A word of advice to Julie Miller's friends. As the harness racing trainer gets Milligan's School ready for his final Hambletonian prep event, don't post anything on her Facebook wall because you won't hear back until at least next week. Milligan's School is competing in Sunday's (July 24) $300,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial main event for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs, and he has the complete attention of his trainer. "Not that I'm older or I'm wiser, I don't know about those kind of things, but I really try to just stay off social media at this point," Miller said. "I don't read a bunch of stuff. I need to focus on my horses, not what everybody else is doing. I really just try to zone in and let the external noise figure itself out." She also tries to keep things simple as the stakes grow higher. "I try not to over-think things," Miller said. "I just really try to stay on track. We have our goal and mission. When things are going right in my stable we do the same things, and it's the same when things are in a rough patch. I try not to let other things distract me from my goal and my purpose with my horses." The purpose on Sunday is not just for Milligan's School to compete, but to win his final race before the $1 million Hambletonian, which is Aug. 6 at the Meadowlands. A son of Yankee Glide out of the mare Tori Ann, the horse has won three of six starts this year and earned $85,166. He has taken two divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Consolation division, after a shoeing incident caused him to go off stride in his elimination. He was sixth last weekend in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, which was won by Marion Marauder. Milligan's School had a tremendous freshman campaign, with five wins, three seconds and two thirds, good for $302,560 in earnings in 16 starts. He won divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes at Red Mile in Lexington; was second to Dog Gone Lucky (by a head) in the Matron Stakes; third in the Valley Victory final; and fifth in the Breeders Crown. "I would say things are pretty much status quo this year (compared to last)," Miller said. "He raced excellent last year. With how his schedule was this year he hasn't had many starts yet. We had a hiccup in the Earl Beal eliminations and that was kind of a missed opportunity, but we're looking forward." One thing that has changed is the horse's physical stature, which makes the trainer happy considering the competition. "Obviously I do think he's a little bigger and stronger than he was last year and he's going to have to be," Miller said. "That's a great division. Southwind Frank and Marion Marauder, they're just excellent horses. You're going to have to be not just 100 percent, but 110 percent because Frank and Marion are so dominant right now. I hope I can still compete with them. I don't want to race just for the money I want to race for the win." Milligan's School drew post four Sunday, which puts him in a good starting point. He is 5-1 on the morning line. The four-horse entry of Love Matters, Bar Hopping, Hollywood Highway, and Lagerfeld is the 9-5 favorite. Love Matters, Bar Hopping, and Lagerfeld are trained by Jimmy Takter while Hollywood Highway is from the Staffan Lind Stable. The horses are an entry because of common ownership. "It's that time of year, it's getting to be crunch time, this is why we work hard all winter long," Miller said. "He feels good, he's healthy. I feel like I've got him at the best that he can be. Hopefully we can count on that and make good. "Like everybody else, I don't know what's going to happen. The goal here is the Hambo, this is going to be a really good determination if he fits in there. I'm hoping for a good effort. There's a lot of money on the line. We've got a good position so I'm hoping he can make good on it. I hope he's at his best and he can work on a good trip." If it results in a trip to the Hambletonian, then things will be right on schedule for the Millers and Russia-based owner Natalia Stroy of Stroy Inc. When Julie and her husband Andy, the horse's driver, picked Milligan's School out at the Standardbred Horse Sale they did so with high hopes. He sold for $120,000. "I explained to Natalia that I think he's a stakes horse," Miller said. "That was the whole goal when we bought him, was to make him a stakes horse and so far he's fulfilling that promise. I told the owner I thought he'd be a top contender and at least a sire stakes horse and hopefully a Grand Circuit horse. He's blossoming into what we wanted him to be." Miller considers herself "pretty fortunate," noting that Milligan's School is a mild mannered horse that can lead or come off cover. "That's really one good thing about him," she said. "He's two fingers to drive and he's honest and he'll give you his best chance." And how does Andy like driving him? "I think he likes to drive anything that's winning," Julie said with a laugh. "I do think it's more special, because it's one we train in the barn. So that's a little bit more special. Andy gets on really well with the horse. We're just hoping for some good things." Following is the field for the Zweig: PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1. Love Matters-Brett Miller-Jimmy Takter-9/5 2. Hititoutofthepark-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-6/1 3. Bar Hopping-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter-9/5 4. Milligan's School-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/1 5. Trolley-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller-2/1 6. Hollywood Highway-John Campbell-Staffan Lind-9/5 7. Lagerfeld-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-9/5 8. Blenheim-Chris Christoforou-Per Henriksen-8/1 9. Smalltownthrowdown-Dan Daley-Dan Daley-10/1 ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third May 7 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Dante - Cufflink Hanover - Credevie May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Tyson - Edinburgh - Will Self May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Mikkeli Hanover - Granite State - Marion Gondolier May 7 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Hititoutofthepark - Lagerfeld - Cloud Nine Hanover May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Cufflink Hanover - Love Matters - Southern Cross May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Truemass Volo - Marion Gondolier - Hanks Tank May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Milligan's School - Hititoutofthepark - Desert Runner May 14 - Meadows - PASS - Lagerfeld - Tyson - Hollywood Highway May 20 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Southwind Frank - Brooklyn Hill - Bar Hopping May 21 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Iron Mine Bucky - Steed - Hititoutofthepark May 21 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Cufflink Hanover - Hollywood Highway - Truemass Volo May 27 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Mavens Way - Jack Vernon - Double L Lindy June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Hollywood Highway - Taco Tuesday - Sliding Home June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Lagerfeld - Truemass Volo - Dupree June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Milligan's School - Reigning Moni - Iron Mine Bucky June 2 - Philadelphia - PASS - Love Matters - Tight Lines - Alexander Hanover June 4 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Southwind Frank - Brooklyn Hill - Mavens Way June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Love Matters - Taco Tuesday - Desert Runner June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Trolley - Lagerfeld - Cufflink Hanover June 12 - Pocono - PASS - Hititoutofthepark - Hollywood Highway - Dupree June 18 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - Marion Marauder - Will Take Charge - Blenheim June 19 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Dante - Just For Today - Thats A Bad Boy June 26 - Buffalo - NYSS - The Royal Harry - Crazycat - A Jersey Contract July 1 - Tioga - Tompkins-Geers - Dominion Beach - Cufflink Hanover - Waitlifter K July 1 - Tioga - Tompkins-Geers - Hititoutofthepark - Blownoutofthewater - Steed July 2 - Pocono - Beal Memorial - Southwind Frank - Trolley - Bar Hopping July 14 - Yonkers - NYSS - Dante - The Royal Harry - Credevie July 16 - Meadowlands - Dancer Mem. - Southwind Frank - Sutton - Love Matters July 16 - Meadowlands - Dancer Mem. - Marion Marauder - Bar Hopping - Iron Mine Bucky Hambletonian eligible winners in bold by Rich Fisher, USTA Senior Correspondent
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (July 21, 2016) - The Hambletonian is taking on the bright lights of the big city. Millions of New York City commuters and tourists have been exposed to harness racing thanks to a massive billboard in Times Square advertising The 91st Hambletonian taking place at the Meadowlands on Saturday, August 6. The billboard is at 42nd Street and Broadway, across from the busiest subway station in New York City. It is estimated that approximately two million people will see the billboard leading up to Hambletonian Day. The image was designed by Meadowlands graphic artist Kathleen Estes. The location was secured by the Meadowlands and its media buyer. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com and www.hambletonian.org. Justin Horowitz
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (July 21, 2016) - As the driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Bass Pro Shops Toyota, Martin Truex, Jr. knows all about horsepower. But on Saturday, August 6, the Daytona 500 runner-up will experience a new brand of horsepower when he serves as the celebrity trophy presenter at the harness racing 91st Hambletonian, America's Trotting Classic, at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J. Truex is a Mayetta, N.J. native but has never attended Hambletonian Day. He and his girlfriend Sherry are looking forward to spending time at a different kind of racetrack. "The Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack is like the Daytona 500 in NASCAR; it's the most prestigious harness race in North America," said the 35-year-old Truex. "Sherry and I are looking forward to visiting the track to meet the fans and experience the excitement around the events!" After finishing his qualifying session at Watkins Glen, N.Y. where the Sprint Cup Series races during Hambletonian weekend, Truex will fly down to the Meadowlands. He will appear from 3:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The appearance will include signing autographs and posing for photos with fans. "We're extremely excited about having one of the top Sprint Cup drivers like Martin Truex, Jr. join us at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Hambletonian Day," said Meadowlands Director of CCTV Sam McKee. "Martin is having a fantastic season, running up front practically every week. He's locked into the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship and NASCAR fans from around the Tri-State area will have a chance to meet and talk with Martin plus get some autographs. We appreciate him taking time out of his hectic schedule to join us." Truex visited victory lane earlier this season at the Coca Cola 600 and sits seventh in the Sprint Cup Series standings entering this weekend's race at Indianapolis. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com and www.hambletonian.org. About The Hambletonian The $1 million Hambletonian, and the companion race for 3-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, are the richest of their kind currently offered in harness racing, and among the richest worldwide, regardless of breed. The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Yonkers Trot on September 3 and Kentucky Futurity on October 9. Justin Horowitz
July 19, Cranbury, NJ....Mullinax Ford, developed by founder Ed Mullinax into one of the largest Ford dealer groups in the world, has been named the official truck dealer of the Hambletonian Society, which owns and administers 137 of harness racing's most important events, including the $1 million Hambletonian and the $5.6 million Breeders Crown Championship Series. Mullinax, known as the one-price pioneer for instituting a no-haggle pricing policy on car sales, is also a successful breeder and owner of Standardbreds, winning the Little Brown Jug with P-Forty-Seven and campaigning the $2.3 million earner and successful stallion Dragon Again. Many of his racehorses bear the name prefix "Upfront" a reference to the Mullinax dealerships tag line of "Up Front Pricing! No Dealer Fees! Huge Inventory!" The 91st edition of the Hambletonian, America's Trotting Classic, will be held Saturday, August 6, 2016 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. It is the focus of a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports-Network the 24-hour cable home of CBS Sports, from 4-5:30 p.m. [EDT] "It is the most famous race in the history of harness racing - and when [Hanover Shoe Farms president] Jim Simpson suggested a partnership, [between the Hambletonian Society and Mullinax Ford] I didn't have to stutter," said Ed Mullinax. "I want to sponsor harness racing because I've spent my life in the business," Mullinax added. "I've sold more Fords than anyone in the country and I'm proud to be associated with these races." In addition to the live telecast, Mullinax Ford will be promoted with "The Road to the Hambletonian, Powered by Mullinax Ford" on Hambletonian.com and through an integrated social media campaign coordinated with the U.S. Trotting Association and the Harness Racing FanZone. Mullinax Ford will participate in race presentations and Hambletonian Festival events. "The Hambletonian, first raced in 1926, is one of America's most traditional events, and Mullinax Ford trucks are a natural partner for the racing and farming businesses," said Tom Charters, president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "We welcome the Mullinax Ford family of truck dealerships and look forward to our partnership." The John Cashman Jr. Memorial, and the Cane Pace, the first leg of the pacing Triple Crown, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian are the features of the Hambletonian Day card, closing day of the Meadowlands Championship Meet. Post time is 12:00 noon on August 6. The Breeders Crown championship series will also be raced this year at the Meadowlands, with the open events raced Friday, October 28 and the two and three-year-old events on Saturday, October 29.
In 2014, Michael Pozefsky watched a horse he bred --- Resolve --- race in the Hambletonian Stakes. This year, he hopes to watch a horse he bred and owns compete in the $1 million harness racing event. Pozefsky and Edward Wilson bred The Royal Harry, who on Sunday races in the $222,975 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs in upstate New York. The colt, whose family includes two Hambletonian winners and a Hambletonian Oaks champion, is now owned by Pozefsky and his brother, William. The Royal Harry has won two of six career races and hit the board a total of five times, earning $32,030. He has a win and a second-place finish this season, with his victory coming in 1:55.1 in a conditioned race June 10 at Vernon Downs. He was second to Sir Royson in his first start, which came in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs. Sir Royson, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Empire Breeders Classic, won by a half-length in 1:54. "He won against a lesser crew at Vernon last week, but we just needed another race to try to be ready for this week," Pozefsky said. "His first start, it was a good line, but he got a good trip and he got a good drive. I wasn't expecting to go that much, but he did, which was terrific." The Royal Harry, trained by Ake Svanstedt, raced only four times last season. He had a win and two second-place finishes, but was shut down in early October to prepare for this year. "He was a big colt," Pozefsky said. "Instead of rushing him into it, the Svanstedt Stable decided to bring him along at a slower pace, which was fine with us. We had higher hopes, but he got to a point where he was going about the same and we decided to bring him back as a 3-year-old and hope that he improved substantially. It appears he has, but we'll know a lot more about that after the Breeders Classic." Wilson and Pozefsky bred and raced The Royal Harry's dam, Wilsonator, who enjoyed success on the Ontario circuit and finished fourth in the 2010 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters. The family also includes Hambletonian winners Emily's Pride and Spencer Scott and Hambletonian Oaks champion Keystone Pioneer. Pozefsky and Wilson also shared the breeding credit for Resolve, who finished fifth in the 2014 Hambletonian. The two breeders take turns naming their horses and Wilson named The Royal Harry, a son of RC Royalty, after Pozefsky's son Harry, who is now 29. The Royal Harry was put through the Standardbred Horse Sale in 2014, where the Pozefskys bought back the yearling for $100,000. "He's just part of the family," Pozefsky said. "We liked him a lot. It was kind of an easy decision. The dam was a fine mare and this is her second foal. Her first foal (Muscle Hill-sired Hillsonator) is racing well in Canada." The Royal Harry is one of two Hambletonian eligible horses in the Empire Breeders Classic, along with George Ducharme-trained Reve Royale. Pozefsky hopes The Royal Harry can continue to make strides and find himself at the Meadowlands on Aug. 6 for the Hambletonian. "He's got to find some real additional time," Pozefsky said, "but surely that's the dream." The Royal Harry will start the Empire Breeders Classic from post No. 1 with Mark MacDonald in the sulky. He is 5-1 on the morning line. Svanstedt will drive Dexter Cup winner Dante, who is 9-2 from post nine. Sir Royson will start from post seven with Jim Marohn Jr. driving for trainer Linda Toscano and owner R-And-I Farms. A homebred son of Crazed-Leibovitz Hanover, Sir Royson has won five of nine career races and earned $84,722. Sunday's card at Vernon Downs also features the $234,375 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female trotters. The entry of Earn Your Wings and Straight A Student is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Earn Your Wings, from the stable of trainer Anette Lorentzon, and Straight A Student, from the stable of trainer Paul Kelley, are coupled because of common ownership. by Ken Weingartner
The road to August's $1 million Hambletonian goes through Ontario on Saturday when 10 harness racing 3-year-old male trotters meet in the C$268,000 Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack. Jimmy Takter, who has trained the last two Hambletonian winners, believes he's got another contender in Goodtimes finalist Bar Hopping. Bar Hopping finished second to Dayson in his Goodtimes elimination last Friday, losing by 1-3/4 lengths in a 1:53.2 mile. Dayson, who is not eligible to the Hambletonian, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the final; Bar Hopping is the 7-2 second choice. "I like the horse a lot," Takter said. "He's got the right gear. He just has to know that he's a good horse." A son of Muscle Hill out of the stakes-winning mare Cocktail Hour, the colt sold for $190,000 under the name Revenger at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. Bar Hopping's full brother Martiniwithmuscle finished second to Trixton, Takter's 2014 Hambletonian champion, in the 2014 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and his family also includes Dan Patch Award-winner Jef's Spice. Last year, Bar Hopping won a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished second to early-season Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank in the final. He finished second in divisions of the International Stallion and Bluegrass stakes and was fourth in the Peter Haughton Memorial. Bar Hopping debuted this season with a third-place finish in the first round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes, racing on the outside for most of the mile and closing with a :26.3 last quarter-mile. He was fourth in the sire stakes final in his start prior to the Goodtimes eliminations. "He was definitely not as good the last two starts as he was the first start, but something has been going on with him and hopefully we can get him cleared up now," Takter said, adding the colt had scoped with mucous following last week's race. "He was exceptional through the elimination for the sire stakes when he was third after (Southwind) Frank, but he charged like a great horse." Bar Hopping, who has won one of 12 career races and earned $118,163 for owners Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld, will start the Goodtimes from post No. 6 with driver Tim Tetrick. Dayson, a son of Conway Hall-Nervey's Taurus who will start the Goodtimes from post No. 5 with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke, won seven of eight races last year on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. He became a member of the Burke Brigade in January and has won three of four starts this season. "I think he fits well with that (Goodtimes) group," Burke said about Dayson, who has earned $234,412 in his career. "It's not the best colts out there, but it's an even bunch. He's nice. He's a very good horse. I don't think he's quite as good as (Southwind) Frank, but he's right there behind him. He'll do well in the spots we put him in." Dayson is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Rossie Smith. Other Hambletonian eligible horses in the Goodtimes are Blenheim, Goin To The Limit, Honor Above All, Marion Marauder, and Tony Soprano. Dia Monde, who won the second of the two Goodtimes eliminations, is the 4-1 third choice in the final. The son of Deweycheatumnhowe-Lady Bar will start from post four with Randy Waples driving for trainer Thomas Durand. Dia Monde, who has won two of six lifetime starts, is owned by Durand, June Durand, and Allan Smith. Following is the field for the Goodtimes in post order. PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1. Blenheim by Yankee Glide - Chris Christoforou - Per Henriksen - 10-1 2. Marion Marauder by Muscle Hill - Scott Zeron - Michael Keeling - 6-1 3. Will Take Charge by Kadabra - Paul MacDonell - John Bax - 5-1 4. Dia Monde by Deweycheatumnhowe - Randy Waples - Thomas Durand - 4-1 5. Dayson - by Conway Hall - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 2-1 6. Bar Hopping by Muscle Hill - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter - 7-2 7. Goin To The Limit by Donato Hanover - Brett Miller - Tony Alagna - 20-1 8. Honor Above All by Muscles Yankee - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 20-1 9. Zagster by Muscle Mass - Trevor Henry - Shannon Henry - 20-1 10. Tony Soprano by Kadabra - John Campbell - Bob McIntosh - 15-1 by Ken Weingartner
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Heavy harness racing favorites were sent to the gate in four $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes finals Saturday night at the Meadowlands, and when the dust cleared, the results for chalk players were clearly mixed. Southwind Frank continued his march toward the Hambletonian with an easy win in the 3-year-old colt and gelding trot. The son of Muscle Hill went the mile in 1:52.3 for trainer Ron Burke, upping his lifetime record to 13 wins in 14 starts. As the 2-5 favorite, Southwind Frank returned $2.80 to win for driver Yannick Gingras and finished 2 lengths in front of Brooklyn Hill. Mavens Way was third. "Frank's pretty good right now," understated Burke in the winner's circle. Blue Moon Stride crushed her 3-year-old filly pacing foes for a third straight week, winning in 1:51.2 by 2¾ lengths over JK Fannie. Rocknroll Vision was third. Sent off at 1-9, Blue Moon Stride paid $2.20 for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Mark Harder. She's now seven-for-17 lifetime. Unfortunately, things did not go as well for Boston Red Rocks and All The Time. Boston Red Rocks had the lead turning for home in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace but could not hold off a determined Katies Rocker, who prevailed by a neck over the 1-9 favorite despite racing first-over for the final three-eighths of a mile. Ideal Rocky was third. Katies Rocker paced the mile in 1:50.3 and returned $12.60 to win for driver David Miller and trainer Jim Campbell. In the 3-year-old filly trot, 1-5 choice All The Time provided live cover for eventual winner Southwind Hope, who stormed home to win by 1¼ lengths in 1:54.2. All The Time held second while Jazebel De Vie was third. Southwind Hope paid $25.40 to win for driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller. Mel Mara was sensational winning in 1:47 flat beating Always Be Miki to equal the world record for a four-year-old stallion. MARVELOUS MEL Mel Mara bullied a talented field of open handicap pacers, and in the process, missed the all-time race-mile record by just a fifth of a second when the son of Lis Mara stopped the clock in 1:47, equaling State Treasurer's world-record for an older pacing stallion on a mile track. Always B Miki, the 3-5 favorite, was no match for the winner after racing first-over most of the way. Mel Mara returned $6.80 to win for driver Corey Callahan and trainer Dylan Davis. CARRRYING ON The two Jackpot Super High Five wagers offered at the Big M have carryovers that are, in one case, good, and in the other, incredible. The 5th race JSH5 carryover now stands at $12,789.86, while the 12th race version of the wager now has $246,843.80 waiting in the pool for the next program. BIG TURNOUT FOR JERSEY FEST The return of the Big M's Jersey Fest Food Truck Mash-Up brought a crowd of 14,101 out to the track. ... All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,883,028. ... The Meadowlands returns with live racing Friday at 7:15 p.m. Dave Little
Hambletonian eligibles dominated the PA Sire Stakes events at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. Out of twenty-five entrants scattered over four divisions, seventeen were Hambletonian eligible. The events were for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters, each going for a purse of just over $41,000. In the first division, it was Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld's Hollywood Highway (John Campbell) going all the way for the win. The son of Muscle Massive was able to get to the front, and make every call a winning one, winning by three lengths, stopping the clock in 1:56. It was the third career win for the Staffan Lind charge, putting the Hambo eligible over $87,000 in career earnings. He paid $4.20. In division two, it was last year's Pennsylvania State Champion Lagerfeld (Yannick Gingras) getting the job done. The son of Yankee Glide sat a perfect trip behind the speedy Truemass Volo (Eric Goodell), getting by in the stretch in 1:56.3. It was the fifth win of his career, and the second straight for the Jimmy Takter trainee, who now has over $372,000 in his career. Lagerfeld ($3.20) is owned by Christina Takter, Jim and John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Division three was the fastest of the four, as Stroy Incorporated's Milligan's School (Andy Miller) came roaring up the passing lane to win. The son of Yankee Glide tracked the speed of Reigning Moni (Yannick Gingras) the entire way, before making his move to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.4. It was the seventh win of his career, putting his career earning total just under $350,000. Milligan's School ($3.60) is trained by Julie Miller. The fourth division was won from off the trot by Love Matters (Brett Miller). The son of Explosive Matter tracked the cover of Tyson (Trond Smedshammer), and was able to use a :28.3 last quarter to gun down his competition in 1:56.2. It was the seventh win of his career, pushing his earnings to over $196,000. He is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical, and Herb Liverman, and is trained by Jimmy Takter. He paid $12.60. Michael Bozich
The road to August's $1 million Hambletonian Stakes resumes this weekend with a slew of harness racing, including the first appearance of the year by early-season Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank. And trainer Ron Burke, who conditions Southwind Frank, couldn't be happier. "I'm excited," Burke said. "I'm ready to get going. I'm glad he's racing. "You want to start seeing if he's as good as you think he is. If not, you want to know what you need to work on. But I'm hoping that right off the bat it's good and it just stays good. We just need a little luck and I think he'll take care of the rest. He trained down super and seems great." Southwind Frank, who finished his 2015 campaign with 10 consecutive victories, makes his seasonal debut in Friday's opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Southwind Frank and driver Yannick Gingras will start from post four in a 12-horse field and are the 7-5 morning line favorite. Other Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the race are Bar Hopping, Brooklyn Hill, Dominion Beach, Honor Above All, Jack Vernon, Metatron, Promise Delivered, Sigmund, and Southwind Flash. Last year, Southwind Frank won 11 of 12 races and earned $786,419. His wins included the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and William Wellwood Memorial. In addition, his time of 1:52.2 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes set the world record for a 2-year-old male trotter. He received both the Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old male trotter. Southwind Frank was owned last year by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables. This season he races for the Southwind Frank Partners, which includes the previously mentioned owners as well as Diamond Creek Racing. A son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 at the 2014 Lexington Selected Sale. His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Cayster as well as stakes-winners Giant Hit and Program Speed. Southwind Frank heads to the New Jersey Sire Stakes off a 1:54 qualifier win on May 14 at the Meadowlands. He finished second in an earlier qualifier, which came a week after being held out of qualifying because of a quarter crack. "Other than that everything has been picture perfect with him, totally uneventful," Burke said. "The quarter crack could have turned into an issue and it didn't. I think it's no longer a worry." This is the second consecutive year that Burke brings a top contender onto the Hambletonian trail. Last year, it was filly Mission Brief, who battled back woes before challenging the boys in the Hambletonian. She won her Hambletonian elimination and finished second to Pinkman in the final. "He's way more push-button than her," Burke said. "And so far we've had no issues. This colt just gets better and better. But honestly, with (Mission Brief), I was more emotionally involved than I am with him. She's my all-time favorite. The losses with her were horrible, the worst in the world. I like him, but I'm not as attached --- at least at this point --- as I was to her. Certain horses you just dig. You know, that's my horse. She's the one I like the most." During his 10-race win streak, Southwind Frank posted every victory by at least 1-1/4 lengths. Burke said it's hard at this point to determine where the colt's bottom is. "He did everything so easily last year and Yannick did such a nice job protecting him, not showing him off," Burke said. "I think there's a lot more there. He does things once in a while when he's training where you're like, 'What the heck?' You're reading the watch trying to figure out if what he did is possible. He might be something really special this year. "I'm just hoping he stays sound. I think the schedule we have set right now in our minds is perfect for him to be at his best when he hits (Hambletonian Day). If you win that, your whole year is made. That's the ultimate goal. Yannick doesn't have one, I don't have one, so it's very important to both of us." Other races on the road to the Hambletonian are Saturday's two Currier & Ives divisions at The Meadows and one New York Sire Stakes division at Vernon Downs. Hambletonian-eligible trotters in the first Currier & Ives division are Desert Runner, Hititoutofthepark, Iron Mine Bucky, and Steed. Hititoutofthepark is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The second division includes Hambletonian eligible Breedlove, Hollywood Highway, and Leggs Matter. At Vernon Downs, three Hambletonian-eligible trotters compete in the second of two New York Sire Stakes splits. They are Chukkar, Reve Royale, and The Perfect Lindy. For a "Hoof Beats" magazine feature on Southwind Frank, click here. Ken Weingartner
When last seen in these parts, Pinkman was exiting the harness racing winner's circle following his 2015 Hambletonian victory. The altered son of Explosive Matter returns to The Meadowlands in the sixth race on Friday, May 13 to face six foes with his sites set squarely on next week's opening leg of the Graduate Series. Pinkman's 2015 season resulted in his being named as the Dan Patch three-year-old trotter of the year. He danced virtually every dance, winning eleven of seventeen starts including the Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity to go along with the Hambo win while banking over $1.8 million. Leaving from post four tomorrow night, Pinkman comes in off of a pair of conditioning qualifiers for Jimmy Takter who trains him for owners Christina Takter, Jon & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Yannick Gingras will drive. Transitioning into the summer meet, all of The Meadowlands outdoor attractions are now open for business including Victory Terrace with its spectacular NYC skyline views and a fashionable bar crowd. Directed toward that demographic is Friday's $50 Spring Handicapping Contest providing an arena for new fans to compete for cash prizes. The guaranteed horizontal wagers are in place, free program pages for the late Pick-4 are available courtesy of Trackmaster and the last race Hi-5 Super Jackpot stands at $212,593 to open the weekend. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Meadowlands Media Relations
For the second consecutive year, harness racing trainer John Butenschoen is bringing a son of stallion Yankee Glide and the mare Celebrity Liza on to the Hambletonian trail, but there is little family resemblance between last year’s colt, Boots N Chains, and this year’s hopeful, Hititoutofthepark. “It’s kind of like watching “Twins” with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Butenschoen said with a laugh. “Physically they’re nothing alike. Hititoutofthepark reminds me more of the Yankee Glide colt I had, (state-bred stakes-winner) Valley Of Sin; kind of about the same gait, same size. “Boots N Chains was a little heavier, thicker type of horse. He was really kind of laid back. This horse here can get a little aggressive on the track at times. They’re two completely different kinds of colts.” Hititoutofthepark is among 15 Hambletonian-eligible trotters competing in Saturday’s (May 14) Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions at The Meadows. Hititoutofthepark is in the third of four $41,000-plus divisions and will start from post five with Corey Callahan in the sulky. He is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The seven-horse field also includes Hambletonian hopefuls Granite State, Treasure Keys K, Milligan’s School, and Desert Runner. Milligan’s School, a multiple open stakes winner last season, is the 7-2 second choice. Hititoutofthepark won his 2016 debut on May 7 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, beating defending Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Lagerfeld by a head in 1:55. Last year, Hititoutofthepark won five of 11 races and earned $128,820 for owners Give It A Shot Stable, Kurt Welling, and VIP Internet Stable. His victories included divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Pennsylvania All-Stars, and Tompkins-Geers Stakes. He was scratched sick from the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship because of a 103-degree temperature. In his start prior to the PaSS final, Hititoutofthepark won by three-quarters of a length over Lagerfeld despite going off stride early in the race. “He had a real good year last year,” Butenschoen said. “We could have had a little bit more money on his card. We didn’t really know what we had. We raced him in Pennsylvania mainly and gave him one shot in Lexington. He raced well there (finishing second in an International Stallion Stakes division) and we turned him out. “Hopefully he’ll be OK for this summer and we’ll have some fun with him.” In addition to the Hambletonian, Hititoutofthepark’s stakes schedule includes the Arden Downs, Currier & Ives, Keystone Classic, Matron, and Yonkers Trot. “We’re not trying to gear up only for the Hambletonian,” Butenschoen said. “It’s just a shot at it. There are a bunch of partners in on him and we thought we’d give it a try and see what happens. We try to zig when other people zag. If it fits his schedule when it comes up we’ll take a look at it then. “I’ve looked forward too many times in the past. I’ve had all kinds of great plans coming out of (winter training in) Florida and horses get sick or making breaks and you’re left scrambling, so I try not to look too far ahead. I kind of knew where his first three starts where going to be and then we’ll see what happens afterwards.” Butenschoen hoped to have Boots N Chains pointed toward last year’s Hambletonian, but the colt never got on a roll after a 2-year-old campaign that saw him win a division of the Simpson Memorial Stakes and post runner-up finishes to French Laundry in the Kindergarten Classic championship and Muscle Diamond in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. “I thought he was going to come back really well, but he just didn’t seem to get any faster from (age) 2 to 3,” Butenschoen said. “He didn’t make that next jump up. Hititoutofthepark, we’ll see. Hopefully he’ll make that jump. But they’ve both made money for me, so I’m not going to complain about either one.” Other Hambletonian-eligible trotters competing on Saturday in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes are morning line favorites Tight Lines (3-1 in the first division) and Mikkeli Hanover (5-2 in the second division) as well as Alexander Hanover, Breedlove, Hollywood Highway, Lagerfeld, Love Matters, Marion Gondolier, Sliding Home, and Southern Cross. Tyson is the 2-1 morning line pick in the fourth division, followed by Lagerfeld at 4-1. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
Harness racing Hambletonian hopeful Brooklyn Hill is featured in the second edition of "Fika with Jonas," which airs on YouTube, starting on April 1, 2016. Fika is the Swedish word for a coffee break, and Swedish-born trainer Jonas Czernyson is the star of the monthly series produced by Cody Bach Productions. Czernyson takes the audience into the stall of Brooklyn Hill, a three-year-old son of Muscle Hill, as the trotter is prepared and equipped for a jog on the half-mile sand track and the main racetrack at Winners Training Center in Chesterfield, NJ. Brooklyn Hill, owned by the SRF Stable of Delray Beach, FL, earned $188,700 at two, finishing in-the-money in eight of 10 starts. He picked up his first win in a New Jersey Sire Stakes and posted his mark of 1:53.1 in his final start of 2015, the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington's Red Mile on October 8. In the second episode, Czernyson answers viewer questions about bits and overchecks. Next month in Episode 3, Czernyson will discuss shoeing. Questions and comments may be sent to Christine and Jonas Czernyson through the Team JC Stable page on Facebook, @teamjcstable on Twitter or by email to email@example.com.
The $1 million Hambletonian and filly companion stake, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, will be raced on Saturday afternoon, August 6, at the Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, New Jersey. The 91st edition of the Open harness racing event will feature eliminations and the final on the same day. Eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks, if necessary, will be raced the prior week, Saturday, July 30. Mega-trainer Ron Burke has the top-rated trotter in the experimental ratings two years in row. Last year his filly Mission Brief was ranked #1 and finished second in the Hambletonian to Pinkman, and this year's dazzling colt Southwind Frank, who lost just once in 12 starts last year and racked up $786,419 in earnings, is also the winter-book favorite for America's Trotting Classic. "He is training great," said Burke. "He's been in 2:20 and looks great. I kept him up here this winter at Gaitway [Training Center, Manalapan, NJ] because I figured if Takter wins Hambletonians by staying up here in the North, I'm staying up here. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "You have to be ready by August and even with Mission Brief last year I always felt I was chasing, chasing, and needed one more week. Keeping Southwind Frank and Make Or Miss who is also coming along unbelievably well up here means they are on schedule, and will be ready." Dan Patch Trainer of the Year Jimmy Takter annexed a fourth Hambletonian title in 2015 with Pinkman, becoming just the fifth trainer to win consecutive Hambletonians since 1926. No trainer has won three in a row, and another win by a Takter-trainee would place him in the rarefied company of five-time Hambletonian winners and immortals of the sport Ben White, Bill Haughton and Stanley Dancer. The Takter stable has 10 trotters eligible to the Hambletonian, with the $324,405 earner Lagerfeld leading the parade. "Lagerfeld is good but I have a few maybe a little better," said Taker." So many of them were sick last year - I think Bar Hopping, Love Matters and the brother to Shake It Cerry [Jimmy William] who is just training fantastic now, may be my sleepers." Jimmy William is a son of the Takter-owned and trained Solveig, who not only earned more than $800,000 herself, but subsequently produced six foals whose current winnings top $4.3 million. Other eligibles include Valley Victory winner Dog Gone Lucky from the Chuck Sylvester stable; Derivative, a son of 2003 Hambletonian winner Amigo Hall who has already made his first start this year for trainer Blair Burgess; Speed It, a son of pacing sire Cam's Rocket who produced the blazingly fast Googoo Gaagaa for trainer Richard Hans, and the foreign owned, bred and trained Ulisse Kronos, an unraced but highly regarded three-quarter brother to Going Kronos. The Hambletonian has been hosted by the Meadowlands Racetrack since 1981. There are no supplemental entries permitted in the Hambletonian and Oaks, nor are participants in those events or the Hambletonian Maturity (July 18), permitted the use of Lasix or Butazolidin. The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Yonkers Trot on September 3 and the Kentucky Futurity on October 9. The Hambletonian race is also the longest-running live broadcast in harness racing. The August 6 event will be broadcast live on CBS Sport Network from 4:00-5:30 p.m. [EDT] The Hambletonian Trail commences Saturday, May 7, with the Dexter Cup and Lady Suffolk at Freehold Raceway. Eligibles for all Hambletonian-serviced stakes can be found at www.hambletonian.org 84 Eligibles to 2016 Hambletonian; 102 Fillies Paid Into Hambletonian Oaks
The Meadowlands Racetrack, longest-running host track of the classic Hambletonian race for harness racing 3-year-old trotters, has signed a contract extension to host the event through 2021. The Hambletonian Society, which owns the race, and Jeff Gural, chairman of the New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, have extended the existing Hambletonian contract from 2018 to 2021. An option to host future races was required before May 15, and the NMR was quick to exercise that option. The $1 million Hambletonian, and the companion race for 3-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, are the richest of their kind currently offered in harness racing, and among the richest worldwide, regardless of breed. Hambletonian day, traditionally the first Saturday in August is scheduled for August 6. It is the only harness race that strictly prohibits race-day medication, even the commonly accepted therapeutic medication Lasix. Hambletonian day continues to set North American handle and attendance records in the new Meadowlands grandstand, with more than $8 million wagered in 2015. "Since 1981 the Meadowlands has been a proud host of the Hambletonian. This agreement solidifies that commitment, and we are all dedicated in continuing to make the race a world-wide attraction," said Jeff Gural. "We appreciate the confidence of the Hambletonian Society in continuing their relationship with us," said Jason M. Settlemoir, CEO/GM of NMR. "Hambletonian Day is annually the most highly-anticipated day of racing in our sport and we take great pride in continuing to make the Meadowlands the home of America's Trotting Classic. The agreement also means the Meadowlands will be the home of the Hambletonian for a record four decades through 2021, the longest the event has been raced at any one track. Tom Charters, president of the Hambletonian Society, which has owned and administrated the Hambletonian since its inception in 1926, praised the Meadowlands for past contributions and future growth of one of the most iconic races in the world. "The state of New Jersey (NJSEA) brought the Hambletonian here in 1981 and Jeff Gural and his management team have continued to keep the sport's signature race at the highest level. They are wonderful partners and we look forward to 2021 and beyond," said Charters. The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Yonkers Trot on August 27 and Kentucky Futurity on October 9. The Hambletonian race is also the longest-running live broadcast in harness racing. The August 6 event will be broadcast live on CBS Sport Network from 4:00-5:30 p.m. [EDT] For more information contact Moira Fanning at the Hambletonian Society (732-306-6713) or Rachel Ryan at the Meadowlands Racetrack (201) 842-5015.
In the trotting world, the pinnacle of success is to win the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. It is the "Holy Grail' for trotting enthusiasts and holds the same mystique in the Northern Hemisphere as the New Zealand Cup does in New Zealand. Ordinary horses just don't win the Hambletonian and it has proved a great siring testing ground with a lot of the winners going on to be great sires. We are sure that is why Stallions Australasia has taken the approach it has with regards to the trotting stallions in its siring stable. Stallions Australasia has three Hambletonian winners amongst the five stallions it has frozen semen for and looks to have most bases covered with its team of stallions. The star of the team is undoubtedly Muscle Hill 1:50.2 ($3,318,682) who after a stellar race career when he won 20 of 21 starts including the Hambletonian, has quickly established himself as an elite sire in North America. His first crop included last years Hambletonian winner Trixton 1:50.6 ($968,696) while his second crop included the freakish two year old filly of last year in Mission Brief 1:50.6 ($1,478,012) who went on to run second in the Hambletonian this year. With his oldest crop coming to the end of their four year racing season, Muscle Hill has nearly $13,000,000 on his card already and is in huge demand in North America. A newcomer to the team at Stallions Australasia this year is last years Hambletonian winner Trixton 1:50.6 ($968,696) who served his first book in North America this year. While the race record of Trixton is outstanding, his breeding is out of this world. A son of the hottest trotting sire in North America at the moment in Muscle Hill, Trixton is a son of the great Garland Lobell mare Emilie Cas El 1:57.1 ($454,688) who was the 1994 two year old trotting filly of the year. Emilie Cas El is a full sister to three of the greatest trotting sires ever in Andover Hall, Angus Hall and Conway Hall while a full sister in blood to the three great sires in Canland Hall is the dam of Cantab Hall. Another Hambletonian winner to join the team this season is Royalty For Life 1:51.6 ($1,628,649) who won the 2013 Hambletonian. Royalty for Life is a son of RC Royalty 1:55.2 ($709,355) who after not getting much support initially, is starting to build a really good record in North America with stake earnings to date of over $7,000,000 from just 180 foals eligible to race. Royalty For Life was a 1:54.4 two year old who got better as the season went on, running second in the Breeders Crown Final at the end of the season. He carried that form into his three year old season winning the Hambletonian and the Canadian Trotting Classic on his way to earning $1,287,820 and being named three year old trotting colt of the year in North America. At a service fee of $4500 for this season, Royalty For Life would seem great value for money in our view. The other two stallions in the Stallions Australasia team are both $2,000,000 winners on the track and both have Hambletonian form to boot. The Hambletonian runner up Lucky Chucky 1:50.8 ($2,119,958) who was the two and three year old colt of the year in North America, is available again this year at $5,000 as is the brilliant son of Conway Hall in Wishing Stone 1:51.4 ($2,361,099) who ran third in the Hambletonian Final and went on to be a great older horse on the track and he is also available at $5,000. All in all, Stallions Australasia have put together a great lineup of some of the best trotting stallions available and have priced them at a level that is not out of reach for a lot of New Zealand breeders and for that they should be congratulated. Harnesslink Media
While still awaiting the figures from some foreign sites, at present, the Hambletonian Day handle stands at $7,788,195. That number has already eclipsed the previous record for a Hambletonian Day where the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands was raced in heats of $7,660,205 which was established in 2013. In that year, there were three Hambletonian eliminations, compared to two this year. The major contributor missing from the total handle is the Cheval Francais Le Trot online handle, which last year was in excess of $387,000. Therefore, Hambletonian Day 2015 could be the first raced in heat-format to surpass the $8 Million handle plateau. Overseas, the Hambletonian Day program was especially popular in Sweden, where wagering was up nearly 40-percent. However, because the value of the Swedish Krona has fallen substantially over the past year, despite the large increase, the handle actually translates to less handle in terms of U.S. Dollars. But the signal was extremely well received. The on-track handle showed slight gains with live handle being $1,320,325 compared to $1,280,854 last year. This marked the first time since 2005 that the on-track handle showed a year-over-year increase. While history shows that handle is higher on Hambletonian Days where there are not multiple heats, the storyline of Pinkman vs. Mission Brief proved compelling this year and gave an added jolt to what was a spectacular day of racing. With races like the Cane Pace, U.S. Pacing Championship and John Cashman Memorial as supporting features and a European spark from D'One in The Fresh Yankee, this year's Hambletonian Day program certainly had a flare for the dramatic and it continues to show why Hambletonian Day is the greatest day in the sport of harness racing. "I was extremely pleased with the racing product we put forth on Hambletonian Day," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "That is what The Meadowlands is all about. While we all know that handle performs better when there is just a Hambletonian Final, like last year, I thought the Mission Brief/Pinkman story-line created a real buzz around the track, especially considering Yannick Gingras had to make a choice between the two. That kind of excitement can get people interested in our sport. Also, to see the foreign handle figures are likely to push the handle past $8 Million, making this the highest-handling heat format Hambletonian Day ever, is extremely gratifying. The team at The Meadowlands did a great job of getting the program page for the Hambletonian Final distributed quickly and effectively to both our on-track customers and those betting off-site. We are proud to host the greatest day in harness racing and look for more great things on Hambletonian Day 2016." Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment | 1 Racetrack Drive | East Rutherford, NJ 07073