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Big Game Hunter bagged a sweep of the Winter Claiming Series for $20,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers when he captured Saturday's $35,500 final at The Meadows. Screen The Call took the $21,000 championship of the harness racing Winter Claiming Series for $10,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers. Sitting fourth near the three-eighths, Big Game Hunter made a quick burst to the front for Aaron Merriman and had little trouble from there, scoring in 1:52.4. Valiente Stride was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, while Amazon Art shot the Lightning Lane for show. Mike Dowdall trains the 6-year-old Geartogear-Penny's Fortune gelding, who extended his lifetime earnings to $179,155, for Keith Pippi. Screen The Call converted a pocket trip to victory when he blew by the leader, American Paparazzi, in the lane and downed him by a neck for Dan Rawlings, trainer Scot Davidson and owner Ameer Najor. Waylon Hanover rallied for show. It was the fifth win in the last six starts for the 7-year-old son of American Ideal-Last Night, who boosted his career bankroll to $185,645. Elsewhere on Saturday's card, Doctor RJ peeled off cover around the final turn for Eric Goodell and roared through the stretch to take the $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life Pace in 1:51.3, fastest mile this year at The Meadows. Achilles Blue Chip closed well for place, 3/4 lengths back, with the first-over Artache Hanover third. Paul Kennedy conditions Doctor RJ, a 7-year-old Real Artist-Informant gelding who now boasts $230,710 in lifetime earnings, for Robyn Kennedy and Pippi. Merriman piloted four winners on the 15-race card while Tony Hall and trainer Randy Bendis each enjoyed a three-bagger. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Big Game Hunter held off the late challenge of Valiente Stride to capture his second straight harness racing victory in Saturday's second leg of the Winter Claiming Series for $20,000 horse and gelding pacers at The Meadows. Sawbuck Hanover and Want Me also took $15,000 second-leg splits. Sent straight to the front by Aaron Merriman, Big Game Hunter easily parried the first-over bid of Mr Coolie but then had to deal with the stretch charge of Valiente Stride. The 6-year-old Geartogear-Penny's Fortune gelding downed Valiente Stride by a neck in 1:54, while Mr Coolie saved show. Mike Dowdall trains Big Game Hunter, who now boasts $161,405 in career earnings, for Keith Pippi. The card also featured the second leg of the Winter Claiming Series for $10,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers, with Screen The Call and Waylon Hanover each winning $8,000 divisions. The championships of both Winter Claiming Series are set for Saturday, Feb. 27. Elsewhere on Saturday's program, Rockin Ron stretched his winning streak to four with a facile victory -- from post 9 -- in the $22,500 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Pace. The first-over Artache Hanover was second, 3-1/2 lengths back, with Dew N Doughnuts third. Dave Palone drove the 4-year-old Real Desire-Im All A Roan gelding, who extended his career bankroll to $157,418, for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and RTC Stables. Tony Hall, Merriman and Palone each enjoyed a three-bagger on the 15-race card. * * * * * Register now for The Meadows Live Bankroll Handicapping Contest set for Saturday, March 5, with a guaranteed $5,000 prize pool. Cost is $100, with $50 allocated to the prize pool and $50 to each player's bankroll. Registered players can enjoy the free lunch buffet in the Triple Crown Banquet Room and will receive a free March 5 Meadows race program. Winner gets 50 percent of the prize pool, with 25 percent for second place, 12 percent for third place, 8 percent for fourth place and 5 percent for fifth place. To register now, call 724.503.1509 or visit the Retail Center in the Racebook. Event-day registration begins at 11:30 AM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

The 2015 Hanover Stakes continued at the harness racing meeting at Balmoral on Saturday, July 11th, with a total of 15 sophomore pacing colts squaring off in a pair of $21,775 divisions as the Grand Circuit action returned to the Crete oval. Pacing fillies were also in action with a field of eight slugging it out for a purse of $26,000 in another Hanover tussle. In the filly event Kristopher Heim, Connie Hochstetler and James Michels Southern Girl overcame a tough first over journey as she rallied in the closing yards to post a half-length victory in a career best of 1:52.4 for Casey Leonard.   Positioned in mid-pack as Ashok Ace (Mike Oosting) and then Lex (Kyle Wilfong) led the field through splits of 27.4, 56.1 &1:24.3 Leonard pulled first over from fourth as the field moved around the far turn.   Grinding her way to the lead, the Homer Hochstetler trained daughter of Sportsmaster-Biloxi finally overtook a game Lex who had been battling Ashok Ace tooth and nail, drawing clear in the final strides to notch her fifth win in 14 career starts in this her first season of racing. Ashok Ace was a  hard fought second while Sportsmuffler (Todd Warren) rallied to be third.   The third choice in the wagering managed to return a healthy $23.80, $6.20 & $7.00 while upping her career earnings to $32,517.   After yet another thunderstorm soaked the racing surface the first division for the pacing colts was contested. The wet surface did not seem to bother Strollin Stable, King McNamara, William Robinson and Country Club Acres Rise Up Now as the star of the Pennsylvania Sire Stake circuit splashed to a one-length victory in 1:54.1 for driver Don Harmon.   Leaving alertly from post seven, Harmon landed in the four-hole as Frosty Dune (Kyle Wilfong) and Major Ed (Todd Warren) battled through opening splits of 28.3 & 57.1.   Powering up first over on the far turn the altered son of Somebeachsomewhere--Northwestern managed to poke a head in front of Major Ed as the pacers moved by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.0.   Through the stretch, the Brian Brown trainee began to put daylight between himself and his rivals eventually reporting home with his seventh win in nine starts this year. Longshot Utah Beach (Ryan Anderson) turned in a nice late rally to get the place check while Lucpark (Mike Oosting) was a solid third after missing three weeks.   The co-favorite in the wagering, Rise Up Now returned $4.00, $2.80 & $2.10 while upping his bankroll to $124,812 with his huge sophomore campaign.   In the nightcap Harmon struck again this time guiding Gary Clark's Skim The Top to a thrilling nose decision in 1:53.0 over the sloppy track. Grinding it out in the middle of the pack while Feelnlikearockstar (Mike Oosting) put up fractions of 28.4, 57.4 & 1:25.1 Harmon finally tipped the homebred son of Geartogear--Schmoley off cover with an eighth of a mile to go. Gradually cutting into the two-length advantage of Feelnlikearockstar, the Krista Harmon trained colt managed to edge his nose in front in the last stride to nip the pace setter in a very tight photo. Feelnlikearockstar was forced to settle for the tough luck second place finish while Earndawg (Todd Warren) wound up with the show dough. Dispatched at odds of 9-2 Skim The Top returned $10.60, $5.20 & $3.60 while moving his career numbers to 3-4-2 in 17 starts with earnings of $63,914. State bred's are back in action on Sunday, July 12th with a field of six eight three-year-old trotting colts batting in the $8,000 Brandenburg Stake which goes as race four on the 10-race program. Their female counterparts will also take to the track in race six as a field of eight will renew acquaintances in the $8,000 Fox Valley Diva Stake. Once again the wagering action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five also features a guaranteed pool now with a $15,000 guarantee on the line in the "ultimate get out bet" (race 10). Tom Kelley 

Our first glimpse of 2-year-olds took place at the Tuesday morning qualifiers at Balmoral Park and 8 of the 11 harness racing freshman that went postward were out of trainer Bob Phillips’ barn. The first four finishes in the first two qualifiers all were Phillips trainees. The 1:59.2 first freshman victor in the opening qualifier was My Man Red, a son of Sportsmaster who sold for $9,000 under the name of Fox Valley Lance to Blackfoot Farms of Chicago and Phillips. John De Long guided the ICF colt and also was behind the second race freshman filly winner Shakeitformegear (Geartogear) who paced a 1:58.2 mile with a 27.1 last quarter. Cutting the fractions in the second qualifier was the filly Fox Valley Tiramisu, a highly regarded daughter of Sportsmaster owned by Phillips and John Carver, a $50,000 yearling purchase. Fox Valley Tiramisu is out of the broodmare Theladysappealstome, making her a full sister to 2008 Breeders Crown 2-year-old champion Fox Valley Topaz. “Tiramisu” paced a 27.3 last quarter when she finished one length behind her Indiana bred stable-mate. The fastest of the six qualifiers conducted belonged to 3-year-old colt Mystical Jet, who drew off by six lengths in 1:57.2 for driver Casey Leonard and trainer Jill Arnold. Mike Paradise

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