Burke three-year-old, Fade Into You, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at two, also faces the starting gate for the first time this year - but she will be facing it from the opposite end than is her stablemate, as she has drawn the rail. Spring In Paris is the North American season's leader for three-year-old fillies on a 5/8-mile track by virtue of a 1:56.4 win at Pocono in her first start of the season; she'll be looking to make it two straight for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Steve LeBlanc in the eleventh race Weiss action. In race three, trainer Rich Gillock has picked Andy Miller, a noted handler of trotters, to guide Galary Girl, who has shown great speed when she has been able to mind her manners; she is rated the early choice based on her potential. "The boys" will be beginning their Weiss action this weekend, with pacers set for Saturday and trotters on Sunday. Each of the four sections of the Weiss Series will be conducted with three preliminary rounds, with the top performers returning for $30,000 Championships near the end of the month.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Chesapeake City, MD — Courtly Choice’s ownership group has decided that top harness racing three-year-old will race at age four. He was a fun horse to race and we are looking forward to racing him in 2019,” said Joe Thomson, Courtly Choice’s co-owner. “There are several stakes that we will be aiming for in the upcoming season. Courtly Choice’s trainer, Blake MacIntosh, had mixed feelings about standing him at stud. He discussed Courtly Choice’s future with each of the owners and they decided racing would be the better option. We decided to take the initiative to support Jeff Gural with the increase in Meadowlands purses,” said MacIntosh. The group believes that the work Gural has done to save the Meadowlands deserves their full support. We are also deciding to race him at four because we are unsupportive of the New York semen transport rule,” said Thomson. Thomson believes that mares shouldn’t have to be shipped in state to be bred. Several of the mares being booked to Courtly Choice were from outside the state of New York. The ownership group collectively apologizes to breeders who have already booked their mares. For more information, please contact Winbak Farm of New York at 845.778.5421. by Elizabeth Cheesman, Winbak Farm public relations

Canadian invader Blake Macintosh brought two of his trainees south to Saratoga Casino Hotel to compete on Friday night. The veteran conditioner came to the Spa with four year old pacer Clear Idea (American Ideal) and four year old trotter Just For You (Yankee Glide). Clear Idea has been one of the top stars out of the Macintosh stable, particularly in her 2017 campaign when she finished second in the Empire Breeders Classic in a race that went for a purse of $257,850. In that season, she thrived in the New York Sire Stakes, at one point winning five consecutive races in stakes competition in a campaign that culminated with a second-place finish in the $225,000 Final on the Night of Champions. Clear Idea began her 2018 season already having amassed over $340,000 in her young career. This year, the four year old hasn't displayed quite the same winning way and in fact was winless in the U.S. leading up to her return to Saratoga on Friday night. Though she had recorded just two wins in '18 (both in Canada), the mare had almost another $75,000 in earnings this year to add to her already impressive bankroll. Billy Dobson piloted Clear Idea in an $8,000 conditional race on Friday and moved the talented distaffer out to the early lead. Once she got there, Clear Idea poured it on with seemingly every stride before drawing away to win by better than five lengths in 1:53.3. The mile was the fastest of the evening at over a track labeled 'sloppy' at the Spa. Macintosh went back-to-back on the card when his Just For You went coast-to-coast for Dobson in a trotting event contested for a purse of $9,000. A new addition to the Macintosh stable, Just For You finished third last week when making her local debut but had little difficultly cruising to a 1:57.3 victory on Friday night. Macintosh now has 10 wins in just 26 starts this season at the Saratoga. Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Delaware, OH - Courtly Choice and David Miller rebounded from a potentially damaging break in the first heat and got up in the shadow of the wire in the second to win the $642,000 Little Brown Jug, presented by the Ohio Harness Horseman's Association, Thursday evening at the Delaware County Fair. When the field of seven hanress racing pacers were sent on their way for the $436,560 final heat, the first elimination winner Lather Up (Montrell Teague) left from post two and outsprinted the second elimination winner Dorsoduro Hanover into the first turn and controlled the fractions of :27, :54 4/5 and 1:21 2/5. Coming down the lane for the final time, Lather Up looked like the champ, but weakened in the lane allowing Courtly Choice to win by a neck in a four horse photo finish in 1:49 4/5. In the final print, Dorsoduro Hanover rallied for second. Lather Up finished third and Hayden Hanover fourth. The three-year-old son of Art Major is trained by Blake MacIntosh and owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Mac & Heim Stables, Daniel Piouffe and Touch Stone Farms. With his fifth Jug victory, David Miller joins William Haughton and Mike Lachance with the most driver titles. "The first heat he raced great, but I felt horrible," noted Miller. "The only way to make it better was to win." "He puts up a big fight. He's game. I give him a lot of credit." The second elimination was action packed from the start. Courtly Choice made a costly break in stride and was last in the field of six. Andy Miller sent Hayden Hanover to the early lead pass the quarter in :26 2/5. The "triple crown" contender, Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) took command before the half mile in :55. Miller sent Courtly Choice three wide down the backstretch and was in contention at the three-quarters in 1:22 4/5. As the field turned for home Stay Hungry stayed strong and crossed the line ¾ of a length ahead of the late charging Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) and Courtly Choice. To see the final heat race video click here. Before the connections made it to the winners circle, the 'inquiry' sign was posted for possible interference between Stay Hungry and Dorsoduro Hanover in the first turn. After a lengthy review, Dorsoduro Hanover (timed in 1:51) was placed the winner and Stay Hungry was disqualified and placed fourth. Courtly Choice and Hayden Hanover also qualified for the final. Stay Hungry was later scratched from the second heat. In the first $102,720 elimination, Lather Up protected his rail position and led the field of seven through the into the first turn and past the opening quarter in :27. Done Well was the first to challenge when Tim Tetrick came to the outside before the half in :55 3/5. This Is The Plan, who sat second for the entire mile, put forward a late effort, but Lather Up used a :26 4/5 last quarter to cross the line in 1:49 3/5. This Is The Plan was second, 1 ½ lengths back. Babes Dig Me (Brett Miller) and Done Well finished third and fourth to advance to the final. Originally, Courtly Choice was ineligible for the 73rd LBJ, but his connections elected to pay the $45,000 supplemental entry fee after winning the $701,830 Meadowlands Pace Final on July 14. With the winner's share, Courtly Choice now sports $952,704 on his career earnings card. $111,075 Old Oaken Bucket I'm Your Captain (Andy Miller) used a four wide move around the final turn to defeat Hill Street (Yannick Gingras) and Maxus (Jimmy Takter) to take the Old Oaken Bucket in 1:55 2/5. The pacesetting Treasure Tee (Trevor Henry) faded to fourth. I'm You Captain is owned by Andy Miller Stable and Black Horse Racing and trained by Julie Miller. The Muscle Hill colt has won four out his last seven starts. $107,000 Ms. Versatility Trot Final David Miller and Broadway Donna used a perfect second over trip and defeated NF Happenstance (Jack Parker, Jr.) by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:53 1/5. Ice Attraction (Yannick Gingras) was third, another two lengths behind. Broadway Donna is trained by Jim Campbell and has amassed $1.4 million for Fashion Farms. $40,418 Standardbred Colt Pace Workin Ona Mystery (Tim Tetrick) defeated stablemate Air Force Hanover (David Miller) in 1:50 3/5 to take the freshman colt pace. The field raced in post-position order through the first three quarters of the mile in :27, :54 3/5 and 1:22 2/5. Tetrick tipped the eventual winner off the rail and cruised home in :28 1/5 to establish a new lifetime mark and remains undefeated in three career starts. The Captaintreacherous colt is conditioned by Brian Brown for Jim Stambaugh, Alan Keith, Milton Leeman and the Wingfield Brothers. $48,218 Standardbred Colt Trot Prospect Hill (Andy Miller) took the lead as the field approached the half mile station and never looked back to win the $48,218 Standardbred by 2 ½ lengths over Final Claim (Mike Wilder) in 1:55 1/5. The son of Muscle Hill has won seven of nine seasonal starts for Stroy Inc. and trainer Julie Miller. $111,554 Ohio Breeders Championship Three-Year-Old Colt Pace Rockathon (David Miller) took the opening division in 1:52 over Slick Mick (Tim Tetrick) and Born To Be Bad (Andy Miller). Trainer Kimberly Dailey and Carl & Melanie Atley own the gelded son of Pet Rock who has pushed his career earnings to $338,615. The second $55,777 division went to the heavily favored Bounding Dragon and Dan Noble in 1:51. The winner went gate to wire for owners Alan Keith and Melanie Atley and trainer Mike Roth. The ultra-consistent Bounding Dragon has finished in the top two places eleven times this season. $133,906 Ohio Breeders Championship Two-Year-Old Colt Pace Rock Candy (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) went gate to wire to win the opening division in a stakes record 1:51 3/5. The Pet Rock gelding is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo. Trainer Brian Brown returned to the winner's circle in the second $66,953 division with Dislocator (Chris Page). Joelyn Ridder, Scott Davis, Sharron Sopronyi and VIP Internet Stable own the Big Bad John colt who defeated Seattle Hanover (Matt Kakaley) and Authentic Hanover (Tyler Smith) in 1:54 4/5. $111,704 Ohio Breeders Championship Three-Year-Old Filly Pace Baron Remy (Chris Page) and McVenus (Trace Tetrick) took the two $55,852 divisions in 1:53 and 1:52 2/5 respectively. by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug

Elkton, MD - Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica, is excited to announce their line-up for Thursday morning (September 13) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Montrell Teague, driver of Lather Up; Blake Macintosh, trainer of Courtly Choice; Darin Gagne, the track announcer at Running Aces Casino and Racetrack; Michelle Crawford, the new owner of Wes Delight and Jeremy Smith, who recently scored his 2,000th career win. Teague, driver of Lather Up, will discuss the great Ohio Sire Stakes Champion that will step up once again to face the top three-year-olds. Teague, who drove 2016 Little Brown Jug champion Wiggle It Jiggleit, will discuss his chances and how he feels Lather Up will be able to handle the heats in Delaware, Ohio. Macintosh, trainer of Courtly Choice, told the USTA's Ken Weingartner on Tuesday "we'll head to the Jug next" week. We will discuss how he feels the colt has been training leading up to the race and how he thinks he will handle the heats next Thursday. Courtly Choice paid a $45,000 supplemental entry fee. The Running Aces segment with track announcer Darin Gagne returns this week to talk about the happenings at the Minnesota track. Gagne will highlight some of the big events coming up and recap last week's events. Crawford, the new owner of Wes Delight, will talk about their recent purchase as they get ready for Delaware, Ohio. The Crawford's had another colt, Winston, staked to the Jug, but weren't sure that he was ready to make the lead. So they invested in Wes Delight who has made over $300,000 in 2018. Crawford will talk about their past Jug experiences and what draws them into the excitement of the race. Smith, who recently scored his 2,000th win, will join the program to talk about his milestone victory.  He will talk about his career so far and discuss where his career may be headed going forward. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. By Michael Carter, for Post Time with Mike and Mike

Meadowlands Pace champion Courtly Choice prepped for next week's Little Brown Jug with a 1:52 win in a qualifier Tuesday morning at Harrah's Philadelphia with regular driver David Miller in the sulky. The colt set all the fractions, going :28 to the quarter, :55.4 to the half and 1:24.2 to three-quarters over a surface labeled "good." "The rail wasn't that great, so Dave kept him two wide the whole way," trainer Blake MacIntosh said. "We just wanted to make sure everything was good. Dave couldn't be happier with him, so we're very happy. He was real good. We'll head to the Jug next week." The 73rd Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers is Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio and is the third jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first two -- the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes -- and will attempt to become the 11th pacer to complete the sweep. The most recent Pacing Triple Crown winner was No Pan Intended in 2003. Courtly Choice was not staked to the Little Brown Jug, but is eligible to supplement to the race thanks to his win in the Meadowlands Pace. The fee to supplement is $45,000. The colt's owners have already spent nearly $100,000 to supplement to the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace, where Courtly Choice finished fourth for his only loss in his past seven races. "What's another $45,000?" MacIntosh said with a laugh. "Everybody wants to win the Jug. There are three races that you always want to win: the Meadowlands Pace, the North America Cup, and the Jug. Hopefully we can get two out of three. We'll see what happens." The Little Brown Jug, which contests eliminations and final on the same day, is expected to feature three of North America's top-rated horses. Courtly Choice is ranked No. 5 in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll while North America Cup winner Lather Up is No. 8 and Stay Hungry is No. 10. In the first Little Brown Jug future pool, Lather Up was the 3-1 favorite followed by Courtly Choice at 9-2 and Stay Hungry at 6-1. The second pool opens Sunday. The draw for the Little Brown Jug is Saturday. Courtly Choice will enter the Jug with a three-race win streak while Stay Hungry and Lather Up both have won back-to-back starts and three of their last four. "Those three horses are on top of their games right now," MacIntosh said. "It's going to be an exciting race. I hope the crowd shows up and everybody enjoys it." Courtly Choice has won nine of 12 races this year and earned $655,393 for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms. For his career, the son of Art Major out of Lady Ashlee Ann has won 11 of 24 starts and $708,744. Miller is a four-time winner of the Little Brown Jug -- he got his first with No Pan Intended -- and will be attempting to equal the record for career driving victories in the event. Billy Haughton and Mike Lachance share the mark with five each. MacIntosh will be making his first appearance in the Little Brown Jug. "I know I'll be nervous," MacIntosh said. "It's going to be an exciting day." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - Courtly Choice made his Yonkers Raceway debut Tuesday night (Aug. 28th), toying with his foes in the $173,500 New York Sire Stakes Armand Palatucci Pace for harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings. The 1-20 favorite ($2.10), in rein to Dave Miller, was a two-move, 6½-length winner in the first ($86,750) division). Away third from post position No. 6, he dusted early (:27, :56.1; 1:23.3) leader Rockapelo (Jason Bartlett) right after the three-quarters, opened a coupled of lengths into the lane, then widened as he pleased in 1:51.1. Cheese Melt (George Brennan) won the scrum for second at 78-1, with Rockapelo holding third and Ostro Hanover (Brian Sears) fourth. For Meadowlands Pace champ Courtly Choice, the son of Art Major has won nine of his dozen seasonal starts ($655,393) for co-owners (as part of Mac and Heim Stables)/trainer Blake Macintosh, Daniel Plouffe, Hutt Racing and Touch Stone Farms. The exacta paid $56, the triple paid $183 and the superfecta paid $772. "He's a lot of fun," Miller said. After this rare sire stakes appearance, Macintosh said Courtly Choice is Ohio-bound for both the Jug Preview and Little Brown Jug. Tuesday night's second (also $86,750) and final grouping saw Ghost Dance (Scott Zeron, $12) prevail from first-over. Away fourth from post No. 3, Ghost Dancer hooked last season's statebred champ, Jersey Jim (Jordan Stratton), after that one's intervals of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.2. 'Jim,' the even-money favorite here, owned a length lead off the final turn, but tired. Ghost Dancer whipped the rival on his back, Twin B Tuffenuff (Brennan), by a half-length in 1:54.1. Jersey Jim salvaged the bottom of the ticket, with Keystone Tenacious (Jim Marohn Jr.) fourth. For third choice Ghost Dance, a Millar Farms homebred American Ideal colt trained by Rick Zeron, he's now 3-for-11 this season. The exacta paid $165.50, the triple paid $435.50 and the superfecta paid $1,495. "I couldn't hold him the last time he was here (late July)," Zeron said. "Tonight, he was much more manageable and when I asked him in the last turn, he went." New York Sire Stakes return here Thursday, Sept. 6, with the Mike Cohen Pace (3-year-old fillies, purse TBA). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

AUGUST 25, 2018 - Hanover Raceway fans were treated to an outstanding night of harness racing on the half-mile oval's annual Balanced Image program Saturday. Warming up the crowd for the Balanced Image Final were four Grassroots divisions of two-year-old pacing colts and geldings and it was local colt Sauble Play who kicked things off with a victory in the first $18,800 split. Starting from Post 3 Sauble Play and driver Stephen Byron fired directly to the front and led the field of eight through fractions of :28.1, :58.4 and 1:28. Forever Fav closed hard in the stretch, but fan favourite Sauble Play kept a neck in front to secure the 1:58 victory. Thisishowwedoit rounded out the top three. "Probably being local helped him," said Byron with a chuckle. "He raced good. It's only the second time I drove him, but he sure got around the half-mile real well and they were quite happy with him." Byron crafted the win for trainer Larry Hall and his Sauble Hill Farms of Tara, Ontario. The win was the homebred son of Shadow Play and Noble Duchess' second in Grassroots action this season and gives him a total of 108 points, good enough for third spot in the division standings with one regular season event remaining, on September 11 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The top 20 point earners advance to the Grassroots Semi-Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on September 20. The second division saw Carlisimo post his first Ontario Sires Stakes victory and equal the track record for two-year-old pacing colts with a 1:56.3 score. In rein to Brett MacDonald, the fan favourite got away third from Post 2 and watched Excaliber Seelster and DA Delightful battle to a :27.3 opening quarter. Excaliber Seelster emerged on top and took the field to a :56.4 half and a 1:26.3 three-quarters, but Carlisimo was on the move around the final turn and powered down the stretch to a one and one-quarter length victory. Excaliber Seelster settled for second and Village Champ was another length back in third. "He raced tough. At the head of the lane I didn't know if he was going to get by that one on the front, but he dug in," said trainer James Dean, who conditions Carlisimo for Reginald MacPherson of Stratford, PEI. "We tried the Golds at Grand River (Aug. 15), but they're just too tough for him, so we're pretty happy with him tonight." The mile, which matched the 1:56.3 clocked by Grinning Breed in a Grassroots event in August 2007, was a new personal best for Carlisimo, who was also a winner at Exhibition Park on July 2. The son of Shadow Play and 2010 three-year-old pacing filly Grassroots Champion Putnam Mackenzie was a $13,000 purchase out of the 2017 Atlantic Classic Yearling Sale and has banked $21,186 through six starts. Fan favourite Moonshine Kisses took the third Grassroots division with a gate-to-wire effort from Post 4, sailing under the wire two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Gamblingterror and Ys Sunshine in 1:58.2. J Bradley Harris piloted the Sunshine Beach son to the win for trainer Mark Steacy and owners Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, Shawn Steacy of Guelph, Ontario, Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy of Edmonton, Alberta. "He trained down nicely and his first couple starts looked good, but the next two not as good," said Steacy of the colt's early season results. "He looked back to normal tonight, so we hope he can finish his season off nicely in the Grassroots." An $18,000 purchase out of the London Selected Yearling Sale, Moonshine Kisses finished fourth and second in the first two Grassroots events of the season, then logged a fifth in an August 7 overnight event, all at Woodbine Mohawk Park. In the August 14 Grassroots event at Georgian Downs he was edged out of the top three in the stretch, settling for fourth. Saturday's victory bumps him into the top 10 with 91 points. The pacing colts and geldings wrapped things up with a flourish as Sports Hero stripped three-fifths of a second off the track record with a commanding 1:56 performance in the last division. The son of Sportswriter and driver Paul Mackenzie finished eight lengths ahead of Boys Turn and Taragon. "We've been high on him all along. He's had some tough luck so hopefully everything is turning around," said trainer Blake Macintosh. "I've sort of been a little disappointed with the way he was finishing and so we changed his bridle up so he could see the horses more, and I think he responded good to that tonight." The win was Sports Hero's second in Grassroots action, the colt was also victorious in the July 13 season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park. In his other two Grassroots appearances he finished second and fourth, so Saturday's win puts him atop the division standings with 133 points. A half-brother to 2012 three-year-old pacing filly Super Final champion Mach A Wish, Sports Hero was a $60,000 purchase at last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and he may be stepping up to tougher competition for his next start. "I like the colt. He's kept eligible to the Metro and everything. I don't know if he's that type of horse, but he's a nice big horse," said the trainer. "We've taken it easy on him just trying to get him to come around to where we wanted him, and he's getting there, he's getting to the way I want him. "I imagine he'll probably try the Champlain next week and then we'll go from there," Macintosh continued. "We'll see; we'll figure it out." Macintosh conditions Sports Hero for 30 Plus Stable of Trenton, 3 Hero Stables of Cambridge and Touch Stone Farms of Guelph, Ontario. In addition to the Grassroots performances from the freshman pacing colts and geldings, Hanover fans were also treated to thrilling finishes in the Walker Memorial Trot and the Balanced Image Trot final. Vesuvio Bi closed from seventh to claim the $10,000 Walker Memorial Trot in 1:59.1, reeling in favourite Twofourroadie and Irish Thunder. Scott Coulter engineered the win aboard the Manofmanymissions son for trainer Martin Lachance and his Lachance Racing Stable of Millstone Township, New Jersey and Dan Mogridge of Hillsdale, Ontario. The win was the former Grassroots winner's sixth in his four-year-old campaign. Heavy favourite Dream Nation powered up the outside from Post 6 to capture the $53,800 Balanced Image Final for two-year-old trotters in 2:00.4. Fillies Royal Rhythm and Blue Magic were second and third. Tyler Moore piloted the Archangel gelding to his fifth win in six starts for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Ecurie CSL of Sorel-Tracy, Gestion C Levesque 2005, Inc of St-Hyacinthe and Marc Camirand of Montreal, Quebec. The two-time Gold Series winner boosted his earnings over $100,000 with the victory. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

As the connections of Courtly Choice stood in the winner's circle basking in the shadow of the Crawford Farm's Meadowlands Pace trophy, trainer Blake Macintosh reflected on his numerous Meadowlands Pace wins...on the training track of course.   "How many times do you go out and jog in the morning and pretend you win the Meadowlands Pace? I've won the Meadowlands Pace 30 times out jogging, it's amazing and a dream come true," Macintosh told Post Time with Mike and Mike's Jessica Otten after the race. The dream started with a gamble. The 3-year-old son of Art Major-Lady Ashlee Ann was supplemented into the 'Pace' for $60,000. "We didn't have any plans on doing it until we saw that Lather Up and Lost In Time were out", Macintosh told Post Time with Mike and Mike prior to the eliminations. The gamble paid off, as Courtly Choice swept passed to win the 40th edition of the "Pace' in 1:47.1. Bred by Winbak Farm, Courtly Choice is a half-brother to millionaire pacer and Breeders Crown champion, Betterthanchedder. The dam of Courtly Choice (Lady Ashlee Ann) is a hall of fame broodmare with offspring that have made over $4.5 million in racetrack earnings.   She was eligible to become a Hall of Fame broodmare by producing one millionaire and two winners of $500,000 plus individually. Along with Courtly Choice and Betterthanchedder, she is also the dam to BJ's Squall ($261,750 - 1:53.1s), Ashlee's Big Guy ($978,168 - 1:50.4f) and Artist's View ($795,750 - 1:49.4) among others.   "Lady Ashlee Ann was named after my daughter," said Winbak Owner and Founder Joe Thomson. "She was a fantastic filly born in the middle of June. She was small, and out of a stallion that was not very popular at the time, but she's made it to the hall of fame and has had a terrific production career," Thomson continued.   "Courtly Choice ended up being her last foal, as Lady Ashlee Ann died having him at the age of 22. Courtly Choice was raised by a nurse mare. "He was a nice horse," said Winbak Yearling Manager James Ladwig. "My yearling notes on him were all positive. He had a good yearling video. His action was one of the better looking foals from the mare. He was a great individual to leave a lasting legacy for hall of famer, Lady Ashlee Ann."   (Courtly Choice yearling video https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ov1-hjRescM) In 2016, Courtly Choice was sold at the Lexington Select Sale for $60,000, and is now currently owned by the partnership of Hutt Racing Stable, Mac & Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms. After a pair of qualifiers, he made his debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 30th, finishing second in a race restricted to two-year-olds. His first win was on August 2nd, 2017 in a New York Sire Stakes event at Saratoga, where he won despite being parked the mile in 1:53.1. It wasn't until his 3-year-old season however, that Courtly Choice thrusted himself into the spotlight by winning six of eight races, including the Crawford Farm's Meadowlands Pace in the event's third fastest time ever (1:47.1) in it's 40 year history. The Macintosh trainee has been supplemented to the Cane Pace, which takes place on Hambletonian day (Aug 4th) at The Meadowlands.   by Mike Bozich, for Mike And Mike Show

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