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As the time for stakes nominations for 2019 nears, Northfield Park reminds the connections of top Open Pacers, Open Trotters and Three-Year-Old Pacers that the track's richest three Grand Circuit events in 2019 will all be "By-Invitation-Only". The $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie (Open Pace) on June 8 -- the $175,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic (Open Trot) on June 29 -- and the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial (3YO Pace) on August 10 will all be Invitationals with no nomination or starting fees for the participants. Northfield's Executive Vice President of Racing Dave Bianconi adopted the change for this year's Battle and Trotting Classic (the Milstein Memorial has already been an Invitational for the past few seasons) with the following reasoning, "I simply think that Invitationals are the way that Northfield can attract the best eight horses for each of these great events. When you are handcuffed with only the horses that paid into your stakes races as possible starters, you can often miss a late-bloomer who gets hot leading up to your race. "It isn't uncommon for connections of good horses miss a payment deadline early in the year," Bianconi added. "and then find themselves on the outside looking in come race time. Also, with state-bred Sires Stakes programs across the country so economical to enter and so lucrative to participate in, it has become more difficult to get young horses to stake to numerous Grand Circuit events. That led to the change when the Carl Milstein Memorial became an Invitational, and we have had some great fields for that race since the change. I want that same flexibility for our Open events (The Battle of Lake Erie and Cleveland Trotting Classic)". While Northfield will be actively recruiting the top horses for these races as the year goes on, Bianconi encourages the connections of horses that are interested in participating to reach out to him as well. "I'd love to hear from owners or trainers who think their horse would fit in well in any of our big events. I like to invite horses from different circuits across North America to meet here at Northfield, which is an easy ship from just about anywhere. Please feel free to email me at dbianconi@northfieldpark.com or call me in the race office at 330-467-4101 ext. 2300." Northfield's feature event for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $125,000 Courageous Lady on October 12, will remain a stakes event overseen by the Hambletonian Society. "The Courageous Lady is late in the year after everyone's Sires Stakes have been completed, so it has been successful as a paid-in event. I'm leaving it alone for now." explained Bianconi. by Aryes Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Thinkbig Dreambig scored the biggest victory of his harness racing career with a surprise triumph in the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for three-year-old pacers Saturday at Northfield Park in Ohio. The even money favorite, Lather Up, tried leaving right away in the 11th race feature for driver Montrell Teague, but broke stride on the first turn and had to take back and get on stride again. Meanwhile, Jimmy Freight and driver Louis-Philippe Roy, who started from the rail, shot right to the lead with Thinkbig Dreambig and driver Jordan Stratton following in second place as they went by the opening quarter mile in an easy :27.4. Lather Up had then come back into the hunt, first-over, but again broke stride and was out of the race. Jimmy Freight then led the field to the half mile marker in :55.3 as Dorsoduro Hanover and driver Matt Kakaley came first-over with Springsteen (David Miller) following the outside flow second-over. Going past the three-quarters in 1:22.3, it was still Jimmy Freight on the lead with Thinkbig Dreambig sitting on their back and on the final turn driver Jordan Stratton decided to come to the outside and Thinkbig Dreambig was able to collar Jimmy Freight before the wire to win by a long neck in 1:50. Minnie Vinnie (Aaron Merriman) was third. It was the fifth win in ten starts for Thinkbig Dreambig, who is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter and is owned by Brixton Medical, Inc. of NJ, John Fielding of ON and G.N. Anderberg of Sweden. He paid $17.00 to win. A three-year-old colt by Bettor’s Delight, Thinkbig Dreambig was bred by Kentuckiana Farms of KY. Thinkbig Dreambig Interview By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

This Week: Dan Patch Invitational, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; Carl Milstein Memorial, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Fox Stake, the Ralph Wilfong, the Horseman Stakes and the Hoosier Stakes, Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis, Ind.; Crawford Farm Trot, Joie De Vie and Tompkins-Geers Stakes, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; and Gold Cup and Saucer trials, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino, Charlottetown, PEI. Schedule of events: An extremely busy week of Grand Circuit action kicks off this Wednesday (Aug. 8) as the Indiana State Fair will host one day of Grand Circuit racing with the feature being the $44,868 Fox Stake for 2-year-old colt pacers. The co-featured event is the $28,032 Ralph Wilfong for 2-year-old colt trotters. The Hoosier Stakes for 2-year-olds will see two divisions each in the $23,492 2-year-old filly pace, the $22,908 2-year-old colt pace, the $21,698 2-year-old colt trot and the $21,126 2-year-old filly trot. The Horseman Stakes for 3-year-olds features two divisions in the $31,704 3-year-old filly pace and single divisions in the $37,333 3-year-old colt trot, the $35,574 3-year-old filly trot, and the $28,120 3-year-old colt pace. Friday night (Aug. 10) at Hoosier Park will feature the $325,000 Dan Patch for older pacing horses. Also on Friday, Tioga Downs will host four sets of Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. There will be two divisions each in the $59,500 2-year-old filly pace, $58,000 2-year-old filly trot, $57,800 2-year-old colt trot and $50,400 2-year-old colt pace. On Saturday (Aug. 11), Northfield Park will host the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers. Also on Saturday, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino will host one of two trials for the Gold Cup and Saucer for older pacers. The second trial will be held on Monday (Aug. 13). The week's action will continue on Sunday (Aug. 12) at Tioga Downs with the $175,000 (est.) Crawford Farm Trot for older open trotters and the $175,000 (est.) Joie De Vie for older trotting mares. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Entries for the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino races are available at this link. Last time: Meadowlands Racetrack closed out their Championship Meet this past Saturday with several lucrative Grand Circuit races led by the $1.2 million Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Rick Zeron, an admitted crier, had reason to well up Saturday after the 93rd Hambletonian. Not only had the veteran horseman won the trotting classic in his first try, but his son Scott was in the sulky to make it a family affair, and the high point of a 43-year-old career. Atlanta won the Hambletonian final in a time of 1:50.4 for driver Scott Zeron. And he got the job done with a filly, the very determined Atlanta. "This is a dream come true," said Rick Zeron. "That's my specialty, trotters. I live and breathe to train a trotter, especially a filly. It's more satisfying for me to train a filly to get where I am today, to win what I did today, than with a colt. It's a bigger challenge." Atlanta won the $1 million Hambletonian final on Saturday, becoming the 14th filly to capture the famed trotting race for 3-year-olds. It was an emotional victory for the father-son team from Oakville, Ontario. The filly won the Hambletonian the hard way, setting the pace and holding on gamely in the lane. Scott Zeron employed those tactics earlier in the day in the first of two eliminations, and got Atlanta beat after setting a wicked pace. Remarkably, Atlanta regrouped quickly after the punishing mile. "I spoke to my assistant trainer Ernie Henry who has looked after her since she was 18 months old," said Rick Zeron. "He said it took her about seven to 10 minutes longer than usual to get her wind back. After that, she was absolutely perfect. He said we were good to go." That was an understatement. In the final, Atlanta was again on the lead. This time, Zeron did a better job of rationing her speed. Atlanta responded by kicking away from challenger Tactical Landing at the top of the stretch to open a three length advantage. She trotted strongly to the wire, winning by one length over 29-1 shot Met's Hall. "I've said it to a few people close to me," said Scott Zeron. "She's the best horse I ever drove. Everything is so fluid and effortless. The mile (in the elimination) just got away from me. I was mad at myself. That's not how I wanted to head into the final. If she was a champion, she would bounce back and she did." The time was 1:50.4 for the mile. It was the second Hambletonian victory for Scott Zeron. He was at the lines when Marion Marauder won in 2016. The win in the final was worth $500,000 for the ownership team of Rick Zeron, Crawford Farms, Holland Racing, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 648.5; 2. Tim Tetrick - 624; 3. David Miller - 294.5; 4. Scott Zeron - 270; 5. Jordan Stratton - 268. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 625.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 444; 3. Tony Alagna - 246; 4. Jim Campbell - 196; 5. Jim King Jr. - 191. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 136.1; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 131.1; 3. Fashion Farms - 129; 4. Vonknoblauch Stable - 117; 5. Bill Donovan - 93.8. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Vernon Downs, Tioga Downs, Red Shores Racetrack & Casino and Hippodrome 3R. Vernon will kick off the week as host of the Zweig Memorial races for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters. Tioga Downs will feature the Roll With Joe for open pacers, Artiscape for older pacing mares, and a leg of the Miss Versatilty for trotting mares. Red Shores Racetrack & Casino has the Gold Cup and Saucer final and Hippodrome 3R will contest the Prix d'Ete for 4-year-old pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

North America Cup champion Lather Up headlines a deep and diverse field in Northfield Park's premier event, the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial on Saturday night, August 11. The race, a three year-old Open by invitation only, has attracted a diverse and accomplished group of horses, representing sires from six different states and Ontario. Ohio-sired Lather Up has been named the 2-1 morning-line favorite by Northfield's Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi. Lather Up has banked over $500,000 in purses while winning eight of his nine starts thus far in 2018. Lather Up is the only horse in the field that has ever competed at Northfield, including a local victory in Ohio Sires Stakes competition last year. Clyde Francis of the George Teague Stable trains Lather Up for breeder/owners Gary and Barbara Iles of Harrington, Delaware. Jimmy Freight drew the rail and is the 3-1 second choice. He ventures south of the border on the heels of a career best 1:48.3 romp in Ontario Sires Stakes company on August 4 at Woodbine/Mohawk Park. Jimmy Freight is now a perfect 4-for-4 in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events this year. Dorsoduro Hanover drew post-5 and is the 4-1 third choice. He is fresh off a breakthrough victory in the $400,000 Adios at The Meadows (near Pittsburgh). Pennsylvania-sired Dorsoduro Hanover enters the Milstein for harness racing's leading trainer in both wins and purses, Ron Burke. Burke recently surpassed the $200,000,000 mark in career purses from his stable, and is a fixture atop the seasonal leader board for trainers in both wins and earnings from his starters. The 2018 $400,000 Milstein Memorial field: POST HORSE DRIVER TRAINER M/L 1 Jimmy Freight Louis Roy Andrew Harris 3-1 2 Lather Up Montrell Teague Clyde Francis 2-1 3 Thinkbig Dreambig Jordan Stratton Jimmy Takter 12-1 4 Springteen Rene Allard David Miller 6-1 5 Dorsoduro Hanover Matt Kakaley Ron Burke 4-1 6 Minnie Vinnie Aaron Merriman Curtis Carey 15-1 7 Slick Tony Russell Foster George Leager 20-1 8 Always A Prince Trace Tetrick Tyler George 10-1 The race is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned and operated Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock, took over as Chairman of Northfield Park upon his father's passing until earlier this year when MGM Growth Properties purchased the racetrack from Milstein Entertainment, LLC. In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, which purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980's. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January, 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year. Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing's top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing. Exciting Undercard "The Carl Milstein Memorial is our richest and most prestigious race of the year," stated Brent Reitz, Northfield Park Vice President and General Manager, "but the rest of the card is loaded with exceptional racing as well." This year's Milstein Memorial program carries total purses in excess of $700,000. The 16-race program includes the $50,000 Myron Charna President's Pace, a race for four year-old-and-up Ohio Sired Pacers (by invitation only), three $40,000 divisions of Ohio Sires Stakes for three year-old filly pacers, and three $19,000 Open events. Superfecta wagering will be available on Saturday's featured 11th race event with a $20,000 guaranteed pool. It is also the fourth leg of the Pick-4, which has a guaranteed pool of $10,000. First race post time is 6:00 p.m. In addition to superior racing action, Milstein Night will also offer guests a sumptuous spread in Lady Luck's clubhouse dining room. The dinner buffet, inspired by Hard Rock Rocksino Executive Chef Chris Poplin, is specially priced at $21.95. Limited clubhouse seating remains; call 330-467-4101 for reservations. Guests who want to be down close to all the racing action can gather on the grandstand apron to sample some award winning fare. Making their return appearance to the Northfield Apron is Cleveland's award winning Barrio's food truck. Cleveland's Scene Magazine readers voted Barrio as the best food truck in northeast Ohio. Joining Barrio is the Addicted Coffee truck and Crooked Kettle Popcorn. Live music by Unknown Reason also will be part of the apron scene from 6-10 p.m. Attendees can also enter drawings that will take place throughout the evening. The drawings are FREE to enter and we will be giving away betting vouchers, gift cards, 55" SmartTV, amusement park tickets, and the Grand Prize of up to $2,000 in our Cases of Cash game. Plus, try your luck at our Putting Challenge, where you can win more cash and prizes from 7 - 8 PM. Admission and parking are always FREE at Northfield Park. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

A field of eight of the sports best three-year-old colts and geldings have RSVP'd "Yes" to compete in harness racing's richest Invitational for pacers, the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park this Saturday night, August 11. Northfield's Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi, has received commitments from the connections of a diverse and accomplished group of horses, representing sires from six different states and Ontario. They will all converge on the Northeast Ohio oval on Saturday in Northfield's premier event of the season. Headlining the field of eight is Ohio-sired Lather Up, champion of the $1,000,000 (Canadian funds) North America Cup at suburban Toronto's Woodbine/Mohawk Park in June. Lather Up has banked over $500,000 in purses while winning eight of his nine starts thus far in 2018. Lather Up is the only horse in the field that has ever competed at Northfield, including a local victory in Ohio Sires Stakes competition last year. Clyde Francis of the George Teague Stable trains Lather Up for breeder/owners Gary and Barbara Iles of Harrington, Delaware. Fresh off of a breakthrough victory in the $400,000 Adios at The Meadows (near Pittsburgh) Pennsylvania-sired Dorsoduro Hanover enters the Milstein for harness racing's leading trainer in both wins and purses, Ron Burke. Burke recently surpassed the $200,000,000 mark in career purses from his stable, and is a fixture atop the seasonal leader board for trainers in both wins and earnings from his starters. Springsteen, winner of the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono on June 30, enters the Milstein off an impressive score in New York Sires Stakes competition at Yonkers Raceway in his most recent outing. Rene Allard conditions the career earner of $522,048. Jimmy Freight ventures south of the border on the heels of a career best 1:48.3 romp in Ontario Sires Stakes company on August 4 at Woodbine/Mohawk Park. He is now a perfect 4-for-4 in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events this year. Always A Prince will race outside of Indiana for the first time when he lines up behind the Northfield Park staring gate. A winner of 11 of 13 career starts, Always A Prince crushed the field by over seven lengths in an Indiana Sires Stakes Final in his most recent outing at Hoosier Park on August 1. Multiple Delaware stakes winner Slick Tony will step into Grand Circuit company for the first time in Saturday's Milstein. 80-year-old owner/trainer/breeder George Leager and his wife Nola paid only $500 for Slick Tony's dam, Queen Kathy. Slick Tony has rewarded the Leagers with 15 victories in 19 lifetime starts, and nearly $300,000 in earnings. Making the longest voyage to Northfield is Iowa fair stakes legend Minnie Vinnie. A winner of 18 of 23 career starts, Minnie Vinnie had a profitable voyage east earlier this year when he finished second in the $300,000 Art Rooney Memorial at Yonkers Raceway in New York. Rounding out the Milstein field is the late-blooming Thinkbig Dreambig. Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter sends out the winner of over $125,000 in just nine lifetime starts. The powerful field has combined to win 87 races and $2,769,468 in purse earnings. They certainly arrive at Northfield in top form, as seven out the eight horses in the field were victorious in their most recent efforts. The Carl Milstein Memorial post-position draw will be conducted on Tuesday, August 7. It will be race 11 on a 16-race program that will also include the $50,000 Myron Charna President's Pace for veteran Ohio-breds and multiple divisions of Ohio Sires Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers. First race post time is 6:00 (Eastern), with the Milstein scheduled for an approximate 10:00 start. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Fear The Dragon entered Saturday's $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park as harness racing's top-ranked horse. Everything looked to be going his way. He drew the rail, was the overwhelming favorite and posted soft fractions. However, Downbytheseaside paced home in :26.4 despite a tough first-over trip to best Fear The Dragon by a full length. Downbytheseaside started from post-7 and sat fifth through the opening :27.1 quarter. Driver Brian Sears pulled Downbytheseaside and grinded first-up through fractions of :56 and 1:22.4. The 1:49.3 final time was a new track record for sophomore colt pacers. "I knew he was going to have a lot left with those soft fractions," stated Sears. "I didn't want to have a speed duel." The duel came in the final quarter when Downbytheseaside drew alongside Fear The Dragon, eventually wearing him down in the stretch, returning $11.60 to win. "He put in a great effort and every time I called on him he gave more," said Sears. Brian Brown trains both colts at the historic Delaware County Fairgrounds. "I am thrilled this horse raced the way that he did and got there," said Brown. "It wasn't like Fear The Dragon raced bad." Downbytheseaside Finishing behind Downbytheseaside were Fear The Dragon, Classic Pro, Blood Line, Drunk On Your Love, Rock N Tony, R J P and Bags To Riches. Saturday's stablemate duel was intense and trainer Brian Brown indicated that the colts will meet again in September in the Little Brown Jug. Ayers Ratliff

The Carl Milstein Memorial, Northeast Ohio's premier race, is scheduled for its fourth edition on Saturday, August 12. The Milstein, a harness racing  Grand Circuit Event, has graduated the last two winners of the Little Brown Jug. Fear The Dragon has drawn the rail and has been named the 3-5 morning-line favorite by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting Dave Bianconi. He enters this race as the United States Trotting Association's top ranked horse in harness racing, having won nine of ten starts and $924,453 this year. Fear The Dragon's wins include victories in the $730,000 North America Cup at Mohawk, the $500,000 Hempt at Pocono and the $400,000 Adios at the Meadows. His trainer, Brian Brown, Hall of Fame driver David Miller, and owner-breeder Bruce Trogdon, proprietor of Emerald Highlands Farm, are all native Ohioans. "We have had some really great horses race at Northfield over the years, and Fear The Dragon's resume ranks right up there with the best of them," said Bianconi. 13-time winner Downbytheseaside, another Brian Brown trainee, drew post seven and is the 9-2 second choice. He has finished in the top three in 21 of 22 career races, earning over $1.1 million. His most recent effort was a third-place finish in the $334,325 Cane Pace at The Meadowlands in New Jersey. THE $300,000 CARL MILSTEIN MEMORIAL FIELD: Post - Horse - Sire - Trainer - Driver* - Odds 1 Fear The Dragon - by Dragon Again - Brian Brown - David Miller,  3-5 2 Blood Line - by Somebeachsomewhere - Jimmy Takter - Mark MacDonald,  6-1 3 Drunk On Your Love - by Foreclosure N - Jim Pollock Jr - Tyler Smith,  20-1 4 Classic Pro - by Shadow Play - Ian Moore - Trevor Henry,  10-1 5 Rock N Tony - by Rockin Image - Erv Miller - Trace Tetrick,  15-1 6 Bags To Riches - by Roddy Bags Again - Jason Skinner - Tim Tetrick,  12-1 7 Downbytheseaside - by Somebeacsomewhere - Brian Brown - Brian Sears,  9-2 8 R J P - by Somebeachsomewhere - Ron Burke - Yannick Gingras,  8-1 *Final driver selections are due by Tuesday evening. The Carl Milstein Memorial will be well supported with an undercard featuring the $50,000 Myron Charna President's Pace for Ohio-bred veteran pacers, three $40,000 divisions of the Ohio Sires Stakes for three year-old filly pacers and three $14,000 Opens. Drawings during the evening will result in one lucky patron driving home a brand new 2017 Buick Cascada or Honda CR-V. Five other winners will each receive $1,000. The Milstein crowd will enjoy Swenson's Food Truck on the outdoor apron from 6 to 10 p.m., Northfield Park Putting Challenge from 6 to 7 p.m. and a Beer Slide from 7 to 8 p.m. Classic Rock band Unknown Reason will be performing on the trackside apron from 6 to 10 p.m. Vintage memorabilia, including Northfield's classic starting gate car from years gone by, will be on display. Lady Luck's Clubhouse Restaurant will be offering a $21.95 signature buffet inspired by Hard Rock Rocksino Executive Chef Chris Poplin. Due to the expected large crowd reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 330-467-4101. First race post time for the Carl Milstein Memorial card is 6:00 p.m. Parking and admission are always free at Northfield Park. Saturday's Grand Circuit event is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned and operated Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock Milstein, succeeded Carl as Chairman of Northfield Park and is now also the Chairman of Milstein Entertainment, LLC, majority owner of Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, which purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980's. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year. Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which quickly ascended to among harness racing's top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing. Michael Carter

Betting Line with harness racing driver David Miller in the sulky, won the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park in 1:51 on Saturday (August 13). He started from post two and sat third through a :25.4 opening quarter. Miller pulled first over in the second turn and pressed the leader, Mr Wiggle Pants, through fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3. Betting line bobbled around the final turn, but sprinted away after regaining composure, and bested his competition by four lengths. "I was just riding along with him up the backstretch and he started bearing in on me around the turn," explained Miller. "He got pinched and threw in a step or two. He proved again tonight that he has a high turn of speed and he can carry it a long way." Saturday's win is Betting Line's eighth consecutive victory. His lone loss this year was a runner-up performance in his 2016 Mowawk Racetrack debut. Betting Line (Bettor's Delight-Heather's Western-Western Hanover) increased his career bankroll to $1,427,422 for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol. Casie Coleman trains Betting line and was relieved her horse overcame many obstacles to win. "Tonight was the first time he was ever shipped a long way, it was his first time on a half and it was his first time leaving Canada," said Coleman. "I feel really good about how things turned out. I have to get his turns corrected before he goes to Delaware for the Jug, but he has all kinds of speed. He is just awesome." Completing the 2016 Milstein field were the filly Pure Country, Magnum J, Mr Wiggle Pants, Sintra, Duel Of Truth and Don'tcallmefrancis. Boston Red Rocks was scratched from the race. Leading up to the Milstein, the inaugural $50,000 Myron Charna President's Pace was won by Dancin Yankee in 1:51.3. Dancin Yankee was driven by Brett Miller for trainer Josh Green and owners Richard Lombardo and L&J Racing. The Charna will be an annual event for four year old and up Ohio sired pacers. Ayers Ratliff

Casie Coleman and the fellow owners of Betting Line decided to skip several of harness racing's big-money events for 3-year-old male pacers this summer, but the group is pleased with the results and betting it pays off down the road. The Canadian-based Betting Line won the North America Cup on June 18 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Since then, he has raced three times, all on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit, and posted three victories. He was not staked to the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial, $732,050 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios, or $320,000 Cane Pace. Racing Hill won the Hempt and Adios; Control The Moment won the Meadowlands Pace and Cane. Betting Line, who has won seven of eight races this year and earned $571,830, will leave Canada for the first time in his career when he competes in Saturday's $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational at Ohio's Northfield Park. Betting Line is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the eight-horse field, which includes filly Pure Country, Dan Patch Award-winner Boston Red Rocks, and Ontario rival Sintra. "He was good each start (following the North America Cup) and I'm glad I was able to give him a bit of a break," said Coleman, who trains Betting Line. The colt is owned by Coleman's West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, and Mac Nichol. "A lot of these other horses have been racing tough week in and week out. I know he's going to get busy in the next several weeks. "It's hard to be upset with the money he's made. The Ontario-sired horses go for such good money right here in his backyard. We decided to try to hit all the Ontario Sire Stakes we could and work his open stakes races around them. Our program is so good it's just hard to say no. We decided to go this route and we're all happy with the money he's racking up doing it this way." Following the Milstein, Betting Line will head to the Battle of the Brandywine at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Aug. 20. He has an Ontario Sire Stakes event on Sept. 3 at Mohawk and the Simcoe Stakes a week later at the same venue. Next on his schedule is the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 22 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. He is not staked to the Tattersalls Pace at Lexington's Red Mile, but could be supplemented. Coleman, though, is focused on the Ontario Sire Stakes championship on Oct. 15 at Mohawk and the Breeders Crown eliminations a week later at the Meadowlands. If all goes well, Betting Line would make a trip to the Breeders Crown final on Oct. 29 and end his season with the Progress Pace at Dover Downs in November. For now, Coleman is only concerned about the Milstein. Betting Line and driver David Miller will start from post No. 2 on the half-mile oval and bring a seven-race win streak to the event. Pure Country, who finished fourth in the Cane Pace, is the 9-2 second choice from post six. Sintra, who in 10 races this year has posted seven wins and three second-place finishes to Betting Line, is 6-1 from post four. "It will be the first time Betting Line will be on a half-mile track, but it's really well banked and a good surface," Coleman said. "Any inside post is good, so I'm happy with that. It's a tough enough field. You're going for $300,000 so it's always going to be tough. "Sintra, we've beaten him every time so far, but he's a really good horse, so he's one to worry about. Pure Country, she's been just unreal, so you have to worry about her. I don't know some of the horses coming from Indiana and Ohio, but from their lines it looks like they've been racing quite good. He's definitely going to have his work cut out for him, but he seems good and sharp coming into the race." Betting Line won six of 12 races last year, including the Ontario Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers. He finished second in the Metro Pace and fourth off a tough trip in the Breeders Crown. Coleman prepared Betting Line for his 3-year-old season by training him with 4-year-old Reverend Hanover, a two-time Ontario champion. It was more out of necessity than by design. "I've just got a small barn and didn't bring back many 3-year-olds," Coleman said. "Reverend, when he trains, he wants to rattle and roll. He's a little bit of an aggressive trainer. Betting Line definitely had to train back with tougher competition than I would have liked, but that's what we had to do.a "He raced great as a 2-year-old, but that last start when he went a tough trip in the Breeders Crown final I was quite worried. You don't want to see a horse end the year with a start like that. I was worried if it would hurt him at all coming back at 3, but he seemed to forget all about that." Coleman is more than happy with Betting Line's attitude, and it's tough to put a price on that. "Every time I put him behind the gate he always gives me everything he's got," Coleman said. "It's always exciting racing him." Ken Weingartner

Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $10,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to the Carl Milstein Memorial harness racing program on Saturday (August 13th) . Beginning in Race 3, the $10,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $1,926.00. The Pick 5 on Saturday night features two $40,000 divisions of the Ohio Sire Stakes for 3 year old colt pacers as well as the Legends of Northfield race featuring eight of Northfield's top drivers throughout the years.   Northfield's Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3's offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent.   Saturday's post time is 6:00 p.m.   By Michael Carter, for Northfield Park

It’s only going to the post for a third time, but Saturday’s $300,000 Carl Milstein Invitational at Northfield Park, featuring the red-hot pacer Betting Line in a field of eight 3-year-olds, is already recognized as one of the key races on the North American harness racing stakes calendar.     The race is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned and operated Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock Milstein, immediately took over as Chairman of Northfield Park and is now also the Chairman of Milstein Entertainment, LLC, majority owner of the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, who purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980s. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year. The starting lineup and the morning line odds for Northfield’s richest race were finalized Tuesday morning.  The horses, with their drivers and trainers and earlybird odds are: PP/Horse/Driver/Trainer/Odds 1          Mr Wiggle Pants         Kayne Kauffman        Jim Mulinix                 10-1 2          Betting Line                David Miller                Casie Coleman            3-5 3          Duel Of Truth             Chris Page                   Brian Brown               20-1 4          Sintra                           Jody Jamieson             David Menary             6-1 5          Don’tcallmefrancis      Yannick Gingras         Ron Burke                   8-1 6          Pure Country               Brett Miller                 Jimmy Takter              9-2 7          Magnum J                   Doug McNair              Gregg McNair             25-1 8          Boston Red Rocks      Ronnie Wrenn Jr.        Steve Elliott                12-1 The Milstein Memorial, being raced as an invitational for the first time, will be the 11th event of a 15-race card. First race post time is 6 p.m. Horsemen and harness insiders know that if they want to win the Little Brown Jug, the most revered event in harness racing, the path to glory first passes through the stable gates at Northfield. The last two Jug champions, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Limelight Beach, both raced in the Milstein. Milstein favorite Betting Line is on a fast track for the Jug and his trainer, Casie Coleman, knows plenty about winning the big race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.  Coleman, just the second woman to train a Jug winner, has captured it twice, first with Michael’s Power in 2012 and then with Vegas Vacation the following year. Betting Line, a winner of 13 of 20 starts and $1,277,422, carries a seven-race win streak into the Milstein.  His latest score came in Sunday night’s $105,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series at Georgian Downs where he defeated Sintra, a Milstein rival, by a length in 1:51.4. “(He) was awesome, as he usually is,” Coleman told reporters after the Gold Series triumph. “He was steering and pacing perfect. I’m really happy with him. Now it’s off to Northfield.” Sintra is an interesting Milstein entry. He has won seven of 10 starts this year by a combined margin of 21 ¾ lengths. All three of his defeats have been to Betting Line. Magnum J, like Betting Line and Sintra, is shipping down from Canada for the Milstein. None of the three have ever started outside of Ontario. Magnum J also raced Saturday night at Georgian Downs, dropping a photo finish by a neck in a division of the Gold Series. The Milstein field includes its first female entry in Pure Country. Voted the top juvenile filly last year when she won all 10 of her starts, Pure Country has won six of 10 more starts this year and last Saturday finished fourth, beaten just 2 1/2 lengths in the $320,000 Cane Pace at The Meadowlands. Among the other Milstein entrants is the Buckeye-sired Mr Wiggle Pants, winner of the Ohio State Fair pace at Scioto Downs on July 30. Carl Milstein Memorial night at Northfield will also include a Legends Driver Challenge and the $50,000 Myron Charna President’s Pace for Ohio-bred pacers four years-old and up. Other attractions include Seti’s Polish Boys Food Truck, as well as Draeger’s Hot Fudge Sundaes and Crooked Kettle Popcorn. There will be live music featuring Unknown Reason, a Northfield Park T-Shirt Toss after each of the first 12 live races, a dice roll for prizes (from 8 to 9 p.m.) and an appearance from WMJI’s Chip Kullik from 6 to 8 p.m. A special Lady Luck’s Buffet created and inspired by Hard Rock Executive Chef Chris Poplin will be available for $21.95.  Race fans can call 330-467-4101 for reservations. Ayers Ratliff

Look out boys, here she comes again. Three-year-old female pacer Pure Country, coming off a fourth-place finish against male rivals in the Cane Pace, will take on the harness racing boys in Saturday's $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational at Northfield Park. Among the horses also expected in the Milstein are North America Cup champion Betting Line and 2015 Dan Patch Award-winner Boston Red Rocks. Pure Country was nosed out by JK Will Power for third place in the Cane Pace as she tried to become only the second filly to ever win the event. Countess Adios, the 1960 winner, remains the sole filly to accomplish the feat. Control The Moment, this year's Meadowlands Pace winner, captured the Cane Pace, which is the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. He will not race in the Milstein. Pure Country started from post 11 in the Cane Pace, in the second tier behind post No. 1 starter Check Six, and was eighth to the half-mile point in the 1-1/8 miles race. She finished 2-1/2 lengths behind Control The Moment. "We were hoping (Check Six) would bust out of there a little better, but we were 20 lengths behind in the first turn," said Jimmy Takter, who trains Pure Country for owner Diamond Creek Racing. "She was so far back she never really had a shot in the race. If she had a spot on the gate, she would have gotten away much further up. It's not easy to make up lengths on those horses." Pure Country won all 10 of her races last season at age 2 and received the Dan Patch Award as her division's best. For her career, she has won 16 of 20 starts and earned $1.30 million. Her start in the Milstein will be her first race on a half-mile oval. "Northfield is such a good half-mile track with its banked turns and she's so slick gaited that I don't see any problems with it," Takter said. Takter considered sending Pure Country to another preliminary round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Saturday, but with the filly already qualified for the final decided to accept the invitation to the Milstein after consulting with driver Brett Miller and Diamond Creek's Adam Bowden. "Brett was happy with her in the Cane," Takter said. "We talked and we all agreed to give this a shot." Betting Line, trained by Casie Coleman, has won seven consecutive races since opening his season with a second-place finish. He has raced on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit his last three starts, which followed his victory in the North America Cup. Steve Elliott-trained Boston Red Rocks was second in his last start to Don'tcallmefrancis, another expected Milstein participant, in the Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic. Also anticipated to join the group is Sintra, who has won seven of 10 races this year for trainer Dave Menary. His three setbacks all were second-place finishes to Betting Line. Expected to complete the Milstein field are Duel Of Truth, Magnum J, and Mr Wiggle Pants. The draw for the Milstein Memorial is Tuesday. Ken Weingartner

The champions of harness racing's two richest events for sophomore pacers are expected to headline the field in the $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park on Saturday, August 13. The connections of Betting Line, winner of the $1,000,000 (Cdn.) North America Cup, and Control The Moment, who was victorious in the $732,050 Meadowlands Pace, have accepted invitations to compete in the Milstein. Being contested for the first time as an Invitational, the Carl Milstein Memorial, which debuted in 2014, is named in honor of the late Chairman of Northfield Park who was integral in saving the track from closing in the 1980's and building it into one of the most successful venues in harness racing. The other six top three-year-old pacers committed to go postward in the Milstein are two-year-old Breeders Crown Champion Boston Red Rocks, multiple New York Sires Stakes winner Missile J, who also captured the $300,000 Art Rooney Memorial at Yonkers, Pennsylvania Sires Stakes stalwart Adrian Hanover, Canadian standout Sintra, New Jersey Stakes winner Don'tcallmefrancis and Ohio Sires Stakes star Mr Wiggle Pants. The Milstein Night undercard will feature the inaugural $50,000 Myron Charna President's Pace, a $50,000 Invitational for veteran Ohio-bred pacers, named for Carl Milstein's right-hand man at both Northfield Park and in his real estate empire. Millionaire Dancin Yankee is expected to return to the Buckeye State to vie for supremacy in the deep field of Ohio-breds. Multiple $40,000 divisions of the Ohio Sires Stakes for sophomore colt pacers and a trio of $20,000 Open events for pacers, trotters and filly & mare pacers will also bolster the power-packed undercard. Northfield will offer a $20,000 Guaranteed Pick pool starting in race 8 which will be anchored by the Carl Milstein Memorial in race 11, which will also have a $30,000 Guaranteed trifecta pool. First race post time is 6:00 PM (Eastern). Ayers Ratliff  

Northfield Park's richest race of the season, the Carl Milstein Memorial for harness racing three-year-old pacers, will be raced as a "By-Invitation-Only" event in 2016. The 3rd Annual Carl Milstein Memorial, named in honor of the track's former owner and Chairman, will be contested on Saturday night, August 13, at the Cleveland-area oval. Albeit one of the newest added-money events on the three-year-old calendar, the Carl Milstein Memorial has attracted stellar field in its first two editions, including last year's champion Wiggle It Jiggleit, who went on to be voted harness racing's Horse of the Year. The change from a paid-in stakes event to an Invitational adds more flexibility in showcasing the harness racing's elite sophomore pacers in Northeast Ohio. "There are numerous stakes events for three-year-old pacers all summer long, and having to pay into them in February and March limits the number of horses we may be able to attract for the race" said Northfield's Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting Dave Bianconi. "With an Invitational, I can ask the connections of all the major race winners throughout the summer to take a shot at $300,000, all of which is paid by Northfield - there are no staking or starting fees whatsoever." "As the 2016 stakes season heats up, I urge the connections of top three-year-old pacers of either gender to contact me if they have an interest in competing in the Carl Milstein Memorial," said Bianconi, who can be contacted at 330-467-4101 ext. 2207 or at dbianconi@northfieldpark.com . Ayers Ratliff          

Wiggle It Jiggleit went to post in Friday's (August 14) $405,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park as the overwhelming 1-9 favorite. His stellar performance did not disappoint a packed apron full of harness racing fans, who showed their appreciation with loud cheers as he returned to the Winners Circle. Montrell Teague was in the sulky for his father, George Teague Jr., who owns Wiggle It Jiggleit, and trainer Clyde Francis. Friday's victory represents the popular gelding's 16th win in 18 career starts, while his share of the purse took his earnings to $1,195,644. Staring from post position four, Wiggle It Jiggleit let his rivals get position off the gate before brushing to the front nearing the quarter pole. After clocking a :26.1 opening fraction, Teague was able to rate the second panel and slowed the pace to a :55.3 half. "That was the plan," said Montrell Teague in a post-race interview. "I wanted to take care of him tonight after the hard race he had last week." Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) made a first-over challenge in the second half and pushed Wiggle It Jiggleit to a 1:22.4 three-quarter time. Wakizashi Hanover flattened in the final quarter while Lost For Words (David Miller), who sat the pocket throughout, also could not gain on Wiggle It Jiggleit, who posted a 1 ½-length victory in 1:49.3. Lost For Words finished second and Wakizashi Hanover was third. The mile lowered Northfield's track record for three year-old geldings. The prior 1:52 record was held by both Gryffindor (Ray Fisher Jr.) in 2005 and Hare Craft (Aaron Byron) in 2011. "I am glad he bounced back like he did. He was very strong tonight," offered Montrell, referring to his most recent disappointing fourth place finish in the Cane Pace. "I am glad to quiet the doubters." Ayers Ratliff

Harrington-based horses drew the spotlight in Friday headliners at Northfield Park, near Cleveland, Ohio. Wiggle It Jiggleit set a track record in the tracks signature event, the $405,000 Milstein Memorial. Earlier Purrfect Bags took on older female pacers to set a new track record for her gender, to win a $20,000 Filly and Mare Open pace. Wiggle It Jiggleit fought off a sustained challenge from another Harrington-conditioned three-year-old, the Tim Tetrick driven Wakizashi Hanover, saddled with post 8 on the half-mile track, to battle from the half until Wiggle It Jiggleit for Montrell Teague on the final turn to pull away to a 1:49.3 track record. Wakizashi Hanover held on to finish third. The impressive triumph raised Wiggle It Jiggleit's career bankroll to more than $1-million winning for the 16th time in 18 lifetime starts. Ironically, Wiggle It Jiggleit broke the former Northfield track record for a gelding pacers of 1:52 set by Chuck Crissman-trained Gryffindor in 2005. George Teague Jr. owns Wiggle It Juggleit, trained by longtime assistant Clyde Francis. The entire Teague family were in the winner's circle photo. Earlier in the program, Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion Purrfect Bags, owned by JoAnn Looney King, who also trains Wakizashi Hanover, received a picture perfect drive from Tim Tetrick en route to a track record 1:52.2 victory for a three-year-old mare pacer beating older females in another of the top events on Northfield's biggest program of the year. A $2,000 yearling purchase at a Frank Chick's sale by long-time Harrington-horsewoman Mrs. King, the Delaware-bred daughter of Roddy's Bags Again, became an outstanding juvenile at age two and three. Prior to winning the recent $100,000 DSBF sophomore filly final at Harrington Raceway on the Governor's day card, Purrfect Bags won the prestigious Lismore Pace for filly pacers at Yonkers Raceway. Marv Bachrad  

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