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With her impressive victory against the boys in the Hambletonian, Ramona Hill moved up in the Top Ten harness racing poll to second place. Undefeated Gimpanzee remains #1 and Sorella, winner of the Hambletonian Oaks, returned to the Top Ten poll in #6. Also moving up to the Top Ten Poll is unbeaten Reflect With Me #8 and Bettor's Wish #9. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 5 – 8/11/2020 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Gimpanzee (27) 4th 5-5-0-0 $539,592 339 1 2 Ramona Hill (8) 3tf 4-3-0-1 $651,465 312 4 3 Tall Dark Stranger 3pc 5-4-0-0 $480,131 284 3 4 Shartin N 7pm 5-4-1-0 $219,309 214 6 5 Manchego 5tm 6-4-1-1 $238,961 176 2 6 Sorella 3tf 5-4-0-0 $368,063 108 -- 7 Atlanta 5tm 5-2-2-0 $200,092 94 5 8 Reflect With Me 3pf 4-4-0-0 $193,630 92 -- 9 Bettor’s Wish 4ph 5-2-0-2 $156,482 72 -- 10 Ready For Moni 3tc 3-2-1-0 $317,570 49 10 ALSO: Party Girl Hill 40; Dancin Lou 32; Hurrikane Emperor 21; Papi Rob Hanover 18; When Dovescry 17; Darlene Hanover 15; Action Uncle 8; Back Of The Neck, Tattoo Artist 6; Backstreet Shadow 5; American Courage, Hypnotic AM, Ocean Rock 4; Southwind Tyrion 3; Bet On Becky, Captain Corey 1.

Hightstown, NJ — The moments following Ramona Hill’s win in the Hambletonian Stakes were unlike any Andy McCarthy ever experienced as a driver. “The feeling I got when I crossed the wire, I’ve never had that before, that amount of joy and emotion,” McCarthy said. “I don’t want to compare it to my kids being born, because that’s a completely different thing, but it was definitely emotional. Heading back to the winner’s circle, I’ve never felt anything like it in my life on the racetrack. Embracing the moment, just the feeling of joy, it’s unbelievable.” McCarthy and Ramona Hill captured the 95th edition of the Hambletonian this past Saturday at The Meadowlands. The duo won the $1 million event by one length over Ready For Moni in a stakes-record-equaling 1:50.1 for trainer Tony Alagna and owners Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc, and In The Gym Partners. Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy bred by Crawford Farms, became the 15th filly to win harness racing’s top race for 3-year-old trotters. The Hambletonian was McCarthy’s fifth win of the day on the stakes-filled Big M card. He won four of the afternoon’s first six races, including the Shady Daisy with Reflect With Me and the Jim Doherty Memorial with Darlene Hanover, and the fast start was beneficial. “It’s good to get some good vibes going for the day,” McCarthy said. “Confidence has such a main role in how you drive, I think. When the ball’s rolling and things are going good, you feel like you can do nothing wrong. For me, anyway, confidence is definitely a major player in how I do.” McCarthy’s biggest challenge was finding a way to enjoy the wins without getting too pumped up along the way. “You want to celebrate, and you want to feel that emotion, but you also don’t want to carry that over to the next drive,” he said. “You want to stay focused and you’ve still got work to do. I like to be confident but calm at the same time. I don’t want to be carrying too much emotion with me, just really stay focused on the job at hand. There are a million things that can go wrong in a race and you have to be super focused and aware of these things.” A native of Australia, the 34-year-old McCarthy has raced regularly in North America since 2007. He has seen his purse earnings increase annually since the start of 2013, reaching a career-best $7.67 million last year, when he ranked ninth among drivers in North America. In 2019, McCarthy became the eighth driver in history to win at least four Breeders Crown finals in a year. He became the first to accomplish the feat without driving a favorite. Last year, he also made his first appearance in a Hambletonian final, finishing seventh with Pilot Discretion. This year with Ramona Hill, he was fourth after a quarter mile, moved to the front on the backstretch, and cruised to victory. Her time equaled the stakes mark set by her sire Muscle Hill in 2009. “In my mind, I had the best horse in the race,” McCarthy said. “I just wanted to be safe through the first turn. Once I got through the first turn, I thought I could win the race however it went down.” McCarthy followed the Hambletonian while growing up in Australia but became more focused on the race after arriving in the U.S. to compete. He is the 28th different driver to win the Hambletonian in the 40 years it has called The Meadowlands home. “When I was a teenager, I started following the American racing more,” McCarthy said. “Back then, it was kind of pre-social media days, so it was kind of hard to keep up with it. I always liked American racing and I loved the Hambo. As far as thinking I could win it one day, that was a different story. “Once I got over here and went to the Hambo every year and watched it, it’s become the race. It’s the race you want to win, for sure. I’m just very lucky and privileged to be able to do that.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing driver Yannick Gingras came from "off the pace" to best Dexter Dunn in the hotly contested battle for top driver at the Meadowlands meeting that came down to Saturday's Hambletonian Day card. By winning three races Friday and four more Saturday, Gingras overcame Dunn's 82-79 lead in the standings entering the final weekend of racing. After Dunn won the final race of the meet - with 19-1 shot Starvin Marvin - he stood one behind Gingras, who won the title by a count of 86 to 85. Gingras and Dunn also finished 1-2 in money earnings. Ron Burke, the winner of 12 consecutive national trainer titles, topped the Big M trainer colony in wins with 50. Nancy Takter was the leading money-earning trainer. She had just over $1 million in earnings heading into Hambo Day. Leading owners at the meeting were Pollack Racing LLC and Jeffrey Cullipher. HANDLE HIGHLIGHTS: All-source North American wagering on the 16-race Hambo Day card totaled $5,730,615, by far the highest total in the industry in 2020. It marked the second time during the 41-program meeting where wagering topped the $5-million plateau. On 33 occasions, wagering went past the $2.5-million mark, while the $3-million barrier was busted 10 times. Wagering on the Hambletonian was red hot, as a total of $845,469 was pushed through the windows on the 11th race Saturday, an increase of $322,305 over last year (61 percent). Wagering totals from international outlets will not be known for several days. A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy not only won his first Hambletonian, but was the top driver on Hambo Day, winning five times. ... Tony Alagna trained three to victory lane, all were driven by McCarthy. ... Live racing at The Meadowlands resumes on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7:15 p.m., and with the exception of Christmas Day, will be conducted on the normal Friday-Saturday schedule through the end of the year. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The sensational filly Ramona Hill took a well-deserved gulp from the Hambletonian trophy after beating the boys on Saturday (Aug. 8) in the $1 million harness racing trotting classic at the Meadowlands Racetrack.   It was the latest chapter in the developing saga of harness racing's newest superstar.   The victory, the 15th by a filly in the race's illustrious history, was hardly a surprise. She was the 2-5 favorite following the previous week's jaw-dropping win from an impossible spot, kicking home with a :25.4 final quarter in the Hambletonian eliminations.   She was just as good in the final. Andy McCarthy turned Ramona Hill loose down the backside and she easily surged past Threefiftytwo to take command for good.   "When I came out early there, I sensed I could find the front," McCarthy said. "I went for it, and she knows her job."   As Ramona Hill made the lead, main rivals Ready For Moni -- the other elimination winner -- and Back Of The Neck took up the chase.   Through the lane, Ramona Hill remained solidly in command, beating Ready For Moni by a length with Back Of The Neck third.       "She was starting to work a little bit towards the wire, but she finished it off," McCarthy said.   The time for the mile only confirmed what observers already knew: Ramona Hill is the real deal. The 1:50.1 clocking equaled the stakes mark set by her sire Muscle Hill in 2009.   It was a muted winner's circle celebration with access limited and everyone masked to ward off the coronavirus.   John Campbell, president of the Hambletonian Society, summed up the day and the performance eloquently.   "What a great performance by a tremendous filly," Campbell said. "Throughout history, society has dealt with crises and troubles, but great horses and great horse racing have found a way to bring people together to forget about what's going on in their everyday lives. I think that's what's happened here today."   It was the first Hambletonian victory for McCarthy and trainer Tony Alagna, who took a very patient approach with his talented filly. The race was only her fourth of the year and 11th of her career.   "People talked earlier about how COVID affected this filly's schedule," Alagna said. "Honestly, this was our schedule from the beginning, with or without COVID. She's very much like a Thoroughbred. She doesn't need the starts to be at her best."   Of course, the Hambletonian Oaks for fillies earlier in the day was a possible target. But after Ramona Hill cruised to a convincing win in the Del Miller on July 18, Alagna set his sights on the bigger goal.   "We always had it (the Hambletonian) in the back of our minds, but nobody wanted to be the first one to say it," Alagna said. "After the Del Miller, it became a reality."   It had already been a great afternoon for McCarthy with four victories. Number five, the Hambletonian, will be the one he'll always remember.   "It was a very good start to the day and I was trying to keep my cool, and I was trying to let it sink in too much because I still had a lot of work to do," McCarthy said.   The driver and the filly completed the mission in style.   "The adrenalin you get from winning a race like this, words can't explain it," the Australian reinsman said. "It's an amazing event and a privilege to be involved."   With the victory, Ramona Hill improved her record to 9-0-2 in 11 starts for Bradley Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. The 2019 Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Award winner is the second filly to capture the Hambletonian in the last three renewals, joining Atlanta (2018).     by Mike Farrell, for the Hambletonian Society

The famed mile harness racing oval of the Meadowlands has now played host to the Hambletonian for 40 years-  longer than any of the legendary tracks in its past. So how did America’s Trotting Classic, nicknamed the “Corn Tassel Derby” end up in, as Bruce Springsteen sings, the “swamps of Jersey?” The inaugural Hambletonian at the Meadowlands in 1981 had more twists and turns in the story line than a best seller. Intense lobbying, purse hikes, bells and whistles, media exposure and more lured the trotting classic from its longtime home in bucolic Du Quoin, Illinois to the shadow of New York City. One would have expected a fancy, expensive yearling with famous connections to capture harness racing's most coveted trophy in one of the most wealthy and glitzy areas of the world. But it was actually quite the opposite. The Hambletonian went a long four heats after hours and hours of rain, and the somewhat unlikely victor in the three-horse race-off was a Michigan-bred gelding covered in mud.  Shiaway St Pat, by Tarport Devlin, had earned less than $10,000 at two racing in his home state. His owners and breeders, the Huffs (Robert, Wilbur and Ronald) operated Shiawassee Farm in Durand, MI, raising horses who mainly competed on the fair circuit in that state. “We got him in February I think it was,” said driver/trainer Ray Remmen, who also won the very first race at The Meadowlands when it opened in 1976. “He was a very unimpressive individual when he got off the truck. I thought 'oh boy.'  “It was through mutual friends that we got him to train. Mr. Huff was kind of a gung-ho guy and that's why they sent him up to the Hambletonian. “When we started racing him, he was a nice enough horse. We caught a bit of a lighter group (in the Hambo) I think but who knows how good (that group) actually was – it was such a horrible day, which probably worked to our advantage.  “There wasn't really any pressure. I don't know that anyone really thought he had a chance of winning the Hambletonian. We knew he'd be competitive but it all came about pretty fast and before you knew it, it was over. “ Shiaway changed hands and developed some issues over the next few years, finally ending up racing in low level claiming races. In 1988, the gelding was purchased by the Meadowlands, and he returned to the Remmen barn in the summer and would greet visitors to the races from his own small paddock in the park. He also would lead the post parade for the Hambletonian for several years afterwards. Ray and brother Larry didn't mind in the least hosting a horse that provided one of their career highlights. Ray only drove in one Hambletonian since then. “There weren't trotters where we grew up in (Saskatchewan) in western Canada. I never even thought about being in the Hambletonian. Our main thought growing up was the Little Brown Jug,” he said. “The Hambletonian never entered my mind. I took a little while to realize what had happened. It was a great experience.” by Anne Doolin, for the Hambletonian Society

East Rutherford, NJ - The FanDuel SportsBook at the Meadowlands Racetrack has put together some tantalizing Hambletonian prop bets for the Hambletonian final today. Some interesting bets include: Sister Sledge and Ramona Hill both to finish in the first 3 places (+300) Will the Hambletonian Stakes Record (1:50.1) be equaled or broken o Yes (-110) o No (-110) "Bombs Away" - Any one of Hollywood Story, Big Oil or Capricornus to finish in the first 3 (+400) There are also some cross sport parlays including: Ready for Moni to win and LA Lakers to beat Indiana Pacers (+420) Ramona Hill to win and LA Lakers to beat Indian Pacers (+240) The complete list of prop bets are below: Winning Distance of Race 11 Bet # Market American Fractional 8501 Under 1 Length -110 10/11 8502 Exactly 1 Length +650 13/2 8503 Over 1 Length +125 5/4         Hambo Head to Head to Head Bet # Market American Fractional 8504 Ramona Hill +100 1/1 8505 Ready For Moni +175 7/4 8506 Back of The Neck +350 7/2         Sister Sledge and Ramona Hill both to finish in the first 3 places Bet # Market American Fractional 8507 Yes +300 3/1                                                                      Hambo Head to Head Prop Bet # Market American Fractional 8508 Sister Sledge +120 6/5 8509 Amigo Volo -140 8/11                                                             *Wager void if neither start*                                            Chalk It Down – Ramona Hill or Ready For Moni to win the Hambo Bet # Market American Fractional 8510 Yes -200 1/2                                      Too Chalky! – Any other runner bar Ramona Hill or Ready for Moni to win the Hambo Bet # Market American Fractional 8511 Yes +180 9/5         Bombs Away – Any one of Hollywood Story, Big Oil or Capricornus to finish in the first 3? Bet # Market American Fractional 8512 Yes +400 4/1         Will The Hambletonian Stakes Record (1:50 1/5) be  equaled or broken in the final Bet # Market American Fractional 8513 Yes -110 10/11 8514 No -110 10/11   Hambo Parlays Bet # Market American Fractional 8515 Ramona Hill to win and equal or break record in Final +300 3/1 8516 Ready For Moni to win and equal or break record in Final +450 9/2 8517 Back Of The Neck to win and equal or break record in Final` +800 8/1   Cross Sport Parlays Bet # Market American Fractional 8518 Ramona Hill to win and LA Lakers to beat Indiana Pacers +240 12/5 8519 Ready For Moni to win and LA Lakers to beat Indiana Pacers +420 21/5 8520 Back Of The Neck to win and LA Lakers to beat Indiana Pacers +550 11/2   You may wager right at the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack if you attend the track today or open an account online if you are within the confines of the state of New Jersey. Info on the 95th Hambletonian can be found at http://www.meadowlandsracetrack.com/hambletonian/ and https://www.hambletonian.com/  From The Meadowlands

To the list of certainties in this world, such as death and taxes, add Marion Marauder racing at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. Marion Marauder, a multiple Dan Patch Award-winner, makes his fifth consecutive Hambletonian Day appearance at The Big M on Saturday (Aug. 8) when he races in the $291,350 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters. The 7-year-old stallion won the 2018 Cashman and finished second in 2017. Of course, his Hambletonian Day streak began in 2016 when he won both his elimination and the final of the Hambletonian Stakes. It was the first steps on his journey to sweeping the harness racing Trotting Triple Crown and being named Trotter of the Year. "We've always said that if we thought he couldn't compete we wouldn't continue racing him," said Mike Keeling, who shares training duties with wife Paula Wellwood. "He's a special horse. He loves his job. I think he's still competitive, I really do. We're really hoping for a good Saturday. I'm sure he'll make an account for himself." The Cashman is part of a stakes-filled card Saturday at The Meadowlands, highlighted by the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters and $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. Racing begins at noon. The Cashman features an 11-horse field going the standard distance of one mile. The race includes 2019 Cashman champ Crystal Fashion, 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta, and Gimpanzee, who is unbeaten in four starts this season. Gimpanzee is the 2-1 morning-line favorite followed by Atlanta at 3-1. Marion Marauder, who starts from post three with driver Scott Zeron, is 6-1. The stallion heads to the race off a neck win over Don't Let'em in 1:50.2 in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands on July 24. It was his first victory in four races this year. For his career, he has won 21 of 66 starts and $3.37 million for owners Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. "It was important for him to get position up close and get a chance to battle," Keeling said of Marion Marauder's most recent race. "The way they race nowadays really seems to hinder his abilities but he showed he's still got a little fight left in him and given the chance to put his nose up front at the wire, he'll do that. "He hasn't changed. He's really the same horse. We just kind of have to change how we approach racing, I think. He can't give up that six or seven lengths that he usually does and come charging. It just seems they can all sprint so much more. That's probably the biggest thing, finding a way to have him a little closer to the leaders when they get rolling along. Otherwise, I think he's a touch better than he was last year. He's got no issues going into this race at all." Following is a look at some of the remaining stakes on Saturday's card. Race 2 - $90,525 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old female pacers Reflect With Me, undefeated in three races this season for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Andy McCarthy, is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a field of five. She brings a four-race win streak, which began with her triumph in her 2019 Breeders Crown final, to the race. Race 3 - $166,550 Dr. John Steele Memorial for older female trotters Manchego, coming off her world-record 1:49.3 win in the Spirit of Massachusetts on July 26 at Plainridge, is the 7-5 favorite for trainer Nancy Takter and driver Dexter Dunn. She has won four of five races this year and 10 of her last 12 (with two seconds). She captured the 2019 Steele in a stakes-record 1:50. Plunge Blue Chip is the 5-2 second choice and When Dovescry, the 2019 Hambletonian Oaks winner, is 7-2. Race 6 - $350,300 Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old female trotters Alter is the 3-1 favorite from post 10 for trainer Per Engblom and driver David Miller. She went off stride on the lead in her Doherty elimination, but won the New Jersey Sire Stakes title one start prior. Elimination winners Darlene Hanover and Mazzarati are 7-2 and 5-1, respectively. Race 7 - $229,660 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers William R. Haughton Memorial winner Dancin Lou is the 3-1 favorite, with Brian Sears driving for trainer Tahnee Camilleri. Bettor's Wish, the sport's top-earning horse of 2019, is 7-2 and 2019 Breeders Crown champ American History is 9-2. Race 8 - $319,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters Elimination winner Plumville Prince is the 3-1 choice for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Rick Zeron. Venerate, who was third in the elim, is 7-2 and bye recipient Locatelli is 9-2. Race 13 - $273,125 Cane Pace for 3-year-old pacers The first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown finds Meadowlands Pace winner Tall Dark Stranger the 6-5 favorite, with Yannick Gingras driving for Nancy Takter. Captain Kirk, who won last week's Tompkins-Geers Stakes, is 4-1. Tall Dark Stranger, a returning Dan Patch Award winner, finished fourth from post 10 in the race, only his second loss in 13 career starts. Race 15 - $177,100 Lady Liberty for older female pacers Shartin N, the 2019 Horse of the Year, is the even-money favorite for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. She is a two-time winner of the Lady Liberty and captured last year's race in a world-record 1:46.4. Kissin In The Sand is the second choice at 4-1. For complete entries for Saturday's card at The Big M, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

The Pinske and Allen families have several things in common. Both run businesses that have existed for more than 100 years. Both are longtime participants in harness racing. And, on Saturday, both will be hoping to win their first Hambletonian Stakes. Amigo Volo carries the hopes of the Pinske family, as well as fellow owner David J. Miller. A year ago, the gelding gave the Pinskes their first Breeders Crown champion. Now, he is their first Hambletonian starter. His task will not be easy, starting from post 10 in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. Since the race moved to The Big M in 1981, no horse has won the Hambletonian final from post 10, although two horses - Pinkman in 2015 and Delvin G Hanover in 1984 - won eliminations from that spot. Pinkman went on to capture the final over filly Mission Brief. Amigo Volo, trained by Nifty Norman and driven by Dexter Dunn, has won two of five races this year and eight of 17 races lifetime. He finished third in his Hambletonian elimination and is 12-1 on the morning line. Ramona Hill, one of two fillies taking on the boys in this year's Hambletonian, is the 5-2 favorite. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The stakes-filled card at The Meadowlands starts at noon. "It's going to be really tough," Marlys Pinske said. "But anything can happen. It's a well-matched group. I think right now Ramona Hill is standing out, but that's the way it is." The Pinskes, who own a custom cabinetry and millwork business that dates back to the 19th century, have been involved in harness racing since the mid-1950s. Pinske Stables today is Marlys, her son Karl, and grandson Carter, who has followed in the footsteps of his late grandfather Tim as a trainer. "All of the horses mean a lot to all of us," Marlys said. "Amigo Volo is the best one right now, he's the current one, but we've had a lot of good horses in the past. But he's our first top trotting colt. I enjoy watching him, just the way he goes. The races that he won this year, he's just gritty. "We'll be there (for the Hambletonian). I think there will be seven of us coming out. We'll have our own cheering section. David Miller, the other owner, is coming too. We're looking forward to it." What if Amigo Volo goes from being the Pinskes' first Breeders Crown winner to first Hambletonian starter to first horse to win the final from post 10? "That would be the perfect story," Marlys said. For the Allen family, their hopes rest with Big Oil. The colt, a son of Father Patrick out of Cee Bee Yes, was bred by brothers Jason and Doug Allen, who share ownership of the horse with their father Ron. The Allens raced Cee Bee Yes, who was a word-record-setter, and still own her as a broodmare. Big Oil, trained by Julie Miller, has won two of four races this year and finished fourth in his Hambletonian elimination. He will start the final from post four with driver Andy Miller and is 15-1 on the morning line. "I'm happy to be in the race," Jason Allen said. "It would be even better if we could get a check. The filly looked pretty impressive. We need a good trip and a lot of luck. (Big Oil) always tries. You can leave with him, you can take him off the gate; he's pretty handy." In 2016, the Allens finished third in the Hambletonian with Sutton, who was beaten a neck by Marion Marauder in a three-horse photo that included runner-up Southwind Frank. "A few more steps and we might have gotten there," Jason said. Ron Allen got started in harness racing in the late 1980s, partnering with Bruce McElven to buy horses. Several years later, they bred Fool's Goal, who at age 7 was the 2002 Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter and earned $3.05 million in his career. "After you get a horse like that, when you win some big races, you want to get another one that wins big races," Jason said. "But it's not so easy." The Allen family runs an oil and propane business, which was started by Ron's grandfather in 1919. Big Oil is a reference to a nickname a friend gave Ron. "It kind of stuck, so we decided we would name a horse Big Oil," Jason said. "We got a little lucky." Is it any more special to be in the Hambletonian with a homebred? "It makes it a little nicer because you own the mare," Jason said, "but it's special to have any horse in the Hambletonian." $1 Million Hambletonian PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-3/1 2-Back Of The Neck-Scott Zeron-Ake Svanstedt-4/1 3-Hollywood Story-David Miller-Marcus Melander-15/1 4-Big Oil-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-15/1 5-Ramona Hill-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-5/2 6-Threefiftytwo-Daniel Dube-Luc Blais-6/1 7-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-15/1 8-Rome Pays Off-Mattias Melander-Marcus Melander-15/1 9-Sister Sledge-Brian Sears-Ron Burke-12/1 10-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-Nifty Norman-12/1  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Hightstown, NJ — No harness racing trainer has ever won the Meadowlands Racetrack’s top events for 3-year-old pacers and trotters — the Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian Stakes — in the same year. Just being in the position to accomplish the feat is rare enough, but that is the spot in which Nancy Takter finds herself this year. Takter won the Meadowlands Pace in July with Tall Dark Stranger. On Saturday, she sends out Ready For Moni in the $1 million Hambletonian final at The Big M. The only other trainer this century to win the Pace and have a Hambletonian finalist was Ray Schnittker in 2010, when One More Laugh captured the Pace and Cassis was eighth in the Hambletonian. Schnittker is among seven trainers to win both the Pace and Hambletonian during their careers. The others are Billy Haughton, Ray Remmen, Chuck Sylvester, Blair Burgess, Steve Elliott, and Linda Toscano. “I think that would be pretty awesome,” Takter said about winning the Pace and Hambletonian in the same year. “That would be pretty cool.” Ready For Moni, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky, is the 3-1 second choice on the Hambletonian morning line. He won his elimination last weekend by three-quarters of a length over Threefiftytwo in 1:51.3. The colt is 2-for-2 this year, with his first victory coming in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial in 1:51.4. Ramona Hill, one of two fillies taking on the boys in the Hambletonian, is the 5-2 favorite. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The stakes-filled card at The Meadowlands starts at noon. “Ready For Moni trained really good Wednesday morning,” Takter said. “He came out of the elim really good and seems like he’s gotten a step better. Maybe he’ll be a little sharper after training and he’s as close to peaking as we can get him off of two starts for the year. But sometimes less is more. I think he’ll be fine. “You want them to be fresh. Some horses do need a race, horses that are a little laid back. Horses that are racehorses, they show up on race day. As long as they have a foundation and conditioning, they don’t need a lot of racing.” Ready For Moni is a son of French star Ready Cash out of Nothing But Moni. For his career he has won six of 10 races and $374,020. He is owned by John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Herb Liverman, and Bud Hatfield. In addition to the Hambletonian, Takter has two horses in the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters. Sorella is the 7-2 second choice and Panem is 6-1. Marcus Melander-trained Hypnotic AM is the 5-2 favorite. Only two trainers have ever won the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks in the same year, Takter’s father Jimmy and Jan Johnson. Sorella has won three of four races this year, including a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial in 1:50.2, and five of 13 races lifetime. She is owned by breeder Elmer Fannin, Crawford Farms Racing, and Brent Fannin. A daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia, she starts the Oaks from post seven with driver Gingras. Sorella has won three of four races this year. “She trained really well; I was really happy with her, she looked awesome,” Takter said. “She looks like she could be in top condition for Saturday. I know Yannick is kind of happy with her spot behind the gate, so I think all systems are go with her. We just need some luck.” Panem, a daughter of Father Patrick out of Katniss, has a win and three seconds in four starts this year. For her career, the homebred filly has won three of 14 races for Diamond Creek Racing. She will start the Oaks from post 11, in the second tier, with driver Dexter Dunn. “She also trained very well,” Takter said. “The biggest obstacle is going to be the 11-hole, but it is what it is and I’m sure Dexter can figure out how to get her out at some point from there. If anybody can do it, he can. Panem has a win and three seconds in four starts this year. “I’m looking forward to that race. I think both my horses are very good; we tossed around the idea of putting them in against the colts (in the Hambletonian). I think they’re both in a good spot.” Takter has a total of 14 horses racing on Hambletonian Day, including Manchego in the Dr. John Steele Memorial, Tall Dark Stranger in the Cane Pace (the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown), Kissin In The Sand in the Lady Liberty, and Locatelli and Type A in the Peter Haughton Memorial. “That’s good, it’ll keep me busy,” Takter said. “There’s no time for nerves then, you just have to keep getting your job done.” For complete entries for Saturday’s card at The Big M, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The stream of stakes races will overflow as a small creek would after a tropical storm, just like the money that will flood the pools at The Meadowlands on Saturday (August 8), when the 95th edition of the $1,000,000 Hambletonian takes center stage on "Harness Racing's Greatest Day". Post time for the first race is noon. Sitting atop the list of betting opportunities will be the 20-cent Super High-Five. With Saturday bringing a mandatory payout, a low 15 percent takeout and a $109,280 carryover, the sky's the limit for the wager's total pool since the race will have a bulky field of 11. "We have a unique wagering and investment opportunity for all players caused by the low takeout and big carryover," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "We have placed the wager on Race 14, which will take place 30 minutes before the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga. "The opportunity for the player is superb, as the mathematics of this carryover wager have swung the advantage to the player, arguably making the mandatory payout on the High-Five the best bet offered at any race track or sports book on Hambletonian Day. There will be more money paid out Saturday than the money wagered on the High-Five if the final pool is under $800,000." His point is a valid one. In the event there is $190,720 in "new money" bet into the High-Five, which is a low-end guess, that would create a total payout of $271,392 (good for a surplus of $80,672), which would result in a staggering 42 percent edge for the bettor. If there is $290,720 in new money, that would create a total payout of $356,392 (surplus, $65,672), creating a 22 percent advantage for the player. But, naturally, on the 16-race program that will conclude The Big M's "Championship Meet", that opportunity to make a score is merely one of many. In fact, there will be five other wagers on the program which will undoubtedly take big action while offering the small 15 percent rake: 20-cent Pick-6 (Race 1) 20-cent Pick-5 (Race 3, $75,000 guaranteed pool) 50-cent Pick-4 (Race 8, $100,000) 20-cent Pick-5 (Race 11, $50,000) 50-cent Pick-4 (Race 13, $50,000) CHECK YOUR WATCH: Friday (August 7) night's races will begin at the usual 7:15 p.m., but on Saturday (August 8), Hambletonian Day, the huge 16-race program gets underway at noon. The Hambletonian Oaks has a post time of 3:30 p.m., while the Hambletonian is slated to go at 4:35 p.m. NATIONAL TV: The Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks will be presented on a tape delayed one-hour broadcast that will be seen on the CBS Sports Network beginning at 6 p.m. The show will be hosted by Gary Seibel remotely, with the Big M's TV team of Dave Brower and Dave Little serving as the primary on-site players. Gabe Prewitt, Ashley Mailloux and Jessica Otten will handle interviews during the 60-minute show. Ken Warkentin will call the race for the 21st time in his career as the voice of The Big M. STAKES MENU: In addition to the $1,000,000 Hambo, the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $273,125 Cane Pace, $90,525 Shady Daisy, $229,660 Sam McKee, $177,100 Lady Liberty, $284,200 John Cashman, $166,550 John Steele, $339,000 Peter Haughton and $350,300 Jim Doherty will also be on the Saturday card. WANT TO BET THE HAMBO ON FRIDAY? Wagering on the entire Hambletonian Day card will be available all day long on Friday, August 7. Check wherever you normally get your action as all 16 races should be available for those who want to bet 24 hours in advance. WANT TO BET THE HAMBO "ON THE GO"? The Meadowlands will offer wagering for those who need the convenience of a walk-up window given the track's reduced capacity. There will be a betting window in Lot M off Berry's Creek Road. Tellers will take action from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Programs will be available for sale for not only the Meadowlands races, but for simulcast action as well. COMING TO THE TRACK? For those interested in coming out to the track on Hambletonian Day, they should go to this link for complete information: http://playmeadowlands.com/News.aspx?id=20611 FREE STUFF: For free past performances, go to playmeadowlands.com, where race fans can access Races 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 for Friday. For Friday's PPs, go to this link: http://playmeadowlands.com/uploadedFiles/Handicapping/Past_Performances/mxx0807x.pdf Saturday's entire 16-race program will be available free of charge. For those PPs, go to this link: http://playmeadowlands.com/uploadedFiles/Handicapping/Past_Performances/mxx0808x.pdf CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on this link to check out Friday's card: http://playmeadowlands.com/RaceReviews.aspx?racedt=8/7/2020 Additionally, track announcer Warkentin's blog is available on the site and offers his picks and analysis. On race nights, access picks and plays from the Big M TV team at #playbigm or at @TheMeadowlands. TWEET THE TEAM: Stay in touch on Twitter with the Big M's Brower (@eedoogie), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Prewitt (@gabe_prewitt) and Mailloux (@ashley_mailloux). Check in everyday for Meadowlands news and updates at those handles, as well as @TheMeadowlands and #playbigm. HOW TO WATCH, HOW TO BET: For those fans who prefer to not attend the races but are still anxious to be a part of the action, they can watch the races on the Roberts Television Network (rtn.tv) or on the Television Games Network (TVG). To bet the races go to 4njbets.com, tvg.com or your favorite ADW (advance-deposit wagering) platform. READ ALL ABOUT IT: Go to the following harness racing outlets on the internet for everything Hambletonian, before and after the race: playmeadowlands.com, ustrotting.com, drf.com/harness/, harnessracing.com, standardbredcanada.ca, harnessracingupdate.com and harnesslink.com. Also check out Hambletonian Facebook livestream, @Hambletonian_ and hambletonian.com. From the Meadowlands Media Department  

Change of PACE, well actually..., TROT - as this week's guest, John Berry, Harness Racing Hall of Fame journalist and historian, discusses with Freddie and the guys the up-coming Hambletonian on August 8th. Berry touts his choice and adds an interesting insight on the amazing improvement of standardbreds over the past 4 or 5 decades. It's an outstanding Harness Racing Alumni broadcast - don't miss it....!!!   www.spreaker.com/user/6959769/harness-racing-alumni-show-john-berry-8-        

It has been one heck of a roller coaster ride for Ramona Hill where the Hambletonian is concerned. The journey has gone from uncertainty, to bleak dismay, to sheer harness racing euphoria, to odds-on favorite. And the race is still three days away! In short order, the connections waited until the last minute to enter the filly, then watched disconcertingly as she fell into last place with just over a quarter-mile to go in last Saturday's elimination. Amazingly, Andrew McCarthy drove her to victory from that point, sending shock waves through upstate New York. The result is that Ramona Hill has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's 95th Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. "No pressure there, huh?" said co-owner Michelle Crawford with a laugh. "I think (fellow owner) Brad Grant has to drive his truck down from Ontario so he can hold my hand through the whole thing." Crawford and her husband Al own and operate Crawford Farms in Syracuse, N.Y., where Ramona Hill was bred. They also have a stake in Atlanta, the last filly to win the Hambo in 2018. Ramona Hill sold for $70,000 at the 2018 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale to the Crawfords, Grant, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. "We liked her at the sale," Crawford said. "You never know who's going to buy your horses. We said 'If you guys would have us, we'll take it.' It just worked out well we were able to get back in on 25 percent and be the breeder." A daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy, Ramona Hill took six firsts and a third last year in seven starts while being trained by Tony Alagna. The season culminated with a victory from post 10 in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. She was then named the Dan Patch Award winner as 2-year-old Trotting Filly of the Year in 2019. Due to COVID-19, she only raced twice this year prior to the Hambletonian eliminations, finishing third in her debut in the Reynolds Memorial before winning the Del Miller Memorial in 1:50.3 from post 10 on July 18 at The Meadowlands. "Pulling up after that mile - and it doesn't happen very often - but I actually got goosebumps," McCarthy said of the Del Miller. "Hats off to the horse. I've just got so much respect for her. She's just a game, tough horse, and will do whatever you ask her to do. And she enjoys it." When it came to entering her in the Hambo, Crawford said the decision was basically going to be made by Alagna and Grant, since he was the majority owner. But, she added, everyone would have a voice. "We said 'Tony, you're the trainer, you're going to tell us if she can handle this; and we respect Brad's opinion and value that," Crawford said. "I think we were all just of the opinion of 'Yeah, why not.' Of course, as a breeder, you're like 'No way, this is not happening.' "But it happened last weekend right before the draw. It wasn't like it was preplanned and premeditated, we just let it play out. We all made the decision together. That's how it should be." So, this past Saturday night, the Crawfords lit a bonfire on their back deck and gathered around a TV with friends Chad and Heather Marshall. Chad is operations manager for Crawford Farms while Heather (formerly Reese) is a breeding manager. The foursome, which always gathers for big races, had their excitement turn to disbelief once the race got underway as Ramona Hill fell to the back. "I had a little pit in my stomach," Crawford said. "I was like 'Whew, this isn't going like I thought it would be going.' I think everyone just wants to see their horse do well and draw the one through five for the final. I think that was on my mind at first, and then it felt like everything was just slipping away and at that point I'm like 'Look, we just need to get in.'" And then it happened. After trotting dead last over the first three-quarters, Ramona Hill exploded for a :25.4 final quarter to overtake the field and, unknowingly, scare the heck out of Crawford's neighbors. "I'm pretty sure my neighbors thought I was dying over here, or something was happening to me," Crawford said. "It was really kind of crazy. When she came flying home, we were crazy. We were all screaming and jumping up and down. It was so exciting. I can't imagine it coming out any other way. The feeling we had when she won, it was like she won the Hambo. It was definitely an 'ah hah' moment. "I wish I were there. The people who were there were screaming 'girl power' as she was coming from the stretch, which gave me goose bumps. From everything I've read and heard, it's your proud parent moment." The deck got so loud, Crawford thinks the noise carried 250 miles. "I'm pretty sure Tony could hear me at The Meadowlands," she said. The victory guaranteed Ramona Hill a one-through-five post for the Hambo, and she ended up in the five hole. Getting good draws is one thing the horse can't seem to master. "Tony said she might be blinded by the toteboard if she ever draws a one or two," Crawford said. Unlucky posts have yet to deter Ramona Hill, as she gives the Crawfords another filly with a chance to make her name against the sport's top male 3-year-old trotters. This situation is slightly different, though, as they bought into Atlanta just months before the 2018 Hambo. The emotional attachment is a little stronger this time with Ramona Hill. "Of course it is, because we bred her," Crawford said. "We love Lock Down Lindy, so I'm super attached to her mom. She's actually back in foal with a full brother or sister in the belly, a Muscle Hill. We brought her to the new farm we're building. She's turned out up here. So you're closer because you're attached to the family." Crawford added that they have grown attached to Atlanta since they have been together for three years, but their relationship started as a financial venture. "It was overwhelming we could buy into a filly for the price we did and then win the Hambo," she said. "It was almost like 'Oh my God I threw myself on the ledge and now I can peel myself back off the ledge.' It was a lot of overwhelming feelings for a filly to win a Hambo but it was a financial relief that we made the right decision buying her at the price we did." In comparing the two, Crawford feels that Ramona Hill needs a little more attention. "Atlanta always just put her head down and just did it," she said. "She's super sound all the time. I think that we've had to take a little bit of time with Ramona. Tony's been very cautious since we started her as a 2-year-old. We've had to watch her knees. He was very calculated in her 2-year-old year. He saw signs of greatness there and managed her carefully. "It's the same thing coming back this year. She's got some ouches and she just goes with it. Her heart just keeps going. Tony's always watching, making sure she comes out of the race well." Because of those "ouches" it may be a blessing that Ramona Hill has not raced often this year. "She hasn't been over-raced and I think we've been aggressively getting race ready," said Crawford, who plans on being at The Meadowlands this Saturday with her Ramona Hill face masks. "With what she's shown us, she definitely deserves a shot. And you can't leave out Andy McCarthy, who knows her so well. He's a great judge. He and Tony have a great relationship. We rely heavily on them. And at this point I don't see anybody jumping up and down thinking 'You're crazy thinking she can go with the boys.' After the horse's incredible effort in the eliminations, Crawford is not surprised Ramona Hill is the morning line favorite. She knows, of course, that doesn't guarantee anything. "Obviously she's still got some super-stiff competition in there," Crawford said. "She's in tough, nobody's going to take that for granted. I think we had a tough division on Saturday and she drove like a rock star. The fact she was dead last and rallied and came home in :25.4 tells me she's capable of anything. "I just always wish everybody good luck. It's a big day for everybody. I'm sure everybody has the same angst and anxiety as I do. We're going to drive down, stay isolated as well as we can, but enjoy it live and in person. We have quite a bit of racing that day. We've had a pretty exciting couple of months right now." And a very exciting two weeks leading up to Saturday. $1 Million Hambletonian PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-3/1 2-Back Of The Neck-Scott Zeron-Ake Svanstedt-4/1 3-Hollywood Story-David Miller-Marcus Melander-15/1 4-Big Oil-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-15/1 5-Ramona Hill-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-5/2 6-Threefiftytwo-Daniel Dube-Luc Blais-6/1 7-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-15/1 8-Rome Pays Off-Mattias Melander-Marcus Melander-15/1 9-Sister Sledge-Brian Sears-Ron Burke-12/1 10-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-Nifty Norman-12/1  by Rich Fisher, for the USTA 

Harness Racing This Week: Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, Sam McKee Memorial, Lady Liberty, Dr. John Steele Memorial, Cane Pace, Shady Daisy, Peter Haughton Memorial, and Jim Doherty Memorial, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action takes place this Saturday (Aug. 8) at Meadowlands Racetrack with one of the biggest Grand Circuit cards of the season. The afternoon program is led by the $1 million Hambletonian, the first leg of trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Other major stakes races to be contested that day are the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $284,200 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $229,660 Sam McKee Memorial for older pacers, the $177,100 Lady Liberty for older pacing mares, the $166,550 Dr. John Steele Memorial for older trotting mares, the $273,125 Cane Pace, the first leg of Pacing's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, the $90,525 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old pacing fillies, the $319,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters, and the $350,300 Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers Saturday (Aug. 1) to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows and provide an indelible career highlight for trainer John Ackey. Chief Mate (Scott Zeron) rallied for second at 50-1 while the hard-used No Lou Zing (Josert Fonseca).earned show. The winning time over a sloppy surface was 1:49.3. Catch The Fire hung tough against a host of pursuers to capture the $375,000 final of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids at The Meadows. Chris Gooden photo. After Elver Hanover (Chris Page) seized the early lead from post nine, Wilder and Catch The Fire quarter-poled to the point, where they faced a backside challenge from No Lou Zing. "I was really worried about that horse," Wilder said. "He went a humongous trip in the elimination. He showed he can take a lot of air. I couldn't shake him, and then a whole herd of them came at me. But my horse dug in. He's true grit." Five horses remained live in deep stretch, but none could reach Catch The Fire, the 2-1 second choice in the wagering off his elimination win last week. Last year's Kentucky Sires Stake champion, Catch The Fire soared over $400,000 in career earnings. Ackley, who trains a small stable at Ohio's Fayette County Fairgrounds and operated a forklift for 20 years before switching to racing, called the Adios victory the highlight of his career. "It's a big win, to have a horse that can compete at this level and win," Ackley said. "No way I could have imagined this; it's fantastic." For Wilder, the triumph was even more emotional. An Ohio native who has been a fixture at The Meadows for many years, Wilder and his family are exceptionally active in many aspects of racing and the community. His wife, Heather, is a popular interviewer on harness shows while serving as president of the United States Harness Writers Association Keystone Chapter. Their teenage daughters, Scarlett and Lauren, also are active in USHWA. Yet even though Wilder has amassed more than 8,300 career wins, he had never finished better than fourth in an Adios final. He choked up as he tried to describe his emotions. "This means the world to me," Wilder said. "The Good Lord is in control of everything in this world, and I was the lucky man today. It means everything for my kids to see it and for my wife to be here. It's something I'll never forget. It's something that may never happen again, although you wish it would." Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2020, 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 Farms is the sponsor for the 2020 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 277; 2. Tim Tetrick - 189; 3. Dexter Dunn - 174; 4. Andrew McCarthy - 167; 5. Brian Sears - 154. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 301; 2. Nancy Takter - 190; 3. Marcus Melander - 158; 4. Ake Svanstedt - 144; 5. Tony Alagna - 127. Owners: 1. Burke Racing Stable - 62.5; 2. S R F Stable - 60; 3. Brad Grant - 58.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 51; 5. Black Horse Racing - 50. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Northfield Park with the Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; at Hoosier Park with the Dan Patch for free for all pacers; at the Indiana State Fair with the Fox Stake highlighting 10 stakes; at Tioga Downs with the Crawford Farm and Joie De Vie for older trotters and Artiscape for older pacing mares; at The Meadows with the Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters; and at Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer eliminations for older pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

MANALAPAN, NJ -- August 5, 2020 -- The SBOANJ would like to remind all harness racing horsemen, horsewomen, owners, trainers, and drivers to continue to follow all COVID-19 protocol while attending the Hambletonian and other major events this weekend at the Meadowlands. It is especially important to our future that all persons in the winner's circle have facemasks on at all times, even when taking the picture. We cannot be too careful and we must take all precautions possible, as we are now making efforts to maintain our appropriations and we do not want to give Trenton any reason to not look favorably upon us, or even worse shut us down. It is no secret that Governor Murphy continues to monitor COVID-19 numbers in NJ and he is very aware of social media and we do not want to show up on his radar in a negative way. Please be sure to wear facemasks and social distance when in the winner's circle and while in the paddock areas. You never know when a camera may be watching. by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

Judy Taylor has spent decades in the harness racing game, first with her husband Jerry and then also with her son Howard after he followed in his dad's footsteps, and she says her horse buying days are drawing to an end. So, if her partnership with Howard on Hambletonian Stakes finalist Back Of The Neck represents something of a last hurrah, it also has presented ample reason for Judy to exclaim hurray. Back Of The Neck is the 4-1 third choice on the morning line in Saturday's $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands. The colt has two wins and two seconds in four races this year, with his first setback coming by a nose in his seasonal debut and the other by a half-length to Ramona Hill in last weekend's Hambletonian eliminations. Sandwiched between those races were two 1:52 wins, first in a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial and the second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. The Taylors share ownership of Back Of The Neck, a son of French star Ready Cash out of Big Barb, with breeder Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable. For his career, Back Of The Neck has won five of 13 races and $216,320. He will start the Hambletonian from post two with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Ramona Hill, one of two fillies in the race, is the 5-2 favorite from post five for driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Tony Alagna. The Hambletonian is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. CBS Sports Network will air a delayed one-hour broadcast of the Hambletonian from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The stakes-filled card at The Meadowlands starts at noon. "I've been in the business for a lot of years, but I've never had anything quite like this," Judy said. "It's very, very exciting. We'll just hope for the best. I've experienced enough of this to know that sometimes you're disappointed. Hopefully, this time I won't be, and we'll be in the winner's circle." This not Judy's first Hambletonian horse. She and Howard were among the owners of Jacksons Minion, who finished fifth in the 2015 Hambletonian. Jacksons Minion was 58-1. "This is definitely a little different caliber," Judy said. Jerome "Jerry" Taylor, a Philadelphia-based attorney who passed away in 2013, got the family started in racing when he decided in the early 1970s to buy a horse. The horse he purchased was Leander Lobell, who as a 3-year-old raced on the Grand Circuit against the likes of Most Happy Fella and Columbia George. Except, Jerry bought the horse at age 4. "My husband wanted to be in the horse business, which was rather alien to someone like him," Judy said with a laugh. "But, anyway, he decided he wanted a horse because he had gone out to Brandywine and Liberty Bell for many years. "He went with a friend to a horse sale, and he knew as much about horses as you know about moon walks. They bought a horse in the sale that was the most expensive one because they thought that's how you get a good one. They didn't know anything, all they did was buy a horse. But that's how it all started." Jerry, though, enjoyed his share of successes over the years, among the most notable New Jersey Sire Stakes and Grand Circuit champion Devil's Adversary, and loved the sport. "Horses mean a lot to me, but they meant even more to him," Howard said. "He never, ever missed a race. He would go everywhere, and he absolutely loved them. "I remember friends of his would get mad at him because he would never make plans to go anywhere until after the draw came out. You couldn't call him up to see what he was doing next weekend because he wanted to see if his horse got in to race. He knew what he was doing if the horse got in." Howard developed his own passion for racing, getting licensed as a trainer and driver in addition to owning horses. Howard, also an attorney, was among the owners of 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta and his many other notable horses included three-time Dan Patch Award winning trotter Buck I St Pat. "When kids went to camp in the summertime, he went to the track and learned how to rig a horse and all that," Judy said. "He always loved it since he was a kid. "He's very knowledgeable. I listen to what he tells me. I told him this is my last hurrah; I'll go with you (on a horse) if it's OK and hopefully we'll have a little luck. You buy what you think is good, the breeding is good, and then you hope for the best. He's been very successful. We'll keep our fingers crossed." Howard said as thrilled as he is for another chance to win the Hambletonian, he's most happy for his mom. "She's nervous, but she is very excited," Howard said. "She's having a good time." $1 Million Hambletonian PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1-Ready For Moni-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Takter-3/1 2-Back Of The Neck-Scott Zeron-Ake Svanstedt-4/1 3-Hollywood Story-David Miller-Marcus Melander-15/1 4-Big Oil-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-15/1 5-Ramona Hill-Andrew McCarthy-Tony Alagna-5/2 6-Threefiftytwo-Scott Zeron, Luc Blais-6/1 7-Capricornus-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-15/1 8-Rome Pays Off-Mattias Melander-Marcus Melander-15/1 9-Sister Sledge-Brian Sears-Ron Burke-12/1 10-Amigo Volo-Dexter Dunn-Nifty Norman-12/1 by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

East Rutherford, NJ - Seating for this Saturday's 95th Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack is going quickly. Due to limited attendance capacities and COVID protocols, onsite attendance is limited to harness racing horsemen dining on the West Deck and guests dining in the Backyard or at the Cafe. No walk-ups will gain admittance to the Grandstand without a reservation for Saturday. Five tables remain for the Café picnic tables. The Café will have waitress service and be tented for guest comfort. Guests can dine on racetrack staples including chicken wings and French fries, cheese steaks, burgers, pretzels, popcorn, ice cream and more. Reservations must be pre-paid and are $100 per table. Each table seats up to four people. The $100 is also a food credit that can be used at the outdoor Café on Hambletonian Day. The credit is valid on Saturday, August 8th only. Cafe tables can be purchased at https://meadowlandsracetrack.ticketleap.com/2020-hambletonian-day-cafe-dining/ Backyard tables are also very limited. The Backyard BBQ & Grill will have waitress service and also be tented. Guests can dine on $15 brunch specials and delicious summer-time grilled fare including burgers, sausage and hot dog along with brisket, ribs and mac & cheese. Backyard reservations must be pre-paid and are $25 per person. The $25 is also a food credit that can be used at the Backyard BBQ & Grill and Backyard Bar. Reservations for Backyard dining can be made by emailing Jennifer Jordan at jjordan@arkrestaurants.com. Please include your phone number in the email. Guests must make dining reservations for track admittance and guaranteed seating. All must wear face coverings while not at their table, have their temperature checked and complete a brief health questionnaire. No one with a temperature exceeding 100.4 will be allowed to enter. All are also encouraged to download and fill out the required the health questionnaire (available here) to speed up the check-in process. There is no valet parking available. To adhere to all COVID-19 protocols the Meadowlands has implemented the following measures: All guest seating has been 6 ft social distanced Hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the grandstand All high touch surfaces will be frequently wiped down throughout the day including all self-service machines, door handles and counter-tops No food or beverage is permitted inside the grandstand. Guests are able to order from a waitress and eat and drink outside on the apron tables. Smoking is only permitted on the outdoor apron. It is prohibited in all dining areas Face coverings must be worn at all times except when seated at a dining table. All updated racing and dining information can be found at PlayMeadowlands.com. From the Meadowlands .  

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