Ron Burke trainees finished 1-2-3 in the inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic Final for state-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Check Six going a big mile on the front end to reduce his mark a tick to 1:50.3, while in the harness racing companion filly event, the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Final, Pure Country bounced back from her first loss in the previous week's elimination race, going the first-over route and still matching the 1:50.3 clocking of Check Six. Check Six was three-wide a good part of the first turn, then when The Catamount Kid backed off from between horses, Check Six was sent to the front by driver Yannick Gingras to go around stablemate Big Top Hanover, with the first quarter of 27.2 not too taxing despite the extra real estate. Check Six got a further breather when the half was tripped in 56.1. The price of pacing went up exponentially down the backstretch when another Burkeite, Check Six's fellow Classic elim winner JK Will Power, advanced to give a stern first-over challenge. The ¾ was tripped in 1:23.1, and then despite going into a stretch headwind the battling duo still stormed in 27.2, with Check Six holding off JK Will Power, let go at a surprising 12-1, by a neck, with Big Top Hanover another 1¼ lengths back. The Catamount Kid held for fourth, with Lyons Snyder, a slight favorite over the winner with both sent off at 2.10-1, unable to capitalize on second-over position and settling for the last check. Trainer Ron Burke took home $488,850 of the rich purse in the Classic, while Check Six became the second-largest moneywinner of the year by boosting his 2016 bankroll to $301,250, with his career bankroll for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin at $416,139. Yannick Gingras, who drove both elim winners for Burke, picked Check Six for his Classic mount, "but the choice was closer than I would have thought earlier - JK Will Power really showed me a lot last week, and he was big again tonight." But Check Six came up biggest of all at the finish and took in the glory of winning the first Pennsylvania Classic. ********** She's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k! Pure Country, last year's champion two-year-old filly who suffered her first loss in a Miss Pennsylvania elim in her seasonal debut, looked like a filly who could rank with the greats when she overcame a hard first-over trip to win the Miss PA Final in the same time as Check Six, a new lifetime mark. Pure Country settled midpack early as Call Me Queen Be went a stinging 25.2 first quarter, then yielded to 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach (Pure Country was the 2-1 second choice, the first time she had gone off higher than 3-5 in her career). Darlinonthebeach went on to the half in 53.3, with driver Brett Miller having Pure Country in gear first-over at that point and advancing the length of the backstretch to be right in contention at the 1:21.3 ¾. Pure Country just kept on advancing the turn, gaining the lead past the curve's midpoint, and continued on strongly through the lane, holding off the late rush of second-over I Said Diamonds by 1¼ lengths, with Call Me Queen Be, Newborn Sassy, and I Said Please getting the minor awards in that order; the favored pacesetter Darlinonthebeach tired and finished seventh. Speaking of her Miss Pennsylvania elim loss, trainer Jimmy Takter noted that "she had been a little sick and I had lost two weeks" of preparation for her 2016 bow. The "real" Pure Country showed up at Pocono Saturday, and the smiles on the faces of Takter and owner Adam Bowden of the Diamond Creek operation were big indeed. (And yes, both winners were second choices, both won in 1:50.3, and both took new marks. The styles of the two races, though, couldn't have been more different.) ************ In the race before the two Pennsylvania stakes finals, the American Ideal gelding Bigtown Hero, no stranger to extreme speed when at his prime, went the fastest mile in North American harness racing this year, 1:48.1, in an $18,000 pace. Simon drove the Hero like he was the best, and the horse validated his judgement, moving to the lead after a 26.2 opener and then hanging out middle splits of 53.4 and 1:20.3 before holding of the late charge of Aslan to win for Simon's brother, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin. PHHA / POCONO
Dublin, Ireland - The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Committee is proud to announce today that North America's leading dash winning driver in 2015, Aaron Merriman, is committed to coming to Ireland for the Delaney Memorial Weekend, August 13 and 14, 2016. "I was shocked when I got the invite," Merriman said. "I have read about the race, knew that George Brennan went last year and had a great time and now I am getting to come over this year, what a great honor this is." The 37-year-old Ohio native is coming off a career-best harness racing season in 2015, capturing his first North American driving title and earning a personal-high $7.40 million in purses. His 873 victories last year were the most for a dash-winning champion since Tony Morgan's 959 triumphs in 2008. Merriman is one of only three drivers --- joining Morgan and Tim Tetrick --- to win at least 800 races in back to back years. In 2014, Merriman won 841 times, but finished six victories behind Ronnie Wrenn Jr. for the No. 1 spot. Over the past 10 years, Merriman has won an average of 618 races per season. "Our committee board was ecstatic that Aaron agreed without even flinching to come over for the VDM this year." Said Derek Delaney, who along with his brother James, developed the Vincent Delaney Memorial in honor of their younger brother who tragically passed away in 2011. "Aaron is a world-class driver," Delaney added, "And we are sure to show him a great time here both on and off the track. He will be sure to have some good drives at Portmarnock Raceway both on Saturday and Sunday." The Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial is for two-year-old pacers with elimination divisions on Saturday and the finals on Sunday. For the first time this season there will be a separate filly division, sponsored by Diamond Creek Farm in the USA. Also on the program that weekend is the Oakwood Stud Derby, the Paul Murtagh, Sr. Memorial, The RocknRoll Heaven/Pet Rock Irish-American FFA sponsored by Joe Bellino and the Bellino Stable plus other big stakes events. When it comes to his heritage, Aaron says he will fit in just fine. "My father's family is British and my mother is Swedish and Irish," Aaron said. "I think I will fit in perfectly. "I'm VERY eager to experience another continent with harness racing," Aaron said. "I've never left North America before. I've checked out some of the history of this race and have read about the great enthusiasm and real love for our sport that they have and it is so heartwarming. "Harness racing is definitely a sport where people are joined together all around the world," Aaron said. "To be offered this opportunity to represent America and show my patronage to Ireland and the UK horsemen and fans is once in a lifetime and I was not going to pass it by. I'll thoroughly embrace my days there." Merriman is already on a roll in 2016. He has a commanding lead in the driving standings in North America with 214 wins, 54 ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Bartlett. And Merriman has $1.5 million in purses won already with a Universal Driving Rating at an impressive .356, second only to Bartlett. "Missing a week of racing back home is nothing compared to the adventure that awaits me in Ireland," Aaron said. "I can't wait for the second week of August to come. And I will not be homesick because Roger Huston will be there calling the races!" For more information visit www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com. By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial
Addington are excited to announce renowned stallion proprietors, Diamond Creek Farm, USA are the proud new sponsor of the Group One $200,000 New Zealand Derby. Adam Bowden, CEO of Diamond Creek Farm is delighted to be partnering with Addington. “We are a firm supporter of the breeding industry in the Southern Hemisphere and sponsoring the prestigious New Zealand Derby is an excellent fit for us as our stallion ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ is the first pacer in the harness racing history to be the winner of 3 consecutive sub 1:48 races, with two of these being Canadian Derby’s.” Adam continued to state “after A Rocknroll Dance served a full book in 2014 in the Northern Hemisphere, he was then able to stand in the Southern Hemisphere at Nevele R/Alabar Studs. There he was bred to over 300 mares between New Zealand and Australia, making him an in demand stallion. Upon returning to the states for the 2015 year, ‘Dance’ has once again been fully booked. With such an outstanding first crop in both hemispheres, ‘A Rocknroll Dance’s’ continued success and popularity looks bright.” This year Sweet Lou followed his stable mate and travelled down under, joining the roster at Woodlands Stud. “By partnering with studs in the Southern Hemisphere, the potential reach of these great champions will be limitless.” stated Adam. ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ New Zealand Derby will be held at Addington on Friday, 8 April. For more details on nominations and conditions of ‘A Rocknroll Dance’ New Zealand Derby please visit addington.co.nz/racing/promotions-incentives/. Alternatively, please call Brian, Richard or Colin of Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094. Keryn McElroy
Diamond Creek Farm announced today that the book for harness racing World Champion and "Pacer of the Year" Sweet Lou is now full and closed for the upcoming breeding season. "He closed just as quickly this year as he did last year, during his first season at stud," said Diamond Creek owner Adam Bowden. "I think it speaks very well of the confidence breeders have in him, not only in regard to his siring potential, but in the enthusiasm that's expected from buyers when his foals sell as yearlings," he added. Sweet Lou p,1:47f ($3,478,894), by Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future, is the only horse in history to pace six consecutive winning miles faster than 1:48. He was a World Champion and Dan Patch Champion as a 2-year-old and was voted "Pacer of the Year" as a 5-year-old in 2014. He has stood for a fee of $7,500. He booked full in 2015--his first season at stud in the U.S.--and repeated the feat Down Under. Those mares from Australia and New Zealand included the 3 and 4-year-old champion Adore Me, a winner of A$1,677,032 and 1:47.7 mile track record holder. With this year's book including big names like I Luv The Nitelife, Somwherovrarainbow, Ginger And Fred, and the dam of the undefeated 2015 Dan Patch Champion 2-year-old filly Pure Country, Sweet Lou's popularity continues to shine. "We'll start seeing his first foals any time now," Bowden said. "We look forward to welcoming the 'baby blazes' and expect them to be just as athletic and charismatic as their sire." Breeders and fans may follow the siring career of the original "Great White Blaze" on Twitter @greatwhiteblaze. Diamond Creek Farm For further information contact Adam Bowden: (859) 707-5987, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Between the worldwide financial crisis and the anticipated end of the slots-at-racetracks program in Ontario, 2012 was a year when stud fees fell at a disturbing rate; those that managed to maintain their 2011 price level were considered lucky. And while many 2016 fees have yet to be announced, those that have dribbled out give every indication that 2016 will be somewhat similar to 2012. Hanover keeps the highest profile in the sport; Pennsylvania is home to a lucrative sire stakes program and a state where one expects to find Grand Circuit worthy stock. Cantab Hall, Captaintreacherous, Donato Hanover, Western Ideal and Explosive Matter will roll over their 2015 fees, while Somebeachsomewhere, Well Said, Muscle Massive and Andover Hall will see reductions. There will be no increases. Contrast that with last year when SBSW was the only Hanover stallion to see a reduction, and Muscle Massive’s fee actually went up. (Crazed was shipped back to New York). Well Said shows the deepest cut as his $15,000 fee, which has remained intact since he joined the Hanover stallion brigade in 2010, has been cut in half. Uffizi Hanover was the most productive issue from his first crop; she won the BC at two and the Fan Hanover at three, but she didn’t accomplish a whole lot beyond that. Tellitlikeitis was the top male; he won a Cup elimination and experienced some success in the PASS. Well Said has no millionaire offspring. Lost For Words is his richest son, and his claim to fame is winning a heat of the Jug. He also won the Standardbred and splits of the Bluegrass and ISS at two. Control The Moment won this year’s Metro and Nassagaweya and is his top freshman to date. Well Said sold a sale topping 61 yearlings at Harrisburg, at an average that was down 10% from last year. He should be popular at $7,500. SBSW’s fee has been up and down like a yoyo. He was at $20,000 in 2011; dropped to $15,000 in 2012; back up to $20,000 the following year; jumped again, to $30,000 in 2014; down to $25,000 this year; and drops down again to $20,000 in 2016. He leads North America in gross earnings for two-year-old pacers and average earnings for the same group. And he leads in average earnings for the three-year-olds. Pure Country is the top freshman filly in NA, but SBSW comes up short at the top end of all other age/class groups—star power is lacking. The closest he’s come to duplicating himself is Captain T and that one is much better than the rest. There were 39 fewer registered foals in 2015 than there were the previous year, but still there were 91 of them. He led all pacing stallions at the Lexington and Harrisburg sales. The superstar pacer’s book remained open throughout 2015. Seeing his fee drop $10,000 in two years is alarming in some respects, but prospective breeders will be thrilled. Muscle Massive, whose second crop was a big disappointment, sees his fee drop 46% to $4,000. And 16-year-old Andover Hall drops 20% to $8,000. He was at $30,000 back in 2008, but has been at $10,000 for the past few years. Nuncio raced in Europe this year, and Magic Tonight was off his form when he returned to NA. Kathy Parker generated early interest, and she won money, but a split of the Liberty Bell was her best win. The first crop of A Rocknroll Dance won’t race until 2017, but Diamond Creek dropped his fee from $6,000 to $5,000. And Father Patrick, who served a limited book in New Jersey at $30,000 this year, moves home to Pennsylvania at $20,000. His less than stellar foray into the aged ranks probably didn’t help. Ponder, who had a terrible year, drops from $4,000 to $3,500. Sweet Lou remains at $7,500 for his second season. New York, which is, along with Pennsylvania, a lucrative source for sire stakes cash, is also showing signs that its stud fee structure is adjusting to market forces. Blue Chip Farms is top dog in the Empire State and Art Major and Credit Winner have been the most expensive pacing and trotting stallions, respectively, in the state for some time. Art Major held steady at $15,000 until 2013 when his fee dropped to $12,000. In 2016 the sire of JK She’salady and JK Endofanera will stand for a further reduced $10,000. And Credit Winner, who jumped from $12,000 to $14,000 in 2014 and remained there last year, will be dropping 28% to $10,000 in 2016. American Ideal will stay at $10,000. Credit Winner, who was third on the two-year-old NYSS money list this year and second among the sophomores, got hammered at Harrisburg. And his average also dropped by $19,000 in Lexington. The high ticket individual sales that have buoyed him up until now abandoned him. Top tier performers have also been missing. NYSS rank means little: four of the top five trotting stallions on the three-year-old list are all experiencing stud fee cuts. Lucky Chucky, Crazed and Conway Hall are the other three. The latter leads both lists and his fee will be reduced by a third. And Lucky Chucky’s fee has gone from $7,500 in 2014 to $6,000 this year to $4,000 next year. Crazed gets his annual haircut, dropping from $5,000 to $4,000. Art Major was top five among two and three-year-olds in the NYSS. JK She’salady retired and Travel Playlist lost his mojo in the fall, but JK End won the TVG, Allerage Open and Dan Patch. The sixteen-year-old stallion showed modest gains at the sales. However, his registered foal count was down 47 between 2013 and 2014. Rocknroll Heaven, who was standing for $8,500 at Blue Chip, is now available for $6,500 in New Jersey. The sales weren’t kind to him and his sons have been slow to come around, but he does have the top two fillies on the sophomore money list for that division, presumptive division winner Divine Caroline, and recent Matron champ, Sassa Hanover. Trixton will remain at $12,000 in New Jersey, where the sire stakes program has been restructured for the sake of volume and diversity. The 2016 fees for the Midwestern states on the come—Ohio and Indiana—haven’t shown up yet. Rockin Image, the sire of Freaky Feet Pete jumped $500 to $4,000 in 2015, while Miki’s daddy Always A Virgin made the same move the previous year. Ontario seems to be back on its feet. Bettor’s Delight and Muscle Mass have returned and Royalty For Life, He’s Watching, E L Titan, Archangel and Betterthancheddar have been added to the mix over the past two years. Kadabra saw his fee drop from $15,000 US to $12,000 US in 2014 and it looks like it will remain there. So to this point fees are taking a hit in Pennsylvania, where the politicians have been applying pressure to the tracks and horsemen, and in New York, where too many stallions are failing to produce: There are no New York sired horses in the top 15 on the all-horse money list. It will be interesting to see just how widespread will this trend be? by Joe FitzGerald for Harnesslink 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.
Management at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania has updated their stallion fees for the 2016 breeding season. A Rocknroll Dance: Originally standing for $6,000 for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and achieving full books both years, A Rocknroll Dance's stud fee is discounted to $5,000 for the 2016 season only. Excellent opportunity to have your own yearling by A Rocknroll Dance the same year his first crop foals hit the tracks as 3 year olds. Father Patrick: Father Patrick will stand his 2016 season at Diamond Creek Farm of Pennsylvania and will be PA Breeders Fund elligible for the first time. The horse Jimmy Takter described as the "best horse I've ever trained," will stand for $20,000. Sweet Lou: "The Great White Blaze" will return to Diamond Creek Farm of Pennsylvania for his second Northern Hemisphere season and will stand for $7,500 in 2016. A fan favorite for his star power, and a breeder favorite for his fertility, we expect a full book, so please book early! Reservations are already flowing in. Ponder: Arguably the most underrated Pennsylvania sire, Ponder just got more affordable! Ponder will stand for $3,500 in 2016. From Diamond Creek Farm
TORONTO -- In the second start of his homecoming, Jimmy Takter-trainee Creatine displayed an effortless harness racing performance, taking the $531,250 U.S. ($689,244 Cdn) Breeders Crown open trot at Woodbine Racetrack in 1:52.4 over Resolve, Gural Hanover, and Bee A Magician. Under minor encouragement by driver Johnny Takter, Creatine swept to the lead over Resolve and Gural Hanover, passing the first quarter in :27.2 and remaining unchallenged through a :56.4 half. Bee A Magician made her move into the far turn, flushing out Resolve heading to the third quarter. Timed in 1:25.1, Creatine began to sprint home. Resolve chased in second, while Gural Hanover snuck by a stalled Bee A Magician to the inside. Creatine was a two-length winner at the wire. "He was a little bit hot at sometimes," Johnny Takter said of Creatine. The Andover Hall horse, out of the Muscles Yankee mare Berry Nice Muscles, passed $2 million in career earnings with the Crown victory. He has 17 wins from 52 starts. Bred by Diamond Creek Farm, he competes for the interest of Big C Racing and conditioner Jimmy Takter. The $7.00 winner gave Jimmy Takter his fifth win on the Breeders Crown card and 26th lifetime. This was also brother Johnny Takter's first Breeders Crown win. "We [Johnny and I] have come a long way together," Jimmy Takter said. "John had a fantastic career in Europe, and I've done well over here. He has driven a few race for me over the years here, too, but it's always special when your brother wins a race for you like this. He had done a fantastic job with the horse over in Europe. It's very special for us." Asked about how Creatine's connections decided to supplement to the Breeders Crown, Takter said, "Of course [it was a hard decision] because $62,500 is a lot of money to bring into this game. The horse raced well at Yonkers. Unfortunately, he tied up a little bit there, and I thought he would've had a heck of a shot to win that one, too. The horse is razor sharp and has been racing well in Europe, so I know we belong. I also basically knew what was going to be here, and I knew he could beat these horses." By Ray Cotolo
TORONTO, ON-- Pure Country maintained her undefeated streak in the $600,000 ($778,440 Cdn) Breeders Crown two-year-old filly pace, winning in 1:51.4 as the 1-9 harness racing favorite at Woodbine Racetrack. Call Me Queen Be obtained the lead from the outset, setting a :26.1 quarter while Mayhem Seelster rushed towards the top. Immediately into the backstretch, Pure Country was moving first over and towards the top, securing the lead through a :55.1 half. Flying towards the pacesetter into the far turn, first-over Lyons River Pride put her nose in front of Pure Country, but couldn't clear the lead. With the plugs pulled, Pure Country retook command and journeyed by three-quarters in 1:23.4. After three-quarters, Pure Country extended her lead to three lengths over closing Shezarealdeal and Mayhem Seelster. She held her three-length lead until the wire, winning in 1:51.4. Yankee Moonshine and Soft Idea were fourth and fifth, respectively. A homebred filly from Diamond Creek Farms by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, Pure Country collected her 10th win of the season and pushed her seasonal earnings to $692,954. Trained by Jimmy Takter, she paid $2.30 to win. It was Takter's 22nd Crown victory, extending his lead on the all-time record for Crown wins by a trainer. Driver Brett Miller scored his first Breeders Crown win aboard the filly. "Oh my God, it feels so good to win it," Miller said. "I'm so glad this race was early and I'm so glad we were able to win it. "I was being a little cautious with her out of the gate, and it almost cost me [the race]. I got very lucky to get out. Once I got out, I kind of eased her to the front, even though :55.1 is a big half. She's just a tremendous horse." Miller said he had Pure Country, "pretty much shut down" when Pure Country was headed by Lyons River Pride in the last turn. "I was trying to give her a breather; I was still pretty confident in the last turn. She's got all the tools and some grit to her, too." QUOTES; Brett Miller – Pure Country; On how it played out in his head vs. reality: “No, I was actually hoping I could get away somewhere either right up close or right to the front where I didn’t have to do any work. But in the first turn, I almost got myself into a lot of trouble and almost got trapped and once I got her out she had to do a lot of work but she’s such a tough filly and I’ve never driven anything like her before she just toughed it out after that.” On winning your first Crown with a star favorite vs. a long shot surprise… pressure? “The pressure is different with THIS filly. She was coming into the race undefeated. I’ve driven some undefeated horses before and, you know, at one time they’ve all gotten beat. There was pressure tonight, being undefeated and knowing I had a shot at getting one of these. I feel so relieved now. I’m so glad this was the second race. If she was in late and I was having a bad night through the night, it would’ve weighed on me. As good as you dreamt it? “Oh yeah. It felt great” [Brett’s wife is from Canada.. “so any time we get to come up here it’s fun because it’s home for her”. Trainer Tony O’Sullivan (2nd Shezarealdeal and 3rd Mayhem Seelster) It surprised me Mayhem Seelster I little, just because you’re not going to get anything from the back and she ended up going to the front which ended up affecting Call Me Queen Be (also trained by O’Sullivan), but they raced great. I’m ecstatic. Ecstatic. As for Shezarealdeal, last week she was a little flat and this week she had plenty of pace and chased horses down and Mayhem Seelster really hung in tough against horses that are better than her. I didn’t see it happening like that. I knew Call Me Queen Be was going to leave because that’s what she likes to do. Mayhem, we just wanted to get her into the race. I didn’t know that’s how the race was going to unfold and I’m just really, really proud of Mayhem Seelster. By Ray Cotolo
There is no denying that the international flair of the harness racing Breeders Crown Trot has led to considerable intrigue over the past few editions and this year's contest on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack figures to be no exception. The small twist is that this year's European "invader" is actually Creatine, a thoroughly blue-blooded American trotter. After three seasons of racing stateside in the sport's most prestigious events for trainer Bob Stewart and owner/breeder Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Racing, the 2013 Kentucky Futurity winner was sent overseas for a European trotting campaign in 2015, returning to U.S. soil only a few weeks ago. After disappointing results in his first four events in Sweden, racing out of the Robert Bergh stable, the horse was moved to trainer Jimmy Takter's European division and placed in the capable hands of his brother Johnny Takter. The change was positive for Creatine, who delivered two Group One victories, in Finland and Sweden, after that point in time. "He did win two races over there at a mile and raced well at longer distances as well, but there's no question that a mile is his distance and we're very anxious to see him race a mile in Canada (for the Breeders Crown)," said Stewart, who now shares ownership of the horse with his wife Lynda and Bowden under the name Big C Racing. "My wife and I kind of equated it to the difference between NASCAR and Indy car -- they are both car races, but it's a whole different scenario the way they race (in Europe). I think there was a bit of a learning curve for him that way, but he did get the hang of it and raced well, winning two Group 1 races over there, but I'm glad that he's back stateside now," said Stewart. Creatine made his return to racing on American soil two weeks ago in the million-dollar Yonkers International Trot at a distance of a mile-and-a-quarter, where he finished a strong third behind Papagayo E and Timoko. On the strength of his performance, the decision was made to pay the $62,500 supplemental fee to enter the Breeders Crown. At first report, the Open Trot appeared to be a six-horse field, however, that field expanded to seven after the late addition of superstar mare Bee A Magician, who had been initially placed in the Mare Trot in error. "Obviously, we didn't mind it when it was a six-horse field, but we don't mind the seven-horse field, either. We aren't scared to race anybody, but it should be a very interesting race," he said. "The filly ending up in there made it a better race, so we are looking forward to it." Bee A Magician, now 5, the 2013 Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders Crown champion, has already proven willing and able to handle a field of male counterparts on many occasions in the past, most notably winning the $680,000 Maple Leaf Trot in September at Mohawk for trainer Nifty Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. Beyond Creatine and Bee A Magician, en masse it is an exceptionally interesting field, packed with wild cards such as Canadian contenders Intimidate and Flanagan Memory, who have proven to be more than capable of winning prestigious trotting stakes in the past. Intimidate is returning to the scene of his greatest triumph, after winning the 3-year-old Colt Trot as a supplemental entry the last time the Breeders Crown surfaced at Woodbine in 2012. Since then, he's added the Maple Leaf Trot and TVG Final in 2014 to his credit. For his part, Flanagan Memory has been heard from in the older trotting ranks this year, beating a star-studded field, including Elitlopp winner Magic Tonight, Natural Herbie and Obrigado, in the $301,500 John Cashman Memorial. Rounding out the field are Ake Svanstedt's Resolve, Ron Burke's Gural Hanover and another Takter trainee Master Of Law, who have all been in high-profile events this season. Resolve is the 9-5 morning line favorite, followed by Bee A Magician (2-1) and Creatine (4-1). Creatine has been within striking distance before in the Crown, losing by just a neck in the 2013 edition as he stormed up the passing lane in the driving rain at Pocono to just miss Spider Blue Chip in the three-year-old Colt Trot. Last year, he was a locked-in third behind Commander Crowe at the Meadowlands. According to Stewart, win or lose in the Crown final, Saturday is likely to be Creatine's final career start as retirement to stud beckons. "He's got close to $2 million made, a record of :51-and-a-piece and he's won big races all over the world... I think he'll be well accepted (as a stallion). "You know, all of them deserve to win, but his career deserves to have a Breeders Crown win so hopefully that will happen." A win for Creatine would be a wonderful swan song for the horse, while also carrying the flag for his sire, Andover Hall, in the Crown at Woodbine. Andover Hall, who was trained by Stewart throughout his career, is firmly entrenched in Crown lore. In 2002, the 3-year-old star finished third in his Crown elimination but later spooked after being turned out in a paddock, hopped a fence and made a dangerous gallop down the shoulder of the 401, Canada's busiest highway, before he was rescued by motorists. He never raced again, but fortunately lived to become one of this generation's most influential trotting sires. "I remember like it was yesterday," said Stewart. "We actually won a Breeders Crown that night with Cameron Hall (the second of two Crowns won by the filly) so I think it's better to dwell on the positive part." Stewart plans to be in attendance on Saturday to watch Creatine try to earn his Crown. "We know he can compete at the highest level anywhere in the world," he said. "He's got a lot of big races under his belt, but a Breeders Crown would be nice on his resume when all is said and done." by Lauren Lee for Breeders Crown
Undefeated Pure Country took her act to the North Country on Friday night but the results were identical to what's been expected from the juvenile daughter of Somebeachsomewhere in the United States. The Jimmy Takter trained filly was powerful in capturing the first of two $20,000 US eliminations for the Breeders Crown harness racing two-year-old filly pace in 1:52 3/5 at Woodbine. Driven by Brett Miller the homebred from Adam Bowden's Diamond Creek Farm's racing stable got away third as the 1-5 betting choice as Lyons River Pride and Yannick Gingras jetted from the outside to take charge in a :28 1/5 opening quarter. Lyons River Pride kept an honest pace and because of it there was little movement through the second quarter with the half reached in :56 2/5 before anyone began to move. Darlinonthebeach and driver David Miller were the first to pull at that point and slowly progressed on the rim with Pure Country pulling to provide cover with roughly three-eighths of the mile remaining. The pace and activity got serious as the field reached the three-quarters in 1:24. Brett Miller worked on Pure Country in the early stretch and the filly responded with authority, blowing past the leader and drawing clear to win in handy fashion. Darlinonthebeach looked to be a serious threat off cover on the final turn but couldn't accelerate with the winner into the stretch. Nevertheless driver David Miller was able to urge the filly on late to get the place spot with early pacesetter Lyons River Pride holding on for the third spot. Mayhem Seelster and Shezarealdeal picked up the final two qualifying spots and return for the $600,000 October 24 final. The victory kept Pure Country with a perfect nine wins in nine career starts during her first season at the races. Sent off as the 1-5 choice Pure Country returned $2.40 to win. Pure Country With the elimination winners drawing for posts 1-5, the complete field for the final is as follows: 1 Darlinonthebeach, Dave Miller, Nancy Johansson 2 Shezarealdeal, Marcus Miller, Tony O'Sullivan 3 Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter 4 Lyons River Pride, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 5 Yankee Moonshine, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 6 Soft Idea, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano 7 Blue Moon Stride, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Harder 8 Skinny Dipper, Randy Waples, Tony O'Sullivan 9 Mayhem Seelster, Jack Moiseyev, Tony O'Sullivan 10 Call Me Queen Bee, Scott Zeron, Tony O'Sullivan AE: 1 Tipton Teeez, Tim Tetrick, Brian Brown AE 2 Rock Me Baby, John Campbell, Staffan Lind Jay Bergman for Breeders Crown
Cranbury, NJ --- The pride of Indiana, harness racing 3-year-old colt pacer Freaky Feet Pete, as well as 5-year-old trotter Creatine, back home in the U.S. after an international campaign this year, were supplemented to their respective Breeders Crown divisions by the noon deadline on Monday, Oct. 12. The U.S.$5.8 million Breeders Crown events will be contested on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Canada. Indiana-bred Wiggle It Jiggleit has dominated both the 3-year-old pacing colt division and the sport's headlines since February, but like Freaky Feet Pete was not eligible to the Breeders Crown program. The owners of "Pete," Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer, pulled the trigger on the $62,500 supplemental fee after their homebred defeated Wiggle It Jiggleit at Hoosier Park in the $220,000 Indiana state-bred final on Saturday, Oct. 10. With a record of 11 wins in 13 starts this year, Freaky Feet Pete has not left his home turf of Hoosier Park but has only been beaten twice there, once by Wiggle It Jiggleit in May, and by Wakizashi Hanover in September. The son of Rockin Image has combined win margins of more than 67 lengths and his two losses measure less than four lengths. "Yes, we are going to Breeders Crown," trainer Larry Rheinheimer told reporter Kim French, after his last victory. "We let the horse tell us what to do and tonight he told us." Creatine, owned by Big C Racing [Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, Creatine's former trainer Bob Stewart and his wife Lynda, and Diamond Creek Racing], has racked up an impressive $1.83 million in his four-year career. The son of Andover Hall was campaigned overseas in 2015, but returned home to represent the U.S. in last Saturday's $1 million Yonkers International Trot, finishing third behind Papagayo E and Timoko. Now trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by his brother Johnny, Creatine will make his third start in Breeders Crown competition after finishing second as a 3-year-old and third in the 2014 Open Trot. The supplemental fee of $62,500 was necessary because the eligibility fees for 2015 had not been made. Regular entries for eligible trotters and pacers are due by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Mohawk race office. There are no supplemental provisions for 2-year-old races. The contestants for the 12 Breeders Crown Finals will be determined through elimination races this Friday and Saturday night at Woodbine. Eliminations for all 2-year-olds will be raced on Friday [post time 7:25 p.m.] and eliminations for all 3-year-olds and up will be Saturday [post time 7:25 p.m.]. Elimination winners draw for inside post positions 1-5 for the finals. The U.S.$5.8 million divisional championships finals are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, at Woodbine Racetrack. Special post time is 6:30 p.m. [EDT]. There will be a live broadcast from 9-10:00 p.m. on TSN2 in Canada. Follow Breeders Crown news and updates on Twitter @Breeders_Crown, using #BreedersCrown15 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BreedersCrown. Fans can also go to http://harnessracingfanzone.com, the Place for Harness Racing Fans to See, Share, Connect and Play.
LEXINGTON, KY--The $224,100 International Stallion Stakes (ISS) for 2-year-old filly pacers was the first grouping of Grand Circuit action on the Friday, Oct. 9 harness racing program at The Red Mile. Undefeated in eight races this season, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pure Country snagged the first of three $74,700 ISS splits in 1:52.1. The Somebeachsomewhere filly from the Western Hanover mare Western Montana secured the top spot from Hug A Dragoness after a :28 first quarter. She proceeded to stride through fractions of :56.1 and 1:25.3. In the stretch, she encountered a rally from Yankee Moonshine, but, despite drifting off the pylons, managed to hold her off easily heading to the line. Yankee Moonshine finished second, ahead of Mother Of Art and Soft Idea. Sent off the overwhelming choice at 1-9, Pure Country returned $2.10 to win. She's owned by Diamond Creek Racing and driven by Brett Miller. "We bought the mare [Western Montana] as a yearling," owner Adam Bowden said. "We've kept all the foals from her so far, and she's [Pure Country] the best one." "I think it was easy [on her]," Jimmy Takter said. "She kind of toyed with them in the stretch. As soon as she saw the horse at the inside [Yankee Moonshine], she took off on another couple gears. I was a little worried myself, but I'm happy that she learned how to take care of herself. "She's just a magnificent filly," Takter also said. "She's up there in the top fillies I've ever been around." The second division of the ISS went to Rock Me Baby, who vaulted off a second-over trip in the stretch towards a 1:53 victory. The tempo was managed by Call Me Queen Be, who put up a :28.1 first quarter. By the half, Kiss Me Onthebeach marched from the middle of the pack to take command from Call Me Queen Be, putting up splits of :57.1 and 1:25.2 as leader. Riding the cover of Wine Snob around the far turn, Rock Me Baby hastily fanned three wide at the top of the stretch, pacing by within a matter of strides. While Call Me Queen Be and Kiss Me Onthebeach kept pace with Rock Me Baby, they finished second and third respectively. Sired by Rock N Roll Heaven, from the mare Lover Of Art by Artsplace, Rock Me Baby collected her second win of the season in six starts. Trained by Staffan Lind and driven by John Campbell, the $8.40 winner competes for the interests of Bender Sweden, Acadia Farms, Staffan Lind, and E. Fannin. "She's really coming into her own right now," Staffan Lind said. "She's always been a very nice filly; I've been high on her all along, but she wanted to do too much in the beginning and she made a couple of breaks when we pulled the earplugs." "She was sick [on Aug. 21 at Vernon Downs]," Lind also said. "She's best on the big track; we were supposed to race her at Vernon and then go to the She's A Great Lady. I wanted to get a nice race first [before coming back]." "Corey's [Callahan] mare kind of stalled and then she went on again when I tipped out," John Campbell said. "She [Rock Me Baby] gave me a good run when I tipped her, and she paced strong to the wire." "I thought she could go with the Grand Circuit fillies off of last week," Campbell also said. "I think she had the fastest last quarter [of the card] last week; it [the track] was very tiring, and she marched home in :27-and-a-piece. I thought she'd step up in company." Darlinonthebeach won the final ISS division with a vicious brush down the backstretch to take the lead and hold onto it in progress towards a 1:51.4 mile. The Nancy Johnasson trainee overtook pacesetter Shezarealdeal, who circled by Blue Moon Stride at the quarter in :27.4 to make the lead. However, once Darlinonthebeach took the lead, setting fractions of :56.1 and 1:24.2, she held off challenges from Shezarealdeal and Dime A Dozen by sprinting to a four-length victory. Racing for the interests of White Birch Farm, Darlinonthebeach, a filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Darlin's Delight by Bettor's Delight, won her second race of the year in eight starts. Driven by David Miller, she paid $7.60 to win. "She has been a nice filly from the get-go," Nancy Johnasson said. "She got a little sick on us earlier in the summer [July 17 at The Meadows], and we had to scratch her once there. We kind of got off on the wrong foot and she got too aggressive, but she's just turned right around. She did a really good move on the backside and she's good on the frontend." "I'm very thankful that they [White Birch Farms] gave me a chance to train her. I train at White Birch Farm, and we had Jk She'salady last year, so I guess they figured they'd give me a shot with another pacing filly. So far it has turned out well." By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile
Freehold, NJ --- Each of the past two years, Bob Stewart watched Creatine post memorable harness racing victories on Kentucky Futurity Day at Stewart’s home track, The Red Mile in Lexington. On Saturday, Stewart will hope to see Creatine win again on a Futurity Day afternoon, but this time the race will take place hundreds of miles from Kentucky. Creatine is among the 10 horses in Saturday’s $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway in New York. Creatine, a 5-year-old stallion who is returning to the U.S. after racing 10 times this year in Europe, will start from post No. 1 in the invitational event and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line behind 3-1 favorite Bee A Magician. Post time is 2 p.m. for Saturday’s first race at Yonkers. The International Trot, which returns to Yonkers after a 20-year hiatus and brings together horses from six different countries, is set for 3:10 p.m. approximately. The race will be contested at 1-1/4 miles rather than the traditional one-mile distance. Stewart trained Creatine at ages 2, 3 and 4, before the horse went overseas. Creatine, at age 3, won the 2013 Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile and a year later came back on Futurity Day to upset world-champion Sebastian K by a head in the Allerage Farms Open Trot. “We’ve had a couple special moments with him,” Stewart said. “To win the Futurity at our home track was great. That was special. And beating Sebastian K the next year was very special. This is our home and you always like to do good at home. As you go through life, it’s nice to get some good memories.” Creatine could add to those memories in New York on Saturday, which also is the same day as this year’s Kentucky Futurity in Lexington. Stewart no longer trains the horse -- Creatine now is in the care of Jimmy Takter -- but he joined in the trotter’s ownership in February. Creatine, bred by Diamond Creek Farm, is now owned by Big C Racing, which is Diamond Creek principal Adam Bowden, Stewart and his wife Lynda, and Diamond Creek Racing. “It’s exciting and I’m glad he came back,” Stewart said. “He drew the rail and I was told that he trained well the other day up there, so we have high hopes. “It’s the first time he’s ever raced on a half-mile track, but I guess by the time he gets to the third or fourth or fifth turn he’ll have it figured out,” he added with a laugh. “He’s a pretty sure-footed horse. Who knows who is going to get the best trip out of a 10-horse field on a half-mile track, but we like our starting position, I can tell you that. He’s always had very good gate speed. He can take control of a race if that’s the plan.” Creatine has won 16 of 50 career starts, including two Grade 1 victories in Europe, and earned $1.71 million. He heads to the International Trot, where he will be driven by Johnny Takter, off a second-place finish to Mosaique Face in the UET Masters Trot final on Sept. 13 in Belgium. Sweden’s Mosaique Face also is in the International Trot, starting from post eight. “We were two wide for the last three-eighths of a mile and we were locked in,” Stewart said about the UET Masters Trot. “He actually had the most trot when he shook loose. He just didn’t have enough time to catch (Mosaique Face).” Stewart wishes he could watch Creatine in person on Saturday, but the trainer is sending out three horses at The Red Mile that day, including Bright Baby Blues in the Kentucky Filly Futurity. “We’re sad we can’t make it up there,” Stewart said. “Yonkers was very gracious with their invitation. Any other day of the year we could do it, but not Futurity Day when we have three horses racing here. But we’re very excited.” For more about the International Trot and its participants, please visit the event’s special website here. Following is the field in post order for the International Trot with listed drivers, trainers and morning line odds: 1. Creatine, Johnny Takter, Jimmy Takter, 4-1 2. Papagayo E, Ulf Ohlsson, Jan Waaler, 5-1 3. Rod Stewart, Enrico Bellei, Jerry Riordan, 12-1 4. Timoko, Bjorn Goop, Richard Westerink, 6-1 5. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, R. Nifty Norman, 3-1 6. On Track Piraten, Erik Adielsson, Hans Stromberg, 10-1 7. Natural Herbie, Verlin Yoder, Verlin Yoder, 8-1 8. Mosaique Face, Adrian Kolgjini, Adrian Kolgjini, 6-1 9. BBS Sugarlight, Johan Untersteiner, Fredrik Solberg, 6-1 10. Oasis Bi, Orjan Kihlstrom, Stefan Pettersson, 8-1 Note: BBS Sugarlight and Oasis Bi start from the second tier. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
The Friday afternoon program at the harness racing meeting at The Red Mile attracted three divisions for the $224,100 International Stallion Stakes (ISS) for 2-year-old filly pacers and four divisions for the $272,000 ISS for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers. The opening freshmen filly ISS split features the return of undefeated Pure Country, owned by Diamond Creek Racing. The winner of seven starts and $342,618, the Jimmy Takter-trainee won a $81,000 division of the Bluegrass over a sloppy track in 1:56.1 as the 1-9 favorite on Oct. 2. By Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, she'll compete from post position six against Bluegrass starters Skinny Dipper, Upside Surprise, Mother Of Art, and Hug A Dragoness. Earning $250,136 this season, Call Me Queen Be highlights the second split. Sired by Somebeachsomewhere, out of the Western Terror mare Preppy Party Girl, she finished third as the 1-5 favorite in a $81,000 division of the Bluegrass on Oct. 2. Owned by Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham, she has won four races in seven outings this season. Matching up with her once again is the Nancy Johansson-trained Jk Fannie, who finished third to the Ross Croghan-trainee in a $127,150 division of the Kentuckiana at Hoosier Park on Sept. 26. Bluegrass starters Kiss Me Onthebeach, Wine Snob, East Side Hanover, and Eloquent Grace also draw into this division. The final division of the ISS filly pace gathers Bluegrass division winner Shezarealdeal and She's A Great Lady runner-up Darlinonthebeach. Shezarealdeal, sent off the 1-5 favorite in her division, she won her fourth race out of eight starts with a 1:56.4 mile over the slop. Darlinonthebeach enters this event with one win in seven starts, and earnings of $167,041 this season. She was recently second in a $125,900 division of the Kentuckiana Stakes, which followed her second-place finish in the $341,250 She's A Great Lady to L A Delight. The first of a quartet brings back Bluegrass starters Beach Ogre, I'm Some Graduate, Mr Right Hanover, and Ideal Rocky. In the Bluegrass, I'm Some Graduate and Ideal Rocky were sent off the 4-5 and 8-5 favorites respectively, with them also finishing fourth and third respectively. I'm Some Graduate, a colt by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Hanover mare Western Graduate owned by John Cancelliere, has won four races in six starts, and earned $109,927. Ideal Rocky, a Rocknroll Hanover colt out of Eternity's Delight by Bettor's Delight owned by William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, and Eugene Schick, has won four races in 10 starts, earning $167,151. Big Top Hanover and Owen Hanover, both entering off of second-place efforts in the Bluegrass on Oct. 3, compete in the second division. Big Top Hanover, conditioned by Ron Burke for the interests of Jt45 and Burke Racing Stables LLC, has won one in nine starts this year. The son of Western Ideal out of the Art Major mare Blind Ambition has earned $121,621. Owen Hanover, by Cam's Card Shark out of On Her Way by Abercrombie, is owned by Jerry Clark and Tammy Crescenze. The winner of two races in 10 starts, earning $69,099 in the process, is conditioned by Noel Daley. Tony Alagna's American Passport, winner of a Bluegrass division in 1:56.1, faces world champion Spider Man Hanover in the third round of ISS. Winning a $23,100 division of the Standardbred at Delaware, Ohio in a world-record time of 1:51.4, beating the mark of 1:52.2 set by On Golden Ponder at Delaware and set by He's Watching at Yonkers Raceway, both occurring in 2013. From the Brian Brown barn, the Western Ideal colt out of Art Major mare Stolly Up Bluechip has won four in seven starts and earned $189,300. American Passport, an American Ideal colt out of Star Of The Show by Four Starzzz Shark, competes for the interests of Brittany Farms, Riverview Racing, Alagna Racing, and Jodi Siammis. He has won two of eight starts this year, banking $156,246. The last ISS split features Bluegrass-division winner Racing Hill and New York Sires Stakes champion Travel Playlist, who is undefeated in five starts. Winning going wire to wire from post 7 at Yonkers Raceway, the colt by Art Major out of the Rocknroll Hanover mare Village Madonna. He has earned $234,695 in his campaign. Racing Hill, a winner of three in seven starts, races for owner Tom Hill and trainer Tony Alagna. The colt by Roll With Joe out of the American Ideal mare Chasing Ideals has earned $83,576 this year. The 10-race card has a first-race post time of 1:00pm. Ray Cotolo
WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 11, 2015 -- Pure Country and Broadway Donna, a pair of harness racing's rising stars, remained undefeated Friday at The Meadows when each captured a Pennsylvania Sires Stake championship. Friday's program, which offered more than $1.72 million in purses, included all four $350,000 PASS finals (two actually were worth $351,000 thanks to starting fees for also-eligibles who drew in) for 2-year-olds as well as a $60,000 consolation in each division. Ideal Jimmy and Lagerfeld won the other championships. Trainer Jimmy Takter enjoyed a PASS championship double with Pure Country and Lagerfeld. A recap of the program, one of the richest in track history: $350,000 PASS Championship -- 2-Year-Old Filly Pacers Pure Country idled outside until the field settled, then grabbed the lead for Brett Miller past the quarter. "I didn't push her out of the gate -- I wanted to see how things were unfolding," Miller said. "I had so much confidence in her I felt like she could get beat only if I did something really stupid. I pulled her ear plugs in the last turn and hollered at her, and she took off. She's never felt as good as she did today." Diamond Creek Racing's homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana won handily -- as she did in her previous five starts -- in 1:51, a track record for freshman pacing fillies, a stake record and the fastest mile this year by a 2-year-old filly pacer on a five-eighths-mile track. Call Me Queen Be was a ground-saving second, 3-3/4 lengths back, with I Said Diamonds third. Takter indicated Pure Country will be pointed to the Breeders Crown with a number of stake engagements before then. "She's as good as they come," Takter said. "I think she's the best. She has the look, and her gait is just fantastic. Do you remember the filly I had a couple years ago, American Jewel? She reminds me of American Jewel." Pure Country soared over $300,000 in career earnings and became the first freshman filly pacer in PASS history to sweep all her preliminary legs and the final. She also boosted her 2015 PASS earnings to $286,918 -- most ever in a single PASS season. $351,000 PASS Championship -- 2-Year-Old Filly Trotters Unbeaten in seven previous starts, Broadway Donna appeared to be in a pickle when she was trapped behind the tiring leader, the previously undefeated Whitelake Hanover, as Kathy Parker wrested away the lead. But neither winning driver David Miller nor the homebred daughter of Donato Hanover-Broadway Schooner panicked. They blew by easily in the Lightning Lane, defeating Kathy Parker by 2 lengths in 1:55.4. Womans Will rallied for show. Broadway Donna, winner of the James Doherty Memorial final, lifted her lifetime bankroll to $466,536. Winning trainer Jim Campbell, who conditions Broadway Donna for Fashion Farms, said he feared she would not find daylight in time. "It was a concern," he said, "but I think, win or lose, David did the right thing. It would have been too early to pull. This filly finds a way to do it, and David did a terrific job with her. She's a professional. It's horses like her that make guys like me look better." Campbell indicated Broadway Donna will next race at the Red Mile. $351.000 PASS Championship -- 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trotters Love Matters, the 3-5 favorite, opened his career with six straight wins and was purchased by the powerful Takter stable before his last start. He was rolling along to his seventh when he made an inexplicable break around the final turn. Three other contenders also jumped it off at some point in the mile. "He kind of lost his balance and was running in a little bit in the last turn," said his driver, Marcus Miller. "I'm sure Jimmy will figure it out." Takter's disappointment lasted about 25 seconds because it was his colt, Lagerfeld, who picked up the pieces. The son of Yankee Glide-Southern Senorita, dismissed at 11-1 because of a four-race losing streak, triumphed for Yannick Gingras in a career-best 1:55.3. Sliding Home was three-quarter lengths back in second while Dupree, an also-eligible who drew in, earned show. "I'll take it," Takter said of the unexpected victory. "He's been racing good. He got lost on the front last week when I drove him -- he never cut the mile, so he didn't know what to do." Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman and Jim Fielding campaign Lagerfeld. $350,000 PASS Championship -- 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers If they compete long enough, horsemen often get a chance to rebound from disappointments. Few, however, get that opportunity as quickly as Marcus Miller did. The very next race after the Love Matters blow-up, Miller guided Ideal Jimmy to victory in 1:51 for trainer Robin Cruise and owner D.R. Van Witzenberg. The first-over Spider Man Hanover was second, 1-1/4 lengths in arrears, with Manhattan Beach third. "You feel like you got kicked in the face and then get the biggest win in your career -- all in about 15 minutes," Miller said. The Western Ideal-Armbro Nectarine gelding erased a 9-length deficit at the half with his customary rally, a style Miller said he is reluctant to change. "It's just kind of the way it's been working out," he said. "I couldn't (leave with him) early because he was steppy, but I think he's over that -- I probably shouldn't say that. He's a little horse and he likes to run them down. I figured I didn't have to change anything today -- they were rocking it out of there." PASS NOTES: The consolations went to Twill Be Done (2ft), Newborn Sassy (2fp), Alexander Hanover (2ct) and I'm Some Graduate (2cp), whose time of 1:50.3 established a track record for freshman pacing colts . . . Newborn Sassy's outing was bittersweet, as she took home $30,000 but lost her stake and track records to Pure Country . . . Despite a demanding opening quarter, Easy Again took the $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace for Gingras, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Panhellenic Stable and M1 Stable. Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
A pair of American Nationals for 2yo trotters and another Super Night elimination closed the books on a busy holiday weekend of harness racing stake action at Balmoral Park. In the opening American National a field of seven diagonally gaited fillies lined up behind the gate to battle for a purse of $46,750. Overlooked in the wagering after having some "breaking" issues to start her career, Diamond Creek Racing and Robert & Lynda Stewart's Catch All was as sure footed as could be while stepping her way to a three-quarter length victory in a snappy 1:56.4 for driver Trace Tetrick. Ducked off the gate as Bold Dresser (Oyvind Hegdal) led the field through opening splits of 28.3 & 58.4 Catch All was positioned perfectly in third as she moved to the outside with the field heading around the final bend. "I wanted to let her get settled in for a bit before I asked her for anything," said Tetrick. "When I raced her at the Indiana State Fair she felt great to me and she showed me that day that she could grind away on the outside if you needed her to." Grind away she did on this night, drawing to within a head of the pace setter as the two fillies reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.1. In the lane the Bob Stewart trained daughter of Muscles Yankee--Clever Catch wore down the leader and proceeded to draw clear for her first career win in start number four. I Luv Blackhawkred (Lewayne Miller) turned a pocket sitting trip into a second place check while Bold Dresser held on for the show dough. After the impressive win, which was just three ticks off the track record of 1:56.1, Tetrick was quick to praise the $17,000 Lexington Select purchase. "I thought a lot of her after that second place finish in Indy," said Hoosier Park's leading reinsman. "Everything is still pretty new to her with this being only her fourth career start but I though she really stepped up tonight and showed that she's going to be a very serious race horse." The fourth choice in the wagering Catch All returned $21.40, $7.60 & $2.80 to her backers. Another 9-1 choice captured the $60,400 American National for 2yo trotting colts as Mystical Marker Farms, Bobby Brower, Ben Graber and Victory Hill Farms Barryscourt rallied in the final strides to nip 1-9 favorite Waitlifter K by a neck in 1:56.1. Perfectly handled by driver Lewayne Miller, the gelded son of Northern Kid--Katie Hall left alertly from post six and was able to find a seat in third as Waitlifter K (Trace Tetrick) carved out uncontested splits of 28.3, 57.3 & 1:26.2. With the heavy favorite opening up a three-length advantage at the top of the lane things looked bleak for the Bobby Brower trainee but Miller never stopped urging his charge as he gradually cut into the margin while racing on the outside of horses. With a sixteenth of a mile to go Barryscourt edged alongside the leader and gamely managed to poke a neck in front in the final strides to post his third win in four career starts. Waitlifter K was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while JD Cheese (Dale Hiteman) was third, 4¾ lengths behind the top pair. With the win the Kentucky Sire Stakes champion, who returned $20.20, $2.60 & $2.20 now boasts a gaudy bankroll of $125,400 in just four career starts. The final Super Night elimination of the busy weekend also put trotters in the spotlight as a field of 10 sophomore fillies battled in a $12,500 Lady Ann Reed Stake elimination. The top 9 finishers will return next Saturday for the $80,000 (est.) final where they will be joined by Persuasive Look. This battle produced one of the most impressive performances of the weekend as Dr. Patrick Graham's Fox Valley Yoko rallied from far back to win by a half-length in 1:58.2 for driver Kyle Wilfong. Hampered in the draw with post nine, the daughter of Pizzazzed--Hallie Rose saved ground for most of the mile while sitting near the back of the pack. After finally securing racing room in the lane, the Curt Grummel trained miss uncorked a huge rally going from eighth to first in the final quarter mile to notch her third win in 10 starts this year. Shez So Sassy finished in the bridesmaid role while Lc'snmotion (Mike Oosting) rallied to be third. Also gaining spots in the final were Bi Polar Rose, Fox Valley Harrah, Patient ID, Maple Grove Karen, None of That Stuff and Divinely Floozy. Tom Kelley