Pompano Beach, FL…February 12, 2017…The highly anticipated 2017 harness racing debut of McWicked proved to be highly successful as the now six year-old son of McArdle scored a 1:50.4 win in Pompano Park’s $12,000 Open Handicap Pace “Romp at the Pomp” Pace on Sunday night (February 12). David Miller, also making his 2017 driving debut, was in the bike for the victory, the 12,027th of his Hall of Fame career. Facing a stout field of competitors including the highly vaunted Panocchio, McWicked took command three-eighths into the mile and went on to score by three-parts-of-a-length over that main rival with Rocky’s Z Tam just another neck back in third. Drachan Hanover finished fourth while Uncmprmising Z Tam finished fifth—those next four less than two lengths off the winner in the classy sextet. As the outset, Rocky’s Z Tam, with Ricky Macomber, Jr. in the bike, pushed the Hummer Starting Gate’s wings out of the way with Panocchio, starting from the outside six post with driver Wally Hennessey, surging right alongside and into the lead heading into the initial turn and proceeding to an opener in a hot :26.3 with McWicked settling into third—but not for long. Once they straightened away in the lane for the first time, Miller sent McWicked in search of the lead, taking command under the line the first time and then going on to post a half in :54.4 and three-quarters in 1:23.2 with Panocchio sitting chilly and Rocky’s Z Tam outside and charging. In the lane, Rocky’s Z Tam got within a long neck of McWicked and Panocchio snuck through along the pylons but neither could seriously threaten the leader to the wire as he sealed the deal with a :27.2 finale. In a post-race interview, driver David Miller related, “I thought he raced very well for his first time back. I was fortunate enough to drive him as a three year-old and he put in some awesome miles back then, especially when he went that mile in 1:47.3 with a last half in :52.3. He was great all the way to December when he won the Progress Pace (Dover Downs) in (1):48.4. “Tonight, he didn’t have any breathing situations that had bothered him the past couple of seasons and he was solid all the way through. It was a very good effort, especially for his first start back!” Owned by the S S G Stables’ Ed James, McWicked won for the first time since that aforementioned Progress Pace on December 7, 2014 and Mr. James was elated with the win saying, “I have been in this business for over 60 years and the thrill of reaching the winner’s circle never gets old. I am sure glad I was here at Pompano to see this win.” Trainer Jim McDonald was also elated with the victory saying, “This horse may have been the favorite on the tote-board here tonight but he sure was a long-shot to regain his winning ways. “He developed a breathing problem and it took some time to address the problem and then cure it. He seems like his old self again and we hope the progress continues. McWicked now sports a lifetime bankroll of $1,767,487. As the 2 to 5 post-time favorite, McWicked paid $2.80 to his multitude of followers. The $10,000 Open 2 Pace went to Rockntouch, skillfully handled by Mickey McNichol. The five year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven, in the garden spot as Fritzie Pic Up Man (Kevin Wallis) spun through panels of :26.2, :55.2 and 1:22.3 and sitting chilly a Grande Seelster challenged around the final bend, found some room in deep stretch to, first, get by the leader and, then, hold off the late surge of King Of The Crop (Dave Ingraham) to score by a head in a lifetime best 1:51.2. Fritzie Pic Up Man did finish third, a half length away, while Dee's Rocketman finished fourth, The favorite, Bluehourpower, picked up the nickel in an "even-steven" effort after a three week respite due to injury. Owned by Fred Monteleone Stable along with Salvatore Promuto, Rockntouch scored his second win of this semester and 15th success lifetime. He's now banked $119,595 career-wise--$13,175 this young season. As the 4 to 1 second choice, Rockntouch paid $10.40 to win. Though McWicked and David Miller were in the spotlight with his "Romp at the Pomp" win, the driving star of the night was Wally Hennessey, who drove six winners on the Sunday night program. The Hall of Fame Driver scored with Tick Tok Tag ($3.60), Tony Cheesecake ($6.60), Officernagentleman ($2.80) Whogoesfirst ($6.60), B Evas Lucky Lad ($6.20) and Del Rio Seelster ($3.60). The latter won the Super Hi-5 final, which had multiple winners, now sports a carryover of $70,526 going into Monday night's program. That card also features a $10,000 guaranteed pool for the Pick-4, conducted on races 6 through 9. Post time set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park
Columbus, OH --- It was 20 years ago when Bruce Trogdon sat alongside harness racing trainer Kelly O’Donnell as he bid on Dragon Again. At that time, he thought O’Donnell might not be making the best financial decision, but Trogdon now has a colt by that stallion in Fear The Dragon that is poised to set the sophomore pacing division aflame. “I was done shopping and sat down with Kelly,” Trogdon said. “He used to train for me and Dragon Again was a really nice-looking colt; his conformation was perfect, but he was by Dragon’s Lair, so the pedigree might not be there. I told him $40,000 was too much for that horse, but I guess what did I know?” Fear The Dragon is a 3-year-old son of the aforementioned stallion and the Western Ideal mare Armbro Cinnamon. While world champions Huntsville and stablemate Downbytheseaside have been grabbing all the headlines, this half-brother to Cinamony (Art Official, $532,404) has quietly amassed $228,391,has defeated Huntsville and equaled a track record at The Meadows of 1:50.3. “This is without a doubt the finest colt I have ever had,” Trogdon said. “I usually sell colts and just keep fillies, but he was just so good from the day he was born; not too big, not too small. He does what you ask him, too. I think Huntsville and Downbytheseaside are very talented horses, but this colt is nice, too.” Conditioned by Brian Brown and steered nearly exclusively by David Miller, Fear The Dragon commenced his career with a second place finish on June 26, 2016 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in a $30,000 Pennsylvania All Stars division. He demonstrated speed, however, by throwing down a :26.4 last quarter-mile in his debut. The colt then reeled off four consecutive victories, three in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes company and a $19,291 division of the Arden Downs at The Meadows, before coming home third behind Huntsville, a rival he had defeated the previous week, on Aug. 27 in a Sire Stakes contest. “Early in the year he was the best 2-year-old in the country, which he showed by beating Huntsville and some other real good colts,” said Trogdon. “The first time David Miller drove him he said that he liked him better than Downbytheseadside. That is saying a lot because he and Hunstville are both tremendous horses I think. Both are future stallions that I would likely want to breed to.” Fear The Dragon was third again in his next contest, the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, to Huntsville and Downbytheseaside, prior to his runner-up finish to his barn mate in a world record mile of 1:50 at the Delaware County Fair on Sept. 18 in a $34,500 division of the Standardbred stake. “What people don't know is that Yannick (driver Gingras on Normandy Beach) accidentally stepped on our wheel going for home in the PASS championship and he raced the last quarter with a flat tire finishing third,” Trogdon said. “We then drew the outside at Delaware while our stablemate Downbytheseaside drew inside in his world record shattering performance. Dragon came off the pace and closed well for second. “He then won the Elevation at Hoosier, beating Ocean Colony, who is another good son of Somebeachsomewhere. I own his full sister (Romanceonthebeach); she is one of our broodmares.” Following Delaware, Fear The Dragon rebounded with a powerful performance to enter the Hoosier Park winner’s circle with a triumph in the $140,000 Elevation Stake on Sept. 24. He threw down a blistering last quarter-mile in :26.3 and his time of 1:50.4 just missed the track record. “Dragon injured his eye somehow before Lexington, that is why he raced in the fly mask,” Trogdon said. “He raced well, but it was really bothering him. “I rarely race my 2-year-olds late, so he was not staked to the Breeders Crown last year. We quit with him early and he had a great turnout at our farm.” The colt’s first race with the fly mask resulted in a seventh place finish in the Bluegrass Stakes at Red Mile, the only time he has been off the board. Fear The Dragon, however, bounced back with a second place finish to Huntsville in his world record equaling mile of 1:49 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes on Oct. 8. “He (Brown) shipped him to Florida the first of December and he is feeling good and training down great,” Trogdon said. “He is staked to a lot including the Adios, Little Brown Jug, Lexington and Breeders Crown, so we will have a chance to prove that he is no fluke. “I have turned down huge offers for him as everyone knows how good he was. He races very relaxed and can leave or come off the pace; he is very handy and has an effortless gait. That's why Dave (Miller) likes him so well. “We raised him and broke him at Emerald Highlands. We own his mother and she is back in foal to Dragon Again because we liked him so well. He is a good-looking, medium-sized horse with great conformation. His mother is a daughter of Mattaroni. I am hoping he becomes a great stallion himself and is the one to carry on the Dragon Again line. He would make a great outcross to practically my entire broodmare band.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor
HARRISBURG PA - One is a native of the heartland of U.S. harness racing, the Buckeye State of Ohio. One is a Swedish emigrant who is fiercely appreciative of the opportunities his adopted United States has given him. (Both do fine when they cross the border north to Canada, too.) Both are in their mid-50s. Both are members of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. David Miller and Jimmy Takter were the Driver and Trainer of the Year in 2015, respectively, their outstanding seasons cemented by quantity - six Breeders Crown wins for Takter, with Miller gaining five Crown sulky triumphs, including two for Takter. And in 2016, Takter and Miller are repeat winners in their respective categories as voted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA), both again having quality seasons up and down the board, but their highlight this time focused on quality - 2016 Harness Horse of the Year Always B Miki, author of the sport's fastest-ever mile, a 1:46 clocking at Lexington's famed Red Mile on October 9. "Miki" also had four victories in head-to-head matchups against 2015 Harness Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who had three in a months-long series of contests that had fans - and even "seen-it-all" horsemen - buzzing throughout North America. Of course, to earn top yearly accolades over their talented peers, both men accomplished much more than their successful collaboration with Always B Miki. Takter collected year-end honors not only with Always B Miki (also the Pacer of the Year) but with a repeat champion, the 3-year-old pacing filly Pure Country, and two 2-year-old fillies, pacer Idyllic Beach and trotter Ariana G (Takter also guided Ariana G's successful sophomore sister All The Time, and the two fillies' combined exploits earned breeders/owners Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz honors as the season's Breeders of the Year). That's four divisional winners in all -- no other trainer had more than one. Add in Breeders Crown-winning Bar Hopping, often right in the mix with Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder, among others and you see a powerhouse of a stable that earned Takter Trainer of the Year plaudits for the third year in a row, and sixth overall (1996, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016). While Takter is forthright and outfront with his opinions, David Miller, while no less insightful, by temperament would rather just go about his job quietly yet effectively - both factors showing up when he became only the third driver, behind John Campbell and Ron Pierce, to go over $200 million in career sulky earnings, as the feat came in May at Harrah's Philly with an undistinguished pacer named Hickory Chumley, who paid $82.80 to win. In this, his best season ever for earnings with more than $12.6 million bankrolled, Miller also had a large hand in the racetrack guidance of two other divisional award-winners: 3-year-old trotting filly Broadway Donna, a repeat champion, and the multi-major stake-winning 3-year-old pacing colt Betting Line. This is Miller's third Driver of the Year title: he won the inaugural award in 2003, and of course now has two straight in the category. Jimmy Takter and David Miller (and the many horses for whom they were an integral part of the road to success in 2016) will be honored at the "Night Of Champions," the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas. Information about the banquet and the entire weekend, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on the communicators' website, www.ushwa.org - including links for making hotel reservations at special rates at Planet Hollywood; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake Souvenir Banquet Journal, annually one of the best chronicles of a year in North American harness racing. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association
TORONTO, November 19 - Downbytheseaside got one back on harness racing rival Huntsville Saturday night in the $520,000 Governor's Cup at Woodbine Racetrack. The Brian Brown trained colt delivered a powerful performance to win the final major race of the season for two-year-olds in 1:51.1. Driven by David Miller, Downbytheseaside was unhurried at the start and got away fifth, directly behind Huntsville, the 1/5 favourite. Air Strike charged off the wings of the gate from post nine and put up an opening-quarter of :27.2. Huntsville got his cue to go from driver Tim Tetrick after the opening-quarter and rushed up to grab the front. However, Miller was not going to let the favourite get away and followed Huntsville to the front, ultimately clearing to command at the half in :55.2. Downbytheseaside and Huntsville began to edge away from their competition on the far turn, as the leader paced a solid third-quarter of :27.3 to reach three-quarters in 1:23. In the stretch, Huntsville angled off Miller's back and took his shot at glory, but Downbytheseaside was fired up and turned aside his rival to win by 3¼ lengths. Saturday's contest was the first start for both colts since Downbytheseaside finished runner-up to Huntsville in the Breeders Crown. "I was just kind of waiting to see what Tetrick did and when he moved I thought I better get with him," said Miller following the race. "My horse got to the front and he swells up when he is on the lead and he was very strong, I never pulled his plugs, he paced right through the wire." The Governor's Cup was the fifth meeting of the season between Downbytheseaside and Huntsville. The season series comes to an end with Huntsville holding a three to two advantage, but Downbytheseaside now has a signature victory to be held up against Huntsville's Breeders Crown score. "I honestly thought I was second best," Miller said post-race. "But I thought if the trip worked out or one of us got used pretty hard getting where they wanted to go, I maybe could pick it up. I was able to get to the front without too big of fractions and like I said he is a good horse." A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Downbytheseaside now has eight wins in 13 starts. The Brown trainee completes his rookie season with earnings of $644,706 for owners Country Club Acres Inc, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo. Huntsville's two-year-old season comes to a close with seven wins and four runner-up finishes in 11 starts. The Ray Schnittker trainee also by Somebeachsomewhere pocked over $700,000 for his connections this season. Third in the race at least seven lengths was Filibuster Hanover also by Somebeachsomewhere to make it a clean sweep by the champion son of Mach Three. Downbytheseaside and Huntsville each finish 2016 with the title of co-fastest two-year-old of all-time, as both took a mark of 1:49 in early-October at The Red Mile. The standout rookies finished one-two in all five of their meetings this season. A $2 win ticket on Downbytheseaside in the Governor's Cup returned $6.70. The top-five finishers in Saturday's rich contest were rounded out by Filibuster Hanover, Bettors Dream and Air Strike. Mark McKelvie
TORONTO, November 19 - Thats The Ticket charged home to win the $427,000 Three Diamonds for harness racing two-year-old pacing fillies at odds of 5-1 Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. The Chris Ryder trained pacing filly was able to convert off a perfect third-over trip from driver David Miller for her second win in 14 starts. Idyllic Beach, the 6-5 favourite, left out hard to grab command ahead of a pesky Someomensomewhere. The public's choice posted an opening-quarter of :27.2 and was unchallenged in the second-quarter to lead the field by the half in :56.4. Caviart Ally came first up just after the half and supplied cover to Candlelight Dinner from fifth and Thats The Ticket in sixth. The first-over challenger pulled up along side Idyllic Beach at three-quarters in 1:25.2. In the stretch, Thats The Ticket shot off cover and delivered a stunning stretch rally to fly by her rivals with powerful strides. The Ryder trainee crossed the wire first in 1:53.4, 3¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Idyllic Beach. Candlelight Dinner edged out Caviart Ally for third. Known as a front-end favouring racetrack, Thats The Ticket completely ignored the Woodbine track bias to win the Three Diamonds. "We had planned on just racing her off the end of it there and hopefully get some cover that takes us where we needed to go," said Miller post-race. "Passed the half when they all started moving I was hoping they would get up with the leader, which they did and everything worked out good, but I moved her over at the head of the stretch and she really dug." Thats The Ticket, a daughter of Roll With Joe from the Artsplace mare Art Account, has shown big closing speed throughout her rookie season, including last week's :26.4 kicker to finish second in her elimination. Miller was confident victory was within reach with an eighth of a mile to go. "About half way through (the stretch) she was almost up to the leader and starting to get wound up," noted Miller, who did not drive the Ryder trained filly in the elimination. "I was feeling pretty comfortable and she won pretty handy." Owned by Craig Henderson, Robert Mondillo and Lawrence Minowitz, Thats The Ticket now has two wins in 14 starts and earnings of $331,824 this season. She paid $13.70 to win. by Mark McKelvie
Columbus, OH --- Hall of Fame harness racing driver David Miller posted career victory No. 12,000 when he piloted Vegas Dream to a 1:54.4 victory in the 13th race on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 13) at Harrah's Philadelphia. Miller became just the fifth driver in North American harness racing history to reach the 12,000 victory plateau. He trails only Dave Palone, Tony Morgan, Herve Filion and Cat Manzi on the all-time win list. Earlier this season he joined John Campbell and Ron Pierce as the only drivers in harness racing history with more than $200 million in purses. He has ranked among the top five in purses in 16 of the last 17 years and currently sits in second place in that category in 2016 with $11.9 million. Miller also holds the record for most seasons with at least $10 million in purses, with 14, including this year. Miller, who was voted to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2013, has been named Driver of the Year in both 2003 and 2015. His first Driver of the Year honor came in 2003, when he was the regular driver of Pacing Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year No Pan Intended and led all drivers in purses with $11.49 million. He won a record 10 races at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Little Brown Jug Day that year, including the feature event with No Pan Intended, and also enjoyed successes during the season with the likes of Kikikatie, Kadabra, Modern Art, and Forever Starlet. In 2015, Miller won a record five Breeders Crown victories with trotting mare D’One, older male pacer Always B Miki, 3-year-old female pacer Divine Caroline, 3-year-old male trotter The Bank, and pacing mare Color’s A Virgin. Divine Caroline was voted the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer and Miller also was the regular driver behind Dan Patch Award winning 2-year-old female trotter Broadway Donna. In addition, he scored stakes wins in 2015 with Dan Patch Award honorees State Treasurer and Bee A Magician. “Those two years were pretty much equal,” Miller said earlier this year, comparing his two Driver of the Year campaigns. “That year with No Pan Intended, I won 10 races that day at Delaware. People still will bring that up from time to time. I’m sure down the road people will bring (the Breeders Crown) up. “It was quite an accomplishment to have that big a night on a night that is that big. It’s a little luck, and good horses, and everything kind of clicked. Nights like that I’ll cherish forever.” USTA Communications Department
East Rutherford, N.J. - Always B Miki ($2.10) will always be remembered as a harness racing champion. The fastest pacer in the history of harness racing capped his career in triumphant fashion, using a sustained first-over bid to overpower All Bets Off and sprint off to a 1:48.2 victory in the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Pace on Saturday (November 12) evening at The Meadowlands. David Miller moved Always B Miki first-over out of midfield after patiently stalking sizzling fractions of :25.4 and :54.1, making gradual gains into pacesetter All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) through the far turn. The 5-year-old Always a Virgin entire pushed to the fore in upper stretch, leaving All Bets Off well in his wake and evading eventual runner-up Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) by 4-1/4 lengths. Melmerby Beach (Marcus Miller) benefitted from the outer flow and saved third with a mild stand-side push over the tiring All Bets Off. Miller and trainer Jimmy Takter had nothing but glowing reports of Always B Miki's curtain call. "When I asked him, he took right off," said Miller. "Jimmy [Takter] has done a great job keeping him good all year, and I tell you what, he's good today as he's been all year. He's an incredible horse; he's a true champion." "It's a wonderful feeling standing here at our home track," said Takter. "He's just a wonderful horse to be around. He's so personable, anybody working with this horse just would love him." "It's nice to quit on the top, too," Takter concluded. "This horse has a future ahead of him, and it's going to be very, very exciting to train his offspring." Always B Miki wraps up his racing career with 30 wins in 53 starts--12 of those wins coming this year--as well as $2,719,368 in earnings for the Bluewood Stable, the Roll the Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. by James Witherite, Meadowlands
CHESTER PA - Photobombr Hanover never looked back from his outside post six in taking the final harness racing event in the John Simpson Sr. stakes series, the $74,000 two-year-old colt pace, on Sunday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, winning in a lifetime best 1:52.4. Hall of Fame driver David Miller hustled the freshman to the top in 27, then took a 30 second breather in the second quarter. Photobombr had to step it back up to 27.3 down the back to hold off a huge rush by first-over Point Somewherelse, did so successfully, and then kept pocketsitting Maconupwiththedragon at bay by 1¼ lengths through the lane with a final split of 28.1, with Pointsomewherelse another length back in third. Tom Fanning trains the four-time seasonal winner, bred by Hanover Shoe Farms (which Simpson Sr. helped grow and prosper for so many years), who increased his earnings just over the $80,000 mark, for owners Howard Taylor and Susan Kajfasz. The son of Somebeachsomewhere-Pilgrim's Witchie has a pedigree to show even more improvement, as his dam was one of four to win $200,000 out of six foals by his second dam Witchtree (who herself won $199,000+), and his fourth dam is the double-gaited world champion Countess Adios , whose brother has also had some impact on the breed - Meadow Skipper. Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Broadway Donna and David Miller continued to swoon the division by earning an easy win in the $500,000 Breeders Crown for harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies at The Meadowlands in 1:53.1. The Jim Campbell-trained daughter of Donato Hanover from the Broadway Hall mare Broadway Schooner, didn't make her move until mid-race and was never urged to coast down the stretch and win. Emoticon Hanover and Fad Finance left quickly from the gate with the former getting the top to cut tepid :28 first panel. Caprice Hill stalked those two in third until All The Time pulled to first over as the field went to a half in :56.3. All The Time got the best of Emoticon Hanover to take the lead and that's when Broadway Donna began to stride rapidly on the outside. Earn Your Wings picked up live cover but Broadway Donna was in full flight at three-quarters in 1:25.3, wearing down All The Time, who held for third, while Emoticon Hanover shook loose to get second. Owned by Fashion Farms LLC, Broadway Donna won the Breeders Crown final after a victory in her elimination, coming off a straight-heat score in the Kentucky Filly Futurity to register her seventh win in a dozen starts as a 3-year-old. Broadway Donna paid $3.60 to win. "I was hoping to get away somewhere in the middle and come with cover," said Miller, "but, right off the gate nobody from the inside was even pushing off, so I had to do something. I got around, and when Yannick [on All The Time] was moving back, I [knew] I was going to be first over. She really has [gotten better through the season]. She's way sharper now than she was half way through the summer, and that's always a good thing." "[Jules Siegel and I] are both very happy," remarked Campbell. "From Mr. Siegel's point of view, he bred her, and to have a filly like this and put her over one-million dollars lifetime [is incredible]. When you breed one and race one that does that for you, you're supposed to be happy. Jules is always extra proud of his homebreds." by Frank Cotolo, Hambletonian Society
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Always a champion. The much-anticipated showdown between the top two harness racing horses in the world lived up to the hype as Always B Miki forged ahead by three-quarters of a length to upend 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit to capture his second straight $421,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace at The Meadowlands. The 3-5 favorite Always B Miki, driven by David Miller and trained by Jimmy Takter, paid $3.20, 2.10, 2.10 and is the likely choice to take 2016 Horse of The Year honors. “We saw two great, great horses, fighting side by side down the stretch. To me, it was one of the better races, maybe the best ever had a horse participate in and it was so exciting to see it,” said Takter, who won his 29th Breeders Crown race to date. “When he dug in that little extra, that’s what a champion has. I am so proud of this horse and I’m speechless – what a horse. Two weeks from now (will be his last start in the TVG) and I hope everyone will come back. Everybody should see it, it’s going to be his last appearance here in the TVG, so wonderful to do this on his home track on a cold night like this. Fantastic feeling.” Wiggle It Jiggleit, with Montrell Teague aboard the 6-5 second choice, paid $2.20, 2.10 for second and Shamballa, with Scott Zeron aboard, paid 2.60 for third. “Me and Miki have been trading wins and losses back and forth all season,” said Teague, in just his second start in a Breeders Crown race. “One race isn’t going to deter me, I was happy with my horse, it was a big effort. There was a big headwind out there today and the horse got on the left line a little bit but from having all those difficult problems he still put in a game effort.” Wiggle It Jiggleit stormed to the lead right from the gate and led throughout with Always B Miki right at his heels in second place every step of the way until surging ahead to take the lead right at the wire. Always B Miki won in fractions of 27.1, 55.1, 1:22.1, and a finishing time of 1:49. Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki have met seven times this year with Always B Miki now leading the head-to-head matchup at 4-3. “I couldn’t be happier with him, he’s a tough horse,” said Miller. “He shows up and he was determined to get his head in front there.” Since returning to action last fall, Always B Miki has won 15 of 21 races, totaling 29 for his career and became the first horse to win the Open Pace in consecutive years since Bettor Sweet in 2011-12. Always B Miki’s other wins this year include the Ben Franklin Pace, William Haughton Memorial, Jim Ewart Memorial, and Hoosier Pacing Derby. Nineteen days ago, Always B Miki paced the fastest mile in harness racing history at Lexington’s Red Mile, winning the Allerage Farms Open Pace in 1:46, eclipsing Cambest’s mark of 1:46.1, which was set in a time trial at Springfield, Ill., in 1993. No horse had ever paced faster than 1:46.4 in a race. by Lou Monaco, Hambletonian Society
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Always B Miki, fastest harness racing horse of all time, easily won the $25,000 Open Pace at The Meadowlands on Oct. 21, a prep for the older division of male pacers' final next week. David Miller drove the champion again, winning in 1:48 for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christine Takter. Leaving from the 10 post (the 9 spot with the scratch of Art History), Miller took Always B Miki three wide around the first turn as Bushwacker, Luck Be Withyou, Bettors Edge and Americanprimetime fired hard to a :26.1 first quarter. As the shuffling continued among the four leavers, Always B Miki found a smooth path behind them as the half went in :53.4. By three-quarters in 1:21.1, Always B Miki was coasting down the stretch and easily won. Dealt A Winner was second and Artistic Major was third. By Frank Cotolo
The Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile is behind us, and it was a classic. Whether you privilege the breathtaking speed embodied in Always B Miki’s 1:46 world record win in the Allerage Open or the historical significance of the triumph by Marion Marauder in the Kentucky Futurity that capped the first Triple Crown season in a decade, nobody can cite a lack of drama. As one might expect, Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere, the dominant forces at the Lexington Selected Sale that paralleled the meet, also rode roughshod over the competition on the track. Muscle Hill’s progeny won eight stakes races/eliminations, while SBSW’s get won 15 of the same. This is in addition to the success they had in the late closers that filled out the cards. Muscle Massive and Donato Hanover were second to Muscle Hill with four stakes wins each, while Art Major played second fiddle to SBSW, also with four. Appropriately enough, Marion Marauder, our new Trotting Triple Crown winner, is a son of Muscle Hill. He won for Scott Zeron and the extended Wellwood family. This was the young stallions first Kentucky Futurity credit. The new speed king, Always B Miki, who won for David Miller and Jimmy Takter, is by the 12-year-old Indiana sire Always A Virgin, a successful regional stallion who has had limited exposure to the Grand Circuit. Miki broke the 1:46.4 race record shared by He’s Watching, Holborn Hanover, SBSW and Warrawee Needy as well as Cambest’s 23-year-old 1:46.1 time trial mark. Tim Tetrick won the most races at the meet: nine stakes and eight late closers. His most impressive win was Thursday’s 1:51.3 world record score by the impressive Chapter Seven freshman Walner for Linda Toscano and Ken Jacobs. This was only his fifth start, after taking two in the NYSS and a Kindergarten leg. He knocked a tick off of Southwind Frank’s 2015 mark. This colt is trending straight up. What Frank was to the 2015 meet, Walner was to this one. David Miller, who laid the foundation for his 2015 Driver of the Year award with a big closing day at last year’s Red Mile meet, may have done the same on Sunday with wins behind Darlinonthebeach in the Garnsey, Broadway Donna in the Filly Futurity and Always B Miki in the Allerage. Overall, he was second to Tetrick with seven stakes wins, in addition to scoring in a pair of late closers. Last year he sealed the deal with five wins on the Breeders Crown program at Woodbine two weeks after the Red Mile meet. Whether he recreates that feat at The Meadowlands this year or not, his numbers, in a season where he took the winter off, combined with the quality of his wins, make him the favorite to repeat as DOY. Andy Miller won five stakes, four of them for his wife Julie and one for Ross Croghan, as well as one late closer. Yannick Gingras also won five stakes, just as he did last year, but was blanked in the late closers this time. Corey Callahan, Brett Miller and Marcus Miller each had four stakes wins. The latter won three splits of the ISS on Saturday, all for his dad, with two of them, the SBSW filly Zane Hanover and the Art Major colt, Chip Walther, paying $189.80 and $84.80, respectively. Ake Svanstedt, Charlie Norris and Scott Zeron each had three stakes wins, with the latter also taking four late closers. Jimmy Takter topped all trainers with eight stakes wins, including that record mile by Always B Miki. Just as David Miller is primed to once again overcome Yannick’s earnings lead in the DOY contest, Takter may again overcome Ron Burke’s huge plurality in wins and money in the TOY race. Ron Burke had five stakes wins, including an upset in a Tattersalls split by the 20/1 Art Major colt, Stolen Glimpse, for Brian Sears. Last year Burke only won four of the high-dollar races, but he had eight second place finishes in them. On Sunday his Crazy Wow was second in the Allerage Open at 13/1, while Big Top Hanover was second in the Tattersalls Pace at 28/1. And Southwind Frank was nosed out by Marion Marauder in the Futurity. So the money was still rolling in. Julie Miller, Ake Svanstedt and Erv Miller each had four stakes wins, while Charlie Norris and Jim Campbell won three apiece. Tony Alagna, who had 5 stakes wins last year, including the Tattersalls Pace with Artspeak, had only 2 this time, although he did win 6 late closers. 54% of the stakes winners were bred in Pennsylvania, while 21% were from New York and 16% from New Jersey. Most of the latter are by Muscle Hill, who now stands in PA, and that must be taken into consideration. Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Ontario had one each, and one was by the French stallion, Love You. The Ontario SS Super Finals take place over the weekend so participation by that sector in Lexington is minimal. On the trotting side, there were eight for Muscle Hill, four each for Donato Hanover and Muscle Massive, three each for Cantab Hall and Credit winner, two for Andover Hall and the rest with one apiece. In 2015 Cantab Hall had 5 wins to 3 for Muscle Hill. As was the case this year three-quarters of the trot wins went to PA stallions. Somebeachsomewhere’s domination was more extreme than that of Muscle Hill. His progeny won 15 high-dollar stakes to four for Art Major and one each for all the rest. That amounts to a ridiculous 55% win rate for the 11-year-old son of Mach Three. This served as a marked contrast to last year when SBSW’s get had only three wins and New York pacing stallions dominated Pennsylvania by an 11 to 6 margin. American Ideal had no stakes credits this year, after accumulating four in 2015. Lots of juicy payoffs, aside from the pair from Marcus Miller and one from Sears/Burke already mentioned. The Crazed colt Shake It Off Lindy paid $29.60 for Tetrick and Antonacci in a Bluegrass split; the Yankee Glide filly Overdraft Volo paid $49.20 in another Bluegrass split for Andy and Julie Miller; the RNR Heaven colt Rock The Boat paid $38.20 in a Bluegrass division; the Credit Winner filly Bankette paid $73.60 for David Miller in a LC; the Donato filly Temple Ruins paid $30.60 in an ISS split for Brian Sears; and Gingras’ Cantab Hall filly Dancing IN The Hall paid $98.60 in a Filly Futurity elimination…. The most interesting winner was the Florida bred sophomore filly pacer Prairie Sweetheart, who was supplemented to the Allerage Mare and smoked her more accomplished foes in 1:49.1 for Matt Kakaley and Ross Croghan. Her sire, Royal Millennium, is an obscure 17-year-old son of Run The Table, whose granddam is a full sister to the great Sonsam. Prairie Sweetheart has won all 12 lifetime starts. There were some short fields, the Allerage Mare Trot had to be cancelled due to a lack of entries, and there was some wind and rain to contend with, but on the whole the record setting numbers at the sale were mirrored by some of the same on the track. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
Always Be Miki fastest harness racing horse in history 1:46 26.1 - 52:2 - 1:19.4 - 1:46 LEXINGTON, KY-- Making his move for the top midway down the backstretch, Always B Miki set fast fractions before driver David Miller implored him through the stretch, advancing to win the $138,000 Allerage Farms Open Pace at The Red Mile in an all-time record mile of 1:46. Always B Miki got away third as Shamballa was sent to the lead through a :26.1 opening quarter. David Miller showed Always B Miki the whip and he rushed first over to claim command to the half, timed in :52.2. He continued his sprint around the far turn, passing three-quarters in 1:19.4 before being chased home by Shamballa and All Bets Off in the stretch. A five-year-old horse by Always A Virgin out of the Artsplace mare Artstopper, Always B Miki won his 27th race in 50 starts, earning $2,296,368 for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter. He is trained by Jimmy Takter and paid $2.10 to win. "It's a moment I'm never going to forget," Jimmy Takter said. "You don't get horses like this for long, and it's definitely emotional to be around him. I can't wait to see him as a stallion. His personality and everything about him will be well-received through the sport. He's not the easiest horse because he had a lot of injuries, but what this horse overcame every single day nobody else did. "He has the Breeders Crown and TVG Final; those are the only two races left for him." "I really thought the three-quarters was maybe a little too slow," David Miller said. "But like I've said: he's an incredible horse and does incredible things. I couldn't be happier with him." Always Be Miki - World Record Circling by Frost Damage Blues and Lady Shadow as they battled around the far turn, Praire Sweetheart advanced to the front and defeated her older rivals to win the $112,500 Allerage Farms Filly & Mare Pace in 1:49.1. Lady Shadow set the pace, going fractions of :26.4 and :54.4 before receiving pressure from Frost Damage Blues, pulling first over from fourth, into the far turn. The two matched strides through a 1:22.2 third-quarter before Frost Damage Blues took the top. Lady Shadow retreated at the pylons while Prairie Sweetheart moved three wide, powering by Frost Damage Blues at the eighth pole. Prairie Sweetheart finished in front of Bedroomconfessions and Venus Delight, who stormed down the center of the track to finish second and third respectively. Prairie Sweetheart, a three-year-old filly by Royal Millennium out of the Masterman mare Taylors Lady, remained undefeated in 12 starts with her lifetime-best win. She has earned $155,024 for owner Let It Ride Stables Inc. and trainer Ross Croghan. Driven by Matt Kakaley, she paid $14.80 to win. We recently purchased her," Ross Croghan said. "I got a call from a friend of mine up at Pocono, and he said 'I just saw a filly that looked fantastic.' I watched the replay, and I had to agree with him, so I watched her again the next week, and the next week, and I just thought this filly has something special. "We actually purchased her the day before I was going to leave for the [Little Brown] Jug. I was going to be away for a month and I didn't want to be away from her for that amount of time, so I brought her with me. "We gave her a qualifier here last week just to see how she was and Matty [Kakaley] said she was super and that there were two seconds up her sleeve if he ever wanted to use it," Croghan also said. "I spoke to the owners, and they're both here enjoying the week in Lexington, so they opted to pop up with the supplement and watch the race, and it worked out in our favor." Prairie Sweetheart Flanagan Memory fanned off cover and trotted down the center of the track to take the $101,000 Allerage Farms Open Trot in 1:51.2. Jl Cruze was sent to the lead, clearing early race-leader Muscial Rhythm through a :27.2 opening quarter. After a :55 half, Jl Cruze braced the challenge of Obrigado into the far turn. They were stride for stride after a :21.4 third-quarter before Jl Cruze reemerged to the lead. Crazy Wow, tracking Obrigado from second over, edged three wide and trotted by Jl Cruze to take the lead before Flanagan Memory and Brian Sears rushed down the course to grab command. Crazy Wow took second, while Jl Cruze held third. A six-year-old horse by Kadabra out of the Yankee Glide mare Classy Stacy, Flanagan Memory won his 18th race in 65 tries, compiling $1,163,070 for owners Liette Flanagan and trainer Rene Dion. He paid $5.00 to win. "I was real happy to be third over," Brian Sears said. "I was just hoping Mark [MacDonald on Obrigado] went out a little bit and didn't wait too long for Ake [Svanstedt on Centurion Atm] to make a decision. This horse loves to finish up in the last quarter, so we were in a good position." "He has gotten better and better through the years. I was fortunate to drive him a year ago and win the [John] Cashman at the Meadowlands. He was a little disappointing in Canada a couple of weeks ago [in the Maple Leaf Trot], but I'm glad we're going in on a positive note; we have the International Trot coming up." Flanagan Memory By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile
LEXINGTON, KY-- Darlinonthebeach kicked off her cover at the top of the stretch and sprinted to a 1:48.1 harness racing victory to win one of two divisions of the $213,500 Glen Garnsey Memorial on Sunday, Oct. 9 at The Red Mile. Getting away fifth as Penpal cleared command in :26.2, Darlinonthebeach flushed Rock Me Baby first over at the half, timed in :55. Blue Moon Stride, having brushed to the top after yielding to Penpal at the quarter, was challenged by Rock Me Baby at three-quarters in 1:22.1. Darlinonthebeach tipped off her cover at the head of the stretch and drew away from the field in the stretch. Kiss Me Onthebeach closed down the center of the track to take second, while Penpal slid up the pylons for third. A three-year-old filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Bettor's Delight mare Darlin's Delight, Darlinonthebeach won her 12th race in 28 starts, amassing $830,823 for owner White Birch Farms. Trained by Nancy Johansson and driven by David Miller, she paid $3.00. "It worked out just the way I wanted it to there," David Miller said. "We had a bit of a pace on the lead and she felt comfortable the whole way; felt like I had a lot of horse. She's an all-round professional; she's pretty handy and will do whatever you want to do. "She was a bit of a bully earlier in the year and we've worked with her. She has learned how to race and she's a big strong horse who can carry her speed really good. I couldn't be happier for Marcus and Nancy and all the connections with her. I've always been a big fan of her; I've been high on her all season. It started out a little rough, but I kept telling them it was going to get better." Darlinonthebeach Sent the 1-2 favorite, Pure Country stalled in her first over bid around the far turn before hitting her best stride and storming by pacesetter Call Me Queen Be to win the other division of the Glen Garnsey in 1:48.2. Leading through splits of :27.1, :55, and 1:21.4, Call Me Queen Be held an uncontested lead. Pure Country was first over but about two lengths off the lead at the top of the stretch, chasing Call Me Queen Be along with pocket-sitter Lakeisha Hall and Lindwood Beachgirl behind her. Pure Country drifted towards the center of the track as she edged past Call Me Queen Be to win. Winning her 18th race in 28 starts, Pure Country, a three-year-old filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, has earned $1,649,968 for owner Diamond Creek Racing. She's trained by Jimmy Takter, was driven by Brett Miller, and paid $3.00 to win. "She's a pure champion," Jimmy Takter said. "It's not easy to stay at the highest [tier] throughout the year. She hasn't been undefeated, but at the same token, this has been a great, great group of three-year-old fillies this year." "She has been really good to us and we take it one race at a time," Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Racing said. "We'll make a decision [on her career] when the season's over." Pure Country By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile
Tim Tetrick was the top driver at the first week of the Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile; he won seven splits of the Bluegrass and five late closers. Last year, including both weekends at Lexington, Tetrick won six stakes and eleven late closers. His 1:52.3 win on Sunday over John Campbell and Per Henriksen’s tough 8/1 shot Blenheim, a Yankee Glide colt coming off a win in the Bucket, was one of the best races of the opening stretch. We should see both of them in Sunday’s Kentucky Futurity. Tetrick also had a good win with Huntsville on the rainy Saturday night card. The freshman Somebeachsomewhere colt, an already more fully realized version of his brothers Stevensville and Cowboy Terrier, was a handy 1:53 winner at 4/5 for owner-trainer Ray Schnittker. SBSW was the star pacing stallion with eight Bluegrass wins—six of them on Saturday night. Jimmy Takter’s colt Blood Line bottomed the field in 1:52.1 over the off track for David Miller as the 6/5 favorite. In similar fashion to Huntsville, he’s full to Blood Brother, who hasn’t fulfilled his early promise. Andy Miller had four Bluegrass wins, while Corey Callahan and David Miller had three each. The latter also had a pair of late closer wins. Last year David Miller’s performance at Lexington propelled him to his driver of the year award. He had a strong second week with wins in the Allerage Mare stakes with Color’s A Virgin and D’One as well as both splits of the Tattersalls Filly with Rock Me Gently and Divine Caroline. He won seven stakes and four late closers overall. Jimmy Takter is making no secret of the fact that he is sending Miller out to break the world record with Always B Miki in the Allerage Open. Whether that’s simply the 1:46.4 race record or Cambest’s twenty-three-year old 1:46.1 mark, we don’t know. Cracking either barrier would give Miller, who is having an excellent year, momentum in his quest for another Driver of the Year title. Brett Miller was the top driver in Lexington last year, with eight stakes wins and one late closer. After week one he has a single Bluegrass win, with the Art Major filly, Roaring To Go, who upset 1/9 Idyllic Beach in a $73,000 division, although he has captured four late closers. Two years ago money leader Yannick Gingras won sixteen stakes and four late closers at The Red Mile. That dropped to a more modest five and one, respectively, last year. In week one he won Bluegrass divisions with Jimmy Takter’s freshman trotting filly, Princess Aurora, and Ron Burke’s money machine Check Six. Yannick will be highly motivated in week two. Andy Miller won four stakes, three of them in conjunction with his wife Julie. He treated those who bet on him well as the freshman Yankee Glide filly Overland Hanover paid $49.20 on Friday and Ross Croghan’s Rock N Roll Heaven colt Rock The Boat paid $38.20 on Saturday night. Andy capped off his weekend with an eye opening win with the Donato Hanover colt Sutton on Sunday. The winner of the Zweig crushed his competition by four lengths in 1:52 at odds of 1/5. Sutton may add some excitement to Sunday’s Futurity. Newly minted Hall-of-Famer Brian Sears was saddled with dead stock and managed only one late closer win. Jimmy Takter, who led the trainers with four stakes wins, won 13 over the two weeks two years ago and seven last year. Two of his Bluegrass winners, Bar Hopping and Western Fame, should be players in the Futurity and Tattersalls, and you can bet he’ll have plenty entered in the ISS. Julie Miller had three stakes winners, which have already been mentioned, while Ake, Trond, Charlie Norris and Ron Burke had two each. The latter only had four last year, although he also had eight second place stakes finishes. He won nine in 2014. Muscle Hill led the trotters in stakes wins, with three on Thursday from freshmen Long Tom, Fly On and New Jersey Viking, and one on Sunday from Bar Hopping. Muscle Massive had three, a two-year-old colt and two fillies. Andover Hall, Cantab Hall and Donato Hanover had two each. On Thursday Dover Dan, a two-year-old Andover Hall colt out of the great CR Kay Suzie won a Bluegrass split in 1:55 for Corey Callahan and John Butenschoen. Suzie, who hasn’t matched her success on the track as a broodmare, is currently 24-years-old. The next day That’s All Moni, a freshman three-quarter sister to Snow White, won a stake in 1:54.4 at 4/5 for Tim Tetrick and Jimmy Takter. Celebrity Eventsy and Broadway Donna both disappointed on Sunday, and Ginny Weasley (Andover Hall) and Fad Finance (Credit Winner) picked up the pieces. On the pacing side, the SBSW filly Darlinonthebeach, who won the Shady Daisy and Valley Forge, put in a strong 1:50.2 mile on the front end for David Miller and Nancy Johansson. The Rocknroll Hanover filly Blue Moon Stride also won in wire to wire fashion for Andrew McCarthy and Mark Harder. Owner Emilio Rosati was ecstatic in the winner’s circle. And Mark MacDonald sent the lightly raced Western Ideal colt Western Fame, who recently won a Jug elimination, down the road and never looked back. He won a neck in 1:50.3 for Jimmy Takter. I can’t wait for round two. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.
ANDERSON, Ind.-September 25, 2016 - The majority of the members of the Hoosier Park audience were in attendance to witness a show of superb speed and unrivalled power. They certainly received what they traveled to the Anderson harness racing oval to witness, as Always B Miki paced yet another tour-de-force in a facile triumph in the $170,000 Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. "I think he and Wiggle It Jiggleit are horses before their time," said David Miller, who steered the 5-year-old stallion through his mile. "They are just not like any other horses we have seen before. We will see other horses that come along like them as time goes on with their speed and how far they can carry it, but right now they stand alone." The overwhelming public selection at 1-9, Always B Miki and Miller left from the rail and went straight to the front. Freaky Feet Pete and Trace Tetrick were right on their heels from post position three as those two horses clicked off a first-quarter mile of :26.2. Miller and Always B Miki pulled comfortably away from Freaky Feet Pete to lead by a length at the half-mile pole in :55. At that juncture, Dealt A Winner with Aaron Merriman at the controls and Always At My Place in rein to Ricky Macomber Jr., made their bids for the front, with Dealt A Winner passing Freaky Feet Pete to take second and locking the 4-year-old stallion in the pocket. After three-quarters in 1:22.3, the six horse field entered in the stretch with Always B Miki and Miller still reigning supreme. As they were set down for the final push to the wire, Freaky Feet Pete's only option for victory was the passing lane, while it appeared Dealt A Winner and Always At My Place, had far too much real estate to cover to even draw even with the leader. Tetrick and Freaky Pete punched through the inside to give chase and despite a :25.4 final quarter panel on their part, it was simply not enough to relegate Always B Miki to their rearview mirror prior to the finish line. Miller and Always B Miki crossed the finish line in 1:48.2. Like Freaky Feet Pete, Always B Miki came home in :25.4, yet it appeared the stallion could have went much more swiftly if Miller had truly asked for what remained in reserve. After a valiant effort, Freaky Feet Pete was second with Always Bets Off rushing from sixth to claim the show position over the fading Dealt A Winner. Owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, world and Indiana champion Always B Miki, is conditioned by Christina's husband Jimmy. The son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper, paid a paltry $2.10 for a trip around the Anderson oval that truly demonstrated his hooves step in rarefied air, with the exacta paying $4.20 and the trifecta $18.00. After the winner's circle festivities were complete, Miller solemnly stated what over recent months is beginning to become very obvious. "I have driven a lot of very good horses over the years," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time, but this horse has to rank up there with the best of them and he may be the best." **By: Kim French, for Hoosier Park**