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It was announced yesterday by owners Richard and Joanne Young and trainer Chris Ryder that the party is over for world champion pacer I Luv The Nitelife as she has been retired from racing. After attempting to come back from an injury sustained at the end of the 2013 season, owners Richard and Joanne Young made the decision to quit with I Luv The Nitelife on Tuesday. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover - Lisjune was winless in two starts this year after recovering from a slab knee fracture and atrial fibrillation. "[She] has a few issues we didn't feel she deserved to race with," trainer Chris Ryder confirmed to Trot Insider. "Just a great mare, all heart. Very saddened by her retirement but it is the thing to do." Richard Young purchased I Luv The Nitelife, a daughter of stallion Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Lisjune, for $60,000 under the name Hard Rock Deo at the Lexington Selected Sale in 2011. Richard Young loves to name his yearlings with something unique and came up with "I Luv The Nitelife" as he has done with other top horses he and Joanne own including Put On A Show.  Now according to the Young's, I Luv The Nitelife will go to the breeding shed next season. "We are going to miss you racing sweet girl!," Joanne Young said, "Oh, but the babies you will make!" As a two-year-old, 'Nitelife' put together a record reading 4-4-1 in 10 freshman starts to bank $682,574 in purses for the Youngs and trainer Chris Ryder. In addition to setting a world record of 1:50.1 in an elimination of the She's A Great Lady at Mohawk Racetrack, she also won the final along with divisions of the Eternal Camnation and Bluegrass Stakes. I Luv The Nitelife was also a runner-up in the Champlain Stake, International Stallion Stakes and Breeders Crown. The O'Brien voters gave her the nod as their choice for Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 2012. The voters had no doubt who was the best three-year-old pacing filly in 2013. I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races last year and $1.25 million en route to divisional honours as Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in Canada and capturing USHWA's Dan Patch Award in the U.S. Her sophomore triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge, Lynch Memorial, Jugette, Mistletoe Shalee and Miss New Jersey Pacing Classic. Her 1:48.4 time in the Valley Forge is the world record for a three-year-old filly on a five-eighths-mile track.   For her career, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Lisjune has won 17 of 27 races and $1.94 million. No female pacer in harness racing history has won more money at ages two and three. "‎Very appreciative of the honors she accumulated," added Ryder. "Very special. She will be impossible to replace." With two world records and multiple stakes under her belt, one of her losses stands out to her co-owner as the race that shows her guts and determination. "Her last race [at three] in the American National," Richard Young told Trot Insider. "She should have lost by 10 and just got beat. One of the most memorable races of my life, and more than likely the race that ended her career." ‎"A mare like 'Nitelife' is as good as it gets, all business," continued Young. "She gave all she had in every race. She didn't wait for things to set up. She forced everyone to alter their style to race her. "If she passes her will to compete, she will be the ultimate broodmare." by Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com with files from Trot Insider

Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Nifty Norman might not be expecting his star mare Bee A Magician to beat the sport’s top male trotters in Friday’s $236,000 Crawford Farms Open at Vernon Downs, but he’s not shying from the challenge, either. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, will face nine male rivals in the Crawford. The field includes world champion Sebastian K, who was Sweden’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and is harness racing’s No. 1-ranked horse this season, plus major stakes-winners Archangel, Intimidate, Market Share, Mister Herbie, and Spider Blue Chip. “I’m not intimidated,” Norman said. “We’ve got to do it at some point, anyway, and I think she seems really good right now. I don’t expect to win, but I expect her to be good. She looks fantastic, nice and sound.” Bee A Magician, a 4-year-old mare who was undefeated in 17 races last season, has won two of eight starts this year and finished second on five occasions. She enters the Crawford off a track-record 1:55 victory over the boys in the open on Aug. 22 at Yonkers Raceway. “That had some bearing on our decision, although that was not the same quality field,” Norman said. “But I liked the way she raced there. “Basically, we’ve got to race and it was either against the mares for $40,000 (in Monday’s Miss Versatility Series leg at Tioga Downs) or the boys for $240,000. Getting a piece of $240,000 is better than winning for $40,000. We figured we’d give it a shot. “Plus Classic Martine is racing as good as anybody right now. It’s not like facing the mares was going to be easy.” Prior to the win in the Yonkers open, Bee A Magician finished second twice to Classic Martine in the Ima Lula Series at the Meadowlands. Classic Martine captured the final by a neck in 1:51.1, equaling Bee A Magician’s world-record time for a 4-year-old female trotter. Three of Bee A Magician’s second-place finishes this year came in miles of 1:51.2 or faster. Another came in the Hambletonian Maturity, contested at 1-1/8 mile, against 4-year-old male rivals. “I haven’t been disappointed with her at all this year,” said Norman, who trains Bee A Magician for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. “I’ve thought she’s gone some great trips. “People keep asking what’s wrong with her because she’s not winning every race. I didn’t expect her to. It’s tough at this age (4). This year is really a learning curve to see how she handles the step up. It’s more to help plan for next year.” Bee A Magician, who has won 29 of 38 races and $2.49 million, will start the Crawford from post three with regular driver Brian Sears. Sebastian K, who has won seven of eight races this year, his first season in North America, starts from post five for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. He is the fastest trotter in history thanks to his 1:49 win in the Sun Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28. Intimidate is the only horse to defeat Sebastian K this year, winning the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose. Intimidate, who starts from post eight, won last year’s edition of the Crawford, then called the Credit Winner. Market Share, who has won 24 of 49 races and $3.43 million in his career, was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and the 2012 Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter. He will start Friday from the trailing position, post 10. “It’s a very good field, that’s for sure,” Norman said. “(Bee A Magician) has got a good spot. There’s lots of speed in there, and if she winds up getting a good enough trip, she should be good enough to get a piece.” The field for the Crawford in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 2. Spider Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Chuck Sylvester; 3. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 4. Flanagan Memory, Brett Miller, Rene Dion; 5. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt; 6. Master Of Law, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter; 7. Mister Herbie, Brian Sears, Jeff Gillis; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais; 9. Quick Deal, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 10. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano. Spider Blue Chip and Bee A Magician will race as an entry. Market Share will start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Freehold, NJ --- As the owner of a breeding farm, Mike Gulotta would seem an unlikely candidate to buy a horse that was gelded. But when longtime horse agent Gerry Bloch called Gulotta about gelded 3-year-old pacer Somewhere In L A, Gulotta knew he had to listen. After all, it was Bloch who directed Gulotta to a 4-year-old pacer named Lis Mara in 2006. Lis Mara, who had earned $180,536 entering that season, banked $1.96 million the rest of his career and was the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer in 2006. So far, Gulotta is happy he listened to Bloch and partnered with J&T Silva Stables and TLP Stable to buy Somewhere In L A on June 1. Since then, Somewhere In L A has won four of eight races, finished second in the Delvin Miller Adios, and earned $186,373. The fact (Somewhere In L A) was a gelding gave me some pause, but I thought that if Gerry was recommending the horse, I needed to pay attention,” said Gulotta, who is the CEO of Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. “I have a great deal of respect for Gerry. He’s found a number of horses for me, so when he calls, I have to listen. “I think this horse is pretty special. He’s a fast horse that can take a lot of air. I think he’s getting better and better.” Somewhere In L A races Friday in the first of two $99,990 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions at The Meadows. He will start from post seven with driver Dave Palone at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. Also in the race is Adios champion McWicked, who leaves from post four with David Miller driving for trainer Casie Coleman. A son of stallion Somebeachsomewhere, Somewhere In L A is the first foal out of the stakes-winning mare West Of L A. She is a half-sister to millionaire Thinking Out Loud and stakes-winner You See L A. Somewhere In L A was bred and owned by Robert McIntosh Stables, C S X Stables, and Al McIntosh Holdings before the sale to Gulotta’s group. Last year, he won three of 11 races, including a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes, and earned $71,831. He enters Friday’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes start with three wins in his last four races. His only setback during that span came by one length to McWicked in the Adios, and Somewhere In L A is coming off a victory over older horses in the preferred on Aug. 22 at The Meadows. “Jimmy is doing a great job with him,” Gulotta said. “I thought if he had a better trip in the Adios, he would have been right there with McWicked. He was on the outside a long time.” Gulotta is hoping for a long and prosperous career for Somewhere In L A, noting the earning potential for gelding pacers while making reference to Foiled Again, harness racing’s richest all-time North American performer. “What’s wrong with making $6 million,” Gulotta said, laughing. “(Buying Somewhere In L A) fits from a business perspective. He can bolster our finances.” Tom Pontone, who along with his father, Lou, makes up TLP Stable, was unaware the horse was a gelding when he committed to be a partner. He was given the chance to leave the group, but decided to stay on board. “I thought he was going to do good,” Pontone said. “I saw his stakes schedule and we have the opportunity to get back our money this year. And I love owning horses with Mike because he’s like a brother to me. I told Mike I think we’re going to have a little fun with him. “He’s turned out to be a pretty good buy for us so far. He’s a tough horse and he keeps on trying. That’s the one thing I liked about him. He’s had some tough races where he’s had to come first up, but he never stops. He just keeps on going right down to the wire. He never gives up.” If all goes well, Somewhere In L A will go to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 7 at Harrah’s Philadelphia, then head to the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. Somewhere In L A is the No. 3-ranked horse in the Road to the Little Brown Jug ratings, behind Meadowlands Pace winner He’s Watching and McWicked. None of the current owners of Somewhere In L A have had a horse win the Little Brown Jug. “It would be a thrill,” Gulotta said. “It would be a dream come true. “Even with a gelding.” by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

A Scandinavian quartet have teamed up and bought Broadway Hall. Hans Nelén (Global Farm), John Bootsman (Boko Stables), Mats Gabrielsson (Oxalis) and the couple Siv and Nils Otto Bergslien (The breeders of ”Thai”-horses) are the quartet behind the deal. Broadway Hall will stay in Pennsylvania and will service American breeding during 2015. In the fall, he will be collecting semen for freezing to the European market. Broadway Hall debuted as 2-year-old with making nine starts and he remained undefeated. Among his victories excels elimination and final of the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Sire Stakes and Lexington Breeders Championship. He received the Dan Patch Award as the "2-year-old-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States. Broadway Hall is the father of five world record holders, including the filly Cooler Schooner who last year won at 1: 51.3 at Pocono Downs 5/8-mile-track, which is still the fastest time for a two year old in the world - any track length. He has left two millionaires, Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn and the mare Action-Broadway. He has nearly 700 offspring in North America, which together have earned over 30 million dollars. In Sweden, he has 50 registered offspring where the mare Mermaid Ås (E3-winner and 2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET) is most winning with nearly four million SEK in her bank roll. In Norway Broadway Hall has left Thai Broadway (2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET and Breeders Crown), which earned almost 3.5 million NOK. Facts Age: 14 years (foaled 2000) Pedigree: Conway Hall - B Cor Tamgo Record: 1:56.4 Purse: $436,790 - Won the Dan Patch Award as the ”2YO-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States in 2002. - Undefeated after nine starts as a 2-year old. - Breeders Crown winner. World Champion foals Frau Blucher, 1:53.1 • 3YO fillies at half-mile-track Cooler Schooner, 1:51.3 • 2YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Pilgrims Chuckie, 1:53 • 3YO colts and geldings at 5/8-mile-track Stage Show, 1:53.1 • 4YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Sherman Mountain, 1:53.3 • 3YO geldings at 5/8-mile-track To earning foals USA: Broad Bahn (1.53 • $ 1,547,988), Action-Broadway (1:52.3 • $ 1,071,122), Pilgrims Taj (1:53.3 • $ 996,748), Frau Blucher (1:52.3 • $ 914,367), Broadway Scooner (1:53.3 • $ 885,933) and Opening Night (1:52.2 • $ 749,374). Sweden: Mermaid Ås (1:53.2 • 3,944,747 SEK) and the US-imports - Production (1:54.3 • 1,447,870 SEK), Cool Keeper (1:56 • 1,426,500 SEK) and Dicey Spicey (1:56.4 • 848,494 SEK). Norway: Thai Broadway (1:52.4 • 3,489,856 NOK). Finland: Vincent Van Kemp (1:56.2 • € 78,953). For more information contact either Truls Heslien, Global Farm, +47,328,767 97 +47906596 31 or John Bootsman, Boko Stables, +46 70-582 07 19. by Håkan Persson, for Global Farm

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

It would be easy for trainer Ron Burke to be confident as he prepares Sweet Lou for Friday's $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park. After all, his 5-year-old pacer brings an eight-race win streak to the event, with an unprecedented stretch of speedy miles to go with it. But Burke knows Sweet Lou isn't the only horse streaking into the Dan Patch. Dancin Yankee, the last horse to defeat Sweet Lou, also is among the pacers in the nine-horse field. Dancin Yankee, racing out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter, brings a six-race victory streak to the Dan Patch. It will be the first meeting between the two horses since Dancin Yankee won the Van Rose Memorial Invitational on May 3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sweet Lou finished third, but since then has gone undefeated. "I think Lou is running into another horse that is racing as good as anyone in the country," Burke said. "I'm actually nervous. I think that horse is super sharp, career sharp, too. "There are other horses that could win too, but both those horses are on long win streaks. I think that's going to be a great race." Sweet Lou has won eight of 11 races this year and earned $791,500 for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. His wins include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and Roll With Joe. His 1:47 victory in the Ben Franklin is the fastest ever on a five-eighths-mile track, breaking the previous mark of 1:47.2 that was shared by Dancin Yankee and Pet Rock. Sweet Lou has won each of his last five starts in less than 1:48, which is a record. He has been driven during his win streak by Ron Pierce. For his career, the son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 30 of 66 races and $2.90 million. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and earned $1 million at age 3, but picked up only four wins and $348,638 at 4. "I'm just so happy he's winning," Burke said. "It's enjoyable to watch him race right now. I've been such a believer all along and for him to do what we thought he could, nothing feels better." Burke, who on Saturday moved past Virgil Morgan Jr. to become the winningest trainer in harness racing history, also sends Bettor's Edge to the Dan Patch. The 5-year-old gelding has won six of 19 races this season and earned $421,781. He was second to Sweet Lou in the Franklin and Haughton and fourth in the U.S. Pacing Championship. Dancin Yankee has won 14 of 21 races this year and $315,140 for owners Baron Racing Stable and Rich Lombardo. The 6-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest won the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in each of his last three starts. The remainder of the field is Thinking Out Loud, Night Pro, Carol's Comet, Heston Blue Chip, State Treasurer and Our Lucky Chip. "It ended up being a really good field," Burke said. Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Dancin Yankee, Tyler Buter, Amber Buter, 8-1; 2. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 6-1; 3. Night Pro, Peter Wrenn, Dale Decker, 20-1; 4. Carol's Comet, Aaron Merriman, Ron Potter, 15-1; 5. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 6. Heston Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Linda Toscano, 15-1; 7. Bettor's Edge, Ricky Macomber Jr., Ron Burke, 10-1; 8. State Treasurer, Jody Jamieson, Ian Moore, 4-1; 9. Our Lucky Chip, Trace Tetrick, Jason Miller, 30-1.  By Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

Archangel's world-record 1:50 performance in last week's John Cashman Jr. Memorial eliminations might have surprised some observers, but not his driver, Yannick Gingras. "I kind of thought it was coming," Gingras said. "He's had a couple miles where he's shown that kind of brilliance, but he was unlucky." The 5-year-old trotter, who sat out last season because of stallion duty, is the 4-1 second choice in Saturday's $300,650 Cashman Memorial final. The Cashman, formerly called the Nat Ray, is for older trotters and has attracted a star-studded field that includes world champion Sebastian K, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Market Share, and numerous other stakes winners. Sebastian K, who won his Cashman elim in 1:51, is the 3-5 morning line favorite for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old standout from Sweden who is in his first season of racing in North America, holds the record for history's fastest mile thanks to his 1:49 victory in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Archangel's 1:50 mile is the fastest ever on a one-mile oval, breaking the record of 1:50.1 that was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Chapter Seven, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim, and Sebastian K. The 1:49 mile by Sebastian K in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs came on a five-eighths-mile track. Archangel was second to Sebastian K on the final turn of that race, but went off stride and finished seventh. "He was going to trot 1:49 a few weeks ago at Pocono if he didn't make a break," Gingras said. "Around the last turn he just overtrotted a little bit, but I still had the earplugs in. Ake was already driving on his and I had trot behind him. Whether I would have gone by or not, we'll never know, and the record is his. But my horse was going to trot 1:49 too." Archangel entered his Cashman elimination off a 10th-place finish in the Maple Leaf Trot, where he went off stride early in the race. Gingras was not the driver in Canada because he was racing Foiled Again at Northfield in the Battle of Lake Erie. "He's a little bit of a tricky horse, you need to know him, and unfortunately he made a break," Gingras said. "He's a little bit grabby. You've got to know him a little bit. Sometimes he'll throw in a funny step, he's got those little quirks about him, but once you know him he's pretty good." Archangel, trained by Ron Burke for owners Alan Hainsworth's Legendary Standardbred Farm and Clare Semer, has won two of 10 races this year and 16 of 41 in his career while earning $1.02 million. His top win came in the 2012 Yonkers Trot. He has two wins, two seconds and a third in his last seven starts. "He's a horse that didn't race for a full year, so you know it's going to take him six, seven, eight, nine starts to get going," Gingras said. "He was trotting a little further in the stretch each week, so I thought he was going in the right direction. Hopefully he keeps going forward from here on out. I don't think you've seen the bottom of him yet." The Cashman Memorial is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, which also includes the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. The Cashman, Oaks, and Hambletonian will air during Saturday's national telecast, which begins at 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Following is the Cashman field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Sebastian K, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-5; 2. Your So Vain, Mike Lachance, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 3. Arch Madness, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer, 20-1; 4. Archangel, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 15-1; 6. Appomattox, Brett Miller, Liisa Vatanen, 50-1; 7. Mister Herbie, John Campbell, Mark Ford, 20-1; 8. Intimidate, Ron Pierce, Luc Blais, 8-1; 9. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano, 9-2; 10. Sevruga, George Brennan, Kevin Carr, 50-1. HARNESS RACING NOTEBOOK John Campbell will try to extend his record for Hambletonian wins to seven when he drives Nuncio in Saturday's 89th edition of the trotting classic. The Hall of Famer has a legitimate chance to win the race, even with prohibitive favorite Father Patrick in the field, but that's not what makes Campbell most happy. "I'm just so happy anytime I get the chance to be part of the Hambletonian," said Campbell, who has raced in every Hambletonian final but two since 1983. "When you have a horse that figures in it, that makes it more special, no question about it, but it's the best we have to offer and I never take it for granted." Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick, on July 12, 2013. Father Patrick has won 15 consecutive races since then, but drew the unenviable No. 10 post for Saturday's Hambletonian. No horse has ever won a Hambletonian final from post 10. "I'm happy with the draw; it gives me options going out of the gate," Campbell said. "I'm going to be forwardly placed, or try to be, there's no question about that. I think the unknown is how many underneath me and on the outside are going to leave. I think there's going to be a lot of action in the first quarter of the mile, it just depends how hot that is and how many are involved." Nuncio, a son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle owned by Stefan Melander's Stall TZ stable, has won 10 of 17 career races and never finished worse than second. The colt is trained by Jimmy Takter, who also is the trainer of Father Patrick and Hambletonian contender Trixton. Six of Nuncio's seven runner-up finishes have come against Father Patrick. "I know Nuncio is going into the race in good shape," Campbell said. "He's raced well every start of his life and I don't expect that to change. Father Patrick, believe me, he's earned all the accolades he's gotten. His 15-race win streak is incredible. But at the same time, I'm going to try to upset him on Saturday. "You have to race against the competition, whatever it is that year. [Nuncio] ran into a horse that has a chance to be one of the all-time greats. But I'm hoping he doesn't add the Hambletonian to his resume." Nuncio will try to give Melander his second Hambletonian victory. He was the owner, trainer and driver of 2001 winner Scarlet Knight. Part of Nuncio's success this year is because the horse has been able to relax in races. Last season, Nuncio led at the half-mile point in eight of 10 starts. This year, it's only happened once in seven races. "He wouldn't be in the Hambletonian if it wasn't for the job that Jimmy did over the winter," Campbell said. "When he came back, we made a special effort to keep him quiet and race him from off the pace and make sure he didn't get into the same mode as last year. "Last year was just him being very talented and he got so exuberant that I couldn't rate him during the middle part of the mile and it cost him a couple of races. Now he's to the point where I can leave hard with him and still control him, and that's vital. If he wasn't that way going into the Hambletonian, it would compromise his chances dramatically." Aaron Merriman will get his first drive in the Hambletonian on Saturday. He is North America's leading driver in wins, with 452. Over the past 55 years, these are the drivers who ended the season No. 1 in wins and also drove in the Hambletonian final that same year: Dave Palone (2012, Stormin Normand, and 1999, Cherry Hills), Jody Jamieson (2009, Federal Flex), Tim Tetrick (2007, Pampered Princess), and Jack Moiseyev (1991, Giant Victory). Moiseyev is the only driver to win the Hambletonian in the same year he was No. 1. Merriman, a 36-year-old Ohio native with nearly 6,600 lifetime wins, will drive 50-1 longshot Il Sogno Dream in the Hambletonian. The horse is owned by Bill Manes, Dan Manes, Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. He is trained by Chris Beaver. "It doesn't matter what my odds are, it's an unbelievable opportunity and I'm just really excited," Merriman said. "I feel blessed I'm even involved in the race day. Even if I was the presenter of a trophy, I'd be happy. It's the premier event in harness racing and I'm very excited." Of the 11 drivers in this year's Hambletonian, four have won the race at least once previously. John Campbell (Nuncio) holds the record with six triumphs, followed by Ron Pierce (Royal Ice) with three, Brian Sears (Harper Blue Chip) two, and Tim Tetrick (Don Dorado) one. Sears won last year's Hambletonian with Royalty For Life. If he wins again this season, he will be the first driver to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years since John Campbell in 1987-88. Jimmy Takter and Trond Smedshammer are the only trainers in this year's Hambletonian with previous victories. Takter - who sends out favorites Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton - won in 2010 with Muscle Massive and 1997 with Malabar Man. Smedshammer, who trains Royal Ice, won in 2004 with Windsong's Legacy. Trainer Nancy Johansson is making her first start in the Hambletonian, with Resolve, but she is no stranger to the race. She is the daughter of two-time winning trainer Jimmy Takter and was the caretaker of the 2010 Hambletonian winner, Muscle Massive. "That helps me tons," Johansson said. "I don't really feel stressed out. I think a lot of people in my situation would be a little more stressed out, but I kind of expect to be here because we were always there working for my dad. And most of the times, I took care of those horses. "There's a lot of pressure to take care of a good horse. I always say caretakers are so underrated because every day that horse is their charge. It's your job to make sure they don't get hurt, or if they're sick you need to notice in time so something can be done. I feel like I've had that pressure a lot before. I've seen my dad deal with the pressure. It doesn't really bother me because I'm used to it." Howard Taylor, who is among the owners of 20-1 Hambletonian longshot Doncango, never expected to have a starter in this year's race. Doncango has raced only once this year, winning on July 25. "I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," Taylor said with a laugh. "In about February or so, [Doncango] got injured. We have just been rehabbing him and bringing him back slowly and he got a late start. "We have a lot of year left and [trainer Ake Svanstedt] thinks he'll be heard from for the rest of the year. But I was a little surprised that he entered the horse in the Hambletonian." Taylor has had two previous starters in the Hambletonian. He is looking for his first win. "It would be a dream," Taylor said about Doncango winning. "It would be a shock, but it would be a dream." Ron Pierce can tie Berndt Lindstedt for most Hambletonian Oaks wins by a driver, with four, if he guides Shake It Cerry to victory Saturday. She is trained by Jimmy Takter, who with a triumph would move into sole possession of second place in trainer wins. Takter is tied with Glen Garnsey with three Oaks titles. Jan Johnson leads the way with six. Shake It Cerry, who has won six of seven races this year and was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. "She's good," Takter said earlier in the week. "It was good we didn't have to extend her too much [in the Oaks prep, a 1:54.4 win]. The Hambletonian Oaks won't go like that. The race next week, they're going to mix it up a little bit. "I think she's the best one. The only time she got defeated, she had a bad trip. She's sound, everything is good with her. She is ready to go a big mile. She'll take [Pierce] home. She's not known to give up in the stretch." Prior to this Saturday, trainer Julie Miller's only Hambletonian Oaks starter was 90-1 longshot Timelesswinner Two in 2009. Timelesswinner Two finished eighth. This year, she is sending out three fillies in the Oaks including morning line favorite Designed To Be. Starting from post one with driver Brian Sears, Designed To Be has won two of four starts this year. She was second to Shake It Cerry, who drew post 11 in the Oaks, in last week's prep. "She's had a little bit of traffic trouble her last two starts," Miller said. "I give a lot of credit to Brian. He knows my filly and he's been able to control her during the pedestrian second quarters we've been going. I'm excited for [the final]. Obviously, I'd like to see them go a little more [early fractions] in the race. We'll see how it plays out. I have all the confidence in the world in Brian and Designed To Be." Miller's other starters in the Oaks are 12-1 Take The Money and 20-1 Cee Bee Yes. "Take The Money had a nice win in the Reynolds [on July 19]," Miller said. "She proved to me that she should be in here. She seems to be a horse that's better with a week off in between starts. So that's why we [skipped the Oaks prep and] gave her the week off rather than go three weeks in a row. "[Cee Bee Yes] is my sleeper. She does her job, she's a sweetheart, and Marcus [Miller] gets along with her well. If they mix it up, I think she can pick up the pieces." Saturday's card, which begins at noon, features the Hambletonian Day returns of 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share and 2013 Hambletonian Oaks winner Bee A Magician. Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, is the 4-5 favorite in the $52,000 Ima Lula Series final for 4-year-old female trotters. Market Share is the 9-2 third choice in the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters. Here is a look at the morning line choices for Hambletonian Day's top races. $52,000 Ima Lula: Bee A Magician 4-5, Classic Martine 7-5, Handover Belle 8-1. $100,000 Miss New Jersey: Gettingreadytoroll 2-1, Act Now 3-1, Blixtra 9-2. $225,000 New Jersey Classic: Doo Wop Hanover 9-5, Western Vintage 5-2, Bushwacker 9-2. $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship: Sweet Lou 4-5, Captaintreacherous 7-2, Thinking Out Loud 6-1. $352,050 Merrie Annabelle: Mission Brief 4-5, Lock Down Lindy 3-1, Gatka Hanover 5-1. $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial: Guess Whos Back 2-1, Canepa Hanover 5-2, Centurion ATM 3-1. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Amped Up Hanover 8-5, Southwind Poseidon 7-2, Marathon Man 9-2. $50,000 Townsend Ackerman: Outburst 3-1, Sumatra 7-2, Hillustrious 9-2. $75,000 Vincennes: Master Of Law 3-1, Southwind Pepino 7-2, D'Orsay 9-2. $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial: Sebastian K 3-5, Archangel 4-1, Market Share 9-2. $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks: Designed To Be 2-1, Shake It Cerry 5-2, Heaven's Door 9-2. $1 million Hambletonian: Father Patrick 4-5, Trixton 7-2, Nuncio 9-2. $177,750 Lady Liberty: Rocklamation 5-2, Drop The Ball 3-1, Somwherovrarainbow 7-2. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

Sweet Lou and driver Ron Pierce have teamed to win seven consecutive races, but Pierce believes he deserves none of the credit for the hot streak. He also believes the best is yet to come. Sweet Lou, who has won 29 of 65 lifetime races and $2.78 million in purses, is enjoying the best stretch of his award-winning career as he heads into Saturday’s $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship at Meadowlands Racetrack. Sweet Lou, who starts from post seven, faces eight foes, including Captaintreacherous, State Treasurer, Golden Receiver, and Ron Burke-trained stablemates Foiled Again, Bettor’s Edge, and Clear Vision. The race is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters. Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. “It’s just unbelievable how good they have him right now,” Pierce said about Sweet Lou. “The Burke crew really has him sharp. “It’s not me, believe me, it’s the horse. The horse is doing everything pretty much on his own. I’m just a passenger. I think if any of the top guys would’ve gotten on this horse he’d be doing the same thing. I’m giving all the credit to the Burkes and their crew. They’re doing all the work. All I do is sit there.” Pierce started driving Sweet Lou in May and the two have teamed to win the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, and Roll With Joe stakes during their seven races together. It is Sweet Lou’s longest win streak, topping his six consecutive victories bridging his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. Sweet Lou was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner as harness racing’s best 2-year-old male pacer and earned more than $1 million at age 3, but endured a stretch of just four wins in 31 starts prior to his recent surge. “I wasn’t sure [what to expect],” Pierce said, looking back to when he started driving Sweet Lou. “I’d raced against him plenty, but no I didn’t really think he was going to be winning these kinds of races so easily. I just happened to get on him at the right time. “It’s such a pleasure to race this horse because he’s so good. You can do anything you want to do. If you want to take back, you take back; if you want to go forward, all you have to do is feed him racetrack. And then he’ll come right back to you once he gets to the top. It’s just a pleasure. It’s a thrill.” Sweet Lou, owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura, still holds the world record of 1:49 for a 2-year-old pacer and this season became the fastest horse ever on a five-eighths-mile track when he captured the Ben Franklin in 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The fastest race mile in history is 1:46.4, a mark shared by Holborn Hanover, Somebeachsomewhere, Warrawee Needy, and He’s Watching. But Pierce thinks Sweet Lou could take down that mark sometime in the future. “If Ronnie tells me to shatter the world record, I will,” Pierce said. “He could do it, no problem. But I want to keep him within himself for as long as I can. It’s better for him. The longer I can go without stretching him out, the better off he’s going to be in the long run. I’m not going to be showboating or anything like that. “But I’m sure Ronnie is going to come to me one of these days under the right conditions and say to go ahead and shatter the world record. And then I will.” Following is the U.S. Pacing Championship field in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Golden Receiver, Corey Callahan, Jake Huff; 2. State Treasurer, David Miller, Ian Moore; 3. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh; 4. Sunfire Blue Chip, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 6. Bettor’s Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke; 8. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna; 9. Clear Vision, Brett Miller, Ron Burke. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

He hopes his luck is on full display in Saturday's $1 million Hambletonian at Meadowlands Racetrack. Mazza owns JJ Alex, who will start from post two at morning line odds of 50-1 in the Hambletonian. The colt, trained and driven by Francisco Del Cid, is winless this year and has one victory in 15 career starts. Like everyone else, JJ Alex will be chasing Father Patrick, one of three Jimmy Takter-trained horses in the race. Father Patrick has won 15 straight starts and is the 4-5 morning line favorite despite starting from the unenviable No. 10 post. Mazza bought JJ Alex privately on Aug. 2, 2013 and exactly one year later, the horse is competing on the sport's biggest stage. Could that be a sign? Probably not, but Mazza thought it was a chance worth taking. "I ain't going to be here forever; this might be my last shot for the Hambletonian," he said. "We got the right draw, we got the right driver on him, we got the right trainer. It's a win-win situation. He added with a laugh, "So I'll see you in the winner's circle." Bold talk since JJ Alex has yet to find the winner's circle in 2014. But he has finished in the money five times with two seconds and three thirds. His final tune-up before the Hambo was a third-place finish in a $32,455 division of the Arden Downs Stakes at the Meadows July 26. "We trained him good before going to The Meadows," Del Cid said. "We were going to train him and based on that training mile make a decision [on whether to enter the Hambletonian]. We were hoping for a better result in the race, but it unfolded a different way and I got pinned in. "But we were satisfied. We came to the conclusion that we were going to enter the horse and give it a try." Del Cid, a former exercise rider for high-profile Thoroughbred trainer D. Wayne Lukas, began working in harness racing in the late 1980s. "I switched to this and I liked it," said the native Guatemalan, now living in central New Jersey. "I'm not afraid of the odds," he added. "I never thought I was going to be in the Hambletonian when I came here. When I switched to this [harness racing] business, that was my goal - to be here one day." Del Cid trained his own small table for several years before joining the Trond Smedshammer Stable. In 2008 he went back out on his own and he and Mazza will now look to shock the world. To Mazza, it wouldn't be a mind-blowing shock. As far as he was concerned, when he first laid eyes on the horse it was Hambletonian at first sight. "As soon as we saw him we wanted to keep him for the Hambletonian," the owner said. "We raced him a couple times as a 2-year-old and we decided to put him in this big race this year." Mazza made his first purchase - Kehms Scooter - in 1991 at a sale at the Meadowlands. Rather than build a stable for a racehorse, he found a racehorse to fill a stable. "I was building a farm in Upper Freehold and a trainer came by and asked what was going on," Mazza said. "I told him I was building a horse barn for my kids. He asked if I wanted to get in the racehorse business. "I said I'd never thought of it, but maybe I would consider it. He told me there was a sale at the Meadowlands and asked if I wanted to come. I told him to pick me up on Saturday and I'd go with him." Mazza promptly spent $10,000 or $20,000 - he can't recall - on Kehms Scooter and was on his way. "He won his first race and it got me hooked," Mazza said. "If it wasn't for that, I might not be here. I try to enjoy it. "It was about time for me to try the Hambletonian. Maybe I'll get lucky. I've been a lucky guy, a fortunate guy, all my life. Maybe my luck will come through on Saturday." In other words, Mazza will stake his luck against all odds. by Rich Fisher, for the Hambletonian Society  

Saturday's 89th edition of the $1 million Hambletonian Trot at The Meadowlands has drawn a field of eleven 3-year-old trotters going a mile in harness racing's most prestigious race. The Hambletonian is the opening leg of the Trotting Triple Crown which also includes the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity. Leading the field are Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton, all trained by Jimmy Takter, who is a two-time Hambletonian winner with Malabar Man (1997) and Muscle Massive (2010). Takter is looking to become the first trainer to sweep first, second and third in the modern era of the Hambletonian. Father Patrick is the 4-5 morning line favorite and will be driven by Yannick Gingras from post 10. Trixton is 7-2 and will start from post 7 with Takter driving and Nuncio is 9-2 with Hall of Fame driver John Campbell leaving from post 5. "At this point, I have three really good horses and they're racing scary good," Takter said. "I've got to keep them fresh and make sure nothing goes wrong. I have the three best horses, and I would be extremely disappointed if I don't win the Hambletonian this year. My goal is to win the Hambletonian. It's fun. The Hambletonian is the biggest race in our sport and something you work hard to win." Father Patrick, the 2013 Dan Patch award winning champion 2-year-old colt trotter, and is perfect this year in six starts for $510,931 in earnings and is ranked second in the current Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Top Ten Poll. "He's the best horse I've ever developed," Takter said. "He's just different. He has all the things I like in a horse. He's a good sound horse. You can't find any fault with him. You can do anything you want with him. He's so handy. Patrick, to me, is the perfect horse." Owned by the Father Patrick Stable, the colt has wins this season in the Earl Beal Jr. at Pocono Downs and the Stanley Dancer Memorial at The Meadowlands. He has won 15 straight starts since losing to Nuncio in his second career effort. Overall, Father Patrick has banked $1,254,988 with 16 wins in 17 starts. Co-owned by the trainer's wife Christina, Trixton has six wins this year in eight starts for $283,855 in earnings. He was third to Father Patrick in the Dancer Memorial and is coming off a victory in a division of the Reynolds Memorial at The Meadowlands. Trixton, sixth in the harness poll, has career earnings of $337,542 with 10 wins in 16 starts. "He's the kind of horse with a big future as a 4-year-old. He's improving, getting more professional and very confident." the trainer/driver noted. Nuncio, owned by Stall TZ Inc., finished second to his stablemate in both the Earl Beal Jr. and Stanley Dancer Memorial, his only losses this year in seven starts. "I'm very happy with the way he's been coming along," Campbell said. "Jimmy trained him from behind all winter and we've qualified him that way, and raced him that way, and he's started to figure it out. Nuncio, 10th in this week's poll, has earned $342,003 in 2014 and has 10 wins and seven seconds from 17 lifetime starts for $803,077. John Campbell has won the Hambletonian a record six times with the most recent victory coming with Glidemaster in 2006. The supporting events include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for trotting fillies; the $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings; the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old trotting fillies; the $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial Free-For-All trot; the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship; the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic for state bred 3-year-old pacers and the $177,750 Lady Liberty featuring Free-For-All pacing mares. The Hambletonian card has attracted international media interest, including live television coverage on the CBS Sports Network from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. Here is the Hambletonian field in post position order: Note that Don Dorado starts from post 11, which is in the second tier. 1. Resolve, Corey Callahan, 20-1 2. JJ Alex, Francisco Del Cid, 50-1 3. Doncango, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1 4. Datsyuk, Charlie Norris, 12-1 5. Nuncio, John Campbell, 9-2 6. Royal Ice, Ron Pierce, 20-1 7. Trixton, Jimmy Takter, 7-2 8. Il Sogno Dream, Aaron Merriman, 50-1 9. Harper Blue Chip, Brian Sears, 12-1 10. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, 4-5 11. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, 20-1. The 89th Hambletonian has an approximate post time Saturday of 5:11 p.m. ET. (With files from the Meadowlands & UPI)  

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

Arch Madness wasn't ill, but a victory in a conditioned handicap at Harrah's Philadelphia last week might have been just what the doctor ordered. Now the 10-year-old gelding is returning to competition against the continent's best older trotters as he heads to Saturday's eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. Among the entrants are world champion Sebastian K, Maple Leaf Trot winner Intimidate, two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share, and 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. Arch Madness, who skipped the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario, enters his Cashman elim with one win in eight starts this season. Lifetime, he has won 35 of 115 races and earned $4.22 million, good for sixth place among all trotters in history and second to only Moni Maker among trotters that raced the majority of their careers in North America. "It's always nice to get an easy win in a horse," Trond Smedshammer said about Arch Madness' three-length victory in 1:52.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia on July 16. "That's the best medicine for a horse, winning. I was very happy about that decision [not to go to the Maple Leaf Trot]. It worked out good. "You can't ask him to go everywhere; he's 10 years old. Canada was an easy decision to leave out." Arch Madness (a son of Balanced Image-Armbro Archer) was winless in two races at age 2, but won at least one race worth more than $170,000 in six of the next seven years. His top triumphs came in the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds, 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, 2011 Oslo Grand Prix, 2010 Cutler Memorial, 2009 Credit Winner, and 2013 Allerage Open Trot. He finished second in the Elitlopp in 2012 and 2013. He also finished second twice in the Breeders Crown Open, in 2008 and 2009, and twice in the Maple Leaf Trot, in 2009 and 2011. "Arch is pretty much the same as he's been previous years," said Smedshammer, who trains the horse for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond LLC. "It doesn't seem like he's lost much, it's just the competition is tougher. It's been brutally tough, especially [Sebastian K]. "I haven't been too worried about it because later in the year when the others seem to be getting tired, he usually gets better," Smedshammer added. Arch Madness will start from post seven in the second of the two Cashman eliminations. To his inside from the rail are Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, and Appomattox. To his outside is Creatine. The first division, from post one, is Market Share, Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Intimidate, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. They have five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

There were only 11 three-year-old fillies entered in the Hambletonian Oaks and thus there will be no elimination races this Saturday at the Meadowlands. All 11 fillies will go in the final on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 2 and they will race for a purse estimated at $500,000. Headlining the field is the Jimmy Talkter’s Stable one-two punch of Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch award winning two-year-old filly trotter of the year along with stable mate Lifetime Pursuit. Here are the fillies that were entered. Cee Bee Yes (Julie Miller-Marcus Miller) Cooler Schooner (Jim Campbell-Dave Miller)  Designed To Be (Julie Miller-Brian Sears)  Harley Momma (Jim Raymer-Howard Parker)  Heavens Door (Åke Svanstedt-Åke Svanstedt) Lifetime Pursuit (Jimmy Takter-Yannick Gingras) Nitro Nittany (Jim Raymer-Howard Parker) Shake It Cerry (Jimmy Takter-Ron Pierce) Take The  Money (Julie Miller-Dave Palone)  Tweet Me (Don Swick-Brett Miller) Vanity Matters (Jonas Czernyson-Scott Zeron) Post positions will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Tuesday, July 29 at the Hambletonian Press conference and Post Position draw, at 4:00 p.m. in Victory Sports Bar at The Meadowlands. The $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. [EDT] on Aug. 2. Hambletonian Day is closing day, and the zenith of the Championship Meet. Fans can follow the next two action-filled weekends at meadowlandsracetrack.com and on Twitter at #Hambo14. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

He’s Watching, a $3,000 yearling purchase, tied the all age world record for harness racing pacers on a one mile track as he won the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-olds Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ in 1:46.4. Driven by Tim Tetrick, He’s Watching benefited from following the race favorite, JK Endofanera (Brian Sears), on the outside in the backstretch and they carried him to the top of the stretch. From there He’s Watching had little trouble collaring the race leaders and with a :25.3 last quarter mile, blew by the field to win by three and one-half lengths. Always B Miki (David Miller) was second with Tellitlikeitis (Brett Miller) third. “I’m feeling pretty good,” said winning trainer Dave Menary who selected He’s Watching at the yearling sales. “This was the exact trip I thought he was going to get. I didn’t have to give Tim (Tetrick) any instructions. I was hoping we could get a second over trip behind JK. I did my job all week, Tim did his job and it worked out well. He is very versatile. He can race on the bit or come from off the helmet. Tim said he has more in the tank!” He’s Watching tied the all age world record for pacers with his 1:46.4 victory. The record was first set by Holburn Hanover in 2006 and then again in 2008 by Somebeachsomewhere. Both Lynonssomewhere (Yannick Gingras) and Luck Be Withyou (Ron Pierce) both went out for the early lead with JK Endofanera getting away in third and He’s Watching in fifth place. Past the opening quarter mile in :25.3 and the half in :53.2, Tetrick sat sorta half-in-half-out with He’s Watching and then started on the outside just enough so that when Sears came first-over with JK Endofanera, they were in the perfect spot for the outside cover. Coming to the three-quarters in 1:20.3, Sometimes Said (Corey Callahan) came three-wide but they could not threaten the leaders. Then in the stretch was when Tetrick fanned to the outside with He’s Watching and mowed down the field. “Unbelievable,” Tetrick said. “He is a great horse and I was lucky to pick up the drive. It is just an honor to be able to compete in these big races. I could not have asked for a better trip. It worked out great. My horse really exploded all the way to the wire. Like I said, it was unbelievable.” It was the second straight win and third victory in just six starts this year for He’s Watching. The son of American Ideal went undefeated as a two-year-old and was named the 2013 Dan Patch Award Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. He is co-owned by Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray, Michael Geurriero and Muscara Trust.  Muscara Trust bought half interest in the colt back in December for a reported $1 million. It was a bitter sweet victory for Muscara Trust as the founding member of the Stable, veteran owner/trainer/driver, Joseph Muscara, passed away on Monday at age 90. He also owned Mach Three, who won the Meadowlands Pace back in 2002. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice in the race, He’s Watching paid $6.20 to win. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com 

1. National Debt, Scott Zeron, Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1 Last year, National Debt won all four of his starts while competing in Alberta for trainer/co-owner Kelly Hoerdt, who received Canada's 2013 O'Brien Award for Horsemanship. He was sent to New Jersey-based trainer Ron Coyne Jr. for the start of this season and captured the Gilmour Memorial Series during the winter. National Debt, who finished fifth in his Pace elimination, won by JK Endofanera, has won seven of 10 lifetime races and earned $76,073. Owned by Hoerdt, Blair and Erna Corbeil, and the J&T Silva Stables, National Debt had issues with allergies earlier this season while racing in Canada and missed nearly two months prior to his Pace elim. "He had a couple good tighteners in qualifiers, and this was his first test for speed against these colts, but all in all it went well," Coyne said. "He showed a good burst of speed at the end, he came home :26.2 and he finished up really nice, so I was really happy about that. It's all a matter of the post and the trip and we'll see if we get lucky. "We missed a few of the big dances, but we're ready to go again," Coyne said. For a feature about National Debt from earlier this year, read here. 2. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 2-1 JK Endofanera (Art Major-Presidential Lady) won his elimination in 1:48.2 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He is trying to become the 10th horse to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. For more, read here. 3. He's Watching, Tim Tetrick, David Menary, 5-2 He's Watching (American Ideal-Baberhood) won his elimination in 1:48.1 and is 5-2 on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. For more, read here. 4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 12-1 One of two horses in the race from the Takter Stable, Tellitlikeitis (Well Said-Kikikatie) is a son of 2009 Meadowlands Pace winner Well Said out of the million-dollar-earning mare Kikikatie. He led early in his Pace elimination, which was won by He's Watching, but finished fifth. Tellitlikeitis, owned by Lothlorien stable, has won four of 12 career races and $389,022. He finished second to JK Endofanera in the North America Cup. "I expect him to be better," Takter said. "He had three weeks off [prior to his Pace elim] and that's a long time in this group. I had to play it like that with him, unfortunately. I cannot race him every dance because he has issues. But he's got a perfect seat, the four post. If the pace is right, we know he can pace :25 the last quarter. If I get him a little bit better, he's quick enough that he can give you something." 5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 6-1 The 2013 Breeders Crown champion finished third in his Pace elim, won by He's Watching. Luck Be Withyou has won once in five starts this season and captured six of 16 career races, good for $404,827. He is owned by John Craig and trained by Bill Cass in Canada, with Oakes taking over in the U.S. Luck Be Withyou is a son of Western Ideal out of the mare Trim Hanover. He is a three-quarter brother to millionaire female pacer American Jewel. 6. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-1 The colt tried to find room inside of JK Endofanera in the stretch, but was unable to get past the leader and finished third in his Pace elimination. Just three-quarters of a length separated JK Endofanera, runner-up Always B Miki, and Lyonssomewhere. Geoffrey Lyons Mound owns Lyonssomewhere, who is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Miss Kitty Hanover. He has won five of seven career races and $98,570. "He didn't have enough room, but I thought he raced really, really good," Takter said. "He can step out of the gate extremely well. It's hard not to take advantage of that, but by the same token, you pay a little bit for that. "At the Meadowlands, it's not necessarily the best spot to sit behind the leader unless he's a very good leader. If you don't get racing room, you're playing with luck. With luck, yes he can win, without a doubt, and we need to be lucky in this race. It will be an interesting race." 7. Jet Airway, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 15-1 Erv Miller is hoping for big things from the big horse as the year goes on. Jet Airway opened 2014 with a second-place finish to JK Endofanera in the Simpson Memorial at the Meadowlands. Owned by Miller, Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle, Jet Airway has won six of 18 career races and $130,834. He is a son of Jereme's Jet out of the mare Aromatic. He raced 10 times as a 2-year-old, winning three races, but was shut down in early October. Marcus Miller, who recently got career win No. 2,000, is Erv's 25-year-old son. "He's a really fast horse, a big horse," Miller said about Jet Airway. "I think, hopefully, from midseason on he'll just keep getting better. It just seems he needed the racing to get going. He went a big mile [in his elim]. Marcus did a good job and he had a lot of pace finishing. "I could tell last year he was a pretty nice horse. I wanted to shut him down because he was real immature. I think as time goes, he'll just keep getting better." 8. Sometimes Said, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell, 15-1 Always in the hunt, Sometimes Said has won only twice but hit the board in 14 of 18 career races. He finished second by a neck from post nine in last year's Breeders Crown, which was won by Luck Be Withyou, and was second in the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Owned by Fashion Farms, Sometimes Said is a son of Well Said out of the mare Lady Sometimes. He has earned $341,254 lifetime. Sometimes Said finished second in his Pace elim, beaten 2-3/4 lengths by He's Watching. "He's had a good week," Campbell said. "It's hard to say whether post eight will help him or hurt him, it depends how the race unfolds. It would probably be in his best interest if they're rolling along up front and he can get cover in the outer tier. "It's a tough group of horses. He went a big trip last week and he'll have to come back and be better than that this week." 9. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1 Came home the fastest of all Meadowlands Pace finalists with a :26.1 final quarter-mile to miss by a neck to JK Endofanera in his Pace elim. Always B Miki has won five of 20 career races and earned $219,916. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Val D'Or Farms, and Roll The Dice Stable. Always B Miki was disqualified from third to fifth for interference in his Hempt Memorial elimination and went off stride in his North America Cup elim. He has three wins, including a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, and two second-place finishes (by a neck and a nose) in the five starts this year in which he's minded his manners. "I was apprehensive coming into [the Pace elimination] because he's just been a problem horse that way," Holloway said. "He's got a lot of speed, but he's not the easiest horse to deal with. He steered fairly well [in his elim] and raced well. He can go a tough trip, he's probably one of the tougher ones that way, but he is tough to deal with. "He's got the speed to go wherever they want to go. As long as he gets a decent trip he'll work it out from there." Always B Miki is a son of Always A Virgin, who was trained by Holloway and won two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown (Cane Pace and Messenger) in 2007, out of the mare Artstopper. He is a half-brother to Yagonnakissmeornot, who finished second in this year's Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final. 10. Doo Wop Hanover, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 30-1 Elliott is the only trainer in the race to have won the Meadowlands Pace previously, having captured the trophy in 2006 with Artistic Fella and 2009 with Well Said. Only two trainers, Brett Pelling and Bill Robinson, have more Pace victories. Doo Wop Hanover finished fourth in his Pace elim, which was won by JK Endofanera. He is a son of 2005 Meadowlands Pace winner Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Deer Valley Miss and is a three-quarter brother to stakes winner Knock Three Times. For his career, Doo Wop Hanover has won five of 19 races and $180,788. He won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in May and the Hempt Memorial Consolation in a career-best 1:49 on June 28. He is owned by Peter Blood, Rick Berks and Gary Piontkowski. Post 10 has produced four Meadowlands Pace winners, tied for the third most of any starting spot, but none since The Panderosa in 1999. "I've had better draws," Elliott said with a laugh. "But when [Doo Wop Hanover] gets on the lead or first over, he wants to rock and roll, and he's better with a trip. We should be able to get a trip from there, we'll just hope it's not a bad one. "He's been good all year. He's a nice colt. He might be a notch below the best ones, but there's so many times now when the trip dictates the outcome. We just want to be somewhere in the live flow. You've got to be in it. If you're not in it, you can't win it." * * * Tim Tetrick and Ron Pierce have enjoyed multiple successes in the Meadowlands Pace in recent years, combining to win six of the last seven editions of the race. Pierce has won the Meadowlands Pace a total of four times, second to only John Campbell's seven Pace victories for the most among all drivers in history. Pierce's victories were with Dream Away (1997), Art Official (2008), Well Said (2009) and Roll With Joe (2011). He drives Luck Be Withyou in Saturday's race. Luck Be Withyou, who starts from post five and is 6-1 on the morning line, finished third in his Pace elimination, which was won by He's Watching. Pierce won last season's Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers with Luck Be Withyou. Tetrick has won the Meadowlands Pace with Southwind Lynx (2007), One More Laugh (2010) and Captaintreacherous (2013). He drives He's Watching in Saturday's race, starting from post three. He's Watching, who won his Pace elimination in 1:48.1, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. "I sure would love to [win again]," Tetrick said. "I have a great horse to do it with. I like my chances. "There are some really nice colts in here and it's a tough group." Campbell will go for Meadowlands Pace win No. 8 with Doo Wop Hanover from post 10. Brian Sears, driving 2-1 morning line favorite JK Endofanera, tries for his second Pace triumph while Yannick Gingras, with Lyonssomewhere, also will be going for his second win. Scott Zeron (driving National Debt), Brett Miller (Tellitlikeitis), Marcus Miller (Jet Airway), Corey Callahan (Sometimes Said) and David Miller (Always B Miki) all are seeking their first Meadowlands Pace win. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

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