Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 49
1 2 3 4 Next »

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Ake Svanstedt expected his colt Marseille to follow heavy harness racing favorite Greenshoe in Saturday's (June 29) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, but his plan never came to fruition. Instead, Marseille led from start to finish in the event for 3-year-old trotters to spring a 55-1 upset at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Marseille won the Beal by a head over Greenshoe, the 1-9 favorite whose furious rally in the final sixteenth of a mile came up a stride short, in a time of 1:52.3 over a track labeled "good" to spark a $116 payout on a $2 win ticket. Green Manalishi S finished third. At the start of the race, Marseille and Swandre The Giant each left quickly from outside spots on the gate, posts seven and eight, respectively, with Marseille getting the lead in a :26.2 opening quarter-mile. Marseille led by 1-1/4 lengths over Swandre The Giant and 5-1/4 lengths over third-place Osterc at that point. Svanstedt rated a :30.3 second quarter with Marseille, during which Osterc launched a first-over bid, getting out ahead of Green Manalishi S, who was fourth, and Greenshoe, who was sixth. Osterc attempted to overtake Marseille in a :27.4 third quarter but was unable to draw even with the leader. Osterc went off stride in the final turn while Green Manalishi S was on the move three wide and Greenshoe eventually four wide as they headed toward the top of the stretch. Marseille trotted his final quarter in :27.4, which was just enough to hold off Greenshoe, who was more than five lengths back after the field turned for home. It was Greenshoe's first loss in four races this season. Greenshoe entered the Beal as the No.1-ranked horse in Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian. The $1 million Hambletonian is Aug. 3 at the Meadowlands. Marseille also is eligible to the Hambletonian. "My chance to be second in this race was to leave fast and maybe come behind Greenshoe," said Svanstedt, who also trains Marseille. "But he never came, so then it was just to go to the front." Marseille, a son of Muscle Hill-Order By Wish, has won two of four races this season and two of eight in his career. He has earned $317,758 for owners Ake Svanstedt Inc., Order By Stable, and Howard Taylor. The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state's racetracks. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Five of the 10 horses in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings produced by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin will be in harness racing action Saturday (June 22) in eliminations for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with No.1 Greenshoe headlining the event. Greenshoe, who also is the top-ranked 3-year-old trotter in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, is 2-for-2 this season, with his most recent victory coming in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on May 31 at The Meadowlands. His times of 1:51.2 in the opening round of the NJSS and 1:50.2 in the final are the fastest miles of the season for a 3-year-old trotter. The colt prepped for the Beal with a 28-length victory in a qualifier at Pocono on June 12. He was clocked in 1:52, which equaled the third-fastest win time of the season by a 3-year-old trotter. Last year, Greenshoe won two of four races despite going off stride in each start. For his career, he has won four of six races and $189,223 for trainer Marcus Melander. The colt is owned by Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. "Talent and ability are not the issues, that's for sure," said Greenshoe's regular driver, Brian Sears. "He showed a lot of speed last year, but he's maturing every start behind the gate; every time we get a good experience it's a plus. Hopefully we get some more good trips in him and keep him on schedule. He just needs experience. He's a smart horse, he's just a little anxious at times, but he's definitely starting to grasp it." Greenshoe is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second of two Beal eliminations Saturday. The six-horse field also includes Osterc, who won the Dexter Cup in May, and 2018 Kindergarten Classic champion Reign Of Honor. Osterc is No. 7 in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings and Reign Of Honor is No. 10. The top-four finishers from each elimination plus the fifth-place finisher with the highest 2019 earnings advance to the $500,000 final on June 29 at Pocono. "It's early yet," Sears said, referring to the journey to the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug.3 at The Meadowlands. "It's easy to get excited (about Greenshoe), and why wouldn't you be excited, but that's not my job to get excited. My job is to keep everything in perspective and know it's a long way to getting there." Osterc, trained by Per Engblom, has won three of four races this season. His only loss came went he went off stride in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race he was leading at Pocono on June 2. He rebounded with a 1:52.2 victory in a PASS division at Harrah's Philadelphia on June 14. "He made an uncharacteristic break at Pocono; he had everything under control and then he hit a knee and went off stride," Engblom said. "We adjusted his front shoes for (Philly), and he was good again. He was very good, actually; that's the best he's been all year. He was just cruising with ear plugs in. "I know that we're in (Saturday) with Greenshoe, but aside from that I'm feeling confident with my horse. He's been so solid all year." Osterc In the first Beal elim, Ron Burke-trained Swandre The Giant (No. 9 in the Road to the Hambletonian) is the 2-1 morning-line favorite, followed by Summit In Sight at 5-2. Summit In Sight raced only twice at age 2, but has four wins in six starts this season for trainer Julie Miller and driver Andy Miller. The colt was a $300,000 yearling purchase at the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable. Summit In Sight, whose development last year was slowed by a bout with colic in the spring, enters his Beal elimination off a 1:53 win in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division on June 14 at Philly. "We thought he could be a nice colt, so we put him away after two starts to try to get him ready for a nice 3-year-old year," Julie Miller said. "Training down, I don't know that he was very flashy, but he did everything right. That last start at (Philly) sort of stamped his ticket for the Beal; we were really happy with him." Summit In Sight's only finish worse than second this year came in his seasonal debut in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands. "That's the learning curve with him," Miller said. "We changed his equipment a little bit, trying to make him better every start. The last start was the best he's been." Summit In Sight Also in the first Beal elim is Green Manalishi S, a multiple stakes winner in 2018 who is making his seasonal debut for Melander. The colt is No. 4 in the Road to the Hambletonian. All totaled, 11 of the 12 horses in the Beal eliminations are eligible to the Hambletonian. White Tiger and Sheer Muscle join that group in the first elim and Marseille, No Drama Please, and Goes Down Smooth join it in the second. Saturday's card at Pocono begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) and also includes eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace for older pacers, Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Harness racing is a fascinating sport, in large part because of its unpredictability. Coming into Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we previewed the races and focused on the horses that seemed likely to dominate the action. By the time the dust cleared on Saturday night, only one of the four races went even remotely how all of those previews expected it go. And we weren't alone: The races also flummoxed the betting public, as just one of the four huge stakes races on the card went to a favorite. More than that though, the biggest names on the program, for the most part, struggled, while some new, unsung heroes stepped up in their wake. As we take a look back at the four finals from Saturday while keeping a watchful eye on the horizon and the Breeders Crown at Pocono in October, it all comes back down to a powerful lesson: In this sport, nobody knows anything. $300,000 JAMES M LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-old fillies) The favorite in this race was Sidewalk Dancer, who was coming off a hard-luck loss in the eliminations but stood to enjoy a much better post position in the final. Kissin In The Sand, who had beaten Sidewalk Dancer the week before, was saddled with an outside post this time around. Meanwhile Youaremycandygirl, the defending division champion, seemed ready for a big mile on the front end following her own elimination win. Kissin In The Sand did indeed get the worst of it, parked the entire mile outside of pacesetting Youaremycandygirl. But driver Scott Zeron made the best of it, keeping Kissin In The Sand afloat somehow until she surged past Youaremycandygirl to win it by a neck for trainer Nancy Johansson in a career-best 1:49.3 $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-olds) Lather Up came into the final looking absolutely unbeatable. Winner of his first seven starts on the year, including a triumph in the lucrative North American Cup and a waltz in the previous week's eliminations, he was bet down to odds-on. For whatever reason, he just never fired, starting in the middle of the pack, stalling out on a first-over attempt, and even eventually going off stride. That didn't stop the others in the field for going after the huge purse with everything they had. Dorsoduro Hanover set a nasty pace, leading to the closers coming into the picture. The best of those closers was Springsteen, overlooked at 15-1 despite an impressive record and despite coming from the Rene Allard barn. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided around the tiring leaders late to win in a career-best 1:48.3. Glory days, indeed. $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN PACE (Free-For-All) McWicked was attempting to become the first horse in history to win both the Hempt and the Franklin, all the more impressive because of the four years elapsed between his Hempt win as a three-year-old. The pride of the Casie Coleman barn has been stellar this year, even when in defeat, and he conjured up a second-over trip in the final as the 3-5 choice. The one thing that didn't go according to plan for the seven-year-old stallion was a pace that was rather tepid. Under normal circumstances, that would make it difficult for a horse coming from off the pace. But McWicked is good enough to overcome such circumstances. When driver Brian Sears called on him for more, he blitzed the leaders and hustled home for the victory in 1:49.3, securing the Hempt-Franklin Daily Double in the process. $500,000 EARL BEAL JR MEMORIAL TROT (Three-year-olds) This race was billed as one where something had to give. Mission Accepted came in from Ohio to win an elimination and stood four-for-four this year. Six Pack, a New York invader, trumped that with seven straight wins dating to last season. And then there was Manchego, the superstar filly unbeaten after 15 career races and trying to beat the boys. It turned out that they all gave. The late-trotting style of Mission Accepted didn't suit a race where there were soft fractions. Meanwhile Six Pack, who grabbed the early lead, and Manchego, who came first-over, weakened each other. Manchego's winning streak went up in flames when she went off-stride, Six Pack wearied, and Crystal Fashion, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, showed them all how it was done by rallying from the pocket to win in 1:51.4 It was another thrilling Sun Stakes Saturday, even if it didn't turn out as quite expected. The surprising results only make the divisions involved more interesting as we head towards the many more stakes races ahead, both at Pocono and elsewhere. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Last week's eliminations for this coming week's Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono were notable for the way that most of the biggest names were able to sail through to the finals. In many cases, the elimination week can be extremely troublesome for highly-favored horses, but nine of the eleven Sun Stakes elims were won by the favorites, while the other two favorites who came up short did manage to get in by finishing high enough in the order. Although there were some highly-regarded horses who came up short of the finals, the races on Saturday are about as star-studded as fans could have hoped. As we both look back at the elims and preview the finals, you'll note that post position is a big factor heading into this Saturday. A few horses will have to overcome some tough spots to take home the winner's share of the giant purses, while others will benefit from much better posts than they had a week ago. Here's how it all shakes out. Race 9: The James M. Lynch Memorial Pace This $300,000 showcase for three-year-old fillies is distinguished by extremes in terms of the post position draw. Sidewalk Dancer, who actually came up short in her elimination behind Kissin In The Sand, will be the favorite. The reason: She had to deal with an outside post in the elimination, but for the final the Chris Oakes trainee gets the inside post. Meanwhile Kissin In The Sand drew the short straw and will start from the dreaded #9 post. Youaremycandygirl comes in as the defending division champion but has endured an up-and-down year. Although she won her elimination, her front-pacing style really benefitted from soft fractions, fractions she's unlikely to get away with on Saturday night. One to watch who could get you decent odds is the Ron Burke-trained Double A Mint, who was closing fast last week right behind Youaremycandygirl. Race 10: The Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace With $500,000 on the line for three-year-old open pacers, you might expect it to be an incredibly competitive group. But the bottom line is that if Lather Up races like he has throughout this year, he will be tough to beat. Unbeaten this year with a win in the North American Cup as a highlight, he left the pursuit behind late in his elimination. Although Dorsoduro Hanover and Hitman Hill were the other elimination winners, it feels like the one with the best chance of springing the upset is Stay Hungry, a Breeders Crown champion at age two and coming off a third in the elimination despite an awful trip. Springsteen, coming out of the Rene Allard barn, also could be looking to enjoy some glory days on Saturday night, but this is Lather Up's show. He just needs to race to his potential. Race 11: The Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace On the one hand, McWicked was the easiest winner of Saturday night's three eliminations for the $500,000 showcase for aged pacers, gliding first-over to a comfortable win. But he only had to beat four other pacers in that split, so the task on Saturday night will be considerably more difficult for the favorite. All Bets Off, Sintra, and Filibuster Hanover come out of last week's most competitive race, as All Bets Off won thanks to a DQ of Sintra, who finished first but went inside the pylons to do it. Don't sleep on Filibuster Hanover, who was squeezed in the stretch to suffer his first loss of the year. If the pace gets wild and woolly, which it very well could, Heaven Rocks A, the Aussie invader who came from behind to win his split, could be a major factor, although McWicked also generally comes from off the pace. Race 12: The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot Something has to give in the $500,000 sophomore trotting showcase. Colts Mission Accepted and Six Pack come in undefeated on the year, but the filly Manchego is unbeaten in her career, having passed her first test against the boys in the eliminations, albeit barely over Crystal Fashion. Ake Svanstedt's Six Pack is stuck on the outside, which won't make it easy on his favored style of early speed. The Ohio invader Mission Accepted proved he belonged with a furious rally to win his split. Crystal Fashion must be feeling confident following his near-miss against Manchego, while Patent Leather, Fashion Woodchopper, and Evaluate are all extremely dangerous. If Manchego sustains against this stacked field, it's hard to imagine her losing anytime soon. As you can tell, it should be a thrilling night of racing on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't miss out on the action. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

Jimmy Takter is ready to take off Manchego's training wheels. In this case, the wheels are shoes. Manchego, undefeated in 15 career races, will attempt to become the first female winner of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono when she faces eight male rivals in the $500,000 event for 3-year-old trotters. Last week, she captured her elimination by a nose in 1:52.4, equaling her lifetime best time and besting a field that included 2017 male divisional champs from the U.S. and Canada plus the Breeders Crown winner. She will start the Beal final from post No. 6 with regular driver Yannick Gingras and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. "This is a good test for her, it's a very good race," Takter said. "(Last week) she had to work hard to get the lead; she fought hard. It will be tougher this week. There is going to be a lot of action in that race." Takter has won three of the Beal's seven previous editions and last year sent out the first female finalist in the event, Ariana G, who won her elimination before finishing third from post eight in the final. Takter plans to make a shoeing adjustment on Manchego for Saturday's final. "She's been racing with her training shoes," Takter said. "She's been going with a (heavier) shoe up front and she doesn't need any weight. We can lighten her up quite a bit. This is something I always do. I don't do it right away; I've been waiting to get to this point in the season. I've got another gear there." The Beal is one of four marquee events that make up Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The card also features the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, where Lather Up is the 2-1 morning-line favorite; $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, with McWicked the 5-2 favorite; and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, where Sidewalk Dancer is the 5-2 choice. Manchego was a $120,000 yearling buy, under the name Whispering Hills, at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale. She is a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic and her family includes millionaire Possess The Magic. Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 last year and became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. She also was the first unbeaten 2-year-old female trotter to win a Breeders Crown. This year, Manchego won divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania All-Stars before her nose victory over Crystal Fashion in her Beal elimination, which marked only the second time in her 15 starts that a horse was within 1-1/2 lengths of her at the finish line. In the elim, she defeated a field that had last year's male Dan Patch Award winner Fourth Dimension, O'Brien Award winner Alarm Detector, and Breeders Crown champ Fiftydallarbill. "She's more calm this year; more professional in all aspects," Takter said. "She's very handy. Whatever you want to do, you can do. That's a plus for her." Manchego, who is owned by Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman, has earned $929,688 in her career. Crystal Fashion is the 3-1 second choice in the Beal final, followed by elimination winners Mission Accepted at 4-1 and Six Pack at 5-1. Six Pack will start from the outside position, post nine. Seven of the nine finalists are eligible to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes: Manchego, Six Pack, Crystal Fashion, Lawmaker, Patent Leather, Fashionwoodchopper, and Evaluate. The only Beal champion to win the Hambletonian was Pinkman in 2015. Beal winners Devious Man and Southwind Frank finished second in the Hambletonian the past two years. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. The Beal is race No. 12 on the card and caps the stakes events. The Lynch is race nine, followed by the Hempt and Franklin. The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state's racetracks. Following is the field for this year's race. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Lawmaker-Anthony MacDonald-Andrew Harris-15/1 2-Patent Leather-Brian Sears-Jim Campbell-10/1 3-Mission Accepted-Ryan Stahl-Jeff Conger-4/1 4-Crystal Fashion-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell-3/1 5-Fashionwoodchopper-David Miller-Jim Campbell-12/1 6-Manchego-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/2 7-Mississippi Storm-Brett Miller-Tom Fanning-20/1 8-Evaluate-Corey Callahan-Marcus Melander-6/1 9-Six Pack-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-5/1 Complete entries for the card are available at this link. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

"He is a horse that wants to win," Svanstedt said about Six Pack, who is undefeated in three races this year and brings a six-race win streak to his Earl Beal Jr. Memorial elimination Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "He is a little bit lazy, but he wants to have his head before the other horses." The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial is one of the stepping stones on the road to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's top race for 3-year-old trotters. Svanstedt has trained seven Hambletonian starters, including last year's winner by disqualification Perfect Spirit, and said Six Pack is "the best" he's had heading to the event. "I like everything about him," Svanstedt said. Six Pack is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second of three eliminations of the Beal. Six Pack and Svanstedt will start from post six in a seven-horse field. Five of Six Pack's foes are eligible to the Hambletonian: Missle Hill, Moosonee, Evaluate, Rich And Miserable, and Fashionwoodchopper. The third elimination features three award-winners and a Breeders Crown champion. Manchego, unbeaten in 14 career races and the lone filly to enter the Beal, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Jimmy Takter. She was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter in 2017. The elim also includes Dan Patch Award-winning 2-year-old male Fourth Dimension, O'Brien Award-winner Alarm Detector, and Crown winner Fiftydallarbill. Manchego, Fourth Dimension, and Alarm Detector are eligible to the Hambletonian. The remaining Hambletonian hopefuls in the third elimination are Gemologist (another Svanstedt trainee), Crystal Fashion, and Fashion Forever. Jim Campbell's Patent Leather is the 5-2 favorite in the first elimination. The colt is eligible to the Hambletonian, as are division rivals Lawmaker and Tito. Campbell also trains Fashionwoodchopper, Crystal Fashion, and Fashion Forever. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 Beal final on June 30 at Pocono. Saturday's card also features eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, Max C. Hempt for 3-year-old pacers and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Six Pack is a Brittany Farms-bred son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady. He was purchased for $30,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. The horse's family includes 1969 Hambletonian winner Lindy's Pride. Last year, Six Pack had one win and a second in four starts before undergoing throat surgery to correct a breathing issue. The colt returned to action with a second-place finish followed by his six-race win streak, which included the 2017 New York Sire Stakes championship and this year's Empire Breeders Classic. He won the EBC in a career-best 1:51.2, pushing his career earnings to $332,555. "After the surgery he was a different horse," Svanstedt said. "He's raced very good this year. He's raced one second faster every time so his form is coming up. "I hope he can go to the (Beal) final; he should go to the final. His training is good and he had a break for three weeks now after the Empire Breeders. He is feeling good the whole time. He looks good. He is a very big horse, one of the biggest I've ever trained, but he handles the short tracks good and on the big tracks he has picked up the speed good." Svanstedt's other Beal hopeful, Gemologist, has won three of 11 career races and earned $37,478 for owner SRF Stable. He is a Diamond Creek Farm-bred son of Cantab Hall out of Formula Bluestone and was purchased for $130,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He battled health issues earlier this season, but enters his Beal elim off a win in a conditioned race at Harrah's Philadelphia. "He is a nice trotter," Svanstedt said. "Last year he was too much colt and not easy to handle. We gelded him and he's a better horse as a gelding." Racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Here are the fields for Saturday's elimination races to determine the various Championship finalists on June 30's $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday supercard at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Listed are the post position, horse, trainer, driver (in italics if changed at scratch time today), and the morning line odds. The elimination purses are: $35,000 for the Franklin, $25,000 for the Beal and Hempt, and $20,000 for the Lynch. The Championships are $500,000 for the Franklin, Beal, and Hempt, and $300,000 for the Lynch. The top three from each of the three eliminations will return for their Championships except for the Lynch - it has only two eliminations, so the first four and the faster fifth-place horse will come back for the big money. BEAL TROT (3YO OPEN) BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 3 - 1, Patent Leather, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick, 5-2; 2, Tito, Erv Miller, Marcus Miller, 8-1; 3, Lawmaker, Andrew Harris, Anthony MacDonald, 6-1; 4, Mission Accepted, Jeff Conger, Ryan Stahl, 3-1; 5, Winning Shadow, Jake Huff, David Miller, 12-1; 6, Whats The Word, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 7-2; 7, Voss Volo, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 9-2. BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 5 - 1, Missle Hill, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-1; 2, Moosonee, Chris Beaver, Aaron Merriman, 7-2; 3, Evaluate, Marcus Melander, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Rich And Miserable, Todd Buter, Tyler Buter, 10-1; 5, Fashionwoodchopper, Jim Campbell, David Miller, 6-1; 6, Six Pack, trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 2-1; 7, Scirocco Rob, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 12-1. BEAM ELIMINATION RACE 11 - 1, Alarm Detector, Benoit Baillargeon, Trevor Henry, 3-1; 2, Gemologist; trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 15-1; 3, Crystal Fashion, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 4-1; 4, Mississippi Storm, Tom Fanning, David Miller, 12-1; 5, Manchego, Jimmy Takter, Yannick Gingras, 2-1; 6, Fashion Forever, Jim Campbell, Corey Callahan, 10-1; 7, Fiftydallarbill, Bill Crone, Brett Miller, 8-1; 8, Fourth Dimension, Marcus Melander, Brian Sears, 5-1. FRANKLIN PACE (FFA) FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 2 - 1, Easy Lover Hanover, Ben Wallace, Doug McNair, 8-1; 2, Check Six, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 9-2; 3, Missile J, Scott Di Domenico, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 4, Heaven Rocks A, Ross Croghan, David Miller, 5-2; 5, Western Fame, Jimmy Takter, Andrew McCarthy, 3-1; 6, Split The House, Chris Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 7, Donttellmeagain, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1. FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 4 - 1, Rockin Ron, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 2, Scott Rocks, Hunter Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 3, Waikiki Beach A, Ross Croghan, Scott Zeron, 6-1; 4, McWicked, Casey Coleman, Brian Sears, 2-1; 5, Mach It So, Jeff Bamond Jr., Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 6, Mac's Jackpot, Jeffrey Smith, Brett Miller, 10-1. FRANKLIN RACE 10 - 1, Sintra, David Menary, Jody Jamieson, 3-1; 2, Boogie Shuffle, Mark Harder, David Miller, 8-1; 3, Christen Me N, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1; 4, All Bets Off, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 7-2; 5, Dealt A Winner, Mark Silva, Brett Miller, 9-2; 6, Filibuster Hanover, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 7, Funknwaffles, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 6-1. HEMPT PACE (3YO COLTS) HEMPT ELIM RACE 6 - 1, This Is The Plan, Chris Ryder, Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 2, Daddyofemall, Dan Altmeyer, Mike Wilder, 12-1; 3, Cinnamack, Brian Brown, Scott Zeron, 4-1; 4, Keystone Tenacious, Paul Kelley, Mark MacDonald, 6-1; 5, Dorsoduro Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 6, Springsteen, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 3-1; 7, Stendahl Hanover, Eddie Sager, Marcus Miller, 20-1; 8, Decoy, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 10-1; 9, Closing Statement, Joe Holloway, Brian Sears, 15-1. HEMPT ELIM RACE 9 - 1, Whos Better, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 2, Sometimesawinner, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 10-1; 3, Shnitzledosomethin, Dylan Davis, David Miller, 6-1; 4, Hitman Hill, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1; 5, I'm A Big Deal, Chris Ryder, George Napolitano Jr., 4-1; 6, Points North, Nifty Norman, Andrew McCarthy, 9-2; 7, Grand Teton, Jimmy Takter, Scott Zeron, 12-1; 8, Stay Hungry, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-2. HEMPT ELIM RACE 12 - 1, Rock Lights, Katricia Adams, George Napolitano Jr., 15-1; 2, Babes Dig Me, Tony Alagna, Brett Miller, 12-1; 3, Heavenly Sound, Bruce Saunders, Andrew McCarthy. 10-1; 4, Nutcracker Sweet, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 8-1; 5, Wes Delight, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 6. Done Well, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 7, Lather Up, Clyde Francis, Montrell Teague, 2-1; 8, Courtly Choice, Blake MacIntosh, Mark MacDonald, 5-1. LYNCH PACE (3YO FILLIES) LYNCH ELIM RACE 7 - 1, Carlo's Superstar, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 12-1; 2, Youaremycandygirl, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 3, Alexa's Power, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Double A Mint, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 9-2; 5, Hypnotic Tale, Linda Toscano, David Miller, 4-1; 6, Pass Line Bluechip, Wayne Givens, Montrell Teague, 6-1; 7, Majorsspeciallady, Ron Burke, Brett Miller, 10-1; 8, Ideal Talker, Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy, 15-1. LYNCH ELIM RACE 8 - 1, Python Blue Chip, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 10-1; 2, I'm Trigger Happy, Tony Osullivan, David Miller, 9-2; 3, Kissin In The Sand, Nancy Johansson, Scott Zeron, 5-2; 4, Solitary, Nick Surick, Marcus Miller, 12-1; 5, Cuts Like A Knife, Bruce Saunders, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 6, Sansovia Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 7, Serene Stride, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 8, Sidewalk Dancer, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- Devious Man sneaked his way along the inside of the stretch after a pocket trip behind harness racing favorite Long Tom and won Saturday's (July 1) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:52.4 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Long Tom finished second and Ariana G, the first filly to ever compete in the Beal, was third after racing first over from prior to the half-mile point. Devious Man, who started from post seven and was sent off at odds of 15-1, got the lead on the first turn and took the field to the opening quarter-mile in :27.1. Long Tom brushed to the front as the group passed the grandstand for the first time and led to the half in :56.1 and three-quarters in 1:24.1. Once in the stretch, driver Andy Miller maneuvered Devious Man inside to the "Pocono Pike" and went down the road to victory. "I worked out the trip I wanted," Miller said. "I left the gate a little and he crossed over to the front. (Long Tom) moved and I was able to let him go just before the half and sat on his back until the open stretch. He's really fast off of cover and he enjoyed the trip." Devious Man, owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable, has won four of five races this year and earned $403,410. His wins this season also include the Empire Breeders Championship. He was second by a head in his Beal elimination. For his career, the son of stallion Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, has won 11 of 17 and earned $711,643. He was last season's New York Sire Stakes champion for 2-year-old male trotters. "He raced good a couple weeks ago in the Empire Breeders (Championship)," Miller said. "He's just a super nice horse." All nine horses in the Beal final are eligible to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Devious Man Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Consolation "Tim Tetrick" and "$92.40 to win" are not word combinations you usually read in the same sentence, but Tetrick rallied the Donato Hanover colt Backstage Pass, the longest shot on the board, from far out of it to just catch pacesetting favorite Muscles Jared, who had been hard-pressed on the lead, by a nose and take the $75,000 Beal Consolation in 1:55, lowering his personal mark by a tick. A frequent winner at 2 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey stakes company, Backstage Pass now has a lifetime record of 10 wins in 20 starts, 2-for-3 since he came under the care of Pocono "Trot Man" Mike Simons (who like Tetrick wears green and gold), and earnings of $119,540 for owner Jessica Smith. Backstage Pass Ken Weingartner --- PHHA/Pocono also contributed to this story  

Ariana G starts Saturday's $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters from an unfavorable spot, but harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter is confident the filly can step up and defeat eight male rivals in one of the season's few remaining preps for August's Hambletonian Stakes. No female trotter has ever competed in the Beal Memorial final in its seven-year history. Ariana G, who received the 2016 Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old female trotter in the U.S. and Canada, is this year's fastest 3-year-old trotter, with a mark of 1:51.1. Takter has won the Beal three times. Ariana G was among three elimination winners last weekend - along with Long Tom and Perfect Spirit - and begins Saturday's final with driver Yannick Gingras from post No. 8. Horses win 5.8 percent of their starts from post eight at Pocono, which is second to only post nine's 5 percent victory rate for the lowest at the five-eighths-mile oval. "I really think she can win it anyway. I really do," Takter said. "Of course she's got to work a little harder to get out of there, but if Yannick wants to press it, he can. She could be as good as any horse I ever had. "It looks like there could be a lot of horses leaving (quickly from the gate). The horse to beat is Long Tom; he's the one that looked the best in the eliminations. But it is going to be a really interesting race." Ariana G and Long Tom both enter the Beal final undefeated in three races this season. Ariana G is the 5-2 morning line favorite while Long Tom, who starts from post one, is the 3-1 second choice. Both trotters are New Jersey Sire Stakes champions. The Beal is one of four stakes finals Saturday at Pocono, with the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. North America Cup champion Fear The Dragon and stablemate Downbytheseaside are the top choices in the Hempt while the top four finishers in the Fan Hanover Stakes -- Bettor's Up, Agent Q, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach -- are ready for a rematch in the Lynch. Elimination winners Mel Mara and Keystone Velocity lead the Franklin. Ariana G, who has won 12 of 14 career races and earned $816,467 in purses, is owned by breeders Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz. She is a daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Cantab It All and is a full sister to 2016 Hambletonian Oaks winner All The Time. Last week, Ariana G won her Beal elimination in gate-to-wire fashion by 1-1/2 lengths over Bill's Man in 1:53.4. She opened with a :27.3 first quarter-mile and closed with a :27.3 final quarter. The middle half was :58.3. "She had a very nice elimination," Takter said. "I was a little bit concerned bringing in a horse off a three-week layoff; I don't train horses hard between races. I was very happy for her to get a nice mile; she raced for basically a half. She should be sharp. She came out of the race super and felt wonderful here jogging. "She's much more a horse this year," he added. "Last year she was a little awkward looking. She just was fast. Now she is very solid. She grew a good inch and a half and she filled out. She probably weighs 150 pounds more than she did last year. She couldn't be better. She's gorgeous now." Takter is uncertain whether Ariana G will race against the fillies on Aug. 5 in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands or challenge the boys in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes. And he is in no rush to make a decision. "We'll just take one step at a time with her," Takter said. Takter remains hopeful that colt Rubio can find consistent winning form in time for the Hambletonian. Rubio has won six of nine career races, with two of his losses -- including a seventh-place finish in his Beal elim -- coming in races in which he went off stride. "I'm still very optimistic about Rubio," Takter said. "I know (last week) he was over-trotting himself in the last turn, but Yannick said he had plenty of go. I know he can go with these horses. I don't say he can go with (returning Dan Patch Award winner) Walner, but he's a very good horse. "If Rubio is really good, then I'll probably keep Ariana in the (Hambletonian Oaks). I've been in this game a long time, and you can look like you have five horses going into the Hambletonian and you have none. And it can look like you have no horses going to the Hambletonian and you have five. There is so much going on. It's how these horses handle these tough races. The main thing is don't get panicked. If you know you have a good horse, you can be a little more patient." Racing at Pocono begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The night's stakes finals are races nine through 12. Following is the field for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, which is race 12. For the complete card, click here. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1-Long Tom-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-3/1 2-Perfect Spirit-David Miller-Ake Svanstedt-6/1 3-Sortie-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley-10/1 4-Moonshiner Hanover-Scott Zeron-Chris Beaver-12/1 5-Bill's Man-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-4/1 6-Lucky Matter-Brian Sears-Chris Beaver-20/1 7-Devious Man-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/1 8-Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/2 9-Dover Dan-Brett Miller-John Butenschoen-15/1 ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third May 6 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Lord Cromwell - Gustavo Fring - Southwind Cobra May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Long Tom - Yes Mickey - Deacon Tony May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - What The Hill - Southwind Cobra - New Jersey Viking May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Sortie - Giveitgasandgo - High Glider May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Andy M - Gustavo Fring - Stealth Hanover May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Common Parlance - Brown Bear - Brand New Key May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Stick With Me Kid - Bill's Man - Top Flight Angel May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Devious Man - Lord Cromwell - Aces And Eights May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Enterprise - Swell Chap - Meetmeinthemiddle June 2 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Long Tom - King On The Hill - What The Hill June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Fraser Ridge - Meme Hanover - Muay Hanover June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Moonshiner Hanover - Giveitgasandgo - Lars Perry June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Sortie - Dover Dan - Always A Good Time June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - International Moni - Guardian Angel As - Jake June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - Enterprise - AWOL Hanover - Shake It Off Lindy June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Bill's Man - Such An Angel - Stick With Me Kid June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Devious Man - Swell Chap - Lord Cromwell June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Rubio - Muscles Jared - Di Oggi June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Dover Dan - Moonshiner Hanover - Sir John F June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Giveitgasandgo - President Lindy - Andy M June 17 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - International Moni - Mass Production - Seven And Seven June 18 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Devious Man - Bill's Man - Stick With Me Kid June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Long Tom - Sortie - Lucky Matter June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Perfect Spirit - Devious Man - Dover Dan June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Ariana G* - Bill's Man - Moonshiner Hanover July 1 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Memorial - July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - July 15 - Meadowlands - Stanley Dancer Memorial - July 22 - Meadowlands - Tompkins-Geers - July 29 - Meadowlands - Reynolds - Aug. 5 - Meadowlands - Hambletonian - Hambletonian eligible in bold *Filly; also eligible to Hambletonian Oaks Ken Weingartner  

Freehold, NJ --- Three-year-old female trotter Ariana G beat the boys in her elimination for Saturday’s $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at Pocono and moved up two spots in this week’s harness racing Hambletonian Society/ Breeders Crown poll. Fear The Dragon, who finished second in his elimination for Saturday’s $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at Pocono for his first loss of the season, remained No. 1 in the rankings. Lady Shadow, who was idle, held on to second while Hannelore Hanover (idle) and Downbytheseaside (a Hempt elim winner) rounded out the top five. Mel Mara, who won his elimination for Saturday’s $500,000 Ben Franklin for older pacers at Pocono, joined the rankings at No. 10. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The U.S. Harness Writers Association votes in December on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 5 – 6/27/2017 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Fear The Dragon (17) 3pc 7-6-1-0 $461,953 309 1 2 Lady Shadow (11) 6pm 4-4-0-0 $271,000 284 2 3 Ariana G (4) 3tf 3-3-0-0 $72,500 258 5 4 Hannelore Hanover (1) 5tm 4-3-1-0 $146,138 242 3 5 Downbytheseaside (2) 3pc 6-5-0-1 $298,500 227 6 6 Huntsville 3pc 5-3-2-0 $238,529 177 4 7 Resolve 6th 2-2-0-0 $120,500 112 8 8 Crazy Wow 5th 5-2-3-0 $231,500 101 7 9 International Moni 3tc 2-2-0-0 $102,565 36 9 10 Mel Mara 8ph 4-3-1-0 $45,000 28 -- Also: Keystone Velocity (26); Somewhere In LA (24); Dr J Hanover (19); Bit Of A Legend N (14); Mossdale Conner N (13); Barn Bella, Long Tom (10); Marion Marauder (9); Tequila Monday (7); Devious Man (5); Bettor’s Up (4); McWicked (3); Western Fame (2); All Bets Off, Charmed Life, Magic Presto, Missile J, Nirvana Seelster (1).  North American statistics only. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Less than a week ago, harness racing trainer Julie Miller was uncertain whether she would send Devious Man to the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Devious Man's performance in last Sunday's Empire Breeders Classic made the decision easier. Devious Man won the EBC championship by four lengths over Bill's Man in 1:52.2, prompting Team Miller -- Julie and husband Andy -- to enter the colt in the Beal. The event for 3-year-old trotters attracted 23 horses, including award-winning filly Ariana G, so three eliminations will be contested Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Devious Man is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second division. Giveitgasandgo, coming off a win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, is the 5-2 favorite in the first elimination and New Jersey Sire Stakes filly champion Ariana G is the 2-1 choice in the third. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final July 1. Eliminations for the Ben Franklin for older male pacers, Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers are also on the Saturday card at Pocono. Devious Man, owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable, is undefeated in three races this year. For his career, he has won 10 of 15 starts and earned $455,393. "We were on the fence about going to the Earl Beal, but that last start solidified that he deserved a chance," Julie Miller said. "We were really happy with that start. You couldn't have mapped it out any better; when Andy (came off cover from second over) he just scooted down the lane. "He didn't have to over-exert himself in his last couple starts, so we should have a nice fresh horse going to the Earl Beal. These starts this year have been confidence boosters. I'm really pleased with that." Of Devious Man's 10 lifetime wins, nine have come in races restricted to New York-bred horses. But the colt did win on the Grand Circuit last season, capturing a division of the International Stallion Stakes in 1:53.2 at Lexington's Red Mile. The clocking was the sixth-fastest win time of 2016 for a 2-year-old trotter. "He was solid last year and he won in Lexington so I thought he could maybe step up to the Grand Circuit level, but you don't want to put that kind of pressure on them," Miller said. "You don't want to over-stake them or over-train them trying to work on a schedule. We pretty much let him decide how he was going. "He trained down good this year. He gave me every indication we could enter him in these kinds of stakes races. I know he's only faced New York company so far this year, but he's raced really well. I think he deserves a chance against open company in the Earl Beal." Devious Man is among a group of 19 Beal participants eligible to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Devious Man, a son of Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. "If my horse can work it out, that's great for us," Miller said. "I think he's a smart horse and a very versatile horse. No matter the size of the track Andy can drive him the way the race develops for him. We don't always have to be on the front, we don't always have to have cover. "There are three (Beal) divisions, which shows there are a lot of nice horses. No one is bowing out. But I feel confident in our chances. He's given us no reason not to give him a chance." Ariana G, who received the 2016 Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old female trotter in the U.S. and Canada, is bidding to become the first filly to win the Beal in its seven-year history. She is this year's fastest 3-year-old trotter, with a mark of 1:51.1. Her trainer, Jimmy Takter, has won the Beal three times. For a look at all the entries for Saturday at Pocono, click here. ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third May 6 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Lord Cromwell - Gustavo Fring - Southwind Cobra May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Long Tom - Yes Mickey - Deacon Tony May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - What The Hill - Southwind Cobra - New Jersey Viking May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Sortie - Giveitgasandgo - High Glider May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Andy M - Gustavo Fring - Stealth Hanover May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Common Parlance - Brown Bear - Brand New Key May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Stick With Me Kid - Bill's Man - Top Flight Angel May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Devious Man - Lord Cromwell - Aces And Eights May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Enterprise - Swell Chap - Meetmeinthemiddle June 2 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Long Tom - King On The Hill - What The Hill June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Fraser Ridge - Meme Hanover - Muay Hanover June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Moonshiner Hanover - Giveitgasandgo - Lars Perry June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Sortie - Dover Dan - Always A Good Time June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - International Moni - Guardian Angel As - Jake June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - Enterprise - AWOL Hanover - Shake It Off Lindy June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Bill's Man - Such An Angel - Stick With Me Kid June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Devious Man - Swell Chap - Lord Cromwell June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Rubio - Muscles Jared - Di Oggi June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Dover Dan - Moonshiner Hanover - Sir John F June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Giveitgasandgo - President Lindy - Andy M June 17 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - International Moni - Mass Production - Seven And Seven June 18 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Devious Man - Bill's Man - Stick With Me Kid June 24 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Elims - July 1 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Memorial - July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - July 15 - Meadowlands - Stanley Dancer Memorial - July 22 - Meadowlands - Tompkins-Geers - July 29 - Meadowlands - Reynolds - Aug. 5 - Meadowlands - Hambletonian - Hambletonian eligible in bold Ken Weingartner

Always B Miki shines in Ben Franklin Trainer Jimmy Takter says Always B Miki is a horse that will be long remembered in the future. For now, Takter and the 5-year-old pacer’s connections are more than enjoying the stallion’s present. Always B Miki won his highly anticipated showdown with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete in Saturday’s (July 2) $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Always B Miki defeated Freaky Feet Pete by three-quarters of a length in a stakes- and world-record-equaling 1:47, with Wiggle It Jiggleit finishing third. The time equaled the fastest mile in history on a five-eighths-mile racetrack. Always B Miki, who also won in 1:47 last week at Pocono, shares the record with Sweet Lou. Wiggle It Jiggleit went to the lead off the starting gate, but Freaky Feet Pete left quickly from post six and got to the front following an opening quarter-mile in :25.4. Always B Miki, who started from post seven, was moved to the lead by driver David Miller prior to the halfway point, reached in :53, and then was pressured on the outside by first-over Wiggle It Jiggleit. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit battled each other around the final turn, but Always B Miki repelled the challenge before holding off an inside bid from Freaky Feet Pete. “I knew David was going to be aggressive,” Takter said. “We talked about it and he said he wasn’t going to sit and wait for something to happen. He was in it to win it. “The way the race unfolded, he had to work hard. It wasn’t given to him. I knew that Wiggle It (Jiggleit) would come right away. He did the right move. He hoped the :53 (half) would have stung my horse a little bit and then he’d come at him. But I have to say all three of those horses raced a heck of a race. They all raced fantastic.” Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete both got warm ovations from the large crowd at Pocono as they made their ways back to the paddock. History’s fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. “The track is not really as fast as it was last week and it’s a colder evening,” Takter said. “If it was a warm evening, I think they would have gone a second faster. This is not Miki’s favorite (track size). He’s more a big track horse. But he’s handling the small track better and better.” Always B Miki has won five of seven races this year and nine of 11 since returning from injury last October. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. For his career, Always B Miki has won 23 of 42 starts and earned $1.56 million. “He’s one of those horses that people are going to remember for a long, long time,” Takter said. Sent off as the 8-5 second choice behind favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki paid $5.20, $3.00 and $2.20. Montrell Teague, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver, said his trip didn’t work out as he envisioned. “He raced good, it just wasn’t the ideal trip that I thought I was going to get,” Teague said. “Like I said, you can’t go in there with a game plan. It’s a horserace, you never know what’s going to happen. “The biggest surprise was there weren’t as many leavers. I was thinking five of them were going to come out of there, but it was just the main three. (Always B) Miki left the gate good and got his good trip.” Trace Tetrick, the driver of Freaky Feet Pete, was happy with his horse’s effort. “It was a great race,” Tetrick said. “The trip kind of worked out like I thought it would. I was hoping to press and land on the front and control it, or get moved on by either Montrell or David. “David took me as long as I needed to go, I just needed a little longer stretch to beat him.” The Western Ideal 5-year-old stallion Luck Be Withyou continued his career-long love affair with Pocono, taking the $75,000 Ben Franklin consolation in 1:47.4. Luck Be Withyou, who had an outside post in his Franklin elim and couldn’t enter contention, drew the rail for the consolation and would not cede the lead through amazing fractions of :25.4, :52.4, and 1:19.4, then was kept alive through the stretch by Pocono’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr. while also lowering his lifetime best by a tick. Winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown and the 2015 Franklin championship at Pocono, Luck Be Withyou, conditioned by Chris Oakes when on the local scene, has earned the majority of his $1,195,281 career bankroll over the red clay oval for owner John Craig. Southwind Frank wins Earl Beal, Jr, Memorial Driver Yannick Gingras tucked his whip and breathed a sigh of relief at the wire as he and Southwind Frank won the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in 1:52.4, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. After coming out of last week's elimination with a virus, Southwind Frank-Gingras' best hope for his first Hambletonian win-was back to his championship form. Last year's divisional champion got away fourth as Hollywood Highway took the lead from post 2. After a break by Hollywood Highway near the quarter pole, reached in :27.3, Southwind Frank took the lead the first time past the grandstand. Southwind Frank led the field through the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4 before holding off stablemate Dayson-who made a break-and coming home in :28 flat to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Trolley was second with Bar Hopping third. Southwind Frank paid $2.40 to win. A son of Muscle Hill out of Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank is trained by Ron Burke for Southwind Frank Partners. The Gingras-Burke combo narrowly missed their respective first Hambletonian win last year when the filly Mission Brief was edged by Pinkman. "I've been thinking about Hambo since the Peter Haughton last year," said Gingras. "We are aiming for that first Saturday in August. All these starts just build up to that. We want to win them all, but the main goal is Aug. 6." Co-owner Jerry Silva of J&T Stables was part of the Muscle Hill ownership team when he won the 2009 Hambletonian, but is looking forward to another Hambletonian win with this colt. "This is the 'Frank' that we had last year," he said. Mr. Beal, a former owner, trainer and driver who died in 2009, served as president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, where he was instrumental in bringing casino gaming to Pennsylvania racetracks, fought for increased simulcasting opportunities in the Keystone State, and ensured that county fair racing continued in Pennsylvania through tough times. This is the sixth edition of the Beal Memorial, which was won last year by eventual Trotter of the Year Pinkman in 1:51.3. Milligan's School, winner of his first two seasonal efforts but then offstride in his next two, raised his 2016 record to three for five with a $21.80 upset in the $75,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial consolation. Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller had their son of Yankee Glideon his best behavior and in top form for this event, as he came first-over, then held off Love Matters, who followed his cover, by three-quarters of a length. The final clocking of 1:53.2 lowered his speed badge by a tick for the ownership of Stroy Inc. Racing Hill is much the best in Max Hempt As fireworks popped overhead, Racing Hill made some fireworks of his own in winning the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial final in a rated 1:49, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite off a 1:49.1 elimination win last week, Racing Hill took the lead from Boston Red Rocks shortly before the quarter in :25.4. Driver Brett Miller then took the son of Roll With Joe – Chasing Ideals through a second quarter in :29. “That’s what makes this colt such a tremendous colt,” said Miller. “He can go very fast and then the next quarter he can go very slow. Being that handy makes him very deadly.” No one was catching Racing Hill tonight, as he led the field to the three-quarters in 1:22 and sprinted home to win by 2-1/2 lengths. JK Will Power was second with Boston Red Rocks third. “I’ve got so much confidence in this colt, and every week he is giving me even more confidence,” said Miller. “Coming down the stretch, I was saying to myself, ‘I don’t even need to pull the earplugs,’ and he’s the kind of colt that when I pull the earplugs, he just takes off. He’s just sharp.” Tony Alagna trains Racing Hill for owner-breeder Tom Hill of the United Kingdom. He now has two wins, three seconds and a third in six starts this year, good for $450,340 in seasonal earnings. Alagna said the colt’s next engagement will be the Meadowlands Pace. “Hopefully we get another shot to go to the Meadowlands on his home track and have some luck there,” he said. Mr. Hempt was the man behind Hempt Farms in Mechanicsburg, Pa., whose horses with the “Keystone” moniker won nearly every major race in the sport. A Hall of Fame inductee in 1980, Mr. Hempt was also a USTA director and president of the Hambletonian Society. He died in 1999 at age 79. Formerly known as the William E. Miller Memorial at Rosecroft Raceway from 1955-1994 and the Joseph B. Banks Memorial from 1995-1999 at Pocono, the Hempt Memorial has been contested since 2000. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s edition in 1:48.2. Pure Country is at her best in James Lynch Pure Country and driver Brett Miller made their way to the front near the midway point and never relinquished the lead from there, winning Saturday’s (July 2) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers by a half-length over Blue Moon Stride in a stakes-record-equaling 1:49.2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I Said Diamonds led the field to the opening quarter-mile in :27, but soon gave up the top spot to Darlinonthebeach. Pure Country was on the move ahead of Blue Moon Stride in the outside flow and made her way to the lead as the group reached the half in :54.2. Darlinonthebeach slowed on the backstretch and did not finish. Pure Country reached three-quarters in 1:22.1 and paced home from there to win for the fourth time in seven starts this season. Blue Moon Stride was followed by Lindwood Beachgirl in third and I Said Diamonds in fourth. It was Pure Country’s third major victory of the campaign, having captured the Miss Pennsylvania and Fan Hanover earlier this year. “She’s just classy,” winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. “Brett didn’t have any other choice than to go forward. I was a little worried. I know (Blue Moon Stride) is a pretty good horse sitting in the back there. We had to work very hard to go to our spot, but I know (Pure Country) is tough to get by.” A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Western Montana, Pure Country has won 14 of 17 career races and earned $1.19 million. She is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. Last year, Pure Country won all 10 of her races and was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer. “She’s getting more professional,” Takter said. “As a 2-year-old it’s a little easier to be a little dominant. There are a lot of good fillies out there. They have to work for every race.” Pure Country, the 7-5 favorite, paid $4.80 to win. Darlinonthebeach’s trainer Nancy Johansson told DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner that her filly suffered from atrial fibrillation. Call Me Queen Be, forced to go :26 to the quarter in her Lynch elimination and understandably tiring, was very strong coming off a fast pace in the $50,000 Lynch Consolation, moving to the lead on the far turn past backstretch brusher Sail To The Beach and going on to a two length triumph, equaling her lifetime mark by stopping the timer in 1:50.3. Scott Zeron handled the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, the 3-5 choice of the large group of fans gathered for the giant card, for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham. The Lynch Memorial is named in honor of the late James M. Lynch, who did some amateur driving and worked as a groom as a teenager, but made his mark years later as a race official, most notably as the director of racing at Liberty Bell for its entire 23-year existence. Lynch, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 78, also was a horse owner and director of the U.S. Trotting Association. by Ken Weingartner, T J Burkett and PHHA/Pocono Downs

This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial finals, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Cleveland Trotting Classic, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; Miss Versatility, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; and Landmark Stakes, Historic Track, Goshen, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will once again be on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night (July 2) as the track will host four lucrative stakes finals in the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Also on Saturday, Northfield Park will host the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic for older trotters, while Historic Track will card eight Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. A trio of Friday night (July 1) stakes open the Grand Circuit action this week with the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and the Miss Versatility at Mohawk. At Tioga, there will be two divisions in the $77,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male trotters and two divisions in the $55,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old filly trotters. Mohawk will host a pair of C$30,000 divisions in the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Complete entries for the U.S. races can be found by clicking on this link. Mohawk entries are available at this link. Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action opened up on Friday night (June 24) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the $200,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Displaying no ill effects after being away from the races for almost a month, Resolve powered down the road to an easy one length win in the Cutler. Resolve, the even-money favorite, was sent away fast from post seven and had the lead at the quarter in :27.1. Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt did a masterful job of rating the second fraction, which was timed in a sleepy :30 as they hit the half in :57.1. Obrigado, the 2-1 second choice fresh off wins in the Maxie Lee and Charlie Hill Memorial, vacated the four hole at the seven-sixteenths and grinded his way into contention at three-quarters, which went in 1:25.4. Then Svanstedt hit the gas and Resolve responded with a final quarter of :26.3, leaving Obrigado behind while opening up a safe lead. Flanagan Memory, who went a third-over trip, closed well through the stretch to end up a no-threat second. Obrigado held third. Resolve trotted the mile in 1:52.2 for owner Hans Enggren. Social media was abuzz when Wiggle It Jiggleit captured the first of three $30,000 Ben Franklin eliminations on Saturday (June 25) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but the horse that many considered to be the star attraction was overshadowed by his two colleagues that triumphed in the two following divisions and establishes a contest in the $500,000 final on Saturday (July 2) that may very well be epic. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, and is the top-ranked horse in the industry poll. Trained by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership, the gelding won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Which was the slowest elimination. By a full second. Because world records were set in the other two cuts: first the 5-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki took his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's all-time world record for a five-eighths-mile track (set in the Franklin final two years ago) and missing the all-time race record by a single tick, and then Freaky Feet Pete was off by himself much of the other elimination and still crossed the wire in 1:47.1, a world record for a 4-year-old pacing horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki now has won four of six races and $91,500 this year, and 22 of 41 races and $1,319,576 lifetime. Jimmy Takter has brought the pacer all the way back from injury to the top of his game for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. Freaky Feet Pete is now five-for-six in 2016 and an amazing 29-for-33 in his career, with $1,224,050 in his till for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer and he completed the "Indiana-sired" sweep of the Franklin eliminations. Complete recaps of the weekend races, including the other six Pocono stakes eliminations, are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the current leaders: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 191.5; 2. David Miller - 170; 3. Yannick Gingras - 167; 4. Tim Tetrick - 166; 5. Matt Kakaley - 130. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 258; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 170; 3. Peter Tritton - 139.5; 4. Rene Allard - 125; 5. Jimmy Takter - 118. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 112; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 72.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 62.85; 5t. George Teague Jr. Inc. - 51.25; 5t. Teague Racing Partnership - 51.25. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Tioga Downs, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Yonkers Raceway. Tioga will host Tompkins-Geers races for 3-year-old colt and filly pacers; The Meadowlands will host the Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters, Meadowlands Pace eliminations for 3-year-olds and a Reynolds division for 3-year-old filly trotters; and Yonkers features Lawrence Sheppard eliminations for 2-year-old pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

After last weekend's three Ben Franklin Pace eliminations produced two of the three fastest miles in harness racing history on a five-eighths-mile track, horsemen and fans are anticipating an extraordinary encore in Saturday's $500,000 final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Five-year-old stallion Always B Miki won his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's record for the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths oval. Freaky Feet Pete followed with a 1:47.1 victory in his elim, setting the record for the fastest mile by a 4-year-old on a five-eighths track. Prior to those two performances, 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Earlier this season, the 4-year-old gelding posted a 1:47.3 triumph on the five-eighths oval at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Ben Franklin Pace final is the first-ever meeting of all three horses in the same race. The event is part of Pocono's Sun Stakes Saturday, which also includes stakes for 3-year-old pacers and trotters. "As a fan, it's just tremendous," said Mitchel Skolnick, who is one of the owners of the Jimmy Takter-trained Always B Miki. "We wait years for horses like this to come along, and to see the three each at his best, it's special. Hopefully, everyone gets what they're expecting (on Saturday)." History's fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. Many people believe the record for a race mile --- if not the time-trial clocking --- could fall in the Franklin final. "It's a possibility if it all goes the right way," said Larry Rheinheimer, who bred Freaky Feet Pete and trains the stallion for his wife Mary Jo and son Marty. "But I don't worry about that until afterwards. My goal is to be the first one across the finish line. The time? We'll take that when it comes. I was excited with the (1):47.1 and the 4-year-old record. It will be a good race regardless. I'm excited." Added George Teague Jr., who owns the Clyde Francis-trained Wiggle It Jiggleit, "If it's a night like the other night and the weather is warm with no wind, I think it's possible they can go (1):46 and a piece or thereabouts. It's perfect the way it worked out from the other night's races. They all won, and won in big fashion. "The buildup for this race is great. There's a lot of buzz." Wiggle It Jiggleit, the No. 1-ranked horse in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, has won eight of 11 races this year. He brings a four-race victory streak to the Franklin final, with his triumphs including the Battle of Lake Erie and Dorothy Mullin Invitational. A son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 31 of 38 lifetime races and earned $2.63 million. He has finished worse than second only once in his career. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the Franklin's 5-2 morning line favorite and will start the race from post No. 3 with driver Montrell Teague, the son of George Teague Jr., in the sulky. Wiggle It Jiggleit won his elimination by 1-1/4 lengths. "I'm not going to kid you, I'd rather be 1-9 going for $500,000 than have to race those two horses," the elder Teague said, laughing. "I'd be stupid to say anything differently. But to be a part of this, it's definitely a lot of fun. I'm excited. I'm all pumped up. I love our chances. I still think we have the best horse in the game. I'm sure the other two think they have the best horse in the game, too. Now it's prove-it time." Always B Miki, the No. 2-ranked horse in the sport's poll, has won eight of 10 races since returning to action from injury last October. The son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper has won 22 of 41 career starts and earned $1.31 million. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. In his elimination, Always B Miki raced on the outside for much of the mile, but was able to overtake pacesetter Mel Mara at the top of the stretch and pull away for a 3-3/4 length win. "I don't think I've been more impressed with a horse that I've trained than I was with him in that race," said Jimmy Takter, who will watch Always B Miki and driver David Miller start from post No. 7 in the Franklin final. "I was so proud of him. "Personally, I think this is probably as exciting a race coming up that there ever was. All the drivers have confidence in their horse. They all think they're going to win it. All three raced fantastic last weekend; they all looked great. It's going to be a horserace." Freaky Feet Pete, the fourth-ranked horse in harness racing's Top 10, has won five of six races this year and 29 of 33 lifetime starts. The son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori has finished worse than third only once in his career and earned $1.22 million. He won his elimination by 5-3/4 lengths and will start the final from post six with regular driver Trace Tetrick. "Pete raced good; I was real happy with him," Rheinheimer said. "He came out of it good, eating good and everything, so we're ready to go. I think it will be a good race. It'll probably come down to whoever gets the breaks and the racing luck." In addition to the "Big Three," the Franklin final includes Canada's 2015 Horse of the Year State Treasurer plus world champions Mel Mara, who defeated Always B Miki earlier this season, and Always At My Place. Add in Shamballa and the 10-horse field features seven horses that have won in 1:48 or faster. Below is the Ben Franklin field followed by the fields for the remaining stakes Saturday at Pocono: $500,000 Ben Franklin (Race 11; estimated post time 9:55 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Mel Mara - Corey Callahan - Dylan Davis - 6/1 2 - Shamballa - Scott Zeron - Rick Zeron - 8/1 3 - Wiggle It Jiggleit - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 5/2 4 - State Treasurer - Tim Tetrick - Ian Moore - 15/1 5 - Sunfire Blue Chip - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 6 - Freaky Feet Pete - Trace Tetrick - Larry Rheinheimer - 3/1 7 - Always B Miki - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 8 - All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 20/1 9 - Rock N' Roll World - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 30/1 10 - Always At My Place - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 10/1 Always At My Place starts from the second tier $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial (Race 9; estimated post time 9:08 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - JK Fannie - Jim Morrill Jr. - Nancy Johansson - 10/1 2 - I Said Diamonds - Matt Kakaley - Matias Ruiz - 5/1 3 - Newborn Sassy - Tim Tetrick - Jo Ann Looney-King - 4/1 4 - Lindwood Beachgirl - Yannick Gingras - Mark Steacy - 12/1 5 - Skinny Dipper - Scott Zeron - Ross Croghan - 20/1 6 - Darlinonthebeach - David Miller - Nancy Johansson - 3/1 7 - Pure Country - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 5/2 8 - Blue Moon Stride - Andrew McCarthy - Mark Harder - 6/1 9 - Penpal - Pat Lachance - Pat Lachance - 15/1 $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial (Race 10; estimated post time 9:31 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - More Dragon - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 20/1 2 - Racing Hill - Brett Miller - Tony Alagna - 5/2 3 - Western Fame - George Napolitano Jr. - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 4 - JK Will Power - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 6/1 5 - Talk Show - Scott Zeron - Steve Elliott - 8/1 6 - Boston Red Rocks - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 5/1 7 - Katies Rocker - David Miller - Jim Campbell - 4/1 8 - Control The Moment - Randy Waples - Brad Maxwell - 7/2 9 - Big Top Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 15/1 $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (Race 12; estimated post time 10:20 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Reigning Moni - Scott Zeron - Jimmy Takter - 10/1 2 - Hollywood Highway - John Campbell - Staffan Lind - 15/1 3 - Truemass Volo - Eric Goodell - Douglas Hamilton - 12/1 4 - Dayson - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 3/1 5 - Trolley - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 6/1 6 - Brooklyn Hill - David Miller - Jonas Czernyson - 5/1 7 - Southwind Frank - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 5/2 8 - Dice Man - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 20/1 9 - Bar Hopping - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

What can they possibly do for an encore? That's the question on the lips of anyone who was lucky enough to witness the spectacular performances during last Saturday night's eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday coming up on July 2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Elimination races can sometimes feel like formalities, with the favorites shuffling along without much movement in the hopes of sneaking into the finals. But the races on Saturday were almost uniformly thrilling, with the eliminations for the Ben Franklin free-for-all pace in particular going down as some of the most memorable races that Pocono has ever hosted in its half-century plus of existence. It's important to note that the other three sets of eliminations held on the night possessed their own share of standouts and surprises. In the Max Hempt eliminations for 3-year-old pacers, favorites Control The Moment and Racing Hill delivered in their respective splits and seem headed for a showdown in the final. Pure Country reasserted her dominance among three-year-old pacing fillies in her elimination for the James Lynch, winning despite a tough first-over grind. And Bar Hopping provided the biggest upset of the night, handing 1-9 favorite Southwind Frank just his second career loss in an elimination for the Earl Beal for three-year-old trotters. In all fairness, the night really began with Race 10, the first of three consecutive races on the card that would serve as eliminations for the Ben Franklin pace, which carries a $500,000 purse for the finals. The top three finishers in each race would punch a ticket (although that got a bit complicated, as you'll read in a moment.) And the very first elimination gave Pocono fans their first 2016 glimpse of Wiggle It Jiggleit, the sport's preeminent superstar. Among the 22 wins that Wiggle It Jiggleit amassed in his ridiculously successful 2015 3-year-old campaign were a pair of huge stakes wins at Pocono. He came into Saturday night with seven wins and three places in ten starts so far in 2016 against the very best competition. As a 1-9 favorite, the four-year-old gelding trained by Clyde Francis didn't have an easy time making the lead, clearing just past the half. He then had to deal with a strong first-over charge on the back stretch from Always At My Place, who pulled up even at one point. Driver Montrell Teague knows how to coax something extra out of Wiggle It Jiggleit, which is what he did in the stretch on Saturday night. The gelding stepped away from the pursuit to win in a scorching 1:48:1, a length-and-a-quarter in front of State Treasurer. Meanwhile Always At My Place faded to a a dead heat for third with Shamballa, meaning that there will be ten horses eligible for the Franklin final, with four of them coming from the first division. As for the other six finalists? Well, the second split featured Always B Miki as the 1-5 favorite. The 5-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn won three of his first five races this year and was coming into the elimination off an incredible 1:47:1 victory at Tioga. But it looked like his chances might be doomed on Saturday when he was strung out around the clubhouse turn by Mel Mara, who set the pace on the inside. Driver David Miller never gave in with Always B Miki. He was still battling it out with Mel Mara even as he had to endure a second turn on the outside and even as the fractions bordered on the sadistic. Always B Miki then uncorked one more burst of speed to free himself from Mel Mara and the rest of the pursuit. He crossed the line in 1:47, matching the fastest time ever on a 5/8-mile oval. All Bets Off came on late for second, while Mel Mara managed to dig deep to hold on for third to make the final. After that world record performance, it seemed like expecting even more drama was greedy. But we still had one elimination to go, and it featured the amazing Midwesterner Freaky Feet Pete in his Pocono debut. Trained by Larry Rheinheimer, the four-year-old stallion came into the eliminations with a staggering career record of 28 wins in 32 career starts and over $1.2 million in the bank. Were it not for Wiggle It Jiggleit's exploits, we'd likely be talking about Freaky Feet Pete as the sport's dominant superstar. Based on his performance on Saturday night, the jury may still be out on that. From the inside post, driver Trace Tetrick grabbed the lead early with Freaky Feet Pete, and it was a lead that no one would take away. In what appeared to be an effortless performance, the stallion clipped fraction after stunning fraction without seeming to break a sweat, until he was well in front of the rest of the standout field and crossing the line in 1:47:1, which broke the world record for 4-year-old stallion pacers on a 5/8-mile oval. Rock N'Roll World and Sunfire Blue Chip were nowhere in the ballpark with Freaky Feet Pete but at least snuck into the final by finishing second and third, respectively. Three Ben Franklin eliminations and three incendiary performances. The final should be an incredible showdown, as should the three other huge stakes races to be contested on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't even think about missing it. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE PA - There will be over $2 million on the line this Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on its harness racing Super Stakes Saturday harness racing card, but while the races for the three-year-olds will provide exciting contests and help provide early season pecking order, the main focus will be on one event.   The Showdown.   The Clash of the Titans - Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, and Wiggle It Jiggleit - in the $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace Championship, race 11 on the 14-race card Saturday at Pocono, which is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first post.   Here's an overview of the evening's activities, led of course by the Franklin:   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 11 of 14 - consolation race 7)   Defending Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit got the best of the post draw among the three Indiana-sired winners in the Franklin eliminations - but then again, the other two are not noted for their quick starting speed, although they may need to show some to get the major share of the purse in the Franklin, which became a field of ten when Shamballa and Always At My Place deadheated for third in an elimination.   The four-year-old son of Mr Wiggles, trained by Clyde Francis for George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC, shows five "clean" calls of "1" (no parked-out symbols) at the quarter among his charted lines, and being somewhere near the front has been part of driver Montrell Teague's basic modus operandi as "Wiggle" has won 31 of 38 career starts and $2.630,760 lifetime, including an easy-looking 1:48.1 score in his Franklin elimination (in which he drew over $73,000 of a $76,500 show pool). What might happen after Wiggle It Jiggleit gets the top (if he goes for the lead) makes for the drama of the story.   The five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion (are the last two words an oxymoron?) Always B Miki will start from post seven for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and his ownership of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. "Miki" has forged much of his reputation as an unstoppable finisher deluxe, with several pace-controlling moves made midrace on the straightaway of a big track. He shows only one "clean 1" at the first split on his lines, in a field of six when he was 1-20* in a Meadowlands race earlier this year, but he also has shown the ability to sit outside and still be razor-sharp in the stretch, as he was at Pocono last week when he was hung the better part of ¾ of a mile, mostly uncovered, and still had strong strides to the wire to equal the 1:47 world record for 5/8-mile tracks, set by Sweet Lou in the Franklin Championship here in 2014. He may face a similar trip on Saturday - but he's shown he can handle it.   The horse that hung Always B Miki, Mel Mara (driven by Corey Callahan), should be mentioned here, as the seven-year-old Lis Mara stallion, trained by Dylan Davis for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, drew the rail for the Franklin Championship. But Mel Mara has seldom shown early speed racing recently -which may be a strange thing to say for a horse who's been ahead at the half in 3 of his last 5 races, but he has been parked at the quarter in all three, making second-quarter moves to the top. "Mel" does not figure to benefit from the "inside geometry" of post one as much as many would.   Freaky Feet Pete was in front most of his Franklin victory, with the son of Rockin Image setting a world record of 1:47.1 for his division in his easiest of triumphs (you heard a lot of "He didn't look like he was going that fast!" comments after his elim). But again, like Always B Miki, the only raceline he shows with a "clean 1" at the quarter was a 1-20* early-season win at Hoosier. Trace Tetrick, Tim's brother, who will be putting his 1.000 lifetime UDR at Pocono on the line here (last week was his first visit to the mountain oval) for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer.   With all these horses of superior and variable mid-race tactics - gathered together in a powerpacked field that collectively has earned $11.8M in their careers and has an average mark of 1:47.4 - the trip, combined with some racing luck, will probably tell the tale in this great free-for-all showdown.   (By the way, Luck Be Withyou, the defending Franklin champ, will be racing in the Consolation this year, from post 1. He won his 2015 elim from post 8 and his final from post nine - and went wire-to-wire, with "clean 1"s, in both contests.)   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP (race 12 -- consolation race 5)   Lost a bit in the uproar about the speedy Franklin elimination show last Saturday was the fact that Southwind Frank, the favorite for the August 8 Hambletonian, suffered only the second loss of his career. The three-year-old son of Muscle Hill, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke and Southwind Frank Partners, was limbed out most of the first 3/8s before getting the top and went on to fast fractions before getting edged at the end by a game Bar Hopping in 1:52.1. The Beal elim was only "Frank"'s third start of the year, and first since June 4, and he figures to be a bit better this week, although again needing to overcome post seven in a field of nine.   Bar Hopping, who caught Southwind Frank late in posting the upset last week, may have an even more difficult road to hoe on Saturday, as the pillshake was unkind enough to give him the outside in the field of nine for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. But the son of Muscle Hill will be driven by Tim Tetrick, who showed the best ability to cope "against the odds" on Elim Saturday - of the nine eliminations, seven were won by favorites, and Tetrick drove the other two: Bar Hopping ($24.60) and 3PF Newborn Sassy ($8.20).   If these two get involved in vicious early dueling, there is a horse who has proven he has a wicked closing kick - and he lives right down the shedrow from Southwind Frank. That would be Burke trainee Dayson, an altered son of Conway Hall who has never lost in his career when flat (11 for 14, with three breaks). That pattern looked in serious jeopardy as late as midstretch last week, but driver Jim Morrill Jr. got a furious late kick out of Dayson for a 1:52.3 tally, and from post two he might again be in prime position to "pick up the pieces" for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Rossie Smith.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 10; no consolation - only 13 in elims.)   Racing Hill and Control The Moment were 2-3 behind Hempt non-eligible Betting Hill in the recent $1MC North America Cup at Mohawk, and both followed on their fine showing in Canada by winning their respective Hempt elims. For the Hempt Championship, Racing Hill has the better draw, PP2 vs. PP8, and the Roll With Joe colt, trained by Tony Alagna for owner Tom Hill of the U.K., was the faster elim winner, winning in 1:49.1 under a hold the last 1/16 by driver Brett Miller.   However, few people would be surprised if the Well Said colt Control The Moment gave a giant accounting of himself despite landing behind the 8-ball at the post draw. The Brad Maxwell trainee, owned by the Control The Moment Stable, won in 1:49.3 last week, snapping home in 27 last Saturday to hold off 2015 divisional champion Boston Red Rocks, who has post six in the Hempt Final.   If one were looking for an upsetter in the Hempt, one could make a case for the Art Major gelding Talk Show, who starts in the middle of the field of nine for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Steve Elliott (also the trainer of Boston Red Rocks). The timer malfunctioned during his elim, and it wasn't until after the race that it was noted that Racing Hill blitzed the third quarter in 26.3 to hold off a spirited challenge from Talk Show - who was four lengths off the lead at the half, meaning he went his third quarter raw in 25.4! Such pure speed, under perfect circumstances, could find Talk Show in the thick of things in the Hempt final.   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 9 - consolation race 6)   Last year's division champion Pure Country went 10-for-10 in her freshman campaign. This year, largely due to some early-season sickness, the road has not been as easy for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, but as trainer Jimmy Takter notes, "She's won the two biggest races of the season for her division so far, the Miss Pennsylvania (at Pocono) and the Fan Hanover." Last week Pure Country showed her grittiness by overcoming a first-over trip to win in 1:50.1 for driver Brett Miller, as she looks to raise her "majors" record to 3 for 3; the two foes who were within a half-length of her at the wire start on either side of her Saturday: Blue Moon Stride, getting post eight after a second, and Darlinonthebeach, in post six after closing for third.   We mentioned Newborn Sassy earlier as one of two non-favorites, both piloted by Tim Tetrick, to win an elim, and on Saturday the Western Ideal miss, trained by co-owner Jo Ann Looney-King for herself and partner CC Racing LLC, will begin from post three off her 1:51.3 elimination tally. I Said Diamonds, that elim's chalk who came up just short after not having raced in 29 days, certainly has a license to be better off of that race, and will start from post two.   ANOTHER STAR WILL BE AT POCONO SATURDAY   Well-known baseball superstar Pete Rose will be making an appearance at The Downs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono before the evening's races (and may well stay and bet a few, if his past performances are any indication).   Wristbands to attend the session with Rose will be distributed starting at 1 p.m. in the Racing Lobby. There are a limited number of wrist bands, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The session with Rose will take place between 4 and 6 p.m. Only authorized photos will be distributed.     AND TO END, THE FIELDS FOR THE "BIG FOUR" ON SUN STAKES SATURDAY (post, horse, driver, trainer):   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 9:   1, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson;   2, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz;   3, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King;   4, Lindwood Beach Girl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy;   5, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan;   6. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson;   7, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, Blue Moon Stride, McCarthy also listed, Mark Harder;   9. Penpal, driver/trainer Pat Lachance.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 10:   1, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   2, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna;   3, Western Fame, George Napolitano Jr., Jimmy Takter;   4, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott;   6, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott;   7, Katies Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell;   8, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell;   9, Big Top Hanover, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 11:   1, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis;   2, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron;   3, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis;   4, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick, Dr. Ian Moore;   5, Sunfire Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   6, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rheinheimer;   7, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   9, Rock N' Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   10 (2T), Always At My Place, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP, race 12:   1, Reigning Moni, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter;   2, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind;   3, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton;   4, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke;   5, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller;   6, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson;   7, Southwind Frank, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   8, Dice Man, driver/trainer Ãke Svanstedt;   9, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter.   There will be a release sent out shortly after noon tomorrow, with any scratches, final driver changes, and morning line odds.   PHHA / Pocono          

1 to 16 of 49
1 2 3 4 Next »