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From the moment Ella Johansson saw him, there was a connection. The colt's name was Captain Bean and Ella spotted him as soon as she and her parents, harness racing trainer Nancy and driver Marcus Johansson, arrived in Harrisburg to look at yearlings the day before the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale. Ella, who accompanied her parents only because it seemed a better option to sitting at her brother's baseball tournament, implored her mother to buy him. Nancy also liked the colt, but knew acquiring him might be easier said than done. She put together a group of owners interested in buying the horse, set a budget, and on the opening day of the sale waited for Captain Bean to enter the auction ring. Ella, watching the live stream of the sale at home in New Jersey, waited too. Ella knew what the group was prepared to spend and when Captain Bean eventually sold for $85,000 she knew who had the winning bid. "We got him!" she exclaimed to Marcus in the kitchen. And a year later, her enthusiasm for the colt, now known as Captain Crunch, is undiminished. "He was the first horse that I saw," 13-year-old Ella said, recounting her initial moments with Captain Crunch. "We walked in and he was there. He was big, he was pretty; a very sweet horse. I petted him. "He's sweet and he's nice. He's just fun to be around." Said Nancy, "He's big, but he's gentle with her. He lets her pet him and he plays with you. He's as nice as a 2-year-old colt can be. If you spend a couple minutes with him you can't help but to like him. He's got unbelievable charisma." Captain Crunch, who was renamed by Ella and Nancy's mom Christina Takter, has won five of eight races this year. His most recent start came Oct. 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where he won the $600,000 Breeders Crown championship for 2-year-old male pacers on a cold, rainy night. Ella greeted him in the winner's circle with a kiss. "He stood like a perfect gentleman, like he always does," Nancy said. Captain Crunch's next start is Saturday at the Meadowlands in the sole $20,000 elimination for the Governor's Cup, which is one of the Fall Final Four stakes for 2-year-olds at the Big M. The top-seven finishers will join bye recipients Blood Money, Semi Tough, and Sugar Factory in the $469,300 final on Nov. 24. The elimination winner will draw from posts one through six for the final. Scott Zeron will drive Captain Crunch, who starts from post eight in the field of 10. Prior to each race, Ella offers words of encouragement to Captain Crunch via FaceTime. "I just tell him good luck," Ella said. "Win." "When they FaceTime he's paying attention to what she's saying, like he's listening," Marcus added. "It's kind of funny." Captain Crunch is a son of Captaintreacherous out of Sweet Paprika, from the family of Dan Patch Award-winner Sweet Lou and $2.78-million-earner Bettor Sweet. In addition to the Breeders Crown, his wins include divisions of the Nassagaweya and International Stallion Stakes (in a career-best 1:49.1). His only off-the-board finish was in his Metro Pace elimination in September, when he came up sick. The colt is owned by 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. "He's a good-looking horse," Marcus said. "He's got a great personality. He's happy all the time. He's always in a good mood. I like horses like that. If you walk into work and see someone who is miserable, you become miserable even if you were happy. He's the first horse on the end (of the stable). I park my car there so I can go and see him. It starts out the day good." And while one might expect Ella to be a horse-crazy kid given her environment, it is not the case. "As much of a horse girl that I am, she's not," Nancy said, laughing. "She doesn't care about the horses much at all." Captain Crunch is the exception, which has made his season all the more special. "We live a crazy life, on the road a lot," Nancy said. "It's almost like joining the circus. So it's nice when (our kids) see we're working hard and it's paying off and they feel involved in that." For the record, Ella's brother, Marcus Jr., has a favorite horse as well. His is also a 2-year-old colt pacer, Caviart Rockland. "They each have a horse that they follow," Marcus said. "It's 'their' horse. It makes it fun for all of us." The stakes in addition to the Governor's Cup that make up the Fall Final Four are the Three Diamonds for 2-year-old female pacers, Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, and Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old female trotters. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Goldsmith Maid and Three Diamonds. There will be two eliminations Saturday for the Valley Victory. For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Verlin Yoder raced the best horse of his career this season, the undefeated Breeders Crown champion Woodside Charm, but the filly was not alone in helping the 45-year-old owner/trainer/driver to the best season of his career. Yoder established highs of 31 wins and $1.38 million in purses as a trainer to go with a career-best $1.15 million as a driver. His 26 victories in the sulky were two shy of his career mark of 28 set last season. And while 2-year-old female trotter Woodside Charm contributed $521,658 in purses to this year's totals, Yoder still would have surpassed his previous highs of $571,162 as a trainer and $571,903 as a driver without her. "We just had the right horses in the right classes," Yoder said. "It worked out great." Yoder had three Indiana Sire Stakes champions: 2-year-old male trotter It's A Herbie, 2-year-old female trotter Kissesforall, and 4-year-old female trotter Compelling. Three-year-old male trotter Katkin American finished second to Fiftydallarbill in his Indiana Sire Stakes final. Those four horses combined for 18 wins, hitting the board 43 times in 50 starts, and $749,440. Compelling, claimed by Yoder last year, came back from a suspensory injury to find success. Katkin American was unraced at 2, but showed potential last winter while training with Yoder's millionaire trotter Natural Herbie. Driven by Yoder's son James, Katkin American was a Hoosier Park track-record-setter and finished worse than second only once in 12 starts. "I knew we had some decent ones coming out of Florida," said Yoder, who lives in the Sunshine State during the offseason and returns to Indiana to race. "We knew (Katkin American) was pretty nice. It was nice to have him and watch my son do well with him. "The Herbie colt, about the middle of March he showed me he had some real talent. We just took our time with him. He's a big growthy colt and I stuck to my guns and kept on trying to teach him. Every start, he got smarter about things. I was really excited about him. "Compelling was a very nice addition. I was going for a Hail Mary (when I claimed her last year) because I was kind of soft in the 3-year-old fillies. I took the gamble of keeping her and rehabbing her. I tried to do all the right things and she came back a hundred percent. It was the middle of February and the boys kept on telling me they're going to read about her. The farther we got down, the stronger she got." And then there was Woodside Charm, who on Oct. 27 capped a 7-for-7 campaign with her win in the Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It was Yoder's first trip to the Breeders Crown. She joined Manchego as the only 2-year-old filly trotters to be undefeated Breeders Crown champions. "The way she did it is what impressed me about her," Yoder said about the filly's season. "She went to so many tracks and shipped all over, and every time I went to a different track she adjusted. She let me do what I had to do. "She's a fast, smart horse." Woodside Charm won her Breeders Crown final by 1-3/4 lengths over Simon Allard-driven When Dovescry, covering the mile distance in 1:54.1 on a cold rainy night. "I was going up the backside and she was cruising and I'm thinking, man, it can't be this easy," Yoder said. "I thought I better grab into her a little bit to make sure I had plenty left. Then when Simon pulled, I was waiting on him, I squawked at her and she was gone. "You're pinching yourself in the race. And then when you get done and get home and start thinking about what you did in the last couple weeks, it's pretty amazing. "It takes a lot of focus and a lot of hard work to pull something like that off. The biggest thing is staying focused on your work. To stay focused and do your job every day, and stay religious about it, that's the tough part. You set up a plan to lead to one direction. I wouldn't say that I'm proud of myself, but I was happy with myself to stay focused." Yoder also credited his wife, Rachel, with being instrumental to the stable's success. "This was the first year that my wife was able to help me in Indiana and it made a big difference," Yoder said. "We've always been a team, but the boys always went to school and she had to be in Florida and I was always trying to do it myself. When you have somebody that thinks the same way that you do and it's a team, it just works better." Yoder is already resettled in Florida, giving his horses some time off and contemplating next season. "Things went right; we did the right things and stuck to the plan," Yoder said. "Now we have to go back through the motions again. Hopefully we come back and do all right again." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Elkton, MD - Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by BetAmerica, is excited to announce their line-up for Thursday morning (October 31) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Matt Kakaley, who scored his first career Breeders Crown victory; Tim Tetrick, regular driver of Shartin N; Ryan Clements, from Catch Driver; and Derrick Giwner, from the Daily Racing Form. Kakaley, who scored his first ever Breeders Crown win, joins to talk about the emotions of winning his first Crown. Kakaley who had two victories on Saturday night (Percy Bluechip & Dorsoduro Hanover) discusses both trips and what the wins meant to him follow a near career-ending injury earlier in 2018. Tetrick, regular driver of Shartin N, will join to talk about the storied mare pacer who dominated her Breeders Crown Final. Shartin N scored her 18th win in 23 starts since coming to the United States and is trained by Jim King Jr. Clements, who created Catch Driver, joins to talk about his experience at EGLX, the largest gaming expo in Canada. He will discuss his experience and some of the new ideas he learned from the expo. Giwner, from Daily Racing Form, will appear to talk about some of the highlights from the great weekend of racing and help interact some fan questions following an eventful Breeders Crown. Also, Mike and Mike have a big announcement on Thursday regarding the 2018 Post Time with Mike and Mike Awards. 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

For the third consecutive year, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program has offered the Breeders Crown Pledge to the industry's leading owners, trainers and drivers as a way to give to back to the horses that are no longer racing by pledging a percentage of their earnings to New Vocations. Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC graciously were the first trainer and ownership group to join, and they had a stellar evening winning three Breeders Crown championships with Dorsoduro Hanover, Warrawee Ubeaut and Percy Blue Chip. "As a group we feel it is so important to give back to the horses as they are obviously the true stars of the sport," stated Mark Weaver. Diamond Creek Racing joined for the first time this year pledging all four of their horses, with Proof coming in a strong second in the 2-Year-Old Colt Pace and Pure Country finishing third in the Mare Pace. "We applaud the efforts of New Vocations, who with the support of others is able to directly contribute to the successful futures of many of these horses," said Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Racing. Owner Howard Taylor pledged his Breeders Crown winner Tactical Landing in the 3-Year-Old Colt Trot and Hambletonian winner Atlanta, who was a close second in the 3-Year-Old Filly Trot. The team behind Breeders Crown Mare Pace winner Shartin N was on board as the husband-wife training combination of Jim King, Jr. and Jo Ann Looney-King along with driver Tim Tetrick. "It really is exciting to see the industry's leading professionals giving back through their horses' success via this pledge," said Standardbred Program Director Winnie Morgan Nemeth. "We are very grateful for each and every horse that raced for us last Saturday night." New Vocations would like to thank all pledge supporters including first-time pledgers Dandy Farms, Odds on Racing and Holland Racing Stables. "This pledge helps us rehab, retrain and rehome over 100 retired Standardbreds annually through our proven adoption model. It is truly win-win for all involved," said Morgan-Nemeth. To learn more about New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, visit www.NewVocations.org. From New Vocations

Matt Kakaley's drive to his first Breeders Crown winner's circle was as memorable as the stretch drive to victory, and even more emotional. Kakaley entered last Saturday's Breeders Crown finals at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in search of his first trophy. He ended the night with two. The second, not unexpectedly, came with favorite Dorsoduro Hanover in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace. The first, though, was something of a surprise. It came six races earlier with 52-1 longshot Percy Bluechip in the 3-year-old filly pace. As the 30-year-old Kakaley returned to the winner's circle with Percy Bluechip, he could not help but think back to last March when he was injured in an accident at Yonkers. Kakaley was sidelined for two months and required three surgeries, including one for a broken orbital bone and another for a fractured collarbone. "The winner's circle was a little overwhelming for me, just full of emotion," Kakaley said. "Coming back, I was just thinking, man, seven months ago I was on the sidelines not even sure if I was going to be able to drive anymore. My eye was really bad. I don't think people really understand how bad it really was. The people that were around me were a great support system. Obviously everything came back and I'm OK, but at the time I was really worried. "It was a rush of emotions going back to the winner's circle. My grandparents were there, my parents, my daughter, my girlfriend, all my friends that I've hung around with that live here. It meant a lot." Kakaley, who has competed regularly at Pocono for the past eight years and won a driving title there in 2011, was winless in 42 Breeders Crown finals prior to breaking through with Percy Bluechip. Kakaley positioned the filly second on the outside behind favorite Kissin In The Sand, who was engaged in a battle with Youaremycandygirl through torrid early fractions. As the field turned for home, Kakaley dropped his whip but was still able to sweep by the leaders in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length over Kissin In The Sand. "Everything went perfect for that filly," Kakaley said. "It's nice for the horse when things go the right way for them to get the job done in the big race. They were rolling up front, big numbers, and she felt strong down the backstretch. In the last turn I had a lot of go. I thought I could get there. I lost my whip, but she just powered through and got up. She raced super." It was somewhat fitting Kakaley's first Breeders Crown win came with a longshot. Of his 42 previous drives in finals, 27 were at odds of 40-1 or longer and nine of his 11 on-the-board finishes were at odds of at least 27-1. Of course, the odds mattered little to Kakaley. "It's unexpected, so a little bit of a surprise factor maybe makes it a little bit better, but just winning a Breeders Crown race is amazing," Kakaley said. "I'm just so thankful for the opportunities I've gotten. It happened. Thank God. I finally got one." And then he got two. Dorsoduro Hanover, Kakaley's first favorite in a final, took the lead after three-eighths of a mile and cruised to victory by 3-1/2 lengths over Lather Up. The gelding has finished no worse than second in seven consecutive races, winning five. His victories in addition to the Breeders Crown include the Adios and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He was second in the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug. "I was very confident with him," Kakaley said. "That was as good as he's been all year. Ronnie has done an amazing job keeping that horse fresh. He's danced every dance and showed up every time. He's a gamer, that's for sure." Ronnie is trainer Ron Burke, for whom Kakaley drives on a regular basis. Kakaley's two wins were part of a three-Crown night for the Burke Brigade. "I was fortunate to pick up the right horses at the right time and the horses were sharp going into the Breeders Crown," Kakaley said. "I was confident coming in. Ronnie has put me in these big races. I'm happy to get a couple tonight." And as the rain-soaked and mud-covered Kakaley turned to walk away on a 41-degree Pocono night, he flashed a big smile. "I can tell you this much," he said. "I'm not cold anymore." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

The Breeders Crown Team Handicapping Contest on last Saturday's (Oct. 27) Breeders Crown championship card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was over before the half. When Garnet Barnsdale turned his total $360 in wagers on the 3-Year-Old Colt Trot (Race 7) into a cash of $2,895, it propelled Team Gallo Blue Chip to an easy victory. As a result, New Vocations will receive the first-place prize of $1,000 from the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, which sponsored the contest that included 12 of harness racing's top handicappers. The 12 players were divided into three teams of four members each, playing for three designated charities: Harness Horse Youth Foundation, New Vocations and Standardbred Retirement Foundation. Each team member handicapped three Crown finals. All wagers were mythical and players were limited to $100 maximum win or win/place combination, $100 maximum in total exacta wagers, and $120 maximum in total trifecta wagers. Barnsdale, the Woodbine Mohawk Park handicapper for DRF Harness, took full advantage of altering his selections when morning-line favorite Six Pack was an early scratch. While Barnsdale already had a $100 win bet on eventual champ Tactical Landing, he switched his exacta and trifecta selections and was able to nail both. While his win wager resulted in a cash of just $140, Barnsdale had a $100 straight exacta ticket that returned $1,250 and a $10 trifecta ticket that was worth $1,505. Barnsdale's total cash of $2,895 was actually more than each of the other two teams had in total. With teammates Gordon Waterstone cashing for a total of $1,158.50, Gabe Prewitt for $692.50, and Ellie Sarama for $578, Team Gallo Blue Chip's total cash was $5,324. Finishing second with a total of $2,730 and earning $500 for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation was Team Foiled Again, which consisted of Allan Schott, Dave Brower, Derick Giwner and Dave Weaver. Slightly more than half the team's bankroll came from Weaver, who was the only handicapper in the contest to cash in all three of his designated races. Weaver, a host on the TVG network, saw his biggest return come in the Open Pace, where he had a $50 place wager on Filibuster Hanover, the runner-up to McWicked, as well as a two-horse $50 exacta box and a $5 trifecta box that in all totaled $868.50 and brought his overall total to $1,403.50. Finishing third with a total of $2,346.90 and earning $250 for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation was Team Moni Maker, which consisted of Mark McKelvie, Megan Maccario, Michael Carter and Sally Hinckley. It was Hinckley, a longtime oddsmaker and handicapper, who led the team with a final bankroll of $1,522.50. Hinckley's biggest cash of $1,070 came in the 3-Year-Old Colt Pace, where she had a $50 place wager on Lather Up, who was second to Dorsoduro Hanover, and a $50 two-horse exacta box that returned $965. "Great job by all the Breeders Crown handicappers," said Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown COO Moira Fanning. "The 12 championships from The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono had a little something for everyone, from favorites to longshots. The Hambletonian Society is happy to sponsor this contest which results in real dollars for some very special charities --- Standardbred aftercare and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Thanks to all for the efforts." From the Breeders Crown

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Favored McWicked ($3.80) moved to the lead at the five-eighths pole, easily putting away Lazarus N and then opening to win by four comfortable lengths in 1:49.3. Brian Sears drove McWicked for trainer Casie Coleman, as he won his second Breeders Crown trophy. Early leader Filibuster Hanover rallied for second, while Donttellmeagain finished third. Mcwicked has now earned over $3.7 million in his career after posting his 24th career win. "He's real easy to drive and he does everything you want. It's great to have the opportunity to drive such nice horses," said Sears, who won three Breeders Crown races Saturday night. "I always think he's gonna be good, but to think he is going to do what he did this year... I think he is better now than he was at three. He is a big team effort no doubt. I hope he is going to race next year, but that is not my call. It is up to Mr. James (owner Edward James of the SSG Stables.) I think he will be at stud, but I hope he will race, our team would really like that," explained trainer Casie Coleman. Filibuster Hanover took the field to the quarter in 26.1, but Lazarus N was immediately out and winging, taking the field past the half in 55.2. McWicked pulled up the backside and easily disposed of his challenger, rolling past three-quarters in 1:21.2 before Sears took his foot off the gas in the stretch. McWicked is a seven-year-old bay horse by McArdle, out of the Western Ideal mare Western Sahara. He was bred by Andray Farm of Punxutawney, Pennsylvania. By Keith Gisser, For The Breeders Crown      

Emoticon Hanover (Daniel Dube) went back to back with Breeders Crown trophies to win the $250,000 race on a sloppy track by three-quarters of a length on Saturday night. Caprice Hill (Brian Sears) was on the lead at the first :27.1 quarter, before being quickly overtaken by Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) just past that milestone. Ariana G held the lead to the :56.4 half, trailed by Emoticon Hanover and Broadway Donna. Broadway Donna was up to engage her on the outside just past the half, but Ariana G held that lead to the 1:25.2 three quarters before Ice Attraction came up on the outside to make a try for the lead. While those two were looking for the finish line, Emoticon Hanover came charging on the outside to pass them both for the win in 1:54.1 The winner is trained by Luc Blais and owned by Determination. Ice Attraction was second, and Caprice Hill was third. "She's nice right now, she's good," said winning trainer Daniel Dube. "We went to the passing lane last week, we went to the outside today. She does everything right, she is more relaxed. She is a special mare." By Ellen Harvey, For The Breeders Crown

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Racing his most impressive mile of the season, Dorsoduro Hanover stormed to the lead and continued to draw off to a 4 ¼-length win in 1:49.4 on the "sloppy" surface of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Oct. 27 in the $530,000 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colt Pace Final. It was a wild shuffle from the start as This Is The Plan left best early, only to be hunted down while struggling in a :26.1 first quarter. The pace was forced early as American History took a shot on the outside as Thinkbig Dreambig challenged to get a strong position and Grand Teton was poised to move. The :53.4 half was burning some horseflesh, so Matt Kakaley steered Dorsoduro Hanover around them all, taking the lead on his outside brush and blasting through three-quarters in 1:21.3. The other giant move was coming down for Lather Up, who went three-wide to pass the early battling group. Once on the engine, however, Dorsoduro Hanover used all six cylinders to repel all others except Lather Up, who was relentlessly forging down the stretch, though futilely, after Dorsoduro Hanover. The smashing victory, a sub-1:50 mile in the muck, was far ahead of Lather Up, who took second passing a tired, stuffed-on-the-inside This Is The Plan. Shnitzledosomethin managed to get fourth. Ron Burke trains the sophomore colt by Somebeachsomewhere--Deep Valley Miss (by Artsplace). Burke Racing Stable, Silva, Purnel and Libby, Weaver Bruscemi and Wingfield Five own Dorsoduro Hanover. Hanover Shoe Farms bred the winner. It was the 10th win in 18 starts this season for Dorsoduro Hanover, who paid $6.00 to win. by Frank Cotolo, For The Breeders Crown

Wilkes-Barre, PA - The $500,000 three-year-old Breeders Crown Filly Trot figured to be a battle among Atlanta, currently top-ranked in the sport's top ten poll, Manchego (seventh), and Phaetosive. However, longshot Lily Stride, at 31-1, had other ideas and pulled the upset in the $500,000 event, winning in 1:53.2. Lily Stride paid $65.40 to her backers. Plunge Blue Chip pressured favored Atlanta early, but she cleared to the lead at the 26.4 quarter. She was immediately pressured by Manchego, who was followed by Phaetosive in the outside flow. Atlanta posted fractions of 54.2 and 1:23.4 as Manchego tired and Phaetosive moved three-wide. Meanwhile, Plunge Blue Chip moved outside, opening up the passing lane for Lily Stride and Tim Tetrick, who posted his second consecutive Crown win on the evening. The win over the sloppy surface did not surprise driver Tim Tetrick, who said, "Ever since the first week of Lexington she's really been charging. She got taken out in the (Kentucky) Futurity Final, or she would have been second or third, and last week came home in 27.1. I thought she was setting on a good race. I'm really surprised she paid 31-1. They all went to the outside and we took a shortcut, which I have been doing with her the last few starts. The track is holding up really well. The footing is good." Harder, who posted his first Breeders Crown win, said the filly's season is not over. "The monkey off my back is great. You know, I am really happy to do it with this filly because the group she hit this year are great, great fillies. I thought I had a great, great filly until I qualified her and these other ones started showing up and they are vicious, they're really tough. She's going to go down under and the owners will race her down there, which will be, you know, a feather in their cap, to race a Breeders Crown winner." Owned by Emilio and Maria Roasti of Condell Park, New South Wales, Australia, Lily Stride is a bay filly by Muscle Hill from the Donato Hanover mare Sterling Volo. Bred by Kentuckiana Farms and Jorgen Jahre, Jr., Lily Stride posted her 12th career victory as she claimed the John Simpson Memorial Trophy, sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms, and pushed her career earnings over $700,000. by Keith Gisser, For The Breeders Crown

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Shartin N, aggressively driven by Tim Tetrick, won the $270,000 Breeders Crown Mares Pace Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun on Oct. 27. The time for the mile was 1:52 over the "sloppy" track. Supplemented to the race, the New Zealand-bred five-year-old mare Shartin N, by Tintin In America--Bagdarin, flew from the wings of the gate and denied the lead from a quick-leaving Twinkle. Call Me Queen Be took a spot in third on the inside while outside-launching Caviart Ally got the fourth spot. Shartin N cut the first quarter in :26.1 as Twinkle drafted behind her. Heading for a :54.3 half, Lakeisha Hall made a bid that brought her close to the leader, but she could not get farther from there. Caviart Ally took a shot three-wide, chasing Shartin N in a brisk 1:23 three-quarters. Twinkle was stuffed on the inside and Pure Country began to make an impression closing as Caviart Ally pushed Shartin N to her limit. This was enough to get over the finish line first in 1:52. Pure Country made it into the show spot behind Caviart Ally. Jim King Jr. trains Shartin N for owners Richard Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney. She paid $3.00, $2.20, and $2.10. by Frank Cotolo, For The Breeders Crown      

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Scott Zeron drove Captain Crunch to a definitive 3-length win in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Pace Final at The Downs at Mohegan Pocono on Oct. 27. The time for the mile on the track rated "sloppy" was 1:51.3. From the far outside, Blood Money left with Captain Crunch, followed by Captain Trevor and flushing to the outside, Proof took an early shot at challenging. The first quarter was clocked in :26.4 as Proof took the lead into the half. Proof rolled to a :55.1 half with Captain Crunch sitting in the cat-bird seat as Captain Trevor went first over, aiming at the top two inside. No Mas Amor went three-wide in an attempt to charge late. Three-quarters went in 1:23.2. With a clear path to come out of the pocket, Zeron guided Captain Crunch into the second lane and the son of Captaintreacherous--Sweet Paprika (by Artiscape) catapulted past Proof and extended his winning lead to 3 lengths in 1:51.3. Proof held on for second, Love Me Some Lou passed tired ones to catch the third spot and No Mas Amor was fourth. Nancy Johansson trains Captain Crunch for owner Rojan Stables, Caviart Farms, 3 Brothers Stables and Christine Takter. The colt was bred by Walnridge Farms and Sherri K. Meirs. The win was driver Scott Zeron's second in a Breeders Crown Final. Captain Crunch paid $11.20 to win. by Frank Cotolo, For The Breeders Crown

Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr.) slipped up the passing lane to pass Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) to win the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot in 1:52.3 on sloppy track. Homicide Hunter is trained By Chris Oakes and owned by Crawford Farms Racing. Top Flight Angel led off the gate and hit the first quarter in :27, followed by Homicide Hunter along the rail. Those two led the field to the :55.3 half and on to the 1:24 three-quarter marker. In sight of the finish line, Homicide Hunter, trailing the leader, angled to the inside passing lane and overtook Top Flight Angel to win by about a length. It was the first Breeders Crown win for Napolitano. "Wow. Words can't even explain it," he said. "It's unbelievable. I am so grateful. It's a pretty simple track to drive on, and I have the right people beside me." On if trainer Chris Oakes had any words for him before the race, Napolitano said, "Nothing. Chris didn't say a word. He knows I know this horse and I know the track. I usually win the four claimers, not the Breeders Crown." Top Flight Angel was second and Warrawee Roo was third. The winner returned $10.20 to win, $5.20 to place, and $4.00 to show. by Ellen Harvey, For The Breeders Crown

Wilkes-Barre, PA - The track at Mohegan Sun Pocono may have been sloppy but the effort from Tactical Landing was pretty neat as he took the $500,000 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Trot in a speedy 1:52.1. Harness racing driver Brian Sears got Tactical Landing away second as Met's Hall took the field to the quarter in 27.1, but he cruised to the front en route to the 55.4 half mile marker. Tactical Landing hit three-quarters in 1:23.4 and drew off from Met's Hall and Crystal Fashion in the stretch, winning by open lengths. Met's Hall and Crystal Fashion were second and third, respectively. The presumptive favorite, Six Pack, was scratched from the race due to sickness. Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, who is retiring at the end of this season, trains Tactical Landing for the Tactical Landing Stable of Perrysburg, Ohio. An $800,000 yearling, the son of Muscle Hill from the Varenne mare Southwind Serena, was bred by Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm and Andrea Lea Racing Stables. He has now earned $644,300 in his career as he won for the eighth time. The win was the second Crown title of the night for driver Sears. Takter was pleased, but philosophical in the winner's circle. "This horse, he's been battling a lot of issues. I have trained a lot of great horses, but the way he carries himself in this weather, I know he's by far the best three-year-old out there. I know Six Pack is a good horse, and it's too bad he got sick, but he would not have a shot with this horse. This horse is a level above anything. This was number 34 (Breeders Crown win), and I was very nervous going into it. This is my last year so I'd like to get at least one Crown before I get out of here." In taking home the John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trophy, sponsored by Brittany Farms, favored Tactical Landing paid $2.80 to win. by Keith Gisser, for The Breeders Crown

Long shot  at 52-1 Percy Blue Chip (Matt Kakaley) took advantage of a speed duel and was the winner of the $500,000 Breeders Crown for three-year-old filly pacers on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It was a new lifetime mark of 1:51.2 over a sloppy track. Percy Blue Chip is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Dandy Farm, Silva, Purnel and Libby. Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) was first to the lead at the :25.4 first quarter and was soon joined by Kissin In The Sand (Scott Zeron) on the outside, who applied pressure to the :53.3 half and the 1:22.2 three-quarters. As the field turned for home, those two were still on the lead, but were overtaken by Percy Blue Chip, who'd been second-over throughout most of the race and went three-wide to win by three-quarters of a length. The daughter of Shadow Play paid $106.00, $22.80 and $11.00 for the win. Kissin In The Sand was second and Dance Blue was third. It was the first Breeders Crown win for Matt Kakaley, who dropped his whip at the top of the stretch, but clearly didn't need it. "It's amazing," he said. "Absolutely amazing. You know the only way I could win was if they duked it out on the lead, like that. I actually dropped my whip at the head of the stretch. I just put my nose on Scotty's (Zeron) helmet. She came home good. Down the backside I thought I had a good shot." by Ellen Harvey, For The Breeders Crown      

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Verlin Yoder drove Woodside Charm to a 1:54.1 win in the Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Filly Trot Final at The Downs at Mohegan Pocono on Oct. 27 over a track that was rated "sloppy." Yoder owns and trains the Chapter Seven--Fireworks Hanover filly, which was Yoder's first Breeders Crown entry, along with his first appearance. Yoder took his filly right to the top as the gate swung open, followed by When Dovescry and Cloud Nine Fashion, with The Ice Dutchess waiting in fourth for a move. The first quarter went in :27.4. The field remained in the same order as Woodside Charm glided along easy to a half in :57.1. The Ice Dutchess took to the outside and tried to launch a challenge but was soon weary and faded by three-quarters which went in 1:25.2. When Dovescry made her move just after three-quarters, but Woodside Charm was taking Yoder on an easy path to the winner's circle, finishing in 1:54.1. When Dovescry finished second to the 1-9 favorite, with Cloud Nine Fashion holding on for third and Special Honor sliding in fourth. It was the seventh win in seven starts for Woodside Charm, who was bred by AV & Son. "You can't put this into words," Yoder said after his visit to the winner's circle, adding the filly will "go to Florida to un-thaw and see what happens for next year." by Frank Cotolo, For The Breeders Crown

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