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September 22, 2014 - With Ray Cotolo's $1,250 profit on Little Brown Jug Day, it looked very much like he would cruise home to victory this week in HANA Harness' Grand Circuit Shoot-Out Handicapping Contest sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, DRF Harness, Meadowlands Racing & Gaming, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. However, by the end the week's handicapping action In Quebec, Cotolo was indeed the weekly winner, but his lead had shrunk from $588 to only $105.20 over Dennis O'Hara as these two handicappers were the only ones to finish the week in the black. While the finish for weekly honors was tight, Bob Zanakis retains a comfortable lead of $1,039.35 to maintain the overall lead ($2,949.35) over second place Mark McKelvie ($1,910.00) through 34 legs of the contest. Brandon Valvo ($1,715.00) trails closely behind in third which rounds out the top three positions where donations are to be made to standardbred horse rescues on the victors' behalf. Jugette Day (Wednesday, September 17) at the Delaware County Fair had Dennis O'Hara lead the handicappers with his daily net profit of $589.80 thanks to his $6 base Superfecta ($240 total) on the Buckette coming in, paying $829.90 which was his sole wager for the day. Second best on Thursday was Josi Verlingieri, whose $410 profit was attributable to a $100 Win ticket on the American-National for 2yo colt trotters at Balmoral Park which paid a $660 dividend. Jug Day (Thursday, September 18) saw Cotolo collect the previously mentioned $1,250 return which was earned on a do-or-die $250 win ticket on the 2nd division of the Jug paying a generous $1,500. Sally Hinckley was the only other player with a positive return Thursday ($632) thanks to her $4 trifecta box ($24 total) in the Old Oaken Bucket which returned $882. With a day off, the contest resumed Saturday night with a septet of races at Hoosier Park plus the Milton Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack. Needless to say, the defeat of Sebastian K took most of the handicappers down but at the end of day, a lone handicapper had a positive return. Dennis O'Hara led the group with a net profit of $135 for Friday thanks to his $300 investment in $25 Superfectas in the 2nd division of the Kentuckiana Stallion Management stake for 2yo pacing fillies which paid $507.50. To conclude the weekend's activity, the team of handicappers did battle with the return of the Prix d'Ete at Hippodrome 3r. By the time the curtain came down on Sunday's action, only two handicappers had a positive return, led by Derick Giwner who had a positive return of $225 thanks to his $150 win wager on Sunfire Blue Chip who returned $375. The other handicapper with a positive return was Verlingieri, whose $125 profit was attributable to her own $150 win ticket. The current standings after the completion of the weekend’s activity are:   As of September 21, 2014 - Leg 34 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis ($789.50) $2,949.35   2nd Mark McKelvie ($462.00) $1,910.00 $1,039.35 3rd Brandon Valvo ($860.00) $1,715.00 $1,234.35 4th Josi Verlingieri ($111.00) $1,028.05 $1,921.30 5th Rusty Nash ($640.00) ($442.76) $3,392.11 6th Brian McEvoy ($337.50) ($559.00) $3,508.35 7th Gordon Waterstone ($361.00) ($700.30) $3,649.65 8th Earl Paulson ($1,095.00) ($1,190.50) $4,139.85 9th Derick Giwner ($675.00) ($2,024.23) $4,973.58 10th Sally Hinckley ($200.00) ($2,441.90) $5,391.25 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($1,148.00) ($2,542.70) $5,492.05 12th Ray Garnett ($956.00) ($2,583.10) $5,532.45 13th Ann Stepien ($466.20) ($2,598.91) $5,548.26 14th Dennis O'Hara $244.80 ($2,794.90) $5,744.25 15th Ray Cotolo $350.00 ($5,848.40) $8,797.75                                                                                    This week, the racing action is concentrated at The Red Mile with various divisions of the Bluegrass being contested Thursday thru Sunday.  The only deviation from an all-Lexington weekend comes Saturday with the $200,000 Jim Ert Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs for pacers four year old and up..  As always, the Grand Circuit Shoot-Out may be followed at http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.       Allan Schott HANA Harness Coordinator allan@hanaweb.org      

East Rutherford - Despite a relentless winter that seemed to never want to end and an interruption in racing due to the Super Bowl being held at MetLife Stadium, the early returns on the 2014 Meadowlands season, the first in the new state of the art facility are promising. Through 67 live racing dates, the on-track handle stands at $19,231,729, an average of $287,040 per card. That figure will increase through the final 14 dates of the season which include The Breeders Crown and TVG Free For All Championships. All-sources export handle through the same 67 live racing dates is $168,020,021, an average of $2,507,761 per-card. With 14 racing dates remaining, export is trending toward surpassing $200 Million for the entire season. Hambletonian Day was a tremendous success. While some international figures continue to trickle in, the current handle of $8,693,869 is an increase of over $1 Million from 2013 and is the third highest handle in Hambletonian history, behind only 2002 ($8.8 Million) and 2005 ($9 Million). "I am very pleased with the first year in our new facility," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "First and foremost, the new racetrack is absolutely stunning and I don't believe there is a racetrack like it in the country. The most common comments I hear from our guests speak to how beautiful the racetrack is. "I think the summertime and better weather allowed people to spread out more" Gural added, "enjoying all the outside amenities and as Hambletonian Day proved, any concerns that the new racetrack would not be able to handle the crowds on our biggest days were put to rest. The outside decks and the rooftop terrace offer some of the best views in racing and those locations are in very high demand in the warmer months. They seem to be attracting new and younger people to our facility which is critical to not only our future, but the future of this industry." Meadowlands General Manger and C.E.O. Jason Settlemoir looks back at the 2014 season with a great deal of pride and optimism. "I want to thank our horsemen for supporting us in this pivotal year at The Meadowlands and we look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the SBOANJ going forward," said Settlemoir. I also want to thank The Meadowlands employees. It took a herculean effort by each of them to put together the season we had and I couldn't be prouder of the team at The Meadowlands. Last but certainly not least, a great many thanks to our customers who have embraced the changes at The Meadowlands. Without them, none of this would have been possible." Looking forward to the Fall and 2015, The Meadowlands will continue its event-marketing strategy and providing its customers with events like Jerseyfest and Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night that proved to be a huge success. On the wagering front, beginning in the fall, there will be an exciting new low-takeout wager that The Meadowlands is confident when at its zenith will provide the largest pool in harness racing history. More details on the wager will come shortly. Harness racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday November 14th. That first weekend features the eliminations for The Breeders Crown, with the 12 Championship Finals to be contested on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd. Prior to the return of harness racing, thoroughbred racing will return to The Meadowlands on Thursday September 18th and will run through Saturday, November 1st. For the first time in several years, thoroughbred racing will be conducted at night, with a post time of 7:00 P.M. "I hope people come out to see the thoroughbreds," Gural added. "This is a great facility for a night-time thoroughbred event and I look forward to seeing how it is received. I think it will expose the facility to an entirely new group of people and hopefully they will come back for the harness racing as well." There will be six races each night during the thoroughbred meet, with all races conducted on the turf course. The racing dates for the Thoroughbred meet can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/calendardates.aspx. The 2015 Standardbred dates will be announced in the coming weeks. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

Freehold, NJ --- Winky’s Gill, winner of a heat of the 1983 Hambletonian, dam of 1993 Hambletonian Oaks winner Winky’s Goal (1:54.4, $844,924) and 1987 Peter Haughton Memorial winner, Supergill (1:53.3, $664,194) died at the age of 34 on August 8 at Perretti Farm, her home of 14 years.   She was buried in the farm’s equine cemetery.  The daughter of Bonefish and Lassie Blue Chip was bred by Ulf Moberg and was born January 31, 1980 in Lexington, Kentucky. Her stakes wins include the 1982 Merrie Annabelle, Acorn, Review, Hayes and Lexington Filly Stakes.  In addition to a heat of the 1983 Hambletonian against colts in which she was third overall, she won the Coaching Club Oaks, Breeders Filly Stakes, Review and the Bluegrass Stake.  Her 15 wins in 27 starts got her purse earnings of $472,154 and a mark of 1:55.2. In her later years, Winky’s Gill served as babysitter for yearling fillies at Perretti Farm, a job at which she excelled, but only after two tries.  “We tried her back when she was a young girl in her mid-twenties,” said Breeding Operations Manager Lindsay Taylor in the book Standardbred Old Friends, in which Winky’s Gill is one of 43 horses featured.  “Winky decided she really didn’t want to come in to the barn any more.  It became a problem.  She figured out that every time we were coming out, she was coming in the barn and would be separated from her charges.  “She decided she was the matriarchal mare and she was going to round up her herd and take off for the foothills.  She regarded it as her responsibility to round up the babies and take them to a safe place. It was actually pretty funny if you weren’t the one out there trying to catch them.” Given another chance a few years later, Winky’s Gill got the hang of the job and made life easier for farm staff by leading fillies in to the barn for farrier and veterinary care.  “It’s like the Pied Piper,” said Taylor.  “Where ever she goes, they follow her in a little line. She usually selects one or two favorites, or they select her, I’m not sure which way it goes.  “She’ll have a couple; we call them her lieutenants, who have a special affinity for her or she for them.  She keeps them within 20 or 30 feet.  They form a kind of bond.  When she moves, they go with her.  If not, she usually goes back and round them up and takes them with her.” Taylor said that Winky’s Gill liked those she knew well, but had a definite opinion about one particular profession.  “She’s been around enough veterinarians that she’s a little leery of them.”  Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications  Courtesy of the US Trotting Association Web Newsroom

When World Champion and Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill retired from racing at the end of the 2009 harness racing season, Southwind Farms  and Muscle Hill Syndicate Manager, Mike Klau, had a plan. That plan was to turn the champion racehorse into an International Stallion.  Shareholders in the Syndicate hail from six different countries in Europe and Frozen Semen was made available to both Europe and the Southern Hemisphere. Now, five years after implementation, that plan has come into fruition.  This weekend Muscle Hill progeny will compete in major events all over the world. Glenferrie Burn, a two year Muscle Hill filly, will race in the Australian Breeders Crown Final at Melton on Sunday, after winning her elimination.  Three year old colts Emmett Brown and Sloopy Joe race in the E3 colt final in Sweden on Saturday and Sparkling Kronos, a three year old filly competes in the E3 filly final on the same day. In North America, his numerous stakes winners are headed by Hambletonian winner Trixton and World Champion and Merrie Annabelle winner Mission Brief.  He has sired a leading 14 three year olds with records of 1:55 or faster. Total earnings this year for his crop of two and three year olds have topped the $2 million mark. At the end of the recently concluded breeding season, Muscle Hill, who again bred a full book of 140 mares, and had 127 of those mares declared in foal. “He has always been a fertile horse and that has enabled us to freeze his semen and ship it around the world.” Said Klau. For the upcoming season (2015) his semen will again be available worldwide, with the Southern Hemisphere being handled by Stallions Australasia (Peter O’Rourke – David Shammall) and Europe being handled by Offspring AB (Anders Lindfors).  2014 saw the stallion moved to Marion Farms in New Hope, Pa. to take advantage of the rich Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program. Foals of 2015 will be eligible for that program. Booking Applications for the 2015 season will be available shortly on the Southwind Farms website www.southwindfarms.net  

CAMPBELLVILLE, August 21 - Homen Dry had the Define The World series title fall into his lap Thursday night at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of nine lined up Thursday night to contest the $46,600 series finale for two-year-old trotters. Jetpedia, the leg one winner, sprinted off the gate to grab the lead, while Homen Dry, the leg two winner, got away in third. Jetpedia and driver Mike Saftic trotted by the quarter pole in :29.2 and then slowed the tempo down considerably to reach the half way point in 1:00.4. In the third quarter, Homen Dry and driver Chris Christoforou advanced from third into second, while Saftic picked up the speed with Jetpedia to reach the three-quarter pole in 1:29.4. As the field entered the stretch, it appeared Homen Dry was in for a sprint to get by Jetpedia, but Jetpedia made a costly break a few strides into the stretch allowing Homen Dry to inherit the lead and cruise to a 1:58.2 victory. Trained by Brad Maxwell, Homen Dry won by three quarters of a length over stablemate Southwind Stryker, while Lookslikeachpndale took the show spot. Following the race, Christoforou said the trip didn't exactly work out as planned. "It really wasn't where I wanted to be, but because of his habits he will tend to pull up on the front and I didn't really want to be there even though the fractions were slow" said Christoforou. "I had to sit back, but I didn't want to be too far back because the fractions were slow, so I was close as I could be without being on the front." The series finale victory for the son of Credit Winner - Beyond Blue Chip was the second win in a row after finishing second in his first two career starts. "He (Homen Dry) has done quite well," said Christoforou. "He's a bit of tricky little guy to drive at times, but he's got lots of speed." Owned by Paul Van Camp, Ben Mudry and Tim Murray, Homen Dry was a $19,000 yearling purchase at last November's Harrisburg Sale. The winner's share of the purse increases Homen Dry's career earnings to over $35,000. He paid $4.40 to win. Stakes action continues tomorrow night at Mohawk as the three-year-old trotting fillies will be on display in two $101,296 Casual Breeze Stakes divisions. Headlining the second division is Lifetime Pursuit, the winner of this year's Hambletonian Oaks. She will start from post seven with regular driver Yannick Gingras. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG  

A Scandinavian quartet have teamed up and bought Broadway Hall. Hans Nelén (Global Farm), John Bootsman (Boko Stables), Mats Gabrielsson (Oxalis) and the couple Siv and Nils Otto Bergslien (The breeders of ”Thai”-horses) are the quartet behind the deal. Broadway Hall will stay in Pennsylvania and will service American breeding during 2015. In the fall, he will be collecting semen for freezing to the European market. Broadway Hall debuted as 2-year-old with making nine starts and he remained undefeated. Among his victories excels elimination and final of the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Sire Stakes and Lexington Breeders Championship. He received the Dan Patch Award as the "2-year-old-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States. Broadway Hall is the father of five world record holders, including the filly Cooler Schooner who last year won at 1: 51.3 at Pocono Downs 5/8-mile-track, which is still the fastest time for a two year old in the world - any track length. He has left two millionaires, Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn and the mare Action-Broadway. He has nearly 700 offspring in North America, which together have earned over 30 million dollars. In Sweden, he has 50 registered offspring where the mare Mermaid Ås (E3-winner and 2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET) is most winning with nearly four million SEK in her bank roll. In Norway Broadway Hall has left Thai Broadway (2nd in Grand Prix de l’UET and Breeders Crown), which earned almost 3.5 million NOK. Facts Age: 14 years (foaled 2000) Pedigree: Conway Hall - B Cor Tamgo Record: 1:56.4 Purse: $436,790 - Won the Dan Patch Award as the ”2YO-trotting-colt-of-the-year” in the United States in 2002. - Undefeated after nine starts as a 2-year old. - Breeders Crown winner. World Champion foals Frau Blucher, 1:53.1 • 3YO fillies at half-mile-track Cooler Schooner, 1:51.3 • 2YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Pilgrims Chuckie, 1:53 • 3YO colts and geldings at 5/8-mile-track Stage Show, 1:53.1 • 4YO fillies at 5/8-mile-track Sherman Mountain, 1:53.3 • 3YO geldings at 5/8-mile-track To earning foals USA: Broad Bahn (1.53 • $ 1,547,988), Action-Broadway (1:52.3 • $ 1,071,122), Pilgrims Taj (1:53.3 • $ 996,748), Frau Blucher (1:52.3 • $ 914,367), Broadway Scooner (1:53.3 • $ 885,933) and Opening Night (1:52.2 • $ 749,374). Sweden: Mermaid Ås (1:53.2 • 3,944,747 SEK) and the US-imports - Production (1:54.3 • 1,447,870 SEK), Cool Keeper (1:56 • 1,426,500 SEK) and Dicey Spicey (1:56.4 • 848,494 SEK). Norway: Thai Broadway (1:52.4 • 3,489,856 NOK). Finland: Vincent Van Kemp (1:56.2 • € 78,953). For more information contact either Truls Heslien, Global Farm, +47,328,767 97 +47906596 31 or John Bootsman, Boko Stables, +46 70-582 07 19. by Håkan Persson, for Global Farm

The day of the Hambletonian was a remarkable one for those using Razer shoes and Propads, by Razerhorse. Lifetime Pursuit, winner of the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks has been shod with Razer shoes for over a year to aid in a healthy well developed hoof for race day. Trixton, winner of the Hambletonian was prepped for the race wearing Razer shoes. Other standout horses that use Razer shoes and Propads include Father Patrick, Nuncio, Tellitlikeitis, Shake It Cerry, and Uncle Peter. Jimmy Takter, Harness Racing Hall of Famer is a regular user of Razer shoes and Propads. "Razer and Propad play a big part in my stable,” said Takter. Conny Svensson, renowned Standardbred blacksmith has shod many world champions using Razer shoes, and has been the farrier for the Takter stable for the past twenty years. "With the help of Razer Shoes and Propads in the training and preparation, I felt we went into the Hambletonian in the best possible way with all five of our horses," said Svensson. Razer shoes are unique in that they are a flexible, tempered, tool steel horseshoe. A traditional horseshoe locks the hoof in place, however, Razer shoes allow the hoof to move and flex naturally while providing the support and protection of a steel shoe. The Razer shoe is a low profile shoe, which cuts its weight in half and makes it nearly as light as aluminum. In harness racing, lighter is better. Additionally, the shape and design of the shoe offers excellent traction while allowing the hoof to also glide on the surface of the ground. Propads, manufactured with the highest quality polyurethane material, are the only pads on the market with an independent frog support. This accordion-shaped feature allows the frog to contact the ground, which aids in load sharing while increasing blood flow and circulation. The Propad can be used with any open heel shoe and does not have to be used with the Razer shoe. It is available in three styles: Basic Support, Support Soft and Support X-tra Soft. The Support Soft and Support X-tra Soft are a dual-density polyurethane with the iconic black and orange Razerhorse colors. Razerhorse products, including Razer shoes and Propads, are currently available at sixty-eight dealers and locations in thirty-one states, including five locations in Canada and one in Australia. To find a dealer near you, go to www.razerhorse.com. If you want to get your horses into the winning circle, Razer shoes and Propads will help you get there more often. by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak. His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too. "Win or lose, I'd always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him," Gingras said. "He's a great horse. He's provided me with great thrills so far, and I'm sure there are plenty more to come. "I'm looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is." Father Patrick's return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 - the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack - and went off stride at the start. The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky. "I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before," Gingras said after the race. "I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance. But he never will." Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat. "It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed," Gingras said. "When you focus on a race for so long, that's what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven't won one yet. That day had it all - the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he's accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn't feel like celebrating. "I do still think about it. It's a race I'll always want to take back, but you've got to live with it now at this point." Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian. "They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good," Gingras said about Father Patrick. "That was to be expected. There's nothing wrong with him, so I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday." The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter's daughter, Nancy Johansson. Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga. The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover. Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes. "There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that's for sure," Gingras said. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications  

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great new newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s newsletter contains the following feature stories: Boxing matches at the Hambletonian?- We can understand how people can get so overwhelmed with passion for harness racing. It is very exciting. It has the drama of who will win, can my horse beat your horse, and we have the ability to make legal wagers on the outcome of nearly every event to back up our verbal claims of who is the best. But some people seem to take it a bit over the top and punches begin to fly. The Irish, Scots, Welsh and Brits have true passion for racing -The harness racing people in Ireland and the United Kingdom know an awful lot about harness racing in North America. We wish we could just bottle it up and feed it to everyone else. New Zealand “Horse of the Year” Awards - It is never easy every year to take the New Zealand racing awards seriously when they have such an outdated and archaic way of determining who should be awarded the title of being the best in each respective age group. Stallion Review – Rock N Roll Heaven - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the very good racehorse and stallion Rock N Roll Heaven, p,3,1:47.3m ($2,774,478). Clubs – The need for change - It has been immensely satisfying to us here at Harnesslink to have received so much positive support from so many quarters from all over New Zealand on the publication of our recent opinion piece. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

The young hipsters dressed to the nines sipping cocktails while lounging on rooftop patio furniture was the first indication this was not your granddaddy's Hambletonian. That it was a surprisingly pleasant overcast August afternoon, and not a sauna, was another. In the end, the track belonged to imported Swedes -- Jimmy Takter and Ake Svanstedt, especially -- along with Ron Burke, of course. But the day? That belonged to the gleaming new $88 million grandstand that thrummed with youthful energy and passed its first big test with aplomb. Track owner Jeff Gural was pleased and, naturally, couldn't resist an "I told you so" dig at his critics. "I think if you go back to the weekend we opened, I think if you look at some of the blogs, they were all critical, 'Gural's an idiot. The place is much too small. What's he going to do for theMeadowlands Pace and Hambletonian?' We saw the place is just perfect. It was designed exactly right," he said of a building about a third the size of the behemoth across the pond. Give the man his due. On this Hambletonian, he wasn't wrong. The crowd, estimated at 20,700,was thick -- particularly in the new version of Paddock Pack now called The Backyard -- but not impenetrable. The queues -- for pari-mutuel or more ordinary refreshment -- moved withimpressive speed given the volume. The on-track wagering wasn't as strong as the Nouveau Big M folks would have liked to have seen, mind you, but then the young kids don't bet like their granddaddies, either. It's the cost of trying to introduce the business to a generation to which harness racing is as foreign as rumble seats. But out there in our hyper-connected world, from Hackensack to Helsinki to Sydney the bets poured in. With a few countries still to be heard from, the expectation is that the haul will be about $1 million higher than last year. The total handle of more than $8.7 million is already the third best Hambletonian Day in history and foreign wagering could still push this year's number to the top spot, exceeding some $9 million bet in 2005. "That's impressive in this day and age," Gural said. "That's a tribute to the card. We had full fields, a couple of big fields, almost all the major stars were there with the exception of the three-year-old (pacing) colts. But on the trotting side, we got a little lucky with Father Patrick drawing the 10-hole. It wasn't a walkover, as it turned out." The Ãber trotter, bet down to 2-5 despite starting from parking lot, was part of Takter's Terrific Trio instrumental in scaring off challengers in the main event and leaving the Hambletonian heatless just one year after returning to its old format. That Father Patrick made a jump at the gate immediately made for some interesting drama whether you watched on the huge high-definition infield screen from one of the outdoor grandstand seats or in the hinterland via the spectacular show on the CBS Sports Network that employed 13 cameras to great effect, including a wide-angle mounted on the starting gate. Takter's intact duo of Trixton and Nuncio got the job done, of course, with a neck-and-neck stretch battle to boot. When the stone dust finally settled, Takter celebrated his first Hambletonian victory in the bike (and third lifetime), nipping John Campbell for what would have been his seventh triumph in harness racing's premier race. You needed a cab ride to reach the rest of the field scattered by three breakers, which was particularly disheartening to driver Yannick Gingras and the rest of Father Patrick's connections. That it was likely Gingras' greatest day at the track was little consolation for the Quebec native who won four stakes -- including the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit -- and just shy of $600,000 in purses in all, but was crest fallen about losing the big one. "It's probably the best day I've had racing horses but it's also the most disappointing day. I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I've never left with him before, and I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for it. The gate opened, I just touched him on his tail with the whip and he took off running. It's so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I'll have another chance, but you never know," Gingras told the ubiquitous Bob Heyden, one of the few things about the new place that thankfully was not traded in for a newer model on Hambletonian Day. That Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame was tabbed to present harness racing's Stanley Cup to Takter and Co. speaks to that youth movement again -- unless you're referring to that glorious silver bowl that now has 90 of the sport's greatest trotters inscribed in silver discs on its wedding cake base. Dear Lord, let's hope no one ever entertains trading that in for a newer model, because newer isn't always better. Progress isn't always positive. Sorely missed in the new digs is the old front paddock that radiated with equine and human stars and served as the annual meeting place for the sport's far-flung powerbrokers on Hambletonian Day. The signs that once hung above the stalls on the facade of the old place honouring each of the Hambletonian winners since the race moved to New Jersey in 1981 seem out of place now lining the infield. Try as they might, even the Copacabana rum girls sporting huge feather headdresses and littleelse other than smiles, didn't make up for the loss. Though, they were a nice touch along with the fathead driver cutouts seen throughout the day, the appearance by Captain Bill Wichrowski from the Discovery Channel's show Deadliest Catch and old style pennants each bearing the name of a Hambletonian finalist. The bridge from old to new was the free Hambletonian hats, The Nerds bashing out loud, enthusiastic covers in the park and the track itself, of course, which yielded three more world record performances. "I've been coming to the Hambletonian since 1960's when it was staged in DuQuoin [IL], and appreciated its growth and renewed pageantry when it moved to New Jersey in the old grandstand setting. We're working to build on that great tradition.," said Tom Charters president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "In a way it was similar to the first Hambletonian here in 1981 - a new experience entirely. This is a new venue and a wonderful new facility, a new era. We will work with the Meadowlands to establish some new traditions that underscore the Hambletonian's place as America's trotting classic and the most important harness race in the world." Classic Martine got things started in the first race, equaling the world mark for trotting mares with a 1:51.1 score in the $52,000 Ima Lulu Final. Five races later, Mission Brief equaled the global mark for two-year-old trotting fillies with a 1:52.2 score in the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. Barefoot speedster Sebastian K capped the record-setting parade in race 11 when he equaled the 1:50 record for older trotters while winning the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial the same day Cashman's 14-year-old granddaughter, Grace Cashman, sang the national anthem. None of which -- even the Hambletonian winner -- topped spectacular sightlines from multiple decks, a Hollywood-style sign on the roof that spells out Meadowlands in huge letters and a massive sports bar that transforms into a dance club at night -- all designed to lure the next generation critical for the sport's survival. "Everybody loved it. Everybody thought it was spectacular," said Gural, who is fond of wandering his plant to make himself available to his patrons. "The biggest compliments were from the people that had never been there. If you've never been there, you're really shocked when you pull up to the door." As the start of a new era for harness racing greatest day drew to a close, even the sky brightened and the Manhattan skyline materialized like a mirage out of the haze. The hipsters on the roof barely noticed, what with their iPhones, friends and cocktails to attend to, but the rest of us noticed them all right. They were completely foreign to the old place and a most welcome addition to the club. by Dave Briggs for the Hambletonian Society

East Rutherford, New Jersey - While the featured race at The Meadowlands Saturday, August 2 was the million-dollar Hambletonian, the first race of day was one of the best, resulting in a photo finish. That race, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation final, saw three teens driving Trottingbreds at their standard half-mile distance.  Sophie Norton, 13, driving Royal Attire and assisted by Ron Pierce, got up at the wire to collar pacesetter Little Hicktown, who was driven by 14-year-old Lauren Permenter, assisted by HHYF Trustee Corey Callahan. Norton, of New Hartford, NY represented the HHYF Vernon Downs camp. Permenter, of Chesapeake City, MD represented the Harrington Raceway camp. Third place finisher Jennifer Mehlig, 14, represented the camp at Pocono Downs. She was assisted on the lines of LR Trixie by Tim Tetrick. Time for the half mile dash was 1:19.1 after an opening 38.1 first quarter. The race was the culmination of HHYF’s summer camp season, which covered eight states. A video of the HHYF race is posted on the HHYF website at www.hhyf.org/News.aspx. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with  harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people’s lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.  

It has been very hard lately to take the smile off the faces of Peter O'Rourke and David Shammall as the sires associated with their harness racing venture Stallions Australasia have been having such a golden run in North America. Muscle Hill and Lucky Chucky have both had big years so far and their new addition Wishing Stone only adds to the quality available to trotting breeders down under this season. Set up by David and Peter in 2013, Stallions Australasia was formed to fill a gap they saw in the sires market in Australasia for quality trotting stallions. Most of the top North American pacing sires shuttle to Australasia every season but few of the elite trotting sires were available to breeders. Deciding to target the elite horses just starting out in the siring ranks, Stallions Australasia quickly acquired the semen rights to both Muscle Hill and Lucky Chucky. This year they have added another champion going to stud in Wishing Stone. So we thought it was an appropriate time to do a bit of homework on the three sires that they are making available to breeders this season. Muscle Hill 1:50.1 ($3,273,342)  This son of Muscles Yankee is rated by many pundits as the greatest age group trotter to have ever raced in North America and his record supports that. He faced the starter 21 times for 20 wins and a second in a stellar career. Beaten on debut at two, Muscle Hill won his next 20 races before his retirement to stud. Amongst those wins were the $700,000 Breeders Crown at two in 1:53.3 while at three he won the $1,520,000 Hambletonian by six lengths in 1:50.2 -  $1,000,000 Canadian Trotting Classic in 1:53.1 - $617,000 Breeders Crown in 1:54 - $540,000 World Trotting Derby in 1:52.3 and the $384,000 Kentucky Futurity in 1:51.1. All up at three, Muscle Hill earned $2,456,041 which is a record for money won in a season by either a pacer or a trotter. Now his stud record is starting to resemble his racing record with his first crop half way through their three year old season. He currently sits third on the North American 3 year old sires list and has already sired a Hambletonian winner from this first crop with the brilliant Trixton1:50.3 $(852,838) taking out the time honoured classic last weekend. Other notable winners from this first crop include Southwind Spirit 1:54.1 ($370,295) and Muscle Network 1:53.2 ($314,350) to name just two. The second crop are two year olds this season and have started in great fashion with the outstanding filly Mission Brief 1:52.2 ($255,775) winning the $352,000 Merrie Annibeelle on Hambletonian day while another Muscle Hill filly in Jolene Jolene 1:54 pl ($94,812) finished second. Muscle Hill is presently first on the two year old sires list in North America. Lucky Chucky 1:50.4 ($2,099,973) This son of Windsongs Legacy was an outstanding two and three year old on the track, being crowned horse of the year at both two and three. His sire Windsong's Legacy, a son of Conway Hall only stood for four seasons before his untimely demise. Apart from Lucky Chucky the other one of his sons to really make his mark is world record holder Chapter Seven 1:50.1 ($1,954,966) Lucky Chucky won the $450,000 Valley Victory at two in 1:56 in his nine wins at that age but that was only a pipe opener to a great three year old year. Lucky Chucky won the $1,000,000 Canadian Classic in 1:52.2 - $500,000 Colonial Final in 1:53 and was an unlucky second in the $1,500,000 Hambletonian Final won by Massive Muscle 1:51 ($1,239,138) in 1:51 When retired to stud Lucky Chucky had faced the starter 23 times for 14 wins and 7 ploacings for $2,099,973 in stakes. His first crop hit the track this season in North America and though it is early in the season, Lucky Chucky has made a fine start as a sire. With the season just getting into full swing he is already the sire of such promising trotters as Gabe The Bear Dean 1:58.3 (H) ($56,186)  Lock Down Lindy 1:55 ($63,076) and Mambo Blue Chip 1:57.2 ($50,236). Lucky Chucky currently sits seventh on the North American Sires list for two year olds, ahead of such talented sires as Cantab Hall and Kadabra. Wishing Stone 1:51.2 ($2,255,603) The richest and fastest son of the great Conway Hall is available to breeders for the first time this season. His best wins at two were in the $84,600 Bluegraass Stakes in 1:55 and the $71,200 International Stallion Stakes in 1:55.3. At three Wishing Stone won the $237,000 Matron Final in 1:53.2 and the $200,00 Kentucky Futurity over Lucky Chucky in 1:51.2. Notable placings were his second in the $500,000 Breeders Crown in 1:52.4 and his third in the $1,500,000 Hambletonian behind Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky in 1:51.4 Racing in Europe at four and five, his best wins were in the $250,000 Copenhagen Cup 2000 meters in a 1:54.4 mile rate and the $200,000 Grand Prix Du Sud Quest over 2600 meters. Back to North America last season, the Wishing Stone's best win was in the $250,000 Maxi Lee in 1:52, defeating Uncle Peter 1:50.3 ($1,250,515) Wishing Stone goes to stud with a record of 75 starts for 22 wins and 17 placings for $2,255,603 in stakes with a best time of 1:51.1 He should appeal to down under breeders with his winning performances over 2000 and 2600 meters.  Everything considered, Stallions Australasia have a great line up of sires who are making the headlines now, not last year like some sires. Harnesslink media  

Master Glide, the full brother to Passionate Glide 3,1:52.2 ($2,060,447), has been sold by Brittany Farms to Max Grant and Arcadia Harness Racing Group, with Paul Davies acting as agent for the buyers. Master Glide is to stand at Wai-Eyre Farm in Christchurch, New Zealand. Wai-Eyre Farm is where the illustrious Christian Cullen began his stallion career. According to the new connections, Arcadia Harness Racing Group is dedicated to creating a select band of pacing and trotting mares to produce elite racehorses to compete on the world stage. "It was was definitely a tough decision as he is such a farm favorite," said Brittany Farms manager Art Zubrod."We did not even have Master Glide on the market as he would have had a good home for life here at Brittany. However, it was evident from first contact that at Wai-Eyre, he would be provided the chance that he really never had here." From very limited opportunity, Master Glide has sired horses including Banco Solo, who was considered a bona fide Hambletonian contender heading into the 2013 season. His older horses are now proving to be rugged racehorses with several holding track records. From Brittany Farms

Freehold, NJ --- Sweet Lou moved nearer to No. 1 Sebastian K and Trixton pulled into a near dead heat with stablemate Father Patrick in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Sebastian K remained in the top spot coming off his world-record-equaling win in last week’s John Cashman Jr. Memorial while Sweet Lou, who won the U.S. Pacing Championship, swapped places with Father Patrick to take over the second slot. Hambletonian winner Trixton vaulted from sixth to fourth, just one point behind Father Patrick. Mission Brief, who equaled the world record in winning the Merrie Annabelle Stakes, and Ima Lula Series winner Classic Martine, who also equaled a world record, joined the Top 10. Mission Brief is ninth while Classic Martine is tied with Sandbetweenurtoes for the final spot. Shake It Cerry dropped out of the Top 10. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 12 – 8/5/2014                                                Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (31) 8th 8-7-1-0 $502,603 344 1 2 Sweet Lou (4) 5ph 11-8-1-1 $791,500 307 3 3 Father Patrick 3tc 7-6-0-0 $520,992 240 2 4 Trixton 3tc 9-7-1-1 $786,917 239 6 5 He’s Watching 3pc 7-4-1-1 $564,485 207 4 6 McWicked 3pc 9-6-2-0 $618,830 156 5 7 JK Endofanera 3pc 8-5-1-1 $569,792 59 8 8 Nuncio 3tc 8-5-3-0 $563,351 56 10 9 Mission Brief 2tf 5-4-0-0 $255,775 49 -- T10 Sandbetweenurtoes 3pf 7-7-0-0 $211,157 47 9 T10 Classic Martine 4tm 9-7-0-1 $221,732 47 -- Also: Shake It Cerry (38), Dancin Yankee (37), Rocklamation (18), Centurion ATM (14), Market Share (12), Archangel (11), Intimidate, Lifetime Pursuit (10), Artspeak, Modern Family (7), Yankee Bounty (6), Perfect Alliance (2), Bee A Magician, I Like My Boss (1). Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications Courtesy of the U.S. Trotting Association

The Hambletonian Monte Series Final at the new Meadowlands and two Ontario pari-mutuel races at Grand River Raceway showcased North American monte activities this weekend. On Friday evening the $27,500 Hambletonian Monte Final took place (non-wagering) at the new Meadowlands. Sponsors were Jeff Gural, Valley High Stable, Back On Track, Ron Burke Stable, Arden Homestead Stable, Crawford Farm, Aldrich Properties, George Ducharme and Winners Circle Blueberries. The final followed two $10,000 legs the previous two weekends. This week, A Penny Earned (5g Conway Hall-Penny Dream-Dream Vacation) scored for Michelle Crawford and trainer George Ducharme in 1:57.2 (last quarter :28.2), just short of the north American speed race record set by Master Pine two years ago in 1:57.1. The winner was second in a July 18 leg behind Take My Picture that was second in the final for Therese Lindgren and trainer Nikolas Drennan. O U Gus (the July 25 winner) ended third for Stephanie Werder and trainer Whitney Richards. Master Pine finished fourth for Helene Gregory and trainer Julie Miller in the competitive (seven starters timed in 2:00.1 or better) ten horse field. In Ontario, Grand River Raceway hosted two pari-mutuel events on August 1st and 4th. The August 4th International Monte was part of the raceway's Industry Day and attracted riders from Canada, Belgium and Finland. The US rider-entrant Jennifer Connor was a scratch due to travel problems. Previous monte winner Radical Dreamer (Marit Valstad) made the fast pace, tracked and battled by eventual winner Tragically Shipp (Saara Jalasti aboard), that pulled away late for an comfortable win over Angies Lucky Star (Philippe Massachaele) in 2:02.4h over a rain soaked surface. Tragically Shipp (8g Shipps Speed-CH On Tour-Armbro Laser) is trained by Lee Watson for owners Lynne and David Magee. Jalasti and Massachaele regularly ride in monte races in Europe, where monte is very popular and part of most pari-mutuel racing cards at French and Scandinavian tracks. Race replay follows: The August 1 race at Grand River was billed as the Canada vs. Norway Challenge and it went to Callie Magoo (5g Magoo-Callie Alyssa-Wesgate Crown) with Norway's G. Berg up for trainer John Braid. This pair scored in 2:04.3h over King Tut (Sarah Town up for Canada) and Charlie Tuna. Both Grand River races were well received in the pari-mutuel wagering, as had been the case in previous Ontario pari-mutuel monte races. Standardbred Canada and Meadowlands files Thomas H. Hicks  

Hambo Day at The Meadowlands, New Jersey on Saturday (August 2) proved a red-letter day for former USA trotting standout Muscle Hill, as the sire of the winner of both the $1,006,125 Hambletonian in Trixton and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle for two-year-old fillies, Mission Brief. Trixton, who stopped the teletimer in 1:50.6, clocked the second fastest time in the history of the race, behind only his own sire, Muscle Hill, the 2009 Hambo winner who still holds the track and three-year-old world record of 1:50.2. A $360,000 yearling, Trixton is one of the first crop of Muscle Hill, the leading sire of two-year-old trotters in North America this year and third on the three-year-old list. Trixton has earned a whopping $786,918 this year, making him easily the richest of his gait and age in 2014. Mission Brief, the richest and fastest two-year-old trotter in North America, tied the world record of 1:52.4 in her front-stepping Merrie Annibelle triumph. Jolene Jolene (by Muscle Hill) and Lock Down Lindy, a daughter of leading first-crop sire Lucky Chucky, filled the minor placings. Muscle Hill is already the leading sire of money won for two-year-olds in North America at this time and he is second on the three-year-old list behind Cantab Hall. This is only Muscle Hill's second crop to the races so his future is certainly looking assured.. Muscle Hill was again fully booked this year at the prestige Southwind Farms, New Jersey. The frozen semen of Muscle Hill and Lucky Chucky is also available in Australia and New Zealand from Stallions Australasia Pty Ltd. Harnesslink media

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