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A quartet of Kindergarten Classic events headline this Sunday (August 24) afternoon's card at Tioga Downs.   Freshman trotting fillies contest races 8 and 10 on the 13-race card, with the latter division attracting Tompkins winner Allerage Star (post 2) and Merrie Annabelle winner Mission Brief (post 6). Four-time winner Mission Brief has amassed quite a resume already, taking the New Jersey Sire Stakes and Merrie Annabelle finals both in dominant front-end fashion, taking a mark of 1:52.2 with Yannick Gingras in the bike.   Gingras is once again listed to drive the daughter of Muscle Hill for trainer Ron Burke. Allerage Star, the other multiple stakes winner in the field, drew off to a four-length win in her Tompkins division last week, taking a mark of 1:55.4 in rein to Corey Callahan. Her other victory came in a Kindergarten division at the Meadowlands, holding off Dynamite Dame for a 1:57.2 win. Scott Zeron has been nominated to handle the driving duties by trainer Jessica Okusko.   The first division for fillies, carded as race 8, features George Ducharme trainee Bee the Queen (Donato Hanover), who was a chasing fourth in her prior Kindergarten effort at the Meadowlands, turning in a 1:55.4 effort. With two of her seven rivals making their career debuts, she looks to be the filly to beat.   Two-year-old trotting colts and geldings contest races 4 and 6 , with the stakes-placed Wheels Ah Smokin a top contender in the first division. The Chuck Sylvester-trained son of Muscles Yankee most recently finished third in his Tompkins division at Tioga, and was fourth to Habitat in a prior Kindergarten Classic division at the Meadowlands. Ron Pierce has been nominated to drive Wheels Ah Smokin, who starts from post 5.   The field also drew Jimmy Takter trainee Falk On Hill S (post 4), who looks to rebound from a break in his Kindergarten split at the Meadowlands earlier in the month.   Takter sends Kindergarten winner French Laundry in the second Kindergarten division, kicking clear to an impressive 1:55.3 Meadowlands win earlier in the month. Usual driver Yannick Gingras is nominated to drive the two-time winner, and they start from post 4. Among French Laundry's six rivals is Party On the River (post 7), a Kadabra colt who took his 1:58.3 mark in an Ontario Sire Stakes event. Mark MacDonald is listed to drive for trainer Patti Harmon.   Due to the Cane Pace drawing only eight entries, they will head directly to the $437,325 final on Labor Day (Monday, September 1). Meadowlands Pace and Empire Breeders Classic winner He's Watching leads the octet, along with North America Cup and Geers winner JK Endofanera. The pair will be joined by Beat The Drum, Bushwacker, Doo Wop Hanover, Luck Be Withyou, Lyonssomewhere and Stevensville.   Sunday afternoon's card at Tioga is slated for a 1:30 p.m. EDT post time.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 20, 2014 -- A five-race maiden entering the race, Lilu Hanover overpowered her field in Wednesday's $160,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series stake at The Meadows, winning by 9-3/4 lengths in the stake-record time of 1:55.2. The event for 2-year-old filly trotters was contested over eight divisions, with Bright Baby Blues, Sarcy, Aarena Hanover, Fly Angel Fly, Focus On Me, Global Ice and Flirting Filly also taking $20,000 splits. Dave Palone and trainer Jimmy Takter teamed to win four divisions (Lilu Hanover, Sarcy, Fly Angel Fly, Flirting Filly) while trainer Nifty Norman fashioned a stake double (Bright Baby Blues, Aarena Hanover). Lilu Hanover, who had been taking on top youngsters in such stakes as the Merrie Annabelle, devoured her stallion series competition, moving first over easily to gobble up the leader, Devoted, and draw off. Devoted held place, with Cantabulous Julie third. The time erased Nitro Nittany's stake mark of 1:56.1. "She shows that she made a couple mistakes, so we just wanted to keep her clear of trouble," Palone said of the daughter of Andover Hall-Lady Luck Hanover. "She's definitely a Grand Circuit filly. It will be interesting when she goes to Lexington and faces the top ones. I don't think she'll take a back seat to too many." Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld campaign Lilu Hanover. Bright Baby Blues also dropped down a bit from PA Sires Stakes and enjoyed much the same result -- a maiden-breaking score in 1:57 when the track still was rated "good" before its upgrade later in the card. Wouldn't Itbesweet was 3 lengths back in second, with Party Right Now third. Bright Baby Blues finished with a tire that leaked most of its air during the race. "She had to come first up and do the dirty work, but I never pulled the plugs," said winning driver Mike Wilder. "What a nice filly -- straight as a string and perfect." Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee own Bright Baby Blues, a daughter of Andover Hall-Bar Slide. Aarena Hanover hadn't been on the lead at any point in the four previous starts of her career, but Scott Zeron quickly changed that when he gunned her to the front. She prevailed without a challenge in 1:57.4, 2-3/4 lengths better than Donato Babe. Red's Winner earned show. "Nifty's style is, for a main portion of the beginning of the year, to make sure they don't get rowdy and warm, so he likes to race them off the pace," Zeron said. "His assistant trainer today told me: 'This horse is smart now; do whatever you want out there.' I pulled her plugs just to get her attention down the lane, but she was real strong going across the wire." J&T Silva Stables and John Fielding own the daughter of Donato Hanover-Angel Pie. Elsewhere on the card, Ma Chere Hall moved first over in a $15,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Trot to score in 1:53.1, fastest ever by a 4-year-old mare at The Meadows. Prismatica was second, 4-1/4 lengths in arrears, with Dizzy Rizzy third. Zeron, who drove three winners on the 16-race card, piloted for trainer Jonas Czernyson and owners Walnut Hall Limited, Aldebaran Park Inc. and Joe Sbrocco, It was the first victory in nine tries this year for the 4-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Margarita Hall, who banked $506,869 at 3. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday, when the card features the Delmonica Hanover, a $234,584 PA Sires Stake for freshman filly trotters. First post is 6:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

US-expat trainer Jerry Riordan won two on Saturday's superb card at Aby, Sweden and recorded a second place finish. Radysin America (4f Donato Hanover-Zagabria Dei-Victory Dream) took the Bertil Knutssons Trot over 1640 meters autostart in a sharp 1.11.8kr. Johnny Takter drove this one for owner Lisa Riordan to earn 80,000SEK first money. The half-sister to retired international star Lisa America, also developed and campaigned by Riordan, was bred in Italy by Guida Italia SRL and this was her seventh career win in 18 starts, now for 370,135SEK. The time was also her lifetime best and she survived a four-horse photo to win over Britt Palema (5f Adams Hall-Rapidsland Glare-Southwind Pinnacle) with trainer/driver Fredrik Persson, Sandra Volo (5f Cantab Hall-Sandra Victory-Valley Victory) and Orjan Kihlstrom and Pin Kronos (5f Cantab Hall-Luck Of the Day-Mr. Lavec) that was fourth for Johan Untersteiner. Riordan also had a training win with Sylvester America (3m Varenne-Armbro Voice-Garland Lobell) in the Euro Classic Next Year for three-year-olds worth 50,000SEK to the winner. He scored in a photo timed in 1.15.2kr over 2140 meters autostart with Johan Untersteiner up. Lisa Riordan also owns this colt that was bred in Italy by Guida Italia SRL. Sylvester won for third time in nine starts. Fabuleux BR was second for trainer/driver Veijo Heiskanen. As previously reported, Riordan's trainee Rare Wise As (4f Varenne-In Wise As-SJ's Caviar) was second in a three-horse photo in a fast-class four year-old mares event timed in 1.13.6kr. This mare, also owned by Lisa Riordan, was handled by Linda Allercrantz. The race was won by My Gliding Angel (4f Yankee Glide-My Shooting Star-Malabar Man) trained and driven by Bjorn Goop for Stall Kennys, her seventh win in16 tries and she earned 80,000SEK, with favored Backfire home third for Johnny Takter. The Aby card also showcased the Bronze Division Final for 200,000SEK to the winner, and it went to Royal Fighter (6m Varenne-Froken Julie-Supergill) in gate to wire fashion over 2140 meters autostart. Jennifer Tillman drover the winner, trained by Per Eriksson, that was timed in 1.12.2kr to gain his 10th win in 46 starts. The winner is owned by Per Rodert and Christina Nilsson. The opener of the day was the Aby Stora Monte Pris for 100,000SEK to the victor. The contest over 1640 meters autostart had a competitive 10 horse field and the French veteran Organdi d'Or (12g Achille-Hovillara d'Or-Vroum d'Or) emerged with the win. He's trained by rider Sofia Aronsson and scored in 1.13.2kr by two lengths for his 20th career win in 124 starts, now with 3,665,792SEK earned. He's owned in France by Armand Turquet-Lepreux. Henke Diablo with Peter Jarven aboard and Nouvelle Pelle with Asa Svensson up were next to the line. US-bred Moon Dream was fourth for Siv Emilie Lovvold and Hitchcock was a dq for rider Malin Beras. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Nevele R Stud, one of Australasia's leading Standardbred Stud farms, is pleased to announce that Michael Taylor has joined the harness racing company as the new Australian Sales and Booking Co-ordinator. Michael brings to the role a vast amount of industry knowledge, enthusiasm and professionalism. He is a leading sponsor of trotting races in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia through his company Taylor Made Travel, and is also both an owner and breeder himself. His cites his 19-win mare Miss Adelade winning both the Queensland Trotter and Trotting Mare of the Year titles in 2010 as his highlight to date as an owner, and as a sponsor Arizona Blue's win over the colts in the Taylor Made Travel  NSW  Trotters Derby rates highly. Based in New South Wales, Michael will be responsible for assisting breeders with their bookings, taking  semen orders throughout the season and facilitating the distribution of frozen semen throughout Australia. "We're very much looking forward to Michael taking up the role as we believe he will be an integral part in providing our Australian clients with an exceptional level of customer service" stated Marketing and Sales Manager Nikki Reed. Michael joins Nevele R at an exciting time for the company, with Nevele R partnering with Alabar in an industry first to bring the beautifully credentialled $2.4 million winning son of Rocknroll Hanover, A Rocknroll Dance down-under this season. A Meadowlands Pace winner and the first two-year-old ever to record multiple sub 1:50 wins, A Rocknroll Dance has proven incredibly popular with breeders and is close to having his Australian book closed. The coming breeding season also sees the addition of the champion North American trotting sire Andover Hall to the Stud's frozen semen ranks. Andover Hall has been a sensation from the day his stock hit the tracks - with his remarkable first crop featuring the champion trotters Donato Hanover and Pampered Princess, along with Hambletonian runner up Adrian Chip and Hambletonian Oaks winner Danae. Michael looks forward to discussing Nevele R's stallions and services with breeders, and welcomes enquires. His contact details are: P: 02 4346 1781 M: 0410 565 244 F: 02 9045 0542 E: mxt1225@hotmail.com  

Four divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for freshman trotters were contested at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon (August 14), each going for a purse of over $65,000. In the first division, the wagering public backed Tick Tok Tag (Broadway Hall-Tags Schooner) who was coming off two narrow defeats against similar at The Meadows. Off the gate, it was the Erv Miller trainee Ralph R (Muscle Massive-Aiken For Clay) going for the lead, but he quickly yielded to the favorite at the quarter, which went in :29 seconds flat. There was no change in position until the top of the stretch, when Ralph R emerged out of the pocket, and was able to out duel Tick Tok Tag in the late stages, winning by a nose, in a time of 1:57.2. Divisionist (Andover Hall-Only Lonely) finished third. Ralph R is owned by The Ervin Miller Stables and Paymaq Racing, trained by Erv Miller, and was driven by Marcus Miller. In Division two, undefeated Piercewave Hanover (Donato Hanover-Passionate Glide) was the one to beat, sent off as the public choice. As the wings closed, the favorite sprinted right out for the lead, with the Ake Svanstedt charge Colbert (Cantab Hall-Domestic Diva) securing the pocket spot, by the quarter in :28 seconds. After rating a :31 second quarter, Piercewave Hanover felt pressure from a first-over Honor And Serve (Donato Hanover-Honorable Daughter). As they turned for home, the two were on even terms, with Honor And Serve grinding to victory, stopping the clock in 1:57. Piercewave Hanover finished second, while Explosive Drama (Explosive Matter-Phillycityhall) rallied for third. In the third division, it was James Bafia and Eugene White's Shoot The Thrill (Explosive Matter-Fancy N Diamonds) picking up the victory. At the start, it was Special Action (Yankee Glide-Special Appeal) moving out for the lead, with Lima Pride (Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy) In The Pocket, by a quarter in :29.1. The leader rated a :32.1 second quarter, before Ake Svanstedt vacated the pocket with Lima Pride. They battled for the lead until the top of the stretch, where Special Action made a break, allowing driver Tony Hall to split foes with Shoot The Thrill, springing the mild upset in 1:59.1. Lima Pride was second, while Chef Lee (Cantab Hall-Summer Savory) finished third. Shoot The Thrill is trained by Dirk Simpson. In the fourth and final division, the wagering was evenly split between unbeaten Billy Flynn (Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones) and Walter White (Cantab Hall-Muscaloosa). At the start, Billy Flynn and Walter White left in tandem for the lead, with Billy Flynn eventually re-taking after a quarter in 28.3. After a rated :30.2 second quarter, the leader faced a first-over challenge from Vintage Hall (Cantab Hall-Sweet Vintage) but was able to put him away just past three-quarters. Into the stretch, Billy Flynn squared off with Walter White, who attacked up the open stretch. They hit the line together, with the narrow win going to Billy Flynn in 1:57.4. Billy Flynn is owned by Bender Sweden Inc, trained by Steffan Lind, and was driven by Brett Miller. Wicker Hanover (Explosive Matter-Won An Done) finished third. Mike Bozich

Six divisions of Stallion Series action for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters were held at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (August 13) each going for a purse of $20,000. In the first division, it was Susan Daugherty's Wimborne Hanover going coast-to-coast for the victory. The son of Muscle Massive used a rated second quarter to his advantage, going on to win in a time of 1:58.3. Pocket-sitter Trust Fund Baby finished second, while Captian Trotterous was third. Wimborne Hanover is trained by Bill Daugherty Jr, and was driven by Yannick Gingras. In division two, it was Suit and Tie in a gate-to-wire performance, stopping the clock in 1:58.1. The son of Andover Hall set steady fractions, holding off a late challenge from Capt Serious, while favorite Master The Past finished third. Suit and Tie is owned by Bill Wiswell and M&L of Delaware Inc., trained by John Butenschoen, and was driven by Mike Simons. In the third division, Chuck Sylvester Trainee Old Oak came from off the pace to win. The son of Donato Hanover drafted behind the live cover of eventual second place finisher Flying Muscles, out closing him in the stretch, to win in 1:58.3. Favorite KY Lucky finished an even third. Old Oak is owned by Steve Jones, and was driven by John Campbell. Division four went to Longcat Hanover. The son of Muscle Massive drafted behind the speed of Don't Mind Me, and was able to barely get past in the final steps, stopping the clock in 1:57.4. Mercury Fashion was a distant third. Longcat Hanover is owned by the Pinske Stables and Enzed Racing, trained by Nifty Norman, and was held together by David Miller. In the fifth division, it was the Oyvind Hegdal trainee Explosiveday scoring an impressive win. The son of Explosive Matter fired quickly off the wings and never looked back, winning in an in-hand 200.1. Explosiveafternoon was second, while Handover The Money, who raced huge despite a tough trip, finished third. Explosiveday is owned by Camilla Hegdal and Kjell Anderson, and was driven by Oyvind Hegdal. The sixth and final division went to Donatomite. The son of Donato Hanover overpowered long shot leader, and eventual third place finisher Emotion In Motion just beyond the quarter pole, going on to a nine length win, in a time of 1:58.1. Plump Jack closed up for second. Donatomite is owned by Michael Andrew, and is trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer. by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Un Mec d'Heripre (6m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling-Buvetier d'Aunou) won today's E150,000 Gr. II UET Masters Series Prix d'Europe, over 28765 meters, at Enghien-Soisy, gaining sweet victory after his July 29 disqualification in the Hugo Abergs Memorial. Trained by Fabrice Souloy and reined today by Franck Ouvrie, the 4/5 favorite emerged late along the pegs to secure his 16th win in 29 starts now for E911,780 earned. Veteran Roxane Griff (9f Tenor de Baune-Julia Mesloise) battled bravely to be second for Eric Raffin with 28.5/1 Global Manhattan (7m Love You-Devilish Yankee) third for Roberto Andreghetti. Quoumba de Guez and Reve de Beylev ended fourth and fifth in the top field. Race time was 1.14.4kr. The undercard was a good one at Enghien-Soisy with the Quinte+ Prix l'Union de la Presse Hippique going to Italy's Romanesque with trainer Marco Smorgon up. The four year-old son of Love You-Quantanamera-Viking Kronos won at 25.4/1 for owner Scuderia Trotto Italia SAS in 1.14.8kr over 2875 meters. Purse was E85,000 and 15 Europeans contested this one with 7/10 favorite Athos des Elfes (4m Ganemede-Iazio du Bourg) a game second for Jan Van Eeckhaute (trainer/driver) and J-P Dubois' Tast Of Bourbon (4f Donato Hanover-Qualita Bourbon) was a good, competitive third at 33/1 odds. The special E10 million Quinte+ jackpot produced strong wagering (win/place handle alone was over E971,300) and an exact order payoff of E182,616 for a two euro wager. The Prix de l'Association National des Turfistes, a Gr. III E80,000 purse test over 2150 meters, drew 10 starters and the 1.14.1kr winner was Denmark's Ravenna (6m Legendary Lover K-Coccola Jet-Supergill) handled by Robert Andreghetti for trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner Stall Independence. The 9/10 favorite, now a 10 time winner for E241,126, defeated Germany's Dream Magic BE (5m Dream Vacation-Dantesca CIA) reined by Pierre Vercruysse for trainer Josef Franzl. Plutonio was third for Franck Ouvrie at the lines for trainer Ake Kristoffersson. Thomas H. Hicks

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 12, 2014 -- So impressive in capturing the Hambletonian Oaks, Lifetime Pursuit was just as dazzling Tuesday at The Meadows when she matched the world record of 1:51.3 in a division of a $199,994 Pennsylvania Sires Stake for 3-year-old filly trotters. Her harness racing stablemate, Shake It Cerry, may not have been as flashy, but she took the other division of the event known as the Meadow Bright while under wraps. The weather cooperated beautifully with Lifetime Pursuit, as a hot sun baked off the moisture from morning rains but kept the air steamy. Moreover, storms forecast for the region would hold off for another hour. Lifetime Pursuit didn't need more help. She brushed to the front past the quarter for Yannick Gingras and drew away them there, reeling off fractions of 28.2/56.2/1:23.1/1:51.3. That time equals the world record, held jointly by Check Me Out and Designed To Be, for sophomore filly trotters on a five-eighths-mile track. It also matches Tall Cotton's all-age trotting mark at The Meadows and is the fastest mile ever trotted by a filly or mare at The Meadows. For good measure, Lifetime Pursuit shattered Classic Martine's stake record of 1:53.2. Broadway Socks was second, 11-1/4 lengths back, with Donatella Hanover third. Gingras said he's sure the daughter of Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace could have gone faster. "I still had the plugs in, and I was holding her up the whole stretch," Gingras said. "The track is really fast today, and she kind of got away from me. I went 26-and-change up the backstretch just sitting on her. She was trotting more than I thought she was. "We always thought she was that kind of filly from the time we baby raced her last year. She wasn't disappointing because she's been really good, but I always thought she had more than what she showed. We raced her a little more aggressive last week. I put her on the front today, and she was scary." The homebred Lifetime Pursuit now has banked $657,613 for Brittany Farms. Lifetime Pursuit Off her fourth-place finish in the Oaks, Shake It Cerry made an easy lead for Ron Pierce and prevailed effortlessly in 1:53.1, 1-3/4 lengths better than the pocket-sitting Cantabs Fortune. Struck By Lindy earned show. Pierce indicated he never cut loose the daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig, who is campaigned by Solveig's Racing Partners. "I just hung onto her," Pierce said. "I guess she heard someone coming that third quarter, so she just took off on her own. Nobody was even close to me, so I just let her coast home. She's getting bigger and stronger -- she's still growing." Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for her division, extended her career bankroll to $1,147,805. Prior to the stake, trainer Jimmy Takter said he doesn't expect his two star fillies to go head to head again anytime soon. "One of them will head off to Canada, and one will stay in Pennsylvania for the sires stakes final," Takter said. "I'm not sure yet which will go where." Dave Palone drove four winners and Eric Ledford three on the 16-race card. Stake racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday when the card features a $120,000 PA Stallion Series event for freshman filly pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. Evan Pattak

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- Hambletonian Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit and harness racing millionaire Shake It Cerry, the glamor girls of the Jimmy Takter stable, lead a group of 14 sophomore filly trotters into Tuesday's Meadow Bright, a $199,994 Pennsylvania Sires Stake, at The Meadows. The event will go as two divisions, with Yannick Gingras guiding Lifetime Pursuit for Brittany Farms from post 2 in the first division (race 8) and Ron Pierce and Shake It Cerry leaving from post 3 in the second split (race 10) for Solveig's Racing Partners. It will be the first action for both since the Aug. 2 Hambletonian Oaks when Lifetime Pursuit outkicked Shake It Cerry in the lane to upset her stablemate at 10-1 -- and give Takter a mild surprise as well. "I knew she was good, and I expected her go give a good performance, but I didn't know she would win it," Takter said. "Cerry is a better horse, but Ronnie (Pierce) said he went too fast with her. He didn't know he was going that fast." Each of Takter's fillies has fared well at The Meadows; each won a Currier & Ives split here while Shake It Cerry also notched a PASS victory. Lifetime Pursuit (Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace) must deal with Harley Momma, who finished fifth in the Oaks despite a troubled trip, and local favorite Broadway Socks, who has captured six of eight this year but steps up to tougher company. In addition, Takter will send out Donatella Hanover, who collected a dead-heat win in an Aug. 1 Duenna split by making up 10 lengths over the back half. For her part, Shake It Cerry (Donato Hanover-Solveig) -- last year's Dan Patch Award winner who now has banked $1,097,807 -- will face Take The Money, who passed her late in the Hambletonian Oaks to earn show. Takter indicated his girls are poised for big efforts. "They both came out of the race super and have trained really nice," he said. "They could be ready for a good performance." Exciting as the Oaks was for Takter, it served as prelude to an even bigger thrill in the Hambletonian, where Takter trainees Trixton -- driven by Takter himself -- and Nuncio finished 1-2. Does that triumph mean we'll see more of Takter in the bike? "No, no, no," he insisted. "I'm almost retired. I've been out of that (driving) for many years, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do." First post Tuesday is 12:55 PM. MEADOW BRIGHT NOTES:  On the wagering side, the card features a $5,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 4 (races 4-7), a regular feature of Monday and Tuesday programs that The Meadows offers in association with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Initiative. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. Evan Pattak

For over a hundred years, standardbred breeders in North America have heavily patronized the Hanover Shoe Farms harness racing breeding operation. It has long had a reputation for quality and excellence and it is a reputation that they continue to build on to this day. To reach the summit in anything in life is the easier part of the equation. To stay there over a long period is the difficult thing to achieve which is why the longevity and strength of the “Hanover” brand is something to be marveled at. Every year pundits wonder aloud if this might just be the year that Hanover Shoe Farms slips from atop its pedestal in the North American breeding scene. Every year they are disappointed as the Hanover juggernaut rolls on. As is the norm every year, several two year olds with the Hanover name have been starring in some of the early stakes action. Three of those two year old horses have really taken our eye over the last few weeks and appear poised to bring further success to the Hanover brand. First up is the two year old gelding Piercewave Hanover who was sold at Harrisburg last year for $57,000. A son of Donato Hanover from the brilliant racemare Passionate Glide 1:52.2 ($2,131,377), he races out of the barn of Christopher Oakes. So far this season Piercewave Hanover is two for two and has banked $52,577 to date. His latest win at the Meadows on August 5th in a  $58,152 division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in 1:56.1 was very impressive and would suggest we are going to hear a lot more of Piercewave Hanover. The second two year old to have  impressed us this season is Aria Hanover who was sold at Harrisburg last year for $ 80,000. A daughter of Well Said from a half sister to All Speed Hanover 1:49.4 ($830,738), she races out of the Jimmy Takter barn. So far this season Aria Hanover has had four starts for three wins and a second and has banked $114,115 in stakes to date. Her recent win at Pocono Downs on August 6th in a $75,720 division of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes in 1:53.1 was full of merit and signaled a big future for this freshman filly. The third two year old to have taken our eye is Sassa Hanover who was sold at the Lexington Select Sale last year for $50,000. A daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven from a half sister to Shadyshark Hanover 1:47.4 ($771,172), she races out of the Ron Burke barn. So far this season Sassa Hanover is four from four and has banked $83,933 in stakes. Her recent win at Vernon Downs on August 7th in a $36,556 division of the New York Sires Stakes in 1:52.2 with a last quarter in 26.4 shows Sassa Hanover will be a major player when some of the bigger stakes race roll around. That is just three of the multitude of Hanover bred two year olds strutting their stuff all over North America this season. At the same time as the two year olds have been burning up the tracks, the Hanover based stallions have been having an outstanding year in all the age group divisions of the North American siring tables as the analysis below shows. In the two year old trotting division, first season Hanover based sire Muscle Massive is currently lying second on the North American sires table while Donato Hanover, Explosive Matter and Cantab Hall all sit within the first seven places on the sires table. In the three year old trotting division Cantab Hall leads the sires table from Donato Hall with Andover Hall at fifth and Explosive Matter at sixth which is a fantastic result for Hanover Shoe Farms. In the two year old pacing division, Well Said is currently lying second on the sires table with Somebeachsomewhere back in seventh due to a small third crop of just 67. In the three year old pacing division, Somebeachsomewhere has distanced the competition with Well Said just as clearly second on the sires table. As of today August 9th, horses bred by Hanover Shoe Farms have won 1498 races this season in North America for stakes totaling $15,456,084. The “Hanover” brand has always been synonymous with quality and this years results on both the track and in the stallion barn just add further kudos to the most successful breeding operation in North America.    Harnesslink media  

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 9, 2014 -- Hammered down to 1-5 off his surprising fourth in the Hambletonian, Il Sogno Dream lived up to expectations Friday at The Meadows when he dominated his Currier & Ives division and scored in a stake-record 1:53.2. Wheelsandthelegman took the other split in the $120,000 stake for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Il Sogno Dream caught the public's attention with his Hambletonian rally at 90-1, and they deemed him much the best. So did winning driver David Miller, who moved the son of Cantab Hall-Le Reve to the front at the quarter. He jogged from there, lowering the previous Currier & Ives record of 1:54.1 established by Vivid Photo in 2005. "I was very impressed with him," Miller said. "He was very easy to get along with and just raced super. He felt strong in the stretch. He felt like he had enough to finish it off." Chris Beaver trains Il Sogno Dream, who vaulted over $300,000 in career earnings, for Bill Manes, Dan Manes. Leonard Christopher and Randy Christopher. Wheelsandthelegman had to work much harder for his victory, first repelling Amped Up Hanover and forcing him back to the pylons past the quarter, then thwarting him again when he challenged anew near the three-quarters. The Donato Hanover-Carmita gelding triumphed for Dick Stillings in 1:55.1, a neck better than the game Amped Up Hanover, with Frost Free Hanover third. It was the seventh win for Wheelsandthelegman in nine career outings. "He's a real tough guy, but there's something not quite right about him," said Walt Carroll, who trains Wheelsandthelegman for Beth Carroll. "He got bit by a spider or something after he raced here Adios Day. There's just something missing. But he's a real competitor. I thought he was beat a couple times today, and he hung in there and did what he had to do." He attributed much of the youngster's success to trainer/driver Jim Raymer, who helped develop him. Carroll said Wheelsandthelegman likely will remain in Pennsylvania stakes for the balance of the season. $231,260 PA Sires Stake, 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers Yankee Bounty stretched his career unbeaten streak to five with his most impressive performance yet, a 1:50.4 mile that erased the stake record of Johns Polyview and is the fastest mile this year by a freshman pacing gelding on a five-eighths-mile track. Lyons Again was second, 3-1/4 lengths back, while Lost For Words earned show. Blood Brother and Tomy Terror captured the other splits in the event known as the Tyler B. Yannick Gingras enjoyed a PASS double behind Yankee Bounty and Blood Brother. Making his initial start in the Ron Burke stable, Yankee Bounty was under wraps late, making Gingras wonder how fast the son of Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee ultimately can go. "He can go faster than 1:50.4, that's for sure. He had plenty left," Gingras said. "He certainly is impressive. He's the best 2-year-old I've driven so far this year, probably the best 2-year-old in the country." Yankee Bounty Partnership and Frank Chick campaign Yankee Bounty, who soared over $100,000 in lifetime earnings. A three-race maiden entering the race, Blood Brother was dismissed at 18-1 but found the Lightning Lane in time to score in 1:51.3. Wakizashi Hanover, the 3-5 favorite, was second by a nose, while Dragon Eddy completed the ticket. "He always could go, but he shakes his head the whole race," Gingras said. "He has the ability, but he just doesn't pay attention. Today he was a little bit better as far as that goes, and he got a good trip and got it done. We're working with different bits, and hopefully someday we'll find one he likes." Jimmy Takter trains the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Blood Diamond for Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables. Tomy Terror snapped his bridesmaid streak of three consecutive seconds by shooting the Lightning Lane to down Cooperstown by 1/2 length in 1:52.2, with Badiou Hanover third. Mike Simons drove the Western Terror-Mib Hanover gelding for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, Eugene Schick and VIP Internet Stable. "He's been on the front the last two times and just got caught, but we always thought he would be better off a helmet," said assistant trainer Tyler Butenschoen. "He got the cover he needed and exploded through there real good." The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

Louisville, KY --- Even before they purchased him for $13,000 at this past January's Tattersalls Winter Mixed Sale, the 3-year-old trotting gelding Wheelsandthelegman had made quite an impression on Beth and Walter Carroll. Unraced at 2, Wheelesandthelegman jumped it off at the top of the stretch in his first qualifier as a 3-year-old on Jan. 10 at the Meadowlands, but still managed to come home third ahead of trainer Walter Carroll’s horse Spectator K. Carroll took note of that performance and although Wheelsandthelegman broke behind the gate in his second qualifier the following week, he and his wife, Beth, still thought enough of the gelding to purchase him at the Sale last January. “Walter had his eye on him ever since he qualified and when we saw him at the sale, we both liked him,” Beth Carroll said. “We didn’t know why he had not raced last year but he had absolutely no issues.” The Carrolls did not have super high expectations for the son of Donato Hanoverand the Malabar Man mare Carmita, but after two qualifying contents at Spring Garden Ranch in March and April, they brought him back to Pennsylvania to get his career started. That was when the couple began to realize their horse possessed some serious ability. “The winter was horrible here (in New Holland, Pa.) so we missed a lot of time with him,” Carroll said. “So we sent him down to our good friend Jim Raymer at Spring Garden Ranch for five weeks. Then when he won his first race we started to get really excited about him.” With Raymer in the irons, Wheelsandthelegman, named after the alter ego crime fighting duo from American Dad, captured his first three races, all non-winners events, before triumphing in a $74,900 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 15. His next engagement, a third to Hambletonian second place finisher Nuncio in another Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race on May 30, would be his first time tasting defeat. After a little time off, Wheelsandthelegman got back to the winners’ circle on July 17 in a $13,000 non-winners race at Harrah’s Philadelphia prior to another victory in a $32,855 division of the Arden Downs stake at The Meadows on July 26, where he defeated Il Sogno Dream, the fourth place finisher in the Hambletonian, in 1.54.1. Although he did not compete in the Hambletonian, the gelding did make an appearance on that day in a $50,000 Townsend Ackerman division where he finished off the board for the only time in his short career. Wheelsandthelegman was sixth but placed 11th after leaving from the nine hole and he seemingly was not particularly fond of the Meadowlands oval. “It was a tough trip for him against some really nice horses and that fast first quarter (:27.1) certainly did not help him, but he does have really good gate speed,” Carroll said. “He also didn’t seem to be getting over the track very well and he had been sick the week before. He got stung by something and we don’t know how or by what, but he was all swollen. That might have still been affecting him a little bit.” The gelding, however, will attempt to return to his winning ways when he leaves from post position two in a $60,000 division of the Currier and Ives Stake on Friday (Aug. 8) at the Meadows. Dick Stillings will be holding the lines rather than Raymer for the card’s eighth race. Wheelsandthelegman is the 3-1 morning line second choice. His lifetime mark of 1:53.4 and bankroll of just over $88,000 is tops in the field of six. “We are very good friends with Jim Raymer,” Carroll said. “He and his wife Terry are wonderful people and we are very grateful every time Jim drives him for us. We also feel lucky for all they have done for us. Jim really likes this horse and I think he likes driving him more than some of his own horses.” Named for a television character, Wheelsandthelegman definitely has some personality to him. “He’s bossy,” Carroll said. “But he’s not mean at all. He’s really just a very busy horse and is always in motion. He’s always doing something and is never still for a second.” After the Currier & Ives is in the books, the Carrolls will keep Wheelsandthelegman in Pennsylvania for the remainder of the year and then shut him down in the fall. “He has the PA Sire Stakes and hopefully he makes the final,” Carroll said. “Then he has the Keystone Classic. After that we are just going to give him a nice, long break over the winter and take it from there. “We were really surprised by him and are just thrilled. Although we didn’t name him, it is something to have a horse that even has his own ringtone.” Below are the fields for Friday's Currier & Ives divisions. $60,000 Currier & Ives First Division Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Amped Up Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-5-2  2-Wheelsandthelegman-Richard Stillings-Walter Carroll-3-1  3-Jett Star-Dan Rawlings-Steve Owens-5-1  4-Choco Sun-David Miller-Orjan Torstensson-6-1  5-Frost Free Hanover-Brian Zendt-Leslie Zendt-7-2  6-Axios-Dave Palone-Rich Gillock-4-1 $60,000 Currier & Ives Second Division Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Tea Party Politics-Brian Zendt-William Zendt-5-1  2-Skates N Plates-Yannick Gingras-Trond Smedshammer-4-1  3-Sarcastic Man-Tony Hall-Rich Gillock-8-1  4-Il Sogno Dream-David Miller-Christopher Beaver-2-1  5-Southwind Spirit-Dave Palone-Ron Burke-7-2  6-Andover The Gold-Brett Miller-J C Miller Jr.-10-1 by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Top trotting occurred last weekend through yesterday at various venues in Sweden. The most prestigious event was the August 2nd Ego Boys Gold Division at Rattvik that resulted in victory for Beer Summit and reinsman Ulf Ohlsson. The five year-old son of Cantab Hall-Prime Mistress-Super Bowl scored in 1.11.1kr over 1640 meters to earn 150,000SEK first money. He earned his 11th win in 42 starts now with earnings of 3,900,064SEK, with five victories this year in ten outings. Kadett CD (7m Scarlet Knight) was second for Robert Bergh. The same card showcased the Sommartstravet Final, a Gr. II UET Masters Series event for 300,000SEK first prize contested over 2140 meters turning start. Poker Kronos (5g Viking Kronos-Frances Lavec-Tenor de Baune) won in 1.12.9kr for Torbjorn Janssen and trainer Robert Bergh, his fourth win in six 2014 starts and he now has eight wins in 18 career appearances. Venkatesh (5g Varenne) was second for Orjan Kihlstrom and former Elitloppet winner Nahar (9g Love You) a rallying third after being handicapped 40 meters. The 10.3SEK million career winner was timed in 1.11.7kr and driven by trainer Bergh. Rattvik also included on their card the Silver Final for 125,000SEK first money over 1640 meters autostart. BBS Sugarlight (5g Super Light-Sugarsweet Sid-Sugarcane Hanover) scored in 1.09.9kr for Peter Untersteiner, his ninth 2014 win in 12 starts. The 110,000SEK first prize Bronze Final over 1640 meters autostart, went to Curtsy Hanover (4f Cantab Hall-Chiptease-Pine Chip) for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Roger Walmann. Curtsy Hanover now has seven wins in 21 career starts as she defeated the Jorma Kontio driven Trixam (by Pearsall Hanover). The 100,000SEK first money Montesserie Final (monte) went to Bearable (7g Rite On Line-Armbro Kewpie-Speedy Crown) and Anna Ronning. They scored over 2140 meters turning start in 1.15.5kr, the winner's 11th win in 42 starts. Muskelmann GT (9g Muscles Yankee-Aino Lady-Dallas Lobell) overcame a 20 meter handicap to end second for Siv Emilie Lovvold. Yesterday at Aby, Veijo Heiskanen scored a triple and Linda Allercrantz had a driving double with Jerry Riordan trainees. Heiskanen won with Neron Bigi (7m Power To Charm-Edea-Atlas Fighter L in 1.12.3kr over 1640 meters autostart to earn 70,000SEK; Daryl Boko (4g Majestic Son-Insider Trade-Donerail) in 1.14.1kr over 2640 meters autostart for 60,000SEK first prize; and Fabuleux BR (3m SJ's Photo-Fantasia-Speedy Soma) in 1.15.8kr over 2140 meters autostart for 35,000SEK. Allercrantz and Riordan won with Rare Wise As (4f Varenne-In Wise As-SJ's Caviar) in 1.13.7kr over 2140 meters autostart to earn 60,000SEK and also with Ready To Glide (4f Yankee Glide-Chelemark Ginger-Super Pleasure) in 1.12.9kr over 1640 meters autostart. This winner earned 30,000SEK and is owned by Holger Ehlert. The Aby card also included an Aby Stora Pris prep that went to October Kronos (6m Varenne-NordicGoldNovember) in 1.13.2kr for Adrian Kolgjini. He earned 70,000SEK over the 2140 meters autostart course. His 11th lifetime win in 29 starts. At Solvalla, the Victory Tilly, worth 75,000SEK to the winner over 2140 meters autostart, went to Claes Boko (5m Varenne-Salma Boko-Express Ride) and driver Erik Adielsson. The pair were timed in 1.12.8kr. The Gay Noons for 100,000SEK first prize over 2140 meters autostart, went to Lord Flax (3m Love You-Lady de Villeneuve-Pearsall Hanover) and reinsman Frederik Soderberg. The well-bred mare D'One (4f Donato Hanover-Giant Diablo-Supergill) won a 40,000SEK first prize event over 1640 meters autostart in a quick 1.11kr. Roger Walmann trains the ten time winner in 17 starts. Also winning in 1.11kr over the same distance, in an aged event, was Bon Frecia (6m Steinlager-Fabiola Safir-Lindy's Crown) with Jorma Kontio up. He narrowly defeated Chapeau (6m Love You-Crown Tess-Crowntron) with Erik Adielsson aboard. Thomas H. Hicks  

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 5, 2014 -- Piercewave Hanover, who already owned the national season's record for 2-year-old gelding trotters on a five-eighths-mile track, lowered that mark with a facile front-end victory in 1:56.1 in Tuesday's Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. The $233,008 event, known as the Florida Pro, was contested over four divisions, with Billy Flynn, Lima Pride and Walter White taking the other splits. Dave Palone enjoyed a stake double with Piercewave Hanover and Walter White among his five wins on the 16-race card. Piercewave Hanover established the former mark in a July 15 PASS split at The Meadows, when he was ahead at every call. He duplicated that feat Tuesday, meaning that he never has been behind in his two-race career. Will the son of Donato Hanover-Passionate Glide be as effective off the trot? Palone thinks he will be. "Every time you ask on him, he's got more trot for you," Palone said. "I think he'll be even better chasing. He's very lethargic on the lead -- you have to talk to him the whole way. But he's always willing to give you more. The first time he has to track down a really good horse, he'll love it. Big future, I think." Explosive Drama was 1-1/2 lengths back in second, with Keystone Bodacious third. Chris Oakes trains Piercewave Hanover for Hauser Brothers Racing and J&T Silva Stables. Billy Flynn extended his career unbeaten streak to four when he jogged on the front end for Brett Miller in 1:56.4, 3-1/4 lengths better than My Cousin Vinnie. Bighandsbiggloves earned show. As is his custom, Billy Flynn bore out in the stretch, but Staffan Lind, who trains the son of Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones for Bender Sweden Inc., continues to regard that as a non-issue. "He still had the ear plugs in. This was easy for him today," Lind said. "He trots perfect. When we get on a big track, we'll gear him a little bit differently, and he'll be straight." Lima Pride atoned for a break in the Arden Downs when he vaulted to the lead for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt and triumphed in 1:57.2. Shoot The Thrill was second, 1-1/2 lengths in arrears, with Pierre third. "I don't know why he broke last race," Svanstedt said, "but in his first race, he hit the sulky, and I thought he did the same last race. So today we had a higher and wider bike, and he didn't hit it." Top Ten Racing Stable owns Lima Pride, a son of Muscle Massive-Pacific Legacy who has captured both his PASS starts. In the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, converted claimer Boytown made it four straight with a 9-1, Lightning Lane victory for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Chelsey Wibert in a career-best 1:52.4. Tall Cotton finished second, 1/2 length back, while Better Caviar completed the ticket. The 5-year-old American Winner-P Town Girl gelding now boasts $254,658 in lifetime earnings. Stake racing at The Meadows resumes Wednesday with a $100,000 PA Stallion Series stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers. First post is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

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

On Sunday, two days before the box closed on the $1 million Hambletonian, owner Marc Goldberg had a conversation with his trainer Trond Smedshammer about Royal Ice. "I told him I thought the Townsend Ackerman was a good race for him," said Goldberg of the conversation. "He thought that there weren't going to be enough horses entered and that if it was just going to be one heat why not take a chance." Smedshammer's opinion matters to Goldberg. The pair has been closely connected most notably to the betting public with the $4.2 million winning Arch Madness. A week ago it might have appeared to be pure madness to consider Royal Ice entered for anything but a non-winners of one race. Everything changed for the horse, trainer and owner this past Friday (July 25) at the Meadowlands. Royal Ice broke his maiden in 1:51 3/5 with catch-driver Yannick Gingras in the bike. The son of Muscle Hill reached the winner's circle for the first time in his career surprising both the trainer and owner. "I didn't think he was sharp enough and I told Marc he might be a little short," said Smedshammer, well aware that the horse hadn't raced in four weeks. "We really didn't get to see how good he was in some of the earlier races. He was always racing on a sloppy track," said Goldberg. But everyone got to see just how strong a horse Royal Ice was this past Friday. "He definitely has the desire," said Smedshammer who admitted that earlier this season he was concerned that the horse was having trouble breathing. With but seven career starts, Royal Ice lacks experience going into Saturday's Hambletonian. He landed post six between two of the Taker's three stable stars Nuncio (post five) and Trixton (post seven). "I think he has enough experience," said Smedshammer unconcerned about whether the horse could be competitive. "Takters horses are better than him but anything can happen," he said. It's somewhat ironic that both trainer and owner hadn't given much consideration to the Hambletonian. As a matter of fact they hadn't given much consideration to staking the horse as a three-year-old. "He's really not in very much," said Goldberg. "It can get very expensive to stake a three-year-old. I don't want an owner to spend $20,000 staking a horse that hasn't shown that much," Smedshammer said. Yet surprisingly the trainer managed to keep Royal Ice eligible to one major race. "I had to talk him into keeping him eligible for the Hambletonian, but it's not as expensive as some of the other races," the trainer said. For Goldberg purchasing the colt for $70,000 as a yearling was not a surprise. "Barry (Goldstein) and I raced his dam The Ice Queen and this was her first foal by a great horse: Muscle Hill, said Goldberg. "Geoff Stein and David Reid bred the colt." What appears paramount to both Goldberg and Smedshammer on Saturday is not to do anything that would hinder the development of the colt. He's stepping up in class in a major way and even the trainer is not blown away by his final time in last week's race. "They are going much faster and I don't take much stock in that. I like the fact that he's a horse that's very willing and wants to go," said Smedshammer. Ron Pierce gets the assignment on Saturday with Gingras committed to Hambletonian favorite Father Patrick. "I think Ron's a good choice," said Smedshammer, "He's not afraid of the moment." Smedshammer's Arch Madness landed post three in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial on Saturday and the ten-year-old. "Brian (Sears) wanted to leave with him in the eliminations but then he had to take him off when others left," said Smedshammer, "That wasn't good for the horse but he fought back late." The wins have not come as often this year for Arch Madness, but his owner hasn't lost faith. "He's still going the same kind of miles he's always gone but it seems the other horses are going faster," said Goldberg. The owner is excited to come out to the Meadowlands on Saturday to watch his favorite horse compete win, lose or draw. As for his new kid on the block Goldberg sounded as if he would do whatever it takes to see Royal Ice race against the best if he's up to it. "We put up $62,500 to supplement Arch Madness to the Breeders Crown against an undefeated horse," the owner reminded. That gamble paid off rather well when Arch Madness defeated Donato Hanover in the Breeders Crown sophomore trot at the Meadowlands in 2007. Seven years later Arch Madness is still going strong and will join his three-year-old stablemate Royal Ice on the big stage Saturday. by Jay Bergman, for the Hambletonian Notes Team  

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