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Trainer Tony Alagna hopes Rare Gift delivered a special present in the form of 2-year-old colt trotter Gifted Way. Gifted Way, a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Rare Gift, was purchased for $170,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. Gifted Way makes his third start Friday in the single elimination for the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. The colt is owned by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Little E LLC, and Deo Volente Farms. Gifted Way is part of a four-horse entry in the Haughton elim, along with Jimmy Takter-trained Special Action, The Bank, and Uncle Lasse. The group is 3-5 on the morning line. Rounding out the horses in the elim, from which the top seven finishers advance to the $280,000 estimated final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, are Ake Svanstedt's Centurion ATM and Amicus, Ray Schnittker's Broken Record, Erv Miller's SS Poseidon, Nancy Johansson's Cruzado Dela Noche, and Mark Harder's True Blue Stride. Three horses received byes to the final: Takter's Canepa Hanover, Nik Drennan's Guess Whos Back, and Jim Campbell's Honor And Serve. Gifted Way won his debut, a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars, on July 4 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He went off stride at the start in his second race, which was won by Canepa Hanover, on July 18 at the Meadowlands. "He's a nice colt," Alagna said. "When the gate left the other night, he just got off on the wrong foot and made a break, which he hadn't done before. He trotted good after making the break, came out of the race fine, and trained back good [Tuesday]. I think we're set for the elimination on Friday night." Gifted Way is Rare Gift's fourth foal, and first by Cantab Hall, who was the sport's leading trotting sire in 2012 and 2013. Rare Gift is a full sister to stakes-winner Stand Strong and a three-quarter-sister to 1996 Horse of the Year Continentalvictory and stakes-winner Victory Abroad. "The family has been a little stagnant, but this was by far the best colt the mare had thrown," Alagna said. "He's very correct. He was very athletic in the paddock. He just had everything going for him. "Cantab Hall has just been red hot the last couple years, so we thought we would take a shot. We're glad we did. I think he was the right horse." Gifted Way is not the only horse in the Haughton elim with well-known relatives. Uncle Lasse is a full brother to Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly trotter and a top contender in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks, and Broken Record is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. Special Action's family includes 2006 Hambletonian winner Glidemaster and The Bank's dam is millionaire Lantern Kronos. Friday's card also features two eliminations for the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters and the second round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

After watching Bee A Magician put together an 18-race win streak that began at age 2 and covered her entire 3-year-old season, harness racing fans wanted to know what was wrong with the 2013 Horse of the Year as she went winless in her first four starts this season. Not much, says trainer Nifty Norman, other than the fact that winning is difficult. "Lots of people have said to me that she's been no good, but only once really," Norman said. "Her first start was a great run, [second in 1:51.3] right off the bat and she had trot finishing. We kind of raced her easy in her second start and she was second; she was a little bit flat. Then she was sick, but she's been good again ever since. "People just expect her to win," he added with a chuckle. "It's not that easy; I wish it was. But I think she's been pretty solid." Bee A Magician, owned by Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, returned to her winning ways with a world-record 1:51.1 triumph July 12 in the third round of the Miss Versatility Series at Meadowlands Racetrack. She now holds the records for fastest 3-year-old (1:51) and 4-year-old female trotters in history. She will try to make it two victories in a row when she meets six rivals in Friday's second leg of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Bee A Magician and regular driver Brian Sears will start from post one. The rest of the field in post order is Handover Belle, Rockin With Dewey, NF Happenstance, Ma Chere Hall, Mistery Woman, and Classic Martine. Handover Belle won the Ima Lula's first round on July 18 by a half-length over Ma Chere Hall in 1:51.4. The $55,000 estimated final is Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day. Bee A Magician -- who has won 28 of 35 career races, finished second on four occasions, and earned $2.45 million -- was eligible to the John Cashman Jr. Memorial, but the mare's connections decided against facing the boys. She raced against her male counterparts in the Hambletonian Maturity on July 5, finishing second to Your So Vain. "I want to race her as easy as I can," Norman said. "I'll consider racing those horses again later in the year maybe, but not right now. You can't be too tough on them. You see some of the other 4-year-olds that have come back and are not what they were. It's a tough thing to do because most of them have laid it all on the line last year." As it is, racing against the mares is difficult enough. "It's a tough division; very solid," Norman said, adding about her 1:51.1 win in the most recent Miss Versatility round, "It was a good race. She didn't jog, it was a good race." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Three trotters from the sophomore class of 2010 have come online with their initial crops this year; Muscle Massive is standing at Hanover, Lucky Chucky at Winbak in New York and Holiday Road in Ontario. Pilgrim’s Taj is a fourth, but he only spent one year in Canada, after which he was relocated to Ohio and ultimately exported to Finland. That being the case, we’ll look at the first three. To this point restricted races have provided the only basis for judging them, but the open portion of the season commences this week with elimination rounds for the Peter Haughton and Merrie Annabelle at the Meadowlands as well as several splits of the Arden at The Meadows. Much of the focus has been on Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky, beneficiaries of generous state bred programs who finished one-two in the Hambletonion. The former was a $450,000 yearling who was lightly raced at two but managed to win the Hambletonion as well as the Dancer at three, while Chucky was a precocious freshman, showing wins in the Valley Victory, Matron, ISS and Bluegrass. He was the 3/2 favorite in the Hambletonion and appeared on his way to victory when 6/1 Muscle Massive, piloted by Ron Pierce, ruined his day. Regardless, Chucky did win the Canadian Trotting Classic and Colonial at three, and he earned more money than Muscle Massive both years. Both sold close to seventy yearlings last year, with Chucky’s brood averaging quite a bit more. Both have seen their stud fees fluctuate before their first crops hit the track. Muscle Massive started at $10,000, only to have his fee cut to $7,500 and $6,000 in successive years. Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Andover Hall and Explosive Matter all command higher fees than their younger stablemate at Hanover. Chucky, on the other hand, started at $7,500 in New York, was dropped to $5,000 during a year spent in Pennsylvania, and came back up to $7,500 when he returned to Winbak, where nineteen-year-old Muscles Yankee stands for $2,500 more. Muscle Massive has benefited from the success of his older brother, Muscle Mass, sire of O’Brien winner Riveting Rosie and the successful OSS colt Muscle Matters. Thus far Muscle Massive has given us some outstanding fillies. Gatka Hanover, a big rugged gal out of the Conway Hall mare Girlie Tough, from the Ron Burke barn, has left many wondering where her ceiling is. Gatka rolled through a couple of baby races and has now chalked up three wins in the PA Sire Stakes, one each at The Meadows, Pocono and Harrah’s. Matt Kakaley steered her to an effortless four length win in 1:57 in her latest. She leaves from the five for Matt K in Friday’s first Merrie Annabelle elimination. Gatka takes on Lucky Chucky’s daughter, Lock Down Lindy, who drew plenty of attention with a very strong first over win in a Merrie Annabelle Prep at the Meadowlands Friday for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. Another Muscle Massive star in the making is Jimmy Takter’s Speak To Me, an $80,000 Harness Breeders purchase by Myron Bell. She is also three-for three in the PA Sire Stakes and has trotted in 1:55. Last time out, in a $57,000 sire stakes division at Harrah’s, Speak To Me gapped the field by ten on her way to an easy win at a stingy 1/5 price. Unfortunately this filly was not staked to the Merrie Annabelle and will be missing from the fray on Friday night. Blessings Counted is another talented filly by Muscle Massive. She was second to Speak To Me in a PASS race at The Meadows a couple of weeks ago and won a $57,000 race at Harrah’s in her latest start. She is not eligible to the Merrie Annabelle but is entered in a split of the Arden at The Meadows on Friday. Missive and Youth Gone Wild, both winners in the Stallion Series, will also race in the Arden. Jersey Strong, a talented filly with a win in the PA All Stars and a second in the PASS, isn’t entered at The Meadowlands or The Meadows on Friday. The top colt by Muscle Massive is Ake Svanstedt’s Lima Pride, who beat Jimmy Takter’s 1/9 favorite The Bank in a split of the Hickory Pride when The Bank went on a run at the three-quarters. Lima Pride, a $25,000 yearling purchase, was not nominated to the Peter Haughton. The priciest freshman trotter by any first crop stallion is Mr Lucky Luke, a $450,000 Lucky Chucky half- brother to Muscle Massive, Muscle Mass and 2010 Merrie Annabelle winner, Thatsnotmyname. The Cancelliere brothers, of Detour Hanover fame, purchased him at Lexington in the fall. He has yet to make a pari-mutuel start; let’s hope he generates a better ROI than Detour has. As for the Lucky Chucky colts and fillies that have raced, there is no eye popping Gatka Hanover out there, but there are plenty of good ones. I already mentioned Merrie Annabelle candidate Lock Down Lindy, who possesses the same rugged demeanor as Gatka. She is a half-sister to 2006 HOY in Canada, Majestic Son. He has sired Harper Blue Chip, Murmur Hanover and Charmed Life. Ray Schnittker has Gabe The Bear Dean, a $105,000 Harness Breeders buy, who has an impressive wire-to wire five length win in the NYSS at Buffalo. Jonas Czernyson has a few Lucky Chucky youngsters in his barn and he’s high on all of them. At the end of June Hot Start, a half-sister to Religulous, won a $27,000 NYSS split at Vernon Downs for Corey Callahan. Next time out, at Tioga, she cut most of the mile from the outside post only to lose to paternal sister My Twisted Sister, from the Paul Kelley barn. Hot Start is entered in the second Merrie Annabelle elimination on Friday. Nunkeri is another very promising Lucky Chucky filly from the Czernyson barn. She finished second to the Muscle Hill filly Josie’s Joy at the Meadowlands the other night, race timed in 1:57.2 as the second choice. Nunkeri won her start previous to that one, a $28,000 NYSS division at Tioga. George Ducharme’s sharp looking Conway Hall filly, Concentration, pressured her all the way home in a 1:59.3 mile. On the male side Mal and Janet Burroughs’ Mambo Blue Chip, a $40,000 Harness Breeders buy, won a $28,000 split of the NYSS in 1:57.2 at Tioga last time out. Holiday Road, a $115,000 yearling who is a full brother to Ken Warkentin, was lightly raced, making only ten lifetime stars. While staying on the track was an issue, speed wasn’t; he won the Peter Haughton at two and a split of the Dancer at three. He opened his stallion career for $4,500 at Seelster Farms and now stands for $3,500. This week the Holiday Roads started to turn heads and earn respect at Mohawk as they performed admirably on the various OSS platforms. John Bax’s Hemi Seelster was long and tough winning a Grassroots division in 1:58.4 at 2/1. It was noteworthy that the gelding engaged in a head to head battle the length of the stretch with Pilgrim’s Joy, a son of first crop stallion Pilgrim’s Taj. Tony Alagna’s filly Gee O’Keeffe logged a very strong second in a $53,000 OSS Gold leg at Mohawk for Jody Jamieson, losing a length to the highly regarded Kadabra filly Juanita’s Fury. And Keith Jones’ gelding, It’s Huw You Know, was an upset Grassroots winner in 2:00.3 on Monday at 75/1, paying $159.60. And Ontheroad De Vie made a very impressive brush on the back as he came from the 10 post to finish second for Rick Zeron in a Grassroots leg. The Holiday Roads are looking good. Rock N Roll Heaven and Sportswriter are lighting it up in the freshman pacing division, but it’s expected that the trotters will take a little longer to get their bearings and hit their stride. Muscle Massive, Lucky Chucky and Holiday Road will all be prospering when they do. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

Neona Princess (4f Gigant Neo-Dew Princess-JR Broline) capped off an excellent racing day and weekend at Axevalla, today also an extra V75 wagering card. Johan Untersteiner drover the winner to a 1.13.7kr victory for trainer Peter Untersteiner,  who had quite a great day as he recorded five more wins within the V75. The 2640 meter autostart event was worth 1,000,000SEK to the winner in this StoChampiontet for four year-old females. Neona Princess recorded her 11th career win now for earnings of 2,267,360SEK. She has three wins and three second place finishes in eight 2014 starts. Backfire (4f Offshore Dream-Fashion Brodde-SJ's Caviar) was second for Johnny Takter in a close battle to the line. The outstanding card also featured victories by the following: M.T. Harmony (5f Quite Easy-Princess Pleasure-Viking Kronos) in 1.11.3kr over 1640 meters autostart to earn 100,000SEK. Peter Untersteiner is trainer/driver for Misty Trotting AB. Snabba Cash (4g Ready Cash0Scarlet Diablo-Pine Chip) in 1.14.kr over 2140 meters turning start to earn 110,000SEK for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner and owner Speediablo AB. Digital Frame (3m Super Photo Kosmos-Sliding Window-Scarlet Knight) in 1.13.2kr for 125,000SEK to the winner over 2140 meters autostart. He was a photo-finish winner for his fourth score in seven career appearances. Perfect Cash (4f Ready Cash-Icy Shadow-Starchip Enterprise) for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner in 1.13.1kr in this StoChampiontet Consolation over 2140 meters autostart. The victory was worth 100,000SEK to owner KAK Forvaltning AB. Rigatoni (4f Deweycheatumnhowe-Canneloni-Mack Lobell) for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Roger Walmann as they earned 100,000SEK for owner Team SHF-Easy. Rigatoni scored in 1.13.9kr over 2140 meters turning start. Eketorpets Tess (7f Kashner Hanover-Joanne-Dignatarian) for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner for owner Torn Roger. The winner scored in 1.12kr over 2140 meters autostart for her fourth win in eight starts in 2014, and this victory earned 100,000SEK. US-bred Proud Victory Rose (6m Yankee Glide-Starlet Rayne-American Winner) also posted a victory today worth 50,000SEK to owner Victory Racing Stable and reinsman Hakan B. Johansson. He scored in 1.14.6kr over 2140 meters autostart, his third 2014 win in five outings. Yesterday at Axevalla, the Silver Division (125,000SEK to the winner) over 1640 meters autostart, went to Time Machine (5m Super Arnie-Union Highness-Pythagoras) in 1.11kr for trainer/driver Jorgen Westholm and owner Stall Ignarus. He scored his fifth 2014 win in eight starts and he's now 11 for 33 lifetime. US-bred Sandrngham Hanover was second for trainer/driver Leif Witasp, this one is a seven year-old gelded son of Cantab Hall-Sally Hanover. The three year-old gelded son of Allstar Hall-Harmonica As-Mack Lobell, Michelangelo As, won for Johnny Takter in 1.15.3kr over 2140 meters turning start. This promising colt now has three wins and two seconds in six career starts, all in 2014. By Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

It has been confirmed that after the finish of the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot Final at Mohawk Raceway, Modern Family, who had finished fourth, collapsed in the race paddock and died. Reports on why the horse died were not available pending a full investigation. Trained and co-owned by Daryl Bier with Charles Dombeck and Richard Poillucci, Modern Family was a five-year-old stallion by Cantab Hall. He had lifetime earnings of $566,000, a race record of 51 starts, 19 wins, 8 seconds and 5 third place finishes. In just 2014 he was off to a good start with 6 wins, 6 seconds and 1 third in just 14 starts with earnings of $300,000. His major victories came in the $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial, $100,000 Hambletonian Matturity and he was victorious in Open and Preferred Trots at tracks throughout the east coast. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Five divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 2-year-old filly trotters were contested Friday, each carrying a purse of just over $57,000.   In the first division, it was Speak To Me (Muscle Massive) remaining undefeated, going on to an easy victory in a time of 1:55. It was the first of three training wins for Jimmy Takter, and one of four driving wins for Yannick Gingras. That's So Ironic finished second, while Matter Hatter was third. Speak To Me is owned by Brittany Farms.   In Division two, it was Smexi (Explosive Matter) closing fast up the passing lane for the win. The Takter trainee drafted behind the speed of eventual third place finisher Kirsi Hanover, and won the sprint home in a time of 1:57. Favorite Kelsey's Keepsake was second. Smexi is owned by the Fieldings, Christina Takter, and Herb Liverman, and was driven by Yannick Gingras.   In the third division, it was Wild Honey (Cantab Hall) picking up her second career win. She was fast off the gate and never looked back, stopping the clock in 1:57. Love Me Madly finished second, while longshot Mercer County was third. Wild Honey is owned by the previous winners connections, and was also piloted by Yannick Gingras.   Division four went to Blessings Counted (Muscle Massive). The Beinhauer trainee brushed to the lead just shy of the half, and went on to a convincing win in a time of 1:57. She is owned by Regina and trainer Rick Beinhauer, and was driven by Dan Rawlings. Bright Baby Blues finished second, while Avalon Hall was third.   In the fifth division, it was heavily favored Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive) scoring an impressive victory. The Ron Burke trainee remains a perfect three for three, stopping the timer in 1:57. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, Hendler and Bruscemi, and was driven by Matt Kakaley.   by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia 

CAMPBELLVILLE, July 18 - On the eve of the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot, one door has been shut for a 'Trot' hopeful, while a door has opened for a new challenger. Undercover Strike, trained by Tony O'Sullivan, was to start from post position eight in tomorrow night's Maple Leaf Trot, but has been scratched. The scratch to Undercover Strike has given a second opportunity to the Luc Blais trainee Wheeling N Dealin, who did not qualify for the final, but was the also eligible. Wheeling N Dealin will now start from post position eight in tomorrow night's final, but will wear saddle pad number eleven. A driver has not yet been named for Wheeling N Dealin as Jody Jamieson, who drove the horse in the elimination and is listed in the program, will be driving Archangel from post position four. Wheeling N Dealin has won eleven times in 27 career starts and has earnings of over $865,000. This season, the four-year-old son of Cantab Hall - Quick Credit has won twice in eight starts. Pop Writer and Sports Chic, who were winners in the first round of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series competition for two-year-old pacing fillies on July 11 at Mohawk Racetrack, backed up those efforts by winning again at the same level on Friday (July 18) night at Grand River Raceway. Four $70,000 Gold Series tilts went postward in all, with Northern Starlet and Code One Hanover taking the other two splits. That meant another sweep in the Gold Series for first crop sire Sportswriter as his incredible run with his rookies continued. Pop Writer (Doug McNair) was placed the winner in the opener after the judges determined that original first-place finisher Palette Tina (Trevor Henry) had committed interference to Fiftyshadesofbay (Rick Zeron) before the field reached three-quarters. Win The Gold (Jody Jamieson) was moved up from third to second in the official order and Fiftyshadesofbay got elevated from fourth to third. Posted by Pop Writer, the fractions were :28.4, :58.2 and 1:28.3 with the final time of the mile clocked in 1:57.1. Tony Alagna trains Pop Writer for owners Alagna Racing of Steger, Illinois, and John Carver of Bettendorf, Iowa. Pop Writer is now a perfect two-for-two in her career and in OSS competition with earnings of $70,000. Diamond Creek Farm-bred Pop Writer, who is out of the Cambest mare Pop Or Tonic. The biggest upset of the night was posted by Northern Starlet (Yves Filion), who rallied by the leaders in the stretch following a second-over trip to prevail by two and a quarter lengths in 1:56. Missy Tap Tina (Trevor Henry) finished in second and public choice Lady Hill (McNair), who was in front through fractions of :27.2, :56.1, and 1:25.4, had to settle for third. Northern Starlet is trained by Stephane Larocque for owner Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, Que. She broke her maiden in her second attempt and she has now earned $38,500. Northern Starlet, who was bred by Dr. John McKnight, was plucked out of the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for $45,000. She is the first foal out of the Western Ideal mare Casino Nights, an earner of over $278,000 in her career and a half-sister to five other six-figure earners including Allamerican Captor ($986,982). Code One Hanover (Paul MacDonell) went right down the road in the third Gold Series tilt, hitting the opening quarter in :29.1, the half in :59.4, and the three-quarters in 1:28.3. In the stretch there was a battle between Code One Hanover and first-over challenger Southwind Mischief (Chris Christoforou), with the former able to beat the latter by a quarter of a length in a final clocking of 1:56.4. Shes A Pansation (McNair) collected third. Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ont owns and trains Code One Hanover, who won for the first time after a pair of runner-up efforts to start her career. Code One Hanover, an earner of $55,500, was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms Inc. and was purchased for $75,000 at last year’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Code One Hanover is the third foal out of the Western Ideal mare Current Hanover ($380,248) and a half-sister to the likes of Muscle Beachboy ($116,198). Sports Chic turned in the fastest clocking in the four divisions after she won the nightcap in 1:55.3 for driver Jody Jamieson. Her win was accomplished in similar fashion to Code One Hanover as she was on top through stations of :27.1, :56, and 1:25.4 before she kicked out a :29.4 final panel to seal the deal. Delightful Hill (Billy Davis Jr.) was up for second, beaten half a length by the winner, with Solar Sister (McNair) back in third. Trainer Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge, Ont. also co-owns Sports Chic with partner Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania. Sports Chic has a pair of wins from three trips behind the gate and she has now earned $73,000. Sports Chic, a Winbak Farm-bred filly, is the 15th foal out of the On The Road Again mare Vesta Blue Chip, which means Sports Chic is a half-sister to the great Rainbow Blue ($1,600,012), the 2004 Canadian Horse of the Year. In addition to the on track action, Grand River Raceway also hosted a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Ontario Sires Stakes on Friday night. Fans at the track were able to participate in merchandise giveaways, trivia contests, and also got cupcakes. For the full list of upcoming celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Ontario Sires Stakes at other Ontario tracks, click here. The next Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series event for the freshman pacing fillies takes place at Georgian Downs on August 10. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG  

Solvato and reinsman Peter Ingves lead tomorrow's field in the 150,000SEK (to winner) Gold Division at Axevalla. The five year-old son of Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide is the early favorite in the eight horse group that also includes On Track Piraten (6g Kool du Caux-Monrovia-Rite On Line) that Erik Adielsson will drive and Digital Ink (5g Super Photo Kosmos0Laverda des Pres-Filou du Boscall) that Orjan Kihlstrom will handle for trainer Stefan Melander. Kaffir Face, Haraldinho, Manalapan, Porthos Amok and Putte Topline complete the field. Interesting winners this week in Scandinavia included a victory on July 16 at Skelleftea by the Jan Norberg reined Top Of The World (3m Conway Hall-Pilgrims Redhead-Self Possessed) in 1.15.8kr. He scored over 2140 meters turning start to earn 25,000SEK first money and remains undefeated in three starts. Yesterday at Bergsaker veteran Kadett CD (7m Scarlet Knight-Kiss Of Life-Tenor de Baune) earned 50,000SEK by winning the Lajon Konsult Services, a 1640 meter autostart event for 50,000SEK to the winner. The winner earned his 23rd career win in 55 starts with the 1.11.8kr victory over Occhione Jet by Pine Chip. On that card Deal Or No Deal (8f Self Possessed-Bankers Review-Wall Street Banker) won the Gran Prix Stoet to earn 60,000SEK with the 1.13.3kr win over 2140 meters turning start. Ulf Ohlsson teamed the winner, her 14th career win. The Norrlands GP Final for 250,000SEK to the winner went to Leif Witasp's Cool Keeper (4m Broadway Hall-Missys Go Go-Yankee Glide) in 1.12.4kr over 2140 meters autostart. Cool Keeper won for the eighth time in 23 career appearances. Today at Solvalla Mister JP (2m Taurus Dream-Baghdad Dream-Yankee Glide) became one of the first two year-old winners in Europe as he scored in 1.16.5kr to earn 50,000SEK in his initial start. Bjorn Goop reined the winner over the 1640 meter volt start course. He's owned by J-P Barjon's Ecurie Citrus and was acquired at Harrisburg from legendary breeder J-P Dubois. On the Solvalla card Claes Boko (5m Varenne-Salmo Boko-Express Ride) won an event worth 100,000SEK to the winner. Erik Adielsson drove this one to a 1.12.8kr win, his 11th in 26 starts. Part Boat Hanover also won today for trainer/driver Stefan Melander in 1.15.6kr over 2140 meters autostart to earn 30,000SEK. The winner recorded his second win in four starts and is a three year-old male by Cantab Hall-Princess Cruise-Donerail. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Thomas B. Cooke's homebred colt, Tom's Titan shattered the stakes, track and Season's Leader records at Ocean Downs in the second division of a Maryland Standardbred Fund stake for 3 YO pacing colt/geldings. Corey Callahan piloted the colt to fractions of 27.4, 56.2, 1:24.2 the mile in 1:51.3, winning by almost 11 lengths. Roger Hans trains the son of Nuclear Breeze.   The first non-wagering race sent the only division of 3 YO trotting fillies to post with a purse of $28,900. Corey Callahan sent Explosive Attitude (Explosive Matter) to the front and maintained a 2 length lead over Kelsey's Commando the entire mile, stopping the clock in 1:58.1. Arlene Cammeron owns and trains.   The other non-wagering event was the first division of 3 YO colts/gelding pacers. Bobbies Power Play (Rustler Hanover) trained and driven by Bryan Truitt held off a late charge by Lone Raider in the 1:56.2 mile. Bryan Truitt Co-owns Bobbies Power Play with James and Philip Magno.   The first division of the 3 YO colt/gelding trotters started the wagering card of the night. Kandy Korn (Cantab Hall) took the long way to the wire when Ocean Downs leading driver Frank Milby pulled before the half, finally catching Cal Me Hal in a photo finish in 1:59.2. Bruce and Tanya Schadel own the colt and Bruce is also the trainer.   The third race on the card was the second division of the trotting colt/geldings. Reins man Vic Kirby rated Winbak Charles M to a perfect trip, the4 half in .59, a mile in 1:58.1 for owner - trainer Edwin Gannon Jr.   In race eight the final stake of the night was the lone division of 3 YO filly pacers. Driver Vic Kirby pulled Lounge Act (Cam's Card Shark) going up the back side and ground his way to a half length victory over Aint No Maybe So, stopping the timer in 1:55.2. Vic Kirby also trains Lounge Act for owner Keith Pippi.   Corey Callahan and Vic Kirby both had two stakes wins for the night.   By Cheri Stambaugh, for the Maryland Standardbred Fund  

Eight divisions of The Stallion Series for two-year old filly trotters dominated the Thursday program at Harrah's Philadelphia.   The first division went to Bob Key's Gold Cora (Encore Encore). She brushed powerfully to the lead just after the quarter, going on to win in a time of 1:57.3. Stealthestarlight was second, while favorite Joy Gliding finished third. The Rich Gillock trainee picks up her first career victory in her second lifetime start.   The second division was dominated by Wouldn't Itbesweet (Cantab Hall). She was fast off the wings from post three, making every call a winning one in an impressive ten length win in 1:57.2. Christine Sixteen was second, while Jailhouse Heart finished third. Wouldn't Itbesweet is owned by Harbor Racing Stables, and is trained and driven by Jim Raymer.   Division three went to Osteo Blast (Explosive Matter). The Noel Daily trainee brushed to the lead just beyond the quarter, and gamely held off favorite Alpha Alpha to notch her first pari-mutuel win in a time of 1:58.2. Gematria raced gamely to finish third. Osteo Blast is owned by the Mama Bones Racing Stables and Adam Victor & Son Stables, and was driven by Andrew McCarthy.   The fourth division saw Whitney Hanover (Donato Hanover) overcome an early break to win. The Ray Shnittker trainee closed up the inside for her second straight win, stopping the clock in 2:00. Global Ice finished second, while Tuscanellie came in third. Whitney Hanover is owned by Ed Pachuta, Ted Gewertz, and trainer Ray Schnittker, and was driven by Tim Tetrick.   The fifth division went to the grinding Shafina Hanover (Explosive Matter). Leaping Lady was the leader turning for home, but made a break at the top of the stretch. Shafina Hanover held off the upset minded Cocoacabana in the final stages, stopping the clock in 1:58.3. Fudge As raced well to be third. Shafina Hanover is owned by Adam Victor & Son Stables and Barb Matthews, trained by Noel Daley, and was driven by Andrew McCarthy.   Division six went to the fast leaving Peoplesayimnogood (Lear Jetta). The Roger Hammer trainee led every step of the way, winning by 5 lengths in the end, and completing the mile in 2:00.1. Shewontkissandtell rallied for second, while Veggie Hanover finished third. Favorite Spice Girl made a break past the half. Peoplesayimnogood is owned by her trainer, and was driven by Yannick Gingras.   The seventh division went to heavily favored Day Lily (Andover Hall). She seized command after the quarter and never looked back, finishing the mile in 1:58.4. Barbara Brooks finished second, while Miss Flora was third. Day Lily is owned by Hauser Bros Racing and Conrad Zurich, trained by Chris Oakes, and was driven by Ron Pierce.   The eighth and final division went to the upsetting Fog Warning (Andover Hall). She initially made the front, but yielded to eventual second place finisher Sand C-Four. The Nifty Norman trainee vacated the pocket at the top of the stretch to win by a length in a time of 2:00. Explosive Jet finished a distant third. Fog Warning is owned by Melvin Hartman and Enzed Racing Stables, and was driven by David Miller.   by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

The Gr. I UET Masters Series International Prix St. Michel AJO is set for Sunday at Mikkeli (Finland). The scratch of Joke Face reduces the field to seven in this one mile test for a purse of €140,000. Prussia (by Ken Warkentin) and Pietro Gubellini have won here before in 2013 (the Prix d’Etain Royal) over the fast track where Varenne holds the record of 1.09.3kr set in 2002. Gubellini won this event last year with Owens Club. Jorma Kontio will pilot one of the favorites, Monster Drive, and other potential leading competitors include the Mika Forss teamed Reven d’Amour (by Revenue) and Beer Summit to be handled by Ulf Ohlsson. Sunday, July 20 - Mikkeli  Off time15:50 - St-Michel Ajo  €140,000 purse - 1609 meters autostart 1. Joke Face - scratched 2. Monster Drive, 8m Thai Tanic-Kewpie-Pearsall Hanover (Jorma Kontio)  3. Prussia, 5f Ken Warkentin-Elvezia-Pine Chip (Pietro Gubellini)  4. Surprise Lord, 8m Classic Response-Beauty Bro-Arnaquer (Iikka Nurmonen)  5. She Loves You, 7f Love You-SJ’s Shad Roe-SJ’s Photo (Seppo Markkula)  6. Frido Super, 6m Love You-Empress Kemp-Super Bowl (Markku Nieminen)  7. Reven d'Amour, 9m Revenue-Melody d’Amour-Super Arnie (Mika Forss)  8. Beer Summit, 5m Cantab Hall-Prime Mistress-Super Bowl (Ulf Ohlsson) by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

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

WASHINGTON, PA, July 15, 2014 -- Billy Flynn powered through the Lightning Lane to remain undefeated and score in 1:56.4, fastest winner in Tuesday's $236,210 Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. Driver Dave Palone won seven of the races on the program including three PASS divisions. The event for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters, known as the Hickory Pride, was contested over five divisions, with Special Action, Honor And Serve, Lima Pride and Piercewave Hanover taking the other splits. Dave Palone enjoyed a stake triple (Special Action, Honor and Serve, Piercewave Hanover), among his seven wins on the 16-race card. Billy Flynn was named for the fictional lawyer Billy Flynn from the play and film Chicago, a smoothie portrayed by such actors as Richard Gere and Jerry Ohrbach who croons, "All I care about is love." All the equine Billy Flynn cares about is winning, beginning his career with victories in the PA All Stars and the PASS. Trainer Staffan Lind and owner Bender Sweden Inc. need the son of Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones (she also a hit in the Chicago movie) to be a superstar; they gave $120,000 for him as a yearling. "From Day 1, when I've trained him, he just waited for me to ask him to go a little faster," Lind said. "I know he will do everything he can. He's a big, strong horse with a very nice gait." In the PASS, Billy Flynn squeezed through inside for Brett Miller to down Centurion ATM by 3/4 lengths, with Uncle Lasse third. Lind said Billy Flynn may race next week in the Arden Downs stake during Adios Week at The Meadows. Special Action launched his career inauspiciously, breaking stride in the PA All Stars. On Tuesday, he followed cover beautifully, prevailing in 1:57.3. Hurrikane Jonny K was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, with Ralph R third. "He's a nice horse -- I like him," said Jimmy Takter, who trains the homebred son of Yankee Glide-Special Appeal for Brittany Farms. "His potential? Your guess is as good as mine. But that was a good mile today; he came a good last half." Lima Pride, a 20-1 bomber, found fortune around the final turn when both the leader, The Bank, and the looming challenger, Soboro Hanover, broke stride. Lima Pride took full advantage, breaking his maiden in 1:58.1. On The Sly was second, 1/2 length in arrears, while Vintage Hall completed the ticket. "I think he had a good chance even if they don't break," said winning driver Ake Svanstedt, who trains the son of Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy for Top Ten Racing Stable. "He's a strong horse. The other horses were slipping, but he handled it." In the $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, Trustworthy Kid moved second over to victory in 1:54.1, 1-1/4 lengths better than Tall Cotton, with Kirty Dream third. Brian Zendt drove for trainer Walter "Boots" Dunn and owner Dunn Stable. The 5-year-old SJ's Caviar-Penn Worthy Lane gelding now boasts career earnings of $237,036. Wednesday's card at The Meadows features a $120,000 PA Stallion Series stake for freshman filly pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows  

Truth In Action (8g Cantab Hall-Cressida Hanover-Mr. Lavec), owned, trained and ridden by Karen Isbell, scored a decisive victory in tonight's $6,000 monte test at Ocean Downs, his second under-saddle win in as many starts. The event took place after the fourth race on the regular card and was sponsored by friends of the Maryland Standardbreds and the Maryland Horse Industry Board. Truth In Action was a winner in 2:04.4h defeating CJ's Crown and Caroline Green by six lengths with Flowing James home third with Tara Hynes aboard. Truth In Action is from the Mr. Lavec mare Cressida Hanover, she dam of three $100,000 plus winners from nine foals, six of those with records of 1:57.4 or better including Hambletonian winner Glidemaster 3, 1:51.1 ($1,968,023), Truth In Action 7, 1:54.4f ($320,810 total of sulky and monte), Global Desire 2, 1:57.1 ($131,287) and the excellent 2014 two year-old Canepa Hanover 2, q1:56.1 ($25,000). www.monteamerica.com by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Today’s highlight race in Italy went to the excellent mare Orsia (6f Angus Hall-TigreOM-Zebu) with Roberto Vecchione aboard. The Gran Premio Riccardo Grassi at Cesena carried a purse of €45,100 in the 1660 meters autostart contest. The winner, timed in 1.12.4kr, was bred by Scuderia Sant’Andrea SEL and is trained by Alessandro Gocciadoro. She is a 16 time winner of €431,075. Louvre (9m Piccardo=Defile-Ganymede) was second for Federico Esposito followed by race favorite Owen CR (6m Cantab Hall-Boemia CR-Lemon Dra). by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Fire To the Rain was the 15.6/1 upset winner of today’s €118,600 purse International Ulf Thoresens Minnelop for three year-olds at Jarlsberg Norway. Reined by Ulf Ohlsson, for trainer Reijo Liljendahl and owner Onkel Invest Oy (Sweden), Fire To The Rain scored in 1.12.52kr over the 2100 meters autostart course. The US bred (by Kentuckiana Farms) is a three year-old colt by Yankee Glide-Adelaide Hall-Conway Hall and the maternal family of Duchess Faye that has yielded other top-flight performers such as Delray Lobell ($549,928), Flex The Muscle ($843,416), All Laid Out ($432,460 also from Adelaide Hall), Undercover Lover ($240,528) and the current North American FFA star Undercover Strike ($378,389). Adelaide Lobell, at age two, was second in the Johnston Memorial, Breeders Crown, International Stallion Stake and the Kentucky Standardbred Sales Company Stake. Fire To The Rain defeated some hot horses as second place Jontte Boy had won five straight and Juniata Hanover and Spartan Kronos entered the contest off three straight wins. Other US-bred performers finished third (Juniata Hanoover, 3f Cantab Hall-Justgotafeeling) and fourth (Chocolate Day, 3m Chocolatier-Day For Night). Finish Postr Horse Dist. Time Kr Driver Premie Kr 1 3 Fire to the Rain (US) 2 100 12,5a Ulf Ohlsson 500 000,- 2 4 Jontte Boy (FI) 2 100 12,6a Tuomas Korvenoja 250 000,- 3 10 Juniata Hanover (US) 2 100 12,9a Frode Hamre 125 000,- 4 9 Chocolate Day (US) 2 100 13,3a Vidar Hop 65 000,- 5 1 Spartan Kronos (IT) 2 100 13,3a Conrad Lugauer 40 000,- 6 5 Da Vinci B.R. 2 100 13,4a Lars Anvar Kolle 20 000,- - 8 Catherine's Cavalli 2 100 14,1a Eirik Høitomt   - 6 Explosive de Vie (US) 2 100 14,3a Jim Oscarsson   - 7 Othello Tilly (SE) 2 100 14,6a g Bjørn Goop   - 2 Snow Breeze W.F. (SE) 2 100 17,6a g Robert Bergh   Jontte Boy (3m Love You-South Hanover) set a torrid early pace for Thomas Korvenoja and it set up the longshot winner in good order. Today’s Ulf Thoresens undercard was an excellent one and showcased solid performances by more US-bred trotters. Winners were Ja El Tomcat (5m Chocolatier-Topcat Hall-Conway Hall) in 1.11.5kr over 1609 meters by disqualification of a rival, Spit For Spat (3m Explosve Matter-Ucalthisahoneymoon-Yankee Glide) in 1.15.3kr over 2100 meters and Attorney Hanover (6m Angus Hall-Astrea Hanover-Valley Victory) in 1.11.5kr over 1609 meters. Other US-breds were prominent this day with six finishing second or third, including Moon Dreamer (9g Dream Vacation-Moonwood-Mr. Vic) second in the monte elite, Peel And Stick (4m Donato Hanover-Reinvest-Malabar Man) second as wasWorldrecordsweeper (3m Muscles Yankee-Locksweeper-Lockkeeper) and third place finishers Il Pizzaiolo (4m Deweycheatumnhowe-Pizza Dolce-Conway Hall), I’m The Answer (6m Credit Winner-Southwind Flanders-Lindy Lane), Juniata Hanover (3f Cantab Hall-Justgotafeeling-Thirty Two). by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

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